December 10, 2005

One of the things that most amazes my clients is that after they file bankruptcy, they start receiving applications for new credit cards almost immediately. Since they are publicly signalling their inability to repay their current debts, particularly credit card arrearages, it seems counterintuitive that the same credit card companies would be so eager to reestablish their relationship with the same party that they had just been treating like a deadbeat. And yet, it happens, for reasons that are quite practical from the standpoint of the credit card companies.
A cogent argument as to why even a scumbag like Tookie Williams should receive clemency, by Marc Cooper. Advocates for the soon-to-be-late former crime lord are forced to make absurd pleas for mercy, based on such things as the racial composition of his jury (which failed to move that bastion of reaction, the 9th Circuit, when it considered the issue), his "nomination" for various Nobel Prizes (a distinction which the Crips Don shares with Joseph Stalin and Adolph Hitler, among others), and his authoring a series of anti-gang books for children, while ignoring such things as his refusal to "violate" omerta by cooperating with authorities in the investigation of other crimes (including, presumably, the four murders that have put him in this predicament). Cooper just cuts to the chase: that the death penalty is a hold-over barbarism from a different time and place, one which is inconsistent with a great nation, and which is imposed arbitrarily based on factors, such as race and poverty, that we as a people should be overcoming.

To me, the best way to look at the debate over whether he should die is the observation that both Charles Manson and Sirhan Sirhan are also guests of the California penal system, and neither will ever have to seek clemency to avoid the needle.

December 09, 2005

It says something when the U.S. has advanced far enough along as an international soccer power that it can be drawn into the "Group of Death" in the 2006 World Cup.
Normalcy: After a brief lull, bankruptcy filings are beginning to pick up again, in spite of the new law that was supposed to make it more difficult. One sign that the credit industry may not get what its retainers in D.C. promised:
Demand for pre-bankruptcy counseling, which is now required before consumers can file, has been unexpectedly strong at the 71 agencies affiliated with the National Foundation for Credit Counseling that have been approved by the Department of Justice to provide such services, said foundation President Susan Keating.

"The volume is significantly higher than their original projections," Keating said. "We originally expected our client volume of 1 million to double in 2006 (because of the new requirement). Now we're thinking we may be looking at even more."

Bankruptcy attorneys and many consumer advocates worry the counseling requirement will allow agencies to divert potential filers into debt repayment plans that the debtors can ill afford. But Keating said her agencies, which currently represent 80% of the counselors approved by the Justice Department, aren't seeing many clients who have the ability to repay their debts.

"The conversion rate of customers who are eligible to go into an alternative, a debt-management plan, has been very, very low," Keating said. "These customers are really in serious financial trouble and have no alternative other than filing for bankruptcy."
Duh. It is no comfort that the same people who enacted this law are also entrusted to lead the war against terrorism.

December 08, 2005

Identify the practice, and the interrogator:
When the rack did not produce the desired result, the (interrogators) turned to the water torture. In this hideous remedy, the prisoner was tied to a ladder that was sloped downward, so that the head was lower than the feet. The head was held fast in position by a metal band, twigs were placed in the nostrils, and ropes winched tightly around his appendages. The mouth was forced open with a metal piece and a cloth placed over the mouth. Then a pitcher of water was brought, and water poured over the cloth. With each swallow, the cloth was drawn deeper into the throat, until in gagging and choking the victim nearly asphyxiated. The terror of suffocation was extreme, and the process was repeatedly endlessly, bloating the body grotesquely until the victim was ready to confess ... From the inquisitor's standpoint — for he was there to record every detail — the treatment was easy to administer and left no telltale signs.
Give up? Answer here....
YBK [The Bloody Aftermath]: Thanks to the diligent efforts of Joe Biden, Steny Hoyer, and the rest of the Democratic K-Street Caucus, bankruptcy attorneys in Los Angeles and its suburbs were given an early Christmas Holiday present this year. There were over 28,000 filings in the month of October, almost all of them in the first two weeks of the month (a typical month, like February of this year, before the new law was passed, might see only 4,500 filings). That was a 525% increase from the same month a year ago, or almost half the total from last year, in a two week time span.

December 07, 2005

Man U. may need to do to Sir Alec what Penn St. did to Jo Pa a couple of years ago: find someone who still possesses all his faculties to do the real coaching, and let the Legend play the legend, pacing the sidelines and occasionally scowling at a bad call, but not getting anywhere near the heavy lifting. Today's disaster gives Glazer the luxury (yea, even the necessity) of pruning costs even further, giving the club a long-overdue rebuilding without further alienating the folks in Lancashire still pissed at the fact that a man with a name like, er, Glazer, runs their beloved team.

December 06, 2005

The special election to fill the Congressional seat formerly held by SEC chairman Christopher Cox was held tonight, with Republican John Campbell pulling out to a commanding early lead. Interestingly, Campbell received a strong challenge from a well-financed third-party candidate, Jim Gilchrist, who pretty much ran a one-issue campaign on the topic of immigration, so the national GOP poured mucho dinero into the district to prevent an upset. The Democratic challenger, Steve Young (not related to either the quarterback or the local radio host) didn't receive anywhere near the love from the blogosphere that propelled the campaign of Paul Hackett (no relation to the ex-SC coach), and was never a factor in this race.

Things to look at after the ballots are counted: will Campbell break 50% of the total? and will Young hold on to second? Not getting half the votes cast in a conservative Orange County district should be seen as a sign of anger at the President from his core constituents, in one of the few districts in the state that gave him a comfortable margin over John Kerry last year. My guess (not possessing exit poll numbers) is that many of the people backing Gilchrist include voters who do not normally show up for special elections in December, but are people who were motivated to send a message about the "illegals", and Bush's perceived coddling of Latinos. Since Campbell's position on immigration was no less xenophobic than Gilchrist, who was a founder of the Minutemen militia, there's no reason to believe that those voters will necessarily return to the Republican Party in 2006 and beyond. And, of course, the failure by Young to finish ahead of Gilchrist, in a district in which Barbara Boxer narrowly trailed in her Senate race last year, will be a sign that simply being the "opponent" will not be enough for the Democrats to make serious gains on the GOP next year.

UPDATE: Final vote tabulation gives Campbell the victory, but with less than 45% of the vote. Young finished second with 28%, and Gilchrist third with 25%. Campbell's vote declined from his total in October, when he barely missed out on receiving 50%, and he faced a strong challenger from within his own party. Considering Cox typically got 70% in the same district, this is not an impressive win for the GOP. It will be interesting to see what happens in the special election to replace Duke Cunningham next year, who represented a nearby district that is far less Republican.
Normally I don't respond to e-mailing trolls, concerning topics I haven't written about, but I thought I'd make an exception to a missive I received today from Matthew-san:

I have to take issue with a recent episode of ESPN Classic's "Who's #1-Greatest Game Winners."

20. Luis Gonzales' Game 7 RBI Single To Win The 2001 World Series In The Bottom Of The Ninth. The fact that, arguably the best closer MLB has ever seen, Mariano Rivera, came in to close that Series out with a one run lead and Arizona still got it done is enough to rank this higher. And why is Bill Buckner so vilified and Rivera not after his throwing error to second base made the whole collapse possible? Oh, that's right, New York.

19. Kirby Pucket's Game 6 Winning Home Run Against The Braves. Good choice but could maybe be higher.

18. Sid Bream Scores From Second To Beat The Pirates In Game 7 Of The 1992 NLCS. Good choice but Atlanta went on to lose the World Series so this definitely shouldn't be higher.

17. Christian Laettner Last Second Shot Beats UConn To Get To The 1990 final Four. The NCAA Basketball Tourney has been filled with last second shots over the years and Duke went on to get murdered by UNLV in the final so I don't get this selection.

16. Buster Douglas KO's Mike Tyson. No problem with this one but does anyone remember the count controversy when Douglas got knocked down earlier? Don King tried to rob us of one of the great upsets of all time.

15. Bobby Orr's OT Game Winner In Game 4 Against The Blues In The 1970 Stanley Cup Final. Easily one of the most overrated moments in sports history. Boston swept the Blues but because some photographer captured the image of Orr flying through the air after the goal this moment was immortalized. A joke of a selection.

14. Kordell Stewart's Hail Mary Beats Michigan In 1994. There have been numerous successful Hail Mary's over the years. Why this one is considered such a big deal is beyond me. Could it be that Limbaugh was right a few years later?

13. Michael Jordan Beats Cleveland At Buzzer In Deciding Game 5 First Round 1989 Playoffs. Let me get this straight. Chicago wins nothing that year and this comes in at number 13. Jordan beats Utah on a last second shot to win his sixth championship in 1998 and this doesn't even make the list. Very curious.

12. Patriots Upset Rams On Last Second Field Goal In Super Bowl XXXVI. Excellent choice but the endings in Super Bowls V, XXV, XXXII, XXXIV, and XXXVIII could also be included.

11. Brett Boone HR Beats Boston In Game 7 2003 ALCS. Give me a break. Yanks went on to lose the World Series. This one shouldn't be this high. Oh, I forgot, New York.

10. Yaz's Game 6 Homer Forces Game 7 Against Reds. Again, Red Sox go on to lose World Series. Should mean nothing.

9. USA Wins 1999 Women's World Cup Of Soccer In Shootout. Not to take anything away from the broads but it's soccer and it was a shootout. I'm the only person I know who actually watched the thing. This choice is pure crap.

8. Joe Carter Wins 1993 World Series With HR In Game Six Against The Phils. Another excellent choice. The way that Series went Game 7 would have been up for grabs.

7. Bill Mazeroski HR Wins 1960 World Series Game 7 In The Bottom Of The Ninth. How this isn't considered the top moment in the history of American sports, let alone Major League Baseball confounds me...Oh, that's right, New York lost.

6. Kirk Gibson HR Wins Game 1 Of 1988 World Series. I concede it was dramatic but it was only Game 1 and the Dodgers won the Series in 5. Another of the most overrated moments in sports.

5. Cal Versus Stanford And Stanford Band In The Big Game 1982. This could easily be number 1.

4. Lorenzo Charles' Dunk Upsets Houston In 1982 NCAA Basketball Final. It was shocking and it was great. No problem here.

3. Doug Flutie Hail Mary Beats Miami 1994. See number 14. If that fortunate play was what actually made voters pick Flutie for the Heisman then the award is even a bigger joke than I thought (although I will take a third in four years for my Trojans).

2. Christian Laettner Last Second Shot Beats Kentucky In OT To Send Duke To 1992 Final Four. No problem with this one since Duke went on to win the national championship.

1. Bobby Thompson 1951. The single most overrated moment in sports history. "The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant! The Giants go on to lose the World Series! The Giants go on to lose the World Series!" Oh, that's right, New York.

At the end of this episode two resident "geniuses", Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic, throw in their two cents worth. They both agree that Bobby Thompson deserves to be number one but then Greenberg goes on to say that Lorenzo Charles should be higher than Laettner because N.C. State won the championship on that shot. I have no problem with that logic as long as he applies it consistently which he doesn't do when it comes to Bobby Thompson. Golic claims that the 1999 Chicks Soccer win was significant and deserves to be on the list. Significant? When I have solid stool the moment is more significant. Why does this crap have to get rammed down our throats? How can Bart Starr's QB sneak in the Ice Bowl not get mention? Down to the Cowboys 17-14, the Packers gambled on 3rd down on a play that only Bart Starr and Vince Lombardi knew was going to be a sneak and if it didn't work there would have been no time to set up for a game tying field goal since the Packers had no timeouts. And by the way, Green Bay went on to win Super Bowl II. A serious omission from the list. Input anyone?
Thanks, BoozBuddy, for your reflections, but I should point out that it was Fisk, not Yaz, who homered to beat the Reds (#10), and Charles' dunk against Phi Slama Jama was in 1983, not '82 (#4).

I strongly disagree with your take on what you call "1999 Chicks Soccer"; it was the first soccer game, and maybe the first team sporting event involving women, that millions of American sports fans not only watched but actually took a rooting interest in, to a degree comparable to a Rose Bowl or NBA Finals game. Brandi Chastain's reaction to her winning shot is one of the most iconic moments in sports history, so it's placement is not only justified, it's probably too low. If China had won the shootout, however, I wonder if ESPN would have ranked the moment as high.

I also beg to differ on the two Hail Mary's listed: the Flutie-Phelan pass was at the tail-end of one of the most thrilling back-and-forth shoot-outs in football history, and the Wee One is, after all, one of the legends of Canadien football; the Stewart pass against the Maize and Blue was the clumination of one of the greatest last twenty-second drives ever, and as far as what Rush may have said once, I'm sure that was just the drug's talking.

Easily the worst pick on the list is Orr's shot (or is it Picard's trip?). Not only did the Bruins sweep, but that was the third straight final sweep against the Blues. Who cares if the final game was close? The Laettner buzzer beater against UConn is also a space-occupier; why not pick Tate George's shot for the Huskies to beat Clemson the game before (a much more unbelievable play, since it resulted from a full court pass with one second left), if you're going to go with the also-rans from the 1990 NCAA's? And Douglas' K.O. of Tyson, while a memorable upset, was certainly not one of the great knock-outs in the history of that sport. By your standards, since Douglas lost the belt in the next fight, and thereafter ventured back into the realm of mediocrity, that fight shouldn't have even been listed. If they had to go with a boxing moment, why not Hagler-Hearns?

You picked the Ice Bowl, but to me the glaring omission was Miami's stop of the two-point conversion in the final minute of the 1984 Orange Bowl against undefeated Nebraska. The Lorenzo Charles dunk from only months earlier is listed, but I've always thought that was overrated, since that play only broke a tie, and Houston was too spent from its semifinal against the Doctors of Dunk to offer anything more than token resistance had that game gone to overtime. But the 'Canes either needed to come up with the big play, or lose the Mythical National Title, and they came through. Upon further review, it appears that ESPN was talking about plays that ended games, thereby excluding plays, like Starr's sneak, the Immaculate Reception, MJ's shot against Georgetown, and Miami's big stop in the 1983 Orange Bowl, that were merely late in the game.
The terrorism that terrorism created:
We should kill all the savages' friends and family. They give aid and succor to these freaks who murder little Christian girls, blow up school buses of children, and massacre kids at schools, cut peoples heads off and plan the bombings of houses of worship. Indeed, their entire families and associates should fear for their lives.
--Tammy Bruce [link via James Wolcott, emphasis mine] The murder of "little Christian girls" is a nice Streicherian touch. Truthfully, if you read the rest of her website, it's clear that she's someone who gets turned on by the thought of another dead wog, so I don't think you can blame this wackjobbery on OBL.
Unlike the hapless primary opponent for Hillary, a Lowell Weicker challenge to Senator Lieberman could actually bounce the incumbent. I would assume that should The Bear pull off the upset, he would vote with the Democratic caucus, even if he runs as an independent.

Run, Lowell, run !!!!

December 05, 2005

"UCLA types": It seems that the Bruins not only can't stop the run, but they're anti-Christmas as well. Odd that it's Jackie Mason using what has been anti-Semitic code in Los Angeles for decades.

December 04, 2005

Wanker? Marc Cooper is taking it on the chin from the peanut gallery, apparently for having had the audacity to tweak his editors at the Nation for employing Alexander Cockburn, etc. Having been purged from his site's blogroll recently (rat bastard !!), I suppose I should avail myself of the opportunity to pile on, or even lend my support to this burgeoning drive to blacklist the writer for denouncing Ramsey Clark, Kim jong-il and other miscreants, but I think some respect should be given to anyone who barely escaped Pinochet's reign of terror with his life. Unlike Hitchens, he hasn't joined the Amen Corner on the Iraqi debacle, and he's an honest-to-goodness journalist/activist/blackjack player, not some college professor shilling for the Democratic Party between classes.

Of course, Cooper will often go after liberals and leftists with an animus that seems disproportionate to their misdeeds, particularly the Clintons, and he has a clear bias towards ineffectual and outdated progressive institutions (especially labor unions) and leaders (ie., Ralph Nader), and against those on the left, such as "Kos", Barbara Boxer and Michael Moore, who can actually draw blood against the opposition. He's also not a fan of the Democratic Party, or any other institution that attempts to be a broadbased, mass political movement; his ideal political party is one that would represent the likeminded 20% of the electorate, letting the other 80% run things in D.C. while his allies remain virgin pure in permanent opposition.

In short, if you're looking for an ally in an electoral context, he ain't it. However, if you still believe that the death penalty is an abomination, that workers deserve more than having their interests "defended" by a political party that demands their money and their votes but does nothing to fight for their rights, that there should be zero tolerance for Democrats who vote to support the judicial ideology of Scalia, Thomas and Alito, and that, in the long run, there are more important things in the world than the outing of Valerie Plame, the internal politics of Air America Radio, or the sinister machinations of Diebold, then Cooper is well worth the read.

UPDATE: For a bit of comic relief, this young man was clearly off his meds when he posted on the same topic. "Assclown", indeed....