Saturday, January 19, 2002

GU IS NOW 11-6, (2-3 BIG EAST).

BUFFY NOTE: For all you Buffy fans out there, the Season 1 DVD compilation is now out and for sale at a host of fine video stores and establishments. Seasons 2 and 3 are available only in the UK through Region 2 DVD coding. Still, Season 1 was a blast!

God, if you are the Glazer family in Tampa right now, you sure are miffed that Bill Parcells didn't take the Bucs' job. How, shall I say, surprising.

The Pilgrimmage Begins
Sunday Morning as you are reading ZoNotes and eating breakfast, I will be in New York City for a trip to see all that there is to see. I will of course go to pay my respects to the fallen of 9.11, and I have heeded the call from former NYC Mayor Sir Rudy Guliani and spend some of my hard-earned cash in an effort to help boost the Big Apple's Big Economy.

Snow on The Hilltop
The hills are alive with the sight of the white stuff, with DC's first significant snowfall in 2002. Alexandria and the surrounding environs got 2-4 inches, it depends on where you were on Saturday afternoon. When I mosied on over to Ballston Mall to get my hair cut, I didn't even have to wait in line, it was virtually empty. A bit of icy wintry rain mixed in earlier this afternoon as I was watching yet another Buffy rerun.

Insider Definitions
ZoNotes is very lucky to have such a deep pool of intellectual capital that he can draw from. Ranging from the leftist solioquies of R. Livingston Keithley (C'98) to the "taxing" witticisms of Sean Mullaney (B'00), we aim to please. Anyway... here are some comments from Danny Alvarez (F'00), Simon J. Torres (F'00), and Sean.

Simon Says: (Simon is from El Paso, if there's anybody that knows how TX politics works, it's Simon. I met Simon on Day 1 at Georgetown.)
"Yeah, it's insider trading. It's also called covering your ass. Danny Alvarez and I were talking about this, and we've basically come to two conclusions: 1) Enron and their executives are all screwed. Leavenworth or another cozy federal pen might be the new HQ for this bunch. The Justice Department is now assembling a case against Enron that will aim to show knowledge of shoddy bookkeeping, willful silence about said shoddiness, and a conspiracy of silence when it become known the ship was going down. 2) Arthur Andersen's fate lies directly in the hands of the SEC (the Securities Exchange Commission, not the athletic conference). As Danny pointed out, there's not a whole lot that congressional panels and inquires can do to Andersen, other than publicly flog them. The SEC, on the other hands, can total Andersen, through fines, penalties, or (gulp) decertification. My money is that it won't happen given Harvey Pitt's ties to big accounting firms. But I can also bet that offering up the lead auditor isn't going to cut it. Andersen made many mistakes. It remains to be seen whether those mistakes are also illegal and make them a party to the defrauding of a great many shareholders and pension fund recipients.
So we come to the government. Let's face it: those of us from Texas know that Enron and energy conglomerates grease the wheels of Texas politics and have been financially instrumental in the Lazurus-like rise of the Republican party in Texas. Enron and others give money to Democrats, too, but Big Oil and the GOP just seem to go together, and cross from the board room to the cabinet room and the caucus room quite frequently. Our Vice President of this country was the CEO of Haliburton. The Secretary of Commerce (a good Midland boy) was the head of his own energy production company. This isn't me going on a Green Party rant about the influence of big business on politics, or the make-up of the current administration. I know that is just how it is. I am saying, though, is that I am positive that there are many mid-level or senior-level policymakers who a) had Enron stock and/or b) had a notion of what was going down in Houston and/or c) didn't say a thing until it was too late, but still moved their stock regardless. There will be some people here in Washington that might have to answer to somebody, and not just the media. Perhaps maybe even a grand jury."

Daniel: (Daniel hails from the home of the Spurs, San Antonio. He studied in the Science and Technology concentration of Georgetown's venerable School of Foreign Service) BTW, I love my Spurs.
"The basic rules about insider trading go like this:
If you have a piece of information, and that piece of information is (a) not
public knowledge (i.e., you have acquired said information through some
privileged relationship with the company or with individuals who work for or
with the company), and (b) information a reasonable investor would use in
deciding whether to buy, hold, or sell a security (stock), then you cannot
use that information in making your own investment decisions. sprint is
pretty big on telling us peons all about insder trading rules (which made it
seem very odd that all the exec's were selling their stock like hotcakes the
week before the worldcom deal fell through....not that i'm bitter...)
Not sure where you're getting your enron news from, but i've been reading
the Wall Street Journal, and some of the shit these guys pulled is
absolutely fantastic (and not in a good way). Talk about "new math"!
anyway, I can't imagine that these types of stories are making their way
into the Washington Post or New York Times, because they require
intelligence and some form of thinking on the part of the reader. As such,
if you're interested, i would highly recommend the journal for all your
Enron news."

Sean: (Sean is your quickest way through a 1040. He eats, breathes, and sleeps tax code! He is also the only man I know who dismissed the vaunted Intermediate Accounting class at Georgetown's McDonough School of Business with an olympian flick.)
"It is if they sold and/or bought stock themselves based on this inside information (highly unlikely that Paul O'Neill or his immediate subordinates would themselves buy/sell stocks, since most of their non-tangible assets are now in a blind trust). Some have said, "well, if they knew Enron was in trouble, why didn't they tell the shareholders?" Well, one it is not the government's job to make "buy/hold/sell" recommendations to the public. However, to better illustrate the point, let's say Paul O'Neill came out and said Enron got big time issues, not looking good." The stock would tank immediately, and all the shareholders would still be out big time."

Thanks to Simon, Daniel, and Sean for their insights!

"Before you can soar with the eagles, you have to get down with the dogs."

Friday, January 18, 2002

Last night's vaunted matchup between #3 Maryland and #1 Duke ended up a clunker, with the Terpies getting shelled 99-78 at Cameron Indoor. I may not like Duke a whole hell of a lot (1989 Elite 8 be damned!), but Maryland can be just as irritating. I long for the day when a team comes into Duke's nest of vipers and silences them by winning by like 30 points or something like that.

NFL Playoffs

Baltimore comes into this game talking loads of smack about Pittsburgh, and this game has the makings of an old-school, break out the old NFL Films music and deep voiced narrator type game. The Ravens impressed me slightly with their 90- and 99-yard drives last week against the Miami Dolphins, but Pittsburgh's D, led by Defensive Rookie of the Year Kendrall Bell, will be a lot tougher. I think whoever puts up 14 points first wins this tough defensive game.

Oaktown comes to the chilly confines of Foxboro Stadium for a uniquely scheduled Saturday night playoff matchup. Even though the Raiders are not a cold-weather team inherently, they have a history of playing in unforgiving climates. This will be the game where Raiders WR Tim "My Towel Was Stolen at the Cotton Bowl so I tried to beat up Texas A&M's 12th Man Kickoff Team" Brown will make some clutch catches. The P-Men made it this far after an 0-2 start thanks to the overachieving play of backup QB Tom Brady and WR Troy Brown "and his band of renown" (thanks, ESPN's Chris Berman). The Raiders were given short shrift when they limped into the playoffs with a 10-6 record after starting 8-2. But last week's 38-24 wild card round victory over Sean Mullaney's (B'00) New York Football Jets proved something to ZoNotes.

The unfrozen Dome at America's Center is the dwelling of the single most powerful offense in professional football. I expect NFL MVP QB Kurt Warner and Offensive Player of the Year Marshall "Law" Faulk to have a tremendous day. But do not count out uber-QB and post-painkillers Brett Favre. Favre willed a victory last week against the 49ers at home, but I don't think he has enough surrounding firepower to get the job done

If I were a gambling man, I would take the rarely used but potentially high-paying "reverse spread" for this game. Both teams are trying to prove that they're for real. The Bears are going to put this game on the shoulders of NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year Anthony "A-Train" (thanks, ABC's Brent Musberger) Thomas and ride a tough running game at home to seal the victory. Do not underestimate, though, the mobility of Eagles' running back masquerading as a QB with skills, Donovan McNabb. McNabb has matured very much as a passer since he arrived in the league back in '99. If he can get the ball to reciever James Thrash and tight end Chris Lewis, then lanes will open up for tailback Deuce Staley.
But, Chicago has been the recipient of some gift plays from the football overlords, so I take, da Bears.

What a mess. The demise of the energy trading commodities firm is a perfect example of why you shouldn't cook your books, make bad deals, and then call in political favors from people who will not help you. What did Ken Lay think, that the Administration would come in and help him? Are you kidding? Don't they realize that in the world of political donations, that if said donor gets in trouble, he/she will be abandoned by their erstwhile "friend?" Loyalty is a one-way street on this.
Ok, I have one question for my legal types: If the government honchos knew beforehand about the imminent demise of Enron, didn't tell anyone, and then moved the stock, isn't that insider trading?

"Money can buy you access, but not a returned phone call."

Thursday, January 17, 2002

Hoya Meter: 11-5, (2-2 Big East) VICTORY -- 84-58 over Seton Hall at MCI Center Last Night.

The Business of the Traitor
There is one thing about the Johnny Walker trial that puzzles me. Attorney General John Ashcroft said that Walker had waived his right to an attorney. Don't Americans always ask for their attorney, even when they're arrested in countries where you're not even given the right to waive one, because you never get one? This trial is going to be a mess, if a lawyer uses this as a legal crowbar and actually gets Walker off? It would actually be better that the U.S. killed him in battle, perhaps he had information, but what made him any different from the other al-Qaeda fighters? There isn't a rope that's too tight for this traitor.

Dan Rather In Afghanistan
Last night on 60 Minutes 2 I saw snippets of the al-Qaeda training tapes. The tactics, it appears, are good for killing a bunch of civilians; put the al-Qaeda units against a disciplined and coherent force, and they crumble. It makes me wonder if the famous brigades of the terrorist cell "propping up" the Taliban units in Afghanistan were strong because the opposing United Front troops were even more weaker and disorganized. Once American help came through to the opposition, both the Taliban and al-Qaeda crumbled and ran away. Judging from the raw enthusiasm for killing civilians and amateurish complaining, I also think that the al-Qaeda "troops" were so young and dumb that all they were good for was cannon fodder. Seeing the tapes reminded me of the Hitler Youth soldiers that were thrown against the Allies at the end of World War II. That still makes them dangerous -- a boy with a gun can still fire it -- but the big fish leadership is still out there, and dismembering al-Qaeda means killing them, too.

The Prisoners Who Weren't
The al-Qaeda fighters that survived and were taken prisoner are perhaps getting better treatment now at Guantanamo Bay than they would be in Afghanistan. Everyone from the International Red Cross to UN human rights point woman Mary Robinson are moaning and groaning about their alleged mistreatment by American forces. Some things to consider:
A) They are still alive. That a Daisycutter did not crush them in their caves is an indicator that they are either lucky for getting away with it, or smart enough to know when the game is up.
B) They're Coming to the Americas. Better American custody than that of the United Front. Remember, as many of these al-Qaeda fighters are Arab and not Afghan, the various warlords would have killed them simply for being untrustworthy foreign invaders. The Cuban detention means that they are still alive.
C) Food, Clothing, Surgery. The detainees might be crowded, but this isn't a luxury vacation. My first idea was "hard labor," but who knows what mischief these fighters would cause. We feed them, clothe them, and even performed emergency surgery on one of the detained prisoners. That these people aren't "legal" prisoners of war doesn't mean that they won't be treated humanely. That we are even treating them this well, given that they aren't really entitled to official POW status (as al-Qaeda isn't a country) says a lot more about our benevolence than it does about our alleged unreasonable treatment.

"Freedom is not always matched with prudence."

Wednesday, January 16, 2002

There should be a sentence in the Spurrier entry saying: The Dallas Cowboys aren't Vanderbilt.
Toto, We Ain't in the SEC No More
God Bless him, Steve Spurrier sure did make a splash during his introductory press conference as head coach of the hated Washington Redskins. He even made the rabidly obsessive Washington fan base lush with desire when he mentioned his intentions on giving a game ball to owner Daniel "Napoleon" Snyder after they beat the the Cowboys have played like ol' Vandy, my beloved Cowboys still beat the Redskins! That 1-15 season in 1989, who were the 'Boys' only victims -- the Redskins! The Cowboys are responsible for the firing of the last 3 Washington head coaches. The sweep last season was also pivotal in the failure of the Skins to make the playoffs. Right now opposing coaches are pulling out the game tape of the Gators' loss at Auburn and defeat against Tennessee this past season. Spurrier's offense can be stopped. To borrow from the immortal film Patton, "Spurrier, I read your book!"

The Single Front War
The deployment of American troops assist to our valued Filipino allies doesn't represent a "Phase 2" of the war -- it represents a sort of Front 1.5. The Al-Qaeda ties to the Philippines' Abu-Sayaaf make the latter an inviting target for extermination. Perhaps I asked the wrong ZoCase question two weeks ago. It is not a question as to "who do we open the next phase on" -- maybe it is that if this is truly a global war, then we can attack wherever, whenever we want, with the usual issues of "fronts" and "phases" relegated to secondary important. If it were to occur that the Americans needed to strike hard and fast in, say, the Philippines and Somalia at once, and the common enemy is al-Qaeda, then it all links to a single "theater of operations." Surely, I would prefer that we had friendlies on the ground with us when we strike, and given our ties to the Philippines, we have no shortage of allied help there. Indeed, I think the Philippines are more favorable grounds for combat than Afghanistan ever was or ever will be. Plus, we have a history there, when Gen Lansdale helped extinguish the Communist menace in the 1950s.

There Isn't a Rope Tight Enough
The decision to try "Taliban John" Walker in civilian court is a disappointment. It is clear that he is a traitor, he is directly responsible for the death of a CIA operator, and he met with Osama bin Laden, AND he fought against American forces during the liberation of Afghanistan. Americans try too hard sometimes to show their benevolence. ZoNoter Victoria Vergara seems to think that it is because Walker was white, he was spared the maximum. I think that has partly to do with it, the other factor being that the civil liberties crowd was wailing about his "rights." By taking up arms with an enemy of the U.S., I believe that Walker gave up on all of our notions of justice and temperance.

She Ain't Country
I find it odd, even a little sad, that my hometown Laredo lacks a country music station. Hell, even Washington has a country station (that licks the Redskins' boots). My mother and I were chatting recently about how today's crop of country music females can't "be country" -- boots, guns, booze, coal mining, standing by their man, rhinestones -- like their predecessors Tammy, Dolly, and Loretta. The only exception I can think of is Terri Clark, and ironically enough, she's Canadian. Faith Hill, Shania Twain, and Sarah Evans are a little more glitzier than their "ancestresses," maybe Dolly Pardon would be more similar. So, in a world where George Strait is still basically George Strait and Garth Brooks realized that being a girly man with a high pitched voice was a no-no (his "Chris Gaines" phase), you will see country starlets on the cover of Vogue. Or, are they country anymore because of that?

"The Admiral just took the Air out of MCI Center."

Tuesday, January 15, 2002

Tuesday brings with us news of all sorts of developments.

ZoNotes Goes On Location
This weekend I am headed off to New York City for a brief respite from the grind here in DC. The show goes on the road for your reading pleasure.

Arresting Developments
One must give credit to Pakistani President Gen Pervez Musharraf for his adept strategic role in the current war against terrorism. He has chosen the optimal path for his country at the moment, cutting off support from the defeated Taliban in Afghanistan and cracking down on terrorist elements in his own country. His maneuverings not only inoculated him from American wrath during the campaign but the dastardly attack on the Indian Parliament in December. His shady ISI intelligence apparatus seems to have no different composition today on 1.15 as it did on 9.11, and global opinion is sympathetic with him in regards to the current tensions with India.
All of this stems from the fact that Musharraf has arrested some terrorist sympathizers and basically puts on a good face for Western media. I figure that the reality is that Musharraf is merely a Renault rounding up the usual suspects. At least in public, we still do not know the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden, we still don't have a real idea of what the ISI did in regards to the India attack, and we know that Pakistan is in the enviable strategic condition of being supported by not one, but two of the world's most powerful nations -- the U.S. and the Peoples Republic of China. In addition, as "immature" as their nuclear arsenal is (absent declared doctrine and a facing a deficiency of advanced delivery systems) the Pakistanis have much more flexibility than the media are giving them credit for. And India, a victim of the most egregious acts of terrorism on the subcontinent, is told to exercise restraint, which it has done, but it comes off as boorish and belligerent.
The "arrest for show" tactic is something that Yasser Arafat uses in Palestine, where he puts various unsavories from Hamas under house arrest, makes nice with the West, and then turns his back when Hamas cells continue their suicide attacks on Tel Aviv. Naturally, when Israel responds, pubic opinion tilts to Arafat, because the reasoning is "well, he did arrest some people, Israel's response is disproportional." Just something I thought about this morning on the way to work.

The Tampa Bay Firing

Tony Dungy was fired after compiling a 56-42 record with the previously helpless Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Dungy had been on the unhappy end of a raw deal since last week, when rumors swirled about his fate and imminent departure. Sure, Tampa Bay has been an underachieving franchise as of late, when preseason magazines splash their players on the cover and say that the Bucs are off to the Super Bowl and end up dead in the wild card round. But before Dungy arrived, the Bucs had suffered not only through losing seasons, but bad fashion (I gag on those old orange unis!) He was a good coach saddled with talent, but through lack of motivation and a dearth of offensive imagination, Dungy got the ax. Tampa's ownership is now going to put the hands of the Bucs in former Giants/Patriots/Jets headman Bill Parcells. Dungy was in Tampa for 6 seasons. Parcells will likely only be around for 3, and I bet that even then they won't make the Super Bowl.


"The more you win, the narrower the window for failure becomes."

Monday, January 14, 2002

Happy Birthday to ZoDad Rene Cortes, Jr., who is older than 29 but younger than 50.
New Digs, Day 1
I'm just getting used to Blogger, so bear with me. This should make the format a lot better for everyone.
Fear the Hoya
Georgetown's (10-5, 1-2 Big East) powerful 70-43 win over Boston College on Saturday snapped a dismal 4-game skid and represented a blatant reasserting of the Hoyas' skill and talent. Did you see the highlight reel dunk that Sweetney had? Indeed, BC superstar Troy Bell called the loss the "worst" game of his life.

The Spurrier Alignment
I really do love living in Washington. Not only have the Cowboys won the last 10 games against the Redskins, but the Skins have been such a soap opera the past couple of years that they are better theater than they are a football team. Yesterday's firing of head coach Marty Schottenheimer by owner Daniel "Maniac" Snyder represents the conclusion of an interesting yet brief chapter in the saga. The incipient hiring of former Florida Gators coach Steve Spurrier will be even more hilarious. God, for someone as witty and sly as Spurrier to fall for Snyder's picadilloes is a bit disconcerting. I was kind of hoping that ol'Steve would take his high-flying offensive show to a team like Tampa Bay or Jacksonville. Now, I have to root against him when the Cowboys come calling next season. Personally, I think that Snyder is looking for a coach that can just beat Dallas, because his last 2 headmen didn't. That's the key to keeping the Skins job.

ZoCase Study Responses - "Who's Next, Iraq, Somalia, or the Philippines?"

Sean W. Mullaney (B'00)
"While there may be legitimate targets for the US in the three above mentioned countries, my guess is that if you kill about a dozen or so really rich funders of terrorism on the Arabian Penninsula, you would do a whole lot more damage to Islamist terrorism than by attacking all three of these nations. While the war on terrorism is truly a global war, the main theatre that the US will need to win in is NOT Afghanistan, it is Arabia. So much of the funding of these terrorists comes from Saudi Arabia, and 15 of the 19 9-11 hijackers were Saudis. Coincidence? I think not."

Simon J. Torres (F'00)

"On to the case study. I truly believe Somalia or the Sudan are next. Although we have unfinished business in Iraq, we probably still lack the concrete proof that Saddam should be tagged with harboring al-Qaeda members or having an active knowledge/role of the 9/11 attacks. Moreover, "finishing what we started 10 years ago" is no simpler now than it was 10 years ago because we still don't know how far we should proceed and what to do afterwards. Hussein is a power-mongering tyrant, but we know him, and he's predictable. Bombing him to Kingdom Come (most likely scenario) would be nice, but ultimately pointless. Unless we are meaning to dispose of him and deal with the vacumn that would result from doing so (no one doubts that we could or should, but perhaps now isn't the time), it's better to rattle our sabres a bit but not much else.

So why Somalia or Sudan? For one, we know there are sizeable amounts of al-Qaeda there. While there may be terrorists or threats to the US and the West in other places that are not al-Qaeda, we have made these clowns the principle target. So target them, wherever they may be. Two, no one really cares about these places. The events of the 1990's and the world's apathy towards them proves this point. We face minimal backlash (always count on France to grouse) if we do what we must in these places. Three, we have unfinished business and scores to settle that are more easily attainable here. It sounds silly, but Somalia will once again pop up on the public's radar with movies and books like "Black Hawk Down." By and large, that mission's scope and purpose was entirely suspect. Some of our boys died there, though, and that's not something I, or many others, I imagine and hope, can forget. If we can mount a justifiable case for wasting these fuckers and catching and nailing on-the-lam al-Qaeda members while settling scores (there is always a role and reason for doing this in foreign policy), let's do it."

The Devil is In Your TV

Never, evermake the mistake of watching The Omen right before you go to sleep, as I did last night on the AMC channel last night. The Omen trilogy is the second-most scariest set of films ever made, right behind the original Exorcist flick. Gregory Peck did a brilliant job playing the tortured father role, and no movie conocted more creatively heinous death scenes.


"The past catches up with you the drunker you get."

Sunday, January 13, 2002

This is the first time I stretch out the ol' legs for the new arrangement here on Blogger. I hope that everything turns out ok as we go along this first time around.

ZoCase Study For This Week
"What is Love?" Yes, it's foofy, but once every so often we do foofy here at ZoNotes, but just make sure you keep your wits about you, ok?