Friday, March 04, 2005

Poker Roundup

Knowing that I had to finish in the top three in order to have a prayer of advancing in this five-week tournament, I resolved that I would play a disciplined game, grinding out advancement through folding, if necessary.

It was necessary, and boring. Sheesh! I played only six hands all night. I won four, which was nice. Another was a split. My only losing hand was at the final table, leaving me in sixth place. This was my best finish yet, but won't get me to the next round.

I caught rags all night long. The first table would have been an opportunity to clean up had I caught anything, since the table was in with four or more players almost every time, and they were playing crap. Fold, fold, fold, fold, fold, fold, fold, fold... I was disciplined, allowing the others to carve each other up and knock each other out. I advanced through inaction.

Ah, well. There will be other tournaments. This was a nice initiation. I figure if I can get to the final table every time in a group of 40, I'll win one soon enough.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

One Way To Get To A Restructuring

The NHL owners and players have been at an impasse for eight months and the 2004-05 has been scrapped. Neither side seems to be moving toward the other. What will move things along?

How about losing all 30 current owners? That's a proposal the NHL listened to, as Bain Capital Partners LLC and Game Plan International made an offer to buy the league lock, stock, and barrel. From ESPN:
Bain managing partner Steven Pagliuca, co-owner of the NBA's Boston Celtics, and Game Plan, which recently acted as an adviser on the sale of the Ottawa Senators, are betting that many NHL owners would welcome the chance to get out of the hockey business.

The NHL, which because of its ongoing player lockout recently became the first major North American pro sports league to cancel an entire season, has said its teams have lost a collective $500 million over the past two seasons.
NHL executive vice president Bill Daly was cautious in describing the level of interest the proposal received from the governors.

"I'm not going to characterize it," Daly told the Globe and Mail. "I would imagine different clubs had different feelings. The board listened to a presentation and that's about it."

Daly said the league was compelled to listen based on the significance of the offer.

"When someone's offering over $3 billion, we felt we had an obligation to the board to have them, at least, hear it from the proposed purchaser," Daly added.
That's the most astute observation I've heard from NHL brass throughout the turmoil. I don't think it will happen, but it might have the effect of waking some owners up. Let's hope.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Vive Free Speech!

I remember the huge disappointment cable TV was when I discovered that most channels air cut or edited versions of R-rated material rather than the uncut original. Comedy Central, TNT, Bravo, A&E, etc., all err on the side of edits?

I've always asked, "Why"? I don't like the idea that broadcast television is edited, but I concede the rationale that broadcast TV and radio are freely available, and kids could hear f-bombs or see a titty. I still think that these things are not a huge problem, and that parents should be the keeper of the remote, not the FCC. As consumers who pay the bill for cable and satellite radio, we should choose to hear the profanity, if that's what we want.

Bad news: Now Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) wants to impose the FCC's broadcast TV and radio rules on the cable and satellite networks. From CNN:
"Cable is a much greater violator in the indecency area," the Alaska Republican told the National Association of Broadcasters, which represents most local television and radio affiliates. "I think we have the same power to deal with cable as over-the-air" broadcasters.

"There has to be some standard of decency," he said. But he also cautioned that "No one wants censorship."

Stevens told reporters afterward that he would push legislation to apply the standards to cable TV and satellite radio and television. It could become part of a pending bill to boost fines on broadcasters who violate indecency restrictions or of an effort to overhaul U.S. communications laws.

If Stevens is successful, it could pose new problems for raunchy radio host Howard Stern, who has said he was forced to leave broadcast radio for satellite radio to avoid decency limits -- and Federal Communications Commission fines.
All this in the wake of Janet Jackson's "wardrobe malfunction". Thanks, Justin.

There's hope from an unexpected source.
While lawmakers and some parents groups are anxious to wipe the airwaves clean of indecency after singer Janet Jackson bared her breast last year during the Super Bowl halftime show, President Bush has said parents are the first line of defense and can just "turn it off."
Amen, Mr. President. It never surprises me when Republicans want to alter or censor broadcasts to eliminate cuss words. What disappoints me (it doesn't surprise me anymore) is whena Republican like Stevens puffs his chest to let business know that the governement is supreme, and business better know its' place.
Stevens said he disagreed "violently" with assertions by the cable industry
that Congress does not have the authority to impose limits on its content.

"If that's the issue they want to take on, we'll take it on and let the
Supreme Court decide," he said.

For my lefty friends, this is the danger of describing the airwaves as "the public airwaves" rather than the private property they should rightly be. If they are "public" the government absolutely does have in its power the ability to dictate and to censor. Best to ensure that they are private property so as to weaken this power.
Odd Gambit

The Indiana House Democrats did not relent in their boycott of the legislative session, sitting it out in caucus as the deadline to vote on bills expired. The Star's update. In order to kill two bills, they took down 132.
House Democrats were so opposed to bills creating an inspector general for the governor and requiring voters to show ID at the polls that they sacrificed 130 other bills during the 15-hour standoff. They sacrificed, for example, a plan to help fellow Democrat and Indianapolis Mayor Bart Peterson build a new Colts football stadium with state money.

"There are some issues so important that they're worth standing up and fighting for," said Rep. Matt Pierce, D-Bloomington, who took to the floor just after 9 p.m. to report the concerns of his caucus.

The problem with this is that the Dems just didn't get anything as a result of their antics. Sure, they took down the two items they opposed, but had they negotiated, they could have done that and more, getting some things they wanted in other bills. All they did was show that they were willing to go to the wall. Now what?

Well, the Senate takes over. The Senate has a very comfortable Republican majority, which if I'm not mistaken, is large enough to ram through any bill it wants to. All the Senate needs to do now to get what the House Democrats tried to block is to amend a surviving bill to include those items.

We call this a zero sum game.

I have to think that Pat Bauer and the Democratic leadership believes that there will not be a backlash against his party in 2006, when voters return to the polls. The next general election is more than 20 months away, and the turnout for that cycle is usually very low. No need to worry about accountability under such circumstances. In the meantime, it's probably a first-class hoot for Democrats to watch Republicans howl.

I would like to point out that if Libertarians were in the House, we would not boycott the proceedings. We would work to build a coalition of opposition sufficient to defeat measures we disapprove of. We would speak on the floor to our objections. We would vote against objectionable bills. We might lose some votes, but we would be moving the business along.

It is uncommon that I completely agree with a Star editorial, but here it is:
By late afternoon Tuesday, any sympathy earned in recent weeks by Democrats in the Indiana House had been exhausted.

Instead, Minority Leader Pat Bauer and his stubborn band of followers unintentionally reminded Hoosiers why voters had turned Democrats out of power in November.

Partisanship. Pettiness. Short-sightedness. Bauer managed to put all of his lesser qualities on display this week by keeping his caucus off the House floor for the better part of two days. The resulting lack of a quorum wasted lawmakers' time and taxpayers' money. And it endangered important pieces of legislation for no justifiable reason.

Almost two months remain in a legislative session that started off with great promise. It's time to stop the silliness in the Statehouse and move ahead with fixing a state government that hasn't functioned properly in years.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

So Far, So Walked Out

The Democrats threatened to walk out on the legislative proceedings, and so far, they've kept their word. Here's the lunchtime update, from the Star:
Bosma said House Republicans would return to the chamber about 11 a.m. to do business. But House Minority Caucus Chairman Dale Grubb, D-Covington, would not promise a return by Democrats. Only Democratic Reps. Chester Dobis, D-Merrillville, and Scott Pelath, D-Michigan City, showed up at 11:15 a.m. as House Republicans tried to do business. They demanded a quorum call, which showed only 54 of 100 House members present, not enough to do business.

Another quorum call at noon also failed to produce enough House lawmakers to do business.

"Respectfully, Mr. Speaker, I cannot give you a time" when Democrats will return, Grubb told Bosma as Bosma pressed him.

Bosma had sad he hoped to resume at 2 p.m., but the Democrats remained in caucus.
Republicans control the chamber by a 52-48 margin, but two-thirds of members must be present in the chamber to do business.
The amazing thing is, the Democrats haven't put anything on the table. If I were going to throw up a roadblock like this, I would be saying that I want 'X' or 'Y' or 'Z' if I'm going to come back. Get something, for Pete's sake!

No, this is just posturing for its own sake. Power for power's sake. Zzzzzzzzzz.
Another Walkout?

Last year, Republicans walked out of the Indiana Statehouse over the crucial issue of gay marriage. There was a minor backlash against these legislators, mainly on the basis of getting priorities straight. Budget and property taxes first, everything else second.

Since then, the GOP has taken over control of both houses and the governor's office. Obviously whatever backlash there was over that walkout had no lasting effect. Perhaps that is the thinking behind the Democrats walking out yesterday. From the Indy Star:
House Democrats offered a prelude Monday to the legislative showdown that could gridlock bills today -- a crucial deadline day for the General Assembly.

At stake are bills that would require Indiana to observe daylight-saving time, give Gov. Mitch Daniels his own special prosecutor and help fund a new stadium for the Indianapolis Colts.

But there's no telling when Democrats will come to the floor to work today.

Monday, they stalled for nearly seven hours because of a crush of last-minute amendments, one of which would steer control of a Colts stadium project toward the governor.

I kind of like gridlock, generally. It means that taxes won't be raised. There aren't any tax cuts or budgete cuts on the table, so why not just wipe out the whole session? Well, mainly because the people voted to put these Representatives in the seats to vote on legislation. If the Dems don't like the proposals, they should simply vote against them.

In the Star's follow-up story today, the Dems gave a first impression that they would do business, but then went back to playing games:
Democrats showed up about 9:20 a.m., voted to register their presence and heard a rambling speech to the entire chamber by House Minority Leader B. Patrick Bauer, D-South Bend, before retreating behind closed doors 16 minutes later.
I have to think that Libertarian reps would be far more valuable to the process.

Monday, February 28, 2005

Spending Outrage

Something caught my eye in an article in today's Star about gambling interests and their lobbying efforts.

Did you know that the City of Indianapolis spends tax money on lobbying? In fact, the City ranks #4 so far this legislative session, according to the Star.

This is good journalism, but the issue of the City's lobbying must be raised. It is important to track the various interests who try to influence the laws the citizens of this state will be subject to. The City of Indianapolis ranked in spending ahead of AT&T, the Indiana Trial Lawyers, and Trump Casinos even.

I expect gambling interests to spend big money in the hopes of influencing legislation. While the morality and ethics of lobbying and its effects are subject to debate, nobody can question the fact that it's their money to spend. In the case of the City's lobbying efforts, tax dollars are being spent.

This is a moral outrage, and an indictment on the priorities set by the Mayor. Given the chance, the people would never vote to have tax dollars spent on lobbying. The Mayor struggled for months to find the money for the Police, but could squander six figures on lobbying for a stadium.

If the Mayor wants to secure his legacy with the help of the legislature, he should spend his own money. Tax dollars should be used for funding safety forces, sewers that work, and other proper functions of government.