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Steve Montador, Memorable Minor Players, and the Concussion Crisis

[ 17 ] February 15, 2015 |

If you’re a sports fan, you almost certainly maintain affectionate memories not only for great players but for journeyman players who had memorable moments. When the Flames made an upset run to the Stanley Cup finals in 2004, they lost a couple defensemen, and had to plug a couple of very raw young players into the lineup. One of them, Steve Montador, played a surprisingly strong game in the last NHL playoff game I saw live, when Calgary eliminated Detroit in overtime Game 6. (After maybe an hour of sleep, I flew back to Seattle at 7AM the next morning and delivered what I’m sure was a stirring lecture on the Mongolian judicial system that afternoon.) And then, in Game 1 of the conference finals against San Jose, Montador had a moment no fan of the team at that time will ever forget:

I remember it like it was yesterday: the brutal Sharks line change, the beautiful feed from Iginla, the minor-hockey beaver tail from Montador (which you can see Sutter and his assistants laughing about on the replay.) This wasn’t the beginning of a great career, but it was an admirable one all the same — an undrafted player who played almost 600 NHL games as was well-liked wherever he went.

Montador died today — he was only 35. He had severe problems with concussions at the end of his career, so it’s hard not to speculate, but at this time the cause is unknown. R.I.P.

I need to write a longer post about this, but John Branch’s Boy On Ice — about the premature death of Derek Boogaard, based on his superb NYT series – is very much worth reading for those interested in the concussion crisis in pro sports.

…good related interview with Darryl Sutter. More here.

Yay, At Least Another Year of Gross Media Malpractice

[ 75 ] February 15, 2015 |

So if I can follow the guilt-by-association logic here, Stephen Hawking, Kevin Spacey and Chris Tucker are pedophiles and therefore Hillary Clinton is unfit to be president. And then there’s the laziness: most of it just recycles the Todd Purdum article that was utter crap in 2008 and hasn’t become less so in the meantime.

Here’s the thing: Bill Clinton cannot be held responsible for the bad actions of people he’s flown on planes with. And while I know we all have to pretend that being a bad spouse must make you a bad public official although this is rather obviously false, I think people treating vague rumors about Bill Clinton’s sex life as being relevant should at least have to make an argument about how it disqualifies Hillary Clinton — who, as best as this blog can determine, is a different person — from office.

It’s going to be a long 1-9 years.

And Don’t Kid Yourself, King and Lincoln Would Have Praised Shelby County

[ 50 ] February 15, 2015 |

From the party that brought you the Martin Luther King whose public career consisted of a one-sentence speech, I guess “Abraham Lincoln: Neoconfederate” isn’t that much of a stretch.

“A Sammy Hagar lookalike pushes your face into a leather bag filled with oil…”

[ 20 ] February 15, 2015 |

Low-hanging fruit, I know, but well-turned.

[Target of parody.]

Maureen Dowd’s Greatest Misses, Part II

[ 121 ] February 14, 2015 |

The recent Maureen Dowd post caused numerous people to mention other salient examples from her immense body of terrible work.  A couple strands are worth particular emphasis.

First Pareene had an excellent roundup of her remarkable history of distorting quotes.  Really, more than one of these should be firable offense, even if the rest of her work actually had merit.  And they’re never innocent mistakes — the dishonesty is always in the direction of the narrative she’s pushing.  “Who among us doesn’t like NASCAR?” is the classic example.  Leaving aside the consistent journalistic malpractice, this should also remind us that the idea that she has some kind of shrewd insight into people’s character is risible.  Her narratives are always the stalest, shallowest spin that’s already been established by flacks of the public official’s opponents.  “Al Gore is a soulless, goody-goody liar.” “George W. Bush is an amiable dunce.”  “John Kerry is an effete snob.”  “John Edwards is a pretty boy with a fancy haircut and a big house.”  “Barack Obama is a cold wimp.”  (In fairness, I’ll grant that “Bill deBlasio’s wife doesn’t know her place” is pretty much her own, although not to her credit.)  There’s nothing in her columns that you wouldn’t “learn”  if you spent a few minutes watching “consultants” yell at each other on bad cable news shows.

We discussed this at the time, but the other classic example was when Sandy Hook showed that there’s a first time for everything: in this case, Maureen Dowd caring about a public policy issue.   The first why she could have proceeded is to do some homework, try to find it if any feasible policy changes could have…hahahaha, OK, let’s be a little more realistic.  The political questions surrounding the issue — why couldn’t even the most popular gun control measure pass? — are still interesting, albeit not terribly complicated for anyone who paid some measure of attention to how Congress operates prior to 2013.  Her response, alas, was to wonder why the political team that got comprehensive health care reform passed where Truman and Clinton failed and LBJ didn’t. even. try. didn’t keep track of which Senate votes were needed.  I swear.  And this “analysis” is not just implicitly based on Aaron Sorkin scripts; it’s openly and explicitly based on Aaron Sorkin scripts, which indeed seem to be Dowd’s sole basis for political “knowledge.”

The fact that Dowd has been given large amounts of money to ostensibly write about politics by the nation’s best newspaper for more than two decades says a lot, and none of it is good.

UPDATE: I forgot to mention that she’s also the Judy Miller of love.  The ultra-ultra hard sell the NYT gave to Are Men Necessary? was sort of their equivalent to Mouthpiece Theater.

Republican Governance in 2015: Gay-Bashing to Cover Up Your Rank Incompetence

[ 49 ] February 13, 2015 |

Shorter Sam Brownback: “OK, maybe my Laffernomics was an unmitigated disaster.  Don’t worry, it will mostly be the gays who end up unemployed.”

The ACA Troofer Clown Car

[ 25 ] February 13, 2015 |

jfk

CANNON X: “I assure you, Mr. King, that Ted Kennedy, Nancy Pelosi, and President Gruber have all told me that they did not want any tax credits on the federally established exchanges. Oh, and the real inflation rate is 50%. Just agree to file the lawsuit and we’ll get you a copy of Obama’s Kenyan birth certificate.”

Thanks to the investigations into the plaintiffs in King v. Burwell, the question of standing is getting a lot of attention. I think that the Court should interpret standing broadly, so based on what I know now I wouldn’t embrace the argument that not one of the plaintiffs has standing. Roberts has at times advanced a much narrower view, but will certainly be willing to find standing if he wants to reach the merits. He’ll only find a lack of standing if he’s ambivalent about how to resolve the case and wants to put it off, while further advancing his views on standing doctrine in the bargain.  It would be somewhat good news in the short-term if Roberts were to use standing to duck the case, not only because it’s better than a reversal but because the more people sign up on the federally established exchanges the harder it will be for Roberts to pull the trigger on them if he doesn’t feel strong enough to side with the troofers now. I don’t think it’s likely at all that Roberts would do this, but stranger things have etc.

I agree with Beutler that the greater significance of the desperate search for plaintiffs is metaphorical. Decent people are generally unwilling to strip millions of people of their health insurance, using a nutty legal theory that at best could be cleaned up to sound arcane, to further less-than-trivial liberty interests. It’s instructive that the troofers weren’t able to find plaintiffs strong enough to prevent even the possibility of getting dismissed on standing grounds.

And the Court should also heed the troofer-in-chief. He’s entirely candid that the Republican offer to the uninsured is “nothing” — if the five Republicans on the Court side with them, the resulting blood is fully on their hands as well.

This is Not Going to be Interesting

[ 112 ] February 13, 2015 |

Horse race observers are going to try to manufacture drama in the Democratic primary — that’s their job. But as long as Clinton runs, it’s not going to work. I mean, when an evaluation of the potential field 1)fails to identify anyone who has any chance of running and poses any kind of credible threat, and 2)proffers a list that has only 11 names and yet has to be padded out with the likes of Bill Richardson, Joe Donnelly, Jerry Brown and Al Sharpton…I think it’s pretty obvious we’re looking at Secretariat against some tree-toed sloths here.

David Carr

[ 5 ] February 12, 2015 |



R.I.P.
   Horrible news. I’m not sure why, but this was the first piece of his that came to mind; it holds up amazingly well.

…excellent tribute from Dave Weigel.

Maureen Dowd’s Greatest Misses

[ 247 ] February 12, 2015 |

For time out of mind, this weblog has been critical of Maureen Dowd’s consistently ghastly op-ed column.  While we have made similar arguments about numerous pundits, Dowd is the most likely one to generate inexplicable defenses, so it’s worth taking stock of what exactly has made her column such a massively negative net contribution to the national net discourse.

Obviously, any such discussion has to start with her unforgivable conduct during campaign 2000, which involved not only passing on every conceivable lie being made about Al Gore but making up some of her own.  (For this reason, I’m not impressed by the fact that she started making up funny names to criticize the Bush administration.  I can forgive a 20-year-old college kid for believing lies about how an incompetent who governed to the right of the Texas legislature was a harmless moderate and that nothing is really at stake in a presidential election. A very well-compensated political pundit, not so much.)  Her columns leading up to an election that would result in hundreds of thousands of people being dead all over the world and Sam Alito with a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court involved a multi-part series of columns in which Al Gore had an imaginary dialogue with his bald spot.

But she won a Pultizer!  Yeah, and Crash won Best Picture.  Read some of the columns she would be honored for — I triple-dare you.  (Sample disgraceful sexist nonsense: “Suddenly, That Woman stamped her feet. Like the Glenn Close character in “Fatal Attraction,” Monica Lewinsky issued a chilling ultimatum to the man who jilted her: I will not be ignored.”)

But, OK, her defenders say, she doesn’t care about policy at all, but she has such psychological insights.  No, she doesn’t. Not that this type of armchair psychology has much value anyway — the idea that pundits should be theater critics brought us such classics as “Dick Cheney — what a sensible moderate.” But even if you think this stuff matters more than I do, she has nothing to say about it.  As I said yesterday, she has one witless shtick — male Democratic politicians are women and Female Democratic politicians are men.  He narratives are not only devoid of substance, they don’t tell us anything about the politicians as individuals either.  Back in the day, Bob Somerby explained the basic dynamic:

But then, why should pundits criticize Coulter when she describes Dem males as big “f*ggots?” It’s very similar to the gender-based “analysis” their dauphine, the Comptesse Maureen Dowd, has long offered. In Dowd’s work, John Edwards is routinely “the Breck Girl”(five times so far—and counting), and Gore is “so feminized that he’s practically lactating.” Indeed, two days before we voted in November 2000, Dowd devoted her entire column, for the sixth time, to an imaginary conversation between Gore and his bald spot. “I feel pretty,” her headline said (pretending to quote Gore’s inner thoughts).That was the image this idiot wanted you carrying off to the voting booth with you! Such is the state of Maureen Dowd’s broken soul. And such is the state of her cohort.

And now, in the spirit of fair play and brotherhood, she is extending this type of “analysis” to Barack Obama. In the past few weeks, she has described Obama as “legally blonde” (in her headline); as “Scarlett O’Hara” (in her next column); as a “Dreamboy,” as “Obambi,” and now, in her latest absurd piece, as a “schoolboy” (text below). Do you get the feeling that Dowd may have a few race-and-gender issues floating around in her inane, tortured mind? But this sort of thing is nothing new for the comptesse. Indeed, such imagery almost defines the work of this loathsome, inane Antoinette.

[…]

Leave aside the persistent infantilism involved in images like “Godzilla” and “Bambi.” Here, Dowd states her endless—and vacuous—theme. Big Dem males (like “Barry”) are girls. And big Dem women are men.

Dowd has pimped these inane, tortured theme for more than a decade. For the record, though, one Dem male was not a girl in Saturday’s column. That would be Clinton aide Howard Wolfson. In paragraph 7, Dowd called him as a “thug.”

So let’s see. Obama (“Obambi”) is just a boy. Clinton (“Godzilla”) is a man—and she’s feral. And what led Dowd to cast this strange drama? Simple! When David Geffen called Clinton every name in the book, Clinton called on Obama to denounce his statements! Was this a good tactical move by Clinton? We have no idea—but it’s a very tame bit of political conduct. But it isn’t tame in the mind of Dowd, or in the scripts of her well-scripted cohort! (More below.) In Dowd’s mind, this unexceptional behavior made Clinton a thug—and, of course, it made her a man. And when Obama didn’t punch back hard enough, that made him a weak boy—a “Barry.”

Dowd goes on and on, throughout this column, trying to start a (pointless) fight among Dems. But let’s remember the basic theme: Every Democrat must be a loser! When Clinton makes a fairly trivial move, she has fought Obama too hard! When Obama doesn’t name-call Clinton, he hasn’t fought hard enough!

It would be hard to get dumber than this. And it’s hard to imagine why grown men and women at the Times (Andrew Rosenthal) still put this embarrassing schlock into print. But unfortunately, Maureen Dowd is an authority figure, writing at the top of our “journalistic” elite. She has offered this tormented dreck for years. During that time, Dems and liberals have suffered endlessly from her dumb, tortured conduct. We are in Iraq today because of the work of these losers.

In yesterday’s thread, Dilan offered a novel defense of this utterly worthless crap — she said mean things about Edwards, and Edwards’s political career flames out, so she was a prophet!  But that obviously won’t get off the ground.  First of all, there’s the Mickey Kaus problem — you don’t get credit for predicting 12 of the last 1 Democratic scandals.  When you say the same thing about every Democrat who might be president you’re bound to be right eventually, but that doesn’t prove that you had the goods at the time.  But this is actually unfair to Kaus — he did, at least, prove to be right about a specific bad act by Edwards, even if he just got lucky.  Dowd’s Breck Girl columns about Edwards weren’t using the slurs as a metaphor for some larger problem she went on to explain.  She didn’t say he was adulterous or provide evidence that he wasn’t really a liberal – her argument was that Edwards got expensive haircuts and was therefore a chick like all other male Democratic politicians.  How this makes her prescient about his destroying his political career with an affair with a woman is…unclear.  Incidentally, while I wasn’t an Edwards supporter I’ve never understood how his affair exposed his political views as “phony.”  He never held elected office again, and if being a bad spouse means you can’t be a progressive LBJ and FDR were “phonies” too.

And finally, let’s end with this column, which never got enough attention:

In worn jeans and old sneakers, the shy and retiring Dr. Judith Steinberg Dean looked like a crunchy Vermont hippie, blithely uncoiffed, unadorned, unstyled and unconcerned about not being at her husband’s side — the anti-Laura. You could easily imagine the din of Rush Limbaugh and Co. demonizing her as a counterculture fem-lib role model for the blue states.

While Elizabeth Edwards gazes up at John from the front row of his events here, while Jane Gephardt cheerfully endures her husband’s ”Dick and Jane” jokes, while Teresa Heinz Kerry jets around for ”conversations” with caucusgoers — yesterday she was at the Moo Moo Cafe in Keokuk at the southernmost tip of the state — Judith Steinberg has shunned the role of helpmeet.

Many women cheered Judy Steinberg as a relief and a breakthrough. Why should she have to feign subservience in 2003, or compromise as Hillary Rodham and Teresa Heinz did when they took their husbands’ names? But many political analysts said that just as the remote technocrat Michael Dukakis needed Kitty around to warm him up, the emotionally chilly Howard Dean could benefit from the presence of someone who could illuminate his softer side. So far he has generated a lot of heat but little warmth.

And at a moment when he’s under attack by Democratic rivals for reinventing his political persona and shifting positions, he could use a character witness on the road to vouch for his core values.

Leave aside the…actually, no, let’s not leave aside the grotesque, sneering sexism here, which is all too typical. But also note that none of this is even colorably relevant to the presidential campaign. How Dr. Judith Steinberg Dean dresses tells us nothing substantive about Howard Dean, it tells us nothing of any public interest about Howard Dean as an individual, and the idea that people vote based on how the spouses of candidates dress is beyond nutty. The prose is terrible, the content is terrible, and as with Friedman one reinforces the other so that they’re virtually inseparable.  It’s not just sexism; it’s vapid know-nothingism. It’s remarkable that she still occupies the same editorial real estate a decade later.

With A Hateful Whimper

[ 63 ] February 12, 2015 |

Roy Moore’s George Wallace homage is more pathetic than anything else.

However!  This blog always believes in being fair-and-balanced, so let’s get an alternative perspective from Ed Whelan:

Consider this hypothetical: In the immediate aftermath of the Supreme Court’s Dred Scott ruling, a federal district court, applying the principle of Dred Scott, enjoins a northern state from enforcing a law providing that a slave who is voluntarily taken by his master into the state thereby becomes free. Must state officials comply with the injunction?

If your answer to the question is no (or maybe not), then you agree (or might agree) with Moore that state officials have a right to resist federal orders they regard as constitutionally unsound (even as you of course might disagree about his application of that principle).

Now assume that the Supreme Court affirms the lower court’s order. Must state officials then comply with the injunction?

If your answer to the question is no or maybe not, then you’ve gone further than Moore has yet gone.

I take the uselessness and laziness of the analogy to be self-evident. A moral evil on the scale of human bondage justifies actions than might not be justifiable in other contexts. You can plausibly argue that John Brown’s terrorism was morally justified. This doesn’t really mean anything unless you want to argue that giving marriage licenses to same-sex couples is morally comparable to treating human beings as chattel.

Let’s try to make these hypotheticals a little more useful, shall we?  If state officials can nullify any federal court decision they disagree with, surely the case is even stronger for members of coordinate federal branches.  So:

Hack of the Day

[ 35 ] February 12, 2015 |

Laurence Silberman. 

He’s pretty standard-issue post-Ford Republican jurist, which might help to explain why the ACA troofers have a better chance of succeeding at the Supreme Court than not. I mean, if “you ignore the committees that were actually permitted to investigate him, then he was cleared” is an argument you’re willing to make in public, “Congress established a federal backstop that was designed to fail because…look, it’s Halley’s Comet!” is nothing.

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