Category: Assignments


Cartography 101

In the spirit of class assignments, today’s post will involve the creation of a map. But this is no ordinary map. ‘Tis a Google Map! To make this map my own, and to honor the Cowboys and reminisce about the days of yore, this map will contain the locations of the Cowboys five Super Bowl victories.

I only included Super Bowls that the Cowboys won, because who wants to be reminded of the losses?  Now for a brief exposition of each game.

1.  Super Bowl VI:  This was the Cowboys second trip to the Super Bowl.  The previous season, the team came up just short after the Baltimore Colts stole a 16-13 victory with a field goal in the final seconds.  This time, however, there would be no nail-biter, as the Cowboys made sure they got the win by shutting down the Dolphins 24-3.

2.  Super Bowl XII:  Six years later, the Cowboys were primed to bring home championship number two.  In a similar situation as when they won their first title, the Cowboys lost to the Steelers only two seasons prior, 21-17.  Once again, they wrapped up the comfortably, beating the Broncos 27-10.

3.  Super Bowl XXVII:  This was the game that kick-started the Cowboys’ dynasty of the ’90s.  In their most dominant Super Bowl performance to date, the Cowboys clobbered the Bills 52-17.  In fact, it could have been worse had Leon Lett not started celebrating too early.

4.  Super Bowl XXVIII:  The Cowboys were back at it again in a direct sequel to the previous year’s game.  It wasn’t a blowout like round one, but Dallas still managed to get the best of the Bills, beating them 30-13.  Buffalo actually had a 13-6 lead at halftime before Dallas woke up and drilled them in the second half.

5.  Super Bowl XXX:  This is the game that really made me a fan of the Cowboys.  In their third meeting all time in the Super Bowl, the Cowboys finally got the best of the Steelers, beating them 27-17.  Neil O’Donnell is infamous for throwing a late interception in this game that allowed Dallas to seal the win.

So, there are the five Super Bowl championships for the Dallas Cowboys.  Enjoy the nostalgia during this long off-season.

Sweet memories...

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Twitter Scavenger Hunt

Disclaimer:  This post, as the title suggests has absolutely nothing to do with the Dallas Cowboys.  It is a post about a class assignment.

Tuesday was all about Twitter.  From that point on, this week has been a tweet filled extravaganza.  I was the last holdout in my social media class to sign up for twitter, so I didn’t know what I was doing.  I still don’t, but it’s at least better than it was a few days ago.

A picture we didn't take. The Coliseum is pretty cool, though.

The scavenger hunt involved going around campus with a classmate and finding ten “items,” taking photos of them, and tweeting about what we found.  We worked in groups of two, which was fortunate for me, considering I don’t have a smart phone.  My 70+ year old uncle says he can’t live without his Droid phone, but I have one that texts and takes pictures.  Whatever.  The hunt wasn’t bad, and it was nice to get out and around campus.  The only complaint I had was it was very cold out, so escaping that to find items inside was a must.

Most of the items on the list involved mini interviews with students, professors, and whoever else was unfortunate enough to be roaming around campus at the time.  Everyone we talked to cooperated and was willing to give a quick quote and a picture.  We got some pretty good photos and saw interesting things around campus.

As for interacting with students from other schools, I put that off for a few days for a couple of reasons:

1.  As I stated already, I didn’t know what I was doing on twitter, so I didn’t want to look like a complete idiot to twitter nation by saying or doing something really stupid.  I probably still did, anyway.

2.  I didn’t know what to say.  I didn’t want to just get the assignment over with by saying something that sounded contrived.  I wanted to find photos and tweets that interested me to comment on and retweet.  Not only that, but I wanted to have good comments, and I wanted to add something decent to what was already posted.

That being said, I just finished the interactive portion of this assignment.  There were some good photos posted, and it’s neat to get a look at campuses I’ve never been to.  I was especially interested in the University of Oregon’s photos, because I’ve always wanted to visit that part of the country.  It’s interesting that we all have a shared college experience, but we’ve all gone through it in different environments.  These environments shape what we get out of college, and, in a way, this course.  It’s good to get beyond the Morgantown city limits and see what else is out there.

All in all, I’m learning how to use twitter, and with practice, I’m sure I’ll catch up to the current experts.  Now if only I had a smart phone…

P.S. I never wanted twitter because it seemed kind of pointless to me.  I thought people just used it to post a stream of consciousness about their lives.  I’m still kind of on the fence about it.  I see the value it can add when it’s used for distributing meaningful information, but I’m not sure I have anything worth tweeting about.  We’ll see, I guess.

Aaron Rodgers and Jordy Nelson celebrate a score in Super Bowl XLV.

Last night’s game was just about everything I hoped and expected it to be.  Aside from the Packers jumping out to an 18 point lead in the first half, it was a close, hard fought game that went down to the final possession.  Before the game, I kind of had a feeling Green Bay would win, and at the very least, I expected them to give Pittsburgh a good fight.

As this article points out, the competitive balance exhibited by the NFL year after year is not found in other sports.  The Packers are just the third 10-6 team to make (and win) the Super Bowl, and they became the second team (and the first from the NFC) to make the Super Bowl as a 6 seed (the other being the 2005 Steelers, who also won).

Throughout its history, the Super Bowl has had a tendency to be a blowout.  This was especially true during the 80’s and 90’s when 10 games were decided by at least 17 points, including a stretch of five games from 1984-1988 that were all decided by 19 points or more.  However, since 2000, only two games were won by more than two scores, and there have been none since 2003.  The last eight Super Bowls were decided by 6, 14, 4, 3, 12, 11, 3, and 3 points.

I think this all means that the NFL will continue to be the most popular sport in America because of the parity.  Every season, you never know who is really a contender.  For example, the Saints won the Super Bowl last year, but they were eliminated this year by the 7-9 Seahawks in a wild-card game.  Some say having such balance is good for the sport, as it retains interest across the board.  However, some might feel it’s better to have a powerhouse team that everyone is chasing every year.  I feel the NFL has a little of both.  While the Saints and Packers, in their own ways, came from nowhere to win titles the past two seasons, over the last decade, there have always been the same teams in the hunt:  The Patriots, the Colts, the Steelers.  In the 90’s it was the Cowboys.  In the 80’s, it was the 49ers, and before them, the Steelers and Cowboys in the 70’s.

What the Packers did last night did not surprise me, and I doubt it surprised others (save Steelers fans).  This sort of thing is expected anymore.  This is the same league in which the Dolphins went 1-15 in 2007 and 11-5 in 2008.  The only thing that could have happened this post-season that might have been a shock is if Seattle had won the Super Bowl as the first 7-9 team to make the playoffs (and as a four seed).

Aaron Rodgers hoists the Lombardi Trophy.

Green Bay overcame a lot of adversity this season to accomplish what they did, and I imagine one would be hard pressed to find another champion that had to deal with more injuries and setbacks.  Even in the game last night, they couldn’t escape a rash of injuries.  However, they did escape Dallas with a title.

More Defense

Just in the nick of time for the Super Bowl, I have a blog post for everyone to enjoy!  This is just a last minute look at the teams involved and how it relates to the Cowboys.  I’ve actually been working on this for a few days, and I went back and forth about whether to post it or not, so I guess I’m gonna do it.

(Sorta) fresh from the blogroll comes this posting from the Dallas Morning News, courtesy of writer Bob Sturm.  Something I hadn’t thought about is the fact that both Pittsburgh and Green Bay run a 3-4 defense, which is also Dallas’ base defense.  What I didn’t realize was the number of teams in the NFL that are running it now.  It’s up to 15, or nearly half the league.  When Dallas picked it up a few years ago, it wasn’t nearly as popular if memory serves me right.

Basically, Sturm says that Dallas could benefit from trying to be more like the Packers and Steelers by being more aggressive on defense and being willing to take more chances.  The evidence he presents in support of this cause is pretty telling, and it shows that the defensive secondary contributes very little in the way of sacks, and he chalks it up to the Cowboys’ reluctance to bring safety and corner blitzes.  Before I saw these figures, I guess I hadn’t realized how little the Cowboys use this strategy, especially when compared with other teams.

Because I’m a glutton for punishment, after I read this, I thought it would be interesting to make a comparison among Wade Phillips, Pittsburgh Defensive Coordinator Dick Lebeau, and Green Bay DC Dom Capers, since they all run a 3-4 defense, and since two are in the Super Bowl, while the first was head coach of the Cowboys.

It is a commonly held belief that a coordinator who becomes a head coach will generally not do so well with his side of the ball once he is running the whole show.  Specifically, this seems to occur when the head coach retains the play calling duties for offense or defense.  Well, I decided to look back at the careers of Phillips, LeBeau, and Capers to see if this is really true.  They have all been defensive coordinators and head coaches at some point.  I took a look at the yards per game allowed and points per game allowed while each coach held these two positions and compared their respective performances.  (Note:  I realize that it wasn’t always the case that they kept calling plays after becoming head coach, like Phillips did in his last two years in Dallas, but I still feel it’s worth a look.)

Going in, I expected to see a noticeable difference from each coach being a DC and a head coach.  I was pretty surprised with what I found, though.  (A special shout out to nfl.com for having all the necessary stats going back to 1932)

Since 1981, Wade Phillips has been a head coach or a defensive coordinator in every year except one.  Here are his numbers.

HC:  YPG allowed-316.5 PPG allowed-21.2

DC:  YPG allowed-320.6 PPG allowed-20.6

Dick Lebeau has been a DC or head coach for all but three years since 1984.

HC:  YPG allowed-324.7 PPG allowed-23.4

DC:  YPG allowed-312.9 PPG allowed-21.1

Dom Capers has been a DC or head coach for all but three years since 1992.

HC:  YPG allowed-338.4 PPG allowed-21.7

DC:  YPG allowed-294.3 PPG allowed-17.7

I expected more of a disparity to be present, but with the exception of Dom Capers, there doesn’t seem to be.  Like I said, when each of these men were head coaches, they didn’t necessarily retain play calling duties on defense.  Also, LeBeau’s head coaching sample is smaller than the others.  This all makes me wonder if our collective perception says one thing, while the statistics say something else.  Perhaps these are exceptions.  I can’t really say, but it does seem that each of them has done at least slightly better as defensive coordinators, and in Capers’ case, much better.

It should be an interesting game tonight.

Each passing second brings us all closer to the zenith of the NFL season, the Super Bowl.  Yet, I found two articles by Jon Machota of the Dallas Morning News that outlines the Steelers and Packers thoughts on the Cowboys’ disappointing 2010 season.  I’m sure that’s just what the teams wanted to talk about when they were just days away from playing each other.  If this game was played anywhere else, it wouldn’t be brought up.  So, even when Dallas won’t be at the Super Bowl, unless the players happened to buy tickets, they were, at least for a period of time on Tuesday, the center of attention.  America’s Team, indeed.

I just wanted to write about a few of the quotes I read that I found interesting.

Pittsburgh:

WR Mike Wallace:

“It just goes to show that talent doesn’t make everything here. You can have all the talent in the world, but if you’re not headed in the right direction, have the right leaders, the right everything.  It’s not just players and coaches. The whole organization has to be right for things to win. It’s not about talent. It’s about chemistry.”

Truer words may never have been spoken.  From top to bottom, when compared to any other team in the league, the Cowboys have as much talent as anyone, and in many cases, more.  It’s a trite saying, but having the best team is more important than having the best players.  It’s like when the Terrell Owens circus was in town.  He is (was) a great player, but he can be a cancer to a locker room.  It’s tough to win in the NFL, and it takes more than a lot of talent.

WR Antwaan Randle El:

“I truly believe they will because they have the talent. When you have the talent, you just have to find the right coach or the right player in the locker room that’s going to stand up and begin to kick guys out that just are not part of the team.”

Jason Garrett seems to me like the type of coach who would do just that.  He feels like a no-nonsense coach who would not tolerate a player playing for himself instead of the team.  I really hope so.

Green Bay:

WR Greg Jennings:

“You would think that given the opportunity to play here in the Super Bowl that they would’ve come out with a little more umph.”

This one stings a little bit.  This quote really got my attention, because it’s so true.  Coming in to this season, it was all about how the Cowboys were Super Bowl favorites that would be the first franchise to host the game.  And they choked.  Once the team started 0-2, if they were really going to get serious about achieving this goal, they would have done something.  Admittedly, most of the losses this year were close, but a team that goes from Super Bowl contender in the pre-season, to 1-7 at mid-season, and finishes at 6-10 either has no heart or felt that it would be handed to them.

LB A.J. Hawk:

“It’s tough when you lose your starting quarterback,” Hawk said. “It probably wasn’t the year they were expecting, but that’s football. That’s how it goes. It’s tough to win games in this league. I know that. I wouldn’t predict them being down much longer.”

Tony Romo's season comes to an end with this hit against the Giants.

Normally, I’d buy this argument, but Dallas’ season was (more or less) long gone when Romo went down in week 7.  With Romo, the team was 1-4 (1-5 counting the loss in the game in which he got injured), so without him, they had no chance (even though their record was actually better without him).  If he was healthy all year, I still don’t think Dallas would have made the playoffs.

So, there you have a few thoughts from the guys who will be playing in Cowboys Stadium tomorrow night.  I wonder if they were even asked about their own game?

It’s rather absurd to even discuss the possibility of Tony Romo leading the Cowboys to a Super Bowl, when we’re inside of 48 hours from a game that will take place on Romo’s turf, yet will not feature him in the starting lineup.  However, blogging is a year-round endeavor, and a guy can always dream, eh?

Actually, I found this piece written by Christian Blood at Bleacher Report, and he makes a couple good points about why Romo has what it takes to take the Cowboys to something better than a Wild-Card playoff win and a loss the next week.

1.  “He’s a multi-Pro Bowl player who has already racked up some incredible stats that you may already be aware of.”

In fact, Romo holds the Dallas single season touchdown pass (36) and passing yardage (4483) marks.  As good as Staubach and Aikman were, statistically speaking, it’s just a matter of time before he breaks their career marks.  He is only 47 TD passes and 16,000 passing yards behind Aikman, two marks that he has a realistic shot of reaching.

2.  “Romo needs a consistent running game. An experienced offensive play-caller wouldn’t hurt either, and the future on that end looks pretty bleak. Let’s also add much better pass protection.”

Well, this about sums up what I’ve recently been saying.  One guy can’t do it on his own.  To go outside football, if you look at LeBron James, he is arguably the best player in the NBA, and he couldn’t deliver a championship to Cleveland.  Why?  He didn’t have good enough support around him.  Romo isn’t the superstar kind of guy that James is, and it could be argued that such a thing doesn’t really exist in football, but he is a good player, and, in my opinion, an elite quarterback.  Perhaps you might not put him in the top few QB’s in the NFL, but I definitely think it’s fair to put him just a notch below, and that’s mainly because he has yet to make any kind of playoff run.

Tony Romo needs some help if Dallas is going make a run at the Super Bowl.

Romo puts up the stats each game, but the Cowboys still lose.  It’s great to have 300 yards passing, but winning would be nice.  Like the writer points out, the running game and the offensive line have been bad, plain and simple.  The last good running back Dallas had was…Emmitt Smith?  Has it been that long?  Smith last played for Dallas in the 2002 season, and since then, the Cowboys have been graced by the presences of Troy Hambrick, Julius Jones, Marion Barber, Felix Jones, and Tashard Choice, among others.  Take a guess how many times they’ve been to the Pro Bowl?  It’s actually more than I initially thought.  One.  One time.  Marion Barber got a rather dubious Pro Bowl nod in 2007 (as a backup), even though he failed to rush for 1000 yards.  Don’t get me wrong, I like Barber, but he hasn’t been as good since that season.

The point is, I had to look up these guys to make sure I didn’t leave anyone out.  That’s how forgettable the Dallas running game has been this decade.  The thing about Romo is that he got a bit of a late start to his NFL career.  He has been the starter for all or part of the past five seasons, but he is already 30 years old.  With the way the game is played, the clock starts ticking down once a guy hits that mark.  If Romo is going to lead Dallas to the Promised Land, it has to be now.  The window of opportunity is only getting smaller.  The way things are going, he will go down as the greatest Cowboys QB to never get Dallas to the Super Bowl.  I don’t want that, and I’m sure Romo doesn’t, either.

Another Draft Blurb

I saw this blog post on Cowboys Nation about the latest in what is sure to be a litany of mock drafts that will come out with more regularity as April gets closer.  Surprise, surprise, it’s another curveball.  Here is the actual mock draft.

I guess it’s asking far too much to think that all fans, pundits, analysts, etc. would be on the same page about anything, much less the draft, but it seems there is no consistency whatsoever.  First, as I’ve said before, all the talk was about Dallas taking a cornerback.  Then it was offensive line.  I have heard outside linebacker talk, and now, this mock draft has the Cowboys shelling out for a defensive end.

What?

We'd all be smiling if Spears could get to the quarterback more often.

The blog that I saw this on must have seen this coming, given what is said at the end of the first paragraph.  This is the first time I’ve seen a defensive end going to Dallas, and I honestly don’t think it’s the best pick they could make.  The team’s current defensive ends aren’t great at getting to the quarterback.  I get that.  Marcus Spears has been a disappointment in this regard.  You expect more from a first round pick.  However, Dallas still finished 16th in sacks this season, despite not getting much pressure from the defensive line.

Yeah, it can be argued that if they could get more QB pressure from the defensive line, sack numbers would go up, and the whole defense would improve.  This is a fair argument.  The current lineup could be better.  I do think that other areas need to be addressed first, though, like offensive line and cornerback.

Would Cameron Jordan be an upgrade at defensive end for Dallas?

So let’s suppose for a minute that Dallas decides to take DE Cameron Jordan, as the mock draft suggests.  I’ve never seen the guy play, so I can’t give an informed opinion, but his scouting report on the site leads me to believe that he wouldn’t really be the answer Dallas is looking for at defensive end.  Here is what caught my attention:

Isn’t a real explosive pass rusher off the edge as a DE, lacks the burst to reach the corner and again will allow his pad level to rise a bit when trying to change directions off his initial rush. Exhibits some natural body control and balance through contact, can drop his pad level around the corner and his combination of length and agility allow him to fight his way off blocks and make his way up the field.

So, if this assessment is accurate, how is he going to benefit the Cowboys?  If he can’t get to the quarterback better than their best current option, Marcus Spears, why use such a high pick on him?  Marcus Spears is no sack-master-flex, but it doesn’t look like this guy is, either.

On a side note, according to this mock draft, every offensive linemen is still available when Dallas’ turn to pick comes up, and only one CB is off the board at pick nine.

This is the second in a series of blog postings that will take place over the course of the next seven days. In light of my professor throwing down the gauntlet and issuing a blogging challenge, I will be providing more content, more frequently. Yesterday was actually the start of this, so let’s get on with it.

I was reading an interesting blog post by Matt Mosley of ESPN, in which he talks about a conversation he had with former Cowboys player and current Steelers defensive assistant, Ray Horton.  Mosley asked Horton his opinion of Dallas cornerback Mike Jenkins and whether or not the Steelers had any interest in the former South Florida star when he entered the draft in 2008.  Here was Horton’s response:

“I didn’t want him at the time because he wouldn’t tackle,” said Horton. “If you’re going to play for us, you have to be able to tackle. Or you need to be picking off a lot of balls.”

I know I’ve belabored the point recently (and by recently, I mean since I started the blog), but considering the secondary problems Dallas has had, the point he makes is interesting.

I did some quick research to see what Jenkins has done, both in college and the NFL.  I saw him play a fair amount in college, being that I am a WVU fan, and USF is in the same conference.  He was a good player, but statistically speaking, his numbers weren’t off the charts.  I realize this is inexact and statistics can be misleading at times, but let’s take a look at what he did at USF and compare it to the above statement by Horton.

Mike Jenkins has regressed since his Pro Bowl season in 2009.

While in college, Mike Jenkins had a grand total of 119 tackles over four seasons, with a career high of 39.  Also during this time, he intercepted six passes. For comparison, take a look at Nnamdi Asomugha’s collegiate stats.  Asomugha is considered the premier CB in the league, and he had more tackles and almost as many interceptions in virtually half the time, as he only played two full seasons.  College stats aren’t the most important thing when evaluating talent, but it is one barometer that gives insight into a player’s abilities.

Jenkins wasn’t a tackling machine in college, and he wasn’t a ball-hawk either.  He was average at both.  Deion Sanders couldn’t tackle either, but he knew how to get the ball, and he knew what to do once it was in his hands.  Jenkins made the Pro Bowl in 2009 after getting 49 tackles, defending against 19 passes, and intercepting five more.  In 2010, he had slightly more tackles, but his interceptions and passes defended were way down, as he had just one and nine, respectively.  In fact, the lone pick he had was a gift wrapped turnover that he didn’t even have to earn.

This leads back to the original point about evaluating talent.  The last half of this decade, the Steelers have been in the Super Bowl three times.  Dallas, of course, hasn’t been there since the 1995 season.  Clearly, Pittsburgh has figured out how to obtain and sustain success over a period of years.  Dallas, of course, has not.  I was overjoyed when they finally won a playoff game last season.  Meanwhile, the Steelers could win their third Super Bowl in six years.

As much as I hate the Steelers, you have to hand it to them.  They know how to win consistently, along with only a couple other teams.  Every year, they are in the mix.  Much of that comes down to personnel and player scouting.  I’ll admit, I liked the pick at the time, but for whatever reason, Jenkins just wasn’t able to get it done in 2010.

Well folks, today I finally get to write about something good, and something that has to do with the Cowboys. And they’re the same thing! Of course, I’m talking about Dallas’ first victory of the season. This one game gave me false hope for the rest of the season (temporarily, at least), as I imagine it did to countless others.

Here are some highlights from the first half of this one.

This game took a little while to get going, with neither team scoring in the opening quarter.  A couple of second quarter drives, including a 13 play, 80 yard possession that took over seven minutes, gave Dallas a seven point lead going into halftime.

Things got better for Dallas offensively in the second half, particularly in the late third quarter and going into the fourth.  One big reason for that was the play of Roy Williams.  Yes, Roy Williams actually had a good game, his first of the 2010 season, and, honestly, his best game as a Cowboy.  He had two touchdown grabs in the second half, the second time he’s had multiple end zone trips since Dallas acquired him from Detroit in 2008 for, regrettably, four draft picks, including a first and third rounder.

Roy Williams scores one of his two touchdowns against Houston.

I was intrigued when Dallas picked him up, but I didn’t think, and still don’t think, the cost was justified.  It wasn’t as bad as the Vikings trading for Herschel Walker, but it was pretty lopsided considering the player they were getting.  I will give him credit for his performance on this day, though.

For the first time since I started recapping this past season, I don’t have to list the reasons why Dallas lost (hurray!).  Instead, I can point out why they won.

For starters, the Cowboys actually won the turnover battle in this game.  They forced three, including two Matt Schaub interceptions, while managing to commit none.

Dallas’ defense also played better (not great, but better) in this game, particularly against the pass.  They did give up 241 yards (not accounting for lost yardage on sacks), but the longest pass play on the day was just 26 yards.  Andre Johnson didn’t do much damage, as he only had 64 yards on four catches.  Considering Schaub went crazy-go-nuts against Washington the week before (to the tune of 497 yards and three td’s), I’d say 241 isn’t too shabby.

Keith Brooking (right) presumably apologizing to Matt Schaub for sacking him.

Also, Dallas managed to sack Schaub four times, while holding the Texans to just 1-3 in the red zone.

Now for a couple of gripes about this game.  While it didn’t kill them this time, Dallas continued the trend of being one of the more penalized teams in the league, tallying 8 for 49 yards in this one.  This team had a serious lack of discipline while Wade Phillips was in charge.  Another complaint is that, while the offense managed over 100 team rushing yards, they only averaged 3.7 yards per carry.  Again, it didn’t hurt them, mainly because Tony Romo had such a good performance, but it still needs improvement.

So, my issues with this game are relatively minor compared to the first two games.  That’s partly a product of the fact that Dallas played better, but also because it’s easier to find fault after a loss than a win.  I’ll enjoy that luxury while I can, because it gets a whole lot uglier from here.

Record to this point:  1-2

State of the Union Address

This is a bit off topic, as this is not a political blog, but since it is something about which Americans take a great interest, it should be mentioned.  Also, it is a class assignment.  Anyway, I will now present to you my thoughts about President Obama’s speech.

Overall, it wasn’t a bad speech.  It wasn’t anything more or less than what I really expected.  He called for bipartisanship, and he stressed the need for controlled spending and job growth.  That’s pretty much what I figured he would focus on.  Some of it I agreed with, while some I didn’t.  Whether or not any of his plans actually come to fruition remains to be seen, but there were some good ideas mentioned, like devoting more resources to education and investing more in energy.

10:12-Doesn’t know how we’ll reach that better place beyond the horizon, but he’s sure we’ll get there.  The strength of our union is strong.  At least he tried to impart a positive feeling at the end of his speech.

10:08-Our democracy is messy at times, but people in America wouldn’t trade places with any other nation.  Different policies, opinions, backgrounds, but we all share the same dream as Americans.  Again, he is reiterating the need for unity.

10:06-No American will be prevented from serving because of sexuality.  Again, I’m not going to touch this one, as I don’t agree with it, but this video pretty much sums it up.

10:04-U.S. supports democratic aspirations of all people.  The things we’ve fought for live in the hearts of people everywhere.  This ovation is longer than the other ones.

9:58-He says the war in Iraq is coming to an end.  America is working to become more secure to protect itself from Al-Qaeda.  American Muslims are part of the American family.  By preventing the Taliban from having a stronghold, they can’t form a base to attack as easily.  In July, we’ll begin to bring troops home.  I don’t want to know when the troops are coming home, and I especially don’t want terrorists to know, either.

9:55-He says government will make a website for people to see where money is being spent.  People need to know when representatives are meeting with lobbyists.  He says he will veto any bill with earmarks in it.  John McCain is very pleased.  I am, too.

9:53-Give people a more competent and efficient government.  The president made a lame joke that everyone thought was hilarious.  Merge and consolidate agencies to eliminate waste.  It’s always bothered me how the government has multiple agencies that serve the same functions, so I hope they are able to make the government smaller.

9:50-Medicare and Medicaid factor the most into deficit.  Need to bring down costs.  Reign in frivolous lawsuits.  Medical malpractice reform.  Malpractice lawsuits are out of hand, so this makes a lot of sense to me.  He says we need a bipartisan solution to strengthen social security for future generations.  Don’t hurt people on it now or future people who will need it.  This makes sense.  Wants to cut tax breaks for the richest 2% of Americans.  This does not.

9:47-Legacy of deficit spending going back almost a decade.  We have to confront the fact that government spends more than it takes in.  Government needs to live within its means.  Wants to freeze annual domestic spending for next five years.  Will reduce deficit by $500 billion over next decade.  Cutting spending in defense, community programs, and other areas to save money.  Make sure we are cutting excess weight, not necessary spending like investment.  It won’t be enough to only cut domestic spending.  This I agree with.  Government spending is out of control and needs to be reigned in.

9:45-Obama says he wants input on how to make healthcare reform more affordable and doable.  He’s not willing to go back to when insurance companies could deny coverage because of a pre-existing condition.  Fix what needs fixing and let’s move forward.  Don’t fight the same battles from last two years.  I didn’t agree with the healthcare legislation when it passed, so I’m not going to get into this.

9:42-Wants Democrats and Republicans to lower taxes for corporations.  This surprised me, given that he is a Democrat.

9:41-Obama wants to invest heavily in education, innovation, and infrastructure.  I agree that these are all key areas that need addressed.

9:38-Obama said he wants better infrastructure.  Roads, transportation, internet access.  Wants to further efforts to bring more jobs to construction.  80% of Americans access to high speed rail in 25 years.  In five years, high speed wireless access to 98% of Americans.  I agree that America needs to address these kinds of issues, especially when it comes to rural areas like West Virginia, which tends to get left behind much of the time.

9:37-Obama said he wants to address illegal immigration once and for all.  Doesn’t want to send people away who could help the U.S. He wants all to agree to make an effort to solve this problem.  I don’t agree with his ideas on illegal immigration, so let’s move on.

9:29-In ten years, over half of jobs will require education past high school.  9th in proportion of young people with a college degree.  25% of high school students don’t graduate.  This article says the U.S. is 12th out of 36 developed countries in college degree attainment.  I agree that America needs to better educate children.  We are consistently behind other countries in academic achievement, and there is no excuse for it.

9:27-Become first country with 1 million electric cars by 2015.  Wants to eliminate dependence on oil-more biofuels and clean energy.  By 2035, 80% of energy will be clean-goal.  I like the idea, but it’s hard to say where we’ll be energy-wise in 24 years.

9:25-America will invest in biomedical research, information technology, and clean energy technology.  Strengthen security, protect the planet, and create jobs.  This all makes sense to me, if it will happen.

9:24-This is our generation’s “Sputnik moment.”  He suggests this is America’s time to become innovators once again.

9:23-I wish he would say “Hold your applause until the end.”

9:19-Obama makes a good point about how foreign nations are more competitive than they used to be with the U.S.

9:17-Obama says 1 million private sector jobs were created last year.  The article I just cited says the U.S. has lost a net of 439,000 jobs since June, 2009.

9:16-Obama announces that the economy is growing, but America needs to focus on building more industry at home.  This article from the Huffington Post suggests the economy isn’t doing as well as the government might lead us to believe.

9:14-A lot more clapping than I expected.

9:13-The President is using the Tucson incident to make a point about the need for American unity.  I guess it works, but it could be viewed as taking advantage of a bad situation to make a statement.  American unity does matter, though.

9:12-A nice gesture by everyone to acknowledge Representative Giffords’ absence.

9:11-He begins by congratulating Congress and new Speaker of the House John Boehner.  That’s nice, since Boehner is a Republican and all.  It’s probably just traditional to do it, though.

9:10-And we’re off…

9:09-I don’t normally watch this, so it’s surprising to me that all of this is taking so long to get started.

9:06-I just saw a pudding commercial.  Sounds good.

9:04-I wish this thing would get going.

9:01-Katie Couric is saying that Democrats and Republicans will intermingle, whereas they typically sit on opposite sides during this speech.  I find this an interesting way of doing things.  Maybe they’ll start to get along better?  Probably not.

8:57-We’re now less than three minutes away from the State of the Union Address.