Expertise's Politics and Sports Blog

Thursday, March 03, 2005
The Senate filibuster.

Several Democrats continue to moan and groan about the Republicans' latest attempts to neutralize Senate filibusters.  One of the latest, done by Senator Robert "Sheets" Byrd from West Virginia, resulted in a rebuke by the Anti-Defamation League.

"We, unlike Nazi Germany or Mussolini's Italy, have never stopped being a nation of laws, not of men," Byrd said. "But witness how men with motives and a majority can manipulate law to cruel and unjust ends."

Ignore Byrd's Nazi reference - and the irony of him discussing it - for a second.  Byrd's comments on how the Republicans "manipulate law" don't hold water once you look at the history of the filibuster.

You see, the process of how filibusters are used have changed over the decades.  It has evolved from a legislative stunt where a senator has to stand and continue speaking until the bill was taken off the floor or cloture (where 67% of the present Senators voted to take the floor from the speaker) was approved.  Even then, cloture wasn't approved until 1917, which meant that one Senator could hold up Senate progress as long as he was physically able to.

Robert Byrd understands the importance of the filibuster because he implemented one in order to block the Civil Rights Act of 1964; a filibuster that lasted 14 hours and thirteen minutes.  He would have continued if it wasn't for Democratic Whip Hubert Humphrey finally negotiating the necessary 67 votes to gain cloture, forcing Byrd off the floor.  It was only the second time in Senate history that a filibuster had been beaten through cloture.

But even filibusters those days are more reasonable than today. After all, speaking for over 14 hours isn't a walk in the park. Filibusters then required you to stand up and use physical exertion.

Today's filibusters don't. All you have to do is simply say "I'm filibustering", and the only way the blocked legislation can come to the floor is through cloture.

Why? Because only the "threat" of a filibuster is sufficient enough to keep legislation from coming onto the floor. After all, Senators have to constantly meet very important lobbyists, attend Washington dinners and fundraisers, and make their trips all over the world. Judicial nominees? Presidential appointments? Doing their jobs? That's not important enough.

Now the Republicans are trying to pass what they call the "nuclear option", which will reduce the cloture requirement from 60 to a simple majority of 51.  This pretty much kills the filibuster entirely, because a filibuster's power is to be used as a final option for legislation that will pass if placed on the Senate floor.

Personally, I don't like the nuclear option.  I think filibusters should be allowed to stay in the Senate.  However, place it back in the old school setting:  force Senators who use it to get their butts up in front of the chamber and talk until their hearts' - or healths' - content.  Republicans need to grow some backbone and force the Democrats to put up or shut up.

Posted at 09:02 pm by Expertise
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Wednesday, March 02, 2005
The problem with college basketball officials.

Without dwelling into the Cheney goon incident again (which I'm tired of hearing about), the biggest problem I have with it wasn't necessarily the fact that Cheney decided to execute this stunt.  Rather, I am surprised that the officials seemed as if they were impervious to it and didn't realize this was going on.

As I stated before, if the officials would have been doing their job, Ingram would have been out of that game within three fouls, and that's allowing one to slide.  All of Ingram's fouls were hard shots, and could have easily been seen as intentional or flagrant.  All it takes is two of those for Ingram to be ejected.

As long as most college officials have been calling basketball, there's no doubt in my mind that these officials recognized this too.  So why didn't they call it?  Ultimately no one will ever know the answer, since officials are not allowed to talk to the media about their games, but I think it comes down to a combination of things.

First, the officials don't run that floor, particularly if you have a popular or "legendary" coach on it.  Cheney qualifies as one of those coaches, and there are several others.  Those kind of coaches are allowed to literally get away with murder on that court, and they won't get teched, and often influence officials' future calls.  Ever notice an official standing right by a bench talking with a coach during a free throw?  That's what's going on.

On the Triangle's sports station, 850 The Buzz, afternoon drive time host and program manager Adam Gold has had two great interviews in the last two days:  one with a writer with ACC Sports Journal and another that I've forgotten.  Anyway, one of the key topics they've discussed is the lack of respect shown by coaches in the ACC towards officials and the resulting high turnover of officials within the ACC.  A lot of heat was placed on ACC officials supervisor Fred Bearcat by Gold as well.

One thing Gold and others have brought up are the F-bombs that have been hurled by Coach K and Maryland coach Gary Williams onto officials and there are constant confrontations on almost every call by those coaches and sometimes by the assistant coaches.  Sure; criticism can go towards those coaches, but it also should be placed upon the ACC head offices and officials for allowing this kind of disrespect to go on.

The very first time a coach hurls a profanity, he should be teched.  Period.  End of story.  And then he should be told to sit his behind down and not to get up for the rest of the game, or he'll be ejected in accordance to basketball regulations.  But those coaches have won national championships in a conference that consistently is one of the best in the nation every year, and thus pressure will be placed on the game officials to allow them to act in that manner.  After all, no one wants a coach to be ejected out of a game.  But that's precisely what has to happen if college basketball - ACC, A-10, or whomever - wants to get a hold on the officials problem.

I was listening to former NC State standout Chris Corchiani on Gold's show vent his frustration about basketball officials, saying the best officials are the ones that you don't realize are there.  I agree with that, but the most important thing is that the officials have control of that court first.  That can't happen if you have everyone and their mothers disrespecting you; from the players on the court to the people in the stands. 

Thus, why stay in the ACC, where you are going to be subjected to tons of stress and harrassment, when you can go to the SEC or another D-1 conference that has less egos involved and the officials can control the games a little better, and possibly has a better support base?  You might not make as much money there, but at least you won't have to risk a heart attack.

Gold has come up with the idea that officials should be able to talk to the media in press conferences after the game.  The only problem with this is that internal problems within the conferences must be addressed first.  Also, there are just some things that are not going to be addressed due to the politics behind them.  That's just a fact of life, albeit sad.  But if the officials don't mind addressing some situations in a game, I don't see anything wrong with that once some problems are fixed.

Contrast this to the NBA.  Last night, Rick Carlisle was ejected from the Pacers/Bucks game.  When's the last time you've heard of that happening to Krzyzewski, or any other ACC coach?  College basketball has allowed the coaches to become bigger than the game, and the game is what's suffering.

Posted at 05:59 pm by Expertise
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Tuesday, March 01, 2005
Middle East transformation.

(via Yahoo)

Quite a day in the Middle East, as two events continue to rock that region day after day.  First, 2,000 Iraqis went to the site of yesterday's terrible explosion and demonstrated against terror.  Next, both domestic and international pressure has forced Syrian "President" Bashar al-Assad to pull troops out of Lebanon in the next few months.

When I first heard about the Bush Administration's plan to invade Iraq back in 2002, I was quite skeptical of the objectives of neoconservatives into using Iraq as a base to spread democracy and eliminate terrorism and totalitarianism at the same time.  I still am, but the political changes that are erupting throughout the Middle East in the wake of the Iraqi elections are amazing, not just by the size of them but also how quickly they've manifested.  There have been democracy movements in the Middle East prior to the Iraqi conflict, but nothing has provided this kind of push.

Not only has Iraq's opposition to terror and Syria's pressure to leave Lebanon been significant, but Egypt's Hosni Mubarak has announced presidential elections for Egypt starting this fall.  Palestinian elections, which resulted in the election of President Abu Mazen, has resulted in a more conciliatory tone from Israel and it's prime minister, Ariel Sharon.

What's next?  Will Pakistan and Saudi Arabia follow?  It's possible, as democratic pressures are falling upon both regimes.  However, should Americans be skeptical that democracy will bring in the peace and prosperity that will resonate throughout the Arabic World, or will Islamic fundamentalists work within the system to hijack the governments?  Once the initial push for democracy wears off, only time will tell if they are willing to reject the militant organizations that work within their countries altogether.

And finally, can the Bush Administration take responsibility for the surge in democratic activity in the Middle East?  It's possible.  Once they proved terrorism would not control Iraq and will eventually fail through the execution of January's elections, it gave other movements in the Middle East motivation.  They can't take it all, but they can claim to have taken the lead in seeing it through.

Posted at 07:09 pm by Expertise
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Friday, February 25, 2005
Why can't Serena look like this all the time?

I mean, any other time she looks like crap.  If she looked like this all the time a kat would actually feen over her.

Posted at 12:34 am by Expertise
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Thursday, February 24, 2005
Chaney's goon breaks Bryant's arm.

Yesterday I talked about John Cheney's antics in the Temple/St. Joes game, in which he sent in a player to intentionally hurt players after he complained about illegal screens.

Well, this is the result of that stunt:

Hawks senior forward John Bryant could miss the rest of the season after an MRI on Thursday showed he had a broken right arm. Bryant was injured on a hard foul two days earlier by a Temple player who Chaney put in the game for the sole purpose of rough play and hard fouls.

I hope John Chaney is proud of himself.  As I stated yesterday, if I were John Bryant's parents, I would sue both the Atlantic-10 due to the incompetence of the officials and the commissioners to let Chaney get away with this, and I would sue Temple University directly for Chaney's actions.  This is utterly reprehensible.  If A-10 Commissioner Linda Bruno doesn't suspend Chaney for the rest of the season, she should be fired her damned self.

Posted at 11:53 pm by Expertise
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NBA Trading Day.

There were a LOT of transactions going on, as today is the trading deadline.

First, Celtics' guard Gary Payton goes to his fourth team in three years as he's traded to the Atlanta Hawks in a five player deal.  The Hawks gave up Antoine Walker for Payton, Tom Gugliotta, and Michael Stewart.

It's actually sad when you look at Payton's past.  Last year he moved from the only team he ever played for to the Los Angeles Lakers in the hopes of winning an NBA title.  A year and a half later, he's being shipped to the worst team in the league in a deal where he's being shipped with two other players for one. 

I really don't know what the Hawks get out of this.  Do they really think Payton will resign with them, as he will be a free agent this summer?  It's as if the Hawks really don't want to compete with the rest of the NBA and are comfortable staying in the trash heap at the bottom of the league.

As for Antoine Walker, he returns to the team where he broke out as a star in order to possibly compete with the Sixers for the Atlantic Division title.  I actually hope both teams make the playoffs.

Baron Davis finally got his wish and will move west to Golden State for Speedy Claxton and fossil Dale Davis.  Kudos to Davis getting out of that hellhole, and congrats to Shinnridge for making it easier for Stern to run you out of the league.

The New York Knicks made considerable changes to their front court as center Nazr Mohammed and guard Jamison Brewer went to the Spurs for Malik Rose and a first round pick.  Then, they traded Vin Baker and Moochie Norris to the Houston Rockets for Maurice Taylor and another first round pick.

No doubt this was the best trade in the last couple of days.  The Knicks acquired an undersized center in Malik Rose, but he works very hard, and Maurice Taylor is very underrated due to the outstanding forwards in the Western Conference.  Rose's contract will take up a lot of cap space, but the two first round picks they picked up might be able to strengthen the team if Rose and Taylor aren't able to adequately produce for the Knicks.  I like this move, and Isiah Thomas deserves his props.

In other NBA news, the Mavericks acquired Keith Van Horn from Milwaukee for Alan Henderson, Calvin Booth, and some cash (money ain't a thang for Mark Cuban).  Glen Robinson leaves the Sixers to go to the Hornets for Jamal Mashburn and a returning Rodney Rogers.  Both Robinson and Mashburn are on injured reserve and won't play for the rest of the season, so this is no big deal.

Posted at 05:19 pm by Expertise
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John Chaney's goonish tactics

Check this out:

The day before, Temple coach John Chaney fired a warning shot at St. Joseph's and the officials, claiming the Hawks free their long-range shooters, Pat Carroll and Chet Stachitas, by using illegal screens.

The Hall of Fame coach said if it happened again, he would send one of his goons on the floor to send a message.

during the game...

He railed against the officials for allowing the Hawks to get away with what he perceives as illegal screens. So with 15 minutes, 24 seconds remaining in the game and St. Joe's holding a 39-31 lead, Chaney sent in the imposing but seldom-used 6-foot-8 senior Nehemiah Ingram.

A little more than four minutes later - after he delivered a hard foul and slammed John Bryant to the floor (Bryant had to leave the game), and after he had delivered forearm shivers to the chins of Carroll and Dwayne Jones and drew a technical for the incident with Carroll - Ingram fouled out while St. Joe's was pulling away to a lead that reached 50-34.

after the game...

Afterward, Chaney made it clear he didn't put Ingram into the game for his offensive prowess. After all, Ingram has played 54 minutes this season, committed 21 fouls, and scored five points.

"I wanted him to put forth some illegal screens just like they were," the fuming Chaney said. "They were sending two guys to screen for one guy to get a shot, so I did the same thing to them. I'm sending a message, and I did what I used to do years ago and send in a goon. I'm from the old school, trying to play it right, but no more. I'm sending a message to the rest of the league."

Told that Bryant appeared injured after he was fouled by Ingram, Chaney said: "That's what happens. That's what happens. I'm a mean, ornery SOB, understand?" Chaney was true to his word. During Monday's weekly A-10 coaches teleconference, Chaney said he'd send in a goon, adding it was not his intention to make a mockery of the game. Regardless, little that occurred after Ingram entered the game resembled basketball.

"We're going to have to have better officials who are going to call illegal screens," he said Monday. He added: "I'll go back to my old style of basketball and put one of my goons in and have him run through one of those guys and chop him in the neck or something."

I'm going to say it as plain as I can:  John Chaney needs his ass whupped.  Either that, or kick him out of basketball for good.  Those are the only reasonable ways to effectively deal with him.  This man has choked coaches, challenges people to fights, threatened to kill other coaches, and god knows what else.  And the Atlantic-10 commissioners as well as the Temple brass continue to either look the other way or give him a slap on the wrist each time he pulls some crap like this.

Chaney acts like some school bully because he deals with people who won't stand up to him due to his "legend" status, his age, or for other reasons.  And this incident illustrates perfectly what's wrong with basketball today; those referees who called that game should be fired for allowing Chaney and Ingram to get away with that without any immediate repercussions.  They were too scared to do anything because it was John Chaney and they're scared to reprimand him.

You have Chaney threatening to pull this stunt THE DAY BEFORE THE GAME.  Didn't the refs hear about it, and thus should have braced for this to happen and stopped it before it started?  Even if they didn't, look at how rough the fouls were....forearm shivers, SLAMMED a player to the floor, putting him out the game?  There's no way in hell that Ingram should have made it to five fouls; he should have been ejected after two.  If I were Bryant's parents, I would seriously consider suing the Atlantic-10 and Temple University for allowing their kid to get hurt by this fiasco.

I'll be the first to admit; St. Joes' squad are better men than I.  All it would have took was ONE moment for me to realize Ingram was trying to intentionally hurt me or one of my teammates.  He'd get a warning: one more time and you'll get knocked on your ass.  And if he did it anyway, I'd make good on my promise.  Size be damned.  And afterwards I'd go after Chaney; age be damned.  Basketball players that are trying to play a clean game should not have to worry about a coach sending "goons" out on the court to possibly put them on the shelf and their careers on hold.

Now, Chaney has apologized and suspended himself for one game.  One game?  That's it?  He should be suspended for the rest of the season.  It's nothing more than a false-faced apology in order to quell the criticism of his antics.  That isn't even close to the punishment Chaney truly deserves.

Posted at 05:24 am by Expertise
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Chris Webber traded to the Sixers.

ESPN is reporting that Sacramento Kings forward Chris Webber is headed to the Philadelphia 76'ers in a six player deal, where Webber and reserve forwards Mike Bradley and Matt Barnes will go for the Sixers' forwards Brian Skinner, Corliss Williamson, and Kenny Thomas.

This deal is stupid for a couple of reasons. First, the Kings really get nothing out of this deal than a couple of underachieving players.  Williamson is averaging less than 11pts and less than 4 boards a game.  Thomas, who plays the four, averages just over 11 and gets about six boards a game.  All three of these guys have long term contracts that the Kings will swallow for the same price as Webber's contract.  At least with Webber you had a five-time All-Star, which gives you some sort of an excuse.  Why spend that kind of money on three nobodies?

The second problem is a personal one, as the Eagles fans now have a bandwagon to jump on and ride into the playoffs. This is probably the best news they've had since 2001, and it didn't help matters when their former coach jumped ship to Detroit last year to win an NBA Title. Nevertheless, this gives the Philly contingent something to run their mouths about.

More than likely this will put Philly over the top to win the very weak Atlantic Division.  How far they'll go into the playoffs is another question, and that depends on Webber getting motivated like Vince Carter did once he was traded to New Jersey.  All of a sudden, the Eastern Conference has become very interesting.

Over on the West, every team except the Kings should be quite happy.  The West is rich with forwards, and for the Kings to give up their premiere forward - albeit he wasn't playing up to par this year - without getting something valuable in return leaves a huge void on the Kings roster for guys like Stoudamire, Duncan, KG, and others to exploit. With the Kings fifth in the West and only seven games ahead of 9th place Minnesota, they could be in trouble if Thomas and Williamson don't step up their production.

Posted at 01:41 am by Expertise
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Wednesday, February 23, 2005
Moss to be traded to the Raiders.

The Associated Press is reporting that Vikings wideout Randy Moss will be headed to the Oakland Raiders in a trade on March 2nd.

This was very surprising, for a few reasons.  First, the Vikings are in the middle of selling the team, and Randy Moss makes it a more valuable franchise.  Arizona businessman Reggie Fowler has agreed to a deal to buy it, but he doesn't have controlling interest yet, and he's been marred by controversy by lying on his resume.  Second, Mike Tice has made it clear that he wanted Moss to stay, and Moss is a very big part of that offense.  Third, Moss's name puts asses in the seats. 

Thus, I didn't think Moss wouldn't leave the Vikings, or at least until Fowler or whomever bought the team from McCombs.  In fact, precisely how much input did Fowler have in this situation?  That's a question to be asked in the upcoming days leading to the free agent signing period.

For Moss, the Vikings get Raiders linebacker Napeleon Harris, the number seven pick in the draft, and a late-round pick.  That isn't bad, considering the Vikings need help on their defense.

As for Moss and Oakland?  Well, here's what his agent, Dante DiTrapano, said:

DiTrapano said Moss was "very pleased to be going to Oakland and looking forward to playing with a team that's promised they're going to throw the ball deep a whole lot to him and having a chance at winning the Super Bowl."

Oakland has a chance at winning the Super Bowl?  When was this...four years ago?

DiTrapano's been smoking that freshly brewed crack.  Moss is going to a worse team in the tougher conference in a tougher division and will have balls thrown to him by a lesser quarterback.  That's not to say that Moss won't make the team better, but Super Bowl contenders they definitely won't be.

It should be interesting to see how long Al Davis will put up with Moss's antics.

Posted at 06:05 pm by Expertise
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The Moonbats' hatchet job.

Once the conservative bloggers helped to bring down Dan Rather and Eason Jordan, you had to know the moonbats (the leftist side of the blogosphere) needed something to make themselves feel relevant.  After all; they failed to put Howard Dean on the Democratic ticket and they failed in their attempts to help put candidates over the top in Election 04.

Hence, their response? James Guckert.

Apparently Guckert worked for Talon News, a small conservative publication created by GOPUSA's Bobby Eberle, and wrote under the psuedonym Jeff Gannon.  After asking one too many questions that were considered "softballs" during White House press briefings and during Bush press conferences, the moonbats, led by Democratic Party-bought Media Matters of America, decided to do a little digging.

Once they found out his real name they immediately accused him of using false information in order to get access to the White House, of which they had no proof of and Guckert states he used his real information.  They claimed he's not a "credentialed journalist", although no one really knows what a "credentialed journalist" is and is able to establish standards for them.  They accused him of getting special access inside the White House, but they have no evidence of who supposedly gave Gannon this special access, and thus no proof that he received favortism.  They even accused him of outing CIA agent/loudmouth Valerie Plame, although he only cited information that was reported in the NYT a week prior, and not to mention Plame's interference in her husband, Joe Wilson's, mission and her appearance in Vanity Fair magazine.

Hence, the only way they could bring Guckert down is through a hatchet job.  Guckert had a dark past, as he appeared in several gay websites.  Those were brought into the open, and thus Guckert resigned from Talon News out of disgrace.

You see, with the left the ends always justify the means.  They simply wanted a trophy and didn't care how they got it.  However, the whole blogosphere was stained by this "scandal" instead of just the moonbats.  They were the ones who are rightly characterized as a lynch mob when all of this went down, and none of them are willing to apologize for their actions in this ordeal.  In fact, they are still bewildered why the mainstream media aren't paying them any attention like they did Rathergate.

When the conservative bloggers started paying attention to the story, and proved there wasn't anything to it, they decided to flood their sites and harrass them.  Take Powerline for example.  John Hinderacker received countless vulgar emails, the secretary at his law office was cursed at on the phone, among other things.  All of it got to him, and thus he lashed out at one of them.  The recipient was a blogger, and he posted the email on his website.  Even after Hinderacker apologized - something he didn't have to do - there were moonbats that wanted to send the email to the Minnesota bar in order to place it on his record.

Welcome to the future of left-wing politics, folks.

Posted at 03:11 am by Expertise
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