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Archive for February, 2007

John Clayton for ESPN wrote an article regarding this year’s crop of rookie wide receivers.  Mentioning such collossal failures as Charles Rodgers and Mike Williams (who both, coincidentally, play for the Detroit Lions), Clayton offered the recent trend that “bigger is not necessarily better.”

But, as he brings up in the article, this year’s class of big wideouts is different.

They’re big AND fast.

Here are a few examples –

– Calvin Johnson (WR – Georgia Tech): 6’5″ 239 lbs. – 40 time: 4.35 secs
– Robert Meachem (WR – Tennessee): 6’2″ 214 lbs. – 40 time: 4.39 secs
– Jason Hill (WR – Washington State): 6’1″ 204 lbs. – 40 time: 4.32 secs

Calvin Johnson, obviously, is an athletic freak, match-up nightmare, and the clear top prospect of this year’s draft. However, there are other big, fast receivers in this draft. This is probably one of the best drafts for wide receivers in the last few years.

As a side note, Steve Smith (WR – USC), already known for his hands of glue, increased his draft stock dramatically when he ran two 4.40 second 40’s on Sunday.

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CNN recently wrote an article about how Republican candidates will be concentrating time and effort on winning California during the primary since it has a huge chunk of the delegates required for the nomination.

Well, duh.

Even in the Democratic primaries, which are not winner-take-all, candidates concentrate on the “big states” (California, New York, Texas, Florida). “Super Tuesday” in March is the biggest day of the Democratic primary, and candidates of both parties are obviously going to concentrate on the states with the highest number of delegates, just as much as they concentrate on the first few primaries, where gaining momentum for the rest of the primary circuit is key.

Many times I’ve felt that the “political” news coverage provides us with many “duh” moments, and an entire entry on CNN.com about how candidates will concentrate on a big state merely reinforced that.

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In a visit to Buckhead for a fundraiser tomorrow (2/28/07), Mitt Romney came under fire for changing his abortion views. In a clear attempt to appease the Religious Right in the Republican primaries, Romney has been supporting more restrictive abortion laws.

These kinds of moves seem to be becoming quite popular among some of the more moderate Republican candidates (McCain, Romney, Giuliani). Knowing that the more conservative wing of the party votes in the Republican primaries, each of these candidates has, in recent months, made an attempt to show that they are “more conservative.” McCain, in particular, seeing what happened in the 2000 primaries, has made very visible overtures to the conservatives in the party.

Oh well. This is the reality of the primaries. Due to much lower turnout, primaries are not highly representative of the nation as a whole. Obama, Clinton, Edwards, and Biden will all face this in the Democratic primaries – the pull of the liberal wing of the Democratic party. Hopefully, in the election (and most importantly, in governing) the candidates will move toward the center.

On another note, the fact that Romney is coming under fire for, as he puts it, “changing his mind” brings up an entire other subject. Its common knowledge that the American public loves the politician who “sticks to his guns,” but the idea that a politician, or any person for that matter, can’t change his mind when he perceives that a previous position was wrong is ludicrous. The President is renown for his “unwavering” stances. However, when those “unwavering” stances are wrong, wouldn’t you rather he change his mind? That’s less likely to happen if politicians continue to get crucified for changing any of their positions (which is actually quite common).

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I completely agree.

Arnold Schwarzenegger made a speech in Washington, D.C. on Monday in which he told the politicians in the nation’s capitol that they need to “schmooze” more.

Schwarzenegger himself has a “smoking tent” in Sacramento, CA where he invites politicians of any party to come and schmooze.

The idea sounds silly, but in reality, its quite smart. Schwarzenegger was the subject of much ridicule back in 2003 when he became the “Governator” of California, but he’s shown to be quite adept as a politician. He won his re-election in a “blue state” by 17 points.

It’s been said that a politician has two different phases that he rotates through: the campaign and the governing. Lately it seems the majority (not all but most) politicians never stop the campaign, and, as a result, we don’t get a whole lot of governing.

If politicians would start governing more and campaigning less then we’d probably get more accomplished. Schmoozing is a start. The lack of open discussion in Washington (and everywhere) over the last six years or so has been frightening. Democracy is about moderation and compromise. How you can compromise when you’re not really talking to each other?

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The New York Times wrote today about Barack Obama’s consistent stance opposing the Iraq War. Some consider it to be a boost for his campaign, as he doesn’t have to worry about defending or explaining previous votes on the war (a la John Kerry in 2004). Others criticize Obama, saying that he didn’t begin speaking up about the war or offering any solutions until after he announced his presidential campaign. Obama has defended himself by stating that he wished to “lay low” in the first year of his freshman term as a U.S. Senator.

Obama’s plan for Iraq rests mainly on hitting different “benchmarks” for progress. He also calls for a phased withdrawal, and would like to see U.S. troops gone by March 2008. In addition, his plan does not eliminate a potential continued military presence in the region and does not eliminate the potential for further economic aid. A basic overview of John Edwards, Hillary Clinton, and Barack Obama’s Iraq plans can be viewed here.

It seems that the Democrats’ are trying their very best not to alienate the anti-war vote that gave them control of Congress for the first time in over a decade. However, it appears to me that, in doing so, they are ignoring some of the long-term problems that could arise.

The entire purpose of the Iraq enterprise was 1) remove Saddam and 2) establish a stable democracy in the geographic center of the Middle East. Well, we accomplished #1, and its quite obvious to everyone that #2 still eludes us. Indeed, I never thought that forcing democracy upon Iraq was a good idea. Democracy does not have a strong history of success when it has been shoved down someone’s throat. However, I’m not sure that pulling out is the best answer.

President Bush’s troop surge, while somewhat controversial, should not be dismissed. Securing Baghdad is an important step toward stabilizing Iraq. If the capitol is not secure, than how can the country operate? It can’t. However, we won’t know if the President’s surge will work for a few months (the best estimate is about three to six). I hate to say that we need to “wait and see,” but that’s exactly what we need to do. We need to have multiple plans in place, including one if the surge succeeds and we stabilize Baghdad, and one if the surge fails, and if it fails, then a phased withdrawal would likely be the best (and only) option. I hope it does not come to that because that scenario has intense ramifications.

By pulling out, Iraq could very well break out into full-on civil war. The power vacuum involved with the lack of the U.S. presence would leave the door open for Iran (with its billions in oil money) to come in. Not to mention we would’ve blown hundreds of billions of dollars on a failed project in a region that’s disposition toward the U.S. is glacially-cold, at best.

I’m not a military or political expert, so I’m in no position to create a new plan for Iraq, but I do not think that simply pulling out is the answer.

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Well, first off, let me congratulate Martin Scorsese on finally winning a well-deserved Oscar for Best Director.

Moving on, I caught a bit of Glenn Beck’s show tonight after watching the last segment of the Oscars, and he was ranting about immigration and the way funding is working currently. First off, let me say that he did touch on a very intriguing issue in the amount of money required to become a U.S. citizen.

However, I have a serious problem with Beck, Hannity, O’Reilly, and others like them (including Al Franken and others). Part of the reason that the Colbert Report comes off so funny is that Colbert may seem to many like he’s acting completely ridiculous, yet his show is scarily similar to those of Hannity, O’Reilly, and Beck. Men looking sternly at the camera and ranting on the subject of the day; many times much of what they spew out of their mouths is more fiction than fact, which is unfortunate because, as I mentioned above, they often touch on very important and intriguing issues.

On the radio front, things become even worse. We get the likes of Neal Boortz, Rush Limbaugh, and Sean Hannity again (not to mention countless others) spewing off on random topics. Franken also fits in this category to a certain extent. These talk-radio personalities offer little if any facts, and they flat out lie a disturbingly large amount of the time.

People lying on TV and radio is no new phenomenon, and the lying isn’t the sad part of it. The sad part is the fact that many Americans rely solely on these sources for their day-to-day information. Can you imagine relying on political pundits and talking-heads for all of your information? No wonder our country has so many problems with partisanship! They get all their information from the people who are definitions of the term.

It’s been argued from Plato to James Madison that in order for a democracy to function fully, it must represent a well-educated and well-informed population, hence the need for free speech and a free press. Well, we protect speech and we protect the press, but apparently we can’t protect Americans from their own ignorance.

By all means, if you are fans of these shows, feel free to continue watching them, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that – these men (and women in the case of Ann Coulter) have the right to say pretty much whatever they want. However, as Americans, and as citizens of the most powerful democracy in the history of the world, we must educate and inform ourselves! Read the newspaper, in print or online, check multiple sources, check facts. Don’t just check CNN, and don’t just check FOXNews. Read both, and more. There are so many sources for information – CNN, FOXNews, NYTimes, MSNBC, BBC, and your local newspaper, to name a few.

I know that many people don’t care, and that many do not have the time, energy, or want to check multiple sources, and that frustrates me to a certain extent, but I understand, and I leave you with this – if you’re not going to live informed, that’s fine, that’s your choice, but if you’re going to vote, which is something that affects all of us, please, please, vote informed.

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Senate Democrats are contemplating rewriting the 2002 authorization to go to war in Iraq. The new version would include rules on how U.S. troops can be used (helping defend borders, fighting al Qaeda, training Iraqis) and would call for the removal of U.S. troops not following those rules to be removed by March 2008.

The Iraq situation is a mess, and that’s an understatement. I was against the war in the beginning back in 2002/2003. I argued that the intelligence that Saddam had nuclear weapons seemed shaky, and that we hadn’t had clear intel since Desert Storm in the early 90’s. The idea that there was a connection between Saddam Hussein and 9/11 was ludicrous, as Osama bin Laden is on record as having approached the Saudis to see if they wanted his help in removing the “infidel” Saddam.

However, it has taken the U.S. government 3 to 4 years to reach the same conclusion, and that’s 4 years too late. We’re over there now, and we’ve got to clean up our own mess. If we leave now that’s like telling someone “You’ve got a serious mold and rot problem in your siding, we’re going to need to replace all of it with new siding,” then ripping off all their siding, realizing that its all fine, and saying “Whoops! Guess I was wrong!” and leaving them up sh-t’s creek.

This new resolution seems fine in theory, but 1) the Democrats will have to fight President Bush big time on this, as there is no way he’s going to allow them to pass it, and 2) does it really accomplish anything?

We’ve got serious problems in Iraq, but is this really going to do anything about them? Yes, it will, in theory, bring some of the troops home, but that’s in theory. President Bush could also, in theory, label all of the troops as assisting in border security, training Iraqis, or fighting al Qaeda. Aren’t they all “fighting al Qaeda” right now anyway?

Iraq isn’t going to fix itself, and only history will be able to tell whether or not it was a colossal mistake. Right now it looks more like a colossal mistake, but one that we’ve got to try to fix.

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