The 2012 Turkey Bowl

We (I) look forward to it all year. The general consensus was that this was one of, if not, the best we have ever had.

The combination of balanced teams, perfectly sized field and good weather made for a perfect game.

It doesn’t hurt that after years of heart break, Terry was finally on the winning team. I think the last time I was on the winning team the Gilmore Brothers combined for about 10 TDs.

Once again, thank you P90X and Insanity for helping me regain my athleticism

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What is “Elite”?

If you didn’t watch the Buccaneers/Panthers game yesterday, sorry dude.

You missed one of the all-time classics in Bucs history.

I asked back at the beginning of the season, Who is Josh Freeman?

Honestly, I still don’t know. But I think we have a better idea.

Josh Freeman is the kid (I say “Kid” because he is six months younger than Dolphins rookie QB Ryan Tannehill) that looked like absolute crap for 3 1/2 quarters of uninspired football yesterday. Right up until he decided to go all comeback kid (a la his rookie year) and lead the Bucs on three late scoring drives including a beautifully managed 80 yard TD drive with 53 seconds to go with no time-outs remaining down by 8.

When Doug Martin’s TD run was ruled a fumble (there is no way on earth he wasn’t across the goal line) and the Panthers drove the field and scored to go up 11 with six minutes left, I assumed (wrongly) that the game was over.

Josh Freeman took over. Where he had looked lost earlier in the game, he was decisive. Where he looked inaccurate for three and a half quarters, he was on the money. The TD he threw to Vincent Jackson with 11 seconds to go in the game was a freaking thing of beauty.

That isn’t even counting the bullet he threw to Jackson for the game-tying 2pt conversion, or the nugget he laid in to Dallas Clark to win it in OT.

I am still not sure we know exactly who Josh Freeman is. There is clearly good Josh, and bad Josh. Bad Josh throws balls into coverage, or out of bounds where no receiver on earth can make a play. Good Josh was also present. He was the guy who led the Bucs back from an 11 pt deficit with no time outs and no room for error.

In my post about Who is Josh Freeman, I pointed out some of the QBs that were taken before him in the ’09 draft (Sanchez and Stafford). At this point, Josh Freeman is a better QB than both. It got me thinking, who isn’t Josh Freeman better than? And is he Elite, is he average, or is he somewhere in between?

Here are the top 10 QBs according to ESPN.com:

1 Aaron Rodgers, QB 107.3
2 Peyton Manning, QB 106.2
3 Alex Smith, QB 104.1
4 Tom Brady, QB 102.6
5 Robert Griffin III, QB 101.0
6 Ben Roethlisberger, QB 100.0
7 Drew Brees, QB 99.8
8 Matt Schaub, QB 96.8
9 Matt Ryan, QB 94.8
10 Josh Freeman, QB 94.6

I would say that on the list above, Aaron Rogers, Payton Manning, Tom Brady, Ben Rothlisberger, Drew Brees and Matt Schaub are “better” than Josh Freeman.That puts Freeman ahead of the like so Eli Manning (#22), Jay Cutler (#24) and Tony Romo (#16).

Matt Ryan threw 5, count the 5 INTs yesterday. Is he Elite? What the hell is Elite?

That’s it.

Does that make Josh Freeman Elite? He is clearly better than average. I would say honestly that he is just on the outside looking in of the “Elite QB” discussion.

But, I think more importantly, it needs to be noted that “Elite QB” status is a flexible thing. It was pretty clear over the course of the last month of season and into the playoffs last year that Eli Manning was among the best, if not the best QB in the league. Not so much this year. Especially over the course of the last month. A lot goes into the productivity of an NFL QB and it is clearly not a concrete list of top 5 guys.

I drafted Tom Brady, Drew Brees and Aaron Rogers in each of my three fantasy football leagues. Although each has been good, and is clearly in the top 10 of NFL QBs this year, none of my fantasy teams are undefeated. The team I own Brady in started the year 0-6 due to some bad luck, bad choices by me, and poor performance by Mr. Brady and the other players occupying the roster of the Muscle Hamsters.

My point is (do I have a point?) that Josh Freeman, although not necessarily “Elite” is very damn close to it. And more importantly for the Buccaneers this year and going forward, he is clearly getting better.

At the very least, for about 15 minutes Sunday afternoon, Josh Freeman was the best QB on the field in Carolina. The stupid look on Cam Newton’s face as the Bucs went ahead was freakin’ priceless.  Have I shared how strongly I dislike the whole “Cam Newton” thing?

Guess what guys, the effing read option doesn’t work, even when you have Superman running it.

Body Beast Results/Review

I have neglected putting this post up for far too long.

I finished my 90 days of Body Beast back on November 6th and have been meaning to get this posted since, but have failed to… Until now.

I want to start by saying that overall, I think Body Beast is a tremendously effective program. Looking back on my results, and seeing how my body has regressed, even in the week or so since I finished, it is clear to me that Body Beast is truly an effective program, and one that I am going to continue to mix into my regular workout regime (more on this later).

If you have read any of my previous reviews of the program, you will note that I was somewhat turned off by the tenor of the workouts themselves (Here, Here, Here, Here, Here). There is definitely an air of “Meat-Headiness” to the program that I could do without. Listening to Sagi refer to himself in the third person as “The Beast” (is that fourth-person?” gets old really quickly. Many of the people who I did the program with resorted to turning the volume down or turning their own music up. I did this as well and it worked. The pace of many of the workouts is very fast, so with the sound off, it can be hard to keep up with what they are doing.

Body Beast incorporates a training system called “Dynamic Set Training”. What this basically refers to is the use of many different types of sets to achieve muscle fatigue. Whatever Sagi chooses to call it, it works. I have never been as sore as I was after my first few weeks of this program. Not even back when I first started P90X in March of ’11 and I had to skip workouts the first week because I was so sore.

On the whole, I think this is a worthwhile program for anyone who is looking to build muscle. I had pretty strict dietary goals that I set for myself. I did not want to gain any mass, so I did not follow the Beast diet guide, but instead chose to eat a 1900 calorie fat shredder diet for the majority of the 90 days. I was just not that interested in gaining muscle at the cost of putting on body fat. It wasn’t my goal. I can see how it would be easy to gain 5-10 lbs of muscle doing this program if you followed the suggested nutrition.

I didn’t take actual “Day 90” photos, so I have included pics of my in my Halloween costume, which fell right about 90 days. All in all, I am really happy with the results. I am two weeks into a P90X2/Insanity Hybrid, and I am already missing some of the heavy-lifting from the Beast.

Day 1:

Day 30:

Day 90:

 

Feel free to use the comment section for additional info on this or any Beachbody program.

The 2012 Presidential Election

I have had a couple of days to savor what took place on Tuesday and I think I ready to share my thoughts.

I realize most people are burned out by election coverage and the last thing they want to read right now is one more person sharing their thoughts. Even I, the guy who usually cannot get enough of this stuff is suffering from election fatigue today. But I think this is too important to not say something.

I think the first thing that needs to be said, and this comes as no surprise to me, Nate Silver had this thing locked down. I cannot count the number of right-wing people I spoke with or read about on Facebook or other outlets who were convinced, Convinced!! that Romney was going to win, and it wasn’t going to be close. Go back, read what I wrote, I had absolutely zero fear that President Obama was not going to win, and the reason for my optimism was Nate Silver and 538. This wasn’t some magical guess, there was no surprise Tuesday night, the state-by-state polls were right from the beginning and Nate’s formula accurately reflected that.

The problem for the Fox News crowd, and the people who I read on Facebook (I am so tempted to rub this in to a few people) is that they refused to believe that Silver was right, that their simply are more people who self-identify as Democratic than there are Republicans.

I predicted on Twitter Tuesday that President Obama would win 326 electoral votes. He will have 332 when Florida is (finally!!!) called for him. This wasn’t some wacky projection coming from a hopeful liberal. I read 538, I believed in Nate Silver’s math and I won the Electoral College portion of our ReElection Party board (more on this later).

I have dedicated myself to listening to Rush Limbaugh and watching Fox News over the course of the last few days. What I heard prior to the election was a group of people who believed with absolute certainty that their candidate was going to win, and it wouldn’t be close.

A really interesting dynamic has started to take shape. Both sides, right and left have found news sources and information that reaffirms their world view. For Conservatives this is Rush Limbaugh, Fox News, The National Review, Drudge etc. They build a narrative. Put it out, and it bounces around in their echo chamber, being repeated over and over by each member of the group until it becomes “fact”. Benghazi is a perfect example of this, and I will circle back to it.

The same thing happens on the left to a degree, but with an important difference. For me, I know I am Progressive. I cannot stand prolonged exposure to the right wing echo chamber, because their version of reality is so frustrating for me  that I retreat to what I like, Maddow, Chris Hayes etc. In doing so, I am going to have my perspective reaffirmed, as I am going to hear things from a similar perspective to what I already believe. Therefore, it is incumbent upon me, as a curious and engaged citizen to seek out alternative news sources, or to fact-check those that I read to ensure that I am getting the full picture.

This last part is where right-wing media fails people who are consuming it, and those who are consuming it fail themselves. Anyone who believes that President Obama has doubled the deficit, or cut work requirements for welfare, or has raised the unemployment rate or taken people guns, or wasn’t born in this country simply has not fact-checked their sources. These things did not happen. Period. Every person on this planet has their own unique perspective on events that take place on it. Each person forms their own opinion based on what they perceive. This is human nature and it happens. Two people can witness the same event and walk away with two completely different views of what happened.

But, and this is the key to the 2012 election, Facts do not have two sides. Facts are not biased. Our interpretations of those facts carry our personal biases, but the fact itself has no bias. We may not like it. It may run contrary to our world view, but a fact it remains.

The fact is, President Obama was leading in the polls in September. He was leading in the polls after the Debacle in Denver on October 3rd. He was leading following the 2nd and 3rd debates where he wiped the floor with Mitt Romney. He was leading following Hurricane Sandy. These are facts. Mitt Romney may have had some momentum following the 1st debate, but by the time election day rolled around, President Obama was the clear favorite and the results of the election bear this out.

Steven Benen at Maddow Blog describes this phenomenon

Anyone who watched Fox News Tuesday night saw the collision that took place between a group of people who had so insulated themselves within their bubble that they were convinced of a Romney win, and Facts. When Fox News called the election for Obama, they literally did not know what to do or say, because for months they had been told by every pundit on their channel that Romney would win. It was their opinion that Romney would win and it was based on gut feelings and hopes. The facts said something very different.

The Election of 2012 was a win for facts.

John Stewart says it far better than I can:

Watching Fox News and listening to Rush Limbaugh yesterday after the election I heard a group of people struggling to come to grips with how they could squeeze reality until it fit into the world view that they maintain. Conservatism at its core looks to return America to simpler time. Old White Men have run this country from its inception. Old White Men have been the power brokers in the country since day one. Old White Men are watching as the base of that power is eroding under their feet.

Our country is becoming younger, and (excuse this term as I don’t like it) browner, and more feminized. There are a group of people in this country for whom this is a literal nightmare. That group of people listen to Rush Limbaugh and watch Fox News. Rush literally could not understand how this happened on Wednesday. In the 20 minutes I listened to, I heard him say at least three times: “How did this happen?” The exit polling shows that Obama increased his share of young people, Latinos, African-Americans and women, and more of each of those groups voted than did in 2008. This is why right wingers thought the polling data was favoring Democrats, they could not believe that these groups would turn out in the numbers they did.

I listened to Rush, and Bill O’Rielly try to figure out how to do a better job pitching the Conservative message to these groups. Both Rush and Bill-O correctly stated that without gaining some portion of this electoral groups, the Republican party cannot win on a national level anymore.

But in saying that they reflected their fatal flaw. Rush listed Michael Steele, and Herman Cain, and Marco Rubio and basically said, “what’s wrong with our minorities?”. From Rush’s warped perspective simply looking like someone is enough to get people to vote for them. He is saying “Hey Latinos, we have Marco Rubio, he is Latino, vote for us!”

What they fail to grasp is that it isn’t a matter of doing a better job of selling the Republican Brand to minorities and women to get them to vote. The problem is with the brand itself. You cannot, as a party, support platforms that alienate entire groups of the American electorate, then try to sell yourselves to those same people by parading a line of token representatives of those groups. This is small-minded, 2oth century thinking and it cost the Republicans the Presidency. Adding Sarah Palin to the ticket in 2008 didn’t cause a wave or women, liberal or otherwise to say to themselves: “Fuck reproductive rights, and equal pay, and all that other stupid shit we have been fighting for for 200 years, Palin has a vagina, I have a vigina… John McCain!!!!! GO!!!!” John McCain lost in a landslide and it was due in large part to Sarah Palin, not despite her.

I wrote about this back in September. There is a coming Civil War within the Republican party. If they want to ever win a Presidential election again, they are going to have to find a way to divorce themselves from the wing-nutty conservatism of Todd Aiken, Richard Mourdock and Paul Ryan. Telling women that they do not have the right to choose, telling immigrants to self-deport, telling black people they are welfare-queens who don’t care about their future is a recipe for many more nights like Tuesday.

Tuesday night was a blood bath for Tea Party, Wing-Nut Conservatism. I am not talking about small-government Laize-Faire, free market conservatives who just want lower taxes. I am talking about the 44% of people in Missouri who voted for Todd Aiken. Your brand of “small government when it comes to taxes, government intrusion into a woman’s uterus and a homosexual couples home” is a loser on a national level.

Tuesday night was a dramatic win for the Progressive Movement.

Think about it this way. In a country as divided as we are, and bad as the economy has been, and negatively as the President has been portrayed by the right, Barack Hussein Obama won a second term and it was a landslide. Less people voted for Mitt Romney than did John McCain.

Having said all that. Watching Sean Hannity last night, you would have thought the President lost. He clearly decided to take the “this election doesn’t change shit” tact, and spent the better part of the night talking about Benghazi as if it were “Obama’s Watergate”. As elated as I am over the results Tuesday, not because it means I was right, but because what I think it means for the future of our country, I am realistic in that I know that the right-wing is not going to do what I personally think they should do and spend some serious time reflecting on what Tuesday night meant for their brand of fantasy. They are going to do what Sean Hannity did, and go on as if Tuesday never happened.

Let me finish with this.

As a student of history, I am fascinated by the importance of speeches. I say this with as little hyperbole as someone as prone to it can muster,  President Obama’s speech Tuesday night (Wednesday morning) will go down in history with the greatest Presidential speeches ever.

What Obama is calling for here is the kind of Progressivism that gave us the New Deal, 80 years of American prosperity based on the important role that Government plays in laying the foundation for a strong economy. Listen carefully to what he said, this is an absolute repudiation of Ayn Rand, pull-yourselves-up-by-your bootstraps, every man for themselves conservatism. This speech lays out a vision for progress through government action.

It is interesting that he references Kennedy here. Growing up, I remember hearing about the love affair that America had with the Kennedy’s. That there was something special about watching children grow up in the White House. I never understood this, until now. I cannot look at pictures of the Obama family, or hear him talk about Michelle and the girls without tearing up. Perhaps it is that I am the father of a little girl, but when he talks about them, I fall to pieces.

The inauguration is going to be amazing.

I realize I am an Obama partisan, and therefore, what I am about to say will most likely be taken with a grain of salt. But I am going to say it anyways, and I am going to say it because I mean it.

I think when all is said and done, long after the Obama Presidency has been laid to rest, Americans will look back and the question will not be was Barack Obama among the greatest Presidents that we have ever had?

I truly and honestly believe the question will be, was Barack Obama the greatest President in American History?

Obama’s Failure to Win the UEWMV


The Hacks over at Politico have a piece (of Crap) up about how even though Obama is going to win (yes, folks, Obama is going to win) he is doing so while failing to win with an electoral mandate because of his failure to in a majority of the Uneducated White Male Vote (UEWMV).

According to Politic0:

If President Barack Obama wins, he will be the popular choice of Hispanics, African-Americans, single women and highly educated urban whites. That’s what the polling has consistently shown in the final days of the campaign. It looks more likely than not that he will lose independents, and it’s possible he will get a lower percentage of white voters than George W. Bush got of Hispanic voters in 2000.

A broad mandate this is not.

This brings to my mind a few issues. The first, which I have already written about, is why has the Republican Party failed, in two consecutive elections, to build a larger, winning coalition?

The argument made by the kind folks at Politico can work both ways. If it is a fair question to ask, why has Obama failed to win over UEWMVs, is it not also fair to ask why has the Republican party decided that they will be the party of only UEWMVs?  And why has Romney, and the Republican party at large failed to build a platform that appeals to more than Wall Street type capitalists and podunk hillbillies that want to the Govmn’t to keep their damn Govmn’t hands of their Medicare?

This is what I wrote about when I said There Will Be Blood. There is a Civil War coming within the Republican Party. As a party they are suffering from Bi-Polar Disorder. It is really hard to win on a national level when you are relying solely on Gordon Gecko and Barney Fife.

We live in a diverse country. Restricting a woman’s right to choose, pushing “Self-Deportation” and ignoring the struggles of urban American culture is not a  good way to build a winning coalition.

Obama is going to win tomorrow, and the story by hacks like Politico and Joe Scarborough will be that Hurricane Sandy won the election of Mitt Romney.

The reality is that Obama clearly won the second and third debates and was gaining ground in the polls will before Sandy. Regardless of what Romney supporters want to say about “momentum”, the polls show something clearly different.

What Sandy did was remind people that the Federal Government plays an important role in all of our lives. And no amount of Ayn Rand-inspired, pull-yourselves-up-by-your-bootstraps crap will change that.

As I said on Facebook following Sandy:

While the media is busy falling all over themselves praising the bipartisanship of Chris Christie, let’s take a second to remind ourselves that the Republican party, led by the likes of Christie, Romney, Ryan and Scott Walker have worked to systematically reduce the salary and benefits of the same first responders that they are falling all over themselves to praise today.

This is why we have “government”. The state of New Jersey could not effectively deal with this disaster on their own, and where is that private sector that Romney loves so much? Let’s remember that we are not 50 individual states fighting for ourselves in some Ayn Rand inspired universe where we all do best when we look out for our own individual best interest. We are a union of United States, where when we support each other, we all do better. This election is a fundamental question about what kind of country we want to live in

The only thing I will add is this piece from Michael Smerconish who was a Republican. I could not agree more with this piece.

The Muscle Hamster Strikes Again

How does Buccaneer’s running back Doug Martin follow up his coming out performance against the Vikings on Thursday Night Football?

How about 25 carries for 251 Yards and 4 TDs?

The Buccaneers have one of the most potent offenses in the league over the last month. Josh Freeman has thrown 11 TDs and 1 INT in his last four games, Doug Martin is the spark that has ignited the Bucs offense, and all of this has happened with the Bucs losing 3/5ths of their starting O-Line to injuries.

Unreal.

I asked Who is Josh Freeman? He is the guy who hands the ball of to Doug Martin, who then runs the ball into the end zone.

The Buccaneers are 4-4 and are in the thick of the playoff race in the NFC. Lets take a minute to remember that this is the same team who lost on crappy calls to the Giants and Cowboys. And lost on the last play of the game to the Redskins and Saints. I know, coulda, shoulda, woulda, but this team is a handful  of plays away from being in the same conversation with Atlanta Falcons, who they have two games against still on the schedule, so I guess we will see how good they really are.

I don’t think the Bucs are going to go 12-4, but I do think 10-6 is a very real possibility. The problem is going to be the losses to the Saints, Cowboys, and Redskins may all cost them in tiebreakers.

But for today, lets focus on Doug Martin, the man who has single handedly brought my Fantasy team out of the depths of awfulness.