A Memorial Day Remembrance

May 31, 2010

Update: I believe this needs to be pointed out also.

This Just In: BP Top Kill Fail

May 29, 2010

I’ve got an idea (not original, I know); let’s start plugging the hole with BP executives, starting with Tony Hayward (here).

A Word About The “Fly Guys”

May 29, 2010

I realize that I don’t delve into the world of sports too often, but I believe the occasion presents itself here with the return of the Philadelphia Flyers to the Stanley Cup Finals against the Chicago Black Hawks starting tomorrow night.

At the outset, let me say that I never predicted this. I thought they were toast when they went down 3-0 against Boston in the second round, after defeating the New Jersey Devils in the opening round. However, they took my pessimism and stuck it right in my ear, coming back to defeat the Bruins with four straight wins, then moving on to defeat the Montreal Canadiens in five games. Good for them (though I detest the organization’s warmongering owner, Ed Snider, formerly of “Freedom’s Watch” here).

Chicago, however, is most definitely a different team from Montreal. I’ve seen the Black Hawks a few times this year, and they can defeat you a number of ways. Yes, the line of Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Dustin Byfuglien (pronounced “Buffin,” I think) is formidable, but the team also has other goal scorers in Kris Versteeg and Marian Hossa, and great role-playing guys (the types who usually emerge in series like these) such as Dave Bolland and former Devil John Madden. Their defense pairing of Brent Seabrooke and Hart Trophy-finalist (for best defenseman) Duncan Keith is formidable, along with Brian Campbell and Nick Boynton, and goalie Antti Niemi is playing at peak form.

I would tend to view Chicago as the favorite, but the Flyers have a lot on their side also. I cannot recall the last time the team had this degree of balanced scoring in the playoffs, and I’ve also never seen the team as it’s currently composed playing better defense. Yes, it’s true that Michael Leighton deserves a lot of accolades, but let’s not forget Brian Boucher also; the way things have gone this season, I have a feeling we’ll see Boucher again, and I don’t mean that to knock Leighton. Chris Pronger, in addition to his stellar play, has brought other intangibles, taking some burden off Kimmo Timonen and the other defensemen. And though Danny Briere and Mike Richards have led the offense, Simon Gagne has stood tall also, and Jeff Carter returned from injury just in time against Montreal (I always thought Gagne played “soft,” but there’s nothing “soft” about his great play in the postseason, with he and Carter playing with foot injuries that would probably keep me sitting down for most of a day). And in addition to these guys, Claude Giroux, James van Riemsdyk and Arron Asham and even Dan Carcillo have come through with big goals (and Ville Leino has come from nowhere to make a big contribution as well).

As you look at the rosters of the Hawks and Flyers, I think it’s interesting that, though Chicago had a decided regular season edge in goals scored, allowed and differential between the two versus the Flyers, those numbers are a lot closer in the postseason (54 scored vs. 34 allowed for the Flyers, versus 53 and 37 for the Hawks).

There is also an interesting story to be told in the former Hawks players who are now Flyers, and that would be Leighton and defenseman Braydon Coburn, and former Flyers players who are now Hawks, such as the dangerous Patrick Sharp and fourth-line forward Ben Eager (figures that the one player let go from another bad Bob Clarke trade turns out to still be playing for another team).

I also saw that the Flyers and the Hawks have each reached the finals five times and lost since they last won Stanley Cups, so one team will break that streak. I can’t recall Chicago’s history – I believe they last won a Cup in 1960 – but for the Flyers, I can recall each of the five misses.

The first was in ’76 against Montreal, a team that was built for a dynasty, and it began with their win over the Flyers. In 1981 against a New York Islanders, they also fought hard, though they were overmatched just enough; the critical Game 6 also turned on two horrific lapses by the officials (the Isles also started a Cup run). In 1985, they again were overmatched by another team beginning a dynasty, which was the Edmonton Oilers of Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier, etc. They came back in 1987 against Edmonton, and I thought they might have won had they not run out of gas from playing earlier rounds that went the duration (to their credit, both the Flyers and Hawks dispatched their opposition fairly quickly to get here, though the Boston series was the longest for Philadelphia).

In 1997, it seemed that everything was in place to break the streak with The Next One, Eric Lindros, playing with John LeClair and Mikael Renberg (Ron Hextall played in goal as he did ten years earlier, though he was sharper against the Oilers). However, the Detroit Red Wings were set to begin still another dynasty, and the Flyers were swept. As you can see from their roster, though, after you get past Lindros, LeClair, Renberg, Eric Desjardins and Rod Brind’Amour, the caliber of the team really fell off. The Flyers simply could not match Detroit’s depth.

In closing, I just want to say that we should treat this experience of the Flyers team reaching the finals as a gift. By no means should we consider this to be the “last shot” for the team, though that could be the case for Pronger, Briere, Gagne or also Scott Hartnell. The young core of forwards of this team isn’t going to go anywhere, though. Yes, it would be awesome if they won, but merely to get to this point is amazing by itself.

All I ask is that they don’t get swept. I will continue to hope that that won’t happen, if for no other reason than Peter Laviolette, the Flyers’ current coach, is much better than Terry “choking situation” Murray of the 1997 team.

Let’s keep living this dream for a little while longer (and I wonder what’s going on in the mind of Ray Emery, by the way?).

Karl Rove “Goes There” On Katrina And The BP Spill

May 27, 2010

roveAs noted here…

Today in the Wall Street Journal, Karl Rove pens an op-ed titled: “Yes, the Gulf Spill is Obama’s Katrina.” He predictably places blame on Obama for a “lethargic,” “slow,” and “unacceptable” response to the BP oil spill. But the real significance of the op-ed is not what Rove has to say about Obama; rather, it’s that Rove is implicitly acknowledging that Bush screwed up the response to Katrina. Rove is essentially trying to make the case that Obama mismanaged a disaster almost as terribly as he and Bush did.

This is breaking news because, for years, despite all the evidence to the contrary, Rove has defended his administration’s disastrous response to Hurricane Katrina.

And “Bush’s Brain” began his at-least-once-a-month-Obama-bashing screed today as follows…

As President Obama prepares to return to the Gulf Coast Friday, he is receiving increasing criticism for his handling of the oil spill. For good reason: Since the Deepwater Horizon rig blew up on April 20, a lethargic Team Obama has delayed or blown off key decisions requested by state and local governments and left British Petroleum in charge of developing a plan to cap the massive leak.

The “delayed or blown off key decisions” is a typical Repug smear, of course. And I think it’s more than a little perverse that the people who now criticize Obama for letting BP take the lead on this before the company finally owed up to the fact that they didn’t know what they were doing would probably be the first to complain that Number 44 is staging some kind of a “big gumint” takeover of the oil biz if the situation weren’t so catastrophic.

And as far as the part about “state and local governments,” I think the following should be kept in mind from here (concerning Louisiana’s governor “Kenneth The Page”)…

For their part, White House officials are puzzled by Jindal’s increasing criticism of their efforts. The governor and his staff have been in nearly constant contact with Obama’s team since the first days of the spill, and those interactions have been cordial and businesslike, with little of the sharp rhetoric of his most recent public statements, administration officials maintain.

“Everything he’s asked for, he’s gotten, except for the sand idea, which has some real possible problems,” said one official familiar with the situation.

On Monday, Jindal met with administration officials, emerging to tell reporters he was frustrated with federal efforts to place containment booms around endangered coastal wetlands before the brown tide of oil seeps into fragile marshland.

Jindal said the administration had deployed 815,569 feet of hard containment boom, but claimed the Coast Guard and the Department of Homeland Security have yet to act on a request for 5 million additional feet of hard boom that he made on May 2, less than two weeks after the spill started.

“It is clear that the resources needed to protect our coast are not here,” he said. “Boom, skimmers, vacuums and jack-up barges are all in short supply. Every day oil sits and waits for clean up, more of our marsh dies.”

Allen, who is coordinating the federal response, told reporters Monday that he will consider the request once the demands of a multistate “contingency plan” for the spill are met.

Democratic critics aren’t the only ones put off by Jindal. Some Republicans favor the more laidback approach of Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, a former Republican National Committee chairman, who has stood up for the oil industry and suggested that liberal environmentalists are exploiting the catastrophe to curtail deep sea drilling.

“Haley has actually taken the smarter approach, from a national perspective,” said a GOP operative close to both politicians. “Haley doesn’t have oil on his beaches. … But he has taken the long view, that this shouldn’t kill an important source of energy. Bobby has been a little frantic, running around, much more concerned about how he’ll look on tonight’s TV news.”

“Liberal environmentalists trying to curtail deep sea drilling” – I’ll laugh over that absurdity if any species of ocean life ends up living in the Gulf after this tragedy is over, assuming it ever is.

As Think Progress tells us above, though, the real takeaway here is Turd Blossom’s admission that he and his boss screwed up on Katrina after years of typical denials.

Though, as recently as last March, he said the following (here, to sell his book of course)…

Rove insisted, as the White House did at the time, that it wasn’t clear how desperate the situation was. He blamed local and state officials in Louisiana for the failure to communicate and said the federal government lacked “real-time information” on what was going on in New Orleans. Critics have said all he had to do was turn on the television to see how desperate the situation was.

“The media did not have real-time information. The media led people to believe there were snipers,” Rove said, which kept rescuers out of some neighborhoods. “You didn’t know about the suffering at the convention center until the government did. But the government should have known about it earlier. That’s one of the big reforms to come out of Katrina.”

So it was the fault of the media and “local and state officials” during Katrina. Who of course are utterly blameless now, as opposed to Obama (and I thought this was interesting on the supposed “snipers” in New Orleans after Katrina hit; also, here is a pretty comprehensive post on all the ways that the prior ruling cabal of which Rove was a charter member did all it could to exacerbate Katrina’s impact).

If any heads are going to roll on Team Obama, I would say that Ken Salazar’s should be on the proverbial chopping block, though the first person to go has done so, as noted here (not sure what Elizabeth Birnbaum or any other human being could have done to undo the mess of the Minerals Management Service in less than a year, but there you are).

Rove has always been one of the all-time greats, I hate to admit, when it comes to peddling just enough dookey in a public forum that seems believable to the easily led but repellant enough to not quite enough people to do anything about it. However, there are limits to all human faculties, particularly the sense of smell, and on this occasion, he has vigorously cleared that threshold.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go buy a case of Glade so I can fumigate my workspace.

And Tony Hayward Will Still Be Rich

May 27, 2010

No word on whether or not “Operation Shock And Awe” in the Oilpocalypse has plugged everything up yet; here are some people whose lives will probably be ruined as a result – love to be wrong.

A Crackpot Connivance Over DADT

May 27, 2010

I don’t know who Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association is, but he made himself a world-class asshat with the remarks below (more here).

As noted here, 75 percent of this country want to see “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repealed; welcome to the voice of the “25 percenters” (sooo…does Fischer think “The Producers” was a documentary??).

Not Hearing “Drill, Baby, Drill” Anymore, Are We?

May 25, 2010

Ugh – it will be a miracle if anything survives (and sorry, George, but “extraordinary” isn’t quite the word I had in mind).

(Oh, but the life forms responsible for what you see must be doing the right thing – after all, they ran these ads…yes, that’s definitely snark.)

Monday Mashup Part One (5/24/10)

May 24, 2010

  • 1) The them today (as usual) is media wankery; with that in mind, I give you Kevin Ferris from yesterday’s Philadelphia Inquirer (here, on the subject of how this country is supposedly “post-racial” – no, sadly, I don’t think we’ll ever see that day either)…

    …is the Justice Department up to the job (presumably, of enforcing the type of racial compliance Ferris wants to see)? I’d say no, based on how it handled the voter intimidation case involving the New Black Panther Party on Election Day 2008.

    Two Panthers were “deployed” in “military style uniforms” at a polling station on Fairmount Street, according to the original Justice Department complaint, and one of the men “brandished a deadly weapon” – a nightstick.

    The complaint, initiated during the Bush administration, said the men “made statements containing racial threats and racial insults at both black and white individuals” and “made menacing and intimidating gestures, statements, and movements” toward those helping voters.

    The two men, the national Panthers leader, and the party itself were named in the complaint. When they didn’t respond, the case was won by default. At which point the Justice Department could have sent a message that voter intimidation by armed members of hate groups will not be tolerated.

    But Attorney General Eric Holder’s Justice Department dropped the case against all but the guy with the club. His punishment? He can’t display a weapon at a polling place in Philadelphia through 2012. Hate groups must be shaking in their jackboots.

    (Also, I suppose I should probably get myself exercised over Ferris’s version of what happened last year with the Valley Swim Club in this screed, in which he complains that “This case should have been settled amicably, but lawsuits were filed – including one from the Justice Department. The club declared bankruptcy last fall and this month’s sale is the result.” To which I respond that, yeah, well, the Justice Department is supposed to get involved when people’s civil rights are violated. And I don’t think anything more needs to be said in response – if I do, Ferris will just come back a month later and say the same thing he said before, no matter how wrong it is.)

    However, I know for a fact that the following comment (in response to the “Black Panther” thing) was submitted but not published (from here)…

    Assuming this comment is allowed, I should point out the following. On November 4, 2008, Greg Sargent of TPM followed up on the Black Panther thing, calling Obama campaign volunteer Jacqueline Dischell, who confirmed that two Black Panthers guarded the polling place in question, which was a nursing home. One was an officially designated poll watcher (not sure by whom) and the other was his friend. The one holding the nightstick didn’t stay there all day, leaving hours before the other man. The McCain-Palin campaign heard about them when they both were there, sent some people over to take pictures with their cell phones, and started baiting the two. One of the two men gave someone in the McCain-Palin group “the finger.” Some time later, camera crews from Fox News showed up and started interviewing people at the polling place. That’s the story. There was never any voter intimidation. That’s why Holder slapped the guy with the nightstick on the proverbial wrist and dropped all other charges.

    Adherence to conservative orthodoxy is one thing, Inky (bad as it is). Journalistic malpractice is another.

  • Also, this article appeared in the New York Times today…

    WASHINGTON — Republicans remain confident of making big gains in the fall elections, but as the midterm campaign begins in earnest, they face a series of challenges that could keep the party from fully capitalizing on an electorate clamoring for change in Washington.

    Republicans continue to have much in their favor, and over all appear to be in a stronger position than Democrats. They continue to benefit from a widespread sense among voters that government has gotten too expansive, with Mr. Obama’s health care bill as Exhibit A. The economic recovery remains tepid, with unemployment still high.

    Republicans raised more money than Democrats last month, a reflection of the optimism about the potential for gains in November among the party’s contributors.

    Gee, that’s interesting, particularly given that, as noted here (h/t The Daily Kos)…

    The Republican National Committee announced Friday it raised $6.8 million in April and had $12.4 million on hand at the end of last month. That monthly haul is some $3.5 million less than the Democratic National Committee raised: the DNC took in $10.3 million and had $15.1 million in the bank at the end of the month.

    And talk about having its thumb on the metaphorical scale when it comes to reporting – Jeff Zeleny and Carl Hulse of the Times had no trouble tracking down Republican politicians and operatives, but I guess the Dems were all in hiding wearing tie dye, ingesting hallucinogenic drugs and singing hosannas to Ward Churchill or something (joke), since none could be found for the story.

    And by the way, if you want to know which party is actually trying to help get this country back on its feet, as it were, as opposed to which one isn’t, try reading this.

  • Finally, I give you John Harwood of “the old gray lady” (here)…

    Democrats see more opportunity in attacking the Tea Party right’s stance toward programs that, however pricey, have built durable constituencies. In the Times/CBS poll, Tea Party enthusiasts expressed more support than other Americans for cuts in Social Security, Medicare, education and defense.

    I haven’t seen a poll anywhere conducted on behalf of any group noting the same degree of support for this country’s defense spending as I’ve seen for support of Social Security and Medicare, by the way.


    The Achilles’ heel for Democrats is the political zeitgeist of 2010. Costly stimulus and health care bills make it hard to argue that the Obama administration is making government leaner; now the specter of an untamed oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico clouds the argument for effective government, too.

    You can legitimately question some of what the Obama Administration has done in the Gulf, though BP said early on that they knew what they were doing when they plainly didn’t, but how is the aftermath of the spill NOT an indictment of the laissez-faire capitalist BS of Dubya and his pals?

    Particularly when you consider the following (here)…

    Despite obvious hazards and dangers, as well as inadequate safety practices, a succession of administrations, including Barack Obama’s, have backed corporate strategies strongly favoring the exploitation of oil and gas reservoirs in the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico and other environmentally sensitive areas.

    On the government’s side, this outlook was first fully articulated in the National Energy Policy (NEP) adopted by President George W. Bush on May 17, 2001. Led by former Halliburton CEO Vice President Dick Cheney, the framers of the policy warned that the United States was becoming ever more dependent on imported energy, thereby endangering national security. They called for increased reliance on domestic energy sources, especially oil and natural gas. “A primary goal of the National Energy Policy is to add supply from diverse sources,” the document declared. “This means domestic oil, gas, and coal.”

    As the NEP made clear, however, the United States was running out of conventional, easily tapped reservoirs of oil and natural gas located on land or in shallow coastal waters. “U.S. oil production is expected to decline over the next two decades, [while] demand for natural gas will most likely continue to outpace domestic production,” the document noted. The only solution, it claimed, would be to increase exploitation of unconventional energy reserves — oil and gas found in deep offshore areas of the Gulf of Mexico, the Outer Continental Shelf, Alaska, and the American Arctic, as well as in complex geological formations such as shale oil and gas. “Producing oil and gas from geologically challenging areas while protecting the environment is important to Americans and to the future of our nation’s energy security,” the policy affirmed. (The phrase in italics was evidently added by the White House to counter charges — painfully accurate, as it turned out — that the administration was unmindful of the environmental consequences of its energy policies.)

    The Deepwater Horizon explosion, we assuredly will be told, was an unfortunate fluke: a confluence of improper management and faulty equipment. With tightened oversight, it will be said, such accidents can be averted — and so it will be safe to go back into the deep waters again and drill for oil a mile or more beneath the ocean’s surface.

    Don’t believe it. While poor oversight and faulty equipment may have played a critical role in BP’s catastrophe in the Gulf, the ultimate source of the disaster is big oil’s compulsive drive to compensate for the decline in its conventional oil reserves by seeking supplies in inherently hazardous areas — risks be damned.

    So long as this compulsion prevails, more such disasters will follow. Bet on it.

    In which case the utterly unscrupulous and ruthless demand for oil by BP and other corporate bad actors will be an “Achilles’ heel” not just for a politician regardless of party, but of the entire planet.

  • Victory In November (Heh) Comes Before The “Honeymoon”

    May 23, 2010

    “Democrat talking points,” huh? Boy, am I going to enjoy watching Jack Conway give you an electoral beat-down.

    …so, in other words…

    Alan Grayson Does It Again

    May 23, 2010

    I don’t care who the president is, Grayson is right; this is an idea whose time has come (here).

    Obscenely-salaried bunco artists with fancy degrees ripping off our economy with impunity on Wall Street, corporate environmental criminals ruining precious wetlands and nature preserves to say nothing of entire industries in the Gulf, and defense contractors getting forever rich off war without end in the Middle East and Asia…all the while, our economy crumbles.

    Anybody in the House who I support who doesn’t support Grayson’s bill had better have a damn good explanation.

    (And by the way, if any “teabaggers” out there had any brains, this is exactly what they should support based on all of their barely-coherent antics.)

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