Washington Babylon — June 24, 2010, 10:06 am

Letters on Arizona, Soccer

Email from Cheryl Cage, Democratic candidate for the Arizona State Senate, running against Al Melvin, in Legislative District 26, near Tucson:

Your piece in the July Harper’s was, unfortunately, spot-on.

There is another story to tell about Arizona. There are SO many of us working to take Arizona’s reins out of the hands of these ideologues.

LD-26, where I am running and that is currently ‘represented’ by Melvin, is one of the most targeted races in Arizona. I was recruited to run against Mr. Melvin very late in the 2008 election. I had only about five months to get my campaign up and going. Sadly, I lost by 2% (about 1900 votes…even tho he had a 10,000 vote advantage, McCain at the top of the ticket and the marriage amendment on the ballot).

2010 is a situation where failure is not an option. As I said, many of us are working diligently to put our legislature in the hands of more moderate people…be they Democrats, Republicans or independents.

Thank you for drawing attention to the sad state of affairs that progressives (of all parties) are facing here in Arizona. Hopefully, this November we will begin to pull ourselves back from the abyss.


Thank you.

Too many emails received complaining about my World Cup items, some not fit to publish in a family publication. (I did like one that had a subject line that said simply, “BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO.”) Excerpts from a few letters below.

From Craig Morris:

Over at Harper’s, Ken Silverstein seems to be having a frustrating life. Rather than writing informative articles like his colleague Scott Horton, he merely posts asinine personal attacks that fail to rise above the level of the people he criticizes.

Perhaps he is having a good time with his completely unfounded attacks on the U.S. soccer team, and on Landon Donovan specifically, but I can assure him that, if he could read foreign languages like his colleague Scott Horton, he would realize that everyone who saw the video knows that two goals have now been taken from the U.S. in three games by bad referee calls—or, as Die Zeit recently put it:

Die US-Amerikaner trauerten vor dem Spiel dem aus unerfindlichen Gründen nicht gegebenen Siegtreffer gegen Slowenien nach.

Ken, you should ask Scott what that means. He’ll probably tell you that it means that everyone who views the matter objectively would agree that the US did not just squeak by in winning its group, but actually won the group by quite a large margin.


I read Portuguese, Spanish, and can even make out a bit of French.

The goals were bad calls. unfortunately, bad calls are part of soccer and every other sport. Bad calls are rarely the difference between defeat and victory. There have been a ton of other bad calls in this cup, only the bad call against the U.S. vs Slovenia (preceded by a terrible call against Slovenia) generated the outrage typically associated with the discovery of war crimes and mass graves.

I acknowledged that the initial piece on Donovan was unfair, but that said I still find it wrong that he tells the media afterward that the game was “stolen” by the ref. My son plays Little League, I have to tell him all the time that his first reaction after a game should not be to blame the umps.

Here’s an article in today’s Washington Post, written for the “Kids Post” section. You should read it, explains the matter quite clearly.

The U.S. won the group by “quite a large margin”????? It came within two minutes of being eliminated and ended up with five points, the same as England (in what turned out to be one of the weakest groups of the Cup). The U.S. and England had the same goal differential, but the U.S. won the tiebreaker because it scored more goals. Please explain how this is winning the group by a comfortable margin.

From Peter Beattie:

Hey Ken, I enjoy your writing on politics and soccer – although I do find myself pulling for Team Vanilla, mostly because of their underdog status and inability to play very well.

But the gratuitous slight against South Korea… erm, yeah, I’m going to have to go ahead and disagree with you there. The ROK certainly lack the flair of teams like Argentina or Brazil, but at least they aren’t boring, primadonna fucks like Italy. They play hard, indefatigably, and their fans are the closest thing fans can be to a 12th player on the pitch. And in 2002, they certainly got their share of bad calls (particularly against Spain), but here’s what you are missing: in the game’s rules, it is a card-imposing offense to fake contact with another player so as to draw a foul call. The ROK is singularly inept at this cheater’s art of diving, while European teams like Italy and Spain can come close to Oscar-worthy performances. However, such teams engage in so much diving because they know it will give them an unfair advantage, as referees have never caught even a tenth of that which instant replays unequivocally reveal to be dives.


I agree with 90 percent here, especially the Italians being “primadonna fucks.” Yeah, bad calls are part of game—hence, the huge uproar about the bad calls in the U.S.-Slovenia game struck me as over the top—but South Korea got a ton of them in 2002. Too many tolerate.

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More from Ken Silverstein:

From the November 2013 issue

Dirty South

The foul legacy of Louisiana oil

Perspective October 23, 2013, 8:00 am

On Brining and Dining

How pro-oil Louisiana politicians have shaped American environmental policy

Postcard October 16, 2013, 8:00 am

The Most Cajun Place on Earth

A trip to one of the properties at issue in Louisiana’s oil-pollution lawsuits 

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