Monday, March 31, 2008

L.A. Galaxy Humiliated--And They Know It

At least they didn't try to sugar coat it.from the Los Angeles Times.

DC United Stadium Woes

The Washington Post had nothing but gushing praise for the National's new stadium , Soccer Insider Steven Goff notes that words to describe RFK, the "home" of DC United has been described as:
"old and much-maligned", "decrepit", "dilapidated," "tired," and "decrepit" (again).

Hey, Adrian Fenty, how about partying with some of that cash for a DC United Stadium?

U.S. Women's National Team Roster for Olympic Qualifying

U.S. Women's National Team Head Coach Pia Sundhage has named a 20 player roster for the Women's Olympic qualifying tournament. Two teams from the six in the region will advance to the Olympics. The U.S., the top ranked women's team in the world is practically a shoo-in. The bigger question will be weather Mexico or Canada advances with them.

Both the Mexican and Canadian side is populated with players who have played at American colleges, a breeding ground for great women players.

So She Claim the Need for National Health Care?

Well, I don't know the reason, but the's Kenneth P. Vogel notes that Hillary Clinton's campaign is nearly $300,000 in arrears for health care coverage for her campaign staff. Of course, that is not even the biggest debt the campaign owes, that is reserved for Mark Penn's firm, to which Hillary owes $2.5 million or so.

I can live with a campaign not paying their (overpriced) pollster, I can't live with not paying the hundreds of small businesses and other non-political groups as the debts come due.

According to the records, Hillary has over 600 unpaid bills ranging from a few hundred dollars to several hundred thousand dollars before you even get to Penn's firm. From Vogel:
Hillary Rodham Clinton’s cash-strapped presidential campaign has been putting off paying hundreds of bills for months — freeing up cash for critical media buys but also earning the campaign a reputation as something of a deadbeat in some small-business circles.

A pair of Ohio companies owed more than $25,000 by Clinton for staging events for her campaign are warning others in the tight-knit event production community — and anyone else who will listen — to get their cash upfront when doing business with her. Her campaign, say representatives of the two companies, has stopped returning phone calls and e-mails seeking payment of outstanding invoices. One even got no response from a certified letter.

Their cautionary tales, combined with published reports about similar difficulties faced by a New Hampshire landlord, an Iowa office cleaner and a New York caterer, highlight a less-obvious impact of Clinton’s inability to keep up with the staggering fundraising pace set by her opponent for the Democratic presidential nomination, Illinois Sen. Barack Obama.

Clinton's campaign did not respond to recent, specific questions about its transactions with vendors. But Clinton spokesman Jay Carson pointed on Saturday to an earlier statement the campaign issued to Politico, asserting: "The campaign pays its bills regularly and in the normal course of business, and pays all of its bills."

Just like with other businesses, it’s common for campaigns to carry unpaid bills from month to month, but in Clinton’s case, it also could serve a strategic purpose.

The New York senator’s presidential campaign ended February with $33 million in the bank, according to a report filed last week with the Federal Election Commission, but only $11 million of that can be spent on her battle with Obama.

The rest can be spent only in the general election, if she makes it that far, and must be returned if she doesn’t. If she had paid off the $8.7 million in unpaid bills she reported as debt and had not loaned her campaign $5 million, she would have been nearly $3 million in the red at the end of February.
So in reality, the Clinton Camp is nearly $14 million in the hole and hoping to make it past the convention. Not exactly a sound financial plan.

Tuzla Tarmac Girl Unleashes on Hillary

Remember that girl sleeping the Hillary Clinton 3 a.m. ad who turned out to be a lot older than the ad, and turned out to be an Obama supporter. Well that is chump change compared to this, from Gateway Pundit, the Tuzla tarmac girl is now a med student and upset (along with her countrymen) that Hillary is making John Kerry-esque claims of bravery under fire.

From the New York Post story:
"I was surprised when I heard this," Bicakcic said, referring to Clinton's assertion that she braved snipers upon landing, ducking and sprinting to military vehicles.

Other Bosnians said they had one of two reactions to Clinton's debunked action-hero account of her visit: laughter or anger.

"It's an exaggeration," said former acting President Ejup Ganic, who was present during Clinton's visit. "No one was firing. There were no shots fired."

Sema Markovic, 22, a student, said she has long respected Hillary as a strong leader but was angered by her remarks.

"It is an ugly thing for a politician to tell lies,' she said. "We had problems for years, and I don't like when someone lies about them. It makes us look bad."
Ms. Mrkovic, if it makes you look bad, imagine how it will make America looks to have such an unrepentant and uncreative liar in the White House.

Ohio Teacher Union Sicks IRS on Charter Managment Company

From the The Columbus Dispatch:
More than two dozen schools run by Ohio's largest charter-school operator have illegally claimed tax-free status, a teachers union alleges.

More charter schools run by other for-profit operators probably shouldn't be considered nonprofit organizations, the Ohio Federation of Teachers contended yesterday in announcing that it had asked the IRS to examine whether White Hat Management schools should pay taxes.

Akron-based White Hat operates 34 Ohio schools that received about $85 million in state per-pupil aid in the previous school year. That is why the federation targeted White Hat, said union President Sue Taylor. The union has been critical of charter schools and has questioned White Hat's practices before.

The union contends that some of White Hat's schools -- Life Skills Centers for dropouts and HOPE academies -- should pay taxes because the for-profit White Hat is too involved in their day-to-day business. The company regularly takes as much as 97 percent of the schools' state funding for its services.
The White Hat Management Company, of course, denied any wrongdoing, claiming that the IRS knows of their practice.

Let's assume that White Hat is not doing things by the IRS rules, how does that lead to this statement:
Charter schools, which are privately run but publicly funded, can't turn a profit in Ohio. But they can hire for-profit companies to run them.

"These are all abuses of Ohio taxpayer dollars," Taylor said. "The charter-school movement has been a disaster for our students.

"It's a loose system of anything goes."
I don't have any idea of how the students in the White Hat schools are doing, but if I had to guess they are probably doing OK since the groups runs so many schools. If they were an ineffective company they wouldn't keep getting contracts to run schools.

The question is no whether their tax practices are on the up and up, which is no small concern, but tangential to the real question, how are the students doing?

The unions appear to be running out of avenues of attack on charter schools if this charge is any evidence of their tactical bag of tricks.

Sex Sells--Tutoring?

This would not have been on my radar, but thanks to Joanne Jacobs, I have learned that sex appeal for Hong Kong tutors is a primary (but not exlcusive) marketing ploy.
Angela Yiu and Stella Cheng spent weeks meeting with fashion stylists and photographers before deciding on the mini skirts and high heels to wear in their promotion campaign.

They're not models peddling perfume or sports cars. They're English tutors who earn good money helping secondary school students pass Hong Kong's grueling exams to get into college.

"Their long legs are the most beautiful ones in the tutorial industry," said Ken Ng, head of Modern Education, one of the city's biggest tutoring businesses. "This is our selling point."
Long legs are not the only requirement, teaching ability and knowledge matter too.

The tutoring business in Hong Kong is big business and like most big business, appealing soley on skill, knowledge or your product's direct qualities, only gets you so far. A few decades ago, cars were no sold by hot looking men or women, but by the car itself. Now, models help sell cars, food, and all sorts of products. Why would tutoring or educational services be any different? It isn't even in this country.

Colleges and universities already do it. Maybe not as explicitly as Hong Kong tutoring services, but physical appeal and attractiveness is considered when putting together marketing campaigns. There are two places where this happens, recruiting brochures and the television infomercials that are played during football bowl games and the NCAA basketball tournament or other special events.

In each medium there is almost always an attractive group of students in class or out and about on the campus (almost always racially balanced as well--which is just as much a lie). Classrooms are always pretty, with attractive instructors and a classroom filled with beautiful people. What you don't see is geeky, overweight, hungover or unattractive people in those scenes. Sure, in the voice over, lip service is paid to high academic standards, world class faculty, broad course selection, etc. But you don't hear the words, you only see the hotness on display. In short, the visual message is "come to our school and see these beautiful people and places." While I can't say that I chose to go to the University of Maryland or Catholic Law School because of the attractive women in the brochure, but I can't say I ignored those pictures either.

Of course, there is nothing wrong with this appeal and I don't intend to insinuate otherwise. But we shouldn't be so shocked if Hong Kong is a little more focused than America on using sex appeal to sell education.

"The Democratic race is heavily racialized, and is perhaps becoming more so."

Byron York proclaims that it is so based on polling and other data.

This is really not all that surprising to me. As teh Democratic nomination has dragged on, it becomes, easier and easier to base a campaign on simplistics.
There seems to be no chance Clinton can win more black votes against Obama, so her only hope is to encourage more whites to vote along racial lines. No one in the campaign would ever say such a thing — they certainly haven't to me — but what white voters do in Pennsylvania on April 22 will be a critical indicator of where Clinton's campaign is going. Will they vote like whites in Mississippi, New Jersey, and Ohio? And if she wins big in Pennsylvania, then what white voters do in Indiana and North Carolina will be another huge indicator.
If this indeed turns out to be the case, the Democrats race problem will only get worse. Will it cause a realignment? I am not sure, but it might.

Hodgson Thinks Survival Possible

Of course, one should expect nothing but optimism from the club manager until or if relegation is a forgone conclusion.

While 18 points remain available for Fulham, it is going to take some victories and a few losses by other teams near the drop zone for Fulham to beat the drop.

In the past two weeks, Fulham have garned just 1 point out of six in two key "six point matches," that is matches that would have gotten them closer to their drop zone rivals, Newcastle, Bolton, Sunderland, et al. Now, with six matches remaining, Fulham are seven points from safety (six points won't do it since Birmingham has a much better goal differential). It may be possible to leapfrog Bolton, whose form of late has been dismal to say the least.

Birmingham still remains on the schedule to be played as Craven Cottage, along with Sunderland next week and Liverpool on April 19. Away games are Reading, Manchester City and Portsmouth. The biggest challenge facing the Whites is their away form. Fulham have gone almost 19 months without a win on the road. That makes their home matches even more important. In essence, Fulham cannot afford to lose two out of three home matches and need to get results in the away matches--any result, in two of three. That means Fulham can afford, realistically, no more than two losses in the next six games.

Survival is possible, but Fulham needs to find the net more frequently and they need to plug the holes in their porous defense. Brede Hangeland has been playing well, but he is but one man.

Friday, March 28, 2008

I Agree with Nancy Pelosi???

Whoa, strange days indeed! Pelosi thinks an Olympic boycott would be a mistake. I just assumed everyone understood that the real losers in a boycott are the athletes, but maybe I should have said it sooner.

Is Hillary broke?

That is the story in the Chicago Sun-Times:
Scoop du jour? Sneed hears major money problems in the Clinton camp may soon become a coroner knocking on her campaign door.

• To wit: Word is the cash feeding into Hillary Clinton's campaign coffers has not only slowed down in a big way, undisclosed campaign debts that have yet to be made public could signal the end and have insiders biting their nails.

• Translation: "It won't necessarily be politics which may force her out of the race," said a top Dem source. "There is no hanky panky going on, but Hillary needs to raise money to stay alive . . . and word is she may not be able to climb out of the money hole."

• The buckshot: "I think it's safe to say Hillary's not going to dip into her pocket again," the source added. "And if her employees start taking pay cuts while chasing the dream . . . it's usually the beginning of the body becoming totally cold."
Technically Hillary wouldn't be broke, she will have a lot of money put aside for the General Election that may not come.

As I have said here a number of times, her fundraising strategy was built on the premise that she would have the nomination wrapped up by Tsunami Tuesday. When that didn't happen, her fundraising operation didn't change tactics soon enough. Her reliance on big dollar donors for her meat and potatoes means that she doesn't have a nice, big steady stream of money rolling in via small donors, unlike Obama who could probably keep up his pace for months to come.

PA's Casey Endorses Obama

In a surprise move PA Senator Bob Casey endorsed Obama with just over three weeks to go until the PA primary.

It is the battle of the PA heavyweights:
Casey, the son of a popular late governor, had said earlier this month he would not endorse before the April 22 primary out of concern for party unity. But he joined Obama at a boisterous rally kicking off a six-day bus trip through Pennsylvania, where current Gov. Ed Rendell has been campaigning hard for Clinton.
Which machine will win.

At this stage, Obama doesn't need a win, just a narrow loss to keep the delegate lead.


USA-Argentina set for a friendly on June 8, just one week before opening their World Cup qualifying campaign.

In the run up to the U.S. World Cup Qualifying, the United States will have played four top 25 teams in 2008. Let's recap shall we:

Sweden and Poland are tied at 24 in the FIFA world rankings.

England (on May 28) is ranked 11th.

Spain on June 4 is ranked 4th

Argentina on June 8 is ranked 1st.

If the U.S. (currently ranked 28th) is going to be ready for World Cup Qualifying, it is hard to imagine a better series of Tests for the Americans.

Oh, can I also point out that the U.S. has beaten both Sweden and Poland in Eurpoean soil.

There Is Protesting and Then There is Being Stupid

Michelle Malkin has some background to the demonstrators who protested outside the corporate offices of Bear Stearns.

Now, so long as protesters are on public property, I will support their right to protest until my final breath. Their general message against the bailout of Bear Stearns is generally right, but this quote that Malkin highlighted is absolutely shameful and crosses the line from legitimate protest to invasion of privacy and well, fascism:
"We will go to their neighborhood, we will educate their children on what their parents do. They should be ashamed," NACA founder Bruce Marks said of employees at both banks.
First, it is unfair to blame every employee at either Bear Stearns or JP Morgan, most of them are just everyday people trying their best to make a living. Are some culpable for the mess that has been created, absolutely, but not all and indeed probably not most of them.

Second, who should be ashamed, the kids or their parents?

Third, who is this guy to say what the moral standard is?

As Malkin said:
But check out this Bruce Marks.

He has a record of showing up at children’s schools and bullying them because of their parents’ employment in the name of social justice.

Has he earned scorn and condemnation? Of course not! As a reward for his tactics, Marks–who proudly calls himself a “bank terrorist”–was named “Bostonian of the Year” in 2007 by the Boston Globe.
In an ironic twist, a commenter on Malkin's site notes that Marks is-----a mortgage broker.

Defaming a Minnesota Hero

Yesterday, I posted a story about Vets for Freedom leader Pete Hegseth who was denied an apportunity to speak at his former high school because of political pressure. The fellas at Powerline have more, including the libelous campaign of a local columnist.

Still The Only Sane Man in the Democratic Party

Hugh Hewitt has an interview with Gov. Phil Bredensen of Tennessee. Hewitt highlighted this quote which I think deserves attention:
HH: If Senator Obama maintains his delegate lead and his popular vote lead, and we don’t get revotes in Michigan and Florida, it seems increasingly unlikely, do you see the party denying its first African-American nominee the laurels under those circumstances?

PB: Well, I guess, you know, it’s hard to talk about the party, because what all the party is, you know, is 4,000 or plus or minus delegates. I think that he would have an enormous moral claim on it. But this thing is getting so divided now, and of course, there’s still a lot of water to go over the dam on these things. We’ve seen some significant issues come up in the last couple of weeks, and so on. So I don’t know quite what will happen after these primaries are over. But I think that if he really is well ahead, and nothing has changed, and a bunch of people get in the back room and deny him the nomination, I think we would have a real problem that would take a long time to fix. I have to agree with that.
The Democratic Party is at a critical juncture in their existence. Yes, which ever candidate is finally nominated will be of historical note, but if Obama is carrying the majority of delegates going into the convention and he comes out the loser, you can bet that a major voting realignment is possible. There are a fair number of black voters in this country who are seeing the true colors of their party and are not happy with it.

On the other hand, if Obama is nominated, there are going to be a fair number of Clintonites who are not going to be happy.

The challenge for Howard Dean and the DNC is how to keep their coalition together. With both Obama and Clinton leading John McCain head to head match-ups, it would be particularly damaging to the Democratic party if they couldn't win in November.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

DC United Stadium Woes

While DC United will have sole dibs on RFK stadium, it is not a soccer specific stadium, ore even a relatively new facility. Ask how many people know what RFK stands for an you will get my point. But the District is screwing around on the matter of a District development and eventually, that isn't going to fly. Commissioner Don Graber had these comments:
"It's frustrating and continually surprising to me that such an authentic team that is so deeply embedded in this community, that has been a great partner in the District is struggling to get a stadium built. And yet we have teams that are being launched around the country that have had a much easier and faster path. I applaud Victor's patience and his willingness to continue to work through the process, but when you think about how great this could be, it's disappointing that we are going to have to wait so far for that true vision of the team to be realized."
It sure is frustrating.

Seattle will have soccer specific stadium as will the new Philly franchise. Most of the teams in the league either have a soccer specific stadium or are further along in the process of getting one. That DC United, a four time MLS cup champion, one of consistently largest attendence clubs around can't get a stadium built is just ludicrous.

I personally hope that DC United heads to the burbs, although I kind of wish it would be close to my house.

Newt Gingrich On Race

From the NY Times "The Caucus" blog:
"In an hour-long address at the American Enterprise Institute, Mr. Gingrich touched on a few points brought up by Senator Barack Obama during his wide-ranging speech last week on the state of race in America. Mr. Gingrich, who often scolds his own party, offered a few annotations along the way and also, as is his way, gave a few tips of advice to Mr. Obama:
I do think there’s an authenticity and legitimacy to anger by many groups in America. Senator Obama said in his speech, quote: “That anger may not get expressed in public in front of white co-workers or white friends, but it does find voice in the barber shop or around the kitchen table. At times, that anger is exploited by politicians, to gin up votes along racial lines, or to make up for a politician’s own failings. That anger is not always productive; indeed, all too often it distracts attention from solving real problems; it keeps us from squarely facing our own complicity in our condition.”I think that that’s right. And I think it’s important to recognize that anger can be a source of energy to create a better future, in which case it’s a good thing. But if anger is a self-inflicted wound that limits us, it is a very bad and a very dangerous thing. And we have to be very careful about the role that anger plays in our culture.
But then Mr. Gingrich took a sharp right turn from Mr. Obama’s train of thought.“Tragically what has happened is that cultural and political leaders have used anger as an excuse to avoid reality, as an excuse to avoid change, as an excuse to avoid accountability. Because everything that is wrong is somehow somebody else’s fault,” Mr. Gingrich said."
Astute observation.

The Indictee Caucus of Superdelegates

American Thinker Blog
Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, Congressman William Jefferson and now the Governor of Puerto Rico....If this drags on long enough, the Democrat nomination may depend on the felon vote.

Senate Wants Probe of Bear Stearns Bailout?

Look, I don't think the Fed bailout of Bear Stearns or JP Morgan was a good idea, but this is a little hypocritical. I would think that the Senate Democrats would have roughed Ben Bernacke up but good if he didn't do and people lost their homes, their fortunes, etc.

Shock Me, Shock Me, Shock Me With That Deviant Behavior

A California court that issued a ruling that California kids could only be homeschooled by parents with teaching credentials will revisit the case.

I know, shocking huh.
The California appellate court that recently appeared to outlaw home-schooling in California has now agreed to rehear the case, raising hopes among home-schooling supporters that the court will revise its ruling.

"Because this ruling impacts all Californians, we believe the case deserves a second look," said Gary McCaleb, an attorney with the Alliance Defense Fund, which asked the 2nd District Court of Appeal for a rehearing of the case, "In re: Rachel L."

Home-schooling advocates nationwide were outraged with the appellate court's unanimous Feb. 28 ruling that ordered two parents to send two of their children to school — as the children requested, through their lawyer — instead of home-schooling them.

Unpublished court papers show that the family has been involved in the child welfare system for 20 years, amid charges of physical abuse by the father and sexual molestation of several of the daughters by a family friend.

The court-appointed lawyer for the two youngest children, aged 10 and 8, recommended to a juvenile court judge that he order the children sent to school for their own education, safety and well being.

The judge sympathized with the children — their home-schooling was "lousy," he wrote — but he refused to order them sent to school because he believed their parents had a right to teach their children as they saw fit.

The children's lawyer appealed, and the appellate court ruled in their favor: Since the children's mother did not have the required "valid state teaching credential for the grade being taught," she could not teach the children at home, the appellate court said.

But the appellate court also opined that under California's Education Code, "parents do not have a constitutional right to home school their children."

This blanket statement, which appeared to criminalize home-schooling in California, roiled home-schoolers and their allies, and sent politicians to the microphones to defend parents' rights to teach their children. California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger promised that the law would be fixed.
Looking at the facts as they are presented here, it would seem that the Appeals judge just over-reacted. It happens.

"The question now is not whether the government should intervene, but how. "

Says the New York Times on the foreclosure "crisis." The NYT criticizes John McCain for his statements and praises Clinton and Obama for their plans that include:
Both Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Obama have endorsed the best idea currently on the table to prevent foreclosure: amending the law so that troubled borrowers can have their mortgages modified in bankruptcy court. That would give lenders a big incentive to work with borrowers — reducing interest or lowering principal balances — before they opted for bankruptcy protection. Mrs. Clinton also has called for $30 billion in federal funds to bolster state and local foreclosure-prevention efforts and has proposed a 90-day moratorium on foreclosures and a rate freeze on subprime adjustable mortgages. Those measures also could help, but as the crisis has developed, the problem has become less one of resetting interest rates and more one of borrowers owing more than their homes are worth. Bankruptcy reform is a better way to deal with that problem.
This reminds me of a line in Jonah Goldberg's book Liberal Fascism
"Crisis is routinely identified as a core mechanism of fascism because is short circuits debate and democratic deliberation."
So here we have another crisis (like the healthcare crisis, the education crisis, the this crisis and that crisis). What is interesting though is the crisis is not so much a crisis of mortgages or foreclosures, but a crisis of home prices.

Just like the internet bubble, the home prices bubble was doomed to collapse, all bubble burst as some point. What strikes me as odd is that we now must consider only governmental help to forestall something bad that will impact a few hundred thousand people. Thus, we need more federal intervention for the "emergency" that will remain in place and make matters worse. We never considered governmental help when the internet bubble burst. We have for decades suggested that we need more nationalized health care, but that hasn't happened because we deliberated it (and continue to do so). The fact is that the housing price bubble has burst and the irrational exuberance of the past three or five years has ended. Home prices will return to balance and the market will pick up.

As for the concept of predatory lending, there are already laws against that. We don't need more.

Just Imagine that Ethics Disclosure

From the AP:
Saddam Hussein's intelligence agency secretly financed a trip to Iraq for three U.S. lawmakers during the run-up to the U.S.-led invasion, federal prosecutors said Wednesday.

The three anti-war Democrats made the trip in October 2002, while the Bush administration was trying to persuade Congress to authorize military action against Iraq. While traveling, they called for a diplomatic solution.

Prosecutors say that trip was arranged by Muthanna Al-Hanooti, a Michigan charity official, who was charged Wednesday with setting up the junket at the behest of Saddam's regime. Iraqi intelligence officials allegedly paid for the trip through an intermediary and rewarded Al-Hanooti with 2 million barrels of Iraqi oil.

The lawmakers are not named in the indictment but the dates correspond to a trip by Democratic Reps. Jim McDermott of Washington, David Bonior of Michigan and Mike Thompson of California. None was charged and Justice Department spokesman Dean Boyd said investigators "have no information whatsoever" any of them knew the trip was underwritten by Saddam.

"Obviously, we didn't know it at the time," McDermott spokesman Michael DeCesare said Wednesday. "The trip was to see the plight of the Iraqi children. That's the only reason we went."
I am willing to give the Congressmen the benefit of the doubt.

But can you imagine that ethics disclsoure form:

Purpose of visit: investigage plight of Iraqi children
Party Paying for Trip: Saddam Hussein, Dictator of Iraq.


A lawsuit because banks backed out of a financing deal. Seems like a pretty straightforward breach of contract, but when dealing with a $22 billion dollar deal, nothing is straightfoward.

Do You Think The Law Will Be Amended?

Even though a Texas strip club permitted an 12 year old girl to strip and dance nude, the club's license can't be revoked. The ordinance does governing the club doesn't list that as a revocation offense.

Probably because no one would have thought of it.

More Evidence of Anti-Military in Schools

As if not letting recruiters come on campuses is enough, now principals are refusing to allow veterans, heroes, come talk to high school kids about the military: As Kyle-Ann Shiver writes: Unbelievable.
The national organization, Vets for Freedom, is currently sponsoring a Heroes Tour of American cities that will end in Washington, D.C. on April 8 to coincide with General Petraeus' testimony before Congress. Our Afghanistan/Iraq War heroes were scheduled to speak to high school students in Minnesota on Tuesday.

As the mother of grown children, I simply cannot imagine better role models for our young people than our military heroes. These men and women represent the best in self-discipline, honor, and personal responsibility, not to mention the virtue of self-sacrifice for the benefit of others.

Yet, at the last minute the principal of the high school caved to political pressure from parents and outsiders who don't support the war, and cancelled the appearance. Callers threatened to protest outside the school if the soldiers made their presentation to the students.


The last-minute cancellation was especially outrageous since the young man who had personally scheduled the appearance was himself an alumnus of the high school.

Pete Hegseth, who served with the 101st Airborne Division in Iraq 2005-06 had arranged the appearance at his high school, and had this to say about the abrupt shunning of the soldiers:

"I think it's extremely unfortunate that a school would bow to the political pressure of outside groups and not bring in a veterans organization," Hegseth said. "Are we saying that patriotism and duty and honor have no place in our public schools?"
Indeed, not even a alum was permitted to speak. Talk about school leadership lacking any sort of a spine.

Clinton Stalls on North Carolina Debate

Probably because she routinely gets smoked in debates with obama.

One Sane Person in the Democratic Party

Gov. Phil Bredesen (D-TN): You're going to spend this whole summer - and lots of money and time and effort - trying to convince people that whoever isn't eventually nominated, isn't electable. That's a heck of a hole to climb out of come the first of September. What's been going on for the last 90 days just gets worse and worse as the summer goes on.

From the Tell me why this guy isn't running for President?

Clinton Machine At It Again!!

The Clinton Machine will stop at nothing to win:
Twenty top Hillary fundraisers and donors have sent a scathing private letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, chastising her for publicly saying that the super-delegates should support the winner of the pledged delegate count and demanding that she say that they should make an "independent" choice.
If logic and pleading don't work, try a little implicit blackmail:
We have been strong supporters of the DCCC. We therefore urge you to clarify your position on super-delegates and reflect in your comments a more open view to the optional independent actions of each of the delegates at the National Convention in August. We appreciate your activities in support of the Democratic Party and your leadership role in the Party and hope you will be responsive to some of your major enthusiastic supporters.
Read, play by our rules or you can forget about getting our money in the future or us helping you raise money.

Hugs and Kisses, Clinton, Inc.

The Market Can No Longer Heal Itself

So says Duetsche Bank by word and Ben Bernake by deed:
"Remember Friday March 14 2008: it was the day the dream of global free- market capitalism died. For three decades we have moved towards market-driven financial systems. By its decision to rescue Bear Stearns, the Federal Reserve, the institution responsible for monetary policy in the US, chief protagonist of free-market capitalism, declared this era over. It showed in deeds its agreement with the remark by Josef Ackermann, chief executive of Deutsche Bank, that “I no longer believe in the market’s self-healing power”. Deregulation has reached its limits."
Distressing really the fear of the market.

Gee, You Think?

Clinton tactics turn off some superdelegates.The fact that the Obama camp has revealed weaknesses in the Clinton machine makes it easier as well.

Freedom? Ha, No Way, We're a Union

From Cato: A Florida education union may sue the state if too many residents choose school choice!!:
the Florida Education Association may sue to shut down that state’s scholarship tax credit program. Under this program, businesses can donate to non-profit scholarship funds that subsidize tuition for low-income kids at the private schools of their families’ choosing. In return, the businesses can claim dollar for dollar tax credits up to a certain limit.

Public school employee unions have left this program alone since its enactment in 2001, despite having successfully sued to kill a much smaller school voucher program two years ago. So why the sudden talk about filing suit? Let’s go to the Chanel 7 report by Mike Vasilinda:

The teachers [i.e., the Florida Education Association, ed.] successfully challenged the voucher program that was centered around failing schools. They’ve turned a blind eye to the corporate voucher [i.e., scholarship tax credit, ed.] program, but they [through FEA attorney Ron Myer] say if it’s to triple over the next five years, they may go to court.

Keep in mind that scholarship organizations must allocate all donations to scholarships as they receive them, they can’t carry over more than 25% of donations from one year to the next, and the maximum scholarship value is fixed at $3,750 (far below per pupil spending in the public schools). So the only way the total value of scholarship donations could triple would be for triple the number of low-income families to ask for them.

So the Florida Education Association is saying that if too many poor parents want to escape the public schools and get their kids into independent schools, it will shut them and this whole program down.
Heaven forbid we give poor people a chance to choose their educational path.

The next time you hear that a union is looking out for the interests of the students, remember this story.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008


I will be updating this as I get a chance. Better yet, follow it yourself the same way I am since I am still at work, on the Match Tracker.

Here is the U.S. line-up:

Goalkeeper: Tim Howard
Defenders: Carlos Bocanegra, Heath Pearce, Steve Cherundolo, Oguchi Onyewu
Midfield: Michael Bradley, Landon Donovan, Ricardo Clark
Strikers: Clint Dempsey, Eddie Johnson, Brian Ching

Intersting that the three MLS players named to this squad are starting. The combo of Johnson/Dempsey/Ching up front looks promising, lost of speed, lots of quickness, fair amount of creativity. Johnson and Dempsey work together a Fulham as well which helps the American side here. I like the offensive minded 4-3-3 formation.

Quick update. U.S. takes the lead with a header by Carlos Bocanegra off a Landon Donvan cross in the 11th minute. From the commentary, it looks like the U.S. are controlling much of the flow of the game (but that could be reporting bias).

Update II: U.S. Scores second goal in 34th minute. Onyewu heads on a corner kick by Landon Donovan. U.S. 2:0 Poland.

Updated III (4:25pm) Halftime: U.S. leads by two on two Landon Donovan crosses to U.S. defenders. Uh, where are Dempsey & Co.?

Update (4:40pm) Second half underway, U.S. made no changes to its lineup.

Update (4:46pm) Either Poland made four substitions five minutes into the second half or the commentators at Match tracker didn't get the info of changes made at half time.

Update (4:58pm) American subs: Eddie Lewis for Landon Donovan, Jay DeMerit for Oguchi Onyewu and Josh Wolff for Brian Ching. Poland also makes a fifth sub. Not surprising, both Ching and Donovan have MLS openers on Saturday.

Update (5:09pm) The U.S. scores again! This time Eddie Lewis puts a free kick over the wall and into the net from 22 yards out. U.S. lead 3-0!!

Update (5:19pm) With about 5 minutes and stoppage time to go, it appears as though the U.S. has dominated this match. They have been active and aggressive on attack with plenty of opportunities and apparently dangerous on set pieces. Benny Feilhaber has just come on for Heath Pearce in the 85th minute.

Update (5:28pm) Game over. U.S. win 3-0 improving the lifetime record against the Poles to 7-7-2. This is a win over a side that won their Group in Euro 2008 qualifying and the win looks impressive on paper and comments. Can't wait to see the highlights.

The U.S. continues to find success under Bob Bradley and this performance appears to be another good one. I find it strange though that the U.S. scoring is coming from defenders and midfielders. Likewise, we need to see more scoring in the run of play. I think all three goals today came off of set pieces. While I agree that it is very important to take advantage of every set peice opportunity you have and getting three goals on three set pieces is impressive, goals in the run of play are a) more exciting to see and b) add to the depth of your attack.

Still a 3-0 win, on the road, against a quality side does bode well.

Thoughts on U.S. Men's National Team Europe Tour 2008

Just a few minutes ago, the U.S. Men's National Team kicked off in a match against Poland in Krakow. Although the goal of teh U.S. program was to create a competitive powerhouse by the 2010 World Cup, they need to win in Europre regularly or at least perform well by getting results (or in come cases not getting creamed) in hostile Europena venues.

What is interesting is that the U.S. is probably the one team that is used to hostile venues, even their home games can be hostile environments if they are playing against other CONCACAF nations. Playing Mexico in Houston is probably only marginally better than playing in Mexico City.

Still, a win late last year over Sweden in Europe helps build the confidence and most of the players wearing the Red, White and Blue today play in Europe and are used to playing in venues on the road that are well, less than homey.

A result, especially a win, with Poland will build some confidence. Next up for the U.S. squad will be a friendly against England (at Wembley Staduim) in late May and a friendly against Spain in Madrid (I think) in early June. After the Euro Tour 2008 (which needs to be repeated regularly, along with trips to Brazil, Argentina and other South American powerhouses), the U.S. will begin World Cup Qualifying for the CONCACAF region.

Defedning Free Speech Is Hard

Particularly when people don't see or understand what you are doing.

Read this post about FIRE, please!

MN Grad Student "Investigated" For Classroom Dissension

As usual, FIRE is on the case. Most of it turned out well, but this caught my eye:
While it remains shameful that the student's views were so unpalatable to the professor that she ended up successfully excluding those views from her classroom, it is heartening that after just a few reminders about students' First Amendment rights, higher-level administrators finally did the right thing.
The student made statements that questioned the professor and the professor didn't like the statements, sought to have the student investigated for disrupting class and ultimately removed from the physical class.

I argue that it is not a good professor who cannot stand up to challenges and is actuall a disservice to all students by not allowing respectfully dissenting voices.

Bullying Bullies in the Courtroom

Normally, lawsuits are a poor substitute for correcting behavior immediately, but in this instance, it is the right thing to do.

Also, the school principal, leadership and the school district have got to bear some responsibility. This child is getting assaulted on school grounds and I am almost positive the administration had been told.

Thoughts on "Rights" and "Obligations"

From Watchblog's Lee Emmerich Jamison:
We all know a right is society's obligation to the individual, but that also makes it our responsibility to the whole of society. We can talk about this sort of distinction between us and the society because of the protections that are society's fruit to us. Rights, therefore, only happen in the context of a society. If you meet a hungry tiger in the deepest jungle and try to protest of your "right to life", well...
If you meet an al Queda radical with a suicide vest, what "rights" do you have.

Jamison is correct, we as a society appear to have forgotten that with "rights" somes "responsibilities" or "obligations." You can't have one without the other.

Life as a Tall Girl

A good read. At 6'4" myself, I was tall, but 6'4" men don't quite garner the same "wow factor" as a woman of the same height.

Boycotting the Olympics Will Not Solve the Tibet Problem

Anne Applebaum takes on some of the fallacies about the Olympics and she is right on some of them, but gets this one wrong:
"A boycott doesn't solve anything." Well, doesn't it? Some boycotts do help solve some things. The boycott of South Africa by international competitions was probably the single most effective weapon the international community ever deployed against the apartheid state. ("They didn't mind about the business sanctions," a South African friend once told me, "but they minded -- they really, really minded -- about the cricket.") The boycott of the 1980 Moscow Olympics helped undermine Soviet propaganda about the invasion of Afghanistan and helped unify the Western world against it. I don't know for certain, but I'm guessing that from the Soviet perspective, the Soviet boycott of the Los Angeles Olympics four years later was successful, too. Presumably, it was intended to solidify opposition among the Soviet elite toward the United States in the Reagan years, and presumably it helped. (emphasis in the original)
Actually, the reason why the South African sports boycott worked is that the overwhelming majority of nations supported the boycott. A boycott of the 2008 Olympics will not be supported by everyone and indeed not even by substantial minority of nations. The South African boycott took a long time to take hold and was in place for dozens of years before anything really changed in South Africa (which by the way still participated in the Olympic Games during the sports boycott).

Does anyone really expect China to change its mind about Tibet because a few "Western" nations have their collective drawers in a twist over a political situation that has been in place for what 50 years? Don't be ridiculous. Does anyone seriously think that boycotting the Olympics will force a policy change in Beijing? Again, don't be ridiculous!

Boycotting is not going to work, but demonstrations will. The world's media is going to be present at the Games and while athletes and coaches are prohibited or at least supposed to be prohibited from making political statements during the games, there is no such ban on the media, the spectators and travellers to the Beijing Games. I say, go protest and protest loudly. Let that atheltes make all kinds of statements in the weeks running up to the games and in the weeks after the Games, let the supporters and spectators chant as many anti-Chinese Anthems as they can fit in.

A boycott gives teh Chinese the cover they want. Demonstrations focus the white hot spotlight of the world's eye on their dirty laundry.

So which is more effective, a boycott or demonstrations?

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

No-Loans Policies, Need-Blind Admissions and Higher Education Costs

This is a great peice and raises a good side question: are there educational programs or post graduate work more deserving of a free education that others?

Cranky Teacher Alert!

Normally, I would call that a bad thing, but in this case Bill Ferriter, The Tempered Radical, has great post on the unintended consequences of focusing on standardized testing to the exclusion of other things. Bill bemoans what the focus on testing has done to his classroom and the fact that other non-tested subject teachers don't have the same impact. I definitely see Bill's point here:
But I’m afraid that we’ve bulldozed the forest to get to the turkeys! At the very least, I know that my work has been bulldozed.

You see, I no longer drift very far from multiple choice questions at all. Seminars---once a mainstay in my classroom because they encourage students to think creatively and to wrestle with deep ideas together---are now a twice-a-year event. Why? Because they take too long to teach, the skills required in a seminar are not tested (even though they are in my required curriculum), and I fall behind in our pacing guide.

Almost every lesson begins and end with practice questions. We have pretests for every practice test and then we debrief after taking tests, recording the kinds of questions we have to master before future tests. I'd guess that my kids answer close to 200 multiple choice questions a month.

Seems like a drastic reaction, right?

Not when you consider that--unlike the education professionals who work in non-tested subjects--I'm held accountable for one thing and one thing only: the numbers my kids put up each year on end of grade exams. While others are evaluated on slightly ridiculous, overly nebulous, warm and fuzzy difficult to measure contributions---like these "foundational common beliefs" set by the American Librarian Association (I'll give you 10 bucks if you can effectively argue that"Reading is a Window to the World" is a standard while keeping a straight face.)---- I'm judged by how many kids choose the right answer on a multiple choice exam.
The system does create an inherent dichotomy in how teachers are evaluated and that produces so very ill effects. But despite what happens on those aforementioned standardized tests, no professional, in any setting should have to suffer this indignity:
That dichotomy is destroying buildings. Consider my fall: Our reading scores came back and they weren't quite what everyone had expected. In our "data debrief" meeting, my sixth grade LA team was called "decidedly average" in front of the entire faculty because our scores didn't meet expectations---Never mind the constant "we're all reading teachers" mantra making it's way through the edu-sphere.

That leaves me bitter towards colleagues beyond the tested classroom. I resent that teaching has become automated in my room and feel a sense of regret over what I've lost because I know that I've got another benchmark to give in a week.
While my peers beyond the classroom get to educate, I do little more than mechanically train my students to pass exams.
I hve little doubt that the focus on testing has skewed all kinds of measurements across our schools. But Bill does, implicitly, raise an important question. Should schools evaluate teachers differently based on whether or not their subject is tested on standardized tests? How would the do so? What would be the impacts on teacher recruitment/retention if these were changed?

First It Was Speech Codes...

The next battle appears to be hug bans. A ban on hugging in K-12 schools?

Of course, as was the case when I was in school, lo these many years ago, there were policies against public displays of affection. Generally, the rules permitted holding hands, maybe arms around shoulders or waists (but nothing lower). Theoretically, the policies banned kissing but in reality such rules were hard to enforce and so long as the kissing individuals weren't shoving their tongues down each other's throat or otherwise acting overly engaged, most teachers and administrators didn't enforce the 'no-kissing' rule, it was just too hard to police. Incidences of forced kissing were treated as they should be, as an assualt and dealt with pretty harshly. In short, the policy clearly permitted hugging and holding hands, and obstensibly banned other public displays of affection, but the reality of the policies were that they set a boundary for what was acceptable affectionate behavior. Common sense prevailed.

While actions such as this one, a so-called "cuddle puddle", are probably over the line (and it has nothing to do with the bi-sexual/homosexual overtones--just so that we are clear) as being a little to crass to be tolerated, the regulation of physical contact strikes be as more than just a little paranoid.

On a different note, do I detect a conflict here? There is the message mixing that comes to mind with a hug ban. Pardon me, but I thought the purpose of "modern" education was to make children feel good about themselves, the so-called "self-esteem" education. I don't know about other guys, but I always felt good in general and about myself after getting a hug--especially from my girlfriend or just a random pretty girl. I would imagine (hope?) that my girlfriends felt the same about getting a hug from me.

Plus, how do we help children learn boundaries of acceptable public behavior if we ban all sorts of otherwise acceptable public behavior. Walking up to a complete stranger and giving them a hug may be objectionable , but when did hugging friend, of either sex, become unacceptable behavior? I hug my friends (men and women) all the time, it is acceptable public behavior. But by banning hugs, we tell kids that hugging is not acceptable, that human contact is something to be abhorred. How absolutely ludicrous is that?

Farewell to Women's Studies At One British College

The last 12 Women's Studies majors will graduate from London's Metropolitan University this year. The program is closing down for lack of interest.
The disappearance of a course that women academics fought so long and hard to have taught in universities has divided opinion on what this means for feminism. Is it irrelevant in today's world or has the quest for equality hit the mainstream?

The course's critics argue that women's studies became its own worst enemy, remaining trapped in the feminist movement of the 1970s while women and society moved on.

"Feminist scholarship has become predictable, tiresome and dreary, and most young women avoid it like the plague," said Christina Hoff Sommers, resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute for public policy research in Washington and author of Who Stole Feminism? "British and American societies are no longer patriarchal and oppressive 'male hegemonies'. But most women's studies departments are predicated on the assumption that women in the West are under siege. What nonsense."

Others believe young women have shied away from studying feminist theory because they would rather opt for degrees that more obviously lead to jobs, especially since the introduction of tuition fees.

"[Taking] women's studies as a separate course may not feel as relevant to women who go to university to help them enter the job market," said Jean Edelstein, an author and journalist. "As the feminist movement has become increasingly associated with extreme thoughts, women who may have previously been interested in women's studies may be deterred by these overtones."
Women's studies proponents take heart, some radical feminist will come out and say that it is a white male conspiracy designed to keep women down.

Clinton Says She ‘Misspoke’ About Dodging Sniper Fire - New York Times

I'm sorry, this explanation doesn't cut the mustard. If you call Bosnia Boston, that is misspeaking. If you call Tuzla, Tulsa-that is misspeaking.

Saying you dodged sniper fire when you didn't is not misspeaking--that is lying, there is not other word for it.

But if this picture, posted on the NY Times Website is accurate--if it was such a dangerous situation, why is Hillary Clinton bringing her daughter along?

Here is another little tidbit, I am pretty sure the Secret Service (you know those guys charged with protecting the President and his family) would have insisted on a least some body armor under that strange green coat Clinton is wearing. No evidence of such body armor.

The backpedaling is not even artful, it just reeks of an attempt to get something over on people and simply cries out Clintonism.

Hint to the Clinton camp, honesty--it is a lot easier to remember the truth.

A Foundation Gift with Strings Attached

Reason Magazine has the story:
The University of North Carolina-Charlotte was -- way back in 2005 -- one of many schools to accept a business college endowment from the BB&T Charitable Foundation. BB&T Chairman John Allison is a big fan of Ayn Rand. Not suprisingly, Allison has been using the foundation to fund courses and programs on the moral defense of capitalism. In the case of UNCC, this was to include an Ayn Rand Reading Room at the business school. Again, this was widely known years ago.

Now -- all of a sudden -- the UNCC faculty has noticed the program and is freaking out. Chancellor Phil Dubois -- in the proud tradition of edu-crats -- is waffling and attempting to plead ignorance of the whole thing. That "teaching" Rand and specifically Atlas Shrugged was not to be part of the course offering as he understood it. Whatever.
Goodness knows we can't be defending capitalism in colleges can we?

At Least Someone At Derby County is Scoring

Hapless Derby County is going to be relegated this year, but their manager is living it up.

USA:Poland Friendly

I am going to miss it due to work (hoping for and FSC replay later in the day), but the USA :Poland Friendly will feature largely Eurpoean based players. Only three MLS players even made the roster, long time U.S. player Landon Donovan (LA Galaxy) and Houston Dynamo's Ricardo Clark and Brian Ching. But with a lot of the talented MLS players just wrapping up preseason and U-23 competition, it is not surprising.

With So Many Strikers, Someone Had to Go

Guy-Roland Kpene was cut by DC United. Kpene is young and someone needs a striker somewhere--too bad he can't go play for Fulham--they need some goal scoring.

I Hope so for David James

The veteran Portsmouth goalkeeper, at age 37 hopes to play for England in the 2010 World Cup. James, who has started over 500 Premier League Matches in goal, is probably the best goalkeeper in the League right now and deserving of a shot to anchor England in the World Cup.

After the disasterous Euro 2008 qualifying (or lack there of) by England, James has a good case to make.

What? Well At Least They are Asking to Search

But the fallout from this story will no doubt be a lawsuit saying that some people were intimidated into permitting the search.
D.C. police are going door-to-door Monday in one of the city's crime-plagued neighborhoods, asking residents for permission to search their homes for guns and other illegal contraband.

The program, called the Safe Homes Initiative, will offer homeowners and renters limited amnesty for possessing any contraband found by police.

The program is aimed at removing guns and drugs kept by children and young adults in their parents' homes. The homeowners will be asked to sign a form, consenting to the search.
Pretty flimsy excuse for the searches though and full-on Nanny Statism.

Detroit Democrat Mayor Faces Perjury

Unlike the AP, I put Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick's name in the Headline. It took them five paragraphs:
Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick was charged with perjury and other offenses Monday — and got a stern lecture about the importance of telling the truth — after a trove of raunchy text messages contradicted his sworn denials of an affair with his chief aide.

The 37-year-old "Hip-Hop Mayor" who brought youth and vitality to the job in this struggling city of 900,000 could get up to 15 years in prison for perjury alone and would be automatically expelled from office if convicted.

Ignoring mounting demands that he step down, Kilpatrick said: "I look forward to complete exoneration once all the facts have been brought forth. I will remain focused on moving this city forward."

Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy brought charges of perjury, conspiracy, obstruction of justice and misconduct against the popular but polarizing mayor. In announcing the charges, she delivered something of a civics lesson on the importance of telling the truth under oath.

"Some have suggested that the issues in this case are personal or private," said Worthy, a Democrat like the mayor. "Our investigation has clearly shown that public dollars were used, people's lives were ruined, the justice system severely mocked and the public trust trampled on."
Eventually your affair is going to be found out, why deny it under oath. Deny in the press if you like, but lying under oath is worse than the affair. You can bounce back from an affair, you can't bounce back from a perjury conviction.

Richardson a "Judas" for Endorsing Obama

James Carville and the Judas Comment:
James Carville, a political adviser to the Clintons, said this afternoon that he stood by his comment last Friday – Good Friday, to Christians – comparing Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico to Judas, even though a Clinton campaign aide said today that, if he were Mr. Carville, he would apologize for the remark.

“I was quoted accurately and in context, and I was glad to give the quote and I was glad I gave it,” Mr. Carville said. “I’m not apologizing, I’m not resigning, I’m not doing anything.”
For a change a political operative is not backtracking, I admire that, I think the statement is a little over the top.

However, Richardson is more than qualified to give an accurate assessment of working with Hllary Clinton and I think it is indicative of something substantive that he chose to endorse Obama.

Hat Tip:The Instapundit

Clinton and Bosnian Sniper Fire

Power Line "It Lacked the Added Virtue of Being True."This has actually been simmering for a while, but that it is coming into the light now is interesting.

New York Gov. Used Cocaine

Does any one vet their candidates first anymore? New York Gov. Paterson admits past cocaine use. While he does not appear to be snorting anymore, weren't these questions asked.

What do you think of the pre-revelation damage control out of Albany these days?

They say the government we have is the government we deserve. While past drug use doesn't really bother me that much, it does make me wonder what the heck we have done to ourselves.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Supporting the Fans that Support You

Not likely that any American team would do this, but still The Scottish Premier Leagues Rangers have done something extraordinary. Follow the link to find out.

Depressing Soccer Weekend

About the only thing that could have made this weekend more depressing in terms of soccer would have been DC United losing in teh CONCACAF Champions Cup, but since they weren't playing at least I was spared that.

First off, Fulham FC lost their match against Newcastle, extending their 18 month long road winless drought and giving Newcastle their first win under Manager Kevin Keegan. The 2-0 loss started rough when Newcastles scored in the 7th minute. Fulham had some chances but still didn't convert. American goalkeeper Kasey Keller showed why he is amoung the best around with a number of magnificent saves.

Newcastle was one of the crucial "six point" matches that could help the Cottagers close the gap and escape relegation. As it stands, the combination of the Fulham loss and wins by Sunderland and Reading, make next week's match against already all--but-relegated Derby county all that more important. Even a draw against Derby will mean that escaping relegation will depend on the confluence of a lot of wins and a few lucky breaks, something Fulham has not been able to do much of this season. Once again, they have not been able to string together more than three results in a row (Newcastle would have been four). Seven matches remain and it is getting desperate.

Oh and the strange, almost powder blue away kits--hate 'em. Although they are not as bad as the Chelsea neon yellow ones.

On the American Side of the Atlantic Ocean, the Mens' U-23 team lost to Honduras in the finals of the CONCACAF Olympic qualifying tournament. Although both teams had advanced to the Olympics, the match was the final opportunity for the U-23's to show the world the reason why I think they are a medal contender. Although American Coach Peter Novak chose to rest a number of key players, including Freddy Adu, Dax McCarthy and Chris Seitz, the Americans did have the run of the game. They controlled the possession for the most part and had more then their fair share of opportunities. After ending regulation in a 0-0 draw, the teams went to extra time, where Honduras scored midway through the second overtime session, sealing the win.

Still, the American's depth and skill playing together is phenomenal and that is why I think they are a medal contender. The toughest decision for Novak will be which over age players (and each nation is permitted three) will he pick. I think an almost sure choice will be Landon Donovan for the midfield. Combine Donovan's attacking instincts with Maurice Edu's ball control, Dax McCarthy's vision, and the speed and skill of Sasha Kljestan and Stuart Holden and Novak's dilemma will be who to play and that is an enviable delimma to have. The strikers are also very, very deep. Adu's skills and dead ball abilities are impressive as he has grown while playing in Portugal. Jozy Altidore, the 18 year old wiz kid who is now simply marking time in the MLS before heading overseas, displayed great strength and ability as well. Lesser know players like Charlie Davies, Robby Findley and Chad Barrett proved to be dangers as well during this tournament. Adding a bigger target player up top for Novak might be useful, perhaps someone like Clint Dempsey or Eddie Johnson (for height and speed) would make a potent combination for the American striking corps.

The back line is a bit of a question mark for the U-23's. Although they gave up only two goals in the tournament, I am not sure they could not benefit from either some plain intimidating size, in the form of Oguchi Onyewu or some smarts like Carlos Bocanegra in the back. However, Novak ran a lot of different combinations in the back line during the tournament and that could help. Simply some international experience could help.

Finally, the one position on the field where the Americans excell is goalkeeper. Novak has a quality keeper in Chris Seitz and one wonders if Novak is comfortable with Seitz in net. Other options include Brad Guzan, Tim Howard, or Marcus Hahnemann (although Howard would certainly be my first choice). The fact is the depth among American goalkeepers is probably the greatest in the world.

Options abound for the Americans and as I said, they are serious contenders for the medal stand. Like most of the world's U-23 teams, the Americans have a full complement of professional players who are rapidly improving in international play. The Americans will need to break the knockout round curse and much depends on the tournament draw. The pace of the Olympics may favor the Americans since many of their players will in top form. The Olympic games have a lot of matches in a relatively short time frame. The depth of the American squad will also help.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Fulham's Away Record To Be Tested

For the next two weeks, Fulham will be on the road with the Premier Leagues worst away record, with 32 consecutive away matches without a win, but their last road win, a 2-1 victory over Newcastle at St. James Park, which is where the Cottagers are headed this weekend. Next weekend, Fulham heads to Pride Park to play Derby County. Could these two matches provide the magic to end the long road skid. By the way, Newcastles last victory, a 1-0 win over--yep. Fulham.

The Fulham Newcastle match is tomorrow at 11:00am EDT on Fox Soccer Channel.

U-23 Coach to Sit Key Players

From Steven Goff:
With an Olympic berth secure, Coach Peter Nowak said some players from his under-23 squad will not play in Sunday's meaningless final against Honduras in order to prepare for the senior national team's friendly at Poland. Probably Freddy Adu, Jonathan Spector and Sal Zizzo, maybe Charlie Davies, but probably not Jozy Altidore, who has spent little time with the Red Bulls this preseason.

Nowak said he and senior coach Bob Bradley, who was in Nashville tonight, planned to finalize things as soon as possible and unveil the roster in the next few days.
Here is the interesting thing about Adu, Altidore, Spector, Zizzo and maybe players like Michael Bradley (whose club didn't release him for the Qualifying tournament) is that they are young enough to play for the U-20 and U-23 teams and also good enough to play for the senior national team.

The depth of the player pool at the younger ages bodes well for both the 2010 World Cup and beyond.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

U.S. U-23 Men Will Face Honduras In Final

On Sunday at 5:00pm Eastern. On Fox Soccer Channel.

Should be a good match.

U.S. U-23 Men's Team Heading to Olympics

In the semi-finals of the CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying tournament, the United States met Canada in Nashville and the U.S. looks like they have come out of their shell. The 3-0 win over the Canadians is welcome news for the U.S.

Freddy Adu scored twice off set pieces and Sasha Klestjan scored the coup de grace in the 80th minute to seal the deal. With the U.S. moving on, the question will become for Peter Novak will be who, if anyone, among the U.S. senior players will he name to the final Olympic squad. One name that seems almost assured is Landon Donovan to add a little leadership in the midfield. Some other names to consider would be Carlos Bocanegra in the center defense and perhaps Clint Dempsey up top. But at the same time the current squad has performed quite well, particularly Adu, Jozy Altidore and Stuart Holden up top. Maurice Edu has proved solid play and good judgment in the midfield. Novak has also shuffled the defense a great deal and the U.S. has put up three clean sheets and only surrendered one goal in four matches.

On a different note, the Canadian looked very good in this tournament as well. I hope that over the next 6-10 years, the Canadians will continue to develop as the region will benefit from the added competition. With teh U.s. and Mexico largely dominating the CONCACAF over the last decade. The Canadians have a fair number of players playing and training with European leauges and teh MLS. As their exposure increases the competition in the region, it makes the game all the much better for everyone.

Here's A Good Reason Against the Michigan Revote

Michigan has an open primary system, in which anyone can vote in a either party's primiary, without consequence, but if there is a re-vote (which has died in the MI Senate), then according to a memo by Obama lawyer Bob Bauer (who really is an expert on this stuff) hosted at you could have a real constitutional question.
Although Michigan has always run open elections, which allow voters to vote in whatever primary they prefer, voters who participated in the Republican primary in January could not vote in the June election under the proposed law. This class of voters includes Democrats and Independents who chose not to vote in the invalid Democratic primary at the time because the majority of active candidates did not appear on the ballot and the results would not be accepted under party rules.

This provision raises a significant constitutional question and, along with it, the prospect for litigation that would undermine the perceived legitimacy of the election and bring preparations to a standstill under circumstances in which such delay is effectively fatal. The claim here could also be presented to the party, under party rules, with a similar effect of putting the election and its results in serious question.

The burden on voters here is one of complete disqualification—they cannot participate in the Democratic primary in June if they voted in the January Republican primary. Their claim of a violation of their rights would rest on the fact that that the state "changed the rules in the middle of the game." These voters' choice was entirely reasonable in the circumstances: there was no valid Democratic primary available to them at the time, and they could not know that, when their choice was made, that they were disqualifying themselves from participating in a re-run Democratic primary this year that they could know would be held.

Moreover, the state will have difficulty justifying this disenfranchisement by reference to any legitimate state interest. Michigan cannot argue that it wants to limit the June primary to those who are genuinely Democrats, because it has always run fully open primaries. Voters, in other words, have a state-conferred right to vote in the Democratic party no matter what their affiliation. The primaries in January were fully open; and the decision to close them in June will not easily stand constitutional scrutiny. In any challenge, Michigan will be criticized for proposing a re-run without, in effect, restoring to voters the original choice they had—whether to participate in a meaningful Democratic primary.

In other words, the proposal offers a re-run for the State but not for all the voters. The state will have to assert an interest sufficient to justify this infringement on the voting rights of its citizens. Its challenge will be to show how, when the state is seeking to remedy a problem of its own making—failure in the first instance to observe party rules on timing—it can somehow discriminate against groups of its own citizens.

The State is also vulnerable to challenge under the party rules. Since any Republican or independent who did not vote in January in the Republican primary is fully free to participate in the June primary, the effect of the proposal is to enfranchise a class of Republicans while disenfranchising a class of Democrats—the ones who chose to vote in the Republican primary when they correctly understood that the Democratic contest was meaningless. A challenge along these lines would consume time, when time is not available, and it is not clear that the party would or could approve this exclusionary feature even if the participating candidates were to agree to it. The DNC would subject itself to legal action if it proceeds with approval of the plan with these terms included.
Sound complicated, it really isn't.

If a revote is to be had, the only people eligible to vote would those voters who did not vote in January. That would include the specific category of Democratic voters who knew in January that their votes would count in the Democratic primary who voted in the Republican Primary. The problem for the state is to show a compelling state interest from denying any voter the opportunity to vote in June--a very tough--almost impossible showing in election law.

Of course it doesn't really matter since the MI Senate killed the re-vote bill.

Hat Tip: Prof. Hasen.

Color Me Shocked?
Ten wealthy Democrats have offered to pay for a new presidential primary in Michigan — all with ties to Hillary Rodham Clinton, who showed up in the state Wednesday seeking a revote.

Five of the donors are listed on Clinton's campaign website as among her major fundraisers. All 10 have contributed to Clinton's presidential or Senate campaigns or the races run by former president Bill Clinton, according to federal data compiled by the non-profit Center for Responsive Politics.
Well golly gee! That is just so surprising.

Clinton’s Schedules Are Bare

According to Newsweek:
The early days of 1996 were tense times inside the Clinton White House. On Jan. 4, the First Couple's top personal aide reported that she had stumbled upon Hillary Clinton's long-lost Rose Law Firm billing records—documents that had been requested by Whitewater prosecutors two years earlier. Ken Starr quickly subpoenaed the First Lady to testify before a federal grand jury, leading to her historic four-hour appearance at the U.S. District Courthouse in Washington on Jan. 26 of that year.

But anybody looking through Hillary Clinton's newly released White House records for clues as to how she handled this personal crisis will find … absolutely nothing. The more than 10,000 pages, released by the National Archives in response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, purport to be the New York senator's daily schedules for her entire eight-year tenure as First Lady—the first major "document dump" from the Clinton Library in Little Rock.


The heavy deletions are perhaps not surprising, given that the National Archives staffers who approved the release operated under guidance given by former president Clinton in a November 2002 letter recommending strict restrictions on the types of material that can be divulged. (Among the documents that should be "considered for withholding," were anything related to investigations of the White House and all but "non-routine" communications between the president and the First Lady.) The material the National Archives did decide to release still had to be reviewed and approved by Bruce Lindsey, the president's longtime loyal aide who serves as chief custodian of the Clinton archives. "This stuff has been sanitized," said Chris Farrell, the chief of investigations for Judicial Watch, the conservative watchdog group that sued the Archives for release of the records. "Our expectations were very low, and they didn't disappoint." (Clinton campaign spokesman Jay Carson said the Archives released the records under "very strict legal requirements and guidelines that they follow in their redactions as they do for every president's documents. The National Archives made the redactions." He added that Lindsey, former president Clinton's official representative, asked the Archives to "put extensive material back in" and "the vast majority" of the remaining redactions were made to protect the privacy of third parties.)
And this is surprising how?

Of course teh documents were going to be heavily redacted and the last little assertion there cannot be proven.

USA-England Friendly Set

The U.S. Men's National Soccer Team will play England in a Friednly on May 28.Right now it is scheduled to be on ESPN Classic???? and Univision. If Beckham plays, you know the suck-ups at ESPN will put it on ESPN or ESPN2.

Match will be in Wembley at 8:00pm local (3:00pm Eastern). This will be another great tune-up for the Americans leading up to World Cup Qualifying.

Fulham Travel to Newcastle This Weekend

Every one of the remaining eight matches is important for the Whites as they continue their battle to avoid relegation, but the match against Newcastle, at St. James Park, is one of the crucial "six point" matches that can make or break Fulham's chances to avoid the drop. Manager Roy Hodgson discussed the match and the locale:
“We know it’s going to be a tough game but we’ve got ourselves in a tough position so unfortunately every game is a tough game. We can look at it in it’s a difficult task in a cauldron and it’s going to be hard for us but we can also look at is as a great opportunity. As a great chance to break the hoodoo – and that’s what we always do."

Hodgson is confident his side can end their away day blues against the Toon Army this weekend and get within touching distance of 17th place. Three points ahead of Fulham’s forthcoming basement battles against Derby, Sunderland and Reading would really put things in the mix, and as Hodgson pointed out, Fulham have been no pushover on the road recently.

“My players are going into it with confidence. You might not call Bolton and Blackburn cauldrons but we know they’re difficult places to play and we certainly haven’t done badly in those places. I think there’s a lot of experience in the team and that counts in these matches. I think the fact that people have been there before and used to playing at this level or something similar – that’s important.
Hodgson senior players will no doubt play a crucial roles in the next nine weeks, and leaders like Brian McBride, Jimmy Bullard and the emergecne to Brede Hangeland in the back have improved the performance of the Cottagers.

Debating the Achievement Gap

At the Freakonomics blog on the New York Times Blog: From Caroline Hoxby:
The first suggestion may seem pointy-headed but it’s the most important: All major interventions in education should be evaluated using scientific methods — experimental methods, if at all possible.

Most interventions in education (class size reductions, pre-kindergarten programs, classroom technology, paying students for performance, drop-out prevention) are based not on evidence that they work, but rather on the “cardiac test” (e.g., “we just know in our heart that this is right”). Moreover, the interventions are not scientifically evaluated, sometimes because advocates oppose evaluation, but more often because no one bothers to set up pilot, randomization, or baseline data in the first place.
Well, duh you say, but as Hoxby points out, evaluative studies almost never happen in education and the result is that we don't have hard data to point at for finding solutions that actually work. Hoxby notes one of her studies:
In a recent study of New York City charter schools, I compared students who were admitted to the charter schools via random admissions lotteries to students who applied but were “lotteried out.” The beauty of randomization is that the lotteried-in and lotteried-out students were the same — not just in background and prior achievement — but also in motivation. The overall result was that New York City charter school students outperformed the lotteried-out students in math and reading, but not all charter schools had identical success.

One factor that was found to correlate with a charter school’s success was a longer school year (210 days, say, as opposed to 180 days) and day (9 hours, say, as opposed to 5.5). Such policies may hold great promise for schools that serve disadvantaged students, and (unlike the policies I mentioned above) have not been tried much in the past. I would like to see large-scale demonstrations of such policies with scientific evaluations so that we’ll know whether they work or not. Even if the typical public school might hesitate to implement such policies, there are many charter schools in the U.S. that would be glad to try them, with a suitable increase in their budgets.
Be sure to check out the comments.

My comment: We as a society fear the very thing Hoxby supports, actual scientific research on education. To accomplish a randomized sample means teaching two kids in different ways, one of which at least we are sure will work (if not both of them). So we try our new idea on everyone with nary a clue as to what we expect to get or whether it will even work. Then there are teh various stakeholders in teh current status quo, the education industry, the teachers' unions, and to a certain extent the political elites who need a crisis to mandate their involvement. Too much success leads to less of a "crisis" and less need for intervention. In short, we fear that finding something valuable in a real experiment will simply highlight our societal ineptitude when it comes to educating our children.

ACLu Sues Florida School District Over Graduation Rates

From Palm Beach County:
Low graduation rates in Palm Beach County show the school district has failed its students, especially minority children, by not providing a "uniform, efficient, safe, secure and high-quality education," according to a lawsuit filed Tuesday by the American Civil Liberties Union.

The lawsuit addresses a topic never before challenged in the courts. The ACLU and other organizations have sued school districts for not distributing resources equally, but no group has pursued legal action for dismal graduation rates.

"We're really making a more basic point," said Chris Hansen, a senior staff attorney with the ACLU. "Graduating from high school is virtually the minimum requirement for success. A large percentage of the students are being essentially written off."

The suit alleges that the district is violating students' rights to a high-quality education as outlined in the state constitution.

According to state calculations, 71.8 percent of students across the county graduated on time last school year, up from 66 percent in 2003 but slightly below the state average.

The rate is higher than five of the other six largest "urban" school districts in the state, including Miami-Dade and Broward counties. Only Hillsborough County, at 79.1 percent, had a higher rate.

But the graduation rates drop off among the county's black and Hispanic students. While more than 80 percent of white students graduated on time in the county last year, only about 55 percent of black students and 64 percent of Hispanic kids did, according to state statistics. snip

The suit calls for the school district to improve the graduation rates among students in every racial group, students who qualify for the school lunch program and English-language learners. It also calls for the school district to adopt a more-accurate method for calculating graduation rates.
A qquick legal word here, just because a suit has been filed, doesn't mean that it will keep going. I expect the school district will move to dismiss the case for lack of standing by teh plaintiffs or for failure to state a claim which can be resolved by the courts.

Gradutaion rates contain a troubling disparity between racial groups, there is no denying teh hard data. But a lawsuit is a particularly poor way of going about addressing the issue, but the ACLU has no other tactical reserve. In short they don't know how to operate any other way.

Suing the school district because some students are failing is not an issue for the courts to decide. Furthermore, how is teh court to fashion a remedy for the plaintiffs--make the school pass the students? I don't think that a court can do that if the student doesn't meet the criteria, nor do I think a judge will think it prudent for him to do so, even if it were possible?

Finally, I would assume that the school district is working hard (as it must under federal and state law) to address the issue. What is the court supposed to do, tell the school district how to do its job?

I think the ACLU is flat wrong on this and is wasting valuable court time on a suit that should be dismissed out of hand.

Michael Totten on Iraqi Public Opinion

Itimidation may be at work so any poll may be skewed. But as Totten also points out, culturally, things are a little different. In America, we feel it is our natural right to belittle you to your face, but
I’ve been to Iraq five times, and never once have I heard an Iraqi say anything hostile about Americans. Partly this is because I don’t spend time in insurgent circles. How could I? The Iraqis I’ve met don’t represent the full spectrum. Middle Easterners are also famous for their politeness and, unlike some people from other parts of the world, they will not get in your face if they don’t like where you come from. (Al Qaeda members are an obvious and extreme exception, but they’re hated everywhere in Iraq and are violently atypical.)

Burns is right, though, that there’s more to it than that, and there’s also more to it than he let on. Why would Iraqis say to me, an embedded American reporter, that they want Americans to get out of their country while well-armed Marines are standing nearby? Marines won’t punish Iraqi civilians for saying so, but I doubt very seriously that everyone in Iraq understands that.
The legacy of Saddam's intimidation is hard to underestimate. While Americans are used to dissent and tolerate it if not welcome it, that has not been the history in Iraq. Thus, Iraqi public opinion polls are probably not as relevant as many would have you believe.

This makes sense to me.

Intersting Idea from Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredensen

A Superdelegate primary.
We are blessed with two fine candidates, but it’s entirely possible that when primary season ends on June 3, we will still lack a clear nominee. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton could each still believe that the nomination could be his or hers at the national convention in Denver in August.

In that situation, we would then face a long summer of brutal and unnecessary warfare. We would face a summer of growing polarization. And we would face a summer of lost opportunities — lost opportunities to heal the wounds of the primaries, to fill the party’s coffers, to offer unified Democratic ideas for America’s challenges.

If we do nothing, we’ll of course still have a nominee by Labor Day. But if he or she is the nominee of a party that is emotionally exhausted and divided with only two months to go before Election Day, it could be a Pyrrhic victory.

Here’s what our party should do: schedule a superdelegate primary. In early June, after the final primaries, the Democratic National Committee should call together our superdelegates in a public caucus.
I have to admit, the idea makes sense and does get away from the brutality and teh secrecy behind superdelegate support. The courting of superdelegates is done in secret, with lots of backroom deals and promises made. This solution is public and immediate.

Of course, it is also common sensical, so you can almost be sure the Democrats won't do it.

Hat Tip: The Instapundit.

Jakc Balkin on the Heller Case

Balkin, a self-confessed liberal writes:
Although I enjoy making sport of the Justices as much as anyone, the question of whether the 2nd Amendment protects an individual right, including a right to self defense, is not that difficult, at least to me. The framers of the 14th amendment assumed that it was one of the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States. And if a right is a privilege or immunity of citizens of the United States, it hard for me to conclude that it does not bind the United States as well as the individual states.

Now, as a unreconstructed liberal (I'll show you pictures of my bleeding heart), I don't particularly like this result. But it follows sufficiently strongly from other commitments I have about the Constitution that I must accept it.

That's how I come out on the case, but of course, none of the Justices is likely to reason the way I do.
As I noted before, no matter what political leanings people may have, or whether they subscribe to an Living Constitution or an Originalist School of thought, the fact is that the words on teh page have to mean something otherwise we can just simply ignore the Constitution and allow the government and the courts to make up the rules as they go along. That is not repbulican democracy--that is tyrranny.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Teachers Get Into Fight

With each, in front of their students. Nice, real nice. No word on whether they are still employed, but probably are.

Michigan Re-vote Dead

According to Ben Smith it is.

INow That Is Ballsy?

Hillary Clinton has invoked the need for a re-vote in Michigan (which she won by default but it doesn't count) as a Civil Rights issue.
Mrs. Clinton, who said on Tuesday that she had not read his speech, framed her remarks in Michigan today in the context of civil rights enfranchisement, and drew strong applause from the ethnically diverse crowd of 250 that gathered before a wide bank of television cameras.

“It is a bedrock American principle that we are all equal in the voting booth,” Mrs. Clinton said. “It has been a long struggle to get to the point where barriers have been knocked down and doors opened.”
Yes it is a bedrock principal that everyone is equal at teh voting booth, but when dealing with primaries, you are dealing with something a little different--it is largely a party affair and the party gets to make the rules. Break the rules, suffer the consequences.

La Shawn Barber on Sobriety

here. I have never struggled with an addiction of any sort so I don't know what people like La Shawn go through before or after sobriety. But as La Shawn notes, there is life after alcohol (or any other addiction).

Drew Carey On Green Dot, LA Schools and the Power of Perserverence

So see it now.

Calls for An Olympic Boycott Just Plain Stupid

As calls mount for nations to boycott the Beijing Olympics later this year due to the violence in Tibet, I am left wondering: I thought the Olympics was supposed to transcend politics and thus why are we holding them hostage to politics?

Look, the violent crackdown in Tibet is (1) shameful and (2) nothing new. So why are we in an uproar over it now? Oh, because if we go to the Olympic games, we give "credence" to the Chinese Regime? How successful have boycotts been in the past? Did the U.S. boycott of the 1980 Olympics in Moscow get the Soviet Union out of Afghanistan? No, getting their butts kicked got the Soviets out of Afghanistan? Did the retaliatory boycott of the 1984 Olympics change anything? Nope. Is there any reason to expect that a boycott of the Beijing games will change anything? No.

The best thing to do is go to the Olympics and do like Jesse Owens did, show the falseness of the host nation's premise. If you boycott the games, the issue will eventually die down as there will be no continued media presence to push the issue. But if you attend the games, the media attention will include a focus on Tibet. China can't afford to have to censor all the worldwide media--particularly from Western nations.

Hold the light of media scrutiny up and you will get better results. Don't pariticpate and you get status quo.