Thoughts on the Super Bowl

Well, the big game is just hours away.  My refrigerator is stocked with all the goodies I need so I am ready. However, for some reason, I am not as excited for this game as I should be. It just does not seem like the marque match up that I would want for a Super Bowl. Certainly both teams deserve to be there but I doubt  they were really the best two teams in the league during the regular season. But that is the beauty of the NFL and the unpredictable nature of the league. Last year, it was the Giants who shocked the world and this year, you have another Cinderella story with the Arizona Cardinals. 

I am rooting for the Cardinals for a couple of reasons. First of all, they are the underdogs and a few years ago, they were the laughing stock of the league. To see a team rise from the ashes like that and win the title would give hope to all those crummy teams in the NFL that you can turn things around in a short time. It would be a very inspiring story and I love to root for the underdogs. Second of all, one of my co-workers is a huge Steelers fan and his cubicle is decorated with all kinds of Steeler junk. For a guy to do that in Vikings country is just not right! He even has a Steelers logo on his car seat and I would hate to see what his home looks like. But he is a pretty nice guy and does not talk a lot of trash like many fans do.

I see a very back and forth game which will really be decided by turnovers. If Arizona can protect the ball and not turn it over against the fierce pressure of the Steeler’s D, they have an excellent chance to win the game.  The Cardinals are a different team in the playoffs because they are healthy again and will test the Steelers with so many weapons on offense. Still having said those things, I look for the Steelers to win the game 27-21.

Washington needs to stimulate the private sector

This morning, one of the headlines in the paper really caught my eye. 55,000 job cuts were announced  and  during the local evening news, I learned that a major employer in Minneapolis was cutting 1000 jobs due to a slow 4th quarter. This seems to be a daily occurrence. Everyday, a headline reads more jobs are lost and the unemployment rate will surely reach 10% or more this year.

During the past week, there has been a lot of talk about this massive 825 billion dollar stimulus package which was put together by President Obama to help stimulate the staggering economy.  In my opinion, the solution to help revive the economy is not as complex as some people think. There are many, many companies out there, both large and small who are just having a tough time making as I mentioned at the start.  These companies more than anyone needs help with any stimulus package and should be first in line to get assistance through tax cuts such as lowering capital gains tax.  Most companies pay way too much in taxes, among the highest in the world, so a tax cut would really provide firms the  incentive to develop, grow and invest. I can just see the stock market take off if this happened.  It has been proven method in the past of jump starting the economy and should have the most weight in any stimulus package.

Our economy is driven by consumer confidence. With layoffs being announced everyday, many folks are just too leery about going out and spending money on goods.  With tax cuts, companies will be in a better position to grow and hire people, the unemployment rate will drop and people will feel more confident and you guessed it, spend money! I just hope people in Washington can understand this concept which seems to be lacking in this current stimulas package.  Milllions of dollars spent on the arts, educating teens on abstinence, family planning and decorating the White House lawn. Talk about pork! Building infrastructure is fine but it will take time for that to really kick and help build the economy.  I just hope those brilliant politicians who promised us change can really deliver.  This plan that they have is nothing but a bunch of excess spending and hopefully will be revised to include more tax cuts.

The media’s love affair with Barack Obama

Like many Americans,  I enjoy watching the nightly national news on television. It is a time when I can relax after work, have some dinner and find out what is going on in the world around me.

Lately,  I have noticed that my enjoyment in watching the national news has gone down considerably.  I really noticed it last Tuesday when I was watching the coverage of the inauguration and noticed how much all the major networks were kissing Obama’s butt. ( I cleaned that phrase up!) Now I know that it was very historic inauguration and as an American, I was proud to see a man of color become the president even though I  disagree with many of his policies. The networks had every right to hype up their coverage of this historic event but I also noticed the extreme biased coverage that they tend to have.  For instance,  many of the commentators were basking in glee when talking about the next 4 years and how this guy will change our country for the better. Oh really!! So what makes everyone think this guy is the next messiah and savior of the country? One of the personalities on the socialist cable network of American, otherwise know as MSNBC even started to compare him with some of the all time great presidents this country has ever had. Oh please!!!! I really believe the major networks are just putting this guy on too big of a pedestal.  He has already made some very questionable decisions in his first week and people should really understand that this guy is just another politician with big plans of change. I have seen them come and go.

When I watch the news, I expect fair and balanced coverage from the networks and lately, this has not been happening. I can list countless examples of left wing bias in the media and hopefully this will come to an end soon but probably not. This also applies to the people on the right.  Whenever I see a news story about some policy that will affect this country, I expect to see stories of the views from both sides, right and left before I make up my decision and form my opinion.  In the meantime, I just wish the major networks and MSNBC would put away their blue pom poms and stop their liberal propaganda.

The joy of watching high school sports

In this bad economy, people are being careful about spending too much on entertainment especially when it comes to attending sporting events. For instance, if I wanted to attend a Timberwolves game at the Target center, I would have to shell out  70 dollars for a good lower level seat on top of paying at least 10 dollars for parking. And of course, let’s not forget the 5 dollar hot dogs and 4 dollar cokes! At that is just one person. Imagine a family of  four going to one of those games! They would almost have to take out a loan to attend. That is why I only go to about 2-3 games a year.

I think many people are unaware of the great entertainment value that high school sports has.  I am fortunate enough to live near a large high school and home to one of the top large school basketball teams in the state, Henry Sibley. About 2 weeks ago, they played at home against the top rated team in the state, Hopkins and it was one of the most hyped up games in school history. I even had to buy my ticket in advance which is unheard of for a regular season high school. That evening, the place was filled to the rafters about 1 1/2 hours before tip off. Luckily, a few of buddies saved me a seat behind the Sibley bench so I had a great seat. The atmosphere inside the gym was terrific and electric.  Hopkins, which has four division 1 prospects  in their lineup, jumped to an early lead and withheld a valiant Sibley comeback in the second half to pull out the win.  As I was leaving the gym and walking back to my car, I was thinking about how entertaining this game was and it only costed me 6 dollars for my ticket and the parking was free.  There have been very few times I  have been entertained like that while attending a pro sports event.  I have gone to several professional and college games since moving here but some of my fondest memories have been attending high school games. I still cannot forget last spring when Sibley made it to the state championship game  and the excitement it created in the community.

In summary, if you are looking at some good sports entertainment at a reasonable cost, you probably need to look no further than your local high school satisfy that need.  That also pretains to other sports. I always enjoy high school football provided the weather cooperates.  Sure these kids are not Kobe, LBJ, or Peyton Manning but I still find them entertaining to watch. For many of them, their goal is to get a college scholarship and it is always fun to watch their progress throughout the years they are in high school.  To watch these young student athletes compete and perform is really what sports should be all about. And as a fan, it is great to know I do not have to take out a second mortgage to attend the games!

The first black president

A very historic day will take place on January 20th when Barack Obama is sworn in as president of the United States.  He will become the first African American president this country has ever seen and all I have to say, it is about time!

As recent as about 40-50 years ago, blacks were not even allowed in the same buildings as whites and our country should be proud of the steps we have taken to ensure equal rights to minorities and people of color. There is no reason that a black man or woman cannot serve this great country and do a good job. There are many very intelligent people of color who are successful attorneys, doctors, CEO’s , engineers and teachers so there is no reason a person of color cannot become a successful politician or president. Our country is one of the most diverse in the world and hopefully this will give other minorities the hope they can also go out and achieve big things if they put their minds to it.

I think it is somewhat ironic that Obama is being sworn in the day after MLK day.  Somewhere up in heaven, there most be a big smile on Martin  Luther King’s face.

My thoughts on the legacy of George W. Bush

Whenever someone mentions the name George W. Bush these days, the thought of failure comes to mind for most folks. Currently, the president has the lowest approval ranking of any president and most people around the country would probably tell Bush not to let the door hit you in the you know what this Tuesday when he leaves office.

I personally have very mixed feelings about his 8 years in office.  I am not about to label him the worst president of all time. History will decide that as with the case for most presidents. However, as an average working class American citizen, I would like to share some of my feelings about his presidency.

Of course he had many failures in office and I will not go into detail about everyone.  No president who serves that long will be immune to having setbacks but the key ones that really hurt him in my opinion were the post war planning of Iraq and Hurricane Katrina.  The poor planning after we overthrew the regime was just inexcusable. Thousands of lives were lost because of this. I still remember President Bush giving a speech shortly after the invasion was completed. In the background was a sign that read “Mission Accomplished” I was thinking not so fast and sure enough, we faced daily struggles in our effort to liberate Iraq. Did we not know this was going to happen? If if were not for the brilliant idea of a troop surge by John McCain and the efforts of General Petraeus, we would have had to withdraw and  leave Iraq with our tails between our legs. Public opinion really soured on the President during the insurgency and with continued daily reports of troop causalities with little progress reported, Americans blamed the commander in chief and rightly so.

Hurricane Katrina was another major black eye for the President. Seeing the devastation of that event and the slow government response was totally uncalled for. During times of crisis, people need the government to step in for assistance and that was not done. Much like the problems of the post war Iraq, proper planning was an issue here.

Having said those things, President Bush did some things that really pleased me and most Americans. His leadership during 9/11 was outstanding.  I still remember watching him that day on television and feeling confident that he was the right guy to handle this crisis. His tough guy approach to handling terrorists is the proper way to handle these thugs who threaten world peace. I also approved of his conservative picks for the Supreme Court and his fight to help people with aids in Africa. However, his stance on democracy and his fight to achieve it around the world is something positive that I will remember him by.  The greatest threat to terrorism and th0se radical Islamic militants is democracy and I fully agree with President Bush’s stance on this. Our world will be a safer place because of it. Having a democracy in Iraq and Afghanistan and wiping out those terrorists safe havens will only make the world a safer place to live. Bush has fought hard to achieve this and I commend him for that.

In summary, I view the Bush presidency as a mixture of several failures and successes. They say that you can learn from someone else’s failures and maybe President Obama will learn from some of the failures of President Bush. I will have to give  President Bush a C grade for his two terms.

Middle East peace? When hell freezes over!!

The big story which has dominated the news in the last few days has been the major conflict between Israel and Hamas. Yesterday, things started to escalate in this conflict when Israeli troops invaded the Gaza strip and fighting soon erupted between the two sides.

Personally, I cannot blame Israel for trying to defend itself from countless rocket attacks into its country and putting innocent people’s lives on the line. Any country who is attacked like that has all the right in the world to go after the culprits who initiated the attacks.  The sad part of this conflict is that many innocent men and women in Gaza will suffer because of the actions of both sides.  And things are only starting to get worse.

There will always been talk of some sort of cease fire and peace agreement over there but will that really work? In my opinion, there will never will be peace in that area as long as you have these radical groups like Hamas wh0 are bent on totally destroying Israel.  Several other countries and terrorist organizations share the same radical Islamic views as Hamas. Not only are these groups and countries a threat to Israel but also the United States and its allies. They are not interested in peace but only destruction of those who oppose their radical views and ideologies. This conflict really scares me because I see it developing into something much larger with more countries getting involved.

I certainly agree that diplomacy is the best way to handle a conflict but when you have terrorist groups such as Hamas and their allies out there, sometimes reaching a peace deal is next to impossible.  These groups need to be totally wiped out before they jeopardize peace for the entire world. Until then, many innocent men and women will suffer because of them.