Sunday, February 19, 2006

Asleep at the Switch

So while I was dozing for the past 10 days, apparently there was a poll of the 2008 Democratic field for WASHINGTON state!!! And how do I find out about it? By my good friends and neighbors in TENNESSEE!!!

Well, thanks to all you good Volunteers over there at Tennesseans for Russ Feingold. I commend you on being more aware of what's going on in the Pacific Northwest than I am.

I'll post a little more on the poll itself later. Short thoughts? It's definitely a sign that all of us in the Russ Feingold for President "movement" are definitely barking up the RIGHT (or left) tree.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006


If I didn't know better I'd think that Senator Feingold is a tad upset about the NSA illegally wiretapping American citizens (via folkbum at Daily Kos). I haven't read the whole thing, but glancing through it looks like a doozy. Here's a couple of choice bits:
The President was blunt, so I will be blunt: This program is breaking the law, and this President is breaking the law. Not only that, he is misleading the American people in his efforts to justify this program.
Then there's this:
Congress has lost its way if we don’t hold this President accountable for his actions.
Finally this:
So I don’t want to hear again that this Administration has shown it can be trusted. It hasn’t. And that is exactly why the law requires a judge to review these wiretaps.
Like I said... WOW!

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

The Game, Seriously

Ok, now that I've fallen on my sword (see immediate post below), I can talk a bit about the game and how I really feel. In a phrase? We got screwed!

Well... we did get screwed by the refs, but we still could have (and should have) won the game. I don't have anything against Pittsburgh, and have rooted for them on several occasions. But they just did not play better than the Hawks. I'm sorry, it just didn't happen. Still, they scored more points and that's usually enough to get you the trophy.

Pittsburgh had 3 great offensive plays: (1) the pass to Ward that put the ball on the 1; (2) the 75-yard touchdown run by the little running back; and (3) the TD pass to Ward. Take away those 3 plays, and their offense really did nothing. The Seahawks defense owned them for the first 19 minutes. Some of that was probably due to poor Pittsburgh execution, but despite what Cowher said at halftime, Big Ben did not have that John Elway look in his eyes (for those of you who witnessed the debacle of Bronco Super Bowl visits in the '80s and early '90s you know what I'm talking about), and they weren't making many mistakes. They were just getting beat.

To be fair, Pittsburgh had 2 great (successive) defensive plays. The first was the sack on Hasselback after the ill-fated "holding" call on Locklear. The second was the interception on the next play. (Accuracy note: I'm talking from memory here; I remember the plays being back-to-back, but they might not have been). Both were huge for Pittsburgh because a team can overcome a penalty (even a bad call like that), but when you follow the penalty up with a sack and an interception... well... that's gonna take the wind out of your sails. But as with the Pittsburgh offense above, that was about it for the defense. That was the only turnover, and one of only two sacks (I think). There weren't any other "big" plays by the defense. In fact, the offense pretty much owned the defense. The Seahawks could definitely run throughout the game, and they could definitely pass. A number of drives that got bogged down because of Seahawk miscues (dropped passes, penalties). To a large extent, the Seahawk offense thwarted itself more than the Pittsburgh defense did.

But on both sides of the ball, the Seahawks definitely had an edge. The only difference comes down to the 3 great offensive plays Pittsburgh had, and really only 1 great offensive and 1 great defensive play for Seattle (the Herndon interception followed by the Stevens TD).

Now, the Seahawks HAD at least 2 other great offensive plays, and one great defensive play. They also had a terrible offensive play that got made worse. You know what I'm talking about. The Jackson TD and the Stevens catch at the 1 (both wiped out by penalties), the Big Ben TD (ruled a TD for reasons that escape me), and the penalty on Hasselback's "low block" on the ball carrier. I don't mean to be hard on the refs because I know their job is not easy, and no matter what they do, someone will be unhappy. But a bad call is a bad call, and a questionable call is, well, questionable. Let's take these in chronological order:

Jackson's TD. Now there clearly was contact from Jackson to his defender on that play, and it may be technical violation. But it's also a call that refs let go because the spirit of the rule has not been violated. The offensive pass interference they called is meant for situations where the receiver creates space between himself and the defender by pushing the defender away. That's just not what happened. The most that Jackson gained out of the contact was perhaps some stabilization has he changed directions. The defender was not "interfered" with in any real sense. I'd rate this call as questionable, but not bad or out of bounds.

Big Ben's TD. I think the call on the field was wrong, but I think the call on the replay was correct. I know that sounds weird, but when you understand that a call can only be overturned if there is incontrovertible evidence that the call was wrong. No matter how many times I saw the replay, I just couldn't say with any certainty whether the ball broke the plane or not. However, I think the ref on the field should have ruled him down. I just think it's better to leave the game in the players hands, and ruling it 4th down would have done that. Look, Pittsburgh could have challenged the call then (but given how ambiguous the replay was, the call would have been sustained). But more importantly Pittsburgh still had another down to make the TD. You weren't taking the ball away from Pittsburgh, and you weren't giving them points that couldn't be taken off the board. By calling the TD, the ref takes the game out of the players hands. Nothing can be done about it because its so close the replay can't tell you one way or the other. Still, this is only a questionable call. It honestly could have gone either way, and I'm probably biased in how I saw it.

Stevens catch at the 1. They say that you can call offensive holding on just about any play. Which raises the question why do you call it when you do? I have no idea. I also have no idea why Locklear got hit with a holding call. The "hold" just wasn't there. What's really sad about this is that Stevens gets remembered in this game for his dropped passes. If that call isn't made it's, "Stevens dropped passes? Really?" 'Cause he would have made two of the biggest catches of the game for the Seahawks (his TD reception, and the catch that led to the go-ahead TD). Anyway, this, to me, was just a bad call.

Finally, Hasselback's "low block." Ok, this call was LUDICROUS. I have no idea what the ref thought he saw, but it just wasn't there. Craziness. Now, you might be justified in asking, "So what? The Steelers just intercepted the ball, and the penalty was not going to change that." Very true, but let's not forget that that penalty gave them 15 yards and put them in the range (40-40) where they could run the Randle El pass to Ward. If they're forced to start on their 25-35 they don't run that play. Remember what I wrote earlier, the Steelers were not lighting up the Seahawk defense, so that 15 yards could have made a real difference in Cowher's play calling. Ultimately this call was terrible, but despite what I just wrote about its significance, I don't think it really altered the game. It may have accelerated where things were already heading, but that's the point: they were already headed that way.

But alas, it was not our day. Congrats to the Steelers. They won. But man, it sure doesn't feel like they beat the Seahawks.

It's All My Fault!

SEAHAWKS . . . lose?

Ok, that's not what I expected. But I've done a lot of reflecting, and I have to come completely clean: their loss was entirely my fault.

You can blame the refs (which I do), you can blame Holmgren's clock management (which was bizarre), and did I mention you can blame the refs? But ALL of those things are completely, totally and unequivocally MY fault.

For those of you who are not die-hard sports fans, you just won't understand this. For those of you who are, this will make so much sense that you'll shake your head in wonder at my hubris. Indeed, I thumbed my nose at the God of Sports, and lo did he smite me (and my armor clattered about me).

How did I accomplish this? Here are just a few of the main ways:

1. I rearranged my living room. Yup, in the two weeks between the NFC Championship Game and the Super Bowl I basically rotated my living room 45 degrees. Why is this important? CLEARLY while altering the feng shui of my living room may have allowed energy forces to flow through my house better, it just as clearly threw off the precariously situated pro-Seahawk Vibe that emanated from my house, traveled the 3 hours north on I-5 and permeated the Seahwaks sideline. Once the Vibe was altered, well, there was just no getting it back. Now, during the off-season I need to sacrifice my love seat to the Goddess of Good Sports Fortune. I think I'll set it on fire in my front yard and then throw Terrible Towels on it to fuel the flames. I'm sure the Fire Marshall will not be pleased, but this is really out of my hands now.

2. I did not sit on the right side of my sofa. Through the First Round and the NFC Championship, I dutifully sat on the right-hand side of the couch, and both times the 'Hawks won (not to mention I sat there through a sizeable handful of the 'Hawks regular season wins). Obviously, the right-side is where the pro-Seahawk Vibe originates. On Sunday my wife was sitting there. She was very sick, and I didn't feel like making her move, plus she thinks this superstition thing is a bit weird, so I didn't want to get in a long theological debate at the start of the game. That would only have interfered with the Vibe. So instead, I sat on the LEFT side. Of course, the game started out ok. The Seahawks looked competent, their defense had a strangle-hold on Pittsburgh. "Maybe the Left side is where the Vibe relocated after the rearrangement!" I thought. But there was something a bit off, I felt. The 'Hawks offense was good, but not great. They were close, but not close enough. Things weren't clicking like they should, but they looked like they could start any minute. When halftime came and the 'Hawks were down 7-3 I panicked. Which leads to:

3. I panicked. What can I say? The pressure of the Big Game got to me. I mean, this was my first Super Bowl, and the glitz, glamour, and media attention made me antsy. So, rather than thinking clearly, I panicked and switched sides of the couch. By this point I didn't care if my wife was suffering from consumption. SHE NEEDED TO MOVE! And move she did, bless her heart (albeit with a slight shake of her head and roll of her eyes; yes, honey, I saw that). Now, firmly ensconed on the RIGHT side again, I was convinced we were on our way. Then the little running back (c'mon, everyone compared to the Bus is little) ran for 75 yards and scored a touchdown. It was then I realized my mistake, but it was too late. See, the Vibe hadn't been lost. It was just taking awhile for it to re-orient itself. Had I stayed on the Left side, it would have found me and thereby the 'Hawks. Instead, I moved and confused it. By the time it did find me, it was so dissipated that it couldn't muster more than pulling the Seahawks within 4, and then getting them to that heart-breaking play that almost put the ball on the 1. When the penalty negated that play, I knew the Vibe was finished for the day. I'd tired it out with my antics.

4. To top it all off, I'd bought these football sugar cookies the day before thinking they'd make a nice snack during the game. What did I discover about 2 hours AFTER the game? I'd forgotten to put them out for us to eat (I also discovered that they didn't taste that good). I'm not sure if this contributed to the loss, but it was sort of a reminder of all that had gone wrong that day.

So there you have it. Seahawks fans, you can curse my name. You can picket my house. You can ban me from the city of Seattle (of course given traffic there I'm not sure how much of a punishment that would be). You're justified in it all.

But don't worry. I've learned my lesson, and if the 'Hawks should have the good fortune to return, I won't make ANY of these mistakes again.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

A doin's a transpirin'!

Goodness! It's been two and half weeks since my last post, and my what a difference that time can make.

Ok, so first THE SEATTLE SEAHAWKS ARE IN THE SUPER BOWL!!!! When I woke up on Monday morning I was relieved to see two things: First, I hadn't dreamt their win over Carolina, and second, the Rapture had not struck.

Then a few days later Senator Feingold announces that he will vote "no" on confirming (now) Justice Alito. Then, he goes that one better by voting in favor of the ill-fated filibuster of Justice Alito's nomination.

The Patriot Act (remember that?) seems destined for another month of life, although Senator Feingold's long-term opposition remains.

Senator Feingold topped the Dkos straw poll, besting General Clark for the first time... well... ever. And we all know that if the Dkos community is behind you, then the sky is the limit!! You know, like Howard Dean.

I kid, I kid... I kid because I love.

Anything else? Oh right! President Bush delivered his State of the Union address, to rave reviews. Ho hum.

Next Monday the Senate Judiciary Committee is slated to start its hearings on the NSA wiretapping program. I'm both excited and nervous about this. Given the ham-handed efforts of several senators during the Alito hearings (and the Roberts ones before that) I seriously doubt our "A" team is being sent to safeguard our liberties. Not that I believe Senator Feingold has supernatural powers, but I definitely think that his method of questioning is superior to most other senators, and the Dems should really give him carte blanche to do the questioning. Actually, if it was only him and Senator Grassley I think the hearings could be informative. Of course, Senator Grassley might take us off on another discussion of qui tam, but I'd be willing to risk it. Seriously, I thought Grassley was one of the better Republican questioners.

Anyway, I'm completely ignorant of committee procedures and the like, so I don't know if the rules will give Senator Feingold the moment he deserves, but I really think this could be a definitive moment for him on the national stage. As the Dkos poll shows (to the exten that it shows anything) Senator Feingold's popularity amongst the lefty political junkies is growing. His performance in these hearings could begin moving opinion amongst those who are not political junkies or those who are not lefty, or both. Of course, this analysis presumes that the hearings will be public, which I suppose is a big "if" given this administration.

That's all for today. Hopefully enough to chew on and spit out.