Thursday, October 30, 2008

Voter Turnout and the Efficacy of the System

ABC News is wondering, can the voting infrastructure handle a massive turnout election?

A fair question, but let see if we actually have a massive turnout. Keep in mind, voter turnout predictions have been wrong in the past, and burnout among voters is a real possibility. Even I, a political junkie, have not exactly been engaged in this election. Neither candidate inspires me. The constant attention on inconsequential things like Sarah Palins' wardrobe versus Michelle Obama's wardrobe costs just don't get me engaged. With both sides pandering and offering little more than soundbites, it really is hard to see what is what in this election. So if I am getting burned out, imagine how the average voter feels.

So lets take a look at the turnout first. With the advent of early voting, I would think that a number of states won't have the problem of a flood of voters. Also keep in mind the stories that will come from the media, i.e. "turnout is really heavy" as they report from one polling place in the early morning hours when commuters head to the polls or late at night when last minute voters get in line. Turnout is a fundamentally hard thing to gauge before the actual day.

Will there be glitches and problems? You bet, with tens of thousands of pollling places, tens of thousands of poll workers and the glare of the media, mistakes will happen and it will get ugly.

Obama Accepting Untraceable Donations

Haven't seen an awful lot about this story. To a certain extent it is inside baseball, a process matter that for the most part only applies to political junkies, campaign finance guys and, right now, conservatives.
Sen. Barack Obama's presidential campaign is allowing donors to use largely untraceable prepaid credit cards that could potentially be used to evade limits on how much an individual is legally allowed to give or to mask a contributor's identity, campaign officials confirmed.

Faced with a huge influx of donations over the Internet, the campaign has also chosen not to use basic security measures to prevent potentially illegal or anonymous contributions from flowing into its accounts, aides acknowledged. Instead, the campaign is scrutinizing its books for improper donations after the money has been deposited.

The Obama organization said its extensive review has ensured that the campaign has refunded any improper contributions, and noted that Federal Election Commission rules do not require front-end screening of donations.
And of course, the Obama campaign is right. Obama's campaign finance lawyer is one of the best, Bob Bauer. He knows the law.

Under the law, if a campaign receives a contribution is thinks might be illegal or otherwise suspect, it is supposed to segregate it in a separate accounting, make a good faith determination if it is indeed illegal or suspect, and refund it if necessary or if they can't make a determination. The problem, of course, as noted in the article is that it is almost impossible to keep up with the flood of contributions coming in via the internet, and it is impossible to tell if the card being used is a prepaid gift card, debit card or standard credit card.

Therein lies the problem. With the flood of money, and the advances in technology, it is not really Obama's fault. Yes, they could take some security steps that apparently the McCain campaign has taken. But teh fact of the matter is, that the FEC regulations regarding fundraising are a creation of the the 1970's with an update to account for credit card contributions. But they were never designed to deal with the age of internet contributions. And when FEC reports, even on a monthly basis, are tens of thousands of lines long in teh electronic filing format (i.e. one contributions per line), it is impossible to check everything from the viewpoint of suspicion.

On a slightly different note, even my mother, no campaign junkie to say the least, was wondering where Obama is getting all this money and whether it was legal or not. So it is creeping out there in the dialogue and certainly making people wonder.

2008 Done and Dusted for DC United

Second in a series of posts on the MLS Also-Rans.

After last night's loss to Marathon in the CONCACAF Champions League Match, DC United is done and dusted for 2008. The season for me is a mixed bag of matters. The highlights must include the U.S. Open Cup, which guarantees some international play next year, i.e. qualifying round for the Champtions League. Who knows about Superliga since MLS keeps changing the rules on that one, for all I know L.A. Galaxy will be in it. When not injured, Marcello Gallardo was putting in some solid performances and at $1.75 million a year, he should. Got to get him healthy. Some players stepped up and showed some real promise this year, Marc Burch, Santino Quaranta, Clyde Simms and Louis Crayton. A lot of young developmental players showed some promise as well.

But there are some darknesses as well. First and foremost--no playoffs. Second, lousy international play (Soehn looked like he didn't even care at times). Third, injuries that kept Gallardo, Peralta, and Olsen on the bench for long periods of time. Fourth, a very streaky offense; Emilio was nowhere near his MVP status, Francis Doe didn't do as much as hoped, and Fred was AWOL for long periods of time. Fifth and finally, poor player acquisition decisions in the front office, i.e. Zach Wells as a starting goalkeeper for way too long, Franco Niell, Jose Carvallo, etc. Really a bad year in the player acquisition market.

So what does DC United need to do for the next year?

Front Office Matters

1. Don't fire Tom Soehn--yet. Yes, some of Soehn's tactical decisions at the start of the year were questionable, but this is his first head coach job, give him a little time. Yes, Soehn looked like he was phoning it in on the international play, but by the time that got started in earnest, Soehn's squad was reeling from injuries, suspensions and poor play from leading players. I don't want to make excuses from Soehn, but DC United came close, i.e. withing four strikes of the woodwork in the final match against Columbus, of making the playoffs despite all the crap that happened this year. He has earned a chance to see if he can right the ship next year, well, at least half a year anyway.

2. Shuck some dead weight. Rod Dyachenko, don't let the door hit you on the butt on the way out. Ditto for Zach Wells. Fred? Sorry, time for you to find employment elsewhere. Ivan Guerrero, you are a nice guy and you work hard, but unless you can play somewhere else on the field, we need a left back with more pace and better service skills. Buh-Bye.

3. Restructure some contracts. As a DC United fan, these next two things hurt to say: Jaime Moreno is a good man, a great player, but a player whose production, pace and presence has diminished. Sorry Jaime, a pay cut for you but with incentives (I know Moreno got to double figures in goals and assists, but really, a lot of those goals came from the penalty spot). Ben Olsen needs to either a). retire if his ankle doesn't improve dramatically, or b) take a big paycut (I am talking at least 50% of his $215,000 salary). I don't mind a big incentive laden contract, founded on appearances, minutes, etc., but Benny is taking up lots of cap space and played like what 15 minutes this year. Gonzalo Peralta, same story. Gonzalo Martinez, yep-you too. Dominic Mediate--nice guy, but if you can't play, even your tiny salary and more importantly your senior roster space has to go to someone else.

4. Give the following people good raises. Clyde Simms--DC's iron man, deserves more than his $59,000 a year salary. March Burch certainly deserves more than his minimum salary. Quaranta's incentive laden contract will get him a raise. Joe Vide, Ryan Cordeiro, Craig Thompson, and Greg Janicki all deserve bigger pay and at least Vide, Cordeiro and Janicki have probably earned senior roster spots.

On the Field Matters.

1. Build some depth on the back line. DC United's problem this year wasn't necessarily an inability to score goals, well it wasn't their problem all year long. But the one problem they had all year long was the back line. Defensively, DC looked terrible. The first couple of games I chalked up to new players getting used to each other and a keeper who couldn't command the box. But as the year went on things didn't improve. DC conceded the second most number of goals (51). Some of those goals are the result of poor goalkeeping, but most weren't. Soehn and Kevin Payne need to find two more center backs, one to play everyday with Gonzalo Peralta and one back up. Gonzalo Martinez might be better off moving to right back or even more forward if Soehn is willing to try a 4-2-3-1 type of set up, with Martinez and Clyde Simms playing in those two defensive midfield posistions. Many times this year, they looked in synch and it might work well and take a little pressure off of Gallardo in the center of midfield.

2. Find some wingers. I don't know if Quavas Kirk has the pace and service to be a winger. Quaranta made a solid effort on the right, but he is not really a winger--but could be. I don't see anyone else on this squad is who ready to fill that role and DC needs it.

3. Get a target forward. Francis Doe, Thabiso Khumalo, Luciano Emilio--what do all these players have in common? Smaller size, decent pace, better at going at defenders and less capable of working in the box with their back to goal. Soehn and Payne need a target man, someone who can knock the ball down to one of these guys.

4. Get a better backup keeper. James Thorpe impressed me in his 30 minutes last week in the Champions league, he made some good saves. Is Thorpe the guy to be Crayton's back up? Maybe, but right now I wouldn't bet the farm on it. Thorpe has earned a continued spot on the developmental roster, but I think Soehn/Payne need to find a quality backup.

In reality, DC's woes stem from the defensive third of the field. If United can short that up, they can do much better next year.

Previous Episodes in this Series.
L.A. Galaxy

Fulham 2-0 Wigan

Fulham's Andy Johnson propelled the Cottagers to a 2-0 win over Wigan at Craven Cottage last night.

With the Premier League scheduling a full slate of matches in mid-week this week, and Fulham facing four lower, lower table teams in the next three matches, Fulham have the opportunity to put some distance between themselves and the relegation zone in the coming weeks.

Johnson's two goals, early in each half, gave Fulham the full three points against Wigan, who were sitting 15th on the table coming into the match, with Fulham sitting 17th. Johnson made up for his howler against Portsmouth on Sunday, which could have given Fulham a win at Fratton Park. Fulham leapfrogged Wigan to claim 14th on the table with the away match at #12 Everton up on the weekend. Everton won last night as well, 1-0 over Blackburn.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

But If It Were Obama It Would Be a Hate Crime

The LA Times is reporting on an effigy of Vice Presidential Candidate and sitting governor Sarah Palin hanging by a noose in West Hollywood.
But Los Angeles County sheriff's officials said the mannequin sporting a beehive hairdo, glasses and a red coat does not rise to the level of a hate crime because it was part of a Halloween display...

Sgt. Kristin Aloma of the Sheriff's Department's West Hollywood station said that since Sunday she had received five to 10 calls from residents offended by the display. Officials are monitoring the house to make sure the situation doesn't get out of hand, she said.

West Hollywood Mayor Jeffrey Prang said although he recognizes residents' right to free speech, he found the display problematic and felt it should be removed.

"While these residents have the legal right to display Senator John McCain and Governor Sarah Palin in effigy, I strongly oppose political speech that references violence -- real or perceived," Prang said in a statement. "I urge these residents to take down their display and find more constructive ways to express their opinion."

Whitmore said that potential hate crimes are evaluated on a case-by-case basis. If the same display had been made of a Barack Obama-like doll, for example, authorities would have to evaluate it independently, Whitmore said.

"That adds a whole other social, historical hate aspect to the display, and that is embedded in the consciousness of the country," he said, adding he's not sure whether it would be a hate crime. "It would be ill-advised of anybody to speculate on that."
See, and therein lies the difficulty of hate crime statutes. If Barack Obama, a black man, was hanged in effigy instead of Sarah Palin, we would not be talking about a free speech issue, we would be talking about a hate crime. Just because Obama is black, he is, by definition, a member of a group protected by hate crime legislation.

It seems to me that hanging anyone in effigy is evidence of a "hateful" intent, regardless of one's race or the effigy victim's race. When people all over the world protest against America, they routinely have Uncle Sam or the President burned in effigy. It sends a very power, very pointed message--i.e. death to America. Doesn't the same thing apply here, regardless of party or candidate? (BTW, you can be the Secret Service has looked into this or will be doing so to determine if there is a threat).

Admittedly, hanging Palin in effigy is in bad taste, whether part of a Halloween display or not. I don't think it is smart, but it is speech and as political speech probably protected. But because Palin is white, she is not defined as a class of people against whom a "hate crime" can be targeted. That is a level of protection that Obama has which generates a difficult position for opponents of Obama.

MLS Losers--L.A. Galaxy

Over a series of posts in the next few days, I hope to take a look at the six teams that did not make the MLS playoffs this year, the L.A. Galaxy, the San Jose Earthquakes, the Colorado Rapids, FC Dallas, DC United, and Toronto FC and noodle on what needs to be done to get better and move forward for a more successful year next year. Today, I will start with the L.A. Galaxy.

The Galaxy went 8-13-9 this season and had no international competitions that they played in. In 30 games the Galaxy were massivly dominant in teh goal scored department, netting 55 times led by Landon Donovan, the leagues golden boot winner, who found the twine 20 times in 25 appearances for the Galaxy and Edson Buddle, who came in third in goals scored for the Galaxy with 15 goals in 27 appearences. LA scored more goals than any other team, five better even that the Supporter Sheild winners Columbus Crew.

But here is the problem, they allowed more goals than anyone else--62. That is fully eleven more than the next most porous defense, DC United (51) and 30 goals more than the stingiest defense in teh league, Houston (which allowed only 32 goals this year). Certainly, their mid-to-late season winless run made their appearance in the playoffs difficult to impossible. Their June to September run of 12 games and getting only six of a possible 36 points killed their hopes.

Landon Donovan is going to Europe, Bruce Arena has to accept that. Now MLS will probably get a pretty decent transfer fee and L.A. will save some $900,000 of salary cap space. That means that Arena will have some salary cap space, some allocation money and allocation spots to acquire some players that he will need and not have to pay them almost half of his salary cap space.

David Beckham is probably on the verge of dishonoring a contract for the first time in his career. I know a lot of people believe Beckham will come back, but Beckham desperatly wants to play in the 2010 World Cup and he won't be able to impress England manager Fabio Capello in L.A. He can get some playing time with AC Milan (although not much with a squad that boasts Kaka, Ronaldihno and a veritable list of all stars). Thus far Capello has brought Beckham into the England squad for fan appeal, for "leadership" and little else. To stay in the hunt for a World Cup squad spot, Beckham has to be playing better--hence AC Milan. Don't be surprised to see Beckham's loan deal become a purchase deal with a hefty price tag.

So what is Bruce Arena to do with his two name stars heading for the door. First, what does Arena have that is worth something and he can build a squad around.

Here are the players that I think Arena can build a squad around:

Edson Buddle. If Buddle has a year next year similar to the one he had this year, then Arena will probably only have Buddle for another year, two at the max before Buddle finds his way to a European League. So here is the main goal scoring threat for L.A. The problem is that Buddle is more of a poacher than Donovan and doesn't have that creative flair that Donovan brings. Buddle is also not a big guy like Alan Gordon, so is not much of a target striker. Buddle will need a big striker to work off of to be a good threat. But you can't argue with the man's nose for the goal.

Eddie Lewis. Steady Eddie probably has only one year left in his body, but he can provide the necessary leadership. Arena and Lewis know each other well from the U.S. MNT time together and Lewis can be the on-field general for Arena and implement Arena's system from there.

Chris Klein. The MLS iron man looks in good form and has been bombing up and down the touchline with Beckham all season long. Klein is also experienced in this League and can help develop younger players, like:

Sean Franklin. To me Franklin is a contender for rookie of the year. Quite literally thrown to the wolves, Franklin acquitted himself well, earning playing time. However, he has been misused by playing in central defense. It may be time to switch Klein to the center and FRanklin out to the right back and let Franklin use some of that speed he has.

There are other plays, Ante Jazcic, Joe Franchino and Brandon McDonald that have proven their worth on occaisions and will be helpful in building a team.

Healthy, these seven players can provide a solid core for Arena. But Arena is hurting all over the place and unless he is ready for wholesale roster changes (and I think he might be), here are the three areas he needs to focus on, no suprises though--the focus will have to be on the spine of the team, right down the middle.

Goalkeeping. Arena needs two everyday goalkeepers. Steven Cronin is not it. Josh Wicks is not a bad backup, but I don't know if he has the chops to play every week. So who is Arena going to get. My money is on Matt Pickens. Pickens played for the Chicago Fire and spent some time with Queen's Park Rangers in the English Championship League before being released back in May. The 26 year old Missouri native is currently unattached and has the experience necessary to command the box and run a defense.

Central Defense. Even with Franklin and Klein in the back line, Arena is going to need a strong, commanding central defender. Arena is probably going to have to go outside the MLS to find one, probably in South America or Africa. What Arena will need is a player with size, speed and most importantly experience, who has the personality to direct a defense. Since defensive cohesion, shape and compactness are at the core of Arena's style, this is will probably be the most important off-season job for Arena. In all likelihood, he will need two of these players. If Arena gets two good central defenders, I would see which of Kleing and Franklin have a good left foot crossing and put these two on the outside back positions.

Central midfield. Arena needs two central midfielders, a playmaker, someone who can control the pace of the game, dictate the attack and create, create, create for the Galaxy; and a holding midfielder. L.A. has been without such a player for some time, and no Beckham is not that guy. Arena needs a holding midfielder because, let's face it, the Galaxy need all the defensive help they can get. Christian Gomez from Colorado might be a good target, since he is not getting anytime with the Rapids and could fill either role, although I think he is more of a playmaker. As far as a defensive midfielder, I think Arena needs to look for someone like Pablo Mastoeni, whose contract is over for Colorado. The problem is that mastroeni is looking to close out his career in Europe. Yes, he is a little old for such a transfer, but a solid Serie B team might be a destination.

Ives Galarcep suggested prayer and I can't disagree with that notion. But next year is a rebuilding year for L.A. and any thoughts otherwise are dreams at best. Can L.A. make the playoffs next year? Yes, but not until they close up the defensive holes.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Alaska Senator Stevens Convicted

Good. I know it may seem odd for a Republican to say that, but based on the evidence that has been spoken about, Stevens was guilty and should have been convicted.

The behavior Stevens engaged in not only corrupted him, but everything he did for his state and this country. This is the kind of activity, whether Republican or Democrat, that should be stopped.

You Can Wear A Shirt Like This

that Gateway Pundit displays, but that same girl would not be able to wear an Choose Life Shirt to school.

I am not saying that she wore this shirt to school, but she probably could and get away with it.

Cleaning Out the Notebook

Well, it was a crazy week last week at work and so the updating of this space had to make way for dispositive motions practice (lawyers will understand). It was a week that fairly screamed for blogging activity, particularly in the soccer world, but that is life as a part time blogger.

Here are the stories that I missed:

Major League Soccer (or as I call it Mickey League Soccer) is looking at expansion, with seven cities submitting bids for 2011 and 2012 expansion. Ives Galarcep looks at the candidate cities. My preferences would be St. Louis and Atlanta. A Barcelona backed bid in Miami will attract attention, but I don't want one there because everyone will say that Barca got them going and MLS needs to get the business going themselves.

The Offside has two views on teh whole David Beckham to AC Milan story. In the end, I don't think Beckham will come back, making the first time he has ever broken a contract. If Beckham wants to continue playing high level football, the L.A. Galaxy (the worst team in MLS this past year) is not the place to do it, and that is obvious. Honestly, aside from Becks promise to help raise the game in America, I have to say he should go. The L.A. Galaxy need to get rid of Becks and Landon Donovan. I will have a piece on this a little later.

The Barclay's Premier League has a financial problem and at least writer makes a case for why the Premier League might lose supporters. The fans they lose in England will be made up for in fans worldwide. Fine and all, but clubs make a significant penny and pound on matchday. The problem is that transfer fees and payroll is eating up budgets and the Premier League would do well to look at the lessons of the causes and events leading up to the National Hockey League lockout. I am not sure what the percentage of club budgets are eaten up by payroll, but it has to be approaching the 76 percent ration of NHL clubs. Not a good sign.

I will spend more time cleaning the notebook later.

Oil Prices in a Free Fall

Oil prices fell yesterday as investors worried over demand.
Oil prices fell to their lowest level in more than a year Monday before rebounding to just above $63 a barrel as growing evidence of a global economic slowdown had investors betting on a further drop in energy demand.

Traders undeterred by OPEC's sizable production cut late last week also appeared to be taking their cues from world stock markets, which slumped again Monday with the Nikkei index in Japan closing at its lowest in 26 years, down 6.4 percent. Hong Kong and European markets followed suit, closing or trading substantially lower.

Wall Street was wavering in morning trading, with the Dow Jones industrials down about 22 points, or 0.27 percent, at the 8,355 level after having fallen more than 100 earlier.
There is some speculation that oil could fall to the $40's.Gas prices at my local station continue to plummet and are down well over $1 dollar in the past several weeks.

Obama Redistributionist Ideas

Would this video have made a difference if aired two weeks ago? Maybe.

Will it make a difference now? Maybe.

Here is the thing, most of Americans know the economy is in the toilet. Most Americans could use a little help and would probably take that help from the government if from no-one else.

However, I do believe that most Americans don't really subscribe to a total "Robin Hood-style, steal from the rich to give to the poor" mentality. I do believe that most Americans want to at least have the promise of a better time ahead and a certain segment of the population is willing to suffer the bad times for the short term in order to see better times in the long term.

But the larger issue is whether enough people will understand what this means and how it informs how Obama thinks and feels about the role of government in our lives.

Obama looks at the Constitution as a document of negative rights, i.e. it lists the things government can't do to you. Fine, in so far as it goes, but Obama says the document doesn't say what government may do for you. Well, that is also true, to a certain extent.

What Obama is forgetting is that the Constitution, and the state constitutions as well, were written from a viewpoint of limited government, i.e. these are not only the things government can't do to you, but this is the list of the things government is permitted to do.

What has happened through the mechanism of the spending power and the commerce clause, is that the federal government has taken what was supposed to be a very limited scope of power and expanded it to encompass just about anything it wants. How did that happen, oh, yeah, the Courts. Including, I might add, the Warren Court.

Interesting listening though.

This Is Just too Cool: Nuns Part Owners of Soccer Team

Nuns buy shares of Croatian team. Does this mean they get an unfair advantage? A little help from on High?

Santino Quaranta Anniversary

Back in June, I noted the story of Santino Quaranta, his battle with drugs and alcohol, his rehab and rebirth as an everyday player for the DC United.On October 23, 2008 Quaranta celebrated his anniversary of sobriety with family.

In the wake of the suspensions of Jon Conway and Jeff Parkes of the New York Red Bulls for using performance enhancing drugs, it is good to see a story about a player who, with the help of soccer and the MLS, kicked a destructive habit and may finally be blooming into a player.

The only question in my mind would be, will Bob Bradley call him into U.S. Training camp in January? I hope so. It would be a big boost to Quaranta, although, right now, I just don't seem him in the U.S. regular squad.

Good News for Bob Bradley: Subotic Can't Play for Germany

Borussia Dortmund's Neven Subotic, that Yugoslav born, American raised striker, who has been on form for his club and expressing regular interest in playing internationally for Germany (and having interest for Joachim Loew) has been rule ineligible to play for Germany as a naturalized citizen. Subotic had appeared for the US as a U-17 international, but some sort of falling out occurred between Subotic and U.S. Soccer such that Subotic has not been open to calls from Bob Bradley and U.S. Soccer about playing for the Red, White and Blue. Chris Courtney writes:
The basis of the decision is that in 2005, Subotic had played in a U-17 match for the USA. So, after first participating in an international competition, he is ineligible to play only for countries of which he was already a citizen; Serbia or the USA (or possibly Bosnia). Once he plays in a full international match for one of these three countries, he is only eligible to play for them for the rest of his career.

So, will Subotic decide to line up alongside Oguchi Onyewu in central defense for the Stars and Stripes who appear to be cruising toward World Cup Qualification? Will Bob Bradley call him in for the USA's next World Cup qualifier against Guatemala on November 19th?

Or, will he decide to cast his lot with the White Eagles, currently in a 4-way tie for second in a tough qualifying group which includes France, Romania, Austria, and current group leader Lithuania? We may find out soon if coach Radomir Antic calls him in for the November 19th friendly against Bulgaria.
Okay, Bob Bradley has some real thinking to do in the next two weeks. Should he campaign to bring in a player who has spurned the U.S.? I think so.

But here is the problem. Subotic won't see much time for the U.S. in the next couple of years. At 19, he will probably be eligible for the U.S. Olympic team (U-23) for 2012 and is more likely to be a regular come the 2014 World Cup. Bradley has all but penned in his starting back line of Cherundolo, Onyewu, Bocanegra, and Pearce for the 2010 World Cup and certainly for the next round of qualifying. Will Subotic, who regularly sees 90 minutes of time for Borussia Dortmund, be willing to take a back seat for the next four years to Gooch and Boca?

To be sure, I think that there will be some lobbying for Subotic in the next couple of weeks. If Subotic is called in against Guatamala, Bradley's two goals will be to 1) win against the Guatamalan in Denver and 2) cap tie Subotic just like Bradley did with Jose Torres against Cuba.

Duece to the Rescue

Clint Dempsey came in off the bench and got an 87th minute goal to give Fulham a 1-1 draw against Portsmouth at Fratton Park.

Fulham, winless in their last six matches had dropped to near the relegation zone after starting the season in good form. Now with 8 points and a game in hand (against Manchester United), Fulham sit 16th on the table, just over Bolton on goal difference.

What really sucks is that Andy Johnson pulled a howler in the 85th minute or so that could have equalized but he couldn't really get around on it and it went over the bar. Things were desperate in the final minutes and quite honestly a little luck played a part since I think at least one of those fouls in the penalty area should have been a penalty kick. But with Duece's late goal, the Whites salvaged a point on the road.

Fulham host Wigan on Wednesday in a mid-week game at the Cottage. At this point, Fulham need a full three points, and their performance might very well have given them the boost to get the win at home. Wigan sit 15th on the table, besting Fulham only on goal difference. Three points will help as Fulham start a four game stretch against lower half of the table sides with Wigan (15th), Everton (14th), Newcastle (19th) and Tottenham (20th) the next four matches on the schedule. The key, as everyone will tell you, to avoiding relegation battles is to get points against teams around you in the table. Wins over these four sides will put distance between Fulham and those teasm, distance that can be important in seven months time. Only the Everton fixture is away, so I hope that Fulham can net all 12 points, but I will be happy with 8 of 12 points, preferably with wins over Newcastle and Tottenham.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Real Salt Lake's Andy Williams and his Homefront

Too often we look at footballers as just that, forgetting that they are people with real lives and often real challenges at home. RSL's Andy Williams has had a good year for his club, but not a standout one. This story tells you why.

Often when we think of footballers' wives, we think of WAGs, the glamour, the shopping, the papparazzi. But given the story of Marcia Williams, maybe we should take a step back and remember that footballers are humans with a real life beyond the pitch, training ground and personal appearances.

On the plus side for Williams, looks like he is going to learn to cook and wash towels (how does a footballer not know how to wash towels? Cooking I get, but washing towels? Surely he has used a few in his career).

My prayers are with Andy Williams and his family.

Check out which is raising money for Marcia Williams' treatment. Consider dropping a little scratch to help them out.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Young Voters, Get Mad

Robert J. Samuelson: Young voters get mad!
You're being played for chumps. Barack Obama and John McCain want your votes, but they're ignoring your interests. You face a heavily mortgaged future. You'll pay Social Security and Medicare for aging baby boomers. The needed federal tax increase might total 50 percent over the next 25 years. Pension and health costs for state and local workers have doubtlessly been underestimated. There's the expense of decaying infrastructure -- roads, bridges, water pipes. All this will squeeze other crucial government services: education, defense, police.

Cruz Azul Defeats D.C. United; Both United Keepers Ejected

In general the DC United performance in the CONCACAF Champions League has been shambolic to say the least. However, last night, the whole episode was shambolic to say the least. While DC United fell 2-0 to Cruz Azul in Mexico, the results should have, indeed could have, been far worse.

Where to start? First, DC traveled with just 15 players, (that's four possible subs for those of you keeping count): GOALKEEPERS: Louis Crayton, James Thorpe; DEFENDERS: Pat Carroll, Mike Zaher, Marc Burch, Devon McTavish, Gonzalo Martinez, Bryan Namoff; MIDFIELDERS: Ryan Miller, Craig Thompson, Ryan Cordeiro, Quavas Kirk, Clyde Simms; and
FORWARDS: Thabiso Khumalo, Francis Doe. While all these players but Thorpe has seen first team action this year, it would hard to classify this as DC United's first team. But since DC United were all but eliminated form the competition before last night's game, did it really matter?

Let's talk James Thorpe--the second back up--made his first team debut and looked good. He made some good saves and picked up a yellow card for dumping a Cruz player outside the box. He deserved that yellow card. However, in the 31st minute, Thorpe was setting up for a goal kick and then decided to move to the other side of the goal area. Referee Robert Moreno handed Thorpe a second yellow and sent Thorpe off for what appears to have been unsporting behavior for taking too much time. To say it was a soft yellow card would be generous in the extreme. I didn't think Thorpe was taking that much time and to give the second yellow in such a circumstance is simply inexcusable for a such an infraction. But sending off a player for that is just wrong (and that is the referee in me speaking). Would DC have one with Thorpe in net? Maybe not, but he was putting in a good performance and I hope we see him some more so that we can get a better bead on his abilities.

Okay, so Louis Crayton comes in, cold, and just 10 minutes later, Cruz goes up 1-0 before the half. To be honest, it was a good goal and well taken. No shame in that.

The second half gets under and DC is playing a man short. But the young-uns are making a go of it. There were more than a few solid opportunities for goals and Marc Burch launched a rocket that almost found the equalizer. DC didn't look too shambolic, but then in the 88th minute, it all went pear-shaped again.

Around the 87th minute, Gonzalo Martinez took a ding and was on the ground in what looked to be some serious pain (Marinez can act when necessary, but this one looked real). Instead of being sportsmen and playing the ball out of play so that Martinez could get attention (being a goal and a man up, Cruz should have been sporting) Cruz's Pablo Zeballos struck a shot from outside the penaly area and scored. Crayton was livid and charged referee Moreno who promptly tossed Crayton. I didn't see if Crayton touched Moreno and it didn't look like Moreno was anything more than extemely upset, but Crayton got tossed nonetheless.

With no other goalkeeper on the roster, Quavas Kirk (normally a midfielder/striker) donned the keeper's jersey and played 12 or so minutes in net for the United playing on 9 men.

The aftermath is that DC is done in the Champions league after an absolutely dismal showing.

But on a larger scale, the refereeing last night is an example of why most of the rest of the World looks at CONCACAF as a joke confederation. The quality of officiating has generally been poor and there really is no justification for Moreno last night (that is both the United fan and the referee in me speaking). I don't make excuses for DC's play in other Champions Leauge matches, the last night the young-uns did the best they could in circumstances that would rattle even the most seasoned professionals. That they acquitted themselves well in the face of such adversity is a testament to them.

Beckham and Soccer in America

Clemente Lisi writes about a recent appearance by Ruud Gullit in which Gullit said:
"David is more than just a football player and I think he does extremely well to give football here a lift," Gullit told Reuters. "I think [American soccer organizers] are afraid of football because it's so popular everywhere around the world. I think they will just control it so it doesn't become more popular than their American sports.

"I have my doubts if they really want to make [soccer] popular. Some sports already have had a bit of a dive so they don't want American football to become less popular, or basketball or baseball."
I am not here to debate Beckham's qualities as a player (which are considerable, though waning). What I would like to say is that soccer in America is plenty popular, as a youth sport. There is no other sport in America that has more kids playing and in fact, I believe there are more kids playing soccer than throwball (American football), baseball and basketball combined. I don't have a citation for that, but I read it somewhere and given what I know of the game in America, I believe it to be true.

The problem is that professional soccer, for so long, has tried to emulate other professional sports leagues in America instead of letting the game grow in a more organic fashion. There has long been professional soccer in America, just not in a format that is as readily popular as other leagues. But let us remember, in the early days the baseball leagues, basketball leagues and throwball leagues, there were fewer distractions seeking a consumer's money and these leagues were of poor game quality as compared to today. The same is true in American soccer as well.

Now, David Beckham is but one man, a high profile, brand name man in the world of soccer. He could exert considerable influence in the game, but let's face it, right now the powers that be in the top levels of American soccer have little to do with the development of the game, believing that its grassroots support will eventually carry the day. They maybe right, but that is a waste of Beckham's high profile. Here are three things that U.S. Soccer/MLS could be doing with David Beckham, instead of letting him train with AC Milan over the MLS offseason:

1). Coaching and player clinics. No David Beckham is not a coach, but he has been coached by some of the best men in the game like Sir Alex Ferguson. Beckham can help coaches in American soccer, arguably the weakest link in the sport, become better. Beckham can use his star power to attract the best coaches in the world to come to the U.S. and conduct coaches clinics and camps for several weeks at a time. Then Beckham, the guest coaches and the American coaches can apply what they have learned to player clinics.

2). Work with the U.S. Soccer Federation (U.S.S.F.) and MLS to improve the management of the federation. Beckham has inroads at the English FA and while the English FA may not be the perfect model for American soccer, the FA is quite accomplished at helping the game develop in England.

3). Talk to American sports fans. Not soccer fans, they have already been converted, but to American sports fans in general. In May Gordon Bradley passed away, an icon in American soccer, but the one thing that Gordon Bradley was, above all else, was a cheerleader for the game. Bradley could explain the most intricate aspects of the game and the simplest, in terms that anyone could understand. He loved the game and he loved teaching people about the game. Beckham loves the game, he has lived it in all its glory (minus a World Cup), he should be helping American sports fans to appreciate the game, its physical demands, its emotional highs, lows and the excitement of a game that most Americans would love for both its simplicity and its complexity.

Beckham, when he came to America, said he wanted to grow the game in America. Size is not our problem, advancement is. Beckham needs to focus on that, more than anything else.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Danny Cepero Debut

Who? To be honest, I had never heard of Danny Cepero until he started for the New York Red Bulls on Saturday, but what a debut. In addition to getting his first start, thanks to the stupidity of Jon Conway, who is now serving the first ever drug suspension in MLS history, Cepero got his first win AND scored the first ever goal for an MLS keeper.
Cepero replaced Conway when the latter suffered the first performance-enhancing drug suspension in MLS history. Cepero responded with the fist goal by a keeper in league history, an 80-yard score that sealed a 3-1 win over Columbus; and the Baldwin (L.I.) native didn't even see his landmark tally.

"I just put it in the general area with no intention of scoring. I just hit it up somewhere where my teammates could do something with it,'' Cepero said. "I didn't even know it went in. I had to ask Kevin (Goldthwaite) did that just go in? He said "yeah.' I said "Do I get credit for that.' He said "Absolutely."

The win for Cepero and the Red Bulls put them back in the playoff hunt. The Red Bulls are now tied with Kansas City at 39 Points (KC leads with a better goal difference) and if the season ended now, NY would be in teh playoffs. However, New York has one more game to play. At this stage, NY more or less controls their destiny, a win and they are in the playoffs. A draw might get them in to the playoffs with a little help. A loss and NY might get in, but they would need a lot of help.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Fulham Return With 0-0 Draw Against Sunderland

The return of Premier League football this weekend, after the international break with a pretty enteraining 0-0 draw with Sunderland. This puts the Whites in the familiar spot of occupying 17th on teh table.

More later.

Friday, October 17, 2008


A computer error by a Cleary Gottlieb associate is the subject of motions in teh Lehman borthers deal.
Above the Law was the first to report the error. Its story said the mistake happened at around 11:30 p.m. on Sept. 18 when a second-year associate asked a first-year associate to reformat an Excel document of critical Lehman contracts to be assumed by Barclays.
This is why having associates work insane hours is very often a bad thing.

Bobming Laywers

Two recent stories involving bombs/explosions and lawyers. First in St. Louis:
John Gillis, 69, was bloodied and burned by the blast, which occurred at about 11:15 a.m., but is expected to survive, reports the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. He is a senior counsel at Armstrong Teasdale, a 270-attorney international law firm headquartered in St. Louis, where his practice focuses on corporate and securities matters.

Authorities said they don't know whether Gillis was an intended target of the bomb, which was contained in a package left next to his car. When he picked it up, it went off, the newspaper reports.
An in Dalton, Ga:
An explosion at a personal injury law firm in downtown Dalton, Ga., has resulted in multiple injuries--and, it appears, one death.

"A body has been found behind the law firm where an explosion took place this morning and a police officer saw a man run behind the building just before the explosion," reports the Chattanooga Times Free Press in a just-posted article. A Dalton police spokesman also says that someone at the law firm made a 911 call about a disturbance just before the apparent attack.

District Attorney Kermit McManus blamed a bitter lawsuit for the explosion, saying that he considers it “an assault on the judicial system.” He named Lloyd Cantrell as a suspect in the bombing, but doesn't give any details about who Cantrell is, according to the Daily Citizen.

"Witnesses said the blast at about 10 a.m. Friday blew out the windows at the McCamy Law Firm. They said at least one person had his clothes burned off and was taken to the hospital," reports the Associated Press. Four other people also are being treated for burns.

The ABA Journal is following both stories.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Chief Justice Roberts In Dissent

With a spin.

Smaller Banks "Punished for behaving prudently"

This story hit me yesterday (but I was too busy to comment)smaller, community banks are worried that they, the only real prudent financial institutions around are going to get sucked into the nationalization of the banking industry.
Community banking executives around the country responded with anger yesterday to the Bush administration's strategy of investing $250 billion in financial firms, saying they don't need the money, resent the intrusion and feel it's unfair to rescue companies from their own mistakes.

But regulators said some banks will be pressed to take the taxpayer dollars anyway. Others banks judged too sick to save will be allowed to fail.

The government also said yesterday that it will guarantee up to $1.4 trillion of private investment in banks. The combination of public and private investment is intended to refill coffers emptied by losses on real estate lending. With the additional money, the government expects, banks would be able to start making additional loans, boosting the economy.

President Bush, in introducing the plan, described the interventions as "limited and temporary."

"These measures are not intended to take over the free market but to preserve it," Bush said.

On Capitol Hill, lawmakers from both parties praised the plan and scrambled to take credit for writing provisions into the law passed almost two weeks ago that allowed the government to switch from buying bad loans to buying ownership stakes in banks.
the Post had this quote from a local banker:
Peter Fitzgerald, chairman of Chain Bridge Bank in McLean, said he was "much chagrined that we will be punished for behaving prudently by now having to face reckless competitors who all of a sudden are subsidized by the federal government."

At Evergreen Federal Bank in Grants Pass, Ore., chief executive Brady Adams said he has more than 2,000 loans outstanding and only three borrowers behind on payments. "We don't need a bailout, and if other banks had run their banks like we ran our bank, they wouldn't have needed a bailout, either," Adams said.

Common sense on a smaller scale. Maybe if more banks acted like these community banks, who make decisions based on objective criteria like credit-worthiness and risk, rather than simply on what will make them the most money quicker, we might be in this situation.

But these executive are right, the federal government forcing banks to take government help is intrustive and wrong. My guess is that if you talk to these same small bankers, you will find that to a person each would say that the banks who made bad decisions should be allowed to fail, regardless of size. I would agree, it is the best and fastest way for these insitutions to learn their lesson.

The Obvious that Hasn't Been Mentioned Enough

From Instapundit: "I note two insider-Senators spending most of their time running against 'Washington.'"

And that is why this campaign sucks. Can I write Sarah Palin in as my candidate for President?


Cries the DC Examiner:
It’s getting steadily more difficult to detect differences between an organized nationwide criminal conspiracy to commit voter fraud and the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN). Thus far in the 2008 campaign, state election officials representing both major political parties in 15 states, including such key battlegrounds as Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida, have accused ACORN of various schemes involving widespread voter fraud. The pattern is so pervasive - and the danger to our electoral system so dire – that it demands federal intervention.

The Justice Department’s indictment in 2005 of the Milberg Weiss class-action securities law firm under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) did not involve charges of mob involvement. Ultimately, the firm plea bargained and several of its senior partners now reside in federal prisons. Likewise, ACORN’s repeated abuses don’t include mafia links, but the pattern matches the organized criminal conduct RICO was passed to combat.
Yeah, if Obama is elected it probably will get quashed even though it shouldn't.

Stephen Green on Congressman Mahoney "Sex Scandal"

Wait, you didn't know about that? Stephen Green will tell you why as well as some good questions and answers.

Democrats Mull $300 Billion Stimulus

That didn't take long. A few weeks ago, I noted that Nancy Pelosi has suggested another $150 billion dollar stimulus package. Well, that number as doubled.

Can McCain Exploit "Joe the Plumber" Mindset

Who knows, but the McCain camp is running out of time.

Trinidad & Tobago 2:1 US Men's National Team

Last night in Port of Spain Trinidad, the U.S. dropped not only their first game in 2010 World Cup qualifying but their first game to T&T in 24 years. T&T's first goal was the result of lucky bounce off Brad Guzan's back and the second the result of a penalty kick.

The good thing is that the U.S. is already through to the Hexagonal round. Bob Bradley took the opportunity to try out a young team. You wanted young and here is why playing just young players, no matter how talented, in meaningful games is not always a good idea. The game was meaningful to Trinidad since their victory, combined with a Guatamala loss to Cuba, means that T&T is in the driver's seat to advance to the Hexagonal, they control their own destiny come the final round next month. The group now looks like this:

USA 12 Points
T&T 8 Points
Guatamala 5 Points
Cuba 4 Points

Trinidad faces Cuba in the final match and a draw or a win means they advance. Guatamala has to win to have a chance to advance and T&T has to lose. I am not sure how the tie breakers work.

But the U.S. didn't look great and I think there are three reasons for that beyond simply youth. On the youth matter, the starting 11 had and average age of 23.6 years of age. Take old men Frankie Hejduk (34) and Danny Califf (28) out of the mix and you get an average age of just 22. That is a young squad to field and while I think Bradley had to get these players into get them experience, and many of these players play and have played at the highest levels of professional and youth national team play, they don't have that much experience and that makes a difference. I know that the youngsters need expererience and the only way to get that is to play, but last night demonstrated the reason why the most successful teams on earth have a mix of youth and experience. But as I said, there were three other reasons, other than youth, for their poor performance.

First, the team didn't play well because they haven't trained together. There were several instances where it was obvious that this team has not played together, players were getting in each others' way, passes weren't completed because runs were moving in a different direction than expected, communication was lacking and so forth. This team had been together as a squad for just two full training sessions and game day. Most of these players had not been called in regularly to the national team squad in the past six months and many of these didn't even play together at the Olympics. The results of their lack of comfort together or even knowledge of playing styles were obvious.

Second, it may seem unfair, but this squad knew the result of this game was meaningless for the U.S. Conversely the game was of great importance to the T&T side and it showed in the level of experience that T&T fielded--clearly their first team. I am not saying this team tanked the game, but there were times when the urgency just didn't seem to be present.

Third, Bob Bradley's tactics did not fit this team and this is where the coach is a fault. With this squad on the field, Bradley used essestially his bucket 4-4-2 with the variation of having Adu withdrawn for a sort of five man midfield and that did not suit the talents of this squad. Jose Torres is an attacking midfielder and should not be lining up as a withdrawn midfielder. Sacha Kljestan is not a winger, he is a good midfielder, but not a winger since he lacks the speed and the crossing ability to play a true winger. The midfield was too bunched up with Torres, Adu, and Edu in the middle and Beasley and Kljestan pinching in too far if they are supposed to be wingers. As a result, Heath Pearce and Frankie Hejduk were called upon to do too much on the outside and while Pearce is stepping up, Hejduk's crossing skills looked poor last night.

Bradley should have fielded a different set up than this bucket 4-5-1. A 4-1-4-1 with Edu as a holding midfielder would have been smart or a 3-2-4-1 with a back line of Pearce, Califf and Hejduk and a second line of Orozco and Edu would have put as many players in the midfeild as possible, but freeing up Torres and Adu to work as a striking pair. Even something like a 3-2-3-2 would have looked solid with Adu pushed a little more up top and Torres in the middle. But Bradley likes that four in the back and I don't think it was necessary in this game. This was a squad of attack minded players so let them attack.

Having said all of this, I think the U.S. side did acquit themselves very well despite the above conditions. The first T&T goal was a bit of bad luck, but the team showed character and kept playing. The penalty sucked, but it was a legitimate call. Altidore knew and I think has learned his lesson, a shirt pull when on offense gets a free kick, but the same foul in your own box costs you a game.

Two things I saw last night that I liked, Altidore/Davies and possession. If only for a few minutes, Altidore and Charlie Davies worked well together, combining on the goal, yes, but even at other times. Davies and Altidore are both very fast, quite strong and both are good in the air. With this pair up top, it forces defenses to be more aware of both men, which has the chance to open the defense a little more. This could be a striking partnership for the U.S. that could bring success.

There were many times when the U.S. showed great possession and ball movement, switching the ball from side to side quickly, spreading the defense out and creating the opportunities for more chances. I think that if this squad were to train more together, I think those chances would become real shots on goal.

Player ratings



Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Congressman's $121,000 Payoff to Alleged Mistress

Brian Ross has the story of Congressman Tim Mahoney (D-FL) making a settlement with a former aide with whom he alleged had an affair, for $121,000 in order to avoid a lawsuit.

US MNT Call-Ups

Ives is reporting that forward Robbie Rodgers and midfielder Pablo Mastroeni receved injuries over the weekend and will be replaced by Chicago Fire's Chris Rolfe and Columus Crew's (and DC United Alum) Brian Carroll.

Rodgers wasn't likely to get the start but probably could have gotten a few minutes.

Mastroeni was likely to start at holding midfielder and this puts Bob Bradley in a bit of a quandry. Ives thinks Danny Szetela is likely to get a start and that makes since given that Szetela has been getting loads of minutes in Serie B. However, I think that Bradley will move to something looking like this:






Okay, this lineup is still young and it looks a little odd, but Bob Bradley gave us this look a bit during the Cuba match when Torres first came in. But this set-up is a more likely tactical look, with Beasley playing a little more withdrawn, kind of like an outside defensive midfielder since he is more defensive minded than Torres. Beasley will still be able to bomb up and down the left flank and get into the attack. With the kind of emphasis on the right side, you are likely to see Torres move into the attack a little more and pair with Adu to feed Altidore. Torres has the pace and control to make that happen.

I think the look has potential and it could be very entertaining. Also note that only Kljestan and Hejduk are MLS players and Kljestan probably only for this year before he moves to the next step in his career in Europe, probably in the Netherlands.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Gas Prices

Huge price drops are happening.I got gas on Friday and gas at the local station was $3.29 a gallon for regular unleaded. The price was $3.19 on Sunday morning, $3.15 Sunday afternoon (I was pretty mad that I spent an extra 14 cents a gallon on Friday. This morning it was $3.11 and this afternoon it was $3.04 a gallon.

The fallout, everyone will be complaining that with the current gas prices, the oil companies profits will be "obscene" and that they are gouging Americans. The drop in gas prices, is of course, tied to the drop in crude oil prices, which is in turn driven by those economic stand-bys--supply and demand.

The Company Obama Keeps

Perhaps I am just too stuck on the whole Bill Ayers thing. But I just think it is important to note that Obama's association with a former(?) domestic terrorist is not just bad form, but indicative of a potential president who has little concern for the rule of law.

But, as I said, I am willing to give Bill Ayers the benefit of the doubt of reforming from his old violent ways. But I am not willing to give him a pass on his efforts to turn our public schools into dens of socialist/communist/anarchist learning:
But Ayers' distant past isn't the only reason to distrust him. He has a present, as well - and Obama is a part of it.

The two of them have worked hard to radicalize Chicago's public schools.

Ayers' work funding radical "education" groups in Chicago came just in the last 12 years. And he teamed up directly with Obama on that.

As The Wall Street Journal has reported, Ayers and Obama worked for the Chicago Annenberg Challenge. "CAC translated Mr. Ayers' radicalism into practice," notes the Journal. "It required schools to affiliate with 'external partners' " for their funding.

"Proposals from groups focused on math/science achievement were turned down. Instead, CAC disbursed money through various far-left community organizers," such as ACORN.

Ayers seemed to envision schools as "sites of resistance" and for teaching kids to oppose "oppression," with a focus on America's evil and racist past - and an eye toward "social transformation."

This is the swamp in which Obama operated: The Journal notes that Obama was chairman of the CAC board, which handled fiscal matters.

All told, Ayers and Obama won more than $150 million to ladle out.

McCain, to be sure, has never accused Obama of sharing Ayers' terrorist views.

He's merely questioned the Democrat's judgment in having worked with Ayers - and having launched his political career from the ex-terrorist's living room.

It's a fair point. (Emphasis added)
Yes, the highlighted section is a little squishy ("seemed to") but to be honest, it is not far off the mark.

Will Ayers be the Secretary of Education under Obama? Well, to be honest probably not since even the Democratic Senate under Harry Reid would have a pretty hard time choking down the nomination of a man with Ayers' past. But I wouldn't be too surprised to see an Ayers educational diciple in the role and it would seem that given the closeness of the relationship that Ayers would have a role in federal education policy.

I have pretty strong opinions about how public schools are operated, but while I have generally griped, groaned and belittled teh notion of turning our schools into social service centers, I will tell you this, if anything like Ayers' espouses becomes federal policy (which is enforced by the taking of Title I money) you can be assured that I will work three jobs if I have to in order to send my girls to a quality private school. I want my children to be educated, not indoctrinated.

Economists Opposed to Obama

TaxProf Blog has the link.

In general, Obama's plans will not bring us out of any financial mess we may actually face, in fact, my reasoned and basic economic opinion is that his tax and fiscal plans are likely to make the problem worse, not better.

Liberal Thugocracy

Michael Braone on the Obama truth squads:
Actually, Obama supporters are doing a lot more than getting into people's faces. They seem determined to shut people up.

That's what Obama supporters, alerted by campaign e-mails, did when conservative Stanley Kurtz appeared on Milt Rosenberg's WGN radio program in Chicago. Mr. Kurtz had been researching Mr. Obama's relationship with unrepentant Weather Underground terrorist William Ayers in Chicago Annenberg Challenge papers in the Richard J. Daley Library in Chicago - papers that were closed off to him for some days, apparently at the behest of Obama supporters.

Obama fans jammed WGN's phone lines and sent in hundreds of protest e-mails. The message was clear to anyone who would follow Mr. Rosenberg's example. We will make trouble for you if you let anyone make the case against The One.

Other Obama supporters have threatened critics with criminal prosecution. In September, St. Louis County Circuit Attorney Bob McCulloch and St. Louis City Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce warned citizens that they would bring criminal libel prosecutions against anyone who made statements against Mr. Obama that were "false." I had been under the impression that the Alien and Sedition Acts had gone out of existence in 1801-'02. Not so, apparently, in metropolitan St. Louis. Similarly, the Obama campaign called for a criminal investigation of the American Issues Project when it ran ads highlighting Mr. Obama's ties to Mr. Ayers.

These attempts to shut down political speech have become routine for liberals. Congressional Democrats sought to reimpose the "fairness doctrine" on broadcasters, which until it was repealed in the 1980s required equal time for different points of view. The motive was plain: to shut down the one conservative-leaning communications medium, talk radio. Liberal talk-show hosts have mostly failed to draw audiences, and many liberals can't abide having citizens hear contrary views.
They said when George Bush was re-elected, we would see censorship of politically unfavorable views.

My, my, there were right.

USA 6:1 Cuba

Yes, the U.S. dominated the game, particularly in the latter stages where fitness and depth of squad becomes an issue.

Yes, the U.S. scored six goals in a feast of twine-tickling with Beasley's brace, and singles from Donovan, Ching, Onyewu and Altidore. The U.S. could have had more with Michael Bradley showing that attacking flair that made his so valuable to Heerenveen last year.

Yes, the youngsters Bradley put into the match Torres (cap-tied him--good), Adu and Altidore showed great promise for the future of the American attack.

Yes, the stalwart defense of Cherundolo, Pearce, Bocanegra and Onyewu shut everything down, well almost.

Yes, I think Bob Bradley did everything right and game us a couple of interesting looks, including a 4-4-2 with no left winger, a 4-3-2-1 with Altidore and Donovan/Adu in attacking positions. Bradley made quality substitutions with players that quite frankly, everyone at that stadium was looking to see.

But let us not kid ourselves, while the U.S. looked strong and dominant, we were playing Cuba, at home, against 10 men for the entire second half. We should have won and won big. Against stronger competition, I think maybe only three of those goals happen, Beasley's first (that was simply a quality surgical pass to put him on goal), Altidore's lone run on goal (again another quality pass that sprung him loose and let him do his speed/strenght routine) and Onyewu's (a quality header on a quality cross). Beasley would not have been abandoned on the back post against a better organized defense for his second goal (although it was a very nifty display of two touch control and shooting), Donovan would never has seen the cross that came to him. And Ching's goal--should have been Kljestan's. Maybe Kljestan would have gotten free on that late run to the back post, but I don't know.

I did appreciate the possession and I surely enjoyed the attacking mindset, but this is so very much anti-Bob Bradley that while I want to see it continue, I am not sure we will in the Hexagonal. Is Bob Bradley starting to see that his players are capable of going at other teams, of attacking and taking the game to the opposition rather than just sitting back and hoping for a counterattack or set piece success.

Here are some positive things I saw:

Midfield play was better than it has been. Beasley and Donovan looked like the pairing they used to be, they work well together and the combination of width, speed and passing make them dangerous. If Beasley stays healthy and gets some playing time with Rangers, I can see this pairing doing well in the hexagonal and beyond.

Torres looked very comfortable. He and Adu will push each other to become better and while the two are very alike in both size (small, quick, compact) and combine great ball skills with superb vision, I would just call this a like for like pair. I would call this a dangerous combination that if you could put this pair and Donovan/Beasley on the field, I think you have a great attacking midfield better than anything in CONCACAF and on par with any national team outside the top 5 (there is not a midfield around better than the Spanish right now)

Brian Ching. I know people want Altidore and I could see an Altidore/Ching combo up top or an Altidore/Dempsey combo up top, but Ching worked well with Donovan and Kljestan in the middle. Ching plays a harrying defensive role and moves well off the ball. He does not have the speed of Altidore, but they share strength and toughness.

Player ratings:

Howard--5 (not much to do, the goal is not really his fault so I fee bad for him.)


Dempsey--6 (got into the attack well, just got unlucky)
Bradley--7 (I liked seeing him attack more)




Miami soccer player fights cancer

Go read this story of Miami Hurricanes women's goalkeeper Austen Everett, seriously.
The text message came in May while Austen Everett was studying for finals. All it did was save her life.

A friend wrote to say he broke his thumb and was in the hospital. Everett, a goalkeeper on Miami’s soccer team, packed her books and rushed over. Once there, the crippling back pain she’d ignored for weeks flared again. Everett grudgingly left her friend and headed to the emergency room.

“Be right back,” she said.

She never came back. She was almost gone for good.

Talk about a lucky break. If Miami basketball player Cyrus McGowan hadn’t smashed his thumb on the rim that day five months ago, Everett wouldn’t have gone to the hospital, doctors wouldn’t have found her back pain was caused by a football-sized mass wedged next to her stomach, and she wouldn’t have been immediately admitted for emergency surgery.

That tumor was non-Hodgkins lymphoma—stage 4, the worst kind—and she could have been dead within four months. Instead, four months later, Everett was practicing with the Hurricanes, never feeling more alive.

“Dying of cancer was never really an option for me,” Everett said.
Interestingly the diganosis was not immediately cancer:
“Congratulations,” one of them [her doctors] told Everett. “You’re a medical mystery.”

So Everett went back about her life in what friends called her typically happy-go-lucky style. She was going to attend summer school and get ready for the 2008 season, when she was slated to be the Hurricanes’ starter. She was going to get back into training once the staples holding her stomach together were removed.

Everything seemed fine.

And then the phone rang.

“Austen, we need to talk,” June Leahy, Everett’s mother, said from the family’s home in Seattle.

Thinking the chat would be about her shopping, two ‘C’ words popped into Everett’s mind: credit card.

She wasn’t even close. Her mother was calling with two other words in mind— cancer and chemotherapy.
Good story, a bit predictable, but still a good read.

U.S. Roster for Trinidad

With advancement to the hexagonal assured, U.S. Men's National Team Coach Bob Bradley named his squad for Wednesday's match in Port of Spain.

GOALKEEPERS: Brad Guzan (Aston Villa), Troy Perkins (Valerenga IF)

Guzan will obviously get the start and maybe the U.S. can get another clean sheet run going.

DEFENDERS (6): Jonathan Bornstein (Chivas USA), Danny Califf (FC Midtjylland), Frankie Hejduk (Columbus Crew), Michael Orozco (San Luis), Heath Pearce (Hansa Rostock), Marvell Wynne (Toronto FC)

Gone are veterans Onyewu, Bocanegra, and Cherundolo. I would like to have seen Jay DeMerit called in for this but he is down with a hamstring and it is better not to push it too much. Added to the list are MLS players and Orozco from Mexico, so travel is not an issue. This is a good mix of experience and youth, strength speed, lots and lots of speed.

MIDFIELDERS (7): Freddy Adu (AS Monaco), DaMarcus Beasley (Glasgow Rangers), Maurice Edu (Glasgow Rangers), Sacha Kljestan (Chivas USA), Pablo Mastroeni (Colorado Rapids), Danny Szetela (Brescia Calcio) José Francisco Torres (Pachuca)

The addition of Mastroeni increases the average age here a little, but it is still a young and exciting midfield. With the addition of Mastroeni, I wonder what will be Bradley's formational choice (more on that below).

FORWARDS (3): Jozy Altidore (Villarreal), Charlie Davies (Hammarby IF), Robbie Rogers (Columbus Crew)

Jozy showed in just 20 minutes of play why he is so exciting. He is quick, strong and mobile. He will no doubt get the nod since he earned it on Saturday.

So the question will be, who will start, where and what formation will Bradley use. In all likelihood, I would expect to see a 4-4-2 with a set-up like this:





Likely subs:
Torres for Beasley
Davies for Rodgers
Wynne for Pearce

What I would like to see is more of a 4-1-4-1 set up like this:






Likely Subs:
Davies for Altidore
Beasley for Rodgers
Szetela for Mastroeni (if the U.S. is ahead by two or more)
Szetela for Torres (if the U.S. is ahead by one or less)

This puts onto the field a good mix of experience (Mastroeni and Hejduk) with lots of youth (obviously). This line up keeps only one player on the pitch that started the Cuba match--Kljestan, so there are few concerns about players being tired. But also what it does is put world class speed on the flanks (Kljestan aside, although he is by no means slow of foot) and solid ball control and creativity down the middle with Mastroeni, Adu, and Torres along the spine. Mastroeni is a quality holding midfielder and Bradley can use him well. I would push Edu a little forward of the back line, almost like a 3-2-4-1 and let him use some of those distributional skills he needs to improve. The speed of Wynne and Hejduk can make up for some of the mistakes they may make and we shouldn't worry about those mistakes, that is why you have speedy backs. Wynne may not be as good a crosser of the ball as Pearce may be, but you have to give him a shot.

Additionally, that four man midfield can play anywhere and can move around in order to exploit the Trinidad weaknesses. With Wynne's quite literal world class sprinter speed (see the Toronto FC/NY Red Bull highlights from last week) and Hejduk bombing up and down the flanks, it is possible for the U.S. to overwhelm the Trinidad defense. Rodgers on the left is a dangerous weapon, particularly when paired with Adu/Torres in the middle.

If this squad does well in Trinidad, this is largely the squad I would call for the Guatamala match in November. However, as much as I would like to see Bradley experiment a little, I am not going to go hog wild. I think a 4-4-2 is likely, with maybe Edu instead of Orozco pushing a little forward of the back line. At most I could envision a 4-2-3-1 with Edu and Mastroni in the holding slots. As much as Bradley has a lot of attacking talent on this squad, I simply don't seem him letting them run.

Friday, October 10, 2008

MLS Expansion: Atlanta notes that Arthur Blank, the owner of the Atlanta Falcons and founder of the Home Depot, is discussing the possibility of an MLS club in Atlanta.

This is a superb idea and would get the MLS back into the southeatern part of the country. I know throwball is king in the southeast, but there is a lot of soccer fans in Atlanta and they have a quality USL club in the Silverbacks to use as a foundation (it wouldn't be the first time and probably won't be the last).

Reserves/Rookies Get Draw for United

To be honest, I was just flipping back and forth between the Real Salt Lake/Red Bull match and the CONCACAF match between DC Untied and Saprissa. Given teh 16 man roster of rookies and reserves that Tommy Soehn took to Costa Rica, I figured that DC was going to get trounced by Saprissa who have owned DC in recent years.

Man was I wrong. DC United led until the 80th minute on an early goal by Francis Doe. Rod Dyachenko, who I almost never mention without derision, almost made it to may hall of shame when he gave up a penalty that Saprissa missed. A goal called back for offside (which I missed) and the missed penalty kick should have given Saprissa the edge before halftime, but them's the breaks.

Once again two defensive breakdowns combined with goalkeeping errors put DC in the hole with just five mintues left in the match.

Remember that Dyachenko fellow, the only reason he isn't in the hall of shame again is that he got his ugly body onto a corner kick to push in the equalizer.

So United have one point out of a possible 12 in the Champions league. We still suck, but at least we won't end the tournament without any points.

Honda Player of the Year Finalists

The finalists are Tim Howard, Clint Dempsey and Landon Donovan.

For my money, this should be Howard's all the way. If form over the past year is important, Howard should win hands down. He helped his club get to UEFA Cup (although shambolic defending and lack of scoring got them bounced). Howard has had four shutouts in the U.S.'s last six matches (Brad Guzan had two against Barbados) including the performance of the year agaisnt Argentina (a performance worth the prize on its own). Even when he doesn't keep a clean sheet, Howard's performance rarely falters and most goals are not his fault and he saves the back line more than he lets them down.

Dempsey has a special place in my heart as a Fulham supporter. But to be frank, he is out of favor and out of form with his club. Fulham are playing well (not getting results lately, but playing well) and honestly Dempsey is not part of the package. He has been good enough to dress for every game despite not getting a lot of minutes, so that says something, but the measure is playing time. Dempsey has been finding his form for the U.S. of late, but over the past year, he has been less than his usual successful self. I think this nomination is more a factor of regular U.S. appearances rather than quality on the pitch.

Landon Donovan has been electric for the L.A. Galaxy and without his goal scoring they clearly would suck even more than they do. However, despite his prowess at putting the ball into the net, you can't get past the general form of his club. Add to that the fact that Donovan has largely been absent for the U.S. He has flashes of flair, and to be fair, Bob Bradly may not be using Donovan to his best talents, i.e. running at defenses down route one, but to be fair, he has not been a factor in the run of play of late for the U.S.

So for his performance for club and country--Tim Howard--hands down.

McCain: Obama Link to William Ayers Is Honesty Issue

Rightfully so. But Obama's pattern when attached to people like Ayers and Pastor Wright is to deny, deny, deny. It is not going to change and people need to expect that it won't change.

Boehner: De-Fund ACORN

Of course, such a call leads to the inevitable question: how did they get federal funding in the first place?

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Socialism Taking Root in America

From Yahoo News, the White House is considering nationalizing some banks. Oh they call it something different, "taking ownership stakes" in certain banks. But the fact is when the govnernment owns the enterprise, it is nationalizing them.

Interesting Obama Tactics in Indiana

Gateway Pundit has the story of how Obama illegally obtained a mailing list from a firearms and hunting trade group who then got a court order to not use the list.

ACORN Getting Raided

Nevada state authorities raided the offices of ACORN, the Barack Obama loving, campaign dirty tricks operating, voter fraud allegation collecting organization, that has seen more than its share of attention for being fast and loose with campaign and ethics rules. The worst part about this raid in Nevada is teh sheer stupidity of it:
The secretary of state's office launched an investigation after noticing that names did not match addresses and that most members of the Dallas Cowboys appeared to be registering in Nevada to vote in November's general election.

"Some of these (forms) were facially fraudulent; we basically had the starting lineup for the Dallas Cowboys," Secretary of State Ross Miller said. "Tony Romo is not registered to vote in Nevada. Anyone trying to pose as Terrell Owens won't be able to cast a ballot."

Agents with the secretary of state and state attorney general offices served a search warrant on the headquarters of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, or ACORN, at 953 E. Sahara Ave. shortly after 9 a.m. They seized voter registration forms and computer databases to determine how many fake forms were submitted and identify employees who were responsible.

They also sought information regarding current and past employees and managers.
Meanwhile, the Kansas City, Missouri branch of ACORN is also suspected for submitting possibly hundreds of fake registrations:
Charlene Davis, co-director of the election board in Jackson County, where Kansas City is, said the fraudulent registration forms came from the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, or ACORN. She said they were bogging down work Wednesday, the final day Missourians could register to vote.

"I don't even know the entire scope of it because registrations are coming in so heavy," Davis said. "We have identified about 100 duplicates, and probably 280 addresses that don't exist, people who have driver's license numbers that won't verify or Social Security numbers that won't verify. Some have no address at all."

The nonpartisan group works to recruit low-income voters, who tend to lean Democratic. Most polls show Republican presidential candidate John McCain with an edge in bellwether Missouri, but Democrat Barack Obama continues to put up a strong fight.

Jess Ordower, Midwest director of ACORN, said his group hasn't done any registrations in Kansas City since late August. He said he was told three weeks ago by election officials that there were only about 135 questionable cards — 85 of them duplicates.
so let's see, the elections board in Kansas City gets innundated with registrations in the last couple of days before the registration deadline; ACRON claims it hasn't done any registration activities in Kansas City since August and a high number of registrations don't appear to be legitimate.

Given ACORN's track record, I wonder what the date is on those registrations?

This story about ACORN's tactics in Ohio is worth noting as well:
Two Ohio voters, including Domino's pizza worker Christopher Barkley , claimed yesterday that they were hounded by the community-activist group ACORN to register to vote several times, even though they made it clear they'd already signed up.

Barkley estimated he'd registered to vote "10 to 15" times after canvassers for ACORN, whose political wing has endorsed Barack Obama, relentlessly pursued him and others.

Claims such as his have sparked election officials to probe ACORN.

"I kept getting approached by folks who asked me to register," Barkley said. "They'd ask me if I was registered. I'd say yes, and they'd ask me to do it [register] again.

"Some of them were getting paid to collect names. That was their sob story, and I bought it," he said.

Barkley is one of at least three people who have been subpoenaed by the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections as part of a wider inquiry into possible voter fraud by ACORN. The group seeks to register low-income voters, who skew overwhelmingly Democratic.
All stories via Drudge.

Update: Wall Street Journal has a story on ACORN in New Mexico being investigated by teh FBI for voter fraud in Albuquerque.

Zogby: Don’t believe the Dem hype

John Zogby says that despite all the Democratic hype that Barack Obama will win ("Barring a terrorist attack"), it is still a close race, within the margin of polling error in most states and the Real Clear Politics average has Obama with a 5.2 percent edge, but that average is affected by outliers of +11, +8 and +7. Most of teh polls have Obama with a +1 to +5 advantage, which is certainly within the margin of error of most polls.

In short, it is too close to call yet.

The Next Bailout--States?

Its Bailout Fever Baby (you have to read that like Dick Vitale might say it).

The federal government has bailed out the financial services industry, it has tried to bail out taxpayers with one stimulus package and Nancy Pelosi wants to do another stimulus package. Next up--state governments.

This story lists ten states with big budget shortfalls and hints that they may decide to take a seat at the federal trough to help them overcome their budget shortfalls.

The most cited reason is the housing market dive, which decreased tax revenues. California, the fifth largest economy in the world, is looking at a $22 billion dollar shortfall. The question will, what will states do? Well it depends on the nature of the state government. My own state, Maryland is on the list and this will be the second year in a row in which the budget short fall is over $1 billion. What did the General Assembly do last year? Passed a $1.35 billion tax increase and cut spending by $277 billion.

This year? Well the state has already cut positions in higher education and instituted a hiring freeze, but that won't come close to solving the problem. There will be increased pressure to pass a slots referndum to provide revenue for the state. The slots money is supposed to go to education, but assuming it does, all the slots money will do is get the General Assembly addicted to that revenue stream. You can bet that the overwhelmingly Democratic legislature will not cut spending on the level it needs to in order to close the shortfall and another tax increase is likely.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Pelosi says $150B economic stimulus plan needed - Yahoo! News


Speaker Nancy Pelosi says another $150B economic stimulus plan is needed. You have got to be kidding me!!!

The economic stimulat package that gave checks of $600-$1200 checks plus extras for kids to Americans happened earlier this year. Congress has since passed a $700 Billion bailout package--with nary a thought of how to pay for it and now we are being told that Congress wants to spend another $150 billion for another "stimulus" package. By my count, Congress has spent in excess of $1 TRILLION DOLLARS on helping people out with absolutely no idea of how such largess will be paid for.

If this passes, what the hell do I tell my children when they and I are suffering under an intolerable federal tax burden?

What will happen if the economic "crisis" which has been in part manufactured by the Democrats like Nancy Pelosi, doesn't end with this new stimulus package?

This has got to stop!!!!

The Intersection of Environment and National Security

On display at the Supreme Court today. Intersting.

Transcript is here.

Cleaning Out the Notebook

Another list of posts I didn't get to recently.

According to this report from the Christian Science Monitor (and other places), several pastors plan to defy the IRS prohibition on political endorsements from the pulpit. Good for them. I think that it is okay for a pastor to endorse candidates in church, they can do it in public in other arenas, why can't they do it in the church?

Wahington Post's Dana Milbank does a hit piece on Sarah Palin. Palin, as the VP candidate is supposed to beat upon the opposition--it is her job. Is Milbank's problem is that she in unapologetic about it? Or is this a case of sexism in disguise, i.e. Palin is a woman and therefore these activities are unladylike. I don't see Milbank chastising Biden for the same kind of behavior.

Glenn Reynolds, the Instapundit, calls for a more "crunchy" financial system.
Of course, one rap on fault-tolerant systems is that problems don't get noticed as fast, because things don't grind to a halt when failures occur. There is an argument, instead, for crunchy systems where problems are immediately obvious, instead of "soggy" ones where they are not. Regulation, etc., tends to make systems more soggy -- which is good for you when FDIC insurance protects your savings, but bad for the system when FDIC insurance makes you not care about your bank's balance sheet or loan portfolio. Both approaches have their place, of course, but it pays to be clear about which you're choosing, and why, and what the consequences are.
I like it, but common sense will not be the coin of the realm in a Democratic Congress.

Kartik Krishnaier notes that the Mickey League Soccer (MLS) complaint about fixture congestion doesn't seem to be phasing USL teams in the CONCACAF Champions League.

The antics of Newcastle United make for too easy fodder for blogging, so just check out the latest from SoccerLens.

There has been a lot of talk about refereeing in various soccer leagues around the world, here are a few stories, Man. U gets help again, the Reading/Watford Ghost Goal, and the list could go on and on. As a referee, I hope to add a little to the mix in a longer piece soon.

David Thompson talks about the political skew in university classrooms. I know it is not a new topic, but I liked this post and think it worth the couple of minutes to read it.

Jay Mathews talks about the necessity of someone having the power to fire bad teachers, for the sake of their students. I liked this paragraph in particular:
This shift sounds pretty drastic, and it is. For the past several years, D.C. schools have ranked near the bottom of city school systems in student achievement. They are the educational equivalent of the financial services industry and need the same kind of bitter medicine being prescribed for those downfallen businesses.

Would changing the metrics examining the teacher work loads have the potential to make real changes in classrooms? A thought provoking idea noted by Joanne Jacobs.

Some lawfirms are shortening?!?!?! the workweek due to the gas crunch. Won't work too much for me, I live about four miles from my office.

DC United Done and Dusted for 2008

Word today, courtesy of Goff, is that United midfielder "Fred has a Grade 2 hamstring strain and will miss the final three matches of the regular season." Which really means that Fred is done until next year. Fred, Luciano Emilio and Marcello Gallardo are out with various injuries, and Jaime Moreno will sit this weekend due to a red card suspension, which means that Tommy Soehn will probably start Santino Quaranta and/or Rod Dyachenko in the playmaker role, Dyachenko can't do and Quaranta would make a valiant effort but it is not his forte either. Yesterday, Goff listed the squad that will travel to Costa Rica for the CONCACAF Champions League match against Saprissa and Soehn is carrying just 16 players!!! Among that 16, only four would be considered regular starting figures. I smell a blowout.

While I am a DC fan, I am a realistic DC fan and this year has stunk up the joint. Unlike some DC fans, I will not make excuses and one analysis is pretty dead on. Other clubs have faced injuries, fixture congestion, and international play. Some clubs have given up (see New England) and some clubs have tried to rise to teh challenge (see Houston). But lets face it, these are just excuses.

The normally smart and talented Kevin Payne did not do so well in the scouting and player acquisition market. Yes, Gallardo was a great addition, but he has spent the crux of the season on the injury list. Not Payne's fault of course, but DC waited too long to rid themselves of Franco Niell and had a disasterous selection in Jose Carvalho, and failed to dump him and get a back up to Zach Wells that would create pressure on Wells to perform. In short, while some of the most recent acquisitions, like Joe Vide and Thabiso Khumalo look like they could really work for DC next year and a few young players like Ryan Cordiero and Craig Thompson have the earmarks of solid squad players, the fact is that this team is being held together by tape and bandages.

Of course as a DC fan, this is disappointing. But when you take a squad of reserves to Costa Rica to take on a club like Saprissa, I don't care what Payne and Soehn say about taking the Champions League seriously, their actions certainly belie their words. This has been one of the most dismal seasons in United history, from the start to the finish.

There are perhpas three bright spots to take away from this year:

1. Winning the U.S. Open Cup means Champions League next year. Of course, DC will have to qualify for the group stage, but they should be able to do that.

2. Santino Quaranta is starting to play like he promised those many years ago when he first came to DC and before his now public drug problem. Quaranta's progress gives me hope for next year.

3. DC United doesn't such as bad as the LA Galaxy.

I suppose you could find some other lights in this otherwise dark season, but they won't be very bright ones.

Yes, clubs goes through ups and downs and this year could simply be a down year for United. I am willing to chalk it up to that and move on. But assuming DC United scrape into the Playoffs--as unlikely as that appears--I won't count on the ambulance crew to get past the first round, where DC will face Columbus in the first round and I just don't see the Crew faltering this year. (DC mathematically cannot catch New England and the only way DC can catch Chicago is if DC wins their next three games and Chicago loses all three. Even then, DC would have to score 17 goals in three games to make up the goal difference, so even if DC wins out the season and can scrape by Kansas City and New York, they will still be in fourth place.)

So a down year, disappointing as it was, can often be the foundation for a great year. But for now, DC is playing for pride and little else.