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.

Monday, September 17, 2012

NFL Thoughts

Amazing weekend of upsets and "surprises." Arizona beating New England. Seattle rolling up on Dallas. The Bills beating KC. The Saints at 0-2 after falling to Carolina. Indy getting the win over Minnesota. Philly coming back on Baltimore were just some of the great games. In a few weeks we will see how things stack up and who are the contenders and pretenders really are.

There are two things that I have to note. First, the 49ers are really good. They play football the way it should be played. They have a great D and they run the ball well. The power running sets up their passing game nicely.

Two, all four teams in the NFC North are 1-1. The Bears, and more specifically, Jay Cutler and the offense need to get straightened out. The O-line wasn't very good, but there were problems with the play calling and Jay holding on to the ball too long that contributed to the problems. They will figure it out - or at least they better if they are going to contend. Losing Forte hurts, but he'll be back in a couple of weeks. Bush is more than sufficient as a lead back. The D just needs to keep on doing what it is doing. As a unit they have been very good.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Mitt Likes Snooki

He says he admires the MTV "star." He should be disqualified as a presidential candidate for this reason alone.

Snooki? Come on, dude.

I bet he doesn't even know who she is but thinks it will make him look cooler to younger voters.

QE3

The Fed is going to buy up $40 billion in mortgage backed securities each month for the foreseeable future. It is trying to inject liquidity and keep rates low to discourage savings and encourage investment and spending. Obviously there will be pressure on bond yields and it should spur the broader stock markets. But it is not clear to me that it will help spur job creation. I'm not concered about inflation in the short term - which some are crying about - because worldwide currencies are weak as a result of the global economic crisis. However, there has to be some erosion in the value of the dollar. As this happens, the cost of oil and gas will rise. Unlike many macro-economic statistics, the price of gas has a big impact on individuals.

The gains of any future improvements in employment will not be felt in the next 50 days, but if oil futures and gas prices rise - as they should - it is likely that this could have an impact on the election. It just depends on how much of an impact it has. It should be interesting to watch.

Mitt Had His Chance

The attack in Benghazi provided an opportunity for Mitt to demonstrate how he would lead in a crisis. Frankly, he should have just shut up and made a statement in support of U.S. efforts to address the situation, but instead he rashly politicized the murders of American diplomats without knowing all the facts. He mistakenly referred to a press release by the U.S. embassy in Egypt as the first response to the attack - that press release was issued 6 hours before the attack.

This type of foolishness is what got him in trouble with the British Prime Minister when he criticized the London Olympics. It has put him in trouble with the Chinese for his oversimplification of currency manipulation. When the Libyan uprising was taking place, he attacked the President for not doing enough, but he refused to say what he would do different. Then when when the revolution had succeeded and Gaddafi was confirmed killed he changed his mind. Several months ago he claimed that the greatest threat to the U.S. was Russia - which raised concerns about his understanding of geopolitical forces including Iran and terrorist organizations.

The latest blunder has only served to further destroy his chances to win the Presidency. It is clear that President Obama received a significant bump from the DNC. But, Romney compounded the problem this week with his clearly inappropriate behavior and words. The result has been further erosion in the Intrade markets that now put President Obama's chances of re-election at 68 percent. That puts the cost of his latest blunder at about 4-5 percent in the Intrade predictions.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Disappointing Bears Effort

Too many mistakes to win. The offensive line was weak. Cutler was sacked 7 times, but at least four of them were coverage sacks - Cutler has to throw it away. Clearly, Jay Cutler was terrible - you cannot throw late especially across the middle Jay! The play calling was debatable, but there were drops and poor execution by a lot of players. Brandon Marshall dropped a fairly routine TD. A couple of critical penalties (Carimi's unnecessary roughness and the 12 men on the field stand out). The D was pretty good but fell asleep on the fake field goal and Briggs dropped an interception - which were costly errors.

The Packers were better. But as bad as the Bears played, I still think they are a good team. They just made too many mistakes tonight. It was going to be tough going into Lambeau and winning. They have to get to work and get things straightened out. If they can beat St. Louis at Soldier Field in the next game then things will be fine.

Latest Polls

I am not going to talk about the polls everyday, but I will post when there are significant changes. The latest poll in Virginia shows Obama up 5 points. As a result, this moves Virginia back into the Obama camp on the Electoral College map.

Intrade is now pushing 65% for Obama. These are significant changes that further reflect the momentum that is behind Obama.

The Right to Free Speech

The First Amendment to the Constitution (part of the original Bill of Rights) gives citizens the right to free speech. The specific wording is as follows:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

I am so sick and tired of people saying their First Amendment rights are being attacked when someone criticizes what they have to say. If an employer fires a person for saying the company is bad, that is not a violation of the First Amendment.

If the KKK wants to have a rally and hurl racial epithets around that is fine with me. But then they should not be surprised or offended by protesters who hurl insults at them. Just as they have a right to free speech, so do the protestors.

So there are some people who are saying that the attack in Libya was a result of an anti-Muslim movie that was created in the U.S. Never mind that there is growing evidence that this was a coordinated, planned attack that had little to do with the movie. There are some right wingers who are saying that the President should support the free speech rights of the film maker. Why? If the movie sucks and is full of false and hate-filled images of the prophet Muhammed, there is nothing wrong with denouncing it. It is unlikely that it is the cause of the murders in Libya, but it does cause problems for American interests around the world. Criticizing it does not infringe on any rights.

Now, if the President or Congress actually banned the movie or passed some law to prevent the creation and/or distribution of such a movie in the U.S., then we would have a violation and I would be against such a move. People need to understand that having the right to free speech does not make one immune from criticism about their speech.

Chicago Bears vs. Green Bay Packers

The best rivalry in the NFL in my opinion. The oldest rivalry in the NFL as a fact.

Tonight marks a big night for both teams. It is early and a lot has to happen, but the Bears re-tooled their offense and got Brandon Marshall, Michael Bush, and Alshon Jeffery with the idea that they need to score more points to compete with the Packers. They also improved their front four on D to try to put more pressure on the QB without having to blitz. It looked good last week against the lowly Colts, but we'll have to see against the Pack in Lambeau.

The Packers offensive line is probably just as much a concern - and maybe even more - than the Bears (that is saying something). Rodgers got hit a lot last week and was sacked three times. But just as bad is that the Packers could just not open holes or run the ball. Rodgers pointed out that they were facing 6 men in the box quite often and could not generate any yards from their running game. Add to that that their D has been very suspect and there may be trouble in Titletown.

For tonight, I expect a pretty close game, but I do think the Bears are better. I think Marshall will make a couple of big plays and Forte/Bush will rush for over 130 yards. Add in a couple of big returns from Hester and solid D which pressures Rodgers and we should see a 31-21 win for the Bears.

Romney's Irresponsibility

It is pretty clear that Romney's attempts to politicize the killings in Libya have been a disaster. Even Ryan has been more somber and judicial with his remarks. In fact, the stark contrast between Ryan and Romney is very telling.

There are a few corners of the far right that are providing full-throated support for Romney, and there are some Republicans who are trying to be supportive by saying Romney jumped the gun but was right to criticize Obama for his handling of the Middle East in general. While I don't agree with the latter, I totally understand why they are trying to do damage control without fully abandoning their own principles and support for the United States.

However, this is an unmitigated disaster for Romney of his own making. The Intrade market jumped in the last day and now has Obama at a 63% chance of winning. This is a 1.5-2 point jump in the last day, and about an 8-9 point jump in less than a week. That is shockingly bad news if you are a Romney supporter. Even Faux News has Obama up 5 points.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Why Mitt?

Romney's campaign is flailing and on a day when Americans should be in solidarity in our outrage at the barbaric attack in Libya, Romney is politicizing it. Horrible choice and it shows his true character. He is a politician first and an American second.

Palin's Advice to Romney:

Call President Obama a socialist.

Silly. The idea of Palin giving advice to anyone on the Republican ticket is ridiculous. She was a horribly flawed VP candidate who showed herself to be a buffoon during the 2008 campaign. She hasn't done much better since she quit as the Governor of Alaska to try to become a reality TV "star."

Seriously, she did nothing to help McCain and likely caused him to lose states like Virginia and Ohio because she was such a joke of a candidate.

Romney made a mistake in picking Ryan. Had he picked Rubio - as I thought he would - then he would be a major threat to Obama. Now, all he is doing is complaining about how bad everything is. If he were to follow Palin's advice he would only look like a bigger whiner than he already is. If he would lay out a specific plan with real vision and be more positive he would get some more traction. Americans are positive, decent people. When all you do is talk about how bad everything is, it starts to wear thin.

"The Last Lecture"

I am a big fan of audiobooks - I download them from the library and put them on my iPhone and listen constantly. For several years I have known about "The Last Lecture" by Randy Pausch. Pausch was a computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon University who died of pancreatic cancer. The amazing thing was how he faced the cancer at the end and dealt with his impending death. He gave one final lecture at Carnegie Mellon that became the basis for his book.

I had always wanted to read "The Last Lecture" but for some reason had never gotten around to reading it. Last night I came across it as I was browsing for a new book to download. I started listening to it this morning and have just been so moved by his words. I have literally teared up and laughed at some of the anecdotes and advice he offered. Given how moving it is, and the fact that it is relatively short, I am sure that I will be done with it later tonight. I would encourage everyone to get this book and either read it or listen to it in audio form. It is truly remarkable.

I am sure you will not be disappointed if you get it, but part of what makes the book even better for me is that I can relate to much of his story. Having watched my Mom fight and struggle against cancer before succombing with a similar courage, I can imagine and understand what it must have been like. In addition, Pausch was close to my age with small kids. He was born in Baltimore but grew up in Columbia, MD and taught at the University of Virginia while I was an undergrad there (I did not know him). There are things that I can easily relate to which makes it all the better.

World Cup Qualifier

The U.S. men's soccer team was fortunate to eke out a win last night against Jamaica. Last Friday, Jamaica surprised the U.S. with a 2-1 victory in Kingston. Had the U.S. lost last night in Columbus it is likely the team would have been eliminated from the World Cup qualifying rounds. Quite honestly, that would have been pathetic.

The game last night was dominated in the first half by the U.S. Three shots went off the goal posts/crossbar. Jamaica was comfortable just packing it in and trying to play for the tie. I thought that was a very bad strategy. They have speed and the U.S. team has been notoriously bad on the back end with mistake after mistake.

In the second half, the 0-0 tie was broken by a U.S. goal off a free kick from about 26 yards. The Jamaican goalkeeper badly misplayed the kick and it went in off his hands. The thing that was irritating was that the U.S. then decided to go conservative and stopped attacking. Jamaica pressed the attack for the last 25 minutes or so and had a number of great opportunities. Had the U.S. just continued to play its game it would have had great opportunities to push in a clincher.

Jurgen Klinsman took over as coach from Bob Bradley about two years ago. He has not been able to raise the play of the team and in fact, in my opinion it has regressed. The U.S. men failed to qualify for the Olympics and their lackluster play is not inspiring me to think that they will make the World Cup. They should be dominating their pool but are tied with Jamaica and Guatemala. If they lose to Guatemala, they may very well not even make it out of this early pool stage. Even if they get out of the pool, they are going to have to play in a tougher 6 team pool and will not get out of it if they don't improve their play dramatically. We'll see.

Poll Changes

Clearly Obama's bump is real. However the latest poll in Virginia now shows Romney ahead in the Commonwealth. The RCP Electoral College map now has Obama 319 to 219 - still a landslide, but it is a notable change.

That said, the Intrade markets are even stronger for Obama. He is now at 61.5% chance of being re-elected. It is the highest point in months.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Couple of NFL Thoughts

I love the Bears and really like the Ravens. Both teams started the season strong. But here are 5 things that hit me about the first weekend of football.

1. The 49ers are for real. They went into Lambeau and beat the Packers by being more physical. Their D was fantastic and Gore and the running game was overpowering. Alex Smith made critical third down plays and they just beat the Packers. Very impressive.

2. The Packers may be in some trouble. The Packers defense was suspect last year and their O-line is average at best. They were both exposed this week. The Packers are playing the Bears at Lambeau on Thursday night. If the Bears win that game, they will be two games down to the Bears (really 2 and 1/2 games down because of the head-to-head loss) after two weeks. Certainly there is still plenty of time to recover but to lose two home games to start the season would be a horrible start.

3. RGIII. They guy is a good player. Deadskin fans should be excited because he went into a tough environment and excelled. I'm not buying the 'Skins, but I like what they have in RGIII.

4. Peyton Manning is really good. He stood tall and delivered against a solid Pittsburgh defense. The Broncos' D is really good also and if Manning can remain healthy, that is a team that can do some real damage in the AFC.

5. The Eagles and Mike Vick are going to have to tread carefully. Vick had a horrible game. The Eagles D was pretty good, but with all of the negativity surrounding the Eagles a couple of losses could really kill that team. Vick needs to play better. The play-calling has to improve - for God's sake get the ball to McCoy. Why is Vick throwing so much? The owner is getting fed up with the weak play and questionable coaching and things could go south really quick.

Polls and Intrade

It now seems clear that there was a significant bump for Obama from the DNC. It looks like there was a 5-6 point bump. But, given the inconsistencies over the weekend from Romney and Ryan, the effect has been heightened.

Intrade is now at 60-61 percent chance of an Obama victory. Nate Silver - the stats guru - who writes the fivethirtyeight blog at the NY Times now places the chances of Obama's reelection at 80 percent.

Something big has to happen to really move the needle in favor of Romney. It could happen, but it is getting later and later and Romney/Ryan have not been helping themselves.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Romney Backpedaling

Yesterday Romney said he would keep parts of Obamacare. Today he is backpedaling and trying to clarify what he meant. Silly, he is not really sure what he supports and doesn't support.

Tomorrow, he will be back in support of parts of Obamacare. But Ryan will be talking about repealing all of it because Ryan wants to run the President in 2016 and knows he has little chance of becoming VP on the Romney ticket.

Romney-Ryan Inconsistencies

The Republican presidential ticket has been nothing short of a disaster since the RNC. Romney gave a lackluster speech and failed to even mention Afghanistan during the RNC. Ryan made up stuff that was clearly wrong and got hammered for it.

Over the weekend, their failure to thread through a consistent message became even more apparent. Romney came out and said he wants to keep many key elements of Obamacare. He and Ryan have been talking about repealing Obamacare for weeks, but now he is changing. Ryan had to try to explain why he supported a debt deal with President Obama. Romney called it a mistake, but Ryan defend himself and did not call it a mistake. There appears to be message inconsistencies that make it difficult to understand what the Republican ticket believes.

These inconsistencies, coming off of the great DNC, have led to big poll changes in favor of Obama-Biden. Obama now has a 5 point lead in the national polls. However, as I have pointed out before, it is not the national poll that really matters, it is the Electoral College map. There it still looks like an Obama landslide. The latest Intrade projections have it at a 59% chance that Obama will win.

Chicago Bears - Dominate!

The Bears got to start the season at home against a rebuilding Colts team. They did exactly what I expected. It was a dominating defensive performance with a super offensive performance and solid special teams.

Defensively, the Bears got 3 interceptions, 2 fumbles, and 3 sacks. Andrew Luck had a tough day. The Colts really could never get anything going consistently. With the Bears up by 20 early in the second half, the Bears started resting guys like Urlacher and Peppers. I loved it.

Offensively, other than the first 2 drives, the offense pretty much did whatever it wanted. The offensive line was great. They opened holes for the running game and largely gave good protection for Cutler. Forte ran hard and made a couple of plays in the passing game, and Bush was a solid change of pace back. However, what was clear is that when Cutler has time he is dangerous. He started 1-10 with a pick-6, but but settled down and looked like an elite QB with some laser shots. Brandon Marshall is a beast and rookie Alshon Jeffery is a mini-beast. Mix in some plays to Earl Bennett and Devin Hester and this is a very dangerous team offensively.

They now play the Packers on Thursday night in Lambeau. A win and they will be two up on the Packers after 2 weeks. That would be huge. Can't wait!

Obama DNC Bounce

No question about it - the DNC was a much better convention than the RNC. The RNC lacked a consistent theme and offered very little other than "Our Guy Isn't Obama." You can bash the other guy, but you have to have a positive vision and philosophy that people can choose to follow.

In any event, it looks like President Obama got a 5-6 point bounce (Romney got no bounce) following the DNC.

Friday, September 07, 2012

Jobs Number for August

The economy added 96,000 jobs in August. The number is OK, but certainly not great. From a political standpoint, it doesn't really help either presidential campaign. The number is lower than expectations, but it was not a disaster by any means.

With the end of summer, there tends to be a rise in jobs figures. Holiday hiring starts to pick up in October as folks get trained, so we should see rising jobs numbers for the rest of the year. If the September jobs figures (October report) shows 200,000 jobs - which would not surprise me - that will give a boost to President Obama. If it shows job losses (which would surprise me) to perhaps only 40,000 jobs it would boost Romney.

DNC Day Three

On the final day of the DNC expectations were very high. John Kerry gave a great speech. Joe Biden was very, very good. It is clear why he is the VP. All eyes turned to Obama. I thought the video that led into his speech was OK, but nothing special. With the crowd ready to explode, I felt like President Obama gave a sober speech that was good, but again nothing special. For President Obama, I would say it was a lackluster effort.

He had a smooth style and and easy manner - which I liked. There is no question that it had its moments and the last two minutes of the speech were great, but taken in full, I was not really that moved. In fact, just as I did with Romney's speech, I dozed off for a few minutes. I would have liked to have seen the kind of full-throated defense of the Stimulus and the Health Care reform that we got from President Clinton.

That would have brought the house down and created the kind of lasting image that could really propel the President forward. Instead, it was just so-so in my opinion. Looking at the Intrade odds, he is above 58%. That is great, but yesterday he was pushing toward 60%, and had he delivered a huge speech we would be looking at 60+%.

We'll see what the poll numbers look like on Monday, but I doubt there will be much of a bump. President Obama remains comfortably ahead right now, but it appears to me that he did not take advantage of his opportunity to really step up in the race.

Thursday, September 06, 2012

DNC Day Two

I didn't watch most of the night - football was on - but I did watch Bill Clinton. He was vintage Clinton - engaging, wonky, and very effective. He gave a full-throated endorsement of President Obama. The only problem I saw was that it went on too long (again, classic Clinton). That said, I think his speech helped Obama.

There is unity and a building up of Obama and his policies that has been taking place the first two days. He just needs to deliver with a strong speech tonight and he could really move the needle in his favor. The Intrade market went over 59 last night - it is now hovering right around 59 (puts the odds of Obama winning at 59% to Romney's 41%.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Reality About Job Situation

It is no secret that I believe the 2009 Stimulus worked and truly turned around the faltering (wildly collapsing) economy that this country faced.

Obviously, we would like to see even faster job creation, but the idea that President Obama has failed just doesn't comport with the facts.

Any fair and objective look at the actual monthly job creation/losses numbers demonstrates how far we had fallen at the end of the Bush Presidency and how far we have recovered during the Obama Presidency.

From 2005-2008 (Bush's second term), we saw steady declines in the annual net jobs numbers:
2005 - 2.5 million jobs
2006 - 2.1 million jobs
2007 - 1.1 million jobs
2008 - -3.6 million jobs

By the end of the Bush Presidency the nation was bleeding jobs at a horrible pace with hundreds of thousands of jobs being lost every month. It is easy to see the horrible figures in 2008 that clearly worsened month after month. In January 2009, when President Obama took office, the U.S. economy shed 818,000 jobs.

The Stimulus was passed in late February 2009 and one can see that within three months the jobs numbers had significantly improved. In the last two and a half years we have seen about 4 million net jobs created. Certainly the trends are now in the right direction. It took years to create the horrible mess at the end of Bush Presidency and it will take years to correct the mess, but at least we are on our way.

Intrade Further Shifting Toward Obama

I've talked about the Electoral College map and the Intrade Markets on the Presidential Election. President Obama has solid leads in both (actually more like landslide leads in both). The Intrade Market has shown a 3 point jump toward President Obama over the last week. The RNC did not convince traders to shift toward Romney and now there is significant movement toward Obama. The Intrade prediction now gives the President a 58.5 percent chance of being reelected (Romney at 41.5 percent).

If the DNC is organized and effective, I would be surprised if this does not go above 60 percent.

DNC First Night

There was a sharp contrast between the RNC's first night and the DNC's first night. Specifically, there was a consistent running theme last night and the RNC's was more scattered.

Ann Romney gave a very good speech last week, but then it was followed by Chris Christie who gave a very different type of speech. Both speeches were good (although Christie's was more about himself than about Mitt), but they didn't fit together at all.

Contrast that with last night. Early in the night there were more red meat speeches for the base that were anti-Romney, but as the night progressed, it was more about agenda and the personal character or the President. In the 10:00 pm hour, Julian Castro's speech was about opportunity and Democratic Party values that support families. This was followed by an effective video and what I considered a great speech by Michelle Obama. Her speech clearly contrasted the Obama family's experiences with those of the Romney family. Without uttering any negative attacks on Romney, she laid out the clear message that she and President Obama can relate to the concerns of everyday, average Americans. She added anecdotes and emotion that Ann Romney just did not have, which is why I would give Michelle Obama an edge.

The first night of the DNC ended on a high note for Democrats. We'll see if the momentum carries into tonight.