April 19, 2003

Comments are off, for the time being (although that might change by the time you read this). I'm adding pictures to this site, for those of you have trouble with big words.

April 18, 2003

Players leaving college early to turn pro hardly raise an eyebrow anymore. I have to admit, though, that I've never heard of a player dropping out of high school to turn "collegiate" until this week. John Booty, who was thought to be the top prep football prospect in the Class of 2004, decided to bypass his senior season and enroll early at USC, where he intends to play quarterback. The Trojans have an immediate hole at the position, thanks to the departure of Heisman winner Carson Palmer, so Booty may well be in the line-up by mid-season. Apparently the kid is an academic phenom as well, but I always assumed that a student couldn't just arbitrarily skip a year of high school, simply to play semi-pro college football.
Still, there are plenty of good reasons for an eighteen year old to wish to matriculate at USC, and it is his life. Fight on....
Earlier this week, the Orange County Register reported that numerous American athletes tested positive for certain banned substances, but were nevertheless cleared to compete in the 1988 and 1992 Olympics, including Carl Lewis. The substances were commonly found in over-the-counter medications, not steroids, so the U.S.O.C. looked the other way, even though, by the letter of the law, those athletes should have been banned from competing.

The article speaks to what was seemingly a more innocent time, when Sudafed was viewed as an appropriate athletic stimulant, and so long as an athlete wasn't caught juicing himself, the powers-that-be would look the other way. For sports fans who remember Rick DeMont, the Olympic swimmer who was stripped of a gold medal in 1972 after the asthma medication he was cleared to take triggered a positive result on a drug test, it has been easy to take the side of the athlete when it comes to the performance-enhancing effects of ordinary, over-the-counter medication. It's an awfully slippery slope, however. [link via Off-Wing Opinion]

UPDATE: The LA Times followed up this story the following week, and concluded that the trace amounts of ephedrine in Carl Lewis' system were so minute that he would only have been suspended if it were proven he had intended to take performance-enhancing drugs. Since there was no other evidence he had, his exoneration by the USOC was appropriate.
For all the talk about "bankruptcy reform", one area that never seems to get debated by Congress is the threatened use of bankruptcy by corporations as an extortion device against workers. Now that the unions have awakened to discover that for all the concessions they were forced to accept to keep American Airlines afloat, management was prepared to make out like bandits, it seems like the airline will go double-toothpicks after all by the beginning of next week.

I wonder why unions don't call the bluff of management more often in these situations. Obviously, most of the time they will get screwed by the bankruptcy court in terms of benefits and pensions, but every once in awhile, the potential damage to the worker is exceeded by the devastation to management when an aggressive judge or trustee examines the whys and wherefores of a company's collapse. Of course, it probably wouldn't make any difference over the long haul anyway; if enough CEO's get grilled by a bankruptcy judge over the salaries and benefits they made while their company nosedived, Congress will reform the bankruptcy code to make sure they don't have to answer those questions in the future.
Michael Kelly's last article for The Atlantic is up. When he's not deriding the people who disagree with him as appeasers and baathist-sympathizers, the article seems almost poignant. In his valedictory, he writes
On the whole, I'd say, the phoniness quotient is down this time. We are spared, at least, much of the death-and-destruction-and-quagmire talk that preceded the last conflict here. The lessons of the campaign in Afghanistan, adding to the lessons of the campaigns in Kosovo and Bosnia, have sunk in. The U.S. armed forces enjoy a technological superiority like nothing the world has seen before; they are, in a real sense, not even fighting the same war as their opponents—or in the same century. No one argues much now about whether these forces are capable of crushing even very serious opposition, and almost no one argues that Iraq offers serious opposition.
Alas, poor Mary McGregor....

April 17, 2003

Provocative piece by Paul Krugman today on Neo-isolationism, the foreign policy that has become embraced by a new generation of conservatives, now ascendent in the White House and the Republican Party. Old-School isolationists took a jaundiced view of any American role in the affairs of other countries, and led the opposition to the League of Nations, Lend-Lease, the draft, etc. The Neo-isolationists, recognizing our role as the world's only superpower, support American unilateral involvement overseas, but oppose American participation in international treaties and alliances, in which the U.S. is but one country among many, as well as adherence to international law. According to Krugman, both isolationist traditions share "the same impulses — an assertion of moral superiority, an unwillingness to consider alternative points of view...(w)e obviously can't ignore the world, but many Americans reject the idea that other countries should have any say over what we do." In the long run, of course, we have to accept reality; if we expect other countries to play by the rules, we have to as well.
A wicked description of the Green Party: a party best left to college campuses so grad students and their professor boyfriends have a place to meet which isn't obvious. [via Daily Kos]
How 'bout them Clippers? Nothing to play for, given up for dead months ago, they close out the season on a three-game winning streak, including last night's shocking blowout of the Portland Trailblazers. That was unprecedented: I can not recall the Clippers ever winning a game late in the season against a team that needed it more, and the notion that the beneficiary of their largesse was their co-tenants at Staples, the Lakers. For the Blazers, it's the difference between a first-round date with Minnesota or Dallas, a winnable series versus a likely sweep, whereas the Lakers now have an imaginable route to a four-peat, no longer having to beat the Mavs, the Kings, and the Spurs on the road just to reach the Finals. April 16, 2003 may have been the first time that the entire city (or at least the hoops fans within) of LA rooted for the Clips, or at least gave a rat's ass how the team did.
Jew, or not-a-Jew: The paper of record in the City of Angels makes a correction.

April 16, 2003

Two distinct views of America's Pastime: Tony Pierce, last night at Chavez Ravine, and ArchPundit, on the latest interaction between fan and players in Chicago.
Today's WaPost article about the effect of a consumer boycott of French wine has had in the last two months is a perfect example of how various forms of bigotry develop and are nourished within a society. Since there are perfectly acceptable substitutes for the products most affected, wine and cheese, that are sold by other countries, it's a painless statement (although some are starting to drink Australian wine, which gives me hope that Francophobia may be a temporary fad). Tourism, which isn't as fungible (unless you count Paris Paris in Las Vegas), has barely been affected: American tourism to France is down, but not as much as tourism to Great Britain, or for that matter, tourism to every other part of the world. There is no evidence yet that Bic lighters, Dannon Yogurt, or Universal Studios has been forced into bankruptcy. Even though Russia's opposition to Gulf War II was more pivotal to Bush's decision to bypass international law, no one has called for a boycott of Russian vodka (incl. VodkaPundit, from whence the above link came), since the available substitutes aren't as good. Same deal with German beer. Francophobia is now the hatred-of-choice in Deliverance Country, USA.
A former adviser to Bush I has a less-than-sunny view of Bush II's reelection prospects.

April 15, 2003

Damn fine deconstruction of the gossip trade, the surest indication of the dishonesty of any newspaper. Gossip is certainly fun, and I suppose it has its purposes (especially when it involves my many enemies), but journalistic endeavors always use it instead as a substitute for real reporting on entertainment, or, in this case, politics. In effect, gossip is a more benign version of what Eason Jordan fessed up to last week [link via Atrios].
Things not to do when you have the flu (or some flu-like disease): conduct a six-hour deposition of the opposing party in the principal case you're handling.
Operation Iraqi Freedom UPDATE: Hesiod points out that the U.S.' failure to protect the Iraqi National Museum, while taking great pains to save the oil wells, constitutes a war crime under the Geneva Convention. I wouldn't go that far, since there is no evidence that it was willful on our part, but it does spotlight the shortsightedness of much of the war planning by both the Administration and the Pentagon. Remember, the military victory was supposed to be the easy part.
OOPS: Philosopher David ("Smilin' Jr.") Johnson reminds me that it was the Hague Convention that was violated, so it was a mere violation of international law, not a war crime. Whew.

April 14, 2003

One of the stories that has generated a great deal of internet buzz over the past two weeks has been the revelation that CNN tailored its news accounts of conditions inside Iraq to appease its sources inside that nation's thugocracy. I haven't had much to say about it, since "Dog Bites Man" stories usually don't interest me. Of course, journalists perform fellatio on their sources; if the Falun Gong or the Palestinians are being treated like dirt, don't expect to get the real story from Fox. To me, what was curious about this story was the way the journalist in question blew the whistle on himself. That sort of mea culpa is an embarassing story for all concerned for about a week and a half, but only serves to bolster the long-term credibility of the media. When you assume that you're being lied to, the occasional flashing of the truth can be refreshing.
The World Turned Upside Down: the Mighty Ducks have a 3-0 lead on defending champs Detroit, and the Angels have lost two straight to Ismael Valdes. To be honest, would it surprise anyone if the Red Wings came back and won the next four? Hell, it wouldn't surprise me if the Ducks end up winning the Stanley Cup, considering the streak O.C. is on right now.
I'm not sure I agree with the title of the latest Krugman column, "Behind Our Backs". Voters have known since 1980 that electing a Republican President means that the public is going to get an economic policy consisting of little more than shell games; the conservative mantra of "small government" and "low taxes" has always been a euphemism for a government by grifters. Is anyone surprised that having just prevailed in Iraq, we are now threatening another nasty dictatorship with a weak military? This isn't a situation where people were caught off-guard: Bush's political base in the Red States has wet dreams about fighting wars while simultaneously slashing veterans benefits.
In the wake of last week's cancellation of the tribute to the movie Bull Durham at Cooperstown, Neal Pollack has a comprehensive history of other "Fifth Columnists" using the Baseball Hall of Fame to promote a left-wing agenda, including Catfish Hunter's controversial appeal in 1987 to his "fellow transgendered" comrades.
It took a few weeks, but Bush's little adventure finally got the journalistic takedown it deserves. Remind me again: how many dozens of people were around Saddam's statue when it fell? [link via Eschaton]
UPDATE: Even better is this Frank Rich piece on media coverage, and the over-all public disinterest in the war. [link via Political Aims, a brand new blog that just debuted last week]. You could tell W was not going to get much a boost out of this event when CBS went back to NCAA tournament coverage on Day 2.
What I was hoping against hope was a mild cold, or maybe even the beginning of allergies, has turned into a full-fledged, stomach-churning, throat-eviscerating, nose-clogging flu. And I even got a f*****g flushot last October. I'm dying; why me?

April 13, 2003

Today I celebrate my roommate's birthday. My mom turns 64turns another year older today, and if I can make it out of my basement lodgings, I will have to buy her dinner.