May 25, 2007

A Farthing for Your Thoughts: Judging by her notoriety, as well as the fact that it's incredibly easy to win a libel suit in the U.K. (even Roman Polanski was able to win there), being awarded less than $6 thousand in damages seems almost insulting. I doubt Keira paid her attorneys less than that to prosecute the action in the first place.

May 24, 2007

Desperately trying to distract the attention of a rapt nation from today's volcano eruption, and/or the Stanley Cup Final starting on Monday (Go Ducks !!!) Mickey Kaus is now doing Immigration Reform 24-7, and asks:
Remember when the respectable, bipartisan policy types routinely tarred those who favored welfare reform as bigots who scapegoated blacks and the poor? That didn't really work for them in the end, did it?
Actually, for a long time, "welfare" really was a wedge issue, geared at scapegoating blacks and the poor, but mainly blacks; it was the focus of Reagan's 1976 challenge to Gerald Ford, and it was clear at the time that his intentions weren't to end a program that created stifling dependency and encouraged out-of-wedlock children, but to speak code to the party base. Since there wasn't any substance to his arguments, attempts to reform welfare went nowhere during Reagan's Presidency, in spite of his popularity. It wasn't until those who were sincere about the issue disassociated themselves from the bigots that welfare reform gained traction, and it wasn't until a sympathetic Democratic President got elected that any change in the system became possible.

I suspect that's why conservative opponents of illegal immigration are losing this argument. There may be a liberal argument for tightening the borders, based on protectionist sentiment or on opposition to using low-wage, low-skill immigrant workers to flatten wages, but it's the Tancredos and the Malkins of the world who get the attention. Having them on your side is not unlike having the Trotskyites at ANSWER be the ones organizing anti-war rallies. Sometimes you have to police your own ranks to purge the people who support your cause for the wrong reasons.
One of the pet gripes when I first started blogging five years ago was the lousy nature of ESPN Classic, so I would be remiss if I didn't mention that the station has actually gotten worse since then. It's gone from unimportant, unmemorable college games it aired because it happened to have them in the vault, to replays of bowling, poker, NASCAR and Arliss reruns. Jeez, the same people own ABC, so you'd think it wouldn't be a problem to show old Monday Night Footballs or Cosell-announced title fights, but apparently the folks there would rather own the distinction of broadcasting the world's worst cable channel.

May 23, 2007

USADA v. Landis: Reading between the lines, it's a fair bet to say that the prosecution has pretty much given up trying to justify the "science" behind the positive doping tests, or legitimate the procedures used by the various labs, and are instead trying to prove that because Floyd Landis' manager made a cruel phone call to a possibly unhinged witness, the 2006 Tour de France champion must have been on the juice. The LA Times headline, "Landis Asked About Wardrobe" (a reference about how a good deal of the cross-ex yesterday centered, swear to Kobe, on the color of tie Landis chose to wear last week), on a day when the prosecution had an opportunity to challenge his statements on direct about how he had never doped, but failed to do so, says about all we need to know about who has made the more persuasive case.

May 22, 2007

Joementum: Why does anyone take this story seriously? His departure won't switch control of the Senate (that was decided when the Senate voted to organize back in January, and it can't be undone unless the GOP can invoke cloture on a potential filibuster), and he rarely votes with the party when it counts anyways. He won office as an independent, so there's no moral claim that Democrats have on him to stay onboard. Reid should tell him to get lost, and not have the door hit his ass on the way out.

May 21, 2007

Some decent songs here, but frankly, Sugar Ray, Oasis, the Proclaimers and the Rembrandts were about as "alt-rock" as the Spice Girls. Sadly, Matthew Y.'s taste in music is as lily white as Augusta National.
More daily wisdom, from The Terrorist's Dictionary:
testify – verb

1. To fail to recall; forget.
2. To misremember.
3. To smile blandly.

May 20, 2007

A good, Kenneth Anger-esque primer on l'Affaire Pellicano, in of all places, the New York Times, here. Since his arrest on wiretapping charges a few years back, the raging juggernaut associated with the world's most infamous private detective was supposed to grind Hollywood's Power Elite into dirt, and it obviously hasn't turned out that way; the only people caught in the backdraft so far have been some peripheral figures, like a director and a couple of entertainment lawyers. No Bert Fields, no Michael Ovitz, no Tom Cruise; it's a bunch of nobodies, as far as the public can tell, which is far more interested in the trial of Phil Spector.

It's as if James McCord and John Dean had fallen on their swords in 1973, rather than bringing down the President. But the story is there, and this piece allows the outsider a chance to unlock the code, to see how the various pieces fit together, even if law enforcement can't figure out a way yet to build viable prosecutions against important Hollywood muckety-mucks. The recent revelation that Pellicano did a bit of work for producer Stephen Bing several years ago may revitalize the story, though, particularly as it may shift attention to work the detective allegedly did for certain friends of the Bing a few years before.

The article is co-written by Allison Hope Weiner, with whom I went to law school back in the day, and whose appearance on a panel before the LA Press Club on the "stalkerazzi" caused quite a buzz among the bloggers and freelancers in attendance (and it's already on YouTube; as far as her moot courts skills are concerned, she hasn't lost an inch off her fastball). It's a sign of how disinterested the local paper of record is in entertainment journalism that she's doing freelance work for the New York Times, rather than owning the same beat for the LA Times, but there you have it. She writes about The Business the way Bill James writes about baseball, with a take-no-prisoners approach and an unwillingness to be accept as gospel whatever cliche or cant is peddled. Back when she wrote for Entertainment Weekly, she was the sort of writer who would take a Hollywood "truism", like "all actresses are unemployable after they reach forty," or "bad reviews make no difference at the box office," and actually examine whether it's true. She'd make a kick-ass blogger, if she wanted to get her fingernails dirty and join the fray.
Wankers: It's not hard to see why so much of the punditocracy holds the blogosphere in such low esteem. From a Daily Kos post this morning, on what it described as a "love letter" by The Voice of the People to the Commander in Chief:
But Broder's admiration for these two men knows no bounds. They are "driven by the nightmare" of terrorist attacks that "armed both men with a conviction" to battle evil-doers. Blair spoke "brave words," while Bush "spoke from his heart." All this in the face of knowing the "awful price" that Blair has paid for standing with Bush, and even as Bush is "humiliated daily," by the press. The humanity.

And Bush is not only the victim of a vicious press corps:

...but also by the incompetence of his own appointees.
Why, the way Bush's adversaries act, you'd think that Bush was responsible for appointing the incompetent jackasses.

Broder finishes this love letter by saying:

History will record that both of them saw the threat to the West posed by terrorism and responded courageously.
Only if Broder writes the history books.
And here's how Broder actually concluded said "love letter":
While the American president cannot be forced out of office against his will, he can be humiliated daily -- not only by his political adversaries but also by the incompetence of his own appointees. While standing with Blair, Bush was asked about recent disclosures of the wayward actions of two of them, World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz and Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, and he responded lamely to both questions. The fragile structure of his administration makes Bush's bragging sound delusional. He told reporters that he and Blair have "filled a lot of space together," because "we have had a unique ability to speak in terms that help design common strategies and tactics to achieve big objectives."

History will record that both of them saw the threat to the West posed by terrorism and responded courageously. The wisdom of their policy and the conduct of their governments are not likely to be judged as highly. (Emphasis added)
It shouldn't be that hard to do a hatchet piece on David Broder without having to wilfully take his comments out of context. Most "love letters" I've read usually don't accuse the subject of being "delusional," or note that the subject "lamely" responded to tough questions. And they certainly never conclude with a judgment that history will not hold their actions in high regard.