Sunday, September 28, 2008

Hail to the Victors

Yesterday I had the privilege of watching the greatest comeback in Michigan stadium. My step dad, stepsister and my friend Ray drove to Ann Arbor yesterday expecting very little. Wisconsin was a top 10 team and Michigan is in a rebuilding year. And the first half Michigan gave us what we were expecting tenfold. Plainly put, they were downright awful. They couldn't run the ball, couldn't throw the ball, couldn't catch the ball and couldn't hold on to the ball. They were so pitiful that they had more turnovers than first downs and passing yards combined. The only saving grace was Wisconsin's ability to continue squandering opportunities and our defense holding them to only 19 points when it could have easily be 28 or 35 points.

At halftime we were joking that the seeing Michael Phelps get honored before the game was probably going to be the highlight. But thankfully, the second half was a completely different game. It took them most of the third quarter but they finally started moving the ball and scored with a couple minutes left in the quarter. I'll admit that I was happy they scored but didn't have any sense for what was coming. All of the sudden Wisconsin's offense was bogged down and we scored again with about 10 minutes left in the game bringing it to 19-14. Suddenly the crowd began to buzz with optimism. The very next play Michigan intercepted the ball and returned it for a touchdown to take the lead. It was an amazing play and frankly I was so stunned that we actually had the lead. I think I surprised Ray when I gave him a big bear hug to celebrate the score.

Michigan scored one more touchdown thanks to an unlikely 58 yard gallop by our slow white QB. Now clinging to an 8 point lead we gave the ball back to Wisconsin with just over a minute to play. Before we knew it they scored with only 13 seconds left. It was like a big kick to the stomach. The crowd was in shock. But there was still hope because they had to score a two point conversion to tie. They converted the pass and we all were expecting overtime wondering how we blew an 8 point lead like that. But there laying on the ground was a beautiful little yellow flag. Wisconsin had been called for a penalty and they had to do it over again. Talk about an emotional roller coaster. Once the second try failed, it was time to finally celebrate our great comeback. Whew!

It was so much fun to experience the highs and lows of the game in person. It was the second great comeback we've seen as they came back to beat Virginia on a last second catch to win Lloyd Carr's first game. I remember that game fondly as it was my first in the big house. Now I get to say I was there for the greatest comeback in their stadium. It was also Coach Rodriguez's first big win. Let the new era in Michigan football begin.

Friday, September 26, 2008


Today I just reached 400 "friends" on facebook. My list of friends is a real hodgepodge with people from all walks of life. I have high school and college friends, friends from my old church or old jobs, ex girlfriends, potential ex girlfriends, and coworkers. Even my Mom joined recently. I didn't realize how many circles of friends I had until the numbers started adding up.

But I will be the first to admit that many people on my list are not truly friends but more like casual acquaintances. Some relationships are even more distant than that. I have received numerous friend requests from people I have never met or can't remember and I feel bad turning down their requests. Lately, it has been helpful that many women are now including their maiden name so I have some clue who they are.

What's interesting about Facebook is how non committal and shallow these relationships are. To be some one's friend on facebook requires no real effort or commitment except maybe the additional wall post to wish them happy birthday. I like this laissez faire approach to relationships as who has time to invest in 400 people.

Perhaps my favorite thing about Facebook is that you can "de-friend" people. I didn't realize this option originally but once I found it I went through and ended my relationships with several people. With one click of a button I was done with several people with whom I no longer had a particular interest. It was liberating.

I wish real relationships were so easy to end. So long to that woman I dated only a couple times but for some reason keeps stalking me. Good riddance to that crazy relative that does nothing but cause grief and stress in the family. See ya later to the lazy co-worker who doesn't pull their weight at the office. No longer would I have to put up with the annoying person who always wants to talk and considers me their closest friend.

But alas life is not Facebook.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Bailout

I have been asked lately what my take is on the Government bailout. I find it ironic that people want my opinion since my knowledge of finance is severely limited. I don't balance my own checkbook and my personal 4o1k is a complete mess so it is tough for me to say with any real credibility what should be done.

Having said that, here are my initial thoughts. A complete bailout without strong oversight is a bad idea. Simply bailing out wall street is only a temporary measure. It doesn't really address the root causes that lead to the bad loans being made in the first place. Without consequences what incentive is there for firms to change their ways? Why should tax payers bail them out for their mistakes especially when so many people are struggling just to get by themselves? By taking these firms off the hook, I worry that they will not learn from their mistakes.

On the flip side, I realize that many businesses are cash strapped and without a healthy credit industry these companies will basically starve to death and could go out of business due to no fault of their own. I also know that many people are highly invested in the stock market and the one thing market fears most is uncertainty. If nothing is done many people will lose much of their life savings as the stock market takes a dive.

My suggestion to Congress is to provide a portion of the money upfront to keep enough money flowing into the market so as to avoid a complete economic collapse. This will buy some time to design a new regulatory scheme to assure improved lending practices. They should also demand more accountability on behalf of the banks. Only after the people responsible for this mess are removed and the firms agree to certain thresholds in reforming their practices, then give them the rest of the money.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


I hate socks. One of my favorite things about summer time is wearing sandals and not having to wear socks. Now that fall is upon us and the Senate is back in session I unfortunately have to wear them again.

This morning I had an early breakfast and I woke up late and as I am rushing to get dressed I realized I had no matching dress socks. I had 12 individual socks laid out on my bed in various shades of blue, grey and black and none of them matched in size or color. After careful deliberation I chose the two darkest colored ones and tried to hide my ankles under my desk all day for fear of somebody noticing.

To think that somewhere there is a lost partner to all my lonely mismatched socks. Yet without that match all my current socks are useless.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Politcal Love

I am amazed at the amount of buzz and attention Sarah Palin continues to receive from both Republicans and Democrats alike. A month ago, she was not on the national radar screen and probably had 3 percent name ID nationally. Now she is either the savior of the Republican Party or an apostate to woman depending on which side of the ideological fence you sit on.

While I admit that I was excited when she was picked and believe her to be a good political choice, the amount of fervor for her among conservatives has me a little worried. Yes she gave a great convention speech and yes I agree with her on many issues but the public still doesn't know much about her. There are some inconsistencies being raised between her statements and her record on both earmarks and her management of Alaska. Her interview with ABC revealed her to have a somewhat shallow knowledge of foreign affairs. Last of all, she lacks the normal experience to be president but isn't willing to even partially admit it. While none of these things are deal breakers or reasons on their own to not support her, it is odd to see every conservative basically ignore these issues completely and get downright offended if someone brings them up.

This situation reminds me of going on a first date with someone. The date goes great and you fall in love at first sight. You share a romantic first kiss and you decide that night that they are the one for you. However, a week later you begin to see that they are not quite as perfect as you thought. They don't always smell as good as that first date. They may have embellished themselves to impress you and they certainly didn't tell you everything about their history and their dysfunctional family. Before you know it your friends and family begin to raise a few concerns about your new relationship.

But instead of seeing the person for who they really are and listening to others, you have already made up your mind and are committed to that idealistic person you met on the first date. I fear this true of my conservative friends with Palin. They were so desperate to fall in love with a true conservative and now they have finally found her. The convention speech was that first kiss and it was a good one. But their infatuation is causing them to close their eyes and avoid seeing any of her flaws. And like teenagers in love, the more anybody objects the more they cling to their relationship.

This is not just a Republican thing as this is exactly how the Obama supporters felt at first sight. Now look at what's happening to them as their romantic feelings are beginning to wear off. They are just now seeing what the rest of us saw several months ago: A deeply flawed candidate who can't possibly meet the lofty expectations place upon him. Do conservatives want to have that same feeling about Palin 9 months from now?

Sunday, September 07, 2008

feckless predictions

Before the season officially gets on the way, I figured I would present my annual predictions on how the NFL season will play out. I am always an optimist for my Steelers but I have deep doubts about their offensive line and they have the toughest schedule in the league. Still I expect them to at least make the playoffs and have more wins than the Eagles. Otherwise I will owe Noah and never hear the end of it. So without further ado:

AFC playoffs

It will be the Chargers over the Jaguars in the championship game

NFC playoffs

The Saints will beat the Giants in the championship game

The Chargers over the Saints in the Superbowl.

League MVP - Drew Brees
Rookie of the year - Darren McFadden

Friday, September 05, 2008

McCain's speech

Ugh! As much as I thought Palin hit a home run on Wednesday, McCain looked liked an aging Gary sheffield who can't get around on a fastball anymore. He had plenty of opportunity to build on the momentum but instead ended the convention with a big thud. I realize that rhetoric is not his specialty but he was even worse than I expected. Frankly the biggest complaint I have about Bush is how poorly he speaks in public. Now I am a little scared that McCain may not be much of an improvement.

My partisan friends all thought he did well but any unbiased person cannot be inspired by the flat delivery and meandering nature of the speech. The problem McCain has is that the most important issue facing the voters is the economy and he really has no plan to reform it. The portion of the speech last night dedicated to the economy was weak, boring and half hearted. There were no innovative ideas, no emotion and no connection to the working class.

It will be interesting to see where the polls go after the conventions. Will McCain get a bounce based on the enthusiasm for Palin or will they stay virtually tied? All things considered, being tied at this time of year is not that bad for Republicans but with a good speech last night McCain could have opened up a lead.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

The Media and Sarah Palin

I am fascinated by just how overly negative and aggressive the media has been towards Governor Palin. At first I thought it was just because she was a Republican. Lately I think there is more to it.

First, I don't think they like being surprised. They like to be in the know and to plan accordingly. Picking Palin caught them off guard and now all the pre-packaged stories about Romney or whoever have to be thrown out and now they have to learn all about her. This does not sit well with people who think they have great sources and pride themselves for being "in the know". Much of their treatment is a way of taking out their anger for being hoodwinked by the McCain campaign.

Second, the media likes people inside the beltway. They feel more at home with the Washington DC crowd than with middle Americans and in this case a woman who is an entire continent away from them. First of all, they have no frame of reference for people who live different lifestyles than they do. Sure they think being hockey mom is cute but most reporters have no idea how to relate it other than passing it off as a small town quirk. The media like most of us are a little afraid and unsure of people that don't act and think like they do. Thus they are automatically suspicious of just about everything different about her. The problem is, that most of America has more in common with Palin than they do with the establishment media.

Finally, one quick example of just how outrageous the media's treatment of her has been. Compare the number of stories covering her daughter's pregnancy and the negative slant to those stories with the coverage of John Edwards affair and his illegitimate child. The news media couldn't stay far enough away from that story and only mentioned it in passing once it became so obvious that they could no longer ignore it. Unlike Palin's daughter who they couldn't wait to report even though her daughter is not running for any public office. This just highlights the media's double standards once again.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Governor Palin

Well I was wrong. I thought for sure McCain would play it safe and pick Romney. Instead he pulled a rabbit out of his hat and picked Gov. Sarah Palin. While none of us have ever really heard of her, what I do know about her reveals her to be a good choice.

Yes, she is a little thin in her political experience but she makes up for it in life experience. Her story reads like a compelling novel and she has a sort of every day woman appeal to her. She has run a business, managed a city and a state, took on the corrupt party establishment, and is raising a large family. If she can handle all these jobs, I would say she can juggle the responsibilities of the Vice Presidency. Besides being a long time politician doesn't necessarily make you a good Vice President. In fact, this is the perfect time for some outside blood to come and shake things up.

From the harsh response on the left, I get the sense this pick scares the heck out of them. They were ready to run against an all white male ticket but McCain changed the story. No longer does Obama have a monopoly on "change". When I heard Eleanor Clift this weekend say "this wasn't a serious choice for VP" even I was offended by that. Let alone what millions of woman might think who view having a woman on a national ticket as a very serious breakthrough.

If the Democrats continue their attacks they will backfire. Do they really want a debate on experience? First, it will only serve to highlight just how inexperienced Obama is and make them hypocritical overlooking his remarkably shallow list of accomplishments. Second, it will reinforce the idea that sexism is alive and well. When Tim Kaine was being discussed a Obama's VP nobody on the left was critical of his lack of experience yet he and Palin have the same amount of time in office. When they suggest she can't handle raising a family and running for office, do they forget that Obama has children as well? It seems there really is a double standard.

But back to Palin herself, She fits very well on the ticket. She has a background in oil and gas issues which is the most important domestic issue of the day. She will be a big help in crafting energy policy. She also has a history of fighting political corruption. This ties in nicely with McCain's theme of reforming the current system. Who better to help him than someone who has already done that back home? Obama can't say that and neither can Biden. I think that independent, good government streak is what most attracted Palin to McCain.

One final note, this pick has really excited the base of the Republicans. They like her conservative credentials and finally feel they have someone on the ticket they can rally behind. McCain was already making great headway solidifying his base with the Saddleback forum but this seals the deal. Now he can go full throttle after the independents in the final two months.