Expertise's Politics and Sports Blog

Sunday, March 20, 2005
March Madness Round 2 Saturday Recap.

Well folks, close to every bracket has been butchered half to death between Friday and Saturday upsets.  Don't feel bad; I am the same way, and I accurately picked three of the four Final Four members last year along with the eventual national champion, Connecticut.

The biggest upset was West Virginia's double overtime win over Wake Forest.  I swear I heard bracket sheets being ripped up and thrown in the trash all over North Carolina when the buzzer ended that one.  A lot of people had Wake Forest going to the Final Four out of Albuquerque.  Yeah; I was one of those too.

The second biggest upset had Boston College completing their end of season collaspe by falling to Wisconsin-Milwaukee.  To put it bluntly, Wilwaukee was facing a BC team that was exposed in February and have been ripe for defeat.  Both Wake Forest and Boston College can't be happy with how their seasons ended.

On top of that, Washington routed Pacific today by 18.  I thought Pac would at least show up, but that's what I get for placing a top West Coast team over a mid-major one.  Gonzaga was just an exception to the rule in the 90's.  Speaking of which, the Zags were upset by Texas Tech.  Whenever Gonzaga has had a high seed, they end up having a short tournament.  They need to stay underdogs.

Tomorrow should be an interesting day, as Friday's surprises now have to once again pull upsets to get into the Sweet 16, and the four ACC teams have to show they are for real, as they face serious challenges.  Here are my picks:


- #1. North Carolina over #9. Iowa State

- #10. NC State over #2. Connecticut

- #5. Villanova over #4. Florida (SEC vs. Big East.  This should be interesting.)

- #6. Wisconsin over #14. Bucknell (Bucknell will give em a fight, tho.)


- #1. Duke over #9. Mississippi State (This should be a battle.)

- #5. Michigan State over #13. Vermont


- #2. Oklahoma State over #7. Southern Illinois


- #4. Louisville over #5. Georgia Tech

Posted at 03:33 am by Expertise
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Saturday, March 19, 2005
March Madness Round 1 Friday Recap

A pretty entertaining day, with a few upsets mixed in with solid competitive games.

In fact, the only ones that were ran away with was North Carolina's thrashing of Oakland and a surprising Mississippi State making a statement by handling Stanford.  No matter, because there were a couple of upsets that got a lot of people's attention.

Tonight, Bucknell upset Kansas in the Syracuse Region after a baby hook by center Chris McNaughton.  The German exchange student stepped up and made the basket with only 2.4 seconds left in the game.  Kansas tried to make a last second shot by Wayne Simien ala Christian Laettner, but it hit the back rim and fell out. 

I gotta give Bucknell props in more ways than one.  After all, defeating Kansas just made Roy Williams's life just a little easier.  Beers are on me guys.

Another big win was Vermont, who alot of teams called the next Gonzaga, used a time consuming offense to keep the game close, put the game into overtime, and finished off Syracuse by three points.  Well, that busted my bracket, as Syracuse was one of my Final Four teams.  Thanks guys.

That's wasn't the only bracket buster, tho.  Charlotte fell to NC State.  I figured they could at least go Elite Eight (stop laughing).  St. Mary's also fell to Southern Illinois.  That's a sigh of relief to the mid-major at-large boosters, as very few of them advanced this weekend, if any at all.  I was hoping Old Dominion would pull off an upset against Michigan State, but they fell down the stretch.

I also watched the Dook/Delaware State game, and if Delaware State actually could make layups, we might have had a huge upset there too.  I guess that was asking too much from the MEAC Champs, but they played with a lot of heart and almost showed up the ACC Champions.  Some Tarheels stuck around to watch the game, and they made it known with chants of "OVERRATED" towards the end.  Ha.

Tomorrow we find out whether or not the top seeds simply had pre-game jitters or they really were struggling.  I'm sure someone will fall.  Here's what I got:


- #8. Pacific over #1. Washington
- #2. Wake Forest over #7. West Virginia

- #6. Texas Tech over #3. Gonzaga


- #7. Cincinnati over #2. Kentucky

- #3. Oklahoma over #6. Utah


- #1. Illinois over #9. Nevada

- #3. Arizona over #11. UAB

- #4. Boston College over #12. Wisconsin-Milwaukee

This should be fun to watch.

I'm gonna miss the first session of games tomorrow and most of the second, as I have to be at a basketball tournament all day tomorrow.  But I should be around tomorrow evening.  Enjoy the Madness.

Posted at 01:45 am by Expertise
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Friday, March 18, 2005
March Madness Thursday recap.

Thursday's first round games weren't bad at all, it was just that almost everyone seemed mediocre.  No one had an impressive perfomance, with the possible exception of Oklahoma.  The top seeds looked like they only had just enough to pull out a W today, and they better come on the court with a better attitude Saturday, or they won't be playing next weekend.

The two upsets came from the SEC.  The first was Milwaukee upsetting Alabama, as I mentioned earlier, and LSU fell to UAB, who made it to the Sweet Sixteen last year and barely made it to the Dance this year.  I think the UAB win shut up the naysayers who claimed they didn't deserve to be there ahead of Buffalo or Notre Dame.

So what does this leave for the SEC?  Well Kentucky seemed to only do just enough to beat Eastern Kentucky today.  Many thought LSU would go far; in fact I saw LSU in the Elite Eight in a number of brackets (I dunno why.)  On deck tomorrow is Mississippi State - a team I didn't think should have got in - and Florida.  Is it possible that Kentucky will be the only one left?

Tomorrow will have the ACC spotlighted, as UNC plays underdog Oakland (Some have said Oakland with give the Heels trouble.  A 13-18 team?  I'll be damned.).  Carolina better win by at least 20 or I'll be pissed.  Duke faces Delaware State, from the MEAC.  Expect Reddick and Melchionni to rain threes all game.  NC State faces Charlotte in what I feel will be the first ACC loss of the tournament.  Charlotte's a gritty team, and C-USA showed everyone what they were made of with UAB and Cincinnati's wins Thursday.  Georgia Tech will have a tough time at George Washington, and we could see an upset there as well.

So here are my picks for Friday (upsets are highlighted in yellow):


- #1. North Carolina over #16. Oakland

- #2. Connecticut over #15. Central Florida

- #3. Kansas over #14. Bucknell

- #4. Florida over #13. Ohio (not sure about this one, folks)

- #5. Villanova over #12. New Mexico

- #6. Wisconsin over #11. Northern Iowa

- #10. Charlotte over #7. NC State

- #9. Iowa State over #8. Minnesota


- #2. Oklahoma State over #15. Southeastern Louisiana

- #10. St. Mary's over #7. Southern Illinois


- #1. Duke over #16. Delaware State

- #4. Syracuse over #13. Vermont

- #12. Old Dominion over #5. Michigan State

- #8. Stanford over #9. Mississippi State


- #4. Louisville over #13. Louisiana-Lafayette

- #5. Georgia Tech over #13. George Washington

Posted at 05:37 am by Expertise
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Thursday, March 17, 2005
March Madness Thursday: Afternoon Session

Well it didn't take long for the bracket busting to start.  #12. Milwaukee beat #5. Alabama in the Chicago Region, and pretty handily I might add.  I don't recall Alabama ever leading in that game, and kept a sizable lead down the stretch, leading by as many as 14 at one point in the second half.  I didn't expect Alabama to make it to Chicago anyway, but I thought they had enough to win that game.  But that's what I get for having faith in the SEC.

Speaking of which, Kentucky didn't make theirs an easy game, only beating #15. Eastern Kentucky by eight.  E. Kentucky played hard, and had a pretty good post game.  That's pretty impressive when they don't have a true center.  They were able to pull it within five, but Kentucky just had too much talent.  I think Tubby Smith wouldn't be at Kentucky next year if he had choked this one.

Oklahoma pulled away from Niagara, as I figured.  And Pacific delivered a solid win over Pittsburgh.  I'm calling this one now; Washington won't make it to Albuquerque.  Write that down.

Right now, Iowa is down by six early to Cincinnati.  I said Iowa would win, and I still think that's possible.  Pennsylvania and Boston College will start up in a few minutes.  Washington and Montana will start up in about 15 minutes or so, and UTEP vs. Utah should be a tossup.  Enjoy.

Posted at 03:12 pm by Expertise
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March Madness Thursday: Noon Schedule.

A number of great games going on right now...

The biggest shakeup at the moment is Wisconsin-Milwaukee leading Alabama by double digits.  I didn't think Alabama would make it to next weekend, but I thought they would seal the deal against Milwaukee, though.

A number of teams are trying to get the jitters out of them early today, as Eastern Kentucky is trailing behind Kentucky, but are still a couple of 3's of getting back into this game.  Niagara is hanging in there with Oklahoma, but I'd expect them to start pulling away anytime now.  The last game, Pacific vs. Pitt, should be a highly charged game and I expect that to be a close one all the way up to the end.

I'll be back around 3:00 PM to update and tell you about the afternoon games.

Posted at 01:05 pm by Expertise
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The Blogosphere: A Caste System?

I've been paying attention over the last couple of weeks to the discussion about inclusiveness of the blogosphere.  The Susan Estrich vs. Michael Kinsley "feud" has sparked a discussion on several blogs about the struggles of women bloggers and whether there is a "good ole boy" network, per se.

There are several reasons why blogs are more popular than others.  A good reason is that bloggers like Andrew Sullivan and Michelle Malkin, for example, are also columnists and have a strong fanbase in which they were able to attract to their websites.  That's why Malkin's blog became such a force so quickly.  Others, like Powerline, became popular mainly by being unrepentant whistleblowers in the face of the mainstream media.  Before Rather, there was their battles with the Associated Press, and I have become a big fan of Paul "Deacon" Mirengoff''s work and scholarly analysis of current events. (What irony: his name is Deacon, yet he's a Terps fan.  Ah well.)

However, most bloggers start from scratch; no fanfare, no readership, and no identification.  In fact, I'm sure several bloggers quit after only a few weeks because blogging at first seems like a hobby, but becomes a tedious chore.  Several bloggers post 3 or more times a day, and all of it is new material.  Some people simply don't have the time or the patience for that kind of writing.  The fact that you check your blog a few hours after you posted what you THINK is a masterpiece, and see the blog looks the same as when you left the computer earlier, can be quite disheartening. 

The blogosphere runs off of a free market system, and that market can be very cruel.  You have two choices; you can quit, or you can dig in your heels and sustain until you get your break.  Say what you will about LaShawn Barber, but the bottom line is she made contacts and did what she could to have people notice her.  Like Malkin, her writings are provocative, and they get people to pay attention to what she's saying and the things she champions.  In a market, you have to sell something that very few can provide; that includes perspectives, backgrounds, and writing prowess.  You have to be exceptional.  If you sound like everyone else in the blogosphere, you're going to have the same ratings as everyone else in the blogsphere.

Is there a blogosphere hierarchy?  No doubt, and at the center of it, particularly on the political conservative side, is Glenn Harlan Reynolds.  What makes his position so unique is that he refers so many blogs that Instapundit becomes a central source for a lot of the blogosphere.  It's very rare that Instapundit doesn't take the lead on the top issue of the day (well, Powerline and LGF completely led with Rather, but possibly because Reynolds was sick that day, if I recall).  Thus, the blogs he links to most generally receives a heck of alot of traffic, which creates a network (Powerline, Althouse, Kaus, Hewitt, etc).  

That's not a bad thing; that's simply how it is.  You got to get in where you fit in.  When a new product with a fresh name comes out, it's always going to be harder to compete with the brand names, because the brands will always have their loyal and faithful base.  Thus, in a lot of cases you have to be significantly better than the brands in order to be truly competitive.  You also have to adapt to circumstances and problems a lot quicker than they have to.  For example, VodkaPundit took some time off this week from his blog, but was able to get some well-known bloggers to step in for him.  Reynolds has done the same in the past.  But how many other bloggers could do the same thing?  Very few.

I'm not a syndicated columnist (although I aspire to be), a lawyer at a big firm, a law professor at a well-known university, a talk radio show host, nor a political consultant or analyst.  I'm just me.  I go to school, I referee, and I blog.  I like politics and sports, which is what I mostly write about.  It's not the easiest road to take in the blogosphere, but it's the road most traveled.  One day, my persistence will get me where I want to go; until then, I'm content with where I'm at and will adjust my little spot in the sphere in order to attract more visitors.  I have a vision, and while it may take a minute, I'll see it through. :)

UPDATE:  This post was featured on Men's News Daily, which is probably the best collection of news and commentary on the internet.  So if you read my article there, feel free to leave a comment on either the tagboard or in the comments section.  Check out the links on the sidebar and click Home in order to see some of my current writings, including the California gay marriage ruling, March Madness, and the continuing fight in Congress over filibusters.

So welcome, and please visit again.

Posted at 05:24 am by Expertise
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March Madness: Round 1 Thursday.

Aiight, this is it.  It's put up or shut up.

Thursday starts the annual sacrifice of 63 teams in nine cities across the country.  In three weeks, we will have our national champion.

That's what makes March Madness special.  There are several NBA coaches and superstars that have won NBA Titles, but was never good enough to lead his team through six straight in order to be called NCAA Champion.  To be an NCAA Champion is to belong to a pretty elite group.

So here are Thursday's games, and my picks (I placed my upsets in yellow font):


- #1. Illinois over #16. Fairleigh Dickinson

- #9. Nevada over #8. Texas

- #5. Alabama over #12. Wisconsin-Milwaukee

- #4. Boston College over #13. Pennsylvania

- #6. LSU over #11. UAB

- #3. Arizona over #14. Utah State

- #10. St. Mary's over #7. Southern Illinois

- #2. Oklahoma State over #15. Southeastern Louisiana


- #1. Washington over #16. Montana

- #8. Pacific over #9. Pittsburgh

- #11. UCLA over #6. Texas Tech

- #14. Winthrop over #3. Gonzaga (That's right.  I said it.)

- #7. West Virginia over #10. Creighton

- #2. Wake Forest over #15 Chattanooga


No games scheduled.


- #6. Utah over #11. UTEP

- #3. Oklahoma over #14. Niagara

- #10. Iowa over #7. Cincinnati

- #2. Kentucky over #15. Eastern Kentucky

I don't understand the reasoning of not having an even amount of games on Thursday/Saturday and Friday/Sunday (I think it's because CBS wants to preserve it's Sunday night lineup), but I wish they would have kept it the way it was.  And I definitely hate the idea of naming the regions after cities.  What was wrong with East, Southeast, Midwest, and West?

Why try to fix something that isn't broken?  Ah well.  *shrugs*

Also, I plan to do some updates throughout the weekend, so check back to see what's going on.

Posted at 02:37 am by Expertise
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Tuesday, March 15, 2005
Democrats threaten to throw GOP in briar patch.

Since some of you have probably never heard Southern fables, have you ever heard the story of Brer Rabbit and the Tar Baby?

To sum it up, Brer Fox set a trap on Brer Rabbit, and once it was set, threatened to throw him in the briar patch, which is a wooded area full of thorns.  However, Fox didn't realize that rabbits are so small that they could easily slide around within the patch, and that's where they generally make their homes anyway.  Brer Rabbiit used Fox's ignorance against him, and begged Fox not to throw him in it.  Hence, Fox ended up helping Brer Rabbit escape thinking he was actually hurting him.

Now to today's big story.  The Republicans have announced that they have enough votes to implement the "nuclear option", which will pretty much kill off the filibuster in the Senate.  This means the judicial nominations held up by the Democrats will now go through the Senate by a mere majority vote.  In seeking retaliation, the Democrats threaten to stop all Senate business with the exception of national security and military issues.

Not only would this hurt the Democrats immensely by being viewed as obstructionists, but it would keep the Republicans' two major strengths in focus on the Senate floor the whole time.   The Democrats will continue to shoot themselves in the foot and continue to lose even more of their seats as long as they engage in this sort of childish behavior. 

Democrats are the minority.  Deal with it.

Posted at 03:30 pm by Expertise
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California declares two laws unconstitutional.

California Superior Court judge Richard Richard Kramer ruled that two laws, one created by the legislature and one by referendum, were unconstitutional and same-sex marriages were legal in California.  The legislation was a 1977 ruling that defined marriage as "a union between a man or a woman".  A California proposition passed by over 2/3rds of the state passed in 2000 was also thrown out.

I've read Kramer's ruling.  I'm more inclined to support rulings or opinions like these if they were based on liberty standards rather than so-called equal protection rulings and precedents, such as this one.  Especially the sex discrimination argument, which is about as laughable as anti-school voucher advocates arguing those were illegal because churches would get it and thus violate the Establishment Clause.  However, when you have activist judges - particularly based in San Francisco, no less - any rationale will be used no matter how stupid.

At The Volokh Conspiracy, the blogosphere's guide for judicial rulings and legal opinions, Eugene Volokh reminds readers that opponents of the Equal Rights Amendment warned that homosexual marriage among other things could be declared constitutional through it's passage.  ERA never passed, but both California and Massachusetts legislatures both passed their own versions, and both were used in the rationale of the courts to overturn homosexual marriages.

What both courts did - and Kramer followed Massachusetts's lead on this - is state that gender discrimination exists because both partners denied of marriage was of the same sex.  But that twists the meaning of discrimination.  Same-sex advocates weren't denied a marriage license because they were male, or because they were female.  They were denied because they were two people of the same sex.  Both courts ignored the state granting marriage licenses to both males and females under certain circumstances. 

Just because the qualifications of marriage in a state are based on sex does not mean sex discrimination exists.  By that logic, as BoiFromTroy opines, what's stopping them from declaring unisex bathrooms are unconstitutional?  And I got another one:  why don't they declare unisex sports teams unconstitutional as well?

Let me stop, because that will be next.  Continuing...

Another argument the court made, on pg 11, is that the Proposition can't stand because the "discriminatory purpose" of the Proposition "does not determine whether there is nonetheless a legitimate governmental interest" in limiting same-sex marriage.  Sorry; I find this argument quite weak, because a Proposition doesn't have to include a rationale in order to be enforced by the government.  The mere fact that it was passed by a majority (in this case, a 2/3rds supermajority) means that the courts should be compelled, in my opinion, to find their OWN rationalle in overturning the proposition.  For the judiciary to use a law created by the legislature in order to overturn a law that was passed by proposition through the SAME VOTERS WHO ELECT THE LEGISLATURE is flat wrong.

Courts could use this in the future - and probably have already - in order to justify nullifying propositions.  If a proposition is going to be treated lower than legislation, or even legal prescedents, for that matter, then what's the use of creating and passing propositions?  Lately it seems as if I never hear about any propositions being upheld in court; they're all being overturned.

Finally, you can expect every court that will overturn their respective gay marriage bans to mention Loving v. Virginia, the federal case that interracial marriage bans unconstitutional.  However, the only connection they can make between interracial marriage and gay marriage is the discrimination factor.  The discrimination argument doesn't hold water when you look at race as a physical and genetic factor while homosexuality is purely behavioral.   

That's why I am disgusted when I hear gay rights advocates mention the civil rights advances of the 1960's and try to connect them to their own agenda.  With homosexuality being a behavioral trait, you run the risk of setting a standard of making ordinances, whether state or local, of other behaviors unconstitutional.  If you use the Loving prescedent to justify gay marriages, I don't see how legislatures won't be forced eventually to legalize prostitution, polygamy, incest, etc.  You might think that's insulting and unrealistic, but people were saying the same things about gay marriage 30 years ago, as Volokh showed in the link above.

All I'm saying is, the ends do not justify the means.  If you are going to make a coherent argument in order to throw out gay marriage bans, then do it responsibly and use proper legal reasoning.  The sloppily written opinions of justices in the past, done mostly through good intentions, have opened up a pandora's box of bad legal opinions based on weak reasoning that has been placed upon the nation against their will.  The supposedly good decisions judges make today can be used to make very bad ones tomorrow.

Posted at 05:13 am by Expertise
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Monday, March 14, 2005
Spring Break and Contraceptives.

Instapundit linked to a Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel article on The University of Wisconsin's health department advising college students to have emergency contraception - the morning-after pill - with them while they are on their Spring Break trips.

Then Reynolds said this:

You'd think that anti-abortion folks would approve, unless they just don't like the idea of people having sex, which certainly seems to be the issue in the article. My own criticism -- not echoed in the article -- is that they should be encouraging students to take non-emergency contraceptives with them. I mean, if you're going to be prepared, why not be properly prepared?

Here's an even better idea...why don't they stop acting like whores?

I'm not one that believes no one should have sex before marriage, but let's get real here.  Our society worries so much about contraception access and availability, but fails to encourage kids to make cogent decisions.  One of those is the idea that you don't have to sleep with every man you meet on the beach.

Just a thought. *shrugs*

Posted at 12:32 pm by Expertise
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