It's Gone! (posted 10/17/03 12:31 a.m.)
Well, misery loves company. How can baseball be America's game if Chicago and Boston never stand a chance? They came oh so close only to be swatted down for thinking they could hold a lead and move on. At least we've learned again that baseball humbles, and breaks more hearts than any other game could even dream of doing. Has the consolation "Wait till next year?" ever rung more hollow?
Round 'Em Up (posted 10/13/03 12:41 a.m.)
In defending his nonpartisan newspaper disinterested and selfless reporting on Arnold Schwarzenegger's social skills, L.A. Times editor John S. Carroll did not come off too well in the special op-ed he wrote for his paper's Sunday edition. It did not help that instead of engaging critics he dismissed them as "pornographers," though none is a known subscriber to Oui. In any case, Schwarzenegger apologist Hugh Hewitt lets Carroll have it good and hard on HughHewitt.com for his mendacity and cowardice.
For my part, I found something else of interest in Carroll's apologia, namely his brief references to his paper's investigative methods in reporting on Arnold's groping. "The reporters started by asking the paper's many Hollywood sources for names of possible victims," Carroll writes, implying the Times's conclusion was preordained. That is, Arnold was assumed to be guilty until proven guilty.
More revealing still was Carroll's next revelation: "The names of other people who might have knowledge of Schwarzenegger's behavior were gleaned from the credits of his films." That's a lot of movies and a lot more names. What would Carroll say if, for instance, John Ashcroft attempted such a dragnet?
Must Read (posted 10/13/03 12:35 a.m.)
In honor of Columbus Day, I recommend you read our Italy-based columnist Frank Rocca's human interest story in the latest London Spectator on an aspect of the Italian character. Who knows -- we might now better understand Columbus's urge to get away. Regardless, you can rest assured Luigi Barzini (The Italians) would find Rocca's writing tops.
In Deep Denial (posted 10/8/03 12:58 a.m.)
It wasn't even close. Despite bias-media's best efforts, their tragic hero never had a chance, no matter how alcoholic his father was. In a state in which Democrats outregister Republicans by ten points, a Democrat governor has been ousted, less than a year after being re-elected. It's a huge, enormous humiliation for the forces of government, public virtue and the highest self-regard. So how did they respond? By pretending nothing untoward has happened to them and to predict great difficulties ahead for the Blob who'll replace Gray Davis.
If Gray Davis never displayed shame, why should they? ABC sent Peter Jennings to cover California these last days. His verdict as soon as polls closed? The recall was a defeat for Davis, but not a victory for Schwarzenegger. That's one way to demonstrate denial. Having nationalized the election by assigning it to Jennings ABC tried to use its "Nightline" program last night to claim the results will have no national effects. George Stephanopoulos said so himself. Host Ted Koppel outdid himself again, interviewing every Democrat under the sun about how gruesome a future Schwarzenegger faces without bothering to interview a single Republican -- unless that's what former Clinton adviser David Gergen can still pass himself off as. He delivered the soundbite of soundbites, declaring California will be to Schwarzenegger what Iraq turned out to be for Bush: easy to conquer, hard to rule. Just like that, ABC nationalized the election again.
Suffering Situations (posted 10/6/03 12:41 a.m.)
"I don't know if you saw 'NFL Countdown' this morning, but it was horrible," Hunter Baker said in an e-mail yesterday, apropos the ESPN show that banished Rush Limbaugh. "I thought they might briefly explain Rush's resignation, have a quick postmortem, and move on. Instead, they gathered around and kicked the corpse repeatedly. In essence, they said it was a terrible mistake ever to have had him on the show and that they all had erred in not dropping the bomb on him at the moment he made his remarks. It was awful. I nearly lost it when scandalmeister Michael Irvin took his turn. It was like seeing Ted Kennedy laying down the law to men like Clarence Thomas and John Ashcroft in confirmation hearings."
Chalk up another reason why pregame shows are a waste of time. But to add injury to insult: during the Redskins' game against Donovan McNabb's Eagles, Fox man Chris Collingsworth said his heart went out to McNabb for what he'd gone through this past week. Then again, these are jocks so don't expect Collingsworth to understand that his comment confirmed Rush Limbaugh's contention that McNabb is coddled by the media.
Meanwhile -- switching leagues and games -- while the word rejoices that the Cubbies advanced and the Red Sox just might do the same, is there a sadder figure in sports than Braves manager Bobby Cox, a long-suffering good ol' boy whose team year after year dominates the regular season only to fizzle in the playoffs? How come no one feels sorry for him?
Philly Fantastic (posted 10/2/03 12:51 a.m.)
Just in time to draw flack away from the White House in the Joe Wilson nonsense, Rush Limbaugh is taking big heat big time for suggesting Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb isn't as good as he's cracked up to be. Thirty-seven percent AOL poll respondents agree with Limbaugh's comments; 29 percent said they were racist. As context disappears, lost is Limbaugh's remark that the Philly defense carried the team in recent years, not McNabb.
It's an arguable point. Anyone who saw McNabb sleepwalk his way to losses in the Eagles' opening games would have to agree. His team's defense was missing key players from recent seasons and no longer could stop mediocre opposition. Without the tone it once set, no one on the team seemed to play with any purpose, starting with McNabb. Moreover, he still appeared to be recovering from the drubbing he and his team took in last year's playoffs against eventual Super Bowl winner Tampa. (Though it's been forgotten that McNabb was coming off a broken leg and shouldn't have been playing at all.)
Last Sunday the Eagles came alive. McNabb was seen moving again too. Perhaps his return to form will continue this coming Sunday. If he plays the way he did in recent seasons, he'll again be considered one of the top players in the game. That status was never an invention of some sportswriter collective. His quality has been apparent to anyone who's followed his career. He's the closest thing to a successor to John Elway -- most dangerous when the game is on the line.
A final thing no one should miss: McNabb is respected above all by those in the best position to know -- other NFL players, teammates and opponents alike. They know who's the real thing.
We Take Our Chances (posted 9/22/03 12:28 a.m.)
It was fashionable to pooh-pooh the threat Hurricane Isabel posed to the national capital area, but anyone who lives here now knows better. True, schools didn't have to shut down on Thursday -- most kids would have been safely home by the time the winds and rain got serious. But otherwise, what a holy mess.
I grew up in California, where the disaster of choice is thought to be the earthquake. My hometown, Santa Barbara, was for all intents changed forever by the destructive quake of 1925 -- needing to rebuild, the town chose the Mediterranean Spanish style that makes it the last best place on earth. In my own time there I experienced no more than one real earthquake -- in 1971, a quake centered in the San Fernando Valley but powerful enough to shake, rattle, and roll every old house such as ours 90 miles away. Had it lasted a dozen seconds long I can imagine my family home would no longer be standing. If you've sensed it, a strong earthquake does make a lasting impression.
Fortunately for California earthquakes don't occur there as frequently as one might think. Locals may live in terror of the great San Andreas break off into the sea, though as far anyone knows it may still be thousands of years away. It could be that earthquakes are easier to talk about than a more immediate cause of fear in California: fire. When it comes to disrupting lives and destroying property, brush and forest fires are the real equivalent of east coast hurricanes.
During my sophomore year in high school the mountains overlooking Santa Barbara burned from one end (Montecito) to the other (San Marcos Pass), over the course of a nightmarish week that saw fire work its way into canyons and just about into the heart of the city. About a decade ago a smaller if move violent fire jumped the freeway and destroyed and threatened area that always were thought to be safely beyond the real fire zone. When Santa Barbara reeks of ash, smoke and arid heat, it's suddenly the worst last place.
California may be paradise most times but in one respect it doesn't have a thing over the east: trees. Not just any kind, but incredibly tall, shady, leafy, bounteous trees, the kind you have in abundance only because it rains back east during all those many months when California remains bone dry. We live in an old neighborhood about 15 miles west of Washington. I'd guess there are at least 50 sixty-foot-plus oaks and poplars shading the ten lots along our one-block street. Fairfax and Arlington counties are filled with streets likes these. Without them there'd be no reason to live here.
Every major thunderstorm you hear about some of those trees falling over. Several years ago a storm-related mini-tornado roared down the cross street to ours and knocked down 10 of our neighbors' trees, including a huge poplar that left a crater the size of a bomb and another that pierce the roof of their dining room. One of those trees also knocked power out at our house for days. But we were lucky -- none of our big trees toppled. Not only that, but the great unspoken: none of them landed on our house.
We were lucky this time as well. But in our neighborhood alone, the tropical storm Isabel sent our way knocked down dozens of trees -- including one that sliced through a home and at least a half dozen that ended up resting against a house and perhaps doing less drastic damage.
We take our chances. Out west, it's earthquakes, fires, homes on cliffs that could slide into the ocean. Back east, it's hurricanes or floods or life in shady suburbs under trees that are just a storm away from driving a stake through your roof.
Isabel Update (posted 9/18/03 10:00 p.m.)
This will make your day. We survived Isabel Day One. Isabel Night One may be another matter. But rest assured Friday's lineup will appear on schedule -- though it may require the services to the National Guard to round up an Enemy of the Week. We'll see what happens. Or maybe we'll find him among the looters passing themselves off as Hurricane Trauma counselors. You never know who you'll meet when it gets weird outside.
Job Creation (posted 9/3/03 11:38 p.m.)
Attentive readers of Wednesday's bio-lines will have noticed a major new shift in our ranks: George Neumayr and Jeremy Lott are now officially ensconced in our Arlington offices as managing editor and assistant managing editor, respectively, of The American Spectator. They're not on the Left Coast anymore, but Inside the big bad Beltway. Their presence will be felt, not only on this website, which is soon to be upgraded in stunning new ways, but also in the magazine itself, which is set to go monthly in a lovely new design beginning with our next, October issue. Please stay tuned.
See You Next Month (posted 8/29/03 12:18 a.m.)
Attention Labor Day Weekend readers: The Enemy of the Week and all your other close friends will return on Tuesday, just as soon as America gets summer out of its system and our real labors begin in earnest. Don't watch too many football games -- there'll be plenty of time for that later on.
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