Tracy’s Random Thoughts: February 2009 Edition

I’m back on writing mode for the Random Thoughts and also want to add that I have extended the blogroll.  If you have a website that you want me to add to the blogroll, you can submit it to my Twitter, Facebook, or my email  and I’ll check it out.  Now then:

1.  Barack Obama

Now that he’s been office for several weeks, let’s break this down in sub-topics:

The Stimulus Package

On the bipartisan issue, Obama made a serious effort of making a bipartisan bill.  In DC, that would be a bad strategic move since if your party has control of Congress and the White House, you do everything to pass an assortment of bills.  The Republicans never cooperated except for the Maine Senators and Arlen Spector.  I really think Obama wanted to show unity, but Rahm Emanuel told Obamato stop with the bipartisan and go out on tour of America and give details to the stimulus bill to the public.  This is where Obama picked up the pace and started to become more presidential.  As for the bill itself;  I wish the bill was more 80% spending on infrastructure and others and 20% on tax cuts.  Look at these charts:

The government needed to spend to help the economy, hence the word stimulus.  The stimulus would of help the government get more from infrastructure and food stamps than any other method, including tax cuts.  I do think Obama realizes the $787 Billion Stimulus is not what he’s looking for, but with a stagnant opposition party trying to “take a stand,” Obama did his best and also beat the deadline before the Presidents’ Day holiday.  This is an efficient President who looks like he’s getting the job done and also shows the GOP hoping for bad fate to hit in the next year.

The Bank Bailout

This is where Obama’s staff drop the ball.  The markets were expecting a definitive answer from the Secretary of Treasury, Tim Geithner.  Instead, Geithner just read it from the sheet and never gave details on how to use the second part of TARP.  The markets panic and now Geithner is back from square one.  TARP is a very complicated matter and it will take time and process, but I think the administration rushed Geithner very quickly on this.


It does look like Obama is comfortable being the President and it is showing from all departments from the military to the cabinet.  Of course, there’s some differences, but Obamaat least is listening to the problems, not ignoring them.  The cabinet issues with their taxes and philosophy has been holding Obama back, but at least he admits that he made the mistakes, plus he still keeps the high standard to get these positions.  So far, I think our President is doing a decent job.

2. Michael Phelps, ctd.

Just to continue on the Michael Phelps story, now the South Carolina police arrested 8 people from the party Phelps attended and discovered the owner of the bong was trying to sell it for $100K.  Two things:  One, this proves Michael Phelps is not the sharpest knife on the drawer and now I question about the Rosetta Stone ad that if he knew that language.  Second, the people in the party are bigger idiots of selling the story to a British tabloid (TMZ’s offer was too cheap?) and try to make a profit out of a dumb star.   I’m glad all the people who participating it are getting their punishment, which includes Phelps.

3. A Salary Cap in Baseball

For people who are asking for a salary cap in baseball, it ain’t going to happen and it won’t work in baseball.  Baseball is good for records, while the NBA and NHL depend on stars, and the NFL is dependent on gambling.  Baseball needs the historic teams like the Yankees, Red Sox, and Cubs to compete to get more revenue for the league.  I would blame baseball became more reliant on records than teams because of the strike in 1994 and the steroids issue.  What do you remember in 1998?  Everyone remembers the home run chase, but no one remembers the Yankees won 114 games and dominated the playoffs and won a record 125 games (including playoffs).  However, from the ratings, the nation will only like to see Yankees, Red Sox, and Cubs. 

The smart teams like the Florida Marlins and Tampa Bay Rays are relying more on scouts to find talent with a shoestring budget.  This is where most of the teams should go to build up the team and not complain about blowing another $10 million on a washed up player.  If you want to build a team from scratch, get scouts, evaluate, develop, keep the player for 4-5 years and see how your team reacts.  So, if you’re a major league team struggling (I’m talking to you Nationals), get some great scouts.  Hey, recruiters are like scouts.  Jim Bowden, if you finish praying your player’s butts, hire me as a scout. 

Just to add, do you want to deal with a big budget, like the Yankees, that have steroid users, media attention 24/7, and opening a new stadium with huge expectations?

4. Nonprofit Newspapers

There was a fascinating op-ed piece in the New York Times about how to save the newspaper and one of the options is turning newspapers into a nonprofit.  It mentions that the current business model for newspapers will not survive in the age of technology.  What the op-ed proposes is have a trust or a big endowment to the newspapers to relieve the financial pressures and focus on the news.  Steve Coll makes an argument for it, Karin Dryhurst is against it and asks the government to bailout the newspaper industry.  However, this article from the Christian Science Monitor sums up of the future of newspapers.

I think there are philanthropists and donors who are willing to save the big newspapers from either Bill Gates or Warren Buffet (who is a Director at the Washington Post).  Advertising will be at a minimum since it will cover overhead and releases the burden of companies paying tons of money.  Although salary might decrease since it’s a nonprofit, you will get a more dedicated staff who want to get the news and tell great stories.  The social media will be a benefit for them since they’re free to use any resource. 

The downside is the conflict of interest with the donors since they are donating to the company.  Another downside is covered by Felix Salmon where families who owns the big newspapers could have little to no value if transferred to a nonprofit and that newspapers will lose their influence in legislation.

By looking at the pros and cons, I think it’s time for newspapers head to the nonprofit route, where currently, newspapers are focusing too much of making dollars than investigating the news.  The internet has become a place of undiscovered talent and social networks made it tough for journalists to get the story as soon as possible.  In addition, there are tons of opinions in blogs, it dilutes most of the columnists.  NPR is successful because they don’t do the breaking news business;  they analyze and tell stories behind the current events, although they were hit by the recession recently.  Newspapers need to recapture quality news and not quantity of money.  The families should not consider a move yet because of the economy, but review the situation again in 6-12 months if newspapers needs saving.  I do agree a nonprofit newspaper is intriguing and if you’re lucky, you get an arena name after the paper (The St. Petersburg Times Forum where the Tampa Bay Lightning play).  I think we’re 2-3 years away for a national newspaper being a nonprofit.

5. The Octoplet Woman

Boring.  She only has 14 children and she’s cheating by using fertility drugs.  That is like taking steroids for mothers.  Wake me up when someone genuinely gives birth 69 times like the Russian peasant did in the 18th century, where she only had ham, bread, and wine.

That is all, now go on with your lives.  Of note, I have lost my jokes about having 5 people reading my blog.  Now I have between 30-40 readers a day.  Thanks a lot guys :), thanks a ton.

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