Friday, March 15, 2002

ZoNotes: Playing My Game is What Brought You Here!

It's Ides of March today! Et Tu, Brute?

Everybody take your JPRs and light them on fire, as Jesuit institutions fell left and right all over the 1st round brackets yesterday.
1. 6W Gonzaga -- OUT
2. 5E Marquette -- OUT
3. 10MW Pepperdine -- OUT
4. 16MW Holy Cross -- OUT (although the Crusaders did have the Kansas Jayhawks pinned down for a long time)
Keep in mind though that 7W Xavier and 12MW Creighton are still alive.

How Lefties Get Their Groove Back
This article is making the rounds on other blogs and websites. It is one of the best self-examinations of a political segment that I've seen lately. It also goes to show you that not all lefties are anti-American reactionaries.

The Problem With Cash
A common gripe of the mandarins of the foreign policy elite is that terrorism springs from a lack of foreign aid and support. President Bush's decision to inject $5 billion in aid for poor countries is admirable, but such help is not a catalyst for change, and in many ways can discourage it. Sending alot of aid to a country that needs it, like Russia, could en up accomodating a type of dark-side pirate capitalism that squelches development and reinforces the power of certain elites. The money comes before "results" -- therefore providing no incentive to change over to true free-market mechanisms. And so when poor economies burst or "emerging" ones remain stillborn, it's not that the West hasn't given the money, it is that it has not been dispersed properly by the people receiving it. Then, the leaders go to forums hosted by the UN to admonish the old white males of the West for not giving enough aid. So, we add more, only to see the cycle of payoffs gradually deterioriate. Out of guilt or shame, the West ends up supporting either corruption, violence, or both. That's how we end up with a Zimbabwe, where granting aid and recognition keeps thugs in power. This call for aid, lest we get violence, reminds me of paying the school bully your lunch money so he won't beat you up. However, in the field of international diplomacy, the bullies end up misbehaving anyway. Coming up with $5 billion in aid just to feed people who don't like us anyway strikes me as unproductive. Along with aid, we should be encouraging capitalist, free-market leaders to assist in development. Otherwise, you get uneven results.

Responses to Simon
A couple of responses came down the pike regarding Simon Torres' (F'00) comments on the Yates case.
Gil Cabrera
"I disagree with Mr. Simon. Once the jury determined that she knew right from wrong (particularly a Texas jury -- sorry, but we know its true), I think they will not have a hard time killing her. Perhaps I am wrong. One other point, I am always dismayed by statements like: obviously she was guilty or the jury found her guilty and I agree. This is because none of us were in the courtroom and to base our opinions as to the guilt or innocence of someone on media reports, seems a bit presumptuous for me. I certainly trust the jury to decide the facts and as such abide by their ruling, but to say I agree with their conclusion. I just don't see how anyone that wasn't in the courtroom for all the testimony can say that."
Livy (C'98)
"On Simon's thing, a quick clarification: the
standard for conviction was knowledge of right from
wrong, not consciously planning and executing the
crime. Whether she is mentally ill or not, at least in
Texas, is irrelevant for conviction - we're all
mentally ill on some level. The turning question was
insanity, meaning no comprehension of whether the
act was right or wrong. For the sentencing phase, my morals tend to agree
with Simon. That said, I personally find the Texas
justice system to be anything but --> just a bunch
of thugs, really. Thus, I predict they give her
death row. The Supreme Court, among others, is
currently weighing whether mental illness is a factor
in sentencing - the most Yates can hope for, I
think, is that SCOTUS says you can't sentence a mentally
ill person to death, and she gets her death
sentence commuted to L.I.P. Considering the heinousness
of her crimes, the lack of emotion demonstrated (at
least in the media and in the evidentiary record),
etc. etc., I believe the jury is gonna hang her."

On a personal note, just because Texas executes the guilty doesn't make us a bunch of thugs.

"Upset victors never surprise themselves."

Thursday, March 14, 2002

ZoNotes: There Goes My Heart, Breakin' in Two!

Simon Comments on Justice
Here's Simon Torres' (F'00) take on the Yates case:
"I think the conception of Andrea Yates' mental health turns on two separate issues in this case. The first is whether or not she was mentally solvent when she killed all five of her children. The jury resoundingly said she was (and I clearly agree), and found her guilty. The second is her current state of mental health, and whether or not she can be executed if she is mentally ill. It is important to note that the burden of proof needed to convict her was far smaller than it will be to execute her. All the prosecution needed to prove to show her guilty is that on that day, she consicously planned and carried out the murder of her children, that during and after, she clearly knew what she was doing was wrong. It will be far harder to sell to a jury that she is still mentally viable enough (or at all) to end her life. My prediction: life in prison."

JPR Update
Thanks to Rich Bisso (F'99) and Aaron Ammerman (F'00) for fixing the JPRs last night:
1. Gonzaga - 6W
2. Marquette -- 5E
3. Xavier -- 7W
4. Pepperdine -- 10MW
5. Boston College -- 11MW
6. Holy Cross -- 16MW
Expect the JPRs to shift mightily. And, for the underdog in all of us, root for Holy Cross as the Crusaders valiantly go Jayhawk hunting!

Games you should watch for the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament:
The 12:5 upset -- your brackets are always helped if you pick this variation of the upset. After intense analysis and numbers crunching, take 12W Mizzou over 5W Miami. They are the best of the 4 #12 seeds in the tournament.
The 9s are Wild -- Take 9E St. John's over 8E Wisconsin. I think the Johnnies are good for at least one win in the tournament, and besides, Big East teams like to hurt you. Physically.
Round to the Nearest 10 -- I like 7S Oklahoma State over 10S Kent St. ("NATO University"), but don't be surprised if Kent beats Eddie Sutton's guys.
Those are my takes for the opening couple of rounds. And of course, take Duke by 90.

What's Eating Chuck Hagel?
Is Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE) a meddlesome opportunist or a wise scribe in the Nation's hallowed halls? If there's anything you get out of these two articles, it is that politicians can always dress up the desires of their constituents in the language of diplomatic chess games. This also shows you that the Senate isn't composed of 100 senators, but of 100 presidential candidates.

Votes Imitate Art
Every politician fancies himself a movie star, and every movie star fancies himself a politician. Watching Oliver Stone's rambling, incoherent run-on sentences in AMC's feature on directors aptly titled "The Directors," I grasped this obvious reality. The "brilliance" of his directorial skills is mitigated when he tries to become the vanguard of the revolution. Hollywood has never really seen the vanguard of the revolution, because the one thing the commies and the dictators go after with pulverizing maliciousness is the entertainment industry. The current moguls don't want Hollywood to become a propganda engine again. Luckily, in free capitalist markets like America, there isn't a Ministry of Culture that will "offer" its services so you can produce movies heaping praise on the proletariat.

A Thugocracy, If You Can Keep It
Progress can only come to those who are moving. If you are in Zimbabwe, it comes when Robert Mugabe decides to take his boot of its neck. One wonders how he gets away with strangling his opposition come election time. Is Mugabe the African Milosevic, or the African Castro, or the African Franco? The more things change, the more they get worse.

"Nature's generosity can lead to disaster."

Wednesday, March 13, 2002

ZoNotes: Strike a Pose, There's Nothing To It.

A Toast To Orwell
One of the factors that makes me love international relations and the study of diplomacy is the linguistic games people play. The Cold War alone had enough verbal wordplays -- East Germany and North Korea were both "democratic republics," Cuba fought for its "independence" from American domination and promptly jumped on the Soviet bandwagon of servitude, Communists fought "wars of liberation" -- it was truly a "turn you upside down" era. Today, in the post-9.11 world, we see the same verbal games play out, in this case in regards to the potentially new nuclear policy of the U.S. The New York Times editorial page, long the home of anti-American agitprop dressed up in sophisticated analysis, went so far as to try and label America a "rogue" state. This entire episode opens a door for us to revisit the realities facing the world's only superpower -- sometimes we have to contemplate the unthinkable. That does not mean that the nuclear first strike is coming around the bend. And, suppose if a preemptive strike were coming to destroy, say, Iraq's or North Korea's future nuclear arsenals, don't you think it would be preferable than seeing a major American city consumed in a fireball? As we all know, the U.S. and her NATO allies, fickle as they may be, never renounced the first-use policy of the alliance even when the Soviets cynically did so because of their conventional advantage in Europe. We stand ready to strike first because it is inherently dangerous to sit and wait for a strike, however small, to wipe out American cities.
To reiterate, we are the good guys. It tickles me pink that the same liberals who attacked mutually assured destruction (MAD) as unrealistic and dangerous now profess to the altar of deterrence theory. Watching HARDBALL!!! Chris Matthews on MSNBC last night discuss the topic of any potential policy changes, I'm glad he isn't in a policymaking position. He's framing his question on what other countries will think of us, never mind that if Saddam or Kim Jong Il get nuclear weapons, some of those same countries in Europe and Asia would be directly affected. Some concern centers on the prospect of building lower-yield nukes that can penetrate deep in the ground to destroy bunkers or weapons storage sites, being that it would lower the threshold for nuclear warfare. My response is twofold -- a) isn't it preferable to destroy an anthrax or botulism storage facility before such weapons were fitted on SCUD missiles and b) how high does the Post think the threshold for use of nuclear weapons or other forms of WMD is for a rogue state like Iraq, which used chemical weapons against the Kurds in 1988? By this logig, isn't the threshold lower in Southwest Asia than it is in Europe now?

Justice Is Not Delayed
After a very short but not surprising deliberation, the jury in Houston came back and convicted 5-time child murderess Andrea Yates on capital murder charges. It is unclear though what sentencing will be, and if the jury will either put Yates in prison for life or institute the death penalty. Contrary to the Post's handwringing about the "stunning" pace of the deliberations, I think that the fellow Texans involved in the decisions saw clearly that the murderess knew right from wrong -- if she didn't, why did she call the police after she heartlessly and maliciously drowned her children? Rarely in our lives is evil presented so starkly -- this is perhaps the primary reason we have a death penalty in this country, for people who do this. But maybe the jury will opt to keep her alive.

Sanchez v. Perry
With 60% of the vote in the Democrat primary, Laredo multimillonaire Tony Sanchez secured the Dems' nomination against GOP incumbent Rick Perry. Along with record Hispanic turnout, perhaps the most interesting result was Ron Kirk's upcoming runoff with man-in-truck Victor Morales for the Dems' Senate slot. Houstonian Ken Bentsen, campaigning largely on his father's last name, polled at under 27%, astonishing for someone who would figure so prominently in state politics.

Jesuit Power Rankings
As part of ZoNotes' NCAA coverage, watch these Jesuit schools in action via my Jesuit Power Rankings (JPR). Here is how our JPR looks today:
1. Gonzaga -- #6W Seed
2. Marquette --- #5E Seed
3. Pepperdine --- # 10MW Seed
4. Boston College --- #11MW Seed
5. Creighton --- #12MW Seed
6. Holy Cross -- #16MW Seed
7. Siena -- #16E Seed
Siena's gripping showing in the play-in game was astounding as it propels to a game against #1E Seed Maryland. Holy Cross is the strongest #16 seed in recent memory, so the #1MW Seed Kansas Jayhawks should be wary! Boston College has been a disappointment, but perhaps Troy Bell can play better this time around. Remember, to quote a successful MBA program marketing gimmick from the Fall '96 semester at Georgetown -- Jes-U-It.

"Luck is created by the toils of your talent. Or, if you're Duke, then by the refs."

Tuesday, March 12, 2002

ZoNotes: Vote alive, vote dead.
Primary Day
Today is primary day back home in Texas, where the big race is for the Democrat nomination for governor between Laredo's own Tony Sanchez and former Texas AG Dan Morales. What was supposed to be an uneventful coronation of Sanchez back in December became a decidedly Texan intramural fight within the Democrat Party. Sanchez's signature advantage is his nearly endless war chest, but until Morales entered the race, the Dems had expected the spigot to open for the general campaign against Gov. Rick Perry. This, should be entertaining.
Connecting With Your Inner You
ZoNoter Michelle Sparkman picked up these questions this weekend from the esteemed Washington Times. For your self-improvement, I will include them in today's edition:
"From the Washington Times, Q&A with your feelings
Taken from the "Eight Gates of Change."
1. What is new in my life right now
(relationships, interests, brand-new
experiences)? What would I like to be new?
2. What roles am I letting go of and which are
emerging? How am I or am I
not using the three allies of change: wonder,
adventure, and wisdom? How
would I like this to be?
3. What am I learning about my capacity to
experience the world through my
senses? How is the way I am working affecting my
health and body? How
would I like it to be?
4. How am I or am I not tending to my
relationships? Where am I restrained
and restricted ? Where do I experience my
commitment and loyalty? How
would I like this to be?
5. Where is my creative fire? Where am I in my
life dream? How would I
like this to be?
6. What am I learning about my own capacity for
authenticity and integrity?
What steps am I taking to support my authentic
nature? How would I like
this to be?
7. Where am I contented in my life? Where do I
feel completely satisfied
and fulfilled? How would I like this to be?
8. What is dying for me now? Where am I
surrendering, required to let
things go? How would I like this to be?"

To Be, or Not to Be...
...The day after the 6-month anniversary of 9.11, Is Iraq going to be next on the chopping block? There was a lot of needle threading during yesterday's joint press conference between British PM Tony Blair and Vice President Dick Cheney. Blair is currently facing the wrath of Labor politicians who oppose a direct military assault on Iraq, but also understands what America's expectations are. The square that he is trying to fit into a circle rests on this: by stressing the danger of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction (WMD) program, Blair is trying to deflect the attention from an overthrow of Saddam himself and instead target the WMD threat. Electorally, Blair should be safe from a Labor rebellion, but he's also not going to act carlessly. Ultimately, though, the transatlantic obligation is something that can never be abandoned, regardless of Labor's chortling.
NCAA Picks
Who cares about the field of 65? All you really need are the Final Four teams -- who I think will be Maryland, Duke, Oklahoma, and Kansas. I am really high on the Sooners because they beat UConn, Maryland, and Kansas this season, and successfully defended its Big 12 Tournament championship on Sunday with a 64-55 win over Kansas. I think OU was robbed of a #1 seed in the West because the NCAA's selection board is made up of feckless thugs with a reputation for overkilling on certain brackets. This created the strongest West bracket in recent memory -- check out the top 6 seeds out there.
1. Cincinnati
2. Oklahoma
3. Arizona
4. Ohio State
5. Miami
6. Gonzaga
Still, I see OU in the Regional Final beating Gonzaga -- which would put the Sooners against hated Duke in the national semifinal in Atlanta. OU is a faster team than people give it credit for -- Duke should cruise through the South Regional. I like Maryland in the East, and Kansas should mow through the Midwest. I see a rematch of the 1988 title and the Big 12 Championship at the Georgia Dome in 3 weeks, with OU putting to rest the best Kansas team since that fateful matchup 12 years ago.
"The duration of your life is spent somewhere between yesterday and right now."

Monday, March 11, 2002

ZoNotes: Representin'
HOYA METER: Final Posting of Hoya Meter of the 2001-02 season, so let's get this done with quickly. Here was Livy Keithley's (C'98) initial reaction to our being left out of the big dance: "NUTS AND BOLTS! NUTS AND BOLTS! WE GOT SCREWED!!!"
Georgteown was not one of the 6 Big East teams selected for the NCAA Tournament, but certainly was a lock for the lesser but still postseason National Invitational Tournament (NIT), derisively known as the "Not In Tournament" tournament. After some haggling as to whether Georgetown could secure a home game, head coach Craig Esherick opted to refuse the invite, citing "travel and academic" concerns. This unfortunate decision halts the Hoyas' 27-year long consecutive postseason streak. I'm decidedly not happy. The decision smacks of cynical disinterest. We have 2 first-team All-Big East selections in PG Kevin Braswell and Georgetown Big Man Mike Sweetney. Had we accepted the bid, we would have overtaken North Carolina's record of postseason appearances. And to think I was looking forward to more Hoya basketball. Could someone's firing be in the offing? Tomorrow I will preview who I think will make it to "the ATL" for the Final Four -- so do your homework on Oklahoma (hint, hint).

9.11 Revisited
Last night I sat down and watched CBS's riveting broadcast of 9/11, the documentary filmed by the 2 French brothers as they filmed Engine 7, Ladder 1. The stark horror of one of the darkest days in the history of the Republic was captured on film, the sights and sounds that I heard were unlike any I've heard before. The sound of people crashing to their deaths was perhaps the most jarring, their impact sounding like metal crashing. But underneath that horror was a bravery, steady, unwavering, and resolute. The actions of Chief Pfeifer to find a safe exit from Tower 1 was amazing, all the more so because he did it without panicking. I was gripped for 2 straight hours, so much so that when the documentary concluded at 2300 last night, I couldn't believe it was over. On 9.11 not only did we see "how evil evil can be," but "how strong the strong are."
Dr. Jones!
On Saturday I treated myself to AMC's back-to-back showings of Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark and Temple of Doom. I really like the first film much better -- it has an astounding musical score that harkens back to the adventure films of the 1930s and '40s, the best acting of the Indy trilogy, biblical intrigue, and melting Nazis! Plus, the "duel" between Harrison Ford's Indiana character and the swordsman in Cairo was an instant classic. There is one minor historical gripe, though. How could the Nazis have moved troops, acquired hard labor, and set up shop in British-dominant Egypt? Oh well, you just have to accept that one on its face, I suppose.
The movie also employs a comedic devices that mock the Nazis for precisely the things that allegedly made them so vaunted -- the stiff uniforms, the stiff accents, the monkey doing the seig heil salute, the Nazis "blending in" to Cairo by wearking khaki suits instead of black ones -- this aspect of the film's tone reminded me of Ernst Lubistch's original 1942 direcotrial work on To Be or Not To Be in the way it parodied evil. "JUMP!"

"When considering a gracious offer, never forget the ungraciousness of the offerer."