Saturday, January 31, 2009

Obama Administration Tax Problem

No, not the one that will probably force him to raise taxes, but the apparent inability of his nominees to pay their taxes.

The latest revelation is Tom Daschle, a former Senator for crying out loud, who failed to pay $128,000 in taxes. Here are his lame excuses:
A spokeswoman for Daschle confirmed last night that he recently paid back taxes in excess of $100,000. She said that Daschle, a former Senate majority leader, and his accountant discovered the error regarding the luxury car service and reported it to the committee after his vetting was completed.

Daschle paid the back taxes six days before his first Senate confirmation hearing with the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. The Finance Committee, however, has jurisdiction over his nomination.

Daschle, one of President Obama's earliest and most steadfast campaign supporters, is the second Cabinet nominee to acknowledge tax errors. On Jan. 13, Timothy F. Geithner, who was chosen to run the Treasury Department, disclosed that he had not paid some taxes and subsequently paid $43,000 in taxes and penalties. He was sworn in on Jan. 26.

Because of an apparent clerical error by the equity firm, Daschle did not report more than $83,000 in consulting fees in 2007 and has not provided sufficient documentation relating to $15,000 in charitable contributions over three years, according to the panel's report. He and his wife, Linda, gave $276,000 in charitable contributions during the three-year period being studied by the panel, according to a Daschle aide.
Look, $83,000 is not a clerical error. He knew about it and didn't report it.

Lame.

Remember in the Clinton Administration is was illegal alien domestic help. Apparently in the Obama administration, it will be back taxes.

What Rubbish--Springsteen: Wal-Mart Deal a Mistake

What total dross. Bruce Springsteen is a hypocrit.
The Boss is owning up to a mistake. In an interview with Sunday's New York Times, Bruce Springsteen says he shouldn't have made a deal with Wal-Mart. This month, the store started exclusively selling a Springsteen greatest hits CD.

Some fans were critical because Springsteen has been a longtime supporter of worker's rights, and Wal-Mart has faced criticism for its labor practices.

Springsteen told the Times that his team didn't vet the issue as closely as he should have, and that he "dropped the ball on it."
OK, let's review the facts here:

Bruce Springsteen and/or his people make an EXCLUSIVE deal with Wal-Mart to sell a CD.

Wal-Mart is the nation's biggest retailer.

Some union official gets bent out of shape because Wal-Mart is a non-union store and brings it to Springsteen's attention and Springsteen is a big supporter of union rights.

So Springsteen calls the deal a mistake.

Come on!!. It is not like Springsteen and his people don't know about Wal-Mart. We are not talking about some mom and pop, three store music chain in rural North Dakota. This is the biggest retailer in the country and it is exclusive.

That is not a mistake. Springsteen just needs to own up to the fact that he made a deal to make money. There is nothing wrong with that and I don't begrudge Springsteen making the deal. But to call the deal a mistake is a lie and he knows it.

Fulham Dispatch Portsmouth

Fulham grabbed all three points in a vital weekend as the teams in the bottom of the table faced off in a series of six point matches.

Fulham's Andy Johnson scored once and substitute Erik Nevland grabbed a brace in the span of nine minutes to deliver the coup de grace to Pompey.

With the win and a draw by Hull City, Fulham jumped to the top half of the table again with 15 matches for the Cottagers remaining. With a loss by Manchester City, Fulham will finish the week in 9th place with two games in hand, against Manchester United and against Blackburn.

Fulham play Wigan next week away at the JJB stadium. Wigan came off an amazingly lucky games against Aston Villa where they escaped Villa Park with a point.

Fulham's away form could use a boost, but even a point at the JJB would be helpful to the whites.

Friday, January 30, 2009

And so it Begins

The addiction of America to govnernment money.
Buried deep inside the massive spending orgy that Democrats jammed through the House this week lie five words that could drastically undo two decades of welfare reforms.

The very heart of the widely applauded Welfare Reform Act of 1996 is a cap on the amount of federal cash that can be sent to states each year for welfare payments.

But, thanks to the simple phrase slipped into the legislation, the new "stimulus" bill abolishes the limits on the amount of federal money for the so-called Emergency Fund, which ships welfare cash to states.

"Out of any money in the Treasury of the United States not otherwise appropriated, there are appropriated such sums as are necessary for payment to the Emergency Fund," Democrats wrote in Section 2101 on Page 354 of the $819 billion bill. In other words, the only limit on welfare payments would be the Treasury itself.

"This re-establishes the welfare state and creates dependency all over the place," said one startled budget analyst after reading the line.

In addition to reopening the floodgates of dependency on federal welfare programs, the change once again deepens the dependency of state governments on the federal government.




When will Americans wake up and realize that we are in a jam. We cannot have government do all those things we want it to do and then bitch about the taxes we have to pay to support such a big government.

America truly is at a crossroads. We are either going to return to our stolid, anti-tax roots or we are going to become this welfare state monstrosity that leeches our lives and our freedoms from us like so many bad movie vampires.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Is the Internet to Blame for Amoral Geneneration Sex

One columnist at the Daily Mail thinks so, in a long piece.

I will agree that the Internet, TV and other media certainly offer much more sex and sexually explicit programming than in the past. However, morals are not learned just through the TV, the parents and the family share some of the blame, indeed most of the blame.

Why are reality shows involving sexual themes, and TV shows with sexual overtones on the airwaves? Simple, it sells and makes money. If viewers stopped watching, the shows wouldn't be on TV. It really is that simple.

So parents, instead of blaming the Internet or TV or the movies or what ever pop culture starlet is dominating the headlines with her sexcapades, why not take a look in the mirror and determine what your role is.

Democrats Launch Petition Against Rush Limbaugh

I still don't understand why? So Limbaugh hopes Obama fails. He is not the first, or only person, to think that. I bet that some Democrats hope Obama fails also.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has launched an online petition for readers to express their outrage at conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh for saying last week that he wanted President Barack Obama to fail.

snip

DCCC Executive Director Brian Wolff, blogging on the DCCC Web site, said Limbaugh has given Democrats "a preview of the outrageous Republican attacks that are on the way against President Obama and every Democrat working for change."

According to Wolff, "Limbaugh's cheap shot at President Obama might be the first by the Republican attack machine this year but we know that it won't be the last. We need every grassroots Democrat to show Rush Limbaugh and all of the Republicans what they're up against if they start attacking President Obama and Democrats who are working to end the failed GOP policies of the last eight years.
The Republican attack machine is starting? How about paranoisa?

For the past eight years, liberals and Democrats have routinely and visciously attacked President Bush and not just on policies but on personal matters and characteristics. The level of hate from the Left against Bush can never be matched by the GOP toward Obama.

It is one man's opinion and Limbaugh will be the first to tell you that he holds no personal animus against the President (unlike Democrats and Bush). But Limbaugh often says things for entertainment purposes, and to drive ratings. I can tell you that Limbaugh's ratings got a spike after he said what he said. So Limbaugh will be laughing to the bank and Democrats look just like whiners.

Hey, Something I Agree With Obama About

The DC area is a little wimpy when it comes to snow days for schools.

I agree and I am from Florida.

More Bank Bailout

If I have said it once, I have said it a hundred time, when you start giving away money, the recipients will keep coming back for more.
Major U.S. banks are still hemorrhaging red ink, despite massive taxpayer aid, and President Barack Obama is under pressure to take a high-stakes political gamble -- asking for another bailout.

Whether he would get one from a skeptical Congress is unclear, given the wide dissatisfaction with the first bailout, known as the Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP, a $700 billion fund to stabilize the banks and Wall Street.

The political danger of backing another aid package was vivid on Thursday when the House of Representatives voted 270-155 against releasing a second allotment of $350 billion to the TARP. The money will be released, nonetheless, because the Senate previously voted not to block the funds.

With the most recent TARP vote as a backdrop, analysts said that, if Obama sought more bailout money and Congress approved it, financial markets and bankers would certainly be pleased.

But lawmakers who voted in favor of such a program could pay a high price with voters in elections two years away.
Quite frankly, we cannot buy our way out of this fiscal crisis. Yes, steps should be taken to minimize the impact on innocents, but we are probably going to have to ride this one out on a different plan.

Obama Inconsistency: Trading One War for Another

Forgive me for being obtuse, after I am a conservative and according to the liberal "elite" running this country, I am just a dolt. But wasn't part of President Obama's campaign premised on the idea of "Bush Lied, Kids Died" in Iraq?

I have no problem with people espousing a perference for diplomacy over war, heck as a former military man, I think diplomacy is a good idea. But there are evil people in this world, they wish this nation, my home, ill-will and simply cannot be negotiated with. Terrorists like Al-Queda have one and only one position--death to America.

So the Iraq war was considered by many in this country to be an unjust war, i.e. a war for oil. Those on the left and a few on the right felt we had no business conducting nation building in the middle east. Okay, we might disagree, but it is a valid position. But then how does the Obama Administration justify this position.
President Obama intends to adopt a tougher line toward Hamid Karzai, the Afghan president, as part of a new American approach to Afghanistan that will put more emphasis on waging war than on development, senior administration officials said Tuesday.
Afghanistan is one of the poorest countries on Earth, it would seem to me that development, economic aid and infrastructure construction, which increases the standard of living, lifting people out of poverty and giving them more freedom is exactly the kind of program that liberals would espouse. But Obama (a liberal) believes that fighting a war is the better path in Afghanistan? I don't get it.

I can accept that Obama has different political perspectives than I. I don't agree with them, but I can respect them--if they are consistent. Here, we see a classic case of inconsistency that plagues the left.

I am sorry, I don't get this policy position--it seems to fly in the face of Obama's positions.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Seriously--VooDoo

The Mexican National Team has a seriously long list of injured first teamers in advance of the World Cup qualifier with the U.S. on Feb. 11 in very frigid Columbus.

They need so much help, they are turning to Voodoo--seriously?

I wonder what Sven-Goran Erickson thinks of this plan.

Gitmo Detainees Can Go to Europe If They Aren't a Threat

The European Union:
European Union leaders said Monday they are willing to take prisoners being released from the U.S. detention camp at Guantanamo Bay — but only after detailed screening to ensure they don't import a terrorist.

Foreign ministers from the 27-nation bloc discussed the fate of up to 60 Guantanamo inmates who, if freed, cannot be returned to their homelands because they would face abuse, imprisonment or death. The prisoners come from Azerbaijan, Algeria, Afghanistan, Chad, China, Saudi Arabia and Yemen.

French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, whose nation played a lead role in Monday's discussions on Guantanamo, said the European Commission will draft a formal plan in coming weeks defining a common course for EU members to pursue with the new U.S. administration of President Barack Obama. In his first week in office, Obama ordered Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba to be closed within a year.
This is what cracks me up.

Obama doesn't want Gitmo anymore. Fine, it is his choice as President. He wants to ship detainees to Europe, but Europe doesn't want terrorists.

Well color me shocked!

So what will be done with the terrorists at Gitmo?

Hey Hollywood--Go Green

Ha, Ha, Ha. Hey Hollywood, stop preaching to me until you take at least five of the mentioned steps--seriously.

Bob Herbert--Chucklehaed

This is what passes for discourse on the left--blame Republicans for everything:
What’s up with the Republicans? Have they no sense that their policies have sent the country hurtling down the road to ruin? Are they so divorced from reality that in their delusionary state they honestly believe we need more of their tax cuts for the rich and their other forms of plutocratic irresponsibility, the very things that got us to this deplorable state?

The G.O.P.’s latest campaign is aimed at undermining President Obama’s effort to cope with the national economic emergency by attacking the spending in his stimulus package and repeating ad nauseam the Republican mantra for ever more tax cuts.

“Right now, given the concerns that we have over the size of this package and all the spending in this package, we don’t think it’s going to work,” said Representative John Boehner, an Ohio Republican who is House minority leader. Speaking on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Mr. Boehner said of the plan: “Put me down in the ‘no’ column.”

If anything, the stimulus package is not large enough. Less than 24 hours after Mr. Boehner’s televised exercise in obstructionism, the heavy-equipment company Caterpillar announced that it was cutting 20,000 jobs, Sprint Nextel said it was eliminating 8,000, and Home Depot 7,000.
Let's see. The economy is in the tank, so the fault must be Republican obstructionism. Herbert blames Bush (with a bone tossed that the Democrats in Congress shouldn't have gone along with Bush's plan). I don't see how Boehner's stance is "obstructionism" since the House of Representatives rules all but ensure his side will lose.

That last paragraph quoted above is just pure B.S. As if Boehner's statement caused those announced layoffs. It is a classic "post hoc ergo propter hoc" logical fallacy.

The truth is, most of roots of the current fiscal crisis have their genesis not in the Bush Administration, but in the Administrations of every presdient since Jimmy Carter. Of course, that matters not to Herbert, who is little more than a shill for the Democrats.


Monday, January 26, 2009

Gore on ice

Ha, Ha, Ha.
Al Gore is scheduled before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday morning to once again testify on the 'urgent need' to combat global warming.

But Mother Nature seems ready to freeze the proceedings.

A 'Winter Storm Watch' has been posted for the nation's capitol and there is a potential for significant snow... sleet... or ice accumulations.
I think I once heard Laura Ingraham say that if Al Gore is coming to town, you need to make sure you have your winter weather gear ready, he is a one man snow machine.

Not a Good Sign

Jake Tapper notes that President Obama's first formal TV interview is not with Tapper's own network ABC, or CBS, or NBC, CNN, Fox or MSNBC, you know--American news outlets. Nor is it with say the BBC or Reuters or even AFP.

Nope it is with the Arabic cable TV network Al-Arabiya. Hey, CNN is seen by everyone.

In the end, it doesn't mean Obama is in bed with Muslims, but really, is this the kind of message you want to send?

Hooked Like a Drug Addict

Remember back when Bill Clinton and the GOP Congress did a massive welfare reform effort which included limitations on the public dole how absolutely outraged some people and groups were. There were people who spent most of their lives on the dole and when it was coming to an end, everyone got their knickers in a twist. So if ending welfare as we knew it was going to be hard for people, imagine how much harder it will be to ween corporations of the public teat. Fannie Mae (remember them) are seeking $16 billion from the Treasury to prop up their company.
Fannie Mae, the largest source of home-loan money in the U.S., said it will need to tap as much as $16 billion in emergency funds from the U.S. Treasury Department to stay afloat as deterioration in the housing market persists.

Fannie’s planned request, announced today, follows Freddie Mac, which said Jan. 23 that it will need as much as $35 billion more in federal aid. Unprecedented mortgage losses drove the net worth of both companies below zero last quarter, they said in separate securities filings.

This will be Washington-based Fannie’s first draw on a $200 billion emergency fund set up by Treasury in September to keep the government-sponsored enterprises solvent. Fannie said losses on mortgage loans and a decline in the market value of its assets accounted for the shortfall in the fourth quarter.
This is the first draw, the second draw will come within the next two months.

Really, why are these companies still in business? Oh yeah, Barney Frank and House Democrats think they do a good job, all evidence to the contrary.

But It's Not Racial In Any Way

Politico.com:
FLOTUS's inaugural outfits sent designers to their drafting tables to design knockoffs and droves went to J.Crew to get those snazzy leather green gloves. But not everyone is happy with her choices. The Black Artists Association is chiding FLOTUS for not choosing any African-American designers.

They will send a letter to FLOTUS's office and appeal to her to include items from black designers in her wardrobe. BAA Cofounder Amnau Eele, who was a former runway model told Women's Wear Daily:

"It's fine and good if you want to be all 'Kumbaya' and 'We Are the World' by representing all different countries. But if you are going to have Isabel Toledo do the inauguration dress, and Jason Wu do the evening gown, why not have Kevan Hall, B Michael, Stephen Burrows or any of the other black designers do something too?"

Wu didn't find out Michelle O. was wearing his dress until he saw her on television Tuesday night. And aides said FLOTUS didn't even decide until hours before her big night.
This is going to be a recurring theme throughout the Obama Administration, there are going to be complaints from the black community that Obama is not paying tribute (yes I mean those words) to his blackness.

While I generally don't give a toss as to what or who the First Lady is wearing other than I expect her to represent our country properly in formal functions, I think Mrs. Obama looked good.

Really, is this something we need to be concerned about?

U.S. MNT 3:2 Sweden

Saturday night's 2009 opener for the Men's National Team was never going to be a display of the best American soccer can offer at this moment, but it was supposed to be a time when younger stars would be displayed and given the packed schedule for 2009. This was a game to evaluate some options for U.S. Coach Bob Bradley, particularly, in central mid-field and defense particularly the outside back positions. Both teams looked ragged for more of the game than they should at this level, but that is to be expected; the U.S. had a lot of youth (as did the Swedes), but Sweden was not 100% fit. Some good things:

Troy Perkins. The Norway-based, former DC United keeper got his first cap for the U.S. and despite the scoreline, looked pretty good. Both goals against him were great headers that were no fault of Perkins. He was perfectly positioned for each of them and nearly saved both, but both headers were quality placement and almost unstoppable. Maybe on the second one, he could have gone out to pick off the cross, but it was eight yards out, so I don't quibble with his choice. Perkins is not going to test Tim Howard right now (not with Howard's form of late), but he could make a good case to challenge Brad Guzan for the number 2 spot. I would expect that come Gold Cup/Confederations Cup time, you will see Perkins name on the call up sheet. I could see him as a back up to Howard or Guzan in either of those competitions depending on how Bradley decides to assign the Premier League based keepers.

Jonathan Bornstein and Marvelle Wynne. I know that Bob Bradley likes and will probably use Steve Cherundolo and Heath Pearce for his back line, but aside from one mistake by Wynne that led to a goal (and Wynne immediately learned the lesson), these two backs made a case for their inclusion in future camps and squads. Wynne's world class speed was not used as effectively on attack as it could have, but certainly served the U.S. well on defense. There was one play in the first half where Wynne closed something like 10 yards of ground in the blink of an eye, it was solid stuff. Wynne is also very strong, he simply is not going to get muscled off the ball by anyone other than someone built like Onyewu. Both Bornstein and Wynne will have a role in the upcoming camps--as they should.

Danny Califf and Michael Parkhurst. There is little chance that these two will supplant Carlos Bocanegra and Oguchi Onyewu in central defense on a regular basis, but Parkhurst is still young and Califf is a good back up. With Bob Bradley probably doing a split squad this summer, they could both see action.

Sasha Kljestan. Yes, he should be on the full national team and last night showed why. In addition to his hat trick, he was a great playmaker, orchestrating from a deeper position. Great work and a commanding presence. He was in the defensive mix, in the offensive scheme, and never looked tired. Saturday was truly his coming out party and I am sure that Celtic are opening up their checkbook.

Ricardo Clark. To be honest, I never really understood why Bob Bradley is so big on the Houston Dynamo midfielder. Last night, I saw why. Clark did the dirty work of the midfield while Kljestan got the glory. Clark was all over the place, acting as the destroyer in midfield, breaking up the Swedes' play, tackling and generally being a nuisance. Clark is also not giving up the ball as much as he used to, and that is improvement.

Brian Ching. Yes, he is not as fast as Landon Donovan or Jozy Altidore. No, he does not have the flair of Altidore or Adu. No, he is not young anymore, but Saturday night showed why Brian Ching is Bob Bradley's go-to guy for a target striker. The Swedes couldn't muscle him of the ball. Ching doesn't fly around in the air when competing for the ball, he uses his body to push the defender back so that the defender either loses the possesion battle or fouls Ching. If Ching plays like that against Mexico in the qualifiers, his place on the U.S. squad will be all but cemented.

Some not so good things.

Kenny Cooper. I have long been an admirer of Cooper. But Saturday night demonstrated why Brian Ching is going to get the nod over Cooper. When Cooper and Ching were on the field together, you could see the marked difference in the work rate. Bob Bradley was even yelling at Cooper to harass the Swedish defenders more. On the international level, central defenders are usually not good ball handlers and if you harass them, they will probably make a mistake you can capitalize on and that may be all you need. Cooper just doesn't work as hard as he should when he is not holding the ball. Cooper needs to muscle down, stay on his feet and simply dominate through size and strength.

Charlie Davies. Speed, skills, movement, I thought this guy had it all, but just didn't impress me at all. Ching did yeoman's work to free up Davies and Davies just didn't deliver.

Midfield Depth. I have to say, I am worried here. Going into a summer with World Cup qualifying, Gold Cup and Confederations Cup, the only area of the field that I am truly worried about is midfield. I simply don't know if we have enough quality players to go around in a split squad scenario. I can see five, six, maybe seven truly quality midfielders on the U.S., which is probably enough if we just need to populate one squad, but not two.

On a tactical side, I did like Bob Bradley's pairing of John Thorrington and Marvell Wynne on the right side. I could see a Wynne/Dempsey pairing work well also. But pushing Wynne further up the right flank and pinching Thorrington in a little and running almost a back three instead of a back four looked like it worked well. I think that Bob Bradley held Wynne back too much. Wynne's speed and endurance should be let loose a little more. Wynne is fast enough that even if he is on the attacking end near the penalty area, he can still get back and defend quite easily and he can do it for the entire game. What is the point of having that kind of speed and not using it. Yes, Wynne needs to work on his crossing, but he has to get games to get better at it.

From a tactical standpoint, Bradley needs to develop those kinds of pairings on both sides of the field. He can over load a side for a while and then shift, putting opposing defenses on their back foot. The U.S. did move the ball well through the midfield, switching the field regularly and quickly, but the Robbie Rodgers/Jonathan Boornstein pairing didn't work too well. I don't think a Pearce/Beasely pairing is going to produce as much either, but a Pearce/Torres or a Boornstein/Torres-Beasley might do well. Boornstein looked great at picking out Kljestan in the midfield and that could be the key. If Bradley can solve his left side problem, and have a speedy right side, or vice versa, that could be quite potent.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Obama and Tax Supported Abortion

In less than a week, President Obama rescinded an executive order that even Bill Clinton did not rescind during his eight years in the White House--he rescinded the Mexico City policy which had forbidden the use of taxpayer funds to support abortion clinics in other nations.

A move that is guaranteed to irritate conservatives to start with, President Obama issued his order on teh anniversary of Roe v. Wade, which is just going to make it worse.

The fact is that no one is really going to change anyone's mind when it comes to abortion and as an issue, it is just too polarizing for a compromise. But at the same time, the law is unlikely to change, abortion is going to be legal and it is going to clealy be the policy of the Obama Administration to promote abortion as an option.

But the timing of Obama's order sends a signal to even liberals who are opposed to abortion (and yes there are some), that the pro-life position will not get any hearing at Obama White House and that is troubling.

So much for inclusiveness.

It is not surpirising that Obama altered the policy. The problem for me is the timeing of doing so--it is just poor.

Fulham Advance to Fifth Round of FA Cup

Although the Cottagers left it till late to secure a win over Kettering, Fulham did get the win at Kettering by a score of 2-4. The game got exciting in the final 12 minutes, with three goals by Fulham and one by Kettering between the 77th minute and the final whistle.

Some little used players got the nod in the match, with Frederick Stoor replacing John Pantsil at right back and Zoltan Gera at the right wing with Clint Dempsey starting up top with Andy Johnson. Eventually Simon Davies, Danny Murphy, Bobby Zamora and Andy Johnson all netted for the Whites.

The Fifth round draw will be soon.

Mark Steyn Quotes Others

Normally, I am the one quoting Mark Steyn, but this time he has quoted others and I like the all, so I will crib from Steyn: Matthew Parris about many things in recent years but this line from his London Times column is well put:
This recession is not a failure of market economics. It is a reassertion of market economics after a decade in which we paid ourselves more than we were producing, and funded it precariously and temporarily by complicated credit instruments that it took a while for the market to rumble.
As for this side of the Atlantic, I don't agree with a lot of what Nick Gillespie has to say in the Journal today, but this is spot on:
Taxpayers now guarantee some $8 trillion in inscrutable loans to a financial sector that collapsed from inscrutable loans.
What's the solution? "Stimulus"! As the Instaprof says:
This is not so much a stimulus, as a massive transfer of wealth from the politically unconnected to the politically connected.
And you'd be amazed at who's connected these days:
"You know, I'm concerned about the size of the package. And I'm concerned about some of the spending that's in there, [about] ... how you can spend hundreds of millions on contraceptives," House GOP Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) later said.

"How does that stimulate the economy?"
Indeed.

Beckham to Stay In Milan

Like I didn't see this one coming. I have to say though, that I am surprised. I would have figured Beckham would have been a regular substitute, coming in with 20-25 minutes left in the game, take a few set pieces, make a couple of crosses and that would be it.

But, Beckham is starting with Milan--starting?!?!?! For a stint that was intended to be focused largely on staying in shape and get some first team action to stay on England Manager Fabio Capello's radar screen for the World Cup next year, it seems that Beckham is really making a go of it. He is not making a huge impact for Milan (at least in the parts of the games that I have seen), but neither is he total rubbish either. He seems to be fit enough to make it and honestly looks more comfortable with Milan that he ever did with the L.A. Galaxy.

Looks like L.A. is going to have to either deal him (and the MLS can make some bank) or deal with a slightly sullen player for the 2009 season.

U.S.-Mexico World Cup Qualifier

With the U.S. Men's national team getting set for what has become an annual January friendly against Sweden tonight, naturally there is some attenion being paid to a game in a couple of weeks, the first hexagonal qualifier against Mexico in Columbus.

While the U.S. team in camp right now has its share of injuries, particularly among defenders, the Mexico injury list includes some very important players. SI.com's Luis Bueno has a look at the different situations for each side:
In CONCACAF, the latter part of 2008 was a contrast in styles between the top two nations. The U.S. breezed through World Cup qualifying and secured a spot in this year's final Hexagonal round with two games to spare. The Americans were able to use the last two qualifiers as proving ground for their youngsters and untested internationals and finished the year on a high note.

Meanwhile, after losing to Honduras in its sixth and final World Cup qualifying match of '08, Mexico seemingly had bottomed out. On the field at the Estadio OlĂ­mpico in San Pedro Sula, El Tri was a shell of its former self and managed to get into the Hexagonal on goal differential alone.

It seemed impossible the two archrivals would be further apart in early '09 than they were then. But Mexico is slowly unraveling while the Americans are as strong and focused at the start of this year as they have been in any of coach Bob Bradley's previous two years.
The game will be a test for the both sides as each looks to get out to a good start in the 10 game final round of qualifying. With the U.S. looking at World Cup qualifying, Gold Cup play, and Confederations Cup in South Africa, this will be a test year for the U.S. squad. Early success in World Cup qualifying will allow U.S. Coach Bob Bradley to look at other players to help with the tough schedule.

Ben Olsen to Give This Year a Go

According to Goff, DC United Ben Olsen is going to give the year a go, despite having sat all but 15 minutes of last season.
"I am cautiously optimistic about maybe getting through a season. The verdict on the ankle seems to be: 'It is what it is.' It's not going to get better than it is now. Knowing that helps me go ahead and push and do what I can. There will be a lot of maybe managing the pain throughout the season and maybe I am not going to be a guy that starts or plays. I have no idea how this is going to play out. It's very day to day with me, as it has been for a year. I've been active [the last couple weeks]. I've gotten through every day. Some days I look like someone shot me, but I am getting through it. Just keep going, keep pushing and see if I can't get through preseason, and if I can get through preseason, go from there. ... I am trying not to get too excited about playing and be part of the team right now."
I admire Olsen grit and determination to give it a go. But clearly he is thinking about the next step in his career.

I would like to evenutally see Olsen as a coach. But I think he needs some distance from the game for a while.

Friday, January 23, 2009

They Haven't Even Played A Game Yet

and it is looking like Seattle Sounders FC may turn a profit in their first year. Well, they sold a massive amount of season tickets and they are run by some very smart businessmen.

Nooooooo!!!

Jimmy Bullard to Hull City?Say it ain't so!!



Thursday, January 22, 2009

New Musical "Obama On My Mind" to Premiere in London

Playbill News
A new musical entitled Obama On My Mind — featuring book, music and lyrics by American crime writer and filmmaker Teddy Hayes, who has been resident in the UK for the last 13 years — will make its world premiere in March.

Performances will begin at Islington's Hen and Chickens Theatre March 3 prior to an official opening March 5. The production, which will run to March 21, was previously workshopped at Baron's Court Theatre last year.
Seriously, this is a little insane.

Can we let the man do his job for a few months at least before writing odes to him? Plus, this musical was written before he even became President!!

Seriously, this has gone far enough.



Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Obama the Messiah

You have got to be kidding me:

A Man With Class and Character

George W. Bush held his head high even as some of his detractors sunk into the gutter.

Classy Democrats

From teh NY Times blogging of the Inauguration:
Directly after the swearing-in, a crowd began to gather behind the Capitol building to watch George W. Bush airlift out of Washington.

“We’re here to see Bush leave – we’re going to give him the Jersey wave,” said James Moore, who was there with his wife, Sandra. “If you’re from New York, it’s the same as the Bronx cheer.”

“Don’t let the door hit you on the way out,” Ms. Moore said, gazing down to the Capitol. There were dozens of people holding up cameras and waiting for the moment that they considered the end of the Bush era.

“We want to see closure,” said Deborah Tompkins, who lives in the adjacent Capitol Hill neighborhood and jogged over to the location from home holding a sign that read, “Heck Of A Job, Bushie.”

Not everyone was celebrating Mr. Bush’s departure. Jan Olowski, 23, of Chicago, said he was a Bush supporter but that he realized it was his time to go.

“I supported him and I think he is a great man and a courageous leader, but after eight years – he can’t be president for life,” Mr. Olowski said.

“Thank God,” interjected a man near him, Jim Cobb, 56, who was in Washington with his son Chirstopher, 17, from New Orleans. The Cobbs said their house was flooded during Hurricane Katrina and it took 18 months to repair it, and they still resent Mr. Bush for what they call
his inadequate response to the crisis.

“For us, it’s personal,” Mr. Cobb said. “It’s time for a change.”

At this point, the crowd spotted George and Laura Bush standing with Barack and Michelle Obama on the rear Capitol steps. Sharida Newton, 23, from Pine Hill, N.J., said, “I wish I could have helped him pack.”
The man is no longer President and whether you agreed with his politics or not, he presided over a nation that faced unprecedented difficulties. Why, oh why, can't Democrats simply be respectful.



Classy Democrats

From teh NY Times blogging of the Inauguration:
Directly after the swearing-in, a crowd began to gather behind the Capitol building to watch George W. Bush airlift out of Washington.

“We’re here to see Bush leave – we’re going to give him the Jersey wave,” said James Moore, who was there with his wife, Sandra. “If you’re from New York, it’s the same as the Bronx cheer.”

“Don’t let the door hit you on the way out,” Ms. Moore said, gazing down to the Capitol. There were dozens of people holding up cameras and waiting for the moment that they considered the end of the Bush era.

“We want to see closure,” said Deborah Tompkins, who lives in the adjacent Capitol Hill neighborhood and jogged over to the location from home holding a sign that read, “Heck Of A Job, Bushie.”

Not everyone was celebrating Mr. Bush’s departure. Jan Olowski, 23, of Chicago, said he was a Bush supporter but that he realized it was his time to go.

“I supported him and I think he is a great man and a courageous leader, but after eight years – he can’t be president for life,” Mr. Olowski said.

“Thank God,” interjected a man near him, Jim Cobb, 56, who was in Washington with his son Chirstopher, 17, from New Orleans. The Cobbs said their house was flooded during Hurricane Katrina and it took 18 months to repair it, and they still resent Mr. Bush for what they call
his inadequate response to the crisis.

“For us, it’s personal,” Mr. Cobb said. “It’s time for a change.”

At this point, the crowd spotted George and Laura Bush standing with Barack and Michelle Obama on the rear Capitol steps. Sharida Newton, 23, from Pine Hill, N.J., said, “I wish I could have helped him pack.”
The man is no longer President and whether you agreed with his politics or not, he presided over a nation that faced unprecedented difficulties. Why, oh why, can't Democrats simply be respectful.



Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Robinho Walks Out of Manchester City

The circumstances are vague, but clearly there are issues that will have to be addressed.

MLS Expansion--Slower May Not Be Better.

Here is a pursuasive case for rapid expansion of the MLS.

I am not sure of the economics, but it is interesting.

Parkhurst Called Up to National Team

Soccer By Ives reports that Michael Parkhurst got a call to hop a flight from Denmark to Carson, CA for duty with the U.S. National Team.

With Clarence Goodson, Cory Gibbs and Sean Franklin all out of camp due to injuries, the back line was looking a little thin without the standard Eurepean-based crew of Onyewu, Bocanegra, Pearce and Cherundolo.

Parkhurst, who should get an award for the cleanest, most effective defender in the world, will probably get the start against Sweden this weekend.

It kind of goes to prove that, sometimes, in order to get love from the U.S. MNT, you have to go overseas.

Bush Commutes Sentences for Two Former Border Patrol Agents

Fox News has the story on one of the final acts of George W. Bush in office, commuting the sentences of two former border patrol agents who were convicted and jailed for shooting a Mexican drug smuggler.

Good.

Gates to sit out Obama inauguration

Secretary of Defense Gates will be nowhere near the Capitol Today, ensuring that if catastrophe happens, there will be someone in charge.



News Close to Home

Interstate 70 is the road my wife travels to get to work every day. Although she was off yesterday for Martin Luther King Day, this is the kind of accident that could happen this time of the year.

Too many people go way too fast on the stretch of highway between Frederick and Hagerstown, and with just a little bit of snow yesterday, this is what happens:
A sudden 1 1/2-inch snowfall turned I-70 westbound deadly Monday, killing two Frederick County people and injuring more than a dozen.

Forty cars, seven tractor-trailers and three box trucks collided on I-70 just east of the 36-mile marker west of Myersville, said Lt. Sandy Trumpower of the Mount Aetna fire department.

The pileup was reported at 12:20 p.m., police said. Vehicles began being removed about 5 p.m., after the Maryland State Police Aviation Division documented the crash scene.

Cpl. James Grinnan of the Maryland State Police said the two people who died were from Frederick County. He could not release their names as their relatives had not been contacted.

By 9:30 p.m., traffic backups continued to extend about 10 miles in both directions of I-70, according to a state press release.--

The crash likely was a result of the sudden snowfall, which may have caused a chain reaction, Trumpower said.
First, the snowfall wasn't sudden, it had been forcast for days. Second, it was not white out conditions making visibility impossible.

Did snow contribute to the accident--of that I have no doubt. But it was snow combined with speed. Drivers on that stretch of highway routinely drive 75, 80, 85 or even 90 miles per hour. It is not safe, it is not smart and two people paid the ultimate price yesterday.

Please people--slow down. Better to arrive late than never.

Maryland Is $2 Billion in the Hole

But that is not as important as the fact that Barack Obama is going to be President according to Maryland State Senator Lisa Gladden.

Seriously folks, this is the mindset of some of our elected leaders. I wish this were a joke, but it is not.

Again, priorities are a little skewed in Annapolis.

An Extra Hour to Toast Obama

In Maryland, the bars will be permitted to remain open for an extra hour so that revelers can toast Barack Obama for a little bit more time.

I have no particular objection to this, other than the fact that it took an act of the General Assembly to do it and it was necessary to pass it as Emergency Legislation!!

Maryland has real emergencies, and this is not one of them.

So nice to see our legislature with its priorities in place.

Monday, January 19, 2009

ESPN Pulls the Plug on MLS Thursday Night

I never really liked the Thursday night match because it wasn't on at the same time every week, which as I noted here, was one of the things killing the programming.
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.
Now, ESPN will try some other nights, but there is no mention of altering the time scheduling thing which is the larger problem.
After two years of anemic ratings that started low and finished lower, ESPN executives decided to cancel the league’s regular Thursday night telecast on ESPN2 this season. In its place, ESPN2 will carry an MLS game of the week, which will air on four different nights during the season. The weekly matches will occur on Thursdays (10 times), Saturdays (eight times), Wednesdays (six times) and Fridays (three times).

“We didn’t see the kind of ratings climb we’d like to, so we’re trying something different,” said Scott Guglielmino, ESPN vice president of programming.

The decision to cancel the regular Thursday night game marks a stunning turnaround for a league that two years ago believed it was creating destination programming that would increase interest in MLS. But even the 2007 arrival of David Beckham couldn’t boost MLS ratings.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Elite Few

A group of families each gave Obama over $100,000 in the past two years,by giving to multiple entities.

Rangel's Ethical Problems Persist

And there doesn't look to be any real reaction from Nancy Pelosi

Two U.S. Attorneys Appointed by G.W. Bush Won't Leave

Traditionally, U.S. Attorneys can't expect to remain in their positions when a new Administration takes office, but two current U.S. Attorneys don't want to leave. Why? They are busy they say:
U.S. Attorneys Mary Beth Buchanan of Pittsburgh and Alice Martin of Birmingham are resolved to stay in their posts. The Daily Beast has learned that both are arguing to the Obama transition team that their efforts to convict Democrats should guarantee them an extended stay into the Obama presidency.
That's right, they are busy prosecuting Democrats for corruption.

Do they really think that is a good reason for a Democratic administration to keep them on?

Climate Change Irreversible in Four Years?

Really, how many times are we going to hear this "dire" warning:
Barack Obama has only four years to save the world. That is the stark assessment of Nasa scientist and leading climate expert Jim Hansen who last week warned only urgent action by the new president could halt the devastating climate change that now threatens Earth. Crucially, that action will have to be taken within Obama's first administration, he added.

Soaring carbon emissions are already causing ice-cap melting and threaten to trigger global flooding, widespread species loss and major disruptions of weather patterns in the near future. "We cannot afford to put off change any longer," said Hansen. "We have to get on a new path within this new administration. We have only four years left for Obama to set an example to the rest of the world. America must take the lead."

Hansen said current carbon levels in the atmosphere were already too high to prevent runaway greenhouse warming. Yet the levels are still rising despite all the efforts of politicians and scientists.
Really, seriously, how many more times is this warning going to be repeated? Despite all contrary evidence, we have to take a look the panic and the stupid policies overreacting is going to create.

Afghan's Unhappy with Hillary Clinton

Already.

Fulham Streak Ends

Fulham traveled across London to Upton Park to face West Ham United only to see their 9 game streak without a loss come to a halt against a Hammers squad that has been enjoying a resurgence of late. West Ham netted three times while Fulham's Paul Konchesky marred West Ham's clean sheet with his first goal of the campaign.

Fulham remain in the top half of the table, but the bottom half of the table is so tight that only five points separates the Cottagers from the drop zone. Hopefully, this loss will simply be a blip on the radar screen and not the harbinger of a skid that could put Fulham into yet another relegation scrap.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Soldiers and Dogs Keep Off the Grass!!

This story came to me and I thought I would pass it along.

People forget that despite the "importance" of their daily lives, there are people making the ultimate sacrifice to protect their "important" lives. The old saying is Soldiers and Dogs keep off the grass, implies that civilians only want the military around when it serves their immediate needs, otherwise don't both the civilians in their daily lives. But sometimes, civilians needs little reminder of what being in the military means--inconvenience at least and at worst, the loss of a loved one.

To whining civilians temporarily inconvenienced by military traditions, a simply thank you would be great, but silence would be appreciated.

Luke AFB is west of Phoenix and is rapidly being surrounded by civilization that complains about the noise from the base and its planes, forgetting that it was there long before they were. A certain lieutenant colonel at Luke AFB deserves a big pat on the back. Apparently, an individual who lives somewhere near Luke AFB wrote the local paper complaining about a group of F-16s that disturbed his/her day at the mall. When that individual read the response from a Luke AFB officer, it must have stung quite a bit.

The complaint:
'Question of the day for Luke Air Force Base: Whom do we thank for the morning air show? Last Wednesday, at precisely 9:11 A.M, a tight formation of four F-16 jets made a low pass over Arrowhead Mall, continuing west over Bell Road at approximately 500 feet.

Imagine our good fortune!

Do the Tom Cruise-wannabes feel we need this wake-up call, or were they trying to impress the cashiers at Mervyns early bird special?

Any response would be appreciated.

The response:

Regarding 'A wake-up call from Luke's jets' On June 15, at precisely 9:12 a.m., a perfectly timed four-ship fly-by of F-16s from the 63rd Fighter Squadron at Luke Air Force Base flew over the grave of Capt. Jeremy Fresques.

Capt. Fresques was an Air Force officer who was previously stationed at Luke Air Force Base and was killed in Iraq on May 30, Memorial Day. At 9 a. m. on June 15, his family and friends gathered at Sunland Memorial Park in Sun City to mourn the loss of a husband, son and friend.

Based on the letter writer's recount of the fly by, and because of the jet noise, I'm sure you didn't hear the 21-gun salute, the playing of taps, or my words to the widow and parents of Capt. Fresques as I gave them their son's flag on behalf of the President of the United States and all those veterans and servicemen and women who understand the sacrifices they have endured.

A four-ship fly by is a display of respect the Air Force gives to those who give their lives in defense of freedom. We are professional aviators and take our jobs seriously, and on June 15 what the letter writer witnessed was four officers lining up to pay their ultimate respects.

The letter writer asks, 'Whom do we thank for the morning air show?' The 56th Fighter Wing will make the call for you, and forward your thanks to the widow and parents of Capt. Fresques, and thank them for you, for it was in their honor that my pilots flew the most honorable formation of their lives.

Lt. Col. Grant L. Rosensteel, Jr. USAF
Hoo rah, Lt. Col. Rosensteel.

My condolences and salute to the family and friends of Capt. Fresques.

Kljestan to Celtic?

Sacha Kljestan heading to Glasgow Celtic for a one week trial. Kljestan is leaving the U.S. Camp to attend the trial. If the trial is next week, it remains to be seen if Kljestan would be on the roster for the Sweden friendly next week.

This is not a bad move for Kljestan. Celtic are solidly at the top of the Scottish Premier League and almost assured of a spot in the Champion's League group stage next year, which brings with it a great deal of exposure. Given his multiple appearances for the U.S. last year, I doubt there would be a problem with a work permit.

In new tactic, L.A. goes after gangs' money - Yahoo! News

New Los Angeles gang tactic could yeild dividends, and not just in putting criminals behind bars. In civil suits, the City is seizing the personal assets of gang leaders and members to pay fines. Under criminal statutes, property associated with the crimes, like guns, are obviusly seized. But under new laws, prosecutors and county attorneys can institute civil proceedings to sieze assets associated with criminal behavior, i.e. cars, but also the non-criminal personal assets, like homes, furniture, even clothing, to pay civil fines and enforce judgments.
The civil suits were filed under different amendments to state laws, one passed in 2007 and one in 2008, designed to strengthen authorities' ability to control gangs. The 2007 amendment allows law enforcement to seize assets associated with criminal conduct. But the 2008 law goes even further – it allows prosecutors to collect damages from gang members' personal assets, too.

The December suit against the 18th Street gang is the first to make use of the 2008 amendment.

"We're sending a message to gang leaders across this city," said City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo at a press conference last month. "If you break the law, we will not only find you, arrest you, and put you behind bars, we will also take away your money, your property, your homes, and your cars. Every penny we strip away will be returned to the neighborhoods."
It is a tactic that has been used against the mafia and against white supremicists in federal cases, but this is the first successful actions under California state law.

I would expect other states to start mimicking the statutes as well.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Obama Gives Kiss of Death

In soccer, head coaches and managers who are struggling and on the verge of getting fired, often recieve the "confidence of the owners" which is tantamount to the kiss of death, because almost invariably, within 2-8 weeks, the coach or manager is sacked.

So has, soccer fan Barack Obama given Timothy Geithner the kiss of death by calling his lack of tax paying an "innocent mistake."

With Geithner's confirmation hearing pushed to Wednesday, don't be surprised to see a resignation letter tomorrow made public on Saturday.

You have Got to Be Kidding Me!!

Pelosi touts $825 billion stimulus package.

Plane crashes in NYC river after bird cuts engines

Plane crashes into Hudson River after striking a flock of birds.

Air makes jet engines work, birds? Not so much.

A great big, huge, massive, atta boy to the pilot and co-pilot of that plane. Just incredible flying and ditching.

What if I didn't pay taxes?

Roger Simon on Timothy Geithner:
Would it be OK if I stopped paying my taxes until Barack Obama names me to be his secretary of the treasury?

That is a deal I would like to get. That is the deal financial wizard Timothy Geithner got.

He didn’t pay all of his federal taxes for years. Then, after Obama decided to name him treasury secretary, Obama’s vetting team discovered Geithner’s little oversight.

Not paying your taxes is considered serious for some people. But not for Geithner, a Wall Street “wonder boy” — he is 47 — who is president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and was instrumental in putting together the recent Wall Street bailout package.

You would think a guy like this would know about paying taxes, but no. Mistakes were made.

Geithner failed to pay the proper self-employment taxes for 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2004, even though he was sent documents telling him he had to do so.

But in 2006, Geithner got a document he couldn’t ignore. The IRS sent Geithner a notice saying he had not paid his taxes for 2003 and 2004, and Geithner paid up.

But he did not pay up for 2001 and 2002, even though he must have known that he skipped taxes for those years, too.
Hmmm.

Parallels between Bush and Lincoln

From CQ Politics comes this commentary. It is hard to imagine from our current vantage point that anyone will look at George W. Bush and see a great president. I have that imagination and I believe that 50 or 100 years from now, Bush will be considered a great president, not the greatest or the best, but a great president. Here is some thinking (not my own, but paralelling mine):
He has faced a number of crises that either no president or at least few have had. First, he was commander in chief when the United States was attacked at home on September 11, 2001. He was decisive in his response and showed admirable leadership both at home and abroad.

The nation now appears headed for disastrous financial calamity, the worst since The Great Depression. His administration has been forceful in trying to bring calm and to allocate money to industries fighting to survive.

And the economic woes of this country — just like other monumental, sea-change problems — did not simply appear one day or go away the next. Sure, this happened under his watch but the seeds for our mortgage, home loan crisis and those of the domestic automobile industry collapse were sown long before Bush first took office.

His administration rid the world and a nation of Sadaam Hussein, a despot whose sordid, tortuous crimes against humanity are well documented.

He paved the way for democracy in Iraq and other countries. It is still too early to tell if democracy will stick in any of those places, but people who have never voted are voting and, among others, women have new found rights to education and liberation.

If we begin to expect that any chief executive of anything — be it a country or a Fortune 500 company — cannot make a mistake or two among the hundreds, perhaps, thousands of decisions they make, then our standards have reached the point of ridiculousness.

Looking at Lincoln and Churchill and how they were viewed both in and out of office indicates how difficult it is to pre-judge history’s final assessment of a leader.

Both men were criticized for making quick and sometimes impulsive decisions against the advice of advisers. At times both were pilloried for decisions regarding war.

Lincoln bore the brunt of criticism for war casualties. More soldiers died at the Civil War battle at Antietam in one day — more than 7,000 — than the number American soldiers who have been killed in the war in Iraq. That number is about 4,500, which is not to imply those deaths are inconsequential or without great heartaches to their families.

Lincoln was criticized, as Bush has been, for running afoul of the Constitution and civil liberties. He suspended the writ of habeas corpus, which allows imprisoned persons to challenge the legality of their arrests and there were over 10,000 “arbitrary arrests” while Lincoln was in office.

Bush lacks the eloquence of both men.

Churchill was not only a galvanizing and witty speaker, he also wrote a book that won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1953, “The History of the Second World War.” Lincoln earned immortality with his address at Gettysburg.

We know for virtual certainty that Bush’s speeches will not go down in history. He will not be known for a public display of intellectual depth. What we do not know, however, is how he will be ultimately judged. We know there has not been a foreign attack on our land since 9/11. Is it because of Bush’s policies?

If it is proven he kept our nation safe, we will begin to see him differently as leader.

In fact, only time will tell if he will be viewed as a failure or if, like Lincoln and Churchill, his legacy will grow and expand and shine in the reflected light of history. In the end, it may be he and not Obama found to have more in common with Lincoln.
I know many liberals who will say Bush is the worst president we have ever had. But to be perfectly fair, we simply don't know, we are too close to events and most of us are too partisan to be accurate judges, me included.

But really, the trials of the Bush Administration are unlike no other except maybe FDR and he bottled it for two full terms before economically things started to get better and some have argued, persuasively, that it took a war to make America great again.

Judge not when you are too close to the problem.

There is a Difference Between Doubt and Regret

Bob Woodard has a 10 point list of don'ts for President Obama. Some of them are probably good lessons for a leader, such as making sure you get candid advice from your advisors, even from junior advisors.

But I would like to address this one:
During a December 2003 interview with Bush, I read to him a quote from his closest ally, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, about the experience of receiving letters from family members of slain soldiers who had written that they hated him. "And don't believe anyone who tells you when they receive letters like that, they don't suffer any doubt," Blair had said.

"Yeah," Bush replied. "I haven't suffered doubt."

"Is that right?" I asked. "Not at all?"

"No," he said.

Presidents and generals don't have to live on doubt. But they should learn to love it. "You should not be the parrot on the secretary's shoulder," said Marine Gen. James Jones, Obama's incoming national security adviser, to his old friend Gen. Peter Pace, who was then the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff -- a group Jones thought had been "systematically emasculated by Rumsfeld." Doubt is not the enemy of good policy; it can help leaders evaluate alternatives, handle big decisions and later make course corrections if necessary.
The way Woodward paints Bush here is that Bush lacks any heart, lacks compassion and that is not the case. There is a vast difference between doubt and regret.

In reality what Blair is talking about is regrets. Does a president regret sending soldiers into harm's way, many of whom return in a flag drapped coffin? Yes. Only a cold heart would deny that. Remember, too, that while many families of fallen soldiers may hate Bush, not everyone family feels that way.

At the Presidential level, indeed on any level of leadership, decisions are made with imperfect information and once a decision is made you can't doubt that decision. A leader needs skeptics to help point out flaws before a decision is made and to point out corrective actions that are needed. So a leader doesn't need parrots and yes men around, but neither does he need someone who is simply casting doubt to be casting doubt.

I believe a leader should have people around him or her, giving advice from a skeptics view, even having a designated "devil's advocate" is a good thing. However, I don't thing a leader should doubt a decision he has made.

A leader must make decisions with imperfect information and be comfortable doing that. A leader must be willing to make corrections as he goes along and understand that he won't get it right every time. But the worst thing in a leader is indecision and paralysis by analysis. Make a decision, and move on. There is no time to doubt because the next decision is upon you in a flash.

There is time for regret, but regret is not doubt. You can regret a decision after the fact, but you do not doubt any decision you made, doing so makes you gun shy to make decisions in the first place.

Holder 'Waterboarding is torture'

Not a surprising statement, really. But I wonder, how much different will it look when he is on the inside.
Attorney General-nominee Eric Holder Jr. forcefully broke from the Bush administration's counterterrorism policies Thursday, declaring that waterboarding is torture and pledging to prosecute some Guantanamo Bay detainees in U.S. courts.

It was the latest signal that President-elect Barack Obama will chart a new course in combating terrorism. As recently as last week, Vice President Dick Cheney defended waterboarding, a harsh interrogation tactic that simulates drowning, saying it provided valuable intelligence.

The CIA has used the tactic on at least three terrorism suspects, included alleged Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. In past Senate hearings, Attorney General Michael Mukasey and his predecessor, Alberto Gonzales, frustrated senators by repeatedly sidestepping questions about waterboarding.
It is easy to make such proclamations from the outside looking in. To be honest, I would guess that privately Alberto Gonzales and Michael Mukasy might privately admit that waterboarding is torture, but they are tasked with the job of combating terrorism and having good intelligence is part of that task.

Yes, it is nice to consider the academic question of whether waterboarding is torture or not. It is something you can do when your decisions or indecisions lead to a terrorist attack or stopping a terrorist attack. If terrorists attack us again, is it enough to say, "I did everything I could to prevent it, but I won't torture anyone to stop it?"

To be fair and honest, I don't know what I would do. I don't believe in torture, but my oath and Holder's oath is to preserve and protect the United States as well as preserve and protecting the Constitution. Clearly, one cannot exist without the other, but which takes precedence? What is the point of a Constitution if there is not nation? Conversely, can there be a United States without a Constitution?

Deep questions, and ones that don't lend themselves to ready answers. That is what makes declarations of black and white like Holder's all the more difficult. It is a declarative statment for a man about to assume a role in which there are few bright lines and for an administration and a party that has a long history of blurring and moving those lines.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Tampa Bay Rowdies Stadium Plan Rejected

The OriginalWinger.com has links to the story.

The Rowdies have a special place in my heart. The old NASL team were my first professional soccer matches I ever watched. My father would pick me, my brother and my sister up from school sometimes with my mom, sometimes not. We would drive four hours to see the match and then drive four hours back. We did this probably a couple times a year. A few other times we would stay in Tampa.

Good times.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

I Simply Lack the Imagination to Consider this Man's Current Plight

From the Daily Mail:
Two days after Jayne Soliman was declared brain-dead, her grieving husband saw her life-support machine turned off.

In a moment of unbelievable poignancy, he was then given their baby daughter to hold for the first time.

Doctors had kept 41-year-old Mrs Soliman's heart beating after she suffered a brain haemorrhage.
The story highlights both the miracle of modern medicine and the limits it faces.

Good luck Mr. Soliman.

FCC Chair Appointment

AP reports that President Elect Obama may tap a friend and former FCC official during the Clinton years to be the next FCC Chairman.

I could care less if he is Obama's friend. I would presume he is qualified until disabused of that position.

The only concern I have is what this guys's position is on the fairness doctrine.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Committee Chair Term Limits Abolished

David Freddoso talks about one of the Rules changes that House Democrats have enacted, that is the abolition of terms limits for Committee Chairmen.
Democrats have argued that the term-limits only encouraged members to compete for chairmanships by raising lots of campaign money, and that this somehow corrupts the system further. Hoyer argued for it in this way:
I understand that our Republican colleagues once wrote term limits into the rules in an effort against entrenched power. But it is now clear that that effort fell victim to what conservatives like to call the law of unintended consequences: With chairmanships up for grabs so frequently, fundraising ability became one of the most important job qualifications, and legislative skill was sacrificed to political considerations.
Although the term-limits may not have worked as well as anyone hoped, it is hard to see how a return to "chairmen for life" improves anything. It offers the House's most powerful members a permanent platform from which to extort campaign contributions from the industries they regulate. At best, this is a choice between six of one or half a dozen of the other in terms of the integrity of the campaign finance system. And so one has to believe that this change is motivated by concerns other than those cited.
Admittedly, using fundraising as metric for awarding chairmanships seems, well, a little crass. But including the fundraising made sure that would be chairmen did three things of importance to the party:
1. Work to ensure and expand the majority by at least trying to appear to be a team player.
2. Consolidated power in the GOP leadership so that they wouldn't have the "maverick problem." See John Boehner for an illustration.
3. Since Chairmen would rotate, it encouraged Members to become versant in more than one committee jurisdiction--thus expanding their knowledge and one presume their utility as Representatives and Republicans.

From a party standpoint, it makes little sense either. When Committee chairmanship were up for grabs every few terms, it motivated younger members to be hungry, entrepenurial in nature from both a party building and policy perspective. With seniority rules, the Members like Charlie Rangel who will hold the Ways & Means gavel until death or convictio in a court of law (take your pick), there is little incentive in the rank and file to do anything but wait and that is not good for governing or party discipline. Some young buck can't have the threat of having a committee chairmanship withheld because he didn't toe the party line, so there is little incentive to "behave."

Did the GOP plan have flaws? Sure, but at least they were new flaws. With the "new" Democrat rules, we get the old flaws back.

Can't Say I am Overwhelmed with Sympathy

5 Somali pirates drown with ransom share.
Five of the pirates who hijacked a Saudi supertanker drowned with their share of a $3 million ransom, a relative said Saturday, the day after the bundle of cash was apparently dropped by parachute onto the deck of the ship.

The Sirius Star and its 25 crew sailed safely away Friday at the end of a two-month standoff in the Gulf of Aden, where pirates attacked over 100 ships last year. Hundreds more kidnapped sailors remain in the hands of pirates.

The drowned pirates' boat overturned in rough seas, and family members were still looking for four missing bodies, said Daud Nure, another pirate who knew the men involved.

Western Scientists Say Global Warming, Russia says Ice Age

So who is right? It is enough to make a man shake his head in dismay.

Bush and Torture

Think Progress is whining about President Bush's recent admission that he "authorized" the torture of Khalid Sheik Mohammed.

I am going to give Think Progress the benefit of the doubt here and admit that is what Bush said.

Whether you agree with the use of torture or not, you cannot say that Bush hid from the truth. He didn't duck behind Clintonian, "it depends on what your definition of is is" type of equivocating. Was what President Bush did right? Well that is for history and Bush's maker to decide ultimately. I just happen to like candor in politicians that is all.

Too Much Texting

New York Post
Greg Hardesty didn't LOL when he got his teen daughter's cellphone statement.

All he could think was "OMG!"

The California man's 13-year-old daughter, Reina, racked up an astonishing 14,528 text messages in one month. The online AT&T statement ran 440 pages.

"First, I laughed. I thought, 'That's insane, that's impossible,' " the 45-year-old dad said. "And I immediately whipped out the calculator to see if it was humanly possible."

He found it was - barely.

It works out to 484 text messages a day, or one every two minutes of every waking hour.

"Then I thought maybe AT&T made some mistake on the bill," said Hardesty, of Silverado Canyon.
No mistake.

Here's a question? How is this girl doing in school? More importantly, what is she doing in school? Why can't she just talk to her friends?

State Pensions Need to be Examined

State budget deficits and the contributions of pension funds to the budgetary problems are not getting much press.

The problem is, of course, that everyone assumes that pension funds are not discretionary spending, but really, it is. These are benefits and when times are tight, employers have to sometimes cut benefits. But when pension funds create a larger problem, then there is no way in which states can ignore the impact of pension funds on teh budget deficits.

By the way, Pennsylvania, a state more than twice the size of my home state, Maryland, has a budget deficit that is smaller than Maryland? Hmmmm.

Kausfiles : Fight or flight for the GOP on Davis-Bacon?

Mickey Kaus: What should the GOP fight about on the stimulus package?
Does the GOP Congressional leadership dare launch a fight over whether Davis-Bacon style wage schedules, beloved by organized labor, apply to various projects that use Obama's stimulus funds? They'd almost certainly lose (as they did when the issue came up in the context of Katrina relief), but that wouldn't be the point. The point would be to take a stand that would a) ventilate the arguments against Davis Bacon; b) highlight Obama's dependence on Big Labor; and c) deter Obama from moving very far in the direction of non-market, bureaucratic determination of wages (through mandatory arbitration under the "card check" bill, direct setting wage scales by the federal government under Davis-Bacon, and eventually, maybe, court-imposed wage-rejiggering to eliminate male/female disparities under the doctrine of "comparable worth").
In short, the answer is yes, the GOP should. Yes, they are going to lose, but like Kaus said that is not the point.

Simply put, the GOP needs to have a principaled stand that is clear. The size of govnerment is going to be radically increased with hundreds of thousand of new government workers and that is not what, in the long run, is going to help America get out of this recession. It is going to be private enterprise. If public paychecks are bigger than private paychecks, then there is little incentive to move from the public payroll to the private payroll.

Less government, more independent business, that is a GOP principal and that is why the fight on Davis-Bacon is necessary.

What Does This Story Say About the Freedom of the Press

Not anything good:
Now my buddies at the Student Press Law Center tell me that the DOE (Department of Education) apparently has gone beyond bat-crack crazy and enacted some additional changes to FERPA that are slated to take effect Jan. 8.

snip

You see, these new rules broaden what the DOE considers to be confidential education records to include basic stuff like statistical data about school safety, discipline and academic performance if school officials think that the person requesting the information or even kiddos on campus can figure out who the information might be about.

Personally, I like the DOE’s illustration of compliance for this new FERPA rule. Under the new guidelines, school officials would not be able to confirm whether it disciplined a student for bringing a gun on campus if the identity of the gun-wielding student could be known to other kids on campus. Because, after all, it’s more important to protect the identity of felons instead of telling students, parents or teachers of impending doom or what steps were taken to deal with said impending doom. No siree, Missy, we’ll have none of that. Hush, hush, don’t say a word.
The author at Bellringers has often discussed how FERPA has been used to curtail the activities of the student press. Now if you have smart reporters on your school newspaper who might figure something, then the schools will err on the side of less transparency.

Nice.

The Drawback on Universal Healthcare

It will adversely impact your personal freedom.
Imagine a country where the government regularly checks the waistlines of citizens over age 40. Anyone deemed too fat would be required to undergo diet counseling. Those who fail to lose sufficient weight could face further "reeducation" and their communities subject to stiff fines.

Is this some nightmarish dystopia?

No, this is contemporary Japan.

The Japanese government argues that it must regulate citizens' lifestyles because it is paying their health costs. This highlights one of the greatly underappreciated dangers of "universal healthcare." Any government that attempts to guarantee healthcare must also control its costs. The inevitable next step will be to seek to control citizens' health and their behavior. Hence, Americans should beware that if we adopt universal healthcare, we also risk creating a "nanny state on steroids" antithetical to core American principles.

Other countries with universal healthcare are already restricting individual freedoms in the name of controlling health costs. For example, the British government has banned some television ads for eggs on the grounds that they were promoting an unhealthy lifestyle. This is a blatant infringement of egg sellers' rights to advertise their products.

In 2007, New Zealand banned Richie Trezise, a Welsh submarine cable specialist, from entering the country on the grounds that his obesity would "impose significant costs ... on New Zealand's health or special education services." Richie later lost weight and was allowed to immigrate, but his wife had trouble slimming and was kept home. Germany has mounted an aggressive anti-obesity campaign in workplaces and schools to promote dieting and exercise. Citizens who fail to cooperate are branded as "antisocial" for costing the government billions of euros in medical expenses.

Of course healthy diet and exercise are good. But these are issues of personal – not government – responsibility. So long as they don't harm others, adults should have the right to eat and drink what they wish – and the corresponding responsibility to enjoy (or suffer) the consequences of their choices. Anyone who makes poor lifestyle choices should pay the price himself or rely on voluntary charity, not demand that the government pay for his choices.

Government attempts to regulate individual lifestyles are based on the claim that they must limit medical costs that would otherwise be a burden on "society." But this issue can arise only in "universal healthcare" systems where taxpayers must pay for everyone's medical expenses.
I used to describe health care and health care financing as a trio of points:
1. It can be affordable
2. It can be universal--that is applies to everyone
3. It can be comprehensive

You get choose only two attributes in an absolute sense. The essence of all heath care financing decisions is the effort to strike the right balance between the points. But if you are looking at government run health care, they too, just like private health care and insurance, have to determine how to balance those three traits and deal with the issue of personal freedom.

In a market driven health care system, the issue of personal freedom is elminated to a certain extent. In a market system a person has the ability to shop for (i.e. exercise their freedom of choice) to find a product in which the balancing of affordability and comprehensiveness are appropriate while generally not having to worry about universality since they are buying for everyone, only themselves or their family.

But a government run health care system premised upon the notion of universality, i.e. that everyone, regardless of circumstances is covered, which is the case in many European nations, you are left with trying to find a balance between comprehensiveness and affordability. The result, long waiting lists for treatment that is routinely and usually immediately available in this country or come care not permitted because it costs too much to the government to provide. So what you get instead of a "heartless HMO" making a decision which can be obviated by going to a different plan is a "heartless government bureaucrat" making the same decision, and you can't easily rid yourself of the government.

So, if you value your personal freedom and your diet, perhaps government run, universal health care is not the right step for this country.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Now That Is an Old Interview

French publication Le Monde has a 1996 interview with Barack and Michelle Obama about their marriage. Seriously, it is 12 years old.

300 Times?!

Seriously, this woman has a problem. Oh, and her husband is either an idiot or an enabler.
A married South Shore teacher was living a disturbed double life for nearly two years, police said, allegedly seducing a 13-year-old boy, plying him with booze and having sex with him on kitchen floors and couches, sometimes right under the nose of her husband.

Christine A. McCallum, 29, who is on leave from her job at an Abington elementary school, was charged yesterday with seven counts of statutory rape for the serial liaisons in Rockland and Abington from February 2006, when she allegedly took the boy’s virginity, to November 2007.

McCallum, a waifish bespeckled blonde who tightly clutched her husband’s hand in court yesterday, declined comment.

But her alleged teenage conquest told police they had sex more than 300 times - almost “every other day” while he was 13, 14 and 15 years old. The boy told police they had sex for the first time Feb. 7, 2006, on a couch at McCallum’s Rockland home while her husband slept upstairs, according to a police report.

McCallum and the boy had unprotected sex in the shower, on the kitchen floor and the living room floor on a green shag rug that was seized yesterday as a result of a search warrant, court documents say.

McCallum’s lawyer, Frederick McDermott, said McCallum took in the boy and his younger brother, who were being raised by a single dad. She denies all the allegations.

“She tried to mother the child because she felt sorry for them,” he said.

McCallum weaved her way into the boy’s life in late 2005, prosecutors said, when she became a tutor for his younger brother, let them stay at her house, emptied their backpacks after school, fed them dinner and gave them rides.
Is it just me, or are there an awful lot of gratuitous details in this story: Waifish? Unprotected sex in the shower, green shag rug(who has green shag rugs in their living room?).

Jozy Altidore a FIFA 2009 One To Watch

He's not the first American ever to make the list, but it has been a long time since an American made the list

Congrats to Jozy.

Spending What they Shouldn't Have

The State of Maryland is looking at a $1.9 billion dollar budget deficit this year, so you would think that the General Assembly, in this current fiscal climate, is going to be looking at tightening the old belt a lot and making some spending cuts.

Well, if you think that, then you don't live in Maryland. Oh sure, I can pretty much count on increased taxes (which they won't call taxes, but rather will call them fees for everything form driver's license renewal fees, to Chesapeake clean up fees, etc.) I can also count on some budget chicanery to close the budget gap, like this one:
State officials are considering a $366 million budget fix that could spare difficult spending cuts by transferring money in an unused reserve fund kept by the Maryland comptroller's office.

The fund is maintained for accounting purposes and could go a long way to reducing a $1.9 billion shortfall that Gov. Martin O'Malley and state lawmakers must close to balance the next annual budget.

O'Malley, a Democrat, is considering various ways to pare the budget he will submit to the General Assembly that convenes next week.

snip

The so-called local income tax reserve fund has been eyed during previous budget crises but has never been tapped. The money is set aside every year to show that the state can cover what it owes taxpayers for refunds. But the refunds are paid out of incoming tax receipts, and the reserve fund has never been used.

"Given the dire fiscal situation and given that this would have no negative impact on operations or what happens for taxpayers, we felt this is an option we would bring to the attention of the administration to help," said Joseph Shapiro, a spokesman for Comptroller Peter Franchot.

O'Malley officials said they discovered the "excess" funds in their search for cost savings.
So let me get this clear in my mind, the Comptroller keeps a fund from which the state can pay income tax refunds, but tax refunds are paid from incoming taxes, so the fund has never been used. So a fund that has I presume much more than $360 million sitting in it, has been sitting around for so long that THEY ONLY FOUND IT WHEN THEY WENT LOOKING FOR COST SAVINGS!!!!!!!

We are not talking about a couple of hundred thousands of dollars sitting in a savings account for the state, but a sum that amounts to almost 20% of the budget shortfall and they just stumbled on it?

Why is the money sitting in this fund anyway? Why wasn't it, you know, returned to its rightful owners, the taxpayers?

The audacity of the Maryland Democrats is phenomenal.

Maryland Comptroller has maintained a billion

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Fulham Match vs. Blackburn Postponed

Referee Rob Styles, after a pitch inspection, felt the freezing conditions and the conditions of the pitch necessitated a postponement of the match at Craven Cottage. The Fulham/Blackburn match was not the only match postponed today.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Blogjevich Impeached

New York Times:
Impeachment required just 60 votes. The final result was 114-1.
Enough said.

Israel Double Standard

Marvin Hier:
The world-wide protests against Israel's ground incursion into Gaza are so full of hatred that they leave me with the terrible feeling that these protests have little to do with the so-called disproportionality of the Israeli response to Hamas rockets, or the resulting civilian casualties.

My fear is that the rage we see in the protesters marching in the streets is far more profound and dangerous than we would like to believe. There are a great many people in the world who, even after Auschwitz, just can't bear the Jewish state having the same rights they so readily grant to other nations. These voices insist Israel must take risks they would never dare ask of any other nation-state -- risks that threaten its very survival -- because they don't believe Israel should exist in the first place.

Just look at the spate of attacks this week on Jews and Jewish institutions around the world: a car ramming into a synagogue in France; a Chabad menorah and Jewish-owned shops sprayed with swastikas in Belgium; a banner at an Australian rally demanding "clean the earth from dirty Zionists!"; demonstrators in the Netherlands chanting "Gas the Jews"; and in Florida, protestors demanding Jews "Go back to the ovens!"
Shocking I know.

If this kind of behavior took place in Tehran, I would be suprised. But these protest are comeing in so-called "tolerant" western democracies. So much for pluralism.

Why the Democratic Scandals Don't Matter (Yet) - The Plank

Eve Fairbanks talks about Democratic scandals and posits a reason why they aren't bad, yet.

Does being in power lead to corruption? No, it is a matter of the individual, opportunity and the belief that they won't be caught that leads to corruption.

Corruption in government is wrong, obviously, no matter who is doing it. If Michelle Malkin and other conservative commentators take glee in Democratic corruption, that too is fine. If liberal commentators like Fairbanks take glee in Republican corruption, that too is fine. But both sides need to realize that it is not a matter of which party is more corrupt that the other, but rather it is a problem that they are corrupt at all.

I don't expect perfection in my elected leaders, they are human after all. But ethics rules should be clear, they should be black and white. However, each side of the political spectrum has to take responsiblity for policing itself, just as much as they police the other side. As for Fairbanks' comments, it shouldn't matter that they are most local, or mostly unrelated, or mostly anything. It is corruption, its should be vigorously investigated and it should be castigated just as vigorously from both sides of the aisle.

If it is wrong for a Republican to do it, it is wrong for a Democrat to do it. It is hypocrisy in the extreme to believe that your political affiliations determines who gets lambasted first.

It is no wonder we have little faith in our elected officials because reporters and commentators take umbrage when you attack their own, but attack their opponents with gusto of a child opening presents on Christmas morning.

So do these Democratic scandals matter? Yes. They matter now, it is not a function of whether they matter "yet" or not, but of whether they did wrong or not. It always matters, it is out government after all and we deserve one we can believe in.