You’d think 2-1 would be good

And I’ll be honest I believe a win is a win and 2-1 is better already than 1-6 from last year.  The Jets game was a great game, lost for the wrong reasons, and now we have 2 games all but lost, but won for the right reasons.  Nice work Cowboys.  But holy smoke I never thought I’d be unhappy with the cowboys for a 2-1 start, but let’s get real.  What the hell is wrong with the wide receiver core and the coaching staff?  Players don’t know where to line up?  Don’t know the plays and routes?  WTF Cowboys I thought we fixed that with coaching changes.  Costas snapping the ball like a spastic pee-wee player instead of a pro center?  Again WTF?  I’m happy for the win, and happy Romo pulled up and drove the team to victory, and the defense came up big for the Redskins game.  But there are major things to fix and the Lions are not going to let things just slide.

Dez, you commented that Romo inspired you to play after he returned from his injury and continues to do so.  Admirable, but seriously, you’re a pro-football player.  You are payed to PLAY.  I get injuries are a thing to watch, and manage, but a bruised leg vs a broken rib?  You sat out a game and only came back becasue you were inspired by Romo’s toughness?  Get real, get in the game and show the value you have by catching balls he throws.  Run routes fast and get open quickly to help Romo not get hit.  That’s how you help and how you support your team.

Costas, hey man, I know the Redskins were calling out snap counts and all, but really? That NEVER happened to you in the past?  Get it together.  The fact those snaps were recovered by the “right” team was as much luck as skill.

 

I’ll update this later but for now that’s what’s on my mind about the Cowboys.

So was Sunday night good or bad?

So the Cowboys were underdogs, not expected to play well against the Jets.  Not that I thought that, but some folks were pretty certain the Jets were going to run / pass all over the Dallas team, breaking apart the inexperienced offensive line, etc etc.  But that didn’t really happen, at least not completely.  What did happen?

  1. The offensive performed.  Some errors for sure, but overall they played like a solid line that needs some time to work out the kinks, not like a line of inexperienced players.  Kudos to them for the performance.
  2. Dez, great starting series, but if you work so hard you can’t last the game it isn’t a real help.  Coach Garret, if he’s not performing, take him out.  Period.  That pick was part Romo and part Dez failures and I’m sure you all know and feel that.
  3. The offense did great spreading out and working the Jets’ defense, but we lost it when Plax got hot.  Depth in CB and Safety might be issues unless we can see those positions stable for an entire game (or two).
  4. Mistakes by key players.  Romo and the goal line fumble, Witten with the interference call, Bryant running out of gas and not fighting for the ball on that INT were all avoidable and preventable errors.

Now with all of that said, the ‘Boys had a great game overall, though it closed badly, they showed they can not only play with, but beat top tier teams in all areas of the game.  Their down fall was mistakes and things that can be corrected.  They were not expected to win, and didn’t, but I suspect most people thought they’d lose by more.  I believed they were going to win from the outset, and was excited by the game and let down by the collapse.  But overall this was a good outting and a good game for the Boys.

It’s only week one and despite the loss, the signs are better this year than last.

Did someone say football?

Ok, I’m excited about the new season of football.  First because there will be one, second because it’s a new beginning for the Dallas Cowboys, who held promise last year (then they played and lost that promise).  I see good things in them again (some still good, others changed for the better) but they have work to do on the offensive line and defensive secondary.  Not great places to need work, but you take what you’re dealt and find a way to win.  That’s football.  I was also excited because this year we were finally going to swap over to satellite to get the NFL Package which would allow me to actually see the ‘Boys play much more often.  That plan was crushed by the line of sight requirement and some very tall trees in the back.  Something about “protected natural growth…”  :)  Anyway, we still get the usual coverage, and I’m excited to see things progress.

I know it’s just pre-season, but the things that have excited me so far:

  • The Cowboy won.  I love that no matter when it happens, and winning a close game, even in pre-season means they have that desire.  Check.
  • The Eagles got /pwned by Pittsburgh.  So much for Dream Team, blah blah blah.  Shut up and play, if you win great, but no one gets the trophy for good players or free agegnt moves.  /cheer Pittsburgh.

I’ll post more football as the season progresses, but I just wanted to pop in and let you know I’m back posting about football again.

Why the American people shouldn’t make tax policy

I think it’s fair to say first, that while I’ve been gone for a while from posting to this blog, I haven’t been living under a rock, nor completely out of touch.  So there are lots of thoughts and opinions I have concerning the recent events in the US financial and governmental spaces.  I will do my best to not talk at length about past issues nor cast too much one sided blame, mostly because I think the entire mess was avoidable, and the politics surrounding the debt ceiling, jobs creation, etc are so far out of control that I simply must state, everyone in Washington that was in office for the last 6 months simply doesn’t deserve to be re-elected.  Period.  I’ll consider a pass for freshmen (2 years of less in office) in the Congress that didn’t stand purely on party lines, but rather stood up for common sense and practical solutions (should any of those actually exist).

But that’s not what prompted me to post today.  Nope, this post is directed at everyone in America.  Yep, at me and you and all of our neighbors.  You see, there is a popular stance right now (favored in the democratic circles, but popular all over) that somehow taxing the rich is a great way to resolve some of our debt problems.  This allows that group to “protect” the entitlements programs where we spend a huge volume of our budget.  In still other circles (these being more of the republican ones, but again not exclusive to them) the cry is to reduce spending, and not allow taxes to be raised.  Both of these positions are popular positions and both do have some degree of merit…  however…

Let’s take a look at a few items related to each stance.  First the tax the rich argument.  Let’s face it, we ALREADY tax the rich (despite the rhetoric heard in many left leaning media sources).  The “rich” (we’ll talk a moment about why that is in quotes) account for about 3% of the population, and roughly 26% of the income earned that was taxed.  Yet the top 5% of earners pay roughly 60% of the taxes.  So about 5% of the people, earn roughly 30% of the income, but pay 60% of the taxes.  Should the Bush Era Tax Cuts expire, and I suspect they will, that percentage will only go up.  With our progressive tax brackets, you pay higher and higher percentage of tax as your earning go up (capped in the 35-40% range I belive, but I’m not sure on that).  For the record and to ensure I try to stay fair, from that same report, out of the 4 million people that are “rich”, 1470 didn’t pay any income tax and the corporate taxation problem (handouts plus tax breaks) is one that simply must be solved.  But where did the definition of “rich” come from?  Why is that level chosen, when in fact different areas of the country have different costs of living, making it likely that in some places 200,000 feels rich, where in others it just feels ok.  But even if we go after the rich, what then?  We generate $750 billion over 10 years, or $75 billion per year.  Now that IS a lot of money, but compared to the actual debt, it’s peanuts.  It is something, which as they say is better than nothing, but still peanuts compared to the problem.

So what about spending cuts?  Sure everyone can talk about the waste in government, and everyone can point to stupid things that we’ve seen the government do and buy.  But where is the real money going?  Let’s look at the spending we did in 2010 for our data.  24.5% of our money was spent on Defense (I didn’t dig enough to know if this includes or excludes the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan), followed by Health Care (23.7% with 13.1 percent being Medicare), Pensions (21.7, with 20.4% being Social Security), Welfare (14.5%), then we have Interest on our Debt (5.7%).  We spend more on interest on our debt than we do on Education (4.1%), Transporation (2.7%)  and Protection (Police, Fire, Courts, Prisons)(1.5%).  Ok really?  We allowed our debt to get so high we spend more on interest than on our schools and roads?  Anyway, let’s see that makes huge elements of the budget untouchable in the current political environment.  Cut defense (do you want the terrorists to win?), medicare or social security or welfare (why do you hate old people and the poor?), so that leaves the next biggest category.  Interest on our debt.  Hmm even politicians probably realize that can’t be cut, so on to the next line items, schools, services, and roads.  Yep, let’s cut the things that made this country an economic power house, so we can recover the economy.  Makes sense I suppose to someone not looking at the budget, or doing math, or thinking about it.  If our politicians can’t compromise on ideological issues, we get stuck taking the cuts in the programs they can agree to cut that hurt the population the most.

So why is this post pointed at the American people?  First, I’ll just say it.  As a collective group, we are too stupid to make rational policy about multi-trillion dollar budgets.  Sure I don’t like paying taxes, nor allowing our defense to get weak, nor take money out of social programs.  I want to have it all and not pay for it.  Wouldn’t that be great?  As a populace, that is exactly the message we send to our government, and it just isn’t possible.  I’m not defending their actions, becasue IF they were leaders and not poll-following, vote-grabbing, self-serving, special-interest-puppets they could calmly tell us that we’re too stupid to make these decisions, they’d get into a room and discuss, debate, and decide on actions that were good for us despite our short sighted whining about taxes and services etc.  Of course, that would also require them to act for the people, not for themselves and we don’t seem to have those guys (or gals) running for office much anymore.  They’d also risk not getting re-elected because they acted for the good of the country and not the good of selected voting blocks in their district or party (yeah I’m talking to you Tea Party).

So while everyone likes to complain about the idiots in Washington, and I’m easily in that category, let’s remember, we send them there, we tell them (through polls and things like blogs) what we think about their actions, and through their lens of “job security” they try to please everyone, while pleasing the special interests, making compromises on issues, and trying to stay vaguely close to on top of the polls so they have a job in the future.  Which is why I say, “The American People Shouldn’t Make Tax Policy, we’re too selfish and stupid as a collective group to do so effectively.  We like WalMart; goods and services for cheap, even though they are cheap goods and services, and that’s no way to run a coutry’s financial policies.

Now that I’ve pretty much angered everyone who got  this far in the post, thanks for reading.  :)

Failed Education System

This article is very interesting and it sheds some light into the reasons that schools appear to be broken.

http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/print/2011/06/the-failure-of-american-schools/8497/

I think it is fair to say that if only some of what he says is true, it’s pretty scary for our future.  My previous post on education pales by comparison to this.

Not a Factual Blog Post

Wow, I know I shouldn’t be surpised, but seriously?  John Kyl?  SERIOUSLY?  Citing statistics so grossly inaccurate as if they were true.  A seasoned senator such as you should know better…  or do they?

After all, facts are facts, and although we may quote one to another with a
chuckle the words of the Wise Statesman, “Lies – damned lies – and statistics,”
still there are some easy figures the simplest must understand, and the astutest
cannot wriggle out of.  ~Leonard Courtney, speech, August 1895, New York, “To My
Fellow-Disciples at Saratoga Springs,” printed in The National Review
(London, 1895)

Hmmm, so we had this problem in 1895 as well.  I guess politics leads people down the path of wanting to tell whatever story results in votes.  No surprise there.  What’s surprising is we let them.  In 1895 maybe the media couldn’t fact check so rapidly, nor respond so broadly, but that’s no excuse today.  We catch and respond in less than 24 hours.

In addition, there are facts and there are opinions, but opinions are never facts no matter how factually based.  So let’s call it what it is, saying something not intended to be factual means you lied, intentionally.  This isn’t just some “misinformation” euphemism (to go with many other euphemisms for lying we’ve used over the years) and it was not a mistake, he lied, and got caught.  The question is what will done about it?  Granted I like the Steven Colbert approach, but it isn’t likely to generate change in a meaningful way.

What we need is a system that doesn’t reward lying for votes with re-election.  But that’s up to the “masses” and if history is any teacher, they are being failed by our education system and the uneducated are more likely to believe the lies, making this a tough problem to resolve.  Which came first, the failed education or the lies?

Brain Science of Politics

So this article just got published (as far as I saw), which seems to indicate that there are actual physical differences in the brains of self described liberals and conservatives.  It does seem to agree with my previous posting on bipolar behavior of politcians.

Using data from MRI scans, researchers at the University College London found that self-described liberals have a larger anterior cingulate cortex–a gray matter of the brain associated with understanding complexity. Meanwhile, self-described conservatives are more likely to have a larger amygdala, an almond-shaped area that is associated with fear and anxiety.

Ok, I’ll admit, this seems to fit, and passes the initial “faux science smell test” of fitting the world view of many people.  Liberals get complexity, conservatives are fear mongers.  Ok, so I call shenanigans, precisely because it fits so easily into our preconceived views on these people.  Not included in the study, centrists, socialists, etc. or determination of the other options in the political spectrum and the associated brain structure sizing.  What if I’m a financial conservative but social liberal?  Etc.

The good news is that the researchers know this and have commented on it, but I’m guessing many people will ignore the remaining questions.

While the London study does find distinct differences between Democrats and Republicans, its authors caution that more research needs to be done on the subject. One unknown is whether people are simply born with their political beliefs or if our brains adjust to life experiences–which is a possibility, Kanai writes.

We all knew that these views were different, but posing them as polar opposites coded into the brain seems a bit of a stretch.

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