March 01, 2003

Anyone interested in a spoiler for tomorrow's episode of Six Feet Under can go here. Frankly, the show slipped last season, and having heard from my sister that the jerks who run the show are sexist a-holes didn't help. I'm watching Alias.
C-SPAN 2 is airing the Eric Alterman book-signing I attended last Friday at 1:30 p.m. PST. I'm the follically-impaired near-sighted gent who asks him about "working the ref". It will be replayed at 4:00 a.m. Monday, so set your alarm clock and your VCR's.
For someone who is actively lobbying for a highly coveted Begala Award nomination (I wouldn't even dare dream of winning a Sontag), being in agreeance with Andrew Sullivan is probably not the wisest course of action, but on the issue of Sandy Koufax' right to a private life, I have to admit he's correct. I was astonished to see a number of supposedly progressive writers attack Koufax for his refusal to have further dealings with Rupert the Mad, on the grounds that it reinforced the insecurity that gay athletes possess; if a legend like Koufax won't come out of the closet, than the world of sports is truly homophobic.

Such a willfully blind opinion ignores the fact that in most of the articles covering this story, the issue hasn't been whether the New York Post falsely accused Koufax of being gay, but on Koufax' dignified assertion of his right to privacy (and also whether Koufax extorted his biographer to keep such information out of the book). The tone of these stories has not been of outrage that a baseball legend was defamed, but that a public figure was not able to keep some aspects of his life to himself. I have yet to see a column ridicule the notion that Koufax might be gay, nor a current or former member of the Dodgers quoted as laughing at the very idea. The more common reaction has been that even if the story is true, it shouldn't have published in the manner it was: as a blind, unsourced gossip item in a tabloid. Much like last year's story about Mike Piazza, the critics had already written the story about the unkind homophobia of SportsWorld, even if it didn't exactly reflect the reality of how the story was actually covered.

To be honest, for a variety of reasons I'm not opposed to outing public figures. If a sportswriter wants to take the time to interview Koufax' friends and associates and check into the rumors (and yes, there are rumors; one of the more disappointing aspects of Leavy's biography was the fact that those rumors were never commented on, if only to knock them down if they were false), then an article about a gay Hall-of-Famer would be perfectly appropriate. This was a blind item in a tabloid, referring to someone who was obviously Koufax as threatening to withhold his cooperation from a biography if his sexual preference was investigated by the author. Like the snarky reference in MWO last week to Miguel Estrada's sexual preference (which, btw, hypocritcally attacked the NY Post on this subject), in which the judicial nominee was listed with four other gay conservatives under a heading asking what each of these men had in common, this is a cowardly, and, perhaps more importantly, unreliable journalistic technique, one that must be condemned no matter who is its subject.
Instapundit reveals a very weird fetish !!
Some interesting takes on the pending war, by Michael Kinsley, Mickey Kaus, and Neal Pollack. Let these tide you over for the day, as I am the recipient of a dreadful hangover. Ruiz, in the fourth round Jones, by decision.

February 28, 2003

Of all the discredited arguments used to support the nomination of Miguel Estrada, perhaps the stalest is the one that it is unprecedented for the Senate to attempt to filibuster an appellate nominee. In fact, as Daily Kos points out here and here, you have to go back almost three years to find the last attempted filibuster of a Latino judicial nominee, by the Republicans.
Alias has been renewed for a third season, which probably means it will live on for years afterward in syndication. O Happy Day !!

February 27, 2003

With spring training beginning in some quarters, here are a couple of good baseball blogs to check out: Baseball Musings, by David Pinto, and Braves Journal, by my occasional co-contributor to Condredge's Acolytes, Mac Thomason.
Back when it was Bill Clinton who was being investigated for every silly thing, one particular writer, Stuart Taylor, went out of his way to publish a distorted brief in American Lawyer magazine supporting Paula Jones' tall tale. While other wack-jobs were similarly impressed by the veracity of the Arkansan Temptress, Taylor tried to give his argument a certain credibility by "claiming" that he voted for Clinton in 1992, and that he had liberal views on other issues. Since that article, of course, Taylor became an almost fanatical supporter of the Ken Starr witch hunt, sanctimoniously proclaiming at one time that "I'd like to be able to tell my children, 'You should tell the truth'. I'd like to be able to tell them, 'You should respect the President.' And I'd like to be able to tell them both things at the same time." Needless to say, he was, like most "liberals", a fervent supporter of impeachment.

He was obsequious in his praise of the Supreme Court's ruling in Bush v. Gore, even going so far as to claim that seven Supreme Court justices supported the ruling. He has attacked affirmative action, while at the same time saying it's o.k. for Republican Presidents to name unqualified minority candidates to the federal judiciary. Just in case there was anyone out there who was still ignorant of the hard-right views of this ubiquitous legal talking head, comes this little gem, claiming that the real threat to America in the "war" on terrorism comes from "civil liberties hysteria". That's right, the only thing we have to fear is the ACLU, and those other commie organizations that support free speech and due process.

A good rule of thumb: if someone begins an argument by saying: "I'm a bleeding heart liberal, I voted for Clinton in 1992, I support gun control and abortion rights, but...", you can be certain that the speaker is somewhere to the right of Pat Buchanan, and probably objects to Al Qaeda only because their means aren't justified by their ends.
On the day the all-time leading rusher in NFL history was released by the Dallas Cowboys, Terrell Davis moved this much closer to coming out of exile and returning to the Denver Broncos. Since it was clear that Emmit Smith was not washed up from the way he played last season, I hope that he gets a chance to play somewhere (the Raiders?)
Soapbox Canyon has an interesting review of a possible primary challenge to John McCain next year. It's important to remember that in spite of McCain's occasional forays into decency, he's still one of the most hawkish members of the Senate, and his record on civil libertarianism is dreadful.
The great thing about the Estrada filibuster is that it has shown the Democratic minority in the Senate that they have a backbone. Two more judges face significant opposition, including the Scalia clone mentioned earlier in the week, and that doesn't count the likely filibuster of Judge Pickering. Keep those cards and letters coming.
As you probably know, Fred Rogers died last night. A beautiful tribute can be found at Jeanne d'Arc's blog, Body & Soul.

February 26, 2003

The good news for Ernie Els, Retief Goosen, Sergio Garcia and Colin Montgomerie is, there is still enough time to play in the Phoenix Open.
According to the Washington Post, an Arab-American should now be presumed a terrorist until proven innocent.
Looks like Dennis Kucinich may have a distinctly more interesting background than previously thought....
One of the few forms of bigotry that is still socially acceptable is Francophobia (well, anti-black and anti-gay bigotry are also considered socially acceptable, if you are a Bush judicial nominee). Right now, the government in France is not allowing President Bush to use it as his bitch, so demagogues of all stripes are piling on. When they are not being attacked for being pretentious snobs (btw, how is it that it's ok to ridicule the French for liking Jerry Lewis back in the 60's, but not praise them for being ahead of the curve on John Ford or Clint Eastwood), they are ripped for lacking courage. Some of the kinder terms now being used are "weasels" and "cheese-eating surrender monkeys". I think it's safe to say that if those same generalizations were to be used describing Israel, there would be a firestorm of criticism.

The notion that the French are cowards, frankly, is bullshit. France basically carried the load for the Allies in World War I; almost the entire war was fought on their soil, and a large part of a generation was killed on its battlefields defending it. Napoleon came this close to conquering all of Europe; although he was a despot, his rule would have almost certainly been preferable to the other petty tyrants of Central and Eastern Europe at the time. And of course, without the French, we don't win the Revolutionary War. But of course, to the Francophobes all of that gets trumped by the fact that the French stupidly relied on the Maginot Line to defend it before WWII, and were unprepared for the German tank divisions invading through Holland and Belgium.

To put French "cowardice" into perspective, consider this passage from a recent Molly Ivins column:

George Will saw fit to include in his latest Newsweek column this joke: "How many Frenchmen does it take to defend Paris? No one knows, it's never been tried."

That was certainly amusing.

One million, four hundred thousand French soldiers were killed during World War I. As a result, there weren't many Frenchmen left to fight in World War II. Nevertheless, 100,000 French soldiers lost their lives trying to stop Adolf Hitler.

On behalf of every one of those 100,000 men, I would like to thank Mr. Will for his clever joke. They were out-manned, out-gunned, out-generaled and, above all, out-tanked. They got slaughtered, but they stood and they fought. Ha-ha, how funny.

In the few places where they had tanks, they held splendidly.

Relying on the Maginot Line was one of the great military follies of modern history, but it does not reflect on the courage of those who died for France in 1940. For 18 months after that execrable defeat, the United States of America continued to have cordial diplomatic relations with Nazi Germany.

France was burned once in the last century following a policy of appeasement in response to an aggressive bully. Perhaps Chirac's position on Bush's little war is to not let such a thing happen again. [link via Doc Searls.]

February 25, 2003

Who says MoDo is washed up? A delicious column, with the focus on America's new "Warsaw Pact" alliance.
Left Wing Wackjob Alert: Noam Chomsky, in his own words, on one of the most evil men of the last century. If Lyndon LaRouche had a teaching gig at MIT, he'd be Chomsky.
Well, spring training can really begin, now that Jose Offerman has signed with the Expos.

February 24, 2003

I haven't blogged much about the upcoming war on Iraq, in large part because in spite of the fact that I dread the fact that my country might purposely start a war (or, at least, acknowledging same), I genuinely believe Iraq is a very real threat. The fact that North Korea is a similar threat, or that Saudi Arabia is a stronger supporter of terrorism, or that such a war is supported largely by a collection of chickenhawks both inside and outside the Administration, is interesting, but do not justify doing nothing about Saddam Hussein. If Clinton was still President, or if the will of the people had not been thwarted by the Supreme Court, I would have no difficulty supporting a preemptive war to "disarm" Saddam.

Nevertheless, I have great difficulty mustering any enthusiasm for the Administration's goals in this instance. As this typically excellent column by Paul Krugman makes clear, the shifting rationales and slippery reasoning used by W. and the likudniks to manuever the international community into a war have backfired terribly. It's not just "old Europe", to use the term which has earned our Defense Secretary such ridicule; it's countries like Russia and Mexico, that rely a great deal on American aid and trade, where we are having difficulty mustering support. The fact of the matter is, the only countries that support our plans are those countries that have never had a tradition of independence in their foreign policies.

What I guess I'm saying is, I don't like being lied to. I didn't like it when Clinton denied having sexual relations with "that woman", even though it wasn't any of my business; he should have just offered a pithy "no comment" and left it at that. Lying debases democracy, and makes the ability to freely choose between candidates and policy impossible. But Clinton was just lying about his personal life, and as David Brock so accurately wrote, the people who pursued the charges were infinitely more malevolent. In the end, the only people who were really hurt were the members of his family.

Bush, and the rest of his Administration, lie about policy. And that hurts all of us. We are now being told (for example, here and here) that because Bush has backed us into a corner with his stupid games, we might have to go to war now or risk losing face, a setback that would encourage Saddam, and other despots, to develop nukes of their own. I look at Iraq, and see an oppressed people, and a dictator who brutalizes them, and a region that is destablized by his presence. There are plenty of good reasons to fight, but all I see is a President who is more interested in starting a war to bolster his reelection chances, or to get cheap oil for his backers, or to divert attention from an economic mess he created. Or all three. I don't trust him, so I can't give him the benefit of the doubt on this one.
Once we get done with Estrada, this fascist should be the next filibuster target.
Apparently, the Democrats have lost one vote for the Estrada filibuster in the past week (Nelson of Florida) but still hold an impressive 44 votes in favor. It looks good, but it's not over yet.
The Rittenhouse Review and Bob Somerby make it official: the Washington Post sucks !!

February 23, 2003

I attended my first blogger meeting, or convention, or seminar, or whatever you want to call it. Officially, it was the American Cinema Foundation's Web Logs: Technology and Freedom in the 21st Century, held at the A.F.I. school in the Hollywood Hills. The seminar itself was pretty dull, with bloggers ranging from the right-of-center to the far right, and only Matt Welch standing up for the rest of the human race. The most interesting panelists, Emmanuelle Richard and Heather Havrilesky, discussed their largely non-political blogs, giving a good sense of where this technology might actually be heading, particularly the vast artistic potential of this new medium.

The exciting news, for me at least, concerns the new L.A. Examiner, which its publisher, Ken Layne, assured me will be available at your nearest bar or convenience store in June. The prototype brought to the seminar looks to be a combination of the late New Times, the National sports paper from the early 90's, and your typical tabloid weekly. The backgrounds of Messrs. Layne and Welch give me hope that their new venture will go beyond the stale, cliched format of other newspapers and tabloids and provide some interactivity between publisher, writer, and reader via the Internet. Anyways, check for it sometime around the start of the NBA championships.

Afterwards, all of us (panelists and audience) got together and shared a single bottle of wine, reinforcing my belief that journalists are congenitally incapable of throwing a good party. Still, I had a good time, met some of the most decent people in town, and was able to get a number of right-of-center sites for my blogroll. As a favor to me, check out the site for Howard Owens; not knowing me from Adam, he offered me a ride back to the subway stop at Hollywood and Western around 11 p.m. last night, enabling me to avoid walking through a rather nasty four-block section of Los Angeles in the process.
As you might expect from someone whose expertise on the internet is limited to skimming Andrew Sullivan and Instapundit, "Michael Kelly" chimes in on the "diversity" of debate within the punditocracy, particularly as it pertains to blogs. You know you're dealing with a serious argument when the occasional columns of Molly Ivins, Alexander Cockburn and, of course, noted radical (and Moonie Times writer) Nat Hentoff are equated, in terms of access and influence, with Fox News and Rush Limbaugh. Only Kelly could make the opinions of John le Carre and Harold Pinter seem rational.
Bizarre Google Fetishes: "But I want to do an Oompa-Loompa NOW, Daddy !!"

Someone reached this site this morning searching for "Julie Dawn Cole" and "porn".
Last night I attended a blogging conference at the A.F.I. in Hollywood. I will definitely have more on this later, but one thing it has led me to do is compile a section of local bloggers on the roll. Check 'em out.