Monthly Archives: September 2008

The Oakland Raiders are Dead to Me

From the time I was 7 until the Raiders left for Oakland in 1994 (about nine years time), I went to nearly every home game at the Coliseum. During their subsequent years in Oakland, I followed every play, every win, every loss and every season-ending disappointment.

I cried when Tony Siragusa sat on Rich Gannon effectively knocking him out of the Baltimore Ravens game in the AFC semi-finals in 2000. Then I smelled the Super Bowl in 2001 when Charles Woodson flew in and caused Tom Brady to fumble, only to have that call reversed and somehow that play become an incomplete pass (f— the tuck rule).

Then the coaching carousel began. Al Davis effectively pushed out the best young coach in the game in Jon Gruden-the guy who put the Raiders back on the map. And they hired Bill Callahan, the so-called architect of the offense. The Raiders seemed to barely miss a beat. But old, injured and out of control, the Raiders coached by Callahan, the student, were dominated by the Bucs, coached by Gruden, the teacher, in one of the most awful Super Bowls in memory.

It was then that I knew that the Raiders would be in trouble. The next season, Callahan lost complete control of the team. Woodson and Charlie Garner – two guys not known for being a-holes – walked out and were suspended. And the rest of the season became anarchy.

Al Davis fired Callahan and replaced him with the awful Norv Turner. Norv Turner? Predictable 5-11 and 4-12 seasons ensued.

Then the gamble became downright silly. Al Davis hired his former puppet Art Shell to coach the team. This is when I seriously wondered why I still rooted for the Raiders. Davis seemed to be trying to make them worse. I felt cheated. 2-14. Art Shell? You’re fired.

Then something happened. Davis returned to his maverick days and hired 32-year-old Lane Kiffin. Yeah, I’m a USC guy, but Kiffin seemed to have a special gift with the offense. In his last year at USC, the offense improved after Norm Chow left for the Titans. Kiffin came in and suddenly the discipline problems from the year before lessened and the Raiders seemed to be improving despite awful quarterbacking from Josh McCown and Dante Culpepper and then Jamarcus Russel, the Raiders managed to double their wins from the season before. Six of their 12 losses came by a touchdown or less. Things seemed to be on the upswing.

Then summer came and Davis exploded. Kiffin wanted more control and Davis wanted him fired. He asked Kiffin to resign. And I knew it was only a matter of time. Again I wondered why I still followed them.

This season begins and I am rooting for the Raiders harder than I ever have. I want Kiffin to stay. They get pounded by the Broncos after Davis orders D-Coordinator Rob Ryan not to blitz because that’s not the Raider way. Then the blitzes get OK’d and the Raiders go to KC and beat the Chiefs. They have Buffalo on the ropes, same with the Chargers, but lose both games in the fourth quarter. A coach with basically a rookie backfield almost has the Raiders 3-1. It looked like only a matter of time before they returned to respectability. But Davis stuck his nose back in. And now the Raiders are a laughing stock not just of the NFL, but of sports as a whole.

I am sad, embarrassed and pretty pissed off about investing almost 20+ years of life in the Raiders only to have them break my heart over and over again. I’m done until Davis is done. I hope a lot of people are with me.

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Debate No. 1 – Foreign Policy

I’m not going to say who won, or who lost the first presidential debate. I think it’s silly to pretend that someone can “win” a debate. So, here are my thoughts on foreign policy only (the economy will be center stage next debate):

  1. McCain IS very experienced in foreign policy. This is his strength. He did best when he talked about all the places he’s been as a senator. He did well to relate himself to Reagan and the Cold War and the fall of the USSR.
  2. McCain did well in talking about how much he cares for the returning veterans.
  3. However, McCain gave the same ol’ first term Bush foreign policies of we’re right and the rest of the world is wrong. McCain followed the same ol’ neocon tough talk that put us in this mess.
  4. McCain made a calculated error in saying that his “experience” in foreign policy is what makes him qualified to be president.
  5. McCain forgot tonight that Americans know that people around the world really dislike what the Bush foreign policy has done to the image of the country around the world.
  6. The war in Iraq has really taken some of the moral legitimacy that the US used to have.
  7. Barack Obama’s new foreign policy (or the return to engagement), the idea of meeting with the leaders of troublesome nations like Iran and North Korea instead of ignoring them, is what will appeal to the American people.
  8. In addition, just the idea that Barack might be the president of the United States has the rest of the world excited.

As a result, I don’t think the “experience” ploy that McCain tried to use didn’t play well. People want something different than the Bush policies, which is what John McCain is offering. And the polls show this with 39 percent of CBS’s undecideds say Obama won, while 25 percent say McCain won. On CNN’s poll, Obama won by an even wider margin: 59-31.

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This is why they don’t allow interviews

Remember when the Obama wagon started rolling and Chris Matthews embarassed a supporter who couldn’t name a single piece of legislation that the senator authored or sponsored? Well, that was just a supporter and, I believe, a regional campaigner.

In the upcoming Katie Couric-Sarah Palin interview, Couric presses Palin about what Senator McCain has done to fight to try and control out-of-control corporations. Here’s part of the transcript (video is after):

Palin: I’m all about the position that America is in and that we have to look at a $700 billion bailout. And as Sen. McCain has said unless this nearly trillion dollar bailout is what it may end up to be, unless there are amendments in Paulson’s proposal, really I don’t believe that Americans are going to support this and we will not support this. The interesting thing in the last couple of days that I have seen is that Americans are waiting to see what John McCain will do on this proposal. They’re not waiting to see what Barack Obama is going to do. Is he going to do this and see what way the political wind’s blowing? They’re waiting to see if John McCain will be able to see these amendments implemented in Paulson’s proposal.

Couric: Why do you say that? Why are they waiting for John McCain and not Barack Obama?

Palin: He’s got the track record of the leadership qualities and the pragmatism that’s needed at a crisis time like this.

Couric: But polls have shown that Sen. Obama has actually gotten a boost as a result of this latest crisis, with more people feeling that he can handle the situation better than John McCain.

Palin: I’m not looking at poll numbers. What I think Americans at the end of the day are going to be able to go back and look at track records and see who’s more apt to be talking about solutions and wishing for and hoping for solutions for some opportunity to change, and who’s actually done it?

Couric: If this doesn’t pass, do you think there’s a risk of another Great Depression?

Palin: Unfortunately, that is the road that America may find itself on. Not necessarily this, as it’s been proposed, has to pass or we’re going to find ourselves in another Great Depression. But, there has got to be action – bipartisan effort – Congress not pointing fingers at one another but finding the solution to this, taking action, and being serious about the reforms on Wall Street that are needed.

Couric: Would you support a moratorium on foreclosures to help average Americans keep their homes?

Palin: That’s something that John McCain and I have both been discussing – whether that … is part of the solution or not. You know, it’s going to be a multi-faceted solution that has to be found here.

Couric: So you haven’t decided whether you’ll support it or not?

Palin: I have not.

Couric: What are the pros and cons of it do you think?

Palin: Oh, well, some decisions that have been made poorly should not be rewarded, of course.

Couric: By consumers, you’re saying?

Palin: Consumers – and those who were predator lenders also. That’s, you know, that has to be considered also. But again, it’s got to be a comprehensive, long-term solution found … for this problem that America is facing today. As I say, we are getting into crisis mode here.

Couric: You’ve said, quote, “John McCain will reform the way Wall Street does business.” Other than supporting stricter regulations of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac two years ago, can you give us any more example of his leading the charge for more oversight?

Palin: I think that the example that you just cited, with his warnings two years ago about Fannie and Freddie – that, that’s paramount. That’s more than a heck of a lot of other senators and representatives did for us.

Couric: But he’s been in Congress for 26 years. He’s been chairman of the powerful Commerce Committee. And he has almost always sided with less regulation, not more.

Palin: He’s also known as the maverick though, taking shots from his own party, and certainly taking shots from the other party. Trying to get people to understand what he’s been talking about – the need to reform government.

Couric: But can you give me any other concrete examples? Because I know you’ve said Barack Obama is a lot of talk and no action. Can you give me any other examples in his 26 years of John McCain truly taking a stand on this?

Palin: I can give you examples of things that John McCain has done, that has shown his foresight, his pragmatism, and his leadership abilities. And that is what America needs today.

Couric: I’m just going to ask you one more time – not to belabor the point. Specific examples in his 26 years of pushing for more regulation.

Palin: I’ll try to find you some and I’ll bring them to you.

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“Obama Waffles” and “Values voters”

Am I the only one to see the inherent irony in these being sold at a “Values Voters” conference?

Learning from the past – Fear wins

So, ever since I heard about livingroomcandidate.org on Slate’s Political Gabfest, I’ve been hooked. It’s a roundup of almost all of the presidential ads since 1952. Some of the ads are pure genius (and sick) like this one, which basically said, “Vote for Johnson, or die”:

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However, for the Obama Campaign, I think several tactics can be learned from watching these videos. The first, and maybe most relevant ad, comes from none other than the prez himself:

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Message: Lie about what you bring, and disparage everything about the other candidate without even mentioning his name.
My Obama recommendation: [Kids playing in the backyard; Michelle Obama sitting next to Barack smiling] Too many Americans are out of work. Crime is on the rise. Sons and daughters are dying to support a nation that has asked Americans to get out. It’s time for a change. It’s time for hope and honesty to reign in Washington. I believe I’m the man to do this job.

But don’t talk about things that the average voter won’t get, such as a candidate’s past record (unless it has something to do with the death penalty and crime, military spending and immigration):

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Now take a look at this ad by Bush:

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My Take: Al Gore didn’t win Ohio in 2000 because he didn’t scare the average voter.

Advice: [Oil fields pumping in Saudi Arabia. Images of women getting stoned and men getting beheaded. Troops getting shot at in Baghdad. Finish with an image of Osama Bin Laden. Obama voice over.] In an era of war, we need a leader who will not back down to our supposed allies in the Middle East who allow the terrorists to run free in their hills. We can not allow our allies to terrorize their citizens because we depend on their oil. We cannot send our troops into battle without body armor or batteries to power night vision goggles. And most importantly, we cannot allow enemy No. 1 to roam free in the mountains of Pakistan. As president, I will defend this nation and hunt down the terrorists where they are.

Here’s another ad from a winning Democrat:

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My take: Take on a Republican scare issue, or several issues, and embrace them.

Advice: [Begin with Osama’s face] Terrorism is our No. 1 enemy. A dependence on oil from the Middle East is No. 2. That’s why I support a temporary increase in offshore drilling, the exploration of new nuclear power plants, and the development of clean-burning coal. We’ll need these valuable resources while we transition the United States to a new kind of energy.

Advice No. 2: [The Mexican border fence. People crawling through the mud.] We need to do a better job securing our borders. Every year billions of dollars in drugs cross into the United States. Illegal immigrants are taking Jobs away from legal immigrants and hard-working Americans. And shady employers do this because they can pay the illegal immigrants a third of what they’d have to pay legalized citizens. We need comprehensive immigration reform. We need to make it easier for immigrants to come to the United States legally. We need to give the children of immigrants the chance to fulfill the American dream. My opponent, after originally supporting immigration reform, now opposes it because he kowtowed to the Republican base. You won’t ever see that happen with me.

And finally, the Obama must avoid complicated issues:

Furloughs

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Environmental issues not focused on terrorism:

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And finally, don’t get caught doing something that doesn’t befit a candidate’s stature:
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Fear is a candidate’s most powerful tool. I’m not sure if Barack Obama can make it central to his campaign, which has been based on the theme of “hope.” But I think he needs to take on one of the fear issues that he has an advantage on: terrorism, immigration, crime in the United States, the war in Afghanistan. Without scaring the American voter and reminding them constantly that Bin Laden is still alive, the Taliban resurgence in Afghanistan, and the dependence on foreign oil, Obama might not win this very winnable election.

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