Thursday, August 27, 2009

Town Hall meeting

I got my first taste of a health care town hall meeting on Tuesday night (it just so happens it was my birthday too). Personally, I was glad to make it out in one piece. What a rough crowd at these things! Many of them do not know the issues and just want to get on their soapbox to preach their extreme agenda. I feel that something has to be done, but the issue is so complex you do not know whether it will solve the problems or if it is too broke to fix. It does not help when those that are extremely against it are saying that the plan would be tyrannical in nature (i.e.) death panels. It may sway those that are on the fence to not support it. Who knows, maybe Ted Kennedy's passing will provide some motivation to get this done.

RIP Ted Kennedy

Ted Kennedy, the senior Massachusetts senator, died Tuesday evening at age 77. He was the last of the four Kennedy brothers and the only one to die of natural causes. He was always considered the black sheep of the family but wound up being its patriarch and family leader. While he had his problems, one can say his record of accomplishment in the Senate will leave a legacy that may never be matched by any politician, even our current president. It does help when you serve for 47 years.

I was watching coverage of the motorcade in Boston today and it was amazing to see the amount of people who came out to watch. It makes me proud to have one of our great leaders from my home state. Saturday's funeral is scheduled to be on national television and President Obama will be giving a eulogy. He is going to be buried in Arlington National Cemetery next to his brothers. I am going to make a point of visiting his grave site there to pay my respects. My condolences to the family and all that knew him personally, which there were many.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

County Fair

Thursday night I volunteered with Arlington Young Democrats at the Arlington County Fair. It is a far cry from the County Fair in Massachusetts, as there was lack of agricultural displays and activities (no sheep shearing, horse pulling contests, or oversized pumpkins). However, it seemed like a good time was had by all. Also, there was not a whole lot of healthy food there so I ate before going. The expo portion was also inside so weather was not an excuse to show up to that portion.

Barney Frank

Three cheers for Barney Frank for shouting down this speaker at one of his town hall meetings. I understand that politicians are responsible for listening to all opinions but this is ridiculous, especially since he is Jewish. It is scary that people in Massachusetts can have such strong views about the health care debate, especially alluding to Nazism.

Brett Favre

Apologies for not posting this week. I was doing something almost every night. Anyway, Brett Favre is back in the NFL. Honestly, him deciding every year whether he is going to retire and then change his mind is a great story for ESPN, however, fans are getting tired of it. All bets are that something will happen (injury, losing season) where he will regret his decision to come back. He will be playing for the Minnesota Vikings, his former arch rival. It is fairly obvious he is trying to settle some personal vendettas. I would like to see the reaction if it all blows up in his face and whether that will convince him to hang it up.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Y.E. Yang wins PGA Championship

Y.E. Yang, a Korean-born player who has only one victory on the PGA Tour, chased down Tiger Woods today at the PGA Championship to win his first major. This is the first time Tiger Woods lost a lead after leading for 54 holes and, more importantly, the first Asian player to win a major championship. This is incredible for the global game of golf and proves that Tiger Woods is human after all.

We expected that one day Tiger would lose a lead on a Sunday and an Asian player would win but not this week. This was truly an unpredictable year in golf where none of my top picks second tier list made it into the winners circle. This year showed that golf is the ultimate parity game and any player that tees it up in any tournament has a chance of winning. The PGA was the exclamation point on that with Tiger not coming through after leading for 54 holes.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Healthcare post

Check out this note from a friend of mine who is researching health care policy at The George Washington University. This gets to the basics of health care reform when it seems everyone else just wants to talk about the loud screaming protests. You may want to take a look at it before you develop questions and form opinions, especially if you go to a town hall meeting.

Fight night

Tempers reached a boiling point last night when the Boston Red Sox were playing the Detroit Tigers at Fenway Park. Kevin Youkilis charged the mound after a number of batters on both teams were hit by pitches and a bench clearing brawl ensued. The YouTube clip is below. It is amazing how much bad behavior baseball tolerates for a non-contact sport. In the NBA, if you go out on the court during a fine, you are ejected and given a suspension. Considering the Sox are fighting for their playoff lives, hopefully this will get them fired up for an August and September surge into the postseason.

RIP Eunice Kennedy Shriver

Eunice Kennedy Shriver died this past week at 88 years old. She was responsible for starting the Special Olympics, her husband, Sargent Shriver, was the founder of the Peace Corps. It is amazing the contributions of the Kennedy family to all aspects of American life. She will be missed by all of those that admired her and her work for those with special needs.

Monday, August 10, 2009

PGA Championship Week

This is the week of the PGA Championship, the final golf major of the season. It is at Hazeltine National outside Minneapolis, MN. It has always been the red headed step child of the four for a number of reasons. It doesn't have something that truly identifies it, course selection has been questionable, and people are starting to think about pennant races and football season when August comes around.

Having said that, it has gone up in stature over the past decade. They have both selected to have the championship at more well-known courses that have previously hosted the U.S. Open. The PGA has always found new courses which have become very successful venues (Valhalla, Whistling Straits). It has probably had more dramatic finishes/ playoffs then the other majors in the past decade. There have been a few seasons where Tiger Woods has come to the championship needing it to get one major win on the season and because he has made it meaningful, it has gotten more attention from golf fans.

Here we go with the picks. The standard is that I pick five that have very good odds to hoist the trophy and five "second tier" players that would not surprise me if they are in the mix/on top on Sunday night.

1. Phil Mickelson-This is a course that overwhelmingly favors a long hitter and since it is not a U.S. Open setup, longer hitters will have more of a green light to hit driver. I expect him to add one more Masters and one PGA to his resume and given the next few venues for the PGA this maybe one of his best chances to get a major.
1A. Tiger Woods-I could not make him the favorite solely considering his performance at the British Open and his performance in majors this year. I also could not make him a number two pick as he is at the top of his game coming into the championship. He also played well at this venue the last time the PGA was here. Now that I questioned Mr. Woods' ability to win majors he will probably win by five shots!
2. Padraig Harrington-He has not had the best year, but he had a strong showing the WGC Bridgestone event this past week until the crackup at the 16th hole and still holds the trophy.
3. Stewart Cink-It is not uncommon to do a British/PGA double in a calendar year. I am sure he will have a lot of confidence this week coming off the British Open win.

Five that could surprise
1. Sergio Garcia-He would be on the favorites except he hasn't had the strongest year. One of these days he is going to win one and I want him on the list when he does.
2. Justin Leonard-He played well the last time the PGA was here until a Sunday fold. He has always given himself opportunities to add a PGA to his British Open title.
3. Jim Furyk-He hasn't one is a while but it always seems like he has lightning in a bottle and not only will he break out of his losing streak he will do it at a major.
4. Ernie Els-My favorite player who I still think has one more major left in him and I want him on the list should it happen.
5. Lee Westwood-He had made runs in majors coming agonizingly close, expect him to break through at some point as well.

It all begins Thursday. Should be exciting.

Very hot in DC

It is going to be a very hot week in DC-almost 100 degrees. I am having mixed feelings about taking this week off. While it is good not to be working, it is difficult to get outside and do a lot of stuff except if you do it in the early morning. Then again, I guess I can't complain about not being at work. I am starting to remake the apartment slowly but surely as my last roommate took a lot of the furniture that we had.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Sotomayor confirmed

Congratulations to Sonya Sotomayor, the first Hispanic Supreme Court justice, who was confirmed this past week and sworn in today. A great moment for the Latino community and America in general.

Red Sox sinking ship

Red Sox are playing the Yankees this weekend in the Bronx. This series will go a long way to determining their playoff prospects. However, they are looking very bleak right now. They have lost four straight (two to Tampa Bay and two to New York) in every way possible. Both of these teams are playoff contenders and the Yankees are in first place at this point.

The biggest issues are the adjustment of Victor Martinez to the Red Sox pitching staff, the lack of hitting (particularly from David Ortiz), and the lack of reliability of veterans such as Tim Wakefield and John Smoltz. This week the Sox solved the latter by cutting Smoltz. Right now the hope is to get into the playoffs somehow but at this point they do not look like a playoff type team. At this point they need to avoid a sweep in New York to right the ship and then be sure to take care of business against those that are out of contention. Otherwise, they will be home in October.

More thoughts on David Ortiz and his steroids issues later today after his press conference.

Town Hall meetings

Congress is going back to their districts for the August recess which means it is very quiet here in DC. Yours truly is on staycation to help my new roommate move in and spend a little time with him (and away from work). They are holding town hall meetings on health care. However, many of them are being disrupted by angry protesters and mobs who are going as far as hanging congressmen in effigy and issuing death threats, etc.

The Republicans must be really desperate/don't really have anything good to contribute if this is their idea of making themselves part of the dialogue. This is completely against the idea of democracy and government/citizen relations. It also draws people away from those that want to go to the meetings to have meaningful discussion. Keep in mind there are also conservatives that do want to have meaningful discussion instead of yell and scream (and threaten violence and death as well).

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Red Sox game

Last Sunday I went to the Red Sox-Orioles game and met up with my uncle, cousin, cousin-in-law her parents. We were not paying that much attention to the game as we were catching up on a lot of stuff with my family. However, I was very impressed with the Red Sox new acquisition Victor Martinez. He had a great day at the plate going 5 for 6. However, he may not be as comfortable with the Red Sox pitching as they allowed 10 runs. However, they did win 18-10. As always the playoff race will be very exciting down the stretch. My view has always been to get into the playoffs in some way and we can see what happens. Case in point last year, the Red Sox clinched the wild card with no expectations for going far in the playoffs. However, they shocked Anaheim and stormed back down 3-1 in the ALCS against Tampa Bay before coming up short of the World Series.

The big debate is when you clinch a playoff spot do you rest players or do you try and play for a division title if you still can get it mathematically. I think that it is a factor of whether you know you will get home field in the first round and how far back you are from first place. Managers and coaches just have to consider that no matter how they approach it, they will be judged by the fans and media as to how they do in the upcoming playoffs. Right now, however, this is not that relevant as there is still a lot of regular season baseball left to be played.

Dog days

We have officially entered the "dog days" of summer. The heat and humidity have come to Washington just in time for my new roommate to move in. He is coming from upstate New York, this could not be a Congress is on recess and it seems everyone is on vacation. Training camp is opening up in football and the PGA Championship is right around the corner. While I was in college it would bring excitement as I was always looking forward to going back to school. However, my parents would be depressed because they did not want summer to end. I always see this is as just one of the "rites of passage" with every year that comes and goes.