Monthly Archives: October 2005

Alito?

Intrade: Alito at 46.0. The next closest is Luttig at 19.9, then Brown and Williams are in a tie for distant third. Intrade has a very impressive record of predicting these things, but it did not have Roberts. The market had Clement, due to the Bushies’ deliberate leaks.

Update: a late night surge for Luttig. +15

Reading The Indictment…

Reading the indictment, it’s clear to me, at least, what Libby’s purpose was in making such stupid lies. Delay.

Ignoring the issue for just a moment as to whether he actually committed the underlying crime, there’s no reason to increase your jeopardy and get hit with charges like this. All you have to do is keep your story straight. Especially since some of those who were on the other side of the story were outside the administration and therefore unlikely to lie to protect him, there’s not much reason to do it… except, to stall. Just imagine folks, if this had come out a year ago. Then things might have really been different.

Circumstantial facts make it clear that he knew Plame was covert, but that charge isn’t in there. Poor Scooter. You think they’re going to stick by you?

NHL Coach Deathwatch

(1) Ed Olcyzk – Seems to have Mario’s support, but this team has too much talent not to win some games.
(2) Craig MacTavish – I don’t think the Oilers are underperforming, personally. But people around the NHL who overhyped them sure did.
(3) Randy Carlisle – I can’t figure out what the 05-06 Ducks have in common with so many of their teams in the past–Selanne and Salei?–but they just seem to have a loser spirit. It took a strong-willed coach like Mike Babcock to fix that, and now he’s gone.
(4) Mike Kitchen – I had to look this guy up, because I forgot who was coaching there. The Blues shouldn’t be that bad.
(5) Trent Yawney – Another case of expectations being higher than maybe they should have, but this team was supposed to be, well, like the White Sox.

Bonus pick – Wayne Gretzky – Maybe he’s a great coach, I don’t know. But his players have been reported to be intimidated to play for him, and he’s not getting the job done. Of course, because Wayne walks on water to 90% of the league, he’ll have to choose to quit himself.

Ditto: Torpedo Miers.

There is a compelling reason in my mind why the Miers nomination should be allowed to die a tortured death (these people don’t believe in euthanasia, after all). The reason is, it is time for America to pick sides. It’s time for the truth of what the two parties stand for to be put in stark relief. Showing the rotting, corrupt carcas of the conservative movement in all its glory has been achieved, but the failure of the conservative movement to cure what ails America is the only thing that might prevent a resurrection of the corpse.

To that end, it’s time for the armageddon over judges. It’s time for complacent Americans with liberal leanings but no inclination to defend those leanings to stand up and to take responsibility for what their toddlerish fear of brown-skinned bogeyman and basic greed has allowed.

Let Bush appoint Janice Rogers Brown. It’s the honest thing to do. First, it’s the kind of judge Bush promised his supporters. Second, it’s a true reflection of the ideology driving the Repbulican base.

It’s time for people to realize that when they circle the bubble next to the (R), they aren’t getting a nice man who will cut their taxes, keep porn away from their kids, and keep minorities in jail a little longer. Even if that’s the soccer-mom friendly face that’s been put up, in practice the result is a stunning array of un-American radical policies. Any vote for even the most moderate of Republicans furthers that party’s ambitions of eliminating access to the courts for individuals, eliminating all pretense of civil liberties in favor of the military estate, pilfering the natural resources and money that belong to our children to live fat on the land and the government today, and forcing a narrow interpretation of evangelical Christianity on a nation of people largely descended from milquetoast protestant denominations, whose abandonment of their churches has left only the radical in the pews.

Bloggers and pundits have played the role of Cassandra for long enough. We told you about Iraq, about social security, about judges, and about the corrupt agents of Bush, but no one listened; there were no cracks in the Republican edifice in 2004. Only now, with no clear heir apparent, have the fissures appeared. Only now, with Bush’s approval ratings in the tank has it become safe for mainstream pundits to talk this way. Only now, when it’s too late.

Torpedo Miers

Democrats have wisely kept their mouths shut and let the Conservatrons solely attacks Miers. Still, most likely, the votes will have to be cast and each Senator will take definitive action on Miers. When that time comes Democrats must defiantly vote “no.”

Some have argued that an incompetent crony like Miers is the best that Democrats could hope for from Generalissimo Bush. The whining from right wing theocrats notwithstanding, however, Miers hardly seems like one who will take a nuanced view on abortion or even an intelligent view on any case in law. When Bush leaves office eventually the records from the Reagan, Bush I and Bush II administrations will be released. Do you really want his hand picked crony to have any part in the law suits that will certainly arise around the release of his records?

Miers personifies the Republican Party: she is a retrograde, a crony and incompetent for the position that she is bieng appointed to. A one hundred percenter Conservatron nominee might reunite the right wing. So what? They were never going to vote for a democrat anyway. Forcing Bush into nomionating such a person, however, would force coded issues like abortion out into the open where majorities disagree with the Conservatron stance. A solid filibuster against the far right nominee of a rapidly sinking lame duck “president” is a fight that Democrats should be more than happy to take on. All they need do is say they demand competency in a Supreme court nominee, Roberts was conservative but able, Miers is a crony and undeserving of the job.

After Brownie handed the competency angle to Democrats they can’t give it back to non-Bush Republicans by supporting Miers.

Is Cheney Going Down? Is Miers?

Intrade has Miers confirmation at only 38%. Slate says 75%. Intrade seems to think she has 50 votes, but nevertheless will not be confirmed. Interesting. I don’t think she will be confirmed, either.

As for Cheney. Intrade says there is a 78% likelihood that Libby will be indicted for that minor, technical violation that led to Clinton’s impeachment. The NYT reported that Libby heard it from Cheney. Now, putting aside the question of whether Libby’s indictment would cause Cheney to resign (I doubt it) and assuming that Congress won’t impeach Cheney (they won’t), under what set of facts will Cheney himself be indicted?

We know that he told Libby, but not why. It seems hard to credit that he just happened to know about Plame. Chances are, he started doing plumber work on Joe Wilson and discovered the fact about his wife, and then began looking for ways to ruin him. The question is whether he reasonable should have known that telling Libby would have led to the disclosure–or, worse–if the intended it to. It’s a key piece of circumstantial evidence that there is no other indication that Libby leaked this kind of information. On the one hand, it means Cheney, everything else being equal, could have relied on his discretion; on the other hand, it means that someone had a plan. The question is whether it was just Libby, or if it went up to Cheney.

Nothing the Bush administration has done even comes close to pissing me off as much as the fact that they are now sending out their minions to argue that perjury is a technical violation. These people impeached a president over lying about sex, and now they want to minimize lying about a national security breach? It’s sickening, and, of course, they will get away with it.

What’s worse is, there will be some jackass Democrat who will decline to participate in the fiesta because he wants to appear consistent with the Clinton defense rhetoric of the 90s. Only attacking seems to work in politics. There are no points for the high road, sadly.

I’m sure 1,000 other people have thought of this, but I haven’t read it elsewhere: having Cheney, who apparently is not running in 2008, step aside, gives the heir apparent a chance to get a head start. (I wanted Clinton to resign to give Gore a chance myself. Would it have given him a few hundred more votes? Who knows. It turned out that he won anyway (; )

But who is that person? I think John McCain is the early favorite, but I doubt he’ll get the nod unless Bush is really desperate. Frist is mired in his own scandal. The other candidates are too far to the right to be taken seriously by the Repbulican machine. Interesting times…

How Bush Got Munsoned By Reid

Some of my friends tell me that I’ve given Harry Reid too much credit.

The fact is, he deserves the credit regardless of whether it was his intent to be so successful. We want him to have played this grandmaster game so badly, because we haven’t had an elected Democrat since Clinton that could do this well. But even if he wasn’t seeing 8 moves ahead, he still deserves credit for the results.

After John Roberts was confirmed, Bush needed another nominee, this time to repalce Sandra Day O’Connor. The betting websites, the douchebag DC inside buzz, and the blogs all began speculating that it would be Alberto Gonzales, or Judith Clement–some conservative heavy.

But you see, the parties had been fighting tooth and nail about judges all year. Engaging in un-Democratlike brinksmanship, Reid dared the Republicans to use the “nuclear option” to get some hack judges on the bench. The ploy worked, the Republicans agreed to an agreement, and the minority Democrats were able to block about half of the nominees.

Flash forward to the second nomination. Roberts went through smoothly, and mostly to praise. In fact, the Bush administration suffered more criticism for not disclosing Roberts’s files than Roberts did. With his approval ratings in the dumps, Bush needed to get his pick through, somehow–and smoothly.

So what did Reid do? He told the President that he “liked” Miers, and would consider her fight-avoiding. He knew that Bush was likely to act on this choice, because Bush loves his cronies. For all Reid knew, Miers was the heart of conservative thought, but he knew that she was unqualified, and that he could make the battle about her qualifications and not abortion.

It worked.

And now, instead of reading shrill screeds on the issue from Paul Krugman, you can read them on National Review and the WSJ’s Opinion Journal. The Right is pissed. They have waited 50 years for their judges, and they voted for this jackass to get them, and now he sold them out.

Call Me When They Pass The Gavel

Tom DeLay indickted. “I love Prison” mug shot and everything. Frist gets a new nickname Bill Boesky Frist. Rumors abound that Sprio Cheney will resign. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

It’s October of 2005. The Democrats (aka the snatch defeat from the jaws of victory crew) have yet to come up with their NationalBrandTM for the next election. Chances are, they won’t. (Though I hear Rahm Emanuel is in charge.)

So, as much as there is enough schadenfreude to drown in right now, none of it means jack. If this is the kind of victory we’ve come to accept, then we’re losers. Winning is everything. If you can’t translate this into some electoral measure, it’s totally meaningless.

If they get Tom DeLay to step down permanently, and replace him with a new lovable guy that you would let pet your puppy, and they replace Frist with someone and Cheney with Condi, and they do it soon, dumb ass Americans will have forgotten all about this by then.

Until they pass the gavel to Speaker Pelosi, and Senator Byrd is presiding pro tem over a senate where Majority Leader Reid is calling votes, who gives a shit?

The History of Post-Goldwaterite America?

Interesting piece in this weekend’s NYT Magazine on the Whig Party and how the present-day Conservative alliance is similar. It’s interesting that the issue of slavery ultimately fractured the whig party. The article is brief and it doesn’t do much more than point out the analogy.

For example, it’s interesting that the Whigs fell apart over slavery, while the New Deal coalition split over civil rights. Indeed, the Constitution almost didn’t happen because of slavery and the failure to tackle that issue at the time led to the Civil War. (Leaving aside the question of whether it could be addressed without undoing Independence…)

But I’m sure you’ve heard the saying that “there’s nothing new under the sun.” (It comes from the Old Testament, actually.) Indeed, finding a precedent can be done for many things. A mercantile class infused with religious ferver is hardly unique to the Whigs, today’s Republicans, or even to America.

What makes it interesting is examining the causal relationships, both those that create the relationship and those that flow from it. In our day, the Conservatives have traded on constant cultural post-traumatic stress syndrome: from the integration of schools, to “women’s lib,” to 9/11 and the threat of terrorism closer to today. Those who cannot stomach the change, or those who stand to lose from it are drawn like a moth to the flame of Conservatism. Those who cling tightly to religious strictures, for whom faith is an inextricable part of their being, are particularly sensitive to quick and radical change, especially when it goes against their received wisdom.

And for those who adhere to the commandments of capitalism, it is very easy to slide into the religion of laissez-faire. You see, analogy is not a strong suit among humans. Those who chafe at the tedium of the bookkeeping mandated by the IRS on a small business do not likewise worry about the plight of those convicted of non-violent drug crimes. Only pure Libertarians connect those dots, and they almost never achieve more than 1% of the vote.

But then how is it that liberals who want to erode the force of the state in the social realm want to use it to acheive social ends through economic means? There is no consistency, really, unless you look to morality.

That is why we are at a loggerheads in today’s politics. There is no deep, fundamental issue like civil rights ready to split apart the coalitions. 9/11 only did so for the flicker of a few months before it was recast within the paradigms already possessed by the public, because, frankly, it did not come home into the daily lives as much as people profess it to have done.

Liberals believe fundamentally in the power of the state to right wrongs of economic opportunity on a sort of Rawlsian theory that there is nothing moral about one’ lot in life. Conservatives, on the other hand, believe fundamentally in the power of the state to right the wrongs brought about by people’s sinful behavior. Thus you find them clamoring for stricter punishments and no rewards for the malingering working class who can’t pull themselves up due to their own sloth.

Here you have such a deep divide in underlying morality, the divide between a micro-deontological, rule based morality, and a macro-consequentialist morality that it will never totally reconcile. The players may be different–whigs or republicans–but the play will be the same.

Governor Richardson Heads to North Korea

According to today’s NY Times the Bush “Administration” has quietly asked New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson to make a diplomatic mission to North Korea. The nature of the mission is a bit murky, but Richardson will be traveling with several New Mexican agriculture, energy, heart disease, public health and law experts and will probably proffer an “expertise for nuclear program freeze” sort of deal.

After eight years of the chuckleheaded incompetent Bush regime America will be hungry – even more so then it is now – for the proficiency and worksmanship that Richardson embodies. When even the Bushites are serious about trying to get something done they turn to him because he is capable. Assuming they both run Hillary Clinton will garner the early spotlight, but the more people learn about Richardson – nominated for Nobel Prizes for negotiating the release of American POWs in Iraq, Energy Secretary, UN Ambassador, Governor – the more I think they will see he has the administrative acumen, foreign policy knowledge, and rare understanding of crucial energy issues that make him, uniquely, the best person for the job. If Iowa and New Hampshire can stomach a candidate with brown skin then Richardson will have a fighting chance out of the gate.

Conservatrons are already whining that the new ABC show about a woman President is enabling propaganda for Hillary. Is the fictional candidacy of Matthew Santos on the West Wing preparing America for its first Latin President, Bill Richardson?

Ranger Fans: We're Getting Kovalchuk, S. Fedorov, and both Hossae.

If you read hockey websites like I do, you either have a brain full of shit or you have become an expert from separating signal from noise. Yesterday, I read a surmise based on “facts” and “theories” that the Rangers were about to acquire Sergei Fedorov, Ilya Kovaluchuk, and Marian Hossa. The “facts” were that they acquired Fedor Fedorov and Marian Hossa, and the “theory” was that they did this so that they could play with their brothers, Niedermayer style.

I have no idea where the Kovalchuk surmise came from. Anyone who’s been around the NHL knew there was a strong chance that Ilya was just driving a hard bargain and that he would be resigned soon. Maybe Atlanta was looking for plan B just in case, but I doubt it. The Sergei Fedorov “noise” was probably an echo of the signal from the Rucchin trade.

The thought, though, that some team would trade the Rangers its franchise player and then also its second best player…for…what exactly? Lundmark and Poti? (players that are only deemed top prospects in an organization like the Rangers), and that the Ducks are interested in trading Fedorov because they are “near the cap?”

Only a Ranger fan could think that. The cupboard is bare in New York. They have nothing to trade that anyone wants.

Hockey Will Never Be About the Any One

Like a hooker bearing her nipples in a bad neighborhood in Paris Sidney Crosby is splashed all over the front of ESPN.com’s NHL section. Never mind that Crosby got one assist on a meaningless goal and was outshined by the unheralded “other” rookie Zach Parise in both players’ first game; Crosby is the new face of the game, no matter what.

Listen to ESPN’s resident willfully ignorant barker Scott Burnside opine hockey wisdom from Atlanta, Georgia:

“By the end of the night, the Devils crowd was chanting, ‘overrated.’ But this is the same group that yelled out the usual taunts to Rangers fans five or six times Wednesday night, so it just means they have a wry sense of hockey humor as opposed to a Greek chorus foretelling Crosby’s future.”

Uhm, ground control to Major Burnside, have you watched the Rag$ for the last decade? If you did you surely would have noticed that they suck. They suck almost as much as the nonsensical second sentence in your quote above.

Barring injuries Crosby will be great and he has nothing to be ashamed of after his first game, but the Devils fans are right. He is overrated. Any player would be.

The NHL will never be an individual dominated sport the way basketball is. No matter how good Crosby becomes he will rarely play more than half of one game. He won’t score a goal in every single game.

Even when the Bulls were bad you could always count on Jordan to be on the floor for 90% of the game, pop in 36 points and make one highlight reel dunk. Hockey is too much of a team sport for that. An overhyped player like Crosby will disappoint the casual fans when he doesn’t score 8 goals every game and he will bore the true hockey fans if his personality dominates the coverage of the sport instead of the guts, artistry and courage that are expressed in the details of each game.

In ESPNland Sidney Crosby is overrated and ice hockey is underrated.

Reinstituting 2 line pass for goalies only?

So, they thought they could stop Martin Brodeur with the no-goalie-handling areas? Take a look at the video from last night’s game. Brodeur is making tape to tape passes to forwards in the neutral zone near the attacking blue line. He may outscore Grant Fuhr this year.

So, there will no doubt be someone calling for an exception to the no-two-line pass rule. Anything to stop Marty and the Devils from winning.

Scoring is up, and it’s noticable. Play quality has improved. Will they still call the game this way in April? We’ll see. They’d better. But DJS is right–it will never go back to the 80s.

As for who the good teams are? It seems to me that Pittsburgh is nothing but hot air until they get a goalie. And what should have worked for them–their power play–was useless, even with the extra room in the zone. Same can be said for Edmonton, Colorado, Columbus, Detroit, St. Louis — where’s the championship goaltending? It ain’t there. For some of them, even winning goaltending isn’t there.

I don’t think Calgary’s run was any more or less charmed than Tampa. I don’t see anything about them that puts them ahead of any other team that could get hot.

Final Four

Anaheim
Vancouver
Ottawa
Philadelphia

Finals – Philly over Vancouver

NHL Preview: Shootouts Will Prove That Goaltending Is A Science

Since 1994 there has been much earnest Canadian hand wringing over the decline of goal scoring in the NHL. Defensive systems, clutching and grabbing, talent dilution due to expansion, goaltenders’ bulky equipment and the NJ Devils have all been the focus of blame. I think the reason for the lower scoring is elemental and irreversible: goaltending has moved from an art to a science. The butterfly style is a best practice. With ample video, coaching and preparation goaltenders have become like professional tennis players where the top five players are only one or two percent better than the thirtieth through thirty-fifth best players. Unlike in 1985 goaltending is now learned and not so much a task that one is born to do.

Diminished pads will expose a few pretenders and the restriction on goalie puckhandling will marginally limit Brodeur and his imitators, but the science of goaltending will remain. Scoring will go up a noticeable but modest amount if only because there will be more power plays, but the days of 7 – 5 games are over, and they still would be even if Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux were both 23 years old and the whole league was trying to emulate them.

This season’s shootouts should provide a test of my Goaltending Is A Science hypothesis. The shootouts will feature no systems, no defensemen, or even any bad ice; just a goalie and the best juking and jiving attackers. If the goalies win over 55% of these encounters then that would indicate that goaltending is a science. If the shooters win over 55% then perhaps the recent lower scoring was due to some combination of other factors. If the conversion rate is closer to 50% then the results will be inconclusive.

It should also be interesting to compare the shootout success rate in the first half of the season and the second half. By the second half of the season there should be substantial amounts of video of both goalies and skaters performing in shootouts. The shootouts may well become a “feint within a feint within a feint” affair like the climatic knife fight in “Dune.”

My prediction: As the season progresses goalies will win increasingly more of the shootout showdowns; by the end of the season they will have won over 60% of the shootouts.

My other predictions:

The Fall Of the Wings and Avs: These teams remind me of the 49ers and Cowboys in the mid-90s. They have sustained themselves by buying players for too long. They both still have a solid defense and superstar forwards, but neither has a proven goalie. Throw in some aging key parts and it’s clear that “yeah they’ll pass you by, glory days.” It will be especially delicious to watch the Avs falter as their fans are the most arrogant, spoiled and ignorant in all of sports and Woody Paige is a scat muncher.

Goalies Are Still Key: There is lots of excitement in Edmonton and Pittsburgh, but without proven goalies these teams will have trouble after the first twenty games of the season when teams adjust and there are fewer penalties.

The Devils Will Be In The Hunt: If you ignore the fact that the Scotts were lost and just look at the defense subjectively you would have to say that they are in the top tier of the league. When Elias comes back they will have the makings for two good scoring lines and will boast a nice combination of role players and grit in the bottom half. Then there is Martin Brodeur. The Devils are a sub-elite team, somewhere form 5th to 10th best in the league and without a captain they have no identity, but they are better than the Sabres team that made it to the Fianls in ’99. Scott Burnside’s chuckleheaded analysis on ESPN proves how overlooked this team still is.

The Decline Of The ‘Ning “Dynasty”: Tampa earned their cup in ’04 and they are still a formidable squad even without ‘Boulin. They will certainly make the playoffs. But… their last campaign was charmed. Everyone on the team had a career year. They had no substantive injuries. They tied several games at the end of regulation. Because they had never done anything substantive in the playoffs and because they were in Tampa Bay I think teams did not always give their best effort against them. That won’t be the case this year and the law of averages says that they will have more adversity on the injury front. We shall see how they fair when everything is not going swimmingly.

Catching A Rising Star Fading Over The Hill: Who will be this years’ Pavol Demitra or superstar rookie (other than Crosby)? Which unknown will become an impact player? There are no teams with four absolutely solid lines so whichever team benefits from a precocious player will have a tremendous advantage. Conversely, which forty year-old star will burn up in the atmosphere? I’m looking at you Hasek.

Finals Prediction: Calgary over Philadelphia in 6.

Potential Spoiler: Nashville Predators. They were already on the up before the lockout. Kariya could make all of their almost-good players good and Vokoun is the real deal in net.

UPDATE: In the first shootout the goalies stopped 3 out of 5 shots: 60%. After one game the goalie is indeed key. For all of their firepower the Pens got creamed because Brodeur was in a different class than Thibout. Loved the demise of the red line. Did not like the ticky-tacky penalties that seemed to limit physical play.

What Freakonomics Says

It says that abortions have reduced crimes because of a correlation between unwanted kids and crime; it DOES NOT say that through reverse engineering that because blacks commit more crimes proportionally that they are therefore unwanted children or that more black children are unwanted.

Bennett subconsciously associated a high crime group with blacks — that’s what’s offensive about it, not the abortion part.