Monthly Archives: February 2007

Trade Deadline Report Cards

New Jersey: A-. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Acquiring a third rounder for Hale, who wasn’t on track, was nice, but cap issues kept away another scoring winger.
New York Islanders: A+. Smyth was the best player traded this season.
New York Rangers: D. The Rangers were neither sellers nor buyers. Avery wasn’t enough.
Pittsburgh Penguins: A. They got what they needed, except maybe a better veteran backup.
Philadelphia Flyers: A+. Of all the selling teams, the Flyers are set up best for next year, with tons of picks, including probably the #1 overall, $24m of new cap room, and a stable of prospects.

Buffalo Sabres: C. Should have traded Biron earlier for a better return, and did not acquire anything other than bandaids for current injuries.
Montreal Canadiens: C. Like the Rangers, the Canadiens were trying to be sellers and buyers but really did neither well, but they got a premium for a #4 or 5 defenseman like Rivet.
Boston Bruins: D. Did nothing to improve for next year.
Toronto Maple Leafs: C. If face-offs were the only issue, then this would have been a better day in T.O.
Ottawa Senators: B. Ottawa didn’t get suckered into anything expensive, but I’m not sure what they were really trying to do, either.

Tampa Bay Lightning: D. They may be in first place in their division, but their failure to add means they know they’re not a serious contender. But they didn’t get anything for the future either.
Atlanta Thrashers: F. They gave up the farm for Tkachuk and Zhitnik, two players who would be nice depth players, but aren’t going to be difference makers. Desperation trading at its worst.
Florida Panthers: C. Gave up Luongo for what now amounts to a prospect from a poor drafting team and a conditional pick. Could have done better with Roberts but chose to spite GM’s old team instead. Sad.
Carolina Hurricanes. D. Anson frickin’ Carter is not how you reload to repeat.
Washington Capitals. B. Nice return on junk players.

Anaheim Ducks. C. Pronger was a big acquisition, but this team needed a shot in the arm. Giving up one of the young guys for Ryan Smyth would have been worth it. Is next year the year Burke goes for it?
Los Angeles Kings. A. The Kings’ fire sale netted them almost as good a haul as Philly. With Kopitar and Johnson to build on, this team will be good once it’s built in Lombardi’s plan.
San Jose Sharks. D-. Doug Wilson destroyed his reputation as the Billy Beane of hockey while “loading up” with Craig Rivet and Bill Guerin, both of whom won’t add much to this team at great expense. Only because those two were better pickups than Zhitnik and Tkachuk do the Sharks avoid an F.
Dallas Stars. F. Ladislav Nagy? An overpayment for Mattias Norstrom? Might have done better to trade Modano and clear up the locker room issues there. This team isn’t going anywhere anyway.
Phoenix Coyotes. A. Showed class with Owen Nolan’s situation, and with Laraque’s. Have managed to clean house for enough assets very well. Are they really going to go somewhere now?

Detroit Red Wings. B-. Got the lesser of the two damaged goods players. Detroit is the new Toronto: unrealistic expectations with old players.
Nashville Predators. D. Forsberg done shit. It was a desperation move at that price. This team would have been much, much, much better off with several large character guys.
Chicago Blackhawks. D. Everything this team does is terrible. Not enough return.
St. Louis Blues. A+. Davidson and Pleau loaded up while managing to actually make their rental players want to come back.
Columbus Blue Jackets: F. Why on earth do you keep Adam Foote, Fedorov, et al. Get some picks!

Minnesota Wild. A. Also not broke. Got some slight add-ons, but nothing huge.
Calgary Flames. B. I’m not sure this team really believes or it might have gone further.
Edmonton Oilers. A. Their grade for trades is A. They got a huge return, and were realistic about their prospects for the playoffs, but why on earth wasn’t Ryan Smyth resigned long ago?
Vancouver Canucks. C. Why were people so excited about those moves? They needed an impact player.
Colorado Avalanche. D. Should have been bigger sellers.

Weird.

Does it mean anything that the 4 contending teams that did nothing were the final 4 in 2003? NJ, Anaheim, Minnesota, and Ottawa?

Maybe not, but those teams have a memory of deep runs.

Burke Waives White Flag?

No, I’m not the kind of person who says you have to make a move on deadline day. I think Philly ripped off Nashville, who was desperate. Atlanta is desperate too. San Jose has assets to spare… but Ryan Smyth, the best player traded since Chris Pronger, becomes available, you are telling me that you can’t trade Perry or Ryan?

Perry better have an amazing playoffs and Bobby Ryan better be the next Pat Fucking LaFontaine.

The 1/2 Hour News Hour – In The Twilight Zone

In an effort to serve out some bad karma I made myself watch “The 1/2 Hour News Hour” FoxNews’ attempt at a Daily Show-style satire with a Conservatron bent. Surrendipitously, the SciFi Channel was playing a Twilight Zone from 1963, entitled “He’s Alive,” in which a shadowy Hitler guides a young fascist through the beer hall birth pangs of an America neo-Nazi movement.

On both shows angry white people we’re screaming “We’re the minority!”

Can you guess which show said this sentiment literally and which one expressed it figuratively?

Ludicrous Hockey Rumor of the Day 4

Guerin to the Islanders.

This one is ludicrous on several fronts. (1) Barry Melrose didn’t report it, a caller did. (2) The Blues would be getting themselves in trouble with future FAs if they made a practice of not trading their vets to cup contenders, something I doubt John Davidson would be in favor of. (3) It makes no sense for the Islanders–if they really thought they were one piece away, they’d be on crack, and Guerin isn’t anything more than that. In that case, why outbid the other Guerin suiters.

Michelletti

Sam Rosen has always bugged me, even when I was only familiar with him from other sports. He’s a tragic jock-sniffer…. but Joe Michelletti never bugged me when he was with the Islanders or on the national broadcasts, but that recent suck of Straka’s cock caused me to realize Joe too has turned into a Ranger starfucker.

UPDATE: They both sure got amped when Jagr collided into Brodeur and was called for the same lame penalty that was called against the Devils earlier.

UPDATE 2: Ha. Ha. Ha. The Rangers suck.

Changing on 2008.

I’m still holding out hope for a Gore ’08 run, but now that the primary season is finally getting underway, by the metric of the candidates having declared, and having started bickering a little bit, I’ve had a bit of a change of heart.

After Kerry’s vaginal response to the Swift Boats I thought that the most important thing to guarantee a winner would be someone who could attack even more viciously than they could, or at least could handle it. That would be HRM Hillary Clinton. But Obama has displayed quite a knack lately.

So, I really don’t have a favorite, but Obama is now looking most viable.

American Iron Man

A surface analysis of the current political weather in America might appear to be a war between conservatives and liberals. But that surface analysis is wrong. What is underway is the erosion of our discourse from a battle of ideas both aimed at the good of our country to a battle between a cult of personality on the one hand, and the coalition of ideas on the other.

Arguing that Bush is leading some sort of fascist movement is not new. But actual evidence of this is. Despite his Nixonian approval ratings, Bush retains a strong following in both the media and Congress. Contrast this with the staggering approval rating of Clinton during a time when it became expedient for Democrats to turn on him. Even his own Vice President had to put distance between them during the 2000 election.

Sure, a few Republicans here and there have stopped drinking the Kool-Aid and made some statements in the media, like Chuck Hagel, but haven’t actually done anything about. And some talking bobbleheads have even gone so far as to criticize their Dear Leader. But the Bush machine remains highly intact, despite his categorical rejection of “conservative” principles. The Fox News people are for him. The gun nuts are for him. The warmongers are for him. And there are even some average Joes still for him.

The kicker to me is that his earliest critic within the Republican party, John McCain has become nothing more than his sock puppet.

He still does whatever he wants. Most presidents, after a stinging rebuke such as the 2006 election, might have changed course–not Bush. He increased his course of action that triggered his loss.

Yet his actions stand opposed to just about every single traditional ideology, both right and left, in America. By any objective measure, he has not furthered the conservative goal of a smaller government, and the lower taxes he has brought hasn’t lowered the tax burden on anyone in the long term. Yet another new giant government bureaucracy has been created under his watch and none eliminated. The Iraq adventure is not, no matter what anyone says, part of the traditional conservative agenda.

“Sensible” centrists aren’t getting anything from the man either. No “sensible” resolution to abortion, or finance, or anything else. And there’s little need to elaborate on the ways Bush offends liberals.

At the end of the day, it’s really just the power of the man that keeps him in control, Bush and his cult.

Devils/Rag$ Game of the Year

Tuesday’s game was everything that the NHL should be trying to showcase if it truly wants the game to grow. Of course, every game can not possibly be that spirited, tense and angry. Still, the fact that any game could turn that viscious is what separates NHL Hockey from every other sport. It’s a level of catharsis that baseball and basketball never reach and that football only rarely touches. A casual fan might get a mild buzz from the recent 6-5 Isalnders/Pens Nintendo game, but it is impossible not to take sides when Cam Jansenns strides to the edge of the bench and, with eyes as calm and violent as a mako shark’s, screams, “Your next! I’m gonna’ fucking kill you!” to the Rag$’ goalie. Avery is a either a thug or a hero; Janssens a gunslinger or a psychopath. No one watching that could be neutral and most people in the building, being partisans to begin with, had their senses sharpened to the slicing point by alcohol and hatred. The atmosphere through the TV was electric — and the fights in the stands were likely classics too.

The game was past the boiling point when the brawl happened. Now (Casual Fan) you care; every moment is vital because it is potentially decisive. With so much invested already losing is beyond awful. Tense. Agonizing. Thrilling. Infuriating. Both teams, literally and figuratively, took and gave hits in that game. Missing their two most talented offensive players the Devils became unable to mount much of an attach in the middle of the second period. Even before the brawl it seemed like they were becoming half a step slow. Janssens even lost his third period fight. This Devils team, more than any other, can take a punch. At its very best a hockey game is about the refusal to die. Stay alive for enough time, and the long odds might work in your favor. Parise’s GWG had elements of skill and luck, but it only mattered becuase as a team the Devils refused to lose and couldn’t be beaten.

No red line, tag-up offsides, no-line-change after an icing, penalty for shooting the puck in the stands are great. Those changes likely made yesterday’s classic more exciting than it would have been. The “obstructon” crack down has some benefits, but it has come at too much of a cost of grit, determination, and (non-cheap) violence and yes fighting. By letting the play stay chippy but even yesterday the refs let a true hockey game break out instead of a numb skills competition.

Somewhere, a bored 14-year old happened on that game surfing through the stations, got drawn in and became a fan. Some dude dragged his girl to her first game and now she’s a fan too. As a longtime fan, I could care less about the next Isles/Pens game, but I am counting down the minutes to the Devils/Rag$ rematch at MSG. I am certain that there are several mew fans that are waiting with me. More games like that and the NHL will grow; no more games like that and it will die.

Personally, I could care less about the final score so long as Cam Janssens pounds Avery’s face until it resembles a bruised tomato.

Myth Busted: Shannahan

Myth: Brendan Shannahan wasn’t like all of the other Ranger acquisitions of the last several years, and he actually would perform as he had before. Excepting one good season or two from Adam Graves, the Gerks have basically signed retirement contract after retirement contract for players with no interest in performing. Fleury, Kamensky, Gretzky, Messier round 2, etc.

But, Shannahan was supposed to be different. He was a “leader” (i.e. popular with fans and has won something) and was signing on not to be he franchise player, but to add on to an already great group led by Jagr. Then after Shanny scored boat loads of goals in the most irrelevant months of the season, he was declared a great signing by Gerk nation.

So, how has the man done recently?

2 goals in February
3 goals in January

Just a trickle of points. No wonder he went batshit over the alleged abuse of Jagr. (Another myth to be busted) So, just like every other bullshit greybeard the Rangers have signed, Shanahan is another waste of money for them.

This isn’t meant as any disrespect to the man. I think he was a great player, one of the best in the recent era. But that doesn’t make him good in 2007. And that’s the problem. The Rangers and their fans want you to believe that signing someone who was a miracle worker in 1997 is now and that you should bow down to that.

AP Confuses Climbing and Hiking

I used to have this half-joking theory that the reason there was a noticeable increase in sensationalist news after l’affair OJ was that there were a bunch of reporters out there with nothing to do otherwise.

So too with the recent disasterfucking going on, especially surrounding Mt. Hood. For some reason I can’t quite fathom, people having accidents while mountain climbing is almost as alluring as Laci Peterson’s smile. And then there’s your bitchy conservative uncle complaining about the cost of the rescues to the taxpayers.

Horseshit.

Only a tiny fraction of search and rescue missions have anything to do with mountain climbing. And that’s what those people do: they rescue, and the training is important. They can’t just sit there.

And there are fewer accidents than the common wisdom would suggest. It’s not unlike how every plane crash (Air Mauritania??) makes the news, but a car crash better have Mel Gibson in it. So, until there is someone else getting eaten by a shark or some other Anna Nicole level event, we’re apparently going to have buzz about every rescue (even if not fatal) on Mount Hood.

And here’s the coup de dumbass: the AP writes a story, with quotes from………. a website saying that the experts say leave the dogs at home. What? The dog saved these climbers’ lives.

Oh, and the headline? Leave ‘em at home during hikes. You’ve got to be kidding me. This reporter doesn’t even bother to search the distinction between the alpine climbing these people were doing and……hiking. That’s sorta like comparing taking the bass boat out to the local fishing area and paddling an outrigger canoe between Hawaii and Tahiti.

Sure. Next time I try to summit Mount Hood via the south face, I’ll leave my dog at home even though it saved these guys’ lives. (I still don’t get that.) But, the next time I trek up the local hill, even my little ankle-nipping pug is coming with.

Ludicrous Hockey Rumor of the Day

Sakic to Anaheim.

This is the second ludicrous hockey rumor involving the Ducks and a member of the Divealanche championship teams. The price Nashville paid for Forsberg was a coup for interim/quasi/temp GM Holmgren in Philly. (That was a better trade than Bob Clarke ever made in his life.)

But Nashville made that trade for non-hockey reasons. Given the lecherous douchebag of an owner they have in Nashville, the constant taxpayer funding demands, the shitty attendance, and a team on the cusp, it was time to go for it. Nashville paid more for Forsberg for 20 games plus the playoffs than the Ducks did for Pronger for 3 years.

Now if the Ducks weren’t ready to give up their top prospect, a rookie 30 goal scorer and some picks for Forsberg, what makes anyone think they’ll pay what the Avs would inevitably demand for Sakic, who, though less injury prone is not as good?

Blog reader….

I had been using Bloglines for a long time when I decided to give Google reader a try. I like it, but it was clunky and would give me an annoying spinning beach ball. So I went back to Bloglines, which managed to delete all of my subscriptions today.

Back to Google!

WTF

Hockey Blogger “Eklund,” who is currently involved in a bit of a scandal, reported this last night:

“Rumor is the Ducks balked at 2 picks, Bobby Ryan and anothr [sic] roster player. “

Bobby Ryan was picked #2 behind Sidney Crosby. He is a top prospect. The roster player could be anyone, but let’s say it’s Penner. And two picks? That doesn’t even pass the guffaw test. Here’s what the Ducks gave up for Chris Pronger, under contract for years:

Ladislav Smid, a top defense prospect
Joffrey Lupul, the kind of “roster player” you might look at here
The 2007 (decent year) first rounder of the Ducks, which won’t be in the top 20
The 2008 second rounder of the Ducks

And the suggestion is that MORE than that be given up for a four month rental of an oft-injured player past his prime?

More questions before posting this shite, please.

MVP

Scott Niedermayer would have won the MVP if the season ended at Christmas, but so far, Marty Brodeur is running away with it.

Reading dipshit Philly bloggers say he’s a “system” goalie makes me vomit.

The Quiet March of the Penguins

Suddenly, quietly, the ‘Guins are 11-0-2 in their last 13 and sit in fourth place in the Eastern Conference seven points behind the Devils with a game in hand. I cannot say that I have kept track of the Penguins. I no longer have the time or schedule to watch anyhing but Devils games. Seven of their wins were against mediocre squads (TOR 2, PHO, FLA, WAS, PHI 2), but they also beat good Nashville and Dallas squads. With all of those years of high draft picks one suspects that they have long had the talent to be a top 6 playoff team and they are finally living up to it. Their next opponent is lowly Chicago so Friday’s show down with the Devils could loom large.

It might actually be better for the Pens to be a higher seed. The National league’s infaturation with Crosby would make the Pens an overly sympathetic first round opponent. Ditto for Conference finals. The Semi-finals are the place to knock these challengers out.

Speaking of the Devils…. They’ve done what every good team has to do at some point in the season: go on a 10+ game more-or-less unbeaten streak including the besting of several quality opponents. This proves that you have the stuff to make a run when you are at your best and helps to separate you from the pack (the Pens are the only remote contender for the Atlantic Divison crown now). I’d like to see them go 10-5-2 over the next 17 before finishing out the season strong.

Other than a possible depth player a la Bob Corkum the only move I see them making down the stretch is some Lou alchemy that will somehow get Richard Matvichuk on the roster. He is better than any available defensemen right now anyway.

Also:

* Either the Wings or Predators wil lose in the first round. Neither of these teams quite has Championship personnel (the Wings do on D, but Datsyuk and Zetterberg are playoff no shows) and their records are hugely inflated by playing CHI, STL and CLB 24 times a year.

* Scott Gomez does not play at a $5 million per year level. He did for the last half of ’06, but not this year. $3.5-$4 million is fair for Gomez. There. I said it.

Exhibit A on Gretzky

Here’s a quote from Wayne:

I think my ability as a player — obviously, I was God-gifted and had some pretty special things that the Lord gave me — but the majority of what I accomplished came from hard work, preparation and relying on teammates and coaches. My point is, I wasn’t really a naturally talented player. What I got, I really earned through hard work. From that point of view, I understand the game as probably as much as anybody else who’s ever played it or coached it.’

Well, that’s cute that he’s so modest, but it’s a pile of horseshit. His players are paying the price for his failure to realize his own uniqueness. Cue Alanis: it’s sorta ironic.

24

If you watch 24 and think that it’s merely some pro-Bushist Fox propaganda, then you’re probably among the crowd that saw the movie Traffic as a pro-drug-war compilation.

The New Yorker has a hit piece on the show, citing military officials that say that it’s affecting how their cadets think. The New Yorker is the arbiter of what passes for decent among Northeastern libs, who, probably never having watched something so gauche, know the 25-word version of what goes on in the show, something like: this guy goes around a kills terrorists and tortures them to save America, and Rush Limbaugh likes it. (Rush Limbaugh likes football and wine too. I still watch and drink, God forgive me.) It must be bad.

Here’s an example: “The disturbing thing is that although torture may cause Jack Bauer some angst, it is always the patriotic thing to do.”

Some? Watch 5 minutes of the very first episode and five minutes of any season after 3. As Stephen King put it, the psychic cost on the man is extreme. Patriotism is such a loaded word. It’s not like he’s doing it for the GOP flag. He does it because he honestly believes it will serve the greater good.

Clearly, people who have a certain mindset will watch a show like this and say, “See, torture is justified,” and “All muslims are evil.” These are the same kind of lukewarm intellects that will shoot up a school allegedly because of a video game. But any suggestion that this show has some inherent conservative bias is being stupid.

First of all, aside from Bauer, the clearest heroes of the entire series are the Palmer brothers, who are basically black Kennedys, and clearly identified as Democrats. The current Palmer, Wayne, smacked down his chief of staff in order to stop interment of muslims, and the former one was almost removed from power trying to stop a nuclear war against some framed middle eastern countries (Cuban missile crisis, anyone?), and then shot by a conspiracy involving a subsequent president with an astounding resemblance to Richard Nixon.

Second, the contention that the show is anti-muslim is stupid. The show has featured islamic radicals, yes, but only along with Serbs, Mexicans, Russians, and other Americans. And is it incorrect to say that islamic terrorists are gunning for us? C’mon. This season, one of the heroes is a reformed terrorist who is trying to bring peace.

So, as rabid of a liberal as I am, I hardly find this show unacceptable. Torture isn’t effective, and it’s illegal, but I don’t think everything I see on TV is ok. (Do people really?)

What pisses me off about this is that I expect more from The New Yorker. I expect some sort of literary analysis about this. Instead, we get a graf or two on the things I mentioned, and then a bio of the show’s creator, Surnow, who turns out to be your typical conservative who got that way in reaction to his daddie and “dirty hippies” living off their parent’s money. (That makes them wrong, right?) Well, that’s boring, and I don’t give a shit what he says. (But he does criticize the Iraq war.)

The problem is, none of that matters. The show is entertaining, and it does not fail to confront the problems raised by objectors. Even if the answers aren’t always PC, you at least have to grant that they are tougher calls than most people have to make.

The critics of 24 are critics because of Bush and the show’s creator being conservative: they’re not critics because it sucks. This is just the same as conservatives who pee their pants when there’s an accidental boob during the Superbowl. (Good thing it wasn’t Barbara Streisand’s boob…. for multiple reasons.)

Just chill the fuck out. While we’re nitpicking entertainment, people are dying in an illegal war and the globe is about to climate change its way into the oblivion on millions. Let’s fry those fish.

Frickin Laser Beams Causing Global Warming…

There are some sure signs I should increase my dosage of Paxil. One is spending the last three hours reading the stupidity of the global warming deniers and turning into a ball of misanthropic rage.

So, the (conservative…) Times of London posts the latest in the never ending line of global warming denier rhetoric: cosmic rays are doing it. And the so-called scientists who won’t accept this refutation are not being “scientific” because they are shutting out skepticism.

For the record, I’m going to get a little meta-scientific here. Science is not sheer skepticism. When you get a working theory backed up by tons of evidence, you do not discard it when one bit of contrary evidence appears. That’s what every single global warming denier statement asks to do: discard the weight of tons of evidence based on often preliminary and irrelevant results.

It’s not that they were dumb that, say, Newton’s theory of gravity wasn’t instantly thrown in the garbage when general relativity came along. It’s because it had worked for so much stuff. Then, lo, it was discovered that in 99.9% of the cases subject to human experience, Newton was still correct.

And the comments people trot out. They’re all the same. Crichton or some right wing hack gets parroted. Or they hate “hippies” so they must be wrong. Or it’s going to cripple the economy if we fix it (?) so it’s wrong. etc.etc.etc.etc.

Gawd. We deserve it.

Rumor Mill

Just some thoughts on the NHL rumors.

Darcy Tucker to Ducks. NFW. I don’t think Scott Niedermayer likes this guy.

Forsberg to Ducks. Of the few teams TSN says he’s willing to go to is the Ducks. If they make this deal (a mistake, IMHO) they have an inside line: the Ducks’ top prospect, Bobby Ryan is a Collingswood, NJ native and is well known in the greater Philadelphia area.

Bertuzzi to Detroit. Bert doesn’t fit the mold of a Detroit deadline acquisition. If he were 5 years older and a bit more accomplished, I could see it.

Stuart to the Devils. Is Brad Stuart a Devils’ type player? I don’t think so. In fact, the number one problem with the Devils this year is not their current roster: it’s their inability to refine it as usual due to cap problems. But even if they could swing this one, Stuart would just be Deron Quint part deux.

Lindros to Pittsburgh. This actually makes a great deal of sense. Has Lindros accepted his non-star status? If so, he might be able to help Sid with childhood and stardom. Or not.

More Gore Kremlinology

This time as an AP headline.

The reality is, we’re not going to know if he’s running for a while. If you’re Gore, see how the Oscars play out, see how the Congressional testimony plays out, see how the Nobel nomination pans out, and, above all, see what the others in the field are doing.

I won’t predict that he’ll jump in, but I will predict that all of those factors will end up favoring his run.

Nader.

I’m not going to type this again. I’m sick of this discussion, and I’m sick of people who don’t get it.

Nader did not hand the White House to Bush. I repeat, Nader did not hand the White House to Bush.

Informal logic is overhyped in political discussions. Strawman this, red herring that, ad hominem y’all. But formal logic doesn’t suffer from the same problems. It’s kinda how things are. In formal logic, there is the concept of necessary and sufficient causes.

Causes are often distinguished into two types: Necessary and sufficient.

Necessary causes:

If x is a necessary cause of y; then the presence of y necessarily implies that x preceded it. The presence of x, however, does not imply that y will occur.

Sufficient causes:

If x is a sufficient cause of y, then the presence of x necessarily implies the presence of y. However, another cause z may alternatively cause y. Thus the presence of y does not imply the presence of x.

So, what were the necessary causes of Gore’s defeat? These are the things that had to occur for Gore to lose, but didn’t necessarily trigger his loss all alone. (1) A certain number of votes for Bush; (2) A certain insufficiently superior number of votes for Gore; (3) The Supreme Court’s bizarre holding; (4) [for the sake of the argument] Nader votes not going to Gore — assume there were in fact enough of these to bridge the difference. Now, parts of all of these causes can be parsed. Gore’s ridiculous campaign decisions, including picking Liebermann, distancing himself from Clinton, acting like a fucken robot, and so forth. Also, I assume for the sake of the argument that Buchanan stole no votes from Bush, and that the Libertarian candidate stole no votes from Bush. Those assumptions are made only to refute the Nader theory.

But none of these on their own caused his loss, since we know that the number of votes statewide in Florida actually handed the state to Gore, and that if the Florida court’s ruling had been left to stand by the Supreme Court, Gore would have won. So, what’s the sufficient cause? The fifth vote by a Supreme Court justice overruling the Florida court and stopping the recount with Bush in the lead. Part of me wants to believe that vote was O’Connor’s since she was usually the swing vote, but her election night comments don’t wash with that, so I think it might have been Kennedy. He wrote the per curiam opinion–maybe he demanded to to vote with the trio that really wanted Bush: Thomas, Rehnquist, and Scalia.

So, while it’s possible that if Nader had withdrawn, endorsed Gore, or never run that Gore would have got enough votes to exceed the recount threshhold, but we’ll never know–that’s pure speculation, but those factors could have shifted votes in innumerable ways. Nader’s endorsement of Gore could have tilted some towards Bush.

But what we do know is, absent the illegal decision of the Supreme Court, Gore would have won. It and it alone is the sufficient cause of Gore’s defeat.

And that cause was engineered by the Republican party, not by Nader, and not by the Greens.

I understand the rhetorical force behind the anti-Nader theory. It’s telling folks to go with the Dems because they’re the lesser of two evils. But it’s very un-Democratic to use slippery reasoning to push a thinly veiled political agenda. Just say it. Say, “Don’t risk it.” Don’t push the fallacious theory that Nader caused the loss.

Nader was among many factors that contributed to Gore’s loss. But it is impossible absent an agreed set of values to say just what percent he contributed. It’s a mash of complex systems that cannot be solved. In any event, it’s probably accurate to say that among all of the factors that Nader was not even the most important non-sufficient cause, that Gore himself was.

But it was the GOP dirty tricks machine and their plumbers that stole that election. They are the enemy. Don’t let Kos or Altermann’s anti-Nader arguments take your eye of the ball.

The Arrogance of old Oilers

The first hockey team I ever even pretended to like was the Montreal Canadiens. I never formed a real connection to them, but in the late 80s, they still seemed almost royal. Today they focus on the glories of the past, like Italians or Brits.

Throughout the century they dominated hockey, winning 25% of all the Stanley Cup championships that team played a significant role in the evolution of hockey from 24 guys skating around a frozen pond to half that many skating armor-clad in multi-million dollar arenas. But there is no Canadien player that I can name that ever decided that he should be the de facto commissioner of the league and put forth proposals on how to run the game.

I can’t say the same for the Oiler’s dynasty of the 80s. Gretzky, who even a detractor like me will grant is the best offensive player of his era, became part of the program to expand the league by agreeing to play that role in Los Angeles, and he also vigorously argued for the removal or reduction of fighting from the game, purportedly to bring out the “skill” in the game. These are the two worst things ever to happen to hockey.

The the casual American fan, who can probably only name one hockey player if asked (Gretzky), the multi-pass and shoot, high scoring games have the same flat brain-wave appeal that most of what they enjoy does. But aficionados of the game enjoy all aspects, including the physical, grinding, intangible part of the game where players seem to practically will the puck into the net to win a game, even if they haven’t scored in months. A true hockey fan gets more pleasure out of a 1-0 game than out of a 7-6 slop-fest.

I think Gretzky isn’t succeeding as a coach because the game is too easy for him, and the average NHL player just can’t replicate what he thinks is easy. I think he fails to realize that it’s not a matter of changing rules or snapping fingers and having 30 teams today that play like the 1985 Oilers. Na ga hap pen. And it shouldn’t. The Canadiens of the 70s or the Devils of the 90s both won multiple championships playing defense–but that’s not “exciting” according to John Q. Nascar fan.

The arrogance is astounding. And today, I’m reading that Mark Messier is trying to annoint himself GM of the Rangers, as if he has done anything in his life to qualify him for that position. 6 cups? all those goals? That qualifies him for the player hall of fame–and it barely even commends him as a scout, let alone a GM.

Then again, he couldn’t do much worse than the clown parade that’s been running that team for decades…. could he?

Three Weeks Until The Deadline

The NHL season is starting to take shape, starting have an identity. The race for the cup is wide open, and the deadline day deals will have playoff implications.

Here’s where I think we are.

Teams with a realistic shot to come out of the East:

Buffalo. They lack the long history of playoff experience that other teams in the East do, but they did get to the Conference finals last year with mostly the same group. They are likely to coast into the playoffs, so their first round performance will speak volumes.

Atlanta. If this team can pull all of its parts together in the playoffs, they will be a team to fear. No one knows what they’ll do in the playoffs, though.

New Jersey. In stark contrast to the previous two, this group has experience and knows what to do. Being up against the cap limits what trades can be made, and I’m not sold on this year’s edition of the Devils yet. But I never bet against Marty Brodeur.

Out west:

Nashville. There’s a certain Je-ne-sais-quoi about this team that fails to instill confidence in me. They’re good, yeah, but they play 24 games against the Blues, Hawks, and Jackets. I guess what really concerns me is their team defense in the playoff context. I certainly expect them to win at least a round or two.

Anaheim. When healthy, this is the best team on paper and in practice this year. They’re extraordinarily balanced in a pre-cap elite kind of way, and have two goalies who have established playoff shutout records. Barring an injury, they’re returning to the Conference finals at least. There’s cap room here too, so we’ll see what the deadline brings. Concerns? Injury, but that applies to everyone. I’d like to see fewer penalties too.

San Jose. This team doesn’t appear as good as it is in the regular season because Doug Wilson built them for the playoffs, explicitly stating his intention to use the Devils as a model. The big problem with doing that is you need to get yourselves a Brodeur, Stevens, and Niedermayer to do that. Easier said that done. Still, I think this team could win the Cup if the get off on the right foot.

Current rumors around the web:

Sundin and/or Tucker to Anaheim.
Forsberg to Nashville
Bertuzzi on the move.

Super Bowl Monte Carlo Scenarios

The worst Super Bowl of all time was number XXIV between the stalwart 49ers and the upstart Chargers. On the third play from scrimmage Jerry Rice caught a 44 yard TD pass and ya’ just knew it was over. The Chargers scored a few pointsin garbage time to make the final score look better, but the final 58:33 of that game was moot.

One monte carlo scenario could be the same this go around, but I doubt it:

Scenario One: Colts get a quick early score and “Bad” Rex creates an early turnover leading to more Colts points. Colts easily ride big first quarter lead to a blow out win.

Scenario Two: Defenses hold both ofenses relatively in check, but Colts finally break through and win a good contest by double digits in the fourth quarter.

Scenario Three: Game is close after the first quarter, both teams trade points and turnovers and it comes down to a last minute classic.

I feel that scenario three is most likely. For all of the ballyhoo abou the Colts’ offense they were held in check by Kansas City, Baltimore and NE for a half. Colts broke through against the Pats eventually, but the Pats’ defense was obviously very tired from the win over SD. With two weeks off that won’t be the case here. Bears’ defense went in a slump late in the season, but their manhandling of NO shows that they cam handle a team with multiple threats.

A close game down the stretch could go either way. Bears’ superior run offense could wear down the Colts’ D. Colts’ better QB play + Viniteri would give them the edge on a last minute drive. Bears are more likely to create a big turnover on D, but also likely to give one on O. Forcing Colts to settle for FGs and punts would give Hester multiple chances aganst Colts’ mediocre special teams coverage. Manning lovefest could influence officiating – bogus roughing the passer call, anyone?

As a betting man I am taking the Bears +7. I’ll be rooting for the Bears but my final prediction is Colts 24 Bears 20.

My only caveat is that if at kickoff we find that any player from either team was invoved with anything of the cocaine/prostitute/8 bottles of tequila variety the night before the game then that team will lose.

Update: A version of scenario two happened. Bears played good enough defense but too much Bad Rex – three unforced fumbles – stopped their offense from doing anything and eventually the defense wore out. Losing Benson early in the game was just shit happening. That’s football.

The Judiciary Has Been Drowned In A Bathtub

Geoffrey Stone skillfully argues at HuffPo that the Supreme Court abdicates its constitutional role by issuing narrow opinions in the manner that Chief Justice Roberts propones. He briefly touches on the reasons why this matters to people: it creates different zones of the country where the law applies differently, but there’s more.

First, liberals like to refute the conservatives “Activist” diss of the Warren court by showing that the Rehnquist court struck down far more laws. That is correct, but the typical decisions of the Rehnquist court, especially those that pivoted on Sandra Day O’Connors tie-breaker contained very narrow holdings that were often only useful in the case at hand.

This chicken-shit jurisprudence is part of the half-century long conservative crusade to neuter the judiciary. It’s not simply something with good intentions and bad effects. So, the Warren court says you have to give the Miranda warning and says exactly what it is. To conservatives, that’s legislating. But when the Rehnquist court says that a search was valid due to the “totality of the circumstances” it not only leaves police and lower courts not knowing what the new boundaries really are, it leaves that decision in the hands of other branches of government.

So, to the extent this has succeeded, they have drowned this particular branch of government in a bathtub.

Second, the practical effect of this is leaving these broader pronouncements to the Circuit courts which are essentially dominated by conservative, Republican appointees. There are only a very few truly liberal Circuit court justices. Judge Reinhardt on the Ninth Circuit, a famously liberal circuit, is really the only one on that court. Most of the so-called “liberals” are center-right.

Up until very recently, this ploy, begun largely by Rehnquists diktat to reduce the number of cases the court hears, had the effect of handing down the decisions to the more conservative courts where nutjobs could get approved more stealthily.

The extreme political wars fought over every Supreme Court justice have resulted in near-stasis at that level, but the Circuit courts have taken a sever right turn.

Never underestimate the subtlety and extremely cynical partisan ends of the conservative war on the judiciary. It is ancient, vast, powerful, and hidden from the ken of most Americans. It machinations are always more sinister than is apparent.