Friday, March 30, 2012

Devin Thomas is a Bear

Not a huge signing, but a good one. The Bears lost special teams ace Corey Graham to the Ravens this year. In addition, Johnny Knox may not be able to play because of his spinal injury. With DT they get a solid special teams contributor who can return kicks with Devin Hester. With Eric Weems and DT, we should continue to be one of the better teams in terms of special teams. I also think that in the right situation, DT can be a more productive receiver. He is a big target. Hopefully the Bears will find a way to utilize him on offense.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Health Care Law in Front of Supreme Court

We'll find out if the Health Care law - particularly the individual mandate - is unconstitutional soon enough. Oral arguments were today.

I'll let the Justices decide, but I fully expect the Supreme Court to overwhelmingly rule that it is Constitutional.

That said, the transformations and contortions the Republicans have had about the individual mandate have been interesting. The individual mandate was always a Republican idea. It is why Romney made it part of the Massachusetts Health Care law when he was governor. The basic idea is that free-loaders who don't pay for insurance benefit from those who do and they force everyone who does pay to pay more.

It is pretty simple. I have family insurance through my employer. My employer and I have to pay (significantly) for the coverage. If I have to go to the hospital then most of my costs are covered and the insurance company pays the hospital directly. If my neighbor doesn't have health care insurance but is in an accident and has to go to the hospital he is still treated. Now let's say he does not or cannot pay the bills (extended medical care is a leading cause of bankruptcy in the U.S.), the hospital still needs to cover its costs, so they just charge those with insurance more. Making people pay into a system that they automatically benefit from is good for responsible individuals - not the other way around.

Tiger Wins

It is good to see Tiger win again. I watched the last round at Bay Hill (flipped between the Kentucky-Baylor game and golf). Golf needs Tiger to be Tiger. The ratings and interest are through the roof when he plays. Hopefully he is going to make a run at Augusta.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Trayvon Martin Case

People should be outraged by what happened to Trayvon Martin. There is actually growing outrage as it appears that a "self-appointed" neighborhood watch leader hunted down and shot 17-year-old Martin as he was walking into his own home.

Walking Dead Season 2 Finale

In a word, "AWESOME." The show is the best on TV in my opinion. The first season was great. The second season was a bit sleepy at the start but the last three weeks to close out the season were full of drama. It was a veritable blood bath last night with a couple of minor characters torn up and eaten by zombies.

The coolest part is the introduction of "Michonne" near the end of the show. She is a hooded mystery tough gal who uses a sword to decapitate walkers and who had two armless walkers on neck chains as apparent "pets." Can't wait for season 3.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Bears Sign JC

Jason Campbell is a Bear. Love the pickup.

Looks like Mario is going to Buffalo. So the Bears are looking at former Jaguar Jeremy Mincey (8 sacks last year). Certainly a step down, but he is 28, will be cheaper and has been productive in his career.

Welcome to Chicago, Mr. Marshall

The Bears traded 2 third round picks for Brandon Marshall - excellent trade that costs relatively little for a big, fast, productive, Pro Bowl receiver who is just 27 years old (he turns 28 later this month). That fills a huge need for the Bears.

If we get Mario Williams - as they are apparently trying hard to do - it would be huge.

The Bears are also trying to trade for Jason Campbell. We certainly need a backup QB. If we don't get JC, then I say go after Donovan McNabb. As a backup, he would be solid. We cannot have Hanie or McCown.

If we can get a couple of corners and a linebacker in free agency and the draft that would be great.

Monday, March 12, 2012

FLASHBACK: Fox News On Gas Prices In 2008

Faux News is doing what it always does - shill for the Republican Party.  Every day they are hammering President Obama for rising gas prices.  But look at what they said when gas prices rose in 2008 when Bush was president.

If we wanted to really get serious about cutting gas prices we would do 2 things:  (1) regulate speculative oil markets and (2) build more refineries.  There is plenty of oil in the world market, but there is speculative trading that is being driven by market makers who are using Iran/Syria/Libya/Persian Gulf tension to drive prices up.  In addition, we don't have enough refinery capacity in the U.S. to produce excess gas which would drive prices down (basic supply and demand).

The idiots out there who think we should simply "Drill, Baby, Drill" don't have a clue.  Domestic oil production is at an all-time high under this President.  New off-shore licenses have been given.  None of it really makes a difference because there is no way that Big Oil is going to knowingly cut into its own profit.  Why would they?  They are private, for-profit global corporations who have a responsibility to their shareholders. They are doing exactly what they should be doing - making as much money as possible.

8-Year Old Boys B-Ball Playoffs

So this weekend my son's basketball team wrapped up its season. I was the coach and totally enjoyed the season. We won our first 2 games comfortably. Then we lost 2, won 1, and lost 4. So we finished the regular season 3-6. There are 18 teams in our league and we ended up playing the only 4 undefeated teams in our league. It is just by chance because you have no idea who the great teams are going to be. In those games we lost by 1 and by 2, so we had chances to beat 2 of the top teams. In fact, there was only one game this year where we just got hammered. Every other game was competitive.

As a result of our record we played in the lower bracket of our league (top 9 teams play against each other, bottom 9 play against each other). Now, just to be clear, I think we are one of the better teams, but we just played a tough schedule. In addition, I rotated all my guys so that everyone played evenly throughout the season and I let everyone handle the ball (good and not-so-strong players). Most of the top teams played with set lineups and rotations that favored their best players and kept the ball in the hands of just a couple of players.

But when the playoffs starrted I fixed our lineup and we focused the ball into our key players hands. As a result, we ended up winning all 4 of our playoff games and won our bracket. My kids and their parents loved it. The cool thing is that everyone really contributed to the championship effort. My son had a great time this year as did all of my boys. It is rare that one likes every player on the team, but all of my boys got along great and worked hard. I'm going to miss this team.

Friday, March 09, 2012

Solid February Jobs Report

For the third straight month, more than 200,000 jobs were created in the private sector. Last month's figure was 227,000 jobs and there were upward revisions to prior months. The economy is recovering and over the last year we have seen nearly 4 million jobs created in the private sector. This is a huge turnaround from the last year under the Bush Administration where we saw several hundred thousand jobs lost each month.

The trend is good - and the economy is behaving as expected. Those are good signs. Of course there are conservative folks who say the numbers are fudged or that Obama is responsible for high energy costs - so they won't accept that there has been a major turnaround in what was once a cratering economy. Frankly, the turnaround in 3 years has been quite remarkable if one were to consider the numbers and be truly objective.

The issues that could drag down the U.S. economy are European economic weakness and uncertainty in the Middle East - both of which the U.S. plays a part but are largely outside of our control.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Unemployment Rate

Tomorrow the BLS will release the February jobs report. If we see another big month of job creation it will further cut into the (faulty) arguments that Republican presidential candidates have been making - that Obama is destroying the economy.

The whole Obama is a Socialist and hates the private sector just don't square with reality. The stock markets have more than recovered from the disaster Obama came to office with. We have gone from losing nearly 800,000 jobs in the month that Obama came to office in, to creating 200,000+ jobs per month. GDP is rising (as opposed to falling). As the economy continues to improve, the President is going to have to pivot toward debt reduction in his second term. I don't agree with everything the President has done, but there is no question that things are much better and momentum has shifted toward better days ahead.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

MTBE and Gas

Dennis, this is to continue our discussion - if you want to.

I worked for an EPA contractor for years and did my undergraduate thesis on remediation of groundwater contamination. I can assure you that even if MTBE was completely eliminated, we would have significant groundwater and waterway contamination. The problem of leaking underground storage tanks, spills when re-filling such tanks, and rainwater runoff from gas stations would ensure that.

There is no question that oxygenated gas has had significant air quality impacts - making it more breathable for all of us. In cities like Los Angeles it is critical for reducing summer smog. Without oxygenated gas we would most certainly have much higher rates of asthma and other lung/breath related issues within the population (especially among kids and older individuals).

The science behind oxygenated fuel is pretty clear about this. If you go to the EPA website you can read more about it. If you want more about MTBE here is a link.

The government does not mandate MTBE - it is just an industry chosen oxygenate. There is a push in some places to eliminate MTBE because it migrates further underground than fuel itself and it is highly soluable in water. So states like Massachusetts are requiring ethanol instead of MTBE.

If we want to have cleaner air and cleaner water then the only real solution is to move toward wind, solar, and geothermal energy. As long as we are reliant on petroleum based energy sources we will have air and soil/water contamination.

Rush Continued

He has now lost 42 sponsors.

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Super Tuesday and Rush

Today will serve to solidify Romney as the Republican nominee. He won't wrap it up, but it is already over. He is the only one who has the money and national organization to win the nomination. The only suspense about today is how much he will win the delegate count by.

So Rush's non-apologetic apology for his ridiculously stupid rant against Sandra Fluke did not stem the tide of sponsors who have dropped him. The number is now 9 sponsors who don't want to be associated with him.

He makes a fool of himself with comments on 2 different days last week. Then when it is exploding around him and a couple of sponsors drop him, he decides he better "apologize," but then that is a weak effort that only serves to stir the pot further. Then, more sponsors drop him. What a dope.

Monday, March 05, 2012

Matt Forte Contract Thoughts

Marshawn Lynch (4 year, $31M, $17M guaranteed) and Arian Foster (5 year, $43.5M, $20.75M guaranteed) just got new deals. Given their numbers and where I think Forte should be valued, I'd say go 4 years, $35M, $18.5M guaranteed. That would be fair and in line with these other contracts. Lynch is probably too high, Foster is OK. I think the Bears should offer those numbers and I think it would be more than fair for Forte.

The Bears were offering about $14M-$15M guaranteed last year. Forte should have signed at that point because he would have made the money last year. Now, he can get a little more guaranteed, but he is also a year older and is unlikely to be able to secure another large contract.

The Walking Dead

This is the best show on TV. I would recommend it to anyone/everyone. New episodes air on Sunday nights at 9:00 on AMC. The story is basically one of a group of survivors that are trying to make their way after a zombie apocalypse. The thing I like about it is the morality plays and dialogue between the characters in a world in which the social order has totally fallen apart. You see people make life and death decisions that we would never make in society today, but we would have to make in the context of a world that has gone to Hell.

It can get gory at times - the effects are great. But, the drama and story are just awesome. Watch it - you'll love it.

Rush's Advertisers are Leaving

Rush's comments last week were galactically stupid. So, not surprisingly he is losing some of his advertisers.

His audience won't much care that his comments are incendiary and in bad taste. The guy is the mouthpiece of today's Republican Party and his "dittoheads" love him and think he is just the greatest. If folks who generally love conservative religious values have kept him near and dear to their hearts in the face of his episodes of infidelity, multiple marriages, drug problems, and overt racism - a little thing like gender bashing isn't going to change much.

What is irritating is the ignorant folks who claim his First Amendment rights are being trampled on. Stupid comment and completely false. Rush can say what he wants, but critics have every right to call him on it and advertisers have every right to drop him.

B-Ball Thoughts

First, it looks like UVA is going to make the Big Dance for the first time in 5 years. I really like Tony Bennett and what he has done with the program. Mike Scott is clearly the key to this team, but there are a lot of good young players and players on the way so we should be able to compete in coming years.

Second, we won in our semi-final round of our playoffs so we are now playing in the finals. My boys had an up-and-down season. We won 2, lost 2, won 1, lost 4, and have now won 3 in a row. We are now 6-6 on the year.

I know we could have won some more games if we had just focused on playing our top players and not allowed some of our less skilled players to handle the ball during the regular season. But I am all about development. Only in the playoffs have I kept the ball in my key playmakers' hands. That said, I do try to run a few plays during the game to all of my players. We won this weekend and 6 of my 9 boys scored. The three who did not score had at least 3 shots apiece, so they had their chances. Hopefully we will end with a winning record with a win in this weekend's finals. Should be fun.

Sunday, March 04, 2012

Rush Apologizes to Sandra Fluke

Not that he was actually being sincere, but he apologized for calling the Georgetown Law Student a slut (multiple times) and essentially accused her of being a sex-crazed prostitute. The reason for the name-calling - she thinks Georgetown should provide add contraceptive choices to its student health coverage.

Why the Republicans have to attack women for wanted protection for their bodies I have no idea - the whole contraception debate seems 50 years too late. But, I don't begrudge folks for holding a different opinion than Fluke - what I do object to is the ridiculous name calling and unnecessary anger. Especially when that individual has a large, national platform to spread his hate.

Georgetown President DiGioia - who I am sure does not support changing the student health care system - recognized Rush's nonsense and took a strong stand against it. It was also nice to see that there were plenty of Republicans who joined President Obama and other leading Democrats in defending Fluke from the attacks.

Friday, March 02, 2012

Bears Release AA and Big Frank

Anthony Adams and Frank Omiyale were released - no real surprise with either guy. Adams can play as a backup but he never really developed much and the Bears have a lot of interchangeable guys at the DT spot - all of whom are younger.

Frank Omiyale never lived up to his free agent contract and was always a liability. I'm happy to see him go.

The Bears save over #3M in cap money for next year as a result of the moves.