October 12, 2002

Finally, some truth, to overwhelm the pro-Twins propaganda coming from the national media (compliments of Counterspin).

October 11, 2002

Tonight my sisters and mom took me out for a belated birthday dinner at Tiramisu in Sherman Oaks, and I didn't feel guilty in the slightest for peeking at the TV over the bar to catch Game 3. Washburn either pitched splendidly, or the Twins suck against lefties, but in any event, the Angels bookended homers by Anderson and Glaus to win 2-1, and now lead the ALCS by the same margin. Rodriguez got the decision, and now has three post-season victories, giving him three victories for his career. The Twins now have a do-or-die game, with Angel nemesis Brad Radke on the hill for Minnesota. Normally, I would be inclined to think that if the Twins don't prevail tomorrow, the series is all but over, but then again, I felt the same way in '86, after Clemons couldn't win Game 4 in the ALCS against Sutton. I'm at Joxer's tomorrow for the duration, with a morning pit-stop at Over-Under to see if the Michigan Sorority Goddess shows up to watch the battle with Penn State, and a possible trip to Venice late night to see the Samurai Homeboys at O'Brien's.
Beltway pundits who believe that The Bell Curve is a brilliant analytical study of race and intelligence probably should not be the first to call a political ad, "homophobic", especially when it isn't.
How would you like to get a home loan from this guy?
The critics are raving about Madonna's latest film, which solidifies her well-deserved reputation as the female Ben Affleck. A few months ago, when I held the Miss Overrated 2002 beauty pageant / scholarship contest, I inexplicably omitted the 40-something Material Girl, whom I always had the impression was someone that people who were not sexually attracted to women thought was what a sexually attractive woman looked like. As much as I like her singing, I've always thought she looked rather scuzzy and vulgar, having more in common with Ann Coulter or the ladies of the W.W.E.
Leave it to the Euros to ruin W.'s day: this morning it was announced that former President, and notorious traitor and appeasor Jimmy Carter, has won the Nobel Peace Prize for 2002.

U.S. Senate Vote on Iraq Resolution
[*up for reelection in 2002]

Democrats Yes
Baucus, Mont.*; Bayh, Ind.; Biden, Del.; Breaux, La.; Cantwell, Wash.; Carnahan, Mo.*; Carper, Del.; Cleland, Ga.*; Clinton, N.Y.; Daschle, S.D.; Dodd, Conn.; Dorgan, N.D.; Edwards, N.C.; Feinstein, Calif.; Harkin, Iowa*; Hollings, S.C.; Johnson, S.D.*; Kerry, Mass.; Kohl, Wis.; Landrieu, La.*; Lieberman, Conn.; Lincoln, Ark.; Miller, Ga.; Nelson, Fla.; Nelson, Neb.; Reid, Nev.; Rockefeller, W.Va.; Schumer, N.Y.; Torricelli, N.J.

Democrats No
Akaka, Hawaii; Bingaman, N.M.; Boxer, Calif; Byrd, W.Va.; Conrad, N.D.; Corzine, N.J.; Dayton, Minn.; Durbin, Ill.*; Feingold, Wis; Graham, Fla.; Inouye, Hawaii; Kennedy, Mass.; Leahy, Vt.; Levin, Mich.*; Mikulski, Md.; Murray, Wash.; Reed, R.I.*; Sarbanes, Md.; Stabenow, Mich.; Wellstone, Minn.*; Wyden, Ore.

Republicans Yes
Allard, Colo.*; Allen, Va.; Bennett, Utah; Bond, Mo.; Brownback, Kan.; Bunning, Ky.; Burns, Mont.; Campbell, Colo.; Cochran, Miss.; Collins, Maine*; Craig, Idaho; Crapo, Idaho; DeWine, Ohio; Domenici, N.M.*; Ensign, Nev.; Enzi, Wyo.; Fitzgerald, Ill.; Frist, Tenn.; Gramm, Texas; Grassley, Iowa; Gregg, N.H.; Hagel, Neb.; Hatch, Utah; Helms, N.C.; Hutchinson, Ark.*; Hutchison, Texas; Inhofe, Okla.*; Kyl, Ariz.; Lott, Miss.; Lugar, Ind.; McCain, Ariz.; McConnell, Ky.*; Murkowski, Alaska; Nickles, Okla.; Roberts, Kan.; Santorum, Pa.; Sessions, Ala.*; Shelby, Ala.; Smith, N.H.; Smith, Ore.*; Snowe, Maine; Specter, Pa.; Stevens, Alaska; Thomas, Wyo.; Thompson, Tenn.; Thurmond, S.C.; Voinovich, Ohio; Warner, Va.*

Republicans No
Chafee, R.I.;

Others No
Jeffords, Vt.

October 10, 2002

After Daschle's cave-in on authorizing an invasion of Iraq, can there be any reasonable argument for maintaining the current Democratic control of the U.S. Senate? Daschle not only betrayed those who opposed giving this President such a broad mandate, based as it was on lies and contempt for the citizen, but he also undercut the raison d'etre for a Democratic Senate: slowing down judicial nominations. No true liberal can countenance the slaughter of American soldiers and Iraqi civilians simply to prevent the appointment of conservatives to the appellate courts. A good rule of thumb should be, if your Senator or Representative votes against authorization, vote for him; if he votes for authorization, and he is a Democrat up for reelection, don't vote at all in that race, and let the chips fall where they may.
Read this column, and try to decide whether it's a savage parody of right-wing cant, or just right-wing cant (via Eschaton)
Is it just me, or has Ramon Ortiz aged, like, four years since last season? In any event, he was in trouble almost every inning, allowed ten hits in less than six innings, but sacked up and got the Angels even in the series. With Game 4 likely in the bag for the Twins (Radke, who owns Anaheim, pitches against Lackey), Washburn has to come through Friday to keep the Angels afloat.
Terrific op-ed by Senator Robert Byrd (W.Va) in opposition to the pending adventure in Iraq--the part at the end about the President seeking to "unleash the dogs of war" is especially good, although if this were one of his patented floor speechs, he would use the actual line from Julius Caesar. (via TalkLeft).

October 09, 2002

The great thing about being a sports fan is that it provides one of the few healthy avenues in life to express the emotion of hatred (or at least, a healthier avenue than the more traditional choices of religion, nationalism, or politics). Which is to say, the ALCS promises to be a real frustrating event for baseball fans, since neither the Angels or Twins generate much antipathy. I had the sense last night that the fans in Minnesota were almost going through the motions, much like the Angel starting line-up did against Joe Mays for eight innings.
Is there anything more lame than a blogger/pundit who cites Dick Morris as a source? My pal Vinnie has a phrase he likes to pull out from time to time that's appropriate here: patheticism.
Ever wanted to be the subject of a "Michael Kelly" or Andrew Sullivan column? Is your greatest aspiration in life to be "fisked"? Do you dream one day of seeing your name slandered by Ann Coulter? Then run, don't walk, to R.Robot, and type in your name !!

October 08, 2002

ChickenHawk Coalition, Part II: It has drawn much comment that a disproportionate number of supporters for the proposed adventure in Iraq, from the President, the Vice President, et al, were men who somehow managed to avoid military service when God and Country called during the Vietnam War. The term "chicken hawks" has been used to describe such characters, replacing the less evocative phrase, "War Wimps", that was so popular during the Reagan Era. I believe that such a term should be used sparingly, not only because the term refers, in a completely different context, to pedophilia. People change their views as they grow older and gather more experience, for reasons not always connected to whether they fear being sent to die in an ugly war. In addition, the current conflicts in the Middle East differ from Vietnam, just as Vietnam differed from WWII. One should not be forever wedded to a dovish worldview just because one opposed the Vietnam War.

However, it is also largely true that the hawks in the Bush Administration avoided service in Vietnam not because they were too busy organizing for the SDS, as this list makes clear. There is reason to be skeptical of armchair generals who spent the late-60's at grad school or in some cushy Air National Guard position (or, in the case of W., not spending time at same), or nursing some convenient weight problem. The reasoning of the Perle/Wolfowitz/Cheney clique as to why they never served their country in battle reminds me of what the late, great Sonny Liston supposedly said in 1963 when asked why he wasn't joining his then arch-rival, Floyd Patterson, in Birmingham to march against segregation: "Cause I ain't got no dog-proof ass".

October 07, 2002

I know its counterintuitive, but if recent polls are correct, the longer the President pushes his Iraq obsession, and the more Congress dithers, the better it is for...Democrats. As long as this issue, which the American people seem to feel is an irrelevancy at a time when their 401k's are tanking, is on the front-burner, the more likely it is Bush will appear to be like his dad, an effete snob who doesn't give a rat's ass about the economy. I doubt that W. and his chickenhawk coalition will benefit from the continued focus on this issue.
The US Supreme Court has refused to intervene in the NJ Senate race, thereby upholding last week's state supreme court decision authorizing the replacement of Frank Lautenberg as the Democratic nominee. Damn, damn, damn; now that the Scalia Five has failed to act, we're going to have to use something else to get our base out on November 5.
I couldn't let my birthday pass without mentioning that both The Sopranos and Alias were much, much better last night than they were the week before. As to the former, any show not directed by "Christopher" is going to be an improvement. Regarding the latter, last night's has to have been one of the darkest episodes in the history of television; the Sydmom seems to be more evil now, after she has been confined, than she was before.
One of the articles of faith in the last month has been that the continued debate over Iraq favors the Republicans, and that the principled opposition to performing a Pearl Harbor on Baghdad will prevent the Democrats from retaking the House and/or gaining seats in the Senate. Since this position does not appear to be reflected in recent polling (national preference polls show the Democrats leading the GOP, while polls from individual races do not reflect any Republican surge), articles like this focus on the opinions of certain Democratic insiders to show a decline in the party's fortunes. One guideline for the reader to follow: if said article uses Zell Miller or Evan Bayh as sources, the prognosis contained within is bullshit.

October 06, 2002

Happy Birthday to Me. I just spent six hours or so of my life on the stretch of highway known as Interstate-5, which traverses about a thousand miles, from the Canadian to the Mexican borders. It's probably the most vital artery on the West Coast, connecting the cities of Seattle, Portland, Sacramento, Los Angeles, and San Diego without a significant curve or detour along the stretch. Of interest to me and other Californians is the fact that the I-5 is the fastest way to drive between the Valley and the Bay Area.

The big joke, of course, is that here, in the most populous state in the Union, there is almost nothing on the I-5 from LA to San Francisco. No cities of any significant population; a couple small towns that you barely notice; lots of off-ramps that seem to have no other point but to connect drivers to fast-food restaurants and truck stops. Until you reach the Grapevine (shorthand for the 70 mile path the I-5 takes through the mountains in north LA County), it's all flat, arid and dull. Unlike the five hour drive to Vegas, which passes through a couple moderate-sized towns and a desert that can be breathtaking at times, the LA to Frisco trip pretty much forces you to have driving companions and/or a multiple-CD player to break the monotony.

At least until you get to the Harris Ranch. Better yet, try passing through the Harris Ranch after reading the muckraking classic, Fast Food Nation, by Eric Schlosser. The Ranch is about halfway to your destination, and it's easily the most interesting thing you sense during the drive. Just east of the highway, you suddenly encounter a vista consisting of hundreds of thousands of cattle in a relatively small area, and almost no grass or vegetation to speak of. The aroma of cow waste permeates the highway for about a mile before it becomes safe to open up the air conditioning vents in your car. It is an ungodly advertisement for a vegetarian diet, particularly after you realize that much of what you smell is going to wind up in your Whopper.

But there is almost no traffic to speak of, or at least, no congestion; this weekend, there were trucks everywhere, mainly because of the dockworkers' lockout. Truckdrivers tend to treat the I-5 as their own private autobahn, and other drivers follow suit. My mother drove the whole way, and she usually hates driving on the freeway, but she had no problem averaging 75 mph for the trip.

But I suppose I shouldn't complain, because I survived; one more day closer to the big 4-Oh.
Today, I will spend the 39th anniversary of my birth on the I-5 travelling between the Bay Area and the Valley, hoping to mediate any quarrels between my sister and mom. The two-year old daughter of my hosts has just given me a chocolate-and-vanilla muffin, disguised as a birthday cake, which I have graciously offered back to her as a good will gesture (I already warned her that if she misbehaved one more time, I was going to leave). Up here, they are going to have two playoff games and a 49'er-Ram tussle at Candlestick; it's been some time since there was anything like that down in LA.

One of my hosts told me that for someone who's so funny in person, it's a shame that my site is so deadly serious, which is her way of saying that I'm dull. Such criticism weighs heavy on my mind.