Monday, August 31, 2009

The Diving Controversy--A Referees Take

Every sport, no matter what it may be, has its downsides, things that are against the rules, but get exploited improperly and sometimes don't get punished as much as it should. In football, the biggest offender is diving. In professional terms, the act is reported as "simulation," that is the simulating of a foul having been committed. For me there are two cardinal sins in football, dissent and diving. This post is not about dissent, but I have a good rant on that to be posted at some point.

But diving is worse that dissent because while dissent is usually only heard by the referee and a few players, diving combines both a disrespect for the referee and a disrespect for the game. Personally, as a referee I would love to be able to show up to a game with this shirt on, but that is not professional either.

Diving or simulation attempts to make a fool of the referee and tries to pull a fast one over on the referee. Occaisionally it works, and players can get an opponent cautioned or even sent off. See, this recent incident invovling Arsenel and Celtic in a UEFA Champion's League Qualifier. (Ignore the commentary, the video clearly shows no foul). This weekend, ironically, Celtics Aiden McGeady took a dive against Hibernian in the Scottish Premier League which earned him his second yellow card and a sending off.

There are some football fans and supporters who say that diving and showmanship is a part of the game, that if the player can get away with it, they will do so and that is fair. But here's the thing, when an oppoenent takes a dive against their team, they will always cry foul, thus proving themselves to be hypocrits.

From a referee's perspective, however, simulation (and its slightly less offensive cousin embellishment) is simply offensive. Truth be told, if I could hand out red cards for simulation, I would, but the Laws of the game don't allow me to do so. It is cheating. Full stop. If a player fouls you and you can gain an advantage by keeping going, you should be able to do so as that is punishment on the fouling team. But if the other players doesn't foul you, or worse, doesn't even touch you, and you go down like you have just been shot, you are cheating the other team and possibly costing the game. Eduardo, McGeady, and every other player who has taken a dive in a game are cheats. Maybe not cheats all the time, but at that time they were and that cheapens the game.

More importantly, you are cheating the game. The game is bigger than any one player, any one team and certainly any one referee. Diving creates the illusion of foul play by partaking in unsporting conduct.

So what should the governing bodies do. Reports are that UEFA is considering a two match ban of Eduardo which would mean he sits for the first two group stage matches for Arsenel. I haven't heard what, if anything the SPL will do to McGeady.

I don't have a problem with a retroactive fine for Eduardo, but I don't think he should be given a post match red card as if the Referee saw it. The referee didn't see and thus giving a ban for any game would be wrong. I also don't want to see govenring bodies reviewing and overturning match decisions by the referee because then the referees start to wonder "If I make this call, will it get overturned" and the one thing on the referee's side is that usually his/her decisions on the pitch are final. That cannot be allowed to happen, players, managers, team officials cannot, with the aid of technology after the fact, go back and scream about it and get some sort of ban.

But Eduardo was wrong and he should not get off without punishement either. That is why I favor a financial penalty and a financial penalty against Arsenel the team. Eduardo's game day salary, doubled should work. I don't know what his salary is, but assuming he is making fifty grand a week, divided by seven, you have 7,100 and doubled is 14,000 pounds or so--a fair penalty I think. Had the penalty turned out be to be the goal that got Arsenel through to the next round, the fine would have to be much higher.

Football has enough drama in and of itself. There is no need to embellish it with kabuki theatrics meant to deceive.

Divers really are wankers.

Friday, August 28, 2009

"It's good enough to wear to church, but you can't wear it to school,"

That is what one mother said to ABC News after her son was suspended by the Richmond (Indiana) School District. His offending article of clothing? A profane t-shirt? Nope. A shirt that revealed too much skin? Noooo. Pants worn too low, revealing the boy's underwear? Nay, I say. No, his offense, a plaid shirt. A plaid, button-up, collared shirt at that. John Stossel has more. But this is a problem with too much control at the school levels.

Look, I understand the necessity for a dress code. We don't need 13 year old girls walking around like tarts working the red light district. We don't need high school boys with their pants sagging so low that if they tried to run, they would trip. We certainly don't need vulgar or profane t-shirts. But this school district banned plaid? Plaid?

Seriously, we have gone too far. Sure some plaids may violate fashion sense, but that doesn't make a button up shirt improper.

If the school district wants to impose a school uniform they should do so openly and up front, instead of trying to back door it by imposing some monstrosity of a dress code.

Some Surprised By 'Clunker' Tax

Huh.but looking at it from a lawyer's perspective, I shouldn't be surprised.

See, a dealer rebate is essentially a discount given by the person selling the car. However, if the rebate comes from a third party, in this case the government, there is a benefit that is conferred upon the buyer. Generally, that kind of third party benefit is taxed as income. Shocking huh?

I certainly don't remember that featuer being talked about in the run-up to the cash for clunkers program. I wonder how many people would have bought a new car if they realized that they would have to pay about 25% of their rebate back in taxes. For the non-math majors, that is in excess of $1,000 in taxes.

Ouch.

Well, Obama Really Believes in Big Brother

So this doesn't surprise me that bill that would give president emergency control of Internet is being drafted and considered.

Of course the whole concept is shocking because it is a massive intrusion into private industry.
A Senate source familiar with the bill compared the president's power to take control of portions of the Internet to what President Bush did when grounding all aircraft on Sept. 11, 2001. The source said that one primary concern was the electrical grid, and what would happen if it were attacked from a broadband connection.
I think the analogy is somewhat suspect.

Meany Greenies--The Democrats and the lessons of the Cash For Clunkers program

They are not my lessons, but Irwin Stelzer lays them out in the Washington Examiner. I like point out two:
Second, the government's talents, whatever they might be, do not include efficient administration of its programs. The 135 pages of rules setting out what dealers had to do to recapture the refund money they laid out, were constantly changed, the web site they were to use to apply to get their money back frequently crashed, and some had to drop out of the program because they had run out of cash.

The Department of Transportation assigned 2,000 workers to process dealer paperwork, but they seemed unable to get the money to dealers who, having laid it out in response to promises of prompt repayment, desperately needed the cash. So if you think the President's plan to "reform" health care will make it easier to cope with the paperwork surrounding hospital and doctor's bills, think again.
That such a matter needed to be pointed out should go without saying. I have heard a lot about health care and the government's poor administration of health care for Medicare and/or the Veteran's Administration. If you need another example, how about this one in which between 600 and 1200 (depending on who you believe) veterans were mistakenly informed that they had ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease) because of a computer coding error. That the DOT is not any better than the bureaucrats at the VA shouldn't come as any surprise.

But this lesson from Stelzer is priceless:
Seventh, programs such as Cash-for-Clunkers have no regard for lower-income consumers. By mandating the destruction of trade-ins, Congress removed 700,000 cars from the used-car market, inevitably driving up prices of the cars that lower-income consumers tend to buy.

And by ordering that a trade-in's engine be destroyed by replacing its engine oil with a sodium silicate solution (which turns out to be in short supply!), Congress sharply reduced the salvageable used parts that are bought mostly by poorer consumers to keep their cars running.
That's right, the party that is supposedly the champion of the poor and downtrodden has just dramatically increased the price for poor people to get used cars or to keep the ones they have running. Nice, real, nice.

So the Democrats need to start calling themselves the Meany Greenies since they have been hijacked by the environmental movement rather than moving to help the poor and downtrodden.

U.S. Squad for September World Cup Qualifiers

U.S. MNT Coach Bob Bradley has named a 24 man roster to be brought into camp for the next round of qualifers, against El Salvador in Salt Lake City on September 5 and away to Trinidad and Tobago on September 9. Here is the group:

GOALKEEPERS- Tim Howard (Everton), Brad Guzan (Aston Villa)

DEFENDERS- Carlos Bocanegra (Rennes), Oguchi Onyewu (AC Milan), Jay DeMerit (Watford), Chad Marshall (Columbus Crew), Steve Cherundolo (Hannover), Jonathan Spector (West Ham United), Jonathan Bornstein (Chivas USA), Clarence Goodson (IK Start).

MIDFIELDERS- Landon Donovan (LA Galaxy), Clint Dempsey (Fulham), Michael Bradley (Borussia Moengengladbach), Stuart Holden (Houston Dynamo), Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Ricardo Clark (Houston Dynamo), Benny Feilhaber (AGF Aarhus), Jose Francisco Torres (Pachuca), Robbie Rogers (Columbus Crew).

FORWARDS-Charlie Davies (Socheaux), Jozy Altidore (Hull City), Brian Ching (Houston Dynamo), Conor Casey (Colorado Rapids), Robbie Findley (Real Salt Lake).

I am not surprised to see Marshall, Holden and Beckerman on this list. They all played well in the Gold Cup and earned a look in this camp. I could certainly see Marshall and Holden dressing and even see Holden starting against El Salvador. Beckerman is a bit more of a long shot to dress, but it is not out of the realm of possibility.

Robbie Findley has to be the biggest surprise for me. He has been tearing it up a little in recent weeks for Real Salt Lake (including a brace on Wednesday against Chivas USA), but hasn't gotten a look in camp before now. The second year man for Real Salt Lake might be something of a home pick, but his form certainly helps get him the nod.

Against El Salvador, I would expect to see:

---------Davies-------Ching----------

Donovan----Bradley----Feilhaber-----Dempsey

Bornstein---Bocanegra---DeMerit---Spector

--------------Howard------------------

The only probable changes would be Altidore for Davies, Holden for Feilhaber and/or Cherundolo for Spector. Gooch is out serving a yellow card suspension for the El Salvador match so I would expect Marshall to dress as a back up. Right now you could say that Altidore and Davies are somewhat interchangeable, both are on solid form for their clubs and getting good playing time. Altidore might not be 90 minutes fit yet so that is why I see Davies getting the starting nod.

The bench (based on the starting lineup above) would prbably be:

Guzan
Marshall
Cherundolo
Holden
Torres
Rodgers
Altidore

The benefit of Rodgers is that he can play up top if necessary. Holden can play wide and he can play centrally.

What Bob Bradley will need is a lot of energy and early goals. Michael Bradley and Feilhaber will have to shut down the central midfield and actually play the ball around well. Possession will be important, to force the Salvadorans to fight to get the ball back. Finally, Donovan and Dempsey cannot go missing in this game.

Europa League draw

ESPN Soccernet has the full draw results, but Fulham have been drawn into a group that includes Roma (Italy), FC Basel (Switzerland) and CSKA Sofia (Bulgaria). Obviously, there is no guarantee that any team will certainly advance, but I think that Roma is a favorite to advance and I would say that Fulham and CSKA Sofia would be in the battle to advance.

The teams will play each other home and away and the top two teams advance to the next round.

Cool

A British 17-year-old has become the youngest person to sail around the world. It was an "assisted" trip, but impressive nonetheless.

Cindy Sheehan Back in the News

I don't agree with her position, but I have to give her points for consistency. A lot of "anti-war protestors" are actually anti-Bush protesters and lack consistency on a position they say matters, i.e. pacificism. If you are against war and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan--fine. But don't be wishy-washy depending on which party is in the White House. If it is a principle that you espouse, stick to the principle.

I may not agree with you, but I will respect you and your position. I used to have little respect for Cindy Sheehan, whom I though took her grief too far. But I have new found respect for her now because she is anti-war no matter who occupies the White House.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Fulham Advance in Inaugural Europa League

The Cottagers European adventure will continue despite losing 1-0 to Amkar Perm today in their second leg of the Europa Leauge tie. Fulham advance on a 3-2 aggregate over the Russian side.

Fulham managed the close loss despite missing five of their regular starters, including regular starting strikers Andy Johnson and Bobby Zamora, midfielders Clint Dempsey and captain Danny Murphy as well as regular starting left back Paul Konchesky. Still running out a 4-5-1 kept Fulham on top in the tie.

Fulham are now in the group stages and the group stage draw will take place tomorrow.

Sight at Carling Cup Match

Doncaster Rovers fans were treated to a beautiful sight before getting demolished by by Tottenham Hotspur in a Carling Cup match (Tottenham won 5-1). Check out this photo.

Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha.....

To call this ironic is an insult to irony.
The Met Office has caused a storm of controversy after it was revealed their £30million supercomputer designed to predict climate change is one of Britain's worst polluters.
The massive machine - the UK's most powerful computer with a whopping 15 million megabytes of memory - was installed in the Met Office's headquarters in Exeter, Devon.

It is capable of 1,000 billion calculations every second to feed data to 400 scientists and uses 1.2 megawatts of energy to run - enough to power more than 1,000 homes

The machine was hailed as the 'future of weather prediction' with the ability to produce more accurate forecasts and produce climate change modelling.
However the Met Office's HQ has now been named as one of the worst buildings in Britain for pollution - responsible for more than 12,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year.

It says 75 per cent of its carbon footprint is produced by the super computer meaning the machine is officially one of the country's least green machines.
Seriously, could the Met Office's spokesman keep a straight face with that statement.

Are Some Congressmen Really that Stupid?

This one, Rep. Jim Moran (D-VA), apparently has not learned the lesson from this August recess--that being your townhall meetings will be videotaped and shared on You Tube. Here, Moran is asking that a man provide identification before Moran will answer his question. Seriously, did Moran not think this was going to make into the public realm?



There have been other reports that Congressmen are conducting an ID check before people are admitted to a townhall meeting, presumably to ensure that attendees are actually residents of the district. While that in and of itself is rediculous, there is at least a feeble attempt at a justification. But to do this before answering a question is ludicrous.

As if you needed further proof that Obamacare is nothing more than a liberal takeover

Rep. Pete Stark (D-CA) and uberliberal called the more conservative Blue Dog Democrats "brain dead." Seriously, he is quoted as saying that, not suspected or repeated by someone else.

The problem with such a strategy is that these conservative to moderate Democrats have the ability to kill the legislation in the House. Ticking them off doesn't seem like a strategy that is designed to win. Particularly when the Blue Dogs are probably much more representative of most American's viewpoints on teh matter than Pete Stark is.

Democratic Health Care Bill Divulges IRS Tax Data -

CBS News, of all sources, notes that there are a few provisions in the Obamacare (is it officially KennedyCare yet?) bill that will require (not allow on request but require) the IRS to provide the Health Care Commissioner with your tax data.
Section 431(a) of the bill says that the IRS must divulge taxpayer identity information, including the filing status, the modified adjusted gross income, the number of dependents, and "other information as is prescribed by" regulation. That information will be provided to the new Health Choices Commissioner and state health programs and used to determine who qualifies for "affordability credits."

Section 245(b)(2)(A) says the IRS must divulge tax return details -- there's no specified limit on what's available or unavailable -- to the Health Choices Commissioner. The purpose, again, is to verify "affordability credits."

Section 1801(a) says that the Social Security Administration can obtain tax return data on anyone who may be eligible for a "low-income prescription drug subsidy" but has not applied for it.
While all three provisions are very, very disturbing, that last one has very much of an Orwellian feel. The SSA can obtain your tax records to see if anyone is eligible for a low income drug subsidy but hasn't applied for it. There are many reasons, some practical and some philosophic as to why a person might not apply for a low income drug subsisidy. they could

1. Not need the subsidy because they don't need any prescription drugs (i.e. they are healthy).
2. Not consider themselves as "low-income" and thus don't need a government hand-out.
3. Be philosophically and/or regligiously opposed to using drugs (i.e. a Christ Scientist for example).
4. Be politically opposed to government health care and have determined they don't want to have the government make their decisions for them.

But the truly sinister aspect is the government may take this information and either (at the lowest level of intrusion) send you advertising about a low-income prescription drug subsidy or (at worst), without your knowledge sign you up for such a subsidy.

How many people are going to have a fit about this little bit of intrusion.




Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Kathleen Parker - Legal Showdowns of the Wild Worldwide Web - washingtonpost.com

Kathleen Parker notes that recent legal action may lead to less and less freedom of speech on the internet--specifically freedom of anonymous speech.

Interestingly, there is another side situation of a person with resources looking to out someone without in order to do something--in this case raise their profile of the person with resources.

Senator Edward Kennedy dies at age 77

Although his health problems are well documented, it is still sad that Sen. Edward Kennedy has passed away. I have never been a big fan of Kennedy's politics, but you cannot deny his influence upon the Senate and upon the Country.

If you measure a legislative body by the activity of its members, you cannot say that the Senate was not a quality place with Kennedy in it. The last of a Kennedy generation that put its mark upon our country, Edward Kennedy was in many ways the least spectacular, but the most successful of John Kennedy, Robert Kennedy and Edward Kennedy triumvariate.

In the coming days people will wonder what was Kennedy's greatest accomplishment in the Senate.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Beckham and Learning Lessons abut Soccer

Soccerlens has a great piece about Beckham and the lessons he is teaching America about soccer.

One of the most interesting impacts Beckham could make is on the relationship between the MLS and the players.

Friday, August 21, 2009

"Family Friendly" Law Firms

Yale Law Women has named its top 10 family friendly law firms.While these lists are more or less simply a press opportunity for the sponsor, I have always wondered why "family friendly" is really as much as "woman friendly" as anything else. Such a term seems to assume that men don't give a toss about their families or don't consider "family-friendly" as something that men care about.

I for one love the atmosphere at my current firm. So long as my work gets done, taking time to spend with my family is not a problem. Do I need to pick up my daughters from school? No problem. Want to volunteer with my daughter's school? OK.

To be honest, I think more and more firms are realizing that a happy family life means a happy lawyer. A happy family life cannot occur if a lawyer is never at home. A fat paycheck only goes so far.

U.S. World Cup Bid Committee Announces 27 Stadiums In Contention

From the U.S. Soccer site, here is the list:

Atlanta--Georgia Dome (71,250 capacity)
Baltimore--M & T Bank Stadium (71,008)
Boston--Gillette Stadium (71,693)
Charlotte--Bank of America Stadium (73,778)
Chicago--Soldier Field (61,000)
Cleveland--Cleveland Browns Stadium (72,000)
Dallas-- Cotton Bowl (89,000)
Dallas-- Cowboys Stadium (100,000)
Denver--INVESCO Field (76,125)
Detroit--Ford Field (67,188)
Detroit--Michigan Stadium (108,000)
Houston--Reliant Stadium (71,500)
Indianapolis--Lucas Oil Stadium (64,200)
Jacksonville, Fla.--Jacksonville Municipal Stadium (82,000)
Kansas City--Arrowhead Stadium (77,000)
Los Angeles--Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum (93,607)
Los Angeles--Rose Bowl (92,000+)
Miami--Land Shark Stadium (75,540)
Nashville--LP Field (69,143)
New York/N.J.--New Meadowlands Stadium (82,000)
Oakland--Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum (63,026)
Orlando--Florida Citrus Bowl (65,616)
Philadelphia--Lincoln Financial Field (67,594)
Phoenix/Glendale--University of Phoenix Stadium (71,000)
San Diego--Qualcomm Stadium (70,500)
San Francisco--Stanford Stadium (50,500)
Seattle--Qwest Field (67,000)
Seattle--Husky Stadium (72,500)
St. Louis--Edward Jones Dome (67,268)
Tampa--Raymond James Stadium (65,856)
Washington, D.C.--RFK Stadium (45,600)
Washington, D.C.--FedExField (91,704)

There are a few sites on here that I think are pretty much guaranteed locks--Fed Ex Field, Qwest Field, Rose Bowl and the Meadowlands. Other sites that I think are very likely are St. Louis (too much history to ignore), Lincoln Financial Field, LP Field (Nashville), Charlotte, Oakland/San Francisco if they can expand those facilities and either Jacksonville or Tampa.

I think it would be neat to turn a famed American football stadium at University of Michigan into a soccer field and it seats over 100,000. University of Michigan could make a killing on that idea. Keep in mind that one of the bigger concerns will be hotel/lodging spaces, transportation matters, security and training facilities. The more colleges and/or soccer specific stadium/facilities that are nearby, the more likely a site is to be selected. Aside form maybe Cowboys stadium, which just opened, each of these sites will see a signficant upgrade in facilities.

What rebound? Foreclosures continue to rise

Via McClatchy:
Delinquency and foreclosure rates for U.S. mortgages continued to rise in the second quarter, with loans to the most qualified borrowers going bust at an unnerving clip, especially in hard-hit states such as Florida and California.

The numbers reported Thursday by the Mortgage Bankers Association show clearly that rising job losses are worsening the nation's housing troubles and threaten the Obama administration's efforts to keep owners from losing their homes.

The quarterly National Delinquency Survey showed that almost one in 10 homeowners with a mortgage was at least one payment late, and thus delinquent, while another 4 percent had entered the foreclosure process on their loan.
I have previously said that the Obama Administration can point to all kinds of stats that show a "recovery" but there are only a couple of measures that most people will understand:

1. The pay. If salaries are stagnant or falling--people will not believe a recovery is in effect no matter how much the Government claims otherwise.

2. Unemployment. People understand that there are always people who are unemployed, and to be fair unemployment is a difficult standard to fully grasp, but the basic notion of more and more unemployed means that people are losing jobs and not finding new ones--it really is that basic and it tends to stagnate people at their current jobs.

3. Foreclosures. This one is probably new to most people, but in this particular crisis, foreclosures mean that people are losing their homes and that hurts and worries people.

As long as these three factors are mostly negative, most people will not consider the economy in a recovery.

Stimulus Saves Jobs

But they are government jobs in New Hampshire.

If your policy proposal fizzles

Blame everyone else. About the only person Obama hasn't blamed is George W. Bush, but you can bet his staff is trying to figure how to do that. Blaming Bush might be the only way Obama can salvage this train wreck.

Charlie Cook: Dem situation has 'slipped completely out of control' - The Scorecard - POLITICO.com

Charlie Cook: Dem situation has "slipped completely out of control" and Cook thinks that a net loss of 20 seats in the House is possible.

That doesn't jeopardize control of the House and Cook was careful not to insinuate that it is in jeopardy. But the number could change radically depending on how the Democrats react to their August experience. The notion that Democratic congressmen are considering passing health reform despite the public mood is probably not going to be the truth. If nothing else, Congressmen are good readers of the political winds and they really like to hold onto their jobs.

But the larger question will be whether the public is going to forget this episode?

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Referees - Why do they bother?

Referees - Why do they bother? It is simple.

I bother because I love the game. We spend a great deal of time in this country talking about the need for better coaching and better player development. But let us be clear, if it weren't for me and my colleagues who step into the role of a referee, there would not be the games that thrill our youngsters, mesmerize us on the professional level and bring joy and passion to so many fans at all levels.

I got my first referee's license at age 10. My father got me special dispensation from the Florida state soccer association to take the test. I took the same test (twice) as every other referee (there had been a cheating scandal in southern Florida that year which necessitated taking the test again). I refereed at that time to make money (which I did and my father told me to save most of it). I have held a referee's license on and off since then.

I have been verbally abused by coaches, a few fans and a couple of players. I have made thousands of calls, most of them right and admittedly a few were wrong. I have made mistakes--I am after all human. But I take pride in my refereeing skills and I work hard to improve them. To do otherwise is a) contrary to who I am and b) disrespectful of the game.

the vast majority of referees will never referee any game beyond a weekend youth league. That is fine, we need them to keep doing that because the kids deserve that much. Most referees will only referee for a few years whilst their children play the game. That is fine also. But they volunteer their time and effort to really learn the rules of the game, to understand what is proper behavior on the pitch and what is not. And unlike the vast majority of their peers with kids on the team, they have volunteered to assist with the game outside of their child's team and that is to be applauded.

I will tell you this, referees, even teh weekend referees are usually paid a small fee for their services (and in some leagues it is a very small fee). I would do many games for free and I am glad that the leagues see fit to reimburse me for my time, but a fair amount of us referees don't do it for the money. (Trust me, even at the high school level, it would take me doing at least four 90 minutes games to make what I bill in hourly in my law practice--so I am not going to get rich as a referee).

The game is much more than the players, the coaches and the fans. To be sure, a referee should not have the visibility of the players or coaches or the fans, but the referees are an indispensible part of the game. You can disagree with a call, you can argue if the referee is right or wrong, but remember, they are human too and without them, what would you argue about, really.

This Has to be the Coolest Talent I Have EVER Seen

If you have eight and a half minutes to watch this, you should do it. It is simply amazing, not just the art this woman creates, but the speed at which she creates it.

Intellectuals vs. Thinkers

There is a difference says Larrey Anderson.:
What this conflict of real values indicates is that the intellectual (as opposed to the thinker) is actually close-minded. The intellectual believes you have a right to your opinion -- as long as it agrees with his opinion. The intellectual is not a thinker.
Anderson then goes on to argue that a thinker is someone who takes on the task of addressing his opponents arguments, so that we don't fall into the trap of continuous error.

This is where the difficulty with our political regime meets reality. Both camps, the left and the right, are suffering through a dearth of real thinkers. Gone are the days when smart thinking men and women occupied positions of power in our country. What we have are ideologues. Evidentiary exhibit #1--the mass of liberal Congressmen who say they will pass health care reform with a public option or pass nothing. Evidentiary Exhibit #2--GOP Congressmen who simply bash the Democratic plan without offering a solution of their own.

There have been people who have proffered some interesting solutions to matters like health care, like education, like our foriegn policy problems, but they are practical solutions that don't fit neatly into an ideological camp, thus they are discarded or ignored.

The "intellectuals" that currently run the country will continue to make the same mistakes, over and over again, not becuase they are human and error prone, but because they fail to stop and think. Our policial class looks at solutions only through the lens of left and right, liberal or conservative, socialist or capitalist. The dichotomy is not healthy for a country that had longer been a bastion of pragmatism. We as a nation have a tradition of being problem solvers. Through out our history, we have encountered problems and we had thinkers in Congress, in the executive branch and in the private sector who have faced those problems, thought about the problem and found a solution. Where have those practical thinkers gone?

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Is ObamaCare Constitutional?

This is a brilliant blog post about whether the Obama Healthcare plan is consitutional or not. Clearly from an orginalist standpoint, it would not be. But the author, Prof. Rob Natelson, makes four really good potential arguments for its unconstitutionality:

1. Enumerated powers. There is no power in the Constitution delegated to Congress to enact this legislation. Natelson notes:
None of those powers seems to authorize control of the health care system outside the District of Columbia and the federal territories.

To be sure, since the late 1930s, the Supreme Court has been tolerant of the federal welfare state, usually justifying federal ad hoc programs under specious interpretations of the congressional Commerce Power.
The problem is that I find it unlikely to be supported on anything other than the "General Welfare clause," i.e. Congress can spend for the general welfare. Now, other factors do raise their head, but Congress and the Courts have relied upon the General welfare clause of many other purposes and the Commerce Power is unlikely to survive.

2. Excessive Delegation. Sorry, Professor Natelson, but this is the weakest part of the argument. Yes, Congress cannot delegate too much power to the executive branch to come up with regulations, but they do it all the time. Additionally, there is the Administrative Procedures Act which, at least in theory gives Congress the final say so over Executive Branch regulations that are drafted. I would have to research, but I imagine you can count on one hand the number of times that a Congress has killed regulations promulgated by an Administration of the same party as the party that controls Congress. The fact is, Congress routinely delegates large and broad powers to craft regulations and exercises very little oversight of what comes out of the agencies. The Court's have upheld it and I don't see any change on the horizon, no matter how expansive the program is or may be.

3. Substantive Due Process. This is likely to be the most successful argument. Roe v. Wade and a whole host of other major cases have turned on substantive due process, and Roe in particular put conversations between a doctor and a patient more or less off limits from government intrusion (same for things like birth control, see Griswold v. Connecticut). Given the descriptions of programs (even the far less hyperbolic ones like "Death Panels") there is a real opportunity for a massive intrusion into the doctor/patient dialog and even the most liberal judges are going to have a hard time justifying such an intrustion given the long line of cases dealing with substantive due process in the healthcare arena.

4. Tenth Amendment/States Rights. In a age where some states are going to start asserting their "Constitutional" rights, you can bet this one will get some play in more conservative states and circles. But aside from an "unfunded mandate" argument, opponents will have a hard time making this particular case. However, one matter that could be of use is the right of the states to regulate the medical professions. As it stands now, doctors, nurses and other medical professionals are licenses and regulated by the states and while the requirements for admission are not all that dissimilar from state to state, there are differences and it has long been the purview of the states to regulate these practitioners. Would a nationalized healthcare plan co-opt or preempt the states in this, their traditionaly role? How would medical professionals be licensed?

There are some interesting comments as well. I particularly liked this one:
I have already remarked on several Internet fora the irony of having the same folks who have been claiming that abortion ought to be a private matter between a woman and her doctor now starting to claim (explicitly or otherwise) that every other medical decision ought to become a matter for your loving, caring federal bureaucrat.

I say this: KEEP YOUR LAWS OFF MY BODY!

If that’s an idea good enough for the pro-abortion crowd, it’s an idea good enough for everybody.

White House Organizes Obamacare Rally

Gateway Pundit is reporting that SEIU bussed in SEIU members from 146 miles away.

Seriously!!!

A Quality Conservative Voice Falls Silent

Robert D. Novak Dies at 78. The man who broke the Valerie Plame story should be remembered for far more.

USL Up For Sale - MLS Interested Buyer

Via The Original Winger. Could this be the first step to promotion/relegation?

USL carries three levels, an amatuer Professional Development League grouped into several conferences, and two professional level leagues, USL-2 and USL-1. USL-1 has a couple of teams, Montreal and Puerto Rico, who could compete in MLS right now and could make a decent run for a playoff spot. Portland and Vancover will join MLS in 2011 and could compete right now.

If MLS actually buys the USL, I think this would be a good step for U.S. professional soccer. Even leaving aside the issue of promotion/relegation, a unified league structure will allow for the movement of players in a much easier manner and more importantly, allow, I think, for better development of young American talent, not only for the league but also for the national team.

Keep an eye on that development as it will be important for American soccer.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Landon Donovan Has Swine Flu

Holy Cow.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Clearly Something Is Not Being Done Right

Sex lags behind bathroom visits in popularity: Dutch survey

"Death to Obama" Sign Holder Detained

The Secret Service takes these kind of things seriously.

Look everyone, you want to compare Obama to Hitler, go ahead. All you lefties out there, you thought it was okay to compare Bush to Hitler.

But you cannot, must not and in my presence will not threaten the life of the president or other public official. Disagreeing with politics is fine, threatening someone is not.

"You can sense the anger"

Jennifer Rubin:
The Democrats are understandably stunned. They and those sympathetic to them do control everything—the White House, Congress, the mainstream media, the popular culture, and elite education. And they still—despite all that power—can’t get the public to pipe down and go along quietly with their planned takeover of health care. What is wrong with everyone? You can sense the anger, the resentment. And the panic.

There is no playbook for the liberal establishment when they are in power while the crowds and much of the new media are in fevered opposition. After all it is the Left that is supposed to be filled with righteous indignation at the “establishment.” Moreover, the intensity is largely now on the side of the anti-ObamaCare forces — quite a reversal from the Bush era.
I am not sure they, they being the liberal establishment quite understand what has gone wrong.

Obama and his crew were swept in to power believing they had a mandate to change the way government operated. I think they are learning that their "mandate" was based more on a dissatisfaction with George W. Bush rather than the appeal of the Barak Obama domestic agenda.

To be sure, the economy tanking and the Bush Administration reaction soured a great many people on George W. Bush and simply put John McCain didn't get anyone's heart pounding, certainly not like Obama did. But outside of the housing bubble bursting and the consequent reaction of the economy, I don't think most Americans were dissatisfied with the state of the domestic agenda.

If you look at polling, most Americans are supportive or at least ambivlent about most of Obama's foreign policy. To be sure, it is not a high priority right now, but given that Obama has more or less bought into the Bush strategy in Iraq and seems ready to replicate it in Afghanistan, it is hard to see any differences in our foriegn policy positions between the Bush and Obama Administration. Thus, Obama is left with his domestic agenda.

Assuming his strong victory over milquetoast McCain was a mandate for radical change in the domestic policy arena, Obama has pursued what most people rightly view as a clearly leftist agenda. What Obama and his advisors have done is fully bungle his domestic agenda--leading off not with a groundbreaking effor to overhaul health care, but a massive spending spree that looked to most Americans as not particularly wise. Obama then touts his cap and trade and health care reform efforts, two programs that will radically alter the manner and reality in which Americans live. While America is adaptable and flexible, too much change too quickly breeds concern and fear and when those changes cost a lot of money, sums that most Americans simply can't grasp, it doesn't take much to produce a backlash.

Don't be surprised if, by the end of August/September, Obama's approval ratings will be in the Bush realm and Congressional ratings in the single digits again. The Democrats have done everything excatly wrong. Instead of addressing the anger, they call it un-American. Instead of realizing the depth of concern and worry, Democrats have tried to obfuscate and evade, refusing to address real concerns about rationing of health care, "death panels" and other aspects of the health care bills as they have come to light.

The reason why most Democratic Congressmen and Senators don't answer or evade answering is that they simply don't know what to do or say. Part of it is simply ignorance, they don't know what is in the bill that they were being asked to vote on. That is an abdication of their duty. Honestly, it is impossible for a Member of Congress or a Senator and their staffs to read every word in every bill introduced. They don't need to since most bills die in committee. But they should read something as big, as important a priority to this Administration and a bill known to be greatly altering the manner in which 16 percent of our economy operates. That is not too big an ask. If they don't understand something, they have the resources to find out--Legislative Counsel and the Congressional Research Service exist for just that purpose.


If a Member does know what was in the bill and what it meant, then evading the question is simply wrong and they should be dismissed from office on that ground alone. If they truly believe that is the best course, fine, but they need to make that case to Americans and they aren't doing that very well.

The other reason for evasion is that I don't think they are used to be called upon the carpet for their actions in the way happening now. I can't remember the last time an August recess had townhall meetings all over the place making National news. Local news I understand, but national news is big time and it is not simply a matter of news networks filling time. The vigor and scale of the questioning is the largest I have seen in decades. While some of the venom and tactics by some ObamaCare oppponents is over the top, emotion is running this show, not logic and politcs.

Will Democrats change the tune or change the dance? Will they realize that their ambitious plan is too much and change it or will they simply change the way they go about passing this legislation. Much remains to be seen, but this much is true, they days of Congress getting a pass on their actions is probably gone for a least a few years.


Oops--New Jobless Claims Increase

So much for that recovery in employment.

When it comes to economic recovery, there are only two things that matter to the average American--jobs and wages. When those start to increase that is when Americans will believe that an economic recovery is in the offing.

Apparently the number of continuing claims continues to fall. But there could be a number of reasons for that:

1. Some people are getting jobs. I don't know how many, but at the rate that jobs are being lost, I am not convinced that there is a large number of people getting jobs.

2. Some people's benefits are running out. My evidence for this is the plan by the Obama Administration to extend unemployment benefits.

3. Some people have made changes in their lives such that they are no longer in need of benefits. This could be that the person who is unemployed is now staying at home, taking care of children.

The fact is we don't know, but I suspect that numbers 2 and 3 tend to take much more precedence in the reduction in continuing claim.

Obama's Contentious Townhalls and Doesn't Get Them

Roger Simon thinks that is a bad thing for the President.
What a terrible time to draw a ruly crowd. Barack Obama needed an angry mob at his town hall meeting in Portsmouth, N.H., this week.

He needed to show strength, resolve and fortitude in the face of confrontation, anger and vitriol.

Instead, Obama got a tea party. His health care town hall was filled with polite people who apparently felt that a president of the United States deserves a certain amount of respect.

What a disaster. Everybody was expecting what is happening at the town hall meetings being held by members of Congress this summer: yelling, screaming, the waving of arms and the gnashing of teeth.
The President heads to Colorado and he may get a bit more of a raucus welcome. We will see. I think he won't get as much of a contentious reception as some lawmakers are getting. In part I think it is a deference to the Office of the President, but it might also be an issue of Americans understanding that despite his moniker being attached to the plan, but realize that Obama has been something of hands off on the development of the plan thus far.


Wednesday, August 12, 2009

More Paglia

On the political parties:
What does either party stand for these days? Republican politicians, with their endless scandals, are hardly exemplars of traditional moral values. Nor have they generated new ideas for healthcare, except for medical savings accounts, which would be pathetically inadequate in a major crisis for anyone earning at or below a median income.

And what do Democrats stand for, if they are so ready to defame concerned citizens as the "mob" -- a word betraying a Marie Antoinette delusion of superiority to ordinary mortals. I thought my party was populist, attentive to the needs and wishes of those outside the power structure. And as a product of the 1960s, I thought the Democratic party was passionately committed to freedom of thought and speech.

But somehow liberals have drifted into a strange servility toward big government, which they revere as a godlike foster father-mother who can dispense all bounty and magically heal all ills. The ethical collapse of the left was nowhere more evident than in the near total silence of liberal media and Web sites at the Obama administration's outrageous solicitation to private citizens to report unacceptable "casual conversations" to the White House. If Republicans had done this, there would have been an angry explosion by Democrats from coast to coast. I was stunned at the failure of liberals to see the blatant totalitarianism in this incident, which the president should have immediately denounced. His failure to do so implicates him in it.(emphasis added)
Enough said.

Paglia Eviscerates Obama's Health Plan Operation

The never short on words, Camille Paglia who openly admits her admiration for Obama on the international stage (I don't agree, but I respect her honesy and opinion), clearly has no patience for the man, his staff or his handling of the health care reform:
But who would have thought that the sober, deliberative Barack Obama would have nothing to propose but vague and slippery promises -- or that he would so easily cede the leadership clout of the executive branch to a chaotic, rapacious, solipsistic Congress? House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, whom I used to admire for her smooth aplomb under pressure, has clearly gone off the deep end with her bizarre rants about legitimate town-hall protests by American citizens. She is doing grievous damage to the party and should immediately step down.

There is plenty of blame to go around. Obama's aggressive endorsement of a healthcare plan that does not even exist yet, except in five competing, fluctuating drafts, makes Washington seem like Cloud Cuckoo Land. The president is promoting the most colossal, brazen bait-and-switch operation since the Bush administration snookered the country into invading Iraq with apocalyptic visions of mushroom clouds over American cities.

You can keep your doctor; you can keep your insurance, if you're happy with it, Obama keeps assuring us in soothing, lullaby tones. Oh, really? And what if my doctor is not the one appointed by the new government medical boards for ruling on my access to tests and specialists? And what if my insurance company goes belly up because of undercutting by its government-bankrolled competitor? Face it: Virtually all nationalized health systems, neither nourished nor updated by profit-driven private investment, eventually lead to rationing.

I just don't get it. Why the insane rush to pass a bill, any bill, in three weeks? And why such an abject failure by the Obama administration to present the issues to the public in a rational, detailed, informational way? The U.S. is gigantic; many of our states are bigger than whole European nations. The bureaucracy required to institute and manage a nationalized health system here would be Byzantine beyond belief and would vampirically absorb whatever savings Obama thinks could be made. And the transition period would be a nightmare of red tape and mammoth screw-ups, which we can ill afford with a faltering economy.
Paglia is right on point and I think more and more Democrats, who aren't in the kool-aid drinking club are beginning to realize that they have been sold a bill of goods in the form of Obama, particuarly when it comes to domestic policy.

The fact is, we simply don't have a clue what is going to be in a final health care reform package and that scares a lot of people. What scares me is not what is in the bill, but what is not in the bill, i.e. those things that have been left unsaid, undone or are delegated to agencies with no accountability to anyone for their actions. The old adage that the devil is in the details holds very true here. The bills are bad enough, but the details are even worse.


Ouch!!

Judge Slashes $45M from Coughlin Stoia Fees Because of Disgraced Partner. but never fear, the firm will still make $65 million in fees. Not too bad. Still it would have been a $110 million payday.

Tighter Security for Cardin Townhall

WBAL-TV in Baltimore:
The Washington County Sheriff's Department and Hagerstown Community College campus security are gearing up for a town-hall style meeting on health care reform hosted by Sen. Ben Cardin.

The event discussing the hot-button issue is being held at the college's Kepler Theater on Wednesday.

At similar meetings around the country in recent weeks, members of Congress have faced heckling from their constituents. Cardin was booed and jeered throughout a meeting in Towson on Monday night.
Given the nature of Washington County (a slightly more conservative area than Towson, I would suspect that things are going to be even more contentious.



Swastika painted at Georgia congressman's office

Wrong, Wrong Wrong!!!!

If a GOP supported did this they should be hounded from the party. If a Democratic supporter did this, they too should be hounded from the party.

This is NOT HOW WE CONDUCT A DEBATE IN THIS COUNTRY. You have a right to be angry, you don't have a right do this kind of trash.

USA Mexico World Cup Qualifier

Today in Mexico City.

I will be essentially useless starting around 4:00pm this afternoon.

The U.S. arrived yesterday in Mexico City to scattered chants of "Cinco a Cero." Today is probably the best chance for the Americans to beat the Mexicans at Azteca, a place where the U.S. has never won and only drawn once. Of course, Mexico has only lost once in Azteca to Costa Rica in a 2001 World Cup Qualifier.

Likely starting line up this afternoon:

---------Howard---------------

Spector---DeMerit---Onyewu----Bocanegra

Dempsey---Bradley--Clark----Donovan

-----Ching-------Altidore------

Bench
Guzan
Bornstein
Marshall
Feilhaber
Torres
Davies
Holden

Look for Charlie Davies to come on for Altidore around the 60th to 65th minute and Benny Feilhaber for Clark in the second half

Getting excited--can't wait!!!!!!

Obama On the Road

Trying to reclaim the momentum on health care reform, the President has hit the road:
President Obama began a personal effort Tuesday to reclaim momentum for his health-care initiative with a direct rebuttal of what he called "scare tactics," rumors and misrepresentations.
It is probably too little too late for the President.

The more that that plan is in the public debate, the more people are going to begin to parse the language of the legislation that has been offered up. As those concerns are vocalized and dessiminated, the more opposition sectors will pop up--with the elderly being just the latest in a long list. I don't think the Democrats can regain the momentum--at least not without a major change in their tactics, tone and most importantly the content of their plan.

A Question of Authenticity

Sen. Ben Cardin's townhall meeting on health care was the national debate writ small--sort of. There is a question of authenticity at these events. The Democratic narrative of opponents of the Demcoratic plan being nothing more than paid operatives for the insurance industry is ringing a tad hollow:
But the professional-seeming organizing by the supporters of the health legislation only undermined their own narrative -- that they are the genuine grass roots, while the opponents of reform are themselves organized by the unseen hand of right-wing forces, Adam Smith, Obama haters. Many of the supporters waved glossy signs from the activist coalition Health Care for America Now -- setting themselves up for a chant from hand-lettered-sign-carrying opponents: 'Why the pre-made signs? Why the pre-made signs?'
On the other hand, there are legitimate questions about organization of oppoenents:
But if the skeptics were so spontaneously unorganized, why were some of them carrying around the list of 20 questions for Cardin and "Obamacare" being circulated ahead of time in conservative circles?
Well, lets consider a few things. First, a printed list of questions can be obtained by a person via email from friends, colleagues and yes, the RNC or insurance industry, I will grant you that. But that is a negligble cost. A pre-printed glossy sign is an indication of serious organization and serious money behind the organization--those signs aren't cheap.

Plus, I do believe that there is some significant organziation on the side of opponents, but that is not the only form of opposition. I do believe a fair amount (not all, but a significant portion) is a matter of spontaneous reaction by voters who simply don't like what they are seeing and hearing from their elected leaders.

'A Recovery Only a Statistician Can Love' - washingtonpost.com

Via Washington Post. That about sums it up. Even as Obama feverishly spins the "good news" that we lost fewer jobs last month than the month before, it is not a recovery that Americans will feel anytime soon. Add to that, the worst of government actions, health care "reform," cap and trade and probably a few trillion more in bailouts is still to come.

By the way, what happened to those millions of jobs that President Obama promised to save or create? Does the fact that the economy shed fewer jobs last month mean that he saved those jobs?

Elderly Swing Against Obama Plan

Dick Morris and Eileen McCann take a look at recent Rasmussen surveys about the Obama Health Care plan, and it ain't pretty for Democrats, as one of their supposedly core constituencies, the elderly, are turning away from the Obama plan in droves:
While public support for the plan fell to a new low (42% support, 53% oppose -- down five points in two weeks), the elderly emerged as the strongest opposition group. Those over 65 rejected the plan by 39-56 while almost half -- 46% -- said they were "strongly opposed" to it.

The group that supports the plan most strongly is those likely to be least affected, voters under the age of thirty, 67% of whom support the proposals.

The Democratic Senators and Congressmen can well choose to ignore polls. Polls go up. Polls go down. They may figure that the public will have moved on by the time they run for re-election, particularly those Senators who are not up in 2010. With four or six years to go in their terms, they can afford a relaxed view of polling data.

But the Democratic Party as a whole cannot afford to ignore a massive defection in the ranks of the elderly, one of its key building blocks. Ever since the New Deal coalition was cobbled together by FDR, the elderly have been a major component. Worried about Republican designs on their Social Security, they vote overwhelmingly Democratic.

But the Obama proposals, which many see correctly as a major cut in Medicare, might be seminal in driving them en masse away from the Democrats.
While elderly voters don't vote for a long time (as compared to 30 year old voters), they tend to be far less fickle or driven by the fad of the moment. Thus, when elderly voters shift their voting habits, as Morris and McCann argue, it is often done on a more or less permanent basis.

The public outcry against the Democrats plan for health care reform is very broad based and as voters under 30 start to learn just who will be paying for grandma and grandpa's health care, not to mention mom and dad, and all those chuckleheads over there, etc., I think their tune will change. Voters under the age to 30 still, for the most part, don't pay much in the way of taxes--yet. So they don't feel the pinch, but when their standard of living turns out to be lower than that of their parents, well--like I said, the tune will change.

But Democrats have another problem. Voters under 30 voted for Barack Obama--that support does not translate to an uncool, unhip 65 year old Congressman that most voters under 30 couldn't name, much less recognize if they passed on the street.

Simply put, the loss of the elderly vote cannot be offset by a hoped for increase in the youth vote.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Random Thought From Thomas Sowell

Even his random thoughts have some depth.
Many years ago, there was a comic book character who could say the magic word "Shazam" and turn into Captain Marvel, a character with powers like Superman's. Today, you can say the magic word "diversity" and turn reverse discrimination into social justice.

snip

What did we learn from the "beer summit" on the White House lawn, except that Vice President Joe Biden doesn't drink alcoholic beverages? Considering the many gaffes that the vice president has made while cold sober, the thought of an intoxicated Joe Biden boggles the mind.

Tea Partiers Getting Organized

When the more or less spontaneous Tea Parties began to crop up earlier this year, it was my question of whether or not they could sustain such effort in the longer run in order to make an impact either policy wise or electorally. While their impact has yet to be measured, the Tea Partiers are getting organized.

Rationing By Impersonal Means

Megan McArdle makes a wonderful point:
But there is also a real difference between having something rationed by a process and having it rationed by a person. That is, in fact, why progressives are so fond of rules. They don't want to tell grandma to take morphine instead of getting a pacemaker. It's much nicer if you create a mathematical formula that makes some doctor tell grandma to take morphine instead of getting a pacemaker. Then the doctor can disclaim responsibility too, because after all, no one really has any agency here--we're all just in the grips of an impersonal force.

But this won't do. If you design a formula to deny granny a pacemaker, knowing that this is the intent of the formula, then you've killed granny just as surely as if you'd ordered the doctor to do it directly. That's the intuition behind the conservative resistance to switching from price rationing to fiat rationing. Using the government's coercive power to decide the price of something, or who ought to get it, is qualitatively different from the same outcome arising out of voluntary actions in the marketplace. Even if you don't share the value judgement, it's not irrational, except in the sense that all human decisions have an element of intuition and emotion baked into them.
The unstated problem that McCardle doesn't really talk about is that the rules have to come from somewhere, meaning they have to come from some government bureaucrat. That bureaucrat is empowered by someone as well and that person or people are Congress ultimately.

How long can people ignore the chain of accountability back to the very people we elect. The solution has to be, as Bill Whittle has noted, a complete and utter House cleaning. Which Congress not incorrectly believes won't happen.

Health Care Reform Items

Home visits for families with kids is one of the items in the health care reform bill.

Sounds innocuous right? After all, when my daughters were first born, our pediatrician came to our house for a first visit, which we paid for. But as Chuck Norris points out:
Dirty secret No. 1 in Obamacare is about the government's coming into homes and usurping parental rights over child care and development.

It's outlined in sections 440 and 1904 of the House bill (Page 838), under the heading "home visitation programs for families with young children and families expecting children." The programs (provided via grants to states) would educate parents on child behavior and parenting skills.

The bill says that the government agents, "well-trained and competent staff," would "provide parents with knowledge of age-appropriate child development in cognitive, language, social, emotional, and motor domains ... modeling, consulting, and coaching on parenting practices," and "skills to interact with their child to enhance age-appropriate development."

Are you kidding me?! With whose parental principles and values? Their own? Certain experts'? From what field and theory of childhood development? As if there are one-size-fits-all parenting techniques! Do we really believe they would contextualize and personalize every form of parenting in their education, or would they merely universally indoctrinate with their own?
Talk about nanny statism at its worst. But it gets worse:
One government rebuttal is that this program would be "voluntary." Is that right? Does that imply that this agency would just sit back passively until some parent needing parenting skills said, "I don't think I'll call my parents, priest or friends or read a plethora of books, but I'll go down to the local government offices"? To the contrary, the bill points to specific targeted groups and problems, on Page 840: The state "shall identify and prioritize serving communities that are in high need of such services, especially communities with a high proportion of low-income families."

Are we further to conclude by those words that low-income families know less about parenting? Are middle- and upper-class parents really better parents? Less neglectful of their children? Less needful of parental help and training? Is this "prioritized" training not a biased, discriminatory and even prejudicial stereotype and generalization that has no place in federal government, law or practice?
I am pretty sure that my family would not fall into a high priority grouping, but how long would that last? This is a creeping standard and that is a problem.


Monday, August 10, 2009

Mark Steyn--Acerbic Wit Required

Along with a health does of pop culture knowledge at National Review Online:
Sen. Barbara Boxer has denounced dissenters from Obama’s health-care proposals as too “well-dressed” to be genuine. Only the emperor has new clothes. Everyone knows that.

Thankfully, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs has seen through the “manufactured anger” of “the Brooks Brothers brigade.” Did he announce this in a rumpled suit? He’s a press secretary who won’t press. Apparently, the health-care debate now has a dress code. Soon you won’t be able to get in unless you’re wearing Barack Obama mom-jeans, manufactured at a converted GM plant by an assembly line of retrained insurance salesmen. Any day now, Hollywood will greenlight a new movie in which an insane Sarah Palin figure picks out her outfit for spreading disinformation (The Lyin’, the Witch, and the Wardrobe).

Meanwhile, Nancy Pelosi, speaker of the House, added her own distinctive wrinkle to the Brooks Brothers menswear. She disdained the anti-Obamacare protests as fake grassroots. “I think they’re AstroTurf,” she declared. “They’re carrying swastikas and symbols like that to a town meeting on health care.”

Is this one of those Chinese Whispers things? Obama told Gibbs to tell Boxer to tell Reid, and by the time it reached Pelosi, it came out as uniforms night: Brooks Brothers. Mel Brooks. Springtime for Hitler. Swastikas. Or is the speaker right to sound the alarm about this army of goosestepping dandies? A veritable Garbstapo jackbooting down the interstate like it’s a catwalk in Milan.

Fortunately, this president doesn’t fold like a Robert Gibbs suit. He won’t give in to the attire pressure. So, on Monday, the official White House website drew attention to the alarming amount of “disinformation about health insurance reform.” “These rumors often travel just below the surface,” warned Macon Phillips, Chief Commissar of the Hopenstasi . . . whoops, I mean White House Director of New Media, “via chain e-mails or through casual conversation.”

“Casual conversation,” eh? Why can’t these “dissenters” just be like normal people and read off the teleprompter?

“Since we can’t keep track of all of them here at the White House, we’re asking for your help,” continued Commissar Phillips. “If you get an email or see something on the web about health-insurance reform that seems fishy, send it to flag@whitehouse.gov.”
Classic Steyn.

Man I wish I could write them like him.

Health Care Astroturfing

Who is doing what?. Instapundit notes that one report from a Memphis townhall meeting,
And reader Jeremy Kendall writes: “Interesting note: there was only one handmade sign in support of the public option at the event. All of the rest were handed out by MoveOn.org and the Tennessee Health Care Coalition.”
No Friend of the White House Press Office Jake Tapper writes: "Painting Protestors as "Partisan Mobs with Lies About Health Reform," Democrats Rally Their Own Activists to Visit Members of Congress at Town Halls, District Offices"

The Irony, oh, the Irony.

Thomas Jefferson--Un American

Via Instapundit

Obama Health Care: Take a Look At What It Means in Simple Terms

Ron Hart:
If Obama has his way, his health care plan will be funded by his Treasury chief who did not pay his taxes, overseen by his Surgeon General who is obese, signed by a president who smokes and financed by a country that is just about broke. What possibly could go wrong?
Keep in mind, that the health care plan will also be the bastard brain child of a Congress who hasn't read the bill, won't be subject to the bill, can't explain the bill and probably won't help anyone other than government employees.

Yeah, that is good legislating.

Proof that the ACLU is to Lefty

Via Althouse:
The ACLU ventures an opinion on the subject:

"While it is unclear at this point what the government is doing with the information it is collecting, critics of the administration's health care proposal should not fear that their names will end up in some government database that could be used to chill their right to free speech."
I can guarantee that if a Republican had suggested something like this, the various ACLU chapters would be tripping all over themselves getting to the courthouse to get an injunction to shut this down.

Haven't heard nary a peep to put a halt to this program and that quote just proves it.

Oops

Paraguayan state run health care makes a big mistake.
A premature baby declared dead by doctors was found to be alive hours later when he was taken home for a funeral wake.

The baby's father, Jose Alvarenga, was told by doctors that his son had died shortly after birth.

Staff from the state-run hospital in Asuncion, the Paraguayan capital, delivered the infant's body to Mr Alvarenga's home fours hours later.

Shortly afterwards, the grieving father opened the baby's coffin to bid an emotional farewell to his son.

Not Your Average Fishing Trip

A shark jumped INTO a fishing boat off the coast near Miami.
Michael Powers and his friends were on-board a 21 foot boat Saturday, when a shark decided to pay them an unannounced visit. "One minute it was in the air, the next minute it was in the boat just beating everything in God's creation," Micheal recalled. "It hit one of the crew members. It hit Patricia, then it went between Paul's legs and my legs in the back. We're all scattering for cover trying to get up on the deck and out of anywhere we could, just to be safe," Michael said.

The 5 1/2 foot bull shark shark injured itself after violently flopping around the boat. "I'm thinking the whole time it was a porpoise and little did I know when I finally got up, and was like, 'I'm OK,' and I looked around, and he's like it's a shark. It all happened so quick," said Patricia Bell.

"Oh my God, I didn't want to turn around. I heard the noise going on and when I stumbled and got up and looked, she was OK," Vance Bell said.

PJ Dunne, 14, was worried about his father. "The most thing I was worried about was my dad. I thought he got bit but thank God he didn't," he said.

It took about 30 minutes for the shark to calm down and stop breaking things in the boat. "We waited for her to calm down after 30 minutes and bleeding all over the deck and busting everything up. We tail roped her and we tried to lift her out with a pole and a net we used to get the lobster in. The thing probably weighed 100 to 125 pounds, so there was no doing that. We were able to get the rope underneath it, then we went ahead and pulled it up between the live-well here, got it up on the deck, and we man handled it, grabbed it by its fins and threw it in the water," said Michael.
Fortunately, no one but he shark was injured.

Nanny State Expanding?

The leaders of the National Governor's Association Gov. Jim Douglas (R-VT) and Gov. Joe Manchin (D-WV) have written a letter opposing a Pentagon proposal to take over the duty of responding to natural and/or terrorism related disasters.

Forgive me, but isn't that why we created the Department of Homeland Security? Isn't that why FEMA is part of DHS?

Massive Earthquake in Indian Ocean

Magnitude 7.6 and tsunami warnings have been issued.

Tempers flare over health care plan

Rep. John Dingell (D-MI), is one of the latest Democratic Congressmen to come under fire for his support for the health care plan.

Ladies and gentlemen out there, if you oppose the health care plan and want to express you displeasure, you should do so. However, be respectful, be polite. Don't get physical. The description offered here shows that a man may have stepped over the line and got escorted out.

Do not give the DNC and Democratic leadership any room to call you Nazis, or thus or un-American. Have someone videotape everything just to show that you are not being disrespectful.

On the other side, don't back down and keep demanding an answer. When the Democrats start ducking the question (and they will) you want to make sure that everyone understands your question and their non-response.

Rep. Dave Scott on CNN Declares Constitutent Can't Ask About Health Care

Earlier today, I posted the story that Rep. Dave Scott (D-GA) shouted down a constituent who asked a question about health care.

Surely, you would think Scott would back down, apologize at least privately to his constituent. But not so fast, apparently Scott was just on CNN saying that his consitutent had no right to ask about health care at the forum, depsite it being a town hall meeting.

Not smart, not smart at all.

Future of American Goalkeeping

Brian Quarstad has a piece on Minnesota’s Cody Cropper who has been getting a lot of attention, both in the U.S. and in England. The young man (age 16) has had trials with Wolverhampton and now Leicester City in England and has spent half a year at the U.S. Soccer residency program at Bradenton, FL.

Kenny Cooper Gets First Goal for 1860 Munich in His Debut

Hopefully this is the start of something for the big American.

Landon Donovan's Volley v. Revolution

A stunning volley. This will probably be goal of the week in the MLS.

Altidore Get Work Permit

Even though Jozy Altidore is in Miami training the U.S. National team, good news is following him around. The UK has granted Altidore a work permit, allowing him and Hull City to finalize his season long loan deal to the Northeast side.

With the work permit, it is possible that he could see time in Hull City's opening match on Saturday when the Tigers travel to Stamford Bridge to face Chelsea. Depending on how much time Altidore sees with the U.S. on Wednesday, he could get a start for the Tigers.

R.I.P. Dani Jarque

The Espanyol captain passed away of apparent heart failure. Hard to imagine that such a young fit man can pass away of heart failure.

Dani Jargue, age 26. My condolences to his family, his teammates, his club and his city.

Dempsey Signs New Deal at Fulham

There had been transfer speculation to a number of clubs nearer the top of the Premier Leauge, but Duece signed a four year 35,000 pound a week deal with Fulham.

Dempsey, who fought his way back into the Fulham starting 11 last year after seeing time on the bench, was an important part of last year's run. Manager Roy Hodgson likes Dempsey's improvement, noting:
During the 18 months I’ve been at the Club he’s got better and better. Of course his performances in the Confederations Cup and not least his performances for Fulham in helping us get to seventh place are proof that he’s actually becoming a better footballer.
Dempsey scored 7 goals in 35 appearances for the Cottagers last year and I think he could get 10 goals this year, having found some form of late.

Dempsey has joined the U.S. National Team in advance of Wednesday's big World Cup qualifier in Mexico City.

Banks earning big bank on overdraft fees

This one is near and dear to my heart.
US banks are set to earn a record 38.5 billion dollars this year from overdraft fees charged to customers whose spending has exceeded their bank balance, the Financial Times reported on Monday.

Citing a study by research company Moebs Services, the British newspaper said the fees were mostly collected from poorer customers who are struggling to make ends meet in the midst of a global economic crisis.
A few months ago, a computer error by our bank (which is one of the banks listed in the article) had deducted a large payment (our mortgage payment) from our checking account--twice. The result was that almost one thousand dollars in other payments, like our electrical bill, gas bill and our car insurance bill bounced and we were assessed late fees by the electrict company, gas company, etc., in addition to nearly $300 in overdraft fees--through no fault of our own. It took over a week to correct the error, but the fallout continued.

Now our electric company wants us to pay a "security" deposit of nearly $200 in case our payment bounces again. We have to pay our water bill in cash and or certified check.

The inconvenience of the bank overdraft fees was one thing, but the fallout is another and there is little recourse.

More Tense Townhall meetings

This one in Georgia:
Tensions are running so high at town hall meetings that Rep. David Scott, a Georgia Democrat, yelled at a local doctor concerned about health care after mistaking him for an "astroturf" political operative looking for a fight.

Mr. Scott became visibly agitated when one of his constituents, a practicing doctor, asked a few questions about health care reform during a town hall meeting. The meeting was held to discuss a road project, but was opened up for questions near the end. That's when Dr. Brian Hill stood up to speak.

Dr. Hill asked Mr. Scott why he was going to vote for a health care plan similar to that implemented in Massachusetts "that is shown not to work" and if he supported a government-provided health care insurance option.

The congressman replied by accusing the doctor of "hijacking" his event.

"I'm listening to my constituents, OK?" Scott said, "These are people who live in the 13th Congressional district, who vote in this district. That’s who I’ve got to respond to … So what you’ve got to understand, those of you who are here, who have taken and came and hijacked this event we dealing with here, this is not a health care event."

"You chose to come and to do it on your own," he yelled. "Not a single one of you had the decency to call my office and set up for a meeting." He went on, in a threatening voice, "You want a meeting with me on health care, I'll give it to you!"
I know that tensions are running high, and this episode and the Pelosi/Hoyer Op-ed (see last post) are not smoothing things out. Yelling at constituents, telling them they are un-American is not going to help.

Remember When Dissent Was the Highest Form of Patriotism

According to Democrats, dissent about health care is now "Un-american." Speaker Nancy Pelois and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer write in USA Today:
These disruptions are occurring because opponents are afraid not just of differing views — but of the facts themselves. Drowning out opposing views is simply un-American. Drowning out the facts is how we failed at this task for decades.

Health care is complex. It touches every American life. It drives our economy. People must be allowed to learn the facts.
Yes, health care is complex, yes it is a primary driver of our economy, so why in the heck is Congress considering a, more or less, one size fits all solution? If the bill is over 1,000 pages in length, can one Congressman or any one committee tell his/her constituents what is in the bill? How about that fact? How about telling America what the words in the bill mean? How about specifics?

Americans are concerned, rightfully so, about the future of their health care. Are they angry? You bet, and when Members of Congress don't address their fears or try to address those fears with generalized principles and talking points, it does not diminish the anger, it only increases the anger. Adding to the anger is the notion that Congress and the Obama Administration are hiding something--or are too idealistic to understand the true nature of the problem.



Saturday, August 08, 2009

Democrat Russ Carnahan Holds Secret Press Conference

And gets called out on his supporters actions at a recent townhall meeting.

The Power of Football

The love of football kept the recovery of this young man going.

Read the whole story.

MLS and Inernational Competition

Check out this column about MLS and International competitions.

One of the items standing in the way of success for MLS in international competitions is the lack of incentive for the teams and the players. More on these thoughts later.

Friday, August 07, 2009

More Townhall Meeting Unrest

In St. Louis people are arrested for attacking a black conservative activist (warning some foul language):



Some people were barred from going to Sen. Carnahan townhall.

Peggy Noonan: ‘You Are Terrifying Us’

Peggy Noonan in the Wall Street Journal:
We have entered uncharted territory in the fight over national health care. There’s a new tone in the debate, and it’s ugly. At the moment the Democrats are looking like something they haven’t looked like in years, and that is: desperate.

snip

And so the shock on the faces of Congressmen who’ve faced the grillings back home. And really, their shock is the first thing you see in the videos. They had no idea how people were feeling. Their 2008 win left them thinking an election that had been shaped by anti-Bush, anti-Republican, and pro-change feeling was really a mandate without context; they thought that in the middle of a historic recession featuring horrific deficits, they could assume support for the invention of a huge new entitlement carrying huge new costs.

The passions of the protesters, on the other hand, are not a surprise. They hired a man to represent them in Washington. They give him a big office, a huge staff and the power to tell people what to do. They give him a car and a driver, sometimes a security detail, and a special pin showing he’s a congressman. And all they ask in return is that he see to their interests and not terrify them too much. Really, that’s all people ask. Expectations are very low. What the protesters are saying is, “You are terrifying us.”

What has been most unsettling is not the congressmen’s surprise but a hard new tone that emerged this week. The leftosphere and the liberal commentariat charged that the town hall meetings weren’t authentic, the crowds were ginned up by insurance companies, lobbyists and the Republican National Committee. But you can’t get people to leave their homes and go to a meeting with a congressman (of all people) unless they are engaged to the point of passion. And what tends to agitate people most is the idea of loss—loss of money hard earned, loss of autonomy, loss of the few things that work in a great sweeping away of those that don’t.

People are not automatons. They show up only if they care.
There is no doubt in my mind that the GOP and insurance companies are ginning up some support, but not to the level that we are seeing. You can't have this kind of passion from industry supporters, there are people out there who are truly scared about losing their healthcare and they don't like it.

But I think it runs a bit deeper than just health care, it is a growing discontent about Congress and the government in general. Noonan suggested that Democrats thought their win in 2008 was based on anti-Bush, but it could be more of a generalized feeling of anti-govnerment.

Noonan is right, Americans are fired up right now and the avergage Congresman is not going to be able to side step this one as "It is the 434 other members who are screwing you--not me." If the mid-term elections were held this year, I doubt that more than 100 Members would be reelected, it really is that bad. In the past, discontent with Congress as an institution rarely hit an individual congressman that hard. I don't that that is the case any longer.

The Congressional reaction, of fighting back rather than representing their constitutents is not going to go over well. Voters want their views represented, not their representatives to be mouthpieces for the Obama Administration.

Doctors opposing health care bill

Doctors oppose socialized medicine. Not a big surprise given they stand to lose a fair amount in terms autonomy, privacy with their patients and, oh yeah, money.

Townhalls Getting Ugly

I don't object to the desire of people to be heard by the Congressman, but you have to wonder about some of the tactics here, on both sides.