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Spiking the football

The now famous picture of the Obama administration waiting for news on Operation Geronimo.

The now famous picture of the Obama administration waiting for news on Operation Geronimo.

One year ago today, under the cover of darkness, a Navy SEAL team stormed a compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, with intelligence that the man responsible for the September 11th attacks was inside. Less than an hour later, their mission was accomplished: Osama bin Laden was dead. In the days and weeks after, it was revealed that the operation wasn’t an easy one; in fact, there was great risk. As more and more details revealed the mission was more and more treacherous, Americans everywhere expressed gratitude and admiration primarily towards the SEALs who carried out the mission.

President Obama also got some of the credit and some of the gratitude, in the form of an approval ratings boost and a solid (to say the least) foreign policy credential to use in his reelection campaign. But even though the killing of Osama bin Laden was easily his best political victory in over a year, President Obama made sure to raise his voice over the celebrating crowds to caution that “we don’t need to spike the football.”

Which is why I was surprised to find him doing just that for cheap political points.

Weapons of mass distraction

So in the last week, the Dow has dropped 300 points to close the week at 6626. For those of you keeping track (and honestly, who would do that, the Dow is really like a tracking poll anyway and in no way represents our nation’s financial security), the Dow has now lost close to half its value in a year, with half of that loss coming in the four months since Obama was elected. With unemployment numbers at 8.1 percent and falling, there are clearly things that are wrong with the economy. So what does CNN report on?

I think you get the idea.

So instead of reporting the truth, which is that thus far, Obama’s economic policies are bringing the market down faster than a 747 shot down over Russia, CNN reports these fluff pieces. I know I’m pulling news from the ticker, which is pretty biased as it is, but even on CNN.com and the news network itself, these stories are repeated. These are like, as Robin Williams said in the 2006 movie Man of the Year, weapons of mass distraction, but here’s the difference: Williams’ character said they were used by politicians, not by the news media.

Most of the media, including CNN, MSNBC and CBS, are playing along with these distractions – giving us the breaking news updates of when that swingset was installed, or that Rush Limbaugh uttered another phrase which could be cut up into a soundbite and made him look completely evil. Why? Does the media not use money? Are they not worried that these policies are failing?

Instead of reporting problems with Obama’s administration, such as that he doesn’t watch the Dow (no link because I can’t find it on CNN.com) or that he can’t hold on to appointees to save his life, CNN is quick to report any note of positivity. Note that, if Bush had bought a swingset for his kids (maybe grandkids; the Bush kids are a little too old) in this economy, the media would rip him to shreds for spending taxpayer dollars on a swingset.

Now I know that the Dow Jones Industrial Average isn’t the only indicator of our economy. It’s really kind of a made-up number that’s supposed to quantify the wealth of the top companies in the nation (kind of like WHIP or OPS in baseball), but its performance is crucially important because it affects something else which affects the economy: consumer confidence. Let’s think about it: if you watch one piece of financial news during the day, it’s likely the report of how the Dow, Nasdaq and S&P did that day. Even during the trading day, the little ticker on the bottom of the three news networks are updated every few seconds. In general, if a consumer is educated at all, they’re likely to know what the Dow’s doing. The news networks even color-code it!

In essence, the secondary reason why the Dow is important is that it provides a barometer to the non-economic elite citizens of the country how healthy our economy is. If they’re going to buy a car, buy a home, invest in stock or even make a large purchase like a computer, they’re likely to hold back if they see the Dow has gone down. They’re even more likely to hold back if they can’t remember the last time the Dow went up.

So while Obama is correct in that minor fluctuations are nothing to really worry about, it’s important to see that trends such as what the Dow has done in the month and a half since Obama took office is important.

Fear is power, part 1

I caught most of Obama’s speech tonight (the nerve of that guy, interrupting The Big Bang Theory and How I Met Your Mother), and largely was not surprised. Some tidbits:

  • Even the NBC anchors knew beforehand that Obama would “play up the fear”. Using dramatic language, Obama’s idea of the future without this bailout plan slightly resembled the future portrayed in the Heroes episode Five Years Gone, where Peter had exploded and the world changed forever. The thing is that even with the bailout, the future isn’t that much better. Obama conceded that 2009 was going to be tough, but by 2010 we might be seeing things start to turn around. Maybe.

    If you really want to fix the economy, you should do what Ronald Reagan did: inspire people to work hard and get out of it yourselves. That’s what Obama did during his campaign, for most of it, and now he’s just a normal politician again, striking fear into the hearts of everyone and making sure they trust the government to get them out.

  • He mocked those who disagree with him, saying that people who don’t think the New Deal worked are stuck in the past. Here’s the thing: this stimulus he’s proposing might as well be called “The Newer Deal”. It makes sense to look back in history and see what has happened in similar situations – we do it all the time. And honestly, The New Deal failed. There was only one thing that brought us out of the Great Depression, and it was World War II, when men had to go fight and women stayed home to produce unprecedented amounts of American-made products to ship to our troops and Allied troops overseas. The New Deal was passed in 1933 and was active until 1938 – but in 1939, we were still in the Depression. I believe that FDR was a great president, maybe one of our greatest ever – but this idea failed. The Newer Deal is probably destined for the same result.
  • He feigned bipartisanship, by claiming that he’s willing to work with Republicans on the little details, but ultimately, it’ll be what the Democrats want. They’re in power; they’ll do what they want, and that’s spend money on renovating government buildings to make them more green (“How could anyone call that frivolous? People can be so naive, don’t you think?”), improving roads, etc. He mentioned improving schools – that’s really the first part of the stimulus I agree with. Here’s the thing: you improve schools, and you’re making a long-term investment in our future. Instead of simply burying the next generation in debt, you’re giving them a mortgage – a way to get out.
  • You could tell the media was a little nervous here – after all, here was Barack Obama not speaking about peace, hope and happiness. So they asked him about Alex Rodriguez. (And by the way: I give A-Rod major props for coming clean like he did. If he’s telling the truth, and he hasn’t used steroids since 2004, and he’s admitting his mistake, I’m ready to forgive the guy. As for calling him a Hall-of-Famer, that’s another story. I’d like to see his numbers minus his steroid years when his career is over, and then I’ll make my decision.)

What’d you guys think of his speech? Was it another gold mine? Or are we finally starting to see the real person we voted for?

Two sports stories

Two sports stories on this very early Monday morning.

  • First, what some are calling the best Super Bowl of all time, even better than last year, and the reason I’m not sleeping tonight. This year was rough for me because I had more of a vested interest in the game, but thanks to this catch from an Ohio State alumni, the Steelers won their sixth championship:

    Totally agree with the opinion that this broadcast was second to none. Al Michaels knows enough about football to know when to get excited and when to shut the heck up, and Madden was his normal self. I didn’t catch anything except the end of “Glory Days” by Springsteen, but I heard good things about that too. The game was great: it had its fair share of controversy, a 100 yd interception return, and great storylines that dated as far back as 2006.

  • The other story is less happy: led by our main man Dennis Kucinich, certain Congressmen feel it’s their duty to interfere in the naming rights of the Mets’ new stadium. It’s as if these career politicians couldn’t figure out that agreements have already been signed. Clearly they haven’t been in New York lately – that Citi Group sign was up when I visited over the summer (more photos):

    Even if the sign wasn’t up, even if the patch wasn’t chosen, even if they were complaining about this months ago…aren’t these the same guys that are throwing around trillions of dollars in bailout money? Who are they to talk about conservative spending? And more importantly, did we really elect you to worry about that stuff? I’m not sitting at Lazorpoint on work time writing music or checking my fantasy football teams; they shouldn’t be spending their work time worrying about sports (it must be a liberal thing, to want to control everything – search “barack obama bcs” and you’ll see).

    Instead of making the bailout work, these guys are looking for ways out if when the bailout doesn’t succeed. “Maybe if Citi group had saved that extra 400 million, we would have made that 800 trillion dollar bailout work. Or the next 800 trillion dollar bailout,” they’ll say. “It wasn’t our fault.”

    I’m tired of politicians making excuses, pointing fingers and not doing their jobs. That’s the kind of change we need – but no one is accountable anymore. Until that happens, we won’t turn around.

Election night

So for those of you living under a rock, tonight is election night. Almost two years of campaigning and literally billions of dollars has all led up to tonight, where we will choose a new President. A couple thoughts:

  • It’s amazing how patriotic people can suddenly be on election day. On Facebook today, at least 20 friends had “donated their statuses” (yeah, I was impressed too. I wish I had that kind of status that I could just donate it so freely.) to either Obama or McCain. I wonder how many people made their decision based on the Facebook poll – probably depressingly too many.
  • It’s always interesting to watch the technology evolve over the years. Think about it: four years ago, most TVs were not high-def, most computers were not hooked up to broadband Internet, and most people didn’t really need constant updates via text message to their cellphone.
  • CNN brags that their political team is the best political team on television. Most of them are morons.

And in other news…

  • In an unprecedented common sense move, the Browns are starting Brady Quinn, even though ESPN’s Trent Dilfer doesn’t like the idea. Seriously, if Trent Dilfer knew anything about quarterbacking, he might still be playing for the Browns. I like the move – Anderson, while not completely at fault for Sunday’s epic collapse, definitely made some major mistakes.

I hope everyone voted today. Our veterans and forefathers have made sure you’re not obligated to vote, but at the same time have fought for your right to vote. The very process that takes place today (in this year’s case, choosing the lesser of two evils) is the essence of democracy – it separates us from every other nation on earth.

…and a pocketful of dreams

Hello, blogosphere! I’m writing today from the spacious, silent first floor of Kelvin Smith Library on the campus of the beautiful Case Western Reserve University. As far as walks to class go, today was probably about as good as it’s gonna’ get: 70 degrees, sunny and a slight breeze.

I’ve already noticed quite a few improvements around campus:

  • The lobby of Nord (and entire first floor) had the floor redone and is now wood. I can’t tell you how good of an idea this was – I think someone puked into the carpet last year and you could smell it all year long.
  • There’s an area in front of Yost by the fountain that used to have a couple of picnic tables on top of a cobblestone base. Well, those picnic tables are gone, and that area, with the exception of a small walkway around the fountain, is now grass. Nobody, and I mean nobody, used those tables. (I mean, seriously, hanging out in front of the math building is far less cool than hanging out in the library.) The area looks much more aesthetically pleasing now.
  • The oft-maligned Euclid Corridor project is finally starting to show some finish. The crosswalks are complete in both directions at Euclid and Adelbert, and while there are still some cones in front of Severance, it’s clear that the end is in sight. Also, they kept the crossing guard! It was interesting to watch all the students say hi to him again and catch up as they crossed Euclid this morning.

Onto this morning’s links. Incidentally, I’m listening to the mellow stylings of Blind Pilot.

  • I seem to remember something happening in Denver this week…and I’m pretty sure it has nothing to do with the Rockies, Broncos or Nuggets…anyone know?

    I’m being sarcastic of course, because you could not turn on a TV this weekend without hearing about the Democratic National Convention. I’m going to say something that may shock everyone: I put odds at 1 in 3 that Hillary Clinton walks out of the convention as the nominee. With Barack Obama’s free-fall of late and his, shall we say, “uninspiring” choice as vice president, Clinton might be able to convince those in power to cast delegates to her. It’s a longshot, but we’ll see.

  • Has anyone seen these posters around?

    To me, they bear a striking resemblance to the posters in a certain movie:

    And all you Bush-haters can come back with that Patriot Act mumbo-jumbo, but whether or not Obama wishes to tell you, you can guarantee that our freedoms will only shrink. The difference is that while Bush and McCain would freely share what is being done to protect our freedom, I do not believe Obama would do the same.
  • On that note, I should say that I’m no longer an Obama supporter. I am officially undecided. Thus, this is the time for both candidates to win me over by sending candy to my apartment.
  • Quote of the day:
    I was in a hotel the other day, and on the back of the door in the hotel they have the fire map. I’m flattered that they think I have it together enough to stand in a burning hotel room memorizing directions. “Yeah, I’ll go left by the stairs, right by the candy machine…” I’d probably get lost, have to go back to the room, check the map again…and they always tell you, no matter what, whatever you do in a hotel fire – do not panic. Hey, I got four minutes to live, I’ve never panicked in my whole life – it’s my option. Even if they find you, you have a perfect excuse…”Gee, I heard they saved you swingin’ from the shower curtain naked with an ice bucket on your head. What happened there?” “Well, I panicked.” “That’s understandable.”

    Jerry Seinfeld

That’s all for now. I’ll try to get back to some Indians stuff soon – hopefully now I’ll have some more time to post and more stuff to post about. Until then, later days!

Just another way to survive…

Today I’m blogging from high atop the Nord building on campus, on the fifth floor with a comfy cubic meter of space in one of the hallways. I like sitting here sometimes when I’m bored because it’s quiet, it’s peaceful, and it makes me look like a hobo, which I’m a huge fan of.

  • An executive decision from the offices of Jimmy Sawczuk: no more regular game recaps. They didn’t seem to be that popular, they’re kind of a pain to write because I usually have to adhere to that format, and writing those every day kept me away from blogging about other things. Never fear, if there’s a game I want to talk about, I’ll talk about it.
  • While on the topic of the game recaps, I’d like to thank aimable for his comment on my last post. Part of his comment, the part before he starts spamming, reads:
    Yankees are the best team in the MLB, as far as I m concerned, we have great fans, and really the whole city of New York will say that. In New York if you want to watch the Yankees in style good luck with that, all the Yankees premium seats get sold out and are highly priced.

    Why, aimable, would you ever say that? They’re not even the best in their division, much less the rest of the league. I like the Yankees hitters (when they’re hitting anyway) and I like the back end of the bullpen, but most of that team is just old – and as much as it pains me to say this, Boston should wipe the floor with them this year.

    aimable did manage to prove my point about Yankees fans and Red Sox Nation however: no matter what the numbers say, no matter what the facts are, their teams, to them, are the absolute best in baseball. Right now, the Oakland Athletics are three games better than the Yankees, and you don’t see them walking around saying, “worship the Oakland A’s!”. I don’t doubt the Yankees will make the playoffs this year (although I think I had them missing the Wild Card to the Tigers), but I can’t imagine them getting out of the Division series.

  • I noticed something new on CNN.com today. Next to a few of the headlines, they have a little T-shirt icon:

    Being the inquisitive soul that I am, I clicked it, and was directed to this page:

    I can’t make this stuff up, folks. Seriously! You can have a T-shirt with the words: “Smuggled workers turned into slaves.” At first, I had to look at my calendar, I was sure it was an April Fool’s joke. But no, this is completely legitimate.

    Now, I chose a headline that is controversial to show the bad side of this little ploy. But what’s the good side? Are there some Democrats just sitting on CNN.com 24/7 waiting for the headline: “Bush says he’s an idiot”, or maybe some Ron Paul supporters waiting for the headline: “Everyone cheated, Ron Paul wins by default”, or maybe some Mitt Romney supporters: “Romney washes his hair”? I can’t think of one good headline for a T-shirt. And by the way, CNN.com charges $15 per shirt; if you’re really that desperate, make your own shirt and you can write whatever you want! (And put pretty pictures, too, from what I hear…)

  • Today is the last day of classes here at Case, meaning that in about one week (my last final is a week from tomorrow), I’ll be exactly 3/4 done with college. It’ll be nice to get out of this place and become a productive member of society again, and with any luck I’ll find a company who picks a name and sticks with it, unlike CWRU Case Case Western Reserve University Case Western Reserve.
  • By the way, someone needs to teach the Democratic party how to do math, because between Obama and Clinton, someone is absolutely wrong when they say they’re winning. I’d say Obama has the edge right now, because of, you know, 5000 years of mathematical knowledge, but maybe when Hillary is president she’ll pass legislation banning advanced math so her win is justified.

    In either case, you can’t have two candidates who are both winning. You can have candidate A beating candidate B, meaning candidate A is winning. You can have candidate B beating candidate A, meaning candidate B is winning. You can have a tie, meaning that no one is winning. Or, and I think this is the case lately, you can have candidate A and candidate B slapping each other like two middle schoolers over the stupidest little things, meaning they’re both losing.

    Seriously, if you’re the Democratic party, how do you possibly justify not giving the nomination to Obama? He’s ahead. He’s going to stay ahead. Clinton can debate it all she wants, but in the end, under the system of rules agreed upon before the primaries began, Obama will be the winner.

    I wonder why the Democratic party has superdelegates anyway. Not to pick sides or throw cheap shots, but superdelegates screams “Republican”. The Democratic party is all about equality in every aspect, almost to a point of socialism… except when it comes to picking a presidential nominee. If you were to read the beliefs of the Democratic party, with things as they are, it should say “The Democrats believe all people are created equal… except not all people.”

  • Thank God, the NFL Draft is over. Now ESPN can get back to covering sports.
  • Quote of the Day:
    It’s one of the oldest laws in security: the strength of the security should only rely on the secrecy of the key, not the algorithm. We’ve known this forever, and yet people still do it. Don’t be one of those people.

    David Singer, MATH 408 professor

    Indians play the Yankees tonight, going for the series win against the Bronx Bombers – it’ll be Aaron Laffey against Mike Mussina, who’s not the same pitcher these days. Let’s get the win, guys… put aimable in his place.

    And by the way, I just realized I used the word “slaves” in this entry. Thus, if Google Ads decides to try and sell you slaves a few days from now, I feel it is my duty to inform you that slavery is in fact illegal and you shouldn’t do it. I wonder what the penalty is for Google if those ads were ever run though? …

    Keepin’ it real on spring break!

    Hello blogosphere! Today I’m writing from high atop Strosacker auditorium because I’ve noticed that Strosacker is about 10 degrees warmer than any other building on campus. That’s right: even though my title says its spring break, it’s about 20 degrees outside and blustery. Let’s get to some tidbits:

    • Okay, so its not quite spring break yet. I have one more class and one more assignment to turn in, a theoretical computer science assignment that five of us worked through last night. It was, shall I say, an interesting assignment. The logic went completely over our heads (either that or we did actually disprove the pumping lemma), but it’s done and ready to turn in in about an hour.
    • I guess PHYS 121 meets in Strosacker in the timeslot before this because when I walked in to start eating lunch, our favorite homeless physics professor Pete Kernan was giving some students some help after class. I’m looking at the board – looks like they covered conservation of momentum today. I remember when this was my hardest class, and looking back on it…wow. I was an idiot.
    • In case you’ve been stuck under a sports-world rock for the last few days, Brett Favre has retired (and if you didn’t know that, sorry to spoil it for you). Say what you will about him, Favre was always fun to watch, but I completely don’t blame him for retiring. I wish him the best and I hope that he does come back to football at some point to do TV work or maybe be a coach or something. I was thinking about this on Tuesday though – ESPN always joked about how Favre could be mayor of Green Bay, which isn’t actually funny because if Favre decided he wanted to be mayor, he could be mayor. My question is could he aspire to something higher, like a Congressman or even a President? He has so much widespread support I wouldn’t put it past us.
    • And speaking of sad retirements, Mike Huckabee has officially been eliminated. Watched his concession speech; you won’t find a classier guy in the political world. As said before, I hope he decides he has another run in him in 2012. Even though other blogs may have you believe Huckabee is only a religious social conservative, the fact is that he had plenty of other ideas that make a whole lot of sense, like the Fair Tax. His idea on how to stimulate the economy was better than any idea I’ve heard too, from a Democrat or a Republican: instead of borrowing money from China to finance these tax refunds, we should look for other ways to create jobs and prosperity in this country. As I said, say what you will about him, but he ran probably the first completely non-negative campaign I can remember, even though he was attacked by Romney, then by McCain, then Romney again, then McCain again.
    • On the democratic side, Hillary is back. From my calculations (and they may be off, I don’t have one of those nifty multi-touch flatscreen TVs like CNN’s John King) no candidate can win the required amount of delegates, meaning that your Democratic nominee for President will probably be decided by politicians. “For the people,” eh? I still don’t quite see the appeal of Hillary Clinton – maybe its because I have a job and am somewhat well educated (and that’s not being stereotypical, that’s according to a CNN Exit Poll).
    • But then again, Ohio is a stupid state – we just reelected Dennis Kucinich as our representative for the 10th district of Ohio. Dear democrats: What has Dennis Kucinich done for you in his 12 years in office? NOTHING! The city of Cleveland is STILL in the toilet, and yet you keep electing this guy.
    • I feel obligated to write that while I bash Democrats regularly, I’m not a hard-line Republican. Yes, I’m a registered Republican because I voted in the Republican primary, but that doesn’t mean I’ll vote Republican in November. You should vote for the person, not the party.

    I’ll probably do a little more later but my battery is about to die and I have class fairly soon. Until then, that’s the news from Case Western Reserve – where all the men are strong, all the women are good-looking, and all the children… well, we don’t have children here.