Friday, September 29, 2006

Let's talk politics

Because I don't have enough things to do these days, I decided to start a seperate blog to follow the 2008 presidential election. The address is and there is a link to it from this blog. I think you will enjoy my political ramblings.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

The Ryder Cup

The Ryder Cup starts this week Friday and I am already excited about it. In fact, of all the sporting events, I think the Ryder Cup might be in my top 5. Two years ago they held the event here in Michigan and I was able to attend a practice day which was very cool.

This year's Ryder Cup is hard to predict. After several disgraces by the Americans, we still are the perceived favorite. On paper we bring the top 2 players in the world in Tiger and Jim Furyk and several other accomplished players. But every year we bring the more talented team and every year the Europeans kick our butt with a bunch of guys who can't win a major and most of whom we've never even heard of.

In the Ryder Cup, the world rankings and raw talent mean very little. What counts is teamwork which is why the Americans struggle. Tiger and Mickelson both suck when it comes the Ryder Cup because they are so used to playing for themselves that they do not know how to play as a team. If either one of them would play up to their potential we would have a strong shot at bringing back the cup. However, the key to America's success will be how our young guys play this year. For the past few Cups we've had a lot of deadweight on the team and finally we have some new guys like Zach Johnson and JJ Henry to bring a fresh perspective.

I also think having Tom Lehman as captain will help the team this year. He has played well in these events in the past and he understands the camaraderie that it takes to win the cup. Having said that, my expectations for winning the cup are still low. Win or lose, I plan to sit back and enjoy the high drama of the Ryder Cup.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Is Islam Evil?

Last week the Pope made some remarks that were critical of Islam by stating that it was evil and inhumane. How did the Islamic community respond to these comments? They started rioting and threatening violence against the Pope. This morning it was reported that a catholic nun had been murdered in retalitation to the comments. It seems to me that this response only reinforces the Pope's argument. I can certainly understand being upset when someone criticizes one's religion but since when did that give license to respond with violence?

Also last week, Rosie O'Donnell on the View compared radical Christianity to the Muslim terrorists, presumably because many of us don't endorse her homosexual lifestyle. Her comments obviously drew condemnation from the Christian community but to my knowledge nobody has threatened her life or started rioting in the streets. Maybe Christians will boycott the show but I doubt that will work since nobody watches the View anyways.

It's irritating listening to all the pundits wring their hands when anyone questions Islam's true intentions or beliefs. Yet Christians get mocked and ridiculed daily in the media, the schools and in the entertainment industry. Why is there a double standard? And since when did religion freedom mean that average citizens cannot criticize other people's religion. By definition, if one is a Christian then they do not endorse Islam and vice versa. The two faiths have little to no room for agreement. The Muslims get this but apparently we hold freedom of religion as so sacrosanct that it applies to more than just government but to our own personal religious views.

Now as to content of the Pope's comments. I do not believe that all Muslims are evil people. They are no more or no less evil than I am as all men are born with sinful intentions. But as a religion Islam is in direct contrast to the redemption and transformation offered by Christ. You may not want to call that opposition evil but I would hardly call it good.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Day of Caring

The other day our campaign decided to send several volunteers to the local United Way day of caring. While I was there I kept thinking that I was part of some NFL United Way commercial but it wasn't really that glamorous and no pro athletes were there to help. Our crew was assigned to clean up the baseball field and tennis courts at a park in Muskegon Hts. By the looks of things, nobody had touched the park in a long time and it was a mess. We were able to make some progress but it seemed a little futile because I wonder how many kids are actually going to use those fields even after they are cleaned up. Only time will tell I guess.

Several people have asked me why we sent our volunteers to clean a park when we are in such a close election. Most campaigns would be out campaigning but I can honestly say that my boss is different than most politicians. Some suggested that we were only there to get good PR for the campaign but we didn't send out a press release and to my knowledge my boss didn't even speak to the newspaper that was there covering the event. His avoidance of the spotlight was not unusual.

To give you an idea about my boss, I need to share story from our first reelection campaign. The legislature has just received a huge pay increase just as the economy was going in the tank. Several other representatives decided to donate portions of their raise to charities and made sure the media knew about it. It worked well and they got tremendous positive coverage. When I suggested that idea to my boss he simply replied that the left hand shouldn't know what the right hand was doing and that if he gave away his money it wouldn't be for political gain. In the end I think he did donate to several community groups but I'll never know for sure because he didn't broadcast it.

Even on days when I don't agree with my boss or when I get really tired of the campaign grind, I always look back to that story as to why I work for who I do. Anybody can work for an up and coming politician but few in my business get to work for somebody with such humility.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Government Spending

I was just finished an interesting conversation with my friend Craig about the proper role of government spending. He was trying to point out that government wastes money on useless things which I canagree to a certain point. However, not all governments spend lavishly. This morning for instance we had the Vice President of Travel Michigan before our committee to testify on the state's new advertising campaign to attract new tourists to the state. He wanted to show a DVD clip of the new commercials but the senate doesn't have any DVD players. We only have VCR's. Granted they are VHS and not Beta but not exactly high tech. I had to lug in a DVD player from home so we could view the clips this morning.

On a more serious note, Travel Michigan's presentation was very impressive. To view the adds, you can visit Last year, the state set aside $7.5 million from the 21st Century Job money to fund this marketing campaign. This was on top of the $5.7 million we spend in general fund money. This may sound like a lot of money but compared to surrounding states, we spend far less to attract visitors. Illinois spends $48 million a year in marketing. One interesting point about the money being spent for the campaign is that for every dollar spent, the state brings in $3.43 in new tax revenue. It's a convoluted formula but tourists do spend money when they come to Michigan and that generates lots of tax revenue. I point all this out to illustrate that sometimes government spending can actually reap a return on that investment.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

American Top 40 Flashback

XM radio has recently been replaying Top 40 countdowns from the 1980's. Being a child of the 80's I tuned in and it was like going back in time. Casey Kasem's familiar voice along with great hits from Kool and the Gang, Bruce Springstein and Loverboy, made me long for the music of my youth. They even had a long distance dedication.

What was fun about listening to the show was how vivid my memories are tied to music. I remember when I was about 10 my Mom would go to Sunday School over at Sutton Club Apartments. I would go with her but sneak out into the parking lot to listen to the top 40 countdown while sitting in the car. Things were so carefree back then that the only thing I worried about was if my favorite song would be number one. Today's music just doesn't carry the same emotional attachment as it did back then.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Football predictions

It seems like just yesterday that I was drinking champaign from the sweet cup of superbowl victory but alas the NFL season starts tomorrow night with the Steelers defending their crown against the Dolphins. It would have been a great game except that Big Ben is out because of his appendix. I am beginning to think he may be cursed. I can see all these Bengals fans plucking needles into their Roethlisberger doll wishing revenge and casting spells in the name of Carson Palmer.

Every year I like to pretend that I have some talent in predicting the season so I thought I would share my predictions.

AFC East
New England

AFC North

AFC South

AFC West
San Diego
Kansas City

The Bengals and New England will win the wildcard and Cincinatti will win the AFC championship.

NFC East

NFC North
Green Bay

NFC South
Tampa Bay
New Orleans

NFC West
St. Louis
San Francisco

Dallas and Tampa Bay are the wildcards and Carolina wins the NFC Championship.

And the super bowl winner is Carolina over Cincinatti in a thriller.