February 11, 2006

The worst person in sports, and perhaps in a whole realm of endeavors, is Dick Pound, the autocrat charged with running the World Anti-Doping Agency. Case in point: yesterday's one-year suspension of American medal hopeful in the skeleton, Zach Lund. Mr. Lund was booted out of the Olympics following detection of the anti-baldness medication, Propecia, after a blood test last November. Propecia has an ingredient that can be used to mask steroid use, although it would take an intake of massive proportions for it to have that intended effect.

And Lund, 26, is clearly an individual who has reason to take the drug, a conclusion reflected in the Court for the Arbitration of Sports, which upheld the penalty in spite of issuing a finding Lund to "be an honest athlete, who was open and frank about his failures", and ruling that "it was entirely satisfied that Mr Lund was not a cheat". In fact, Lund had disclosed his use of the drug for some five years before the hammed came down this time, and it took more than a year for the drug screeners to even find the trace amounts of the masking ingredient in his system.

Enter Mr. Pound, whose previous notoriety on this site came last summer, in his role in backing a fraudulent attempt to "test" Lance Armstrong, as well as his frequent attacks on the sports of baseball, soccer, and ice hockey for not dishing out lifetime bans to first-offenders. Pound, exulting over his ability to crush the dreams of an athlete over a technicality, stated that whether or not Lund was a cheat was beside the point:
There have to be other treatments for hair loss, for hair replacement, than stuff that is a masking agent — that are on the prohibited list. I think he was lucky to get one year, frankly. (emphasis mine)
Damned lucky, I'd say; now he won't miss any big competitions in 2007.

In addition to being a clueless asshole, Pound may have done more than anyone to completely discredit his movement for the public to take performance-enhancing drugs in sports seriously. If Lund is not a cheat, if he's taking Propecia to stop male-pattern baldness, without the high blood pressure side effects that other drugs (like Rogaine) have, and not to mask the use of anabolic steroids, which is what the regulation is designed to stop, he shouldn't receive any suspension, much less one that will take him out of a competition he's spent his lifetime gearing for. And he shouldn't have some smug little hitler suggesting that he should have gotten a hair transplant instead.

February 09, 2006

Reading between the lines of this story, I'd say that the police are looking into The Great One's role in the Tochet Ring, not whether his wife (ie., "actress" Janet Jones) was a degenerate gambler. That is to say, was Gretzky using his spouse to place his action the same way Pete Rose used various sleezeball friends to do the same. If that turns out to be the case, Gretzky's role as Canadian sporting icon and current head coach of an NHL team would take this story out of the curiosity file and into another galaxy altogether.

BTW, it's just a hunch, but what sort of odds do you think we might have a gambling ring, started by and including past members of the Philadelphia Flyers, and not hear the name of John LeClair coming up at some point? Interesting story, that....
LIBRARY TOWER "PLOT" FOILED !!! Or so you might believe if you've been asleep during the last four years. This sounds like more bullshit from the White House, like the use of illegal wiretaps to stop the Brooklyn Bridge "plot". If this is what the Bushies really fear, then they learned nothing from 9/11.

February 08, 2006

Is there anyone on this planet, with, let us say, an I.Q. over 80, who cares about who wins the Grammy Awards? Can anyone name who won "Best Song" last year? Who won "Best Record" (which, believe it or not, is a different category) two years ago? Is anyone's opinion of Neal Young going to change because he got his gold watch this year, rather than being honored back when he still made music people listened to?

Everyone has fun mocking some of the jokes that were declared the Best New Group (ie., the Milli Vanilli Award), but an even better exercise is to figure out who was sweeping the Grammys the year some seminal band or album broke through. 1956? Wasn't Elvis. 1964? Tain't the Beatles. Never Mind the Bullocks? In Utero? Forget it. But Christopher Cross cleaned up one year....
I suppose the most interesting thing about this story isn't that another celebrity couple has called it splitsville, but that, until recently, Ralph Fiennes was shacking up with a 61-year old woman. [link via Defamer]
Hero of the Day: Bankruptcy Judge Frank Monroe.
We're All Good Germans Now: This is the type of thing that makes me want to surrender my U.S. Passport. It's not that we have a government that would do such things, it's that most of the American public clearly doesn't give a damn. We're going to get blowback from Guantanamo and our other torture camps that would defy the imagination of Noam Chomsky.

UPDATE: A statistical breakdown of who is being held at G-mo, here. [link via TalkLeft]

February 07, 2006

Within the margin of error? According to the Cook Report, that's the likelihood of the Democrats retaking control of the House in November....
Mickey Kaus points to some interesting focus group data, which seems to suggest that Americans have returned to the historic fallback position of blaming black people for everything, this time concerning the damage caused by Hurricane Katrina. Kaus puts his annoying Lord Haw-Haw spin on the topic, but his underlying point is true: that no American political party can win at the ballot box if it relies on the compassion of the American public for the downtrodden. Ours is a selfish nation.

The individualism that fuels the American Dream requires some segment of the public to be exploited. Historically, that role has fallen upon African-Americans, although immigrant groups have also filled the role nicely, and it has been a cornerstone of conservative/libertarian political thought that they deserve their exploitation and poverty (nowadays, of course, it is spoken more in terms of code than in any explicit manner). The shocking scenes and wrenching poverty we witnessed from New Orleans last September temporarily jolted the public, but it takes a lot more than levees collapsing to change ingrained habits of many decades; urban slums, redlining, and "benign neglect" didn't go away just because of temporary outrage over Selma or Birmingham.

Poor people don't vote, at least not in numbers large enough to matter, and they don't otherwise impose their political will upon the rest of society. Their interests don't count, their voices are silent, and the liberal Democrats who represent them tend to do so as a matter of public charity, rather than as the type of constituent service most politicians perform. Events like the '92 riots in Los Angeles initially raise questions about what type of people we are to tolerate such poverty, but inevitably shift over time to what savages "those people" are. It's easier, and cheaper on the wallet, to dehumanize others, rather than actually doing something worthwhile on their behalf. It's the American Way, and liberals better understand that if they want to win elections in the Red States.

February 06, 2006

Eunochrats: The ever-excellent Digby, on the ruling party:

I've watched this invertebrate GOP caucus since 2000 as they submitted themselves to this lawless administration again and again, shredding every bit of self respect, every figment of institutional pride, every duty to the constitution. The look in their eyes, which is somehow interpreted as strong and defiant by the equally servile media, is actually a window to empty little men who have given up their manhood to oblige their master. The only reward they seek is unfettered access to the taxpayers money for their own use.

We are looking at fifty-five of the most powerful people in the country. Collectively the Republican Senators represent almost a hundred and fifty million citizens. And they have allowed a callow little boy like George W. Bush along with his grey eminineces Karl Rove and Dick Cheney to strip them of their consciences, their principles and their constitutional obligations. What sad little creatures, cowardly and subservient, unctuously bowing and scraping before Karl Rove the man who holds their (purse) strings and dances them around the halls of congress singing tributes to their own irrelevance at the top of their lungs. How pathetic they are.

Barry Goldwater is rolling over in his grave.

Read the whole thing. Unfortunately, there are 19 or so Democrats in the Senate who belie the notion that spinelessness in the face of power is a partisan affliction.
Free Press Kicks Ass: More Muhammed cartoons, here.