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Category: Dave Brockington

Mitt Romney, Diplomat

[ 116 ] July 26, 2012 |

Most of us have seen this, but I still find it fantastic that Romney wasn’t adequately prepared for his trip to London.  Let’s see, travel to London on the literal eve of the 2012 Olympic games hosted by the same, and make some disparaging remarks about a Great Britain’s ability to organise said games.  It really adds to the impact that the UK already has a healthy chip on its shoulder about the United States.  Pure comedy gold.

I disagree with The Guardian‘s headline that “Mitt Romney’s Olympics blunder stuns No 10 and hands gift to Obama”. Stunned 10 Downing Street, sure. Make any difference in November?  Hardly.

I never thought I’d offer accolades to either, but the best line of this non issue issue either goes to David Cameron:

We are holding an Olympic Games in one of the busiest, most active, bustling cities anywhere in the world. Of course it’s easier if you hold an Olympic Games in the middle of nowhere.

Or The Telegraph:

Mitt Romney is perhaps the only politician who could start a trip that was supposed to be a charm offensive by being utterly devoid of charm and mildly offensive.

When the Olympics gaffe is placed along side this post over at TDS (headline below) we have the makings of a real winner here.

The invasion of Iraq overthrew Iran’s most lethal enemy and replaced it with a regime that is now Iran’s closest and most reliable ally. Depressingly, Mitt Romney has chosen the architects of this massive strategic fiasco as his principal advisors.

It’s a good thing for Romney that foreign policy doesn’t really matter much.

A Tour Through Soccer’s Hinterlands

[ 29 ] July 19, 2012 |

This handy guide describes the venues that Rangers FC (and their travelling support) will be descending upon over the course of the coming season in Scotland’s fourth (and final) tier of professional soccer.  Note that capacities are typically smaller than said travelling support, and average attendances last season ranged from 628 (Elgin City) down to 321 (East Sterlingshire).  The latter, incidentally, are the subject of a decent book I have, Pointless, published in 2006.  It describes a single season in the existence of East Sterling that followed three successive bottom of the table finishes, and should be required reading for travelling Rangers supporters (and hell, the squad).

As there is no automatic relegation out of the bottom division, Rangers need not worry about a dramatically bad season eliminating them from the professional game altogether.  I’d suggest this arrangement would be similar to the Yankees having to play a season in the short-season Single-A Northwest League, but I’ve been to a few of those parks, and they look better than the SFL’s Third Division.

(Above: Shielfield Park, home of Berwick Rangers FC.  Below: Links Park, home of Montrose FC)

Public Opinion and the ACA, Individual Level Edition

[ 24 ] July 19, 2012 |

NPR released a new poll this morning of LVs concerning attitudes towards the ACA and the USSC decision.  Briefly, a) there’s not much new here, and b) most of the interesting stuff is within the MoE anyway.  What these new data do reiterate is that support for both the ACA itself and the Supreme Court decision are heavily mediated by pre-existing partisanship, as highlighted by my post a couple weeks ago on state level support for the ACA (which I’m going to follow up on soon as I’ve added several new variables to that little dataset).

The meat of this survey is in their (small) oversampling of the “battleground” states: CO, FL, IA, MI, NV, NH, NC, OH, PA, VA, and WI (notably, all went for Obama in 2008).  Respondents from these states are marginally yet consistently more critical of both the incumbent and the ACA.  The only item where battleground respondents are more likely than the general population to take the “Democratic” position is ‘ok, let’s accept the Supreme Court decision and move on to focus on the economy etc.’ (page 12) by 53%-44%.  For comparison, BG respondents disapprove of the ACA 39% – 52%, whereas the general population is 43% – 48%.  One would think that this might extend to Obama’s chances in these states in November.

Yet, the tendency of BG respondents to be more opposed to the ACA and the incumbent is not reflected in current polling in those states.  In only two does Nate Silver’s forecasting model predict less than a 60% probability of an Obama victory (Romney is predicted to win both Florida at 50.7% and North Carolina at 70.4%).  Both Silver and electoral-vote.com running polling averages range from marginally to rather significantly in favor of the incumbent, with only E-V’s FL (-1%), NC (-1%) and 538′s NC (-0.6%) even slightly in the Republican column.  It’s difficult to draw any substantive conclusions from this as the ACA might be a choice determinant at the margins with certain subsets of the potential electorate.  However, given that the BG states are predisposed (according to these data) to consider the ACA and the incumbent more critically, that Obama would likely win (at least) ten of these 12 states if the election were held today, this offers a conservative test of the hypothesis that the ACA is not going to swing the election.  As I discussed in my state level post on this issue, the ACA is interpreted through the prism of partisanship, as is the incumbent himself.

Perhaps the most interesting finding from this survey, at least most likely to induce a chuckle, is the response to this question (page 9):

Does the fact that the Supreme Court said the health care law is constitutional make you more likely to support the law, less likely to support the law, or does the Supreme Court decision have no effect on your support for the law?

Overall, 21% are more likely to support the ACA, 16% less likely, and it makes no difference to 58% (again, supporting the hypothesis that it’s all about pre-existing partisanship).  BG voters are a near exact replication of the overall sample (21/17/58). However, when limited to Republican respondents, the numbers are 8/30/56.

30% of Republican respondents are less likely to support the ACA because the Republican led Supreme Court ruled it constitutional.  One might excuse the 6% of Democrats believing this, but Republicans?

Movement Conservatives

[ 121 ] July 17, 2012 |

I’ve always considered this term an oxymoron.  Anybody who knows anything about Burke gets this.  Ideally my students get it as well, given that they should know some of what I know about Burke, which is greater than nothing but shy of authoritative.  This term also illustrates a rift between theoretical expectation and empirical reality.  True conservatives shouldn’t be a movement.  True conservatives should weigh any action against the potential for unintended consequences.  But, then, movement conservatives have as much in common with Burke as I do, a point somewhat illustrated in this excellent read by David Roberts.

Roberts nails two of the conventional wisdoms held here at LGM.  First, increased polarization in American partisan politics is not symmetrically distributed.  Although the left has crawled further left, the right is sprinting towards the cliff.  It’s the right who are moving.  Citing both political science (Keith Poole and Howard Rosenthal) as well as Galston (also of The Democratic Strategist) and Mann from Brookings, Roberts offers a compelling account which demonstrates the asymmetry in contemporary polarization.  His argument is perhaps best captured by the following quote:

The national Republican Party, by contrast, has now been almost entirely absorbed by the far right. It rejects the basic social consensus among post-war democracies and seeks to return to a pre-New Deal form of governance. It is hostile to social and economic equality. It remains committed to fossil fuels and sprawl and opposed to all sustainable alternatives. And it has built anepistemological cocoon around itself within which loopy misinformation spreads unchecked. It has, in short, gone loony.

Such an epistemological cocoon allows for this sincere exhibition of hilarious lunacy noted by Erik a few days ago.

Second, “centrist” pundits are, well, idiots.

Instead, pundits — and, to be fair, lots and lots of non-pundits — cling to the presumption of symmetry. Their minds rebel at asymmetry, especially extreme asymmetry. The notion that “partisans on both sides” are preventing a sensible middle course is deeply rooted to the point of catechism.

Which nicely sets up the money shot of Roberts’ post:

Maddeningly, when pundits actually lay out what that sensible middle course would look like, they end up describing Obama’s agenda. Benjy Sarlin at TPM put it best: “Pundits Urge President Obama To Back President Obama’s Proposals.”

It is this political environment that allows for Mitt Romney to vociferously run against an ACA that is close to the very Massachusetts plan that he signed.  It allows for voters in the “center” and the right to disbelieve that Romney supports the Ryan budget when the specifics of the latter are spelled out for them (I saw this within the last week, but I can not find the link / cite to it.  Ergo, I could just be making it up. h/t commenter Howard, I’ve now attached the link.) And it might even allow for John McCain to say, presumably with a straight face, that it wasn’t the 23 years worth of tax returns which cooled McCain to selecting Romney as his VP running mate, it was that Sarah Palin was the better candidate all along.

Back to our pal Burke: ”It is a general popular error to suppose the loudest complainers for the publick to be the most anxious for its welfare.”  I wonder whom Burke would find the loudest complainers of the past three 20 years.

h/t Tom Birkland for the Roberts piece.

Framing Matters

[ 62 ] July 12, 2012 |

This is six weeks old, and might have been previously discussed here, but Forbes reports that the Obama Administration has had the slowest rate of increase in Federal spending since . . . Eisenhower.  This leads to two questions.  First, do conservatives still trust that dirty liberal rag?  Second, how is it that Obama has allowed his tenure to be framed as the precise opposite?

It’s not all bad in the framing department.  According to the NYT today, Republicans are deeply concerned that their candidate is being swift boated, and according to one strategist who worked on GWB’s 2004 campaign, “Team Obama is doing just what we did in 2004, which is to define the opposition furiously and early”.  This gives me a brief flutter of rare optimism.

Framing news is not all bad, unless you’re Nike.  Today Nike decided that the Joe Paterno Child Development Center in Beaverton, Oregon will have its name changed.  No shit.  As reported here (I wonder how long that statue will stand on the Penn State campus?), the web page has not been updated.  (UPDATE: it wasn’t a Nike webpage.  But, they should really do something about the sign on the building).  Where Nike needs to do some quick re-framing is an explanation as to why it took them so long.

Scottish Soccer and the Demise of Rangers

[ 40 ] July 4, 2012 |

When I woke this morning (Pacific time), the first thing I wanted to see was the result of the Scottish Premier League vote on whether or not to transfer the SPL certificate from the liquidated “Rangers Football Club plc” to the new corporate structure “The Rangers Football Club”.  The new entity required yes votes from eight of the 12 SPL members (including the old Rangers Football Club plc).  In the run in to the 4 July vote over the past two weeks, enough clubs had publicly stated that they would be voting no such that the newco’s bid to join / remain in the SPL appeared doomed.

Last night (PDT) both Radio 4 and Radio 5 were reporting noises indicating that several of the declared no votes were getting cold feet, and the vote would be deferred.  As I argued elsewhere, it would be surprising if the other clubs in the league did not re-admit Rangers as the Rangers – Celtic rivalry is the financial engine of Scottish soccer.  Lose Rangers, both the Sky and ESPN contracts for the SPL (and the concomitant trickling-down of pennies to the lower three divisions of the Scottish professional game) come into question.

Rangers ultimately failed: “At today’s General Meeting, SPL clubs today voted overwhelmingly to reject the application from Rangers newco to join the SPL.”  10 no votes, Kilmarnock abstained, and (old) Rangers voted yes.  I’m surprised that Celtic voted no instead of abstaining, but there was no possible response from Celtic that wouldn’t open them to criticism from some quarter.  Now Rangers have to apply for the Scottish Football League, comprising tiers two through four.  They obviously want to qualify for the First Division.  They would only require a majority, but at present 11 of the 30 clubs want them in the bottom tier.

This is all a bit bizarre to me.  When Rover or Woolworths were liquidated, they were gone.  Rangers ltd owe somewhere between £75 million and £130 million to various and sundry creditors, including Inland Revenue, but the newco was able to buy its most valuable assets, Ibrox, their training ground Murray Park, and the name, for £5.5 million (but not the players, who have lined up at Glasgow Airport destined for anywhere else) and theoretically continue on as if nothing had happened.

For a soccer club to go bust and vanish completely is not entirely rare.  Gretna FC died in 2008 after one disastrous year in the SPL (and here is a list of defunct Scottish clubs).  But this is obviously different.  It would be more analogous if Ajax, Porto, or Anderlecht were liquidated out of their respective leagues rather than the non-existent financial and competitive loss incurred by the absence of Newport County FC in 1989, or the Tampa Bay Mutiny.

Speaking as a Celtic supporter, it’s going to be a less interesting year (or three) in the domestic league, and the inevitable league championships that Celtic collect can’t possibly have the same meaning.

The Labour Party behaving like . . . The Labour Party?

[ 30 ] July 2, 2012 |

The Labour Party in the UK is flirting with re-nationalising British Rail.  Fares are due to increase an average of 6% this year, and Britain already has the most expensive train system in Europe:

Making it clear that Labour agreed with many ideas in the report, which was funded by the main rail unions, Eagle said: “Under the current system we have unaccountable train companies given a licence to print money to operate a monopoly service at high cost to passengers in an industry that still relies on £4bn from taxpayers every year.

“Increasingly franchises are run by subsidiaries of the German, French and Dutch state railways with profits helping deliver ticket prices in those countries that are a third of ours. Labour’s policy review is therefore looking at all options to make our railways work better for passengers with nothing ruled out, including whether the not-for-dividend model that works for rail infrastructure should be extended to rail services.”

In my experience, in addition to being the most expensive, it’s also hilariously inefficient and unreliable.  When I lived in Holland for three years, I used Nederlandse Spoorwegen extensively (as one would living in Amsterdam and later Rotterdam while working in Enschede), and it was cheap (especially with the Vordeelkaart, which for 50 Euros per year gave me a 40% discount off peak) and reliable.  Likewise, given my past life in the beer community, I frequently took the train in Belgium, France, and held a Bahncard for the Deutsche Bahn for three years.  While more expensive than the Dutch card, the Bahncard’s 50% reduction paid for itself with a single return from Amsterdam to Munich.  Bonus, as munich has the odd decent beer.

Such consumer-friendly accoutrements are thin on the ground in the UK.  I’m not sure that this is due to privatization per se, but if Margaret Thatcher considered privatising British Rail “a bridge too far”, perhaps sending the rail network to Arnhem wasn’t the best idea.  While it would have been complicated, and counter to his “third way” rebranding of the Labour Party, Tony Blair could have reversed this in 1997, but he did quite the opposite.

Politically, this is a winner, especially if framed as above (the Germans, Dutch, and French state systems own chunks of ours, and hey look, their fares are 1/3 of ours).  I’d drop references to the “non dividend model” and comparisons with Network Rail (which is a loser), and state it simply: we’re going to nationalise the rail network and bring it under public accountability.  With parties struggling to differentiate themselves (outside of France or Greece), this makes a clear distinction for Labour.

The rail network does not operate as a market.  Each route is run as a monopoly.  I do have choice out of Plymouth, between two services, as far as Exeter (and, on rare occasion, Bristol).  If I want to go to London, there’s one choice.  If I want to go to the northwest, there’s one choice.  It’s not a free market, unless I want to rent a car or take the bus, so stop with the charade.

Determinants of State Level Support for the ACA

[ 10 ] July 1, 2012 |

Now that the constitutional questions regarding the ACA have been surprisingly determined, attention is shifting to the political implications that this has for November.  I’ve built a little (emphasis on little) dataset to casually explore this issue.  In the near future I hope to both examine this on a case-by-case basis as well as add a few additional variables that have come to mind, data availability permitting.

The two key variables in the dataset are state level support for the ACA and the percentage uninsured in the state.  My source for the former is from a paper written by Richard Gonzales, a doctoral candidate at Harvard’s Department of Health Care Policy, which was discussed here at The Incidental Economist.  Gonzales estimates state level support from national Gallup data over a six month period (September 2009 to March 2010).  As this is an estimate, it does introduce an additional layer of uncertainty into the model, but it’s the best data I could find.  The point estimates and error bands appear sound in terms of face validity; the highest levels of support are found in New York, Hawaii, and Vermont, with the lowest in Oklahoma and Wyoming.  The public opinion data are old, but Monkey Cage suggests (and we all pretty much agree on) public opinion on the ACA has been relatively stable.  Percentage uninsured by state level is courtesy of Gallup, which are available here.

The first pass at the data is to run a simple bivariate correlation.  Gallup give us uninsured rates for 2008, 09, and 10; for simplicity I take the average of the three.  The mean is 16.2%, the range 4.6% to 26.6%.  The (state level, N=50) mean of support for the ACA is 48%, range 32% to 63%.  Support for the ACA and percentage uninsured are correlated at -.50.  Meaning, as uninsured goes up by state, support for the ACA declines.  The regression estimate is -0.93 (essentially for every one point increase in uninsured, there is a one point decrease in support).

 

This is obviously counter intuitive, and not the full story.  Hence, I’ve added the change in uninsured from 2008 to 2010 (percentage point change, thanks to commenter Fake Irishman for the observation), the PVI of the state (Cook Partisan Voting Index, a measure of how partisan a jurisdiction is and in which direction), and the percentage of the vote received by Obama in the 2008 election.  Shockingly, the latter two enjoy a very close relationship (correlated at .98) as the PVI is in part calculated from the 2008 election results, so in running the multivariate regression models, I ran one with PVI and one with percentage vote for Obama.  Models were estimated with both the average uninsured from 2008-10 as well as each specific year’s data, and it makes no difference.  The first model below includes PVI, the second the percentage vote for Obama in 2008.

The dependent variable is the percentage by state in support of the ACA.  PVI ranges from -20 to +13 with a mean of -2.5 (I’ve normed Republican PVIs as negative not because, well, I’m not a Republican, but rather it’s more intuitive: I’m assuming Republican states are going to be less supportive of the ACA than Democratic states.  It’s sharp insights like this that a Ph.D. in political science equips me to make).  Chg is the percentage point change in uninsured from 2008-10, mean 1.9%, range -2.3% to +4.9%.

Here we can see the original bivariate results have been flipped.  First, you’ll note only one of the three variables is significant.  I make an argument I’ve made countless times before: it doesn’t matter.  I’m dealing with the universe of data in these models, so slavishly bowing to the cult of significance is not relevant, but for those who care the standard errors and t-tests are included.  Percentage of uninsured, and the percent change in uninsured both have positive relationships with support for the ACA.  Put another way, as the percentage of uninsured increases, so too does support for the ACA.  Likewise, as the percentage of people uninsured grows, so does support for the ACA . . . while controlling for the partisanship of the state in question.  The partisan inclination of the state is the single strongest predictor in this model, which is informative.

This model replaces PVI with state level vote for Obama in 2008 (mean 50.52%, range 32.54% to 71.85%).  This model is consistent with the PVI model, so doesn’t require additional discussion.

These are not groundbreaking findings.  With the usual caveats about the ecological fallacy, support for the ACA is mediated through a pre-existing political prism: Democrats are more likely to support it, and Republicans less likely.  The lesson for the Obama administration should be, post Supreme Court ruling, seize the initiative to frame the issue among independents, but simultaneously focus on the base.  Because of the aforementioned case, the administration has been unable to frame the issue, and while running out of time, now is the time.  The second lesson I take away from this is that, as much as Dave Noon and I mocked the ignorant on facebook using this little quiz, outside of independents who think health care is a salient issue (I’m betting that this is a small percentage), the facts of the issue are not going to sway a significant percentage of the electorate.

As we know about the Republicans, this isn’t about the facts or about good public policy.  It’s politics, about winning and losing.  This is how we have the hilarious situation of Mitt Romney running against what is, essentially, his own policy.  Not ironically, Massachusetts anchors the low end of the range on percentage uninsured at 4.6%.  That’s a talking point worth exploiting.

I do want to add a few more variables to this little dataset as well as look closer at the states in question, especially swing states.  But right now,there’s the small matter of Spain v Italy to attend to.

And In Other News . . .

[ 25 ] June 29, 2012 |

The Europeans are still playing a tournament concerning the soccer.  I managed to watch all of Portugal v Spain Wednesday night, while packing.  That it went to penalties was inconvenient as my bus to Heathrow was departing Plymouth at midnight.  I watched chunks of Italy v Germany during my six hour layover at EWR, where I was surprised to see Balotelli’s finishing prowess the exact opposite of what it was against England.

Sunday, I’ll be able to give the final my undivided attention.  I still suspect it will be Spain who prevail, but Spain have demonstrated some frailties during this tournament, whereas Italy have merely been inconsistent.  I think that their victory yesterday owes more to Germany’s failures rather than Italy’s successes.  Further, allowing England to stay in the match for 120 minutes on Sunday should be scandalous to any top tier international side.

In the words of my friend Niall Ó Murchú, this piece this piece (link corrected) in the Guardian about the tactical questions facing the Spanish is “nerdy but brilliant”, and an excellent read.  Even a non-soccer fan watching Italy would spot the influence of Andrea Pirlo, and the need to close him down.  Xavi can do that, but as the article suggests, this comes with a risk.  The greater risk, of course, is giving Pirlo freedom of the pitch, as England did; it was only Italy’s (especially Balotelli’s) horrendous finishing that prevented Italy from crushing England 3-0.

Euro 2012, Entering the Final Round of Group Matches

[ 13 ] June 16, 2012 |

UPDATE: Oops, and oops.  I quite clearly suck.

Again, the convenient overview can be found here.  I’ve been able to watch a lot more of the second round of matches than I had the first, and that has allowed me to mentally adjust, ever so slightly, my original expectations, which is a subtle way to say “what the hell was I thinking?” once or twice.  The tie-breaking criteria, simplified, are: 1. head-to-head, 2. goal differential overall, 3. goals scored.  It gets a bit complicated if three teams are tied on points, which could theoretically happen in three of the four groups (A, B, C).  (Note: I’ve seen it also explained as simple goal differential as the first criterion, so I could be wrong).

The final matches in Group A are tonight (BST).  The table, first number current position, second my prediction, third goal difference, fourth, obviously, points.

1 (1) Russia  (+3) 4

2 (2) Czech (-2) 3

3 (4) Poland (0) 2

4 (3) Greece (-1) 1

Anybody from the group of life could still theoretically advance to the quarter finals.  I can’t see Russia don’t less than collecting all three points against the Greeks, while the Czech Republic v Poland match could be a bit of a wild card given Poland’s effective home field advantage.  I predict at least a draw, so the table should finish as it stands.

Group B

1 (2) Germany (+2) 6

2 (3) Portugal (0) 3

3 (4) Denmark (0) 3

4 (1) Netherlands (-2) 0

Relatively under-rating Germany was my biggest sin for this tournament.  They are an exciting, young side.  I thought that two summers ago, especially given their demolition of England 4-1 with relative ease.  I was seduced more by the Dutch than I was dismissive of the Germans, but after watching the two play the other day, I was ever so slightly wrong.  Germany wants to win the group, so I see them easily beating Denmark.  The Dutch could still theoretically qualify in second; under head-to-head it’s a simple victory over Portugal.  Under goal differential, it’s winning by two clear goals.  While the Dutch are an older side, and should be starting van der Vaart ahead of the 35 year-old van Bommel (and knowing they need a victory, I bet they do tomorrow), and are, as usual, sniping, whining, and Arjen Robben is as selfish as ever, I think they pull out a win over Portugal.

Group C

1 (1) Spain (+4) 4

2 (3) Croatia (+2) 4

3 (2) Italy (0) 2

4 (4) Ireland (-6) 0

Monday has Croatia v Spain, Italy v Ireland.  Spain and Italy win, and my honor is preserved for the second group.  When Spain are on, they’re the most interesting, fluid, and entertaining side to watch.  They couldn’t be anything but on against a limited Irish side.  It was a depressingly lovely match.  The draw against Italy was not because of Catenaccio, but a rather defensively minded 3-5-2.  Croatia are better than I thought, but their four points flatter.  Spain over Croatia, and it goes without saying that even if Italy only score one goal against Ireland, it should be enough.  Spain and Italy through.

Group D

1 (2) France (2) 4

2 (1) England (1) 4

3 (4) Ukraine (-1) 3

4 (3) Sweden (-2) 0

England v Ukraine will be an interesting match on Tuesday.  The English are excited because they only need one point to qualify!  Oh, how the mighty have fallen.  I’ve lived hear nearly nine years, and in the past, especially WC 2002, Euro 2004, WC 2006, the media and fan base always naturally assumed that they would win any major tournament that they entered.  I found it smug and annoying (and inconsistent with the empirical reality that they are, especially from a technical perspective, a second tier side).  Then came the failure to qualify at all for Euro 2008, and the debacle of the 2010 WC (not to mention finishing second to the USA in the group).  What was rarely mentioned, but when mentioned correctly so, in the fall out from last night’s match against Sweden is that if they merely finish second in the group, their quarter final match is likely against Spain.  Tournament over, come home.

Hodgson, regardless of the criticism he’s already receiving after only one competitive match in charge (this is England, after all), is doing a solid job with what he has: one of the least gifted England sides in a generation or two.  England will not play like Spain, Germany, or even Holland in a long, long time.  He’s tactically nimble, a trait not possessed by his three predessors: shifting from his formation used against France to putting Andy Johnson Carroll (yes, I knew that, but I had both my daughter and step daughter nagging me whilst writing this) up front against Sweden obviously paid off (even if that sort of Soccer is precisely what England have been doing for decades: big target man, superb Gerrard cross to the head of said big target man, goal).  When, as usual, England let the opposition back into the match, Hodgson took off the ineffective Milner for Theo Walcott (my man of the match; until Walcott’s arrival it was Ibrahimović), which changed the attack.  (I also question Ashley Young’s contributions, but I’m in the minority here).  I’d bet that Hodgson knows that the chance to top the group is vital, so will go for all three points.  He’ll start Walcott, and of course a well rested Rooney is back.  I predict an England victory over Ukraine, even against the effective home field advantage. England will concede a goal, don’t worry about that, but they score 2. In the other match, I suspect a France victory as well, so it will come down to goal differential to see who wins this group.

 

Political Pretzeling

[ 28 ] June 15, 2012 |

Montana Cowgirl at Daily Kos narrates the political dismemberment of state legislator and quintessential tea bagger Bob Wagner by Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer, Genius.  In a nutshell:

So Wagner ended up in the headlines, first proudly decrying government spending, then being revealed as having denied his district important funds, and finally suing the Governor to try to get more government spending for his district.

If only all self described members of the tea party were as politically adroit as the (soon to be) former legislator from Madison County, Montana.

h/t John Emerson

Henry Hill, 1943-2012

[ 20 ] June 14, 2012 |

Enigmatic?  No:

He yearned, he sometimes said, to be other than what he was. “I wish I could be more like normal people — like these people here,” he told The Yakima Herald-Republic of Washington in 2003, indicating passers-by in Leavenworth, Wash., his hometown of the moment. “I don’t know how.”

Which perhaps explains why he was excellent material for an excellent film.  And the punchline:

But Mr. Hill did manage to find time for ordinary pleasures. As he often said, he never missed an episode of “The Sopranos.”

 

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