December 15, 2007

Sometimes the only thing worse than an LA Times sports columnist is an LA Times columnist writing about sports in another section of the paper, as this gem proves. The most treacly form of journalism is the column that expounds on the sociological roots of a sport, and baseball has always been the beneficiary of every hackpiece glorifying the bucolic, elegiac nature of the National Pastime and its confrontation with the cold realities of our corrupt society.

Screw that. It's a game that's played for our entertainment, to the pecuniary benefit of a few. Great athletes bend the rules, sometimes illegally, but always for the purpose of obtaining a competitive advantage; to that extent, stretching the envelope is what separates the star from the journeyman. I am no more shocked that so many of the game's stars were on the "Juice," the "Cream" and/or the "Clear" than I am at finding out that the models in the Victoria's Secret catalogue have all had plastic surgery, mostly performed during their teen years, in order to create an ideal "look" that's entirely unnatural for women. I wouldn't inject steroids or HGH into my body for a million dollars (or, at least not without the supervision of a licensed physician), but I really don't care if another adult makes a different decision, and I will no more hesitate to follow a sport than I suspect a woman would hesitate to purchase a camisole because Giselle has fake boobs.

Of course, if the overlords of the sport don't wish for the game to become a spectacle of angry, musclebound sluggers with receding hairlines and shrinking genitalia, they are more than free to impose whatever punishments they can for such transgressions, and negotiate with the Players Union any tests through the collective bargaining mechanism. I have zero sympathy for any of the active players exposed this week, all of whom had a chance to refute the charges, but decided to stonewall the investigators instead. They have a Fifth Amendment right to remain silent, and I have a First Amendment right as a citizen to draw whatever conclusions I want from said silence. If, like Roger Clemens, they feel aggrieved that their good names have been slandered, well, to quote the wee lad Will Poulter from School of Comedy, "croi me a forking river !!!"

But don't ask to me feel ashamed that I felt electrified every time Eric Gagne came into the game for the Dodgers in the middle of this decade. As far as I'm concerned, performance-enhancing drugs in the context of team sports are no different than college athletes receiving under-the-table payments from boosters, or immigrants crossing over the border without a visa to feed their families. If you get caught, you should pay the penalty, but I'm not going to lose a minute of sleep over it. [link via Matt Welch]

December 14, 2007

Ban the Filibuster: What Yglesias said. As I noted two years ago, the best time to have done this was at the time then-Majority Leader Frist was threatening to abolish the practice in the context of judicial nominations, and had he been successful, the precedent to completely eliminate it would have been firmly established by now. But the Dems blinked, and short of some unlikely gains in the 2008 election, it is unlikely we will see the practice end.

December 13, 2007

When its HOF inductees next year include Madonna and Leonard Cohen, it's perhaps relevant to ask whether the term "rock and roll" has any real meaning anymore. But why quibble; the Hall had already inducted those noted rock stars Miles Davis and Joni Mitchell, and the DC-5 finally made it, apparently after having been fleeced last year. Enjoy:

Say it ain't so, Glenallen: The complete Mitchell Report on the use of the juice by major league baseball players, here. The list of players start on page 145.

My initial thought: it will be impossible to keep McGwire and Bonds out of the Hall of Fame, while allowing Roger Clemons in, after today. Since so many players are named, and since the former Democratic Majority Leader did a pretty effective job at spelling out the damning circumstantial case he had against the players who were named, and since the lack of cooperation from the Players Union indicates that the players named are only the tip of the iceberg (for example, neither Sammy Sosa nor Mike Piazza, among others, were named in the report), it's likely that the sheer numbers of suspected miscreants will dilute the anger against all of them, including the aforementioned Bonds. This will be an issue that will continue to be much more important among sportswriters than fans, much like college athletes getting paid under the table.

December 12, 2007

Hillary's the One: Sometimes I wish the former First Lady had kept to her initial inclination back in the mid-60's and stayed a standard-issue, downstate Illinois Republican. She certainly seems to share many of Tricky Dick's predilections.

December 11, 2007

Why not?

To the barricades !!!
TalkLeft has a useful summary up on the reaction to Barack Obama's apostacy on the High Priest of the Progressive Sanhedrin, Paul Krugman. He's a good columnist, and one of our most effective cheerleaders, and I'm certainly not going to quibble about his specific critiques of the Senator's health care plan; as a supporter of single payer, I think all of the prospective nominees' plans are crappy, but are redeemed only by the fact that they are potentially less crappy than the status quo.

But one of the things I used to love about Bill Clinton was his ring savvy. He could punch like Marciano when necessary, but also play use the four corners of the ring like Ali. After a generation of weak liberals going back to 1968, having a ruthless and cunning S.O.B. as the party's nominee was refreshing. And it wasn't just the "Sista Souljah" moment, either; turning the Gennifer Flowers story back on the accuser (thanks, Stuttering John) and executing Rickey Ray Rector let voters know that this wasn't Mike Dukakis. Clinton had a sense of what the public wanted, and he knew that it was more important that Rector was a cold-blooded cop killer before he became a drooling idiot, and that most voters secretly admire lotharios, particularly those who get away with it.

I have the impression that Obama may have those same qualities. He is now, for all intents and purposes, the Democratic frontrunner, which in this political climate makes him the person most likely to be our next President. He has quite ably turned aside the first counterattacks from the Clinton campaign, and in particular a whispering campaign by her minions about an alleged scandal. The lefty blogosphere is full of potential Sista Souljahs; the unmediated nature of this type of journalism all but invites wackjobs, and those will be easy pickin's for a liberal politician to disassociate himself from the crazies.

And in this instance, he's taken advantage of one of the big weaknesses of Paul Krugman, Big Foot Columnist: his academic need to nuance his arguments about political issues. Ezra Klein and Digby are right, at least to this extent: the Senator is basically demagoguing Mr. Krugman's disagreement on the issue of mandates. But as Clinton showed in 1992 and 1996, and again during the Starr-Lewinsky Affair, a politician who effectively triangulates against his own party can be especially ruthless when it comes to battling the other side. Mastering the rhetorical feints of the other side is a devastating tactic when it comes to the general election. So Mr. Krugman (and the lefty blogosphere) have to suck it up on this one and take one for the team.

December 10, 2007

Some vintage SDQ to lead you into that good night:

Of course, Hef dancing with Agent 99 at the end is what makes the whole thing work....
I am so seeing this:

December 09, 2007

The Smythe Primary: The first Presidential candidate who promises to treat the actions of Bush, Cheney, et al., as war crimes will win my support. Doesn't matter if it's Obama or McCain, Kucinich or Paul; the mere hint that the next Justice Department will investigate and prosecute these bastards (or, in the event of a last-second pardon spree, extradite said bastards to the Hague) will be enough to get me manning a phone bank or walking a precinct. Considering how compromised the Democratic leadership in Congress is, I have no confidence that mere oversight is sufficient to purge this stain from our country.