Friday, December 07, 2012

Chicago Bears Thoughts

After a great 7-1 start, the Bears have stumbled and are now 8-4. They still have a two game lead in the wild card race with 4 to go, so I am not too worried about missing the playoffs (at least not at this point). However, they are going to have to play better - particularly offensively - if they are going to be a serious challenger for the Super Bowl.

The D is a bit banged up, but I expect to have the D intact going into the playoffs (assuming they make it). My sense is that their offensive line is actually better than it was 3 weeks ago. They played well against Minnesota and Seattle the last two weeks - both these teams have good defensive fronts. Brandon Marshall is a beast, but they need a complementary receiver to step up. Alshon Jeffery will be back for the playoffs, so that will make a difference. Forte and Bush are fine at running back. Cutler is solid at the QB position. But somehow it just hasn't all come together yet.

The Bears need a win this week on the road in Minnesota. But beyond just winning I'd like to see some better offensive production that builds into more momentum down the stretch.

Unemployment Falls to 7.7 Percent

The economy added 146,000 jobs last month and in a bit of a surprise the unemployment rate fell to 7.7 percent. This has more to do with people dropping out of the workforce than improvement in the economy.

I'd like to see a $50 billion to $100 billion infrastructure stimulus to improve roads, bridges, and schools. If we take the savings from the drawdown in Afghanistan, eliminate the 2 percent FICA holiday and allow the Bush tax cuts to the top 2 percent to finally expire, there will be more than enough money to pay for a new stimulus. Then we can have a burst of economic activity in the economy created by the spending and improve job creation numbers. The other benefit is that we will have infrastructure that is good for the next 20 to 50 years for our investment now. It is good for the short term and the long term.

Fiscal Cliff Nonsense

I am just amazed by the level of Republican intrasigence when it comes to the whole "fiscal cliff" nonsense.

There is no real crisis. In a worst case scenario taxes will rise for all Americans and there will be significant budget/spending cuts - primarily to the defense budget. But you can be sure that Congress will fix both of those items within a day or two.

If we are going to get serious about fixing the economy and getting a handle on the deficits then there has to be spending cuts and some tax policy adjustments that bring in more revenue. It isn't that complicated. Asking the top 2 percent to go back to the Clinton era tax rates is the least we can do. Frankly, there needs to be changes to capital gains taxes, the alternative minimum tax, and the payroll tax cap. If we make modest adjustments to these, as well as look to cut government spending by $200 billion, we could easily cut our deficit in half this coming year.

In the end, we will finally see an end to the Bush tax cuts to the top 2 percent. Republicans can try to hold the remaining 98 percent hostage if they like, but it is bad policy and really bad politics.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Romney-Ryan Tattoo Dude

The guy who got the "RR" tattoo on his face apparently is now going to have it removed by laser. He is going to end up with some scarring on his face - but apparently he now views Romney as a sore loser.

He can get the tattoo removed, but he is still going to be mentally challenged.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

What Susan Rice Actually Said

It is pretty clear that when she went on Meet the Press, she said that there was an FBI investigation and that information was still coming in about the attack in Benghazi. I think any reasonable person can see that there was no effort to cover anything up. When the facts were in and confirmed the government announced it was a terror attack.

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The nonsensical (and probably fake) outrage that McCain and Graham have been expressing makes them look like complete dolts in my opinion. Susan Rice will be confirmed as Secretary of State if the President wants her to be confirmed. If she is derailed by Republicans, it will just be further evidence that they have gone off the deep end and are drowning into oblivion.

The Fiscal "Cliff"

Frankly, the President should just hold his ground and force Republicans to allow the tax cuts on those making more than $250,000 to expire. All it will do is push rates from 36% to 39.6% - what they were under President Clinton. President Obama has all of the leverage and it is the right thing to do for the country.

He is going to use the bully pulpit of the presidency to talk to the American people. If Republicans want to allow taxes to increase for 98 percent of the country and for the severe defense cuts to take place just so they can extend the tax cuts for the wealthy then let the American people decide if that is worth it. They will cave.

Let's say that they don't cave and we go "over the cliff." The President can just hit them over the head every day with the fact that he wants to cut taxes for 98 percent of Americans and that Republicans are putting our national security at risk. That would make them even weaker than they are right now.

We'll see if the Republican leadership in Congress is truly that stupid.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Next Secretary of State

Frankly, the next Secretary of State should be Susan Rice if that is who the President wants to put in place. Dr. Rice has served this country with distinction and has been UN Ambassador for the last several years. She got Russia and China to agree to tough sanctions against Iran. She has been the point person on background discussion about Libya, Pakistan, and issues in the Middle East. She is completely capable and experienced in world affairs to be head of the State Department.

The whole Benghazi discussion is completely trumped up. She just happened to be the person who went on the talk shows initially after the tragedy took place. She used the talking points that were given to her - and which were cleared independently by the intelligence community. However, if you actually go back and look at what she said, she always said that there was an ongoing investigation. She never argued that terrorists were not involved - only that the evidence was not yet clear.

What is irritating is that Republicans who were cheerleaders for President Bush said nothing about General Powell's error-filled testimony to the UN prior to the Iraq invasion. They didn't have any problem with Condi Rice's "mushroom cloud" nonsense before approving her as Secretary of State. Those were far bigger errors - and I will say they were honest errors, not some sort of grand scheme - than what Susan Rice did.

Faux News Ends Interview Abruptly

Faux News has been trying to whip up a controversy about Benghazi for months. Thomas Ricks was on Faux being interviewed about his new book and when he pointed out that plenty of security contractors have been killed before this incident (many during the Bush Administration) and that Faux was propaganda arm of the Republican Party the interview quickly came to an end.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Chicago Bears Back on Track

The Bears took care of business against the Vikings. With the Packers losing, the Bears are back in sole possession of first in the North. The D turned in another great performance with three more turnovers. The only downside is that there were a bunch of injuries (Tillman, Forte, Briggs, Hester, Lance Louis). Hopefully none of them are terribly serious.

The 49er game was and odd game and I believe it was an anomaly game that just happens from time to time. We'll see in a couple of weeks if that is true. The Bears play Seattle this week in Chicago. It should be a good matchup, but this is another game they should win. Can't wait. In the end, I would love to see the Bears play the 49ers in the NFC title game - hopefully in Chicago.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Chicago Bears Sucked

There is no other way to say it - the Bears were terrible in Frisco. I am not going to do an analysis of the game, but I will say that I am not worried because there are games like this in the NFL. A couple of weeks ago the Ravens lost 43-13 and looked terrible. They have won 3 straight since then. The San Francisco 49ers tied the Rams last week and lost at home 26-3 to the Giants. It happens.

That said, the Bears have some work to do. I think the D will play better this week at home against Minnesota. The question I have is whether the offensive line - particularly the tackles - play better. They have to, no matter who the QB is. I have confidence in Lovie and his staff. We'll see.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Couple of Football Notes

I didn't watch as much football as I normally do this weekend. I was coaching in a soccer tournament (4 games - we won all of them and my team got the big trophy) and we had a lot of social events all weekend. But I did see the end of the Oregon game and the end of the K-State game. I was hoping both teams would end up winning out and playing for the national title. Not having an SEC team would further be proof that the BCS system as it currently stands is a sham. Now it looks like Notre Dame has the inside track at a slot (along with Alabama). I am now hoping that USC knocks off Notre Dame and then chaos ensues as all the one loss teams make a claim to play in the title game.

The Eagles really stink. Andy Reid needs to move on. I am sure he will coach somewhere else, but that team has given up.

Atlanta and Houston had real struggles against lesser opponents. That is the reality of the NFL. But you just have to find ways to win and they did. The Bears, 49ers, Packers, Denver, and the hard charging Saints (although I really don't like their defense) look like legitimate teams. I really like the Ravens - but they are very inconsistent and their D struggles and I am not as high on the Patriots, especially without Gronkowski. A lot of football left to play and I am sure injuries will play a major factor down the stretch. Hopefully the Bears will remain relatively healthy.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

McCain Has Truly Lost It

He missed a classified briefing on Benghazi to hold a press conference to complain that there wasn't enough information on Benghazi.

Republicans Unhinged

Faux News cannot understand how the President was re-elected and it is apparently seeping into a portion of the Republican base. I am just amazed at how unhinged some folks are getting.

The secessionists are a pretty small group. There isn't a serious or credible effort to have any state secede. Less than 0.5 percent of the population has signed a petition for secession but they are out there. The funny thing is that with the exception of Texas, most of the states with larger numbers of apparent secessionists - Arkansas, South Carolina, Mississippi, Alaska all get more federal dollars back than the tax dollars they send from their state to the U.S. Treasury. These rubes who are actually serious about secession would just make their states poorer - even if they could figure out how their government would work.

It appears that Republicans are again starting to fixate on Benghazi again. John McCain and Lindsay Graham are calling for Watergate-type hearings and think that Dr. Susan Rice (UN Ambassador) is not qualified to serve as Secretary of State because she went on the Sunday talk shows a few days after the attack and gave some information that we now know was incorrect. If you actually watch what she said it is pretty clear that she was always careful to say that we were still gathering facts.

However, there are a bunch of right wing conspiracy theories about Patraeus being forced out to silence him about Benghazi. It is just completely inane. Patraeus is still going to testify - he didn't die. I still have yet to understand what people think is being covered up. Were there mistakes? Sure. But there is nothing to suggest that Benghazi was anything more than that. Having a Watergate-type hearing is supposed to do what? I really have no idea.

If these Republicans want to continue to put on their tinfoil hats and act like fools that is fine. I don't see how either of these things is anything more that a distraction that wastes time and money. It certainly doesn't move the country forward and I don't see how it helps build the base of the Party. This is what happens when there is a total vacuum of leadership. You end up with a lot of fringe folks getting noticed - often to the detriment of the broader Party.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Texas Secession?

There are petitions in a number of states to have those states secede from the United States. Texas has gotten the most signatures to date, but it is still just over 25,000 - not a truly serious effort. It is not going to happen, but I think it would be a very interesting experiment if we did allow a state like Texas to secede. I am sure the internal squabbling and divisions within the state would tear it up.

It is easy to complain and criticize, but governing is difficult and messy. The moment Texas (or any other state) became responsible for itself there would be all kinds of new problems.

Wife Runs Over Husband for Not Voting

A 28-year old Arizona woman was enraged that President Obama was re-elected, but then went crazy when she found out her husband hadn't voted. She decided to run him over with their car!

Patraeus Scandal

I wasn't going to post anything about this whole embarrassing scandal. It is pathetic that you have these high level folks engaging in such childish and reckless behavior. Patraeus was right to resign - frankly, he had a responsibility to do so much earlier when he first was contacted by the FBI. I'm not sure why he didn't contact the President right away and resign, but I suppose it just fits with the pattern of recklessness of his behavior.

Again, Faux News and Limbaugh and other right wing hacks are trying to argue that there was some political motive for this whole investigation. You have some people arguing that Patraeus is being railroaded unfairly. Related to this, there are silly arguments that the Administration wants to discredit him so that they can hush him up on Benghazi. Foolish nonsense.

Patraeus is going to have to testify to Congress about Benghazi. He has resigned - he is not dead! The simple fact is that the nation cannot have a CIA Director who is as much of an idiot as Patraeus seemed to be. His personal moral failings make him susceptible to blackmail, but on top of that, he seems to have engaged in a lot of deception with his email "system" of using draft emails that were never sent to communicate with his lover without leaving an electronic trail. In addition, he just seemed to be wasting a lot of time with his mistress that should have been spent doing work for the American people. The other general and the Florida socialite are just side stories that make the whole sordid mess even more ridiculous. How is Patraeus supposed to be taken seriously when you know all of his middle school type antics?

Monday, November 12, 2012

What a Nut!

This dude really is pretty dumb. He got a tattoo on his face of the RR symbol for Romney-Ryan. He had to have been drunk when he made that mistake.

Republican Foolishness On Taxes

The Fiscal Cliff is looming, but it will be averted. The thing that is so odd is that Republicans in the House are already arguing that they won't accept any deal that raises taxes on the rich.

Last week, the President said let's extend the Bush tax cuts and freeze taxes on those individuals making less than $250,000/year - that is 98 percent of the country. Then, they can look at the top 2 percent separately. Republicans say, no way. They are apparently willing to allow taxes to rise for everyone because they want to protect the 2 percent from a 3.6 percent increase in taxes that would put the income tax rate back to where it was when Clinton was in office. That is a totally insane position that will alienate 98 percent of America. Forget about the 47 percent that Romney wrote off, the Republicans want to go for 98 percent!

Chicago Bears Lose

Disappointing game last night. The weather played a part, but both teams have to deal with the same weather and the Bears are supposed to be the tough outdoor team while Houston plays in a dome. That said, I am not really concerned about the loss itself. Losing 13-6 in a driving rain storm against a very good Texan team is not terrible.

The Bear defense was great as usual. They gave up some rushing yards in the first half, but clamped down in the second half. Matt Schaub did not have a great night because of the weather and the good defensive play of the Bears.

What I am concerned about is Jay Cutler's health (he was concussed) and the play calling. On a night like last night, the Bears should be focusing more on trying to get Forte and Bush the ball. When you look at the play calling the Bears had way more passes than runs and the Texans were just the opposite. The offensive coaching should have adjusted - especially without Jay Cutler in the second half.

I'm not really going to go into a ton of details about the game. I think almost all of it fell on the play calling. Next week the Bears go to San Francisco for a Monday night matchup, and both teams are likely to be missing their starting quarterbacks because of concussions. I just hope the Bears stay committed to the running game.

Thursday, November 08, 2012

The Fiscal Cliff

Now that the election is over there is talk about "The Fiscal Cliff." The Fiscal Cliff is the term for the combination of automatic tax increases for all Americans when the Bush tax cuts and 2 percent payroll tax holiday expire, the millions of Americans who will be hit with the alternative minimum tax (AMT) if nothing is done, the automatic spending cuts that affect across the board government programs - everything from Defense to food stamps. These spending cuts were put in place when the debt ceiling was raised last year. Something needs to be done before January 1 or there we will go over the cliff.

Should we go over the cliff, there is little doubt that we will go into a recession. However, it is unlikely that we will go over the cliff. I believe the Republican Congress won't be so stubborn about allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire on wealthy individuals now that President Obama has won re-election. Spending cuts, tax increases, and closing of tax loopholes are all needed to put the fiscal house in order. President Obama offered $3 in spending cuts for $1 in tax increases and the Republican Party bailed out of discussions. During the presidential primary race, the Republican candidates refused to even allow $1 in tax increases for $10 in spending cuts. If the Republican Party takes that position nothing will get done.

Frankly, the solution is fairly simple.

1. Allow the payroll tax holiday to expire. That will shore up Social Security and Medicare with the 2 percent FICA increase (back to normal levels).

2. Increase the cap on taxable income that gets hit by FICA from about $110,000 to $200,000 (right now, anyone making over $110,000 pays the same as those making $110,000. This will further shore up Social Security and Medicare and create larger surpluses in these programs that can be applied to the budget deficit.

3. Allow the Bush tax cuts to expire on those making over $250,000/year. This will bring billions into the U.S. Treasury. Adding the 3 percent income tax to wealthy Americans won't really have any major impact on their lifestyles.

4. Cut defense spending by about $100 billion/year over the next 3 years. Most of this could be done by ending the war in Afghanistan and no longer having to replace worn out fighting equipment at such a fast pace.

5. Implement a 10 percent cut in spending to all agencies that are funded with more than $30 billion/year. This could be phased in over 3 years also. This would force agencies to try to work to become more efficient.

This would just be the start. I would look to end all tax subsidies and tax breaks for companies making more than $500 million in profit and consider changes to capital gains taxes (some higher, some lower). We just need people of good faith and common sense to come together. The other thing is that none of the changes has to be permanent. If something doesn't work you go back and change it, we just need to have significant change.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Top 5 Reasons President Obama Won

Contrary to what many conservatives think - particularly the hard right wingers - President Obama is not a socialist Hell bent on enslaving the people into a some sort of evil collective. Most Americans know that and were more in line with his positions on the issues which is why he won. However, beyond the difference in world views and the birther/socialist/secret Muslim silliness that gripped a significant portion of the Republican electorate, there are a number of reasons why Mitt Romney could not beat the President.

1. The demographics of the nation are changing. The number of white male voters may be increasing, but not as fast as other segments of the population. As a percentage of the population, this bloc is shrinking rapidly and the Republican Party has done nothing to attract women and minorities to the Party. In fact, the Party did its best to alienate itself from women with candidates like Mourdock and Akin, as well as the extreme women's health positions of Paul Ryan. Hispanics have been turned off by all of the anti-Hispanic positions of the Party and the constant coded race-baiting have turned off African-Americans and Hispanics.

2. Paul Ryan was a horrible choice for VP. Ryan's views on abortion didn't help with women, but his position on voucherizing Medicare and Social Security killed any chance of racking up big percentages of older voters. This killed any chance of winning Florida (assuming it does go to Obama), Pennsylvania, and Ohio. He didn't help in his home state of Wisconsin - so there really was no gain from having Ryan on the ticket. He was just as bad a pick as Sarah Palin four years ago.

3. Mitt's op-ed on allowing GM and U.S. automaking to go backrupt. I don't completely disagree with Mitt's view. Frankly, both President Bush and President Obama should have pushed GM and Chrysler into federal bankruptcy court sooner. However, I can understand that with so much falling apart in the economy, it was probably better for both Presidents to push off the bankruptcy proceedings back in order to deal with other problems first. However, Mitt took an extreme view that the private sector would have solved the problem. There is no way that private sector investors were going to sweep in to save U.S. automaking and literally hundreds of thousands of jobs would have been lost. Voters in the manufacturing sector knew it also and it basically locked up Ohio for the President.

4. Mitt's constant flip flopping. He was a flawed candidate who kept showing people his flaws with major flip flops every week. It just kept killing any momentum he might build, but it also made him untrustworthy.

5. Mitt is a Mormon who was not fully accepted by the Republican base. Mitt got more than 2 million fewer votes than McCain. I think a lot of this has to do with Evangelicals not fully getting behind Mitt. He tried to play to the base but in the end it hurt him with independents. Then, he didn't even get the base to fully support him. That was enough to ensure defeat.

Victory!


Not a surprising result at all. The race has been over for months and it just wasn't that close. As I predicted, President Obama won by 2+ million votes in the national popular vote and easily won the Electoral College. I projected a 303-235 vote. It looks like it will be at least 330-208 because it looks like Florida went to the President also (there are 2 individual Electoral College votes that also need to be determined).

I also did not think it was going to be that late a night. I thought it would be decided by 11:30 and I was pretty much dead on with that. In fact, at about 10:30 I called my mother-in-law and told her it was over. I had out my iPad and was looking at the county-by-county data that was coming in for Florida, Ohio, and Virginia. It was very clear that Ohio was going to Obama and I could see that Florida and Virginia were going to be closer but they were moving toward Obama. It was all but over by 10:30 and anyone who looked at the data could easily see it.

Nate Silver really nailed it with his statistical analysis as did RCP. Larry Sabato missed on Virginia and if Florida is declared for Obama then he would have missed that race also.

There are idiot Republicans like Trump who don't accept the will of the people and actually think the election was stolen. These are the same fools who think Obama is a secret Muslim who was born in Kenya. Ignorant dolts! The outcome of the election was very clear leading up to election day and the win was decisive. It was not a close election and now my hope is that President Obama will be more aggressive with the Republicans and they will be more willing to work with him. Whether they do or not, we will see continued economic improvement and significant reduction in the federal budget deficit. It is a great day for America.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Cutler Supports Mitt

I meant to post something up about this. Cutler was on the radio in Chicago and was asked who he was voting for. He said he was going for Mitt. In Chicago that is not a great pick, but he is perfectly entitled to his opinion. To be fair, President Obama talked highly of Aaron Rodgers when the Packers won the Super Bowl.

The Trib asked if Cutler's choice changed readers' opinions about him. About 32 percent of the 3000+ respondents said it did. Some probably love him, some probably hate him. I'm with the majority of folks who don't really care.

Election Day is Here!

Nate Silver's latest update puts the President's chances for re-election at 91 percent. I watched Silver last night on Colbert and could not agree with him more - the presidential race is not a toss-up. That said, it is going to be interesting to see how good his prediction model is. If he is wrong - and certainly it is possible (although unlikely) - and Romney wins the his credibility will be totally shot. I suspect that he will get one or two states wrong and have to make adjustments to his statistical model - but that is just good science.

It looks to me like Florida will go to Romney, Ohio will go to President Obama, and now Virginia is looking more and more like it will go to Obama. Romney has to have all three to win. The only other state that I see as being in play is Colorado. But that state is not enough to overcome a loss in Ohio or Virginia for Romney.

If I were to make a case for Romney winning, I would say that the early voting advantage that the President got this year was not as great as in 2008, so Republicans improved their ground game. Also, young people may not be as engaged as they were 4 years ago. But then, the percentage of white working class voters shrank again and the gap between Romney and Obama with Hispanic voters is significantly larger than it was between McCain and Obama. Combining all of this means not much has changed in terms of the expected outcome.

Monday, November 05, 2012

Election Eve Thoughts

The election is not really that close. Nate Silver and Paul Krugman called their own newspaper's (the New York Times) reporting on the election "lazy" and "stupid" for saying it is close. I totally agree with that assessment. People think the election is close, when in fact it is pretty much an Obama win by a comfortable Electoral College margin. Sure the national polls are close and the national popular vote will probably end up as a 2 percent difference in favor of Obama (I suppose the 2+ million advantage that Obama will have is close). But when you look at the Electoral College map, not much has changed since earlier this year and it looks like President Obama will cruise to a second term.

Real Clear Politics has it 303-235 Obama in the Electoral College.

Intrade puts the President's re-election at 67 percent.

On the strength of Betfair's 80 percent chance of re-election. Predictwise puts re-election at 73 percent.

Nate Silver now put the election at an 86 percent chance of re-election for President Obama.

As I pointed out yesterday, I was really looking forward to Larry Sabato's Crystal Ball prediction for tomorrow. He projects a solid re-election for President Obama 290-248 in the Electoral College. The only real question seems to be how Virginia will go. Silver and RCP and many polls show Obama winning the Commonwealth of Virginia. Sabato says it will go to Romney (although it is probably the state he is least confident in). I think it will go to Obama because of the strength of Northern Virginia, but Sabato probably knows better.

My prediction is 303-235 for Obama and the race will be over when either Virginia or Ohio are called for Obama - which may be later in the night because the networks will want to get them right. I think by 11:30 tomorrow night we will know that President Obama has been re-elected.

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Chicago Bears Dominate Again

The D was awesome. The Special Teams made two big plays in the first quarter and the offense shook off a weak first quarter to explode to a big and very complete Bear team win.

The Bears blocked a punt and got a TD. Tennessee got a safety on a penalty in the end zone, but after the Bears' D stopped Tennessee on the ensuing drive, Devin Hester broke free for 44 yard punt return to the Tennessee 8. Forte rushed it in for a 14-2 lead. Urlacher intercepted Hasselbeck for a 46 yard pick-6, then the next Tennessee drive ended after one play with a CJ fumble at the Tennessee 16 yard line. The Bears offense punched it in for a 28-2 first quarter lead.

The Bears rolled from there - no problem. Next up is Houston at home in Chicago. Should be a great game next Sunday night.

Prediction Markets and Election

As I mentioned yesterday, there are ways to manipulate the prediction markets - and it is not that expensive to do that. Intrade is the most commonly cited prediction market. But, one of the other major prediction markets is Betfair. At Predictwise, they average Betfair and Intrade in their prediction of what will happen in the presidential election.

There is an enormous gap between Betfair and Intrade. Betfair puts the President's chance at re-election at 78 percent, but Intrade puts it at 65 percent. This suggests that their is a concerted effort to manipulate the Intrade market. If you are willing to bet on Obama's re-election, you should bet on Intrades market because your payout would be better. For the same reason, if you want to bet on Romney, you should bet on Betfair because the payout would be far better. There are some rules about U.S. betters using Betfair, but there still should be convergence - not divergence. Given the state-by-state polls and the Electoral College map it is pretty clear the Romney's path to election is pretty limited. Spending tens of thousands of dollars to control the Intrade number isn't necessarily a bad strategy, but it won't make any difference in the end.

Nate Silver puts the President's re-election at 85.5 percent. The upward adjustment is due to the new state polls that came in over the weekend that favor the President and the fact that there is even less time for Romney to turn things around.

I am really looking forward to tomorrow's prediction for the election by Larry Sabato and the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia. Nate Silver got 49 of the 50 state results correct in 2008 (he was off on Indiana which went to McCain by less than 1 percent). Sabato was 50 for 50 in 2008. Sabato is a good friend of George Allen (they went to UVA at the same time) and is conservative - but he is very fair and he is very good with his predictions.

Friday, November 02, 2012

Elections and Prediction Markets

PredictWise provides and updates the results from three of the major prediction markets for the Presidential race. They show Intrade and Betfair - which base their trades on Electoral College victory. They also show the Iowa markets (IEM), which predicts the national population results - which are important for maintaining legitimacy. It stinks when you get an Electoral College victory, but the national popular vote goes the other way - as it did when Gore conceded to Bush (notice I did not say Bush defeated Gore - but there is no need to re-litigate that fiasco).

The predictive value of the prediction markets is really, really good. When people have to put money on a winner it is different than just giving an opinion. That said, Nate Silver gave a great discussion of the value of his statistics. Clearly his statistical analysis shows a clear Obama re-election. However, as he points out that does not mean Obama will win. He discussed what it meant for his model to show a 79 percent chance of an Obama re-election in terms of a football game. When there are 3 minutes left in a game and a team is up by 3 points, there is a 79 percent chance that the team that is aheas will win. Certainly there are teams that are able to come back and win (21 percent of the time it happens). Thus, Romney still has a shot, but the every day the odds are becoming longer and longer.

We will see an Obama re-election, just as I have been saying for months. Today's solid job numbers locked it up for the President. That is why the prediction markets are so heavily tilted toward a second term for President Obama.

Prediction Markets

There was an initial drop this morning on Intrade that dropped the President from about 65 percent to 63 percent. But now it is up to almost 67 percent. I would be willing to bet that there was an effort to try to manipulate Intrade to blunt the momentum of the jobs report. I heard that it takes about $7000 to move Intrade a point one way or another - I'm not sure if that is true, but it was mentioned on CNBC.

The reason that the prediction markets work so well is that people bet real money. So if you have manipulation it is quickly corrected as people take advantage of faulty prices.

One other note, Nate Silver now puts that re-election at 81 percent. I suspect this will go up today as the jobs number came in so strong - well above expectations.

Good October Jobs Numbers

Unemployment ticked up to 7.9 percent, but the economy added a very solid 171,000 jobs last month. There was also an upward job revision for September from 114,000 to 148,000 jobs. Government jobs was the only sector that fell, it was good to see that even manufacturing rose.

The Dow futures jumped more than 40 points. This is just another number that supports the fact that we are in recovery. The housing market has been increasing, consumer confidence and GDP has been rising, and the last two weeks' unemployment claims have been falling, so the jobs number is in line with expectations.

This report is a good one for the President and for the country. What we can see is that even with increasing jobs we saw unemployment tick up - that is actually a good sign. What it says is that there are people who were out of the work force who are coming back in.

The President will be re-elected and once the "fiscal cliff" is averted - and it will be averted - the economy will really roar. Private sector investment is likely to be under pressure because of the uncertainty with Congress' ability to avert sequestration and the fiscal cliff. Once the President is re-elected, there won't be any reason for Republicans to remain stubborn about not working with the President.

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Chicago Bears Thoughts

The Bears are now 6-1 and they look great defensively and OK offensively. Special teams have been fine, but not spectacular. Defensively, the Bears have scored 6 touchdowns - fantastic. Charles Tillman is probably playing the best football of his career (he was named NFC defensive player of the month), as is Tim Jennings on the other side. The mix of youth and vets on the front 4 has really worked. Conte and Wright are very good safeties. I have some concerns about Urlacher's ability to play the entire season. He does look like he has lost a step at times, but he is still a great middle linebacker. Briggs and Roach have been solid.

Special teams have been solid, but no return TDs and Robbie Gould missed a 33 yard field goal last week. He redeemed himself with a 41-yard game winner as time expired. Still, I don't feel like the special teams units have been their usual awesome selves. We'll see what happens in coming weeks.

The Bears offense has been up and down. At times they look unstoppable. Brandon Marshall can dominate, Cutler can zing the ball, and Forte can run. But other times they look pedestrian. A lot of it has to do with play calling and the offensive line. Carolina sacked Jay Cutler 6 times in the first half. Then in the second half the O-line and play calling were much better and Jay went 14 of 16 to close out the game with a TD and two drives that led to field goals attempts (including the game winner). I'd like to see more of a commitment to Forte and the running game. This will take pressure of the O-line to pass protect all the time and will tire out the defensive linemen.

Playing Tennessee on the road will be a good game, but one the Bears should manage. It could turn into a very special season if the Bears can keep up the defensive pressure and get a bit more consistent on offense.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Michelle Bachmann Gets a Laugh



Michelle is a joke as a member of Congress. In Minnesota people erupted in laughter at her lie. Look at her face - she actually looks surprised.

Mitt Won't Talk

We are less than a week from the election and Romney has refused to do any national interviews - including with Faux News. He is embarrassed by his position that FEMA should be eliminated and the states and the private sector should pay for their own emergency responses. Silly position given that we are looking at $20-$40 billion in losses as a result of Sandy.

The other issue that is getting some play is Romney's false claim that Jeep is going to move manufacturing to China. It is just a flat out lie. The guy will say anything to try to win - but he keeps sticking his foot in his mouth.

Add to these, the fact that the polls and prediction markets are clearly in favor of the President and the President's response to Sandy and there isn't much Romney wants to address. Governor Chris Christie has been singing the praises of the President - Christie was the keynoter at the RNC.

Expanding Electoral Map?

There are reports that Romney is spending money in Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Iowa, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota - in addition to Ohio, Virginia, North Carolina, and Florida. This has heartened some Republicans who think that the map is wide open. A false hope.

It is not a sign that things are getting tigher, it is a sign that Romney is desperate because he knows he is not going to win Ohio. He may also lose in Virginia and perhaps even in Florida. None of the 6 states I listed initially above are in any real danger of going to Romney. The President is having to spend money to make sure they stay in his column, but to me it is the clearest sign that Romney recognizes he is on the verge of defeat.

The prediction markets agree. Intrade is now up over 66 percent in favor of Obama. Nate Silver's model puts re-election for Obama at over 77 percent.

It also doesn't help that Romney wants to do away with FEMA and let the states handle their emergencies. Not a popular position in the wake of Hurricane Sandy's devastation.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Election Thoughts

Nate Silver's blog is a must read if you are interested in stats and numbers. He had a great post yesterday on how/why the prediction markets are so effective and discussed the fact that Intrade tends to overestimate the chances of the underdog - although the Intrade markets still predict the winner correctly. If you are wondering, he puts the chances of President Obama's re-election at 71 percent today. Intrade puts it at 60 percent. Anything over 53 percent is pretty much a lock based on past history.

There is an interesting trend that shows that the gender gaps have closed. The more significant finding is that the President had a 16 point lead among women a month ago, but they are now even. The problem that I see for Romney is that as the final days of the election come, there will be a concerted effort to remind female voters about Romney and Republican positions against women's health and equal pay for equal work. In addition, you have two Republican Senate candidates - Akin in Missouri and Mourdock in Indiana - who have very odd views of rape that can't help bring in women voters.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Why Vote for Mitt?

I think the case for President Obama being re-elected is pretty strong on his record. The economy was in a tailspin with 800,000 jobs being lost every month. The stock market was collapsing and GDP was contracting at about 6 percent/year. The housing market had disintegrated and there was enormous uncertainty as President Obama took office. The passage of the stimulus had a major and easily verifiable effect on turning around the economy. We have now had 31 straight months of job growth, GDP is rising, the stock markets have recovered and corporate profits are back to pre-collapse levels. There has been significant bank regulatory reform to better protect us from another collapse caused by bad banking decisions. And, now the housing market is in full recovery.

On the issue of the federal budget deficit, President Obama took office with a $1.2 trillion deficit - don't believe any other number that is a fact. The tax cuts and spending from the stimulus increased this to $1.4 trillion for FY 2009. The deficit has now fallen to about $1.1 trillion, but structurally it is set for a huge decline in coming years. The basic employment growth and GDP growth, as well as swelling corporate profits should be able to shave about $100 billion off of the deficit by itself next year. With the expiration of the 2 percent FICA tax break, tens of billlions will also be cut from the deficit. If Congress would just allow the Bush tax cuts to expire on those making over $250,000, we could save another $150 billion next year. The deficit is going to come under control under President Obama during the second term.

With Obamacare, our health care infrastructure is not only more secure, but set to be much more affordable. The reality is that Republicans know it is good policy and won't actually repeal it. It is working and will continue to be the law. Winding down the war in Afghanistan will also save money that can be used to spur infrastructure spending.

Why change course now? Mitt has been spinning out of control from one policy position to another. He was against the bailout of Detroit. He was against getting out of Iraq. He wanted to put troops on the ground in Libya. All of these he now seems to support. He criticized London for their preparation for the Olympics and was hammered by British politicians and the press. He has been all over the place on women's health issues ("I'm strongly pro-choice!" "I'm strongly pro-life!"). He is sort of for Obamacare and then against it sort of and then for it and then against it (what day is it?). He wants to cut taxes and magically shrink the deficit. He tried to politicize Benghazi (I'm still not sure why). On top of all of this, I have some concerns about his history at Bain and the fact that he has refused to show his full taxes. I don't begrudge the fact that he has made a lot of money, only that there seems to be some things he wants to hide about how he made his money. I have to believe that Americans recognize that Mitt is a carpet bagger who has constantly switched his views to appeal to voters. His lack of core values is unnerving because one cannot have confidence about how he will react when facing adversity. There is some flirting with Romney, but in the end, enough Americans will come home to Obama because he has delivered and has an agenda that is working.

Post-Debate Thoughts: Less than 2 Weeks

The race is about where I would expect. It looks like President Obama has a great shot at re-election and will win the Electoral College by about 50 electors. Virginia, Colorado, and most important, Ohio are all in play. Florida and New Hampshire are slightly in play, but other than that the states look pretty well set.

If Romney were to lose any of the following: Virginia, Florida, or Ohio it is over and President Obama will be returned to office for a second term. Is it close - sort of, but not enough to really worry if you are an Obama supporter.

The Intrade market give President Obama a 56 percent chance of re-election. Nate Silver's calculation puts it almost at 70 percent. Unless there is some major gaffe or the October jobs number (due on the Friday before the election) shows major job losses - which is highly unlikely - it is still President Obama's to lose.

Chicago Bears: NFC Title Contender

With a 5-1 record and the NFL's stingiest scoring defense and most opportunistic defense in terms of scoring itself, there is no question that the Bears can make a good run this year. They play Carolina and then Tennessee the next two weeks. If they can get to 7-1 they will almost be a lock for the playoffs.

The thing I like about the team is that it is a great mix of vets and young guys who all seem to get along. The D has a great rotation of young and old on the front 4. Briggs, Urlacher, and Roach have been great at the linebacking positions. The secondary has been tremendous. Tillman is playing like he is 25 and Jennings has been more than adequate as the second corner. DJ Moore is a talent in the nickel position. But what has really made a difference this year in the secondary is the play of Major Wright (3rd year) and Chris Conte (2nd year).

Special teams are always good, so no worries there - although I would like to have Devin pop 1-2 TDs this year. The offense is completely changed with more running (the addition of Bush has been great) and a far better offensive line. The Lions had 5 sacks, but I would say that 2 or 3 of those were just Jay Cutler holding the ball and trying to make a play. The addition of Brandon Marshall has been great. Cutler can just throw it up and let him get it. If there is one player who has been a bit disappointing, it is Kellen Davis. I like him and think he could be a very good tight end, but he drops the ball too often.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Debate #3: Pre-game Thoughts and the State of the Race

Nothing has really changed in terms of the outcome that I can see. No question the polls are tighter - but that isn't really surprising. It was going to tighten anyway - as elections tend to do. Looking at the Intrade and prediction markets, President Obama has a better than 60 percent chance to be re-elected. Unless something dramatic happens, there isn't much reason to believe he won't be re-elected. I am very curious about the Gallup poll today. Gallup's national poll is a 7-day tracking poll and it has been running at about +6% for Romney, but today's poll will be the first one that has a clear majority of individuals polled after last week's debate. I expect that it will come back in line with the 3-day tracking polls that show a much closer race.

The third debate is tonight. It focuses on foreign policy. I'm not sure how it really helps Romney to debate foreign policy. I doubt voters really care about foreign policy issues in this election. I am still perplexed by Romney's Benghazi attack. Aside from the fact that most Americans have no ideas what it is (sad to say), Romney's politicization of it doesn't seem to make much sense. Why he thinks there is some kind of cover-up is beyond me.

The key for tonight is to look sober, serious, firm, and presidential. Attacking won't really convince swing voters to come around because they won't really know or care about the facts and they may be turned off by overly-aggressive attacking.

As for me, I have to evaluate basketball players for my youth basketball team until 9:00 and then the Bears are on Monday Night Football, so I will likely miss much of the debate.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Presidential Debate: Round #2

President Obama won the night, but I thought Romney did a pretty good job. Certainly it wasn't a total wipeout like the first debate in which Romney destroyed a listless President Obama. There were a couple of times I thought they might actually hit each other. It was a pretty physically intimidating debate.

However, I do think that President Obama re-established himself as the clear-cut favorite to win re-election. The Intrade market is up about 5 points today from where it was yesterday (now at 65 percent). Following the first debate I was surprised by the significant bounce Romney got - I don't think he ever really took control of the race but certainly it had tightened more than I expected. I think Romney was able to hide his policies and keep himself from looking like the rich arrogant aristocrat who doesn't care about the common folks pretty well. Yesterday that just did not happen.

I thought the 2 most significant moments in the debate were when Romney was asked about equal pay for women and the President was asked about Benghazi. First for Romeny. He does not support equal pay - that much is clear because he didn't come out in favor of it. However, he was so patronizing in his response. He talked about seeing the "binders full of women" when he was picking his cabinet and the fact that he allowed flex time so that his female chief of staff could go home and make dinner - it was a ridiculous comment. That hurt him with women.

But the moment of the debate had to be the discussion about Bhenghazi. I thought President Obama addressed the issue very well. He acknowledged that Hilary Clinton had fallen on her sword, but he took responsibility. His point about greeting the returning coffins and that we should not politicize this type of event really seemed to strike a chord. He looked like a leader and in command when he stared down Romney and said he found the politicization attempt offensive. Romney also stumbled when he said the President hadn't addressed the attack as a terrorist attack - when the President referred to the transcript of his Rose Garden comments the day after the attack, and Candy Crowley pointed out that Romney was incorrect, it seemed to knock Romney off balance for about 10-15 minutes. It was a significant blunder.

I have to say, I don't think the Bhengazi terrorist attack is something that Romney should touch. There really isn't any evidence of a cover-up, nor is there really any reason for a cover-up, so it is unclear what Romney is trying to get out it. For most Americans, I don't think they even know where Bhengazi is or what happened. He should stick to the economic points he wants to make. Talking about Bhengazi just distracts voters away from his core arguments.

The end result is that the President is now back in great shape and Romney's momentum is likely done. I expect the President to have rising numbers the next few days and with just one more debate - on foreign policy - it doesn't look like there is a game changer out there that is going to really change the outcome of the race. It certainly looks like the President will be re-elected in 3 weeks. We'll see.

Friday, October 12, 2012

O's and Nats

Let me start with the Washington Nationals. Great year, good young team, should be good for years. Facing elimination, Jason Werth knocked a walk-off homer in the bottom of the ninth to force a deciding Game 5 tonight. With Gio Gonzales pitching I like the Nationals chances.

The O's are more my team than the Nats. My family and I go to see the O's at Camden every year. I think Baltimore is more blue collar and the fans are more "real" than for Washington because of the long history of Orioles baseball. The series against the "Evil Empire" (Yankees) has been up and down and is filled with drama. A bad ninth inning by Jim Johnson in game 1 blew the game open for the Yanks late. A save by Jim Johnson in game 2 served as a reminder for why he was the AL save leader. In game 3, Johnson blew the save and the Orioles lost in the 12 when Raul Ibanez hit two homers in the ninth and twelfth. Last night Johnson got the save in extra innings and the Orioles have also forced a deciding game tonight. Every game has been close and has come down to one or two bad pitches. I like baseball, but I love playoff baseball, especially when my team is in. Should be a good night of baseball.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

VP Debate Thoughts

I thought both men did a pretty good job that works for their respective base voters. No question Biden was the aggressor and it was probably a good thing so that Dems could be reassured after the President's listless performance in his debate. But, I was impressed with the way Ryan carried himself. He did not offer specifics on a wide range of things - even when pressed. I also thought he got turned around on the discussion about Afghan troops. But, he was not overwhelmed.

One thing I can respect Ryan on is his clarity about his position and what he says the Romney position is on abortion. He makes no bones about the fact that he is pro-choice. I don't think the country's voters agree with him, but at least he didn't try to lie about his position.

In the end, I don't think voters will decide on who they will vote for based on tonight. The supporters of each campaign could get excited about their candidates, and this was probably more important for Dems. This will probably inch the Intrade number up a bit over the next few days.

VP Debate

At 9:00 tonight we get the VP debate. I don't think the debate itself moves people, but it is going to have an indirect effect because the media will set a narrative as a result.

If Biden has a great night the media narrative will be that he stopped the Republican momentum. If Ryan has a great night then there will be more media discussion of Republican momentum. For this reason, there is added pressure on both candidates.

What I hope happens is that there is substantive discussion of Romney's still unknown tax law changes, a discussion of voucherizing SS and Medicare, and a real debate about women's health issues. These are major agenda items and the American people should see the real difference between the candidates.

What I expect will happen is that Ryan will abandon his principles and pretend to be for some moderate/progressive policies. Biden will aggressively point out that he is totally at odds with past views and we continue to see the crazy evolution of the Romney/Ryan ticket to something that they are not.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Flip-Flop Mitt

Ryan Walks Out of Interview

The guy gets some very mild questioning and then can't take it and walks out. What a dope.

Romney on Abortion?

Yesterday he seemed to say that he wouldn't push for abortion legislation as President, but then he backtracked.

This is another flip-flop. Of course he used to be strongly pro-choice. He used to talk about how a family member died as a result of an botched abortion that was done when abortion was not legal. That was his position while he was running for governor in Massachusetts.

Then, while in office he decided he was strongly pro-life. I guess he decided he needed to be pro-life so he could win the Republican nomination.

Who knows what he really thinks. But, a guy who cannot make up his mind on this type of issue is again not worthy of the Presidency.

6 NFL Thoughts After Week 5

1. Houston is really, really good - the best in the NFL right now. But the loss of Brian Cushing is significant and could really change their fortunes. The NFL has to take a hard look at cut blocks like the one that took out his knee.

2. Atlanta is the team to beat in the NFC. They went on the road and avoided a classic trap game in DC. They have a good defense, a good running game, and a great passing game with their QB and stud receivers and tight end. For Atlanta it is all about the playoffs. They have to prove it when it counts - especially Matt Ryan. 3. Arizona looks like a pretender. There were people talking about them being the best team in the NFL last week. They look like a team that has gotten lucky with some late game plays.

4. The Jets truly stink. The whole Tebow thing is a joke. If he gets in there the Jets will lose by more lopsided scores. They do not have any NFL wide receivers on their team and their running game is terrible. They may want to look at Ochocinco and TO, because they need to do something to get their offense going.

5. The Bears are great on D and can be very, very good on offense. The question is can they actually ever beat the Packers?

6. RG3 did what rookies do and foolishly tried to make a play that just wasn't there. In the NFL, you have to slide or run out of bounds. He learned that lesson the hard way.

Intrade at 60 percent

There is no question that Romney changed his fortunes with his debate performance (and Obama's listless performance). The national polls have shifted by about 5 points toward Romney. As a result, there are a lot of Dems who are panicking that the sky is falling.

The race is still a race of battleground states. While Romney has closed some of the leads and passed Obama in some of the latest polls in battleground states, he still faces a major uphill battle. This is why Intrade still gives Obama a 60 percent chance at re-election. Nate Silver puts his re-election at 71 percent. Frankly, anything over 53 percent on the Intrade market is pretty much a lock of happening.

The President needs to show some fight in the remaining debates because people want to feel that he is engaged. He is fine in the campaign-trail speeches, and his ads will continue to run. But he has to do better in the debates because this is a chance to face Romney face-to-face. I fully expect him to do better in coming debates and take a more aggressive approach. As that happens, he will solidify his position and win. If he is tentative, we could see further erosion in his chances. It is in his hands.

Sunday, October 07, 2012

Dominating Bears' D

I love the Bears D this year. There are legitimately at least 4 future Hall of Fame players on the D (Urlacher, Briggs, Peppers, and Tillman). The front 4 has a great mix of young and older players who can get pressure without blitzing. The linebackers are able to stay clean because the D-tackles are keeping offensive linemen off of them. The corners are great and DJ Moore is a very good nickel. But, what has been a real surprise is how good the young safeties have been.

The D led the way against Jacksonville this afternoon. For the second week in a row, Briggs and Tillman returned interceptions for TDs. The offense got off to a slow start, but ended with about 500 yards of offense with more than 200 yards rushing.

At 4-1, the Bears are where they want to be going into the bye week. They come back and play Detroit and Carolina at home before going on the road to Tennessee. They very well could be 7-1 at the midway point. The second half of the season should be much tougher, but this is shaping up to be a very good Bear team.

Saturday, October 06, 2012

Utter Irresponsibiility

The jobs report was solid yesterday and unemployment fell to 7.8 percent. Instead of cheering this fact, there are Republicans and much of Faux News who are claiming that the numbers are bogus. That is utterly irresponsible.

Much of the economy and the broader global economy is driven by government data that the U.S. and other countries put out. The idea that the BLS jobs figures have been cooked in order to gain some short term political advantage is utterly preposterous. But it is being put out there to try to discredit the fact that we are seeing significant improvement in our economy by Right Wing political hacks.

There are policies and procedures in place that would prevent such tampering and it would be absolutely devastating to U.S. credibility and the underpinnings of how global capitalism operates. People in leadership positions need to be more responsible. Unless there is evidence to suggest otherwise, questioning the BLS is horrible politics.

Republicans just don't want to accept that the economy is improving and that despite all of their obstruction and opposition, the Obama economic plans are actually working. There has been continuous job growth even as the global economy has suffered - most notably the problems in Europe, China, and India have grown. We also saw that the deficit shrank by more than $200 billion last year. It is still too high, but it is moving in the right direction. If we could actually pass a tax increase on those making more than $250,000 and we let the 2 percent payroll tax cut expire, the decifit would fall by $400 billion with the increased tax revenue and if the employment figures continue as they have been over the last 30 months. This would happen in just one year.

Romney's economic plan - which seems to change every few days - would eliminate the progress we are seeing and most certainly increase the deficit in the short run with no real explanation for how it would help over the longer term. It would create all kinds of new uncertainty.

Friday, October 05, 2012

Another Major Flip Flop from Romney

He now claims he didn't mean it when he disparaged 47 percent of the country. Just the latest in a long line of flip flops.

The whopper lie he told at the debate about how his tax plan is not a $5 trillion cut to government revenues and the whopper juniors about liking regulations and not knowing that there are tax incentives to move companies overseas were big ones this week also. This is the problem with Romney - he is a liar at worst, or just a guy who doesn't actually know what his views are at best. Either way, he is not fit to be President which is why he is facing a landslide in about a month.

Mitt, you cannot win by saying, "Hi, I'm Mitt Romney and I will say anything you want to hear to become President."

Solid Jobs Report

The economy added 114,000 jobs last month and there were significant upper revisions to prior months. The end result is that unemployment ticked down to 7.8 percent.

The report is not spectacular, but it is very solid. Given the economic troubles around the globe it shows that the U.S. economy is on fairly solid footing.

Obviously, this type of report reassures the markets and is a good sign for President Obama. The stock futures markets look to pop at the open and the Intrade numbers now show President Obama's re-election at over 68 percent. This is about a 3 point pop from where it was before the jobs report came out.

Thursday, October 04, 2012

First Debate Thoughts

Romney clearly won from a visual/perceptual level. He was more aggressive and focused in his responses. President Obama looked tentative and almost listless at times. It was a bad performance from a body language perspective. The thing that was disappointing is that it just did not appear that President Obama was engaged in the debate.

It was a great night for Romney in that he would have been completely knocked out of the race if he had a bad night. Now, there are some who will give him some additional time to lay out his agenda. That said, I doubt there will be much real movement in the polls.

Intrade is now at 66 percent for President Obama's reelection. There has been a clear drop over the last week or so and a 4 point shift overnight. But even with that shift, it still is a landslide for President Obama. The problem for Romney is that while the body language was good and he clearly gained some traction, there is skeptism and issues about his policies.

One last thing - I have seen these flash polls and discussions about who won last night. It is clear that Romney won the night. The real question is whether it actually changes enough voters' minds. I know Romney won, but I also know that I would not vote for him. I suspect that there are a lot of folks like that (on both sides). In about 3-4 days we will see if it had a major effect on voters' decision-making. We'll just have to wait and see.

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Changing Poll Numbers

Intrade has moved in Romney's direction. The odds of President Obama's reelection are now at about 74 percent - down 5 points from a few days ago. It is still overwhelmingly against Romney, but we'll see if it continues to trend in his direction.

The latest poll in North Carolina has now shifted the state back into Romney's corner. It is still an Electoral College landslide for President Obama, but North Carolina switching does give some encouragement to Romney folks.

I cannot wait until the debate tomorrow night. I am so looking forward to seeing the discussion tomorrow. It is unlikely to change much, but I want to see how the two men perform on their feet with the nation watching.

Dominating Bear Win

The Bears went to Dallas and beat up the Cowboys. The story of the game was defense. The Bears picked off Romo five times including two pick-6's. They weren't all Romo's fault - his receivers and O-line did not give him much help.

On the offensive side of the ball the Bears were very efficient. They moved the ball pretty well on a solid - but injured - Dallas D. Getting a few first downs before punting is huge because it can change the field position game. Cutler was on last night and it was good to see Forte get some touches. He clearly wasn't 100 percent but he certainly did contribute.

It was great seeing the O-line largely control the line of scrimmage. They didn't open up big rushing lanes but they did punch some holes open. The pass protection was solid all night which gave Cutler enough time to operate.

Overall it was a good game for Bear fans. Next up is Jacksonville - which should be a win - and then it is the bye so guys can get healed up and rest. Going into the bye at 4-1 would be great. We'll see.

Monday, October 01, 2012

2-1-1

My soccer team won its second in a row (both shutouts). I like the way we are playing overall, but it seems that in every game our first 5-10 minutes are terrible. We look slow and lethargic.

We are now 2-1-1 in the regular season and 4-2-2 when you add in our pre-season tournament.

To get the boys ready for games, I've tried short sprints, jogging, no sprints, different pre-game drills and we always seem to start the same way. We are now 3rd in our 8 team Select league. We have 4 games left. Two are against teams below us, one who is tied with us, and one against the last remaining undefeated team (next game in two weeks). We have a good chance to be the Fall regular season champion. If I can just figure out how best to get the guys into gear right from the start, I like our chances - but I have some work to do.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Colbert on the Polls

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Intrade - 79 Percent!

President Obama's chances of re-election just keep going up. Romney's gaffes and the video of him being himself - a carefree rich guy who doesn't care about the common people hasn't helped his cause. However, just as bad for him is his choice of Paul Ryan as his running mate. He threw away any chance of winning in Florida, Pennsylvania and Iowa because of their larger numbers of older Americans who are concerned about Medicare.

It is clear that there isn't a good mesh between Romney and Ryan and they did not come to a resolution on how they would campaign together. Romney constantly has to answer questions about Ryan's budget plan - the fact that he did not think this through is shocking.

Faux News Nonsense - Yet Again

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Thursday, September 27, 2012

Richest vs. Poorest States

People in Republican states are poorer than those in Democratic states. Sure there are a couple of exceptions, but when you look at the top economic states and the bottom economic states, it is obvious which Party's states do better.

I live in Maryland which is the nation's richest state. We also have a very progressive tax system in the state. These monies are invested in roads, schools, and social programs that help keep the standard of living high. Sure you hear some belly-aching from some Republicans that taxes are too high, but the State keeps on electing Democrats. On the other side of the economic coin is Mississippi. Truly a Red state. It boasts low taxes, but few companies want to relocate there.

Somehow, uneducated masses of people in these poor states think that Republicans will help them. If they would just become more liberal/progressive, they would abandon the failed economic policies of Republicans and put themselves in a position to actually improve their lives. One day they will learn.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Embarrassing moment a desperate Romney uses Ryan to excite crowd



Awkward!

It is Pretty Much Over!

President Obama is going to be re-elected in a landslide. The Intrade market is now at 75 percent and all of the polls - nationally and in the key battleground states - have significantly tilted toward the President. Most of this is a result of Romney's self-inflicted wounds and the video of him showing what he really thinks about this country.

It is going to be almost impossible for Romney to regain enough momentum to make a serious run at President Obama. The debates are coming - but there is little chance that they will move the needle. Besides, Romney and Ryan are going to have to address all of their gaffes and errors over the last few weeks, so it will be difficult to gain any kind of upper hand. There are two jobs reports, but the reality is that economic indicators are improving and it is unlikely that we will see job losses. In fact, I would guess that we will see at least 120,000 jobs created in both reports.

Now, the biggest question is how bad a loss are the Republicans going to incur. It does matter because if Romney continues to trend downward, there will be even more losses in down-ballot elections. Many Republicans may stay home and in close elections against Democrats, this may prove to be the deciding factor. It is almost a lock that the Senate will stay in Democratic hands and there is the growing possibility that Democrats could regain the House. We'll see.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha!!!!!!!

I just heard about this website - unskewedpolls.com. It purports to show the "real" poll numbers without the liberal bias skew.

Who knew? Instead of being up 4 percent as RCP is showing in its average of national polls, President Obama is actually losing by about 8 percent.

The sad thing is that there are probably idiots on the right wing who actually think this is true. When President Obama wins in the landslide that he will likely win by, they won't recognize that the published polls were actually accurate, they will still cling to the "unskewedpolls.com" figures and say that the election was rigged.

NFL Thoughts

Here are my top 5 thoughts after three weeks:

1. The NFL has to resolve its issues with the officials. The horrible officiating is affecting games and livelihoods of players/coaches. What happened in Seattle to the Packers last night was a complete travesty - and I really do not like Green Bay.

2. The 49ers may not be as good as we thought. They had a couple of injuries on D but struggled to make enough plays offensively to beat a flawed Minnesota team. It may have just been a hiccup, but that was the surprise of the week.

3. Arizona - What? 3-0?

4. Philly - will Michael Vick continue to start? He really has sucked this year.

5. RGIII - Great start to the year at a personal level. I have been impressed. But how many more games will he play in before he is hurt? Running the option with the franchise player is just dumb. Add the play calling with some troubles with the O-line and it doesn't look great for his health.

Coaching Youth Soccer

As I have mentioned in the past, I coach my son's soccer and basketball teams. I like to think I know what I am doing and I mix in the right amount of seriousness/discipline with fun. I don't like losing, but certainly don't have a win-at-all cost attitude.

This is my first year as head coach of my son's select soccer team. Select basically means that you have to try out and earn a spot on the team. FYI, my son would make it because I am the coach, but he most certainly would earn a spot in the select league because he is easily good enough to play. Last year, the team won just one game and got a couple of ties in the 19 we played in the Fall and Spring seasons. We were hurt by having four of our best players shifted up to travel teams (3 in the Fall and 1 in the Spring). So we were talent deprived. I also felt that we were a little soft in practice - although I will say that all of the boys improved their basic skills during the year.

This season, we finished as the runner-up of the 8-team pre-season select tournament. We earned a spot in the finals by winning two games and getting a clinching tie. We ended up losing to a better organized team 2-0 in the finals. We have now played 3 games in the regular season and are 1-1-1. The cool thing about what is happening, is that our boys are really learning to play good team soccer and there is a growing confidence and mindset that we can win every game. I want to get to the point where my boys feel like they will win every game.

I do not want to teach over-confidence or arrogance, but we have skilled players who can beat anyone in our select league if we play up to our standards. With our current record, we are in 4th, but we have two of the three teams in front of us left to play during our remaining 5 games of the Fall season - including the team we lost to in the pre-season tournament. It will be fun to watch what happens.

Monday, September 24, 2012

North Carolina Now In Obama's Corner

Intrade is now pushing up over 71 percent for an Obama re-election. More than likely the latest polls in North Carolina which now show the President with a clear lead over Romney are feeding the continually improving Intrade numbers for President Obama.

The latest RCP electoral college map shows President Obama with 347 electoral college votes to Romney's 191.

With just 6 weeks until the election, time is running out for Romney to pose a serious threat to the re-election of our President.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Dominating Bear Defense

The Bears moved to 2-1 with a solid win against the Rams. The Rams are a pretty good team, but they are a team that the Bears had to beat if they are going to do anything this year. The Rams D did a pretty good job. The Bear receivers dropped at least 5 passes - Marshall seemed to have all kinds of problems. I thought Cutler played efficiently, although he did throw an interception that was on him. The play calling was conservative, with a lot of running. I liked it. It seemed to wear on the Rams and it kept Jay upright. Forte would have broken off some longer runs, but Bush and Bell were adequate.

The story of the game was the Bears D. The front 4 are just dominating. They are getting pressure without blitzing and it makes everything easier when you can do that. Peppers and Izzy are playing great on the ends. Rookie Shea McClellen and Corey Wooten have been active when they have been in at the ends. The interior linemen - Okoye, Paea, and Melton have been just great so far this year. The linebackers have been fantastic, but the corners and safeties have played even better. The Bears hit Bradford all game and sacked him 6 times. All those hits lead to 2 interceptions later in the game - one by Major Wright that put the game away in the fourth quarter.

Next up is a trip to Dallas next Monday night. I like their chances and look forward to watching that game on national TV.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Faux News Foolishness

The "news" network gets so much wrong in its effort to make the President look bad. They totally botched a story about the President meeting with a "pirate."

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Intrade at 70 percent . . .

for President Obama re-election. I am sure a lot of this is due to the infighting within the Romney camp, as well as the fact that a lot of down-ballot Republicans are distancing themselves from Romney. Pawlenty quit as a national co-chair to join a lobbying firm. That kind of thing doesn't happen if there is confidence in victory.

Look, the election is not a done deal. There are still two jobs reports - both of which will likely show more than 100,000 jobs created. If they show over 160,000 jobs created, it will be great news for the President. If the jobs reports show less than 40,000, then it will be bad news. Anything between 40,000 and 160,000 probably doesn't move voters either way.

With QE3, we may see an increase in commodity prices - which would include oil. It may impact gas prices, but it seems unlikely that we will see a huge jump.

There is unrest in the Middle East - there is always unrest, so short of a major, major crisis, it is unlikely that we will see much movement.

The debates have yet to take place, but historically, they are not likely to move the numbers. If anything, I expect that Romney will be on the defensive about a lot of the gaffes that he has inflicted upon himself over the last few days, weeks, and months.

Short of a "black swan" event that is totally unpredictable, it looks like President Obama will cruise to a landslide victory in about 7 weeks. The poll data (especially in battleground states) and the Intrade markets are really reflecting that it is likely. We'll see.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The National Debt

Lost in all of the campaigning and gaffes and international incidents and economic turmoil is the fact that is country really does have a problem with it national debt. I have already written plenty about the fact that the structural annual budget deficit of $1 trillion/year was already in place from President Bush - so I am not going to revisit that. The national debt has risen faster under the Reagan and Bush I and II presidencies than under Carter, Clinton, and Obama - just a fact. That said, there are going to have to be serious efforts to get the runaway deficit and skyrocketing national debt under control.

The economic crisis and the real risk of a total economic collapse is now gone - thanks in large part to the Stimulus. We still have slow growth, but there the macro-level indicators (GDP, the stock markets, job figures, unemployment) are all stabilized - they were in disaster mode when President Obama took office. In addition, Obamacare has greatly slowed the rising costs of health care. For about 10 years prior to the passage of Obamacare, health care costs in this country were rising by about 8-10 percent per year. They are still rising at about 3-4 percent per year which is faster than the rate of inflation but at least it is slowing. As more individuals sign up for private health insurance, it should continue to keep the rate of growth at a low rate.

The big thing now is to get more people back to work. This will allow the tax base to grow and more money to flow into the government through tax collections. There needs to be an infrastructure jobs program - direct construction and improvement of roads, bridges, schools, water mains, etc. should be implemented in order to put people to work and improve America's crumbling infrastructure. In order to pay for this, there should not be additional borrowing, rather the money should come from letting the Bush tax cuts on the wealthy expire. The 3 percent increase in taxes for those making more than $250,000 won't kill them (my family and I would fit in this group) - in fact this group has done well even in the down economy - and the money would go directly into the jobs program. The tax revenue would increase as people are put to work. It would also help the private sector as it would increase manufacturing and trucking output as suppliers would have to increase production.

Obviously, less money would be required for unemployment and social programs if more people were working. So that would also help to reduce the deficit. If we are sensible in looking at waste in all government agencies - including the nearly sacred defense budget and Medicare and Social Security - we could easily squeeze out at least $50 billion to $100 billion in savings per year. We just need to have the will to do it.

Stewart's Take on Romney's 47%

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Funny Republican Callers on C-Span

I love listening to C-Span's Washington Journal in the mornings. It is as close to unfilted/unbiased news and information as you are going to find. I don't always have an interest in the topics and speakers, but when there are open lines and open discussion times, I love hearing what is on the mind of everyday Americans. The great part about it is that the hosts sit back and listen and they cycle through callers who are calling in to the Republican, Democrat, and Independent lines.

This morning as I was coming in to work they had open lines and people were calling in and commenting on whatever they wanted to call in about. Many of the callers were discussing Mitt's 47% of Americans are moochers comment. A number of Republican callers tried to argue that Mitt was taken out of context and that we didn't have the whole tape (wrong!). Others said he wasn't talking about military families who are struggling and older folks on Social security - he was only referring to welfare recipients (47% of the population is not on welfare). There was one woman who basically said she hated people who were receiving checks from the government and were dependent on the government, and then talked about how she had earned her Social Security and Medicare - just plain silly).

Mitt Romney may or may not care about Americans who are struggling financially. I really am not sure. But, what seems clear to me is that he believes in trickle down economics and that by giving more money to rich people, poor people will be helped. I don't agree with that philosophy, and I suspect that many blue collar Republicans don't also (supported by what I hear on C-Span), but many of them don't know that is what Romney stands for.

During the upcoming debates, Romney and Ryan are going to have to say that they believe Medicare should be a voucher system and that they want to cut taxes on the rich while cutting social safety net programs - either they say that or they are lying. I don't see how that is going to encourage the rank and file Republicans to rally toward them.

The GOP Needs Major Change

It is remarkable how far the Republican Party has fallen. Mitt Romney is a horrible presidential candidate, but when you look at the field that competed for the nomination this year it wasn't any better. Santorum? Perry? Newt? Cain? Trump? The only candidate who I would consider to be a serious candidate was Huntsman - he had bona fide conservative credentials and seemed the most comfortable being himself and not wanting to jump into a mudslinging contest. Of course, his unwillingness to call President Obama a Muslim Manchurian candidate made him undesirable to the far right wing crazies that the other candidates bowed down to.

It certainly looks like the wheel are coming off the Romney train and in the next two weeks we are going to hear more and more Republicans break from the top of their ticket to try to save their Congressional seats. It is now starting to look more likely that the Democrats will hold the Senate and gain seats in the House. It is even becoming more and more of a possibility that Nancy Pelosi will again be Speaker of the House.

The big problem that I see for the Republican Party is that it needs to re-tool its message in order to appeal to a larger number of Americans. Attacking women's health care options, promoting religious/Christian doctrine (I know Romney is a Morman, but there are significant numbers of Republicans who don't trust him because of it), alienating Hispanics and other minorities with all of these crazy voter suppression efforts, protecting the very wealthy while trying to raise taxes on middle and lower class Americans, backing Big Oil companies with unnecessary subsidies, attacking environmentalism and science (global climate change is real folks) and accusing non-Republicans of being moochers are simply not winning themes.

The GOP is going to get trounced this election cycle. It is going to have to really re-look at what it wants to be. It cannot just be the party of older white males. It is going to have to change because the electorate is changing rapidly. I think that at its core, it must focus on its economic message of smaller government, but it must do so with specific policies that can be explained to the American people. How those policies can actually help the various groups need to be explained. In addition, the GOP is going to have to recruit and promote minority candidates in order to be a relevant national party in the future. The RNC was just a whole lot of middle age and older white folks bashing a black President. I am not saying that it was meant to be racist, but the imagery was horrible. If there were significant numbers of minority faces and younger faces in the crowd it may have at least looked better. Until the GOP truly decides that it is going to open up in the 21st Century, it is going to become less and less relevant as a national political party.

Nails in the Coffin

It is not over yet, but it is getting close to the end for Romney.

Romney's latest distractions and the stories about his campaign staff infighting show how poor a candidate he is, and operation he has run. He was a weak candidate to begin with and he picked a poor running mate. The way he has bungled and gaffed his way through the last couple of months has been embarrassing. The fact that he has to play defense so much keeps him from getting on message - and it is all because of his own blunders.

The latest polls show him behind and he has clearly lost ground in Virginia. Given that he is losing Ohio by a healthy margin, Wisconsin is slipping away, and he is losing in Florida, there is just no real reason to think he has much of a chance. This is reflected in the dramatic shift in the Intrade market over the last two weeks, which is now showing an almost 70 percent chance for an Obama re-election.

I'm not ready to say it is a done deal - although it is close - but I will say that we will know it is over when the RNC starts to run ads for its down-ticket candidates and show them disagreeing with Romney positions. The first rats off Romney's sinking ship will be Republican members of Congress. There are already some public comments by Republican candidates for Senate (Scott Brown and Linda McMahon most recently) that disavow Romney's comments. As more come out and speak about how they don't support Romney it will be clear the campaign is over.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Arnold is a Jerk

The dude is probably self-delusional about how much people love him. He destroyed his family and just seems like he doesn't care based on the linked story.

Latest Romney Distractions

So there is now a video in which Romney clearly lets his harsh views on 1/2 the American populace be known. He basically calls the 47 percent of Obama supporters freeloaders who don't pay income tax, do not take responsibility for their own lives and want the government to take care of them. It is absolutely insane to say that in a public forum (actually it was a meeting of wealthy donors, but you have to know that what you say in that setting could very easily become public).

Besides being condescending and divisive, the basic premise of it is fundamentally wrong. Certainly, my wife and I earn a fair amount and pay taxes (at a much higher rate than Romney, even though we don't make nearly as much), and we support Obama. There are plenty of folks like us. But within that 47 percent of folks who don't pay income tax are millions of older folks who live off of social security and medicare, but who are entitled. The Daily Beast has a link to the video and explains who this 47 percent are because people are confused about this group. Hundreds of thousands of students who are adults but who are supported by their parents have to be in that number. Hundreds of thousands of startup entrepreneurs and business owners must be included in that number also because you can deduct business losses and such things as personal health insurance, company cars, and entertainment expenses if you own a business which can easily offset any income. Finally, very wealthy individuals who use tax loopholes and offshore accounts to hide their money must fit in.

I am fairly confident that the reason Romney doesn't want to show his tax returns for the last 2007-2009 is that he didn't have any personal income tax. That would just be hilarious. One other thing that is starting to emerge is that there is a lot of backstabbing within the upper levels of the Romney campaign. Politico had a big story about it yesterday that dominated the political news cycle. Although he denied there was any issue, where there is smoke there is fire and it is bad news that he has to deal with it and comment at all. With his floundering the last couple of weeks, I suppose it is not surprising.