December 29, 2006

After an embarassingly shabby show trial, Saddam Hussein may go to meet his maker on the morrow, and Josh Marshall has a good overview as to what it signifies:
The Iraq War has been many things, but for its prime promoters and cheerleaders and now-dwindling body of defenders, the war and all its ideological and literary trappings have always been an exercise in moral-historical dress-up for a crew of folks whose times aren't grand enough to live up to their own self-regard and whose imaginations are great enough to make up the difference. This is just more play-acting.

These jokers are being dragged kicking and screaming to the realization that the whole thing's a mess and that they're going to be remembered for it -- defined by it -- for decades and centuries. But before we go, we can hang Saddam. Quite a bit of this was about the president's issues with his dad and the hang-ups he had about finishing Saddam off -- so before we go, we can hang the guy as some big cosmic 'So There!'

Marx might say that this was not tragedy but farce. But I think we need to get way beyond options one and two even to get close to this one -- claptrap justice meted out to the former dictator in some puffed-up act of self-justification as the country itself collapses in the hands of the occupying army.

Marty Peretz, with some sort of projection,
calls any attempt to rain on this parade "prissy and finicky." Myself, I just find it embarrassing. This is what we're reduced to, what the president has reduced us to. This is the best we can do. Hang Saddam Hussein because there's nothing else this president can get right.
Putting Saddam on trial was always going to be hard; the more internationally-legitimate tribunal at The Hague for Slobodan Milosevic lasted four years, and was as much a debacle as the Hussein "trial", ending only because the former dictator died. Obviously, though, there is no a way a fair trial could have taken place in Iraq, and the fact that they're still debating whether the execution should be televised is an indication that only the names of the rulers have changed.

December 28, 2006

Blogging will be intermittent the next two weeks, as I cruise to Hawaii aboard the Island Princess. First night's weather made for a very rocky passage, but it's settled down enough for the crew to allow people on deck. It's five days there, five days in the islands, and five days back, so I'll see you after the new year....

December 26, 2006

Gerald Ford, the 38th President of the U.S., has died. Our nation was lucky Ford was vice president when Nixon resigned. He represented a brand of conservative Republicanism that seems quaint today: hawkish on foreign policy, moderation on hot-button issues like abortion, and adherence to economies of budgeting that would seem naive to the Cheneys and Bushes of the world. The Republican Party that Ford joined in his youth still identified itself as the party of Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt, and viewed support of civil rights and the E.R.A. as part of its birthright. Goldwater, Nixon and the Southern Strategy would alter the party beyond recognition; by the time he became President, he was already out of touch with much of his party's base, and 170 of the electoral votes won by the Democrats in 1976, and 143 of those won by the G.O.P., were captured by the other party in 2004.
In light of yesterday's Christmas traditional between the Lakers and Miami, I wonder if it's time to do a post-mortem on the trade between the clubs two years ago, the one that basically created the rivalry. At the time, it seemed like a desperation ploy by the Lakers, a move to dump one of their stars because of his incompatibility with another star. But over time, it's beginning to look like it has the makings of one of the most one-sided trades in history, but in favor of the Lakers. In exchange for an injury-prone, declining athlete at the tail-end of his career, the Lakers obtained one star (27-year old Lamar Odom), one potential star (24-year old Kwame Brown, who has thrived under Phil Jackson) and a 20-year old rookie with impressive offensive skills (Jordan Farmar). Plus, they freed up a bunch of room under the salary cap, and are clearly a team on the upswing; no prolonged decline, followed by a slow retooling while Kobe ages, for them.

The Heat won a title with Shaq, of course, and on those occasions when he's healthy, he can still play like one of the top centers in the NBA, but last year's Heat was more Dwyane Wade's team, and there's no way the Lakers were going to win another one with Shaq on the inside if he couldn't lead a team that had Kobe, Gary Payton and Karl Malone to a title three years ago. Trading O'Neal allowed the Lakers to resign Kobe, and break up what had become a dysfunctional relationship. Kudos to Mitch Kupchak and Jerry Buss for making a ballsy move when they had to.

December 23, 2006

Michael Hiltzik follows up his superb series on sports labs (and the bogus science they practice) with a piece on Floyd Landis' innovative approach to charges he was doped when he won the Tour de France last summer:
Landis' team has posted online the laboratory reports on which the charge is based. This step, unprecedented in an anti-doping case, has allowed independent scientists to study the evidence against Landis — 370 pages of technical documentation.

The result is a vigorous debate on Internet message forums and bulletin boards about the science underlying the charge and whether Landis, successor to Lance Armstrong as America's leading competitive cyclist, has been unjustly accused.

Landis' representatives say they have gleaned a wealth of clues about how to attack the evidence when the case goes before an arbitration panel, probably this spring.


(snip)

Landis' defense team calls its decision to publicize the evidence against him the "wiki defense," referring to an online application allowing members of the public to collaborate on encyclopedias, dictionaries, computer programs and other services.

The idea is to counteract the advantages that anti-doping agencies have in bringing cases against athletes. As The Times reported this month, WADA uses a zero-tolerance standard, punishing athletes for unintentional or inconsequential violations of doping rules.


(snip)

With the wiki defense, Landis's team can subject the prosecution's scientific evidence to global scrutiny.

"There has been a tremendous amount of knowledge-sharing among the folks online, even among those who disagree about what the tests say," says Kevin Dykstra, 47, an amateur cyclist and professional chemist who has posted extensive analyses of the lab reports under the online alias "Duckstrap."

Dykstra's posts criticize the Paris lab for failing to demonstrate that it measured Landis' testosterone and epitestosterone accurately and that it could reach consistent results with multiple tests.

"To make the kind of accusations they made as publicly as they did, this has to be a slam-dunk," he says. "And this was not a slam-dunk. The data that's here leaves ample room for doubt."
Read the whole thing; it's the kind of investigative piece that wins Pulitzer Prizes.

[UPDATE: For more on all things Floyd Landis, both pro and con, check out this site.]

December 22, 2006

The Ultimate Christmas Video:


...and the story behind the Video [link via Robert A. George]
Virgil Goode's attack on Muslim-Americans may be just the wedge for Democrats to push an aggressive pro-immigrant policy through the next Congress. Think about it: Goode is a corrupt hack who was originally elected to Congress as a Democrat, then switched parties, but not after voting for three of the four articles of impeachment against Bill Clinton. Now he makes a thinly-veiled swipe at the first Congressman of Islamic faith in U.S. history, then compounds matters by asserting that Keith Ellison's election is what happens when our borders aren't being closed (Ellison, btw, is native-born). He's the trifecta: a crook, a backstabbing turncoat, and a moron to boot. He makes a much better David Duke than Cong. Tancredo, so let's use that.
An opinion concerning the blogosphere:
Every conceivable belief is on the scene, but the collective prose, by and large, is homogeneous: A tone of careless informality prevails; posts oscillate between the uselessly brief and the uselessly logorrheic; complexity and complication are eschewed; the humor is cringe-making, with irony present only in its conspicuous absence; arguments are solipsistic; writers traffic more in pronouncement than persuasion.

(snip)

journalism as practiced via blog appears to be a change for the worse. That is, the inferiority of the medium is rooted in its new, distinctive literary form. Its closest analogue might be the (poorly kept) diary or commonplace book, or the note scrawled to oneself on the back of an envelope--though these things are not meant for public consumption. The reason for a blog's being is: Here's my opinion, right now.

The right now is partially a function of technology, which makes instantaneity possible, and also a function of a culture that valorizes the up-to-the-minute above all else. But there is no inherent virtue to instantaneity. Traditional daily reporting--the news--already rushes ahead at a pretty good clip, breakneck even, and suffers for it. On the Internet all this is accelerated.

The blogs must be timely if they are to influence politics. This element--here's my opinion--is necessarily modified and partly determined by the right now. Instant response, with not even a day of delay, impairs rigor. It is also a coagulant for orthodoxies. We rarely encounter sustained or systematic blog thought--instead, panics and manias; endless rehearsings of arguments put forward elsewhere; and a tendency to substitute ideology for cognition. The participatory Internet, in combination with the hyperlink, which allows sites to interrelate, appears to encourage mobs and mob behavior.

This cross-referential and interactive arrangement, in theory, should allow for some resolution to divisive issues, with the market sorting out the vagaries of individual analysis. Not in practice. The Internet is very good at connecting and isolating people who are in agreement, not so good at engaging those who aren't. The petty interpolitical feuding mainly points out that someone is a liar or an idiot or both.

Because political blogs are predictable, they are excruciatingly boring. More acutely, they promote intellectual disingenuousness, with every constituency hostage to its assumptions and the party line.
From WSJ assistant editorial features editor Joseph Rago, earlier this week. Although he's understandably concerned with the effect that blogs have on the practice and craft of journalism (and I concur with much of his criticism over what passes for political blogging), he seems to be missing the point as to why this new medium rocks. With few exceptions, such as Josh Marshall's growing online fiefdom, bloggers aren't in the habit of breaking stories or reporting news, and the third-party interview with a newsmaker is rare. Indeed, bloggers are commenters, akin to the op-ed section of a daily newspaper, where the standard rules of objectivity don't apply.

The blogosphere is an improvement over the ancien regime in two ways. First, it has expanded the universe from which "pundits" are drawn, going beyond the perspective of former journalists, speechwriters and Ivy League academics. To communicate an opinion to a large audience no longer requires a person to have paid dues at a newspaper, or to have attended the Kennedy School, or to have signed on to a political campaign in his youth; anyone who is motivated enough to spend time in front of his computer can opine away. The popularity of blogs stems from the discovery that the opinion of a grad student, or a retired software marketer, or a housewife, or even a West San Fernando Valley bankruptcy attorney, can be as weighty as any of the Sabbath Gasbags.

Of course, the big initial drawback has been to promote those whose violent rhetoric has been more conducive to attracting attention and building a large readership, with the result being what Mr. Rago said, a panoply of angry, dull, predictable and partisan blogs using over-the-top attacks to bully their opponents. As the sad story of Ned Lamont's general election campaign attests, it is a style that is clearly counterproductive. But with thousands of Americans, and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, indicate, anything that shatters the elitist dominance of our public policy discourse, while expanding the realm of what ideas are considered "mainstream" or "acceptable" can't be a bad thing.

Second, even though the hyper-partisan rhetoric in most blogs can be deadly to the unconverted, not all partisanship is bad, as we can see when we examine the growing online empire of Markos Moulitsas. As any blogger who has a regular readership can tell you, the discovery that there are other people out there who feel the same way you do is a thrilling revelation indeed, and when multiplied exponentially, a site like Daily Kos can do remarkable things with that audience. The story of the 2006 election was that of a reenergized liberal base, taking the battle to the conservative ruling coalition that had governed this country since the late-60's, and against all odds, recapturing control of the engines of government.

This historic victory was accomplished because bloggers like Kos (IMHO, the person whom Time should have honored last weekend) and MyDD provided an outlet for people who otherwise would have felt marginalized by a political system that favors the interests of the wealthy and powerful, and gave them a chance to participate, one Congressional district at a time. These online bulletin boards alerted like-minded readers about needy, often quixotic challengers who needed money, canvassing, and assistance, and helped level the playing field.

In 2004, Kos got bageled in November, losing every race he focused on. This time around, that same energy and focus paid off big time for the Democrats. Bloggers are enabling millions of people to participate in our system of government, much as the old political parties did at one time, and are helping to discard outdated notions of what sort of grassroots politics is effective.

December 21, 2006

One of the things I despise most about the blogosphere is the notion that anyone who disagrees with you isn't simply wrong, but evil. Bob "Al Gore is a f***ing god" Somerby has already become a parody of himself with his incessant sycophancy towards the former Veep, as well as his banal attacks on any who dare criticize his Noble Friend from Harvard, and his bizarre take on Richard Cohen's column attacking John McCain's shift to the hard right (Cohen unfortunately thought that McCain was still a decent person) seems to have all the subtlety of a Jane Hamsher post on St. Joseph. If anything will ensure the election of a McCain-Lieberman ticket in 2008, and perhaps tens of thousands more Americans dead in Iraq, it will be the overheated prose of the blogosphere "making the case" against their enemies.

December 19, 2006

Sorry for the lack of posts lately; I have been quite busy working for a living, and the number of bankruptcy cases has risen dramatically in recent months (thanks, housing bubble !!) Since it is that time of year, I thought this essay by philosopher Peter Singer would be worth reading, on the topic of philanthropy.

December 17, 2006

Figures that when I finally made the cover of Time Magazine, I wouldn't photograph well....

December 16, 2006

As if dying wasn't bad enough, Buck O'Neill has now been posthumously awarded the nation's highest award honoring incompetance.

December 14, 2006

A complete glossary of racial and ethnic derogatorisms, here. But nothing on yoopers, yet.

December 13, 2006

An even 30: In the last undecided House race, a Democrat knocked off a Republican incumbent in Texas in a run-off yesterday. The Democrat, Ciro Rodriguez, had lost a primary earlier this year to a DINO, Henry Cuellar, but got another chance after the Supreme Court threw out part of the 2003 Texas gerrymander. Henry Bonilla, the Republican (and the only non-Cuban Hispanic in the GOP caucus), saw his election-night percentage shrink from 48% to just over 45% last night, an ominous sign for the new minority party.

December 12, 2006

The opponent in Mike Tyson's last two great fights has his own website. And Razor Ruddock is now an inventor !!!! [link via Deadspin]
I guess I shouldn't be surprised at anything that appears on the WaPo editorial page, which continues to see a need to publish the 21st Century's own version of Walter Duranty, Charles Krauthammer, but this tribute to one of South America's most vile tyrants bears attention. In effect, Gen. Pinochet earns the Post's affection because the Chilean economy boomed in the decades after he left office, as if that was imporant. And did you know Hitler built the Autobahn? [link via Matthew Yglesias]

December 11, 2006

Since his demotion as a columnist/blogger, Michael Hiltzik has been earning his paycheck, with a series on the scientific fraud masquerading as "performance enhancing drug tests," here and here. His findings:
"Athletes are presumed guilty and denied routine access to lab data potentially relevant to their defense.

Trivial and accidental violations draw penalties similar to those for intentional use of illicit performance-enhancing substances.

Anti-doping authorities or sports federations have leaked details of cases against athletes or made public assertions of their guilt before tests were confirmed or appeals resolved.

Arbitrators, theoretically neutral judges, are bound by rules drafted and enforced by the World Anti-Doping Agency and its affiliates, including the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency. They have almost no discretion to adjust penalties to fit individual circumstances.
"
One sad case involved Zach Lund, an athlete cheated out of a chance to compete in the last Winter Olympics:
Accused athletes find that challenging a system stacked against them can be extraordinarily costly, prompting some to abandon any effort at defense.

"It wiped out my life savings and my college savings," Zach Lund, 27, a world-class skeleton sled racer from Salt Lake City, said of his effort to clear himself of doping charges.

In 2005, a drug test found traces of finasteride, an ingredient in anti-baldness medication, in his urine. The substance had been banned only that year over concerns that it might mask the presence of steroids in urine samples. That concern, however, was based on a single study by a WADA lab that had not been peer-reviewed by a medical journal. And Lund had been taking the hair restoration prescription for five years.

"I lost all my sponsorships and my funding" from the U.S. Olympic Committee, Lund said in an interview. "I even had to get money from my family and friends. The system is broken. Right now, it's catching people who make mistakes."

An arbitration panel acknowledged that the finasteride came from Lund's medication. In upholding a one-year suspension that deprived him of a chance to compete in the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy, which opened on the very day of the ruling, arbitrators called him "an honest athlete" and acknowledged that the substance had no performance-enhancing effect.

They conceded that they had reached their decision "with a heavy heart": Although Lund had faithfully disclosed his medication on anti-doping forms at every event, no official had ever alerted him to the change in finasteride's status.
Moreover, the conflicts of interest abound: scientists who work for the labs in question are forbidden from giving expert testimony in favor of an athlete who challenges the tests, and the arbitrators who hear appeals have professional and pecuniary relationships with the anti-doping agencies, making it nearly impossible to find an impartial judge.

In other words, it's a racket, the exposure of which should give Mr. Hiltzik a shot at another well-deserved Pulitzer Prize.
Turns out Brownie wasn't the bottom of the Bush Crony Barrell:
A top Air Force lawyer who served at the White House and in a senior position in Iraq turns out to have been practicing law for 23 years without a license.

Col. Michael D. Murphy was most recently commander of the Air Force Legal Operations Agency at Bolling Air Force Base in the District.

He was the general counsel for the White House Military Office from December 2001 to January 2003, and from August 2003 to January 2005. In between those tours, he was the legal adviser to the reconstruction effort in Iraq, an Air Force spokesman said.

Murphy later served in 2005 as commandant of the Air Force Judge Advocate General's School at Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, Ala.

He was relieved of his command at Bolling on Nov. 30 after the Air Force learned that he had been disbarred for professional misconduct in Texas in 1984 but hadn't informed his superiors, according to Air Force Times, an independent newspaper that first reported the action. It said that his status was discovered in the course of an unrelated review.
In fact, Michael Murphy's status as an attorney has been publicly available for some time at the Texas State Bar website; anyone performing due diligence could have obtained his status in seconds. [link via Balloon Juice]

December 10, 2006

The prognosis for one of L.A.'s best-loved (and wittiest) bloggers/journalists has taken a turn for the worse. Any kind words and thoughts for Cathy and Maia would be greatly appreciated.

December 08, 2006

A handy spreadsheet of the first-ever census taken specifically of my hometown, the San Fernando Valley (well, it's not a town, yet, but that's the way the tide is shifting), here. By itself, the Valley would be the fifth largest city in the U.S., with over 1.7 million people, while L.A. would slip to fourth, just behind Houston, were it to lose its better half. Far from being the epitome of white suburbia it may have been back in the Yorty Era, the Valley is now over 40% foreign-born, and almost 60% speaks a language other than English. (link via L.A. Observed)

December 07, 2006

Pro sports teams are usually owned by a narrow cross-section of our society, typically those who've made (or inherited) fortunes in oil, entertainment, investment banking, real estate, etc. Only in the WNBA, though, can a new owner of a team be a public school teacher from Van Nuys, California.

December 06, 2006

It's hard for me to argue with Prof. Foner's assertion that George Bush is the worst President of all time; his competition can be mainly separated into qualified-disasters-with-important-accomplishments-on-the-side, like LBJ and Nixon, or Civil War Era boobs who presided in the White House at a time when the power of their office was weaker, and the U.S. was nothing more than a regional power (Pierce, Andrew Johnson, Buchanan). Bush lacks the very real accomplishments of Johnson in the domestic arena (Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts, Medicare, etc.) or Nixon in foreign policy (reproachement with China, detente with the Soviet Union), so he has much more in common with the latter group of men, with the important difference being the scale of American global power when he assumed office. Buchanan and Pierce may have been slow to react to Confederate treason, but at least they didn't jeapordize America's role as a superpower by their actions.

In short, Bush managed to hit the trifecta: our economy stagnated, our relations with the rest of the world worsened, and our nation is weaker than it was before he became President. Those points are important, since they go to why we elect people to lead us in the first place. We elect our Presidents in the hope that they will make the country a better place, not to follow some ideology or to act as a national role model. While the rankings generally reflect the political leanings of historians, which currently tend to skew left-of-center, there is little doubt about the men at the very top; it's Washington, Lincoln and FDR, and whatever shortcomings they may have had concerning African-Americans or women, or whether their views would be considered palatable today, is irrelevant to the totality of their ranking. A liberal historian might judge Jimmy Carter more kindly than William Howard Taft, or might rank Ronald Reagan worse than he deserves, but the true greats are not debated.

And the same thing is true at the bottom. It isn't just that James Buchanan was a pro-South sympathizer who hated blacks. The same thing could be said about almost all of the Presidents before Lincoln, and most of the Presidents that followed him up until the end of WWII. Bush, like Buchanan and Pierce, is a disaster because he followed policies that proved cancerous to the nation.
Greatest Blog Post Title Ever: Ken Layne's influence is being felt at Wonkette.

December 05, 2006

Looks like we know who Jerome Armstrong is supporting in '08....

UPDATE: Welcome Kausfilets, although I have to say I disagree with his premise (ie., that Senator Obama is somehow doomed if he loses a couple of the early primaries in 2008). Bill Clinton didn't win either Iowa or New Hampshire in 1992, either, and George McGovern didn't get moving in '72 until mid-Spring (he also lost New Hampshire). As with Clinton, I suspect Obama will need to win the southern primaries to become the frontrunner, but those won't be right out of the gate.
Humorless Feminazis: Actually, I think this might be Mr. Samgrass' nadir. I'm beginning to think that our society really needs more political correctness.

December 04, 2006

Famous Last Words:
UCLA's only hope is they can distract them next week with something shiny on the end of a stick.
--Tony Pierce, LAist (11/26/2006), on the Bruins' chances against USC.

November 29, 2006

Yo, Blair: Kendall Myers, a senior State Department analyst, told an academic forum in D.C. last night that "for all Britain’s attempts to influence US policy in recent years, 'we typically ignore them and take no notice — it’s a sad business'," according to the Times of London. Apparently, the "special relationship" has now morphed into one where Americans suffer British participation out of a sense of pity. Myers went on to state that "[I]t was a done deal from the beginning, it was a one-sided relationship that was entered into with open eyes . . . there was nothing. There was no payback, no sense of reciprocity."

But maybe we'll let them win in the World Cup four years from now.
It's comforting to know that Michael Richards has at least one ally out there.
Domenick Dunne, I believe, has a very unique niche in the annals of journalism, in his ability to make the most odious of murderers and criminals seem sympathetic. Truman Capote and Norman Mailer also had that skill, but with the difference that they were trying to humanize their subjects; Dunne seems to have come upon his literary gift quite unintentionally. It is hard to read Vanity Fair and not come away with a great deal of pity and sympathy for O.J. Simpson. While any rational person would see him as a narcissistic jock who manipulated the system to get away with the murder of two innocent victims, Dunne, with his condescending tone and Westside attitude, managed to make him seem like a modern-day Bigger Thomas.

Well, Mr. Samgrass has outdone even the master. Taking as his jumping-off point the aborted release of Mr. Simpson's "confession," Christopher Hitchens manages to combine racial code (his insistance on refusing to use his subject's first name) with assorted trivialities (his discovery that O.J. may have been barely as bright as Lindsay Lohan, an odd criticism coming from the man who shed such copious tears for the late Ricky Ray Rector) and a complete lack of awareness of the underlying story (ie., his feigned empathy to the "Coleman [sic] and Goodman [sic]families." That's right: OJ murdered Gary Coleman and Benny Goodman.) On the heels of a boneheaded article about Ian Fleming that failed to distinguish between the James Bond books and the subsequent movies with the same titles, he may have finally reached his nadir. [link via Roger Ailes]

November 28, 2006

I think I'm gonna have a mancrush on Senator Webb....
For those who desire the Democratic Party become more like the Church of Scientology, or the Popular Front Era Communists, here are eight simple rules, courtesy of MyDD. To wit, Rules One and Four are inherently contradictory, Rules Two and Five are geared more towards ensuring comfortable living for campaign consultants than giving liberals more bang for their buck, Rules Three and Eight are banal, boilerplate dodges, and I have no idea what the hell Rules Six and Seven mean. Each of these eight rules could just as easily have been embraced by Tom DeLay, and I doubt it is any progressive's objective to follow a path that would so easily lead to the sort of abject defeat the Republicans suffered this year.
Wannabes [Part III]: More on the A-hole tendency among lefty bloggers, here:
There are lazy reporters and facile commentors out there. And there are, we have come to learn, actual Armstrong Williamses out there, who have no independence or integrity. They deserve a lot of scorn. But Tom Edsall and Dana Priest are not among them. Like everyone, they sometimes get things wrong. They look at facts and interpret them differently, they forget certain facts, they try to construct tight arguments and wind up misstating a case, or they don't have very good answers on the spur of the moment.

And we challenge them on it, as we should. It's a great world we live in that makes such a rapid, thorough discussion of a question possible. But the rush to find a nefarious motive (the "Armstrong Williams check"), or to disqualify a writer entirely as "drinking the Beltway Kool-Aid" doesn't further that discussion or add to our understanding.

I like the philosophy of Wikipedia: Make it easy to make mistakes and easier to correct them. Imagine how Wikipedia would be if every contributor who got something wrong were banned forever. Yet that's often the tone of these blog attacks. We're all on a quest to understand just what's gone on in our public life the last few years and how to fix it. When we see an answer we think is wrong, we can't just declare the writer a "wanker" or a "courtier-servant," or whatever. Just respond to the argument. We're all going to be wrong sometimes.
--Mark Schmitt, Tapped

November 27, 2006

The Limbaugh Doctrine: Rush has a modest proposal for solving the troubles in the Middle East:
Fine, just blow the place up. Just let these natural forces take place over there instead of trying to stop them, instead of trying to use -- I just -- sometimes natural force is going to happen. You're going to have to let it take place. You can spend all the time you like with diplomacy, and you can spend all the time you want massaging these things with diplomatic -- you're just -- you're just delaying the inevitable.
It's not quite the Pottery Barn Rule, Mistah Kurtz.
Let me be the umpteenth blogger to send kudos to Matt Welch for his well-written dissection of McCainism as a potential governing philosophy. The L.A. Times needs more Welch in the op-ed, and less everybody else....

November 24, 2006

"Be Adequite": A young actress expresses her condolences over the passing of Robert Altman. We tend to forget that the stars of stage and screen are often not that much more educated than your run-of-the-mill hoops phenom.

November 23, 2006

Bo's Last Speech: The Onion has details....

November 22, 2006

They canned Robert Scheer for this? The L.A. Times published this Erin Aubrey Kaplan gem this morning, equating Michael Richards' n-bomb response to hecklers with OJ's double homicide, which included the following:
Even O.J. neutralists like me — to this day, I'm not sure whether he did it — had to concede that the former football star belongs in some ethical netherworld occupied by other tragically deluded celebrities such as Phil Spector and Michael Jackson.
and
...the O.J. indignation is driven in large part by racial indignation: the idea that a black man may have killed a white woman and gotten away with it. That's a violation of decorum and social law that white America cannot tolerate, whatever the findings of a court — and that fact sealed O.J.'s fate long before the announcement and subsequent disappearance of "If I Did It."
Not sure whether he did it? Calling a brutal double homicide a "breach of racial decorum." If the Times must insist each week on plucking the lowest hanging fruit from the punditocracy tree, there are plenty of bloggers out there who will do the work for far less....

November 21, 2006

Wannabes [Pt. II]: More evidence why the lefty blogosphere is just like high school. [link via National Journal]

November 20, 2006

$30 million: That's the amount of money Hillary Clinton spent running against a nobody en route to an easy reelection. That's more than any other Senate candidate, and yet she still received fewer votes than Elliot Spitzer, who won the governor's race in New York.
Wannabes: One of the more thoughtful (ie., someone who posts more than two sentences at a time) bloggers on the left, Digby, writes about Maureen Dowd, describing her unfavorably as a classic "Mean Girl." Dowd made a rather over-the-top statement about the new Speaker-Elect and Botox, playing into the stereotype that a female public figure is more concerned about physical appearances and vanity than any substantive political issues, and is rightfully chastised. To Digby's credit, he/she also points out that over the past six years, liberals have been willing to look the other way when Dowd aimed her vituperation at Republicans, forgetting that she made her bones in the 90's by making shallow, catty attacks on the Clintons.

But Digby then goes on to list the characteristics of the "Mean Girl", quoting from Rosalind Wiseman's tract on the subject, Queen Bees and Wannabes, and perhaps shows an uncomfortable lack of self-awareness, to wit:

-- Her friends do what she wants them to do.
-- She can argue anyone down, including friends, peers, teachers and parents.
-- Her comments about other girls are about the lame things they did.
-- She doesn't want to invite everyone to her birthday party, and if she does, she ignores some.
-- She's charming to adults.
-- She makes other girls feel "anointed" by declaring them special friends.
-- She is affectionate to one person to show rejection of another, like throwing her arms dramatically around one girl to emphasize the exclusion of another.
-- She does not take responsibility when she hurts another's feelings.
-- She seeks revenge when she feels wronged.
In fact, each of those characteristics is typical not just of "Queen Bees" in high school, or of Beltway Insiders in general, but of the political blogosphere in particular, especially the lefty blogosphere. The lefty blogosphere is as cliqueish and centralized as any high school, with a handful of blogs at the very top, doling out links and support to others very sparingly. Those who go against them, or are critical of their favorites, end up on the receiving end of some vicious attacks, made more difficult to counter by the fact that so much of it is anonymous.

Of course, insults are usually petty and personal ("liar" and "wanker" are two of the more popular), and often targeted at the person's appearance or weight. Mistakes are rarely owned up to, like this one confusing two different Harry Byrds. Those who believe that civility and respect for others is the foundation of liberalism, from which our principles germinate, and not simply a debating ploy, are labled "concern trolls", and hooted out of the conversation. And "charming to adults?" Well, no one can smooch derrieres like a lefty blogger when in the presence of Howard Dean, Arianna Huffington, James Wolcott, or Paul Krugman.

Those who may have been baffled by the intense, out-of-proportion jihad that many bloggers had against St. Joe can better understand the phenomenum by seeing it through the prism of the childish, petty antics of the Mean Girl in reacting to someone who doesn't prostrate herself before her. Lieberman spoke critically of President Clinton during the Lewinsky scandal, was a cheerleader for the war and the Administration, and refused to oppose cloture on the Bankruptcy Bill or the Alito nomination. In short, he was a conservative Democrat, but he was not unlike any number of others, like Senator Nelson of Nebraska, or Senator Kohl of Wisconsin, or even candidates like Robert Casey Jr., Jim Webb, and Harold Ford Jr., who received unflinching blogospheric support. There was just something about him they didn't like. Thus, a Senator who had organized for voting rights in Mississippi in 1963, at a time when people died for doing that sort of thing, was drawn in blackface on one popular blog.

To no one's surprise, the tactics used against Senator Lieberman backfired badly, and one of most sanctimonious men in American politics got to play the role of martyr, easily winning reelection after losing his party's nomination in one of the bluest states in the country. Perhaps the lesson lies in the fact that no one really likes the Mean Girl, and that if you adopt Varuca Salt as your role model, the public will rebel.
After all St. Joe has done for his "party", it breaks my heart to see it turn its back on him now.

November 17, 2006

Rest in Peace, Bo.

UPDATE: The Dead Schembechlers disband.

November 15, 2006

Because you've been good, here's a nice little tune from forty some-odd years ago:

Yes on Murtha, No on Hastings:
1. Didn't Murtha refuse a bribe during ABSCAM? The throwaway line about how he wanted to do business with the faux-Arab for awhile before he started accepting baksheesh strikes me as the sort of thing a person uncomfortable with insulting a foreign guest might say, not a policy that congenitally crooked politicians might have towards bribetaking. In the video that's been getting play, Murtha looks like one of those saps being taken for a ride by Borat, done in by his own ingrained sense of civility, not a run-of-the-mill crook.

2. Alcee Hastings was impeached and removed from the federal bench by a Democratic Congress. Who cares if he was acquitted of related criminal charges? So was OJ. I would hope that the ethical standards for a judge would be higher than merely the code set by criminal statutes. For Hastings to leapfrog Jane Harman, merely because Pelosi is peeved at the Congresswoman, would do as much as the Democrats jumping back into bed with K Street lobbyists to discredit the notion that anything has really changed on Capital Hill.
I hope some of you have taken the time to visit my college football blog, Condredge's Acolytes, this season. If you haven't, you've missed my weekly BCS update, a recap of every matchup featuring two ranked teams, and everything you wanted to know (and a lot of what you didn't, and/or a lot of what might make you very uncomfortable knowing me afterwards) about Super-Songleader Natalie Nelson. It's a team blog, and I'm always looking for new contributors. Go Bears !!!

November 14, 2006

November 13, 2006

YBK [The Aftermath]: Prof. Kleiman has a good update on the bankruptcy reform act that went into effect last October, and the impact it will have once the combination of collapsing home values and delinquent ARM loans hits American homeowners. Ironically, the devastation it will cause will occur in spite of the law having been so "perfect," that not a word need be changed.

November 10, 2006

If James Carville, et al., are serious about this, the Democratic Party rank-and-file had better make their voices heard. We just picked up at least thirty seats in the House, our best effort in decades, and took a majority for the first time in a dozen years, in large part because Howard Dean pursued a strategy of challenging the Republicans in every district, taking the fight to all fifty states. Many of the incoming freshman class will represent districts that are heavily Republican in voter registration, the types of seats that the party establishment would aver that they were beyond any hope of capture, and it's because of the 50-state Strategy.

Many of the longshots didn't pan out, of course, but there are a lot of Republican and conservative voters in Wyoming, lets say, or in Idaho-1, that voted for a Democrat for the first time, a pivitol step towards any realignment. Reaching beyond the base means the party might see a day when no region of the country can be written off, which is the true mark of a majority party. And it shows respect and reverence for others, that we don't view our fellow citizens as "Red Staters," but as members of a governing coalition, as potential constituents, and most importantly, as fellow Americans. Dean and his allies in the blogosphere forced the GOP to defend areas that it had perceived as being untouchable, but were in fact soft, and the result was a victory of national proportions.
Lincoln Chafee has always struck me as a decent sort, someone who was a Republican pretty much because he was born into it, and not out of conviction. His refusal to endorse George Bush during the last election and his early opposition to the war in Iraq are testament to that; I would rather be represented by him than Joe Lieberman any day.

But I think any decision by him to switch parties comes three days too late and a dollar short. We could have used him the last six years, but now that he lost his seat, what difference does it make what party he belongs to?

November 09, 2006

Phoenician Update: Tony Blair doesn't go on trial until January, according to the Channel 4 website. We Americans will have to wait awhile longer....

November 08, 2006

One day after forcing out L.A. Times editor Dean Baquet, the Tribune Company now faces a joint takeover effort by local billionaires Ron Burkle and Eli Broad. They would also become owners of the Chicago Cubs, btw.
All in all, not a bad night for California Dems. Schwarzenegger won, but he was expected to, and he's sui generis in any event. I voted for Angelides, more out of a sense of duty and partisan loyalty than anything else, but the California Democratic Party has the potential to become as corrupt and calcified as the national Republicans (as would be attested by our disastrous Insurance Commissioner nominee; not even I could stomach voting for Bustamante), and I know of few people who are heartbroken over Ahnolt's reelection. Surprisingly, Schwarzenegger's victory was narrower than Gray Davis' win over Dan Lundgren eight years ago.

Besides those two position, the Democrats won all other statewide offices by margins more comfortable than expected, and the bond measures supported by the governor and legislative leaders passed easily. The party maintained comfortable majorities in both houses of the legislature, losing only one seat in the State Senate and none in the Assembly (thank you, Michael Berman !!), and Diane Feinstein breezed to reelection; in fact, her opponent may be the first Republican Senate candidate since forever not to break 50% in the O.C.. I would have liked to see Props 87 and 89 pass, but those are the breaks, I guess....
Differing takes on the 2008 battle for the U.S. Senate, here and here. Three Republicans (Warner, Domenici and Stevens) are close to retirement, two (Coleman and Smith) represent Blue States, one (Allard) is in the Red State that has moved most sharply to the left over the past six years, and one (Collins) is the Republican most likely to switch parties in the aftermath of last night. Of the Democrats, two (Landrieux and Johnson) have to be considered in a fair amount of trouble, and two (Kerry and Biden) have Presidential hopes, although both would likely be replaced by a Democrat. Twenty-one of the thirty three Senate seats are held by Republicans, so the prospects for increasing our majority are quite favorable.

Anyone who wants the new Democratic majority to spend the next two years refighting the first half of the decade is an idiot. Maybe the newbies aren't "conservative" in the classical sense, but the majority in either house of Congress isn't enough to pass whatever grand progressive vision we might have, much less override a veto. The Democrats have a majority because the voters in the Midwest and Northeast turned virulently anti-Republican, and because Howard Dean and his allies in the blogosphere demanded the party pursue a 50-state strategy, not because of some panacea offered by our party. The next two years will be tough enough, thank you.

If you want the party to be more militant, run for office yourself. Or perhaps actually get someone elected, rather than riding on Rahm Emmanuel's and Chuck Schumer's coattails or whining about how the party stabbed poor Ned Lamont in the back. It's thanks to you guys that we now have to spend the next two years kissing up to that pisher Joe Lieberman, hoping that we don't say something that sends him into the arms of the GOP.
With the networks now calling Montana for Tester, and Webb continuing to lead Allen by a slight but significant margin in Virginia, Democratic prospects to capture the Senate as well as the House seem imminent. The thing that strikes me about the last night's results is how regional the GOP now is. Only five of the House pick-ups (and possibly one in the Senate) came in the South, and two of those seats were in districts (KY-3 and FL-22) that Kerry and Gore captured in the past two Presidential elections. Two other seats (FL-16 and TX-22) were directly attributable to scandal-ridden incumbents resigning after winning their primaries, preventing the Republicans from putting a new candidate on the ballot, leaving only Heath Shuler's win in NC-11 as an example of the Democrats going into a Red District in Dixie and emerging victorious.

It was the rest of the country that rejected Republicanism. More than half of the gains in the House came in states the Democrats have won in either of the past two Presidential elections. The key to Republican dominance since 1994 has been to maintain a sizable contingent of Congressmen representing suburban and exurban districts in the North and Midwest, buttressing the party base in the Old Confederacy. That contingent doesn't exist anymore, certainly not after last night; George Bush and Karl Rove have now scared away conservative and centrist voters from every section of the country, and the few that remain, like Christopher Shays, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Susan Collins, are going to be the ones most likely to switch parties in the near future. The post-2006 Republican Party is the least national party since the post-Reconstruction Democratic Party

November 07, 2006

Democrats win the Big Enchillada tonight. At least one House of Congress will be in the hands of the Democrats, a prospect that would have been unthinkable after the gloom of two years ago, and win significant pick-ups at the statehouse level as well. Only the Senate is too close to call.

Winning the House is everything. The center of GOP power since 1994, seemingly protected by a firewall of gerrymandered districts, has been busted up, and although many of tonight's winners will face some difficult partisan arithmetic in the future, the Republican Aura of Invincibility has been shattered. Even if we fall short in the remaining Senate races, the next two cycles disfavor the Republicans, where they will have to defend forty of the sixty-six seats.
Some very, very interesting exit poll commentary collected here. Karl Rove is going to have to work a double shift to screw us out of this election.
My sister informs me that at her polling place in Los Feliz, none of the pollworkers showed up this morning, leaving a stack of ballots to the elements. She's been waiting for an hour, with only her ingrained honesty preventing her from swinging this election to Phil Angelides...vote for Debra Bowen, please !!!

November 06, 2006

Some late polls by Polimetrix, which seem to indicate that the Democrats are close to capturing the Senate tomorrow night. Although these polls are consistent with the other snapshots, a glaring exception is in Connecticut, where it has Lamont pulling within four points of Lieberman.
Pond scum.
Meteor Bowl: In college football parlance, a "meteor bowl" is any game between two schools you hate, with the optimal result being that a meteor crash into the stadium and destroy both teams. For a USC fan, it would be Notre Dame-UCLA; for an Aggie Fan, it's Texas-Oklahoma; Auburn fans view the Alabama-Georgia game with that sort of venom.

For me, it's the Senate race in Connecticut. Each time I feel a sense of schadenfreude at the collapse of Lamont campaign, and the hubris of the netroots and the a-hole bloggers, I remember that there are real issues involved, issues concerning a war that Lieberman has publicly backed, and that St. Joseph's true colors have been revealed this year. His sense of entitlement to his Senate seat, his pompous sense of betrayal that his Senate colleagues would actually endorse their party's nominee after the primary, and his whiny outrage that Connecticut Democrats would actually want to hold him accountable for the thousands of deaths resulting from the war for which he has cheerled, reminds me why, in spite of what an empty, Mike Huffingtonesque suit that he is, Ned Lamont still must win, and why his incompetent campaign since winning the nomination is so painful.

The anger and hatred of Lieberman and his blogger foes has spiraled into a clusterfuck of unfathomable proportions, with each side surpassing the other on a daily basis. Better for the Democrats to pick up five seats on Tuesday than six.
In the wake of polls showing a late narrowing of the generic party gap, comes this even more demoralizing news: Dick Morris is predicting a Democratic landslide.

November 03, 2006

While the rest of the nation searches for signs as to the size of the Democratic wave on Tuesday, Republicans are doing relatively well in statewide elections in California. Schwarzenegger has a commanding lead in the race for governor, Poizner is coasting over Bustamante in the battle to be Insurance Commissioner, and the lieutenant governor's race, between current Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi and perennial statewide candidate Tom McClintock, is statistically even, according to the latest Field Poll. Democrats, however, are winning the other races by gaps exceeding the margins of error, and DiFi is set to win another lopsided election for U.S. Senate.
Remember Mahir? He's still around, talking about making a movie about his life, and suing Borat Sagdiyev for ripping off his character. For example, about the distinctive mustache:
I start first grow mustache, 10 or 15 year ago. Sometimes, I been no mustache. I'm male and mustache shows a male mature.
[link via Emmanuelle Richard]

UPDATE: Or maybe Mahir ripped off Borat...the controversy deepens.

November 02, 2006

A website dedicated to derailing the political career of former NFL bust Heath Shuler gets an interview with...Heath Shuler. [link via Deadspin]
A detailed breakdown of the battle for Congress, from Larry Sabato, here. [link via AmericaBlog]

November 01, 2006

Angelides has now moved past Lamont in the all-important battle for most embarassing performance by a Democrat in what is likely a very Blue Year. He now trails by 16 in the Field Poll, which has an almost uncanny certitude in picking California elections, while Lamont has pulled to within twelve in the Quinnipiac Poll, up from seventeen just last week. Most telling numbers: Angelides and Schwarzenegger are essentially tied in the Bay Area and among Latino voters, who are breaking heavily to Democrats in other races, and Schesinger's performance in the debates has not made an impact in the polls, as Republicans continue to back Lieberman.

October 31, 2006

Whatever marginal effect the Kerry crack about Bush, lousy study habits and military service might have on the election next week, the one thing I think you can safely assume is that his 2008 prospects are now dead. He had already developed a well-deserved rep for being someone who doesn't think before he speaks (ie., "I voted for it before I voted against it"), and to a Democratic electorate that desperately wants to win next time, the fear that our prospects will be at the mercy of the next time the junior Senator from Massachusetts wants to "crack a joke" will be too much. He had his chance, and considering the inherent advantages the GOP had in the last election, he didn't do that badly, but after today, he stinks of defeat.

And it's not exactly unprecedented, as this column about a former GOP governor with a propensity for making bizarre, off-the-cuff statements attests. Just as no one seriously thinks that John Kerry believes that all American soldiers are morons, no one believed in 1967 that George Romney was "brainwashed" into supporting the Johnson Administration's policies in Vietnam. In the end, it didn't matter.
Cravenness, thy name is Halperin....
"Lieberman Is a Broken Man": Three completely over-the-top, mouth-breathing posts on the "imminent demise" of St. Joe, here, here, and here. Why this race continues to draw so much blogospheric (oops, sorry, I meant to say "netroots") attention, as opposed to, say, the closer race in Arizona (you know, the one where the Democratic nominee might actually win) escapes me. I would vote for Lamont in a heartbeat, but the biggest reason he's losing isn't that the national party "stabbed him in the back," but that he's the liberal version of Michael Huffington.
Wake me in April: The NBA season starts tonight.
Instapundit approvingly links to a blog accusing John Kerry of treason...believe it or not, he's a law professor, albeit of an SEC school. But if that sort of partisan negativity isn't your cup of tea, meet Kevin Wiskus, formerly a Republican state legislative candidate in Iowa, who left the party after it sponsored what he thought was a sleazy negative ad against his opponent. He's now running as an independent.

October 28, 2006

From Real Madrid to...Carson? According to one London tab, that's the plan for David Beckham.

October 27, 2006

It's not as bad as driving an Osamamobile, but my beerbaby may be taking its toll on my gasoline budget.
Is Bob Corker gay? Josh Marshall and James Wolcott attempt to solve one of the beguiling mysteries of the bitter Senate race in Tennessee.

October 25, 2006

After this, can we ever believe anything again?
Too late for Vito Spatofore: New Jersey State Supreme Court strike down laws prohibiting same-sex couples from having same rights as married couples.

October 24, 2006

Dems breathe a sigh of relief, as Dick Morris now calls the battle for control of Congress a "toss-up."

October 23, 2006

Nothing in the blogosphere is as tedious and banal as the post accusing some villain de jour (Bush, Lieberman, Rather, etc.) of "lying." It is to the discredit of the medium that we so wilfully confuse disagreement with dishonesty, and in so doing, cheapen the epithet.

But Jim Ryun is a liar.

October 20, 2006

Nedrenaline: Ned Lamont is officially getting his ass kicked, and Kos is batshit crazy if he sees good news in this post-debate poll. Lamont is now getting clobbered by a larger margin than Phil Angelides, and Angelides hasn't had any "netroots" support.

October 19, 2006

Cardinal Hastert is about to have his hands full again, this time with a colleague from his homestate.
The Canary in the Coalmine:
The number of Californians who are significantly behind on their mortgage payments and at risk of losing their homes to foreclosure more than doubled in the three months ended Sept. 30, providing the latest evidence of trouble in the housing market, figures released Wednesday show.

Lenders sent out 26,705 default notices — the first step toward a foreclosure — during the July-to-September period, up from 12,606 during the same quarter in 2005, according to DataQuick Information Systems.


(snip)

Foreclosures are rare when the housing market is strong and prices are rising. In those conditions, borrowers can usually sell their homes quickly, or they have enough equity to allow them to refinance their loans. But in another disquieting sign, DataQuick reported that 19% of the owners who went into default earlier in the year actually lost their homes to foreclosure in the third quarter, more than triple the 6% in 2005.

(snip)

The softening of the housing market was the trigger, as new homeowners with little or no equity in their properties found themselves unable to sell at a high enough price to pay off the balance of the loan and still cover all of the sale expenses.

"Whereas a year ago, people could have put their house on the market and sold their way out of the problem, now they're stuck with the house," said Richard Pittman, housing services coordinator for credit counselor ByDesign Financial Solutions in Los Angeles.
--Los Angeles Times (10/19/20)

We caught a break last year when the housing market didn't collapse, in conjunction with the anticipation of the apocolyptic bankruptcy law. YBK was limited in its impact to borrowers and credit card companies, not homeowners, many of whom were able to stave off the trip to the courthouse by refinancing in the twilight days of the housing boom. Those people who are now threatened with the foreclosure of their homes will be visiting my office soon, as well as the offices of other bankruptcy attorneys (oops, my bad: other "debt relief agencies"), but without the protections Chapter 7 and 13 debtors had under the old law.

And as a consequence, more people will lose their homes in the end to foreclosure, which will further depreciate the value of real estate, which will suck even more money out of the economy.

October 18, 2006

Twas a good feeling while it lasted, but now I'm afraid the Democrats are officially screwed.
Huh? Hoping to move out of the long shadow of UCLA, the Trojans have offered a basketball scholarship to freshman guard Dwayne Polee, Jr. Oops, I should note that Dwayne Polee, Jr. is a freshman in high school, a 14-year old who has yet to play a game in high school.

October 16, 2006

The Worst Case Scenario for Saint Joe: Ned Lamont gave a substantive performance in the debate this afternoon, and Alan Schlesinger showed himself to be a credible alternative. [link via MyDD]
Who knew you could be too racist for Fox?
Jumpergate [Part Trois]: The continuing clusterfuck that is the movie Jumper...two months after they swatted down rumors that Teresa Palmer would be fired, and after a month of shooting in Canada, they have now indeed fired the Grudge 2 starlet, replacing her with someone named Rachel Bilson. Regardless of what your feelings are about Hollywood or actors, this is not the way you treat people.

October 15, 2006

What liberal media? The L.A. Times comes out against a tax increase on oil companies to fund alternative energy research, against a one-fifth of one percent increase on the state corporate tax to publicly fund elections, and endorses the reelection of Arnold Schwarzenegger. Each day it becomes more and more like the Wall Street Journal editorial page....

October 13, 2006

Lipscombing, Part trois:
"MacPherson, a former staff writer for the Washington Post and a past Pulitzer nominee, devoted more than a decade to creating this biography with exceptional rigor, devotion and fairness."
--Joe Conason, reviewing Myra MacPherson's biography of I.F. Stone in Salon. This website seems to imply that she was "nominated" for having written the 1984 book, Long Time Passing, but the Pulitzer website does not indicate she was a nominated finalist in either 1984 or 1985. (See here and here for other examples of this sad form of journalistic resume-padding)
Not All Wars: Mad Max grants Jews absolution for Biafran conflict and the War of Jenkins' Ear.
Air America goes double touthpix.

October 11, 2006

Kos is right about this. Transfering title in real property between yourself and an LLC you control is routine, and it's hard to decipher what the point of this piece was supposed to be.
For want of an "L"....

October 10, 2006

A good, if somewhat credulous, look at the GOP GOTV (that's "Get Out the Vote") effort in California. Schwarzenegger's election is in the bag, in large part because he metamorphed into the most liberal governor the state has had since Pat Brown. In reality, it's because after last year's debacle, he has been the weakest governor the state has had since Goodwin Knight, a caretaker celebrity pol who is essentially the sockpuppet of the State Legislature. After a dreadful, stupid four months of campaigning, Angelides seems to be recovering a little at the end, with a good debate performance last Saturday and a nice ad (finally) giving the base a positive reason to vote for him. But he'll lose, and most Democrats won't lose sleep over having a weak lame duck in the governor's mansion for four more years, especially if it means electing Villaraigosa (or Newsom) to a term when redistricting will be on the docket.

The most recent polls show some close races downticket, but no GOTV effort is going to elect Republicans to the other offices without a dramatic change in the political dynamic, and none of the factors that made it so pivotal in Ohio in 2004 are present here. Their one chance is to hope liberals aren't motivated to vote this year, a vain hope that probably vaporized when Mark Foley sent his last I.M.
Between 420,000 and 790,000 655,000 Iraqi dead, according to the Lancet.
The visual effects at the beginning are real disturbing, as you might expect, but here's a classic one shot group from forty years ago:
What is it about Joe Lieberman that turns the lefty blogosphere into the world's most petulant W.A.T.B.'s? Hat's off to Saint Joseph, if he ends up winning this thing; he's turned the anger and rage of his enemies into his greatest strength (although this is a nice ad). It helps, obviously, to be able to campaign against an opponent whose an empty suit. Expect to see more post-primary rematches in the future, especially in solid Blue or Red States.
Our long national nightmare is over.
Little Green Futbols
After a brief exile, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist (and former blogger) Michael Hiltzik is back covering hard news at the LA Times. I still think his future is on the Op-Ed page. [link via Brady Westwater]
The best rundown on Foleybate comes, unexpectedly, from John Podheretz:
THIS column is directed entirely to the sleazy, scuzzy, unprincipled and entirely Machiavellian Democratic political operative who helped design the careful plan resulting in the fingerprint-free leak of Mark Foley e-mails:

Bravo!

This whole Foley business is one of the most dazzling political plays in my or any other lifetime - like watching an unassisted triple play or a running back tossing a 90-yard touchdown pass on a double-reverse.

For reasons having to do almost entirely with funding the war in Iraq, I am profoundly concerned about the consequences of a Democratic takeover of the House of Representatives. But as a close student of American political gamesmanship, I so admire what you've accomplished that I almost have to root for a Democratic landslide in November.
He goes on to list nine reasons why. (link via Scoobie Davis)

October 09, 2006

Ouch !!! Al Martinez takes on a local nutjob:
In the beginning, there was the word, then there was the newspaper, then television, then e-mail and today, lo, the blog.

When I first heard the term, I thought it defined a loathsome place of brackish water and quicksand where little children and lost drunks were swallowed up in the gooey mess, never to be heard of again.

One suspected that trolls could be seen around blogs, sneaking in and out of the surrounding underbrush, delighting in the agony they were witnessing.

Since then I have learned that, with some notable exceptions, blogs are largely the habitat of unemployed writers, enraged misanthropes, retired teachers, aging journalists and people who normally pass their time doodling or making obscene telephone calls.

(snip)

And then there is my old colleague Ken Reich.

He is proprietor of a blog he calls "Take Back the Times," which has to do with events that relate to journalistic and political issues, including whatever occurs at the newspaper that once employed him. Recently, he e-mailed me and sent along a posting he was planning to use that involved imaginative conversations with me and with filmmaker and antiwar activist Oliver Stone.

Stone doesn't require my representation in Reich's quaint but disquieting effort at satire, so I'll just leave him out of it and concentrate on the proposed blog's attitudes toward me. For instance:

"Q — What would you have done after 9/11?

"Martinez — Complimented Osama bin Laden on a well-planned operation and started trying to win him over by being nice to him
."

Another:

"Q — And what would you have done on Dec. 7, 1941, when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor?

"Martinez — Stood down the remaining ships of the U.S. Navy and offered Hirohito Hawaii as a personal possession in hopes the Japanese would be mollified
."

And:

"Q — Coming to the present day, what do you think of Saddam Hussein?

"Martinez — I like him personally
."

You get the idea.

Generally a pretty good reporter, Reich can be a little flaky sometimes, but this seemed over the top to me. He was implying that I would have applauded a murderer responsible for orchestrating the deaths of 3,000 human beings in the attack on the twin towers and the Pentagon, and of "liking" a man on trial for genocide. I e-mailed Reich to the effect that he was way off base.

Acknowledging my "unhappiness," he altered my responses in the final blog, the first quote changed to say, "I'm not fond of Osama bin Laden, but I wouldn't have confronted him in Iraq. Maybe, he'd be more pleasant if we were nicer to him."

And on Saddam Hussein: "I do not like him, personally. But I'm convinced, as Bob Woodward now apparently is, that the Iraq war was a mistake."

In my "answer" to the Pearl Harbor question, he becomes the narrator and concludes, "as far as the past is concerned, Martinez is not such a pacifist after all."

Although I appreciate Reich's effort to "soften" my fanciful responses, it would be wiser of him to offer his opinions in a form more in keeping with his style of bluster and to avoid satire; in other words, return to the bludgeon and leave the stylus to those more adept at using it.

October 06, 2006

Requiescat in pace: Buck O'Neil (1911-2006)
A happy 43rd birthday to Elizabeth Shue, who is not my fraternal twin, in spite of what you may think.

October 05, 2006

In defense of J.D. Drew, by King Kaufman.
As if we needed more reasons why there is an inherent conflict between good journalism and a profitable, publicly-traded corporation, there's this firing at the local paper of record.

October 04, 2006

Kerning with Boys: Not surprisingly, LGF defends Foley, Roger L. Simon wonders what the big deal is, Hugh Hewitt embraces the morally relativist approach and James Lileks believes hitting on teenage boys became more forgivable after September 11. Leave it to Michelle Malkin to be the Voice of Integrity on the Far Right.
"An important symbolic gesture?" Remember that border fence Congress authorized last week (and signed into law today by the President) amid much to do. Looks like it's going to get built roughly around the time that the Ninth Ward is finally repaired by the feds, or so says one of its prime supporters. It's funny, but last week the fence and the habeus corpus abolition were supposed to be the silver bullets that would sink the Democrats (link via Charles Kuffner), and now they're just commas.
The Trinity: Photographic evidence that Jesus loves me...

October 03, 2006

Requiem for the Other Man on the Medal Stand:

"His role was to show everyone that it's not a black thing, it's a human thing. It's not about colour, it's not about, you know, wealth or lack of wealth, it's about having an understanding and love for humanity. You know, it's two black guys, but it was three human beings up there, total."

--John Carlos

"...as a humanitarian, one of the greatest men I've ever know. And I think the love of what he stood for will be remembered throughout all time. And Peter certainly should be put on the top of a gold medal stand and not on the bottom...."

--Tommie Smith

"It was like a pebble into the middle of a pond, and the ripples are still traveling."

--Peter Norman (1942-2006)
Every four years Californians are treated to a governor's race featuring some of the most inept campaigning this side of Robert Shrum, and this year is no exception. Since Pete Wilson and Dianne Feinstein battled it out in 1990 in one of the closest races in history, the losing candidates in the Golden State have been Kathleen Brown (1994), who started out the race twenty points ahead of Gov. Wilson, only to somehow run out of money with ten days to go, thereby forcing her to go dark on any last-second media buys, Dan Lundgren (1998), who managed to lose to Gray Davis by an even larger margin than Brown had four years earlier, Bill Simon (2002), who lost to Davis even though the governor was so unpopular that the recall efforts would begin almost the day after, and now Phil Angelides.

Angelides may take the cake as the most inept nominee of a major party ever to seek the governorship; the only campaign that really comes close would be Pat Brown's effort against Ronald Reagan in 1966, and even that has to be seen in the context of his having won twice before. Right now, Schwarzenegger is clobbering him by anywhere from ten to seventeen points, according to whichever poll you believe, but more troubling may be the anemic showing of other Democrats seeking statewide office (see here and here), most of whom are not being challenged by charismatic and/or liberal Republican opponents.

Angelides' ineptitude is of the quality that one begins to wonder how he can be removed from the ballot, if only to save the party from a monumental debacle in five weeks. Schwarzenegger has labeled him a traditional "tax-and-spend" liberal, which isn't shocking; what's shocking is that the only response from the Democrat has been to air ads that replay the governor's endorsement of President Bush two years ago, a strategem that has almost no effect on swing voters. The voters will give liberal candidates some benefit of the doubt if, at the very least, they connect tax increases with tangible governmental results. But if Angelides supports universal health coverage, or rebuilding the levees in the Central Valley, or lowering teacher-student class sizes in public schools, that message hasn't gone out to the voters. He has yet to give anyone a positive reason to vote for him, a rationale for why the voters would benefit by having him assume office in December.

Moreover, he has generated almost no passion at the "netroots" level, which is even more surprising considering how many important bloggers are from this state. The sort of intensity that is endemic when the blogs focus on a particular race has been absent here, even though California is the largest state, and the enthusiasm that the internet can generate is absolutely necessary in mobilization. As a consequence, low voter turnout by California Democrats may very well lead to a disaster on Election Day, both at the state level and in the battle to take control of the House of Representatives.
Mickey Kaus has reason to believe that the GOP may well retain the Foley seat. The most interesting thing about the poll is that 43% of the voters in the district would vote for Foley even before being told that his votes would be transferable to the Republican replacement.

October 02, 2006

Some interesting ties between Cong. Foley and the Church of Scientology, courtesy of Wonkette.
Ladies and gentlemen, our scandal du jour is Foleygate, not Predatorgate. In order for the "-gate" suffix to properly identify a scandal that will transcend partisan and ideological interest, without first glazing over the eyes of those who aren't politically-obsessed, it has to start with a banality(eg., Water-gate, Monica-gate, Contra-gate, etc.) When you start it with a loaded term, you run the risk of killing the outrage, as liberals did when they began calling the Plame Leak controversy, "Traitorgate". If the word that precedes "-gate" is inherently criminal, there's no point in using the suffix in the first place.

UPDATE: Some particularly sloppy usage, here. "Spitgate"? Donnez moi une break !!

UPDATE [10/3]: But this is a winner--La Cage Aux Foley, courtesy of Little Green Firedogs.

October 01, 2006

A "No brainer" indeed: So much for the claim that Democratic opposition to Schwarzenegger's reapportionment scheme would backfire...with Angelides cratering and a singularly undistinguished set of statewide candidates indicating that the Golden State may countertrend towards the GOP, Pelosi's gambit last year may be what assures the party of a majority of House seats after November 7.
More Perverts? The Page Scandal has all the makings of the GOP version of the House Bank Scandal, a very simple, easy-to-understand symbol of the corruption at the heart of one-party dominance. If "Republican Congressman" becomes synonymous with "Catholic Priest" in causing a shudder in our collective subconscious, the party may be doomed.

September 28, 2006

Hagler v. Hearns II? No, it's Kaus v. Alterman at bloggingheads, here.
Confessions of a Moonie Troll: I just had my maiden cite by Wonkette !!! It concerns the allegations contained in these posts, which apparently the author was none too happy about. Yay me !!!
The Loyal Opposition:
So here's a bill that Arlen Specter says "will take our civilization back 900 years." A bill which Patrick Leahy calls "the darkest blot on the conscience of the nation." And yet the Democrats do nothing effective to stop it--when all that would have been required was to move it (as the wiretap bill was moved) past the end of this session.

In The Wild Bunch, Deke Thornton (played by Robert Ryan) says to his band, "You think Pike and old Sykes haven't been watchin' us? They know what this is all about - and what do I have? Nothin' but you egg-suckin', chicken stealing gutter trash with not even sixty rounds between you... The next time you make a mistake, I'm going to ride off and let you die."

That about says it. For fear of being called weak the Democrats sat there and sucked eggs. There was an occasional burst of noble rhetoric, but no concerted effort or real opposition when it would have counted, and no political will to delay the juggernaut. Leahy said, "There is no new national security crisis. There's only a Republican political crisis." And, having said that, voted and lost.

Should we ride off the next time the Democratic Party makes a "mistake" of this magnitude? Or should we ride off right now?
-Howard A. Rodman (Huff Post)