Anything from current events, campaign finance reform, sports (especially baseball), corporate/political/legal ethics, pop culture, confessions of a recovering comic book addict, and probably some overly indulgent discourses about my 3-year old daughter. E-Mail: sardonicviews -at-
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Friday, November 21, 2003

Why the Quotes?

From Reuters, the news agency who's motto is "one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter," comes a disturbing use of scare quotes.

Turks will stage silent "peace protests" Saturday to express their grief and anger over truck bomb attacks which killed more than 50 people in the worst week of peacetime violence in Turkey's modern history.
Turkish trade unionists and non-governmental groups appealed to people to turn out at 11 a.m. (0900 GMT) in major cities to register their revulsion at the blasts, whose victims have included Muslims, Jews and Christians.

Now, does anyone have an idea as to why this sort of peace protest should receive scare quotes? More than 50 people died and hundreds injured in the blasts. Turkish citizens are holding a silent vigil to condemn and demand a stop to terror attacks -- without resorting to violence themselves. This seems like a rather straight-forward peace protest. That is unless, Reuters doesn't consider such a protest to really be for "peace."

Fuzzy 'Burgh

I meant to post this yesterday, but things got a little busy at the house.

I mentioned a couple weeks ago, the Pittsburgh overreaction the "Get Fuzzy" cartoon making a joke to the effect that Pittsburgh smells -- and the overreaction by Pittsburgh natives and the civic leaders being somewhat similar to the reaction Clevelanders had to Harvey Pekar doing a comic for the New York Times.

The creator, Darby Conley, apologized -- sort of -- then proceeded to keep mocking Pittsburgh further -- much to the joy of some of my Northeast Ohio bloggers who apparently don't know the background story -- which just makes it funnier and not a little ironic given Cleveland's hypersensitivity to outside perceptions.

I have new respect for Conley, after this. This is how you deal with stupid complaints. With further and harsher mockery. Conley, whether intentionally or not (and it seems that he knew right down to the amount of money spent), fired the best blast with the new slogan strip. Sadly enough, Pittsburgh did spend $200,000 for a new "core theme."

Though there are better things to offend Pittsburghers that are funnier and closer to thetruth.

Thursday, November 20, 2003

East Cleveland Bans Firearms Stores

It's official. East Cleveland has banned legal firearms stores from opening. All because someone merely asked about maybe opening a business in the area.

Yes, that will stop the violence in East Cleveland

"You don't have to make it convenient for people to walk down the street and get a gun," Councilwoman Mildred Brewer, the ban's chief sponsor, said in an interview before the meeting. "Not in a drug-infested area like East Cleveland."

Police Chief Patricia Lane lobbied for the ban. She noted that East Cleveland has had more than 80 gun-related incidents this year, including seven homicides, and that police have seized about 100 guns.

There are no legal gun shops in existence in East Cleveland. Clearly this will make a difference.

Let The Lap Dancing Resume

Here in Cleveland the very concept of voter referendums like in California are "feared" for some reason. I don't see them this way, so I found this threat of a voter referendum beating back a stupid regulation heartening (via Hit & Run).

Los Angeles City Council members backed down Tuesday from a showdown with strip club owners and said they would allow near-naked women to keep gyrating in men's laps, a lucrative form of adult entertainment known as lap dancing that the council had voted this fall to ban.

The hasty retreat by the council comes after a well-choreographed campaign by club owners, who threatened to put lap dancing on the March 2005 ballot — which, if approved by voters, would put regulation beyond the council's reach.
They dispatched professional signature gatherers to supermarket parking lots and bars and quickly collected more than 100,000 signatures, forcing the city to either repeal the ordinance or put it on the ballot.

The regulations would have required strippers to be no closer than 6 feet from patrons, no direct tipping to the strippers or contact, the end of private VIP rooms, annual license renewals, and hiring state-licensed security guards.

Regardless of how you feel about strip clubs, it's clear that these ordinances would have put an end to almost all strip clubs within LA. So, it should come as no surprise that the owners would be willing to spend money to protect their businesses. That's not quite how it is spun in the article.

In forcing the council to reverse its position, strip club owners demonstrated both the volatility of the sex industry as a political issue and the effectiveness of the referendum process when wielded by a well-financed interest group.

Days after the council voted in September to ban lap dancing and impose a host of new regulations, the industry raised $400,000 to collect enough signatures to force a referendum on the new law. Council members said Tuesday that a citywide vote on lap dancing would be a political distraction, with seven of the 15 council members facing reelection on the same ballot.

"The stakes are real high," said City Councilman Ed Reyes, who cites the adult clubs in his East Los Angeles district as a threat to children and families. "If we go to the ballot and lose, we are not going to be able to regulate. We don't have millions of dollars to spend on a campaign, and these folks have millions to spare."
"The message this council is sending to every well-heeled special interest group is that, if they don't like a law ... all they have to do is spend a few hundred thousand and the council will be intimidated and they'll back off and gut the law," said Thomas Donovan, a member of the Westside Residents Assn. and a supporter of the lap-dance ban.

Emphasis added.

See it's not about doing what it takes to protect a business from being regulated out of existence, it is about a well-financed special interest group outspending others.

The compromise ordinance is not exactly toothless. Private VIP rooms are still out. While direct tipping is still permitted, the "touching of breasts and genitals would be prohibited." The annual licensing and state-licensed security gurards would also remain.

Still More Football News

Gregg Easterbrook's weekly epic "Tuesday Morning Quarterback" is being hosted by Football Outsiders.

Locally in Cleveland. Suspended Cleveland Browns RB, William Green, is in a local hospital after being stabbed in the back (under his left shoulder blade). He was stabbed by the mother of his two children and fiancee. Green was suspended 4 games for a second violation of the NFL's drug testing program, that came on the heels of being arrested for a DUI a couple hours after practice ended.

On top of this, he had been spotted drinking in the local Hard Rock Cafe. During his suspension, he is not allowed to drink. This could result in an additional suspension.

I really wanted to make some crude, tasteless jokes and rip on him for being an idiot. But I am feeling some sympathy for what is obviously a screwed up guy. I mean, this is something right out of Playmakers.

A team source and a source close to Green said yesterday that Green remains in a troubled relationship with Gray because of his daughters, Amani, 3, and Anyah, 10 weeks. The two began dating in high school in Atlantic City, N.J. The sources said he's committed to raising his daughters because of his own tumultuous past.

His dad, Bobby Green, was a heroin addict who was mostly out of Green's life. He contracted AIDS and then infected Green's mother, Mable Ruth. Bobby died when Green was 12 and Mable when Green was 13. Green vowed that he would always be there for his children and not abandon them like his father did.

Green was twice suspended in college for marijuana use and vowed he'd stay straight in Cleveland.

In addition to the pressures at home - including a newborn baby - Green is helping support his five siblings, who were all separated when their parents died.


Wednesday, November 19, 2003

Looking Dumber By Comparison

The Browns and some of its fans may feel better about waiving WR, Kevin Johnson, after they beat-up on one of the worst teams in the NFL -- The Arizona Cardinals (who I think should change their name to the Arizona Phoenix, but that might just be me) 44-6.

The Browns argued Johnson was selfish, wouldn't block, went down easily after a catch, and became the dreaded "locker-room cancer." Therefore, they had to get him off the team, and not just wait until the end of the season to try and trade him. Sunday morning saw a fair amount of defending that move from ex-coaches.

The punishment that Kevin Johnson received was to be claimed by the Jacksonville Jaguars (16 other teams also claimed him, but Jacksonville had the worst record last year, so they got him first). Johnson, now has the right to become a free agent or stay with Jacksonville after the season. In other words, he finds himself in a position of strength to make more money and/or go to a place he wants. Some punishment.

Yesterday, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers dealt with their own Johnson "locker room cancer" WR, Keyshawn Johnson. They deactivated him.

Here's what deactivating a player does: it kicks the player off the team for the rest of the season. The locker-room cancer is now gone. The team still has to pay the salary (but if Johnson had cleared waivers, so would the Browns, and in both cases there was no salary cap relief this year -- the main issue), but the Bucs are still able to trade Keyshawn for something in a draft pick and/or player. In fact, to get to a team that Keyshawn wants, he might even agree to changes in his contract to go, helping with salary cap implications because of his large signing bonus that is counted against the cap over the length of a contract.

It just makes the Browns move look more stupid and shortsighted. The got nothing for Kevin Johnson, and encourage other players with some talent to complain if they want out.

Tuesday, November 18, 2003

How America is Perceived.

This is great.

The fanatical Muslims despise America because it's all lapdancing and gay porn; the secular Europeans despise America because it's all born-again Christians hung up on abortion; the anti-Semites despise America because it's controlled by Jews. Too Jewish, too Christian, too Godless, America is also too isolationist, except when it's too imperialist. And even its imperialism is too vulgar and arriviste to appeal to real imperialists: let's face it, the ghastly Yanks never stick it to the fuzzy-wuzzy with the dash and élan of the Bengal Lancers, which appears to be the principal complaint of Sir Max Hastings and his ilk. To the mullahs, America is the Great Satan, a wily seducer; to the Gaullists, America is the Great Cretin, a culture so self-evidently moronic that only stump-toothed inbred Appalachian lardbutts could possibly fall for it. American popular culture is utterly worthless, except when one of its proponents - Michael Moore, Sean Penn, Susan Sarandon - attacks Bush, in which case he or she is showered with European awards and sees the foreign-language rights for his latest tract sell for six figures at Frankfurt. The fact that the best-selling anti-Americans are themselves American - Moore, Chomsky - is perhaps the cruellest manifestation of the suffocating grip of the hyperpower.

Too Christian, too Godless, too isolationist, too imperialist, too seductive, too cretinous, America is George Orwell's Room 101: whatever your bugbear, you will find it therein - for the Continentals, excessive religiosity; for the Muslims, excessive decadence; for Harold Pinter, excessively bleeding rectums.

Monday, November 17, 2003

The Best You Don't Know

I hope the money is good from the Associated Press, because you get no name recognition from them. One of the best national sports columnists out there, is Jim Litke of the AP. Unfortunately, he only seems to be published in sports sections for small papers who have one or no columnists of their own. So he never gets recognition (not even listed in the SportsPages columnist list) It's a shame, becasue he's a really good writer and he knows what he's talking about.

Last Thursday, at PSB, I noted that Notre Dame seems to be feeling out conferences again.

This may be paranoid ravings -- go figure -- but could ND be doing this to keep the Big 11 from formally considering expansion until after the new BCS agreement is made? This would leave ND with more options if it should find the next BCS arrangement not in ND's financial/national championship interests to stay independent. I believe the Big 11 is slowly moving towards making a decision in the next couple years, and ND may be trying to stay ahead of the wave.

Jim Litke discussed it in his Friday column, and made real sense of it.

Conferences are devouring each other at a furious pace. As a result, the next time some old rivals meet will be in a court instead of on a football field.

What the conferences are doing is positioning themselves for the end of the 2005 season, when the TV deal that gives the Bowl Championship Series a chokehold on the lucrative part of college football's postseason is up. So is the exclusive, even more lucrative TV deal Notre Dame struck with NBC.
Last year, though few noticed it and even fewer mentioned it, Notre Dame lost its vote as a member of the BCS. The Irish no longer carried as much weight as the six major conferences that are also BCS members.

Practically, it made no difference. The Irish still get special consideration from the poll voters when they're good -- and sometimes, even when they're not. Their strength of schedule always gives them a chance to contend for the national championship, a nd they get bowl invitations just because of the size of the traveling party.

Yet Notre Dame is spending more and more every year to hold on to its independence. Soon, even the Irish will have to take out a mortgage.

When a new TV deal is struck, nothing short of a playoff will break the major conferences' grip on the national championship. And some of those conferences are still smarting over Notre Dame having its own TV network. The price of a seat at that table is only going to go up.


(Copyright © 2002-2005 Chas Rich All rights Reserved.);
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