Hardcore economics always has been so much algebra to me.
The only numbers I’ve been able to decipher over the years have been betting lines. I do know that if the bookies in Las Vegas were running the banks in this country, the odds of us dipping toward another Great Depression a few months ago would have been much less.
While numbers do crunch me at times, I never stop learning. For instance, I learned just this very morning that checking out the Dow as well as housing, retail and automotive sales indicators are hardly the key barometers to project whether the recession is gonna suddenly rebound more vigorously than the entire Eagles defensive line on a trampoline.
The proper way to gauge a comeback from hard times is to check how men’s underwear is selling.
And it doesn’t matter whether they’re boxers or briefs.
The theory, even endorsed by former Federal Reserve oracle Alan Greenspan (he seems like a boxer guy), is that during bad times men stretch the time between buying new shorts.
I guess holes in the wallet and holes in the shorts are destined to march in lockstep through time. For instance, during the great Irish potato famine of the 1840s, Irishmen completely stopped wearing underwear. Birthrates skyrocketed, of course, spawning even more hungry mouths going without potatoes with their T-bone steaks.
Judging by recent reports from retailers and analysts, the men’s underwear index — or, conveniently, MUI — foreshadows a silver lining ahead in the economy.
Therefore I think it’s the solemn duty of all us guys to provide our own economic stimulus and immediately purchase enough underwear to dress the entire Bolivian army.
I will leave the dogs out of it (although real quickly the protests outside the Linc were tepid while the reception inside the Linc was as warm as, uh, puppy love)), but the Michael Vick debut for the Eagles’ in their 33-32 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars Thursday night was interesting only because of the possible psychology bubbling inside the complex mind of one Donovan McNabb.
Vick took part in a six-pack of plays and really didn’t do anything memorable except thread a nice 13-yard bullet to Hank Baskett. He does throw a spiral prettier than Julia Roberts’ smile. But he has yet to regain his sea legs after all that time sitting in prison, blunting his explosion for now and making him as effective as a drunken sailor running out of the Wildcat.
But Andy Reid’s force-feeding of Vick into the lineup definitely disrupted the rhythm of the offense and perturbed McNabb, even though he did share a few yuks with Vick on the bench.
Of course, wasn’t the whole Vick/Eagles experiment McNabb’s idea in the first place? I mean, how is the insecure McNabb ever going to deal with Vick peering over his shoulder, especially when the latter regains his football form? McNabb may freak out like a diva who has Jack the Ripper stalking her.
Now it could be McNabb simply wanted the offense to jell in the final preseason tune-up for the starters. But supposed McNabb already is at odds with the Wildcat and Vick’s role?
Can you smell quarterback controversy?
This season could be a blogger’s delight.
McNabb did admit he in essence benched Vick last night.
“Absolutely, absolutely,” McNabb said. “I did. In that situation, it’s needed. I know what we were trying to do (with Vick) and we were able to get that done. And I thought it was time for us to kind of get our offense going. I think that’s very important in a game, whether it’s in the regular season or the preseason, to get that rhythm going. If you’re going to show different looks make sure it’s the right time. That’s the what the preseason’s for to make sure you know when that time is, and we’ll get that time together. I thought it was important at that time to get out and run our offense.”
Reid — now here’s a shock — put a positive spin on Vick’s debut.
“We were just trying to get his feet wet and get him used to the speed of the game again,” said Reid. “I wanted to get him five to 10 snaps and get him back into the swing of things. I wanted him to work with the first group, and we got that accomplished.”
One wonders as the season wears on and the initial barking about Vick’s return ceases, will this controversial signing bite the Eagles?
Perhaps Rush Limbaugh is feisty because he is neither young, handsome or trim.
With his verbal pyrotechnics, he always reminds me of a guy who finds himself with a fuse in one hand and a match in the other, contemplating whether he should light it.
Little wonder he often blows smoke out of his mouth because his tonsils are like blowtorches.
And while I hardly am a Rush disciple and definitely don’t view him as an eminent moralist, I do believe his teeth-baring ferocity often brings gusts of freshness and fun to a game of politics too often grim. He has the ability to be cocky with charm.
But not always.
Limbaugh was anything but charming Wednesday as he patted himself on the back for predicting in March that the health care bill wouldn’t be passed before Ted Kennedy’s death.
I can just visualize the smug look plastered across his jack-o-lantern face while his enormous head rose and dipped in cadence to the rocking-horse rhythm of his motion behind his microphone.
“Before it’s all over, it’ll be called the Ted Kennedy Memorial Health Care Bill,” Limbaugh said at the time.
In the wake of Kennedy’s death, Tuesday, Sen. Robert Byrd has called for health care reform legislation to be named in Kennedy’s honor.
Limbaugh, who was criticized for his insensitivity over the Kennedy remarks, is expressing vindication.
“I predicted it, and I caught all kinds of grief for it out there,” he said with a sense of jubilation in his voice that came with knowing that he had somehow cracked the safe.
At times such as these one wonders if the sun ever will set on Limbaugh’s career.
Nobody ever said Teddy Kennedy was so perfect he seemed contrived.
The liberal lion of the Senate, who at 77 succumbed to brain cancer late Tuesday, lived a life more brawling than an Irishman.
You talk about a life rich with astronomical highs and staggering lows.
Born into privilege as a Kennedy, he for years seemed lost in the shadows of older brothers Jack and Bobby.
The runt of the litter was suspended from Harvard for having a buddy take an exam in his place.
He was totally irresponsible in the leaving the scene of the Chappaquiddick auto accident that killed Mary Jo Kopechne in 1969.
In a clan noted for touch football games, Teddy seemed to delight in what-the-hell heaves for many years with his boozing and womanizing prior to his second marriage in 1992.
And he got so fat he looked as though he were going to explode like an M-80.
In fat paradox, there was the massive do-gooder Teddy.
A master politician, he arguably was the catalyst for more positive social change than any other American in the last half century. He ultimately had more of an impact on American life than either of his brothers.
For a guy who almost was an instant burnout, his flame burned brightest in the years before it was extinguished.
Once summer begins flickering away, it’s difficult to smile with a glow that lights the air around you.
Especially this year because the advance billing on the winter to come seems to be an intolerable burden.
Reports are that swine flu could unleash a cannonade of unrelenting illness as the winds of winter start throwing carving knives at us. Projections are that swine flu could kill 90,000 Americans and require almost 2 million people to seek hospitalization due to the virus.
Since ERs already are running out of elbow room treating folks with gunshot wounds and the sniffles, the wait to be treated could be just a few ticks shy of eternity.
Let us hope vaccine makers gulp enough Red Bull to speed up production.
Let us pray that health care still exists for some folks as Old Man Winter and the swine flu form their deadly tag-team.
The bad news, complete with a heavy metal score, officially isn’t being released until tomorrow by the Congressional Budget Office. But according to an administration official cited by Reuters, the 10-year projection for the U.S. budget deficit has been revised upward by about $2 trillion to $9.1 trillion.
This number, of course, is hardly as inspiring as Tennyson writing poetry about the British cavalry.
President Obama plans to halve the deficit by the end of his term, primarily by lowering health care costs.
That promise, however, seems rather hollow. Indeed, it now appears devoid of hope.
The dramatic swelling of the budget deficit crystal ball will be a strong point of attack for opponents of health care reform who finger high government costs as a reason to nix the proposed legislation.
Sorry for the interruption in my regular postings, but I had to spend a few days in beautiful downtown Burbank just to lag three hours behind on the Left Coast.
Now that I’m back on the Right Coast and caught up in time, I’ve got Afghanistan on my mind.
Anyone besides me get the feeling that Afghanistan is just a mad-bombing throwback to Vietnam?
Adm. Mike Mullen, who has more stripes than a zebra because he’s the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said today that the situation in Afghanistan is “serious and deteriorating” and refused to say whether whipping the butts of an enemy more resilient than a stubborn mother-in-law would require more than the 68,000 American troops already committed.
Mullen also expressed concern about eroding public support.
No surprise there.
Americans are distracted by enough domestic issues to fill all the backyard pools of the rich and famous. Living life without a job, health care and dwindling hope does not give Americans the resolve or the stomach to administer the relentless and endless punishment required to uproot resurgent Taliban and al-Qaida fighters crazed enough to welcome death.
A war in Afghanistan is a bottomless pit of death, blood, impotence and failure unless we nuke the bejeezus out of it. Which we won’t, of course.
For those of us old enough to look back upon the dark days of Nam, our eyes turn glittery with primitive darkness. Eyes that have despair and death in them.