Two issues here-- first, you can't really date this simply to the economic downturn (post 2008), given that much of what Charles is citing predates that, often considerably. It's not just the idle hands of unemployed construction workers. Second, related, we're talking about populations that are 80% unemployed, often long-term (10-15 years). Does class play a role? Absolutely. At the same time, it's hard to ignore cultural factors, such as the role played by language acquisition (or lack thereof).
For many fans of soccer, though, the fact the clock keeps running is one of the biggest attractions. You'll never see a 4 hour game of soccer, like you occasionally do in baseball; nor do you have the agony of watching the final 2 minutes of a soccer game turn into 30 minutes, as with basketball or football. (Perhaps for some people this is a part of the attraction). I'm not bashing the other sports, mind you-- I'm a big baseball fan and like basketball as well, as well-- but I think it's truly a case of 'to each his own.'
I think you should also qualify a few of your other comments. First, that soccer is not a TV friendly format should be specified to refer only to the domestic context, given that it pulls in top ratings anywhere else on the globe. (And one should point out that this World Cup has generated quite favorable ratings on both English and Spanish networks in this country, and coverage of Major League Soccer has only improved).
Second, success really needs to be defined. I disagree with your basic premise that "soccer is not a domestic success." Is this because it's not as popular as American Football? If that's the barometer, then there aren't many successful sports in the US. I think we'd both disagree with that. I'd argue that soccer is a massive, and increasing success domestically-- we have a domestic league that plays at a reasonable level and have succeeded in generating a very respectable fan culture (and one that only keeps increasing). Teams in Seattle (30k+ fans per game), Toronto (part of the league, so I mention it), and Philly sell out pretty much all of their games; LA, DC, Chicago, and others historically draw quite well. (Average attendance is 16,400 this year-- which compares quite favorably to NHL and NBA) See: http://www.mls-daily.com/2010/03/2010-mls-attendance.html . There are teams that don't draw as well-- a couple of which are playing in temporary digs while they construct new stadia (ie. KC, SJ)-- but we don't write off American baseball because of the Devil Rays and Nats, do we?
We also shouldn't forget that we're also talking about a sport that millions play (I think it's the largest youth sport in the US); and where millions more are fans of foreign leagues (when Mexican or English and Spanish teams play in the US you regularly see crowds of 40-60k).
I tend to like your posts; I think this one doesn't fit the empirical record (or that you need to be a bit more clear about your categories). You might not like football-- and clearly you're not alone on this blog, and really, who cares?-- but there are millions and millions of Americans who actually do live and breath soccer.
This caveman us vs. them mentality is seriously offensive. Who is this "them," anyway? Who are "these people"? In your view, is non-Westerner a terrorist? Yours is a perfect policy prescription for pushing thousands more to extremism. Treat someone like a criminal, eventually they're going to act the part. So, let's accept that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is a terrorist. Fine. But what about the thousands of other people detained indefinitely across the globe? Some of them might be "terrorists," but undoubtedly there are innocents among their number. Power is about more than the overt show of force. It's also about moral leadership and setting up a system that ensures that order can be maintained without using that force-- in short, it's about hegemony (getting others to buy into a structured system). What's going to make the greater case for American power? That we imprison on suspicion and detain without trial? Or that we're so strong, so right in our mission that we provide even the most hardened criminal a fair trial? I'd say the latter, and there's some evidence of it-- I heard reports (on NPR, for instance) that the father of the would-be Detroit bomber reported his son because with the Obama administration, he didn't have to worry about his son being tortured.
Seriously, who wins when basic human dignity goes out the window in the name of security? It's sure not us or American values. Terrorism is only as effective as we let it be. In your case, it appears that the terrorists have won.
Great post and some much needed context. I've been overwhelmed by the negativity lately on the blogosphere. I'm doing my best to withold judgment until we see what actually emerges from Congress and lands on the President's desk.
The arguments for BRT make a lot of sense... and yet, I'm awfully happy it's LRT that's going to be running down the Central Corridor in the Twin Cities and not an expanded bus system. I doubt we'd have bought a home by the future rail line were it buses that were going in. Silly? Maybe... but there's a certain caché with fixed rail transit (and perhaps a certain type of development it encourages-- that I don't know).
Actually, one could argue the opposite. In previous elections, Virginia had a strong, vibrant, organized blogging community that did a considerable amount to propel Tim Kaine, Webb, and local candidates to office. After Raising Kaine closed up shop this past year, that was no longer the case; in fact, the state 'blogosphere' was largely disorganized and divided divided among itself during the primaries and thereafter (take Not Larry Sabato as a particularly troubling example).
Thanks for the links. I appreciated Lowell's take (the first link). As for the second link, after reading, and finally weaning myself off of, Tribbett's blog (NLS) for the past several years, I just can't take him seriously anymore. His analysis is always excellent, but that's only 5% of what he does. The other 95% consists of trying to recapture the glory of breaking the "macaca" moment and saving Democrats he doesn't like. Given how good he is at the latter, I sometimes wonder whether his site is the first spot most opposition researchers visit.
Just curious, but why are you outraged? To me, this one made sense. Just speaking from personal experience, my partner and I bought our first home less than a year ago-- a foreclosure in pretty rough shape-- in part thanks to the tax credit. (We fell under the 2008 iteration, which was less a tax credit than an interest free loan). Since then, we've pumped thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours into the house-- it's been a true pleasure. I have several friends who have done the same. The tax credit is a very big incentive, and it's enough to convince people (like me) who have been cautious spenders for a long time (and still are) to wade into the housing market. Frankly, I think the economy would be in far worse shape right now without the homebuyer tax credit and all of the resultant spending that derives from that.