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© 1986-2004










Will Libertarians Defect? Let's go to arguably the most libertarian (and I think most readable) member of the conservative National Review, Ramesh Ponnuru, as quoted in this New York Times article about young conservatives:

There is a serious possibility that the libertarian wing of the conservative movement goes off in its own direction, either breaking off or allying with the Democrats.
To which Jonah Goldberg replies with a decidedly Postrel-like accusation of trendiness:
But it's far from clear to me that being "libertarian" for lots of young righties isn't simply their way of being rebellious while still being able to get girls, get drunk and not be considered an all-around buzz kill.
'Tis the season for refusing to believe that your political opponent has any legitimate basis for his politics! Anyway, this intra-mural spat within a (numerically speaking) minor movement wouldn't be worth mentioning at all, except that I think it will be one of the four or five deciding factors that will tip the election to Kerry. More on these later.

07/17/2004 01:39 PM  |  Comment (17)

Cat Update: So, the coyote-bitten fella is gonna make it, looks like. Anyone in my neighborhood missing a gray cat?

07/17/2004 11:55 AM  |  Comment (4)

For Those Who the Name 'Klara Nemravova' Means Something

07/17/2004 02:17 AM  |  Comment (5)

Trivia, and Brain Pretzels

07/17/2004 02:08 AM  |  Comment (2)

Tim Blair Reports From Aussie Premier of Fahrenheit: Soon, Team Bleah will be reporting from the Boston closet I lock him in. That is, if he isn't cavity-probed at Logan and sent on the next flight to Mauritius.

07/17/2004 02:04 AM  |  Comment (3)

Awesome Trabant

07/17/2004 01:33 AM  |  Comment (4)

Coyotes: So, we're driving back home after a long pleasant dinner in the 'hood, when we spot two coyotes running down our street, one with a full-grown cat dangling from his mouth.

This is not uncommon in Los Angeles, especially in the Hollywood foothills, though I'd never seen it up close and personal.

The girls moaned in horror, so Os got out of the car, hobbled down our steep, pothole-ruined street (his knee is currently torn to shreds and heavily braced), and commenced to bark the following noises at the coyotes: "HAAWKOPPE!! WHAA-OUUPP!! BURNT!!"

Os is genuinely crazy, and has a loud voice, so the cat-chomping carnivore dropped his prey on the curb, and joined his buddy halfway down the street, looking back at us with a mixture of fear and curiosity. The cat, a tag-less tabby from the neighborhood, huffed and puffed in shock for five minutes or so. The coyotes were still just sort of standing there, so an unusually angry Kim literally stomped on toward them, yelling "Go away!!" They eventually did, though one took a speedy pass quite close to the corner where we were trying to the coax the traumatized cat back to health.

The neighborhood performed well for a post-midnight Friday -- an SUV filled with three mildly drunk Latinos took a few laps, trying to chase off the coyotes; one neighbor produced a saucer of milk & offered much moral support; a house up the hill disgorged a pack of young, inebriated French-speaking (!) males, who immediately tried to hit on Kim & my wife.

The tabby had a blood-stained nick near his neck, and another by his ribcage, and was breathing heavily even after waking up from the shock. He tried to bolt once or twice, but his body wasn't really there for him. After a time, our companions took him to the vet. To be continued!!!

07/17/2004 01:29 AM  |  Comment (4)

Carl Kovac, RIP: He was a military vet, a reporter's reporter, a stem-winder extraordinaire, and one of the more intriguing expatriates I've ever met (and man, could he tell some Joe Eszterhas stories from the Plain-Dealer days!). I was very briefly his colleague and will remember him with a smile.

07/16/2004 03:21 AM  | 

What Was Bill James Writing in 1977-78? I never rightly knew, until I clicked the clicky. (Link via Baseball Primer.) I only have three Abstracts left, though I'm sure I had the whole 1981-88 run at some point…. UPDATE: I just found out that the Abstract-collector in question is Richard Lederer, who grew up on my street, Pepperwood Ave., in Long Beach (home also to ESPN columnist Eric Neel). Weird! UPDATE: In my deadline haste I neglected to mention that the Lederers and Welches were always pretty close; Rich's brother Gary was good friends with my brother Larry, my mom hung with his mom, and various relatives still hold down the forts on Pepperwood. I especially remember Rich's father, the great baseball writer George Lederer, who headed up the Angels' public relations until his untimely death in 1978, which shook us all. If you want to read something lovely and heartbreaking, I recommend Rich's Father's Day post.

07/15/2004 12:13 AM  |  Comment (2)

Denton Finally Gets His Threatened Lawsuit: Via L.A. Observed.

07/14/2004 12:49 PM  | 

Five-Word Movie Review -- Intimate Strangers (Confidences Trop Intimes): Terrific psychoanalytical love-triangle film. And I'm not one to give such things much rope.

By the way, if you haven't made yourself familiar with Patrice Leconte's astonishing body of work, I can testify that it's one of the leading cultural benefits of Transatlantic marriage. Start with his late-'70s early work, the slapstick & Airplane-like Les Bronzes and Les Bronzes Font Du Ski, which are so beloved in the Richard household that even *I* can quote a half-dozen lines from memory (and they're in French!). Also highly recommended is the late-'90s Ridicule, one of the best movies about language and wit you'll ever see. Leconte even made Johnny Halliday seem interesting and grave, for which he probably deserves a medal.

07/12/2004 10:42 PM  |  Comment (7)

Jonathan Rauch's Excellent Advice for John Kerry: As my presidential poll below illustrates, there's only one major issue in this election, and it ain't the economy, stupid.

07/12/2004 03:41 PM  |  Comment (1)

Taking Stock at the All-Star Break: So, how are my pre-season baseball predictions holding up?

Pretty damned good. I had the White Sox, Dodgers and Cardinals in first place. Check, check, check. Atlanta is in second place, only one game back; the Angels are in third, only 2.5 back; and the Red Sox are in second, but seven games behind. So, three for six, with the also-rans a combined 10.5 games out.

The participating predictors in the comments on that particular post are faring thusly:

Mark -- two for six, a combined 10.5 out
Mork -- 2-6; 11.5 out
Keith Berry -- 2-6; 15.5
Lloyd Albano -- 2-6; 17
Carl -- 1-6; 13
Howard Owens -- 1-6; 19
Steve Smith -- 1-6; 20.5

I might also add that several of these characters -- including Dodgers fans -- gave me grief for thinking the Dodgers even had a prayer. And, for those of you who worship at the altar of Baseball Prospectus, please note that only one of their 13 expert prognosticators (Michael Wolverton) matched my record of picking three division winners who are currently in first place.

Of my three preseason longshot bets, only the Padres seem to be panning out, but they are just two games out of first place. Oh, and remember when Tony Pierce was talking smack about our two Fantasy Baseball leagues we're competing in? Despite not even touching the things for my three weeks in Romania, my first-place Corvids are 11 games ahead of his second-place Scrubbies in one 14-team league; while my third-place Replacements are about ready to overtake his second-place "The Man" in the 16-team league. As for the all-important Posada-vs.-Piazza debate, in the first league's scoring system, my Jorge is leading his Mike in six of the 11 categories; in the other Piazza's up 8-6.

07/12/2004 03:23 PM  |  Comment (8)

Is Left-Bent Saudi-Bashing Similar to Anti-Semitism? On Sept. 11, 2001, I was a regular columnist for the lefty website WorkingForChange.com. My third post-massacre column advocated the following approach to Saudi Arabia:

we'd attach the thickest possible strings to every sale of advanced weaponry. You want a dozen fighter jets? Let's hear about a specific timetable for free elections, elementary rights for women and minorities, a ban on virulently anti-Semitic and anti-American textbooks, freedom of the press, peace treaties with all neighbors, civilian control over the military, and maybe even (what the hell!) a secular constitution. Most of those demands comprise the pre-requisites for NATO membership; why not hold our putative extra-NATO "allies" to very similar standards?
A little unrealistic, but you get the idea. A couple of weeks later my WorkingForChange column was called The Case Against Saudi Arabia. Excerpt:
the U.S. government has not earned the benefit of the doubt when it comes to Saudi Arabia. The Republican side has deep oil ties to the region, and the Democrats have no discernible record of pushing for democratic perestroika. After Sept. 11, drastic reform is no longer a question of moral credibility — it's an act of self-defense.
It's a subject I've returned to again and again, and on several occasions I have urged Democrats to make this a campaign issue, especially if Bush shows little public signs of tightening the noose on the noxious House of Saud.

Finally (as Tim Cavanaugh recently noted), Saudi-bashing has become a central part of the left-of-center critique of Bush's foreign policy. Raising the question -- how will the Right respond?

Well, I sure hope that this crazy Andrew Sullivan post isn't a harbinger of things to come. First, Sullivan quotes (though doesn’t name or link) this passage from a Beruit Daily Star column by Hussein Ibish:

At the heart of [Michael] Moore's film lies the malevolent influence of "the Saudis," a phrase that in the US is increasingly spat out with utter contempt, reminiscent of the tone reserved for "the Jews" in anti-Semitic discourse, ascribing to millions of otherwise heterogeneous people the same menacing and hostile essence. In a great deal of contemporary American discourse, any group of Saudis - including the government, security services, and any collection of citizens, not to mention Osama bin Laden, Al-Qaeda and the hijackers of Sept. 11, 2001 - all represent "the Saudis."
To which Sullivan adds:
At some point, the loony left is going to have decide between its demons: are the Jews and neocons the evil ones or are the Saudis?
Two points: 1) There is really nothing at all "reminiscent" of the way Americans criticize Saudi Arabia and "the tone reserved for 'the Jews' in anti-Semitic discourse." I don't recall the bit about the Jews comprising 15 of the 19 hijackers, or paying billions of dollars to hate-preaching madrassas, or buying off former ambassadors, or enjoying the perks of having the most senior diplomat in Washington, who is a close personal friend to the First Family, travels with Secret Service detail, and carries around piles of suitcases that he says contain secrets from countless dirty missions conducted on behalf of successive administrations. Nothing in that familiar litany about eating the blood of Palestinian children, or controlling the media & banking systems with shrewd stateless cunning, is there?

But then, consider the source. Hussein Ibish is the communications director of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination League. Not that that makes him automatically venal, but I'd think twice about approvingly quoting his facile comparisons to anti-Semitism without first at least Googling the man.

Point 2) As even Ibish admits (laments, in fact),

Moore has presented a detailed account of the Iraq war without mentioning Israel in any way […] Moore's audience never hears about the 1996 "Clean Break" paper presented to then-Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by several people who are now influential policymakers in the Bush administration
To sum up: A) Ibish criticizes Moore for not bringing up Israel in the least, B) makes his own conspiratorial list of various neo-cons and Israelis, C) makes a laughable comparison between anti-Saudi criticism and anti-Semitism; and then D) Andrew Sullivan criticizes the "loony left" for treating both Jews and Saudis as more or less interchangeably "evil … demons."

Those of us who don't generally agree with Bush's foreign policy while nonetheless wanting the Administration to push for a democratization of Saudi Arabia and other "friendly" regimes, have owed it to our own sense of honesty, if nothing else, to admit that we share not a small bit of common ground with Paul Wolfowitz. In return, it might be good form if supporters of the Iraq War didn't react to overdue Saudi-bashing by calling the Left a bunch of deranged anti-Semites.

07/11/2004 10:44 PM  |  Comment (8)

Hi! What are you doing down here?

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