Archive for December, 2010

The Barclays Premier League (BPL) has always been a league of conventionality. A league that has always been dominated by the traditional ‘Top 4’ with the decent mid-table teams knowing their place and bottom relegation teams left to scrap for survival against relegation.

But this season is different. Believe it or not, Tottenham is actually playing Champions league football and teams such as Sunderland are eyeing Europa League placement and the BPL has been so tight with teams you wouldn’t expect to see in positions at the table. No longer are managers of ‘smaller’ teams setting lower standards for themselves but are willing to compete with the best, given Sunderland’s 3-o spanking of big boys Chelsea. Arsene Wenger believes the competition has been open as ever.

“I don’t agree with people who say that the overall quality of the league is lower this season,” Wenger told the Official Matchday Programme. “In fact you can say exactly the reverse.

“Two quality teams – Aston Villa and Liverpool – met and both sides were in the bottom half. So that opinion is not really proven by concrete facts.”

Why have teams like Manchester United, Arsenal, Liverpool and Chelsea managed to set their reputation in stone and establish an amazing stronghold in the most popular soccer league in the world? It’s all down to complete consistency and quality of work ethic.

Manchester United have never finished lower than third in the table since the formation of Barclays Premier League (BPL) and overtook Liverpool to with record win of 18 cup trophies under the leadership of Sir Alex Ferguson, a manager who has achieved astonishing milestones with the club. He is a pure symbolism of victory and great achievements. To imagine his name without the club is as impossible to breathe without air. The same goes for Arsenal in North London a team who are the English epitome of quality football and style. A wonderful team I have had the total joy of being a fan ever since manager Arsene Wenger took over in 1997. Under his guidance Wenger has been the most succesful manager for Arsenal winning four FA cups, a league double in the 1997/98 season and the first team to go 49 games undeafeated to win the Premier League in 2003/2004. Liverpool have always been great contenders in BPL but despite the fact they have never won a domestic league title since its inception, They’re still a great championship team and have won many titles including the prestigious UEFA Champions League in 2005. Chelsea who have had legends such as George Weah and Gianfranco Zola, never won anything until the $300 million dollar takeover by Roman Abramovic. His buying of the club led to acquirement of bad boy Coach Jose Mourinho and epic signings such as Didier Drogba, Michael Essien and Flourent Malouda. This devastating combination of star power became the new Real Madrid that won back to back Premiership titles in 2005 and 2006. Unfortunately, after a taste of what it means to Champions, this has also led to big-headedness of long-suffering Chelsea fans and a parasitic swarm of glory-hunters.

But apart from historic lesson aside, the main issue here is Arsenal, as always. Whenever you get into an argument about football and  which team is the best with your friends, all they have to do is take jibes at Arsenal for having a young and inexperienced side and not winning anything since 2005.

“Arsene Wenger is a pedophile and is ridiculous if he expects to win anything with children,”

“You guys haven’t won anything since 2005,”

“When was the last time you guys won anything?”

“They play great football but that’s all they do,”

“If you believe these small boys can win anything, you’ll believe anything”

Even professionals such as Real Madrid Coach Jose Mourinho and Manchester United left-back Patrice Evra have stooped to similar and disrespectful comments in the media.

Jose Mourinho flatly called Wenger a “loser” after Wenger made comments about Mourinho’s cheating antics in a Champions league match.

“We could lose to them but then what? There is nothing (for them), there will be no trophy, nothing,” said Evra.

“Arsenal is a training centre,” Evra told French television station Canal Plus. “I watch them play and enjoy it but will they win the title? That’s what people remember,” Evra said.

But as much as I hate to admit it, these cheap shots are painfully true. Arsenal have not won anything since 2005 and we lack some certain experience especially at defence. There’ve been too many games that we didn’t kill off and we are a very young squad with an average age of 23.5.

That doesn’t mean there’s no talent. Players such as Song, Theo Walcott, Jack Wilshere and Samir Nasri are stepping up to the plate and are having a great season. Despite all the media’s criticism and smack talk, Arsenal currently sit first on the table with 32 points, one point ahead of Manchester United.

And This coming Monday on Dec. 13, 2010 is the opportunity Arsenal have to make the biggest statement that they can indeed compete for the Premier League title this season with the “big boys”

And to all the jibes and mockery my only response is in Arsene we trust.

Photo taken from Politico

Since former president George W. Bush passed tax cuts for the wealthy in 2001, Barack Obama vocally made it his sole mission to reverse the tax policy during his campaign and career as president since 2008.

Unexpectedly, the long battle over the financial policy has led Obama to strike a deal with the GOP that would let the Republicans extend their precious tax cuts for two more years in exchange for a 13-month extension of unemployment insurance benefits.

According to Ezra Klein from the Washington Post, Obama and the GOP came to an agreement that the GOP would get around $95 billion in tax cuts for wealthy Americans and $30 billion in estate tax cuts. Democrats got $120 billion in payroll-tax cuts, $40 billion in refundable tax credits (Earned Income Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit and education tax credits), $56 billion in unemployment insurance, and, depending on how you count it, about $180 billion (two-year cost) or $30 billion (10-year cost) in new tax incentives for businesses to invest.

Unfortunately, House Democrats have nothing but utter disdain and fury over the compromise and put out a flurry of complaints, saying Obama gave in too quickly to the GOP.

“I still don’t think it’s in the best interest of our country, I really don’t,” said Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa). “I just don’t think we fought hard enough. I disagree with the president. He had a press conference and called it a political fight. It’s not a political fight, it’s a fight about what our country is about.”

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) vowed on Tuesday night to filibuster what he called a “very bad agreement,” while Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) said: “I think a ransom was paid and it was a very high price,” according to a report from The Hill newspaper,

Meanwhile, Obama stood firm and hit back at his own party for wallowing in politics in a Tuesday press conference on  Dec. 7, 2010. Claiming the deal was all for the sake of the American people.

“My number one priority is to do what’s right for the American people, for jobs, and for economic growth. I’m focused on making sure that tens of millions of hardworking Americans are not seeing their paychecks shrink on January 1st just because the folks here in Washington are busy trying to score political points,” Obama said and also continued to stress the importance behind his decision.

“I’ll cite three of them. Number one, if you are a parent trying to raise your child or pay college tuition, you will continue to see tax breaks next year. Second, if you’re a small business looking to invest and grow, you’ll have a tax cut next year. Third, as a result of this agreement, we will cut payroll taxes in 2011, which will add about $1,000 to the take-home pay of a typical family,” Obama said. “So this isn’t an abstract debate. This is real money for real people that will make a real difference in the lives of the folks who sent us here. It will make a real difference in the pace of job creation and economic growth. In other words, it’s a good deal for the American people,”

I believe the President was very genuine with the reasons he gave for compromising with the GOP. Even 67 percent of Americans get why Obama did what he had to according to the Politico polls.

After a ridiculous amount of overspending on the war in Iraq and Afghanistan for over seven years, George W. Bush left the American economy in major financial crisis, leaving a heap of shit for Obama to clean up. The tax cuts have only been Bush’s retribution and have been welcome in the American economy given the devastation of the recession and unemployment. However, not everyone deserves these tax cuts especially these dishonest wealthy corporate businessmen who already cheat on their taxes. Middle income families that are struggling to get by- do.

I understand the frustration of the Democratic party with the extension of the tax cuts because  they were supposed to expire at the end of nine years. However, Obama is not to blame. The GOP went back on their word and made this their number one agenda. The Republicans opposed every measure Obama took to end the tax cuts so he did what could. I understand he campaigned to end the tax cuts for the rich since 2008 but he has until 2012 to deliver on his promise. Until then, Democrats should understand the compromise is better than nothing.

It’s that time of year again — deciding where to hold the holiday party. If you’re looking for fun, affordable places, here are a few of the highly recommended places in D.C. for a holiday gathering.

Starting at the heart of Capitol Hill is Lounge 201, which sits on Massachusetts Avenue, only a block away from Union Station. The restaurant is hip and modern, and its event rooms are perfect for chatting the entire evening with your co-workers.

Lounge 201 specializes in hosting private events or business networking occasions for the holidays. Patrons can also select specific drink and food specials to complement their event. The Lounge is already booked with several parties, beginning the week of Dec. 6th.

201 features three private rooms that are used for different purposes and come with their own unique atmosphere. The Executive Lounge is the perfect place to hold an event from a 30-person birthday to a large corporate event with 300 guests. The Sierra Lounge is an exclusive and secluded VIP room to sit and relax with your friends, while the front bar is a great place to have an informal happy hour.

“We have hosted numerous events at Lounge 201 and it has always been a positive and smooth process,” said Karen Channon, from business group Success Motivation International. “Matt, Angie and the staff do an outstanding job making each event unique.”

Another spot to check out is George, a premier venue for holiday parties and special events in the heart of Georgetown. Inside, this bar appropriately takes its inspirations from the Revolutionary War days, styled with polished brass bars, leather seating and historical photographs that add an air of sophistication to the room.

Note — George is a classy drinking spot that is seamlessly hidden in the courtyard behind Cafe Milano, so keep an eye out, because people tend to miss it.

319 Pennsylvania Ave. SE is the home of Top of the Hill, the upper-level bar of the Pour House. It remains a traditional lounge and venue for private parties and a great place for fabulous martinis, which come in many varieties. If that’s not your thing, they also provide a selection of wines and imported beers to choose from.