July 12, 2003

At the command of MaxSpeak, I add William Greider's website to my list of worthies to the right. The "Regular Rants" feature has the potential to metamorphosize into a blog, which would be really keen.

July 11, 2003

Tonight is the annual Vicki Zale B-day Bash at Joxer's in Culver City. It's open to the public, there will be great music and drinks, and the only present you need bring is a pleasant disposition.
Here's a cagy way out of the California budget impasse: have the State Supreme Court declare that some item (ie., education, assistance for the blind, etc.) is a fundamental right, and order that the legislature approve its funding by majority (as opposed to 2/3) vote. The state gets its budget, the GOP doesn't have to vote on a tax increase, while still getting to play its recall games, and life can go on. Not that I'm supporting such a stunt....
What's wrong with this picture? CBS reports that the White House knew that the information Bush used in the State of the Union address about Iraq buying uranium from Africa was not true (or "might not be true") before he made the speech. Bush uses that information anyway. The White House acknowledges this week that the information was bogus. To date, no one responsible has been fired, no resignations accepted, no heads have rolled, for allowing the Commander in Chief to publicly misstate the facts before the American people. Thus, there is a presumption that the President endorsed the misstatement, at least retroactively.

So why shouldn't we place the blame with the President? Whatever happened to "the buck stops here"? Professor, if I go into court and say something that is untrue, and that untruth is critical to my argument before the court, and I don't take steps to correct the record, I'm gonna get sanctioned big time by the judge, and probably by the State Bar as well (see State Bar of Arkansas v. Bill Clinton). It doesn't matter if I simply garbled my words, or made a statement that I thought to be true at the time; as an "officer of the court", I have an ethical responsibility once I know the truth to act appropriately, and not allow any misstatements I might make to sway the court. If you don't promptly correct a misstatement, you've lied.

July 10, 2003

One of the more underrated men in American history is Bob Moses, who played a critical role in organizing the voting rights movement in Mississippi forty years ago. Anyone who has ever read the histories of that period will run into his name again and again, whether it be in Taylor Branch's magisterial two-volume biographies of MLK, or Todd Gitlin's memoir, The Sixties: Years of Hope, Days of Rage, or anyplace else that touches on that period in American history. Moses was a reluctant warrior, whose "leadership style" often consisted of asking indigent sharecroppers what they thought their problems were, and how best they thought their problems could be solved, rather than dictating solutions from on high.

In The Nation this week, a number of writers take up the theme of "American Rebels". Included among such noted rabblerousers as Walt Whitman, I.F. Stone, Dorothy Day, and Paul Wellstone is Bob Moses. While it is gratifying to see Mr. Moses get his due, the tone of the article, written by Tom Hayden, as well as the company in which he is kept (the other nine people profiled are dead), is funereal. Far from eulogizing someone who is still amongst the living, and refighting ancient battles from the 1964 Democratic Convention, Mr. Hayden should have spent more time discussing Moses' latest endeavor, The Algebra Project, which attempts to give low-income students the necessary math skills to succeed in the 21st Century. Not every progressive battle need be viewed in the past tense.
A great thing about reading Bill James is that you develop a resistance to the moronic statistical analysis laid out in this Slate article, about the 2003 All-Star Game. Listen, dude, batting average is a cricket stat; don't use it to analyze Troy Glaus, Brian Giles, and Scott Rolen.

July 09, 2003

The difficulties of fighting terrorism: Newsweek profiles the "Jihad" soccer team, which for a time was both the best team in Hebron and one of the most terrifying collection of suicide bombers in the Middle East.
Requiem for a Sycophant: a devasting "obituary" of Mr. Samgrass, by a former protege. The money quote:
D.C. has finally gotten to him. That must be the main explanation. Yes, there are other factors to consider, but the D.C. Beast frames and distorts the thinking. Few on the Beltway's A List fret about crushing other countries. They enjoy it. They like the view from atop the growing pile of bodies. Always have. You can't live among these types for 20-plus years without some of their madness infecting your brain. And I'm afraid this madness, and the verbiage that covers it, is becoming more evident in Christopher.

I can barely read him anymore. His pieces in the Brit tabloid The Mirror and in Slate are a mishmash of imperial justifications and plain bombast; the old elegant style is dead. His TV appearances show a smug, nasty scold with little tolerance for those who disagree with him. He looks more and more like a Ralph Steadman sketch. And in addition to all this, he's now revising what he said during the buildup to the Iraq war.

In several pieces, including an incredibly condescending blast against Nelson Mandela, Hitch went on and on about WMD, chided readers with "Just you wait!" and other taunts, fully confident that once the U.S. took control of Iraq, tons of bio/chem weapons and labs would be all over the cable news nets--with him dancing a victory jig in the foreground. Now he says WMD were never a real concern, and that he'd always said so. It's amazing that he'd dare state this while his earlier pieces can be read at his website. But then, when you side with massive state power and the cynical fucks who serve it, you can say pretty much anything and the People Who Matter won't care.
[link via Atrios]
More pathetic, though, is the fact that Hitchens doesn't seem to care that the quality of his work has slipped, even though it effects his credibility not only on what he writes now, but what he wrote in the past. Anyone who dowdifies (or is it sullivanates)Paul Begala, here, or, even more recently, is unable to distinguish between John Wayne Gacy and Jeffrey Dahmer calls into question whether he was as careless fact-checking when his subject was Henry Kissinger or Mother Theresa. Or maybe the booze caught up with him.

July 07, 2003

This doesn't mean much, but according to this test, my ideal Presidential candidate is a tie between John Kerry and Dennis Kucinich, with John Edwards right behind.

July 06, 2003

I don't think this story deserves much comment until prosecutors decide whether to proceed, but here is the LA Times story on the arrest of Kobe Bryant.