Some random opinions on recent stuff, just to get it all out of my head for a little while:
:: The other day, the people supposedly in charge of developing Buffalo's waterfront area had one of those press events they like to have every eighteen months or so where they announce A Plan. At these events, they talk about pages being turned on Buffalo's history and about how we're finally going to see a new era of prosperity and bustle on the waterfront and so on yada yada yada. These events always feature pretty architectural renderings and sometimes even little scale models of what it's all going to look like when it's done.
My reaction? Wake me up when there's a guy with a shovel down there, digging up dirt. Until then, I have no use for pretty models and nice pictures.
:: How worried about the economy am I supposed to be? The main worry, I think, lies in the loss of either one of our jobs, and frankly, I don't see that happening unless things get drastically bad. We (that is, The Wife and I) work for companies that seem to be doing fairly well. My company is actually doing very well, and I tend to think that grocery stores will stick around since people are still going to have to eat. The Wife's company had a rough patch a few years ago but weathered that just fine and is now putting the brakes on aggressive growth (but not shrinking). We don't own a house, so we're not looking at that particular calamity. We're both probably at least thirty years shy of thinking about retirement, so seeing the 401k's take a hit doesn't seem like a long-term disaster for us. I know things are bad, but my reaction to the articles I read that have us all settling into an era of permanent economic contraction seem to me overwrought. The world will be a very different place in ten, twenty, thirty years. I don't know. My thoughts tend to be "This sucks and it's scary for a whole lot of people". Maybe my head's just in the sand, but then, I can't control the economy and I tend to not worry about stuff I can't control.
:: I am agog at how smug George W. Bush looks every time I see his revolting face on teevee or in the news. The man genuinely believes he's done good work in office. I just can't believe it. I am unable to think of a single aspect of American life that is better today than it was in January 2001 when he took office, one single thing that George Bush made better. Bush still thinks Iraq was a good idea. Cheney still spouts nonsense about the weapons of mass destruction Iraq never had. These people are the worst administration of my lifetime, and I was born when Nixon was in charge.
:: I've seen some discussion in Left Blogistan about the merits of the filibuster in the Senate. I'd love to see the filibuster go away; it's a tradition that needs to go. I'm amused to see the Republicans in the Senate vow to filibuster Barack Obama's judicial nominees when they start coming up for votes; apparently the whole "Every judge deserves an up or down vote!" principle is, well, not so much a matter of principle but a kinda-sorta guideline. But really, what I haven't seen pointed out is that what happens is not actual filibusters but just the threat of them. The minority party says "We're gonna filibuster that", a vote comes up to close debate, the vote fails, and the bill or judge or whatever is tabled; this then gets reported in the news as a bill or judge being blocked via filibuster. Here's what I'd like to see: when the Republicans threaten a filibuster, make them do it. I'll bet the appeal of using that particular weapon against Democratic policies and bills and judges will lose a bit of its luster if these guys know they're going to have to stand in the well of the Senate and talk for hours and hours on end. Come on, Mr. Majority Leader: let them threaten the filibuster all they want, and then make them do it.
:: New York's governor David Paterson has just announced that the economic downturn has resulted in budgetary problems for the state government which will result in tax and fee hikes along with cuts to just about everything under the sun. We hear all the usual suggestions here: cut school aid, cut Medicaid payments to hospitals, raise fees, et cetera. But wow, what a missed opportunity. Paterson could use this emergency as impetus to change New York's vastly bloated state government forever, and yet, all he's willing to do is cut staffers and eliminate a scheduled pay raise. This is a time which one would think would encourage some serious outside-the-box thinking, but it's not forthcoming. Why not look at eliminating the State Senate and going with a unicameral legislature? Why not look at eliminating the Thruway Authority? Why not look at reforming all of the various regulations that may make sense in New York City but, when applied to smaller municipalities upstate, are obviously stifling to growth? For God's sake, Governor, there's a chance here to right some of New York's long-standing impediments to progress. Yes, you have serious budget problems to fix, but you also have a chance to position New York for a stronger position once the recovery gets here. (And there will be recovery, folks. Nothing lasts forever, and that means the bad times must end too.) So, Governor Paterson: Why not take this chance to actually fix some problems?!
:: I am no longer a fan of the Buffalo Bills. I'm not switching teams, actually; I'm not much of a football fan at all now. I've thought for several years now that there have to be better ways for me to spend my time on Sundays than giving three hours to a game that's less fun to watch every year, but the point got driven home the weekend the Bills played the Browns. That was a Monday Night game, so on Sunday, the day before, I watched one play of one football game. (It was in the Cowboys game that Sunday night. Tony Romo threw an interception.) And I didn't miss it at all. So yeah, I think I'm parting ways with football.
But as for the Bills themselves: they're not good, they're not going to be good, and soon enough, they're not even going to be the Buffalo Bills anymore. So I'm done.
I would like to say that I do not think that Ralph Wilson doesn't care. I think he does; I think he also has very little clue as to how the NFL functions these days, and I think that while he cares, he also wants to do things on the cheap. I genuinely believe he wants to win and that he's trying to field a good team, but that he does not want to spend exorbitantly to do it. Unfortunately, that means he's relying on finding diamonds in the rough, and it just isn't working out. Dick Jauron simply isn't a particularly effective head coach. The personnel people with the Bills simply aren't making good personnel decisions. The team simply isn't very good, and the current approach is only likely to produce a good team of the random variety, one of those teams that suddenly one year looks great because everybody on the roster inexplicably has a career year at the same time.
Three years into Dick Jauron's tenure, this team is no better than it was before he got here. That's ridiculously bad. In today's NFL, a rebuilding program need only take a year or two. If you contrast the Bills' results since the last time they made the playoffs (1999) with that of the New York Giants in the same period, you see the difference most readily. The Bills have had exactly one winning season in that span of years – 2004, when they were 9-7. They have made no playoff appearances in that span, not one. The Giants, though, started that span with a Super Bowl season, then they missed the playoffs, then they made the playoffs again, then they missed the playoffs a couple of years as they rebuilt (drafting Eli Manning in the process), then they became a playoff team again, staying in the playoffs and winning a Super Bowl and being one of the NFL's best teams this year. Look at that: in nine years, they went from a Super Bowl to a rebuilding phase and back to the Super Bowl, in the same time that the Bills went...nowhere. I'm not going to analyze the reasons why this is the case; I merely note that the Bills are showing no signs of improving, and anyway, I think they're out of here as soon as Mr. Wilson dies.
So I'm done. I'm not spending my Sundays watching these guys anymore, and I'm not going to pay attention on Draft Day to see if they finally grab that offensive lineman I always wanted. I'll always remember Kelly, Reed, Thomas, Smith, Bennett, Hull, Talley, Tasker, and all the rest of those guys, though.
:: One other point on the Bills: I was a big backer of JP Losman back when he was still the young guy learning the ropes. Now that it's obvious he's never going to be much of an NFL quarterback (unless he somehow puts it together late in his career the way Rich Gannon did), I'd just like to note that I still like the guy and wish it had worked out for him. He always struck me, frankly, as a good guy. I really appreciated how when he was drafted he really went out of his way to adopt Buffalo as his new home town. He never acted like the guy who was here to collect his paycheck and then get out of town as soon as he could, and I appreciate that greatly. So no hard feelings, JP, and best wishes for the future. (Unless you somehow end up on the New England roster, in which case, you're dead to me.)
That's about all the opinionation I have for right now.