Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Ghandi, Stephen Colbert, Jesus Christ, & the GOP.

Stephen Colbert is one of the greatest comedians, simplifiers and messengers of my generation. This video proves it. Here are two quotes from this 4-minute clip.

"If this is going to be a Christian nation that doesn't help the poor, either we have to pretend that Jesus was just as selfish as we are, or we've got to acknowledge that He commanded us to love the poor and serve the needy and then admit that we just don't want to do it."

"Jesus was always flapping his gums about the poor, but not once did he call for tax cuts for the wealthiest two percent of Romans."

(damn embed code is broken from Colbert site, so all I can do is link it for now; click HERE, nonetheless, and watch. it kills!)

Perhaps Mahatma Ghandi said it best:
"I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians.
Your Christians are so unlike your Christ."

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

John Kerry Serves Up a Reality Check

From a Crooks and Liars post on Jan 16th. I know it's long, and no, it's not required reading. but it is very good. click title of this post for original piece, and worthy links.

John Kerry gave a speech last week at the Center for American Progress that should become the marching song for every liberal in this country. He was clear: The last 10 years have cost us too much, and if the hyper-partisan tone doesn't change to one of true concern for the direction of this country, we will cede any chance to lead to others.

He hits it all: Infrastructure, energy, debt, climate change. Every point. The one that hit home for me was when he talked about where we might have been, had Bush and the Republicans not unwound progress made during the Clinton administration.

Here's an example. We talk about how the Clinton tax rates generated a surplus, but we stop there. We don't talk about the fact that if the Clinton tax rates had remained in effect, the entire national debt would have been paid off by 2012. Imagine what a difference that would have made in today's dialogue. And more importantly, why aren't we hammering this home every single time one of those self-righteous Republican buffoons stands up and talks about how our national debt is killing the country?

Kerry points out that we would be at a point where our financial position would be at it's strongest point ever. What would that have meant when (or if) the bottom fell out of the economy? Most assuredly, we wouldn't have to be speaking of debt retirement and austerity.

We need to start going there. This shouldn't be swept under the rug. I can't recommend this highly enough. Take an hour out of your day and watch Kerry's speech. He really hits hard on the cost of NOT investing in the country and how it puts us behind on a global basis every single day.

Check out this headline from January 26, 2000, just 11 years ago:

Consumer Confidence Hits an All-Time High; Jobs Called 'Plentiful' : Clinton Sees An Early Payoff of U.S. Debt

Compare it to today's headlines (this one, from the Wall Street Journal, one of the biggest tax-cut pimps):

U.S. Ran $80 Billion Budget Deficit in December

I think we need to give Republicans full credit for everything they did for to us. We should be at least as loud as the anti-hcr folks are, and we should repeat it every single day in public, especially to anyone who still thinks Republicans are fiscally responsible.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Packers at Eagles today!!! ...predictions, analysis, babble

"YEEE-HAHH!!!" Any day the Philadelphia Eagles are playing in the post-season is a great day! Here's what else I'm thinking...

In one respect, the Philadelphia Eagles dug their own grave by flat-out choking against the Vikings two weeks ago. Instead of resting this weekend w/ a BYE, hosting the Bears next weekend, then needing just one more win to punch their ticket to the SBowl, they now have to win this weekend's very tough game at home vs. Green Bay, travel to Chicago and beat the Bears, then beat Atlanta to make the SBowl; their current scenario made at least two to three times more difficult by getting run over by the Vikings.

But here is the other view: well before the season started, the entire city was collectively resigned to an 8 or 9-win season, and a "let Kolb take his lumps year." Look what actually happened: Kolb goes out w/ a concussion in week #1, and Michael Vick, now the every week starting QB for the first time out of prison, undeniably kicks ass the entire season. Just kills it. I like Kolb; both as a person and as a QB (although I still can't tell how good he's going to be), but he's no Mike Vick, and it's safe to say we wouldn't have a post-season game if Kolb was our starting QB all year. Mike Vick was on fire this season, and has carried this team all year. So in a way, we’re playing with “house money.” This team exceeded every expectation this year ALREADY; will it even hurt if we lose today?

Oh, side note: spare me the "Tom Brady is the MVP" assertions. While Tom Brady - and Brian Bellicheck for that matter - is again (sigh), having a phenomenal and a "just another day at the office" year, Michael Vick is the MVP of this league. The only thing that might stop the various writers/judges/voters of the multiple MVP awards given out each year from awarding Vick those accolades, is the fact he's a recent convicted felon, guilty of extremely despicable and depraved acts. But on the field, he truly has done more for his team than any one person in the NFL has, including Tom Brady.

But I digress...

Let it be said, I do find this weekend's game against Green Bay the Bird's biggest obstacle to the Superbowl. For various reasons - that I can hopefully think about more on Monday - I don't see any other matchups on their path to the Big Game being as difficult as this one. At absolute best, I see this game as a coin flip, with the most realistic, best-case scenario for the Eagles, being a last minute field goal or game-winning TD, perhaps on an interception return to seal the deal as time runs out. Andy Reid, Vick, McDermott, and the rest of the Eagles need to do everything right to win this game. If they don't do everything right, they need to get one or two big breaks that go their way, similar to the ones they got vs. the Giants a couple weeks ago (Giants punting to D. Jax, getting the onsides kick, an INT at the right time, a Special Teams TD, etc). Conversely, I don't think Green Bay needs to do 'everything right' or 'catch a break or two' to win. They just need to keep playing the way they've been playing. If Eagles do that, they'll lose. Let's not forget, for 52 minutes of that last Giants game, the Eagles were outplayed on every side of the ball, and our coaches were taken to school. It wasn't even close. Green Bay are definitely better than the Giants (they beat them soundly, 45-17, the day after Christmas). But I don't see a Green Bay blowout by any stretch; In No-Limit Hold 'em terms, I'd say Birds have about "9-outs, twice," or a 36% chance of winning.

Why not more of a chance? well, let's see...

Green Bay has been playing better than us, plain and simple. They've won 7 of their last 10 games, and the last two they lost were because Aaron Rodgers was on the sidelines w/ a concussion. If he was in, they’d have won 9 of their last 10 (and finished the season w/ a record of 12 -4). Even w/ their back up in, a few weeks ago, they gave the Pats a run for their money in New England, losing to them just 31-27 (that’s a win if Rodgers played). The Eagles have won 6 of their last 10 (though I’m sure they would’ve beaten the cowpatties last week if their starters played), but have given up 24 points and more in 7 of them. They beat Dallas by only 3 in week #14; with the exception of the ‘almost-miracle’ 8 minutes of play at the meadowlands, they looked terrible; and against the Vikings (a bad Dome team) at home 2 weeks ago, they played their worst game of the season (perhaps the last couple of seasons). This is to say nothing of Andy Reid/Morningwheig forgetting how to coach/adjust/call plays the entire game.

I looked at team stats, rankings, etc; generally speaking, the teams are evenly matched. Birds are 2nd & 3rd in yards per game and points per game, respectively. Green Bay’s defense is 5th in points against per game, and 2nd in points against per game. Something obviously will give there… However, the Eagles defense has been inconsistent all season, and after 16 games is 21st in the league in giving up points. Packers are 9th in scoring, averaging 24 points a game (Birds are averaging 27). Packers defense is 5th against the pass, Eagles are 14th against the pass. Both of these teams pass all the time. But the Eagles defense, and especially their secondary has looked downright abysmal the last several games: Sean McDermott (defensive coordinator) has not been able to call a good game, and the secondary players have looked slow and out of position at every turn.

The key question for our defense is whether or not the Eagles can get to Aaron Rodgers. And they need to do it w/ their front 4, or maybe a 5th rusher. All-out blitzes are out of the question, because Rodgers is one of the best QB’s in football (I’d put him 4th, in a tie w/ Phillip Rivers, after Manning, Brady & Brees), and combined with their super-deep & talented WR/TE corps, our secondary is nowhere near good enough to handle them on their own (man to man). If we can rush, put pressure on Rodgers, and at the same time cover all their pass-catchers effectively, we can win (we need to double-team Greg Jennings most of the time). The good thing is, we don’t need to be that concerned w/ their run game; it’s not that good. They can run, they just don’t usually need to.

There are two concerns I have with our offense (versus their defense). The first, is the same issue I’ve had w/ Reid since I’ve first heard of him: will we run the ball enough? For all intents and purposes, the answer is always ‘no.’ Somehow we’re 5th in the league in yards rushing per game, which is awesome, but we still don’t run enough. That ranking is due primarily to LeSean McCoy’s talent, and rushing attempts when we’ve already had a lead, I’m sure of it (I can’t remember if we’re even in the top half of the league, in rushing attempts).

Now look, Green Bay’s defense is 5th in the NFL against the pass. They’re 19th against the run. We’re 5th in the league in rushing, and for the first time in Andy’s career, his dream of passing to set up the run is actually running! What would YOU do, pass or run against them? Exactly. We need to RUN against them in this game; early and often, even if it’s not working right away! Run, run, and run some more. THEN, try killing them w/ the pass. But Andy Reid TRULY does hate running the football. He doesn’t see the value in it, and he doesn’t commit to it. I’d say he’s actually committed to running the football somewhere in the neighborhood of 4 to 6 games, in his 12-years here. Anyone remember a time when the Eagles ran three running plays in a row? Me neither. Running makes Andy Reid sick to his stomach. But he needs to be comfortable with being sick in this game.

The second concern I have is whether our coaching staff can do it’s job and find out a good enough way to a) keep Vick from getting pummeled like he has been as of late and b) give him enough time to throw. The aforementioned running will help out a lot. How about having a bunch of screens ready to go, like they did not do during the Vikings matchup? How about two-tight end sets, or an extra blocker?

I am confident the Eagles will pass with some degree of proficiency/success, perhaps with a lot of success. I am confident Vick will have a very good day running/scrambling/passing; I expect him to have a great game. I expect the crowd to be insane. But that won’t be enough to win.

In closing, we need to score a lot of points, somewhere in the neighborhood of 27 to 30, to win. If our defense can keep the Packers to 25 points, I think we’ll win. The way to do it, against this Green Bay Packers team, is to get pressure on Rodgers rushing only 4 or 5 players; run the football with some consistency EARLY in the game, and protect Vick, giving him enough time to throw and work his magic.

Then the road to the Superbowl begins in earnest.

If you want it this way…
Pack O vs Birds D: edge to Pack.
Birds O vs Pack D: even
Coaching: even.
Special Teams: even.
Home field, crowd noise & “Mojo”: edge to Birds

Final score prediction:
Packers 34
Eagles 26

...oh, and the over/under on Morningwheig/Reid passing on 2nd and short (1 or 2 yds to go) or 3rd and short, when they should be running, is 4.5; a hair lower than usual.

40% of Americans still believe in creationism!

Seriously? Yep. Seriously.

A new Gallup poll, released Dec. 17, reveals that 40 percent of Americans still believe that humans were created by God within the last 10,000 years. This number is slightly down from a previous high of 47 percent in 1993 and 1999.

Another 38 percent of respondents believe that humans have evolved from more basic organisms but with God playing a role in the process.

A mere 16 percent of respondents subscribed to the belief of "secular evolution": that humans have evolved with no divine guidance. However, this number has nearly doubled from nine percent of respondents in a poll from 1982.

The poll also revealed that beliefs in creationism and evolution are strongly related to levels of education attained. When results are narrowed to those with college degrees, only 37 percent of respondents maintain beliefs in creationism. Meanwhile, the belief in evolution without the aid of God rises to 21 percent.

With regards to political affiliation, a majority of Republicans (52 percent) subscribe to creationist beliefs. This is compared to only 34 percent among Democrats and Independents.

Views on human origins vary based on church attendance. Of those who attend church on a weekly basis, 60 percent believe in creationism while a mere 2 percent subscribe to "secular evolution". These numbers are flipped among those who rarely or never attend religious services. In this group, only 24 percent believe in creationism while 39 percent believe in evolution without divine guidance. This represents the only subset of data reported where "secular evolution" beats out creationism.

"Say it ain't so, Sal!"

Sal Paolantonio is dead to me. he should be dead to anyone who considers themselves a philadelphia sports fan. not that he was ever great at reporting on, writing about, or analyzing philly sports, but now he's just embarrassing us. it's not that he just willfully misreported the truth (to the rest of the country), rather he did it just to make headlines on ESPN. in my neighborhood that's called a sellout.

I had to rewind my shitty comcast HD box (my 4th one in the last calendar year - HOLLA!), to make sure I really heard Sal say what I thought I heard him say on ESPN earlier tonight (I'm not paraphrasing, these were his precise words): "The Eagles offensive MVP this year is not Michael Vick. It's LeSean McCoy," as he led into a story about the Birds/Packers matchup later on Sunday.

Wow. He is either dumber than Howard Eskin and Tony Bruno combined, or he hasn't watched the Philadelphia Eagles this season. I've met the guy and talked to him before. I liked him. Now, I think he sucks ass. Sorry, it's just I expect a tad bit of objectivity when it comes to my sports consumption, especially coming from Philadelphia reporters who are from here.