May 23, 2014

Donavan Left Off of U.S. World Cup Roster

Klinsmann had better know what he's doing

Well, I guess it doesn't get much more blunt than that, does it?

The decision by Jurgen Klinsmann to leave Landon Donovan at home for the 2014 World Cup caught most everyone by surprise. The second-most capped player in US Men's National Team history, the general consensus was than Donovan would be on the squad.

After all, Donovan has scored 57 goals for the US side. The next closest active player is Clint Dempsey with 36. Donovan's 57 assists are also the most for any US player.He has been in the past three World Cups. It seems it would be a no-brainer for Donovan to be on the team.

Instead, Donovan will watch the World Cup on television while Aron Johannsson will try to justify Klinsmann's decision.

Donovan could be looking back on the end of a great national career

Johannsson, who plays for AZ Alkmaar in the Dutch Eredivisie, is an American by fortune of being born in Mobile, Alabama to Icelandic parents. He moved back to Iceland at age 3. Since then he has developed into quite a solid player. He scored 17 goals for AZ in the 2013-14 season. He is also 23 years old and I think that played a big role in Klinsmann's decision.

The United States has an absolutely brutal schedule at the World Cup. First off, they have to play Germany (one of the best sides in the world), Portugal (has the best player in the world) and Ghana (has beaten the US in the last two World Cups) in the group stage. That is hard enough.

The travel makes it worse. The US team will have to travel from Natal to Manaus to Recife over a 10 day period. Recife and Natal are on the northern Brazilian coast, not too far from one another. Manaus is in the middle of the Amazon. The distance between Natal and Manaus is a little over 4,600 kilometers, or 2,900 miles. The distance from Manaus to Recife is about the same.

It's like flying across the US twice in less than 10 days. Except you have to play three games of soccer. And one of those games is in the middle of a sweltering, humid rain forest. The average daytime temperature in Manaus in June approaches 90 degrees Fahrenheit, along with extreme humidity.

May 21, 2014

Republicans' New Target: Kids

Politics is a bloodsport. Anyone who thinks otherwise really hasn't been paying attention. But you'd like to think there were some limits. Kids, for instance. You'd like to think that targeting children in bills would be off-limits. Because, you know, they're kids.

Well, don't fool yourself. GOP members in the House, known for their high-levels of assholery to begin with, have reached new heights of being assholes.
I'm not sure why this isn't a bigger deal. I hadn't heard about it other than in this brief passage tucked away in a Politico article about the House GOP agriculture bill. But it takes a small program intended provide meals to children in the school lunch program during the summer months and says it can now only be used to benefit kids in "rural areas".
This is a program that dovetails off of the "Head Start" programs that help to make sure that kids get breakfast and lunch at school if they qualify. Because kids going hungry is not only morally repugnant, but it negatively impacts their ability to learn. This program simply makes sure that these kids eat in the summer as well. This should be pretty non-controversial. But no one should be surprised that the Republicans have decided to make it very controversial indeed.

So why should only "rural" kids benefit from this program? I am sure that Republicans have some wonderfully vague and nondescript talking points. But here are the real reasons:
  1. Rural kids live in rural families in rural areas that tend to vote Republican. Urban kids live in urban families in urban areas that tend to vote Democratic.
  2. Rural families tend to be white. Urban families tend to be non-white.

Sorry kid, but giving you lunch is a step too far for the GOP

Argue all you want against those two statements. But at the end of the day, it fits with the way the modern Republican Party works.

And here is a bonus reason. The reason the Republican party gets poor white people to vote against their best interests and voting Republican is by using coded racist language and appeals to racial fears (e.g. immigration). Had the Republicans killed funding for this altogether, then poor whites and non-whites alike would have a common reason to attack the Republican Party. And the last thing they ever want is poor people, regardless of race or ethnicity, coming together in common cause.

So, you "divide and conquer". They write-in the program for poor, white rural families and cast urban residents to the side. The divide is kept intact. And, when someone inevitably points out that this is bullshit and urban kids count too, the Republicans can talk about immigrants and/or the lazy poor getting "your" benefits. Which reinforces the white/non-white divide in the lower class.

When Jesus said "Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me", he didn't mean "make them suffer". Someone should clue the GOP into that.

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