July 6, 2002

This article really disturbs me. I know its been eight hundred years, but the notion that the Smithsonian Institution is celebrating a tribute to Genghis Khan just strikes me as just being wrong. The description of the exhibit makes it seem like he was just another nationalist leader with a militaristic bent, an East Asian Napoleon, not the thirteenth century version of Hitler. He was a genocidal madman who viewed raping and pillaging as a clever military tactic, and basically followed the policy that it was better to exterminate your enemy than conquer it. I guess in a few hundred years, the taxpayers will get to fund a Smithsonian tribute to Pol Pot.
Maybe I owe the President an apology, now that Nader is pushing this issue...but at least he isn't whining about the Western Conference Finals anymore.
I think the right wing is making a big mistake in labeling every incident of violence by Arabs as "terrorism". The LAX incident on the 4th is probably the latest example in politicizing what should be correctly labeled as a "hate crime", no doubt in an effort to gain public support for the detention of all Arab-Americans. Let's give "terrorists" a little credit here; they usually have some political or religious motive for doing what they do, and as such, can be dealt with (and fought) in a rational manner. Wack jobs who go out and kill people simply because they hate Jews, or blacks, or gays, can't be dealt with; you don't go to war with Charles Manson (who as far as I can tell, was never labeled a "terrorist", even though the broadest definition of the word would apply), you arrest and convict him. At some point, when any act of violence is given that label, the public will quit caring.
Who the hell is David Nalbandian? Guess I'll sleep late tomorrow....

July 5, 2002

Well, I'm assuming that unless you died or were on your way to a flight out of LAX yesterday, you probably had a pretty good Fourth. I went to a BarbQ at my sisters, then went and saw the fireworks at a friend's house in Calabasas. As far as Fourths go, it went well, although not like the one where I got really hammered and ended up getting into a firecracker "war" with a bunch of friends from college. The things I used to pull in my mid-30's !!

July 4, 2002

What we are now starting to see is the beginning of the end for the "president". Even his shills in the media aren't buying his "my lawyer ate my homework" excuse for why he didn't report his last-minute stock sale. To put it bluntly, the form that his attorney "forgot" to file is kind of like the "1040" form you fill out when you file your taxes; if you use an attorney or an accountant to assist you, such a form would be filled out almost as a matter of routine. If such a form was accidentally omitted, and an investigation of the client resulted, the attorney in question would be fired almost immediately, and the firm's malpractice carriers would be put on notice. This isn't Whitewater, my friends--this is ten times worse, a scandal that hits both Bush administrations.
For those of you who still care, the letters get published Monday. As a Fourth of July treat, here's more information than you probably ever wanted to know about this topic .

July 3, 2002

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away...this is a must-read tale of the Harken Emporer. (registration required)
My view on the issue of testing baseball players for steroids just did a 180. Up until this incident, I thought that ballplayers should get with the program, give up the notion of privacy, and take the test. Now, thanks to Sammy Sosa's appropriate, non-violent but angry, reaction to Rick Reilly's stunt, I now believe that the greater danger lies in allowing self-appointed scolds and sphincters the power to embarass each of us into giving up our privacy. Put it another way, if I were to give Mr. Reilly the address of a local lab where they could test his DNA to see if it matches any of the children recently born in the West San Fernando Valley, would he do so, even if he knew that he was clean.
The trifecta mystery...solved !!!
Some of you may have noticed those thingeys on the left side of the blog. Those are called "links", and they enable visitors to my evil lair to go to other web sites, blogs, and internet arcana that I find useful or interesting. Not all the sites are created equal; most people already have ESPN and The Onion bookmarked, and if you are into blogs, you certainly don't need me to tell you how to get to Andrewsullivan.com, Instapundit or Kausfiles. But there are some less well-known sites that I recommend, in particular TalkingPoints (where I found this very touching tribute to an East Coast politician/felon), MaxSpeak, and Eschaton. Check out those sites, and thank me later.

July 2, 2002

In case you missed it, there was a power shift on Saturday. This is perhaps the best review of the briefest administration in American history.

July 1, 2002

Mr. Bolkcom and Mr. Lazar tie for the month of June in the Home Run Pool. I finished last, again. My interest in the subject wanes.
Why we fight the "war on terror"....
I'll visit the MAILBAG tomorrow. Sorry to those who have contributed to the Overrated Beauty Pageant, but just to let you know, Mrs. Broderick continues to lead.
I don't think I'm alone in saying what a great time we had Saturday night/Sunday morning at Joxers' for the Cup Final. Once again, the joint was packed by 3:00 a.m., and the crowd was roughly 9:1 favoring Brazil. In particular, what amazed me was the number of non-soccer fanatics who were there; at least three of my site's regular visitors showed up, none of whom had evidenced any interest in the sport at all up until two weeks ago, but who stayed through "closing hour" and watched the game until the final whistle. Speaking for myself, its going to take awhile to regain a normal sleep equilibrium.

Since this is my last post on the subject, at least until Copa America next year, I thought I would share some random observations on the last month:

1. Every four years, what constitutes the sports punditocracy in this country will weigh in about why soccer has failed to generate much interest in the U.S. Predictably, they will write that soccer is popular everywhere else in the world, but because of America's "cultural superiority", it will never catch on here. Or they will talk about how soccer fans are always trying to impose their sport on everyone else. Or they will ridicule the "soccer promoters", who are supposedly predicting that, inevitably, the sport will become bigger than baseball or football in the U.S.(of course, it goes without saying that no such promoter will ever be quoted by name, since no such person has ever made that prediction) To illustrate their argument, they will throw in attendance figures for WUSA games, or the MLS' poor TV ratings.

I have little doubt that those same morons will pop up in 2006, with the same twaddle. Up until this year, they could usually throw in a line in their columns about how in spite of its popularity at the youth and sandlot level, real American athletes abandon the sport once they reach high school; thus, the U.S. would never be competitive in international soccer. However, three things happened this time out that pretty much discredited those writers. First, the U.S. made the quarterfinals, and played with a style and energy that proved that the 0-3 debacle in 1998 was the exception, not the rule. Second, the ratings for the Cup were relatively high, almost a hundred times higher than what ESPN2 or Univision usually get for its early morning programming. ESPN, in fact, got more people to watch the U.S. games against Mexico and Germany than it got for all four of the games it televised during the Stanley Cup Finals, played during the same month. I have not yet seen the ratings for the Final, but it would not surprise me if it was the top-rated sporting event of the weekend. Add to that the ratings for Univision, which in cities like Los Angeles were higher than the ESPN broadcasts (I might add that many of us who speak barely a word of Spanish find those broadcasts to be superior), as well as the good ratings the Cup got in 1994 (and to a lesser extent, 1998), and it is laughable to ever again suggest that there is not significant interest in the World Cup among American sports fans.

Second, for the first time since Pele was playing for the Cosmos, a group of sportswriters, columnists, etc., are now writing positive things about the sport, even though they don't cover it for a living. Sports talk radio hosts actually fielded calls from listeners about the games. Even Jim Rome pretended for awhile that he wasn't rooting against Team U.S.A. Furthermore, stories about hooliganism, 0-0 draws, and all the other cliched tripe that usually works its way into every third-rate writers output on the sport were at a minimum. Those in the media who hate the sport became increasingly dispirited, especially once the U.S. made the quarterfinals.

What must give soccer fans in this country the most hope is the actuarial reality that the anti-soccer crowd is old, myopic, and out-of-touch; once the Lupicas, the Alboms, and the Lipsytes die out or retire, they will be replaced by writers who understand that the World Cup consistently gets better ratings than tennis or boxing in the U.S., and that Latino and Asian Americans, and Americans between the ages of 18 and 35, actually exist, and have sporting interests that are far different from the middle-aged white males for whom their columns are addressed, and that the popularity of soccer is a phenomenum of the present, not the future.

2. On the other hand, as long as the MLS is around, the popularity of American soccer will pretty much be limited to international competitions, such as the Olympics and the World Cup. I have yet to hear anyone give a compelling reason why people are going to start watching the soccer equivalent of the Pacific Coast League, after they have been given a month-long taste of the good stuff. In particular, European clubs are going to be much more aggressive in scouting American high schools and sandlots for the next Landon Donovan or Demarcus Beasley, while the MLS will remain little more than a glorified farm system, developing talent until its ready to start earning some real money overseas.

June 30, 2002

Those who attacked the Ninth Circuit's courageous decision last week should well consider what really happens when we impose religious doctrine on patriotic rituals. This article bears contemplation on that issue, as well as on the recent high court ruling on school vouchers.

(Re latest Kobe Bryant news, click here)
Brazil 2, Germany 0...one of the tightest WC finals ever, with the Germans dominating the first half, but unable to come close to scoring. Ronaldo scored twice in the final 25 minutes, including one off of a shockingly bad play by Oliver Kahn, Germany's heretofore inpenetrable goalkeeper.

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