Saturday, September 09, 2006

Did you know Pearl Harbor happened because Roosevelt was distracted by his affair with Lucy Mercer?

Let’s try a little thought experiment. Imagine that it’s December of 1946, and that they had the kind of network television we have today. They already had Disney -- you might as well assume that Disney owned ABC back then, too. And throw in Robert Iger for good measure. Imagine the network decided to spend a king’s ransom to create a 5th anniversary docudrama called “The Path to Pearl Harbor,” both to pay tribute to the fallen martyrs and to explain how the tragedy could have come to pass. Some advance copies get out and the highlights can be summarized as follows:
We see the awakening of Asian fascism, see the beast leave its lair and start to stalk its prey. When Japan invades China in 1937, Roosevelt is asleep in the arms of his mistress, Lucy Mercer. When the world protests the Rape of Nanking, Roosevelt is asleep in the arms of his mistress. When Japan cuts a deal in 1940 with Vichy France, occupies French Indochina and joins the Axis powers, Roosevelt is asleep in the arms of his mistress. He continues to doze off in her arms while those more conscientious than he start an oil boycott of Japan. While Japan builds its military muscle, and the U.S. breaks their codes, Roosevelt is asleep. The codebreakers intercept the crucial cable traffic as the Japanese aircraft carrers steam toward a moment that will live in infamy, but Roosevelt blows it off -- asleep in the arms of his mistress. Nearly 2,500 Americans die as a result.
What would have happened to ABC if it had tried a stunt like this back then? Actually, there were plenty of Republicans who despised Roosevelt, and for some of them this scenario would have seemed to be an understatement. Despite all that, pinning the blame for Pearl Harbor on Roosevelt's marital indicretions never really caught on.

Bonus Question: Why not? What was so different from today's media climate? Leave your answer in the comments. I'll start.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Missing Andre Agassi


Robert Caplin for The New York Times

I'm still mourning the absence of Andre Agassi at the final rounds of the U.S. Open, though he sure gave it his all before walking off the court for the last time. As I noted earlier, it just isn't the same.

But I just read something that cheered me up. At My Left Wing, Jay Lassiter has a post about Andre's retirement that also references his politics (with a link to a list of his campaign contributions).
It's worth noting that Andre Agassi is a staunch Democrat. Since 2000, he has contributed nearly $100,000 to left-leaning candidates running for election. When asked at a tournament in Spain who he would be supporting in the 2004 Presidential election, he offered this reply, "Well, me, I'm voting for Kerry for sure. And I wish everybody would."

Hopefully, he'll be running for office one day, maybe in his homestate of Nevada. In the meantime I think we can all agree that tennis' elder statesman deserves some time off with his family.
It always seemed to me that Andre might be a political natural. He has that need to connect with people and the kind of real empathy for others that you find in the best politicians. His work with kids and education in Las Vegas has been impressive.

Trouble was, while I hoped he was a Democrat, I wasn't sure. Zillionaire superstar athletes usually keep pretty quiet about their politics during their playing days -- and these days, it seems that when you scratch a celebrity athlete, you often uncover a Republican. I always thought Andrew was one of the good guys. It's great to know for sure.

NYT peddles Monica reprints and blames Bill for 9/11

Unbelievable: From Alessandra Stanley's truly awful review of ABC's "The Path to 9/11"," which won her the coveted "Wanker of the Day" award from Atrios:
As the terrorist threat mounts, one of the more jarring moments is a real-life clip of President Bill Clinton addressing the nation about Monica Lewinsky.

The Sept. 11 commission concluded that the sex scandal distracted the Clinton administration from the terrorist threat. But in hindsight, surely the right-wing groups who drove for impeachment must look back at their partisan obsession with shame, like widows sickened by the memory of spats about dirty dishes and gambling debts.
Oh? As Think Progress points out, what the 9/11 Commission really said was this::
Everyone involved in the decision had, of course, been aware of President Clinton’s problems. He told them to ignore them. Berger recalled the President saying to him “that they are going to get crap either way, so they should do the right thing.” All his aides testified to us that they based their advice solely on national security considerations. We have found no reason to question their statements.
So much for objective journalism. The New York Times, usually so stingy about putting links in their online stories, feels obliged to put in the Monica link, which connects to an archive listing of all their Monica stories during and after the impeachment fiasco. You can download them for free if you have Times Select, pay several bucks apiece if you don't.

After all this time, the New York Times still can't stop reminding their readers of What Bill Did? They're still trying to profit from the scandal? By mindlessly parroting wingnut propaganda that tarnishes the memory of 9/11 by dragging in Monica Lewinsky? Give me a break.

ABC's fictionalization is due to start airing Sunday night. Not much time left, but if you want to add your voice to the chorus of protests, Think Progress has been doing a great job of raising awareness and has lots of information about people to contact.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

So, you’re Dick Cheney and you’ve got a war to start

Picture this: You’re the most powerful vice president the country has ever known. In your dark, saturnine view, there are a lot of good reasons to invade Iraq and topple Saddam Hussein, but you need a casus belli. Weapons of mass destruction should do it. You’re sure they’ve got some stuff left over from 1991. It’s just a matter of finding it. You start to pressure the limp-wristed wimps at CIA to do their jobs and dig up the evidence you know is there.

In the summer of 2001, even before 9/11, the agency's Counterproliferation Division expands one of its units and renames it the Joint Task Force on Iraq. They're tasked with finding the evidence. They have a network of covert ops operating under deep cover. But they don’t find squat. It seems to you that the JTFI is ineffectual or worse. They keep debunking WMD claims. Even when hand-picked defectors provided by Ahmad Chalabi are set right in front of them, all they do is discredit them. Two years, and they're still empty-handed. Hopeless.


The war goes forward, no thanks to the JTFI, but you don’t forget. Those crypto-liberals at CIA need to be taught a lesson. You don't want them getting in the way next time -- in Iran, say. You wait for the right opportunity and eventually, that summer, you arrange to have the covert director of operations of JTFI outed. The entire network has to be rolled up and sources are compromised, and the director’s career is ruined. That should be a lesson those weasels in the agency will never forget!

The insiders get the message. For everyone else, you cover your tracks by making it seem that the real target of your little vendetta was the director's spouse. Meanwhile, you've eliminated a lot of the dissenters who disagree with your interpretation of the intelligence. The rest should be much more docile now.

If all this damage had been done by a spy, it would have been a major scandal, but hey -- you’re the vice president and your friends control most of the government. Oh, and the name of the director of operations? Valerie Plame.


A fantasy? Maybe, but the likelihood that something very similar did happen took a quantum leap after David Corn dropped his bombshell about the Plamegate affair in The Nation. The coauthor of "Hubris" (with Newsweek's Michael Isikoff) revealed what Valerie Plame really did for the CIA.
Valerie Wilson was no analyst or paper-pusher. She was an operations officer working on a top priority of the Bush Administration. Armitage, Rove and Libby had revealed information about a CIA officer who had searched for proof of the President's case. In doing so, they harmed her career and put at risk operations she had worked on and foreign agents and sources she had handled.
Teresa has a good summary of what the new revelations mean at Making Light, with links to excellent posts by Firedoglake, Digby and Emptywheel, who have all been following Plamegate closely and knowledgeably. Teresa's conclusions:
1. Valerie Plame Wilson's unit honestly couldn't find evidence of Weapons of Mass Destruction, and said so. She was punished for it.

(Is there anyone reading this who doesn’t understand how potentially disastrous it is to force intelligence findings to conform with one's preferred policies? Intelligence asks, What is true? Policy replies, That being true, what are we going to do about it? Reversing their order turns it into: Tell us what we want to hear, so we can justify doing what we've already decided to do. That approach leads to conclusions like “Nobody will object if we march through Belgium,” “our attack at the Somme will produce a great strategic breakthrough,” and “the Iraqis will greet our troops with cheering and flowers.”)

2. Her outing was not, as originally thought, a way of getting back at her husband. It was meant to take her down.

3. This realization isn't mine, I got it from a friend: Cheney and his staff must have known who she was, and what she was working on, at the time they outed her.

4. Bush's relatively recent admission that they were mistaken about the WMDs was a lie from start to finish. The Bush administration knew that well before the war started.

5. Thanks to the magic of global mass communications, the rest of the world now knows it too.
I agree, especially with #2. I always thought that shutting Plame's network down was probably at least as important as whacking her husband -- news reports when this story broke emphasized that the whole network had to be rolled up. Given what these guys were trying to accomplish in the Middle East, and their dislike of the CIA, the idea of "flying blind" when it came to WMD in the area must have had its appeal. Joe Wilson was basically a sideshow. Settling old scores with him was just an added benefit. But it was Valerie Plame and her unit they were trying to shut down.

This must be what Fitzgerald has been chewing on all this time. This isn't some minor misdemeanor. It's serious stuff. If (a big "if," of course) Fitz can prove that Cheney knew who Plame was AND deliberately instigated her outing, that would be about as serious as you can get. The possibility would account for the stonewalling Ashcroft suddenly being convinced to appoint Fitzgerald in the first place.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Politicians reborn as bloggers

In the the UK, where government officials still resign over a matter of principle -- and sometimes do so with a dash of irony -- cabinet minister Tom Watson announced his resignation over Tony Blair's refusal to resign now with this headline in his blog: "Minister leaves government to spend more time with his blog." And, naturally, Blair's letter of acceptance is also posted in the blog.

Thanks to the "other" Tom Watson for the link. He also gives some of the background and comments on his "virtual friend," his British namesake.
No not me. My virtual friend, the Right Honorable Tom, Labour MP for West Bromwich, Birmingham, UK. Tom and I have kept up an occasional correspondence through our blogs, and via email. He's a very cordial fellow, a big music fan, and a family man. In public life, the other TW was a stalwart Blairite, loyal Labour man, and rising star - named only six months ago to Government as Under-Secretary of State at the Ministry of Defence. But in those six months, he too decided it was time for Tony Blair's long career as Prime Minister to end - now, and not next spring as Blair had indicated.
This Tom hopes the other Tom continues blogging, and I hope so, too. It seems that blogging is a great way for experienced and knowledgeable public servants to continue to participate in public life by sharing that experience.

Here in Madison, Paul Soglin -- our best mayor in modern times -- continues commenting at Waxing America on local, state and national affairs. Speaking of the latter, he's got some good ideas for the Dems going into the fall elections.
The negative attacks on the misguided war in Iraq have served their purpose for two years. They exposed the weakness, the criminality, and the danger of the Republican position. Now it is time for the Dem's to go positive and submit a platform.

Election strategy designed and orchestrated by the legislators is the worst kind. If you look at the democratic minorities in Congress and in state legislatures all over this country, they are basically the result of legislators, in a defensive mode, fashioning campaigns based on the weakness of Republicans. It is a plan for losers.

America wants politicians who stand for something.
Seems to be true in England as well, as Tony Blair is finding to his dismay.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Hyper-castrating female insects: New York Times, what's your problem? You're creeping me out. Why?

"This Can't Be Love" read the headline. Indeed. It was one of those real "nature red in tooth and claw" stories, though with no blood visible in the elegantly grotesque pictures provided by the New York Times. (Photoshop, anyone?) I'm still wondering why they devoted nearly a full page in the Science section, between the start of the story and the jump, to this exercise in "geek chic" science journalism that's pretty much summed up in Carl Zimmer's lede. I could show the photos, but I won't -- you'll have to click on the hyperlink yourself, if that's how you get your jollies.
Across the eastern United States, a gruesome ritual is in full swing. The praying mantis and its relative, the Chinese mantis, are in their courtship season. A male mantis approaches a female, flapping his wings and swaying his abdomen. Leaping on her back, he begins to mate. And quite often, she tears off his head.

The female mantis devours the head of the still-mating male and then moves on to the rest of his body. “If you put a pair together and come back later, you’ll just find the wings of the male and no other evidence he was ever there,” said William Brown, an evolutionary biologist at the State University of New York in Fredonia.
Wow! Sexual cannibalism -- talk about castrating females. You'd have to call this hyper castration, or extreme castration -- not just the family jewels, but head, body, everything but the wings. What's going on here with this super-Freudian nightmare photographed in tasteful color in pleasant earth tones on a nice white seamless background? Are the women at the Times really getting that uppity? Are the men in charge really that worried? (I know Judith Miller gave Sulzberger a hard time when he let her go, but she didn't really bite off his head, did she?)

Seriously, guys -- what gives? I mean, we all learned in elementary school that praying mantises have this little quirk. Do we really need to dwell on it at such length? Sure, you cited some interesting speculation about evolutionary biology, but couldn't that have been briefly summarized? Is this really the most important science story of the week?

It used to be that the Science Times gave readers a really nice weekly summary of important developments in science. But lately, it's often been hard to find anything worth reading. The big stories seem to be growing more and more sensationalistic, with this as a prime example, and the little ones more and more trivial. I suppose it's just one more example of the Complete Tabloidization of American Life, but count me as a reader who isn't impressed.

But that's not all. Surely the Times editors are aware that this kind of journalism has a history -- and consequences. Most people think that the phrase "nature red in tooth and claw" came from Charles Darwin, or possibly Herbert Spencer, the father of "Social Darwinism." Not true -- it's from Tennyson's "In Memoriam." But the phrase does evoke the bloody tales of nature's bloody struggles for survival that have been used metaphorically ever since the 19th century to justify the excesses of laissez faire capitalism. At a time when the Bush administration is leading us full speed ahead back to a 19th century world of robber baron capitalism and every-man-for-himself politics, reporting like this is hardly without consequences. As David Horton wrote in the Huffington Post a couple months ago:
These 'Republican friends' (surely an oxymoron?) have a long history for their ideas. As another poster pointed out, this is essentially a restating of 'Social Darwinism', which became briefly popular in the late nineteenth century to justify the gross inequalities in British society, and British imperialism, before it became obvious that it was rubbish. The more things change, the more they stay the same, eh? When neocons talk in this way they are thinking of the phrase 'nature red in tooth and claw', which they think comes from Darwin, but in fact comes from a poem by Tennyson. This phrase in turn comes from 'Survival of the fittest', which again is thought of as Darwin, but initially came from Herbert Spencer, who began the idea known as Social Darwinism. Darwin had originally just talked about 'natural selection' by analogy with 'artificial selection' (what farmers and horticulturists do), but added the term 'survival of the fittest' later in recognition of Spencer's ideas.

The image of course is of the triumphant buck deer, antlers bloodied, killing all his rivals, or the male lion, supreme after chasing off the young males from the pride. And it is the image of George Bush in his flight suit, mission accomplished, or Dick Cheney with shotgun slaughtering tame birds. It is the world of Gordon Gecko's 'greed is good', Maggie Thatcher's 'no such thing as society' and Ayn Rand's promotion of selfishness, and of economic rationalism, and of every empire's notion of imposing civilisation on inferior beings. It is the Dickensian world of Victorian England and of 21st century America, with deserving poor and undeserving poor, of every man for himself, and of wealth as a measure of virtue and success. And it is the world in which the people who benefit from it can say, with a straight face, that capitalism has defeated socialism because of 'human nature'.
So, again, while I appreciate your cleaning up the blood, I'm still wondering -- what gives? Is this article really about the role of women at the Times? Is it meant to justify predatory capitalism? Or are you just trying to sell newspapers and drive website click-throughs?

I suspect it's the latter. I just wish you'd remember that some of us actually buy the Times because it's not a tabloid. Hope this doesn't signal a trend -- and please spare us the "killer sting ray" stories next week.

Roadmap for Democratic victory in midterms


(Graphic courtesy of The Detroit Free Press [click on this link to download high-res PDF], via Kevin Drum, via Atrios.)

"Are you better off than you were four years ago?" Ronald Reagan memorably asked during the 1980 campaign, bluntly defining the bread-and-butter nature of national politics in America. The answer for most of America is, as this map of census data shows, "Hell, no!" In inflation adjusted dollars, the median income dropped significantly in most states between 1999 and 2005. Given all the demands on working families' paychecks, this is real money we're talking about -- and real pain.

If this isn't a roadmap for Democratic victory this fall, I don't know what is. The Republicans have had their chance: They tried their tax cuts, their military spending, their free market panaceas. They didn't work. It's time to have the grownups run the economy again.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Macy's -- the last brand standing


It seemed that Marshall Field's would be there forever, if not here in Madison, certainly in downtown Chicago, where the fabled department store had been since 1852. Actually, Field's hasn't really been the Field's of old for some time, ever since a series of mergers and acquisitions culminating in the Federated Department Store merger in 2005. Federated's best known brand was Macy's, and it was inevitable they would want to rebrand the whole shebang. That's just what they did, and the conversion was completed at 400 different stores belonging to a number of Federated chains, including Field's, over the Labor Day weekend. Here in Madison, they put the final Macy's touch on the back of the store today, on Labor Day. (You can't help but wonder a bit about their business acumen, paying so much in holiday overtime for the name change.)

In Madison, there was an element of irony to the switchover. After all, the anchor department store at the Hilldale shopping center was a Gimbels before it became a Marshall Field's. As Gimbels, it added a touch of big-city sophistication to the Madison shopping experience at a time when big national retailers had not yet taken over all of retail. The blow of Gimbels' demise was softened by Field's move into the neighborhood, which brought with it some of the aura of the downtown Chicago store. Now Marshall Field's has joined Gimbels in the dustbin of retailing history, and Macy's is the last brand standing.

In most parts of the country the public seemed to take the whole thing in stride -- they've seen this sort of constant restructuring all too often. But in Chicago people were understandably upset.
By far the biggest backlash has been in Chicago, where loyalists of the storied Marshall Field's chain have been vocal about their displeasure over losing their city's iconic brand. At FieldsFansChicago.org, a local blogger describes the conversion to Macy's as the "retail equivalent of renaming Wrigley Field to Yankee Stadium," and promotes a "pride rally and protest" to be held at a Marshall Field's store on the day it officially becomes Macy's.
The death of a brand is certainly a brutal thing to watch.

From one point of view all this rebranding might be viewed positively as part of "the process of creative destruction" that Joseph Schumpeter called "the essential fact about capitalism." For all I know, Federated might have made the right decision from a purely business point of view, though the jury is still out. But "essential fact of capitalism" or not," the whole name change thing seems eerily reminiscent of the old days in the Kremlin when "nonpersons" were simply airbrushed out of the newspapers and history books.

Long live the "nonstores" -- Marshall Field's and Gimbels!

Labor Day: Thinking about the two Americas


I took this photograph on New York's Fifth Avenue during the Reagan recession in 1981, when the growing gap between the two Americas of rich and poor became harder to ignore, given that the Reagan administration was clearly identifying more with the former than the latter. (Not long after, Reagan made his feelings about organized labor perfectly clear by firing the striking air traffic controllers, giving union-busting a new respectability.)

This was a window display at Tiffany's, and what caught my eye was all the affluent, jaded Fifth Avenue shoppers pausing a moment to look at the figures and murmur words like, "Oh, look -- they have the same bags." Two different kinds of bag ladies, an ironic reflection on deep social divisions.

The divisions are even greater today, the rich richer, the poor poorer -- and their ranks growing, as working Americans struggle more than ever, with so many of the decent jobs getting sucked overseas in pursuit of lower wages. At the same time, housing and health care are becoming more and more expensive.

But we don't talk about it nearly enough, and our two-party system is hardly doing much of a job of responding to the crisis. Republican control of the White house and Congress is part of it, of course. But where are the Democrats? How can it be that only one Democrat, John Edwards, has become known for talking about the two Americas? Why aren't they all? Timid Democrats inside the Beltway who are afraid of being accused of fomenting class warfare are one reason. Eight years of Clinton-era triangulation also left their mark, compromises that had real NAFTA-style price tag attached to them.

And then there's the media. Take Labor Day, itself. I remember a time when there was at least a token effort to give working men and women their due in the media on this, their day. You don't see a lot of that kind of coverage anymore. In fact, it's hard to find any at all. The focus now is on the day of rest, the recreational opportunities of the last holiday weekend of the summer. Sure, you have all the local labor organizations hosting Democratic politicians, but coverage of those events is walled off as "just politics." You know, just another "special interest." But who has time or space in the media to talk about the struggles of ordinary working people when there are fatal stingray attacks to be reported?

And even when social and economic issues are covered in media like the New York Times, there's the question of how they are covered. All too often, happy talk headlines and rosy stats dominate the front page, while reality is banished to the end of the story deep inside the newspaper, where few readers follow. MediaBloodhound dissected several front page stories in one issue of the Times last week with surgical precision (hat tip to The Sideshow for the link) in this post:
In succession above the fold, the three lead stories were largely about the struggle of the economically disenfranchised. Yet you wouldn’t know it from their upbeat headlines, slanted perspectives, curious structures and crucial omissions.
One example is the story about Metlife's seeking to sell the old Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village middle income housing developments for $5 billion. The sale will wipe out much of what affordable housing remains in Manhattan, because these attractive units would immediately be converted to luxury condos by any buyer.
Moreover, even when the lives of those affected by this deal are noted, it's only in counterpoint to the ebullience felt by the minute percentage of fat cats poised to make a killing.

But most, like Marilyn Phillips, 52, a nurse who has lived in Stuyvesant Town for 14 years, pay stabilized rents. She and her husband, a social worker, pay $1,700 a month for a two-bedroom apartment. News of the sale worried her. “It may mean we may no longer be able to live here,” she said. “The management is intent on making this luxury apartments and driving the working class out.”

MetLife and real estate investors view the sale far differently.

“It’ll be the largest sale of a single property in U.S. history,” said Dan Fasulo of Real Capital Analytics, a real estate research and consulting firm. “No doubt in my mind. It’s truly an unprecedented offering and an irreplaceable property. It would be impossible today to get a property of that scale in an urban location. And that neighborhood has become so desirable.”
But such giddy business observations and behind-the-scenes jockeying are the focus of this article. It’s riddled with lines like, “As one executive involved in the sale put it, ‘This is the ego dream of the world: 80 acres, 110 buildings, 11,000 apartments, covering 10 city blocks in Manhattan.’”
There's more -- including a chilling picture of the Times minimizing the negative impact of a perfect example of George Bush's callousness toward ordinary people. Be sure to check out the rest of MediaBloodhound's post.

In Garrison Keillor's Lake Wobegon, "all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking, and all the children are above average." That's a fantasy, but in the equally fantastical distorting mirror our media hold up to us, everyone in America is comfortably middle class, without a care in the world.

Winning back the House this fall -- as well as the Senate, though that's a long shot -- will help change this climate, but it won't solve much in and of itself. It's going to take pressure from all of us, if this country is ever going to start dealing with its real problems. Happy Labor Day. Time to get to work.

Monday Sunrise Blogging


One last time: Joe Lieberman's "sunrise." Because it's there. Because it's sad-funny. Because words have meaning and a sunset is not a sunrise, and California is not Connecticut. Because some day we'll look back on it as one more curious artifact from Lieberman's anything goes, hold-onto-office-at-any-cost campaign that proved to be the real sunset of his career.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Thanks for the memories, Andre


Robert Caplin for The New York Times

He started out as a brash and bratty kid, known more for his long hair, flashy clothes and his mega-endorsement contracts than for winning championships. Canon launched an entire camera line by leveraging his rebellious image. He grew up as part of a generation playing a whole new game made possible by large, high-tech rackets -- power baseline tennis. But even when skeptics said he was all flash and no substance, tennis aficionados saw the potential, and the heart.

He grew into his game, both as a player and as a man. The victories followed in time, and Andre Agassi became only the fifth man to win a career grand slam in tennis, the only one in modern times, and the only one ever to win on all three surfaces (the other grand slam winners played in the pre-hardcourt era when grass and clay were the only two surfaces.)

He ended his career today in the same tournament where he first came to national attention 20 years ago as a 16-year-old kid -- the U.S. Open. He left as a 36-year-old who walked off the court like a septuagenarian, not due to age, but to a painful back injury -- which he played through in his courageous final appearance, first in two thrilling 5-set late night matches, defeating, first, Andrei Pavel and, Thursday night, eighth-seeded Marcos Baghdatis. His improbable final run ended today against another Becker (unrelated) from Germany, Benjamin Becker, a 25-year-old 112th-ranked qualifier who turned pro after playing four years for Baylor University. Agassi could hardly move and probably should not even have been playing, but playing on sheer heart with nothing left in the tank, he still managed to extend the match to four sets and came within a whisper of stretching it out to five sets.

Then it was over. The teenager was just a memory when Agassi took the microphone after a long, sustained and emotional standing ovation, and addressed the crowd in Arthur Ashe Stadium for the last time. His voice breaking and wiping away tears, he spoke from the heart to the adoring crowd.
“The scoreboard said I lost today,” Agassi told the crowd. “But what the scoreboard doesn’t say is what it is I have found. Over the last 21 years, I have found loyalty. You have pulled for me on the court and also in life. I found inspiration. You have willed me to succeed, sometimes even in my lowest moments. And I’ve found generosity.

“You have given me your shoulders to stand on to reach for my dreams, dreams I could never have reached without you. Over the last 21 years, I have found you, and I will take you and the memory of you with me for the rest of my life.”
It was a touching, memorable exit for the bratty kid who grew up to be one of the best-loved athletes of his time. Agassi walked out of the stadium and into the rest of his life. It will take the rest of us some time to make the adjustment to a world in which he is not on the court.

9/08/06 UPDATE