Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Cup finals begin Wednesday

Boston will make the very long trip to Vancouver for Game 1 of the Stanley Cup finals that begin Wednesday at 8 p.m.
The Canucks will make a statement with a 4-2 victory. The Sedin twins will continue to dominate and Ryan Kesler will have a breakout game. Hernik and Daniel set up their teammates with such precision passing.
If Vancouver gets on the power play, look out. The Bruins have a solid penalty kill, but the Canucks' PP is too strong. Their unit is the best in the NHL.
Roberto Luongo is a much better goalie than Tim Thomas, and he's hungry to finally shut up his critics who keep reminding him about his past playoff failures.
Thomas is definitely an easy guy to root for, although Boston is likely to come down off its high after such a tough series with Tampa Bay.
After struggling in its first-round series against Chicago, Vancouver has looked mighty impressive in knocking off Nashville in six games and San Jose in five.
The key for the Bruins is to stay out of the penalty box, keep getting the puck on net and creating traffic. Nathan Horton has been outstanding in these playoffs. Thomas needs to play out of his mind for Boston to succeed.
The frequent-flier miles will add up in this series as the teams and media members will travel roughly 2,000 miles each trip.
It's probably best to follow it on TV, unless you're rich. I'm not, so I'll be parked in front of the tube Wednesday at 8 p.m. EST.

RIP Atlanta Thrashers 1999-2011

We were holding out hope for a struggling American Hockey Market with a piss poor ownership situation, having lived through such times ourselves. But it is now official; the Atlanta Thrashers will be bought by True North Sports and Entertainment with the intention of relocating the Franchise to Winnipeg.

A press conference has been schedule for 11:00 AM today (Winnipeg Time), and reports are that Gary Bettman is flying out to Winnipeg for the announcement. Something tells me he wouldn’t be going out to the prairies of Central Canada on the precipice of the Stanley Cup finals for a social engagement.

The league owners will have to vote on June 21st to confirm the purchase by True North and approve the move, but that is just a formality at this point. My regards to the true Atlanta Hockey fans and congratulations to the folks in Winnipeg. Check this out for my take on what division realignment may look like.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

My gut feeling

I will delve more into this series next week, due to the fact that Game 1 won't be played until Wednesday.
I'm going with Vancouver over Boston in five games.
The Canucks' Ryan Kesler will win the Conn Smythe Trophy as the playoff MVP.
Face-off for Game 1 is scheduled for 8 p.m. The game will be broadcast on NBC.

Boston to make first finals appearance since '90

Boston edged Tampa Bay, 1-0, Friday night in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals in Boston.
The Bruins' will face Vancouver in the Stanley Cup finals. Game 1 is Wednesday in Vancouver at 8 p.m. on NBC for those of us in the states. CBC and RDS will also carry the game. Boston, winners of two Stanley Cups in 1970 and 1972, are heading to the finals for the first time since 1990, while the Canucks are in their third finals appearance, and first since 1994.
Boston's Nathan Horton scored the game's only goal at 12:27 of the third period on a tip-in off a David Krejci pass past the Lightning's Dwayne Roloson, who made 37 saves. Andrew Ference had the secondary assist. Ference said the Bruins' had used it as a set play to break Tampa Bay's 1-3-1 trap, and it worked.
Horton was tabbed the No. 1 star, while Boston goalie Tim Thomas was the No. 2 star with 24 saves in a shutout. Roloson was the third star, as voted on by the media.
Although only one goal was scored, the game was exciting from the first face-off. Pierre, Edzo and Doc repeatedly stated that it's a shame someone had to lose, and I'm inclined to agree with them.
Tampa Bay's Steven Stamkos showed plenty of character after returning from a puck to the nose. Thank God he was wearing a visor. Stamkos will have some work done.
Stamkos had only one shot, was a minus-one, but was on the ice for 18:57 and showed how bad he wanted to help his team. Stamkos' effort is what playoff hockey is all about.
Referees Dan O'Halloran and Steven Walkom let the players decide the game as no penalties were called. Usually the refs get blamed, but I think they made the right decision. I did see some penalties occur, but nothing blatant, and the guys in the stripes deserve to be congratulated.
The Bruins outshot the Lightning 38-24, and had a 15-9 advantage in the first. They put 14 shots on Roloson in the second, compared to 8 for Tampa Bay and had a 9-7 edge in the third.
Roloson had the tougher task than Thomas, in my opinion. Thomas was the second star because he won, but Roloson was very good. He stopped a breakaway and made far more tough saves than Thomas.
Take nothing away from Thomas, he put himself in good position and made the routine stops.
Boston kept putting the pressure on and had the puck in Tampa Bay's zone for lengthy periods of time using a strong cycle.
The Lightning had some good opportunities and my gut feeling was their were going to score late on a fluky goal, but the Bruins got the late goal, however, it was not fluky.
NOTES: Boston captain Zdeno Chara didn't touch the Prince of Wales Trophy, but had all his teammates and coaches gather around for a picture. For what it's worth, the Bruins seemed to be more amped up than the Canucks. Martin St. Louis and Tim Thomas, former college teammates, shared an embrace.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Tampa Bay forces Game 7

Although I didn't get to watch it, Tampa Bay beat Boston, 5-4, in Game 6 Wednesday night at the Saint Pete Times Forum to force Game 7.
The decisive game will be played Friday in Boston.
Since I wasn't able to see the game, I don't have too much to say about it, but I will make a few points regarding the Lightning.
They keep battling back, and I wouldn't be surprised if they won Game 7. Dwayne Roloson had a sup-par performance, although he picked up the victory. I had them losing in the first and second rounds, but they proved me wrong. I did say they would win this series, although I didn't think they would pull it out after falling behind 3-2.
I'm going to go back to my original pick. Tampa Bay wins 4-2 in Game 7 to make its second trip to the Stanley Cup finals.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

NHL conference finals update

Tim Thomas put his stick where his mouth was and led Boston to a 3-1 victory over Tampa Bay in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals Monday in Boston.
Thomas made the save of the playoffs with the Bruins up 2-1 when he was clearly beaten, but got back to stop Steve Downie with about 11 minutes left.
Thomas said he was a tad lucky, but I'll say it was skill.
The Bruins goalie stated to Pierre McGuire after the game that his words were taken out of context when he guarenteed Boston would win the series. I don't know about that. Just don't say things like that, and you won't have to worry about it. I can't find fault when members of the media print, tape or discuss certain things. The guarantee is getting old, though.
These guys are professionals, but so are the writers and announcers. A good journalist will use those quotes in his/her story, or hear from their editor. I'm speaking from experience. Maybe you look sleazy, but it's the nature of the business. That's just how it goes. Okay, I'll get off my soapbox. Back to the game.
I won't count out the Lightning just yet. I've predicted them to lose in the first two series, and they proved me wrong. I had them beating Boston, but I don't know now. We'll see.
I don't understand starting Mike Smith in favor of Dwayne Roloson. Maybe if Tampa Bay had lost Game 4. Smith played well, and I don't think he had much to do with the loss. The Bruins' goals were well placed and I doubt it would have made much difference if Roloson was in goal. I just don't get the change in Game 5 of the conference finals.
I will give the edge to Boston in Game 6. Thomas will make just enough saves for a 3-2 Bruins' win.
As for the Western Conference finals, Vancouver has been the better team all series long, and will win Game 5 tonight, 4-2.
The Sedin twins are playing great, Ryan Kesler is the best two-way center in the game, and Roberto Luongo is playing like a Vezina finalist.
San Jose has played beyond expectations in these playoffs for the first time in its existence, but the Sharks will be hitting the links tomorrow.
Enjoy the games.

No Debate on PATRIOT ACT in Senate

The US Senate did something it rarely does today. Both parties agreed to swiftly end debate and bring a bill up for a yes/no vote without getting wrapped up in deliberation and amendments. Cloture was brought to end debate on a bill to extend provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act (including the portion that authorizes roaming wiretaps) that were set to expire if no action was taken by Friday.

In a 74-8 vote; with 18 being too afraid, lazy, or corrupt to participate, a bipartisan supermajority with the support of leadership in both parties voted to extend the all out assault on privacy and civil liberties that has been going on in this Country for nearly a decade.

I would like to take the time to personally extend my thanks and gratitude to the 8 brave Senators who stood up to power and party in boldly voting no, the rest of the lot today acted like traitors and cowards.

The 8 NO Votes:

Max Baucus and Jon Tester of Montana

Rand Paul of Kentucky

Mark Begich and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska

Dean Heller of Nevada

Jeff Merkley of Oregon

Bernie Sanders of Vermont

These men and women, 4 Democrats, 3 Republicans, and 1 Socialist deserve our support and admiration. And of course we must also take the time to remember former Senator Russ Feingold of Wisconsin, who voted against the original heinous bill and no doubt would have once again authentically stood up for liberty if he hadn’t been so unfairly smeared and steamrolled out of the Senate in the 2010 Wave.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Realigned NHL Divisions with Winnipeg?

Realigned NHL Divisions with Winnipeg?
As I said here, don’t throw assume Atlanta is done yet.
But let’s just say for a moment that the deal between Atlanta Spirit and True North Entertainment does whisk away hockey back to the Manitoban Plains, how would the NHL adjust its divisions to accommodate such a move? Chances are we will either get a lame duck team in Atlanta this year, or have the absurdity of City on the same longitude of Lincoln, Nebraska being in the Southeast.
But starting in the 2012-13 season you have to imagine the NHL would alter its divisions for reduced travel cost and more natural geographic rivalries. What will such a league look like? Let’s take a stab at a few options here, just for fun.

The “Easy” Path
The most simple way to handle realignment would be to move Winnipeg into the Central Division of the Western Conference and switch Nashville into the empty spot from the Southeast. That would be geographical, logical and create the least amount of waves.

The “Traditionalist” Path
There was a time in hockey where each division sent 4 teams into the playoffs and the first two rounds were heated inter-divisional play. How could that work with 30 teams? Here is how I would see it happening with one 7 and one 8 team division in each conference. Playoff teams based on last years point totals are in bold. This setup would leave room for two more expansion teams (Quebec and Seattle anyone?)to eventually round the league off at four 8-team division, with exactly half making the playoffs. While going back to the traditional Conference titles, the league should also return to the home teams wearing white.

Wales Conference

Patrick Division
Washington Capitals
Philadelphia Flyers
Pittsburgh Penguins
Nashville Predators

New York Rangers
Carolina Hurricanes
New Jersey Devils
New York Islanders

Adams Division
Boston Bruins
Tampa Bay Lightning
Montreal Canadians
Buffalo Sabres

Toronto Maple Leafs
Ottawa Senators
Florida Panthers

Campbell Conference

Norris Division
Detroit Redwings
Chicago Blackhawks
Dallas Stars
St. Louis Blues

Minnesota Wild
Columbus Blue Jackets
Winnipeg Jets

Smythe Division
Vancouver Canucks
San Jose Sharks
Anaheim Ducks
Phoenix Coyotes

Los Angeles Kings
Calgary Flames
Colorado Avalanche
Edmonton Oilers

A Truly Radical Approach
This would really shake things up quite a bit. It would make no sense in terms of the history of the game and a lot of traditional rivalries and Conference affiliations would be broken up, but it would certainly be something new and exciting.

Eastern Conference

Boston Bruins
Montreal Canadians
New York Rangers
New Jersey Devils
New York Islanders

Great Lakes
Detroit Redwings
Chicago Blackhawks
Ottawa Senators
Buffalo Sabres
Toronto Maple Leafs

Washington Capitals
Philadelphia Flyers
Tampa Bay Lightning
Carolina Hurricanes
Florida Panthers

Western Conference

Central Division
Pittsburgh Penguins
Nashville Predators
Dallas Stars
St. Louis Blues
Columbus Blue Jackets

Phoenix Coyotes
Calgary Flames
Minnesota Wild
Winnipeg Jets
Edmonton Oilers

Pacific Division
Vancouver Canucks
San Jose Sharks
Anaheim Ducks
Los Angeles Kings
Colorado Avalanche

Down With the Sickness

Anti-American sentiment is not a fictional occurrence. Many people in many nations throughout the world harbor ill-will towards the United States and it's citizens for any number of reasons. Last week, Dominique Strauss Kahn (DSK), a French politician and Director of the IMF was arrested in New York City on sexual assault allegations. The crime that is being attributed to DSK is one of a disgusting, humiliating, and degrading nature. This is also not his first time being accused of such a heinous crime, however guilt is hard to pin in he-said, she-said occurrences and that goes for both accuser and the accused. According the BBC and some French media outlets, the US media is the entity being put on trial, though. Apparently, the photos of Kahn's arrest do not sit well with the French and their Anti-American sentiments are awakening from a brief hibernation. They do not like photographing people who still await trial. They deem it to be brutal and inhumane.They have no problem photographing people who are famous, engaging them in a high speed car chase, putting them in extreme peril, and ultimately causing their death. But taking a picture of an alleged criminal after his booking before his official trial is taboo.

I don't know if it is merely their hate for all things American or the fact that sexual assault is merely a seduction tactic in France, but I think the Frenchmen denouncing the US media's tactics should take a look at their own pot before calling our kettle black. I will never deny that the American media is lacking in more ways than one. However, the overseas reaction to the DSK arrest seems to be spawned more from a sick sense of Nationalistic pride from a spineless nation of whiners who never hesitate to come knocking when their soil is endangered. America is not a perfect nation, not by the wildest stretch of the imagination, any American will tell you there are things they don't like about our fair nation. But hating just to hate is a whole other story.

The French are so quick to criticize every move made by the Americans because  they have a preconceived notion that they are better than everyone else. Ironically, citizens of many other nations would say the same thing about Americans and wouldn't be too far off base. Nationalistic pride is nothing to be ashamed of. But when the line is blurred between right and wrong, when people are taking sides blindly based on your passport's origin, it may be time to take a step back and look at the facts.

In America, they say you are innocent until proven guilty. Most people know that the trial in the court of public opinion has it's verdict decided long before a prosecutor presents their opening arguments. The Italian media did it to Amanda Knox. The American media has done it to our own citizens countless times. Nobody is innocent of a little bit of dirty journalism thus nobody is fit to point their finger at somebody else for doing the same. Maybe it's the cultural differences, maybe the US and France will never see eye to eye. Everybody has their day in court and DSK will get his, too. The outcome of his trial should be an interesting one since he was believed by many to be a favorite in France's 2012 Presidential election and has already resigned his post as head of the IMF.

I will leave you with this: Imagine an American politician being accused of sexually assaulting a woman in France. Would the French media be as kind as they suggest?

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Special teams carry Vancouver past San Jose for 4-2 win in Game 4

Vancouver used three power-play goals on three 5-on-3 opportunities in Sunday's 4-2 victory over San Jose in Game 4 of the Western Conference finals at the HP Pavillion in San Jose.
Henrik Sedin scored on one of the 5-on-3's while Sami Salo had the other two goals. The Canucks went up 4-0 before the Sharks added two late tallies, but couldn't complete the comeback. Daniel Sedin had four assists.
San Jose didn't fare well on the power play as it was 0-for-5 midway through the second period when Vancouver took over.
Anttii Neimi had a poor game after playing decent in Game 3. I doubt the Sharks have anything left.
Special teams proved to be pretty important.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Should Tampa Bay stick with Roloson?

After being pulled in Games 2 and 4, do you think Tampa Bay should start Dwayne Roloson in Game 5? I say yes. Stick with your starter, but keep him on a short leash. If he struggles early, go with Mike Smith.
Please give me your opinions.

Smith comes on in relief

Mike Smith came out of the bullpen Saturday and led Tampa Bay to a 5-3 victory over Boston in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals at Tampa.
The series is tied at 2-2 with Game 5 coming in Boston, not that home-ice advantage has helped in these playoffs.
Although I missed the game, trying to apply for another job can be rough, I liked how Smith was able to come on and save the day for Tampa.
The Lightning have shown so much resiliency this postseason, it is hard to go against them. I believe they will win the next two and close out the series.
In the West finals, San Jose held off Vancouver for a 4-3 victory in Game 3. The Canucks are still my favorites to win the Cup. They will win Game 4 before closing out the series at home.
The Stanley Cup finals should be interesting. I guess it will not be a popular matchup if its Tampa Bay-Vancouver, but that looks like the case.
I think it would be an intriguing series. A young up-and-coming team, with the exception of the goalie, against a talented team that is notorious for choking in the playoffs.
Should be exciting.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Deal to Extend PATRIOT Act in Place

A deal is supposedly in place between John Boehner in the House and Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell in the Senate to extend the provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act that allow for roving wiretaps, document seizures, and roaming surveillance of the American Public for another 4 years.

The Obama Administration has continued to ask for extension of the extraordinary powers that the Bush Administration got rammed through congress in the aftermath of the 9/11 terror attacks on the United States.

Attorney General Eric Holder is actually on record as wanting to see these provisions become permanent: "We believe, I believe, it is absolutely essential that these expiring provisions be reauthorized. We never want to see these acts, these provisions, expire. The fact that they have sunset, period, and requiring us to come back periodically to get them reauthorized, is not helpful to us ... We need certainty. Our prosecutors, our investigators, need certainty in that regard ... So my hope is that these provisions are reauthorized for as long as we possibly can. If they were extended permanently, that is not something we would be opposed to."

If any Tea Party folks are out there reading this, please explain to me why this is overlooked as an acceptable intrusion into Liberty in the name of Security, but the Democratic Healthcare Bill is such a fundamental threat to your Freedom as an American that you need to take such drastic action?

I've read both bills all the way through, I can tell you that 'Obamacare' is not 1/100th times as onerous to me as the PATRIOT Act.

And for you folks on the Left: why was it only an intrusion on your privacy when it was the Bush Administration peeking in on your library records, but Obama gets a near universal pass for refusing to relinquish the same powers of surveillance?

There is almost total silence on this issue from both sides of the political noise factory. Why is this issue not at debate in a time when nearly all else is?

Don’t Throw Dirt on Atlanta Just Yet

The reports of the demise of the Atlanta Thrasher’s hockey franchise may have been exaggerated. Upholding the always vigorous journalistic standards of Canadian sports media, Stephen Brunt of the Globe and Mail penned a piece of rubbish that sent jubilant Manitobans into the streets last night.

While the future of the Thrashers certainly does look bleak and full of questions, so did the long term survival of the Pittsburgh Penguins, Nashville Predators, and Phoenix Coyotes within the past few seasons. It may very well be true that this is the end for Atlanta hockey, but it is just as likely that somebody will come along and save this situation from ‘the brink’.

The Canadian sports media loves to pile on about attendance problems in Southern US markets and stoke the fires of possible relocation and Northward migration of any team that appears vulnerable at the moment. None of the underlying factors have changed however in the past few days. The NHL is dedicated as it ever has been to keep as large of a US footprint as possible for corporate support and TV money.

Here are the two ‘big picture’ numbers that matter most to the league:
US Gross GDP, 14.119 Trillion
Canadian Gross GDP, 1.336 Trillion

I don’t doubt Winnipeg’s passion for hockey, not one bit. But they would, by far, be the smallest market in the league in terms of population, corporate base to draw from, and media market size. It is certainly a possible move for the league, but it is one that they will think long and hard about, as they should. Careful deliberation and not rampant fanboy speculation is what is going to drive this process going forward.

I would like to take this chance to also give a shout-out to one of my all time favorite hockey bloggers, The Falconer at Bird Watchers Anonymous at this time of uncertainty about the future of his beloved team. Trust me, I’ve been there before, and it sucks. I don’t wish this situation of your team possibly moving on anybody.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Canucks take 2-0 series lead

Vancouver exploded in Game 2 of the Western Conference finals with a 7-3 victory over San Jose Wednesday in Vancouver.
The Canucks hold a 2-0 series lead, and are looking very strong at this point.
The Sedin twins started to show just how good they are on a national stage. Ryan Keslar is also an impressive defensive foward, and has the ability to score big-time goals.
What impresses me the most about Vancouver is how its adjusts to any style. The Canucks can play a tight, defensive game and they can win a high-scoring game, too.
Roberto Luongo had a good, not great, game Wednesday, but you don't need to play lights out when your team scores a touchdown.
The Sharks have the ability to bounce back, and have shown resilience in these playoffs after winning Game 7 against Detroit and rallying from way down to beat Los Angeles in the first round.
Anttii Niemi has won a Cup and I believe he will play better in Game 3.
If San Jose can win Game 3, I believe this series could be competitive, but if Vancouver wins, it can sweep the series.
Enjoy Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals tonight. I like Tampa Bay, 5-3.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Bruins tie series

Boston scored five goals in the second period en route to a 6-5 victory over Tampa Bay Tuesday in the Eastern Conference finals at Boston.
The Lightning jumped out to an early 1-0 lead before the Bruins tied the game at one. Tampa Bay scored in the last minute of the first to take a 2-1 lead into intermission.
The Bruins responded by scoring three goals in the early stage of the second for a 4-2 lead with two goals by Tyler Seguin and a goal by David Krejci.
Seguin wasn't even supposed to play in the this series, but a concussion to Patrice Bergeron has inserted the 19-year-old into the lineup.
Tampa Bay cut the lead to 4-3 on a goal by Vincent Lecavalier, but two goals by the Bruins' Michael Ryder put the home team up 6-3 heading into the third.
Dwayne Roloson was pulled after the second, which was his first bad game of the playoffs, and Steven Stamkos and Dominic Moore scored to cut the deficit to one, although Boston was able to hold off the Lightning.
Although he gave up five, Tim Thomas made 36 saves for Boston, including several breakaway chances in the second.
The Bruins also won the special teams battle by going 2-for-6 on the power play and allowing only one goal against Tampa Bay's vaunted PP.
That said, I still like the Lightning to win Games 3 and 4 at home before closing out the series in Boston.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Conference finals update

I don't know if the Stanley Cup playoffs are lacking sizzle or what, but I don't hear too much about it. Maybe it's because the Penguins are out. Besides hardcore sports fans, most cities don't care once their team is eliminated from the playoffs. Just my opinion.
As of 2:18 p.m. EDT on Tuesday, May 17, 2011, Tampa Bay leads Boston 1-0 in a best-of-seven in the East finals and Vancouver holds a 1-0 series lead over San Jose.
Game 2 of the Lightning-Bruins series will be on tap tonight.
Tampa Bay easily dispatched Boston in the first game, but I believe the Bruins will rebound to win Game 2 if they stay out of the penalty box. In addition, Boston's power play is awful, so five-on-five play is where the Bruins will flourish. Tim Thomas needs to outplay Dwayne Roloson, too. I guess a bunch of things have to go right for Boston.
I can't believe how good the Lightning have been in these playoffs.
The Canucks-Sharks series is intriguing. Both teams have been notorious playoff chokers in the past, but one will be in the Stanley Cup finals. San Jose has never made it, while Vancouver lost in its only appearance to the New York Rangers in 1994.
I believe the Canucks are the best team left in these playoffs. They have the offense in the Sedin twins, who haven't played up to their potential, which is scary because they will. Ryan Keslar is a force at both ends of the ice, and will shut down the Sharks' offensive weapons. Roberto Luongo is the best goalie left, and even though he has never been to the Cup finals, he will finally get past his failures in the playoffs.
Anttii Neimi did win a title last year, so he knows what its all about, and Roloson led Edmonton to the finals, which I like for him to do again, but Luongo is going to be the man this year.
He had his rough stretch in the first round, but has rebounded from that, and will be good again Wednesday night in Vancouver.
It's just getting good.
If you so choose to, go out and vote. That's my one political order for the day.

Monday, May 16, 2011

2012 GOP Standings Update: Trump Drops Out

Another potential leader has dropped out of the 2012 Republican horserace. Before I could finish proof-reading my updated standings from this morning, Donald Trump announced that he would follow Mike Huckabee as the second major candidate in a few days to publically drop out of consideration.
Alot of folks in the media and inside DC never really took Trump's noise about running all too seriously, and although early polling numbers indicated some name recognition advantage and support, Trump never really got serious about laying the groundwork for a grueling primary campaign. It seems like those trips up to New Hampshire and sounding off about Obama's birth certificate and Ivy League qualifications was nothing more then another publicity stunt by 'The Donald.'
I'm not going to re-rank the entire list again for the nomination, just assume everyone else below Trump has bumped up a spot, and slide former Ambassador to China John Huntsman into the 10 spot. The big 3 now consists of Romney, Palin, and Gingrich for those still in consideration. All three have major flaws though, so the door is now WIDE open for a darkhorse to grab the public (and Tea Party) imagination.

2012 GOP Nomination Standings, Week 3

With potential unifying frontrunner, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee dropping out of consideration for the 2012 Republican Nomination for President of the United States, the race just got blown wide open. Who will benefit most from Huckabee dropping out? We have a new list of rankings and news stories below. Click here to view last week’s standings for comparison if you are interested in how this race has unfolded thus far.
I’ll be keeping the trend and the updated stories surrounding the candidates, if you are interested in anything else for these rankings please leave a comment below or email me: zargoflaroche@yahoo.com

1) Mitt Romney Trending Even (Last Week: 2)- With Huckabee dropping out, Romney reclaims his mantle as fatally flawed front runner. As Governor of Massachusetts, Romney signed a healthcare law similar to Obama’s with a mandate and voucher system. Evangelicals don’t trust Romney’s Mormon faith, and Fiscal Conservatives are skeptical as well. These are two crucial blocs that will be out in force in the 2012 primaries. He will not run well in Iowa or South Carolina in the early primaries, so he absolutely must win New Hampshire and try to parlay that into some sort of momentum. If Florida manages to get all its delegates seated due to its defiance of the established primary order, Romney has a chance to score a big victory there. It is a pretty tight needle for Romney to thread,and he is looking more and more like 2012's Rudy Giuliani
Headline: Why Romney's Authenticity Problem Won't Go Away

2) Sarah Palin Trending Up (Last Week: 3)- It is Palin who stands to benefit most from Huckabee’s exit, she now takes on the role of the candidate most likely to unite social and fiscal conservatives. If she is going to make a run, I feel she has wisely chosen to stay out of the headlines and in the background of this early speculation. When she is ready to jump in, she will do so headfirst and nobody in this field can move the needle as a fundraiser and garner as much media attention as Palin can.
Headline: Sarah Palin Supporters Dance On The Grave Of Mike Huckabee’s 2012 Presidential Run

3) Donald Trump Trending Down (Last Week: 4)- The initial buzz about the Real Estate Mogul and Reality TV star has died down, and I will continue to question his credentials and seriousness as a candidate until he does something to prove otherwise. His poll numbers move him up in the rankings by default, but I don’t think those polls will square with reality when, and if, the rubber ever really meets the road on a Trump candidacy.
Headline: Election 2012: Donald Trump Losing Favor Even Before He Enters the Race

4) Newt Gingrich Trending Up (Last Week: 6)- The former House Speaker rounds out the top 4, after which there is a serious drop off in the candidates below this spot. If he can grab the southern white males that Huckabee left behind, there is a chance for him to make a hard charge. His biggest liabilities are his temper and all the residual baggage that comes from his longtime stay in the media spotlight.
Headline: Newt Ditches Mandates Today After Defending Them ... Yesterday

5) Ron Paul Trending Even (Last Week: 5)- Paul will pretty much keep an even keel as an also run candidate. His core supporters are fiercely dedicated him, but he seems to lack the charisma and gumption to move up the ladder. He might be too honest of a man to get a nod at the Presidency. His best case scenario for this race is that his ideas transcend and go farther than his candidacy does.
Headline: Ron Paul: Why The Young Flock To An Old Idealist

6)Rick Santorum Trending Up (Last Week: 9)- If Huckabee’s socially conservative supporters are looking for a new standard bearer, the former Senator from Pennsylvania just might be their man. I’ll be watching closely to see if he scores an uptick in the polls and the underlying numbers as a result of Huck’s exit. If he doesn’t get a bounce, it may be time for him to seriously reconsider if he is a legitimate candidate.
Headline: Back Channels: A chat with Rick Santorum

7)Michelle Bachman Trending Up (Last Week: 8)- The firebrand congresswomen from suburban Minnesota is great at getting her name out there with soundbites. If the Tea Party momentum can swing behind her, she has a good chance to vault ahead into the top of the field at some point.
Headline: Minn. GOP Rep. Bachmann: From school board agitator to tea party hero unsettling 2012 campaign

8)Tim Pawlenty Trending Down (Last Week: 7)-Pawlenty needs to do some serious soul searching if he is to continue on toward the nomination. He needs some issue to rally around and take ownership of. Right now he is just treading water toward the bottom of the field, and is not even doing a good job of that.
Headline: A surprisingly early emphasis for Pawlenty campaign: foreign policy

9) Mitch Daniels Trending Even (Last Week: 10)-The Governor of Indiana is a smart man and good political operative, but can he get his name recognition up there and make enough of a splash to get into serious contention? As acting Governor he may end up taking a hard line on Labor issues in his State in order to garnish his reputation as a Conservative’s Conservative.
Headline: Daniels Vetoes Forfeiture Bill; Unconstitutional

10) Herman Cain Trending Up (Last Week: Unranked)- The conservative talk radio host and former pizza exec. is a Tea Party favorite and scored some strong points in an early Fox News debate, albeit with many of the major players still on the sidelines. He is gaining some momentum however, and it will be interesting to see how far his charge goes and if he registers any points in upcoming polls. Headline: Cain a smash at Georgia GOP convention

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Lightning keep on rolling

After falling behind Pittsburgh 3-1 in the first round, Tampa Bay has won eight straight games, including a 5-2 victory over Boston Saturday night in the Eastern Conference finals.
The Lightning scored three goals in 1:25 and added another power-play goal to surge past the Bruins.
Boston couldn't shut down Tampa Bay's high-powered offense, and it looks like the Lightning could have too much firepower for the Bruins to overcome.
With offensive stars like Steven Stamkos, Vincent Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis, Tampa Bay can defenitely put the puck in the net. Plus, it's 1-3-1 defensive scheme is working just fine and Dwayne Roloson is looking very good.
I believe the Lightning will win this series in five games.

Mike Huckabee is NOT Running

In an announcement that just blew the 2012 GOP primary wide open, potential front runner, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee has announced that he will not seek the Republican nomination for President of the United States.
Huckabee was leading some early polls and appealed to both fiscal and social conservatives. This has a big impact on the early race and leaves the field wide open. Updated GOP nomination standings will be coming soon.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

NHL Conference Finals

The NHL conference finals are ready to get underway. Here are some previews and predictions.

Prince of Wales (Eastern Conference):
Boston (3) vs Tampa Bay (5)-
Overview: Tampa has answered all questions about their team this postseason and look like real contenders after defeating Pittsburgh in 7 and sweeping Washington. Boston was the best defensive team in the East this year, but does not have any breakout scoring threats. They vanquished their rival Montreal and benefitted from Philadelphia's annual spring goalie implosion to get to this point.
Goalies: All Star Tim Thomas is in net for the Bruins, while 41 year Dwyane Roloson has found a fountain of youth this spring for the Bolts. I'm giving the edge to Tampa in this matchup, I just don't trust Thomas and his unorthodox style to bring the Bruins to the Stanley Cup Finals.

Star Performers:
Boston: Patrice Bergeron leads the Bruins with 2 goals and 10 assists these playoffs. The story behind those numbers are even more impressive, as he has often been matched up against other teams top lines. His health will be a major question, as he is still suffering from a concussion he sustained from a hit by Claude Giroux in the Flyers series. The only skater more important for Boston is their mammoth Defenseman and Captain Zdeno Chara. He has 2 goals and is a team leading +11 in these playoffs. He averages around 28 minutes of ice per game and changes everything for Boston while he is out there.

Tampa: Martin St. Louis has been playing great as always for the Lightning. For a little dude out there, he can change the game just as much as Chara. He has 6 goals and 7 assists thus far in the postseason. His long time partner, Vinnie Lecaviler has been solid as well, with 5 and 7. Sean Bergenheim has netted a surprising 7 goals, playing on the best 3rd line in these playoffs with Dominic Moore. Eric Brewer has opened my eyes with some great two way play from the blueline.

Guys who need to step up:
Boston: Milan Lucic has had a very quiet playoffs. The Bruins are going to need the power forward to make a big impact if they want to halt the Bolts run
Tampa:Ryan Malone has been a solid player for Tampa, but his offensive numbers are lacking. He needs to rise up to lead the Lightning to their 2nd Finals apperance.

Campbell (Western Conference):
Vancouver (1) vs San Jose (2)
Overview: Both of these teams have overcome labels as not being able to perform in the playoffs and won game 7's at home after squandering 3 games to None series leads. Both had great regular seasons with talented rosters, and now one will move on to the Stanley Cup Finals, San Jose for the 1st time ever or Vancouver for their 2nd apperance after losing to the Rangers in 1994.

Goalies: Roberto Luongo overcame some shaky play and a surprise benching in the 1st round against Chicago and then outdueled Pikke Rinne against Nashville. He has had great regular seasons and won a gold medal last year, now he looks to complete Vancouver's quest for hockey's Holy Grail. The Sharks meanwhile have last years Cup winning Goalie, Annti Niemi. The Finn may be the difference maker this year between chokers and champs for the guys in teal.

Star Performers:
Vancouver: Ryan Kessler has been all everything for the Nucks so far and leads them with 5 goals and 10 assists. Alex Burrows has provided them with solid depth scoring and great two way play.

San Jose: The young trio of Logan Couture, Ryan Clowe, and Devin Setoguchi are leading the way in scoring for the Sharks. Joe Thorton and Danny Heatly have played better these playoffs then in prior dissapointing years.

Guys who need to step up:
Vancouver: The Sedin twins have been solid, but for the Canucks to get to the next level they really need to take over like they are capable of doing.

San Jose: Patrick Marleau has had a lackluster postseason, for the Sharks to win this he will need to contribute, and show Jeremy Roenick some heart.

Official Blog Predictions-
Lightning over Bruins in 6
Canucks over Sharks in 7

Series predictions so far:
East: 3-3
West: 5-1
Overall: 8-4

Ranking of finals league wants for US TV rating-
1. Boston / San Jose
2. Tampa / San Jose
3. Boston / Vancouver
4. Tampa / Vancouver

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Hockey Notes (Crosby still not able to work out, Jagr Shines at Worlds, Red Wings/Sharks ready for game 7)

*Shelly Anderson of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette is reporting that Pittsburgh Penguin Captain Sidney Crosby has yet to resume workouts after suffering a setback in his recovery from a concussion suffered in early January. Crosby was skating and practicing with the team up until the reoccurrence of symptoms, which occurred on April 20th.
This is a major concern for both the Penguins, and the NHL as a whole, as the future of one of hockey’s greatest young stars, just coming into the prime of his career, is in serious peril, dealing with a brain injury that we are only beginning to fully understand the long term impact of now in the 21st Century sports world. Hopefully Crosby is able to make a full recovery with rest and begin next season at the same level he was at December 31st, 2010, but with brain matters like this, there are no guarantees.

*Jaromir Jagr’s contract status is unknown for the coming season. He made a statement yesterday at the Hockey World Championships to anyone who was wondering if he had enough left in the tank for a possible NHL return after 3 seasons in the Russian KHL. Jagr scored a hat trick for his Czech squad in eliminating the United States and NHL caliber goalie Ty Conklin 4-0.
One thing I will say for Jagr, he has always been a conditioning freak from when he first came to Pittsburgh in the early 90s and has been a pretty durable player throughout his career. I think even at age 39 he has some game left in the tank, and if rested strategically during some soft spots on the schedule, could really crank it up to another level for a team in the playoffs.
My guess is that it makes sense for #68 to stay in the KHL, the money over there is more than any NHL team would be willing to commit to under the Salary Cap, and is tax free to boot. Money can be a very important thing to the talented Czech winger, who has been verified to have run up at least $1 Million in gambling debts over the course of his career, and for all we it could very well be higher than that.
There is absolutely no logical reason why Jags should want to come back to the NHL for what would most likely be a highly publicized tryout, but the rule of Jagr states that he is just crazy enough that there is about a 2% chance that he will do pretty much anything. And his offensive talents and numbers alone will certainly draw interested suitors, should his whims take him back to North American soil this offseason. It will at least be something interesting to keep track of over the summer.

*Fans of the San Jose Sharks or Detroit Redwings will get an unwanted early start on such offseason speculation after tonight’s game 7 in San Jose. I never remember a series in my lifetime of watching hockey where the clearly better team went down 3 games to Nil in 3 consecutive one goal games, and then stormed back to even the series. I will chalk this one up to the experience and poise of the veteran Detroit squad, but anything can happen in game 7, and often does. Antti Niemi will have to be very good if the Sharks have any chance to pull through and shed the epic choke label that must feel like an anchor around their necks. San Jose has to feel pretty tight right now, and if the bounces don’t go their way early it could easily get out of hand. In any case, it should be a real fun game to watch starting at 9 PM tonight. We will check in tomorrow morning with reaction and hopefully some video highlights from NHL.com.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Heart of a champion

Whether you love 'em or hate 'em, you have to respect the Detroit Red Wings.
Down 3-0 to San Jose in a best-of-seven, I figured the Red Wings were already on the embalming table.
How wrong I was.
Detroit has responded by winning the last three over the Sharks, the most recent being Tuesday's 3-1 victory, to set up a Game 7 Thursday at the Shark Tank.
The Red Wings were trailing 1-0 in the third period before Henrik Zetterberg and Valtteri Filppula scored two goals 1:54 apart to take a 2-1 lead. An empty netter sealed the win for Detroit.
Jimmy Howard made 24 saves, with only one being spectacular. Take nothing away from Howard, but I think any goalie could play in front of that defense.
The Red Wings' comeback shows their character, and is the complete opposite of the Capitals, who basically gave up after Tampa Bay won the first three.
The "experts" have said in the past the Red Wings are too old, but they don't seem to show it.
A great exampe would be when Detroit played Pittsburgh in the Stanley Cup finals. It defenitely wasn't too old the first time around, and even when the Penguins beat them in seven, it took everything Pittsburgh had.
I will go with the Red Wings in Game 7 with a 2-1 victory.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Canucks move on

Vancouver is starting to look like the team that won the Presidents' Trophy after it topped Nashville 2-1 Monday night to advance to the Western Conference finals.
The Canucks have proven that they can score, play defense and have one of the best goalies in the league.
Roberto Luongo was sub-par against Chicago in the first round, but rebounded quite well against the Predators.
However, Nashville isn't an offensive machine, and whether it's San Jose or Detroit in the next round for Vancouver, both teams have more firepower than Nashville.
After falling behind the Sharks 3-0, the Red Wings have made it a series and Game 6 is tonight at Joe Louis Arena. If Detroit can pull off the second 3-0 comeback in as many years, it would be my favorite to win the whole thing.
I just don't see it happening. San Jose is too good to drop four in a row. It will win tonight, 4-3.
I did pick the Red Wings to go deep, but that shows my lack of knowledge on the whole thing. Then again, maybe I'll look like a genius.
I'm still going with the Sharks tonight. Then, the Canucks will get to the Stanley Cup finals and give Canada its first title since 1993.
Thank God.

The Weight

Take a load off Corbett, and you can put that load right on me.

PA governor Tom Corbett has vowed not to raise state taxes, to reduce spending, eliminate a deficit, turn water into wine, lower corporate taxes, layoff employees, and yet somehow increase the commonwealth's tax revenues. Changing water into wine might actually be the most doable of the group after the layoffs.

Many level-headed people have noted that reducing the number of individuals employed while also reducing corporate taxes is probably NOT going to lead to an increase in tax revenue. Just doing a simple bit of associative math, it seems more than probable such a policy would fail. Less People paying Taxes + Plus less Tax Revenue from Corporations= More Tax Revenue? I don't need to be an accountant to tell you that kind of math simply doesn't add up.

So now, for at least the second time in less than 7 days, another Western PA municipality is announcing their plan to raise property taxes in order to offset the cut in state aid to their school districts. So while Corporate Corbett may be right that he personally did not raise state taxes, these local hikes are a not too distant product of his slash and burn education budget.

The same schools that were good enough for his own two children to attend are now left to be the bad guy while he bathes in gas drilling money at the gubernatorial mansion. 

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Redemption for Boston

The Bruins didn't give Philadelphia any chance to come back in their Eastern Conference semifinals series Friday.
Boston beat the Flyers, 5-1, to sweep the series and move onto the conference finals against Tampa Bay.
The Bruins added two empty-net goals for good measure. Boston didn't want any miracle comeback.
It was just one year ago that Philadelphia came back from being down 3-0 to beat the Bruins in the a conference semifinals matchup. It didn't happen this year.
I did pick the Flyers to win this series before, although their lackluster goaltending proved costly.
The conference finals will feature Boston and Tampa Bay. I'm going to go with the Lightning in 6. They are playing really well, and should continue.
Tim Thomas and the Bruins' defense has been tremendous, but Tampa Bay has strong blue liners and Dwayne Roloson has taken an underdog to the finals before when he led Edmonton to the Stanley Cup finals.
The Lightning have won seven straight, however Boston will take Game 1.

Friday, May 6, 2011

AP IMPACT: CEO pay exceeds pre-recession level

CEO's are now making more then they where in 2007, the year before the Great Recession hit. Unemployment however is still double what it was back then. And that is not including those Working Class Americans who took actual paycuts or found lesser work to keep feeding and housing their families while the richest of the rich climbed their way back comfortably, right back into their fatcat seats.

Stories like this can just make you sick with rage. Remember things like this when we hear talk about how 'raising taxes on the rich will only hurt the economy.' After all the misguided harm these bastards have done, they are making more, and not paying one red cent more in taxes, while the rest of the Country SUFFERS for their mistakes.

By RACHEL BECK, AP Business Writer Rachel Beck, Ap Business Writer – Fri May 6, 8:36 am ET
NEW YORK – In the boardroom, it's as if the Great Recession never happened.

CEOs at the nation's largest companies were paid better last year than they were in 2007, when the economy was booming, the stock market set a record high and unemployment was roughly half what it is today.

The typical pay package for the head of a company in the Standard & Poor's 500 was $9 million in 2010, according to an analysis by The Associated Press using data provided by Equilar, an executive compensation research firm. That was 24 percent higher than a year earlier, reversing two years of declines.

Executives were showered with more pay of all types — salaries, bonuses, stock, options and perks. The biggest gains came in cash bonuses: Two-thirds of executives got a bigger one than they had in 2009, some more than three times as big.

CEOs were rewarded because corporate profits soared in 2010 as the economy gradually got stronger and companies continued to cut costs. Profit for the companies in the AP analysis rose 41 percent last year.

More Details and Breakdown are available here: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/us_ceo_pay

Our Country faces record deficits and huge questions about its future ability to provide a comfortable, middle class life style to its working peoples. When are some of these Tea Party folk going to get around to realizing that Government is not the only problem in town, and that these pigs on Wall Street are just as liable for the unenviable situation the vox populi find themselves in?

How has the outrage that has been centered on Barrack Obama's plan to contain healthcare costs and provide better coverage options to all Americans overshadowed the overwhelming question of what are we going to do about the out of control excesses of the Corporate Classes? Where are people in the streets protesting such a blatant economic injustice?

Will Huckabee Run in 2012?

Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee is an early favorite, on top or near the top of almost every poll for the 2012 GOP nomination for President. The problem is, we are not so sure if he is actually running. According to ABC News Senior Political Correspondent Johnathan Karl, the inside the beltway whispers are saying that Huck won't be running in 2012 and he has released his campaign staff from 08 in the crucial early primary States of Iowa and South Carolina to work for other candidates.
Huckabee is currently employed by the Fox News Channel and they have reportedly given him a one month deadline from today to either make a decision to run, or to stay on-air with the network. FNC had previously suspended the media contributions of Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich as they became active in seeking the Republican nomination. Another potential runner, Sarah Palin still has maintained her on air work and has not been given any sort of deadline to decide on running that has been reported.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

What has happened to the mighty Redwings?

What in the world is going on up in Mo-town? If you can tell me, please let me know down in the comment section, cause I honestly don't understand how a team that looked so good coming into this series is down 3-0 to the San Jose Sharks.

I can explain the Flyers issues in a word (goaltending) and the Caps problems in a sentence ( A fundamental lack of leadership, chemistry, coaching, effort, and defense), but I cannot fathom how the Wings find themself in such a hole.

Like I said, if you have any ideas, let me know.


2nd Round Lacks Sizzle

The 1st round of the NHL was chalk full of intrigue and drama. It was packed full of controversial hits, overtime thrillers, epic combacks, and many tightly contested series. The 2nd round? Not so much. The dissapointing Washington Capitals have already been swept out by the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Philly Flyers and Detroit Redwings both find themselves down three games to none, facing down near insurmountable deficits. The closest series has been Vancouver and Nashville, but I fear an overtime victory for the Canucks in game three on a ridiculous penalty call will be too much for the already overmatched Predators to overcome.
The least surprising outcome of this round has been watching the Flyers goaltending implode once again. Has there ever been a team in sports that fails so spectacularly at the same position over and over again in the playoffs.
The biggest shock has been the Tampa Bay Lightning looking like a well tested playoff juggernaut. The 41 year old journeyman Dwayne Roloson is playing some of the best hockey of his life in net. Sean Bergenheim has been unreal good on a line with Dominic Moore. Ryan Malone has battled his way to the front of the net, stepping in for an again injured Simon Gagne. And Eric Brewer has been a dominate two way defensemen, especially with veteran Pavel Kubina going down. If the Bolts can keep this level of play up, they are going to be very hard for any team to knock off.

Meanwhile the Capitals showed a lack of heart, desire, and commitment that has become an unexplainable habit for them in the NHL playoffs. I really thought this would be their year to shine. Now Caps fans have to really wonder if it wouldn't be best to have some major changes down in DC. Alex Ovechkin deseves to have a better squad put around him. He is a force and Brooks Laich is a proven warrior. Everyone else on that team should be fair game for discussion about possible changes.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Some updates on Bin Laden, Afghan/Pakistan War Effort

* In the wake of the finding and killing of the world’s most wanted terrorist, Osama Bin Laden, the biggest question that I see facing the United States going forward is our ongoing foreign relationship with Pakistan. Many expected that Bin Laden would be found in the rugged mountainous border between Afghanistan and Pakistan, where the rule of law is scarce and tribal warlords control the utmost impossible of terrains. Very few expected Bin Laden to be found in the heart of Pakistan, within two Kilometers of what has been called their Country’s equivalent of the West Point Military Academy, and less than 100 Kilometers from the Nation’s Capital. There will be great pressure within Congress to cut foreign aid to Pakistan in response to what will be described as either gross incompetence or implicit cooperation with Bin Laden and Al Qaeda. The truth is that we will never know who knew what and when in Pakistan, but that will not stop the drums of ignorance from continuing their steady crescendo.

To toss such a crucial relationship to the wind would be the apex of foolhardiness. Pakistan is by far the more important strategic interest in the region, not the Country we are actually occupying and propping up in Afghanistan. Pakistan is more populated, developed economically, inter-connected to the global community, and in a more significant location. Did I mention that they also have nuclear weapons? We must continue to do what we can to support stability and continuity in Pakistan. As House Leader John Boehner has suggested, the alternative of letting such a critical Country fall into utter chaos could very well be catastrophic on multiple levels.

This is not to suggest that we should not work to reform and improve our relationship with the Muslim majority State. Pakistan is far from the most reliable ally we have and is nothing close to a pure white dove on many, many issues. They are a country with their own demons to wrestle with, but they are a sovereign Nation that will chart their own course going forward. An unfortunate fact about foreign relations is that you don’t get to choose who the regional power brokers you are working with are. You have to do the best you can with the associations you have.

* A pre-recorded tape of Bin Laden is supposedly in the pipeline and ready to be released posthumously. Please do not be fooled into any screwball conspiracies about him actually still being alive. As for the question of whether pictures of the deceased terror mastermind should be released? For our collective security and the safety of our troops serving overseas, I wish that people would just be satisfied he is dead and gone. Other then satisfying some curiosity and giving people a lasting image of finality, the distribution of such photos will do more strategic harm than good. I fully expect the pressure will build until they are in fact released. And the vocal minority who are denying the official story will continue on in the face of all evidence to the contrary, so it won’t matter to them anyways.

* It does speak to our relationship with Pakistan that we did not even tip them off right before the operation to get Bin Laden began that we would be doing something in the area. I understand that we proceeded with an abundance of caution in taking out such an elusive and important figure, but the total lack of cooperation with the Country we were going after him in tells us that there are multitudes of reasons not to trust them completely. And that is not just Pakistan’s problem. It is ours as well. As I have implied here before, the war in Afghanistan is more about Pakistan than it is about Afghanistan. The US must set a course to find a delicate balance between withdrawing combat forces from the region, while continuing to promote stability and secular rule in the area. The madmen and the violent fundamentalists in the region are many and active. The cooler and more rational heads must prevail and rule effectively, strategically, and humanely or the consequences for the world will be dire indeed. Competence must be the Order of the Day.

* I am meeting the instantaneous claims that torture of Al Qaeda operatives held at the Guantanamo Bay Detention Camp lead directly to finding Bin Laden with extreme skepticism. I think it is a blatant attempt by some on the Right to reclaim some moral and national security high ground in the wake of these momentous events. It can never be totally disproven, but I have my logical doubts over the oft-repeated and vehement claims of such convenient chain of intel that has been professed directly and in totality in the immediate aftermath of Bin Laden’s demise. If these guys were so smart and well clued in on the terror mastermind’s whereabouts, why did they not get him years ago? It seems to be a tactic I have noticed before where you float out such an opportune premise immediately as the story breaks and everyone is paying attention. As such, your spin becomes lodged into everyone’s conscious as established, legitimate, and historical. I guarantee you that no matter how Bin Laden met his end, it would have been tied back to Guantanamo and Torture, as an ex post facto justification for such.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Canadian Election Results

While U.S. news coverage has been overwhelmed by wall to wall Osama Bin Laden coverage, the people of Canada had a Federal Parlimentary Election yesterday.
The clear overall winner was Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who had been governing the Parliment for years with a plurality of seats, depending on votes from other parties to pass his legislation. This election his party won a clear majority for the first time under his watch. This will give him legislative carte blanche in the new government.

This is far from the result the main opposition parties, The Liberal Party and the seperatist Bloc Quebecois wanted. Both of those parties pretty much got routed actually, with the surprise rise of the formerly minor New Democratic Party, led by quirky and charismatic Jack Layton. "Good Jack" had the most success of any NDP leader in history, and bouyed by his strong performance in the national leaders debate, his party moved into 2nd place as the Official Opposition in Parliment.

It is the first time in Canadian history that the Liberal Party is not in the Government lead or in Opposition. While these are dark days for the Liberals, they will certainly lick their wounds and regroup. The Bloc Quebecois may not get such a chance. In the 1990s the group came close to its goal of a making the French speaking Province of Quebec a seperate nation from the rest of Canada. Since then, Canada has further integrated and unified all its peoples and the movement lost its steam. The 2011 election may be the seismec shift that eliminates the Bloc as a major player on the national stage. It would seem that the people in the Province rejected the seperatists as an ineffective path moving forward and shifted in a major way to the NDP.

Plenty Of Praise To Go Around

Nearly 10 years ago, the United States of America suffered a terrorist attack at the hands of a global terrorism group headed by Osama bin Laden. This heinous and cowardly act served as a rallying point for a nation divided after a heated election in which there were many accusations of fraud and cheating conducted by the victorious party. Americans bought up every patriotic item they could get their hands on. Democrats and Republicans stood together as representatives of a proud and vigilant nation who would stop at nothing to bring justice to those responsible for this act. The President saw his approval ratings skyrocket.

Now, nearly 10 years later, the person at the apex of responsibility for those attacks has been brought to justice.The President himself reported last evening that Osama bin Laden has indeed been killed by U.S. forces after nearly a year of detailed surveillance concentrating on the Pakistani compound that ultimately housed bin Laden. In his address to the nation, President Obama outlined the sequence of events leading to bin Laden's better-late-than-never termination which included several meetings with intelligence personnel and ranking military officers. Mr. Obama explained his role in the process and that he  gave the go ahead to put the plan in motion to finally take out Osama bin Laden. This plan succeeded and did such with no loss of American lives during the operation.

This result, however, is not good enough for some people. Many posts I have seen on Twitter, facebook, and comments sections of news and political sites are all blasting Obama.  People are accusing him of taking all the credit, laying praise on George Bush, and ultimately passing this off as a publicity stunt. Honestly, I am not sure exactly how many questions Obama has to answer before some people are satisfied but I am going to estimate that some people simply never will be satisfied. Merely days after Obama put to rest criticism that he was not born in the United States, he gave the green light to have Osama bin Laden killed. Not good enough, apparently.

The truth is that plenty of people deserve high praise for taking out a mad man who had zero regard for human life. First and foremost are the men and women of the USA's armed forces whose selfless sacrifices and willingness to put their lives on the line every minute of everyday  to assure we never see another 9/11.
Those individuals, fighting together as one, deserve the largest pat on the back of anybody. We also have the intelligence experts who never gave up on finding bin Laden and used their innate skills to help finally bring him to justice. President Bush deserves some commendation for initiating the effort to find bin Laden, be it unsuccessful under his watch. Lastly, President Obama deserves his share of praise for his handling of the situation since he first received word that bin Laden's whereabouts had been located by US Forces. He was patient but prudent and was involved in the process throughout.

That same synergy that bonded Americans in the wake of 9-11 seems to be absent these last few days. Sure there were people in the streets of NYC and DC waving their flags and singing the "Star Spangled Banner" but that celebration has been shouted over by the screams of the Conservative movement looking for any excuse to denigrate Obama and his presidency. They had to make sure that little to no credit was awarded to the Commander-in-Chief they vehemently detest like a 5 year old jealous of his neighbor's Hot Wheels. Those same people were calling people like myself un-American, un-Patriotic, and instructing me to move to another country when I showed dissent towards President Bush's policies. Funny what life is like when the shoe is on the other foot. 

Nearly 10 years later, that sense of unity felt in the days following the 9-11 attacks is but a whisper amongst screams. I just wonder if that sense of unity will ever find it's way back?

Time for Ovechkin to Put Up or Shut Up

The Eastern Conference is the Capitals for the taking this offseason. They are the #1 seed, they have all the weapons, and there is an overwhelming sense that this is their time to shine. With Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin going down to injuries leaving the Pittsburgh Penguins punchless and out, and the Philadelphia Flyers goaltending exploding spectacularly (again), leaving them hanging on to Stanley Cup dreams by a faint thread of hope, the door is wide open for the Caps to storm through.

And yet the Caps seem to be inexplicably faltering to their division rival, the Tampa Bay Lightning, down two games to none in the 2nd round series. Even worse: those first two games were at home for Washington. They now face the daunting task of stealing some games back on unfriendly ice. If they are not up to the task, their season is over. Literally. With an unconventional playoff back to back tonight and tomorrow it is quite possible that within 48 hours they will be done.

The Capital’s Captain, Russian born snipe shooter Alex Ovechkin upped the ante with a bold prediction: "we're going there, and we're going to win two games."

Those are the kind of things a Captain of a favored team should say after a stunning OT loss that puts his team in such a hole. As Captain, Ovechkin must step up his game and make it happen to back up those words. The time for excuses is over. The stage is set for him. If AO is going to prove himself as one of the truly elite players in the history of the game, now is the time for him to do so. He has been good so far this playoffs. The Capitals need him to be Great.

Tonight especially, with the possibility of a three games to none deficit hanging over his squad like a hangman’s noose, Ovechkin must transcend the situation and play out of his mind. No doubt the team will be tight going into the game. They need a spark and a flash from their elitely talented Captain to shake off the doldrums.

Far too often this year we have seen a seemingly disinterested Alex Ovechkin out on the ice. The almost uncontrollable force of nature styled play that we have seen from him in prior seasons was there in flashes, but not with any level of consistency. He has still been very dangerous, but the Capitals really need him to kick things into another gear tonight. He needs to bring back the furious kinetic freight engine style of play that his team feeds off of. If Ovie brings that kind of energy, I am sure the Capitals can get back into this serious. If he doesn’t, I have my serious doubts that they will still be active Thursday morning.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Will Huckabee Run in 2012?

Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee is an early favorite, on top or near the top of almost every poll for the 2012 GOP nomination for President. The problem is, we are not so sure if he is actually running. According to a ABC News Senior Political Corrospondent, the inside the beltway whispers are saying that Huck won't be running in 2012 and he has released his campaign staff from 08 in the crucial early primary States of Iowa and South Carolina to work for other candidates.
Huckabee is currently employed by the Fox News Channel and they have reportedly given him a one month deadline today to either make a decision to run, or to stay on-air with the network. FNC had previously suspened the active contributions of Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich as they became active in seeking the Republican nomination. Another potential runner, Sarah Palin still has maintained her on air work and has not been given any sort of decision deadline that has been reported.