June 10, 2006

Trinidad & Tobago 0, Sweden 0: In my Idiot's Guide, I compared T&T to the play-in team at the NCAA Tournament, while Sweden was this year's CAL, a bland, boring team that shows up with the belief that they can win a game or two, but has no serious shot at ever contending for the title. Today, even playing a man up the entire second half, the Swedes seemed to play like Ben Braun was calling plays on the sidelines. A gutty, wonderful draw by the Soca Warriors.
Much of the conservative commentary on last Tuesday's special election in San Diego has the feel of someone whistling past the graveyard. This article gives a much better sense of what the significance of Bilbray's narrow victory, but I think it bears noting that for the second time in nine months, a special election took place in a heavily Republican district, and the GOP candidate failed to crack 50% against an underfunded Democrat.

As far as the race being a test of the immigration issue, the result should be chastening for any Republican who wants to pursue the nativist bloc. If any district should have been ripe for this issue, it was the 50th; a largely white, upper/upper-middle class suburban community north of San Diego, where the Republicans have an partisan edge, and the Democratic opponent had clumsily gaffed on the issue of documentation in the final week of the campaign. If the best the xenophobes can do in a district like this is win by less than 4 points, the resonance of the issue can be called into question.

In a normal year, or even in a year that was mildly trending Democratic, like 1992 or 1998, this should have been a convincing win. It wasn't; Busby improved by almost ten points over her run in 2004, while Bilbray was down by the same amount from Duke Cunningham's performance, in spite of the large spending edge. The LA Times (and Mickey Kaus) noted that two other candidates siphoned off about 5% of the vote, but those same two parties took 3% of the vote in 2004, and even assuming that every additional voter those candidates received would have voted for Bilbray, an improbable scenario given the psychology of third party voters, it still would have left him with barely 51% of the vote, well behind even the mediocre showing the President received in the district (in a state where he didn't campaign) last time.
Did someone order a pizza? Togo soccer skipper Otto Pfister has resigned, three days before his squad plays its World Cup opener against South Korea. For those of you who want to see how well a country you've never heard of plays without a manager with the name of a gay porn star, set your TiVo for 6:00 a.m. Tuesday.
England 1, Paraguay 0: Yawn. England's best team in 40 years took a quick lead, off a David Beckham-directed own goal. Nothing happened thereafter. The win probably puts England into the second round, and reduces the need to use Wayne Rooney any earlier than necessary.

I doubt I'm going to be able to do this for every game....

June 09, 2006

Ecuador 2, Poland 0: For some reason, the Poles were favored. Other than the home crowd advantage accruing from playing in a neighboring country, it's hard to see why. Poland didn't do anything in the last World Cup, other than defeating an American team that was clearly overconfident, didn't qualify for Euro 2004, and they qualified for this Cup from a very easy group; in fact, the other good team in that group, England, beat them twice. And yet they were picked to finish second in the group, and were even seen as possibly threatening the Germans for the top.

On the other hand, coming into the W.C. Ecuador was dissed as a lightweight, a team that took advantage of altitude to create an overwhelming home field advantage in qualifying, but their road losses to Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay, the other qualifiers from South America, were by one goal each; I think it's safe to say that it would be hard for most of the teams in this tournament to beat Brazil and Argentina at home, then go to Buenos Aires or Sao Paulo and lose by a single goal. Like Poland, Ecuador went 1-2 in 2002, but they were in all three matches, and their final win, over Croatia, eliminated a semifinalist from the previous tournament. One would think being the third best team from South America would have earned them some respect.

Anyway, Poland hit the post a bunch of times, but were otherwise listless, and Ecuador can probably advance to the next round with a win over Costa Rica next week. I have a couple of friends who are Ecuadorian, so congrats to them.
Germany 4, Costa Rica 2: Impressive start to the Cup. The Costa Ricans, badly outclassed, nevertheless refused to play cynically, and although the Germans sometimes cut through their defense like a knife through butter, managed to keep the game in doubt until the end. The hosts outshot the Ticos 24-4, but were stunned by two breakaway goals by Paulo Wanchope. The Germans, playing without the injured Michael Ballack, didn't ice the game until a spectacular 35-yard blast by Torsten Frings in the final three minutes. Incidentally, Wanchope attended Vincent Memorial High School in Calexico, where he was the 1994 California Division V player of the year in basketball.
Matthew Yglesias has an interesting World Cup-related query for the Far Right....
With the World Cup starting in nine hours, here's Deadspin's list of blogs, both MSM and off-beat, dedicated to the El Copa Mundial, and a useful primer from the local paper (did you know Brazil has a player with the one-word nom de guerre, "Fred"?). Steve Gilliard, lefty blogosphere's biggest soccer obsessive, will no doubt be posting frequently on the topic. And of course, there's my Idiot's Guide to the Cup, here.

June 08, 2006

Mr. Kournikova Gets Promoted !!!
Had a very weird and frightening dream last night. I woke up with a start in the wee hours of the morning, and my imaginary girlfriend, Charlize Theron Princess Madeline Maria Sharapova, asked me what was wrong. I told her I had just had a very bizarre dream, and it was troubling me. She said that it's good to talk about these things, and that she might be able to help.

So I told her about my dream: that I was on my computer, and had just spent an entire day on Blogger without having a single problem posting or logging on. Maria just looked at me and said, sympathetically, "Ah, honey, we all have dreams like that. You just have to let it go."

In the meantime, here's a preview of what we can expect in the NBA Finals, starting tonight.

June 07, 2006

As I noted several days ago, a possible defense of right wing flack Thomas Lipscomb's claim to being a "Pulitzer Prize nominee" is that since the Pulitzer website only lists "Nominated Finalists", those writers who were merely "nominated" aren't included. Of course, since anyone can nominate anybody for a Pulitzer, boasting about that kind of "nomination" is a joke, and far more disingenuous than anything Lipscomb is accusing Senator Kerry of having done. It would be like Lyndon LaRouche claiming that he was a Democratic nominee for the Presidency, simply because a delegate voted for him at the convention.

And sure enough, someone is now making that defense of Lipscomb. The Swift Boat controversy is a stupid one for the Far Right to be refighting. When bloggers were initially dismissed as pajama-wearing nerds at the outset of the forged documents imbroglio involving 60 Minutes II, it was in large part due to the then-recent Swift Boat controversy, after the allegations made by bloggers defending the Swifties collapsed and were discredited once the mainstream media belatedly investigated. The Swift Boat allegations became a blogospheric disgrace, and helped solidify the reputation that all bloggers, right and left alike, were more interested in winning ideological and partisan battles than discovering the truth.

Lipscomb's credibility on the topic is therefore important. There are no permalinks in his column, so he's requesting that his readers take his accusations against Senator Kerry and the New York Times on faith. Most of the people who read his piece, or read summaries of his piece at other blogs, are not going to be able to go back and do the necessary research on what the public record actually says about whether the Senator contributed to action reports whilst in Vietnam, for example. Lastly, the entire point to his, and other, attacks on the service record of John Kerry is the claim that the Senator exaggerated his military record. It therefore ill-behooves Lipscomb to be exaggerating his own credentials as a journalist.

Claiming that his previous investigations “earned him a Pulitzer Prize nomination” gives the false impression that his work was peer-reviewed and found to be meritorious. At the very least, it calls into question the reliability of his research, and the blind citation of his work discredits the credibility of the blogosphere.

[UPDATE]: Mickey Kaus was not the only blogger to have been conned. Michelle Malkin, Powerline, Democracy Project, Instapundit, Free Republic and Tom Maguire were also hoodwinked, although only Captain Ed was gullible enough (along with the aforementioned U.S. News and Liz Smith) to regurgitate the Pulitzer claim.

June 06, 2006

More perspective on Thomas Lipscomb's bogus Pulitzer "nomination":
One of the editors dropped by with a list of pieces I might want to submit for a Pulitzer. That’s right! I’ve been nominated for a Pulitzer! Along with a ham sandwich a piece from the Chancre Falls Fistula-Gleaner on the peculiar nomenclature of “twice-baked potatoes.” (I mean, what do you get when you microwave them? Three-time baked potatoes? What’s up with that?) Anyone can be nominated. He handed me a print out of my story slugs and asked me to make a few recommendations. Apparently I wrote 174 stories for the paper last year. They want the top 12. Can’t wait for next year, when I’ll have to choose from 312. (emphasis added)
--noted lefty James Lileks [link via Tristram Shandy]

June 05, 2006

Everything about the new bankruptcy law detailed here is true: the impractical and irrelevant hoops debtors have to jump through, the "credit counseling" that's next to worthless, the byzantine language judges are trying to interpret, the higher fees lawyers are charging everyone, the luxury car/vacation home "exception" to the means test, etc. Filings, at least for now, are way down, but that's largely because everyone who was even close to thinking about bankruptcy filed last October. Simply put, a stupid, evil law....
Huh? Mickey Kaus approvingly links this morning to one Thomas Lipscomb on the Swift Boat allegations from two years ago, calling him "the nation's leading expert on why not all of the Swift Boat veteran allegations against Senator John Kerry are discredited." The column in question states that Mr. Lipscomb has been "nominated for a Pulitzer for his reporting on Kerry during the 2004 elections." Wow, and I always thought the allegations attacking Senator Kerry's war record had been discredited...but since it turns out the person investigating those allegations had been nominated for the highest award given to journalists in this country, we should all have second thoughts on the traitorous coward who almost became our Commander in Chief....

One problem: the Pulitzer Prize website actually lists the people and newspapers who were nominated in 2004, 2005 and 2006, and Mr. Lipscomb's name appears...nowhere. [link via Pamela Leavey] In fact, if you search the Pulitzer archives, not only has Thomas Lipscomb never been a nominated finalist, no one with that last name has been so honored, nor was anyone else for "reporting on Kerry during the 2004 election". According to the website:
Nominated Finalists are selected by the Nominating Juries for each category as finalists in the competition. The Pulitzer Prize Board generally selects the Pulitzer Prize Winners from the three nominated finalists in each category. The names of nominated finalists have been announced only since 1980. Work that has been submitted for Prize consideration but not chosen as either a nominated finalist or a winner is termed an entry or submission. No information on entrants is provided.
OK, so maybe Lipscomb was an "entrant" for the 2004 Pulitzer Prize. To be an entrant, you have to fill out the entry form, and anyone who has published something in a daily newspaper is eligible. Although "many newspapers prefer to submit entries of particular staff members or achievements," that doesn't matter, since the nomination can be "made by newspaper readers or an interested individual." For example, the brilliant writer who penned this Op-Ed piece for the L.A. Times last October, on the YBK problem, could have feasted on the reflected glory of the most prestigious prize in American letters, had he simply sat down and taken five minutes to fill out the application, and sent it out with the warmest regards to the Nominating Jury. And, best of all, its free it only costs $75.

So I suppose it would be like Jennifer Lopez claiming she was "nominated" for an Oscar for her work in Gigli. Her name wasn't one of the five contenders rattled off on the last Sunday in February, but I'm sure someone (her publicist?) voted for her. It's a neat, harmless way of building up your resume, in much the same way that Tookie Williams was a Nobel Peace Prize "nominee" (actually, it is even less impressive than those two examples, since the Oscar and the Nobel have closed nomination processes). What it has to do with the truth, however, is anyone's guess.

UPDATE: Apparently the Pulitzer nomination claim is an ongoing part of Lipscomb's reputation. Both the U.S. News & World Report and columnist Liz Smith have cited his "nomination" in recent articles about his latest bit of investigative reporting, into the alleged tampering of the Zapruder Film.