Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Wednesday Odds and Ends

Let's address a handful of topics this morning:

Headline on this morning: "Obama Warns Debt Could Fuel Double-Dip Recession" - Now considering President Obama is an extreme left wing liberal pushing a socialist agenda, this tells me he is setting up a plan for massive tax hikes. Health care reform is the centerpiece of his presidency and despite its mammoth cost ($1-2 trillion), that won't be pulled off the table.

This comment by Obama is also ironically comical, considering he's done nothing domestically in ten months of office but spend taxpayer money and add to the budget deficit and national debt.

Gotta hand it to the marketing geniuses at Fenway Park to put the bad news out that the Red Sox would be raising ticket prices on the day when all everyone is talking about in the six state New England region is Bill Belichick's decision to go for it on 4th down and 2, on his own 28 yard line.

The Red Sox released catcher George Kottaras yesterday. Kottaras did a fine job handling knuckleballer Tim Wakefield and he has a little pop in his bat. However, with the mystifying decision to apparently hand the backup catching job to Jason Varitek without competition, there was no room for Kottaras. He'll catch on with someone (pun intended) and I wouldn't be surprised to see him be a decent major leaguer if given the opportunity. If given 400 AB's, I project him to hit .255 with 11 HR and 50 RBI, and throw out 20% of the runners attempting to steal. Unfortunately, Kottaras didn't get much of an opportunity with the Red Sox.

I can't imagine why anyone would be fired up to vote for Martha Coakley or Mike Capuano for Massachusetts' vacant US Senate seat. Both are career politicians without an ounce of reform in their bodies.

President Obama has made several lousy political appointments in his brief time in office. However, one of the worst is also one of the most high profile. Attorney General Eric Holder is one who'd rather score points for his liberal agenda, than do what is right for America. First, was his decision to go after the way CIA agents interrogated terrorists. Now, he wants to try terrorists in a criminal court, instead of in a military tribunal. This is nothing more than Holder trying to establish a higher profile for himself, and take the military and the CIA out of the equation.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

State of the Patriots

This past Sunday's loss by the Patriots to their hated rivals, the Indianapolis Colts, was painful. Despite the Patriots' 6-3 record, the warts of the team were on full display in the 4th quarter. After having some time to allow the shock of the loss to wear off and to reflect on what went wrong, I've come to the following conclusions about the three time Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots:

The Patriots are a soft team - Long gone are the smashmouth days of 2001 and 2003, where there was balance in the offensive attack and heavy hitting on defense. When I watch this team, I wonder what ever happened to the 2001 Super Bowl game style where the secondary would punish receivers on every play, whether the pass was completed or not? The Patriots have turned into the 2003 Indianapolis Colts - a pass happy team that is entertaining and can put up points, but cannot physically impose their will on a very good team.

They can't stop anyone on defense - This has been a problem since the January 2007 AFC Championship where they blew an 18 point lead to Indianapolis. The secondary is young and improving, but the defense is in a state of transition. Gone are Richard Seymour, Tedy Bruschi, Mike Vrabel, and Rodney Harrison. Safeties Brandon Meriweather and Brandon McGowan are trying to be big hitters, but sometimes they are out of position and miss tackles.

They cannot rush the passer - Back in the Super Bowl days, Mike Vrabel or Willie McGinest could be counted on to get a big sack. The 2009 New England Patriots are unable to get to the QB. When you put a team in a 2nd and 18 situation or 3rd and 13 via sacks, a defense has a lot more flexibility in what their next defensive call can be. The inverse here is also true in that it limits what the offense can do. This is why the Pittsburgh Steelers' defense is so good. They are always putting teams in 3rd and long situations. The 2009 Patriots are usually in a 3rd and 5 situation.

No playmakers on defense - When was the last time a Patriot defender forced a big fumble? Other than Jerod Mayo, the Patriots don't have any big time playmakers on defense. The defense is younger and faster, but they are missing the Ty Laws, Tedy Bruschis, and Rodney Harrisons they had during their Super Bowl dynasty days.

Corey Dillon, We Miss You! - Clock killin' Corey Dillon lived up to his nickname. Dillon, and to a lesser extent, Antowain Smith, could be counted on to wear down defenses and chew up the clock in the 4th quarter by moving the chains with their physical styles of running. The Patriots idea of killing the clock and moving the chains now is to throw short passes and slants. It's not the same and it doesn't work as well.

Too Pass Happy - One of the things I don't understand about Bill Belichick is how he has gotten so far away from one of the attributes that made him famous and successful - shortening the game. Tom Brady is one of the greatest QBs ever and it is generally a good idea to maximize the use of him as a weapon. However, Peyton Manning is one of the all time greats, too. Instead of getting into a shootout with the Colts, the Patriots would be better off having long sustained drives keeping Manning off the field, like the one they had in the 3rd quarter that unfortunately resulted in a Maroney fumble. The Patriots ran the football well Sunday night vs. the Colts and should've looked to do it more against the Colts' small defensive front. It is a mystery why the hard running BenJarvus Green-Ellis doesn't see more carries.

Weakness at the Offensive Tackle Position - For years, Matt Light has been the left tackle and the right tackle position has been a revolving door. Remember Greg Robinson-Randall, Tom Ashworth, and Ryan O'Callaghan? Nick Kaczur has been the starting right tackle since 2007, and not a very good one. Neither Light nor Kaczur can consistently handle speed rushers without help. The emergence of rookie Sebastian Vollmer in the wake of Light's knee injury, has easily been the most pleasant surprise of the season. Vollmer is huge, athletic and can move his feet in pass protection and is a punishing blocker in the running game. When Light comes back, the Patriots should keep Vollmer at left tackle and slide Light over to right tackle where he belongs.

Despite this list of issues, the Patriots are still a very good team. A few tweaks in the game plan and in personnel, can make a major difference. Any team that has Bill Belichick and Tom Brady is going to be in the playoff mix. However, to be a Super Bowl contender, which I believe the Patriots currently are not, changes need to be made. Those who ignore recent history are doomed to repeat the same mistakes.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Election Day - one year later

Today is the one year anniversary (first Tuesday of November) of the election of Barack Obama to the presidency. Taking into account the significance of the date, I'd like to post a few facts for those who voted for Obama:

  • $1.4 trillion budget deficit
  • an $868 billion stimulus bill that didn't stimulate anything.
  • a health care reform bill that is conservatively estimated to cost $1.2 trillion and will more likely cost $2 trillion when all is said and done.
  • understaffed troop levels in Afghanistan which threaten our success there and hurt troop morale.
  • 9.8% unemployment
  • trillions added to the national debt
  • bad mouthing America and apologizing for our "arrogance" to other countries when traveling abroad.
  • traveling to Switzerland to lobby the Olympic committee to bring the Olympics to Chicago for 2016 and coming home unsuccessful, and belittling the prestige of the U.S. presidency.
  • a bailout of GM and Chrysler that isn't working.
  • Obama Attorney General Eric Holder looking to prosecute CIA agents for some of their tactics to extract information from terrorists
  • the value of the U.S. Dollar at very low levels.

Are you Obama supporters happy now? You misguided souls elected the most overwhelmed empty suit since Jimmy Carter was elected in 1976. Supporters will say his nuance on whether or not to add more troops in Afghanistan shows depth of character and thoughtfulness. The rest of us believe nuance is code for indecisiveness.

Barack Hussein Obama ran as a moderate Democrat appealing to independents. Since his inauguration nine and a half months ago, he's attempted to enact the most radical agenda of any president, moving America closer to socialism than ever before.

Despite the first cases of H1N1 appearing in America last April, are you Obama supporters happy with the lack of vaccinations available? If so, then you're going to love the ObamaCare health package. Government has never been and never will be an effective instrument for driving economic growth. The prospect of the federal government taking over 1/6th of the economy (health care) by a bill produced by the House of Representatives that is 2,000 pages long is frightening.

The Obama Administration and the Democrats in the House and Senate want government to run everything. They believe that we all need our hands held through life by big government, taking our earnings in the name of taxes and punishing achievement by allocating the money we earned and giving it to those who don't work and don't pay taxes via grand initiatives.

As a country, we need to get back to the idea of personal responsibility. There's a difference between who needs government help and who doesn't. If you dropped out of high school and had three kids out of wedlock, that's not my problem. If you got fired for downloading inappropriate material from the internet on a company owned laptop, then you're flat out stupid. If you are a drug addict and got Hepatitis from sharing needles, I don't feel the least bit sorry for you. If you've been laid off from work and are actively looking to find gainful employment, then absolutely, you should be helped by the government. Considering the unemployment level and the current economic conditions, your unemployment benefits should be extended.

Candidate Obama promised change, and so far President Obama has delivered the wrong kind of change - big government. The kind of change we truly need are tax cuts, reduced government spending, a pro business, pro growth formula of policy initiatives. It is the private sector that will drive economic recovery with jobs and capital investment, not inefficient, government run programs.

We will ultimately all pay for this gigantic government spending. Right now, the U.S. Mint is printing money with nothing to back it. Why is this a problem? Because it devalues the U.S. dollar in the global market place and this will lead to increased inflation, particularly in the energy sector. Remember the $4.25 gallon of gas? Well, it'll be coming back if this continues.

On this election day, please do your country a favor. Go to the polls and vote for anyone who is a member of the Conservative or Republican parties. Despite the pipe dreams they try to sell, don't believe the rhetoric of Democratic politicians. Eschew them on your voting ballot and opt for real change.