August 27, 2004

Should Paul Hamm give back his gold medal, as the IOC and the governing body for his sport seem to want? That's a no-brainer: of course he should. The officials miscalculated the score of one of his opponents, costing that competitor a winning score in the all-around gymnastics title. This situation is similar to a football game where a "fifth down" is awarded, or a basketball game where a team is awarded free throws in spite of not being in the penalty. Giving the gold medal to the "rightful" winner is the sportsmanlike thing to do.

But before we set this precedent, there are some other cases we should look at. First, it would also be good sportsmanship for the '72 Soviet basketball team to give its gold medal back to the U.S. I would like to the see the IOC award a gold medal from that Olympics to Bob Seagren, who got screwed out of a win in the pole vault that Olympics because he was prevented from using a legal pole, on the shaky ground that it wasn't available to his Warsaw Pact rivals. Maybe we should make some provision for Rick Demont, an American swimmer who was stripped of his gold medal that year because the medication he used to prevent asthma attacks from killing him wasn't cleared in time.

Then, after we're done with the '72 team, maybe it would be a good idea to give some gold medal props to our women's swim team from 1976, a team that played by the rules, racking up silver and bronze medals, only to find out later that they were being bested by an East German program that used its swimmers as guinea pigs, in medical experiments seemingly created from the mind of Josef Mengele. Shirley Babashoff was probably the best swimmer of her generation, and it would be only fitting for her to be recognized as such by the IOC. And our Olympic boxers over the years have borne bad decisions with the patience of Job; certainly honoring Evander Holyfield and Roy Jones Jr. with Olympic gold at this stage would correct the historic record.

And once we've corrected those historical inequities, then we can talk to Paul Hamm about being a good sport.

August 26, 2004

As I mentioned below, the co-author of the book attacking John Kerry's war record, John O'Neill, is an attorney, who practices law out of Houston, Texas. It now seems that he may have gotten himself into a little bit of trouble with his storytelling, particularly in his efforts to discredit John Kerry's claim that as a Swift Boat captain, he could have ever received an assignment in Cambodia. By denying that he (O'Neill) had ever been inside Cambodia, a tale which subsequently became "no longer operative" after the release of one of the Nixon Tapes showed he had admitted in the Oval Office to doing just that, he may have run afoul of Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct, Section 8.02(a), which states as follows:
A lawyer shall not make a statement that the lawyer knows to be false or with reckless disregard as to its truth or falsity concerning the qualifications or integrity of a judge, adjudicatory official or public legal officer, or of a candidate for election or appointment to judicial or legal office.
Among the disciplinary measures that the State Bar in Texas can take against an attorney who violates Section 8.02(a) includes suspension and disbarment.
United States [B] 102, Spain 94: If you had told me before the Olympics that our motley collection of semi-pro and professional basketball players would have a chance to play for a medal on Friday, I would have thought you were nuts, but then again, that's why they play the games. Speaking of nuts, here's an interesting take from sportswriter Jason Whitlock, who accuses everyone who's rooting against Team U.S.A. of being racist. In my radical youth at Berkeley, I used to be convinced that everyone rooting against the Dodgers and (especially) the Lakers was racist, but eventually I was able to extract my head out of my rectum long enough to get past that.

August 25, 2004

The Butterfield Legacy: Jeez, did any "Swift Boat Vets" not see action in Cambodia? (about a third of the way down the page) [link via Eschaton]

UPDATE: O'Neill (who, natch, is an attorney) attempts to explain away his earlier lie, but gets nailed by, of all people, Alan Colmes. O, what a tangled web we weave....

August 24, 2004

Ken Layne Was Right: One of the great advantages of living three thousand miles from the Center of the Universe is that I don't get overly-influenced by the vagaries and trends of Beltway opinion-mongering. The fact that the people in my immediate circle are not obsessed with politics, and do not see every breaking story on Fox News or CNN as earthshattering, allows me to view the goings-on in politics with a greater sense of detachment. Thus, when the "Swift Boat" ads began airing in a handful of states, and the "digital Brownshirts" began parsing every detail of Kerry's stay in Southeast Asia for errors, I was able to step back, and take what seemed to be a contrarian view about this issue: the longer the focus was on Kerry's war record, the more it helped in the long run. After all, the average voter would hear the claims and counterclaims of the various participants, shrug, and say, "well, at least Kerry was in 'Nam back in the day."

Apparently, it doesn't appear to have been a particularly brutal three weeks for the Democratic nominee since those ads began airing. According to the latest Zogby polling figures in the battleground states, Kerry has gone from being ahead in 13 of the 16 states polled, to...being ahead in 14 of the 16 states, his best showing to date. If the junior Senator from Massachusetts has been hurt by the mostly-discredited attacks, it hasn't shown up yet in the polls, even anecdotally; Kerry continues to poll within the margin of error in several states not included by Zogby as "battlegrounds", such as Arizona, Virginia, and Colorado. And the fact that the whole world is starting to laugh at the Swifties (here and here) can't be making things any easier for Karl Rove.