FauxPolitik

Friday, June 30, 2006

Hitchens: In Vanity Fair:
America was not the land of birth for this lavish caress, but it is (if I may mix my anthems) white with foam from sea to shining sea. In other cultures, a girl will do "that" only when she gets to know and like you. In this one, she will offer it as a baiser as she is making up her mind. While this persists, and while America's gay manhood is still sucking away as if for oxygen itself, who dares to say that true global leadership is not still within our grasp?
Yes, that's what he means.

Via Instapundit.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Nadal Advances . . . in five sets . . . against a qualifier. And he faces Agassi next. Methinks someone's capri pants are going to be in tatters by the end of that.

Meanwhile, Jon Wertheim takes on the Federer-Nadal hoo-hah, and he nails the point I made at the French:
It's less Federer's head-to-head record [with Nadal] as it is the appearance he's being beaten mentally.


Yes. Other than the first set, he played like someone believing Nadal's press agent and buying into the "clay streak" hype. Nadal played only marginal tennis that day; by the grace of god, he won when Federer showed he could play worse.

Finally, on the once again media fodder of equal prize money for the broads, I'll restate my position: Tough shit.

To elaborate: When the ladies voluntarily decide to play best-of-five for their prize money, I'll scrub the gents' loo at Wimbledon with a toothbrush to earn them the difference. Until then, a smaller prize is unfair only in the minds of such deep thinkers as Maria Sharapova.
The former champion Maria Sharapova said: "I think men and women should be treated equally."


Meantime, Leander Paes reaches for the Vijay Singh award:
Leander Paes, the Indian doubles player, said he thought 80 per cent of women players would not be able to play five-set matches.
He's right, too. But so insensitive to say so!

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Non-Story Dead: R-Fed destroys Henman -4, -0, -2. Stick a fork in Hennie -- if he can't make it here, he can't make it anywhere (apologies to Frank). Much was being made of Henman's actual winning record over Federer leading up to this match, but I suspect most of those wins came either at Wimby or in tune-ups about 3-4 years ago. Anyway, no other seeds faced any considerable trouble.

Agassi is getting the hero's send-off, as he should. Who would have guessed, say 12-13 years ago, that the Vegas Bad Boy would now be a) hairless, b) playing long after Sampras hung it up, c) married to Graf [still a stunner], and d) tennis' ambassador??? Not your humble scribe, that's for sure.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

And the Ladies? You're right not to count Venus out. She's a fan favorite, and she's got a history here. But when was the last time she went two straight weeks for a title? Last year. I wonder if she's tough enough to hang in to the quarters.

I like Justine's chances, as usual. She played well at the French and at the Hastings grass tune-up last week. And she's been in a lot of finals this year -- meaning she seen the talent in the field and has sweated through numerous rounds to get there. She's tough enough.

I think Mauresmo's a choker, and I always have. As I live and breathe, I can't believe she won the Aussie. I don't expect her to do much.

I've always like Hingis's game, and she's got more power that she did back in her earlier career -- though that's not saying much. It would certainly be a feat for her to cement her comeback here, where she won nearly a decade ago.

More later.

Good Show! That's the spirit, Razor. After blogging the French nearly solo, I briefly feared you'd be out of commission for The Championships (capital T, capital C) as well.

Best that I not waste time disputing your picks, as they are wise -- on the men's side, anyway. Roger is surely the best grass player out there, and a tough loss at the French doesn't seem to have lingered with him. That said, presented with the betting proposition "Nadal will beat Federer at Wimbledon before Federer beats Nadal at Roland Garros," I would look my money over very carefully before choosing a side.

Some points of note: The Brits could not pull off their annual feat of mathematical legerdemain this year -- a seeding for Henman.

Tough to believe Lleyton Hewitt won here in 2002 -- seriously! The big name in his draw is fellow "what-the-hell-happened?" Andy Roddick. Lleyton won the Stella (That's "Stella!" to Flyer) Artois, so maybe he's back in business.

Roddick, on the other hand, has won cazzo this year. He turns 24 before the U.S. Open -- not Methuselah, to be sure, but certainly time to think about not ending up with that single major on your shelf. 15 years on, pretty much everyone spells Michael Chang's name F-L-U-K-E.

That other Andy -- Andy Murray -- went through Nicolas Massu like a Sidewinder missle. True, Massu is not . . . er, not a grass player's grass player, you might say. But he's a veteran, a journeyman, and he got dusted by the gangly British kid in straight sets. Many a British heart went pitter pat. Tim who?

Let The Real Games Begin (once it stops raining): It's raining everywhere. That can only mean that it's Wimbledon time. Break out your berries and cream and follow along with Razor as he handicaps the tourney:

Mens

Here's who won't win: Nadal, Roddick, Hewitt, Blake, Robredo. Nadal hasn't proven himself off of clay, and I just don't see it. Roddick may very well be done for. Blake -- he's got moxie, but I don't see him winning a major whilst R-Fed is alive.

Here's who could win: Nalbandian, Ljubicic, Ancic, Agassi (never underestimate this guy although his body is telling him that he'll be lucky to make it to Flushing Meadows)

Here's who will win
: Federer. He's motivated and he's good. Plus he has history on his side.

Biggest Non-Story: Henman. Sorry, but that ship has foundered long ago.

Biggest Story: Probably Agassi who I think might make it interesting.

Women

Here's who won't win: Mauresmo, Clijsters, Dementieva (no serve), Myskina (I don't know that she can play anymore -- something happened to her after winning the French a few years ago).

Here's who could win
: Justine, Sharapova, Hingis (who knows, maybe she makes this her coming out party -- er, coming out again party?),

Here's who will win: Venus -- she's due to play well. She loves Wimby, they love her -- Serena's not around to bother her, and I have to think pride pulls her through.

Biggest Non-Story: The expected Russian domination of the game -- where have they gone?

Biggest Story
: Wimby cutting out the low-cut tops on the women. Why don't we just put them in bloomers while we're at it?

Monday, June 26, 2006

The Best There Ever Was: Back when t.v. mattered, there was this. I am already shuddering over the movie re-make....

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Sullivan misses the point: Or maybe just avoids it purposefully, but why make it so obvious. In his Email of the Day post yesterday he cites a correspondant who says:

I can't believe you would put the interrogation policies of the Bush administration and the barbaric beheading of another human being on the same moral plane. You wrote today:

"My point is that we can no longer unequivocally condemn the torture of these two soldiers because we have endorsed and practised torture ourselves."

Until you can show me evidence that a U.S. Government interrogator has taken a dull knife, cut into the throat of another man or woman, and sawn through skin, muscle, tendon, and bone until the head of that persons detaches from their neck, please don't make such an intellectually dishonest comparison between these barbarians and our own government.
Our enemies are fundamentalist nihilists. We may have to fight a harder, dirtier war against such a disgraceful enemy. But we still must do what is necessary to win.

Sully replies thus:

This is an honest argument: to fight barbarians, we must become more like them. I disagree; I believe torture is always wrong, and profoundly corrupts the torturing nation that endorses it. I also think that in the short and, even more, in the long run, it will prove our undoing in this war. This is a battle between barbarism and civilization. We cannot destroy our moral compass in order to save it.
At the very end of the email the writer does indicate some vague support for getting a little down and dirty with those who don't fight by Marquis of Queensbury rules, but the overall thrust of his argument is that we don't engage in behavior that in any way resembles the atrocities committed by our foes. We don't cut off heads or otherwise murder our victims, we don't torture enemies, at least not in the same sense of the word. He's basically saying, "We may have to get a little rough from time to time, but this (ed. those who beheaded american soldiers) is torture. And if you can't see the difference maybe you're not so qualified to say who holds the moral high ground."

Andrew totally ignores that accusation and makes a nice attempt to distract the reader with a little rhetorical dodge, offering to legitimize, if not accept, an argument that isn't there ("This is an honest argument."). But it's a cheap trick and is the kind of thing that has pissed off much of his readership.



Friday, June 16, 2006

If it's Friday, this must be a mojito: No, just coffee. The past couple weeks have been pretty hectic, so here's a quick rundown: Michelle Wie still hasn't won anything and proved that when the sponsor's aren't holding the door open, she can't get on the course with the men; Big Ben finally got his head examined, just not in time so do him much good (I'm glad he seems okay, but if he misses one mini-camp I say they start fining him $10,000 a day); al-Zarqawi lost the big game of tag (you're it, no tag-backs, and enjoy your 72 raisins).

Went to Miami on Wednesday and got fried on $9 mojitos (Miami can now officially be cut off from the continent as far as I'm care - what a shit hole). Then went back to the hotel, ate a $50 steak sandwich and passed out. Got rewarded for my genius with a canceled flight home yesterday and an 8 hour wait for a new plane to be brought in, from China, apparently. Now I'm packing to drive to Cleveland for a college friend's wedding. I'm sticking to beer. Maybe they'll have Rolling Rock.

Later.

If it's Friday, this must be a mojito: No, just coffee. The past couple weeks have been pretty hectic, so here's a quick rundown: Michelle Wie still hasn't won anything and proved that when the sponsor's aren't holding the door open, she can't get on the course with the men; Big Ben finally got his head examined, just not in time so do him much good (I'm glad he seems okay, but if he misses one mini-camp I say they start fining him $10,000 a day); al-Zarqawi lost the big game of tag (you're it, no tag-backs, and enjoy your 72 raisins).

Went to Miami on Wednesday and got fried on $9 mojitos (Miami can now officially be cut off from the continent as far as I'm care - what a shit hole). Then went back to the hotel, ate a $50 steak sandwich and passed out. Got rewarded for my genius with a canceled flight home yesterday and an 8 hour wait for a new plane to be brought in, from China, apparently. Now I'm packing to drive to Cleveland for a college friend's wedding. I'm sticking to beer. Maybe they'll have Rolling Rock.

Later.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Why Roger Lost: I've been thinking about it this week. Let's face it, the ice-man put on a pitiful performance. He was unable to think about his game, correct errors before they sank him, or take advantage of Nadal's poor start. Granted, Nadal has whipped Federer on clay all year long, but this was completely winnable for Roger. His momentum coming out of the first set was staggering. The best clay player in the world was wholly unable to read or respond to Federer's game. Nadal is great for his age, but he's still a kid, and Federer is old enough that he should know how to push that momentum against a hot player.

So what does this mean? One word: choke. Federer choked, and will continue to choke against Nadal. For how long? Until he doesn't anymore. For long enough that he's unlikely to win the French, ever. Early in Federer's career, David Nalbandian was his nemesis, a second stringer who consistently beat Federer -- sometimes beat him badly. And not because he was terribly talented, but because Federer would choke against him -- all the while beating top tier players like Roddick, Safin, Hewitt, and Agassi.

Anyhow, it took Federer years -- years of getting past a psychological block, analyzing Nalbandian's game, whatever -- to finally start consistently beating Nalbandian. He doesn't have years to break down the young Nadal, who has the potential to dominate the clay court like nobody since Borg*, who had won the French five times by the time he was Federer's age. Nadal is on that kind of pace.

That said, Federer can win. But he needs to play a clay court game. He needs to take advantage of the unbelievable angles he can put on the ball, his shot placement, and his strong, versitile serve. After the first set, none of those were on regular display on Sunday.

Sometimes players win matches, and sometimes the match is won for them. Nadal had the match won for him. Federer played awful tennis and gave away the victory.

*Of course, it goes without saying that Borg, the original ice-man, dominated nearly everything in his brief career. He won 11 majors in 8 years and went to an additional five major finals -- and retired at 26 (imagine Federer retiring next year, at 26). If he had been as good on hard courts as on grass and clay, it wouldn't even occur to people today that the "best ever" question was open for debate.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

It's Been a Rough Week in Western PA: Sure the Ben R story was pretty bad -- but all in all, it was his own damn fault for not wearing a helmet. If he chooses to be an idiot, then he gets to pay the consequences.

But this....this is just too much.

I'm quickly losing faith in humanity.

Monday, June 05, 2006

And the Ladies': Who thought Martina Hingis would be in the QF at the French? Well, she's unlikely to go much farther, facing Clijsters -- and then Henin-Hardenne, if she's lucky enough to survive Big Kim.

Kusnetsova, too, seems out of her depth. She's never done as well on clay as on pavement, and she didn't have to face Sharapova this year.

So it would seem to be either Kim or Justine taking on whichever Williams sister bothered to show up this year. Yes, Venus is always a threat, but the world of female tennis finally learned a few years ago that if you can hang in on some of Venus's first serves, and really pound her second serves back at her the way Justine does, you find that her game has no depth. Notice that once Justine figured this out, Venus decided she'd rather pursue fashion ... or film ... or ... what is it again that takes her away from tennis?

As for Miss Ana-Lena Groenefeld, I don't know a damn thing about her.

The Men's QF: It says something about the state of men's tennis that the biggest threat left to Nadal in the bottom half of the draw is Ivan Ljubicic. I'll grant you, Ljubicic is the the fourth seed and all, but he's an empty seed, serving only as a placeholder for the wasted potential of former top 10 players like Hewitt and Roddick, and perhaps a placeholder for the untapped potential of young Gael Monfils. At any rate, Ljubicic eked out two minor hard court titles this year, beating talented but awfully streaky players like David Nalbandian and Thomas Johannson, or specialists like Carlos Moya, and is unlikely to give Nadal any trouble.

The real wild card is Nikolay Davydenko, who might just be ready to make some noise. He is a solid clay player who was a semifinalist here last year and has managed to dig up a 6 seed based on his clay showings and a trip to the quarters down under. He also beat former French Open champs Gaston Gaudio and Carlos Moya pretty solidly on his way to the qusrterfinals here. I'll be cheering him on, if only because he threatens to stand in the way of Federer and Nadal becoming another boring Sampras/Agassi rivalry -- the clinician vs. the properly pumped-up wildman.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Roland Garros: I'm glad someone is paying attention. This will be an interesting year for the French Open.

Federer is nearly 25. If he doesn't win the French this year, he probably never will. If he does win it this year, he's over the big hump for the real Grand Slam (not some phony "lifetime" slam or "Tiger" slam bullshit).

Also, if he wins the French, he's pretty much a shoo-in to pass Sampras for all time majors. After all, he won the last 3 Wimbys, the last 2 US Opens, and 2 of the last 3 Aussies. He could afford, like Pete, to f*ck off Roland Garros.

A win this year means he's still very serious about his game, and not just coasting.

That said, if you want to pick a winner, take Razor's evergreen advice and count the vowels in the players' names: Nadal, Gaudio, Ferrero (hell, even qualifiersuper-unknown Martin Vassallo Arguello would be a good bet, since he's carrying the perfecta of plentiful vowels and three names).

Where's Razor?: After all, the American men are already all but eliminated at Roland Garos.