If the Democrats don’t win control of at least one chamber this election, I’m taking my English law license and packing up.

P.S. Where the hell was today’s John Kerry two years ago? Better question: where was today’s Al Gore six years ago? When are these fucks going to realize that you have to kick ass to win.

Rangers Get Blasted

So much for the “we’re gonna pick up some points on this road trip” theory. The Kings blasted them. Sean Avery—Sean fucking Avery–danced around the Ranger’s slot coverage like he was Mario freakin’ Lemieux scoring on Lundquist.

Is there any legitimate non-marketing reason why Jagr wears the C? He’s always whining about something. The latest is that he doesn’t have “confidence in his shot” so he’s passing. wtf?

So, what’s next on the Ranger Pravda propaganda wagon? After all, last year’s playoff appearance certainly earned them another seven years of laudatory coverage notwithstanding later results. Oh, I’ve got it. They will pick it up in the end of the season, because they play better from behind. (But we knew that already.)

Final Pre-Election Forecast

Democrats will gain control of the House of Representatives, gaining 20-30 seats in that chamber, primarily with gains in the Northeast and West, in particular Pennsylvania and New York. Some real stunning results may occur, such as a potential win in Idaho, Wyoming, or Kansas. This will create potential veto-overriding coalitions possible on tough regional issues or issues like stem cell research where there is no clear Republican position.

In the Senate, Democrats will pick up seats in Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Montana, and Virginia, resulting in a 50-50 (48-50-1-1) chamber narrowly controlled by the Republicans through Dick Cheney, giving the Democrats a constant talking point, and setting the chamber up for strong gains in 2008. It should be noted that the tough races in this campaign will strengthen downticket Democrats even though it looks like Harold Ford will be kkkept out of the Senate, and Claire McCaskill is losing steam as well. I do believe Liebermann will win in Connecticut, even though I think it will be a lot closer than the polls suggest (1 or 2 points) due to Lamont’s ground game and Schlesinger’s 11th hour heroics. Fortunately, if Liebermann does switch parties, it won’t change things much.

If the rumors are true that Harry Reid has offered to step aside to Hillary as minority leader, she would be wise to do so if the 50-50 split occurs, giving her 18% Cheney to use as her whipping boy, while ignoring the more photogenic Frist (who still has some chits to call in with the religious right) or his potentially nasty successor McConnell.

UPDATE: A recent poll shows a gain of 37 seats for a total of 240. I’m not that optimistic. I think especially in the South, the GOP’s ground game and institutional support will keep close races there from being lost.

Philadelphia Media Imploding Over Flyers' Stench

Look at this whining piece by Ed Moran. Moran’s basic thesis is that because the fans pay for tickets the players should play and win. And, oh, the horror of watching Snide Crosby score the hat in the F-U center (or whatever it’s called now).

You’d have to look at this in a totally different aspect if it were a Montreal writer writing in the mid 90s, coming off a dynastic high of 100 years, or even just a Detroit writer this year. At first glance, that have been a good analogy to what’s going on in Philly. The difference is, though, that the Flyers haven’t been good for years. They just fooled people into thinking they were. If hockey standings worked like the BCS, the Flyers would start the year ranked near the top every year because of all of the hype their latest free agent signing generated, but end in the middle because they don’t have the goaltending to close the deal.

Only now is the illusion finally caving in on them. And for stupid reasons. A 6,7, or 8 goal loss in the post-lockout NHL is not something that on its face means anything. Yet for some reason, that mattered in Philly. It was the image of it, not the reality that the team hasn’t been built to be anything other than a flashy showpiece for 20 years that caused the churn there.

But still, it’s sickening that these people can’t comprehend a losing season, especially since they have failed to win anything for years.

This kind of whining wouldn’t sound good to fans of most other teams in the league, who either are suffering or have in the recent past. Even the most consistent performers of late have had recent periods of joke-status, including New Jersey, Detroit, Dallas/Minnesota, and Colorado/Quebec. But apparently, no one in Philly has noticed that they’ve been a joke since at least the days of Lindros. Until now.

In some NHL cities, it’s not about stars, it’s about winning. In Philly, it’s about the appearance of, or the entitlement to, winning.

It's Time To Reform California

You might be surprised to learn just how difficult it can be to be a California Democrat. Our party seems to produce nothing but uncharismatic checklist pols who only seem to win due to institutional support or spoils, instead of any real popularity. We have some rising stars outside of the standard state officeholder ladder like Gavin Newsom and Antonio Villaraigosa (who for some reason makes me feel leery, but for no specific reason).

On the federal level, we have a pretty good stable of folks, but most of them aren’t interested in purely state matters at a state level.

As passionate and involved as I might feel with federal elections, within our state, I feel completely unmotivated. Just about every legislative district is safe for the incumbent party. As I noted, Democrats never produce a candidate for governor that I feel will move the ball, and our Proposition system has made it clear that the word “byzantine” will soon be an archaic use because “Californian” will be more modish.

It’s a weird landscape. Each election is basically a fight between a few big unions and the chamber of commerce. Social conservatives play almost no role. Environmentalism is superficially important, but doesn’t drive the agenda as much as people think. Real environmentalism, anyway. Excluding Arnold’s global warming bill, California is the champion of NIMBY exclusionism instead of progressive environmental policy. (Witness the myopic fight over wind power and birds — what habitat will the birds have if the climate is destroyed?)

While the unions and their employers squabble over their issues, very little is done for the average person. Making sustainable yet affordable housing available is virtually ignored. Sprawl and traffic congestion, the two horsemen of the California apocalypse, are derided but permitted.

And why not? If you can get elected to the legislature, you are safe until term limits move you to a different chamber, or to the executive branch. If a tough issue comes up, punt it to the initiative process.

Here’s what we need:

(1) Proportional representation in the lower house.
(2) No term limits
(3) No propositions, recalls, or referenda.
(4) No Lieutenant Governor


Incredible. The man has singlehandedly been able to associate the name “Cam” with badass. In his most recent exploit he took out the head down and whiny D-Man Mike Van Ryn with a clean open ice check that disconnected Van Ryn from his stick and sent him scuttling to the hospital without retrieving it. Next he plastered the aging goon Gary Roberts (and got a bogus charging call after the fact). For an encore he turned Steve Matador into Tomato Face in a mutual fair fight. Janssens should have been the second or third star of the game.

Given his role, Janssens has been the Devils’ best player this season. Every game he makes at least one memorable hit. He has taken few penalties. If his line could begin to establish a bit more of a cycle and perhaps get a few ugly goals it would be a real boon because they would be on the ice more often.

Update: Another painful hit in last night’s 1-0 win.

Versus's Coverage Embarrasses Me

Mike Emrick is one of the better play by play announcers in the NHL. On regular Devils broadcasts, he plays the kindly, innocent Mr. Rogers to the Forrest Gumpish Chico Resch. On OLN/Versus, he’s had John Davidson (who along with Sam Rosen, perfected reverse-psychological homerism) and a few others, most recently John VanBiesbrouck, whose reputation appears to have been rehabilitated.

Emrick is well suited to the US audience because he’s good at asking questions of his sidekick that might be on the average viewer’s mind (but that you know he damn well knows the answer to) without sounding condescending. He even helps the room-temperature IQed Resch articulate the answers.

And this is the toll you pay for watching hockey in the US. You have to put up with pedantic explanations, especially on the national broadcasts. It’s almost as if Joe Buck and Tim McGarver (the Forrest Gump of baseball) spend a significant portion of their time explaining the difference between fair and foul balls, and what exactly a “fastball” was.

But the Versus coverage has gone one step further, and it’s embarrassing. Last night, during the Penguins/Devils game, there were clearly orders (for the sake of promoting the game) to make everything Sidney Crosby did–every whine, every bitch, every stupid, simian sounding utterance–and everything Evgeni Malkin did sound like Superman had laced up some skates. They didn’t even pucker up this hard for Gretzky.

My wife, who comes from US hockey royalty, the Christian family, understands the game but isn’t much of a fan anymore. She was pounding away on her laptop when Sergei Brylin scored on a pretty neat play. This followed a lame, routing shot by Evgeni Malkin that never would have scored, and was probably done just to get a face off. This heroic Malkinism earned several replays and excited VanBiesbrouck to the point that it made me wonder if he was auditioning for the role of the gorilla in a remake of 2001. So, Brylin scores, and they show one lame replay. No dancing around the monolith. I say, “What, Brylin wasn’t a high enough draft pick for you to praise his play?” All he has is three Stanley Cup rings, something neither Malkin or Crosby are likely to achieve in this climate. My wife laughed, and laughed hard.

If she noticed how hard they were fellating Malkin and Crosby, then so did everyone.

The marketing geeks at the NHL don’t get it. You don’t make every broadcast Ice Hockey 101. You make it cool to be in the know. You make it look like the in crowd knows what’s up. You make people want to be in that in crowd. It’s the same reason we aren’t told how many yards you need for a first down on Monday night, and we’re not told what an RBI is during the World Series. If you don’t know, you find out, because everyone knows that.

This is, more or less, the same mentality that brought us FoxTrax. How often do you really see the ball in baseball? After a while, you take in much more information that that. Same in hockey.

So, even while hockey’s ratings get worse, the arenas still do pretty good. It’s better live, and it’s only decent in HD. On regular TV, it’s tolerable if the camera man can get the white-point correct (something not all of them appear to know how to do). Also, at the arena, you don’t have Chode Bendanatti pretending to know where Red Deer, Alberta is.