Friday, February 01, 2002

Ernesto arrived in DC safely yesterday afternoon.

Horns Against the Rifle: ZoNotes' Super Bowl Prediction
Zo deep voiceover for effect The commentator Dennis Miller once said that the St. Louis Rams' offense was exquisitely vindictive. Indeed, like an angel piercing through the whirlwind, the Rams' offense slashes through opponents with a grace only belied by its sheer malevolence. Rendering this iron fist in a velvet glove is quarterback Kurt Warner, the ringmaster of a circus of lethality. Behind the sturdy concrete elephant, left tackle Orlando Pace, Warner delivers precision strikes to his elite corps of receivers --- Tory Holt and Isaac Bruce. Yet the engine of this war machine is not Warner, it is running back Marshall Faulk. Unsheathing the rapier, Faulk administers death blows through his gritty running ability and his extraordinary receiving skills. From this toolbox of offensive firepower, head coach Mike Martz designs and executes a gruesome form of mutilation to opposing defenses. Every play the Rams design is different, with personnel groupings varied and creative. Yet, with an elegant simplicity, they all end up in the end zone.
Conversely, the New England Patriots have engaged in a dangerous yet seductive flirtation with lady fate; seizing victory in the snow-capped field of Foxboro and liberating the AFC from behind the Steel Curtain. Quarterback Tom Brady has deftly stepped in for grizzled veteran Drew Bledsoe and with the youthful vigor of a child who doesn't know better, has extracted victory where there was despair, bravery from where there was fear. Accompanied with a defense steeped in the (cornerback Ty) Law, the Patriots stand tall and proud in the face of the Rams' juggernaut. They have faced down the dark power of the Silver and Black Oakland Raiders, they have torn asunder the terrible towels of Pittsburgh. They fear no one, not even the apocalyptic assembly of white hot mercilessness that the Rams marshal for battle.
How could any red-blooded American root against the Patriots? Such is the dilemma that sportswriters who figured the Rams would win by 14 or 21 are now casting doubts on their own prognostications. Perhaps they fear a Florida, picking a winner and then watching in horror as events prove them mortally wrong. Or maybe, just maybe, the underrated and underappreciated men from New England will set the sports world on its ear with an upset. Patriots general Bill Belicheck will design game plan surely to litter the majestic path to glory the Rams, dotting the path with land mines and zone blitzes. Indeed, expect both the Rams and the Patriots to duel in a standoff fitting of their esteemed and deserved pedigree. Alas, while the Rams are superior, and I should be picking them, today is a day for boldness, for daring. Just one chance, just one chance, from this day to that! They can always take our lives, but they can never take, our freedom!!! The Patriots shall bleed...but not before they have unfurled the standard...and while they will buckle, they will not fall.
God Bless America.
RAMS: 30

Setting Right the House of Saud
Sean Mullaney (B'00) sends his thoughts regarding the SOTU:

"Permit me to respond ex post facto to yesterday's ZoNotes on SOTU. Let me give you a little scorecard on terrorism, specifically on 9-11:

Iraq Iran North Korea Saudi Arabia None None None 15 (9.11 Highjackers)

Few or None Few or None None Many (9.11 Leaders)

Little or None Little or None None Majority (Terrorist funding)

NO NO NO YES (Dip.Rec of Taliban)

As you can see, this War will end (not by USA choice, but the way) in Riyadh, not in Baghdad or Tehran. Possibly it could be a peaceful ending (if the Saudis come around big time). I'm not saying that there are not dangers to the US in these other places and the US shouldn't go after them, but I am saying let's not forget the root of the problem."

More Thoughts on NG Conservatism
Aaron Ammerman (F'00) speaks:"Eh. to take on the challenge of your NG
conservatism, TR/McCain-bashing, I want to make a comment
that really hit me on the way to work this morning.
There's a lot of finger-pointing going on regarding
the Enron campaign contributions. CFRers point and
say "Look! They had their hands in everybody's
pockets (putting money in apparently). Look at all the
phone calls they were able to make!! Real Americans
can't just _CALL_ their congresspersons and ask for
governmental assistance!! waaa!" And they have a
very minute point.

CFR-antagonists on the other hand, who like CFRs
are generally incumbents or incumbent supporters who
believe that THEIR ability to stay in power hinges
PURE EGOTISM). They look at Enron and point- "look
at all the money they gave and it didn't do a damn
thing for them! This proves that campaign
contributions don't do a damn thing!!" And they have a
very small point to make.

Many ZoPhilosophers are familiar with the
categorical imperative- "What have you done for me ..
LATELY?" With campaign finance reform (and mercenary
activities in general) we actually need to reject this
theorem. while it is said that "loyalty to coin is
loyalty nonetheless," no mercenary (including just
about every politician) owes allegiance based upon
the payments they've received. Even if the money
was handed over the day before, the only money that
counts is the NEXT payment. Enron down the tubes?
they aren't going to have any more cash to pass out
like candy. they're a nothing. they're a
constituent and nothing more. of course no politician will
go down with the ship, there's nothing to be gained
from it.

the real campaign finance reform will come now that
Enron's peers can see what THEIR donations are
worth.. Donations given are worth FAR FAR less than
donations forthcoming. the other megaconglomerates
that fail to produce any goods or services should be
at least slightly more hesitant to plunk down the
bucks for a weasel as a result of Enron's fall.
Since everyone reads into my commentary and attempts to extract my personal opinion, I'll
save you the trouble Zo - I do think that our
current method of financing our national politics is
corrupt and degrading. more importantly, it detracts
from the actual needs of governance. hark, someday
DoD may procure weapon systems for reasons
unrelated to which congressional districts they're produced
in, and the Army, Navy, and Air Force may actually
have bases where they are best suited to defend and
deploy. Money matters. Transparency would greatly
improve the process (like the death penalty
process). we know that our politicians are bought and
sold like used toys on E-bay. it would be nice to know
by whom and to what extent. If only we had
journalists to guard our freedoms and root out
injustice!!! the trouble is finding a way to reform the
accountability of our leaders, without suppressing
Constitutional freedoms. Feingold-McCain goes too far
with the respect of the latter, but i think the
initiative has
done something to shake Washingland and K St...
It's good to have a threat that encourages
improvements to the system, even if the initiative does not
succeed. In time, it will yield to a better
proposal that remains within our legal framework."

D'oh! Buy Me a Drink, Freshman!
Rich Bisso (F'99) emails me with a slight correction to the Hoya Meter posting earlier this week:
"The Princeton Tiger is "Proud Ole", not "Mighty" ;)"

"If you are talking about doing it, you probably haven't done it yet."

Thursday, January 31, 2002

Flight Path
Currently Ernesto is taking off from Houston Intercontinental Airport. Arrival time: 13:28 eastern time.

Let Him Eat Lead
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon revealed in an interview today that he wished that he had killed Arafat during the siege of Beruit in 1982. I suppose that would have elminated the immediate problem of Arafat leading the PLO. On the other hand, I think that the Palestinians would have produced another person with similar characteristics to lead the intifadas of 1987-93 and 2000-present. Of course, Arafat's history as a terrorist is well-documented. Perhaps the Israelis and the Palestinians could have cut a viable deal even before the 1987 conflict began. Of course, this is all wishful thinking now. Arafat has the license of weak-kneed organizations like the European Union to be a "partner" for peace in the region. I'm not going to rehash all of this, because it's all rather frustrating, but maybe the EU and the State Department should have washed their hands of this known commodity of death, allow the Israelis to render him irrelevant to the process, and try to find a Palestinian willing to accept Israel's existence. Then, and only then would the Israelis even seriously entertain a "final" deal in the future. Otherwise, as long as the PLO allows Hamas to send bombers into civilian locations, then this war will continue.

Silence of the Rams
Anybody who's been following the Super Bowl XXXVI coverage down in N'Awlins has noticed that media attention was on who the New England Patriots would start at quarterback -- emerging star Tom "A Man Named" Brady or $103 million backup Drew Blesdsoe. The ankle sprain Brady suffered did not apparently hurt him in practice, so the P-Men named him as the starter for the game. But do not gasp in shocked surprise if you see Bledsoe come in with the Rams up 21-0 in the second quarter.
Kiss of Death! ZoNotes just made a prediction!
And what of the Rams, who up to now have not been the center of attention? I fished out this article regarding the Rams' and their faith in the Good Lord. This is indeed quite a literal translation of the term deus ex machina.

"In football, you spend hours, days, and weeks, preparing for plays that last 5 seconds."

Wednesday, January 30, 2002

Yesterday was a busy night in TV land, as the major networks and cable news operations cascaded the viewing public not only with Bush's speech, but analysis as well. After a really entertaining new episode of Buffy, I was so tired that I conked out right after Bush introduced Hamid Karzai and the women's affairs minister of Afghanistan.

Stated Unity
Every Veterans' Day for the last 2 years, I give a lecture to my mother's high school class at Edison HS. Last November, I spoke on how the President is the single most powerful man on earth. Last night is a mere piece of the media capabilities that the President can call up. Surely, the political junkies in the ZoNotes audience watch the opposition party's response, but doesn't do so before the ornate majesty of a joint session of Congress. President Bush's State of the Union (SOTU) speech last night went through the normal laundry list of what he wants in regard to his domestic policy. Of course, all of that took a back seat to the war on terrorism. Given by what we saw last night, Iraq may not be next, but it will be last. There was no mention of action in Somalia or the Philippines, most likely because we are already operating in the latter and are expecting to do so in the former. By reserving comment of the SOTU on North Korea and Iraq, Bush isn't defining "next steps" as much as he is "last steps." The campaign that began in Afghanistan must end in downtown Baghdad or Pyongyang. Otherwise, it would have been a wasted effort.

Tide Rolled
For a very brief period back in 1993, I considered applying to the University of Alabama for my undergraduate education, using my uncle's advice to "always remember the fine schools of the Southeastern Conference." That thought soon faded when I realized that by limiting my application slots to 5 schools, 'Bama didn't even make the theoretical #6 choice. Of course, all of this is moot since I chose to go to Georgetown anyway. The reason I mention all of this is a piece in my favorite center-lefty magazine regarding the fraternity/sorority machine at Alabama. I'm not really up on the Greek system because Georgetown doesn't have any of those organizations. I suppose the infamous and anonymously stealthy Stewards at Georgetown would qualify, but even they don't receive any publicly official sanction from the University.

The Problem With National Greatness Conservatism (in other words, what's eating John McCain?)
Back in the summer when the unconstitutional campaign finance reform (known in some parts as "political censorship"), I likened Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) as Brutus to Bush's Caesar. I'm not going to exhaust that analogy again, but I think the reference is wise given the current banter about what "national greatness" conservatism stands for. For what it's worth, I endorse some of the tenets of NG conservatism, namely the strong foreign policy. I agree with McCain on the "it's time to get Iraq" view, and am not going to insert a disclaimer stating how much I respect his service in Vietnam, because you shouldn't be forced to point out the obvious every time you criticize him. It's the domestic side I am a bit more jaded about.
The problem with holding Teddy Roosevelt in such high regard is that his political philosophy took a back seat to his monumentous ego. A national greatness conservative is not big on national greatness but he is into national greatness as a transformative engine to personal greatness. That can make supporters of said "conservative" drift from mere admiration to slovenly sycophantic hagiography. To make a literary analogy, if McCain is "Dracula", then Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol, the New York Times, and the Washington Post are "Renfield."
That isn't to say that ego should never ever play a part in politics; that's just absurdity. How does an NG conservative get around that? Well, he does so my becoming arrogant in his humility!
CFR is a good example. Money is "corrupting" supported by "dirty" politicians. Taking up the mantle of defender of the realm, Brutus -- er, McCain -- charges down the mountaintop to slay (Buffy!) the dragon. Morality Play, I dub thee!! If the peons would just sit down and listen, we would realize that all McCain is doing by banning political ads 60 days before an election is saving us from said evil politicians! You see, the reason we are shutting you up by labeling such acts a federal crime is so we can save you! How dare you oppose my acts of virtue and righteousness! Somebody should call the CFR bill the "Incumbent Protection Act" ("IPA"), because if McCain had his way, then the Constitutional rights of Americans to express themselves would take a back seat to his TR-aspiring self-satisfied chest thumping.

Live From Atlantic City...
The Nevada State Athletic Commission put their money where some other state's mouth is by denying "Munchin'" Mike Tyson a boxing license for the now-doubtful 6 April 2002 fight against Lennox Lewis. It is theoretically possible that the match could move to Atlantic City or some other venue, but the payout may be diminished so much that it may not be worth it. Nevada made a gutsy move on principle, given the 4-1 ruling and Tyson's unruly history inside and out of the ring.

"Predictions can't be made without an appreciation for history."

Tuesday, January 29, 2002

HOYA METER: (Hoya Meter almost exploded due to the savory joy of drinking from the sweet strawberry streams of flawless victory) HOYAS: 75, #10 Syracuse: 60. In the first chapter of the 2002 edition of this storied Big East rivalry, Playboy All-American Mike Sweetney led all GU scorers with 18 points. The upset of mighty Syracuse resulted in court-storming antics at MCI Center last night, as the Hoyas move to 13-7 (4-4, Big East). Choo-choo Rah-Rah dear old Holy Cross! The Mighty Princeton Tiger is never at a loss! But the yell of all the yells, the one that saves the day is the HOYA HOYA SAXA of the dear old Blue and Gray!!


Karzai Speaks
Today's Hoya recaps Afghan interim leader Hamid Karzai speech to an estimated 2,000 Afghan-Americans at the venerable Healy Hall on Sunday night. Karzai has a little over 5 months left in his tenure as interim leader. I think that he is a crucial piece in the puzzle, a fulcrum that could move Afghanistan back to civilization, beginning the process of dismantling the country's recent violent past. Of course, it could all deteriorate into warlordism again.


Soon after ZoNotes spawned (from what? A jackal, like in The Omen, or from my id?), a fellow ZoNoter picked up the pole and unfurled his own standard.

"Many of you know I love the sound of my own voice. Now you can love the sight of my own writing at I would like to thank my amigo Lorenzo Cortes (check out for inspiring the idea. In all seriousness, from time to time (as my day job and school permit and as I get inspired) I will post essays on current events. Please check out the essay I banged out tonight on one facet of the Enron scandal. Please offer any and all criticism...too wordy, not developed enough...too wonderful. Whatever."

Gitmo Breakfasts
New ZoTerm: When referencing the nonprisoner prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, please try out this new term, brand-spankin' new for your pleasure "detainees of war" DOWs.
You know, all this harping about the treatment of the al-Qaeda DOWs makes me wonder. We have an idea of what they're eating, right?
Fruit Loops
Bagel w/cream cheese
Never mind that this is better than the human flesh immersed in rice that political prisoners in the Dominican Republic would get for dinner (read Feast of the Goat), or the gruel with crud our fighting men received while lugging concrete slabs up hills at the various Stalag Luft prison camps in Germany, or the nothing our men received during the Bataan Death March.
Wouldn't it be such the fad if Westerners hosted their own "Gitmo Breakfasts," with the exact same menu?
I could picture the saintly antiwar Euro nihilists kneeling on the lush carpets of their salons with a bowl of Tucan Sam's best to show "solidarity" with the enlightened murderers of al-Qaeda. Hell, if you're a vibrantly progressive Canadian or German, you could actually go to the Communist Workers' Paradise formerly known as Cuba and even get the same weather conditions! Fidel would love it!

The Saudi Interogatory
So it seems that the Saudis want to talk to their nationals who are serving DOW time at Camp X-Ray. I don't know what to make of this; I suppose the kingdom's agents want to figure out how successful or not they were in diverting angry Arabs from their own country to someone else's. As the Saudis are moaning and groaning that the U.S. is still in the region, protecting oil fields that the Saudis seem either unwilling or unable to do, I wonder if the Americans will grant anyone outside American investigators inside the facility.

TALKing behind her back
It seems that everyone from Andrew Sullivan to Lucianne Goldberg is writing obits of the recently demised TALK magazine, headed by megamediadiva and recalcitrant Brit Tina Brown. I only read a couple of articles, one being Tucker Carlson's impish piece on George W. Bush in 1999 and a brief piece on the Puffy/J-Lo breakup. Otherwise, it had more pictures of Ms. Brown's parties than it did of anything substantive. It wasn't necessarily the cream puff treatment the magazine gave to liberals -- Ms. Brown covered celebrities, and thus she had to tilt left (ok, fall left) -- to garner the access she wanted. It was the annoying sense of self-achievement, the arrogance. Even the demised George looked like a copy of Orbis compared to TALK.

" "Like a brother" ="Super Bowl loser" "

Monday, January 28, 2002

Mr. Cortes Comes To Washington
Ernesto arrives in DC this Thursday for a brief weekend trip.

Sooner or Later
I woke up this morning to the news that U.S. Special Forces helped root out the al-Qaeda killers who had beseiged a hospital wing in Afghanistan. The hospital standoff made news about two months ago when the detainees said that they would never be taken alive. After meticulous planning and execution, we fulfilled their wish.

Globalizer Templates
The latest edition of the haughty journal Foreign Affairs has a very revealing article about different approaches to entering the global trade market, using Mexico and Brazil as examples of different methodologies. I'm not done reading it yet, but I did find the passages that I have read stimulating and interesting. Basically, here's the gist: Mexico's situation is determined largely by not only its proximity to the U.S., but by the increasing complexity of interaction between President Vicente Fox and the splintered Congress. Conversely, Brazil fashions itself as a major world power in the order of the U.S., China, India, and Russia. A lot of that is legitimate in terms of Brazil's emerging role in the hemisphere, but when you measure "hard" standards of power -- military capability, economic pull, leadership potential -- the Brazilians come to the table with unsatisfactory credentials for, say, a permanent seat on the Security Council.

Where's My Quagmire? You Promised Me a Quagmire!
So goes a quote from my lunch with Jim Dempsey on Saturday. But really, the question begs asking, why is it that the punditocracy and other obervers raise their hands and declare defeat only after a week of bombing back in October 2001? And, more pointedly, now that they are proven wrong, why do they then pick another country that we could fight in -- Somalia, the Philippines, Iraq -- and say, "no you see, THIS is the quagmire!" Actually, while Somalia is going to be a difficult place to fight, it is less so than Afghanistan was. The geography and our previous experience there should help. The Philippines are even friendlier ground, being that we have a history suppressing undesirables there, most recently the Communists in the 1950s. And Iraq -- I suppose any move on Iraq would be a more straightforward conventional attack -- but any significant antiterror operation in SW Asia would most likely include manuevers to either neutralize the negative fallout of the current leadership.

"Knowing everything prevents you from learning anything else."

Sunday, January 27, 2002

HOYA METER: Agony! Despair! Hoyas fall to Pitt (again), 67-56, leaving G-town 12-7 (3-4, Big East)

Semisuper Sunday
Congrats to the New England P-Men and the St. Louis "Country Grammar" Rams for earning berths in Super Bowl XXXVI at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans. ZoGameBalls go to P-Men wideout Troy Brown and Rams running back Marshall "Law" Faulk.

Death Penalizers,Y'all
Simon Torres (F'00) throws his hat into the ring with this opinion re the death penalty:
I know that the death penalty debate seems to be a two-dog fight, but I want to flesh out a few of Livingston's points, if I may.

"The Texas factor....I am a proud Texan, a proud Democrat and not necessary pro-death penalty, but more along the lines anti-abolition of the death penalty. The argument that Texans (or for that much, Virginians and Oklahomans) are desensitized to the death penalty due to the frequency in which the punishment takes place is untrue and baseless. More often than not, people in these states, and really all states, feel that there are several grey issues (moral, ethical, legal or otherwise) concerning the death penalty as to provoke hard and rationale debate among themselves, the populace and in the state legislatures. However, there are cases that some people feel absolutely warrant the use of the death penalty, and Texas in particular has seen an explosion of crimes of such vileless and horror. We are talking about violations and murders of children, of law enforcement officers and of the elderly. It isn't as easy as to say that these people are generally barbaric and specifically uncaring and desensitized. It isn't a question of sophistication of thought and morality, either, nor is it venegence, malice, or bad intentions. To some people, the death penalty simply represents justice. Moreover, I would argue that in light of an increase in the number of cases that people feel "could" warrant the death penalty, the thought of taking the option off the table is unsettling. To say that these people wouldn't have the freedom of such a choice is the punishment never existed in the first place is a bit like trying to put the infant back in the womb. Conceptually, I suppose it is possible, but realistically holds no water, and that is really the point. You can argue the metaphysical, spiritual and moral tangents of this argument until you are blue in the face, and by and large most Americans would simply nod their heads and walk away, their opinions held after your diatribe the exact same as they were before. Talking down or in hypothetical jargoned legal-speak isn't a way to facilitate a necessary national debate and dooms the argument to failure before it really even starts.
On to the concept of a jury. There is a simple wisdom in the American trial-by-jury process. It dates back to the days of the American Revolution and the belief that power, whether political, judicial or parliamentary, should never be held by a single entity (i.e. a judge) but should a) be distributed and b) be checked. I think that far greater misfortunes arise when we say that we aren't confident enough in our citizens, or in their intelligence, or in their morality, or in their judgement to entrust them with a sacred duty. And yes, it is sacred. This is not to say that the process is perfect. There are several flaws. But for a minute, consider the alternatives. I believe the word "Inquisition" was thrown out. Perhaps it is more appropriate here than it was when originally used."

Flick Pick
Many thanks to Aaron Ammerman (F'00) for responding to my flick picks riddle.
I gave you 1. Priests 2. Ninjas, and 3. Supermodels. Here is the story that Aaron created:

"Unholy Sacraments
Ninja clans from the simmering underworld of
Sapporu, Japan, realize that their holdings are entirely
in cows and not enough oil. In order to bring the
oil markets to their knees, the clans each command
their most diabolic assassins to hijack a charter
jet carrying a group of international supermodels to
a remote island for the Sports Illustrated swimsuit
shoot. The only thing standing between the ninja
clans and world domination is an elite team of
Jesuit commandos who are determined to stop them.

Sean Connery portrays Michael O'Hanlon, S.J., a
former Army Ranger who needs to prove that decisive
action is the continuation of faith by other means
before he can enter the Kingdom. Beat Takeshi
portrays himself as the Ninja Godfather. Heidi Klum and
friends show that they can do everything regular
models do AND fight crime too. "
Next up:
1. BMWs 2. Richard Roundtree (Shaft) 3. Apple Pie

"What you don't know hurts you in ways that you find out."