Saturday, April 18, 2009

Ready for those "first 100 days" report cards? - By Tom Hayes

Some reports suggest that despite numerous successes and his warm reception at the Summit of the Americas, U.S. President Barack Obama is under pressure to do more about Cuba in particular. Yet Hugo Chavez wants to be our friend, now, and Raul Castro has just made a speech in which he said that Cuba is ready to talk to the U.S. about virtually every topic, explicitly including political prisoners (one of the major sticking points for decades.)
When the inevitable flood of "first 100 days" summaries come out, the marks are going to be better than any in recent memory. There's a lot of work remaining, particularly on the President's big three priorities (Education, financial and economic reform featuring green jobs, and Health Care reform) but the Obama administration is clearly working in high gear. Most of the doom and gloom will come from domestic detractors, and much less from elsewhere in the western hemisphere where we're clearly seeing the result of Obama extending his hand in friendship.

Former harsh critics and foes see it as politically expedient to unclench their fists; cooperation is increasing for the first time in nearly a decade. In a time of unprecdented uncertainty, hope is flourishing abroad and at home.
Read the rest of the article at Democracy for America.

DFA & MoveOn provide incentive for GOP to let Franken be seated

By now you've read or heard that despite Al Franken winning the court case, the GOP intends to keep him out of the Senate. The folks at Democracy for America and MoveOn came up with a great idea, and some of you will already have read the note from Charles Chamberlain, the Political Director of Democracy for America:
DC Republicans have plenty of incentive to keep Al Franken from being seated. So DFA found a way to flip the incentive. They're teaming up with a brand new partner, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee (PCCC), to launch the "Dollar a Day to Make Norm Go Away" Campaign.
If thousands of people donate just $1 a day every day that Norm Coleman refuses to concede, then dragging it out doesn't seem like a good idea for the GOP anymore.

All the donations will go to directly to the PCCC - the new group formed by former MoveOn and their partners to help bold progressive candidates run effective campaigns and win.
“After a seven-week trial, 1,717 exhibits, 142 witnesses and 19,181 pages of pleadings, motions and briefs, the trial court left little doubt about its decision,” writes the St. Paul Pioneer Press’ Rachel E. Stassen Berger.

“Point by point, the judges dissected Coleman's case in their 56-page decision Monday. Point by point, they dismissed it. The double-counting Coleman alleged existed during the recount? Unproven, the judges wrote. Coleman's objection to using an Election Day count in lieu of lost ballots from a Minneapolis precinct? Dismissed, the judges declared. His complaints that the state voter-registration system was not up-to-date and was flawed? No, they wrote, it's ‘trustworthy.’"
The GOP is prolonging the fight for political reasons, but former Senator Norm Coleman's participation is disenfranchsing the voters of Minnesota who are served by one Senator during this pointless posturing. I'm not sure Coleman feels he has any choice, but I know I do.

Susan Boyle: Boyle Sings "Cry Me A River" On CD Made in 1999


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The now wildly famous Scottish Singer Susan Boyle, who wowed the World with her singing audition on "Britains' Got Talent" one week ago today (how time flies) and who's background was featured on my video called "Just Who Is The Singer Susan Boyle?", said she sang many times in the past.

Well, one of those occasions was the basis for a CD made in 1999 and recently found by The Daily Record in the UK, and is now taking YouTube by storm.

It's no wonder. You've just got to hear her sing "Cry Me A River".  Seriously. 

Ms. Boyle's amazing talent has been a part of her for a long time, just waiting to be discovered. Now it's happened. But to put in perspective regarding what emotions seem to drive her, Ms. Boyle's father passed in 1997, just two years before this, so I wonder if he was in her thoughts when she produced this amazing recording.   I write that because Boyle said recently -- on CNN's "Larry King" -- that what she sings fits the mood of the moment. 

Here's the video:

President Obama Meets President Chavez (reuters) - No audio

From manwanwa at YouTube:

President Barack Obama extended a friendly hand to America's hemispheric neighbors on Saturday at a summit in the Caribbean where he offered a new beginning for U.S.-Cuba relations and sought out Venezuela's fiery, leftist president for a quick grip and grin.

At the Summit of the Americas in this island capital, Obama signaled he was ready to accept Cuban President Raul Castro's proposal of talks on issues once off-limits for Havana, including the scores of political prisoners held by the communist government. Obama shook the hand of Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, a leader who once likened his predecessor to the devil, and casually exclaimed, "Como estas?"

Responding to the overture, Chavez walked over to Obama at a meeting, patted the president on the shoulder and handed him the book, "The Open Veins of Latin America: Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent" by Eduardo Galeano, an essay that argues against U.S. and European economic and political interference in the region.

Saturday was the first full day of meetings in the two-island nation of Trinidad and Tobago, just off Venezuela's coast. Obama was taking part in a series of plenary sessions, group gatherings and one-on-one meetings that the White House hoped to squeeze into a busy schedule. He hoped to make time for individual sessions with leaders from Canada, Colombia, Peru, Haiti and Chile, aides reported.

At his first meeting with South American leaders, Obama waited several minutes while security officers and members of the media pushed noisily into the room. Somebody accidentally hit a light switch, prompting Obama to ask: "Who turned off the lights, guys?" He said he hoped events would go more smoothly during the meeting where he said he would talk to the leaders about energy, security and other topics. "I have a lot to learn and I'm very much looking forward to listening," the president said.

In an opening speech to the 34-nation gathering on Friday, the president promised a new agenda for the Americas, as well as a new style.

"We have at times been disengaged, and at times we sought to dictate our terms," Obama said to loud applause. "But I pledge to you that we seek an equal partnership. There is no senior partner and junior partner in our relations."

Obama also extended a hand to a leader Ronald Reagan spent years trying to drive from power: Nicaragua's Daniel Ortega. The Sandinista president stepped up and introduced himself, U.S. officials reported.

Yet soon after, Ortega, who was ousted in 1990 elections that ended Nicaragua's civil war but who was returned to power by voters in 2006, delivered a blistering 50-minute speech that denounced capitalism and U.S. imperialism as the root of much hemispheric mischief. The address even recalled the 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba, though Ortega said the new U.S. president could not be held to account for that.

"I'm grateful that President Ortega did not blame me for things that happened when I was three months old," Obama said, to laughter and applause from the other leaders.

But perhaps the biggest applause line was his call for a fresh start in relations between Washington and Havana.

"I know there's a longer journey that must be traveled to overcome decades of mistrust, but there are critical steps we can take toward a new day," he said.

On Tuesday, Obama ordered an easing of travel and remittance restrictions for Americans with relatives in Cuba. Within hours, Castro - who took over from his ailing brother Fidel a year ago - responded with an offer of talks on "everything" that divides the two countries.

The White House welcomed the offer, but suggested actions would be better, such as releasing some of Havana's scores of political prisoners.

Added Obama: "I am not interested in talking for the sake of talking. But I do believe that we can move U.S.-Cuban relations in a new direction."

Cuba became a dominant issue even though the summit was taking place amid the worst global downturn since the Great Depression.

To Latin American nations reeling from a sudden plunge in exports, Obama promised a new hemispheric growth fund, an initiative to increase Caribbean security and a new regional partnership to develop alternative energy sources and fight global warming.

But most of all, he offered an end to old hemispheric arguments.

"I didn't come here to debate the past," Obama said. "I came here to deal with the future ... We must learn from history. But we can't be trapped by it."

NFL Draft: Matt Stafford, Avoid The Detroit Lions


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A Message to Georgia QB Matt Stafford regarding the NFL Draft. 

Matt, one week from today you're going to be in New York for the NFL Draft as player and I as media .  Many people expect The Detroit Lions, holding the first pick in the player selection event, to make you the number one pick. I've got some advice for you:

Don't let 'em.

Matt Stafford (photo from Google Images)

Matt, the Detroit Lions are an organization of rich tradition, but a history of failure. The Lions have never reached the Super Bowl and playoff appearances have been few and far between.  And the ownership has focused more on hiring personalities than building a winning organization. You won't win there. 


Take a look at the NFL coaches who have won.  All have one thing in common: they're known for systems.

Vince Lombardi, the legendary coach of the Green Bay Packers was known for one play, the Power Sweep, which the Packers ran to perfection winning Super Bowl's I and II. 

Chuck Noll was the four-time Super Bowl winning coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers who's system consisted of a trap-based running game and aggressive pass-blocking on offense and on defense the "4-3 Stack Overset" alignment. That was the basis for the Tampa Defense that was created by Coach Tony Dungy, who was a Steelers assistant.

Coach Dungy took that Tampa Defense to the Indianapolis Colts where he was reunited with his old college coach and now offensive coordinator Tom Moore, who installed a unique spread offense, and that team set NFL records for wins and playoff appearances, and won a Super Bowl. 

I could go on, and on.  Tom Landry was the father of the 4-3 Defense and "zone" pass coverage with the New York Giants in the 50s, then refined the concept, creating the "Flex Defense" as head coach of the Dallas Cowboys where he won two Super Bowls.

Coach Bill Walsh is the father of the West Coast Offense and won three Super Bowls with the San Francisco 49ers (and indirectly two more, as his system was still used after he left), and for good measure A Pac 10-Championship at Stanford. 

You getting the picture, Matt? 

Jim Schwartz as Lions' head coach and Scott Linehan as its offensive coordinator are not known for a system that works.  Name an NFL Quarterback that Linehan developed into a Super Bowl winner? 


While Linehan is known as a coach who's pass-patterns Urban Meyer used for his spread offenses at Utah and Florida, it's Meyer who won with a new total offense he created, and not Linehan. 

Coach Linehan recently said they find the players and then make the plays for them, which means he's got no idea what he's going to do. 

Don't go to Detroit, Matt.  You won't win there.

So where should you go? 

Denver, where Head Coach Josh McDaniels has a proven, modern offensive system. And New England, where Bill Belichick has the best situational offense in the NFL.  You can learn of Tom Brady.  But if you go to Detroit, don't say I didn't warn you.  But if Linehan reveals his system as a result of this little attack of mine, maybe things will change. 

We'll see.

Good luck.