Friday, August 31, 2012

Day 3 of the RNC

Clint Eastwood stole the show. I liked his speech. It was interesting and weird and it was the only one that people will actually remember over time. I don't think it really helped Romney, but it was fun. I wonder what Romney was thinking as the rambling speech went on. Certainly, a control freak like Romney must have been seething when Clint went off-script.

When he said, "I never thought it was a good idea for attorneys to be president" I wonder if someone told him that Romney has a Harvard Law Degree. I also laughed out loud when he said politicians, "come around and beg for votes every few years. It is the same old deal." That is exactly what Mitt Romney has been doing for the last 6 years.

I thought Marco Rubio gave a great speech and would have made a truly great VP candidate that may have moved the needle in Romney's direction. But for him, his speech will be forgotten because of Clint.

Romney spent too long coming up to the stage, his speech was a fairly standard stump speech, and he lacked any real specifics. I found it to be rather boring and literally dozed off for a bit. Maybe I missed the really exciting part, but I doubt he changed many voters' minds with his speech last night.

The daily polls have shown no real change. We'll see if anything really came out of the RNC by about Monday. There should be some bounce, but it doesn't look like it is going to materialize. With the DNC next week, that is not a great sign for Mitt.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Day 2 of the RNC

I had a fantasy football draft last night at 10:30, so I didn't listen to Ryan as closely as I would have liked. He seemed to be fairly energetic, although his eyes were unusually red and he seemed to have a lot of trouble reading off the teleprompter. It looked like he had not practiced his speech enough and that he had been weeping. His voice inflections at times were off and it was distracting. Also, get some Visine dude.

The speech was probably good for the base, but I'm not really sure how it played to independents. It lacked specifics and was like a stereotypical, boilerplate political speech that is unlikely to move undecided voters and independents. In addition, there are plenty of reports today from various media outlets - including Faux News - about inaccuracies in what he said. That won't help as people hear about them today.

All that said, I don't think people cared that much about Ryan and what he had to say anyway. The RNC is all about Romney and the first two days haven't done much to help his image. His speech tonight is critical. People will watch and I believe people want specifics about his agenda going forward. If he can lay out a positive vision he may be able to move polls. If he gets up and is stiff and just bashes President Obama, it won't do much of anything.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

First Day of RNC

I thought Ann Romney was pretty good, but the RNC was a bit of a mess yesterday. The official platform is far too conservative for the candidate. There was a bit of a floor fight with the Ron Paul delegates - a lot of booing and shouting, which you don't want to have at a convention. John Boehner's speech was horrible and didn't seem to elicit much reaction from a largely subdued crowd, even as he was yelling. Then there was the keynote address by Chris Christie.

Let me focus on Ann Romney and Chris Christie. By themselves, each of them gave pretty good speeches. But together they seemed at odds with each other. Romney's speech was about Moms and her love for Mitt - which you would expect. It was pretty effective, but to me it lacked the type of anecdotes that can really give a deeper look at her husband. So, I would give her a "B" for the speech. Effective, but certainly not over-the-top great.

Chris Christie gave a great stump speech for himself, but he didn't even mention Mitt Romney until he was 15 minutes into the speech. On top of that, he didn't even acknowledge Ann Romney in any way. It was odd because it really didn't carry any real theme from Ann's speech which immediately preceded his speech. He spent a lot of time on his own personal background and he give the standard talking points about how America is great and conservatives love America, but he really didn't seem to connect it to how Mitt Romney would lead. In addition, I didn't even think he bashed Obama, so in the end it was a good speech for himself, but perplexing if you are a true Romney supporter. I'd grade the speech an "A-" for Christie, but a "C-" for Romney.

I wonder what Mitt was thinking as Christie gave his speech. The body language for Mitt seemed a bit off. He looked tired and somewhat concerned that the flow just wasn't there for the first night. I am interested in hearing Paul Ryan speak tonight. He doesn't seem to be that dynamic, but he needs to get things going so that the delegates can get more excited about Romney. It just doesn't seem like they are right now.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Political Conventions: Why Bother?

Yes, yes, yes, I know that it can help excite the base by having a bunch of red-meat speakers bashing the opposition, but really very little changes with respect to voters. There is a little temporary bump for each party, but in the end not much happens.

The imagery of delegates partying in a weak economy doesn't seem to be a good image. Most of the conventions - Democratic or Republican - are boring. My guess is that most people won't bother to watch most of the conventions. The one thing they will watch is the candidates' speeches. So it does create an opportunity to deliver a message to the country, but what I think we will see in coming years is the networks televising just one night of the convention.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Election Thoughts: Not Much Has Changed

There continue to be some close poll numbers, but really not much has changed since Paul Ryan was added to the ticket. We are about 2 months away from the election and if nothing changes, it will end up another Obama landslide.

I saw that there is an Obama "documentary" (2016: Obama's America) that I suppose talks about Obama being anti-American. I hadn't even heard of the movie but there was a link on Yahoo about it. The movie opened up last month and has made $9.2 million since it opened. If you look at the comments at the bottom of the page on Yahoo, it is clear how much hate is out there. No big deal - a bunch of people hate Obama. The thing that gets me is how stupid some of the haters are.

They talk about the film as if it is really taking off. With a box office of $9.2 million, it is next to nothing. More people saw the story about it on Yahoo than actually saw the movie. I am sure it is just a slick hit job funded by rich elites. No one wants to see it anyway.

By comparision, "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter" made $37 million earlier this summer. That movie quickly disappeared. If you are interested in documentaries, Farenheit 9/11 made $119 million in its box office run. That puts this film into some perspective.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

NFL Uniforms

Nike is now making the uniforms for the NFL. I noticed that both Denver and the Deadskins now have what looks like a painted "collar" around their neck. I really don't like that look. It makes them look silly in my opinion. I was relieved to see that the Bears didn't put on that collar.

I hope the Bears don't use their orange uniforms at home at all this year. I know they want to sell more uniforms, but I really do not like the orange look. I like the midnight blue; it is classic.

Speaking of the Deadskins, I'm not really a fan of the white jersey with the yellow pants. They should go with the burgundy pants.

Facebook (as an investment)

Today, there is news that one of the Directors of Facebook has liquidated most of his shares for $400 million. Smart move. The problem for Facebook is that its explosive growth is complete in terms of users. On top of that, it is not clear how they will really monetize themselves to gain and grow revenues and profits. Now that it is a publicly-traded company it must have both of these type of growth to wow investors in order to grow its stock price. It just doesn't look like that will happen.

The stock is down almost 50% from where it closed on the first day, and I would expect further downward drift. At about $12/share (it is about $20/share right now), there will be significant management upheaval and we'll see if there is some plan for growth. All the insiders will make their millions, but if you are thinking about jumping into Facebook, I would say wait.

Monday, August 20, 2012

No Real Ryan Bounce

So now we have had a little over a week since Mitt Romney let us know that Paul Ryan was his VP pick. Looking over the polls, the Electoral College map, and the Intrade odds, there really hasn't been any significant bounce from the announcement.

The national polls still show a fairly close race, but when you look at the Electoral College map, it still shows an Obama landslide.

A very good predictor of who will win is the Intrade market. This is a "stock market" type exchange in which people can purchase contracts on who they think will win. Basically, it is how people bet (with real money) on who the winner will be. Today Intrade is showing the odds of Obama winning are at 57.5% to Romney's 41.5% chance. This is pretty much where it was before the Ryan pick.

Intrade was dead on on the Obama landslide over McCain. It was especially accurate when you looked state by state. The three most critical battleground states are Virginia, Ohio, and Florida. Frankly, there is almost no way for Romney to win if he doesn't win all three states. He is being destroyed in Ohio, he is losing solidly in Virginia, and he is slightly up in Florida according to the Intrade odds.

As I always say, there is still time, but there really has to be a major event, blunder, or unexpected change for Romney to win. Everything is pointing to an easy Obama reelection victory right now.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Bears - Deadskins Thoughts

It is pre-season, but the Bears were clearly the better team tonight w/respect to the first team O and D units.

Jay Cutler was efficient and Brandon Marshall hooked up with Jay on a couple of nice plays. Forte looked good on his 4 carries. The D was solid and the O-line held up pretty well with the first team.

As for the Deadskins, the secondary still looks suspect. The O-line was not very good. Bob Griffin stuggled with the pressure. That is what is going to happen a lot this year. Any foolish Deadskin fans who actually want Cousins because he threw 3 TD passes against the scrubs is an idiot, but I expect that there will be a bunch of idiots this week and during the season when Bob struggles.

I think the most interesting position battles for the Deadskins will come at receiver. More specifically, do they keep Brandon Banks? I think they will and probably should. The return was critical for him, but it is likely that he is going against guys who are fighting to make the squad - not necessarily the first team special teams. Still, it was a good return for a TD.

The regular season is when it counts - the Bears just need to get a little work and stay healthy in preseason. Can't wait.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

If The Election Were Today . . .

President Obama would win in a landslide. First, the national polls don't really matter. President Obama is likely to end up with far more votes simply because he will win California, New York and Illinois by fairly large margins. Romney will win in Texas, but he doesn't really have any big population states that he can count on.

The fact is that Presidential elections are determined by the Electoral College and that is heavily tilted toward Obama right now. Although there is still time for Romney, it is not very clear to me how the Ryan pick helps him pick up any of the significant battleground states. In fact, it is likely that Ryan hurts him in all of the critical states because of their larger older populations.

I'll look every week or two to see if there is any change, but for months the map has looked the same with President Obama winning big.

Coaching Soccer

I have been an assistant coach for the last couple of years for my son's soccer team. Last year, he played in the select league and we had a pretty terrible year from a record standpoint. We went 1-15-3 for the Fall and Spring seasons. We were very competitive but lost so many games by 1 goal. Quite honestly, our problem was that of the 11 players we picked coming out of tryouts, we lost 4 to travel teams during the season. Two of the players never played a game for us. Then we lost 1 after two games, and then we lost another to travel at the start of the Spring season.

If you take 4 of your better players off of any team it will be a struggle. This year, I am taking over as head coach. I am implementing a more disciplined system and laying out my very high expectations early. We will still have a lot of fun - I do think that is the most important thing in youth soccer - but I also want to win (it does make it more fun).

I wrapped up a pretty good summer soccer session. We ended up 2-3-1, but I only had 5 of the 11 players on my team who are on my select team (there was one more select player assigned to my team). The rest of my players were recreational (less talented) players. We were playing teams that were 100% select and/or travel players, so I constantly felt like we were playing 6 vs. 4 on the field. We ended up winning our last two games and I really felt we gelled nicely. Hopefully this will carry over into the regular season as we add more talent to our team with our regulars.

My select team has 5 new players - all of whom are talented. I can't wait to see what happens next week as we play in a tournament against the other 7 select teams. For the upcoming season, I fully expect to have a winning record overall, and know we will be very competitive against everyone. There won't be a game we play this season that I feel we will be a clear underdog in - that will be a nice change.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Ryan's Economic Philosophy

I keep hearing that Ryan is a deficit hawk and he is fiscally conservative. As I pointed out yesterday, Paul Ryan is a supply sider who truly believes in trickle down theory - which is very different.

He doesn't care about deficits. The Ryan economic plan runs deficits through 2030. The tax cuts for the rich that are included in the Ryan plan create literally trillions of dollars of additional deficit spending - that is in the plan itself.

What he believes is that giving rich people more money will be good for everyone. Any "balancing" he does is in the social safety net programs. He wants to fundamentally change Social Security (turn it into individual retirement accounts) and Medicare/Medicaid (turn it into a voucher program).

I don't believe that Romney is fully onboard, but it is going to be interesting watching them reconcile their differences.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Early Bears Thoughts

It looks like the Bears are in great shape at the skill positions and their D should be solid if they can get out of preseason without any major injuries.

In particular, I think the signing of Jason Campbell will be huge.  If Cutler goes down, I feel like the Bears won't tank like they did with Caleb Hanie last year.

The one issue remains the offensive line.  I think the new Tice scheme will help with its 2 tight end sets and the quick short passes/short QB drops that get mixed in.  Those should help keep the defenses back a little.  However, the LT and LG positions are still up in the air.  Physically, I think Webb/Williams, and Spencer are strong and big enough, but there are too many mental mistakes - false starts and missed blocking assignments - that are drive killers.  If Tice can get those worked out, the Bears can be a really, really good team.  If not, they risk losing Forte and Cutler to injuries.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Romney, Ryan and the Election

First, let me say that it has been nice relaxing and enjoying the summer with the kids. Over the next few weeks, I should be back up and running on the blog - there is plenty to talk about with the Bears and the election.

So Paul Ryan became the VP pick for Romney. Terrible choice. I will say this - Ryan is a straight shooter and at least we know what he is. He doesn't care about deficits - he is a true believer in trickle down supply side economics and believes that things will get better if you just give rich people more money. Even if it were true - and there is no evidence to suggest that this works, it is hard to see how that will work with an electorate that is already suspect of Romney's wealth and perceived snobbish elitism.

If Romney had picked Marco Rubio, I would say he was bold and he picked well. Rubio is a tea party favorite, so he could excite the base, but he also would really help in the battleground state of Florida and with Hispanics across the country.

Instead, Romney chose Ryan and basically flushed away Florida, and probably will now end up losing Iowa. Forget about making Pennsylvania a battleground state. These three states are critical for Romney to win - along with Ohio and Virginia. Ryan's goal of making Medicare a voucher program and his desire to dismantle Social Security by making it an individual retirement account program has largely ensured that Florida, Iowa, and Pennsylvania are lost because of their high numbers of older workers. I don't see how Ryan helps in Virginia or in Ohio with their large blocks of older folks either.

This ends up being a pick that will somewhat energize the conservative base over the next few weeks, but it doesn't do anything to bring over independents or conservative Dems. It is just like the lunacy of picking Palin four years ago. That choice destroyed John McCain.

There is still a lot that can happen, but I am utterly perplexed by the choice of Ryan. Now Romney is going to have to explain how he disagrees with many elements of Ryan's proposed economic blueprints. It is going to take him off-message and require him to play defense. On top of that, it will further make clear that the Republican ticket is for rich folks. That is just not a winning formula this election cycle.