Saturday, August 7, 2010

Talk Radio -- Mark Levin -- August 4, 2010

I was listening to Levin go off on the court decision overturning California Proposition 8 and in his attempt at belittling a caller almost started explaining a moral equivalency against slavery and gay marriage. Unfortunately he was saved by commercial interruption – thus missing the opportunity to sound really stupid – before going on to ask his caller what right the court had to overturn Proposition 8, ignore any response, and hang up on him.

So on to what Levin “almost” said.

From Levin’s comments, you get the sense that he is not an advocate of gay rights and considers it morally wrong. He supported Prop 8 because it fits with his view of the world. In setting up his argument against the caller, he suggested that both slavery and homosexuality are morally wrong and therefore the people have a right and obligation to express their outrage, disgust, repression, etc.

Does it strike anyone else that in both cases we have the will of the majority repressing the rights of the minority? It’s nice that Levin found slavery morally wrong – and it’s relatively easy to be against it 145 years after it was done away with. No such luck on the gay rights discussion.

Moving on to the legal basis for doing away with Prop 8.

Levin took huge issue with the use of the 14th amendment and the equal protection clause as the basis for overturning Prop 8. His argument was that the will of the people – those that voted for Prop 8 – should prevail. Levin then goes on to cite Dred Scot and Plessy v. Ferguson as bad court decisions. The irony – apparently lost on him – is that these were court cases the 14th amendment was designed to address and was intended to eliminate the kind of discrimination exhibited by Prop 8.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Power of the Public Opinion

Should John Kerry pay Massachusetts taxes on his new yacht? Should BP pay Tony Hayward his severance package?

There is much heat and light being given to these topics because the "public" feels slighted and owed on both fronts. The challenge is that there isn't a direct relationship between the public and the questions at hand.

John Kerry doesn't owe taxes to Massachusetts. The boat is owned by a Pennsylvania corporation and docked/registered in Rhode Island. I don't care for Mr. Kerry's politics but he owes Massachusetts NOTHING. The responsibility of the tax payer is to pay taxes on what is legitimately owed. John Kerry isn't responsible for either the tax law or the taxes.

Tony Hayward apparently has an agreement with BP to collect a nice severance package. Bully for him. The fact that there a people hurting / suffering / struggling in the Gulf is something BP needs to address but there is no indication that money that goes to Mr. Hayward would be diverted to the Gulf Coast if he weren't paid.

Get a grip people.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Issues of the Moment

The Environment - How do we find the right balance of encouraging the use of environmental resources and protecting them?

Education - How do we create an education system that allows the United States to be competitive in a global economy?

Government - What should government be spending our money on?

Global Warming - How do you distinguish between plans to address a potential environmental catastrophe and a wealth redistribution act?

Fairness Doctrine - Does the government need to control what’s on radio and TV?

Illegal Immigration - Isn’t it called illegal for a reason?

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Today's Stuck on Stupid

In the latest updates on racism in America we have the Tea Partiers and Limbaugh on Steinbrenner. Now why on earth would you indulge such sources as the NAACP and Rev. Sharpton that have a long histories of fostering racism to comment on it? It would be nice if they could be called out as the racists they are or fade in to history with their 15 minute having expired.

Speaking of 15 minutes, NBC Today had breaking news. It appears the Bristol and Levi are getting married but not having sex and Sarah and Todd have no comment. In further revelations Mad Max appears to fly off the handle and say things he'd prefer were not repeated when fighting with his ex (thank God I'm not aware of any recordings of my transgressions). I'm trying to figure out if NBC bought the Thrifty Nickel and/or the National Enquirer. In the meantime I'm sure that those are 15 minutes I won't get back.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

The Art of the Dive

Spain 1 - Netherlands 0

If there was a good part to the World Cup final it was that the better team won. Spain was just a step faster than the Dutch. They possessed better, they created better, and they put a lot of pressure on the Netherlands. Netherlands responded by stepping up the physical play and started racking up yellow cards and there were at least two cards that could easily have been straight reds. Definitely not football at its prettiest.

Somehow we get through the second half and then into extra time still tied 0-0.

And then Spain cheats.

Two yellow cards are given to the Netherlands for imaginary fouls. One is a second yellow, so the Netherlands are down to 10 men.

At some point FIFA is going to have to come up with something that keeps players from making a run at the Oscars.

Like I said ... the good part is that the better team won.

Lebron ... Looking for Class

Lots and lots of the talk about Lebron, what he meant in Cleveland and what he'll mean to the Heat is centered around the discussion of legacy. How many championships will he win? Has he got more game that Magic, Jordan, or Kobe? Does it matter if where he wins that them or who he wins them with? etc., etc., etc.

Talking about the legacy of a 25 year old is a waste of time. About the time Lebron gets ready to retire, then we can talk about his legacy and how he compares with the greats, what his contribution to the game was, and the impact he has had. Same story for Kobe.

Winning championships is just one component of the legacy -- just take a look at John Wooden if you doubt this. When all is said and done, if the only thing people can say about you is you were on the winning team, it will ring hollow.

The thing that Lebron was missing this week and that hopefully he'll find in Miami is class. It was obvious at the end of the playoff's that Lebron was done in Cleveland. He'd already decided they didn't have what he wanted and it was time to move on. Where to go next and what would be the best fit for him was a fair question and one he needed to explore.

But the way to do it ... the way to wrapup his time in Cleveland on a positive note and the way to find his best fit ... this would have been to do it quietly and with a touch of gratiousness.

Before you make a big deal of telling the world where you're going, take a moment to let people appreciated where you've been. Tell Cleveland what the've meant to you and make it about them, not about you. Then be honest and direct and explain you've been offered a great position in Miami and you'd be crazy not to accept it. Sure, some Cleveland fans wouldn't like it ... that's just the way of it ... but you'd keep more fans respect and admiration.

The spectacle that was Lebron on Thursday night did nothing to show what a great talent he is or could be in the future, and that was to bad.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Embellishment and Cheating

One of the more frustrating aspects of the World Cup is the impact of embellishment on the game. Football is a physical game played at a fast pace. When running at full speed, getting bumped can take you down; when you get kicked, it hurts; an elbow to the face is going to leave a mark.

The result of this contact is that the referee blows his whistle and stops play. From here we get a foul, perhaps a card, and it goes from there.

So there is a big reward for a player that can appear to have taken the worst of it when they may not have been touched at all. At a minimum they get to stop the momentum of the game but the real payday could be getting an opponent red carded and ejected.

Technically, embellishment is a cardable foul but the speed of the game and the angles of the ref make the chances of getting it wrong as likely as getting it right. So it's a card that stays in the pocket most of the time.

In the fallout of Saurez's handball in the box, it turns out that FIFA has a disciplinary committee whose job it is to review games and player infractions and that FIFA also has rules that "call for suspensions of 'at least one match' if the panel finds a player guilty of unsportsmanlike conduct toward an opponent."

What can be more unsportsmanlike than faking something that didn't occur and deceiving the ref? Where the heck is the Disciplinary Committee on this topic? How many games would some of top players have had to sit out if the panel was watching the same game tape we do? What would the impact of this type of post game review have on the outbreak of acting we've seen at too many football games?

No Cheating Here Boss

The Uruguay v Ghana game provided a finish that will go down as one of the more amazing in World Cup Finals history. Lots of twists and turns of fate and emotion, red cards, penalty kicks, lions and tigers and bears, oh my.

In the post match review, there has been some commentary that Suarez's handball was cheating. What Suarez did is clearly described / addressed in the rule book and occurs completely within the field of play. There was no deception in what he had done and he didn't hurt or injure another player in the process.

Suarez knew that he'd be getting the red card when he handled the ball and he knew Ghana would be getting a PK. He also knew Uruguay's World Cup was over if the ball hits the back of the net.

This is no different than American football where a wide receiver is wide open in the end zone and the defensive back knows that he has no play on ball and it's 6 points if he doesn't interfere.

He did exactly what he needed to do and that wasn't cheating.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Where in the World is Arizona

Recently Peggy West, the county supervisor from Milwaukee, WI came under fire because she opened her mouth suggesting that Arizona had no right to enforce immigration law due to it's proximity to Mexico.

My first thought was how can a county supervisor not know where Arizona and Mexico are. But a little bit of research makes you wonder if perhaps Ms. West knows exactly where Arizona and Mexico are and her successful attempt at playing stupid were really just a smoke screen for a larger political agenda?

No Comment

So far we've had four games in the elimination round and two huge missed calls. One taking away a goal that was and another giving a goal that wasn't. In the first, the referee was in the "right spot" and had no angle on the ball crossing the line. In the second, the referee was out of position and the speed of play was so quick that there was no recovering.

Good luck if you're looking for commentary from FIFA on why in football's marquis tournament they won't take steps to make sure the players -- not the referees -- are determining the outcomes.

2010 World Cup Player Comments

Looking at the 2010 Roster, we had a solid keeper and a strong midfield. Our Defense and Forwards were more of picking the best of what you've got as opposed to having a large group of standout players and having to make cuts. There is definitely room for improvement and growth.

1 Tim HOWARD -- Solid keeper play that too often got hung out to dry by his defenders. This said, you need more than solid keeper play in the World Cup. Brad Friedel was a huge part of our success in 2002. Much more so than Tim Howard in 2010.

3 Carlos BOCANEGRA -- In my mind Carlos was one of the weak links in the defensive line. He was taken to school in the game vs England and appeared to quit on the second goal vs Ghana.

4 Michael BRADLEY -- Solid midfield play and contributor.

5 Oguchi ONYEWU -- May be a great player when fit but wasn't ready to play in the cup for 2010.

6 Steve CHERUNDOLO -- I liked his ability to get forward and contribute to the offense.

7 DaMarcus BEASLEY -- limited appearance vs. Algeria

8 Clint DEMPSEY -- Clint's got game and you saw him work his butt off in this year's cup run. . He should have had at least 3 more balls find the back of the net.

9 Herculez GOMEZ -- From their actual game play all of the new USA forwards -- Gomez, Altidore, Findley, and Buddle -- looked interchangeble with none of them really differentiating themselves. Herc had limited chances to play and didn't make the most of it.

10 Landon DONOVAN -- Landon did what was expected of him but you always want
more. Personally I'd like to see him play more central mid to allow him to create more.

12 Jonathan BORNSTEIN -- I know he played but nothing remarkable came to mind

13 Ricardo CLARK -- not sure why this guy started two games. Obviously the turnover v Ghana was huge.

14 Edson BUDDLE -- See Gomez

15 Jay DeMERIT -- Jay was the guy on defense for the US.

17 Jozy ALTIDORE -- Jozy showed lots of hustle / work rate up until Ghana. He's a young striker that should only get better.

19 Maurice EDU -- solid midfield play and great contributions to the team.

20 Robbie FINDLEY -- See Gomez

22 Benny FEILHABER -- Why isn't he a starter? Each time Benny came on the field the US played better and he contributed.

Looking to 2014, you never know who will still be playing and what new faces will arrive. Based on their performance for this cup, here are the folks that have set the bar going forward:
- Keeper -- Howard.
- Defense -- Demerit. Then we have lots of opennings.
- Midfield -- Donovan, Feilhaber, Edu, and Bradley are keepers. The rest of the midfield is wide open.
- Forward -- Dempsey. Then we need to see who wants it.

World Cup Thoughts

Arrrrgh. So close yet so very far away.

It was a fun run with lots of excitement and emotion but ultimately the things that added all of this flavor was our undoing. You simply can not get behind in 3 out of 4 games and expect to get a result. So much potential and opportunity simply slipped through our fingers in the process..

On the positive side, this was a much better effort than the 2006 version. Coming into 2006, we were ranked a hilarious #6 in FIFA rankings and proceeded to show just how silly this was. We were slow, we were tactically and technically weak, and we were overmatched throughout. The one thing we did show in 2006 was heart. The effort against Italy was inspirational.

For 2010, we came in ranked a realistic 14th and showed that we actually know how to play the game. We've improved the overall level of the team with better / more experienced players, our speed of play was much better, we scored goals in every game, and we showed the level of intensity we had in the 2006 game v Italy throughout the tournament.

As we look to 2014, it'll be interesting to see if we can continue to improve. On the plus side, the growth of soccer in the US is starting to take root. Our premier players are playing in top leagues around the world. We should continue to play better all around. Still, there are several areas that we have got to get better at:

Team focus. The problem with giving up early goals has been a huge problem for the US side going through the qualifying process and that it continued in the Finals was no surprise. We need to improve our mental toughness and be ready to go from the whistle.

Defensive line. One of the reasons we became the Cardiac Kids of 2010 was that our defensive line was routinely overmatched. Poor communication, missed mark-ups, and routinely being beaten one-v-one was standard fare. We've got to do better and if we expect to get out of the group play we've got to be able to defend more reliably. DeMerit came to play but the rest of the defenders were pretty much MIA and that's being kind.

Finishing. Listening to the talking heads, they felt our #1 gap was the lack of a world class striker and when you look at the opportunities missed you can see their point. The reason I'd put this need as third on my list -- but still on the list -- is that we were both getting chances and scoring goals through out the tournament. We scored in every game and had two goals taken away, so that was a big positive. But there were simply too many times where we had open nets or one-v-one situations and were unable able to find the back of the net. In the final game v Ghana, they had two different forwards go to goal and finish with power. We had none.

Looking forward to seeing the beautiful game in Brazil 2014.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

World Cup Refereeing

With all the hubbub about the USA goal that was disallowed in the USA v Slovenia game, there are has been some suggestion that this was an isolated incident and was specific to the USA game -- perhaps the ref was just out to get the USA.

But the truth is that there has just been some really bad refereeing in the World Cup. Refs that don't put themselves in the right spot to make calls, refs that don't take command of the game, and refs that make simply horrific calls.

Now to be fair, this is a tough job ... the game is played at a very fast pace, the refs can't see the instant replay in super slo mo from 3 different angles, and many of the players exadurate the actual intensity of the play.

So how about doing two things ...

First add more transparency to the process. It would be very interesting to know, if not during the game then afterwords, what exactly the ref saw / was thinking when he made a call. Now on one hand, the ref may not remember every play but when you take away a goal you should have a clear reason for what you saw and why you made the call you did ... and this should be public. This doesn't mean we're changing the call, just that there is an explanation. To often -- and at all levels of soccer -- the ref hides behind the fact that he doesn't have to explain his call and he can card you if you question his call.

Second there should be video review of cards given and players whose embellishments result in cards should be penalized by a card. To make it fair, the level of evidence would need to be very high but this would at least eliminate the player being hit in the shoulder and grabbing is face type of embellishments.

Am I Angry?

There seems to be lots of discussion by folks on the left about how angry people are who disagree with the lunatic politics / policies of the Obama administration.

If you suggest that perhaps passing a 2000 page law that none of your elected officials have read -- let alone understands -- is a bad idea, you're angry. Suggest that spending trillions of dollars we don't have on programs we don't need, yep angry. Suggest that it was the government that caused this economic crisis, very angry. Suggest that the Obama administration are generally a bunch of inept fucks, very, very angry.

Unfortunately, this is just a bunch of bullshit. I'm not angry. I'm just totally disgusted by the ideas, politics, fiscal policy, and abuse of government power that epitomizes the Democrat / Progressive / Socialist movement. I know we deserve better and I know we're not likely to see it as long as President Obama, Speaker Pelosi, and Senator Reid remain in power.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Things That Annoy Me This Week

The first topic is the "oil leak" still coming hot and heaving in the Gulf. Somehow, someway, we need to get this under control. Since both BP and the US Government seem to be making it up as they go along ... and doing so poorly ... here are two thoughts:

1. Instead of looking for someone to be accountable (see as just one example, or do your own google), why doesn't President Obama take responsibility?

2. Instead of trying one thing at a time, seeing if it works, then trying something else and repeating ... how about a government task force that drives resolution along the following areas and where each area has someone in charge:
- How do we stop the pipe from leaking?
- How do we collect the oil that has not reached shore yet?
- How do we clean-up the oil that has reach shore?
- How do we assess, mitigate, and repay the impact of the oil leak on the Gulf Community?
- How do we learn from this process so we can avoid doing it again?

Once we have the task force in place, the job is not to create single threaded solutions but rather to build a frame work that brings all resources to bear to solve the problem.

The second thing that really annoyed me was Alan Grayson's comments on the Stephanie Miller Show suggesting that people who said "drill baby, drill" should be put in jail. If only we could put both Stephanie Miller and Alan Grayson in jail .....