Friday, May 30, 2008

4 Day Workweek Due to Gas Prices

It seems to be a more common occurance according to this report. There are some jobs that telecommuting is practical and should be encouraged.

But here is a thought, it may not actually cut down on gas consumption as those employees with a four day week will likely spend it doing errands and still driving. Telecommuting, meaning the employee is still expected to be working form home will actually decrease commuting costs, but a 4 day work week is less likely.

Wal-Mart Works to Lower Food Costs

Every time I hear someone complaining and moaning about Wal-Mart, I like to point to this kind of story. Food prices are soaring, we all know that. But instead of caving to it, Wal-Mart is doing something about it, by forcing its suppliers to trim costs. I liked this effort:
Ever wonder why that cereal box is only two-thirds full? Foodmakers love big boxes because they serve as billboards on store shelves. Wal-Mart has been working to change that by promising suppliers that their shelf space won't shrink even if their boxes do. As a result, some of its vendors have reengineered their packaging. General Mills' (GIS, Fortune 500) Hamburger Helper is now made with denser pasta shapes, allowing the same amount of food to fit into a 20% smaller box at the same price. The change has saved 890,000 pounds of paper fiber and eliminated 500 trucks from the road, giving General Mills a cushion to absorb some of the rising costs.
I don't like big cereal boxes because they don't fit so well in my cabinets. Make em smaller, it is ludicrous since the top 1/4 of a cereal box or other boxed goods is empty air.

This is how Wal-Mart does business. They constantly push their vendors and suppliers to cut cots, which keeps the prices down, which saves American a lot of money every year. The vendors do it, because they don't sell just to Wal-Mart but other chains as well, and if they are saving money and keeping price increases less drastic, they still make money in the end.

Yeah, I Heard That Before

Didn't Alec Baldwin threaten to move to Europoe if George W. Bush was elected president? Yeah--that worked well. Now Susan Sarandon has threatened to do the same.

Don't the the door hit you on the way out sister.

Scratching Heads About the Economy

James Pethokoukis is wondering what happened to the recession:
What do you call a recession where the economy keeps going up and up, even if a bit sluggishly? Well, my friends, you call that an expansion. And that is what we seem to have right now, despite all the economic doomsaying about a recession or even a Great Depression 2.0. Today, the Commerce Department revised its first-quarter estimate of gross domestic product upward to 0.9 percent from 0.6 percent. That follows 0.6 percent GDP growth in the final quarter of 2007. The revision also makes it more likely that the second quarter will be positive, maybe 1.5 percent, maybe even higher.

Now I went back and checked the numbers for the past 50 years and didn't find a single case of a recession—as calculated by the National Bureau of Economic Research—that started with or contained two straight quarters of positive GDP growth, much less three quarters. In a recent interview with the Financial Times, former Federal Reserve Chief Alan Greenspan admitted he was puzzled that the economy hasn't fallen off a cliff, given the housing crisis, credit crunch, and oil price surge. He told the FT: "A recession is characterized by significant discontinuities in the data.... It started off that way—there was a period of sharp discontinuity from December to March. But then it stopped.... No one knows how this tug of war will end—specifically, whether the financial crisis will end before it drags down the real economy."

No one is saying the economy is booming. Clearly, we are in the midst of dramatic slowdown. But even the most ursine of bears has to be amazed by the resilience of the Amazing American Growth Machine.
Look, food prices are going up, gas prices are going up, there is a credit crunch (but it can't be too bad if I keep getting offers from my bank to give me more credit--and they know how bare my financial cupboard is), a so-called housing crisis which is showing signs of turnaround. So are we really in a recession. As Pethokoukis points out-not technically. But the economic data is divergent to say the least, so here is a thought

Maybe the way we measure a recession needs to be reconfigured? If our measurements are failing us, wouldn't that be a good time to find a new measurement? I don't know enough economics to even make a suggestion as to which data is more important. But surely there are enough smart people who can come up with something, right?

New England 2:2 DC United

In the first half, DC United looked like a team that is not sitting in the cellar of the Eastern Conference. They were moving the ball around well, they were attacking and they were defending pretty well. United took a two goal lead and then blew it and blew it badly.

I don't know the full stats, but it would not surprise me that the in the first half, that DC United had some 60% of the possession or more. They looked solid.

On the Emilio goal, I would have hoped that Clyde Simms had actually scored, but Matt Reis made a solid save. What is good about the goal is that Emilio was at his poaching best and netted the rebound. With two goals in two games, Emilio looks to be getting his confidence back, which is good to see, but I am not ready to say he is back to form from last year as he missed a few too many opportunities for me.

Fred's goal is another example of being in the right place at the right time. Once again, Reis made a fine save (there is a reason why he is my fantasy keeper), but Fred collected the rebound and put it in from just outside the six yard box.

Fred's goal in particular gives me hope (not becuase of the goal) but because for a long time it seemed that DC United simply didn't put enough numbers into the box on the attack, often it was one or two people making almost a counterattack style effort but the midfield simply was pressing forward enough to overcome defensive numbers. Last night the midfield seemed much more coordinated, Gallardo seemed more like himself, Simms had another very impressive night and Tino showed why I think he is developing into a solid winger/midfielder. Paired with Fred on the left, Tino kept the field of play open, giving Moreno, Emilio and Gallardo the space to play in the middle.

But here is the big problem, for the first 45 minutes, DC had a solid back line, even Zach Wells looked decent. But in teh last half it was like watch a pub league defensive line. Again, they looked confused and no one really stepped up to take charge. While Gonzalo Martinez played well individually, I really need him to step up and take control of the back line. Marks were missed, clearances weren't made and dumb mistakes abounded. The first Revs goal should never have happened, but its seems to encapsulate the DC back line this season--a routine ball in front of the goal is not cleared out and United pay the price. After that goal, the Defenders needed to wake up and they didn't. Like five minutes later, United gets burned again.

I won't blame Wells for the first goal, but I will on the second. Had he stayed on his line, he might have saved Dhube's header, but he did that "Wells thing" where it looks like he is coming off his line but then changes his mind. As a former goal keeper, my coach told me two things--1) don't give up rebounds, catch and hold the ball and 2)if you are coming off your line, committ to it. It is better to be beaten having commited yourself than to be beaten by being indecisive. Wells is, simply put, out of position too often. He was caught chasing the ball, if he had remained on his line, when Laurentowitz had headed the ball back in front of the goal, Wells could have easily picked it off before it got to Dhube. But because Wells started to chase the cross, he was sucked to the right side of his goal and Dhube had an easy header in.

Gallardo/Simms. The combination seems to work well when they focus on their jobs. I think the reason is that Simms knows that defensive midfeild slot so well that Gallardo doesn't have to think much about tracking back as often and can focus on doing what he does best, distributing the ball around.

Emilio--his seems to be getting his confidence back (perhaps the benching did the trick). He looked good tonight, but like I said, he needs to be finishing those opportunities he gets.

Wells--look, DC United needs help here. Wells simply is not cutting the mustard. I know he is young and I know he is inexperienced and really the only way to to get experience is to play, but at the level, Wells has cost the United a coupld of games and this is one of those. Wells needs to spend a lot more time looking a film of himself and seeing how out of position he is.

Tommy Soehn--I am not sure why he is so loyal to some players (see Wells above and Dyachenko who came on as a sub). I am not sure what needs to be done exactly, but I am just a supporter, Soehn should know and he seems to be tinkering a little too much. There are flashes of quality play around, but Soehn doesn't seem to have the team mentally sharp enough to play 90 minutes and win.

Road Form--It has been close to nine months since DC's last road win. It has a certain Fulham-esque quality to it. Yes, getting a point out of New England is usually a good thing, but not when you are two goals up and not when the two goals you conceded are such lousy quality.

Player Rankings
Martinez 5 (individual play a 6, but group play brings him down--it matters)
Mediate 5
McTavish 5
Namoff 7
Quaranta 6
Simms 8
Gallardo 7
Fred 7
Moreno 6
Emilio 6

Dyachenko 4
Burch 5

Fulham Chairman Salutes McBride

Fulham FC Chairman Mohammed Al Fayed paid tribute to departing Brian McBride.

I know I am talking a bit about McBride, but McBride's tenure saw him with the team as they earned promotion and remained in the Premier League. I have always admired McBride, both his skill, which to be honest is nowhere near the top flight strikers, but his grit and determination I believe are unmatched in the Premier League or most leagues for that matter. Said Al Fayed:
Over the past four and a half years, Brian McBride has given tremendous service to Fulham Football Club and I would like to thank him publicly for all his efforts, on and off the pitch, following his decision to pursue new opportunities.

“Brian's unquestionable commitment and bravery on the field earned him the respect of everyone associated with Fulham and I was proud for him to lead our Club as Captain in recent times. At the beginning of last season Brian suffered a serious knee injury whilst scoring against Middlesbrough in front of the Hammersmith End but in true McBride fashion he fought his way back to fitness to lead our team to safety.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Where's McBride Going?

The smart money is on Columbus (his club before going to Fulham) or Chicago--closer to his home town. Goff has details on MLS front.

Toronto has dibs according to MLS rules. However, they are likely to take a pass in exchange for players or more likely allocation money. (the single entity format can be a pain in the butt when dealing with these issues).

Next in line is Real Salt Lake, but I doubt McBride lands there. Deal making is surely underway.

Brian McBride Leaves Fulham

After four and a half years, two Player of the Season awards and the captaincy this year, American International Brian McBride is leaving Fulham.

With a young family he likely wants to raise in the United States, I can see why he intends the move. However, McBride's loss may be tough to replace as he has been not only a goal scorer for the Whites, but something of the heart of the team. His injury early in the 07-08 season hampered his goal scoring, but he came back late in the season and scored key goals in the run in to survival.

With McBride's departure, the release of Carlos Bocanegra and the likely departure of Kasey Keller, the Whites will have only two Americans on the squad, Clint Dempsey and Eddie Johnson. Can we stop the Fulhamerica talk now?

Fulham FC has a pictorial tribute to McBride.

What's next for McBride?

Rumor has it he may be named one of the overage players for the U.S. Olympic team, so that would be a fitting move for him, to play for his country again.

A return to the MLS, perhaps within the next few weeks is likely. McBride played for Columbus for a number of years, but no doubt a number of clubs will be interested in retaining his services (DC United could use a striker and has a DP slot open I think). I certainly see coaching and managing in McBride's future.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

A Good Idea for Teach for America

Joanne Jacobs gives us the story of an idea from Robert Pondiscio to change the way Teach for America works a little:
So here’s how we solve the “two and out” problem and kick TFA’s impact into the stratosphere: Instead of throwing TFAers into the worst teaching situations in the cities you serve, place them in some of the best, highest-performing schools. (Stick with me, Wendy, here’s the beauty part.) Place them in that high-functioning school for two years as pinch-hitters for some of our best, most experienced teachers, and send those master teachers to the same schools to which you’re sending TFA corps members now. We can call it the Teach For America Fellowship, and throw in a nice extra chunk of change to incentivize those master teachers without worrying about whether it’s merit pay.
In short send the TFA members into high performing schools where perhaps the intial impact is less, but gives them the chance to improve their teaching skills without the high pressure to perform. Put veteran teachers into the lower performing schools to see two things:

1. Whether it is the teacher that is successful or the students in teh affluent schools they teach.

2. Whether the experience of teaching is better than the core knowledge of the teacher.

I am not suggesting that it is an either or situation for either question, but it would help redefine the teaching question I think.

TFA Founder Wendy Kopp responded in part:
The most important thing for kids in low-income communities is that we recruit as many people as possible — whether new or experienced — who have the personal characteristics that differentiate successful teachers in high-poverty communities, and that we train and support them to be effective in meeting the extra needs of their students. The individuals who come to Teach For America are coming because they want to work with the nation’s most disadvantaged children (and it is unlikely that most of them would decide to channel their energy toward teaching in more privileged contexts), and in fact their motivation to level the playing field for them is one reason for their success.
Perhaps Kopp is right, I don't know the particular mindset of TFA's applicants.

However, TFA has done something that no other outside reform organization can really point to--they have made a difference. Although a non-profit, TFA has proven that an entity outside the Educational Establishment can make a difference with highly motivated applicants.

But this opportunity is a wonderful chance at taking TFA's reach and giving it an opportunity to turn the educational community on its ear once again.

Before TFA, everyone in education insisted that the best teachers come through education schools. After TFA, we have learned that such a contention is not necessarily true. That is the power of what if?

So here is teh next what if? Do years of teaching experience really matter more than motivation and subject matter knowledge? TFA data would suggest not, but TFA has the ability to provide education researchers with a real world experiment. TFA corps members could be paired against experienced teachers in the same school or similarly situated schools with similar demographics and achievement levels. The hypothesis would be that teachers with 20 years of experience in classrooms with successful students should do better at improving the grades and test scores of low income, disadvantaged school kids than some rookie teacher from TFA?

If the hypothesis is true, what has TFA lost--nothing. If the hypothesis turns out to be false then TFA will have achieved something new again--radically altering the concept of teacher training and the value of credentials and experience. Think of the possibilities.

This is a brilliant idea that doesn't have to be adopted wholesale, just on a large enough scale to provide reliable data.

Carnival of Education

the 173rd Carnival of Education is up at Bluebird's Classroom. good reading as always.

England 1: 0 USA At Halftime

England scored on a set piece cross from David Beckham to John Terry.

Some surprises: Landon Donovan is not even dressed for the match, let alone not starting. Fitness an issue? Waiting until Game against Argentina for the 100th Cap.

DaMarcus Beasley started in midfield, great to see him back in form.

Line up for the U.S.--4-4-2





Subs: Danny Califf (D), Frankie Hejduk (D), Eddie Lewis (M), Maruice Edu (M), Nate Jacqua (D), Freddy Adu (F), Brad Guzan (G).

England Line Up



Brown-------------------------A. Cole


Subs--everyone else. Capello has 18 subs on the bench, the remainder of his player pool--What gives?

First half--based only match tracker. Is it me or is Eddie Johnson actually working up top? His name popped up on several occaisions. The game appears to be as fast paced as everyone anticipated. The U.S. has had some chances and England has not scored in the run of play.

Cherundolo got booked and Wayne Rooney got lucky at the end that he didn't get booked. The officiating crew is Greek with the fourth official being English.

What's up for the second half--a lot of substitutions I would wager. Capello could put a whole other team on the pitch if he could (while friendlies are pretty generous with substitutions, I find it unlikely that Capello would do that). The U.S. needs to just keep up the pressure.

Update: 4:11 pm. Second have underway.

Subs--England--David Bentley on for David Beckham (who has an LA Galaxy match this weekend),

Subs--U.S.--Frankie Hejduk on for Steve Cherundolo and suprisingly Brad Guzan on for Tim Howard. I guess Bradley is looking to see how Guzan deals with the international pressure.

At the 47th minute, Eddie Johnson gets off another solid shot, just wide to the right. Not to get all in a tither about this, but could Eddie Johnson have seen the light and started working like the striker he could be? Time will tell.

Update 5:22 pm: England 2:0 USA. Looks like a tough loss for the U.S. men. I can't wait to watch the replay. I think U.S. Coach Bob Bradley got some good looks at players and it doesn't look like the U.S. played badly, just not as good as England today.

Outlier or Model?

Ocean City (MD) Elementary School last year achieved the NCLB goal that almost everyone, including me, considers impossible--100 percent proficiency in reading and math among its tested students. Oh, and buried in the article is the other impressive statistic--last year 72 percent of Ocean City students were rated as advanced, more than any other school in the state. There are many distictive elements in the school's program, many instituted by Principal Irene Kordick, a woman came to the United States at age 6 and managed to rise to the 5th grade without learning to speak or write English.
When she became principal of Ocean City Elementary 11 years ago, Kordick initiated a policy called Ask and Answer. The school abolished the practice of teachers asking questions, students raising hands and the teacher picking one to provide the answer. Instead, students pair off and answer the question between themselves.

In a kindergarten class on a recent morning, students recited the plan for a morning activity: "We will construct caterpillars and butterflies." Teacher Chris Lieb then said, "Think about what 'construct' might mean. Pair with your partner and tell your partner." Chatter filled the classroom.

In an adjoining class, kindergarten student Hunter Wolf peered through a framed sheet of transparent plastic held against a window, the better to gauge the day's weather. He turned to the class: "According to my picture, it is cloudy and rainy today." Another schoolwide rule dictates that students speak in complete sentences.

Teachers and students at Ocean City work according to an ever-expanding list of norms, a document that now runs to five pages. Conceived by Kordick and padded with contributions from staff members, the norms include broad directives about perseverance and choice as well as specific rules: Never stop working until the time is up. Greet others with "Good Morning" or "Good Afternoon."

It is an approach so distinctive, said parent Kim Holloway, that when students from Ocean City go on to other schools in the Worcester County system, "you can pick them out, one by one. They're attentive, they're respectful."
Ocean City does not serve 5th graders, in a rather unique circumstance. While many might look at Ocean City and point to demographics (the school is 90 percent white), or smaller class sizes (the average is under 20 students), or other factors, the truth is that Ocean City did achive very remarkable results, ahead of schedule and with a program that is encouraging success.

So the question is, is the school and outlier from which we should draw no conclusions or should schools undertake to examine what about Ocean City can be emulated.

DC City Council's Buyers Remorse About Michelle Rhee

DC State Superintendet of Education Deborah Gist is largely unknown the the public, but she does have a role in the DC public schools. Gist reports to Mayor Adrian Fenty, but it looks like she doesn't have much in the way of power over the DC Schools Chancellor's plans for school improvement.
Now, some elected State Board of Education members, who serve as advisers to Gist, are seeking to elevate her role in scrutinizing Rhee.

The debate over who has power to approve Rhee's plan reflects a larger tug of war between state and local education officials across the country over implementation of federal No Child Left Behind guidelines. In the District, the state superintendent's office and school board perform many functions of state education departments but generally have less power than their counterparts over local schools.

Board members say they have had preliminary conversations with D.C. Council members about introducing legislation that would allow Gist to sever ties with Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D), having her report to the council or operate independently of both. Last week, the school board agreed to study the authority state education chiefs have over academically troubled schools.

"I think [Gist] should be more independent," school board President Robert C. Bobb said. "The whole issue of reforming education in the District is not one hand clapping; the state superintendent plays a significant role in that. In my perspective, she has to be an equal partner."

Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray (D) agreed. "I've raised [the issue] at more than one oversight hearing. You go next door to Maryland, and their superintendent, Nancy Grasmick, exercises the type of authority Deborah never had. . . . There continues to be a concern among [council] members about whether we got it right with the state component."

Gist declined to comment on the issue of independence.

States "don't have say in a school-level plan. That's not the state's role," Rhee said. "The state's role is to only monitor the plans once they're actually created and they're being implemented."
What is interesting is not the power struggle between Gist and Rhee--that happens everywhere in every state. Yes, it is a little different than in most states because of the uniqueness of DC's system of governance, but power struggles between leaders happen all the time.

What is more interesting is the personalities and the politics surrounding the power struggle. The State Superintendent position was in place before Rhee came into office and was largely without power and no one really cared because the DC Schools Superintendent didn't have the power and authority that Rhee enjoys, nor the sponsorship of the Mayor to the level Fenty affords Rhee. Part of the problem is the the DC City Council gave Fenty and Rhee control of the schools, for the most part abdicating their role of oversight, preferring to have Fenty sink or swim in the morass of the DCPS.

Now, one year into her tenure, Rhee has made significant changes and significant headway for the very fact that she is not beholden to a school bureaucracy and answers only to
Fenty. Now the City Council wants to change that by putting someone into a position of oversight. This is the Council's way to looking to have some sort of credit if Rhee's visions come to pass, and plausible deniability if they don't.

The City Council bought into, relucatantly in some cases, Fenty's proposal to take over the schools. Now they have some remorse and want to disrupt the Fenty/Rhee team's success. They know that if Fenty succeeds in turning around the schools, the City Council will have largely been politically castrated--and the City Council handed over the scalpel.

England - USA Match in Six Hours

Give or take. The U.S. Men's National Team is at legendary Wembley Stadium in a few hours to start their run up to World Cup Qualifying against Barbados with the first of three friendlies against some of the top national teams in the World, England, Spain and Argentina. Lots of Coverage over at the site.

Landon Donovan is almost assured of earning his 100th cap, and at current pace could surpass Cobi Jones as the most capped mens player in U.S. History. Donovan already holds the record for most goals for the U.S. and at age 26, he will likely be around for the 2014 world cup, when he will be 32, so things are looking good for Donovan.

Interviews with Bob Bradley (also posted at the US Soccer site), seem to indicate that Bradley, while evaluating talent and depth, is looking for wins in the next three matches. The 22 man roster he selected from his 33 player pool for this match is, not surprisingly, made up of largely experienced players.

This is what I would expect to be the starting line-up:





Some possible variations might be Nate Jacqua for Eddie Johnson up top. I think the Midfield will look pretty much like I note, with the possible exception of Beasley. But with this Roster, I don't think Maurice Edu or Freddy Adu have the pace of Beasley to really take on the English defense. Cherundolo and Pearce may easily make way for players like Jay DeMerit and/or Frankie Hejduk.

Assuming this starting eleven, I would expect Bradley to sub out Eddie Johnson for Jacqua or Josh Wolff. Depending on where the score line stands and Bradley's disposition to save some of teh MLS players, I could see Donovan and/or Clark coming off in the second half and see Edu/Adu/Eddie Lewis come on.

I don't think that Bradley will mess with his back line barring injury.

I think Timmy Howard will be in net for all three games, but I wouldn't count Cervi out. Bradley may play him to give him an opportunity to play in a big game and help the young man get a contract. Brad Guzan has been too shaky of late in the MLS to be considered for playing time right now.

The Game will be on ESPN Classic. If you are like me, though and can't get away from work, US will have the Match Tracker running.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

MLS's New Problem--Racism?

Steven Goff of the Washington Post has linked to a disturbing video, apparently taken by a fan at the Columbus Crew-New England Revolution match over the weekend. The Revs' Kheli Dube scored a goal off a rebounded penalty kick. Between the obscentities there is a clear racial epithet (the n-word if you must known) thrown out there.

Europe in particularly has struggled and continues to struggle in some areas with racist fans and racial epithets thrown about regularly. (Thierry Henry in particularly has been a crusader against this kind of behavior). While there is no doubt racism in America and racial problems in sports both in the past and now, this is the first time I have heard of it in the MLS.

This kind of behavior by fans in unacceptable. I don't want to call this a slippery slope to hooliganism, but this is not a good development for American soccer. Fans get rowdy and fans get nasty sometimes, that is all part of the passion about soccer that I love. But people have to take some responsbility for themselves and their actions.

This is clearly not the work of the Columbus Crew, but they need to step up and do a little investigating. From the camera angle, it should not be too hard to narrow the possible culprits to a small universe of idiots.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Beckham From 70 Yards

Beckham's fourth Goal was a 70-yarder into an empty net against Kansas City. KC keeper Kevin Hartman had come forward in the final minutes in an attempt to win over the Galaxy.


I Am The American Sailor

For Memorial Day:

I AM THE AMERICAN SAILOR Hear my voice, America!
Though I speak through the mist of 200 years, my shout for freedom will echo through liberty's halls for many centuries to come.

Hear me speak, for my words are of truth and justice, and the rights of man. For those ideals I have spilled my blood upon the world's troubled waters.
Listen well, for my time is eternal -yours is but a moment. I am the spirit of heroes past and future.

I am the American Sailor. I was born upon the icy shores at Plymouth, rocked upon the waves of the Atlantic, and nursed in the wilderness of Virginia. I cut my teeth on New England codfish, and I was clothed in southern cotton. I built muscle at the halyards of New Bedford whalers, and I gained my sealegs high atop mizzen of yankee clipper ships.

Yes, I am the American Sailor, one of the greatest seamen the world has ever known. The sea is my home and my words are tempered by the sound of paddle wheels on the Mississippi and the song of whales off Greenland's barren shore. My eyes have grown dim from the glare of sunshine on blue water,and my heart is full of star-strewn nights under the Southern Cross. My hands are raw from winterstorms while sailing down round the Horn, and they are blistered from the heat of cannon broadside while defending our nation.

I am the American Sailor, and I have seen the sunset of a thousand distant, lonely lands.

I am the American Sailor. It was I who stood tall beside John Paul Jones as he shouted, "I have notyet begun to fight!" I fought upon the Lake Erie with Perry, and I rode with Stephen Decatur into Tripoli harbor to burn Philadelphia. I met Guerriere aboard Constitution, and I was lashed to the mast with Admiral Farragut at Mobile Bay. I have heard the clang of Confederate shot against the sides of Monitor. I have suffered the cold with Peary at the North Pole, and I responded when Dewey said, "You may fire when ready Gridley," at Manila Bay. It was I who transported supplies through submarine infested waters when our soldier's were called "over there." I was there as Admiral Byrd crossed the South Pole. It was I who went down with the Arizona at Pearl Harbor, who supported our troops at Inchon, and patrolled dark deadly waters of the Mekong Delta.

I am the American Sailor and I wear many faces. I am a pilot soaring across God's blue canopy and I am a Seabee atop a dusty bulldozer in the South Pacific. I am a corpsman nursing the wounded in the jungle, and I am a torpedoman in the Nautilus deep beneath the North Pole. I am hard and I am strong. But it was my eyes that filled with tears when my brother went down with the Thresher, and it was my heart that rejoiced when Commander Shepherd rocketed into orbit above the earth. It was I who languished in a Viet Cong prison camp, and it was I who walked upon the moon. It was I who saved the Stark and the Samuel B. Roberts in the mine infested waters of the Persian Gulf. It was I who pulled my brothers from the smoke filled compartments of the Bonefish and wept when my shipmates died on the Iowa and White Plains. When called again, I was there, on the tip of the spear for Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm.

I am the American Sailor. I am woman, I am man, I am white and black, yellow, red and brown. I am Jew, Muslim, Christian, and Buddhist. I am Irish, Filipino, African, French, Chinese, and Indian. And my standard is the outstretched hand of Liberty.

Today, I serve around the world; on land, in air, on and under the sea. I serve proudly, at peace once again, but with the fervent prayer that I need not be called again.

Tell your children of me. Tell them of my sacrifice, and how my spirit soars above their country. I have spread the mantle of my nation over the ocean, and I will guard her forever. I am her heritage and yours.

Author Unknown

Beasley Back In Form

U.S. International DaMarcus Beasley is clearly back in form as he helped Glasgow Rangers win the Scottish FA Cup final against Cinderella story Queen of the South. Beasley scored a goal and had an assist in the game winner.

Beasley has just returned from a nearly six month knee injury.

Beasley is likely to see a fair amount of playing time in the U.S. next three friendlies, largely because he is not likely to be as knackered as the rest of the European based squad. Despite his slight size, Beasley's speed is a huge asset to the Americans. I think a combination of Beasely and Dempsey on the wings spreads the field and opens up lots of space for the American strikers.

Hats off to Queen of the South, who not only made it to the Scottish FA Cup Final, but made it a match against one of the powerhouses of Scottish football.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Teacher Contract Would End Seniority

Michelle Rhee is negotiating to end seniority for the purposes of filling teaching vacancies. According to the Post:
The Washington Teachers' Union is discussing a proposed three-year contract from the school system that would eliminate seniority, giving Schools Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee more control in filling vacancies, a union member familiar with the talks said yesterday.

Without seniority, Rhee could place teachers based on qualifications or performance rather than years of service, said the union member, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the talks are confidential. The union member said Rhee sought the provision as a recruiting tool so she could offer talented candidates the position of their choice. She would be able to fill positions with less experienced teachers.

Under the proposed contract, teachers would give up seniority in exchange for annual raises of about 6 percent, more personal-leave days and more money for supplies, the union member said. In the last contract, which expired in the fall, teachers received a 10 percent raise over two years.

Rhee "does want to infuse some new blood [into the schools]. She wants to make it attractive for young people coming in to advance," said the union member, adding that the union's negotiating team will meet with her tomorrow or Friday. "We've come to realize we're going to have to give in to her."
Um, yeah, you are going to have to give into her, because right now Rhee is on a roll with policy victories. Ultimately, this will benefit the school system and the union in the long run. Recruiting teachers is the hardest job for Rhee and any other superintendent, but the change, if occurs helps Rhee in one immediate but less visual manner.

When teachers decide they want to leave the school they are at, principals will often ask that they delay notifying the central office for a while, thereby prohibiting the job vacancy announcement until the last possible moment. This gives the principal the shot at getting a candidate they want, not the next person on the seniority list interested in the job, but perhaps unqualified for it. Now with seniority removed from the equation, the principals will have no incentive to hide the vacancies and Rhee can recruit earlier in the season, rather than trying to fill jobs at the last minute.

Rhee will be able to recruit better quality teachers. This is an invaluable win for Rhee in the short and long run, the added pay raise and supply money is a great trade for the Chancellor.

McCain Veep Stakes

Senator McCain will meet this weekend with Governors Charlie Crist (FL), Bobby Jindal (LA) and former governor Mitt Romney (MA) in what is no doubt a series of job interviews for the VP slot on the Republican ticket.

First a general word. That McCain is looking almost exclusively at governors is great. He will need some executive experience to balance his absolute lack of such experience.

Romney--he comes from the Northeast and has lots and lots of executive credentials to back him up. However, his politics are not that much more conservative than McCain's. But Romney did well in the GOP primary, he had support and he could help solidify the GOP. But let's face, I can't remember the last time a Republican carried the Northeast let alone Massachussets. Geographically, Romeny doesn't help, politically he doesn't help, so I think this is not the best choice. I could see Romney as a Secretary of State or Defense.

Bobby Jindal--no doubt the GOP wunderkind would greatly help McCain. Jindal's policy credentials, especially on health care, are without equal in GOP circles. He is young, only 37, and dynamic. But here is the problem, Jindal's youth will only highlight McCain's age. Their average age on election day will be like 54, which is a fair age for a president, but not for a President/Vice combination. Plus, I don't think Jindal should get into this, for a number of reasons I pointed out here and here. Plus, McCain is likely to carry Lousiana anyway. Let Jindal clean up Lousiana and run for President after getting re-elected to governor.

Charlie Crist--Now from the obvious standpoint, getting a popular Florida governor not name Bush to be your running mate would give McCain a big edge in a key battleground state. So from that standpoint alone, Crist has to be the frontrunner. But there is more to Crist. He is solidly conservative, mainstream conservative. He would appeal to the conservative base and help solidify McCain's right flank. But Crist has loads of experience as governor and as attorney general. He has taken a hard line stance on gun rights, law enforcement and other mainstream conservative issues. Crist is also a brilliant campaigner and brings solid operational skills. The drawback is that Crist has spent almost all of his career in state politics, which detracts from the national and internationl level skills that Jindal and Romney bring.

Of the three mentioned here, I would choose Crist for a number of reasons, in part because he is clearly outside the beltway and from Florida.

McCain's Military Service

Betsy Newmark notes that there are some senators out there, Democratic Senators that is, who have taken to begin bashing John McCain's military service. Linking to this piece by Ed Morrissey at Hot Air, Newmark wonders:
Remember how upset Democrats got about the Swivt Boat Veterans for Truth for questioning John Kerry's short service in Vietnam. So some of these Obama supporters are now in the position of saying that it was despicable to criticize anything about Kerry's service, yet McCain's is fair game. I doubt whether they're going to get anywhere dissing McCain's military background. Sure, lefty blogs and their mouthpieces in the press will take up the cry, but they just aren't going to get much traction with these sorts of attacks.

The question is why experienced politicians would try this tactic. Perhaps they really fear the aura of hero that McCain has due to the courage he showed as a POW. Or maybe they just don't get the military and deep down dislike the military.
I think there were legitimate criticisms for John Kerry's service and I think there are legitimate criticisms of McCain's service.

I do beleive that John McCain got into the Naval Academy because of his father being an Admiral. Now the Naval Academy is no picnic in terms of its traditions, its academic pressures and other matters. John McCain did graduate although far at the bottom of his class. I think McCain got another boost by getting pilot training, despite his low graduation rank (assignments are generally chosen by seniority defined by graduation rank). Perhaps it was his father again or maybe it was just that there were some flight training slots open (I have no data one way or the other, but it does seem unusual).

While these are fair game criticisms and ones that McCain has faced before, there is no doubt that his military career was shortened and altered by teh seven years he spent in a Vietnamese POW camp. The Vietnamese were not known for their humane treatment of POWs and McCain courage and strength in undergoing such an ordeal cannot be questioned and I find it dispicable that some Democrats now think it is fair to do so.

Question his possible privilege? Fair, off-point, but fair. Question McCain's courage--just plain stupid and likely to backfire.

Last Living Plaintiff in Brown v. Board of Education Dies

At the ripe old age of 88, Zelma Helnderson has passed away at the end of a long battle with cancer according to The Topeka Capital-Journal.

Hat tip to The School Law Blog

Portrait of the Politico as a Young Man - The Caucus - Politics - New York Times Blog


Clinton's young camp.

Fulham Sign Australian International Mark Schwarzer

The summer transfer window is open and Fulham have already started singing people. Fulham signed Middlesbrough goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer to a two year deal.

This signing makes me wonder if Kasey Keller is on his way out. Schwarzer has been with Middlesbrough for 10 years and has similar if slightly less journeyman experience as Keller. To my knowledge, Keller was only on a deal through the end of the 07/08 season. It would be interesting if Hodgson keeps both Keller and Schwarzer and let Antti Niemi go.

Video of the Champions League Penalties

In many ways it is a terrible way to lose a game as big as this one, but here is video of penalties.

A few thoughts.

Cristiano Ronaldo has to stop doing his little pause in his run up. This is twice in big matches that he has blown the penalty, which should be a guaranteed goal for some one of his ability. I still think he should win FIFA Player of the Year, but really I would be surprised if he didn't. Bonus to him for finally scoring against Chelsea in the fun of play. Had it not been for John Terry, a Man United loss would have fallen on his shoulders by missing the spot kick.

John Terry. It would be easy to feel sorry for him, but he is an experienced player and every other shooter made their kick and stayed on their feet. On such a wet and dodgy surface trying to lean left and shoot right is very hard and he shouldn't have done it.

Anelka. I feel bad for him though. He didn't miss his penalty, Van der Saar saved it brilliantly. But he will take the heat for not keeping Chelsea in it.

Van der Saar and Cech. Both men guessed right most of the time (Van der Saar more than Cech) and each got his hands on the ball several times. Unlike the kickers, generally, the pressure is off the keepers in this situation. One save can make you a hero, two will make you a god.

I agree with the thought that Anderson and Belletti dealt with the pressure very well, begin subbed on for the express purpose of taking penalties. They buried their shots.

Finally, it is fortunate that Didier Drogba is on his way out of Stamford Bridge. His stupidity cost Chelsea and had United scored in the run of play in extra time with a man advantage, it would have been all Drogba's fault and rightfully so. He is absolute dross and although not a Chelsea fan, I must say that I am glad he won't be tarnishing the Premier league next year.

DCU Loses Again

With a quarter of the season gone and United sitting in the cellar, one wonders how much longer Victor McFarlane, Kevin Payne and Will Change will permit the season to progress at this level without making a change. This is not say that Tommy Soehn did a poor job last night, I think he did OK. But the fact is that losing is losing and some one usually has to take the blame--and while Payne isn't going to fire himself, McFarlane and Chang are probably putting on the pressure.

The funny thing is, had it not been for McTavish's bad luck, bad footing or just being bad, DC would have gotten a point on the road in a nil-nil draw. DC did play better than they have of late but the problem is the same old song and dance--defensive mistakes, lack of communication, lack of flow and most importanly lack of finishing lead to the loss in Toronto.

Some usually reliable players had less than stellar games and this being the first of four games in 12 days, the signs are not good. DC United is on its way to a Fulham like road record, being 0-5 on the road in all competitions this year with only one goal in those five games. DC hasn't won on the road since September 1 of last year against Dallas (who also just sacked their manager after their 5-1 drubbing at the hands of L.A. Galaxy.)

Before another packed crowd at BMO field in Toronto--which is earning, deservedly so, the notoriety of being the hardest place to play between the earnest fans and the artificial turf--DC tried and failed to get it done. Toronto come to DC on Saturday, and DC desperately needs a win. If this four game streak results in less than six points for United, it may be time to give Soehn the boot--if for no other reason than to shake the locker room up a little.

Bryan Namoff--again he appears to be one of the few players on the field who really gives a damn. He worked hard, he moved around a lot, played solid balls and fought to win the 50-50 balls.

Gonzalo Martinez--again, I love the way he is moving into attack a bit more. At times he looks more like a holding midfielder in a 3-5-2 formation than a center back in a 4-4-2 formation. His offensive mindedness pays off many times in the offensive third, but he is also not forsaking his defensive duties. I do worry thought that as teh season wears on he is just going to get too knackered to be of much use in the end.

Santino Quaranta--I admit this was not one of his better games. I don't know if it was the surface, the conditions or what, but he his best performance. However, I am taken by his energy and I think he is developing into a truly quality winger. This kind of development, minus missed performances like this one, he could see some national team action soon.

Zach Wells--ugh! I simply don't know what else to say but he has not turned out to be the keeper we need. So here is my thought, trade him to Real Salt Lake and take Chris Seitz. Seitz is not going to get playing time behind Nick Rimando and Wells could learn lots from Rimando. Carvallo may not be ready, but Wells clearly is not.

Jaime Moreno--his post game quote sucked and demonstrated that his head is not in the leadership of this squad. He needs to be getting in players faces and holding them accountable for their play. He needs to be getting in the referees faces (respectfully of course) on the lack of calls for persistent infringement, which for the second game left more than a few United players rolling on the pitch more than once.

Fred--coming off of injury is tough, but good grief man, you are paid to finish and you need to finish. At least two quality opportunities squandered. There is no excuse for the blown header, yes Toronto's keeper made good save, but with three yards of goal to either side of Sutton, it wouldn't have taken much to ripple the twine.

Toronto comes to town on Saturday, maybe the Barra Brava and Screaming Eagles can rouse the United from its slumber--we need it.

Player Rating
Wells 3
Namoff 6
Peralta 5
McTavish 3
Martinez 6
Quaranta 5
Simms 5
Gallardo 5
Fred 3 (and I think that is being a little generous)
Moreno 3
Emilio 4

Burch 5
Mediate 5
Doe 4

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Manchester United Win UEFA Champions League

On Penalties!!!

Game highlights here. Can't wait to actually watch the match.

Ugh!! Farm Bill Subsidies Could be Windfall

Washington Post notes some other junk in the Farm Giveaway Bill.
A major new program in the recently enacted farm bill could increase taxpayer-financed payments to farmers by billions of dollars if high commodity prices decline to more typical levels, administration and congressional budget officials said yesterday.


The final details of the new program were approved at the end of four months of House-Senate negotiations over the legislation and received almost no attention during floor debate last week. The voluntary program guarantees farmers a subsidy if they suffer losses because of low prices or poor crops.

Since the amount of the subsidy for 2009 is tied to recent record prices, farmers could reap a windfall if prices drop suddenly.

"I don't think many people on the House side who voted for the farm bill realized there were $16 billion in potential higher costs in there," said Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Charles F. Conner. "The budget exposure is tremendous."

A blog item posted Monday by the agricultural magazine Pro Farmer described the new program, known as Average Crop Revenue Election (ACRE), as "lucrative beyond expectations," and said it is a "no brainer" for farmers to sign up for it.

The Agriculture Department estimates that subsidy payments to corn farmers alone could reach $10 billion a year if prices -- which have been $5 to $6 a bushel -- were to drop to $3.25 a bushel, a level seen as recently as last year. The $10 billion figure assumes most farmers would participate in the program, a view disputed by key lawmakers.
Okay, at the first, I am a huge opponent of farm subsidies, largely because they do more to keep food prices higher than anything else. I don't mind crop insurance, flood insurance or other insurances, but not subsidies.

Second, it is important to remember that most of these farm subsidies don't go to the "family farmer" but to corporations that do most of the farming in this country. It is corporate welfare at its worst. The notion that "most famers" would not sign up for the program is rediculous. If the government were going to give me money when the price of anything I own or produce falls, you can bet I am going to sign up for it. It is free money!!!

Third, as the agriculture secretary pointed out, the bill has a huge budget exposure of probably more than $10 billion.

When are lawmakers going to wise up and really start talking about cutting back on all the giveaways. When is someone going to step up to the plate and really present the absolute ludicrousness of these subsidies and government spending.

Joe Lieberman on the Democratic Party

Joe Lieberman has an outstanding op-ed on the state of the Democratic Party and foriegn policy, it starts:
How did the Democratic Party get here? How did the party of Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman and John F. Kennedy drift so far from the foreign policy and national security principles and policies that were at the core of its identity and its purpose?


This worldview began to come apart in the late 1960s, around the war in Vietnam. In its place, a very different view of the world took root in the Democratic Party. Rather than seeing the Cold War as an ideological contest between the free nations of the West and the repressive regimes of the communist world, this rival political philosophy saw America as the aggressor – a morally bankrupt, imperialist power whose militarism and "inordinate fear of communism" represented the real threat to world peace.

It argued that the Soviets and their allies were our enemies not because they were inspired by a totalitarian ideology fundamentally hostile to our way of life, or because they nursed ambitions of global conquest. Rather, the Soviets were our enemy because we had provoked them, because we threatened them, and because we failed to sit down and accord them the respect they deserved. In other words, the Cold War was mostly America's fault.

Of course that leftward lurch by the Democrats did not go unchallenged. Democratic Cold Warriors like Scoop Jackson fought against the tide. But despite their principled efforts, the Democratic Party through the 1970s and 1980s became prisoner to a foreign policy philosophy that was, in most respects, the antithesis of what Democrats had stood for under Roosevelt, Truman and Kennedy.
That someone as respected as Joe Lieberman is making this argument is valuable. But unfortunately, the Democratic Party of today is likely to reject the notion of a Democratic Party foriegn policy where we see our enemies as enemies and not victims of the United States.

About Time? or Too Little Too Late?

House Minority Leader John Boehner laid down the law a little with the NRCC. Sadly he left Rep. Tom Cole as the Chairman, but Boehner issued a series of directives none-the-less. Cole despite not being fired, is now nothing more than a figurehead and should resign rather than continue being emasculated.

More here.

Shocking!!! Social Promotion Exists!

Only this time there is an in depth study by a local paper in Tuscon, AZ. Despite a 33% failure rate in core subjects, 90% of students were promoted to the next grade.
In the 2006-07 school year alone, nine in 10 students were moved to the next grade level, but data show that nearly a third of them failed basic courses in English, math, science or social studies. At least 94,000 students failed essential classes during the past six years.

The analysis confirms what has essentially been an open secret in education for years, what critics call social promotion, and shows it is pervasive throughout Tucson's schools.
The practice is not only causing major academic problems now, but is setting up what could be a major blow to the region's economy.

The underlying problem, experts say, is low student achievement compounded by the lack of concrete promotion policies and systemic pressure not to flunk children.

The Star's analysis found, that because grade inflation is likely occurring in Tucson-area schools, not only are thousands of children being socially promoted every year, but many other students are receiving passing grades they may not deserve.
Where social promotion exists, I would wager that grade inflation does too.

The reasons for social promotion and grade inflation are so complex and so myriad that it would be unfair to jump to conclusions without studying the data a little more carefully. But I can assure you that the anti-NCLB crowd will blame the NCLB despite the long standing practice of social promotion and the effects of grade inflation prior to the passage of NCLB. Does NCLB exacerbate the problem? I am willing to concede that it might have an effect but it will likely be a low correlational effect rather than a direct causation.

But what can be done? Can a school or school system suddenly stop the practice of social promotion? If it does, I can almost guarantee an even greater increase in grade inflation in order to avoid mass failure.

Underlying the problem, perhaps at its deepest core, is the lack of political fortitude. As has been the case in many other states, state leaders in Arizona no doubt talked tough when it came to higher standards, to better teaching and to holding schools accountable. But when it comes time to deliver, our leaders in and out of educaiton, lack the will to say, "we told you that we were going to do XYZ if you students/parents/teachers did not do your part. Now the time of reckoning has come and we are going to stick to our promise to do XYZ." But that never happens, instead, leaders start looking for ways out, alternatives that water down the standards for no particular reason, or just plain abandoning their stated principles when the excrement starts to his the wind creating device.

So perhaps social promotion is so much an educational problem as a political problem, that problem being a lack of a spine.

Will Obama lose women in the fall?

From Hot Air's Ed Morrissey. In a word. No.

At least not that many, sexism be damned.

Verbal Assaults on Military Members

Michael Yon has a story and a warning to military members traveling on mass transit, particularly the Washington Metro.
Recently, there have been local incidents in which military personnel have been verbally assaulted while commuting on the Metro. Uniformed members have been approached by individuals expressing themselves as anti-government, shouting anti-war sentiments, and using racial slurs against minorities.

In one instance, a member was followed onto the platform by an individual who continued to berate her as she exited the
metro station. Thus far, these incidents have occurred in the vicinity of the Reagan National Airport and Eisenhower Ave metro stations on the yellow line, however, military members should be vigilant and aware of their surroundings at all times while in mass transit.

Should you be approached by any individuals expressing anti-government/anti-war sentiments, or any other types of direct verbal assault, immediately notify your local police jurisdiction. If riding metro, exit the train at the next stop, distance yourself from the individual, and notify the Metro Transit Police Department.
As one commenter noted, freedom of speech, including freedom of stupid speech, is one of the rights our military protects. This is true.

But verbal harrassment and threats (if they occur) are a criminal act. If a stupid person causes concern in an individual, even a military member, that the individual may fear for their safety, then that is an assualt (actually touching a person is battery--just to be legally clear).

I was in the military, in Washington, DC in the lead up to the first Gulf War. We were warned by out unit leadership to not wear our uniforms off base (which we didn't since Ceremonial Guard uniforms are a pain to keep pressed and ready--why ruin them by wearing them off base) and we were told not to wear our unit jackets, a piece of semi-authorized gear similar to a cruise jacket. Now, the fact that a group of us at a local mall or sporting event, walking together, unconciously in step and with high and tight haircuts, we screamed military without saying a word. Several members of my unit reported being harassed by people for being military although I experienced none of it. This was particularly worrisome for our officers and senior enlisted because most of the members of hte Ceremonial Guard were 18 or 19 years old and had never experienced this kind of harassment before.

What is troubling is that the average person on the street doesn't understand that some junior enlisted or junior officer has no more control over military policy than a mailroom clerk has over major corporate policy. Verbally abusing someone of such rank will not change policy, even if the verbal assault is reported. That stupid yeller may also end up berating someone who thinks the same way--you don't know. All these incidents point out is that there are some really stupid, really unhappy people out there who think that they are being brave by standing up to some random military member in on the Metro.

What is odd to me is that military members are very common in the DC area, and this type of treatment just seems trivial to me. I guess the greater the proximity to the military in metropolitan areas, the less respect people have for the military.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Soccer as N.B.A. Building Block

This NY Times piece is actually a good argument for the value of soccer. There are very few sports around the world that are based on free play, soccer being the biggest and internationally the most important. Of the big sports in America, basketball and hockey come close to soccer's movement, although each has restrictions not present in soccer, i.e. a smaller playing surface and smaller teams.

But if you want hockey and basketball and then look at soccer you will see many of the same geometries and shapes that lead to good play.

This is the first peice I have seen in a long time that shows the similarities. I only wish I had been as eloquent.

Michael Moore--Copyright Infringer

Michael Yon has the story of his rights being infringed upon by the liberal smear-meister.

How Not to Keep Your Charter

If you are a charter school, I don't recommend this course of action if you are interested in maintaining that charter:
In an attempt to report about the new findings from the Department of Education, 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS went to TiZA. While on school grounds, our crew was attacked by school officials. The two men were able to grab our camera and kept it until police arrived.

Our photographer was treated by paramedics after suffering minor injuries. …

Tarik ibn Zayad Academy, which focuses on Middle Eastern culture and shares a mosque with the Muslim American Society of Minnesota, came under fire after a teacher alleged that the school was offering religious instruction in Islam to its students.
As a reminder, charter schools, being publicly funded schools, are prohibited from teaching religious doctrine. Although I do encourage the study of religious history.

Lobbyists--Everyone's Favorite Target

As Ed Morrissey notes at Hot Air, lots of people including our three leading presidential candidates need a refresher course on lobbyists and their role in government.

Lobbyists are the mouthpieces of the First Amendment. I do not have the time to personally "petition for redress of grievances" with my elected represenatives outside of a few letters and emails, and I live 40 miles from the Capitol. I can't imagine that someon in Kentucky, Nevada, California, Alaska or Hawaii has any more time to travel in person. But lobbyists can and do. Their activities are above board, public and reported--thanks to laws passed by chuckleheads like our presidential candidates.

If Clinton, McCain and Obama believe lobbyists should be silenced and removed from government, the question to ask is do they believe in the First Amendment? For all three, there is an argument that they don't. Thus if they believe in silencing lobbyists, they must believe in silenicng you. If they don't really believe it, then it is pandering of the most crass sort and they should be called on it.

Morrissey concludes:
I'm not saying that having lobbyists in campaigns is a good idea, but they would be at worst an indirect indicator of the nature of the candidate. Checking the client list only goes so far, too, since most lobbyists have diverse clientele, and lawyers — especially criminal defense attorneys — exist to represent all sides in any dispute. If people want to see fewer lobbyists and less opportunity for corruption, then the only solution is to reduce the power and reach of the federal government in order to eliminate the spoils for which lobbyists pay big money.

If voters want that as an outcome, they should elect the candidates who commit to shrinking regulation and bureaucracy …. if they can find any. Let’s have more real concern over how lobbyists can corrupt self-government and less hysteria about their presence in Washington.
Well, lobbyists don't necessarily pay big money, and most, it should be noted don't make big bucks eithers, for outcomes. But Morrissey is right, the problem is not lobbyists, the problem is a government so big, so bloated with taxpayer money and so drunk on its own power that it is the enemy to be destroyed.

Lobbyists work in the world they do because we have allowed government to be the easy solution to all our problems. Thus, so long as the government is the default agency for problem solving, then the lobbyists will continue to ply their trade--it is more cost effective than trying to solve the problem ourselves.

Violence in South Africa

Gateway Pundit is on the case. Warning: graphic pictures.

In two years, South Africa will have the eyes of the world upon it as 32 national soccer teams will converge on the country for the 2010 World Cup. With the violence centering on foriegners, FIFA is right to be worried.

A Societal Disconnect?

Arnold Kling makes an interesting note after revealing that many high schoolers are more interested in starting their own business than working for large organizations.

While I, and Kling, support the notion of an entrepeneurial spirit, there is a strange disconnect amoung these young people:
You would think that entrepreneurial ambitions and dislike of bureaucracy would translate into support for smaller government. But that does not show up in the aggregate.
I think I have a generic assertion: the sense of entitlement.

What will be interesting for this generation of young people is how hard it is to start one's own business and how much effort has to go into it. Those who do, and demonstrate a willingness to work hard will be rewarded handsomely.

Those who don't will work for the government.

Republican Surrender?

Philip Mella once again swings his hammer and hits the nail on the head:
With the advent of the Republican revolution, ideas were once again being debated and the apparently permanent hegemony that Democrats enjoyed disappeared. Now, Republicans are on the outside and seem stunned and shocked that voters are rejecting them. American politics is all about contrasts, distinguishing how different values and ideas play out in public policy. However, governing takes discipline and Republicans have become a spineless lot that seems incapable of making the argument for their core values.

To wit, when we have a $300 billion farm bill that sails through Congress and when Democratic candidates can pledge to raise taxes with impunity, something's fundamentally wrong. When our energy policy doesn't include developing more resources and we're heading for $150 per barrel oil, the picture is skewed. Yet Republicans seem feckless in make the case for a new approach.
Republican will win when they start talking with Americans using words, ideas and principles, not simply caving to the latest fad in Washington politics.
Indeed, the only hope is to fight for the values and principles that brought the party to prominence, and doing so with conviction--because the Democrats have smelled the blood in the water and unless something changes it will be a massacre in November.
I am not fully convinced of a "bloodbath" but it will not be pretty unless someone stands up and says, here are the GOP ideas and what we believe in.

Obama's Appeasement Strategy

Caroline Glick notes that if it looks like appeasement, sounds like appeasement, works like appeasement then don't be shocked by the fact that it is appeasement.
As the president put it, "Some seem to believe that we should negotiate with the terrorists and radicals, as if some ingenious argument will persuade them they have been wrong all along. We have heard this foolish delusion before. As Nazi tanks crossed into Poland in 1939, an American senator declared: "Lord, if I could only have talked to Hitler, all this might have been avoided. We have an obligation to call this what it is - the false comfort of appeasement, which has been repeatedly discredited by history."
The analogy is incredibly apt.

From a senator's point of view, it may seem like talking is the right thing to do, talking to Hamas, talking to Hezbollah, talking to Al-Queda, talking to Iran, North Korea, Myanmar, etc. A Senator thinks that because that is what Senators do--they talk.

But in the real world and in history, talking is sometimes good and oftentimes the worst thing. Appeasement has never worked. Ask Neville Chamberlain, ask the French prior to World War II. Oh, wait you can't--they are dead.

Obama, for such an educated man, has lost all sight of history.

You cannot negotiate, or discuss or come up with "some ingenious argument [that] will persuade them" when the default and only policy position for terrorist is "America must die!" They have no other demands, they have no other agenda, they have no other goal. Negotiation works when both sides have something to gain and something to lose. Terrorists have nothing to lose as they put no value on human life, including the lives of their own followers.

A duck is a duck, appeasement is appeasement. You can dress them both up in fancy language, but in the end, it is still a duck and it is still appeasement.

Obama $1,000 Plan--Stupid is As Stupid Does

Betsy Newmark highlights a stupid Barack Obama policy proposal:
Americans need real relief, Obama said, saying he will pass a law to give each family $1,000 a year to help them pay for higher gas prices and other rising costs.
. Betsy then asks:
Why not just cut taxes instead of granting out money to everyone?
As Besty surely knows, cutting taxes gives people freedom, making people dependent on government money, makes them dependent on the government. Oh, and the spending clause allows the government to attach all kinds of strings to the money--thereby further regulating our lives.

But in addition to simply cutting taxes, why not increase the supply of oil (and thereby decrese the price of gas) by allowing drilling in the United States.

Oh, wait, Democrats can't do that--that would lose the environmental wacko vote.

The Confrimation Process is Flawed--Film at 11

Hans Von Spakovsky responds to his critics now that he has withdrawn as a possible FEC commissioner.
In 17 years of practicing law I'd never been accused of ethical or professional lapses. Since my arrival in Washington, however, I've been called corrupt and unethical, and labeled as everything from a Klansman to a Nazi (my last name seems to generate that latter pejorative) for my work at the Department of Justice.

All of these charges were levied because I dared to take a different view of the law than the political left in the area of civil rights, voting and election law. Those outside Washington cannot conceive how far advocacy organizations, party activists and congressional staffers are willing to go to personally destroy anyone who doesn't agree with their political agenda.

In 2001, I joined the Justice Department as a career lawyer in the civil rights division. True enough, I had been warned the division was a cauldron of left-wing political activism. In fact, in a 1990s redistricting case, a federal judge criticized the career lawyers of the division for behaving like the in-house counsel of the ACLU. He said that "the considerable influence of ACLU advocacy on the voting rights decisions of the United States Attorney General is an embarrassment."
So a conservative gets lambasted by the liberal establishment. Pardon me for saying, but "Ho hummmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm"

Sorry fell asleep while typing.

Look, von Spakovsky is not the first and won't be the last political appointee of either party to be smeared. He's a big boy and knew what was coming. Complaining about it after the fact seems to be an interesting way to expand one's lecture circuit credentials.

But here is my problem, and von Spakovsky notes this as well. In the modern age of press coverage of confirmation hearings, what we get is grandstanding Senators, desperate for a few hours of television, willing to say or do anything that might be considered inflammatory and worthy of 20 seconds on CNN.
My own hard feelings will pass. But the political system has been damaged once more by the poisonous tactics of the left, and there is no reason to think that the whole sorry spectacle will not be repeated again and again and again. So long as such tactics are accepted and even encouraged by politicians and the media, it will become harder and harder to find ordinary citizens willing to submit to the character assassination that now passes for our confirmation process.
How many more times will this country allow the character assassination to continue unchecked.

Jobs like FEC commissioner, and most of the politically appointed jobs in America are doled out based upon political positions--that has been a fact of life for a really long time. Political appointments are a vestige of the patronage system and quite frankly, a President has the right to choose nominees that he or she trusts.

However, the FEC is a special creature, not unlike judges, because of the intensely political nature of the job, political questions come with the job. So here is a thought, close the confirmation hearings to televised and radio press, keep it open for the print press and the public. In short, don't give Senators the soap box. Of course, that won't happen with Senators without some sort of punishment, like not getting re-elected, attached to it, so it is unlikely to occur. But really, can we not just get back to qualifications?

One other item worth noting as well. Why don't more nominees cry foul while they are in the public confirmation process. It seems to me the best way to draw attention to the character assassination of either party during the confirmation process is for those who are in teh process to stand up and call attention during the process, not when you are gone from the process.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Professor X Article Online

In the Basement of the Ivory Tower, the story by Professor X, I referenced here, is now online.

The Government Without Legal Bribery Act.

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel on the campaign finance reform bill before the Wisconsin legislature and languishing.

FEC To Return to Full Strength

Democratic boogeyman Hans von Spasky has withdrawn from consideration according to the Washington Post.
In 2006, Bush gave von Spakovsky and several others temporary recess appointments to the FEC. Rather than confirming them, however, Democrats raised questions about von Spakovsky's tenure at the Justice Department, where he was a counsel in the Civil Rights Division. Led by Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.), the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination, they accused him of politicizing his oversight of voter laws.

The White House rejected those accusations again yesterday, saying von Spakovsky's "good-faith legal positions" had been vindicated by federal court rulings on issues such as voter identification laws.

"Senate Democrats put partisanship ahead of a fully functioning, bipartisan FEC," White House spokeswoman Emily Lawrimore said.

McConnell had demanded that the entire slate of bipartisan nominees be considered at once or that they be voted on in bipartisan packages of two nominations. That tradition has ensured that neither party can reject the other's nominees to the evenly divided six-member commission.

Unwilling to compromise, Reid and McConnell allowed the recess appointments to expire on New Year's Day. The FEC essentially has not conducted business since.
There is lots of pending business before the Commission and the new Commissioners will have lots of work to do.

California's Supreme Court--Counter-Majoritarian.

In a recent posting on's Writ section, Michael Dorf addresses the question of whether the California Supreme Court acted precipitously in their same-sex marriage ruling. Dorf writes:
The ease with which the California Constitution can be amended provides a partial answer to critics—some of whom even support same-sex marriage on policy grounds—who take issue with the California Supreme Court's decision on the ground that courts should not try to bring about social change in advance of popular acceptance.

That criticism may have some force when leveled at the U.S. Supreme Court in its interpretation of the federal Constitution, because the federal Constitution is extraordinarily difficult to amend. Consequently, a Supreme Court decision based on the Justices' perceptions of what rights count as "fundamental" can control legislation throughout the country, even if a substantial majority of the U.S. population disagrees. But if even a simple majority of Californians disagree with the state Supreme Court about the scope of the fundamental right to marry, and if only eight percent of voters are willing to sign a petition, then their understanding will prevail over the California Supreme Court's. In the argot of constitutional law, decisions of U.S. constitutional law are strongly "counter-majoritarian"; decisions of the California Supreme Court are only weakly counter-majoritarian.
This assertion, that because the California constitution can be easily amended, that the California Supreme Court's decision is only weakly counter-majoritarian and therefore, less offensive.

But such an assertion is absurd on its face. The fact is that the decision is decidedly and expressly countermajoritirian in and of itself, the relative strenght or weakness is irrelevant. The fact is that a majority of Californians had decided, in a referendum, that marriage shall be between a man and a woman. The majority decided it, in a method of amending the constitution, which Dorf notes, is easily done. Further undermining that concept is that California voted in referendum to define marriage only for different sex couples in the full knowledge of the civil union law. Yes, civil unions grant many, indeed all, of the same legal protections granted to married couples. Yes the logic, carried to its inevitable extreme that denying the label of marriage seems patently absurd, but the voters made that decision themselves.

Dorf also writes:
What the critics of the California Supreme Court decision are really saying, when they contend that the Court should not have recognized the right of same-sex couples to marry, is that the Justices should have ignored the law for practical reasons: Courts cannot bring about social change if the surrounding society is not prepared for it, the critics say, and may even precipitate backlash.
Given the ease that the California Constitution can be amended, it seems absurd to think that California's voters cannot at sometime in the future change their minds. Indeed, as society changes and evolves that is exactly what may happen. But the California Court has all but guaranteed a reaction to take place on the ballot in November. There will be a backlash, and rightly so as four California Supreme Court Justices took upon themselves to follow "where logic led" and applied their own sense of morality. As noted before, the logic is not for the Justices to follow, the voters of California presumably knew where the logic led and voted to define marriage as reserved for different sex couples.

What's more is that we are not talking about some 50 or 60 year old law that no one really enforced anymore. We are talking about a constitutional amendment passed by a majority of California voters in the past five years. The majority had spoken.

Dorf oddly asserts that because eight percent of voters signed a petition, then their views somehow will prevail. The eight percent rule is for ballot qualification, it hardly amounts to a majority. But that is a minor point (that Dorf should know better though), the fact is that a majority of Californians had voted for the amendment.

Dorf contends that the Justices followed the law, citing the interracial marriage cases and the fact that gays/lesbians/transgendered are discriminated against and should be considered a suspect class. But here is the problem, the interracial marriage cases and the discrimination concerns are case law, judge made law, despite the fact that much if it may be made by the U.S. Supreme Court. But the marriage definition is constitutional law and that must and should remain at the top of the law pyramid.

Simply put Mr. Dorf, yes, the California Supreme Court acted precipitously and in a grossly counter majoritarian manner, against a recently passed amendment. It doesn't matter if the law is illogical in its ultimate result (there is a lot of law that is illogical), what matters is that the marriage definition was one of constitutional law and should have been upheld because of the manner of enacting it.

DC United Meltdown

With a late night start time, I struggled to watch the DC United--Chivas match on Saturday night, now I wish I had not wasted my time for the second half.

Three unanswered goals is bad, three unanswered in a single half is really bad, three unanswered in 15 minutes is shameful. Coach Thomas Soehn, whom I have been somewhat critical, noted that his team lacks mental toughness and he is absolutely right. While Soehn is making decisions I question, I have to question just how tough DC United is. At this stage they absolutly deserve to be sitting in teh cellar.

As Goff pointed out, DC United have Fulham's disease, i.e. giving up lots of goals in the last 15 minutes of the game. So far it is six goals in 8 games.

DC's first half play was not bad, it was not great, but it was not bad. The fact is that DC is having a hard time just simply holding onto the ball. The mid-field is not controlling or dictating the pace of play. United seemed utterly incapable of stringing together more than two or three passes. The attack was weak, practically non-existent. I was, frankly, surprised that DC scored. Gallardo's goal was brilliant, a real GOTW candidate. But the rest of his play should disqualify him from that honor. For a holding midfielder, he was routinely unable to control the ball, unable to avoid getting dispossessed and unable to make accurate passes.

Santino Quaranta--is this the only guy who is willing to fight for the team. He never quit and I think he has earned his starting post. He is looking and working like a real winger, staying wide on attack, making solid crosses into the middle, and really tracking back on defense. Yes, Tino has grown up since his last stint with DC United. All is forgiven Tino, now if yourteammates would take a hint from you, they might climb out of the cellar.

Gonzalo Martinez--although he should be chided for failing to lead the defense, none of the goals look to be his fault. At times, despite being outpaced by Atemi Harris, Martinez positioned himself well and played pretty decent. Of all the acquistions over the break, Martinez has been the most consistent performer.

Bryan Namoff--Namoff played very well at right back, in particular I liked the fact that he was animated at the lack of vision of Martinez, Mediate, Simms and Gallardo. Namoff was wide and open on a number of occaisions. While Tommy Soehn may be looking for formation answers for the rest of the squad, Tino and Namoff seemed to work well together. At least they seemed to be the only ones who gave a damn.

Gonzalo Martinez--I know it is strange to put him in the good and bad category, but he is the center back, he is the most experienced and by every formational structure in teh book, it is his responsibility to make sure the back line is organized. His individual play is noteworthy, his organizational skills are not.

Zach Wells--I think it is time to sit Mr. Wells. Yes Jose Carvallo is inexperienced, but he can't be any worse that Wells at this point. Wells has made some fine saves, including Saturday (witness getting down to stop Mendoza's near post daisy cutter), but if he was better positioned and better at organzing his defense, he would not need to make such saves. Really, Carvallo can't do any worse and may be a game or two on the pine will make Wells rethink his actions.

Jaime Moreno--you are the Captain for Pete's sake, act like. When the team is not playing well, it is your job on the field to motivate people, to yell at people and to get people doing their job. FSC's Bretos and Sullivan made a big deal of the "bickering" that Chivas was doing on teh field. I don't call it bickering, it is communication and that is the captain's job.

Player Rankings
Gallardo--5 (and that includes one just for the goal)


Simply put, DC United is playing embarassingly bad. There really is no excuse for dropping three goals like that(not even Fulham dropped that many in the last 20 minutes). United's performance is uneven, uninspiring and unworthy of this club. I am not sure if a full shakeup is in order, or if Soehn should simply continue plugging away. To be sure, the next two weeks are going to be tough, with four games in 12 days, and it is unlikely to be an comfortable 12 days.

Maybe what they need is to have to play on instinct for a while, just to prove they can. With that many games in so short a period, instinct may be all they have in games 2-4.

Push Off Politics?

Mickey Kaus writes:
The Possibilities of Push-Off Politics: 1) David Frum argues Republican Congressional candidates should treat the presidential election as 'already lost' and campaign 'on a message to balance the crazy left-wing things a President Obama is sure to try.' 2) Jennifer Rubin argues the Republican presidential candidate should treat the Congress as already lost and campaign on a message to moderate the things a lopsidedly Democratic legislature is sure to try.

It's hard to see how both these strategies could plausibly be successful, assuming polls on the week before election day offer an accurate picture of whether the GOP has a chance to control either branch of government. At the moment, Rubin's strategy looks closer to reality--McCain has a shot at the presidency, so writing him off doesn't resonate. But even the Republicans in Congress think the Republicans in Congress are doomed.(links in original omitted)
Actually, I think both concepts can work.

First, races for the Presidency and races for Congressional seats are two different animals all together. Congress seats are often won or lost not on national issues, but on local ones. A presidential campaign is nothing but national issues and the fact of the matter is that Obama will be easy to tarnish and taint as inexperienced in national matters.

Second, if national GOP leaders, those like NRCC Chair Tom Cole think disaster is in teh cards, the answer is not to cave to that mentality, but to run an anti-Congress campaign as a Congressional candidate. Instead of blasting Democrats, blast the whole institution as incapable of actually representing the normal folk. After budget busting bills like the famr bill and the inability to resist spending evidenced by teh lack of self-control of either party, the winning strategy, either as a Democrat or a Republican (but especially as a Republican, will be to paint all of Congress with a bad brush--not just Democrats.

Third, Rebpulican Congressional candidates need to focus on the basics of conservative ideas. Keep things local, keep things simple. Don't give away tax money, limit the amount of tax money going into the system, etc. In this election K.I.S.S. applies, Keep It Simple Stupid.

HIllary Clinton Done In By Sexism?

So asserts Jodi Kantor of New York Times:
The answers have immediate political implications. If many of Mrs. Clinton’s legions of female supporters believe she was undone even in part by gender discrimination, how eagerly will they embrace Senator Barack Obama, the man who beat her?

“Women felt this was their time, and this has been stolen from them,” said Marilu Sochor, 48, a real estate agent in Columbus, Ohio, and a Clinton supporter. “Sexism has played a really big role in the race.”
To her credit though, Kantor notes that presidential historian (and woman) Doris Kearns Goodwin believes that Clinton's implosion has nothing to do with her being a woman, but that Clinton the candidate had a flawed strategy.

Hillary Clinton lost becuase of Hillary Clinton (and to a certain extent Bill Clinton), nothing more, nothing less.

There have been dozens of successful female politicians, and many who have occupied the Governor's mansions in many states. To say that it was sexism that kept Hillary Clinton off the Democratic ticket is to seek the general reasons instead of the specific.

If Obama loses in November, will it be racism or just simply because Obama is a bad candidate?

Farm Bill Feeds the Pork

From the Examiner:
Pathetic. Craven. Irresponsible. Unprincipled. Those and similar adjectives apply to every member of Congress who voted for the bloated, anti-consumer piece of legislative corruption known as the Food and Energy Conservative Act of 2008 a k a as “the farm bill.” President Bush has promised to veto the bill. To put it plainly, everybody in Congress who votes to override the coming Bush veto should be retired come November because they will have voted for a measure that is nothing more -- or less -- than a $300 billion giveaway of the taxpayers’ hard-earned money. This is especially true for conservative Republicans and Blue Dog Democrats who brag about their fiscal rectitude.


There also are inexcusable local-interest flimflams such as a $250 million tax credit for a private land sale in Montana and a provision to “sell” national forest land, necessitating a shifting of the Appalachian Trail, to benefit a Vermont ski resort. Worse -- and this is brand new -- House and Senate negotiators “air-dropped” several expensive provisions into the bill that neither chamber had voted on, including $170 million for salmon fisheries in California. Then there is yet another fuel subsidy, this one for “cellulosic” ethanol, at a five-year cost to taxpayers of $348 million. All of this, at a time when the federal deficit this year is expected to hit $400 billion and the federal debt approaches $9.4 trillion. In short, this bill is so stuffed that it deserves to be named by an agricultural term -- bull, uh, manure.
This, on top of the "Economic Stimulus" (read tax payer give away) simple means irresponsible.

No other word for it.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Lawyers Being Funny

Tom Goldstein's "ad" to be your Supreme Court Advocate.

Goldstein plays it straight, but it is the subtitles that are hilarious.

Fifty years of DARPA

From the people that brought you the internet and GPS:Fifty years of DARPA.

Hat Tip; Reason online.

RedState on the California Gay Marriage Ruling

Here is what RedState had to say:
For all the high-minded talk about constitutional rights, what informs the Court's decision is a value judgment that all sexual choices are equal. This is, of course, what motivates all activists on this issue, since it is logically and legally nonsensical to insist upon "equal rights" when the defining thing that separates one class of persons from another is not some innate visual characteristic but rather a behavior. All people are equal under the law. This is the meaning of the phrase "equal rights." No serious person argues that all actions are equal under the law - and even if they did, this would not be called "equal rights." It would be called instead "anarchy."

It is often argued (although never proven) that there is a biological basis for homosexuality. For a moment, I will concede the point. Those who argue along this line generally also accept that there are biological bases for alcoholism, drug addiction, and a whole host of other behavioral tendencies. This does not lead to the conclusion under the rubric of "equal rights" that the alcoholic and drug addict may not be held accountable for the fruits of their biologically-based addiction. This illustrates with clarity that "equal rights" is not the driving force behind the gay marriage movement; it is instead a desire to impose the value judgment that homosexual sexual activity is a value-neutral choice, akin to the choice between Pepsi and Coke (all sane people will of course choose Coke, but that is beside the point).
I couldn't agree more (especially about the Coke thing).

But there is a fundamental problem that I have with the decision, regardless of the legal reasoning. This is a matter that the people of California voted on in a referendum (and probably will again in November). So not only as the California Supreme Court overturned a valid law, passed by the penultimate legislative body, the voters themselves, they appear to have done so without a shred of irony about the matter. So what are we left with, the notion that no matter how the people act, in a perfectly and authorized legitimate manner, there will always be some judge who thinks they know better.

This is not a court taming a legislative impulse gone wrong, but a Court that has decided that their moral judgment is better than the collective wisdom of the largest state in the union.

Now before some gets all high and mighty on me. I would have the same reaction if a more conservative court has ruled that a referendum permitting same sex marriage was a vioaltion of rights. Gay marriage is a matter of public policy, the resolution of which is properly before the legisalture or the voters.