Saturday, February 27, 2010

Hawaii Tsunami

From the Honolulu Advertiser:
Tsunami warning signals began blaring across all islands just after 6 a.m. today and tourists in Waikiki were told to head to higher floors inside their hotels.

Officials at the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center say this morning's tsunami wave should arrive at a height of 2.5 meters — or just over 8 feet — when it hits the Big Island at 11:19 a.m.

By the time it reaches Oahu 40 minutes later, the waves should only be a meter or less.

A meter is equivalent to 39 inches. But officials urged people not to be lulled by the relatively small wave heights in a state accustomed to monster waves.
By comparison, the 2004 tsunami that hit the Indian Ocean had waves estimated at 24 meters.
The tsunami, like all others, behaved very differently in deep water than in shallow water. In deep ocean water, tsunami waves form only a small hump, barely noticeable and harmless, which generally travels at a very high speed of 500 to 1,000 km/h (310 to 620 mph); in shallow water near coastlines, a tsunami slows down to only tens of kilometres an hour but in doing so forms large destructive waves. Scientists investigating the damage in Aceh found evidence that the wave reached a height of 24 m when coming ashore along large stretches of the coastline, rising to 30 m (100 ft) in some areas when travelling inland.

Tsunami Expected in Hawaii in about 2 hours

A list of Hawaii twitterers covering the tsunami warning. More on the warning here: Tsunami expected at 11:19 a.m. Hawaii time, 4:19 p.m. Eastern.

Keeping the Aloha spirit alive.

Fannie Mae Loses More Money

Over $15 billion in losses in the last quarter. How is this "company" still in business?

Thanks for increasing my tax burden even further.

Rangel Won't Step Down

Rep. Charlie Rangel, who was reprimanded by the House Ethics committee this week for coporate paid junkets, has said he will not voluntarily relinquish his Chairmanship of the House Ways & Means Committee.

That puts Speaker Pelosi in a tough position. She had publicly rebuked Rep. Tom DeLay for his ethical transgressions (and rightly so at the time, although her motives were far more political than ethical). Now, when a senior member of the Democratic leadership (and black to boot) makes the same transgressions, logic dictates that Pelosi should remove Rangel.

But my guess is that she won't--she can't without getting the "racist" tag. But if she doesn't she gets saddled with the "hypocrite" moniker. Not that I don't think Pelosi has already been hypocritical--but the more moderate members of her caucus probably aren't going to take this kind of public sting. Junior members are already in trouble, the last thing they will need is scandal on top of leadership incompetence.

My guess is that there will be a rash of returned PAC checks to Rangel's leadership PAC from young, moderate, and endangered Democrats. Let the distancing begin.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Not Sure About this Bill

A bill has been introduced in the Maryland General Assembly that would allow couples going through divorce to still live in the same house, so long as they don't have sex and sleep in separate bedrooms:
Getting a divorce is a bit more complicated. But Sen. Bobby Zirkin, D-Baltimore County, is trying to make it easier.
Zirkin is a lawyer who works with divorcing couples. He said the three bills he presented Wednesday to the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee are an effort to "modernize (Maryland's) laws of divorce."

One way he hopes to change the law: redefining what it means for people to live "separate and apart."

Currently, couples must live apart for one or two years, depending on the circumstances, before they can be divorced. But he has seen an increasing number of couples who cannot afford two households, which effectively means "people who don't have money are therefore not able to get a divorce," Zirkin said.

His solution? Don't move out of the house, just move out of the bedroom.

Zirkin's bill -- cross-filed in the House of Delegates -- would allow parties to live in the same home, as long as they maintained separate bedrooms. And, like current law, both parties must swear in court they did not have sex with each other during the allotted time period.

Sen. Larry Haines, R-Carroll, said he had mixed emotions about the bill.

"How can a couple live under the same roof and not have sex for 12 months?" he asked.

Laure Ruth, representing the Women's Law Center of Maryland, said it shouldn't matter.

"I don't actually think it's the state's business," she said. "If my husband and I want to get divorced and continue to have sex, or stay married and stop having sex, which I fear happens much more often than we would like to think, it's not the state's business."

Ruth supports the bill and Zirkin's two others, which would reduce the amount of time couples must be separated before they are eligible for a divorce hearing. The bills would change the time to six months in some cases and a year in others. The length of time depends on factors such as whether both people agree to the divorce.

Zirkin said the current time periods -- one or two years -- are longer than nearly every other state. He did not have statistics on couples who reconciled during the separation period, but said he has never seen a reconciliation happen after six months.
Getting a divorce is a lengthy process in Maryland, which itself is something of a hinderance, and sometimes money is a factor in divorces, but I am not sure about this co-habitating thing.

Here is the funny thing about the law. As far as I know, an unmarried couple living under the same roof may be presumed to be sexually active, but here the law is going to require an affidavit or testimony under oath that the two people are not having sex. I agree with Ms. Ruth--it is not the state's business. Oddly enough, the law currently requires that divoricing couples not living together can't have sex or it technically resets the waiting period. Now, riddle me this:

1. How does the state know? and ,

2. Why does it matter if a divorcing couple is having sex or not having sex? and,

3. Why is sex a determining factor? Why not shared finances? Why not public appearances? Why not any number of things that a married couple does together?

Still, if both parties want to get a divorce, a decision usually not reached in the heat of the moment but after months of consideration, why does the state stand in the way?

Now We are Telling Other Countries to Soak the Rich

It is bad enough that President Obama wants to tax the rich in our country, but now apparently the Obama Administration is telling other countries that they must do the same.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has urged wealthy Pakistanis to pay a larger share of taxes to reduce their country’s dependence on foreign aid.

In a testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, the top US diplomat reminded rich Pakistanis that they had a duty to enable their government to fund schools and hospitals and to spend more on other social projects by paying taxes.

“The very well-off” in Pakistan “do not pay their fair share for the services that are needed, in health and education primarily,” she observed.

Secretary Clinton said the US, along with the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, was looking for ways to pressure nations that received loans and grants to broaden their tax base.
The hubris of these people is just shocking.

You've got to be ^*&%$(^%-ing kidding me!!

California has some real problems--I mean REAL problems, but the General Assembly in the Golden State decided that one problem that needed to be addressed was the use of four letter words:
Amid the ongoing — and occasionally tense — debate over how to clean up California's budget mess, lawmakers are trying to tidy something else, almost as unmanageable: our language. Thursday morning, the Assembly approved a ceremonial resolution turning the first week of March into "Cuss Free Week."

With the Senate expected to follow suit next week, all Californians will be asked to bite back on four-letter words and a few choice compound phrases. WT (bleep)?, you ask. Don't sweat: Police officers won't be waiting with soap.
Now, I usually don't condone the use of four letter words, I am a big believer in the First Amendment.

While the bill doesn't impose a fine or other criminal sanction and therefore is not a First Amendment violation--I do think that is just plain f---ing stupid.

Americans are getting it

From CNN!!!:
Fifty-six percent of people questioned in a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Friday say they think the federal government's become so large and powerful that it poses an immediate threat to the rights and freedoms of ordinary citizens. Forty-four percent of those polled disagree.

The survey indicates a partisan divide on the question: only 37 percent of Democrats, 63 percent of Independents and nearly 7 in 10 Republicans say the federal government poses a threat to the rights of Americans.

According to CNN poll numbers released Sunday, Americans overwhelmingly think that the U.S. government is broken - though the public overwhelmingly holds out hope that what's broken can be fixed.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi is a liar. There I said it.

Yesterday in the health care summit, the Speaker said that passing the Obama health care monstrosity would "create 400,000 jobs almost immediately."

Seriously, are Democrats that desperate--there is no legislation that Congress can pass that will create 400,000 jobs that do anything. Creating 4 million jobs? Come on, even the rosiest scenario will not create 4 million jobs.

Oh, and what happened to all those jobs the Stimulus Bill was supposed to create? What about those that have been saved?

The Meaning of Rangel's Admonishment

Let's not kid ourselves, the fact that the House Ethics Committee has decided to admonish Rep. Charlie Rangel for improper behavior isn't going to amount to a hill of beans for the longtime Harlem congressman. He will still get re-elected in a walk from his district.

The bigger question will be how Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer respond. Remember when Nancy Pelosi promised the most ethical Congress ever? Remember when Pelosi and Hoyer slammed former Republican Majority Leader Tom DeLay when he was admonished for essentially the same offenses as Rangel?

In order to avoid cries of hypocrisy, Pelosi and Hoyer are penned in by their own actions. They will almost have to strip Rangel of his powerful position as House Ways and Means Chairman.

The ethical problems for Rangel are not done, this admonishment deals only with improperly paid corporate trips. Rangel is still facing ethical charges
including his use of rent-stabilized apartment, his fundraising on behalf of a research institute bearing his name, and his failure to declare hundreds of thousands of dollars on income and assets on annual financial-disclosure reports.
So the question is how far can this go for Rangel? In theory he could be expelled from the House (although such a sanction is unlikely).

The biggest question is how much more damage to their reputation can Congress take? With historically low approval ratings, Congress needs to be doing it better, cleaner, and clearer than ever before. Rangel is an extreme example of how far that the ethical standards can be pushed, but Americans have long lost faith in Congress and Rangel (and others) are not helping the institution repair its image with the voters.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

U.S. Roster for Netherlands Friendly Announced

bob Bradley didn't waste any time announcing his roster for next week's friendly against Holland.

GOALKEEPERS: Brad Guzan (Aston Villa), Marcus Hahnemann (Wolverhampton Wanderers), Tim Howard (Everton)

No real surprises. The only question for me is who will play. I would like to see Guzan or Hahnemann get the start as Tim Howard is playing today and will play on the weekend as well. Guzan will probably not be playing in the Carling Cup final (and played yesterday in the FA cup replay). My guess is right now, these will be the three men on the plane to South Africa

DEFENDERS: Jonathan Bornstein (Chivas USA), Carlos Bocanegra (Rennes), Jay DeMerit (Watford), Clarence Goodson (IK Start), Heath Pearce (FC Dallas), Frank Simek (Sheffield Wednesday), Jonathan Spector (West Ham United)

As I suspected, Bornstein, Goodson and Pearce make this squad. Otherwise the only surprise is to seek Frank Simek on this list. Simek has been playing very well for Sheffield Wednesday so he might get a shot here. The back line that I suspect we will see next week is Spector on the right, DeMerit and Bocanegra in the middle and Bornstein on the left. Bradley could mix it up and put Goodson in the middle and push Bocanegra to the bench for a while. I would like to see that, you know what you are going to get with Bocanegra, let's see Goodson against a top attacking side.

MIDFIELDERS : DaMarcus Beasley (Rangers), Alejandro Bedoya (Orebro), Michael Bradley (Borussia Mönchengladbach), Landon Donovan (Everton), Maurice Edu (Rangers), Stuart Holden (Bolton Wanderers), José Torres (Pachuca)

Apparently Paco Torres has gotten himself out of the Bradley doghouse and is making the trip. I think it is great to see Alejandro Bedoya on this list again. He played very well against Honduras in January in the short time he was on the field. It is also good to see DaMarcus Beasley and Maurice Edu on the list again after their injury woes. Likely to see Donovan start on the right side, Bradley and Edu in the middle and probably Beasely on the left. I would expect to see Torres and Holden come in for about 30 minutes for Edu and Beasley or possibly Donovan to give him some rest. I would love Bradley give Bedoya a good lengthly shift to see what he can do more of. He is a very, very long shot to make South Africa, but he is getting the looks and that is positive.

FORWARDS: Jozy Altidore (Hull City), Robbie Findley (Real Salt Lake), Eddie Johnson (Aris Thessaloniki)

EJ is back, but I think that is a factor more of Bradley's lack of choices rather than EJ seeing South Africa as anything other than a spectator. Johnson has found some form with Aris, but I think it is too little too late for him. Bradley apparently saw enough of what he liked of Findley to give the man another chance. A lot of people are going to wonder why Kenny Cooper didn't get a call, but Cooper has had his chances with Bob Bradley and has wasted them. Maybe the next World Cup for Cooper. Altidore and Findley will get the start and maybe Johnson will come in late in the game, probably for Altidore who is definitely going to South Africa, while Findley is still fighting.

The probable line-up





What I would like to see for evaluative purposes





Hope to be able to watch while in the office.

Fulham Advance in Europa League

Fulham pulled off a score draw in the Ukraine and rode the lanky shoulders of Brede Hangeland to defeat Shaktar Donetsk and advance to the Round of 16 in the Europa League.

The big Norwegian centerback scored a first half away goal, which put Shaktar in the position of chasing the tie, needing to score three goals to advance. The Ukrainian side managed only one in the second half amid a furious attack and desperate defending by Hangeland and the rest of the backline of Chris Baird, Aaron Hughes and Stephen Kelly. On loan defender Nicky Shorey was cup tied having played for Aston Villa earlier in teh competition. Mark Schwarzer came up with 8 big saves to put the Cottagers further in European competition than they have ever appeared.

Fulham will face the winner of the Ajax/Jeventus tie. Juve went into their home leg agaisnt teh Dutch with two away goals. Fulham will play the first leg away in either Amsterdam or more like Turin on March 11, with the return leg the following week.

U.S. MNT Hopefuls Make Their Case

Last night, a mostly MLS centric U.S. MNT took the soggy pitch against El Salvador and some people made a good case for a spot on the World Cup Roster, others remain on the bubble and a few did themselves no favors.

Clarence Goodson--solid centerback performance. The goal was not his fault. Whether Goodson makes the World Cup Roster depends heavily on injuries and form. With Onyewu getting healthy and Jonathan Bornstein playing well and having the flexibility play both in the middle and on the left, Goodson might not make the cut. But the fact that Bob Bradley called him in special for this game must mean something. If Goodson is also playing next week against the Netherlands, it would be a good sign.

Heath Pearce--he was very good on offense and not heavily tested defensively, his service form the left was top notch most of the night. Pearce is sometimes suspect at the back and seeing him against the Netherlands would be a good test to see if he can make the World Cup squad.

Brian Ching--yes, he is getting older. Yes, he is not exactly a track star. Yes, he has been injured. But last night Brian Ching showed why, when healthy, he will get a call up. Ching played only one half, but scored a goal, and had something like six shots on target, and was a terror in the middle. Service to him was kind of weak, but if he is healthy, you will see him in South Africa.

Conor Casey--Casey played pretty well at times in the first half. Casey's problem remains his first touch. To make the World Cup squad, he has to control the ball first time, every time or many of the world class centerbacks are going to slaughter him. Casey was dangerous at times in the penalty area, but he has to rely on service that wasn't there.

Sasha Kljestan--he had lots of good looks on goal, which means he is getting in the right positions at the right time. Kljestan was finding the holes in the defense. Were it not for the El Salvador keeper playing out of his mind last night, I do think Kljestan would have had at least a brace if not a hat trick. On the negative side, Kljestan was not holding the ball well and was not distributing the ball with any skill or cutting edge. The latter is more likely to cost him than the former will get him on plane to South Africe.

Kyle Beckerman--the dreadlocked one played well in the holding role. The problem is that Beckerman faces is that there are a lot of other players on the possible list that it is hard to see him on the plane to South Africa. But Beckerman was a killer in midfield last night, he was all over the field disrupting the play, covering for the wingers as they attacke forward and making good distributions from midfield. I would like to see Beckerman on the plane to South Africa, but his place is not in his hands anymore--if Maurice Edu and Rico Clark are healthy, they will be there.

Robbie Findlay--he played about 65 minutes, was dangerous at times, showed lost of pace and looked like he was regularly getting in right positions. The problem is that Findlay was not closing out his chances. Findlay might have a nose for goal, but he can't follow with the rest of his body.

Robbie Rogers--he has lots of pace, a natural left foot and absolutely horrible crossing skills on the fly. He was not holding the ball, was losing the plot in the midfield and wasted quality chances. He had three very solid looks on goal and blew all of them (well at least two of them--one hit the post). He is still young and a high quality MLS players, but I am not sure that he is ready for the step up to the international game. Maybe a transfer to Scandanavia or the Netherlands would do wonders for his game.

Eddie Gaven--even though only in early 20's Gaven is a seven year MLS veteran. But that is his top level. He also had some good chances on goal, but defensively was quite weak. In his full half on the pitch, he seemed to disappear for long stretches. I like Gaven, but unless he can make over his game (maybe as a right back), he is not the attacking force we need on the right flank.

Troy Perkins--the only one who was healthy but not playing. Perkins is playing to get on the roster as the third keeper with Marcus Hahnemann. His move back to the MLS for family reasons this year may have cost him his roster spot this year. I do think he is a quality keeper (and it is hard to forget that three years ago he was forced to work part time as a mortgage broker since he was getting paid peanuts by DC United and now is one of the highest paid players at DCU). The problem is that keeper is one of the deepest positions for the U.S. and with only three keeper spots, it is a big question if he makes the squad. I am not sure Bradley is sold on Perkins since the wee keeper Nick Rimando played last night. Who knows.

While it was nice to see the U.S. win last night, given the massive amount of posession the Americans they should have done much better. While a number of the players on the pitch last night won't see the National Team for a few years at best, it is disappointing that more players didn't make a better case for themselves.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Magnet Schools vs. Charter Schools

The Obama Administration has been focused on charter schools. But proponents of magnet schools say they are getting the short shrift.

There is much to their arguments. I would like to see magnet schools and charter schools in the mix to bring more competition to the public school system.

Monday, February 22, 2010

When Two Countries, Trademarks and Fans collide

Chivas USA is Dead! Well actually only the trademark and name are dead. The club still exists, but will have a new name--apparently.

Sure, Chivas USA could sue in federal court, but you are looking at a several year process. Good Luck.

It is just easier to take on a new name--itself not a bad idea.

Dear Mr. Anschutz

Steven Goff calls out Phil Anschultz on the MLS labor negotiations.

While the league can't depend forever on Anshultz, he is one man who can step in and get things done.

Goff is clearly siding with the players on much of their gripes.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

What to do about the Brads

The Aston Villa Brads present an interesting question for U.S. Men's National team coach Bob Bradley. What to do, what to do.

Brad Freidel is, in my opinion, the most consistently good American goalkeeper and easily a top 3 in the Premier League. He has stayed healthy, good, strong and consistent. Freidel has appeared in over 200 consecutive Premier League games and counting. This year he has 11 clean sheets (shutouts) and looks good to get probably 5 or 6 more.

Now Freidel has retired from international competition, but if for some reason Tim Howard goes down, I think Bob Bradley would be insane to not to pick up the phone and dial Freidel's number or better yet, fly to Birmingham, England and get on his knees and beg Freidel to be on the World Cup squad.

Freidel is a phenomenal shot stopper, with great command of the box, and despite being big and almost 40, is still amazingly quick.

Which leads us to the other Brad, Guzan that is. Guzan has been studying at Freidel's side for the past year with the Villans. Guzan is a fine keeper in his own right, and has gotten better, to a certain extent, serving as Freidel's understudy. But Guzan is not getting the minutes he needs to become a better keeper. Of course, keepers, barring serious injury, can play for a much longer time. Not only Freidel, but Kasey Keller, and Pat Onstad are nearing or past 40. But Guzan is a doubt to be that number 2.

Bob Bradley can be overly loyal to a fault, but Marcus Hahnemann is playing out of his skin of late for Wolverhampton. (BTW, Hahnemann is also 38 this year and no spring chicken) And that makes remaining loyal to Guzan as the number 2 tough.

What Guzan needs more than anything else is minutes--lots of them and consistently. Tim Howard will be the number 1 barring injury for this World Cup and probably 2014 as well. If Guzan wants to be really thought of as the number 2 in the U.S., then playing time is what he needs. A loan or an outright transfer to even a Championship side would be a good move for Guzan.

Bob Bradley has a Brad problem. I think Freidel is a better keeper than Tim Howard and I think Guzan needs to get out of Friedel's shadow.

Student Speech

Mark Walsh, over at the School Law Blog, writes about a recent decision by a U.S. Magistrate Judge in Florida regarding student speech on social networking media. The Magistrate Judge's Decision, found here, notes that the young plaintiff, Ms. Evans, posted a non-threatening, non-harassing message on Facebook after school hours from her home computer.

The defendant, the Principal of Evans' school, learned of the posting and suspended Evans for three days, and forced the young lady out of her Advanced Placement classes. Evans sued seeking injunctive relief that included removal of all mention of the disciplinary action, as well as nominal damages.

This decision will allow the suit to go forward.

I have always had a problem with school rules that impinge on a student's freedom of speech. True, to a certain extent, as minors, students aren't imbued with the same level of speech, certainly on campus during school hours. But how can we teach young people the meaning of the First Amendment, the rights AND responsibilities that come with the First Amendment, if we keep barring their language.

I think this is a good move and the case may help delineate what speech rights a student may have.

The Big Switch

IN an interview in the National Journal, election handicapper and observer Charlie Cook was asked the following question and answer.
NJ: Many polls have shown that people trust themselves more than they trust the government to improve their lives. Do you think this sentiment is at an unprecedented level?

Cook: I think Americans, by their nature, are distrustful of "big" -- whether it's big government or big labor, we're distrustful of "big." And it does go in cycles. And at the time of Barack Obama's election to the presidency, when you asked the age-old polling question, "Do you think the government should do more to address people's problems, or do you think government is trying to take on too many things?" It wasn't an overwhelming majority, but it was a majority who thought the government should do more.

But those numbers are reversed. More than reversed. And I think probably TARP, which happened before President Obama took office, but TARP followed by some of the bailouts, the takeovers, the stimulus package.... And then the scope and size and some of the fear that came out of cap-and-trade and health care, it just sort of built and built and built up.

But the thing is I think people do have a natural skepticism of what government is capable of doing and they had seen the reach of government expand enormously since Labor Day of 2008. And I also think, though, that the need for that was probably not well articulated, either by President Bush in the old regime, or by President Obama. I think there was probably a fear of alarming an already terrified American people.
I think Cook is right that Americans as a whole are distrustful of "big" that they cannot easily affect.

But Cook's response got me thinking, A year ago, the question of whether government should be doing more was answered largely in the affirmative by many people. But a year after the election, it looks like that is no longer the case. Of course, the electorate can be quite fickle, but is this the biggest switch in political outlook (and the fastest) that we have seen?

Is America becoming more unstable politically? I don't mean that we are going to have multiple political parties and a massive splintering of political outlooks, but are we in an age where because we are not sure what we want we swing too wildly from side to side?

Do we as Americans have the political temprament of a child?

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Adopt a College Player

I really like this idea from Alex Kos. Check it out.

MLS Players, Contracts and American Labor Practices

From Pat Martin on Total Sports Network writes about the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) and what the MLS Players are seeking.

Now Martin makes some good points, but he then ruins it with this statement:
MLS players want guaranteed contacts?

Ask the millions of unemployed Americans if they would have liked guaranteed contracts in their previous places of employment. You earn your money, or you're gone, plain and simple.

As it should be.
Well, there is a massive difference between an MLS Player, or an NFL, MLB, NHL or NBA player--a contract.

Most Americans employed in the public or private sector have what is called "at-will" employment, which means that either the employer or the employee can terminate the employment contract at any time, for any or no reason. If your boss doesn't like the way you dress, or talk to customers, or is just having a bad day, she/he can fire you from employment. Now if you are fired, you are entitled to severance pay usually and of course unemployment benefits.

On the other hand, if you don't like your job, you can usually quit at anytime, usually without consequence, but also without benefit of severance pay (other than perhaps accumulated vacation pay) or unemployment benefits.

But professional athletes have a contract--a binding document that lays out the rights, responsibilities between the parties. Contract employment often has bargained for exchanges. The Player agrees to play only for that team or league in the case of the MLS for a certain period of time and in turn they will get paid a certain salary and benefits.

If one of the parties breaks or breaches the contract there are legal consequences for that breach, usually in form of compensation to put the non-breaching party in the position they would have been had the contract been performed. For example, if you have a house and need to have your roof repaired, you will may sign a contract with a repair company to fix the roof. If they start the work and then quit, you are entitled to damages, including either having the roof repaired or more likely to have the roofer pay for a new company to come in and complete the work. By the same token, if you the roofer does the work satisfactorily and on time, he is entitled to get paid the agreed upon price. If you fail to pay him, he is entitled to the agreed upon price as well as interest damages.

In the context of the MLS, the players and league sign a contract. Under current rules, the MLS (or more likely a team) can cancel your contract, waive and release you and there is no compensation for MLS' breach of that contract. MLS doesn't owe you the balance of your contract, even if you have a three year deal at $50,000 per year and you are waived in year two. by the same token, if the player quits for whatever reason, then usually the league is not particularly affected, but that players rights, even if he doesn't play anywhere else, are held by the team he quit for some indefinite period.

You see, it is the contract that makes a MLS player different from the average American. MLS can cancel a contract right now with absolutely no consequences. That is the point of a guaranteed contract, if the contract is cancelled by the MLS, they don't have to make the player whole for the breach. Now if MLS players were "at-will" employees then they would not have a greivance about the contract status, but the players are under contract and that makes their rights as an employee very different.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

What a Spectacularly Bad Idea

Harold Meyerson, writing at the L.A. Times, discusses the idea of the European Union bailing out Greece or the federal government bailing out California. Now, of course, the problems that Greece and California face are largely of their own making and the decisions of the larger bodies are of course different. Of course, Meyerson tries to compare apples to oranges and tries to make California lemonade, but that is not nearly as shocking as Meyerson's suggestion:
Any talk of a California bailout raises domestic hackles, of course. With virtually every state raising taxes and cutting services to get through the recession, why should California get special treatment? As the backlash against Sen. Ben Nelson's healthcare-bill-cum-federal-aid-to-Nebraska deal demonstrates, having the feds help only one state out of a problem that the other 49 also confront is a classic nonstarter.

Some of the Democratic critics of the Nelson deal, however, didn't want it simply scotched. They proposed instead that every state get what Nebraska would get -- federal assistance to pay for the new Medicaid patients covered under the healthcare reform. And part of the answer to California's problems is exactly this kind of solution.

Under the American system of federalism, some functions are paid for by the federal government (defense and Medicare, for example), and some are paid for by states and localities (schools and local roads, for instance).

The difference, which becomes all important during major economic downturns, is that the feds can and do run Keynesian deficits, while the states, which must balance their budgets, can and do turn into (in New York Times columnist Paul Krugman's evocative phrase) 50 Herbert Hoovers. While the feds enacted a $787-billion stimulus, the states, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, were experiencing a two-year budget shortfall, which they had to close through program cuts and tax hikes of $350 billion.

So in the U.S. during downturns, the feds stimulate the economy and the states depress it simultaneously. In virtually every other major democracy, either the national government pays for most of the programs (such as education) that states and localities pay for here, or their states and provinces are allowed to run deficits during downturns.

I'll grant you that California can't get a bailout for itself, but that really shouldn't be its task. What it should be demanding is that the federal government assume responsibility (whether temporarily or permanently is a larger discussion) for important functions in every state -- functions such as education, so that grade-schoolers don't have to share their teacher with 40 other kids until the economy comes back.(emphasis added)
So California should be asking the federral government to take over traditional state functions (like Education) so that California can balance its own budgetary mess.

Talk about stupidity. In a time when the there are real concerns amoung lots of Americans (and not just the Tea Party) about the size, role and increasing instrusion into our lives of the federal government, California should just ask the feds to take over more of California's responsibilities? What happens when the federal government mucks it up? (and they will--just look at DC's schools and the federal government has a role in DC government) At what point does the federal government return control of the California education system or other major areas back to California? The answer to that question will be never. What about all those other states who have similar problems (pretty much all 50)? Does the government take over those roles as well?

Here is another major concern? At a time when a lot of my federal tax money goes to other things and other states, how am I supposed to feel about more of my tax money flowing to California? At some point the bills have to be paid, whether California pays them or Uncle Sam pays them?

Governor Schwarzenegger has to just simply tell everyone like it is. California has not lived within its means and because it hasn't California is going to pay the price. It will lose businesses, it will lose jobs and it will lose all over unless it starts to dramatically and drastically reduce government spending.

Meyerson's plan shifts the burden from Californians for their shortsightedness to all of the U.S. That is a bill I am not willing to pay.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

More Frederick County Schools Failure

With Frederick County Schools being closed again tomorrow, it looks like the Frederick County Government can't do its job either.

School Superintendent Linda Burgee posted a message on the FCPS Webpage in which she encouraged people to help out:
I encourage every able citizen to lend a shovel, snow blower, ice pick or deicer to the snow removal effort in your community. Make sure the sidewalk in front of your home is passable. Next time you sprinkle deicer in your driveway, sprinkle a little extra on that ice patch in the street. Shovel a few extra feet of snow, perhaps at the bus stop around the corner or in the one-lane section of your road. And imagine the magic an entire neighborhood’s fleet of snow
blowers could perform to clear the way to a quicker opening!
Well, what the heck do I pay my county and state taxes for? Why should I being asked to help out by plowing or deicing sidewalks?

In my part of the county, my daughter can walk from my house to her school (about 3/4 mile away) on completely cleared sidwalks, and crossing only two streets the whole way. the people in my townhouse court have gone above and beyond in getting our neighborhood passable, including shoveling the road when the HOA didn't come by and plow our road.

But let's also talk about priority. As I mentioned in my previous post, there was a snowblowing tractor on a main road that was already cleared. There was a snow blower working on side walks leading to the local high school, which is good. But if there are roads that are not passable, then why is the country working on roads that are passable?

I pay and inordinate amount of money in taxes for a bunch of services that have absolutely no impact on me, so I think I have done more than my part to get my neighborhood into shape enough for my daughter to get to school. If the schools need help getting roads cleared, why are they asking me, why aren't heads rolling at country/state road departments? Why doesn't the county have more workers out?

Then there was this little bit:
After hearing the latest road condition reports and forecasts from the County’s highway department and local municipal leaders today, we have decided keep schools closed through Wednesday, February 17. This will allow road crews to continue their work and our bus drivers to personally drive their routes in their own vehicles to identify trouble spots.
As I have said, hardly any snow has fallen since last Wednesday, so why weren't but drivers traveling their routes on say Sunday or Monday when schools were closed for the weekend and President's Day? What the heck are people thinking? Why are we only now asking bus drivers to examine their routes, after closing the schools for the seventh scheduled school day in a row?

Priorities and thinking are not being done and the people who suffer are the kids. My daughter is going nuts, my work has been disrupted beyond measure, my wife (who is paid hourly by the University System of Maryland is now into unpaid leave) It costs almost as much for a babysitter as it does for my wife to take the day off without pay.

This issue is not about student safety, it is about being afraid of a lawsuit. Some kid gets hurt on the way to school, slips on an icy patch and then sues the school. It is fear, not safety driving this decision.

American Soccer Subculture

Not so subculture anymore. Jason Davis writes on the changes for us American soccer fans.

Frederick Schools Closed Again

Now it is getting ridiculous!!

Despite the fact that almost no snow has fallen on Frederick County in nearly a week (six days today) aside from a dusting that fell yesterday, Frederick County schools are closed again tomorrow. That makes 11 days missed because of snow.

Now if the problem is that some roads have been plowed, then why in the heck did the county have big tractor snow blowers and snow plows clearing snow off the side of a road that was not only passable but had been clear enough for days. The priorities are clearly skewed.

If the problem is that some kids who have to walk to school have no sidewalks (not the problem in my neighborhood) then why isn't the county addressing that problem? For parents out there who complain about sidewalks and their walking kids, sorry, get up off you butt and drive your kids to school or make arrangements to have a neighbor drive them. If you boss is that inflexible that being late would be a problem, how has that boss been since you haven't been at work for over a week?

This is an educational and decision making disaster of monumental proportions and there doesn't seem to be an end in sight.

For sure now, the Frederick County schools will be given a waiver to not hold a 180 day school year because that would cut into summer vacation and extend teaching days for the union without their consent. Sorry, the School Board's priority has to be education, not wondering what to do about extending into summer vacations and/or the union contract.

The School Board and Board of County Commissioners has failed in managing this task--miserably.

The Death of Centrists?

With the retirement of Sen Evan Bayh from the Senate, most Republicans are rejoicing at the possibility of a GOP gain in November in the Hoosier state. Democrats are lamenting the loss of a body on the Democratic side.

But Bayh is one of a dying breed, a centrist in a body that is being dominated by extremism and lack of comity.

What has become of the statesman, the man who occupies the center, possesses common sense and a connection to the rest of the country?

While I didn't agree with everything Sen. Bayh said and did, he did try to bridge a gap between far left and far right and that is something that will be lost.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Disenchantment Run Amok

The past 10 days has been particularly rough in my neck of the woods. Maryland has seen record snowfalls, and by record I mean, no one has seen snow like this in over 100 years. That plain fact makes the winter of 2009-2010 a memorable one for me. I shoveled so much snow my shoulder ached from where I dislocated it nearly 18 years ago and despite carrying children, heavy loads and working out, it has never hurt so much.

But as disgruntled and fatalistic about the snow as I have become, I have become increasingly disenchanted with government. I have never been a big fan of Maryland's state government, there has simply been Democratic rule for far too long. I have never like Governor Martin O'Malley, even when he was mayor of Baltimore. I have rarely had a beef with the Frederick County government, until now.

I expect my state government to do very few things, keep me safe from criminals, come running when a fire breaks out, pave roads, provide a basic public health system and a few other minor things. I don't really want government to be running a school system, but since they do, I expect them to do it efficiently. I need my state government to do those things I cannot do myself.

However, over the past ten days, I have become truly disgusted with the manner in which my state and local governments responded to the snow emergency. What particularly galls me is that everyone knew big snow storms were coming, in fact the snow started falling within about an hour of when the weather forecasters said it would start (itself a wonderous achievement). Weathermen predicted that snow several days in advance, it would hit on a weekend and I figured travel would suck on Saturday but get better on the Sunday. Boy was I wrong.

Then came the second storm, conditions that were so bad that the county actually declared a state of emergency and pulled the snow plows off the street because of blizzard conditions. But by 10:00pm or so on Wednesday, the snow had stopped falling.

Of course school was cancelled for the entire week, and I really shouldn't have expected any different nor do I think the decision was poor, the roads simply weren't passable on Thursday and parts of Friday. So why, given all this understanding am I disillusioned?

Remember when I said that it stopped snowing on Wednesday night. No a flake of snow has fallen since then and yet, there are still roads that haven't been properly plowed. Governor Chucklehead actually had the gall to be insulted that Marylanders wanted their streets plowed. By yesterday, every county road and state road should have been plowed, sidewalks cleared so people could walk and drive. But were they? No. Five days after the last flake fell on the state, some roads were still in such poor conditions that schools are being cancelled for tomorrow.

If the state and counties knew the storm was coming, they should have been prepared--they weren't and that is unacceptable. We are not talking about a random tornado or a lightening strike on a townhouse. We are talking about a storm everyone knew was coming and knew would be bad.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

More on Obesity

My last post dealing with childhood obesity reminded me of something I wanted to blog about previously.

The Centers for Disease Control notes:
The prevalence of obesity among children aged 6 to 11 years increased from 6.5% in 1980 to 19.6% in 2008. The prevalence of obesity among adolescents aged 12 to 19 years increased from 5.0% to 18.1%.
First Lady Michelle Obama is staring a government study and program to address the problem. But we don't need a new government program, what we need is to return to a old program--Physical education in our schools.

Now this might come off as a "back in the good old days" type of nostalgia, but this one I think is pretty accurate.

When I was in elementary and middle school (up to the 8th grade), we had P.E. everyday, usually for about 30 minutes, maybe a little longer, but we will use 30 minutes since it makes the math easier. The school year was 180 days long (which is nominally how long the school year is now for most students--that is arguable, but the subject of another post). The instructional day was usually 6 hours. The school day was a little longer to account for lunch time, movement between classes in middle school, etc. Thus the number of hours in school was 1080 over the course of a year.

A school week was 30 hours long and we usually had 2.5 hours of P.E. every week. We exercises for 30 minutes a day, every day we were in school. That seems to be what most experts says is a good amount of daily exercise. Nearly ten percent of our school week was exercise. Over the course of a school year (36 weeks long) we had 90 hours of P.E. This was in the 1970's and early 1980's.

Today, my oldest daughter goes to elementary school. She has P.E. for 30 minutes two days a week. That is it. She has 1 hour of exercise at school every week. In the course of a school year, she has 36 hours of P.E., just over 1/3 the amount that I had as a school kid.

So my idea would be, why not simply reinstate daily P.E. for elementary and middle school kids.

Sure, this doesn't address all the problems of childhood obesity, but if you start getting kids daily exercise when they are in school, maybe you start to reduce the obesity problem.

First Lady: Obesity a Threat to National Security

In a White House program, First Lady Michelle Obama said childhood obesity is a threat to national security.
At a ceremony at the White House on Tuesday, First Lady Michelle Obama announced the launch of the ‘Let’s Move’ campaign to end childhood obesity in the United States, an epidemic she said is costly and a threat to national security.

“A recent study put the health care cost of obesity-related diseases at $147 billion a year,” Mrs. Obama said. “This epidemic also impacts the nation’s security, as obesity is now one of the most common disqualifiers for military service.”
Yes. gross obesity is a disqualifier for military service, but the military boot camps do tend to get someone in shape through regular exercise and training. So even if someone is a little overweight, the military will take them in and they will usually lose the weight.

But what are we talking about. According the Centers for Disease Control, childhood obesity tripled in the past thirty years:
The prevalence of obesity among children aged 6 to 11 years increased from 6.5% in 1980 to 19.6% in 2008. The prevalence of obesity among adolescents aged 12 to 19 years increased from 5.0% to 18.1%.
So, from 1 in 20 kids to 1 in 5 kids or thereabout is a serious problem, I will agree. But a threat to national security? Seems to me like 4 out of 5 people would still be eligible for military service or at least not be disqualified for being obese. A threat to national security would have to mean that the only people volunteering for the military would be obese young people--who, honestly, probably aren't looking at the military as a career.

Snow Mountain in DC

With another 10-20 inches of snow projected for the Washington area today, the Wall Street Journal has a story about a snow mountain in DC. A couple of paragraphs caught my eye:
For Washington, the winter of 2010, which blanketed the capital with about 45 inches before Tuesday, seems likely to break the record 54.5 inches set a decade after record-keeping began in 1888. "I don't know any staff member that's been around that remembers snowfalls of this magnitude," Mr. Howland said.

The bigger Washington's bureaucracy becomes, the worse the consequences of shutting down. Some 230,000 federal employees have been off work since the once-in-a-century blizzard dumped about 30 inches of snow on the capital last weekend

Residents of more northerly cities may scoff at how little snow it takes to bring the capital of the richest nation on earth to its knees. Upon arriving in Washington last winter, President Barack Obama chided residents when a couple of inches of snow shuttered schools, saying they would do well to emulate "flinty Chicago toughness."

Some Japanese cities use hot water to melt the snow, an option most U.S. cities dismiss as too expensive. Cities once melted the snow by dumping it in rivers, but the accumulated salt and chemicals fouled the water. So for the most part, cities engage in low-tech, time-consuming efforts to shovel the snow into trucks and cart it to vacant lots.

Earlier this decade, the D.C Department of Public Works bought an industrial snow melter, but it broke down and they haven't been able to replace the parts. "We got a big contraption that melts 30 tons of snow an hour," spokeswoman Nancee Lyons said. "It didn't really work that well for us."
OK. I am clearly not going to deny that this is a lot of snow for this area of the country. It is and as the guy in my family who has to shovel a lot of it, it sucks.

But the Nation's Capital and the DC government is reporting that 25% of its plows are working and the industrial snow melter is broken and they can't get replacement parts--probably because they have no money. True there are some years when DC only gets a few inches of snow, and inconvenience but not crippling. But when DC can't figure out a way to get rid of the snow, it is a problem. If you can't keep one machine operational, even if you don't use it every year, you have a bigger problem.

Increasing Government Power Decreases Individual Freedom

John Stossel points out what should be fairly obvious--Increasing government power decreases individual freedom.
Government is taking us a long way down the Road to Serfdom. That doesn't just mean that more of us must work for the government. It means that we are changing from independent, self-responsible people into a submissive flock. The welfare state kills the creative spirit.
Freedom is more than simply doing what you want so long as you don't harm your neighbor or impact his rights (which is my definition of basic individual freedom). But we live in a constitutional republic that is supposed to be have a limited government, the reason being that a limited government of specifically defined powers is supposed to prevent the government from infringing on individual freedom.

When people complain about the nanny state (as I often do), what they are really complaining about is government intrusion on their freedom. Every time the government passes a rule or regulation that requires some action by us or prevents us from taking some action, they have limited our freedom. The problem is that many of the rules that are passes are imminently sensible, things like mandatory seat belt laws. Hey that sounds great--wearing seat belts saves lives (as a former paramedic I can tell you that I never once unbuckled a dead person). But then comes the next step, hands free cell phone use, no texting while driving, etc. Now, I am not saying that these activities are safe nor should they be engaged in while driving, but when the government tells us what we can and cannot do, the government has taken away the consequences of our behavior--i.e. our responsibility.

So how did I get from individual freedom to individual responsibility? They are inverse concepts. With individual freedom comes individual responsibility. But we are no longer living in a society that understands rights AND responsibilities. All we care about is our rights and increasing our "rights" seem to include getting something for nothing. Stossel notes:
According to the Tax Foundation, 60 percent of the population now gets more in government benefits than it pays in taxes. What does it say about a society in which more than half the people live at the expense of the rest? Worse, the dependent class is growing. The 60 percent will soon be 70 percent.

Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin seems to understand the threat: He worries that "more people have a stake in the welfare state than in free enterprise.
More people have a stake in the welfare state than free enterprise--more people are dependent upon the government than upon themselves. Such a concept is staggering, more than 3 out of 5 people depend on government handouts, getting more out of the system than they put in. That leaves 40 percent, soon to be 30 percent, of the rest of us to provide for that segment of society that takes more than they give.

What this reminds me of are the claims of a perpetual motion machine, a machine that supposedly puts out more energy that is put in. Such machines violate the known physical rules of our universe, usually the First Law of Thermodynamics which says, essentially, that you can't get more energy out of a machine than the energy you put into the machine.

Applying the first law of thermodynamics to the political realm you end with a basic proposition, you cannot get more out of a government than you put in. Thus if you believe that you have a "right" to government aid, then someone has the "responsibility" to provide that aid. But remember the beginning of this piece, when I said that increasing governmental power decreases individual freedom? If you are among those who receive more government assistance than you put in to the system, you are asking the government to increase its power--not necessarily over you (but that is a fiction as well since all government aid comes with some strings attached), but over someone else. Thus not only is the government impacting individual freedom, those on the government dole are impacting individual freedom as well.

Now, this isn't an argument, necessarily, for gutting government aid programs. But we really do need to take a good hard long look at how we got here. We have gotten here because we have come to believe our rights trump our responsibilities as individuals. We do not have a perpetual governmental aid machine, we simply cannot sustain government reliance over the long haul. But by allowing government to grow unchecked, we have failed to exercise our responsibilities not only to ourselves, but to our children and beyond.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Boehner, Cantor urge Obama to force votes on spending cuts

From the, Republican leaders are pushing Obama to make spending cuts and force votes in Congress on them.

This is brilliant politics, but unlikely to go anywhere. Obama won't dare force Congressional Democrats to take votes on spending cuts because the possible consequences are too tough to swallow. If Obama forces the votes, and Congressional Democrats lack the gumption to not vote for the cuts, thus forcing the government to stop spending money. If Democrats don't vote to cut spending, they will be punished come November.

So the only thing Obama can do is take the heat from Congressional Republicans for not asking for larger spending cuts, which he can afford to do in the short terms since his re-election is not for another three years.

Good move by Boehner and Cantor, but it is just PR.

Congressional Democrats point finger of blame at Rahm Emanuel on healthcare -

Ok, as we all know, the health care plan put forth by Democrats is as dead as King Tut. But the politics of blame take center stage as Congressional Democrats begin piling blame on White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emmanuel.
Democrats in Congress are holding White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel accountable for his part in the collapse of healthcare reform.

The emerging consensus among critics in both chambers is that Emanuel’s lack of Senate experience slowed President Barack Obama’s top domestic priority.


"I think Rahm ran the play his boss called; once Obama called the play, Rahm did everything he could to pass it, scorched-earth and all that,” said a senior lawmaker, who added that Emanuel didn’t seek a broader base of Senate Republicans. “I think he did miscalculate the Senate. He did what he thought he had to do to win."

Senate Democrats grilled White House advisers last week during a special Senate Democratic retreat, expressing frustration over the lack of a clear plan.

While Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) ripped chief political strategist David Axelrod, Senate Democrats say Emanuel, who was more closely involved in managing negotiations in Congress, also deserves scrutiny.

No Democrat is calling for Emanuel’s resignation, even privately, and they acknowledge his hard work and straightforward approach in a very tough job.

They also say there’s plenty of blame on healthcare to go around.
I don't think Emanuel is to blame for the failure, even a little bit. Yes, he was pushing healthcare like all Democrats, but the notion that he was implementing the President's plan is ludicrous.

Don't get me wrong, I don't like Emanuel's politics and I certainly don't like his "my way or the highway" and "everyone else be damned" modus operandi, but President Obama didn't have a play or a plan on healthcare. Congressional Democrats are hoping to have the blame slide from them to the White House, hoping it will save their hides come November. But make no mistake, Congressional Democrats are to blame for the implosion of health care reform. The plan was too radical, to big government and too expensive for Americans to swallow, particularly at a time when spending was too big already.

In the long run, Congressional Democrats failed to understand that while Americans want change, they are not prepared for radical changes. Furthermore, the failure of Congressional Democrats and yes, Congressional Republicans, to listen to the American people before the debate started was what led to the downfall and the fall out will no doubt continue.

Educational "Fairness"

Thomas Sowell skewers proposals to bring fairness to education.
A recent flap in a Berkeley high school reveals what a farce "fairness" can be. Because this is ultra-liberal Berkeley, perhaps we should not be surprised that a proposal has been made to eliminate four jobs as science teachers and use the money saved for programs to help low achievers.

In Berkeley, as in many other communities across the country, black and Latino students are not performing as well as Asian and white students. In fact, the racial gap in academic achievement at Berkeley High School is the highest in California-- no doubt a special source of embarrassment in politically correct Berkeley.

According to the principal, "Our community at Berkeley High School has failed the African-Americans." Therefore "We need to bring everybody up-- that's what this plan is about."

Surely no one, not even in Berkeley, seriously believes that you will "bring everybody up" by eliminating science teachers. This is a proposal to redistribute money from science to social work, by providing every student with advisors on note-taking, time management and other learning skills.

The point is to close educational gaps among groups, or at least go on record as trying. As with most equalization crusades, whether in education or in the economy, it is about equalizing downward, by lowering those at the top. "Fairness" strikes again!
It never ceases to amaze me that when it comes to education, we have come to believe that the answer is not raising expectations but lowering them. In order to promote "fairness" Berkely is going to water down the academic standards for everyone, in order to raise up the lesser achieving students.

Sowell's piece comes not long after the announcement that the Obama Administration is considering scrapping significant portions of No Child Left Behind. Look, I know NCLB has more than its fair share of critics and problems, but the law has highlighted the achievement gap that we all knew existed. But because the Obama Administration is afraid of calling a spade a spade or a failing school a failing school. You cannot create a successful education system by premising it upon dumbing the school down.

Yes, there are problems outside of schools that may impact on minority students, but I don't believe you can fix that by making your performance standards lower. Expect more, work hard to provide more and you will get more. When a Berkley high school proposes to eliminate science teachers, where does the education system go from there?

Sowell makes another important point regarding equality of opportunity versus equality of outcome:
This is not just a crazy idea by one principal in Berkeley. It is a crazy idea taught in schools of education across the country. A professor of education at the University of San Francisco has weighed in on the controversy at Berkeley, supporting the idea of "projects designed to narrow the achievement gap."

In keeping with the rhetoric of the prevailing ideology, our education professor refers to "privileged" parents and "privileged" children who want to "forestall any progress toward equity."

In the language of the politically correct, achievement is equated with privilege. Such verbal sleight of hand evades the question whether individuals' own priorities and efforts affect outcomes, whether in education or in other endeavors. No need to look at empirical evidence when a clever phrase can take that whole question off the table.


Achievement by overcoming obstacles is a special threat to the left's vision of the world, and so must be magically transformed into privilege through rhetoric.

Those with that vision do not want to even discuss evidence that students from different groups spend different amounts of time on homework and different amounts of time on social activities. To admit that inputs affect outputs, whether in education, in the economy or in other areas, would be to undermine the vision and agenda of the left, and deprive those who believe in that vision of a moral melodrama, starring themselves as defenders of the oppressed and crusaders against the forces of evil.

Redistribution of material resources has a very poor track record when it comes to actually helping those who are lagging, whether in education, in the economy or elsewhere. What they need are the attitudes, priorities and behavior which produce the outcomes desired.
It is shocking that liberal, politically correct thinking now equates "achievement" with "privilege," particularly when you consider the speaker that Sowell discusses is one of the privileged achievers. Yes, to a certain extent educational achievement creates a certain amount of privilege--the privilege of knowing that you have earned an education that will allow you to do whatever you want with your life--that you, even as a minority, are not doomed to poverty, crime and second class citizenship.

But when the state, throught these high minded liberals, takes away vital educational services like the teaching of science in the name of equality, what the state-centric liberal elite are saying to you is that the minorities don't need science to open up doors to better education or even bigger dreams. The liberal elite has to "give" minorities help by "taking" away substantive learning.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Sarah Palin

Idiot or genius? Althouse discusses.


Michael Barone discussed unionism, and provides some harsh numbers for both public and private sector unions.

On private sector unionism, which is adversarial in its nature:
Adversarial unionism tends to produce rigid work rules that retard adaptation and innovation. We have had a three-decade experiment pitting UAW work rules against the flexible management of Japanese- and European-owned nonunion auto firms.

The results are in. Yes, clueless management at the Detroit firms for years ignored problems with product quality and made boneheaded investment mistakes. But adversarial unionism made it much, much harder for Detroit to produce high-quality vehicles than it was for nonunionized companies.

As economist Barry Hirsch points out, nonunion manufacturing employment rose from 12 million to 14 million between 1973 and 2006. In those years, union manufacturing employment dropped from 8 million to 2 million. "Unionism," Hirsch writes, "is a poor fit in a dynamic, competitive economy."

Moreover, federal laws passed since the 1950s now protect workers from racial and sex discrimination, safety hazards and pension failure. They don't need unions to do this anymore.(emphasis added)
On private sector unions:
Public-sector unionism is a very different animal from private-sector unionism. It is not adversarial but collusive. Public-sector unions strive to elect their management, which in turn can extract money from taxpayers to increase wages and benefits -- and can promise pensions that future taxpayers will have to fund.

The results are plain to see. States such as New York, New Jersey and California, where public-sector unions are strong, now face enormous budget deficits and pension liabilities. In such states, the public sector has become a parasite sucking the life out of the private-sector economy. Not surprisingly, Americans have been steadily migrating out of such states and into states like Texas, where public-sector unions are weak and taxes are much lower.

Barack Obama is probably the most union-friendly president since Lyndon Johnson. He has obviously been unable to stop the decline of private-sector unionism. But he is doing his best to increase the power -- and dues income -- of public-sector unions.

One-third of last year's $787 billion stimulus package was aid to state and local governments -- an obvious attempt to bolster public-sector unions. And a successful one: While the private sector has lost 7 million jobs, the number of public-sector jobs has risen. The number of federal government jobs has been increasing by 10,000 a month, and the percentage of federal employees earning over $100,000 has jumped to 19 percent during the recession.(emphasis added)
I paused at that last statistic, nearly 1 in 5 government workers makes a six figure salary PLUS a very generous benefits package paid for a the taxpayers' expense. That seems to be somewhat top heavy in terms of salary structure, but given that most government pay is tied to length of service as much as it is tied to structural seniority, means that there are secretaries and administrative assistants who make six figures because they simply stayed in their job. True institutional experience is no doubt valuable, but being in one place too long engenders a philosophy of maintaining the status quo and thus their job, that actually serving the public.

Read more at the Washington Examiner:

Fulham Injuries Woes Get Worse

Another player to spend six weeks in the treatment room.
Fulham midfielder Kagisho Dikgacoi has been ruled out for up to six weeks because of ankle ligament damage. Dikgacoi limped off during Saturday's 0-0 draw at Bolton and adds to an injury list that already includes Paul Konchesky, John Pantsil, Zoltan Gera, Clint Dempsey and Andy Johnson
Manager Roy Hodgson noted that he doesn't face a selection problem, his problem is getting 18 players fit and health to field a starting 11 and fill the substitute's bench.

A stretch of home matches will help Fulham maintain position, but Hodgson faces a tough choice, concentrate on staying up (it looks like 38 points will probably be enough given the lack of quality in the bottom half of the table) or try to move forward in the Europa League and FA Cup.

Fulham sit 10th with 31 points. Their next five matches include:

Feb. 9---Burnley at Craven Cottage in the League tomorrow
Feb. 14--Notts County in the FA Cup on Sunday at Craven Cottage
Feb. 18--Shaktar Donetsk in the Europa League at Craven Cottage
Feb. 21--Birmingham City in the Leauge at Craven Cottage
Feb. 25--at Shaktar Donetsk in the Europa League
Feb 28--Sunderland away in the League.

Three competitions to play this month and it begs the question, what gets the priority. I think Fulham will get enough points over the next 13 League matches to stay up. I think that Hodgson should then focus on the FA Cup Run. With Notts County up next, at the Cottage, I think Fulham can make the Quarter finals. A good draw could see them at Wembley for the Semi-finals.

As much as Europa League was great to be in and advance past the group stage, I think Europa League has to take a back seat. With so many injury woes, can we really try to stay in all three competitions?

Thursday, February 04, 2010

More Obama Amatuerism on Appointments

This time in the Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerhips. The White House has appointed man who has openly bashed the Pope (you know the faith leader of tens of millions of practicing American Catholics and a few of us lapsed Catholics) has been named to be the head of a government agency that is supposed to work with all faiths without prejudice.

Seriously, does anyone at the White House even consider some disconnects?

BTW, why does this agency even exist? I'm sure its budget is not huge, but seriously, does there need to be a White House office dealing with "neighborhood partnerships?" Isn't that at most a state concern and more like a county/city concern?

D.C. United Sign Pontius to New Contract

Behind the Badge has the short story on the Black and Red signing MLS Rookie of the Year Candidate Chris Pontius to a new contract. No details on the contract. Last year Pontius' salary was essentially league minimum for a senior roster player ($36,000) and had total guaranteed compensation of $66,000. With the departure of high dollar Fred and a few other players with high salary cap numbers (i.e. Ben Olsen, Christian Gomez), Pontius is sure to be making more money.

Last year Pontius, played in 28 MLS games (starting 23), a total of 40 games played (31 starts) out of DC United's 44 games last year) and had 8 goals and six assists in all competitions. Not bad for the man from California. Pontius also got his first National team call ups this year and is headed to Florida in advance of the friendly against El Salvador on Feb. 13. Pontius didn't make the bench for the U.S. game against Honduras, but word is that he had a decent camp for Bob Bradley.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

They Can Have Some of Our Snow

Reuters is reporting that the Vancouver Winter Olympic Organizing Committee is importing snow to address snow melt in the skiing venues.

Hey, they can have some of the snow dumped in the mid-atlantic. It is getting sick.

Monday, February 01, 2010

New England's Steve Ralston Signs with NASL St. Louis AC

The NASL announced today that Steve Ralston, the veteran New England Revolution midfielder who recently declined a contract with the Revolution, has signed as a player coach with the new St. Louis AC team. Ralston is one of the few players who started playing in MLS when the league started and his decision not to resign with New England meant he had to sign with another league.
AC St. Louis of the new North American Soccer League (NASL) announced the signing of St. Louis native Steve Ralston as the club's first official player. Ralston will also serve as an assistant coach for the team. Ralston, 35, is a 14-year veteran of Major League Soccer, and holds the record for most appearances by a professional player in the United States.

"This is a day I always dreamed would happen," said Ralston. "I think anyone who plays professional sports wants to play in their hometown. I am fortunate to get to do just that at this stage of my career. Obviously it is an exciting time for soccer in St. Louis since we now have our own professional team. I am honored to be the first player to become a part of this new franchise."

"Bringing a veteran leader into our team as a building block of our franchise is absolutely crucial for us," stated AC St. Louis Chairman Jeff Cooper. "The fact that he grew up in St. Louis and is a well known name to sports fans here is just a bonus. It is not everyday you get to bring home a player that has played the most games in the history of the MLS."
I think this is a good move on multiple levels.

First, AC St. Louis gets a native player, a solid, veteran with lots of high level experience. Ralston is making the transition to the next level of his career toward coaching. At the same time, it highlights two great problem that MLS has experienced. First, New England would retain Ralston's rights, which would make it difficult for Ralston to go to another team. So that means that Ralston has to go to another league. Second, St. Louis, a historic locale for American soccer has petitioned a number of times to have a MLS franchise in that city, but have been denied.

Second, this move immediately brings attention to the NASL. Like it or not, the NASL has aspirations to challenge to MLS as the preeminent league in America in the future. (Think the old AFL and NFL merging to create a much more powerful league.).

Third, Ralston's move (combined with moves like Brian McBride going to Chicago or Dwayne DeRosario back to Toronto) shows that players like to play near their roots. That kind draw is important and means that as soccer grows in America, the importance of local draws becomes more and more important. With the first second generation player (Teal Bunbury) starting to play in MLS, roots are going to be set down for clubs and that means a more feverant fan base, better support, better "derbies" and more revenue for the leagues.

I like the Ralston move and I am not surprised. Good luck to him and St. Louis AC.

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I like this move.