Monthly Archives: January 2006

NHL: South-least division?

Here’s a wierd stat:

Say what you want, but every team in the Southeast Division except expansion Atlanta has been to the finals in the last 10 years. Florida lost in 1996, Washington lost in 1998, Carolina lost in 2002, and Tampa Bay won it all of course in 2004.

How does that compare?

NE – Buffalo lost in 1999
ATL – NJ won in 2000, 2003, went to finals in 2001; PHI lost in 1997
C – Detroit won in 1997, 1998, 2002
PAC – Anaheim went to finals in 2003; Dallas won in 1999;
NW – Colorado won in 1996, 2001; Calgary lost in 2004

Wierd stat–but no other division even three in this category.

And Carolina is making a case to pad that total this year.

The Bush Energy SOTU

The U.S. is addicted to oil. Very true, and calculated to be provocative too. Generalissimo Bush also served up fine speeches on fighting terrorism post-9/11, rebuilding New Orleans post-Katrina, and on smaller issues like AIDS in Africa. In the end the war on terrorism turned into a war of choice for oil and revenge in Iraq, New Orleans is still leveled with no concrete plan for being rebuilt and the Africa AIDS money never came.

I’ll believe Great Leader’s flip-flop for energy independence if concrete actions take place once the echo of the talking points has silenced. I’m not holdinng my breath.

Update: One rhetorical flourish mixed with a few good, but not paradigm changing initiatives. Nothing offered that would reduce consumption. Generations will curse his inaction and incompetence.

The Scalito Fight

So, in the end it amounted to a worthless political exercise, so those candidates who thought it would help them in 2006 can be excused from voting against cloture. Then what’s Libermann’s excuse or Inoyue’s?

Sheesh. Another resounding defeat.

Munich, Goldilocks, and Intergenerational Psychic Wounds on America's Foregin Policy

So much of the Cold War mentality referenced the failure at Munich to stop Hitler. Given the cliched injunction to mind history lest it repeat itself, a generation of leaders grew up believing that repressive forces must be dealt with swiftly, immediately, and overwhelmingly.

As an amateur student of this history, I can only say with mild authority that I do not believe that anything short of total war could have even slowed Hitler at the time of Munich. If nothing else, the situation gave more time for America to gain interest. England might have been totally defeated in the interim–who knows?

This mentality forced the US’s hand in Viet Nam and Korea, and it has forced our hand in Iraq. I agree its dangerous to let history repeat itself, but you have to be careful which history you want to repeat and which you want to avoid.

Every response needs to be appropriate for the time and the circumstances: just right, like Goldilock’s porridge. Too hot, and we get mired in pointless wars; too cold, and the world may never be safe.

And one overcorrection may lead to another: too hot gets us into Viet Nam, which may have pushed many Americans into too cold, which may have overrestricted us in Bosnia.

Coaching Deadpool

#1 – Pat Quinn: Maybe your time has finally come, Pat. This team is falling apart, and it’s not because one or two or three players are messing up. It’s because the team is sick.

#2 – Andy Murray: I heard his name mentioned for coach of the year recently. That’s a natural reaction when a team seems to be overachieving, but the Kings are finally showing signs that they can’t hang with the big boys, which is too bad, because they were fun when they were clicking on all cylinders.

Fringe candidates: Kitchen, Therrien, Crawford.

Prediction Watch

On December 31, 2005, I made this prediction:

(3) The Liberals will win the Canadian election, but will still be in the minority. The upshot? They will have to concede more to the NDP, moving the goverment to the left, not to the right. Canadians aren’t going to put a Bush-like government into place.

Oopse. Let’s parse it. The Liberals lost. However, they and the NDP have more votes than the Conservatives, but the two combined do not have a majority, either. 124 PMs when you need 155 to get a majority is going to mean that I was at least right about the last part: if this new government even twitches towards Bush, it will fall. In the meantime, they’ll have trouble passing anything too different.

This is something like what people were looking for here in 2000, but there’s no way for it to manifest here.

Supremes Punt On BlackBerry Case.

I’m an attorney, so you don’t have to remind me about the procedure for writs of certiorari and how appeals to the Supreme Court works, on, why on procedural grounds, the Blackberry case may not have warranted them stepping in–under their rules.

But this is the first case in many years, probably in decades if you exclude Bush v. Gore, which they shoudln’t have heard, that actually has real national significance and could impact millions directly and millions more indirectly.

Shutting down the BlackBerry service in the United States could be catastrophic for many businesses. This could be the Hurricane Katrina of Wall Street and big law firms. But the Supremes want to leave it to the Federal Circuit, which, at least specializes in patent law, and other lower courts.

Say what you want about the Warren Court, but they understood what was nationally critical in a way that courts since, and, apparently, including the Roberts court, have failed to.

So, on that note, back to arguing over the meaning of “work corruption of blood.”

The Stealth Incremental Overruling Of The Constitution

In law, groundebreaking decisions are often walked back by subsequent cases without totally overruling them. For example, if there was a decision that says j-walking is legal and it totally rocked the law enforcement community, it would be more likely for another court to come along and say, well, what they meant was j-walking is legal in the daytime. Then another could say, they only ruled that way on two-lane streets–it doesn’t apply to wide boulevards.

This has something to do with the technical aspect of court decisions–that even though they set precedent, they technically only set precedent according to their holding–which means that the facts that the court made its decision on have to be the saw for the law to apply.

In reality, new decisions tend to signal directions courts are going in–whether wider or narrower–with respect to a certain concept, and the holding isn’t the only thing that’s looked at.

Eventually, old cases get to a point where they’ve been picked away at so much that they might as well just be overruled. In my example, let’s say that after several later decisions, it comes out that j-walking is only legal in the day time with no clouds where there are no cars on two lane streets in a city with a population of less than 10,000 when there are stop signs at the end of each block, which must be no longer than 250 feet.

At that point, you just can’t rely on the force of the original case to mean anything about the law; the old rule has become a mere exception in the new scheme.

This is what has happened over time to our Constitution.

Some of it in ways that pleases some liberals, some not. For example, in general, Congress has become not a co-equal branch of government, but the sausage making part of a party’s power apparatus. It’s separate power is mostly for show. This is mostly self-inflicted wounds, but it also probably reflects the presidential aspirations of its most powerful members.

On the other hand, most of the limits powers of Congress are irrelevant one way or the other. The commerce clause has become a general police power clause. The war power has been almost entirely delegated to the President. The limited term copyright clause is meaningless.

I’ll keep fleshing out this list, but if you take a mental catalogue of all the ways that our constitution isn’t what it says it is, and doesn’t mean what it says it is, you’ll see that it’s basically meaningless at this point, and, strangely, this is mostly democratically approved.

Some of this is because some parts of the constitution are plainly stupid and need adjusting. Perhaps even the amendment procedure needs amendment, but the structure is held together with duck tape at this point.

More Deadpool…

It just goes to show that I don’t follow hockey the way I used to. I used to watch pieces of most every game and read every article in the morning. I just don’t have my finger on the pulse the way I used to. But I still know a thing or two. Something is going wrong in LA. Andy Murray, I believe, is a great coach, a coach that could probably win a Cup with the right team. Unfortunately, LA has never really had a championship team during his tenure, but they have had several years of amazing overacheiving.

So, here’s my update.

#1 – Trent Yawney
#2 – Mike Kitchen
#3 – Andy Murray

Bonus Picks – Therrien and Crawford.

Devils Hockey Is Back

Three shutouts in the last few games.

This time, without Elias. When you watch a game, you see the real Devils–finally–are back. This is the team I’ve watched for so many years; whoever those body snatchers were the last few months, I don’t know.

Updated Coaching Deadpool

After having two of my latest picked off, I have to come up with some new ones, so I think I’ve got a surprise here.

#1 Trent Yawney – The Hawks beat Washington to end their skid … in OT, after blowing a 3-0 lead. Something is WRONG here, and the first to figure that out is usually the Unemployment Department clerk who handles the coaches paperwork.

#2 Mike Kitchen – I’m starting to think the axe might fall after the season, because by now, the Blues know they’re done. They’ll trim some salary.

#3 Michel Therrien – Sounds ridiculous, right? They just hired him. Well, I think he’s actually made the situation worse. I think the Crosby people are going to start pulling a Lindros parents and demand that this team not spoil their prize child. There is going to be a liquidation day here too. Even though he’s a liability on D, someone will want Gonchar for the playoffs, and I think Marc Recchi could fit as a character guy somewhere. Palffy has to hold some value too. LeClair, no, he stays. He’s over.

Bonus pick: Still has to be Marc Crawford. It’s just a hunch, and that’s why it’s the “bonus pick”

The Revenge of Lamoreillo's Lousers

Lou took a lot of blame for the crumby start. Sure McGillis was a pylon, Malakhov skated like a giraffe suffering insulin shock, and Mogilny had lost a step, but what other options were there in the summer of ’05? If there was any villain for the Devils slow start it was Scott “Vinny” Niedermeyer and his laborious decision to rejoin his brother Rob “The Lesser” or “Drama” Niedermeyer. By lingering on his choice longer than a Euortrash pseudo-intellectual dragging on a home rolled cigarette Vinny Nidermeyer assured that the only Plan B available to the Devils was subrate. The summer acquisitions sucked, but they were also the best viable option.

Now you can taste the fear and loathing at the NY Post.

The major reason that the Devils’ demise was over-hyped was Elias. Has any other team played the entire season without their best player? Maybe Columbus, but in this new Era of the Forward not having a star at that position is crippling. Elias is the most underrated superstar in the league and it is no mistake the rest of the team rounded into shape on his return.

Don’t overlook the coaching either. While Johnny Mac handles the tactics Lou has defined the roles. See David Hale turn into the incarnation of a sober Ken Daneyko. Witnesses Victor Kozlov become the sequel to Bobby Carpenter and Sergei Nemchinov. Look at Tommy Albelin be Tommy Albelin (circa’ 1995).

The win over the Flyers notwithstanding the Devils are probably still a standard deviation below the elite in the league. They need one more scoring forward, more size up front and a true number one defensemen. Still, in having jettisoned Mogilny, McGillis and Malakhov (and with Janssen making Langdon expendable) the Devils suddenly have the room to get a few of those parts (perhaps Brendan Witt from Washington could be one). It would be incredible if they won the cup, but owning the best goalie no one will want to play them in the first round.

NHL Midseason Outlook

So, I think I’m finally getting my finger on the pulse of the new NHL. Now that you can see thrives and who suffers under the new rules, you can make better predictions. Having said that, it’s easy to forget, every year, just how different the playoffs are. Stands to reason then, that the playoffs will mean even more difference.

Here are the teams I like:

EAST

Ottawa – It’s been fun to watch this team build up the right way, mostly from within and thorugh a few deft trades and precisely timed spicings of UFAs. They are on the verge of something great this year, and I think that their recent doldrums are not a sign of a dropoff, or will mean anything come playoff time.

Philadelphia – Of course they have a goaltending controversy, but they also have the best player in the league who happens to have chemistry with his linemates. This team would be way out in front if not for a bunch of wierd injuries. Will they get Leetch for a playoff run? It’s been long rumored.

Buffalo – They are missing a few things, but grit and leadership aren’t those things. And that’s what matters in the playoffs. Fortunately, the Sabres also have a good goaltender to trade for some spare parts come playoff time.

DARKHORSE: Atlanta – Firepower. They have it. Kovalchuk is amazing to watch, but this isn’t a one man army, either. If their goalie lives up to expectations this spring, this team could be interesting, and might knock off a team that isn’t battle-tested, and not ready for the playoffs just yet, like, say the Rangers.

WEST

Dallas – They have been showing some tremendous grit lately. I’m not a fan of this team, but they are playing well, and they have most, if not all, of the pieces.

Calgary – They haven’t really fallen off since their amazing run in the spring of 04. If Iginla can return to his dominant self, this team will matter in the West.

Vancouver – I really like this team in every position except in net, and that’s what matters during the playoffs. I think that they will either make a move, or somehow solidify this position.

DARK HORSE: San Jose. Everyone’s perennial dark horse, which should be an oxymoron, but I think this time they are stalking on the outside looking in.

Omissions? I just can’t shake the notion that there’s something strange about the Red Wings being this good in the regular season. And the Devils seem hexed this year. They’re doing better with Elias back, but they have bigger problems (a coach for one). I’d love to believe in the LA Kings, but I just can’t. Nashville is impressive, and I’m ready to buy in on them, but it won’t be before I see the players they have combine to win a round.

Book Review: Paul Auster's "Brooklyn Follies" – Post-9/11 Literature.

At the conclusion of the grandest of French films, “Les Enfants Du Paradis” (“The Children of Paradise”) the star struck pantomime actor, Baptiste, gushes through a street-wide fete after his beloved Garance, agonizingly calling her name as her carriage rolls away. Baptiste, the people’s star of the stage, has been reduced to a member of the crowd enthralled with the spectacle of the unattainable Garance just as the masses are enthralled with him, or so goes the common interpretation. On a more elemental level I believe the saturated drama of the scene is itself meant to be the stark peak of a mammoth lost joy. The film was set in 1840s Paris, but it was filmed in occupied Vichy France. The phrase “les enfants du paradis” refers to the common folk who sat in the “god section” or nosebleeds of the old Parisian theaters, but perhaps it is also a double-entendre for all of the idealized inhabitants of the Paris of 100 years before the occupation: the children of a paradise world where epic pantomimes, dandies and thespians chase unattainable love through street carnivals.

In his latest work, “Brooklyn Follies,” Paul Auster paints a song of remembrance for the gone world of late-Clinton America.

The story begins with the narrator, Nathan Glass, fifty-nine years old, having made a hash of his marriage and relationship with his daughter and deciding to encamp in Brooklyn to write a compilation of every pathetic human foul up he has ever heard or experienced entitled “The Book of Human Folly” and to die.

“Nothing is real but chance,” Auster wrote at the start of his first and seminal novel “City Of Glass.” Nearly every sentence he has published since then has developed this thesis and “Follies” is no different. Soon, Glass has chanced into his lost nephew and a bisexual second-hand bookstore owner with a seedy past and thereafter the three of them are meandering into coincidental misadventures and stories within stories. In his earlier works the absurdity of chance has a dark overtone, but in the first three acts of “Follies” it is played as comedy. Through Nathan’s narration the characters speak and act as though they know that they are in a story and they are enjoying its increasingly implausible twists. Trembling beneath this din is the whirly-roll of the 2000 election and a series of calendar dates that taste like a countdown. Our heroes are playing in a fleeting world.

After reaching its climax Auster’s work continues in its comedic structure in the fourth and fifth acts – the characters all “marry” or find their appropriate match – but its tone changes from silly to facile. In creating a family of all the books’ far flung actors Nathan morphs from weary curmudgeon to wise confidant, and his advice – in this case to his new lover Joyce – is warm like a celebration:

“Try to roll with the punches. Keep you chin up. Don’t take any wooden nickels. Vote Democrat in every election. Ride your bike in the park. Dream about my perfect, golden body. Take your vitamins. Drink eight glasses of water a day. Pull for the Mets. Watch a lot of movies. Don’t work too hard at your job. Take a trip to Paris with me. Come to the hospital when Rachel has her baby and hold my grandchild in your arms. Brush your teeth after every meal. Don’t cross the street on a red light. Defend the little guy. Stick up for yourself. Remember how beautiful you are. Remember how much I love you. Drink one Scotch on the rocks every day. Breathe deeply. Keep your eyes open. Stay away from fatty foods. Sleep the sleep of the just. Remember how much I love you.”

Shortly after this speech Nathan is hospitalized with an inflamed esophagus that is, at first, thought to be a heart attack. While watching the adjacent hospital bed empty, refill and empty Nathan decides upon his new vocation for his re-renewed life: “Bios Unlimited,” a service to write definitive biographies for all the average people who die. In reality of course, skeletal biographies of typical strangers have become all too common in the wake of 9/11 and Iraq War II.

Nathan emerges from the hospital soaking in the spirit of this Brooklyn where foolish loners surf through absurd misadventures and emerge as the sage patriarchs of the family they create along the way. He is an American Baptiste striding through the waning jubilee of a bygone golden era:

I stepped into the cool morning air, and I felt so glad to be alive, I wanted to scream. Overhead, the sky was the bluest of pure deep blues. If I walked quickly enough, I would be able to get to Carroll Street before Joyce left for work. We would sit down in the kitchen and have a cup of coffee together, watching the kids run around like chipmunks as their mothers got them ready for school. Then I would walk Joyce to the subway, put my arms around her, and kiss her good-bye.

It was eight o’clock when I stepped out onto the street, eight o’clock on the morning of September 11, 2001–just forty-six minutes before the fist plane crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center. Just two hours after that, the smoke of three thousand incinerated bodies would drift toward Brooklyn and come pouring down on us in a white cloud of ashes and death

But for now it was still eight o’clock, and as I walked along the avenue under that brilliant blue sky, I was happy my friends, as happy as any man who had ever lived.

Castro and JFK?

Lots of buzz today about the new film alleging that Castro and Cuba lay behind the JFK assassination. There are a number of problems with this theory, but, as always, I’m open to being convinced.

First of all, by the time of the assassination, Kennedy had long since given up on Cuba. Part of the Cuban Missile Crisis deal was a pledge that Cuba would not be invaded. Kennedy also actually stopped an invasion of Cuba during the Bay of Pigs.

Second, the connections between Oswald and the Cubans are far weaker than his connections to Cuban exiles, who had a much stronger motive to assassinate Kennedy.

Third, except for the “suppression” by LBJ (which never could have gone on without acquiecense from the intelligence community) the fairly transparent connections alleged by the movie would have led to war if correct. This is always the reason that keeps me from connecting the assassination to Castro or the KGB: they had much to lose and only a wily Texan to gain.

The Cuban exiles, on the other hand, were a creation of the US government, trained and backed by it (except Kennedy). Their connections ran and still run deep in the channels of power in the US–the kind of thing that the military can’t touch.

Finally, they use Alexander Haig to bolster their claims. Haig, after all, was wrapped up in Nixon’s fall from grace, which, according to his own words on tape, began when he got the CIA to stop the FBI from investigating Watergate, lest the whole “bay of pigs” thing come up again.

Of course, many sources have agendas and reliability issues here, but Haig isn’t any kind of eyewitness or anything (or is he?)

New Canadian Poll

They have a lot of things that we covet in Canada, but most recently, they appear to have something we could use here: strategic-voting third parties. It has been suggested that the NDP will throw its support to the liberals in close ridings. Imagine that. (see www.trendlines.ca/Politics.htm )

The latest poll has the NDP winning 32 seats–almost doubling their total from 2004. I wonder how a Conservative party could govern with the projected results as of right now:

CP 113
Lib 101
BQ 61
NDP 32
other 1

Without the Bloc Quebecois, the CP won’t get anything done, and they’re a trade unionist party. A liberal/NDP coalition (which would have avoided all of this in the first place) seems to me to be the upshot. We’ll see the next poll.

Coaching Deadpool

#1 Trent Yawney – It can’t get much worse than this. The GM is going to have to fire the guy at some point to justify his moves over the summer, or else admit he screwed the pooch himself. Not likely

#2 Mike Sullivan – I’m still wondering if this guy is too much of an insider to get the axe, or else why hasn’t he already got it?

#3 Steve Stirling – Another free agent spending spree gone awry that might cost a coach.

Bonus Pick: Marc Crawford. Something smells rotten in the Best Place In The World To Live.