Friday, September 02, 2011

Predictions Sure to Go Wrong

My friend Tim pinged me the other day and asked if I was going to make my annual football predictions. Sure, why not? Here you go, Timmay.

Looking at the Washington Redskins, I am definitely NOT drinking the Kool-Aid. I don't see much here. I see a team that tried a lot harder than most of their preseason opposition, and got a lot of people excited. But the NFL is about talent. You have got to have it if you want to be successful - being smart simply isn't enough. I see a team that will either go 5-11 or 6-10. Why the two? Well, looking at the schedule I see a 5-win season. But the last game of the season is at Philadelphia, who should be looking at a playoff birth and a first round bye, so I expect them to rest starters and play it like a preseason game. If the Redskins win that game, it's 6. Otherwise, 5. I want to like John Beck at quarterback, but I don't think he has the athletic tools needed to make a difference. The worst part here is, at 5-11 or 6-10, they'll pick low enough in the draft to miss out on one of the big time QB prospects coming out next year that could really help them. I think the culture is finally starting to shift a bit, which is a good thing, but real progress is a long way off.

Super Bowl? Hmmmmmm.... Patriots over Eagles. I think Tom Brady is loaded for bear this year, and Philadelphia is good. I almost stuck in Pittsburgh over New England, but I've just got a hunch about Brady and a revamped defense for the Patriots. The Jets could be interesting. There's not much to challenge the Eagles in the NFC, *maybe* the Saints (running game and defensive question marks) and even less of a maybe to the Falcons (who need to get better on defense). And yes, this means Albert Haynesworth will win a Super Bowl title, further making the Redskins look like idiots.

The Maryland Terrapins. Honestly, who the hell knows? There's more questions marks here than in the Riddler's hideout. That being said, they do have a legit quarterback, which counts for a lot. They've lost a lot of players, due to suspensions, transfers, recruits changing commitments, etc. Changing head coaches will do that. I like Randy Edsall, right now, but I'm only giving him one year (this season and this years recruiting class). I want to see his 2012 team and then I'll decide on this guy. As for 2011, well, I'm going go with 7-5, BUT, I reserve to the right make a change after seeing them play Miami in Week 1 (a game I think they'll win). The range here can go from 3-9 to 9-3, there's just so many unknown quantities.

National Champion.... Oklahoma. Dark horse: Alabama. Oregon simply doesn't have the big nasties on either side of the ball. No one else jumps out at you and demands your attention. I think I did pretty well last year on the Redskins, but the Terps surprised me. In any case, we'll know a lot more by mid-February.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Rob's Rules of Political Campaigning

I'm going to try something a bit different here.

Usually, my blog posts - as infrequent as they are - are about something I've been chewing on for some time, something that I've flushed out pretty well in terms of how I feel about it. Sometimes, they are simply reactionary; I see something that gets my attention, and I essentially comment on it. Rarely is there ever an arc, or theme to several posts, and I think I'm going to try that for a bit, and see what happens. If they suck, so what? You're not paying for this and I promise you it takes me more time to write it than for you to read it.

The 2012 election for President of the United States is starting to simmer. One candidate is all but certain: Barack Obama, who has announced he's running and is the incumbent. It would take extraordinary circumstances for him to not be the Democratic candidate. The other side of the ballot is less than certain - which is a huge understatement.

So as I search out for a candidate to get my vote in November 2012, I figured hey, why not put some criteria together? Sure, why the hell not, sounds good to me.

Number 1: Don't make your message all about bashing your opponent. Look, I'm pretty damn smart, and I really don't need someone jumping up and down telling me what someone else is doing wrong. I can pretty much figure that out for myself. If your candidacy is based on the other guy being wrong, well, who is to say you're right? Talk about yourself, first and foremost. If I want to hear about the other guy, I I'll listen to what he has to say. Would you go into a job interview and say "You should hire me because Joe over there is a terrible person"? No. Impress me.

Number 2: Show me the math. Don't walk around spouting how (random legislative policy) is going to create jobs or cut the deficit. Show me the math - prove your work. If someone looked at your deck and said "yeah, just cut a 2x6 that is 14 feet and 6 3/4 inches long" without actually measuring, would you believe him? Of course not. I understand Economics is not an exact science, but, if your economic theory is a talking point or part of a larger platform that you didn't actually set, I'm sending your homework back for a re-do.

Number 3: Speaking of platforms, if you're simply a boilerplate guy who is parroting the platform of the party you are running under, move on. I find it inconceivable that someone would agree with EVERY little thing and have no thoughts of their own on a topic. Any topic. Don't be the Politibot 3000 and rubber stamp everything you see. Your job is going to be hard. It's going to require a lot of intelligent, creative thinking and problem solving skills that would perplex most people. Show me you can do that and I'll vote for you. Maybe.

Number 4: Charisma is nice, but honestly I don't care. I'm focused on message, not delivery. I was on my way to a music gig at a place where then Senator Obama was campaigning, and really, all he was doing was stirring up the crowd. Content Counts first and foremost. Don't jump up and down saying we need more jobs, explain to me how you're going to create more jobs. And show me the math.

That's enough for now I think, but I'll continue with this as time goes by.

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Friday, April 15, 2011

Welcome Back to the Chief Anger Officer

Hello. It's me, you friendly neighborhood Spiderman. I know I haven't been around much lately. See, I've grown tired of of much of the debate in this country. Simply put, it isn't debate anymore. It's religion. It's zealotry. It's people advocating and espousing their "sides" ideals and philosophies and attempting to shout down the other side for their own benefit.

I don't have time for that.

I choose not to take part in that.

You don't have to agree with the "other side" but I think you have to be able to acknowledge that in the vast majority of issue-based debates that 99% of what is being said is opinion, and that your opinion - or mine - is no more "right" than anyone elses opinion. You can respect the person, and their opinion, even if you don't agree with either. No really, you can.

Yes, you can.

Look, I don't care what you really think about abortion, taxes, government, American Idol, Cap'n Crunch, etc. You are, IN MY OPINION, entitled and empowered to think and believe whatever you want about whatever you want. You might think the New York Yankees are the best thing since sliced bread. You might think the Boston Red Sox are the best thing since sliced bread. And you can tell me that until the cows come home if you'd like. But if I didn't ASK you about the Red Sox, or Cap'n Crunch, or budget policies, I reserve the right to tell you to go tell it somewhere else because there's a chance I could not care less. I also reserve the right to listen, and agree or disagree, at my choosing. My choosing. Not yours. Mine. MINE. I don't care what religion you are or to which political party you belong - I don't believe that is the sole definition of who you are, or what you are.

So you might be asking at this point "What do I care about?" and I will tell you that is a reasonable question.

I care about being a good person. Don't define that for me - I will define that for myself (as you should for yourself). I have that right. If you don't like the way I define that for me, get lost. I don't care to know you, and I won't miss you. Conversely, if I don't like the way you define that for yourself, I will probably remove myself from your life.

I think a "good person" treats others with courtesy and respect. They see someone who looks lost and asks if they need directions. They see a child crying and ask if they need help. If asked to help, they usually say yes and do so without expecting anything in return. They mostly follow and observe the laws (I've been known to speed on occasion, hence mostly) and contribute to the betterment of society by waking up, going to work, paying their taxes, etc. They say "please", "thank you", and "you're welcome" and ACTUALLY mean it. Of course they struggle with life sometimes, we all do. We make mistakes, we make bad decisions, and we regret them. I know I have. And I know I try not to repeat them, whenever possible.

In other words, don't be an Ass.

I get that everyone is different, and no one is perfect. There's plenty of room to be colorful, to be "you", within that very general definition of a good person. I think I have a lot of good people in my life, and I think that makes me rather lucky. I also think sometimes good people have their "larger perspective" obscured by the immediateness of what they can often be most passionate at that time, but in the end they are good people and I will try to stick with them. Usually I can, but sometimes I can't.

It's been a while since I've ranted. Feels good to vomit my thoughts into keystrokes.

All I am saying is that we should all strive to be "good people" and treat the people you like in your life as if you like them, even if they are a Yankees fan, or they believe that abortion should be legal, or think that Frosted Flakes pummels Cap'n Crunch. I'm not trying to marginalize you or what you believe - I think it should be part of what defines a person. I'm just saying there's more to life than these insipid little issues.

But that's just my opinion.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A Picture is Worth ...

1,000 Words.

Redskins get spanked 59-28 by the Eagles. Not sure about the effort the team gave? Check out Albert Haynesworth. This is during an actual play. The whistle has not blown. He wasn't hurt. He quit (arguably, he quit the day he signed his contract).

To make matters worse, The Redskins signed Donovan McNabb to a contract extension. Luckily, it is being reported the Redskins have an out after this season so the deal "only" costs them $3.25 million or so.

McNabb is a nice guy. He's a HUGE upgrade over anyone the Redskins have had playing quarterback since Brad Johnson. But there's something about him that just doesn't click for me.... Maybe it's his accuracy. I don't know, but I do know that while I would have traded for him rather than keep Jason Campbell, I wouldn't keep him for next season unless I cannot get *anyone* else. And that is exactly what Redskins have done.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Prediction Time! Part 2.... ish

Note for Facebook users: These Notes are auto-copied from my somewhat lame, largely ignored blog ( Please feel free to crumble up this webpage and throw it in a trash can if you don't care about such things. I know I would.

Seems as if there is an election tomorrow. Basically, this is an chance for me to do more pretend betting. Crystal Ball, activate!

For the record, midterms almost ALWAYS go against the party in the White House. I think since 1950, only 3 of them have not. So a betting trend is clearly established from which I can work. Also, there are basically two polling trends - registered voters, and likely voters. And the differences in those two indicates to me a lot of people simply aren't going to vote tomorrow.

U.S. Senate: 51/49 Dems
House-o-Reps: 231/201 GOP
Governors: Who cares?

According to all the research I can find, the higher the turnout, the more it will favor the democrats, who appear to be completely disinterested in this election. But really... looking through the data, all you have to do is look at the total spent by a given party. As the money goes, so goes the voting.

And if you thought the last 2 years were partisan? Wait for the next two! All this is nothing more than table setting for 2012, which will be the real ideological battle. I'm actually fascinated to see how the hard right GOP candidates get along with their GOP brethren, and who the GOP role out as House Speaker.

Notable predictions: Reid loses in NV, big Senate wins in WV, Ill, and CO for the GOP. John Boehner gets the Speaker of the House job (not a bad choice, all factors considered).

Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right. Let the theatrics begin!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Get a Pitchfork! Get a Torch! Let's get 'em!

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This morning, while perusing the daily periodicals, I read this article in the Washington Post. The first two lines appear as such:

"More than half of Americans say they think that federal workers are overpaid for the work they do, and more than a third think they are less qualified than those working in the private sector, according to a Washington Post poll.

Half also say the men and women who keep the government running do not work as hard as employees at private companies."

I've been around the federal government my entire life. I've worked in the private sector supporting the federal government for 15+ years. My aunt and my mother both worked on Capitol Hill for span that between them covered more than 30 years. So when I say this, I have that as my background.

Based on the above polling results, after careful research and objective analysis of the data gathered, I have concluded that more than half of Americans are idiots.

Let's get one thing absolutely crystal clear - people in the federal government work just as hard as people in the private sector. I'm not saying there aren't people who are lax, who cruise control through their day without putting forth a real effort, but what I am saying is that these same people ALSO work in the private sector. I'm not so sure if the perception of the federal government is wrong as much as it is the perception of the private sector. As far as I can tell, the number of "slackers" is proportionate in both the public and private sector. I base this largely on personal observation more than extensive research, so I will admit the sample size of my data is limited to 15+ years of observation.

As for more or less qualified, well, again, I honestly believe that the people being polled simply have no idea. Public sector jobs tend to be more specialized I think, so maybe the broad skill set isn't seen so much on the resume of government workers. I've seen far more unqualified people in private sector jobs than I have in public sector jobs (although I've seen plenty in the private sector, too).

So, for the sake of discussion, let's assume I'm right. I mean, I am right, but it's not worth arguing about. Anyway, assume that for a moment - so why am I right? If you look at the mood of the country, the situation as it stands, you see a country in the midst of its worst economic downturn in 75 years, a country that is nervous, and sees a growing divide of "haves" and "have nots". They get worried, and they look for someone to blame. People are mad. They turn on the TV, the radio, the computer, and lo and behold there is someone telling them who is to blame for their misery.

The Mob is formed.

Let's get 'em!

But who to get? I KNOW - we'll blame the government! They're all evil! Let's get 'em! Fire all of them! Get a rope!

It's become fashionable to blame government for everything in the last few years (not just the last 2). I'm not going to go into the discussion of who is to blame, except to say that the American public have NO IDEA about the vast majority of the federal workforce, or the public workforce for that matter. And left on the sidelines in all this is the state governments and the county governments, both of whom are content to keep their head down as the mob goes by. But the notion that corruption and incompetence are the exclusive domain of the public sector is completely and totally ridiculous. I promise you, dear reader, it exists everywhere that the human animal is present.

Now that being said, could you overhaul the federal government workforce and improve performance? Absolutely. My experience has been there is a bit too much job security and not enough reward/consequence for good/bad work. But the average federal employee, based on my observation, cares about his job and does it to a decent standard. And isn't that what you would hope for from a work force? By the way, I've yet to see a private company that is "perfect", too. Every company carries dead weight and inefficiency.

I'm troubled by the whole lynch mob mentality and how it's starting to be applied. Don't like your Senator, your Congressman, your President? Cool, I'm good with that - not everyone is supposed to. Don't like a given policy? Awesome, having opinions are part of free speech. But focus that discord at the policy makers, the people who make the laws. The GS-9 who works for the Department of the Interior who shows up at his job every day, does his work with a degree of competency isn't the problem. But somewhere, there's a guy sitting in the house next door to the GS-9, cursing that person and getting angrier and angrier because some pundit told him it was the government making him unhappy. And chances are that person has no idea what that GS-9 does or how he does it, but he probably looks down at that person for doing it. And that's wrong.

Here's an exercise. Find a government job that matches what you do. See what it pays. In my own case, a job for the Fed would mean a pay cut, loss of annual bonus, a less flexible work schedule, and an inferior retirement plan.

So where's the well-formed thought? Good question. I suppose its this: if you don't like something, or the way something is being done, take an active role in fixing it instead of getting angry about it. Think government workers are overpaid and unqualified? AWESOME! Go apply for the job, and tell them as a civic service you're more qualified and because you're willing to do the job for the "appropriate" amount of money (read: LESS) they should hire you right there on the spot! I will personally thank you for helping out America.

Stop blaming other people or groups if you're unhappy. If you're unhappy, work to make a change. Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go back to USAJOBS.GOV and find one of those easy, high-paying government jobs everybody seems to have, for myself.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Prediction Time!

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I love predictions. It's like a game show or something, where I can just spout off and if I'm right I can point back tot hem and say "I TOLD YOU SO!".

That being said.... in no particular order.

Maryland Football. Yep, beat Navy 17-14, so this is tainted. They'll start 4-1, but end the season 4-8. Friedgen resigns. James Franklin (the already hired 'Coach in Waiting') will get the job but only because of the $1,000,000+ penalty UM would have pay him if they don't hire him. By promoting a "no-name" to be head coach, Maryland will be hard pressed to consider themselves a major DI football program, IMO. I still think Freidgen should've resigned after last season.

Washington Redskins. Looking at the breakdown of the schedule, I see them going somewhere between 4-12 and 7-9, so I'll call 5-11 as my official number. They could actually start 2-6, with wins against only the Rams and Lions, but since the Lions game is in Detroit, who knows. I could see them upsetting the Texans. McNabb will only start 13 games, maybe 12. No changes for the team in terms of management or coaching.

Both teams suffer from an absence of talent. Until that gets rectified, this will be the song for years to come.

The NFL in general will not start the 2011 season on time, and may not play it at all. With no collective bargaining agreement between the NFL and the Players Union, the league will lock out the players. Why? Because the TV networks have to pay the NFL whether they play or not. Other than antitrust rules, the league holds all the cards this time. Yes, this is rich men arguing with richer men about money, but it's their business. I do my best to contribute as little possible to Dan Snyder's bottom line already.

The Nationals will re-sign Adam Dunn. They have to, if they want to portray the image of being competitive. Strasburg doesn't pitch in the majors until 2012. and BTW, I'm calling right now that he is OUT OF HERE when he becomes a free agent. But the Nats are on the right path. 2012 looks promising (and yes, in baseball you have to look 3-4 years out) and I think they might be around .500 next year.

The Capitals will have to trade for a goalie mid-season. Neuvirth and Varlamov look like either could stand on their heads and shut out anyone on a given night, but I don't know if either can be consistent over the course of a NHL season.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Socialism? Communism? What do you think?

Check out this blurb:

"The consequences of this enormous inequality producing so much misery to the bulk of mankind, legislatures cannot invest too many devices for subdividing property… Another means of silently lessening the inequality of property is to exempt all from taxation below a certain point, and to tax the higher portions of property in geometrical progression as they rise. Whenever there is in any country, uncultivated lands and unemployed poor, it is clear that the laws of property have been so far extended as to violate natural right. The earth is given as a common stock for man to labor and live on."

Now, without using Google, tell me who you think wrote the preceding text. Here's a hint: It's someone whose name you will instantly recognize. If you read it a couple times, then re-read it again, you come to see that what is being said is that government has a responsibility to insure that poverty has no place in a given society and that governments should tax the the wealthy and not the poor. And the more you make, the more tax you should pay.

Now, perhaps you might think someone like Karl Marx, Michael Moore, or some other noted evil person would propose such abhorrent socialistic methodology, but the truth is that this quote comes from that notable evil communist named Thomas Jefferson. Yes, that Thomas Jefferson. He wrote that in a letter to James Madison in 1785.

See, what I'm really tired of is people who think any one ideology is "right" and all the others are wrong. Believe me, if that was the case I'm pretty sure the planet would've figured that out by now. Rather, it's a meshing from a variety of ideologies that "fits" - and he's the kicker - what fits today will not fit tomorrow. So when I see such partisanship, such divisiveness in our government and our society as a whole, I really just want to smack people. Nobody has all the answers. Not Barack Obama. Not Rush Limbaugh. Not David Hasslehoff.

You want to fix this country? Let smart people make smart decisions. Don't vote for someone because he's a Democrat, or a Tea Partier, or a Christian, or because he speaks well to crowds. Vote for people who are smart and listen to other smart people - and people who are smarter than they are - and make smart decisions. Then we can start to make progress as a society.