Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Okay, Time To Predict Election 2008

Alright, alright. Make no mistake about it, I'm for John McCain. McCain should be elected president, but given the turn of events since last September, things have all gone Barack Obama's way. As of today, 108 newspapers have endorsed Obama, while only 39 have gone to McCain. Obama is outspending McCain 4 to 1, and is widening his lead in the polls.

So as it goes, I'm going to make my predictions for this year's elections:

-Barack Obama will be elected President.

-The Republicans will lose 20 seats in the House of Representatives. They will lose five seats in the Senate.

-Senator Carl Levin will win easily over challenger Jack Hoogendyk by at least a 65%-35% margin.

-All incumbents up for re-election for the US House in Michigan will retain their seats, except for Tim Walberg. I predict Mark Schauer will win the seat for the 7th district.

-In Lansing, the Democrats will retain their lead and increase its size. I don't know how much; I can only guess that it's more troubling for the State GOP which has been hemorrhaging for years now.

The Republicans are going to take the fall for the faltering economy, the unpopular war in Iraq, and the continuing rise in health care costs, just to name the three most important issues.

I don't see any break for the party, either state or national, until 2010. It's my guess Republicans will have to retool and rebuild for the future. What will be interesting this year will be the surprise victory of one or two Republicans who may be elected to the Senate or a Governorship. For some reason, it's candidates like those who tend to play a larger role in the national spotlight in years to come (like Obama did when the GOP won all over the board in 2004).

It Rarely Happens, But Work Can Be Fun

I don't know how much more frequently I'll post blogs. To be honest, when it feels like fun, I do it. When it feels like work, I'm less motivated to post something. I took a good 2.5 year hiatus from this site, even though from time to time I felt some creative energy burning inside to get back on it. I ended up thinking what the hell, because it's still here, and I can do it if I want.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

On Tap: The Texans

If you're a Lions fan who actually buys in to the utter nonsense and garbage that Detroit hasn't given up on the season, then today is your game. Here's some quick thoughts:

-Kitna on IR: he's done in Detroit. He will not come back next year as a back up to Orlovsky or Stanton.

-Orlovsky's future in Detroit: If Orlovsky doesn't win soon, he will not be re-signed. If he does play well, I'd sign him to a 1-year tender.

-Stanton will play despite my objections at some point toward the end of the season. Look to Week 11 or 12 as the season begins to further unravel.

-Martin Mayhew's trade of Roy Williams to Dallas for a 1st, 3rd, and 6th round pick was nothing short of a miracle. Could you imagine what Floyd Reese could do with this team in three years if he gets to be the next GM with two 1st rounders and a pair of 3rd rounders? We'd be playoff bound by 2011. In fact, the next GM should make that a promise. Or quit.

-I cannot figure out what it is analysts see in Matt Schaub. I don't hate the guy, but I don't get how he magically appears in Houston as a replacement to David Carr.

Prediction: Houston is on a 2-game winning streak after today. Houston 23, Detroit 6.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Does It Offend You Yeah? - We Are Rockstars

So, I have things on my mind, but I can't quite organize it into a coherent blog posting, so I'll leave you with this song from a band called Does It Offend You, Yeah?

Thursday, October 09, 2008

On Tap: At Vikings

My beloved Detroit Lions are going to Minnesota to play the Vikings this Sunday.

Today Offensive Coordinator Jim Colletto is failing to put together an offensive strategy that will allow the Lions to score enough to stay in the game, keep the defense off the field, and make it look as though Detroit has NFL-caliber players.

Today Defensive Coordinator Joe Barry will be unable to prepare the defense against Adrian Peterson and former Lions Quarterback Gus Frerotte. The strategy will be just to hand it off to Peterson because the Lions front seven will be overwhelmed by a team that has slightly above-average talent. Once Detroit figures by the 4th quarter to put eleven men in the box, then the Vikings will open it up. By then, Peterson will be out of the game with another astonishing 200+ yards rushing for the day.

Also today, Rod Marinelli will be exercising futility by "pounding the rock," because he simply is not good enough to coach at this level. This team will once again fail to score until after Minnesota has scored at least two touchdowns (and I'm being generous here - I really think it's three and a field goal). Marinelli will exercise futility because everyone has gotten off the boat and no one believes in the Tampa Two or whatever it is Colletto calls that "offense" of his.

Final prediction: Detroit 10, Minnesota 41. The Lions go 0-5.

Remember this guy?

Gus Frerotte remembers when the Lions last went to the playoffs. He led them there. Sort of.

It was 1999, and on the eve of training camp, Barry Sanders announced he was retiring. The future Hall of Famer gave no warning that he was going to quit football despite quietly making his feelings known about then-head coach Bobby Ross and General Manager Joe Schmidt and how he felt they were not committed to putting together a winning organization. Sanders was expected that year to break Walter Payton's all-time rushing record and still would have had a few solid years of playing left in him after that.

Nonetheless, the team played on, and unexpectedly, the Lions found themselves 8-4 heading into December. Their second-year Quarterback Charlie Batch had been hampered by a swollen thumb that did not want to heal and that left Coach Ross with the decision to play Frerotte when the team was 6-4. Frerotte won two games and failed to win another the rest of the season.

Even though the Lions stumbled into the playoffs going 8-8 and then losing to Washington in the first round, Frerotte played well, despite the Lions' diminished capacity to run the football.

“Barry Sanders just retired, and nobody expected us to do well,” Frerotte said. “We still had crowds in there, and the place still loves the Lions. Detroit loves the Lions, and they still get people to come to games. The (Silverdome) got loud when I was there. We were able to do some good things despite not having Barry.

“It’s hard to believe that with the money the Fords have put into it and everything that things haven’t turned around for the Lions.” - Gus Frerotte quoted by Nic Cotsonika, a Lions' beat writer for the Detroit Free Press.

I remember thinking back then it was a bad idea to let him go. The following season, Frerotte went to Denver and the Lions signed Stoney Case to back up Charlie Batch. Despite improving to 9-7, Detroit did not make the playoffs and that led to a disastrous eight-year reign of Matt Millen as President of my team.


Sidenote: 1999 was the same year the Lions did something to annoy me that most people probably would just soon blow off as unimportant: they moved the TV numbers from the sleeves to the shoulders. For some reason, I just hate it. You won't notice it today given the more pronounced changes to the team uniforms (black piping and black alternate jerseys). But maybe it's all for the best.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Vote Mark Schauer In To Kick Walberg Out

I normally don't endorse Democrats. Openly. I'd like to be a Republican, but given the anti-intellectualism that has poisoned much of the party, I feel it best to "cleanse" the soul of the party by ousting Mr. Tim Walberg of Tipton, MI.

Mark Schauer is an improbable candidate. In 2002, he beat Mickey Mortimer by a substantial margin in a race in which Mortimer should have won. He is no doubt, a formidable opponent to anyone and will be a rising star in the state Democratic Party for years to come if and when he wins in November.

Tim Walberg is just an ineffective representative, he's an embarrassment to the state. He has publicly stated that " many places, Iraq is as safe and cared for as Detroit." Or was it, "There was clear connections in Iraq to Saddam Hussein to what went on on 9/11" that's even more depressing.

I want John McCain to win the presidency. I'd like Republicans to be what they used to be, a party that was more libertarian in the mold of Barry Goldwater. But I'm not willing to give money to a party that puts people like Tim Walberg in charge of making decisions that affect people's lives.

November 4: Vote Mark Schauer to Congress, 7th District!

While you're at it, check out this great blog, Walberg Watch, which has been covering Tim Walberg for the better part of two years now (if not more). The content is top-notch and has information you can use.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Endorsements for the US House

Not that my endorsement matters at all, I'm compelled to pick who I think ought to be elected, re-elected, or voted out in November. Michigan has fifteen US Congressional districts, and if the economy is any indication, we may lose another seat or two when the census is taken in two years. Only two races are of any significant importance; the rest are all expected to re-elect their incumbents.

District 1 - Rep. Bart Stupak (D - Menominee) faces challenger State Representative Tom Casperson (R - Escanaba). I'm actually voting in this one and I will vote to re-elect Stupak. Stupak is the first Democrat I've ever voted for, and despite the fact that we're virtually polar opposites politically (Democrat, pro-life, opposes partial privatization of Social Security, and is pro-abstinence sex education), Casperson offers little. Casperson pushed for a state constitutional amendment to protect hunter's rights. Absolute overkill. I'm all for hunting, but Michigan needs clout now more than ever in Washington, and Stupak will be elected to his 8th term if he wins in November.

District 2 - Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R - Holland) v. Fred Johnson (D - Holland). Hoekstra chaired the House Intelligence Committee before Republicans lost the House in 2006. He will remain the Ranking Member if he wins and has valuable insight in the War on Terror. I pick Hoekstra.

District 3 - Rep. Vernon Ehlers (R - Grand Rapids) v. Henry Sanchez (D - Saranac). Ehlers was voted in in a by-election in 1993, and is a nuclear physicist, which makes his qualities unique when compared to most members of the House. Ehlers is also a moderate who frequently votes against the radical right of the Republican Party and opposes a missile defense shield, which he says cannot work. The Grand Rapids area is well-served by Vern Ehlers.

District 4 - Rep. Dave Camp (R - Midland) v. Andrew Concannon (D - Saginaw). Camp is not very impressive, but neither is Concannon. Camp does not have many notable accomplishments while serving in the House, but if the GOP is to ever regain control of that chamber, his seniority would move him up the ranks; all the more to increase this state's clout. Dave Camp should be re-elected unless the Democrats can find a worthy candidate to replace him.

District 5 - Rep. Dale Kildee (D - Flint) faces Matt Sawicki (R - Bay City), a school teacher in Bangor Township. Kildee is a moderate Democrat, most notably pro-life. He is also heavily connected to the unions in the Flint area. Sawicki offers little more than boilerplate Republican talking points. Kildee should win easily, but I don't have much of a taste for him politically. No endorsement here.

District 6 - Rep. Fred Upton (R - St. Joseph), a moderate Republican from the west side of the state takes on Don Cooney (D - Kalamazoo). Upton has supported candidates I've supported, so I'd like to think that we're on similar thought waves. Sending Upton back to Congress looks good for Republicans.

District 7 - Rep. Tim Walberg (R - Tipton) is fighting for his political life against State Sen. Mark Schauer (D - Battle Creek). Walberg was a sixteen-year State Representative who had little to show for all his time there, despite being a chair of the Appropriations Committee. He is as divisive as they come, and an absolute firebrand. He continually supports the wrongheaded policies of the Bush administration including the War in Iraq, supporting a constitutional ban on gay marriage, and is vehemently pro-life.

In 2004, Walberg lost a six-way race to Dr. Joe Schwarz, coming in third. Walberg and five other conservatives split their vote and allowed Schwarz (who is pro-choice, opposes a constitutional ban on gay marriage, and supports embryonic stem cell research) to win with 28% of the vote in the GOP Primary. Walberg refused to endorse Schwarz after he won, reneging on a promise beforehand to endorse whoever won the race.

In 2006, Walberg knew his chances against Schwarz favored him and with the help of the Club for Growth, managed to trash Schwarz thanks to heaping contributions from CfG's backers. Walberg won 53% of the vote in the 2006 GOP Primary, but barely beat out Sharon Renier in a contest where the Republican should have won easily. Had Schwarz been in that race, he would have won easily over Renier as he did in 2004.

Mark Schauer, on the other hand, should not be this viable, given the GOP-tilt of the district. But given the national sentiment towards Republicans, Schauer stands likely to upset the incumbent. He defeated State Representative Mickey Mortimer decisively in 2002 for his State Senate seat, thanks in large part, to the moderate/Democratic vote in Battle Creek that year, as well as Mortimer taking the election for granted.

Libertarian Ken Proctor is running for the fourth consecutive time. Proctor is so insane, he would be literally off the charts if insanity could be measured. On abortion, he supports what are called "embryonic transfers," which would turn women into human heffers for bringing the unborn to term. I understand the need to sometimes find a third way, or a middle ground on such a divisive issue. This is not what I would hope for.

This one's a bit personal for me. I worked on the Schwarz campaigns in 2004 and 2006. Walberg is not a trustworthy individual and uses poor judgment. He doesn't believe in evolution and opposes gay marriage. He made headlines in early 2007 for saying the situation in Iraq is as safe as Detroit. I was hoping Dr. Schwarz would have challenged him for the seat again, but Schwarz had too many things on his plate to consider running again.

Walberg is an absolute embarassment to the state and the 7th District must purge themselves of this atrocious legislator. Voters should back Mark Schauer as a means to make amends for the sins of 2006, and Joe Schwarz should run again in 2010.

District 8 - Rep. Mike Rogers (R - Brighton) takes on Robert Alexander (D - East Lansing). Rogers narrowly won his House seat in 2000 over State Sen. Dianne Byrum (D - Onondaga), but is poised to win again.

Bob Alexander is an interesting candidate. He has served in the Peace Corps, has an M.A. in teaching from Wayne State, taught in the Ypsilanti/Willow Run schools, and even substituted for Lansing schools while teaching at Davenport University. Alexander has been an advocate for humanitarian causes such as nursing care and providing other medical services. He served as a policy analyst for the State Energy Program and Medical Services and currently runs a consulting firm for business management, Alexander Consulting LLC. His latest accomplishments include extending health care coverage to over 16,000 Ingham County residents and leading a local petition drive pushing for a near-30% increase in the state minimum wage.

Had Alexander more name recognition, this race would be more interesting. But Rogers is one of the perennial "rising stars" of a state party that is in tatters. I don't know if he is a climber or a camper, but the more he stays put, the more he becomes a camper. I think Rogers serves 8th district well and should be re-elected without much problem, but a challenger like Alexander shall provide him the extra incentive to perform at a higher level when in DC.

District 9 - Rep. Joe Knollenberg (R - Bloomfield Hills) takes on perennial candidate Gary Peters (D - Bloomfield Hills). Knollenberg has staved off several challengers in the last few years, and that is a good thing, because after the 7th District, this is the only competitive district in the state and currently the 2nd hottest race in the state. Knollenberg gets consistent returns of the low to mid 50s in the past few general elections.

Gary Peters, on the other hand, hasn't won anything since being re-elected to the State Senate in 1998. He did, however, manage to pass a law banning any new wells in the state unless it's an emergency, and banning the possession of body armor by convicted felons. Peters is well-rounded in the areas of public policy, and has taught at Wayne State and Central Michigan. He also served as the State Lottery Commission Chair under Gov. Jennifer Granholm until 2007.

Currently, he is involved in a controversy at CMU. The school hired him as the Robert and Marjorie Griffin endowed Chairman in American Government, a privately-funded position which requires him to teach while making $85,000 annually for three years. In 2007, he announced he would challenge Knollenberg for his Congressional seat. Critics contend running for Congress diminishes his capacity to focus on teaching his students about Michigan politics. He may also run into conflict of interest issues if and when he has to discuss Joe Knollenberg. Dennis Lennox, who was president of the Young Americans for Freedom Chapter at CMU, was banned by the school from videotaping Peters on campus. The school also prohibited the passing out of anti-Peters handbills on campus. Both cases have been challenged by the American Civil Liberties Union.

The short and sweet of it: Knollenberg has at least done enough to show that he is worthy of retaining his seat, despite Peters' impressive credentials. Unfortunately for Peters, he is on a current losing streak, having lost a nomination for Governor, a race for Attorney General, and is about to continue it in November.

District 10 - Rep. Candace Miller (R - Harrison Township) v. Robert Denison (D - Shelby Township). Miller, who like Mike Rogers, is a perennial rising star in the state GOP. However, she is quite risk-averse, and won't test the waters for any office outside of her current one. This one goes to Miller, but she ought to consider another run at statewide office.

District 11 - Rep. Thaddeus McCotter (R - Livonia) faces Joseph Larkin (D - Livonia), a private attorney. Neither spark excitement, but McCotter's experience in state and federal government gives him an edge over Larkin.

District 12 - Rep. Sander Levin (D - Royal Oak) v. Bert Copple (R - Center Line). The Levin name has proven to be unbeatable, even though he couldn't unseate then-Gov. Bill Milliken in the 1970s. Levin has been surpassed by younger brother Carl, who now sits in the US Senate since 1979. He will win, but this isn't suprising. No endorsement here.

District 13 - Rep. Carolyn Cheeks-Kilpatrick (D - Detroit) v. Edward J. Gubics (R - Wyandotte). Kilpatrick already faced her challengers, Mary Waters and Martha Scott back in the Democratic Primary, and barely made it out alive, politically. Despite being ineffective as a legislator, Kilpatrick's district is ovewhelmingly Democratic. She'll get at least 80% of the vote. No matter what Gubics stands for, he is merely token opposition. No endorsement here.

District 14 - Rep. John Conyers (D - Detroit) faces no Republican challenger. Only a Green and Libertarian candidate emerged, but Conyers will be re-elected to his 23rd term, making him still the second longest serving member of the House after...

District 15 - Rep. John Dingell (D - Dearborn). Yes, Dingell is the longest serving member of the US House, having past the 50-year mark in October 2005. He is well storied and continues to play a pivotal role for the Democrats in the House. He faces John Lynch (R - Ypsilanti), who will not be a factor. As the Dean of the House of Representatives, Dingell has represented southeastern Michigan for more than a half century. Every session of Congress, he puts forth legislation to create nationalized health insurance, an issue his father, John Dingell Sr., championed. The two longest serving members of the House have districts that buttress one another. Dingell is more statesman like while Conyers is a left-wing firebrand, most notably questioning the legitimacy of the Bush presidency and pushing for reparations for slavery. Despite both of their popularity back in that part of the state, I'm inclined to not endorse either one, since I'm just not that impressed with someone getting re-elected again and again. Both districts are carved to keep their seats safe, and I'm just not of the ideological ilk that are those two districts.

The score: Eight Republicans, Two Democrats, and Five refusals to endorse anyone.

Next: US Senate.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Death Cab for Cutie - Cath

On Tap: Da Bears!

In the first game of the post-Millen era, the Lions play the Chicago Bears. These two teams have swept each other going all the way back to 2004. It was the season opener in 2004 where Detroit snapped its NFL-record 24 straight road losses. This game also saw the official beginning of the end of Charles Rogers' career in pro football, as he suffered a second season-ending injury, breaking his clavicle.

In 2005, led by rookie QB Kyle Orton, the Bears dominated Detroit in both games, despite the fact that both games were won by Chicago's defense, the Tampa Two. Neither Joey Harrington nor Jeff Garcia could pull off a victory against this rookie.

Come 2006, Rod Marinelli's first season as Head Coach, the Lions were once again swept by the Bears. Nothing of note, except maybe that this was the season Chicago went on to lose in SuperBowl XLI against *yawn* the Colts.

Last year, the upstart Lions started the season 6-2, including having swept the Bears. A 34-point fourth quarter scoring effort in Detroit broke a record, while an upset at Soldier Field made victory that much more sweet.

Today: I pick Chicago over Detroit. Coming off a bye, the Lions have spoken about opening up the offense. Which means they may add passing to their attack, apparently. The Chicago defense, a defense that is the same as Detroit's (only theirs works), will dominate Detroit's offense, despite not having DT Tommie Harris.

On the other side of the ball, the biggest story will be Running Back Kevin Jones returning to Detroit after wrongfully being cut in the offseason. He won't say it, but Jones wants to run all over the Detroit D. I hope he does, but he'll be splitting carries with rookie RB Matt Forte.

To me, this defined the ineptitude of the Marinelli era. You had two RBs, Jones and Tatum Bell. Bell played five games and was benched for the remainder of the year after demaning a trade. Jones came in off a lisfranc injury and outplayed all other RBs on the roster when Mike Martz wanted to run the ball. But Jones gets hurt again, and goes on IR two years in a row. What does Detroit do? Cut Jones, re-sign Bell, and then watch as Bell founders in preseason while Jones goes to Chicago. Bell ends up being cut, while Jones is doing fine in Chicago after signing a one-year tender for the Bears.

Okay, I've gone with the Bears. Final score:

Chicago 24, Detroit 10.

The Lions go 0-4, and the calls for Drew Stanton to play grow louder. Stanton is not ready. I repeat, NOT READY. If anything, give Orlovsky a start or two. He can't be any worse, and you might as well see what you have in him in case Stanton doesn't pan out. And all losses for the remainder of the season must be added to Matt Millen's tally.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Rochelle Riley's ad hominem on Palin is absurd

Sarah Palin makes a lot of people nervous. In the past month, she's made enough gaffes to almost equal the number then-Gov. George W. Bush did in his entire run for president in 2000. All that said, some have used this as an opportunity to express thinly-veiled, seething diatribes at the Alaska governor. Such is the case with the Detroit Free Press' Rochelle Riley.

In her latest article, Riley attacks Palin for botching an answer put forth to her by first, a voter, and then followed up by questions in another interview with Katie Couric as she sat next to her running mate, Sen. John McCain. This and other criticisms culminate in a thesis that Palin's run for the Vice Presidency will set women back decades in the struggle for equality.

Really? Take these lines:

Palin should consider history. Women have worked hard to get ahead in America -- in industry and politics. Women have made great strides that include Sen. Hillary Clinton's campaign. Clinton didn't win, but she showed what was possible with the right candidate.

Palin is setting the gender back by decades. The next time a woman runs for any national office, her opponents will have sound bites galore from the Palin ditz reel, the last time a woman ran. That reel will grow if Palin participates in a vice presidential debate that will be funnier than the "Saturday Night Live" parodies that already have aired.

Do you really think the next time a woman runs for public office, that an opponents is going to use the "Palin ditz reel" against her? That would be absolute suicide for any male candidate running against a female opponent to use Palin and extrapolate her so-called "ditziness" to all women running for office. Can you imagine the backlash? No, because no candidate, not even the most vile chauvinist in the nation is stupid enough to do that. The National Organization for Women's switchboard would short-circuit from the number of calls and complaints about any idiot who would do such a thing, and they would raise money hand over fist in an effort to destroy the female candidate's opponent.

Furthermore, setting women back decades? A little harsh, don't you think? It's not like Geraldine Ferraro set women back when she ran as Walter Mondale's Vice President in 1984. Women have achieved breakthroughs in so many places and on so many levels, that this will not hinder any further progress via a loss or victory in November.

All this really shows is the (unwarranted) hatred many liberal columnists have towards John McCain seething through their word processors.