Thoughts on the State of the Union address

I have never really been fascinated by the annual State of the Union address given each year by the president. The speech usually consists of a bunch of half-truths and lies, which gives people a false sense of reality in the country. Such was the case last night during President Obama’s speech to the nation. If you have been sleeping under a rock during the last 5 years and suddenly woke up and listened to the speech, you might have been led to believe that things are very rosy in this country; well millions of jobs have been created in the last few years, unemployment has dropped to its lowest level in nearly 5 years, more people now have access to health coverage and blah, blah, blah. The Union is in pretty good shape, right?

Nothing really surprised me about Obama’s speech last night. It was typically of his previous SOTU speeches. Lots of big government ideas and plans, yet short on details. I must, however, commend the president for stating that we need to do a better job of helping out our veterans. Any man or woman who sacrifices their time for this country should be near, if not at the front of the line for any government program. It is very important that we take care of those brave men and women. It was very touching to see that brave young army veteran get applauded near the end of the speech. That young man is the definition of a true American hero! I also liked when the president talked about reforming our tax codes so that we keep jobs here in America. Actually, I was somewhat surprised that he brought that idea up. We have one of the highest corporate tax rates in the world and that has to change.

However, most of the speech was just continued talk of his crazy liberal ideas which have a proven record of failure. So climate change is a proven fact? Really? Here we are experiencing on of the coldest winters in about 30 years and you need to bring up climate change? Proposing to hike the entry-level wage of workers to at least $10.10 an hour is another foolish idea which is sure to kill many entry-level jobs and hurt the poor and many young,inexperienced workers. His talk about expanding job training sounds like another wasteful government program to me. What about forcing colleges and other post secondary schools to lower their tuition rates? Most are outrageously way too high. And of course his continued defense of his signature achievement, the new health care law which is turning out to be a total disaster. It was slick of him to overstate the number of people who actually have signed up for the new health care law.

Perhaps the worst of his speech came when he talked about using his executive power to get what he wants. I guess I did not realize that he is a king besides being a president!! What ever happened to separation of powers? A president should never have sole power to make any law he wants. That is very unconstitutional!! What is the point of having a Congress? I hope people wake up and realize how dangerous this could be. He is not a dictator!!

There are a lot of problems facing this country right now. The biggest problem the record number of people who are not participating in the workforce. It is now at the highest in nearly 30 years. We need to get more people in the workplace with good high paying jobs. That is not as impossible of a task as it seems. There are a lot of good high paying energy jobs out there. The record number of people out of work and on food stamps is just not something that can keep on happening. People in this country deserve much better.

If you listen to the President, it sounds like some who has a “my way or the highway” approach. He seems to be willing to talk to Republicans as long as they go along with HIS PLANS! That is no way to run a country!!I t is very important for President Obama in the next 3 years of his presidency to work closer with Republicans and try to compromise on certain things. He could do wonders to turn around his presidency if he learned to have a more bi-partisan approach. Our country would be much better off. I am not very optimistic that this will happen. What makes anyone think that things will be anymore different this year than last year? The State of the Union right now is a divided one. Divided between two different ideologies. The only way this will change is if we the people, put pressure on the President and members of Congress to get their act together.

American Idol still rocks

There has been a lot of speculation about the future of American Idol and how much longer the show can go on. The singing reality show used rule among television viewers in this country by a large margin. However in recent years, Idol has shown a drop in viewership. Last year’s season finale was its lowest ever and this year’s season premier was down nearly 20 percent from last year’s. So it this the beginning of the end to one of the most successful programs ever on American television? This viewer certainly hopes not.

I would not consider myself to be a die-hard Idol fan by any stretch. I do not live and breathe the show like some people do but I love watching it when I get a chance, which is usually about 50 percent of shows. The fact that some unknown person from any place in the United States, small or big town can make it big is really appealing to me. People on that show are basically chasing the American dream of big time success. Combine that with my love for music makes the show a high priority for me on those nights when I turn on the television and want to be entertained. American Idol certainly full fills my entertainment needs and also inspires me when I see those average people make it big.

In recent years, there have been other singing/music reality shows which have popped up such as the Voice and the X-Factor. In my opinion, these shows have greatly played a role in hurting American Idol’s ratings. There are just too many of the same type of reality shows and the novelty of these shows are starting to wear thin with the viewers. Now every network wants to get their own little reality show which involves singing and music. Enough is enough!! There is absolutely no way anyone should be surprised to see that American Idol has slipped in the ratings. Maintaining the same high ratings as some of the earlier seasons would be totally unrealistic. Most long running shows do suffer some kind of drop off, however, American Idol still seems to be doing pretty well among the top viewed shows of the week.

In my opinion, the new judges on this year’s edition are very solid. They are all very likeable people. I have always liked Jennifer Lopez as a judge, not only for her stunning beauty but her interaction with the contestants. In fact, I have to say that about the other two judges as well, Harry Connick Jr and Keith Urban. They seem to interact very well with all of the contestants, even the bad ones. They are very honest and fair but at the same time, not condescending like previous judges. It also appears that they have good chemistry among them. There does not appear to be any feuds going on which is somewhat of a turnoff to me. I want to see judges who enjoy each other’s company. This group appears to be that way. They do like to needle each other but in a good and entertaining way. I personally think the judges can play a key role in determining how successful the show will be. These 3, with their great looks, charm and likeability are certainly great choices to be judges.

I have also noticed that there are better contestants on this year’s show compared to other years. Picking a winner at this stage is totally impossible. There is way too much talent to draw any conclusions and that should make the future shows very intriguing. I do enjoy watching the bad contestant make a total fool of him or herself but after a while, it gets very old. I would rather hear about how some contestant overcame something to be on the show. Perhaps they are overcoming some disability or a tragedy in their lives. How could you not cheer for people like that?

American Idol is just starting its 13th season and I hope there will be many more seasons to follow. Do not write the obituary for AI just yet. It is still a great show and will always be.

 

A bad move by the NFL

With the Super Bowl just one week away, NFL executives might just be having some very restless nights in the upcoming week. Why you ask? This is the Super Bowl, what could possibly go wrong? Is it the threat of terrorism such as what the Winter Olympics are up against? Probably not although that scenario should always be on the back of everyone’s mind. Perhaps a bad choice for the halftime show with the threat that the performer will do something obscene? Hardly not! Bruno Mars is a great choice for the halftime show. Or maybe it is just a few bad and dull teams playing for the elite prize? Denver and Seattle were among the top teams in the league all year long and this game should be a classic. And let’s not forget the Peyton Manning and Richard Sherman factor which should add even more spice to the game. So just what are you talking about, Mark? Well of the things, it is the weather!!

Last week, the city which is hosting the Super Bowl, New York or more specifically, East Rutherford, got pounded by a huge winter storm which dumped nearly a foot on snow. I saw clips of people working hard to clear snow from the stadium in the aftermath of the storm. Suppose another storm hits the region during next weekend? What is the NFL going to do if that scenario happens? I saw where they are trying to come up with backup plans in case of bad weather such as postponing the game. I am sure that will reek havoc on many people’s schedules if that happens. If not a storm, suppose the region gets hit by another one of those cold snaps and the game time temp is well below freezing. Polar Vortex could care less whether there is a Super Bowl game or not! I would be livid if I paid thousands of dollars to watch the Super Bowl only to have it being played in conditions that would make an Eskimo feel cold.

Yes, these scenarios are all a very likely possibility. The long range forecast looks half way decent for the game although far from being anything near tropical. Game time temps at kickoff are suppose to be in the mid 30’s and drop into the 20’s throughout the game. Personally, I would love to see a little bit of winter weather during the game. The more snow the better!! It was a flat out bad move by the NFL elite to even consider having this game played outdoors in a cold weather area in the first place. What are they thinking? Are they assuming that New York will be nice and mild at this time of the year? Maybe Green Bay will be considered in the near future? Maybe they have been listening to those global warming freaks too long. Winter is still cold in these places!!

There are far more appealing places to hold the Super Bowl than in some cold weather city. If the league wants to have the Super Bowl played in some cold weather market, at least play it in a stadium with a retractable roof or dome. I think a better solution would be to have the game always being played in a warm weather area such as Miami or San Diego. An even better idea would be to have the game in Hawaii every year. The Pro Bowl is played there every year, why not the Super Bowl? This is the elite game of the year and should be played under elite weather conditions for not only the players, but the fans who pay big bucks for that week. Forget about this crap of having more NFL cities getting a chance to host the event. Having the game in some warm weather area will almost guarantee that weather will not be an issue and make the event so much better with far less hassles and worries.

The NFL has made a lot of great decisions but this choice to host the Super Bowl is not one of them. Don’t get me wrong, New York is a great town but seriously, playing the biggest game of the year in some outdoor stadium might go down as one of the worst decisions the league has ever made. I just hope old man winter does not rain, ummm I mean snow, on the NFL parade next week.

Another knucklehead pro athlete

The other night after the thrilling NFC championship game, I thought that I had accidentally turned to watch the WWE RAW pro wrestling show. On my television screen was some over-hyped football player yelling and humbling stating that he is the best cornerback in the league. He also took time to trash the man he was covering and calling him a very sorry receiver. It was a moment that would make Vince McMahon proud; totally vintage pro wrestling talk!! I double checked the channel and yes, I was on the same channel as the game; perhaps there was a post game title bout coming up or something. Nevertheless, the Richard Sherman interview was one of the more shocking post game interviews that I have ever seen and quite frankly, the most disgusting for several reasons.

There are always those athletes who will make excuses after a loss and act like a bunch of sore losers. Sherman demonstrated how to be a totally bad winner. Just who gives him the right to declare himself the best at his position in the game? That is one of the most arrogant statements that I have heard any athlete make during an interview. I don’t go around my company and tell everyone that I am the best at my position. I let my co-workers and managers speak for me. The same should apply to any athlete. If you are really good, let your play do the talking for you, not your mouth. If you have to go around and remind everyone how good you are, you sound very insecure in your own talents.

Dishing your opponent like Sherman did was totally classless and reeks of poor sportsmanship. Yes, I understand that he may have had a little feud going with the other player but rise above that! Show some respect for your opponent. A real champion wins with class and graciousness. Sherman showed little regard for his opponent when he called the player he was defending “A sorry receiver”.

Finally, the focus of Sherman’s comments should have been on his team. Instead, the interview was all about himself and his feud with the receiver. I know that may sound a little boring to some folks but football is a team effort and your success is largely dictated by how well your teammates play in front of you. I don’t know if Sherman realizes how important his defensive line is to his success. If he played with a mediocre line, he might have given up that last touchdown. Why rant and rave about your own personal agenda  during the interview? Lost in all this talk in the interview was the great game that Seattle played and their opportunity to win the Super Bowl. It is extremely sad and disappointing to see one guy get some much attention. So many of Sherman’s  teammates fought hard for the victory and their efforts are totally overshadowed by his stupid, classless remarks and actions.

I find it rather appalling that some people are actually defending this guy. Some people have said that they enjoyed his comments as opposed to the normal boring cliche interviews. Sorry but I would rather hear the boring cliches that actually gives praise to his teammates. If you want to hear shocking, distasteful interviews, watch the WWE or pro wrestling. One idiot sports talk host here in the Twin Cities even suggested that Sherman used this as a way to market himself and make more money. Really? Would you want Sherman to endorse your product? Get real!!

Richard Sherman is no doubt a great football player. He has come a long ways after being passed over by several teams in the draft. I think he was the 156th player selected. You have to admire an athlete like him who probably worked his tail off to get where he is at. But the attitude and arrogance has got to go. The same holds true of other loud mouth athletes; there are several in the NFL. There are several great players in the league just waiting to humble you. I did not have a real strong preference on which team to root for in the Super Bowl until I saw the interview. How can anyone root for someone who shoots his mouth off like that? A majority of the fans in this country feel the same way. I hope that Peyton Manning serves up a big dose of humble pie to Richard Sherman on Super Bowl Sunday. He is very deserving of that nice treat!!

 

Thoughts and predictions on the NFC/AFC championship games

If you’re a big football fan, particularly the NFL, you have to be chomping at the bit in anticipation for Sunday to arrive. Two great match ups for the right to go the Super Bowl. I always consider championship Sunday to be probably the best sports day of the year in the United States, maybe even more so than the Super Bowl. The networks carrying these games have to be beaming with excitement over these two highly anticipated games. People have been talking about the games all week-long and giving their predictions. I would like to add my own two cents to the games.

Picking the winners on Sunday is basically a crap shoot. Anything can happen when you put together 4 really good teams like these teams are. There are so many different scenarios that could play out. I anticipate  both games to be decided by within a touchdown. I don’t think there will any big blow outs. If there is, I believe it will be by either of the home teams, Denver or Seattle. I expect the Denver, New England game to be very high scoring and the Seattle, San Francisco game to be just the opposite. I will also go on the record as saying that both games will be decided in the last 2 minutes and one will go into overtime. Just one of my bold predictions!

In my opinion, San Francisco is the hottest team of the 4 teams remaining. They seem to be peaking at just the right time. Their defense is very solid, they have been running the ball extremely well and they have a decent passing attack. Every year, some team gets hot at the right time and wins the Super Bowl. San Fran is that team. The question is, are they good enough to win in a place that is arguably the toughest place to win for an opposing team. Why not? Forgot about the fact that they have been terribly outscored in their last two trips to Seattle. You can throw all those past games out the window now. If San Francisco can get out to the early lead and force Seattle to throw the ball, I believe they have an excellent chance. Seattle’s passing game is a concern for me. It has not exactly been very stellar in the past several games and they will definitely need it on Sunday, especially if they fall behind late in the game. I give the slight edge to San Francisco in this game, 20-16. Their playoff momentum will carry them in this game and I believe they are the better all-around team.

The first game between Denver and New England has the potential to be one of the best and most high scoring games in AFC championship history. Both quarterbacks are legends and are eager to win just one more Super Bowl. The big question in this game is not the offenses like in the previous game I was breaking down but the defenses. Who is going to be able to stop who? If this game turns out to be a very high scoring game, I definitely like Denver’s chances. I anticipate New England turning to their running game, much like last week, with LaGarrette Blount having a big impact on the game. By doing so, they will keep Denver’s offense off the field. Will Denver be able to stop Blount is a big question for this game? In fact, what defense will show up for Denver in this game? Will it be the team that held San Diego and earlier this year, New England scoreless in the first half? Or will it be their inconsistent defense that has plagued them all year-long. They give up nearly 25 points a game. Once again, I am going to go with the road team, New England 31-27. I just do not trust Denver’s defense. I think New England’s running game will be a big factor in this game. Outside of the quarterbacks, Blount might be the most important player of both games.

Another thing that I want to mention is turnovers. No, I am not going to my local bakery this afternoon!! If any of these teams start turning the ball over, they will not have any chance of winning. Championship games are often decided by fumbles and interceptions and the teams that can limit their turnovers will come out on top.

I hope everyone will enjoy the games and good luck to the teams and especially the fans of the respective teams. I hate to put a damper on those great fans of Denver and Seattle but I see doom and gloom tomorrow for the home teams. My bold prediction has New England and San Francisco going to the Super Bowl. However, I will be cheering for Denver and Seattle.

 

 

 

What economic recovery?

The other night, I turned on the national news and the anchor was gleefully talking about the new jobs report. He started off by saying that the unemployment rate had dipped by .4 percentage points to 6.7% and mentioned the economy had picked 74,000 jobs last month. In all fairness to the anchor, he did mention that the number of people out of work had jumped, so there you have it, a nice and balanced news report on the latest jobs report. Of course like many media types these days, the anchor failed to tell the whole story. The 74,000 new jobs were well below the projected 190,000 that was predicted by many economists. Also missed was the number of people not in the labor force had jumped to levels not seen since 1978. These people are not factored into the unemployment numbers so naturally the rate fell. Chalk one up for another example of poor media reporting on the economy. If you are an average person sitting at home, his report probably gave you a lot of optimism that a big economic recovery was happening but that is definitely not the case!

The thing that really struck me about the latest jobs report was the number of people leaving the workforce. 92 million and that figure may even rise in the upcoming months. That is TOTALLY not acceptable!!! The number of people not working has reached nearly a 30 year high! People ought to be completely outraged over this report. What is even more outraging is the laid back approach by some politicians over job creation in general. It is more important for them to worry about giving health care to a small  percentage of people or being more concerned about gay marriage and gun control. Why job creation and getting putting people back to work is not number one on any politicians list is beyond me! It should be number one, two and three on any politician’s wish list!! The fact is, we cannot afford to have too many more years of bad job growth. And when I talk about job growth, I mean good, well-paying jobs, not part-time jobs! This is a serious issue that needs to be taken with more urgency.

Yes, there are certain sectors of the economy that are improving, the housing market seems to be on the rise, home prices seem to be going up again. The stock market has been doing well, at least for now. What until those interest rates jump up again! That ought to concern any investor. The current stimulus will have to end sometime and when it does, will the economy tank also? These positive signs are a nice reason to feel optimistic, but having so many people not working is simply unsustainable. With these poor job numbers, there is no way the economy can recover to strong levels. People are not going to go out and buy nice things without a good paying job. That has a ripple effect on the whole economy. The lower demand for products greatly affects the hiring of people.

The big question is how can we solve this problem. How can we get more people into the job market? First of all, why are so many people not working and not in the workforce? Why are they giving up? Why are companies not hiring? I know that many companies are really concerned about the effects of Obamacare and other taxes on their future. Companies like to plan for the future and these added expenses make them hesitant to employ more people, especially full-time people. Politicians need to figure out ways to help businesses hire more people instead of putting additional burdens on these companies. Why not lower the corporate tax rate so that it is at the same level as other countries? If the corporate tax rate is suddenly lowered, more jobs would stay in the United States. What about good energy producing jobs that could be produced from the Keystone Pipeline project? Why is there so much hesitation over this project? I would give many people great paying jobs and would really jump-start this economy. There is a gold mine of jobs in energy.

I just wish the news media and our elected officials would be more honest with us in talking about the economy. We are not as naive as they think. We see our neighbors who live check to check and we understand how tough things are right now. There is no need to sugarcoat this economy, it still sucks!! The politicians in Washington need to sit down and try to put more people back to work with good paying jobs. 92 million people out of work should be a serious concern for the folks in the White House. That number is a serious black mark on this current administration. Until that number is greatly lowered, how can you honestly say that there is a true economic recovery going on?

 

 

Thoughts on the Chris Christie bridgegate scandal

Well, what a shock!! Another scandal involving a politician? Say it isn’t so!! The 2016 presidential election is still a long ways away, just under 4 years, and already, an event has occurred which could have major implications on the race. This bridgegate scandal is almost certain to not go away anytime soon, and is will be a thorn in Governor Chis Christie’s side for months. The big million dollar question is what role did Christie play in this and how much did he actually know. If it is found that Christie did have some knowledge of this situation and had some role in closing the lanes of that bridge to punish a political rival, he should resign immediately and never consider running for any political office ever again. No politician should ever use their power and authority for that reason. That is extremely selfish of an elected official to impact the lives of thousands of people for just pure political purposes. These people are YOUR BOSSES who helped elect you.

If you a Hillary Clinton supporter or liberal, you have to beaming with excitement. It is widely believed that Christie is the leading Republican nominee for 2016. He is a very well know name who would definitely give the Republicans their best shot at taking over the White House. At the current time, I don’t know of any other Republican who could beat Clinton. That thought should be troubling for Americans because after 8 years of Obama, do we need another liberal politician in the White House? What exactly makes Clinton so special besides her name and gender? The Republicans need to counter with another big name and Christie seemed to fit the bill.

If you want to tar and feather Christie over this scandal, fine. He certainly deserves the scrutiny. But let’s not create a double standard here and let Clinton off the hook. Remember Benghazi? Speaking of coverups!! Of course, “What difference does it make” is a phrase that will haunt Clinton as well in 2016. Here we have 4 dead Americans, 2 of which died heroically and she comes out and disrespects the dead and the victim’s families. It does make a difference to these families who just want to know some answers. I find Clinton’s response to this whole Benghazi scandal rather troublesome as well as her claim that the attacks were caused by some video. Really? You are the Secretary of State and you claim these things? I find it hard to believe that Clinton did not know more than she admits. To me, that scandal is even more serious than this bridgegate one.

The best thing to do right now for Christie is just be honest with people and the investigation. It was refreshing to see him quickly take action and fire some people right off the bat. He did not seem to sugarcoat anything during his press conference. I think he did a decent job of some damage control but much remains. Certainly more to this story remains and I wonder how much of the truth is going to come out in this investigation. Are people going to hide the truth in an effort to help Christie in his White House bid? Is the media going to go after him and tarnish his reputation because after all, he is a Republican! A lot of questions remain but as a voter in this country, I want good honest answers to this scandal. That seems to be missing in other scandals.