McCain vs. Obama: Part I

I’m going to try taking notes on this debate, or at least parts of this debate. At the end, I’ll upload my notes for your pleasure. For the record, I’m watching CNN’s coverage. (I’m not sure why, CNN has become so biased lately I might as well watch MSNBC.)

My Notes

  • 8:42 PM: I’m sick and tired of seeing Paul Begala’s face. Seriously, does anyone care what this guy thinks?
  • 8:46 PM: I remember why I watch CNN – Campbell Brown is hot. She’s misguided, feminist and like most CNN anchors, biased, but still hot.
  • 8:47 PM: The format is kind of weird this time: two minutes for each candidate to answer, and then five minutes as kind of a back-and-forth. CNN people are fretting (and I agree) that this favors McCain.
  • 8:49 PM: Poor John King – they only let him talk about numbers. Indians are now down 3-2, by the way.
  • 8:52 PM: $10 to anyone who gets inappropriate ASCII art on CNN.
  • 8:54 PM: “Bill Bennett, how excited are you?” Yes, we really care that Bill Bennett is happy. I’m happy he’s happy. Are you happy he’s happy?
  • 8:57 PM: Ted Kennedy had a seizure, went to and got out of the hospital on the same day? That’s kind of bizarre, especially for someone his age. Jim Lehrer has taken the stage.
  • 8:59 PM: Who’s this Michael Ware guy, and how long has he been living under a rock?
  • 9:00 PM: THEY’RE LATE!
  • 9:00 PM: Anyone want to play a drinking game? You have to drink every time Barack Obama says “change”. And make sure its not alcohol, you might be dead by the end of the debate.
  • 9:01 PM: Oh come on, CNN. Please don’t show that ridiculous bar at the bottom. We’re very impressed with your technology. We promise. Just don’t shove it in our face.
  • 9:02 PM: Do they seriously use a coin?
  • 9:03 PM: It’s GO TIME!
  • 9:04 PM: One minute in, and the first cliche is in: Wall St./Main St.
  • 9:05 PM: Bush proposed a regulatory overhaul in 2003. No one seems to remember this.
  • 9:07 PM: The Wall St./Main St. phrase rears its ugly head again.
  • 9:07 PM: Hehe. Package.
  • 9:08 PM: Neither of them really answered the question, and McCain ended on oil. THE BAILOUT IS A BAD IDEA!
  • 9:09 PM: ANSWER THE QUESTION! DON’T ASK YOURSELF ANOTHER ONE!
  • 9:10 PM: That’s an interesting parallel – I never knew Eisenhower wrote two letters. And that was for a situation that he couldn’t be blamed for as easily.
  • 9:11 PM: This feels a little contrived.
  • 9:14 PM: These guys are basically blaming each other but saying the same thing, and the little Democratic bar goes up when Obama speaks and the Republican bar goes up when McCain speaks. Is anyone even listening to the other guy?
  • 9:15 PM: McCain is throwing the Republicans under the bus and I’m okay with it.
  • 9:19 PM: Early on, it seems like Obama is playing it somewhat cautious. McCain is going for the throat. Whoa, wait a minute, Obama just interrupted him.
  • 9:19 PM: Why can no one get facts correct? Why can no one agree on FACTS?
  • 9:20 PM: This format’s hysterical. The candidates can’t figure out who to look at. Lehrer’s trying to make them fight it out face to face.
  • 9:21 PM: McCain just highlighted the difference between his and Obama’s tax policy: Obama fights for the everyman, McCain fights for the people who might not make the most money, but work hard (the small businessman).
  • 9:22 PM: If only Hillary had won, this debate would have gotten interesting much faster.
  • 9:25 PM: They should really let the audience cheer and boo.
  • 9:27 PM: Increasing production at home? As in… drill?
  • 9:28 PM: Education. Great. How do you intend to fix education?
  • 9:28 PM: Not a single specific in that entire answer from Obama.
  • 9:29 PM: McCain makes a joke and the Democratic response bar goes way down. Awesome.
  • 9:31 PM: Neither of these guys answered the question. Maybe Jim Lehrer should be president…
  • 9:33 PM: Early childhood education? Seriously? That’s not the government’s job!
  • 9:33 PM: NUCLEAR POWER. YES.
  • 9:34 PM: It powers the DeLorean time machine, now it can power your minivan!
  • 9:36 PM: Wasn’t tonight about foreign policy?
  • 9:36 PM: That’s the second time McCain mentioned taking care of the veterans – an important issue that we haven’t heard much about.
  • 9:37 PM: “Orgy”. Good word. Obama continues to try to tie Bush to McCain.
  • 9:38 PM: “Miss Congeniality” again. I see a Sandra Bullock movie night in these guys’ future.
  • 9:39 PM: McCain should say, “my VP is hotter. End of debate.”
  • 9:40 PM: Petraeus shout-out!
  • 9:41 PM: Bin Laden is used a lot as an argument, that he’s never been found. Does finding him really end the War on Terror? Does it really do anything to the stability of the region? No.
  • 9:43 PM: Yes, thank you. Let’s talk about what’s happening next, not what happened in 2003.
  • 9:44 PM: I remember in 2006 when Petraeus was getting roasted by the Democrats… oh how times have changed. No one said it would be quick and easy!
  • 9:49 PM: This is a pretty heated exchange.
  • 9:50 PM: Everyone opposed a surge in Iraq because it would put more troops in danger. But everyone seems to support a similar surge in Afghanistan.
  • 9:53 PM: Pakistan? Are you kidding me?
  • 9:55 PM: Petraeus = hero unit?
  • 10:00 PM: Yay, bracelet comparison!
  • 10:02 PM: McCain is getting a bit more animated.
  • 10:03 PM: Ooo, Iran. Here we go.
  • 10:04 PM: It’s amazing how little we’ve talked about China and Russia so far, considering their issues this summer. Also North Korea.
  • 10:06 PM: Hehe. “Iran”-ically.
  • 10:06 PM: That’s a word I didn’t expect to hear tonight. Can you guess what it is?
  • 10:08 PM: McCain just butchered Mr. Iran’s name (what, you think I can spell it?)
  • 10:09 PM: McCain’s tone here is almost incredulous, it’ll be interesting to see what the reaction is to that.
  • 10:13 PM: “I don’t even have a seal yet.” BAM!

And there you have it. I kind of quit taking notes as the discussion got more heated near the end. Overall, I feel like it was really too close for the media to admit John McCain won, but there were some spots where Obama was definitely ahead. We’ll see how it plays out. Now I’m looking forward to Sarah Palin vs. Joe Biden in round 1.5.

The financial crisis

I would write something long and inspired about the current financial crisis that faces our country…but Mike Huckabee did it for me. For those of you who are too lazy to read it, or averse to clicking on a Republican’s website, I’ll summarize: you cannot possibly give almost a trillion dollars to the SAME people who proved they are incapable of handling such large amounts of money without telling them how to use it.

Actually, I’m still not convinced a bailout is a good idea. If our government is supposedly out of money…where are we going to get $700 billion? China cannot be this stupid (or this rich, for that matter). Eventually they’ll see the pattern: I can’t see any politician ever paying those loans back. They might promise to not borrow any more from China, but paying it back is not probable.

And will it even work? Ever since this recession began, we’ve been hearing all this talk about stimulus packages and government spending to stimulate our economy. If those solutions had worked…would we be here right now, in “the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression”? In baseball terms, if you throw a fastball down the middle and the batter hits a home run, would you throw him a fastball down the middle the next time he came up? What about the next time?

The little city that could


According to Wikipedia, the city pictured above is the 7th most dangerous city in the world. Sports teams in Cleveland haven’t won a championship in 44 years. The economy in Cleveland is bad and getting worse. Politicians in Cleveland are corrupt, power-hungry and greedy. Lake effect snow is just a weird breeze away.

On that note, I’d like to make a statement to the national media.

DON’T FEEL SORRY FOR US.

It seems like every day I’ll flip on ESPN, CNN or one of the cable news networks and something is said along these lines:

  • “…Cleveland’s economy is just terrible. Poor Clevelanders.”
  • “…not a single championship in 44 years. Can you imagine that?”
  • “It’s amazing that there are still people left in the wasteland that is Cleveland.”
  • “Cleveland is one of the most devestated economies in the U.S….and it’s all George Bush’s fault.”

Anyone else sick of hearing this?

Let’s think about it for a moment. Cleveland’s economy, while a tad slow, still has a ton of room for growth. Cleveland-Hopkins International Airport is one of the main hubs of Continental Airlines, seemingly the only airline that is not being affected by rising fuel costs. The lakefront is primed for development (now if only those stupid politicians could do something about it…). Cleveland’s cost of living is among the best in the nation.

In sports, we haven’t had a championship in 44 years, but on the other hand, none of our teams perenially bad, either. The Indians had an off year but still had some memorable moments and are poised to contend next year. Even though the Cavs struggled with injuries and rebuilt their entire team in the middle of the season, they took the best team in the league down to the final few minutes of Game 7 of the conference semi-finals. The Browns had an improbable 10-6 season last year and just missed the playoffs. If you’re not in the mood for the conventional sports, what about a Lake Erie Monsters game, or a Cleveland Gladiators AFL game?

And if you want culture, Cleveland’s got that too. Little Italy is full of mom-and-pop shops and restaurants that makes Cleveland Heights (maddeningly) like the streets of Rome. The Chicago Tribune has called Cleveland the hot new dining scene. Playhouse Square is probably the best theater district between New York and Chicago.

It’s easy to focus on Cleveland’s shortcomings. But if you focus on the good, you find that Cleveland is a pretty nice city to live in. And the media feeling bad for us works against us in two ways: 1) it scares new people and talent away from the city, and 2) it’s against most true Clevelanders’ nature.

Instead of complaining about the weather when it’s bad, Clevelanders notice when it’s good and enjoy it. Instead of being fair-weather (pun intended) fans of the Browns, Indians and Cavs, Cleveland fans support the teams when they’re bad or good (particularly the Browns). Instead of wistfully dreaming of the Pacific coast or Atlantic coast, Clevelanders drive up to the tenth largest lake in the world and enjoy a day at the beach.

Don’t let the media attack or victimize our city. Living in Cleveland is a lot better than its made out to be, because, like anywhere else in America, with some hard work and a little bit of luck, anyone can excel.

I’m proud to live in Cleveland, and like Fausto Carmona, I’ll defend it.

The swagger is back

There haven’t been many times this year where I’ve said, “this feels like the 2007 Indians.”

The 2007 Cleveland Indians were a team that never gave up. Especially near the end of the season, the game was never over until the last strike was recorded or the last out was made. I remember a couple games specifically where, with two outs in the ninth, Asdrubal Cabrera doubled (once off Joe Nathan, coincidentally, and once off of Joakim Soria) and the next batter, Travis Hafner, homered to tie the game and singled to tie the game, respectively.

And that was just scratching the surface. There was the legendary David Dellucci single up the middle off Todd Jones on June 1, 2007, giving the Indians a dramatic win against the Tigers. There was Jhonny Peralta, defiantly slamming a home run to right field off of the “toughest” reliever in the game, Joel Zumaya, in a crucial September game against the Tigers (actually, one year ago today: September 17, 2007). Who could forget Ben Francisco’s walk-off in his first major league start? What about Kelly Shoppach’s sprint-off? Or Casey Blake’s two walk-offs in the span of a week?

The 2007 Indians found a way to win. Games that looked over were always just one clutch hit away from being back in contention. This year, although the Indians won on Opening Day in similar fashion, the 2008 Indians seemed to find ways to lose.

Until July and August, this seemed to be the trend. In August, the Indians won ten in a row and built up some major confidence. And tonight, two of the Indians’ MVPs gave the Indians their swagger back:


I’d be lying if I said I was extremely confident about next season, but what’s happening now parallels what happened at the end of 2006: the Indians, rid of their aging veterans, made a late charge and posted a respectable second-half record.

And oh by the way, if the rest of the night wasn’t enough like 2007…

If that doesn’t start your Wednesday off with a smile, I’m not sure what will.

Traffic

This is an article I’ve wanted to post for a while, but driving home from Giant Eagle last night has pushed me over the edge. It’s a fact of life that there are people who are good at things, and there are people who are bad at things. I think this applies to all skills: there are people who are good at baseball, there are people who are bad at baseball; there are people who can cook, there are people who can’t; there are people who can use a computer effectively, there are people who can’t.

Generally, if you can’t do a certain skill, or you aren’t very good at it, you tend to avoid it (yes, Mom, for cooking, that means you). The one skill this does not apply to is driving.

I’ve heard that there are bad drivers everywhere. Los Angeles, New York, Chicago and Boston traffic is usually what is among the worst. After driving in New York this summer, it occurred to me that in New York, Chicago, LA and Boston, there are just too many cars. You could put professional drivers in those streets, and there would still be traffic jams.

It’s places like Little Italy, in Cleveland, OH, that drivers are just bad. Here are some examples of people who should really just take a break from driving:

  • The way-too-courteous guy. I have no problem with courteous driving, in fact I encourage it. But don’t be too courteous. Don’t be one of those guys who stops in the middle of the road on a two-lane street to let the guy coming from the other direction turn left. There are two things wrong with this: 1) it slows down everyone else who is behind you, causing them to curse and question humanity’s existence, and 2) the other guy doesn’t expect you to. The second point is the most important here, because when the other guy doesn’t expect you to let him turn, he won’t turn for a while, until there’s that awkward hand waving exchange and he finally gets it. The other guy expects you to follow the rules of traffic, which is that the only vehicle with more right-of-way than a vehicle going straight down a street with no traffic lights or stop signs is an ambulance or fire truck.
  • The merging ninja. Look, I don’t really care if you’re going to merge in front of me. (I do have a problem with it if there’s no real reason for it, or if you should have done it a while ago, but generally, it’s how traffic moves and I’m okay with it.) If you’re going to merge in front of me, use your turn signal. There are few things that get under my skin faster than someone merging in front of me without a signal, because there’s absolutely no excuse for it. It doesn’t conserve gas to not use your signal for 2 seconds, it increases the risk that I’m going to hit you, and it’s against the law that the rest of us follow. I often wonder why people do it: do they think I won’t see them? Are they thinking, “well, I’m about to cut this guy off, but maybe if I don’t use my signal he’ll think ‘Hmm, there’s another car in front of me, how’d that get there? Oh well.’”
  • The guy who plays too much Risk. When you’re sitting at a traffic light, this is the guy who pulls into the intersection from the adjacent street and gets stuck there, either because he’s too afraid to make his left or he feels that the road is territory to be claimed and he wants the prime real estate right in the middle of the intersection. It’s for reasons like this that the state of Ohio will not allow me to carry grenades in my car, because if I was allowed to do that, I’d just roll a grenade under any car that got stuck in the intersection and prevented me from moving on a green light.
  • The mobile businessman. GET OFF YOUR CELL PHONE. You should have to take an extra license test if you want to be legally allowed to drive while talking on the phone (or eating, or smacking your kids, operating your iPod, etc.) while driving. I take pride in my ability to drive safely while on my phone (via Bluetooth, if possible) and operate my iPod (normally just simple “skip track” operations), but I think this should be a privilege, not a throw-in with the rest of your license.
  • The indecisive guy. This is the guy who likes both lanes on a four-lane street so much that he drives in both lanes at once. What’s worse, he’s normally driving 5 MPH under the speed limit and it’s impossible to get around him because he’s blocking both lanes. Normally, he’s trying to avoid parked cars in the right lane. Here’s a thought: get in other lane, like the rest of us.

By the way, I realize that we’re on the same road together (in some cases, for hours). But I don’t need to hear about your political beliefs via bumper sticker. Incidentally, the worst offenders of the people described above tend to have “Kerry/Edwards ’04″ or “Endless this war” or “Legalize marijuana” stickers. If you want to discuss your beliefs with me, pull over to the side of the road, get yourself a fair trade organic soy milk latte, and we’ll talk about it once I get off the road and less angry about the traffic I just went through.

Don’t wait up.