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.