Monday, January 28, 2013

Republicans Talking a Good Game

In recent weeks, leading Republican politicians have tried talking a good game. They talk about giving people ideas and appealing to women, minorities, and immigrants. The problem is that they do not really offer any specifics and they remain held back by the tea party type nuts who remain obstinate.

It is odd, because there are some steps toward consensus building, but then Paul Ryan will blast the President for nothing on the Sunday talk shows. John Boehner actually said that the President wants to destroy the Republican Party. These guys just don't get it - they need ideas and substance, not petty whining.

In Virginia, Republican state senators snuck a re-districting map of the State's districts through on Inauguration day because one of the State's black lawmakers was attending the President's Inauguration. This allowed them to sneak the map through with a 20-19 vote. The Republican lieutenant governor had already nixed the idea because it was ridiculously bad, and he refused to agree to break the tie in favor of Republicans. The Republican governor has openly come out against it. In addition, Republican senators want to change how the State's Electoral College votes are divided. Instead of winner take all they wanted to divide them by districts and then give the two additional votes to the winner of the greatest number of districts - not based on the popular vote. This makes no sense whatsoever unless you are trying to make sure that Republicans get more EC votes in the short term. Again, the Governor thinks it is inane (which it is). Instead of working on ideas, many Republican state senators in Virginia just want to change the rules. It may help them in the short term, but it is almost surely going to continue to hurt them over the longer term

President Obama on Football

The President was asked by The New Republic about football. He commented on the violence of the game and the fact that he would "have to think long and hard" about it. I say good for him and I totally agree.

I was a pretty good high school football player, and I enjoyed playing. But I had my share of injuries, including stingers where my arm went numb and I played through. I never suffered a concussion, but am sure I played with concussed players. I still have knee, back, and neck issues as a result of playing. Fortunately, I was a starting player who played for a winning team - but most players aren't as fortunate.

As much as I love football, and as much as I enjoyed my high school experience, I don't want my son to play. I won't prevent him from playing high school football if he wants to and he is good enough to make the team, but I am not going to sign him up for youth football and I will actively discourage him from playing. Too much risk in my opinion.

Pro Bowl Nonsense

I watched a few plays of the Pro Bowl last night and found it to be pretty much unwatchable. There is no reason to even have a Pro Bowl. Guys don't want to get hurt and everything moves at half speed most of the time. It is foolish to even call it a football game.

The NFL should reward players as Pro Bowlers - and I don't really care if they leave the system as is - and give them a check/bonus. Don't worry about playing football. Then, instead of a football game they could have a series of competitions (40 yard dash, weight lifting, obstacle course, etc.) and make it interesting. I don't know if people would really watch, but I know I would be more interested.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Ravens and 49er Coaching Thoughts . . .

with a little sprinkling of thoughts about the Bears mixed in.

I like the matchup and am looking forward to the Harbaugh Bowl. I love the Ravens - next to the Bears they are my favorite team. I like their style of play with a focus on D and the running game. I also think Flacco is a very good player.

I want to point out a couple of things about the Ravens. They really scratched their way into the playoffs. They lost 4 of 5 down the stretch and finished 10-6. They lost big in the middle of the year to Houston 43-13. Those kind of numbers might have gotten John Harbaugh fired in Chicago, but because of the division the Ravens played in it was good enough to win. The Bears had a very similar season as the Ravens, but ended up short - that is the way it goes sometimes.

The 49ers went 3-2 down the stretch with a loss to St. Louis and a thumping by Seattle 42-13. Big losses happen in the NFL and teams recover.

I think the big thing that happened for both teams was that both coaches really went unconventional and made big changes during the season. The 49ers changed QBs and it certainly looks like a good move now. I think Alex Smith can play and will start again in the NFL. I expect him to end up in Cleveland with Norv Turner, but Colin K is Jim Harbaugh's guy. In Baltimore, there was some friction between Flacco and Ray Rice and Cam Cameron. The team was doing OK offensively - it was the defense that was really letting them down - but John Harbaugh fired Cameron and went with Jim Caldwell. Another big gamble that paid off for them.

What I like about these moves is that they were gamble for teams that wanted to find a way to break through to a higher level. Both ended up working out. I am hopeful that the Bears decision to be a little more bold will end up pushing them higher.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Clinton on Benghazi

So the Secretary of State testified before a Senate panel today. I didn't see the testimony but read her explanations and about the points where she became combative. In response to Republican Senator Ron Johnson she said,

With all due respect, the fact is we had four dead Americans. Was it because of a protest? Or was it because of guys out for a walk one night who decided they’d go kill some Americans? What difference, at this point, does it make” Clinton scolded Johnson, raising her voice. “It is our job to figure out what happened and do everything we can to prevent it from ever happening again, Senator.”

That pretty much sums up what I think about Benghazi. The Republicans want to try to pin blame and argue that the President and the Secretary of State willfully did something wrong. The fact is that bad stuff happens and processes sometimes need improvement. I have no issue with having hearings, but the political grandstanding is annoying. Until I see something to say that there was willful negligence, I don't think it serves any purpose to just whine and complain as Republicans have been doing.

In the end, the American people won't care, just as they didn't really care about Iran-Contra - and that was a far more substantive and sinister story of government intrigue and over-reach.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

President's Agenda

President Obama gave a great speech that tapped into liberal/progressive American values. There are a lot of Republican/conservative critics who are complaining that the President did not reach out to them. That is utter nonsense. First, these Republicans are the same ones who have been obstructionists for everything in the first term. These are the same ones who argued that their singular goal was to make President Obama a one term President. Guys like Paul Ryan were plotting a strategy for how to obstruct the President on the day of President Obama's first inauguration.

Republicans moan and whine about the President not working with them, when it is clear they have no intention of working with the President.

The President laid out a very clearly different agenda for the country than the Republicans 5 years ago and he won the election. He has governed for 4 years in a way that has been very different than the policies of Republicans and he has a far higher approval rating than Republicans. He laid out a completely different vision than Mitt Romney and he trounced Romney to get re-elected to his second term. When will Republicans get the fact that their policies are not wanted by the majority of Americans!

I'm glad President Obama was forceful in his defense of his policies and laid out a muscular agenda for his second term that is very different than what Republicans want. Without the concern for re-election, President Obama is free to push for the policies that he has advocated for in his campaign. We will be better as a country for it. The economy is far improved from where it was 4 years ago. The deficit is shrinking - not expanding as Republicans want people to believe. Employment is improving. After 8 years of President Obama we will be in a far better place than when we started. That will be his lasting legacy.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Inauguration Day

My family and I went down to DC for Inauguration. We stayed off the Mall - there were literally hundreds of thousands of people and I don't like being in that big a crowd. We saw those types of crowds last time and when Stewart/Colbert did their Rally a couple of years ago. Instead, we got bleacher seats on Pennsylvania Avenue on the parade route (at a substantial fee). We got to listen to the speeches and platform party remarks and we got to enjoy what turned out to be a pretty good day.

It is interesting being there for real American history being made. I wasn't really keen on going down - I was fine watching it on TV. But, I have to say that I did enjoy being there live. We were sitting at 1300 Pennsylvania Avenue. The White House is at 1600 Pennsylvania, so we were pretty close to the end of the parade route. Unfortunately, we did not get to see the President walking in front of us. He got out of his limo and walked about 5 blocks before our spot and then about 2 blocks after us. We did see him in his limo with the Secret Service all around, but I would have loved to have seen him walking. Can't have everything I guess.

Security was thorough but easy enough to get through. We only had to wait about 10 minutes in line to get in. I think part of it was the fact that we paid good money to be where we were. The snipers and spotters on top of buildings were everywhere. My kids really found that part of the security system fascinating. There were a couple of high rise hotels that were around our bleacher area, so it looked like they were pretty busy watching for suspicious activity. I'm sure the proximity to so many hotel rooms overlooking the parade route was a big reason the President didn't get out near us.

The thing I will say is that being in DC today, one could really see how much love this President has. It was a great, diverse crowd of Americans having a good time and being witnesses to history.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Bears Defense to Change

Coach Trestman is coming in and hopefully will do something with the offense. Apparently, the defensive coordinator will change. Rod Marinelli will be moving on. It is disappointing that a 10 win team with great special teams and a great defense will have an all new staff. Hopefully this is going to work out.

I am disappointed in the coaching changes that appear to be coming. I wait and see who the coaches are before making a final judgement.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Obama Takes on Gun Control

The President is pushing forward common sense gun legislation. He signed a number of executive orders including outlawing high capacity gun clips, reinstating the assault weapons ban, requiring background checks for all, etc. The NRA will fight back - that should not surprise anyone. The question that we need to have answered is what Republicans will do. If they actually argue that this is all a big gun grab or some kind of attack on Americans' rights, I would be surprised if they win the policy or political debate. We'll see what happens - should be interesting.

Marc Trestman to Coach Bears

The Bears named Marc Trestman their next head coach. I don't know much about him, but looking over his past experience and all of the QBs he has developed I think it is a good pick. I hope that the Bears are able to keep most of their defensive staff together. Much of that will probably depend on if Lovie gets a head coaching job (which is looking less likely).

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Obama Won't Negotiate

Finally, the President took the right stand with Boehner. The Debt Ceiling is not a political tool that should be trifled with. For the RepubliCANTs to threaten destroying the economy for political reasons is completely insane. They are committing financial terrorism and I'm glad the President is turning his back on them. You cannot negotiate with idiot terrorists - and that is what they are.

If RepubliCANTs would just get out of the way and stop holding the country hostage all of the time there would be far more financial certainty and the economy would grow even faster. We are in the midst of a recovery that has a horrible drag on it from RepubliCANT lunacy.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Republicans Willing to Allow Government Default?

WTF? These people are complete idiots. I'm not going to say much more than this if they are seriously willing to allow the U.S. to default on its fiscal obligations for the first time in American history.

Coaching Notes

I am coaching basketball and indoor soccer. My teams are going in two very different directions. We are 7-1 in indoor soccer and 1-4 in basketball. That said, I am not too worried about the records, especially basketball. We have played the tougher teams in basketball and all but one of the losses was a close loss. Four out of our next five games are against teams that I think are less talented. I expect to win at least three of the next five and would like to see at least four wins. We should have a little more momentum and confidence going into our post-season tournament. It is exactly what happened last year. My boys are now learning to execute our four offensive plays and as we get better at it we tend to play better. We'll see.

In indoor soccer we had a huge game yesterday. We played the only team that had beaten us - the last unbeaten team. We were in second with a 6-1 record. The game got off to a rocky start. Both teams were putting pressure but they went ahead 2-0 about 15 minutes into the game. In the last 10 minutes we got two penalty kicks and I had my son take the shots. He nailed it both time and you could see our team really take off. We went into the half at 2-2. Then went ahead early in the second half 3-2. They tied it about halfway through the half at 3-3, but we got two more goals to win 5-3. Great game and a particularly good game by my son. His defensive skills have really taken off, but his kicks are huge. He had two more free kicks from about 25 yards out that he blasted toward the goal but hit just above the goal. It was awesome.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Politics Thoughts

Republicans need to get their collective act together. It is clear the Boehner is having trouble holding his caucus together. It seems to me that Eric Cantor is a snake who is ready to stab his leader in the back in an effort to gain power. I have thought that for some time, but the way he voted against Boehner in the fiscal cliff deal really sent a message. Boehner was trying to avoid the fiscal cliff and was pushing his fellow Republicans to vote for the deal that was negotiated and Cantor - who is the Majority Leader in the house voted against it. When you have divided leadership it is difficult to govern.

The debt ceiling has to be raised. We may not like it, but citizens should not be fooled into thinking that the U.S. can just default on its financial obligations and there won't be significant consequences. Republicans played chicken and held the country and the world economy over a barrel last time as they fooled with the debt ceiling and flirted with U.S. default. That cannot happen.

Boehner knows it, but Cantor and the increasingly inane Republican caucus that follows him don't seem to understand reality. It should be interesting, but if Republicans in the House hold the debt ceiling hostage, they should be removed from office and tried for treason. Clearly they would be working against the interests of the United States.

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Chicago Bears Thoughts

The Bears won their last two games and finished 10-6 but still missed the playoffs. If was a second year in a row and 4th time in the last 5 years. The decision to fire Lovie Smith was not surprising. I support the decision because I think there needs to be more accountability for the failures of the last two years.

I do believe that Lovie is a great coach and should be a head coach again. He is a players' coach and his no nonsense style is great for eliminating drama. I think he would be great for a team like San Diego or Arizona. I do not think he would be good in Philly. The reason is that the fan base in Philly likes drama and wants a coach who is demonstative.

As for the Bears, I'd like to see them keep their defensive coaches in place. I wouldn't mind seeing a new offensive system brought in. My favorite choice at this point would be Dave Toub, who is the current Special Teams coach for the Bears. I'd like to see him hired and for him to bring in a new set of offensive coaches. My second favorite choice is Mike McCoy the current offensive coordinator in Denver.

Happy New Year

I have had a nice long break. Been busy with family, work, and a ton of errands around the house. I'm going to work my way back into regular posts.