Archive for June, 2007

Oden Mania

Saturday, June 30th, 2007

Maybe I’m just not a big enough sports fan, but I find Portland’s sort of civicly-enforced celebration of their drafting of Greg Oden a little wearying.  My basic problem is that the big brohauhau of an event at Pioneer Square, as well the storming of the court at the Rose Garden, seems like an excitement reserved for, I don’t know, winning a championship or something.

Did the city of San Antonio celebrate in as official a manner when the Spurs drafted Tim Duncan?

I understand that the Trailblazers fan has already projected out to a championship in four or five years, and seemingly five more after that one, based on what turned out to be abrilliant draft last year (at the time chided by Charles Barkley as “a joke”)  and … Greg Oden.  But this is a strange anticipatory glee, and maybe a little sad.

Actually a caller to the Rick Emerson Show put it well.  At Pioneer Square yesterday, you had a thousand white men (largely of an upper income, largely suburbanite) coming down to worship a tall lanky black man, presented by a group of women dancing — once removed from a local strip club.

I know Portland Trailblazers fans who state that they threw in the towel at the team after the Clyde Drexler era (during which the team lost two finals series), during which time they were just massive fans.  I never quite believe them.  It intersects with my problem with the basic line of the Trailblazers’s problems, and their image as a dysfunctional team — the “Jailblazers” — for, the timeline is given, the past decade, the past dozen years, the past twelve years.  Until a couple of years ago, the team consistently made the playoffs — they won of a sort — during which time all of Isaih Rider’s buffoonery was tucked away when the Blazers went on any little winning streak of any sort.  More to the point, even if I decide that they seriously turned their back on the Trailblazers at that time, there was a time period of roughly two and a half seasons (or two thirds) where they were one of the elite teams, poised for the Championship.  This window started in earnest during that shortened post-lockdown (and post Jordan) 1999 season, a season that effectively ended when the Trailblazers lost Game 2 on Memorial Day against the Spurs in the Western Conference Finals after leading the game for… oh, 59 minutes and 59.6 seconds or thereabouts.  The next season, when they were really ready for the run, ended in Game 7 against the Los Angeles Lakers when the team lead in the middle of the fourth period by, was it 16 points? — and then… went ice cold.

That was the end of it.  I suppose we can say that the next round of the Blazers are better built for a longer longer longevity– a couple of superstars working together, the traditional big man in the middle that is the force behind most NBA Championship teams, and a bunch of role players as opposed to what the Blazers had for that short window
when the team was built as “effectively having two starting line-ups!” — all good for a dozen points, none good for being the man to take over the game in the clutch.

But I find it difficult to imagine those Blazer fans who say they lacked all interest in the team past the much ballyhooed Clyde Drexler era saying not flocking to the team during that post-season (call it the Scottie Pippen era) … where they lost to the Lakers in that Game 7.

It was all a downward spiral after that, of course, and it is difficult to figure out what the lowest point was for the franchise.  I guess the immediate end of season after Maurice Cheeks was fired, and the team muddled through not even really playing the younger players in a rebuilding effort but in a play-out-the-string effort until they could clear their heads and figure out how to possibly move forward.  And nobody in this city has had a terribly good feeling about the Trailblazers team until somewhere in the middle of this last season.
Incidentally, simply in the interest of being a snotty semi-contrarian jerk, the Trailblazers might have been in much better shape if it were not for the great Clyde Drexler.   Think it about it for a second.  What is the reason always given for the Trailblazers’ Draft Pick #2 selection of Sam Bowie in the 1984 draft?  Well, there’s the obvious reason that a team always goes for the Big Man Center, the crucial man for most NBA Champions not named the Chicago Bulls, the sure-fire Center pick was just selected by the Houston Rockets at Pick #1 — Hakeem Olajuwon (helped the Rockets win two championships, right?) — and the Blazers already has a swell man at the position that the next pick — Michael Jordan — played at, ie: Clyde Drexler.  Retrofitting a bit, the Blazers fan chomps and wonders what a Jordan — Drexler court would have been like, but clearly it wasn’t, so… GODDAMNED THAT CLYDE DREXLER.  He destroyed that franchise!
… Rooting for Laundry, as the saying goes…

Say… I hear that Tom Potter received a bit of booing at that Greg Oden welcome ceremony.  I wouldn’t take it too hard if I were Tom Potter.  This is a crowd that is not entirely representative of the city as a whole, and is full of people who think Potter is the only thing standing between the city of Portland and the godawful and futile idea of luring a major league baseball franchise to the city.  Also they remember Potter’s lousy body-language watching the first game of the Portland Trailblazer, clearly he didn’t want to be there — but then again, nobody else did either.

Dealing with the New Supreme Court

Friday, June 29th, 2007

It appears that we have entered an era of 5 to 4 Court Rulings, the supposed “swing vote” shifting from a Judge Sandra Day O’Connor who had the tendency to attempt conciliation and compromise for majority opinions, to Judge Anthony Kennedy, who seems just to be one in a 5 to 4 voting block.

I do not think we have seen anything like this since the first term of the Franklin Roosevelt administration — and perhaps a bit into the second term until the conservatives on that bench saw that they were now outnumbered and that staying on to fight Roosevelt’s New Deal was pointless– and the terms of the court’s effect in shaping policy for years to come, check-mating any swings in the mood of the nation’s electorate for their representative democracy, looks to be comparable to the Roosevelt leaving with a Supreme Court selected entirely by him.

(Earlier thoughts on the situation that I wish to parlay forward but do not wish to repeat found here and here — the last sentence of that last post, I need to assert, was a joke.)
What I can say is that the Democrats’ argument regarding the Supreme Court dwindles to the idea that a 5-4 court decision is less movable than a 6-3 court decision.  Also a little less liable to pull purely partisan decisions — perhaps the worst of the Supreme Court Justices — Clarance Thomas — once said that he has narrowed his news sources to Rush Limbaugh, and if we ever see a court decision that allows someone like Bush to do what Nixon could not — say, claim executive privilege in not turning over documents — we know what is going on.  (But we’ve been there before.  What was that Court case?  Bush V Gore, I think it was called.)
The tedium found with the latest 5 to 4 ruling, concerning busing and school integration — one of the large focal points of the conservative backlash of the 1970s, and perhaps a problematic solution to an even more problematic situation — is that we can expect a slate of angry whites storming into courts throughout the nation, suing school districts for essentially racial reasons.
Keep in mind this, though, when thinking about this Supreme Court, as the nation squabbles over social issues:

This “has been our best Supreme Court term ever,” said Robin Conrad, executive vice president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s litigation group. Of the 15 cases decided this term in which the Chamber took a position, the court sided with the Chamber 13 times.

Maureen Mahoney, a Washington attorney who has argued cases before the justices, said the court under former Chief Justice William Rehnquist was famously favorable to business, “but we now know that the Roberts Court is even better.” Rehnquist served as chief for 19 years until his death in September 2005. He was replaced by John Roberts.

Consumer advocates say the court’s pro-business decisions have weakened protections for ordinary Americans in a variety of areas, from banking to retailing.

None of which are as sensational as “Bong Hits for Jesus”, a court case whose decision I have some problems with not so much on legal grounds (I’ll let you know when I obtain a doctorate degree in Law, pursuing the law to pull together a basis for my political opinions… and yes, that was a joke) as a gut level of how Justice Roberts called it, differentiating between political speech for, for example — stating opinions on pro – drug legalization, and “Pro Drug” messages that the school can control — the “Bong Hits for Jesus” banner. Meaning… students can’t be silly? Or, probably better yet, schools get to regulate and decide how a student may be silly.

Gordon Brown

Friday, June 29th, 2007

I believe under Great Britain’s system of government, the House of Commons, and their elected Prime Minister, serves at behest of the Queen.  It’s purely symbolic and a historical anachronism, degenerating into laws of pomp and circumstance.  Nonetheless, the Queen could tell Gordon Brown to shove it, and perhaps if in a future epoch the Monarch decides to leverage its power under some nationalistic clings to Past Greatness, one will.

Punk Rockers against the Oligarchy

Thursday, June 28th, 2007

I don’t quite know what to make of this myspace user.  The blog entry where he announced that he is now taking off and joining the Larouche Youth Movement is gone, wiped away.  Which is either a positive sign or a negative sign… I do not a’know.
What I still have from the rant, or have with easy accessibility (I could probably dig in and find the rest if I were slightly more motivated):

I have been spending time at the local Lyndon LaRouche P.A.C. (Public Action Committee) with the youth movement. I have gotten a better education since Teusday than I have gotten going to any school. Lyndon LaRouche is an educated. intelectual, political, and concerned individual. He is opposed to the British oligarchy (or as you all might call it the elitist nazis in the world steming out of Great Brittan coming from the Queen and operating even in the United States, inluding the White House) and is trying through all actions sane to bring it to it’s knees.

That’s all I have.  It goes on to say that his previous political and philosophical stance — Anarchism —  was good, but this… THIS… Larouchism… is simply better.  More Purposeful, you see.
… because, as you see in the previous post… he’s fighting those neo-nazis in the White House.  (As well Al Gore and his nazi gardens, but this is a movement that destroys those traditional political spectrum, you understand?)

Which spurs me to wander through his myspace site, past the multitude of PUNK ROCK videos (and he does realize that Punk Rock is a British Oligarchical — slash — Zionist — slash — Synarchist Plot, doesn’t he?) I come to his … discourse?… on Anarchism.

He misspelled Henry David Thoreau.  And something about this rapid discovery of anarchism, and dismissal to something else entirely, is a little haphazard and quick on the draw.
You can also go to www.akpress.com to get books and the like about many important undergound issues concering all movements.  If you are a PUNK or a feminist, or even a hippy, this is the place for you all.
That website is not altogether bad, but it is devoid of the important underground issues concerning the “movement” he aligned himself with…

… where he will have to sooner or later give up his Punk Rock.  (A bit nihilistic, isn’t that?  Which, I guess, is the point of finding something less nihilistic.  The vacuum provided by…?)

……………….

Re-Reading the Washington Post article from 2004, which I read first when it was published (and indeed linked here) after observing that April Witt read through the same news articles I did last December, I chew back over the Jeremiah Duggan story, and I have no clean explanation.  The lesson for aspiring cult leaders is to hold their conferences a bit out-of-the-way, where physical escape routes are difficult and unwieldy, and where the recruits are in out of their element, not entirely sure of where they are.  This is particularly appropriate in Europe, where you can meet them up in different nations.

Stop and laugh at this one:

In early 2003, Jeremiah telephoned to say he’d met a LaRouche activist who wrote for a French-language LaRouche newspaper, Nouvelle Solidarité. The literature he gave Jeremiah to read in French didn’t always make total sense, but Jeremiah chalked it up to his difficulty translating unfamiliar political terms, his mother says.
Why it doesn’t make total sense.

Before and After

Thursday, June 28th, 2007

I once read a study, or maybe a quasi-study, that looked into the issue of how much money could be sued over for the day to day copyright infringement that bloggers commit if anyone were absolutely serious.  I think the standard m’o concerns the cutting and pasting of current news articles, beyond the codified 3 paragraph limit.  But there are other means of copyright infringement that can be committed.  (I once posted a couple of disparate floating essays under the title of “The Pinkwater Copyright Infringement Jamberoo“, more of a rescue mission than anything else.  I notice an extent morality rationalization, a fairly good one, in the public concerning the purchase of bootlegged dvds and the like: “if the corporations that own it release this tv series or movie, I’ll buy them from them, but if they withhold them — I’ll get them from the bootlegged source.”)
Here’s a copyright infringement, unless it falls under the domain of for purposes of public commentary.  Here’s an image I clipped from The New York Times of December 29, 1954.

I have a bit of a time wrapping my head on the severity of this censorship.  The newly minted Comics Code Authority could not have a wrinkled old hag — so the ghoulish character of Sarah Harper is given wrinkle cream and an amazing dentist.
I imagine it changes the contours of the entire story.  Not that it matters too much, as this is disposable children’s entertainment, and we can’t be bothered with merits of the entertainment – slash – artistic decisions that go into the creation of this flimsy comic book.  (The artist does not appear to be attempting a Renaissance, so what’s the point?)
In the immediate future, the Comics Code would force some rather creative release of a new type of monster.  Out of necessity since the classic monster forms of Vampires and Witches were banned, meaning the Jack Kirbys of the world had to fill the vacuum with creations such as… Fin Fang Foom, Bombu, Groot…

… who still appears to break that “Distortion in Face” rule that Charles Murphy felt compelled to smooth over.

Edwards and that whole problematic image issue

Wednesday, June 27th, 2007

John Edwards and Mitt Romney appear to be turning up in the public imagination as mirror images, or sorts.  The line is that there’s a certain plasticity to both of them, a certain pretty-boy image, and a certain phoniness.

The charge is particularly strong by the oppostion party for both of them, but I think it permeates the images the primary voters of both parties hold for Romney and Edwards.

The problem with the charge against Edwards is that it misses any real mark whatsoever.  I don’t know that Edwards is any worse than any of the other candidates in terms of “phoniness” (and Mitt Romney is the worst on this score), but if you charged me with lining up the case for Edwards’s phoniness, I could do so easily.  Start with the Iraq War Resolution.  John Kerry, who was pilloried for his ‘yea’ vote and his subsequent attempts at explaining his frame of “nuance”, had some backing in terms of his deliberations leading up to his vote.  He sits in the same camp as, say, Chuck Hagel — who also voted “yea”, also poked around at the issues in Senate committees — and has been retrobate for the Republicans for expressing disfavor toward the Iraq War enterprise.  Edwards, meanwhile, blasted full force ahead on the measure, cherrily stood next to the hated Joseph Lieberman and the deal-making Dick Gephardt when the Resolution was borne out, and spent Democratic Party events lecturing the Democratic faithful on behalf of the need to throw out Saddam.  He was playing to conventional wisdom, the need to pad out his “Defense” bonafides in a light legislative record — to an extent that went beyond what John Kerry felt he had to do.

Today John Edwards says his vote was a mistake.  Which is okay.  It is a change of heart that happens to coincide perfectly with popular sentiment and the new conventional wisdom.  And it is a change of heart that would be a little better seen as a true change of heart if he had shown — dare I call it Kerry-esque — signs of equivocation in the lead up to the Resolution vote.

The point I make by hashing out his wild swings on the Iraq War resolution is that policy issues such as this better qualify for consideration of this line of attack than what is being peddled at us — which boils down to: He’s running a campaign about poverty AND YET He’s rich and buys expensive things — and spending a good deal of money on his appearance.  (The $300 haircut is the classic case.)  This is, to quote Mitt Romney, a non sequitur, or a null set, which is that the Republicans apparently believe that Edwards or anyone who runs on a campaign concerning poverty is doing a campaign of Class Envy, positing that Edwards is a hypocrite because he is supposedly railing against the Rich.

I could dredge up Ann Coulter’s crudest version of this line of thinking within the confrontation Elizabeth Edwards made on Chris Matthew’s show, but I do not see any reason to.  The higher brow version was in the guise of the recent news article that posited Edwards’s anti-poverty program as a cynical bridge to his election campaign, which it may as well be, but — as the Edwards faithful pointed out — it didn’t bother to survey those it affected.

annoying little ad

Tuesday, June 26th, 2007

I keep hearing this advertisement on KPOJ for Washington Post’s website.  None of it is that interesting — it’s a continual series with a woman generally selling that day’s opinion offerings interspersed with a couple of stand-bys.  One hawks a voting record database, which is fair enough.  The other stand-by is an aggravation.

The ad copy goes something like this: “Every election cycle brings with it new terms.  In 2000 it was ‘hanging chads’.  In 2004, we had ‘locked box’ and ‘fuzzy math’.  I have a feeling in 2008, “blogs” will rise to the top, and Washington Post dot com has a lot of blogs.”

The problem is that the phrases for 2004 are connected with the 2000 presidential campaign, and the 2008 phrase came into the force in 2004.  Beyond which, the thought of a professional top-down group of blogs offered to us from this inside the beltway news source as something cutting-edge is fairly depressing — that famed top-down hierarchy that was so a part of Web 1.0 but is dashed away with Web 2.0 — or so the hyped frame of references works.