Monday, February 28, 2011

A few trades

Dustin Penner is the newest member of the Los Angeles Kings. The Kings, who are fifth in the Western Conference standings with 74 points, are my pick for biggest acquisition. Penner is a legitimate goal scorer with 32 this season and 105 in 343 NHL games.

This was the biggest deal on a rare slow last day for the NHL trade deadline. The Kings are 8 points behind the division-leading Sharks and are ready to make a push. Los Angeles gave up prospect Colton Teubert and draft picks in 2011 and 2012.

The Devils parted ways with Jason Arnott, who went to the Capitals for David Steckel. Steckel is the No. 1 enemy around Pittsburgh for being primarly responsible for Sidney Crosby's absence in the Penguins' lineup. He will fit right in with New Jersey.

I don't think the deal helps the Capitals too much. They need some good blue liners if they want to take that next step.

Pittsburgh didn't do anything, which is fine. I like the additions of Neal, Niskanen and Kovalev.

NHL Trade Deadline Update

Been a quiet morning for the NHL trade deadline day. Reports are that the General Managers who hold the rental players are asking way too much in return. I expect at least a few of those bottom dwelling teams blink and start dealing guys off in the afternoon. Biggest deal so far: Niclos Bergfors from the Atlanta Thrashers to the Florida Panthers for Radek Dvorak. Atlanta gave up too much there, imo. They got Bergfors as a center-piece to the deal for Ilya Kovalchuck with the New Jersey Devils last year and he has shown goal scoring promise. I don't see why they would give up on that potential they so coveted last year for a short term fill in, which is all Dvorak brings them. There is a reason this is a franchise yet to win a playoff game.
Biggest deal that WON'T happen: Brad Richards of the Dallas Stars to the New York Rangers for a king's ransom. Start with the Rangers 1st round pick, add in two of their young performing roster guys, and you may have a deal, but I don't think even Glenn Sather would gove up that much for the UFA to be. Then again... Its Sather.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Update on Arab Revolutions

Obama calls on Gaddafi to step down in Libya, okays use of sanctions. It is obvious that any moral standing Gaddafi had is long gone, but will sanctions and harsh rhetoric really accomplish anything? At what point do his actions against his own people warrent direct action by the UN Security Council? Ideally, Obama can get desired results without using force in this growing North Africa/Mid-East unrest. Saudi Arabia will remain the tipping point however, I believe. If there is an uprising in the heart of the Arab Kingdom like we have seen elsewhere in that part of the world, it will no longer be a tenable choice for the rest of the world to sit on the sidelines.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Supreme Court of the United States (Part 2)

If you look back at part 1 of this series on The Court, all I put up at first was article III of the U.S. Constitution. I did that because those few paragraphs set up the framework for the entire Federal Judicial system. If you look back on that rather brief and unassuming section of our country's founding document, you will notice that it is quite remarkable for what is missing from its instructions, as it is for what it lays out. There is no mention of the number of Justices that are to sit on the Court or what their qualifications are to be, nothing about how many cases they are to take on or how they are to come to their decisions. Most striking by its absence however is explicit authority for what has come to be known as THE most important function of the Court: its jurisdiction to review laws and determine whether they are or are not within the bounds of the Constitution.
This act of Judicial Review is absolutely vital to our concept of a system of "checks and balances" upon our Federal Government. And although it is implied and interpreted from the Supremacy clause in Article IV, it is not an explicit power granted unto the Court in Article III. Why is this seemingly crucial doctrine not included within the bedrock of the Federal Courts? The answer, I believe, lies within chasm that seperates our idealized national narrative of how our Country was formed and the practical realities and constraints of the "living and breathing" times that those who laid down the foundations for our Nation lived within.
There is a deep rooted mythology within the American pysche in regards to our Founding Fathers. They are our secular saints; a group of rag-tag rightously pious patriots who, uniquely in the annals of history, cast off the iron clad shackles of tyranny and unbearably cruel and intolerable oppression; to immediatley grant unto their Continent, and the World at large, a fully functional and perfected Union, that would unquestionably become the Shining Beacon on the Hill and lead the world into a new age of peace and prosperity. What is amazing is that worship and deitization of these founders, rather then being marginalized and reduced over the years, only seems to grow more polished and refined within each passing generation. It would be a grave misstatement to say that Americans do not know Their history. The emphasis must be placed however must be placed on the Their, not the 'history.' As explained in James Loewon's groundbreaking book "Lies My Teacher Told Me," the American history that is disseminated through our textbooks and schools is a white-washed melodrama of enduring progress meant to indoctrinate this secular mythology, not to raise levels of critical thinking or encourage civic engagement.
How does this mass misreading of history affect our concept of Judicial Review? It is because the Founding Fathers were not a monolithic rightous entity that this radical concept was not included directly within our Constitution. Although 5 of the 13 States had some form of Judicial Review or Veto within their State Constitutions in 1787, this was still a controversial idea at the time. It was not included for reasons having to do with political compromise of the times to ensure that all States ratified the novel Federal document. So we can see that even at the very foundations of our country's laws, there is an element of give and take between individual liberty, States rights, and Federal Powers.

Stay tuned for my next Supreme Court entry where I explore the way the Court obtained the power of review and its use of such power in the absolute worst decision in its History.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Goal celebration songs

I don't know too many names of the songs, but here are some of my likes and dislikes for what arenas play when NHL teams score plus a few suggestions.

I really enjoy the Rangers' song. I don't know if it is by a band or what, but I like it. I like the Flyers, too. I know, both are Atlantic Division rivals with the Penguins, but I can't help it. They're catchy.

The Penguins were fixated on Rock 'n' Roll Part 2 but, have scrapped it since moving into the Consol Energy Center, isn't it ironic that the Consol Energy Center has lighting issues? Anyways, I have been hearing Blur's Song 2 when they score. Yeah, I didn't know the name for a while, either, but it's the one that repeats, "Woo-Hoo" over and over. It fits for a goal celebration song.

The Canadiens play Vertigo, and it doesn't fit at all. I don't mind the song, but it doesn't work for me when it comes to a team scoring. I despise that Chelsea Dagger song they play in Chicago. I like the Blackhawks, but what a bad song. Being that they have been a great team for a while, I am tortured to hear it when I watch Chicago play.

I really like Rise Against's "Help is on the way." Maybe it is in use somewhere, but I like it and the band seems to be popular at NHL arenas. Killswitch Engage's "This fire burns" is really cool and it is a good song that could be played when a tie scores late in the third period with the goalie pulled.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Welcome back, Alex

The Penguins have acquired Alex Kovalev for a conditional seventh round draft pick, the team's website said Thursday.

I like the move by Ray Shero. Kovalev may not been what he was the first go around, but he can put the puck in the net. The Penguins need some offense, and he will be a good fit.

Hopefully, Sidney Crosby will return to center a line with Kovalev.

Another Penguin injured

As I'm sure you all know, Brooks Orpik was injured last night after taking a Patrick Marleau shot off his hand late in the first period in the Penguins' 3-2 OT loss to the Sharks. It is another injury to a star player, and one, according to Ray Shero via the FAN, that could keep the blue liner out a long time.

If I was running the team, it would be my concern that the amount of injuries will start to take their toll on the Penguins. I do believe they will make the playoffs, but how will they fare with the injuries, especially with Evgeni Malkin out for the season and with Sidney Crosby's fate to be determined?

Obama on DOMA

President Obama made an historic proclamation on Wednesday by deeming the Defense Of Marriage Act (DOMA) unconstitutional. This statement from the President cannot be understated by those in support of Same Sex Marriage as President Obama has wavered in his stance on the issue for the past decade and a half. For those vehemently opposed to all things Obama, this is just another log on the anti-Liberal fire. On the heels of releasing a fairly conservative budget proposal which included extending the Bush Tax Cuts, this is sure to draw the ire of those on the right with whom he may have gained some recent ground.

As this blogger, a married heterosexual man, sees it, the President's commentary on  DOMA represents progress. Currently, many are trying to vilify progress as socialism or even worse, fascism. However, while there are those who are afraid of progressing, other nations are passing us by in many categories. So, the potential abolition of  DOMA may not help us catch up in science and education but it certainly acts as an impetus to encourage dialogue regarding hot button political issues.

For now, though, I'll stay on the point of Same Sex Marriage. I personally don't find the slightest bit of malice in the marriage of two individuals who are in love with each other, regardless of their gender. After all, gay or straight, we are all human beings and we all deserve to have our civil rights protected by the government. If the governments, state and/or federal, refuse to provide an equal opportunity for all of it's citizens then they have failed in their duty to serve the public interest and we as voters have failed by electing them.

A common argument opposing Same Sex Marriage is the omnipresent "what if everyone was gay" rhetoric. If you wanted to, and had the free time, a person could drive themselves mad playing the "what if' game with even the most mundane of daily tasks. The "what if" game yields so many takes of the same scenario that it would make Kubrick look like an expedient film maker. Gatorade somewhat recently aired a commercial with a similar theme, "What if Michael Jordan missed vs the Cavs". As if long/still/eternally suffering Clevelanders hadn't played the "what if" game long enough over that painful moment, revisiting it didn't change the stubborn fact that Michael Jordan didn't miss the shot. And a similar ethos applies here: stopping gay people from marrying isn't going to stop people from being gay.

President Obama's denouncing of  DOMA must feel like a major victory for the LGBT Community that has worked arduously for decades to hear that remark from somebody in a position of such power and prestige. A number of Equal Rights associations have poured their time, their money, and their lives into affecting change to this piece of legislation only to be turned away time and time again. While DOMA still exists in it's current state, some level of vindication must be felt by those men and women who likely see this as a step towards achieving their ultimate goal of legalized marriage for same sex couples.

It has been said many times over that love is blind, that it knows no bounds.... insert your cliche here. The greatest expression of love is being able to share your love and your life with the person you care about the most. You don't need a marriage license or the state's permission to do that but that doesn't mean LGBT couples should be denied those rights, either. If true love indeed knows no bounds, what right does the government have to say who can and can't be joined in love? I say none.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Supreme Court of the United States (Part 1)

Article III of the United States constitution: Section 1. The judicial power of the United States shall be vested in one supreme Court, and in such inferior courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish. The Judges, both of the supreme and inferior Courts, shall hold their Offices during good behaviour, and shall, at stated Times, recieve for their Services, a Compensation, which shall not be diminished during their Continuance in Office. Section 2. The judicial Power shall extend to all Cases, in Law and Equity, arising under this Constitution, the Laws of the United States, and Treaties made, or which shall be made, under their authority; to all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls; to all Cases of admiralty and maritime Jurisdiction; to Controversies between two or more States; between a State and Citizens of another State; between Citizens of the same State claiming land under grants of different States, and between a State, or the Citizens thereof, and foreign States, Citizens or Subjects. In all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other Public Ministers and Consuls, and those in which a State shall be party, the Supreme Corut shall have original jurisdiction. In all other cases before mentioned, the supreme Court shall have appellate Jurisdiction, both as to Law and Fact, with such exceptions, and under such Regulations, as the Congress shall make. The trial of all Crimes, except in the case of Impeachment, shall be by jury; and such trials shall be held in the State where the said Crimes shall have been committed; but when not committed in any State, the trial shall be at such Place or Places as Congress may by law have directed. Section 3. Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their enemies, Giving them Aid and comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court. The Congress shall have Power to declare the Punishment of Treason, but no attainder of treason shall work corruption of blood, or forfeiture except during the Life of the Person attainted.

A few NHL Predictions

Here are a couple hockey predictions as we wind toward the trade deadline and stretch run:
1) The Pacific division is tight 5 way race. I say the Phoenix Coyotes come out on top and get the 3 spot out west.
2) The Washington Capitals will make a splash move at the deadline, or at least they should. They look like a team that needs to shake things up a bit, I think they should make a move to try and catch the Tampa Bay Lightning.
3) The New Jersey Devils will come close, but not quite manage to climb back into the Stanley Cup playoffs. They are back to playing masterful shutdown swamp hockey, but they have won a ton of 1 goal games recently. The law of averages will dictate that they will lose a couple close games as well over the final 1/4 of the season.
4) The 4-5 matchup in the east looks like either Pens-Caps or Pens-Lightning. Either series would go to an entertaining 6 or 7 games.
5) As good as the Vancouver Canucks look right now, they will not make the SC Finals out of West. The good people of Vancouver will have to settle for another golf and rock climbing filled June in the most wonderful city on the planet.
6) The Flyers are odds on favorite to win it all, the only things that could derail them is a rash of injuries or, as always, their goaltending.

Civil Unrest in the Arab world

Saudi Arabia to spend billions in social welfare to further placate their populous. The royals are freaking over protests across the region. I am torn, I like democracy for all people of the world, but fear economic harm from gas prices if SA does fall into turmoil. Libya moves toward freedom, more pain and casualties then Eygpts uprising. I support them in their brave efforts to overthrow a tyrant. I hope Iran is next. I would also like to see new free peoples alliance bloc formed in the region to oppose the dictatorial regimes monopoly on power.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Can Pens win Cup without Malkin?

The Pittsburgh Penguins title hopes were dealt a severe blow when Star Forward Evgeni Malkin went down with a season ending knee injury Feb. 4th against the Buffalo Sabres. Without their former Conn Smythe winner, are the Pens still a legit threat to win the cup?
Obviously the most important part of that question relies on the health of their other star forward, Sidney Crosby, who is battling back from a concussion suffered in early January. Sid must be able to not only come back this spring, but also be able to get his game back to the level it was at before he went down with the injury for his team to have any chance of a long playoff run. The thinking here is that if he can’t get back on the ice at least practicing by early March that it will be very difficult for him to build back up his strength and conditioning to the point where he can get through the playoffs carrying the team offensively. I’m not saying this in hopes that the Pens rush him back, just the opposite in fact. If the calendar is winding into March and his symptoms haven’t subsided, what is the drop-dead date for the team just shutting him down for the season and telling him to go relax at some secluded beach resort until he absolutely feels 100% better? Too much of the teams future is tied into Crosby, and with Malkin already down they have to put a deadline on bringing him back and risking further complications.

But let’s assume that they can get Crosby back and project that his game will be at least around 90-95% of what it was on December 31st come playoff time? At that point they have the game’s biggest offensive weapon, a pretty well proven big game playoff goaltender, a good cast of role-player forwards, and a very solid, if slightly under-experienced blueline.

IF GM Ray Shero thinks he can get Crosby back and healthy, I would say this team is two players away from a cup run. A veteran blueline lunch-pail guy to fill the 7th spot on the roster, and the elusive scoring winger unicorn for Sid to play with. One dude who fits that scoring winger role is going up against the Pens today, Feb. 16th, Milan Hejduk of the Colorado Avalanche. Hejduk would have to waive the no-movement clause in his contract to be out the door to Pittsburgh or anywhere else, but he is an unrestricted free agent at the end of this season and can choose to play wherever he likes at that point anyway. The Avs are struggling mightily, Peter Forsberg's comeback lasted all of two games, and the team has dropped 8 in a row, the latest being a 9-1 drubbing at the hands of the Calgary Flames on Feb. 14th, and are now a full 10 points out of the last playoff spot in the very tough Western Conference. Although he has spent his entire career with the Colorado organization, it’s hard to speculate that Hejduk would object to being dealt to a contender this spring to put up some numbers and get a chance to shine in the playoff spotlight once again. The Czech winger is 35 years old and this most likely will be his last chance to cash in on a high dollar multi-year contract this summer.

He would slot in very nicely with Crosby and Pascal Dupuis on the Pens top line, which would allow Chris Kunitz to play with Jordan Staal on the 2nd line and provide some quality depth scoring. It also leaves the door open for a 3rd line that clicked earlier in the season for the team of Chris Conner, Mark Letestu and Tyler Kennedy, and a 4th line would be loaded with tons of playoff proven sandpaper.


I think with the emergence of Letestu as a capable 3rd line center, they can definitely afford to move versatile prospect Dustin Jeffrey at the deadline along with a high draft pick to acquire a top wing rental for Sid, again with the caveat that Crosby is getting some quality symptom free days in his recovery process come the 2/28 trade deadline.
According to Tim Benz of WXDX in Pittsburgh, Crosby is still going through a very frustrating good day/bad day routine right now where he was still experiencing headaches as recently as Saturday, Feb. 13th.

Monday, February 14, 2011

The US Two Party System

The origins of the two party system in the United States traces back to the Civil War. Since that time, the Democratic and Republican parties have retained dual control of all branches of American government, in various stages minority and majority power sharing arrangements. In those passing generations, geography, idealology,

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Frolik will shine with Hawks

The NHL trade deadline is still a few weeks away, but the Chicago Blackhawks got an early jump on the annual hockey swap-meet by dealing for Michael Frolik of the Florida Panthers. True, the Czech winger who was once dubbed "little Jagr", is having a down year numbers-wise and was recently buried in the Sun-Cats lineup, but make no mistake: this was a steal for the defending champs. Frolik has the speed, vision, and offensive instincts to be a great weapon on a front loaded team of skilled forwards like Chicago. Frolik is still quite a young player at 22 and already has two 20-goal seasons under his belt with room to grow. Coming to a team like the Blackhawks should be a jolt of energy to a young man who seems to have been playing this season in the doldrums. Playing on lines with guys like Patrick Sharp, Marian Hossa, Patrick Kane, and Jonathan Toews can't hurt either. I think Frolik will find his time with those guys in Chi-town quite productive.


Hi there. This is kind of akward. I enjoy following hockey and politics. I hope this will be a constructive space to opine on and discuss both. I would like to encourage people to comment, but also to take the time to listen to and respect each other. That is not to say we can't have healthy disagreements, but I'd like to stake out at least one small slice of the internet where people can come for intelligent discusions that provide more then sterotypes and name calling. A little background: I work a fulltime job and take classes at night, so don't expect me to jump on breaking news and scandels de jour. I would like to gear this blog more toward big picture discussions and opinion pieces. I also will do most updates on my phone, so rember that before you crucify me on spelling and grammer. I would hope those who read this value ideas, original insights, and thoughtful comments on hockey or politics, and hopefully learn a little about both. Thats what I hope this blog can be.