Monthly Archives: June 2003

GOODBYE AND GOOD RIDDANCE TO

GOODBYE AND GOOD RIDDANCE TO STROM THURMOND: It was announced at about 11:00 tonight that former Senator Strom Thurmond has passed away at the age of 100. Readers of this blog know that when a celebrity or famous political figure dies, I often share a personal rememberence, and make an effort to pay tribute to that person. I plan to do that when Ronald Reagan dies,when Carl Pohlad dies, and (hell) probably even whenever Bud Selig dies too.
I will not be respectfully eulogizing Strom Thurmond tonight, because I believe that he was a man unworthy of mine or anyone else’s respect. He was the man who did more than any other American to derail the progress of the civil rights movement, to preserve racial inequality, and to deny voting and anti-discrimination rights to African-Americans. And he wasn’t Robert Byrd, who (in an admittedly atrocious act) once briefly joined the Ku Klux Klan in a bid to gain votes- Thurmond was a national leader of the pro-segregation movement, and (as Thurmond admirer Trent Lott has reminded us) even ran for president on the single-issue platform of keeping black children out of white schools. That he dropped these views as he got older is no defense; Thurmond’s actions were beyond forgiveness- He said “segregation forever,” not “segregation ’til I change my mind.” And later he all but lost his mind, selfishly continuing to serve in the Senate until he was well beyond senile, and was practically catatonic by the time he retired at the age of 100.
What’s funny is, I can already predict the next three or four days of partisan political discourse: Fox News Channel and their allies will run wistful, worshipful tributes to Thurmond- the same people who call Robert Byrd a Klansman every time he opens his mouth will preach the fiction that Thurmond was some kind of hero. Then a liberal or two will tell the truth- that Thurmond was in fact as vile a man as has ever been in American politics- and the righties will call them “rude,” “disrespectful,” and “un-American.” And on and on it goes… the continuing presence of Strom Thurmond in the GOP was one reason I’ve remained a Democrat; their soon-to-be-lionization of him will likely be one thing that keeps me one.
Strom Thurmond was a racist, a monster, and one of the primary villains of 20th century American history. He was an embarrassment to the United States the entire time that he served in the Senate, and one of the last links to an era in which black people were looked at second-class citizens, if not subhuman. America is a better country now that he’s dead.

DODGING THE DRAFT: Tonight was

DODGING THE DRAFT: Tonight was unquestionably the most boring NBA Draft I’ve ever watched. There was no drama, no surprises, no trades other than pick-for-pick or pick-for-cash, no embarrassing suits, and not even adverse reactions by the crowd to the Knicks’ picks.
Part of the problem was ESPN’s awful coverage, continuing their substandard NBA work from throughout the season. They used tiresome announcers like Tom Tolbert and Greg Anthony, gave next to no screen time to top reporters David Aldridge and Andy Katz, and were left with nothing of substance to say for minutes at a time. This paled by comparison with the hilarious and well-spoken TNT studio team led by Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith, and Ernie Johnson, who handled the draft the last few years.
The Wolves- finally- had a first round pick (their first since 1999) and used it to select Ndudi (pronounced “Doody”) Ebi, who I highly doubt will ever be a player of consequence in the NBA; with their second-round pick they took Rick Rickert, a one-dimensional former University of Minnesota Gopher who continues in the fine tradition of Gophers/T-Wolves like Randy Breuer, Richard Coffey, and the pre-trade Bobby Jackson. Of course, the Wolves had promised for weeks that they wouldn’t even consider drafting Rickert; looks like it’s gonna be a long offseason at Target Center.
The draft went exactly the way everyone thought it would- no one of note was left on the board for too long (other than that Lampe guy) none of the top picks were traded, and no veteran players were traded. There wasn’t much ESPN could’ve done with this material, but that doesn’t entirely excuse their bad coverage: the network is slipping, there’s no doubt about it.
The NBA Draft Diary is usually one of Sports Guy’s best columns of the year; even he’ll have his work cut out for him with the three hours of boredom of this year’s draft.
UPDATE (OR, “DOWN ON THE UPSIDE”): Simmons does a good job, despite the absence of an interesting draft, or his dad.

THE OTHER SODOM: Those who

THE OTHER SODOM: Those who refer to the current Supreme Court as “radical right wing” may have to think twice after today’s ruling that laws against consensual sodomy are unconstitutional. It’s a just, fair, ruling, and with this and the gay marriage in Canada, it’s been a great year so far for the Radical Homosexual Agenda! They’re celebrating over at SodomyLaws.org.
It’s my hope that lifelong gay-basher Strom Thurmond heard about the ruling before he died today, just so he went to his grave knowing that in this very crucial part of the culture war, his side is on its way to defeat.

TROUBLE IN JASPERWOOD: James Lileks

TROUBLE IN JASPERWOOD: James Lileks has come clean on what was wrong, from the previous day’s cryptic post: his wife was sacked from her lawyer job, and this caused him to worry that he may have to start writing more regularly for money (as opposed to every night, for free).
Apparently, even though Lileks didn’t ask, large sums of money have been donated via his PayPal button in the last 24 hours. In the meantime, I think I may have to lobby my father (like Mrs. Lileks, a lawyer in Minneapolis) to see if his firm has room for the wife of one of America’s best bloggers.
And hopefully, those responsible for the sacking will be sacked.

BOB LE FLAMBEUR: Iraqi supreme

BOB LE FLAMBEUR: Iraqi supreme propogandist Muhammad Saeed al-Sahaf, aka Baghdad Bob, aka “Comical Ali,” was captured in Iraq– but later released it was determined that he posed little to no risk.
Now that ‘Bob’ is free- and still a cult figure in America- it’s time he went to Hollywood. Or maybe he can find a candidate next year for whom he can be press secretary.

SI ORTEGA!: I caught “Bruce

SI ORTEGA!: I caught “Bruce Almighty” the other night- nothing special, despite a few funny moments here and there (published review will be forthcoming). But there was one recurring, totally throwaway joke that while it doesn’t fit the movie, just about had me on the floor.
Catherine Bell, the buxom actress best known for “JAG,” has a small role in “Bruce Almighty” as Susan Ortega, a local news anchor who, despite being clearly white and speaking unaccented English, has the last name “Ortega” and pronounces it with a Spanish lisp.
The joke appears to be a nod to the minor trend of local newscasters exaggerating (if not downright lying) about their racial or cultural heritage for purposes of career advancement. An old co-worker of mine told the story once about visiting a West Coast city and noticing that a high school classmate of his was working in that city as a lead news anchor. But while the classmate had been white (and Jewish!) in high school, in the intervening years he had undergone plastic surgery, darkened his skin, and changed his name to “Martinez.”
I’m not quite sure how common this practice is, but it’s quite funny that such a thing would be made fun of in such a mainstream movie as “Bruce.”