Obama’s troublesome first year in office

It is hard to believe, but it has been just over a year since President Obama took the oath of office on that chilly, sunny, historic day last January and became the 44th president of the United States.  He was thought of as being some sort of savior to the many mounting problems of this country and many folks were very optimistic that we had a very competent president who would lead this country in the right direction. Now one year later, things are rapidly going downhill for the President.  His poll numbers have slipped all year and his support, among many independents who helped him get elected, have severely eroded. Even members of his own party have not supported him on certain key issues. If there ever was an event which symbolized his problems, it was the Massachusetts election. A sure warning sign that many in this country are becoming fed up with his administration’s policies.

I feel the biggest mistake the  President made in his first year is not focusing enough on what is really gripping the country, the economy and job losses. Instead, his administration seems to be focusing in on health care reform first which is great but that should not be the first priority. I was very puzzled the other night when he said that he will focus in the new year on jobs, jobs, jobs.  It is like, HELLO Mr. President!! Where was this talk last year? The unemployment rate grew last year from 7.6 at the beginning of the year to just over 10 percent at the end of the year.  Oh sure, there was the infamous 787 billion stimulus plan, which was strictly a partisan bill and quickly passed.  The Obama administration made a claim that this bill will ensure that unemployment will not go over 8 percent. Of course, the stimulus bill probably helped some keep their jobs but over 2.7 million jobs were lost since the signing of this bill. What kind of stimulus is that? The Obama administration has been roundly criticized for that bill and rightly so.

Many of  President Obama’s big pieces of legislation such as health care and cap and trade are having an effect on businesses around the country. There is a tremendous amount of uncertainty among many business owners on what Obama’s new policies will have on their taxes and costs. I personally know some business owners who are very concerned about what this administration will do and how it will affect their business.  Therefore, they are lying low and not hiring.  If the unemployment rate stays at 10 percent for the next year of so, President Obama will have a serious uphill climb to get re-elected in 2012. I believe that figure will be what makes of breaks his presidency. You cannot have that many people out of work and claim success as an administration.

There are other mistakes that Obama should be held accountable for especially the handling of terrorists and closing down Guantanamo Bay. Giving terrorists, who are enemies of the United States, criminal rights is just plain wrong. They should be tried in a military court. Why should my tax dollars go towards defending someone who wants to kill me and my family. The administration’s plan for handling terrorists is so ridiculous!! That needs some serious review. In fact, many of this administration’s plans and policies need further review. They are nothing more than extreme left wing policies that have failed in the past and will fail again. And don’t get me started on the spending that this administration is doing.  They are accumulating a massive debt and people should be concerned about it.  Sooner or later, we or our children will have to pay for this debt and it will not be pretty! I really wonder if anyone in that administration has a clue about what economics and responsible spending is all about.  If not, they better soon or they will wreck this country!

All presidents have encountered problems in their first year and there is plenty of time for Team Obama to get their act straight. For starters, please work with the Republican party instead of being so partisan all the time. Having a mixture of ideas is very healthy and can produce better legislation. So many of Obama’s new pieces of legislation, such as the health care bill, are strictly partisan and to me, those bills are not legitimate.  Many people in this country feel the same way. And please, listen to the concerns and gripes of the American people.  I personally feel we are not being heard enough by the folks in Washington and that is very concerning to me.  So Obama must decide which path to take from now on. Is it the radical left path with a proven history of failure or the path which leads America in the right direction such as the case in the 80’s.  That is the challenge for President Obama and there is still time to turn around. But I have my doubts about which direction he will go.

The toughest Vikings loss of all time

I have been a Minnesota Vikings fan for all of my life and have been through some rather gut wrenching defeats. When I was a young boy, I can remember crying after they lost Super Bowl after Super Bowl back in the 70’s.  And who cannot forget the push off game with the Dallas Cowboys in 1975.  I have more bitter memories of that game than any Super Bowl loss since that was the year, the Vikings had a team, which was one of the favorites to win the Super Bowl.  Recently, the 1999 NFC championship game at the Metrodome  had to rank as the most crushing defeat for the fans of the purple. It still may be in the opinion of some people but I have to rank yesterday’s loss to the Saints as the most disappointing loss of all time.

It is one thing to lose to a team that is far superior to yours and your team gets blown out in the process. Loses like that are easy to handle as a fan. Sure you are down and out but you get over it in a hurry. But when you outgain a team nearly 2-1 on offense, get nearly 2 times more first downs, control the time of possession and still lose, then the only natural reaction is to scratch your head and wonder how that big win got away. In the Vikings case, it was all about turnovers. As a football fan, there is nothing more frustrating than a turnover by your favorite team, especially if it is inside the red zone. Those are valuable points that the other team has stolen from you.  The Vikings had a few costly turnovers inside the 20 which made all the difference in the game.  People claim that turnovers are caused by good defense. That may be true but fumbles by a star running back? To say that Adrian Peterson’s fumbles were fully caused by the Saints defense is hogwash. I feel a lot of it is just lack of concentration by the player. And of course, there was the infamous 12 men in the huddle call just before the end of regulation which knocked the Vikings out of field goal range.  Of all the blunders by the Vikings, that one stings the most.  Someone has to be held accountable for that stupid junior high football mistake which more than likely cost the Vikings the game.

I will totally refuse to blame the officials in this one. Both teams got some very favorable calls.  But when you have the better team and give away opportunity after opportunity with silly bone head plays,  you do not deserve to win and that is what happened to the Vikings. The Saints deserved to win the game and they did.  If the two teams played a best of 7 series, I believe the Vikings would win 4-2. But this a one game playoff and the Saint were the better team yesterday thanks to a lot of generosity by the Vikings. And that is what makes this loss so devastating.  Having those many mistakes in a big championship game is totally unacceptable and extremely frustrating for the fans.

I will be cheering on the Saints in the Superbowl and wish them well. It is a great story for the city of  New Orleans which has been through so much.  But imagine if the Saints win. Vikings fans will be forever playing the “what if ” scenario. What if we had a coach or player who could properly count to 11? What if our big time running back could actually hang onto the ball? What if our 40 year quarterback could of ran for 5 extra yards at the end of regulation instead of throwing a bad interception?  If just one of these mistakes were eliminated, we might be hosting that trophy for the first time. Handing a team the championship is not only  frustrating to the players, it is even more so to the fans.  There is a very small window of opportunity for teams to win championships and the Vikings may have just shut a golden opportunity for theirs. That is why this loss stings more than others. Luckily, my blood pressure dropped back down to normal today!

Thoughts and predictions on the NFC, AFC championship games

On September 13th, 2009, 32 NFL teams opened the season with a common goal of reaching the Super Bowl in Miami on February 7th. Along the way, several teams dropped out of the race, some early and some as late as last weekend Now, we are down to four teams and I find this weekend’s games to be very intriguing and somewhat hard to predict.

Here in Minnesota, we are very excited to have our Vikings play in one of the championship games. Ever since we picked up Brett Favre last August, our expectations were to at least go this far and maybe a little further with perhaps a Super Bowl title coming our way. In order to reach that goal, the Vikings have a huge obstacle in the way. Going down to New Orleans and beating the Saints will be a tall order but it can be done.  This game is a rematch of a Monday night game played last season at the Superdome where the Vikings won 30-27.  So the Vikings know they can win in that building and that will be a plus. However, I have some concerns about the game on Sunday. First of all, the purple are missing one of their best defensive players, E. J. Henderson, out for the season and two important parts of their defense, Ray Edwards and Kevin Williams have been held out of practice so far this week. Without those guys, I am not very optimistic at all. Also, Percy Harvin missed practice today, Thursday, and his presence or lack of it will be huge in determining the outcome of the game.

I believe the key for the Vikings to win the game rests on Adrian Peterson’s shoulders. He needs to come up with a huge game. The Saints do not have a very good defense against the run and I believe the Vikings can take advantage of it.  Keeping the Saints high-powered offense on the sidelines is a huge key in this game. I don’t believe you really stop the Saints offense, only contain them and that is the mission of the defense.  They need to apply a huge amount of pressure on Drew Brees  and maybe force a few mistakes like they did against Dallas. I believe it is very critical for Vikings to get ahead in the game and to establish the run. If they fall behind by a few touchdowns early, they will have little chance of winning . Having said those things, I believe the Vikings will win 33-30 in overtime.

The AFC game is really hard to get a handle on. I mean, who are these Jets? But believe me, they are a good football team and by all means have a great shot at beating the Colts. They play great defense and have a very strong running game.  Also, people forget that all the pressure will be on the Colts. They are expected to win the game and sometimes that can haunt a team. But I believe the Colts will win because of the quarterbacks. I just find it hard to predict against Peyton Manning at home in a championship game. Especially when he is going up against a rookie who is prone to throwing interceptions. I believe the Colts will win 20-10.

So get the chips, salsa and beverages out and enjoy the games. I will even though my blood pressure will probably be a little high for about 3 hours on Sunday. Go Vikings!!!

Things we can learn from the Haiti disaster

I think most of us Americans feel very sad and sympathetic towards the people of Haiti.  I was very touched the other day when I saw a story about a woman who lost her four children during the earthquake.  And there are probably many, many stories just like her’s. People have lost their entire families and there is just an unimaginable amount of suffering and pain that is going on over there.  We tend to mostly look at the great physical devastation of the quake and focus on all the damage to the buildings and land instead of looking at the human side of this awful tragedy.

The other day,  I had a little experience which really hit me and opened my eyes.  I sat down for a meal with my television running in the background. My meal just did not taste right and I started to mumble to myself about how bad the food is and why did I even buy this stuff?!! After sulking for a few minutes, my attention turned to the news program that was on the television. It showed a group of Haitians running around, fighting and looking for food. Immediately, it dawned on me how lucky and spoiled I am to live in this country and not have to worry about my next meal or go out in the streets and fight others for a piece of bread.  Those Haitians would probably jump for joy if I offered them my macaroni and cheese.

I think so many people in this country can relate to my story. We worry about little stupid things like the food we eat, having nice clothes, driving a nice car etc.. and then we turn on the television and see starving children, crying and wondering where their mothers are.  It really puts things in perspective when you think about it. We are way too spoiled in this country and need to sit back and give thanks for all that we have. We are truly, a very blessed nation.

There is absolutely no guarantee that something of that magnitude will not happen in this country. It has happened to a certain degree with Katrina but imagine a full-scale disaster hitting this country? Would we be ready? It really make you wonder! In the meantime, our generosity towards those poor people has been awesome and we need to continue to show our support for those people. You or I could be in the same situation some day.

Round 2 of the NFL playoffs, Will the Vikings tame the Cowboy?

I thought last weekend’s playoff games were very ho-hum for the most part, except for that thrilling shootout between Green Bay and Arizona.  I still can’t believe the game was decided on a defensive play! Definitely, one the most unusual endings in the history of the playoffs.  By the way, my counseling sessions with my Packer friends will end this week and may start again in a few weeks if Brett Favre wins the Super Bowl!

This weekend’s games should offer some really intriguing matchups which are sure to garner the interest of any fan. Since I am a big Viking’s fan, the tilt with Dallas is the one that I am really looking forward too. In fact, it might be the best game this weekend.  If you listen to all the national experts, why even play this game? They are already handing it to the Cowboys. Even though the Vikings are about a field goal favorite, Dallas seems to be the sentimental favorite among many. Sure Dallas is on a roll but they also have demonstrated the ability to self destruct during the year. The Vikings are undefeated at home this year so let’s just not hand the game to the Cowboys just yet. In fact, I believe the Vikings will end up winning. Having a week off really has helped some of their key players who been battling injuries. I just do not like the fact that E.J. Henderson is out for the rest of the season. He was one of the Vikings top defensive players this year and his absence will hurt the Vikings. The difference in the game will be really come down to who will win the battle at the line of scrimmage and I will be looking at that early in the game. Usually in a game with very good teams, the difference comes down to penalties and the kicking game.  The Vikings have a more reliable field goal kicker and that could be the difference in the 4th quarter.  I believe the Vikings will win a very exciting and close game.

The other NFC game should be a carbon copy of last weeks  game between Green Bay and Arizona. What is the over and under for this game, 150?!! No field goals allowed in the game! The Saints should also benefit from their bye week since they are a little banged up and should bounce back from their late season problems and win 57-43.  It should be a treat to watch both quarterbacks in this one.

The AFC games should go pretty much as scripted. Indy has too many weapons for Baltimore to handle, but the one game, which could have upset cred, is the San Diego, New York Jets game. The Jets have a very good running game and San Diego has had problems stopping the run. If the Jets get ahead, look out! But I believe the Chargers will prevail.

The games are becoming more and more important and this is why I will love spending time in front of my television this weekend.  I just hope my Vikings will make this weekend even more special for me and the people of Minnesota. But I just want to say, good luck to all the fans of the remaining teams. It is an exciting time of the year to be a fan of a playoff team.

Brit Hume’s comments about Tiger and Christianity

During a round table discussion on Fox News Sunday, the topic of conversation shifted from news to a rare discussion about sports and what the four commentators would like to see happen in the next year. Brit Hume, who is a regular on the show and has my respect for being very knowledgeable about any subject, said that he would like to see Tiger Woods change his religion and faith from Buddhism to Christianity.  Immediately,  I thought to myself, this guy will get ripped to shreds for saying that, let alone just saying the c word on national television. And of course, that is exactly what happened. Hume was roundly criticized for his remarks, however, he was also praised for many for having the courage to say what he did.

Personally,  I praise Hume for actually standing up and expressing his opinion on such a touchy subject.  The fact is that Woods is going through a very difficult time in his life and obviously needs some sort of help. Many thousands of people have been through similar situations and have turned to the Christian faith for guidance and support. It has helped so many people out who were lost and seemingly at a dead-end in their lives. There are so many examples out there including  Hume, who lost his son to suicide and probably went through some really dark days in his own life.  The Christian faith is a proven one which offers forgiveness to anyone who is willing to admit his or her guilt.  It has changed so many lives around for the better.

Unfortunately, many people in this country view Christianity as some sort of crazy religion consisting of a bunch of zealots who stand on street corners, yelling at people to repent or else they will go to hell. That is not what the faith should be viewed as. Instead it is about forgiveness, kindness, treating people the right way, helping others in need, integrity, humility, honesty and the willingness to do the right thing. How can anyone criticize a faith that teaches those things?

I strongly believe that the people who criticize Christianity probably have never opened a Bible or really studied what it is about. I certainly believe it would help Tiger. In fact, he should seek out Tony Dungy for the guidance on how to get started. Christianity is a proven religion that has helped so many for so long.  What Brit Hume said was just a suggestion. People in this country have the right to follow any religion they please and are not forced into any particular religion. So let’s not knock a guy for just offering a simple suggestion.

Thoughts on the NFL playoffs and predictions

These next few weeks are by far, the greatest time of the year for any football fan. It is finally playoff time and the road to Miami and the Super Bowl starts this weekend.  What is so great about the NFL playoffs is that it has no long drawn out 7 games series or is decided by some computer model like college football. Every game is an elimination game, you lose and you go home. Because of that reason, I think the NFL playoffs are my favorite post season of any professional sport.

What makes this playoff year so great is the uncertain nature of who will get to the Super Bowl. The NFC is a complete tossup. Any one of the 6 teams have a very legitimate shot of going to Miami. There should be a ton of drama in that conference’s playoffs. Imagine if Minnesota and Green Bay met in the NFC championship game? Favre going up against his old team with a trip to the Super Bowl on the line.  Hollywood could not come up with a better script than that scenario!! The AFC is probably less of a tossup with the top 2 teams probably meeting in the conference title game. I do not see a lot of drama in that conference’s playoff  but the championship game would be a very good match up. But who knows, maybe the New York Jets will come in and shock the world!

Against what many people are picking, I think this is the year that the top seeds in both conferences will play for the trip to the Super Bowl. I  dug out my crystal ball last night and saw Minnesota playing against New Orleans for the NFC title and Indy and San Diego playing for the AFC crown. I just do not see any of the 4 teams losing their first playoff game at home. One of the best second round games will be Dallas against Minnesota at the dome. Many of the so called experts are very high on the Cowboys but I think the Vikings have gotten their mojo back and will beat them in a very tight game.  Both championship games will be thrillers especially the Vikings, Saints game with Brett Favre willing the Vikings to the Super Bowl. However, in the end, I believe the Indianapolis Colts will win the Super Bowl and Peyton Manning will be the MVP.

So get ready football fans and buckle up! high drama is just around the corner. It should be a fun post season.