November 22, 2002

I'm surprised this sort of thing hasn't happened before. This morning, a Bankruptcy Trustee got indicted as part of an investigation into the bribery of city officials in Carson, California. The Trustee, Robert Pryce, was one who I had appeared before at creditor meetings about a half dozen times, and he always struck me as being a decent, conscientious chap, one who ran his hearings expeditiously. So far, the prosecution hasn't leaked any evidence that he did anything to harm any of the estates he administered, or did anything other than line the pockets of himself and his cronies, so even if he turns out to have been a crook, I will withhold judgment on him as a person for the time being.

One of the things he is accused of doing is diverting estate business to a real estate broker, in exchange for the broker hiring his daughter in a no-work position. That quid pro quo struck me as interesting, since one of the few bright ideas I had back when I worked for my late father, who was also a Chapter 7 Trustee, was for him to do something like that for me, sort of a wink-wink arrangement with a large bk firm downtown or Century City, in which they would get more business, and I would get an associate position. My dad, being the only person in the room that moment with integrity, politely informed me that such an arrangement would get him booted from the panel, and that if I wanted a high-paying job so badly, why didn't I study harder at law school, etc. I guess, from an ethical, legal, and technical standpoint, he was right, even if it took years of therapy for me to deal with that fact.
For every Mike Piazza or Barry Bonds, Michael Douglas or Gwyneth Paltrow, the Kennedys or Nelson Rockefeller, there are dozens of George and Jeb Bushes, idiot children of the wealthy who attain their positions through nepotism and cronyism, not through merit. This excellent piece by the Leader of the Opposition (Krugman for President in '04 !!) devastatingly reveals the Bush White House as a sanctuary of white affirmative action. (Link via TBogg). Not even mentioned in the column was the travesty of the US Senate approving the nomination last year of Strom Thurmond Jr. as U.S. Attorney in South Carolina; he must be an exceptionally gifted son to attain a post like that in his late 20's, after an unexceptional legal career to date.

BTW, why is it somehow a character flaw for Barbra Streisand (or any other celebrity, for that matter) to occasionally be outspoken about political issues: she may not be the sharpest tool in the shed, but she's not as much of a moron as Richard Perle or Paul Wolfowitz, and she's infinitely more qualified for public service than the children of Antonin Scalia or William Rehnquist.

November 21, 2002

Good piece in TAPPED today about the breathtaking dishonesty of Beltway "journalist" and Bush shill Howard Kurtz. Anybody who seriously believes that Rush Limbaugh is not a hatemonger probably believes that Julius Streicher was only an opinionated journalist with some "politically incorrect" views.
True story about this year's Sexiest Man Alive, involving a Project GreenLight bash at Joxer Daly's. After he and his companion picked the future director of "Stolen Summer" (thanks for sharing!), they went on the Tonight Show, and afterward wanted to see the East Coast feed. So they threw a big party down at Joxer's, which has a remarkeably sophisticated satellite system, and brought literally a busload of their pals and cronies down to Culver City to liven up a dreary weekday at the pub. His companion was down-to-earth and friendly, chatting up the regulars at the establishment and cementing his rep as the nicest man in the biz. Mr. J-Lo, on the other hand, was a genuine a-hole. Because the bar had an unexpectedly large crowd, one of the part-time bartenders was brought in to tend, and decided to share anecdotes about his other career, as a public school teacher, with the "actor". That didn't please the Great Man, who yelled that he just wanted a vodka tonic. The bar owner, sensing a possible disaster on his hands, decided to take the drink order instead, and asked him what sort of vodka he preferred. Mr. Affleck, showing the class and lese majesty he is famous for in the Industry, politely explained, "I don't give a fuck--just give me my goddam drink !!" He then threw a 20 at the owner's face, and walked away. Nice guy.
I think you can write off the Lakers' chances this season. I know Shaq is set to return Friday, but a 3-9 record without him is not consistent with what you would expect of a championship-caliber team. Tonight's loss, to San Antonio, was typical of this season; it is becoming increasingly clear that in winning their third consecutive title last season, L.A. had to make a deal with the Devil, and he's now come to collect. All those aging role players (Horry, Fox, Shaw, etc.) who needed to be replaced before the team could rebuild, were instead invited back, for sentimental reasons. The young players who were expected to emerge this season out of the shadow of Kobe and Shaq (George and Fisher, to be precise) have tanked. The last two drafts produced nada, which was to be expected considering their draft position, but the team also did nothing to improve themselves through free agency, and the trades Mitch Kupcak attempted haven't panned out (although at least he didn't trade away their future to acquire the Human Defeat Machine, Andre Miller, like their crosstown neighbors did). Sad to say, Shaq's return will not help as much as the fans might hope; I think it will be a struggle just to qualify for the playoffs.

November 20, 2002

Sorry for discovering this little gem about two weeks late, but here's an interesting profile of one Marshall Mathers for you to chew twenty years, he'll either be dead or a sitcom star.
Blogger T.Bogg has started a contest to name the upcoming memoirs of Justice Clarence Thomas, to be published sometime next year. My fave: Oliver Wendell Holmes, John Holmes, and Me.

November 19, 2002

Is there some earthly reason we're supposed to care who wins the Senate election in Louisiana next month? I shouldn't have to remind people that this isn't a team sport, where it matters if you have one more point than the other team, or in this case, one more Senator. Principles are supposed to count, too, but unfortunately, the junior senator from Louisiana thought it more important to win reelection than to keep mercury out of children's vaccines. BTW, what the hell was Ted Kennedy thinking when he missed this vote to attend...a fashion show in Paris ??

UPDATE: As it turns out, to get this measure passed required a deal with three moderate GOP Senators, Chafee of Rhode Island and Collins and Snowe of Maine, who forced Trent Lott and Dennis Hastert to agree to remove some of the more egregious pork from the bill, including the provision concerning the pharmaceutical waiver, at the beginning of the next Congress. Wouldn't it be nice if one or two members of the contrarian wing of the Democratic party had some backbone as well?

November 18, 2002

The NY Times should know better than to expect Tiger Woods to develop a social conscience over the membership policy at Augusta. Woods' modus operandi during his career has been to skirt controversy, like his friend and mentor, Michael Jordan; if he were any more of an Uncle Tom, President Bush would nominate him to the Supreme Court. Those who expect a celebrity to stick his neck out when it's his paycheck that is being threatened are too hopelessly out of it to matter.

In any event, I just don't see why Augusta National's policy should be such a cause celebre at this time. Exactly why we should eliminate barriers for women or African-Americans to join a club in which they can then turn around and discriminate against others on the basis of class is not clear to me. In a way, it would be similar to the state of Mississippi having a law in 1850 prohibiting Jews or Catholics from owning slaves. I know that its wrong for private clubs to discriminate against women, and I can see the argument that it puts those who don't have access to membership at a disadvantage when it comes to business opportunities. But it is the fact that such opportunities only exist for country club members, no matter what racial, sexual or ethnic group they belong to, that is the real outrage. So let us criticize the bigots from Deliverance Country and their hoary golf tournament, but let us place this issue well down on our list of priorities.
But of course, not everything can be filibustered. Efforts to make the tax giveaway permanent, and other matters that involve expenditures, can't be filibustered, and according to this article, even something like the move to allow Arctic drilling may be defined as such. In that case, all proponents would need is a simple majority to allow drilling, which they probably have (link via TAPPED).

November 17, 2002

Bankruptcy Bill Dies in Senate: What is it that Nelson says on the Simpsons: Hah hah !!! While it is hilarious that this odious piece of legislation failed this time due to language pertaining to the dischargeability of abortion clinic protesting, I doubt that we'll always be this lucky. There is a case to be made that this is a bad bill, period, one that punishes consumers, including those who protest outside abortion clinics. It was a case that the late Senator Wellstone made, sometimes by himself, and Senate Democrats, now that they are in the minority and have no obligation or duty to be cooperative, can pay no better tribute to him than by continuing his battle against the credit card companies.

And in the end, there is always the filibuster.