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.