Saturday, November 29, 2008

American Teen Up and Comers in Italy

Chris Courtney and Soccer Times has the story of two other Americans making their way in the Italian leagues and the U.S. U-20 National Team.

As more young players get time in other lower leagues in Europe, their experience becomes important. Keep an eye out for these guys.

College Soccer

Not much in the way of American soccer right now, but the NCAA Men's and Women's soccer tournaments are going on right now.

Ives Galarcep has results from the round of 16. The most important result, the Maryland Terrapins have advanced on a 2-1 win over California.

Kenny Cooper to the Bundesliga

ESPN's Steve Davis has the story:
The volume of debate is sure to rise anew in the coming days as the next round of "should he stay or will he go" unfolds. European teams are once again knocking on Cooper's door. This time, Germany's Eintracht Frankfurt is courting the hardworking and likable FC Dallas sniper.

While nothing is set, it seems increasingly likely that this season's 18-goal scorer, who finished second behind Landon Donovan in the MLS Golden Boot chase, may have bent his last net at Pizza Hut Park.

The big fellow and his family may make a trip to Germany soon for a personal look-see at the Bundesliga outfit. Bernd Hölzenbein, a once-prominent German international who played for Kenny Cooper Sr. in American indoor soccer some years ago, is now a scout for Frankfurt. He was in Colorado last week to see Cooper and speak to the family.

Hölzenbein apparently came away impressed. So now, with the winter transfer window approaching, there are essentially three things that could happen:

The most likely scenario is that MLS accepts the best winter offer -- one that could approach $4 million. That's not exactly Jozy Altidore territory ($8 million to $10 million from Villarreal, depending on incentives), but it would represent a handsome sum for MLS.
I could see Cooper in Germany and it is certainly a step up from Cardiff City.

Cooper is not likely to be in an MLS uniform next year, even with his connection to the city. Frankly, after this past season for Dallas, in which he had a club MVP season, and in just about any other season would have seen him hoisting the golden boot, Cooper is not simply likely to stay.

During the Guatamala match on the 19th, Cooper was one of the three most creative players on the pitch, combining impressively with Jozy Altidore, Freddy Adu and Sasha Kljestan. The move would be good for the big striker and I just don't see him staying in Dallas.

Fulham Nick Another Point on the Road

While Fulham are not winning matches on the road, they aren't losing them either as the Whites traveled to Villa Park and grabbed another point with a fine defensive effort.

Mark Schwarzer, with the aid of the woodwork, was able to keep a clean sheet for the second week in a row on the road. Clint Dempsey grabbed his second start in the row and tested fellow American Brad Friedel in Villa's goal with a couple of strikes that required Friedel to demonstrate why he is among the Premier League's best goalkeepers. The first attempt was just before halftime when Dempsey fired a solid left footed volley which Friedel had to go to full extension to save a goal. Late in the second half, Dempsey had another attempt that demanded another high quality save from Freidel.

So the Whites will return home next week against Manchester City.

Hats off to Friedel, who set a Premier League record today, with his 167th consecutive Premier League appearance.

Bankruptcy and Redoing Mortgage terms

This was an interesting story. From a legal perspective, bankruptcy courts are courts of equity, and could, conceivably, be granted this power.

But there would have to be some limits. The story presented in this article is very real and the terms of the mortgage smack of fraud which could be rectified by the suggestion being made by Judge Leonard.
Homeowners are the only ones who cannot modify the terms of their secured debts in bankruptcy. Corporate America flocks to bankruptcy courts to do precisely this -- to restructure and reamortize loans whose conditions they find onerous or can no longer meet. Airlines are still flying and auto parts makers still operating because they have used this powerful tool of the bankruptcy process. Lehman Brothers will surely invoke it. But when the bankruptcy code was adopted in 1979, the mortgage industry persuaded Congress that its market was so tightly regulated and conservatively run that it should be exempted from the general bankruptcy rules permitting modification.

How far we have come.

For more than a year, a number of legislators, academics and judges have advocated removing this ban on home mortgage modification to help stem the increasing number of foreclosures. I have twice participated in briefing sessions organized by the House Judiciary Committee, where I was lectured by lobbyists for the mortgage industry about the sanctity of contracts. I have listened to their high-priced lawyers make fallacious constitutional arguments based on discredited cases from the 1930s. (This is, incidentally, an industry that is not particularly concerned about its own contractual obligations as it tries, through various Treasury-aided programs, to stay afloat.)
There are a couple of ideas presented here.

First, yes, in certain circumstances, the terms of a mortgage as a long term debt can be restructured, if the debtor can show 1) fraud or 2) inability to pay the current terms.

Second, if any mortgage lender wants government bailout help--see Countrywide--they don't get to oppose any effort by a debtor to restructure the mortgage loan.

Judge Leonard's proposal makes sense, but such a change will result in the flooding of the courts by supposed debtors who simply don't like the terms of their mortgage but othewise are not debtors.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Broken Window Theory and Schools

The idea of the broken window theory is getting a revisit in a number of circles as I mentioned a couple of days ago. However, Corey Bunje Bower applies the theory to the world of school in a couple of posts. In the first post, Bower posits the theory and looks at two different concepts, the "zero tolerance" policies relating to weapons and sexual harassment and the "low level" rules that tend to be violated on a daily basis in classrooms.
If you buy the theory, it leads one to believe that we should implement "zero tolerance" policies in our schools. But such policies have become a lightning rod for criticism. Why? Probably because they're zero tolerance for major infractions like bringing weapons to school and sexual harassment. Kids being suspended or expelled for bringing plastic knives or for kindergartners touching members of the opposite sex in ways they couldn't really comprehend was sexual has led to widespread disgruntlement with such policies.

While weapons and sexual harassment are huge problems and should be dealt with as such, they're far from the largest obstacles to learning on a day-to-day basis in most schools. That honor would go to minor issues like talking in class. I would argue that these are the true "broken windows" of schools.

And I think a lot of teachers know as such. A lot of the discussion amongst teachers in my school centered around relatively minor incidents that they believed served as tipping points in their classroom. For example: a teacher next door to me my first year had a student that was momentarily out of control and clearly crossed the line between acceptable and unacceptable behavior. Just then the Asst. Principal stepped into the room and asked if the teacher needed anything. The teacher replied that they needed the AP to remove the student from the classroom for a few minutes. The AP declined to do so. And from that point forward, students knew they could get away with things that they had previously believed they couldn't.

Now, that's not really a true fit for broken windows theory, but I could tell a thousand other similar stories. The bottom line is that it was quite clear to me that students were more likely to act up when they perceived that such actions were acceptable b/c they seemed to be the norm in the classroom, hallway, cafeteria, etc. As such, it seems that a zero-tolerance policy of some sort is wholly merited. How else to prevent the chaos that reigns in too many (note: "too many" does not imply anywhere near a majority) schools today. But how to implement one?
But are the behavioral norms we expect of students rules or simply norms that we expect to be present in a classroom environment.

Bower thinks that misbehavior is not necessarily the "broken window" but I would suggest otherwise. Things like talking out of turn, disrupting the classroom through b behavior that is not acceptable or undermining the authority of the teacher through backtalk or foul language are rules. They may not be explicit in terms "thou shall not carry a weapon to school" but many of society's rules are not written into stone or in ink, but these norms of behavior do represent the "windows" of society, and if they are broken with no consequence, they will likely lead to further breaking and the breaking of more serious rules.

Bower followed up with a second post on the same subject, writing:
In other words, there are two different ways in which disorder can affect a school: In the case of rule-breaking, when students see other students chewing gum, carrying cell phones, or breaking other rules that might not really be enforced they come to believe that rules, in general, aren't really enforced or important and are more likely to break them. In the case of degradation of norms, when students see others running, shouting, pushing, etc. they're more likely to believe that chaos (or at least unruly behavior) is the norm and conform accordingly. Or at least that's how my experience would lead me to believe their research translates to schools.

So what are the implications? I'd guess the vast majority of teachers and administrators would agree, at least to some extent, with the previous paragraph. But knowing that disorder begets disorder and stopping disorder are two different things. I don't have all the answers, but I would say two things are most important:

1.) Don't make rules that can't or won't be enforced. If you're not actually going to suspend a kid every time you see them carrying a cell phone, then don't say you will. And in the case where the principal sets the rule this applies not just to you personally, but to the staff collectively. If all teachers aren't going to enforce the rule, then it's probably not a good rule to have. If kids see other kids playing on their cell phone in class, and those kids aren't suspended the next day then nobody's going to take that rule seriously. And once kids learn that not every rule has to be taken seriously, every other rule is in peril as well.

2.) Take action against low levels of disorder. That means somebody talking out of turn in class, yelling in the hallway, refusing to do assignments, etc. Maybe rules against such aren't codified, but when something small like this occurs it's important that the student is both made aware that it's unacceptable and that the behvaior[sic] is nipped in the bud to whatever degree possible.
I think we can intuitively understand proposition 1. If a rule can't be or won't be enforced in consistent manner, why then have the rule? Some rules have been created as the result of a one-time or rarely occuring incident. However, if a rule, say against cell phones, is to be created, it must be enforced. Kids have a pretty good B.S. detector and they will quickly learn if a rule is B.S. because it won't be enforced.

But the interesting thing is that Bowers second proposition, dealing with "low level" disorder actually can happen and does happen in elementary school. For example at my daughter's school there are four levels of behavioral status, green (for good), yellow (minor infractions like talking during class or failing to remain in their seats at designated time), blue (repeated failures and/or more serious offenses like yelling at the teacher or other students), and red (you can get to red immediately for physical misbehavior (and a trip to the principal) or climb to red by multiple failures of low level disorder). This scale is designed to create and enforce normative behaviors in elementary school kids. Too many violations means a loss of privileges and group rewards or events like field trips or shows, etc.

But the problem is not that kids in middle or high school don't know these rules, but that they test the rules as they get older, and upon seeing that the norms won't be enforced for them, they continue to break them.

So for older kids the problem is not one of lack of knowledge of the rules and norms, but the failure of the adults in schools to enforce them with appropriate, escalating punishments. I don't know if it is a function of "let kids be kids" or a desire to avoid "infringing their individuality," but the lack of punishment is the problem.

So if the Broken Windows theory is to be fully applied in education, we have to look first at the nature of the rules we have in place and decide first if the rules are necessary. Second we have to decide how to enforce the rules, what punishments will be meted out for violations and actually follow through. The rules must be clear and the punishments swift and evenly enforced. That is how the broken windows theory in education will work, but do achieve that requires commitment not just from the students but the teachers and administrators as well.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

As we gather today to celebrate with friends and family, remember a couple of things:

1. There are lots of men and women who are working today, be they military, medical or police personnel, they are working anonymously to make your life safer and healthier, remember them as you say your Thanks.

2. No matter what the media says about the state of our country, we are still the greatest nation on earth. We have much to celebrate and much to give.

3. Finally, take a moment and breath everything in (and no not just the food on your table) but also your life in general, after all, most of us don't get very many chances to take a breather--don't let this one go to waste.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Broken window theory

Is Crime Contagious?: Experiments vindicate the broken windows theory of how disorder spreads - Reason Magazine

Tino Quaranta Pranked.

I wonder how long it took him to unwrap his car.

Onyewu to Marseille?

Its been a long standing rumor:
With Olympique Marseille's defense hemorrhaging confidence on a weekly basis, Eric Gerets has elected to step up his search for a central defender to play alongside Vitorino Hilton.

Presently, Lorik Cana is installed beside the Brazilian after El-Amine Erbate and Ronald Zubar both suffered dips in form and confidence in recent weeks. Cana, the club's captain, is primarily considered a midfield player, and has shown exactly why as he tends to be drawn out of position too easily and is not suited from the role he is being asked to play.

As a result, the Belgian head coach of OM is believed to be looking towards his home country for a solution. Standard Liege center back Oguchi Onyweu, an American international player, has been impressive for his club this season and, with an expiring contract, should prove to be relatively easy pickings for the Mediterranean giants should they wish to make a bid.

Of Nigerian descent, Onyweu stands at 6-foot-4, is a powerful defender and has spent time in France previously -- with Metz during the 2002-03 season. From there, he signed for Standard but has also had a spell in the English Premier League, where he played 11 times on loan for Newcastle United.
Might be a good move for Gooch, but he might also have interest from other leagues as well in the January window.

Fulham's Schwarzer on Confidence

Aussie International Mark Schwarzer talks about confidence. Fulham's recent successes, including a draw away at Anfield, certainly point to a growing confidence in the dressing room and on the pitch.

Schwarzer's play in particular is certainly building confidence as the defense looks solid in front of the big Australian.

Bailouts in Perspective

Some interesting math from James Joyner. If the $7 tillion figure is accurate, makes you wonder what we are going to get for our money when you consider all we got for these expenditures.

MLS Deputy Commissioner to Arsenel

No, it is not a bid to raise the average age of Arsenel's Squad.MLS Deputy Commissioner Ivan Gazidis will become the CEO of the Gunners.

This is pretty big news from an American soccer perspective. It will put a man with extensive knowledge of the American game in a prime location for the European game.

My hope is that with Gazidis at the helm, some coaching exchanges will take place with Arsenel and the EPL to focus on matter like identifying and developing talent.

The Economy

Thomas Sowell talks about Obama's plan to "jolt" the economy.
Amid all the political and media hysteria, national output has declined by less than one-half of one percent. In fact, it may not have declined even that much-- or at all-- when the statistics are revised later, as they very often are.

We are not talking about the Great Depression, when output dropped by one-third and unemployment soared to 25 percent.

What we are talking about is a golden political opportunity for politicians to use the current financial crisis to fundamentally change an economy that has been successful for more than two centuries, so that politicians can henceforth micro-manage all sorts of businesses and play Robin Hood, taking from those who are not likely to vote for them and transferring part of their earnings to those who will vote for them.
The fundamentals of our economy are still strong. Yes, there are market corrections taking place in the housing market and the credit market. But those corrections are based not on irrational exhuberance, but rather they are corrections based on returning to common sense credit.

But the hubris of all this bothers, i.e. that politicians can even macro-manage, let alone micro-manage the economy. The response thus far has been to authorize trillions of dollars for give-aways without an real accountability. Sowell describes it even more perjoratively that I do:
Whatever the merits of trying to shore up some financial institutions, in order to prevent a major disruption of the credit flows that keep the whole economy going, what has in fact been done has been to create a huge pot of money-- hundreds of billions of dollars-- that politicians can use to give out goodies hither and yon, to whomever they please for whatever reason they please.

No doubt we could all use a few billion dollars every now and then. But the question of who actually gets it will be strictly in the hands of Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid. It is one of the few parts of the legacy of the Bush administration that the Democrats are not likely to criticize.
Therein lies the problem.

Government's solution to most problems is not to determine whether or even if something can be done, but to simply throw money at the problem. Case in point, look at education over the past several decades.

Now in the face of economic uncertainty, formulated and fostered to a large extent by Obama and the hyperventilating media, we are throwing more money at a problem that won't be solved by more money, but only by time and common sense. Regulations will be enacted that will make credit harder to get, which will grind the gears of the economy because the people with the really good ideas, the entrepeneurs who required credit at a risk, won't be able to get it and won't be able to revive the economy.

So, how should we proceed? Well first, stop throwing money at failing industries. Shoring up credit has a valid purpose, albeit not to the tune of trillions of dollars in giveaways. But we should not, under any circumstances, be helping any industry or business that has failed to produce a good or service that consumers want. If that means that some union bosses get screwed or lose power, so be it. That is the nature of our economy, it is, at least in theory, the best determinant of what people want and will tolerate, and that means it won't tolerate union contracts where the unskilled guy sweeping the floor at a factory makes $30 per hour and has guaranteed health benefits for life.

Success drives the economy and failures should be left on the road as lessons for the future.

Charles Rangel--Tax Cheat

the Instapundit has lots of links to Charlie Rangel's tax problems.

From the evidence that I have seen and read about, the Democrats would be well served to distance themselves from the long time representative and strip him of his Chairmanship. Will it happen? Absolutely not. Rangel is practically a demi-god in Democratic circles and until Obama was elected, the highest ranking, elected black man in federal government service.

It is ugly and he should be hounded from office.

Eric Holder and The Rich Pardon

It is not surprising that research is being done in to Eric Holder's actions while in the Clinton Administration. From an experience point of view, I think Holder is probably the most qualified Obama nominee for his job. While some of Holder's actions are probably not as dastardly as Republican operatives would have you believe, some of things are bothersome and require some sort of real explanation.

I don't know how and where to rank the pardon of Marc Rich in the scheme of Clinton Administration shenannigans, but it does reek of impropriety (although I will readily admit it was with the President's power to grant).

While this is clearly an attempt to create doubt as to Holder's fitness to be attorney general, it won't stop him. At this point only Holder or Obama can stop the nomination, because you can be sure that Holder's confirmation hearing will be a love fest from the left and a slug fest from the right and it will be all for show.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Seattle Sounders FC Expansion Draft

The Original Winger has the list of unprotected players from each MLS team that will be subject to selection by the Sounders.

The expansion draft is Wednesday and will consist of ten rounds. Each team may protect 11 players and Seattle may select one player from each team and no more. I won't reproduce the list here, but were I the Sounders, this is the ten I would select in the expansion draft:

Eddie Gaven (Columbus Crew) (MF)
Brandon Prideaux (Chicago Fire) (MF/D)
Craig Waibel (Houston Dynamo) (D)
John Wolyniec (New York Red Bull) (F)
Greg Sutton (Toronto FC) (GK)
Khano Smith (New England) (MF)
Abe Thompson (Kansas City) (F)
Jorge Flores (Chivas USA) (MF)
Joe Vide (DC United) (MF)
Chris Klein (LA Galaxy) (D)

But we will have to see how Seattle fares. The big problem for them is that they do not have a coach whom the owners and front office can consult.

Last night on Fox Football Fone-In, Sigi Schmid was asked about his future plans, but so far Columbus has not given him permission to talk to other teams, including Seattle, and does not have a new contract with Columbus.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Micheal Steele to GOP--Stop Whining about Losing

Couldn't agree more. After Steele lost his Senate bid in 2006, he didn't spend his time whining about losing, he got to work on building the GOP and is now running for RNC Chairman.

Maryland Republican Party Going Forward

In two years, the state of Maryland will go to the polls for statewide elections for Governor, General Assembly and a raft of county and local races. There are many reasons for the Old Line state to be feeling down about the 2008 election. Some of the reasons have been put forth by David Marks of Inside Charm City in this post.
Maryland Republicans are feeling quite blue these days.

Not only did Democrat Barack Obama carry Maryland by 25 points, but his victory spilled way beyond the “Big Three” jurisdictions that anchor Democratic wins in the state. Baltimore City, Montgomery, and Prince Georges Counties delivered massive margins, as expected, with some precincts reminiscent of the 95 or 97 percent wins you would see in Soviet Russia. But the blue Democratic tide washed into Charles, Howard, and Baltimore Counties, and almost Frederick and Kent Counties.

In 2002, Republican Bob Ehrlich turned Maryland’s political establishment upside-down by winning the governor’s race, thanks largely to huge numbers in 20 of the state’s 23 jurisdictions. Today, the 20 Republican-leaning counties have become 16 or 17. The 2008 election shows that transplants from the “Big Three” are filling up the rest of the state.
I will tend to agree about the latter assertion as Frederick County, at least lower Frederick, is becoming Montgomery County North in many respects.

Marks then makes these points:
The Maryland Republican Party is back to where it was in the early 1980s, scrambling to rebuild. They might concentrate first on the races where they can win. Even with the Obama landslide throughout Maryland, there were large pockets of suburban Baltimore where McCain won by 60 percent or higher. Many of these places—communities like Perry Hall, Timonium, and eastern Baltimore and Harford Counties—have Democratic incumbents.

Republicans need to develop an alternative vision for where they would lead this state. They cannot simply be “against” the Democrats. That vision should start with criticism of unnecessary spending and taxes (it wasn’t the Republicans who raised sales taxes by 20 percent as the state slid into a recession). But Republicans should also propose how they would reorganize and reprioritize the functions of government.
This has long been the problem in Maryland, as well as just basic organizing principles (for example, in over 10 years as a registered Republican in this state, I have never once, not once, been asked for money--not that I have a lot of money to give, but I do have time, energy and knowledge instead. But not even a solicitation for $10--that is a problem). But putting the organizational matters aside, Maryland Republicans have never really, even under Ehrlich, established an announced alternative for running Maryland and presented it to voters on a regular and consistent basis.

Some basic principles:

1. We must first look at the functions government MUST do. This would fall into the police, public safety, public construction projects for NECESSARY purposes. Now I know that there are a lot of functions that state government currently fulfills, but the list of absolute MUST do list of functions is actually quite small. Everything else is an add-on and should be added on sparingly and dropped the minute revenues don't match expectations. The problem of course is that everyone thinks their "add-on" is a must do item, and it just ain't so.

2. The rule of law must prevail and must be the same in all locations. This seems odd, right, but there are jurisdictions who enforce the law in some regards while neighboring jurisdictions don't. Case in point, Frederick County Sheriff Chuck Jenkins recently called Montgomery Couty at "sanctuary county." Jenkins enforces the law with regard to illegal immigration, while Montgomery County flaunts the idea that illegal immigration is a problem. The result is a diametrically opposed view to the law. The law is the law and it should be enforced equally everywhere in the state.

3. Encoruage entrepenuership. Why is it that leaders in Annapolis don't understand the basic concept that jobs are created by businesses and the businesses that create the most jobs are small businesses. We should be doing more to encourage businesses of all sizes to come to Maryland, through tax savings and the like.

4. Lower taxes and less regulation. This is a core belief that I think the Maryland GOP does a very poor job speaking about on a regular basis. Everytime someone in the General Assembly or the Governor's office proposes a new regulation or a new tax or fee, there has to be a response by the GOP challenging the necessity of the new tax and suggesting an alternative like cutting spending in a program, or eliminiation of another tax. There has to be more onus put on the Democrats for justifying taking even more money from the taxpayer.

Start with the Maryland Budget and begin working on what the GOP priority list would be. Announce that priority list and begin sticking to it. Don't try and figure out what the public wants to hear (another problem with parties these days). Simply keep putting the idea out there, pushing and talking about it. Maryland is one of the most educated states in America, start talking to the people like they are smart and you will start to see movement, I guarantee it.

Obama Girls to Sidwell Friends School

Look, I am not going to use this opportunity to chastise President Elect Obama for championing public education and then join a long line of "public school champions" who then send their kids to private schools. If I were coming to Washington, DC as a public official, I wouldn't want to send my kid to public schools there either. The Wall Street Journal does the job for me and talks about the Obamas plan to send their young girls to Sidwell Friends School instead of public school. The Wall Street Journal notes:
Note the word "selected," as in made a choice. The Obamas are fortunate to have the means to send their daughters to private school, and no one begrudges them that choice given that Washington's public schools are among the worst in America.

Most D.C. parents would also love to be able to choose a better school for their child, but they lack the financial means to do so. The Washington Opportunity Scholarship Program each year offers up to $7,500 to some 1,900 kids to attend private schools, but Democrats in Congress want to kill it. Average family income for kids in the voucher program is about $22,000.

Mr. Obama says he opposes such vouchers, because "although it might benefit some kids at the top, what you're going to do is leave a lot of kids at the bottom." The example of his own children refutes that: The current system offers plenty of choice to kids "at the top" while abandoning those at the bottom.
Look, Sidwell Friends school is a private institution where the Secret Service can provide good security (knowing the buildings as they do from the days of the Clinton Administration when Chelsea attended the school) without the hassle of dealing with "public access" to public schools. I get it and that is fine with me.

But the many on the right will point out the hypocrisy and perhpas rightfully so.

Obama, Bush United to Fix Economy

What is it about the economy that needs fixing, exactly? Barack Obama said he and President Bush are united in the desire to fix the economy, but I still don't know three things:

1). What, specifically, in the economy needs fixing; and,
2). What, specifically, are our leaders going to do to fix the economy; and
3). What, specifically, gives these leaders the belief that they can fix the economy?

Look, I am glad that the outgoing president (who will be blamed for everything despite the fact that the economic downturn's genesis probably dates back at least a decade or more) and the incoming President agree that this is a problem. Of course a seven year old knows it is a problem, so I am not impressed with their prioritization skills.

It's as if the Capitol was the hottest strip club in America and they are the companies begging for bailouts are strippers hoping Congress will make it rain like Pac Man Jones.

But with all the hubbub of bailouts and stimulus plans and dollar figures starting with a "B" being tossed about like Pac Man Jones' wallet at a strip club, you have to wonder, do our leaders and the American people really know what needs to be fixed in the economy?

First it was the credit market and based on my understanding of the situation, a plausible argument was in the offering for that bailout. But now we have all of these other markets and industries arguing their importance to the economy and the muddled picture is quite hard to discern.

The truth is probably that the hubris of our leaders that they can "control" the economy will cause more ruin. Is the economy unmanageable?

What is so magical about $700 billion

First we have a financial services bailout package of $700 billion. Now Congress is vowing to have a $700 billion stimulus package on Barack Obama's Oval Office desk on Inauguration Day.

Aside from teh stupidity of just giving money away with no thought to the consequences, what is so magical about the $700 billion dollar number?

Citicorp Bailout Price

According to International Herald Tribune, the massive bailout of Citigroup came at a price:
Citigroup will halt dividend payments for the next three years and agree to restrictions on executive compensation under terms of the U.S. government rescue of the struggling bank, it was revealed Monday.

Citigroup had to make the concessions in return for the U.S. government's direct investment of about $20 billion in the bank and an agreement to back about $306 billion in loans and securities.
Okay, so the federal goverment will give Citigroup $20 billion and may have to eat as much as another $306 billion if Citigroup can't meet its obligations. $326 Billion in exchange for-no dividends to investors for three years and limits on executive pay. Please tell that is not all, because those are the softest loan terms imaginable.

First, dividends are not required for corporations to pay, never have been, never will be. Thus, Citigroup, who probably weren't going to be paying dividends in teh next three years anyway, will get to be "required" to not pay dividends. Nice huh?

Second, limits on executive pay? Like what, their CEO's and other "Chiefs" don't get a multimillion bonus but still get their seven figure salary? That makes almost no sense.

Not really buying the ease of this deal. Who is negotiating these deals with companies like Citigroup? A five year old with the Democratic talking points?

Dumb to bail them out and dumber still to bail Citigroup out on terms as soft as these. Better to have written a blank check, it would have been more honest.

Network TV bailout?

Why not, everyone else is lining up for a government bailout.
It's D-Day for the broadcast networks.
They've been living on borrowed time for the better part of two decades, thanks to advertisers willing to toss in more cash each year even as ratings slowly trended ever lower.

But with the economy in a tailspin -- and the Big Three auto manufacturers, some of TV's best advertisers, near ruin -- the biz may finally have to pull the emergency cord.

"This day was going to come," says one conglom bigwig. "I don't think the business can be sustained without real change at this juncture. ... We have a gun to all of our heads."

Already smarting from a writers strike-impacted season, the networks haven't had much more to celebrate this fall. Collectively, the Big Five (including the CW) are down 13% among adults 18-49 vs. last year.

How low can they go? And at what point can the networks no longer monetize ratings that don't look much better than cable?
Well to be fair, they are not really talking about a bailout, but like most old school media, network TV is facing a real hard patch and if the Big Three automakers do tank, that is a lot of revenue out the door.

Let's Talk MLS as a Whole

The latest news out of the MLS is something of a mixed bag. There were some positive developments and some not so positive developments based on the MLS Board of Governors meeting and the Commissioner's State of the League address.

Taking some developments as good:

No team will play both the Superliga and the CONCACAF Champions League. This is good news on three fronts. First, it will ease fixture congestion for the teams--a huge complaint this year and to a certain extent rightfully so since it impacted the quality of play both in the MLS and in these competitions, there were too many teams playing reserves in these major competitions.

In superliga you will see: Chivas USA, Chicago, New England and Kasas City.
CONCACAF Champions League: Columbus, DC United, New York and Houston. (the MLS Cup winner, U.S. Open Cup Winnner, MLS Cup Ruinner up and Supporter's Sheild Runner Up-Houston)

Second, this set up gives more MLS teams exposure to international play. I would hope that Superliga would play in Mexico as well as in the U.S., but that may be a step down the road. Playing home and home in the group stages would be a good move and give even more exposure, but that is down the road I think. If there is a home and away series in the Superliga, I think teams should be able to get more revenue.

Third, it gives incentives for teams in the midtable and lower table to move up and compete. If the Supporter's Sheiled and MLS cup winners are the same team, you get the second place supporter's sheild team the second best in the league, going to international play. Of course, if there is a question of what happens if and when a USL team wins the Open Cup, does that mean only three MLS teams?

Roster Size trimmed. Teams will go from 28 to 24, which sounds like a negative, but the senior roster size can go as high as 20. This is a mixed move. Honestly, at this stage, there is not enough financial committment possible from the league to run a reserve division, although clubs like Houston and DC did pretty well in the reserves. If this is coupled with even a modest increase in the hard salary cap for next year (which I haven't heard about) then this might be a good move. With expansion coming up, Seattle and Philly and two more by 2011, shortening the rosters is probably necessary. In the short run, it may impact the availability of players, but in the long run, this move will enhance the quality of play.

In conjunction with this move, I would like to see the MLS consider expanding the Academy system and grant teams the ability to name two to three players from their academy to their developmental roster with no salary cap impact and no roster size impact. Thus, a team could have 20 senior roster players, four developmental players and up to three academy grads training with the first team. An academy player can make a maximum of two appearances or no more than 60 minutes of playing tim before they are considered to have displaced a developmental player.

I have more ideas on this, but for a later post.

One other item on roster size, I think that teams who make international competitions should be able to expand their roster by an additional 2-4 players under a 10%, one-time salary cap increase. But that may be a collective bargaining issue.

Playoffs system. I have to admit, I don't like the playoffs as they are currently formulated. Next year, the top two teams in each conference will get automatic berths and then the next four best teams. This bastardization creates some potentially pervers results, even stranger than this year where New York won the Western Conference, such as six teams from the East and only two from the west (it is possible and could have happened . This system attempts to create an American style conference with a single table format and at some point MLS is going to have to chose (and I much favor a single table format). Kartik Krishnaier argues that MLS will always have conference style play because geography demands it. However, the Russian top leage does not have that problem and to travel from Moscow to Vladivostok is like flying from L.A. to London. I don't like conference play, but if you are going to have conference based play, have conference based playoffs. I would like to see the top three teams in each conference advance, with the top team in each conference getting a bye in the first round.

Fixture Flexibility. I really like this idea. Essentially, teams will have the ability to take two weekends off or otherwise ease their MLS schedule to accomodate international play. What's that, a burst of common sense at MLS? Who knew? Look, after the embarassment that was the MLS performance in CONCACAF Champions League, this just makes sense, as it gives clubs an opportunity to restructure their schedule a little so that they are trying to play 3 games in 8 days during a couple of stretches during the hottest parts of the summer.

$7.7 Trillion in Government Give-Aways

That is Bloomberg's tally of government give aways. At that price you can give $22,000 plus to every man, woman, and child in America.
The U.S. government is prepared to provide more than $7.76 trillion on behalf of American taxpayers after guaranteeing $306 billion of Citigroup Inc. debt yesterday. The pledges, amounting to half the value of everything produced in the nation last year, are intended to rescue the financial system after the credit markets seized up 15 months ago.

The unprecedented pledge of funds includes $3.18 trillion already tapped by financial institutions in the biggest response to an economic emergency since the New Deal of the 1930s, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The commitment dwarfs the plan approved by lawmakers, the Treasury Department’s $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program. Federal Reserve lending last week was 1,900 times the weekly average for the three years before the crisis.

When Congress approved the TARP on Oct. 3, Fed Chairman Ben S. Bernanke and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson acknowledged the need for transparency and oversight. Now, as regulators commit far more money while refusing to disclose loan recipients or reveal the collateral they are taking in return, some Congress members are calling for the Fed to be reined in.

“Whether it’s lending or spending, it’s tax dollars that are going out the window and we end up holding collateral we don’t know anything about,” said Congressman Scott Garrett, a New Jersey Republican who serves on the House Financial Services Committee. “The time has come that we consider what sort of limitations we should be placing on the Fed so that authority returns to elected officials as opposed to appointed ones.”
Unbelievable huh.

Also, add to that the idea being floated by Congressional Democrats for another $700 billion economic stimulus package.

Free money all over the place. Great, just great.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Big Brad Friedel Involved Back Home

Over the weekend, Aston Villa's American goalkeeper Brad Freidel set a record for the number of consecutive Premier League appearances, combining his time with Blackburn with his new club, Aston Villa. He had a good showing this weekend against Manchester United and it still invovled with his home in Americawith his home in America despite having played in England for years now.

I wonder what Brad thinks about the Columbus Crew win yesterday.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Liverpool 0:0 Fulham

Fulham traveled to Anfield and nicked a point from the second place team in the league.

Clint Dempsey got the start replacing Zoltan Gera in the line up. Simon Davies moved to the left side and Dempsey started on the rigth side of midfield. Otherwise the starting line up looked much like it has in past weeks. No goals, but Fulham did create some chances. The back line looked was solid again. Fulham's usual away form made no appearance.

With games still to go this weekend, Fulham step up to 9th on the league table, and put some distance between themselves and the relegation zone. But bottom dwellers Tottenham, Blackburn, Wigan and West Ham are either playing now or will play later this weekend.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Thoughts on U.S. Men's National Team Win

After last nights last semi-final match, a number of thoughts come to mind, many of them good.

First, the U.S. attack was creative, and the combination of Altidore, Cooper, Adu and Kljestan with support from Mastroeni and Clark lit up the Guatamalan back line. Bob Bradley looked at this two starting strikers and let them be themselves in attack. Bradley has favored in the past of having a up top striker, like Brian Ching, play with his back to goal and feed people like Landon Donovan or Clint Dempsey. I think in the past Bradley has asked Altidore and Cooper to do that as well and that is not what suits their playing style. Both Altidore and Cooper are too creative for that role and it limits them. With Altidore and Cooper moving around so much, I think it put the Guatamalan defense on the back foot and they didn't know how to defend against it. With two big, strong, fast strikers, the U.S. could do a fair amount of damage in the hexagonal.

Second, I have to say I like Goodson and Parkhurst in the middle of defense. Parkhurst was his usual quietly effective self. I didn't see him get beat once and he covered for Bornstein well. John Thorrington, whom I always think of as a midfielder actually played a very solid right back, bombing up and down the wing on attack and defending well. I don't know how this back line would have done against Carlos Ruiz but Parkhurst has seen Ruiz enough to know how to defend against him and Goodson probably could have handled him as well. Will Goodson and Parkhurst replace Onyewu and Bocanegra? Probably not, but both made a case for inclusion in the team to provide some depth. Given Bradley's predilication for big central defenders, Parkhurst probably won't be a factor in the remainder of qualifying unless the U.S. jumps out to an insurmountable lead in qualifying. Goodson on the other hand has some size, he looks skinny but has wiry strength.

Third, Rico Clark showed up last night and was move of a presence than I figured was going to happen. Mastroeni did a lot of the field general work, but Clark contributed. He still needs to work on his first touch, but he wasn't absent like he has been in the past.

Over all the team played very well and I think every player really made a case for themselves to be included in the January Camp to get more exposure. I know we are talking about a win over Guatamala (who has never won on U.S. soil) in November, in Colorado, so we have to measure the success accordingly. But this crew of inexperienced players shut all the naysayers and doomsayers up well and that is a positive sign.

Now for the bad. Freddy Adu can't seem to get any love from Bob Bradley--even after excellent play which saw Adu working on defense as well as being creative in attack. Even after scoring a brilliant free kick. Even after providing offensive fireworks, this is what Bob Bradley had to say about Adu--via Goff:
"One of the most important things with Freddy is making sure that he understands that while it's really nice that a lot is said and written about him, none of it matters when he walks in the door to the national team. The understanding of how to earn the respect of his teammates, and how to do things on the field that will help us win, those things come first. I'm sure that's also much of what he is trying to piece together at Monaco. This is what happens when the level gets higher with top clubs. It's a growing process, we talk about it with him often, and we hope that he continues to move along."
So, Adu plays well and can't even get a little love.

I was surprised, and a little upset, that Bob Bradley substituted out of the game three of his most creative players to replace them with Conor Casey, Brian Ching and Davy Arnaud. I didn't see Cooper or Altidore slowing down. Adu looked a little tired, but I think he could have finished the game. What is it about Bob Bradley that makes him want to stifle these young, gifted, creative players? Along with Kljestan, this trio looked to bring the most offensive flair this team has seen in a long time and Bradley sits them. That is nothing against Casey, Ching or Arnaud, but it just seems like if Bradley wanted to see something from his bench, he would have been better off putting Sean Franklin or Corey Gibbs onto the pitch and see how they manage to work with a winning scoreline and contain an attack.

Bradley's halftime comments to ESPN's John Harkes and JP Dellacamera (who by the way are the best TV team out there for the U.S.) also focused very heavily on the negative, i.e. our first touch has to be better, we are too slow on defensive recovery, etc. It was like Bradley was watching a different game. Yes, the U.S. generally needs to work on their first touch, they don't react quickly when they lose the ball, I am not saying Bradley is wrong, but the U.S. was seriously unlucky to not be up by one or two goals by halftime. Cooper hit the post, Altidore, Cooper, and Kljestan has other good chances. Rico Clark's first touch made what looked to be a great chance get away. The Guatamalan keeper made a couple of good saves. The U.S. was applying a lot of pressure on the Guatamalan midfield, and back line, forcing a lot of turnovers and generally making a nuisance of themselves. But instead of focusing on the positive for the fans, Bradley went all technical and negative. Just about every shot of him, it looked like someone had peed in his Wheaties and he had this sour look on his face. Cheer up Bob, you have led the U.S. to 21 wins in your tenure and your team was playing well.

Next up is the ten game Hexagonal Round. the top three teams in the hexagonal will go to the World Cup. the fourth place team will play the fifth place team from CONNEBOL (South america) for the right to move to South Africa. Costa Rica, El Salvador, Honduras, Mexico, Trinidad & Tobago and the U.S. will vie, with the qualifying draw to take place on Saturday (not tomorrow like I said).

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

U.S. MNT-Guatamala

First half in the books and the U.S. looked good. They created a lot of very good chances and Kenny Cooper put one off the crossbar on a beautiful service from Rico Clark.

Starting line up was a good one





Defensively, the U.S. has been putting a lot of pressure on the Guatamalans in midfield and up top. Kenny Cooper has been working hard, putting pressure

53 Mintue--Jozy and Cooper just connected for Cooper to score. Jozy from the left side cut inside across the grain of the defense and sent a cross across the defense to Cooper on the back post.

Update 57th Mintue: Cooper is really making the case for himself. He is creating chances for himself and for others. He is working hard on both sides of the ball, tkaing on players and tackling defenders.

Referee sucks, he has missed at least one penalty on a rough tackle on John Thorrington.

59th Minute: Interesting stat on Micheal Parkhurst. Two years in MLS only 14 fouls total. Mind boggling.

62nd minute: Adu and Cooper creating a wonderful chance. The attacking quad of Adu, Altidore, Cooper and Kljestan is looking good and creative. I like the flair and unpredictability.

63rd Mintue: What a cracking shot by Mastroeni and Clarence Goodson almost got that rebound and was unlucky to have put the rebound shot on frame but instead into the keeper's hands.

65th: U.S. picking apart the Guatamalan defense. cooper cross from the right, missed Altidore, Klejestan was robbed by the Guatamalan goalkeeper on the back post.

68th: Jozy held on a goal scoring opportunity. Should have gotten a red for that for the denying of an obvious goal scoring opportunity. Blown call and arguabley in the box, but called just outside.

69th GOALLLLLLL by Freddy Adu on a brialliant bending free kick. First goal for the full national team!!!!

That has broken the back of teh Guatamalans.

75th: Conor Casey and Brian Ching are set to come in. Looks like Altidore and Cooper are heading to the bench. Ching in for Altidore. Can't say i agree with this sub right now. Altidore had a solid game, great first touch. Casey in for Cooper.

Ching has no pace and it is obvious.

78th: Mastroneni gets yellow card. He will be suspended for the next qualifier on February 11th. Kind of a soft yellow card thanks to acting.

Adu is getting back on defense, which has to make Bob Bradley happy.

Goodson is also making a good case for himself.

82nd: Davy Arnaud is set to come in. Adu is coming off. What the hell is Bob Bradly thinking. He has subbed out his three most creative players. i don't get it at all. Adu did get a goal and he was creative and was getting back on defense. Adu did look like he was slowing down and really needs to get lots of consistent minutes with AS Monaco.

86th. Brilliant save by Guzan. His apprenticeship with Brad Freidel is paying dividends. Excellent save. Looks like he might keep another clean sheet.

89th: Another solid save from Guzan. He is doing exactly what he is paid for, making the saves in the last few minutes after not being active for 88 minutes.

90th+: Three minutes of stoppage time. The U.S. has managed their lead well, holding possession and not giving up stupid mistakes.

FINAL: U.S.A. 2:0 Guatamala.

Solid job by the squad. Lots of players made a case for inclusion in January camp. U.S. finishes 5-1 in qualifying.

The draw for the hexagonal is on Friday. Mexico and Honduras look to go through so the hexagonal will be

Trinidad & Tobago
Costa Rica
El Salvador

More thoughts after the game percolates a little.

Democracy Might be Hijacked

The California Supreme Court has agreed to hear three lawsuits challenging Proposition 8--you know that gay marriage ban that was passed with 52% of the vote.

I am pretty sure I have said this in the past, but despite my rather conservative nature on most things, on this matter I am really of a libertarian mind on this matter. I have to admit that my position on this score has changed in recent years/months. I may have been opposed at one time in the past.

The ban on gay marriage is premised upon the historical and religious notion the main purpose of marriage is the furtherance of teh species, i.e. to have kids. However in modern civil society, we generally have acknowledged that medical science can help traditional man/woman couples have children. In previous times, these families would have to adopt or simply accept their fate that they won't have kids. We as a society have also accepted the notion of gay couples adopting children (most conservatives don't like it and some religious institutions such as Catholic Charities refueses to place children in gay homes), but it is a part of our society now.

I can appreciate the religious and moral objections that many conservatives may have on this issue. However, there is no civil reason why gay couples can't get married. In civil society, marriage is simply a short cut for certain legal protections, most of which can be accomplished in other legal methods.

So that is my position on gay marriage. But having said that, I have a real problem with taking the matter to court. This was a proposition that was properly put on the ballot in California. It was voted on in the most direct manner possible, by the voters of the state. They have decided that it shall be the law that marriage is defined as a union between one man and one woman. That is democracy at work. Now we have gay activists who are upset that they lost the fight at this point and want to hijack the democractic process that is the law of the land in California.

Therein lies the problem. Instead of trying to convince the electorate, gay activists are targeting a very small, unrepresentative sample of California--the Supreme Court--rather than attempting to convince the entire electorate. In doing so I will tell you what will happen the next time this issue comes up on the ballot--gay marriage will be defeated--resoundingly because voters will want to make a statement that they are the final arbiters of the issue--not the court.

More on Piracy

Forbes' Jonathan Stevenson:
Given their range of targets, one might think that they are suicidally determined to antagonize as many major powers as possible, perhaps obscurely motivated by jihadism or nationalistic pride. But that would be wrong. Although 97% of Somalis are Sunni Muslim, they are traditionally secular and socially oriented more toward their extended family networks--their clans--than their state, which is in any case dysfunctional.

Prevailing ransom payments range from $500,000 to $2 million, up from only tens of thousands of dollars five years ago. While they may deal for profit with some Islamist militias, they're probably into piracy mainly for the money.
If money is the motivation, it is predictable how pirates will attack, those ships that likely carry the most significant cargo, worth as much money as possible with as small a crew as possible. The solution would be to make it not worth the personal risk to the pirates--arm the crews and hold them large free from liability if they harm or kill pirates.

Not good News For Soccer Worldwide

The Uruguan Football Association has suspended the domestic league after some "problems" with pitch invasions by fans.

Look a fan running on to the pitch or a streaker is a "problem." Fans beating each other with iron rods and the corner flags is a crisis of security. See the difference.

Pink Cleats

Back when I started playing, everyone wore black cleats and no one wore white cleats lest you be mistaken for a baseball or throwball player. Then came boots of varying colors, red (OK), blue (fine), gold (meh), yellow (alright), green (nice camoflage if the pitch is greed) but I think I will to draw the line pink boots. I wonder if this boot is targeted a female players? Would female players play in these?

Battle of American Sports Stars

It is no secret that NBA MVP Steve Nash is a potential investor and owner in a Vancover MLS franchise and an investor in the fledgling Women's Professional Soccer league. Now there is story of Major League Baseball MVP Albert Pujols being an investor in the bid for an MLS expansion team in St. Louis.Interesting, very interesting.

Can these players see something on the horizon regarding soccer that other investors can't?

Indian Navy Attacks, Sinks Pirate Vessal

An Indian naval vessel sank a suspected pirate "mother ship" in the Gulf of Aden and chased two attack boats into the night, officials said Wednesday, yet more violence in the lawless seas where brigands are becoming bolder and more violent.

Separate bands of pirates also seized a Thai ship with 16 crew members and an Iranian cargo vessel with a crew of 25 in the Gulf of Aden, where Somalia-based pirates appear to be attacking ships at will, said Noel Choong of the International Maritime Bureau's piracy reporting center in Malaysia.

"It's getting out of control," Choong said.

A multicoalition naval force has increased patrols in the region, and scored a rare success Tuesday when the Indian warship, operating off the coast of Oman, stopped a ship similar to a pirate vessel mentioned in numerous piracy bulletins. The Indian navy said the pirates fired on the INS Tabar after the officers asked it to stop to be searched.
Pirates get away with it because they can. Perhaps giving some, maybe not all, ships a military force randomly on some ships will become a deterrant as well.

Well done Indian Navy.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Bullard Called Up to England Squad

With injuries to English stalwarts Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard, English National Team Manager Fabio Capello called Fulham's Jimmy Bullard into the squad.

Now, with Lampard and Gerrard out with injury, will Bullard get a run out? Here's hoping.

Catania's Shorts Ruse

In soccer, the wall on free kicks is both a blessing for goalkeepers and a curse. The blessing is that it can help block off one part of the goal, requiring kickers to really bend the ball in order to score, a feat not master by a great many players. The curse is that the wall can block the vision of the goalkeeper until too late. Well, Catania, in the Italian Serie A, has added to the woes of goalkeepers and walls by dropping their shorts to further block the keeper's vision.
Catania, a team in the country’s top division, unveiled the new look while taking a free kick. The players lined up in a wall and dropped their shorts in an effort to block the goalkeeper’s vision.

The Sicilian team carried out the maneuver to perfection Sunday. Three players dropped their shorts practically to their knees so Torino goalie Matteo Sereni couldn’t see the kick by Giuseppe Mascara, who scored during Catania’s 3-2 victory.
As a referee, I probably would have carded the lot for unsporting behavior. If attackers want to line up in front of or behind a wall, that is fine and permissible play, but dropping their shorts to further obscure the vision of the goalkeeper is designed to take an unfair advantage and that is unsporting behavior punishable by yellow cards.

The Italian league should issue instructions to referees along the same lines.

Monday, November 17, 2008

The Pettiness That is the Democratic Party

More on punishing Sen. Joe Lieberman.
Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), a close ally of Sen. Joe Lieberman, said the Connecticut Independent should pay a price for his campaign attacks against President-elect Barack Obama.

"There need to be consequences, and they cannot be insignificant," Carper said in a Monday interview with The Hill.

Carper, a fellow centrist who was Delaware campaign chairman for Lieberman’s failed bid for president in 2004, said he and many other Senate Democrats are disappointed and even angered by their colleague's sometimes-inflammatory rhetoric during this year's presidential campaign.
Lieberman said he supported Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) because he was the best prepared to lead the country at a time of war, and Lieberman questioned Obama’s readiness to lead.

Carper did not rule out stripping Lieberman of his coveted gavel running the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, or imposing other sanctions like taking away seniority on other committees or a subcommittee on Armed Services.
With friends like these....

You have to wonder how these same Democrats would feel if their majority wasn't so large.

Heartbreak in New Zealand

After taking the lead in the second minute of the game, the U.S. Women's U-17 team lost 2-1 in extra time in the finals of the inaugural U17 Women's World Cup to North Korea.

Despite coming second, the young ladies dhowed a lot of promise for the future of the women's team in America.

Vicki DiMartino picked up the Silver Boot (second in scoring) after netting five goals in six games during the tournament.

Kristie Mewis won the Bronze Boot after being voted the third best player in the tournament.

Goalkeeper Taylor Vancil won the Golden Glove as the best goalkeeper in the tournament.

Congratulations to these young ladies and their coach Kaz Tambi.

U.S. Squad Set For Guatamala Match

U.S. MNT Coach Bob Bradley selected a 20 man roster in advance of the Wednesday night qualifier against Guatamala.

The match has no significance for the Americans, but Guatamala has to win and get help from the Cubans to have a shot at qualifying. A draw by Trinidad & Tobago or better over the Cubans and the Guatamalans are eliminated.

Here is the roster, with comments:

GOALKEEPERS: Brad Guzan (Aston Villa), Troy Perkins (Valerenga IF), Matt Pickens (out of contract). Guzan is likely to get the start, but Perkins wouldn't be a bad selection either. Perkins is coming off a great season for Valerenga, including winning the Norwegian league title and being names player of the year by his club.

DEFENDERS (6): Jonathan Bornstein (Chivas USA), Sean Franklin (Los Angeles Galaxy), Cory Gibbs (Colorado Rapids), Clarence Goodson (IK Start), Drew Moor (FC Dallas), Michael Parkhurst (New England Revolution). All in all, not a bad crew here for a game with little meaning. Were it not for Columbus Crew being in the MLS cup final, I would have expected to see Chad Marshall in this list and I hope that he gets called into camp in January. I am glad to see Franklin and Parkhurst in this mix.

MIDFIELDERS (5): Freddy Adu (AS Monaco), Ricardo Clark (Houston Dynamo), Sacha Kljestan (Chivas USA), Pablo Mastroeni (Colorado Rapids), John Thorrington (Chicago Fire). An interesting mix here, and a little on the short side of the list. Only five and really on two truly defensive midfielders. Yes, Kljestan checks back a lot, but only Clark and Mastroeni are real holding midfielder types.

FORWARDS (6): Jozy Altidore (Villarreal), Davy Arnaud (Kansas City Wizards), Conor Casey (Colorado Rapids), Brian Ching (Houston Dynamo), Kenny Cooper (FC Dallas), Chris Rolfe (Chicago Fire). I am routinely baffled by the inclusion of Rolfe, who is streaky and inconsistent. Arnaud played very well this year and earned a camp spot, but I am not sure he had done enough to get a start. Ditto for Casey.

Given this list of players, are we doing to see something different from Bob Bradley? Something that will confuse and confound the Guatamalans and the rest of CONCACAF? A version of a 4-3-3 or a 4-2-3-1 perhaps?

If a 4-3-3, look for this line up:





A 4-2-3-1 might look like this:






The problem is that a 4-2-3-1 is a formation you play to not lose rather than win. It sacrifices the talents of your best asset on this team, strenth and speed in the strikers. Ching is the best target forward in this bunch and why not let Jozy and Cooper play off of him, given Cooper the head that he has previously wanted to show, i.e. going back to collect the ball and bring it forward. He and Jozy both have the strenght, speed and skill to go at players and both can play well in the air.

Bradley should slip the leash on his young attackers, Altidore, Adu, Kljestan, Cooper and let Mastroeni orchestrate. If that back line gets beat, and the left side is the weak side since I don't think that Bornstein has the necessary pace, so be it. The idea here is to blood some of the young potential players and see how they react. Given that Franklin has made his first year a career of covering mistakes by other defenders, it would be refrehsing to pair him with a defender like Parkhurst who doesn't make a lot of those mistakes.

Looking forward to Wednesday to see this team in action.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Fulham 2:1 Tottenham

Fulham put an end to the magical streak of Tottenham and their new manager Harry Rednapp. Tottenham came to Craven Cottage boasting a six game unbeaten streak in all competitions, but Simon Davies and Andy Johnson scored one goal apiece to give the Whites teh win before a capactiy crowd at Craven Cottage.

Roy Hodgson started his normal 4-4-2, but American Clint Dempsey grabbed a start for the Whites, replacing Zoltan Gera in the midfield. Davies shifted to the left side of midfield as Dempsey slotted into the right.

The win moved Fulham to 9th in the league and the loss dropped Tottenham back into the relegation zone. But the table is still quite tight, with just seven points separating 7th place Everton (18 points) and last place West Brom (11 points).

Next week, Fulham will try to keep their winning form as they travel to Anfield to face the second place Liverpool. Fulham's rather disasterous away form is not likely to help, but the Whites are playing solid football.

Friday, November 14, 2008

$15 Million for Landon Donovan

That's the figure according to Major League Soccer (MLS) Rumors. citing none other than Alexi Lalas.

Lalas thinks Landon is worth $15 million for MLS. Bayern might want to pay $7 or $8 million. Really, I think Landon might fetch $10 million, maybe a little more.

Of course, Alexi Lalas' business acumen is notoriously strong. Who does he work for again?

OUCH: Israeli Soccer Coach Fired Via Text Message

Sometimes technology sucks.

Inside a U.S. hostage rescue mission

The Army Times tells the story of a hostage rescue in Afghanistan.

Dozens of men to rescue one single hostage. That is what America is about, we don't leave men behind.

As Betsy Newmark said, "The details read like a movie script." It sure does, but by the same token, it is what American special forces train for everyday.

Comments About Obama Scrutinized

Two Durham, N.C. police officers being investigated for remarks made against Obama.
Derogatory remarks toward President-elect Barack Obama made on a social networking Web site are now the subject of an internal police investigation.
A police department employee claims the statements were made on the MySpace pages of two Durham officers.

"There's no exact words that were said," said Police Chief Jose L. Lopez Sr. in a telephone interview Wednesday from San Diego, where he is attending the International Association of Chiefs of Police conference. "It wasn't a racial slur, but we're still investigating it."

Investigators, who are focusing on the context of what was written, have been looking into the allegations since Thursday.
In a community not exactly known for a "by the book" approach to issues with racial overtones, this is a troubling development. More to the point, this investigation seems to be rife with subjectivity and that is a dangerous combination.

But there is a larger point to be made here- and that is about a "Code of Conduct," public employees and their rights.
The department's code of conduct, under the heading "private life," states that an officer's "character and conduct while off duty must always be exemplary, thus maintaining a position of respect in the community in which he or she lives and serves. The officer's personal behavior must be beyond reproach."

Lopez said even though the remarks were made on a personal Web page, the comments could be a violation of the policy.

"As a police officer, it doesn't matter where you do it, if you provide disservice to the organization, it violates the [department's] code of conduct," he said. "It is a high standard that officers are held accountable to."
Now, I can understand a Code of Conduct that prohibits things like becoming visibly intoxicated in public, or bringing disrepute to the police department or you actually violating the law. But where can the city or other governmental entity draw the line as to what is admittedly private behavior by an public employee being inappropriate or violating a Code of Conduct. In other words, where does a public employee's free speech rights end and the government's rights as an employer begin.

For example, when I worked as a law clerk at teh Federal Election Commission, I was prohibited from lending advice on campaign finance matters to candidates or parties. Fine, but I wasn't prohibited from campaigning for candidates or causes. The restriction was the price of admission and a reasonable restriction on my first amendment right of association. The line was clear--This activity is permitted, this type of activity is not. Everyone knew what was right and wrong.

Now, the problem with many of these municipal codes of conduct (and I have not seen the Durham police departments' Code but the supposition is probably not far off) is that this Code of Conduct is probably far from specific. That is the danger both for the city (who will no doubt get sued for this investigation) and the employees. No one is really sure what is permitted and what is not permitted.

The other problem with such non-specfic Codes of Conduct is not just the vagueness but the subjectivity and room for abuse that can occur. I would not be surprised that in the course of this investigation and subsequent lawsuit that it is discovered that these two officers are not well liked by others and/or their leadership. So, someone in a position of authority takes upon themselves to do a little digging in to these guys and lo and behold we have something that is negatively said about a popular political figure. So the busy-body says, "well this is a violation of the Code of Conduct and they should be investigated." While we know the posting was not a racial slur, it is being investigated with racial overtones ("Bonfield added that if the allegations are found to be true and officers posted racially charged statements, then an appropriate response by the department would be warranted."), I don't think we would be hearing about it if it was a death threat (which would be investigated by the Secret Service who are actually, you know, capable of keeping their mouth shut about investigations) so you are left with the idea that it is racially motivated (a loaded term in Durham) but no other details.

So, the larger question is how far can cities go in limiting the rights of their employees for what is clearly and admitted private behavior?

Columbus Advances to First MLS Cup Final

What a quality game from the two best teams in MLS (at least by record). The number of subtexts running in this game were nice as well. More on that in a second. In the first half it looked like it was all Chicago as they looked to be poised to work their road form magic. Brian McBride's goal in the middle of the first half demonstrated why he is still a threat at age 35 (he almost had a second but was snuffed by Will Hesmer). The game was end to end, with bursts of possession, speed, counterattacking, passing, movement and everything that goes to a quality game.

The second half was all Columbus for the first 30 minutes of the half. Two quick goals, and lots of pressure demonstrated why Columbus is the Supporter's Sheild winner. They showed character, heart and skill. If there was any doubt as to why the Crew's Chad Marshall was defender of the year, they needed to look no further than last night. He was a terror at both ends of the field, getting the equalizing goal, shutting down Blanco, containing McBride and making himself a nuisance on Chicago set pieces. If there was any doubt as to why Guillermo Barros Schelotto should be the League MVP, it was put to rest last night. Two assists and great creativity show why he deserves the nod. Last night showed why Robbie Rodgers and Eddie Gaven at the best winger duo in MLS. And last night should have been a chastisement to DC United for giving up Brian Carroll.

But great play is not confined to the Columbus side of the ball. Why the United States didn't naturalize Boukary Somare is beyond me, but he will be a big help to the Mali National Team. Wilman Conde showed also why he is consistently at the top of everyone's defensive list. Blanco and McBride (if both are back next year) showed us that experience, vision and positioning can make up for lack of pace. Justin Mapp made a case for his growing role in the Fire midfield. Despite two goals against him, Jon Busch showed us why he is one of the best keepers in MLS. Neither goal can be attributed to a goalkeeping error, but Gaven's goal is a defensive error that Busch almost saved.

But what is entertaining is some of the subplots:

1. Chicago was the only one of the four teams left in the competition that had previously won an MLS Cup. With their elimination, there will be a brand new MLS Cup Champion this year.

2. Columbus goalkeeper, Will Hesmer, used to be a back up for the Chicago Fire, amazing to see what he has become. Additionally, with Columbus in teh MLS Cup Final, Hesmer will be playing in the Cup Final on his birthday--pretty cool that one potential present might be hoisting the Cup.

3. Chicago fan favorite (and Chicago area native) Brian McBride's early career was spent with Columbus who hoped the former U.S. International would rejoin the Crew (although a testimonial match certainly seems likely at Columbus).

I just hope that the Western Conference Finals between Real Salt Lake and NY Red Bulls (geez I just can stomach that notion) is as entertaining.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Sean Franklin MLS Rookie of the Year

Good for Franklin. Ives Galarcep leads:
You might ask yourself how a defender on the absolute worse defense in Major League Soccer can win an award. While that is a valid question what you should ask yourself is just how good does a defender have to be to get noticed playing on the nightmare that was the 2008 LA Galaxy defense.

Sean Franklin was that good. A rookie who spent much of the year covering for the mistakes and deficiencies of the players around him, Franklin showed that he has all the tools to become a standout defender for years to come. He was impressive enough to earn a look from U.S. national team coach Bob Bradley earlier this week, and he impressed enough to win 2008 MLS rookie of the year.
In my mind there were three stand out players on the Galaxy this year, Landon Donovan, Edson Buddle and Sean Franklin.

Had it not been for Franklin's work ethic and non-stop effort when on the pitch, L.A.'s Goals Conceded tally might be much higher.

This is a quality award and well done.

I think Franklin has earned a chance to get a cap for the National Team. If he plays next year like he did this year, a move to Europe is in his future.

The Power of Soccer to Change Lives

and the heartache that goes with it.

In a country where mostly middle class kids play soccer and have so much, it is good to be reminded that soccer is often the only path out of abject poverty.

Althouse's Lengthy Treatment of Pleasant Grove City

She is a law professor after all.

FIFA World Rankings

FIFA released the new world rankings, the top five are

1. Spain
2. Germany
3. Italy
4. Netherlands
5. Brazile

The U.S. is ranked 24th, one above Mexico. Makes that hexagonal for World Cup qualifying interesting.

New McCain Feingold Lawsuite

The RNC is doing it. Interesting.

Yes the Supreme Court will hear this case (assuming is survives dismissal) because BCRA is written with the original case being heard by a three judge District Court panel and then the Supreme Court is the first and only appeallate stop.

Will the Supreme Court overturn the ban on soft money? I don't know.

Washington's $5 Trillion Tab is reporting on the $5 Trillion dollar tab the U.S. Government is accumulating fighting the credit crunch.

As some point that bill is coming due and it won't be pretty.

Plus, remember that tax cut promised to 95% of America--yeah like that was ever going to happen--might be dead even before Obama is sworn in. There was absolutely no way that Obama's spending plan could be implemented with this tax cut--the math just doesn't add up.

Oh, and now Obama wants a $50 billion bailout for automakers? Please, wake up--we can't give more money way like this.

Just to give you an idea, if you took $5 trillion and gave it in equal amounts to every man, woman, and child in America right now (some 330 million people), you would be able to give out $15,000 to each person. That bill will have to be repaid somehow.

Really, when are we going to stop the madness.

Wow!! Doctors say marrow transplant may have cured AIDS on Yahoo! Health

This is big news.
BERLIN - An American man who suffered from AIDS appears to have been cured of the disease 20 months after receiving a targeted bone marrow transplant normally used to fight leukemia, his doctors said.

While researchers — and the doctors themselves — caution that the case might be no more than a fluke, others say it may inspire a greater interest in gene therapy to fight the disease that claims 2 million lives each year. The virus has infected 33 million people worldwide.

Dr. Gero Huetter said Wedneday his 42-year-old patient, an American living in Berlin who was not identified, had been infected with the AIDS virus for more than a decade. But 20 months after undergoing a transplant of genetically selected bone marrow, he no longer shows signs of carrying the virus.

"We waited every day for a bad reading," Huetter said.

It has not come. Researchers at Berlin's Charite hospital and medical school say tests on his bone marrow, blood and other organ tissues have all been clean.
If it is a fluke, it is something of a lucky fluke as it gives researchers something new to look at in teh fight to find a cure for AIDS. Remember, penicillin was discovered somewhat by accident.

At the very least, this fluke is good news for one man and that provides hope.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

McCain Supporter Claims She Suffered Racial Taunts in Class|NewsChannel 8

This is just wrong and unfortunately symptomatic of both higher education and low class:

McCain Supporter Claims She Suffered Racial Taunts in Class

Boehner Looks for the Details

Bloomberg reports:
House Republican leader John Boehner called for the Federal Reserve to disclose the recipients of almost $2 trillion of emergency loans from American taxpayers and the troubled assets the central bank is accepting as collateral.

Boehner, in a prepared statement, also asked the Federal Reserve to comply with a Freedom of Information Act request requesting details about the loans.

The Fed ``should comply with this Freedom of Information Act request, and in the interest of full and fair disclosure, they must begin providing lawmakers and taxpayers all information about how they are using federal tax dollars,'' Boehner said.

Fed Chairman Ben S. Bernanke and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson said in September they would comply with congressional demands for transparency in a $700 billion bailout of the banking system. Two months later, as the Fed lends far more than that in separate rescue programs that didn't require approval by Congress, there is little disclosure about how the programs are being implemented.

Bloomberg News has requested details of the Fed lending under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act and filed a federal lawsuit Nov. 7 seeking to force disclosure.

A spokesman for the Federal Reserve didn't immediately respond to requests for comment.

Boehner said he is increasingly concerned that the government's actions to add stability to financial markets is moving into areas that were not the stated intention when Congress approved $700 billion for a Treasury-administered program to bail out the financial sector that is being weighed down by the housing crisis.
Of course, I am worried as well and worried that bailout fever is spreading.

MLS TV Ratings Continue Decline

Kartik Krishnaier is worried about MLS TV Ratings and its impact on the game in America.
MLS TV ratings are about as bad as can be imagined. ESPN2’s Thursday night rating fell this season and the telecasts averaged a 0.2 rating and was watched in an average of 251,000 homes weekly. ESPN 2 has achieved higher average ratings in prime time for such sports as Poker and Bowling in the last year. However, those sports have limited upside potential when compared with Football. But Football in the US fans clearly aren’t enamored with MLS: US National Team telecasts on ESPN and ESPN have averaged a 0.6 rating this year and the Euros averaged a 0.8 on the networks. The lack of viewership on ESPN 2 is a major concern as the network has invested a rights fee in the league for the first time. Despite the signing of David Beckham, MLS averaged less viewers in 2008 on ESPN2 than the league did in 2006 before Beckham was signed and before the new TV deal took affect. But even more worrying is that MLS games averaged according to BNet a 0.5 rating on ESPN and a 0.3 rating on ESPN 2 for the 1998 season. MLS also averaged a 0.9 rating on ABC that season, when the network broadcast 13 regular season games. The lone ABC telecast this season between the league’s two most successful clubs historically, garnered a 1.1 rating as a lead in to the Euro 2008 final which achieved a 3.2 rating.
Now normally, Kartik is a bit of a worry-wort when it comes to the development of the game in America and tends to be a bit negative on some matters. He is likewise a bit negative on this matter as well.

Yes, I do believe that more American soccer fans are watch Premier League matches than MLS matches. Yes, that might be a bit of Premier League snobbery. It could also simply be a matter of choice.

ESPN Thursday night games suffer from one major and overriding fault, some that Fox Soccer does not suffer from when broadcasting EPL games--scheduling consistency.

You want to attract a good quality audience on a regular basis? You cannot have your game starting time move from 7:30 pm to 10:30pm on a week to week to week basis. Let's say for example, this week the Thursday night game is between DC United and Columbus--the game will start probably at 8:00pm Eastern or thereabouts, with pregame at 7:30 PM. The problem then is that next week, the Thursday night game might be Real Salt Lake hosting Dallas and the game will start at 9:30 pm Eastern. Simply put, you can't set a time to watch the Thursday night game for ESPN.

FSC doesnt' have that problem with EPL games. EPL used to schedule every game to be on Saturday and later Sunday at 3:00pm Local time in England. That means games would start at 10:00am Eastern time and 6:00 Pacific. It was consistent. Now EPL has games at differeing times, usually 3:00pm, 5:00pm and maybe 7:00pm England time to allow for more TV time. Not a bad idea, but the timing is consistent.

MLS has not discovered that. Right now, MLS dictates game times for Thursday night, but why not schedule games so that kick off, no matter where it is in the States, occures at 9:00pm Eastern? Ticket revenue might be a problem, but consistency builds and audience.

NOOOOO!!!! Donovan Should Not be the Player of the Year.

I know that a lot of people don't put a great deal of stock in goalkeepers. To a certain extent it is the aberration of the position, they dress differently, they can use their hands in a game where such skills are not thought of a sporting. some people think all that goalkeepers do is kick the ball a really long way and spend the rest of the game looking for hot WAGS in the stands.

So why am I talking about this: Landon Donovan has been voted the Honda Player of the Year (for the fifth time) beating out my personal choice Tim Howard.

Don't get me wrong, it is not that I think Donovan is a poor player or undeserving of his previous four awards, but he was not the best player for the U.S. team this year. His national team form has been off, he has been absent from entire games despite being in the starting line up. Yes, I know he has scored more goals for the U.S. Men's team than anyone else, but he doesn't deserve it this year.

Tim Howard had a spectacular year. His performance against Argentina alone warranted the award. Additionally, Howard has had five shutouts in 2008 (including Argentina) given up just three goals all year as the U.S.'s number one keeper.

Goalkeepers have the toughest job on the field. They can be completely inactive for 88 minutes of the game, but no matter what, they will be expected to make the stop in the last minute of the game. Goalkeepers rarely win games for teams, but they can certainly lose games. Tim Howard never lost a game for the U.S. although they did lose.

The voters for the Player of the Year award got this one wrong.

Pablo Mastroeni Will Stay in MLS

After being publicly linked to Seria A side Cagliari and a handful of Serie B sides, Colorado Rapids veteran midfielder Pablo Mastroeni will remain with the Colorado Rapids. Coming on the heels of the announcement of Gary Smith to be the Rapids head coach, this decision by Mastroeni has to make Smith breath a little easier and make the Rapids fans happy as well.

While I can understand the desire of many players to move to European leagues, particularly top ones like Serie A, MLS has to be concerned about the growth of the game in this country when their marquee names head east. While Mastroeni himself will not be the person to grow the game in this country, keeping players like him in MLS will do several things:

1. It will force MLS and owners to really consider their pay scales relative to Europe. The hard salary cap means that a lot of developing players with skill can go east and get twice the salary of the league minimum in MLS and still develop.

2. Keeping Mastroenie here (and other like him) can provide a backbone for developing the game here, if MLS doesn't blow it.

I like Mastroeni as a player and think this a good decision for him professionally and personally. Good luck.

Real Salt Lake's Andy Williams Family Struggles

The NY Times has this story about Andy Williams' wife and her search for a bone marrow donor to fight her rare form of luekemia.

NY Red Bulls will face Real Salt Lake in the Western conference finals (I never thought I would say something like that) on Saturday. Williams will likely see time as a sub late in the game.

This bit hits hard:
The time Williams spends on the field is an escape, a chance to exhaust his body and refresh his mind, to pour himself into something without so much gravity. When he prepares to return to real life, he empties his reservoir.

“I cry after every game, every time,” said Williams, who sometimes puts a towel over his head to hide his tears. “Every time I play, I’m not playing for myself. I’m playing for Marcia and the kids. When the game is over, it doesn’t matter if I’ve played 30 minutes or 90, I have to let my emotions go.”

As he spoke last week, he sat in a room overlooking the field at Rio Tinto Stadium with the snow-capped Wasatch Mountains in the distance. It is there that Real Salt Lake will play the Red Bulls on Saturday in the next round of the M.L.S playoffs, after eliminating Chivas U.S.A. in the first round. Marcia was at his side, often placing a hand on his knee.
I too have sought solace on the soccer field in the past.

Still you have to admire a man who can put aside his personal struggles and not let it affect his job too much. But, by the same token, he has been able to use his job to help his wife. Not too shabby for a footballer.

Abortion Foes' Dilemma: Confront or Cooperate?

Ever since Roe v. Wade, the Republican party has been, hijacked is too strong a word influenced is too weak a word so somewhere in between is appropriate, by the pro-life movement. At the same time, every time we see a pro-choice candidate, there is automatic assumption that such a candidate supports abortion on demand without limitations. Every presidential election, the GOP and the Democrats, and various subsets of each approach the issue of abortion like it is the grand battle of our lifetime with cries of extremism beling leveled at both camps by both camps.

Barack Obama's electoral win, and the defeat of a few abortion related referenda in the states, the pro-life camp is left with the question: Confront or Cooperate? It is a real question for the pro-life movement and one that they will struggle with mightily. However, what the GOP needs to do is not get bogged down into the debate any more.

Since Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the Supreme Court's abortion jurisprudence has been little more than tinkering around the edges. Despite the panicked fears of the pro-choice crowd, there simply is little reason for the Supreme Court to take up an abortion case; the nine justices, even the five most conservative justices are not fools and they won't touch a case with a ten-foot pole. Similarly, depsite whatever their personal preferences might be, it seems extremely unlikely that the Court will simply overturn Roe v. Wade and there is a valid reason for it.

The fact of the matter is, outside a few groups, the issue of abortion does not inform voters choices all that much. In the list of issues upon which voters decided whom to support, abortion is well down on the list, behind things that demand attention, the economy, terrorism, education, tax policy, and the like. It is a small, and yes vocal, group that determines their vote simply on a candidates position on abortion.

The problem for the GOP is that the pro-life group that makes that decision on a single issue holds far too much sway in the party. Why must a candidate declare a stance that is strictly pro-life in order to be the party's standard bearer? No candidate meets every single criteria. (Conversely, why must the "feminist" branch of the Democrats insist on pro-choice?) Really, a president has almost zero impact on abortion policy in this country. To this extent, the GOP has been "less than hijacked, more than appropriately influenced" by the pro-life movement.

I think that most Americans of a middle mind on the issue. They are loath to outlaw abortion completely and at the same time are not willing to allow abortion on demand at any time under any circumstances. I tend to believe that most Americans would agree with the notion that abortion should be safe, legal and rare. For example, I think many people like me would never counsel a woman to get an abortion, but neither would I stand in the way of a woman, in full control of her faculties, and competent enough to choose, from seeking an abortion (just don't ask me to endorse the idea). Is this the influence of the Court, setting out this road of "trimester" analysis that strikes a balance between the two camps? Perhaps, but I tend to think of it as America doing what America does best, finding a pragmatic and principale manner of dealing with an issue that really has no resolution.

For too long abortion politics has dominated the political landscape, the result of smart politicking, smart P.R. and the never quit attitude of the two opposing camps. I am not saying that these groups need to go away, as they have just as much right to speak about issues important to them as anyone else. What I am suggesting is that the political parties, Republicans and Democrats alike, need to deny center stage, veto power over candidates for national office on this issue; the parties need to be bigger than that.