Saturday, March 30, 2002

ZoNotes: Give a little respect, toooooo me!

And Then There Were Four
For tonight's Final Four games, take OU over Indiana and Kansas over Maryland. A lot is being made in the local DC media that during the open practices yesterday, the Jayhawks looked "nervous" and the Terps "composed." Don't believe the hype, and, to use a local euphemism here don't "Fear the Turtle." Kansas is playing at a level slightly above the Terps, not by much, but enough to eke out a 6 point win in a game where both teams will eclipse 90 points. As for OU, look for the Sooners' punishing defense to smother Indiana in a game that will be more competitively played than advertised. That sets up a Kansas-OU final, and well...we'll just have to wait until Monday for my prediction there!
Final Four Moments To Remember:
Alma Peña relates to us these moments from her Duke fandom:
"1st: 1992 Regional Final vs. Kentucky's "Unforgettables":
Grant Hill confuses the basketball for a
football, and inbounds a spiral to Christian Laettner the full
length of the court. Laetner, standing at the top
of the key, catches the ball and sinks the game-winning shot with 2
seconds left on the clock. All I have to say is "sweeeeeeeeet, bayby."
"2nd: 1991 Final Four Semifinal against UNLV:
I don't remember which year this was, but it
was the tournament game with underdog Dukef
acing the undefeated Running Rebels of UNLV.
Everyone was screaming blowout. But Duke ended up
winning the game. The moment, however, is not the
actual win...but when Bobby Hurley (Duke's premier
point guard) signals a time out and then runs
straight for the locker room instead of the team
bench. Turns out he had diarreha the entire day.
Hurley visits the locker room a couple more times
during the game. All I can say is LOL!!!!!!!!!!!!"
First, of course, is when I was like 6 watching Patrick Ewing lead the Hoyas to the promised land against Hakeem and Houston.
Another favorite moment of mine is Don Reid's dump of Iverson's last-second shot in the 1995 tournament against Weber State that propelled the mighty Hoyas into the Sweet 16 against North Carolina (come and raise up).
The second is when Iverson & Co. came from behind to bury Darvin Ham and Texas Tech in the Sweet 16 in 1996.
The third is not related to GU, but watching fellow Texans Jimmy King and Ray Jackson shock the nation as part of Michigan's Fab Five all the way to the 1992 final, where they lost to Duke.
God, the worst moments are when GU lost to coked-up Villanova in 1985,the 1989 loss to Duke in the Elite 8, the humiliating loss in the 1996 Elite 8 to UMass. The worst moment I witnessed in person was the dismal 1997 first-round loss to NC-Charlotte in Tuscon. Trust me, there wasn't anything to cheerlead about after watching Jahidi White and Victor Page get crushed...

"Drinking is not a vice until you make it one."

Friday, March 29, 2002

ZoNotes: Come on and raise up...

Today is Good Friday. Without fail, the day is cloudy and quiet, much like every Good Friday I've had. It seems awkward to say Happy Good Friday...given the depth of Jesus' sacrifice.

The Good Friday War
The incursion by Israeli forces into Yasser Arafat's offices is a taste of what an exclusionary operation will look like. The escalation of the conflict did not occur independent of other factors, and this is the logical conclusion of the second intifada. Benjamin Netanyahu, the would-be Prime Minister, describes broadly what the Israeli plan of action would be. The Israeli incursion comes as a flurry of violence in Israel continues. Remember from yesterday that I view the Arab peace plan as a feint to cover more attacks against Israeli civilians. The latest attack in Jerusalem shows how the olive branch is extended in one hand and the stick of dynamite in the other. If the Palestinians opt to expand the scope of the war, then they face the consequences. These have never been Israeli military targets. A shopping center has no strategic value, unless you formulate a doctrine exclusively to terrorize civilians. This is what the Arab neighbors have in mind when they say "normalization." Upon any conclusion of a peace agrement, Palestine would become the most productive state-sponsor of terrorism in the world. In a Palestinian state laced with terrorists, the attacks will continue. The Arab League summit did nothing but dress up the push-Israel-into-the-sea rhetoric we've been hearing in 1948.
Needless to say, this issue generated the usual dusting up within the ZoNotes community:
Livy Keithley (C'98):"I agree in principle with your suggestion in todays' ZoNotes that the US posture to Middle East negotiations is preposterous and ridiculous from a logical standpoint. It makes no sense for us to bring the wrath of God Almighty in Afghanistan for one attack (albeit more serious than all the attacks, EVER, in Israel) and then, in the same breath, deplore the Israeli gun-ship response in the Mid East. However, I'd posit that supporting Israeli attacks while also hamstringing Palestinian efforts is no solution either. (And of course I wouldn't advocate Israel "taking off the gloves"...damn Zionists).

Arafat has a serious credibility problem. He can't be leading, he can't be considered a leader anymore of the Palestinian effort....but then again, who can? The Saudis? The Jordanians? about self-interest (and hence the importance of the repatriation in all proposed settlements). The Palestinians must choose among themselves who to lead them, besides an old, out-moded, superceded Arafat. ADDITIONALLY (and here's the real key, the real stickler for Israel), this new leader must be given the power to lead. This leader must be given the ability, the manpower, the firepower, and the trust of the Israeli government. The PA right now is nothing but a babysitter of the Palestinians, while the parents are home. I remember, back in my youth when I couldn't drive or go someplace, the neighbors would hire me to babysit their 4 year old for the afternoon while they were home, usually gardening or working or something. It was wierd then, it was wierd now. Why was I there? What was my point? Where was my authority? If I told the kid to do something and the kid didn't like it, guess who the kid immediately ran to....
Israel has given the PA nothing more than babysitter authority. "Govern your people as you wish, so long as we like it. IF we don't like it, we'll come in and have a few gunships relay that fact. Oh, and you get no arms or necessary force instruments to implement your authority - you just have to say so and hope they follow it." I love how Zionist pundits constantly whine about how Arafat doesn't do this and Arafat doesn't do that...well, what are they going to do with batons? Seriously? First, Israel must get off the PA's back, and give the PA the teeth it needs to seriously control the population. Some might argue that this is just giving arms to those who will eventually destroy Israel...and it might be. But frankly, you will never have peace if you make that first gesture of self-governance and trust towards the Palestinians. Second, Israel has to pull its head out of its ass about the terrorist attacks. What good does it do, when there is an attack in Israel, for gunships to turn around and destroy PA government installations. "Hi, you don't go after these people, so we'll reduce what you do have left to rubble so you REALLY can't go after them." Does it strike Sharon and his cabinet as a little more than simple coincidence that, everytime the peace process starts to warm up and go somewhere, there is a terrorist attack? The reason is that Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Arab Brigade and the like (despite their rhetoric) will never go for peace. And they are smart enough to realize that one attack, when the peace process moves along, will stop it in its tracks - accomplishing their goal. Anytime it moves, bomb a pizzeria, and you have a solid month of stagnation of the process. The Israelis need backbone on two fronts: 1) the backbone to proceed with the peace process DESPITE the terrorist attacks, because there is no indication whatsoever that the terrorists IN ANY WAY represent the popular sentiment; 2) the backbone to know what is right for the region (that being full and complete PEACE) and to not cave in to "public interest" movements (i.e. conservative Zionists schmucks who build settlements on contested land). It's called Do The Right Thing.
Just my two cents....I'm sick of all the hand-wringing about how sorry we feel for Israel, and how the US is burdening Israeli security, blah blah blah. Israel needs to get off its mighty mount and realize that, if it just uncocked the weapon it has always pointed at the Palestinians for just a little bit, there might be a chance they can put it down and live peacefully. They've never been willing to take that is the time."

My response:
"I agree with the leadership question re Arafat. The $64,000 question is whether or not there is somebody in the PA willing to stand up and complete a real peace. The devil, as we all know, is in the details. Which is why the Saudi deal is a trojan horse, because it leaves a wide door open re "right of return." Plus, it's likely that the Saudi deal is also just a way for one Saudi faction to leverage the other. We don't know enough to fully comprehend this.
Re the Americans feeling "sorry" for Israel. You know, what tickles my pinky toe is the fact that Israel is the only multiparty democracy in SW Asia, surrounded by enemies who use the Palestinians as a proxy for waging war, and we sit at the bus station waiting for a peace that won't come via the current process. Could it be that Americans support Israel becuase we associate more with democracies than we do with authoritarian nonstates that send suicide bombers over the horizon? It's not like Americans are reflexively pro-Israel, it's that after we see the way things work, we drift in a certain direction. If anything, the media are softballing Arafat and giving free camera time to all the Arab leaders.
Re us not holding the Israelis back. Liv, the paradox of which you speak wouldn't exist if the Israelis had looser constraints. Given the nature of the conventional military arrangement in SW Asia, the Israelis should actually have more territory than it acquired after 1967. The fact of the matter is that we do hold sway over Israeli security policy. American policy keeps Arafat alive, better or worse. Sharon has all but admitted that in interviews in the Israeli press. We ask for restraint, hell, we demanded it in 1991 when Saddam was dropping SCUDS in order to provoke Israel. Israeli assassination policy is far more restrictive than it could be.
Last week I got into a discussion with someone who wanted to literally kick the Israelis out into the Med. What makes you think that the other side, with the current leadership, will just be happy with Gaza and the West Bank? Another question. In a world that had both an Israeli and Palestinian state, under the current leadership, would you rather be an Arab minority in Tel Aviv or a Jew in East Jerusalem?"

On a Lighter Note...
May I recommend It is one of the cheekiest parody sites on the Internet. Thanks to Livy again for pointing me to this version of March Madness.

They Go in Threes
The death of legendary director Billy Wilder at the ripe age of 95 caps a sad week in entertainment. Wilder joins Dudley Moore and the venerable Milton Berle in front of the pearly gates. Wilder is known for his work in directing The Apartment and Some Like It Hot. It is the loss of a true cinematic genius.

"Progress should not grant license to tyranny."

Thursday, March 28, 2002

ZoNotes: Everybody Have Fun Tonight...

Unserious Observation...
Before we tackle the heavy stuff today, a brief aside. My cable service allows for 3 different VH1s, one of which is VH1 Classic. Last night I saw a Jodie Watley video. Remember her? The J-Lo of the 1980s?

The Maladies of Halabja
"We have a problem. If the Americans attack Saddam and don't get him, we're going to get gassed. "
--General Mustafa Said Qadir, from Jeffrey Goldberg's stunning New Yorker article. If this haunting account of Iraq's bio/chemical arsenal doesn't convince you that the West needs to expel Saddam, nothing will.

Blood of the Passover
It goes without saying that two of the world's great monotheistic faiths -- Christianity and Judaism -- are celebrating important religious holidays. Subsequently, this is also the "ideal" time for Palestinian terrorists to attack Israeli civilians, as evidenced by yesterday's suicide bombing in the resort city of Netanya. The attack, for which Hamas has taken responsibility, comes at the intersection point of 3 correlated processes. First, it comes during the misadventurous Arab League summit in Beirut, where Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah forwarded his "peace plan," which promises Israel normalization in exchange for a Palestinian state. It would be a good idea if it weren't such a bad one. The offer is so bad that Israel has to refuse it, for it includes tenets previously regarded as uncacceptable -- sole Palestinian control over Jerusalem, withdrawal from Gaza and the West Bank, and the dubious "right of return" for refugees. The second process is the attempt by U.S. envoy Gen Anthony Zinni, USMC (Ret) to broker a ceasefire between Israel and the Palestinian terrorist organizations. The Netanya attack and the inevitable Israeli reprisal will likely set that back for awhile. The third process is the buildup for an attack on Iraq. The Arab League is offering a deal to the Israelis that acts as a crowbar to any coalition action against Saddam Hussein. It's a setup -- make a bad deal and goad Israel with it while at the same time tying up American diplomatic initiatives to forge regional consensus on removing Saddam. Needless to say, this creates inertia and slackens traction for any forward momentum. But this whole episode, playing out over a course of a half-week, shows us something. The Palestinians are pressing their luck, with the Arab summit as a masking feint, and in essence are getting rewarded for it. The State Department whines about the lack of Israeli restraint, while in reality the opposition has more leeway to do whatever it wants to whoever it wants. Terrorism is an extension of license by other means, to play with Clausewitzian metaphors. Every act that goes unanswered for emboldens the opposition. Everytime a diplomat responds to the death of 16 civilians by calling up the enemy and begging for peace the latter isn't even entertaining in the first place extends license. People fret over the "looming" full-scale Middle East war. That line was crossed when the second intifada started in 2000. Not calling it a war doesn't make it peace. Calling it "the violence" attaches an abstract, blameless quality to it. The Israelis have been, are, and will forever be at war, regardless of sham diplomatic initiatives by its hostile neighbors.

Corrective Action
Aaron Ammerman (F'00) corrects my rationale for the EU's "retaliatory" tariffs:
"Actually, the EU tariffs on steel were anything BUT
retaliatory.. I was surprised to see (maybe
displaying a grasp of nuance) the media minimized the use
of the word "retaliatory."
if we think just real briefly on what we know about
the U.S. vice industrialized Europe, we know that
our heavy industry actually enjoys significantly
lower labor costs (both in wage and health care and
vacation time yadayadayada). EU steel doesn't make
it into the U.S. because EU steel can't be sold in
the U.S. on a competitive basis. Unless the
guv'mint (Bush admin) forces someone to, they won't buy a
more expensive product!!
On the other hand, when the U.S. closes the door
for foreign (LATAM and East Asian) steel, that steel
supply IS going to go somewhere. Either the price
of foreign steel will drop even lower in order to
get into the American market (WAIT! Would the Dubya
White House think that better or worse for the
U.S.?) ... or it will "seek" a market where the going
price of steel is 1) greater than the pre-tariff
price in the U.S. but 2) less than the post-tariff
price in the U.S. That is- it's going to be dumped
in Western Europe.
The EU then, realizing this, is imposing its own
tariff not to retaliate against the U.S. but instead
to compensate for the ripple effect of the U.S.
maldecision. If you will excuse my poor metaphor- if
the U.S. economy were a Brawny triple-strength
paper towel and you're mopping up a puddle of water
(i.e., the global steel supply) off a table top and
you rip a corner off the paper towel (protecting the
U.S. economy from absorbing "too much"), you're not
going to soak up as much of the puddle. That
puddle is still going to go somewhere, so if the paper
towel isn't going to absorb all of the water, it'll
seek a lower level (aka EUROPE) and soak them. So,
the floor (Europe) not wanting to get soaked and
not having much of an absorption rate itself will
want some kind of "barrier" to prevent the water from
flowing off the table (the world market) and onto
it, where there'll be no paper towel to mop it up."

"The speed of speed keeps getting faster."

Wednesday, March 27, 2002

ZoNotes: I've Got Friends In Low Places, Where the Whiskey drowns and the Beer chases my Blues Away...

Go Spurs!!
I love my Spurs! In the midst of a 12-game winning streak, the Spurs have catapulted to within a game of the Sacramento Kings for the best record in the NBA's Western Conference. However, a crucial road swing has the Spurs playing Portland, Seattle, and the archrival LA Lakers. I hope the Spurs can lock up homecourt advantage throughout the playoffs, because I would not want to face Dallas or LA on the road.

Throw The Tablets...
Last Sunday Catholic churches all across the Republic addressed in sermons the severity of the pedophilia crisis. In San Diego, my mother and her friend Mayra actually listened to outright denials by one of the priests accused of molestation. Conversely, one priest actually made public his desire that Boston's Cardinal Bernard Law resign because of his failure to address the problem.

Free Trade, Kinda Sort of
The Bush political calculus creates friction in terms of economic policy. America is supposed to be the champion of free trade and not beholden to the craven statism that better defines some of our European counterparts. However, in what appears to be a sop to the steel industry, President Bush instead slapped tariffs on foreign steel. This created a row with the Europeans where we didn't need it. Note this, however -- this is basically the only point where I'll concede anything to a European prerogative. The EU's foreign policy, insofar as it exists as a "unified" one, is meager and smacks of appeasement. In trade policy, their decision to slap retaliatory tariffs is predictable, but not mortally dangerous. In Latin America, Bush's steel decision also generated some murmurs, especially with countries considering a Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA). It is difficult to advocate free trade when you're slapping tariffs and restrictions on merhandise. What the FTAA was supposed to do in the first place was create a free trade zone that would phase out the exclusionary zones like MERCOSUR. Embedding trade restrictions within an alleged free trade pact hinders the process. Of course, this kind of economic shotgunning hurts only the consumer. Europeans now can't get cheap Florida orange juice, and Latin American consumers and producers will see a great American market become mired in inter-American inertia.

Only In America!
If baseball is sports' darling, then boxing is sports' pornography. After executing a brilliant bait and switch on the municipal leadership of Washington, DC, Mike Tyson's promoters secured an 8 June fight date with IBF/WBC Champion Lennox Lewis in Memphis, TN. The city of Memphis still has to come up with a $12.5 million letter of credit, and if it doesn't, Memphis promoters won't have a part in what could end up being a $100 million boost to the local economy.

"The price of victory is higher for people betting on the game."

Tuesday, March 26, 2002

ZoNotes: Know When To Hold 'em, Know When to Fold 'em.

The _______ Documents
After the hissy fit soap opera over whether or not the Bush Administration was going to turn over the energy task force documents, the White House did an about face and turned them over before a court-imposed deadline. In keeping with both the Nixonian and Clintonian tradition, however, the documents are less than revealing, with portions blanked out. I guess the cream in the canoli here is the revelation that the Bush Administration met largely with campaign donors and energy executives, and not so much with the environmentalists. I'm not terribly surprised, nor am I hopping mad. If a liberal were in office, Greenpeace and the Sierra Club would be dictating energy policy. Well, actually, maybe not. From what we know of Enron's fundraising apparatus, it courted both parties pretty aggressively. And of course we all know that it was former Clinton Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin who used his existing contacts in Washington to try and help Enron. This makes me sound like a whining McCainiac, but on this issue, there ain't a damn shred of daylight between the Dems and the Republicans on this one. They'll follow the money. Is that bad? Depends on your perspective. Giving cash is the American way.

To Go Or Not To Go?
Should Yasser Arafat go to the Arab League summit as the second intifada continues? Two distinct lines of thinking formulate the argument. The first one is that by lifting travel restrictions on Arafat, Israel concedes that the whole exercise of detaining him was a fruitless endeavor in the first place. Having pushed more Al-Aqsa suicide bombers into the fray and molded a culture of extreme intolerance, Arafat got attention again and knows that the reward for his terrorism is continued diplomatic credibility. The conclusion, briefly stated, is that allowing Arafat to proceed to the meetings, he gets away with the death of Israeli civilians. The other line argues that if Arafat isn't allowed to go, the other participating Arab states will shelve the provisional "Saudi Solution" forwarded by Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia and not extend "normalization" with Israel. The question you have to ask yourself is whether or not the Arab countries really mean it when they say that they will recognize Israel's right to exist. If you have a problem answering in the affirmative, then believe me, so do they. The only thing this meeting is going to accomplish is A) condemnation of the only democracy in Southwest Asia, and B) condemnation of the U.S.
My view is the former. The kleptocracy in Palestine has done nothing to validate any sort of viable diplomatic recognition, and certainly not done enough to give Arafat flexibility to go anywhere. Unfortunately, it seems that Ariel Sharon is going to let Arafat go to Beirut

Well I said, what about...
...Breakfast At Tiffany's. Last night I watched this 1961 classic, starring the incomparable Audrey Hepburn and George Peppard (who would later in life star in the A-Team with Mr. T. I pity the fool who didn't know that!) Solid acting, sardonic humor, and a sharp love story. Plus, for all the whining about sex in Hollywood today, the plotline here has all sorts of misbehavior. Remember, Peppard's Paul character is a "kept" man of a far older lady. Of course, it was tastefully done, tastefully done indeed.

"The harder they fall, the angrier they get up."

Monday, March 25, 2002

ZoNotes: You Don't Have to Go Home, But You Can't Stay Here

Picked Apart
With the successful conclusion of the Maryland-UConn regional final, I picked 3 of the Final Four teams. I continue to go with Oklahoma to win it all, but both Kansas and the Terps impressed me with their high level of play. However, I like the Sooners' style of play and their timely shooting. This promises to be one of the best Final Fours of the last 10 years.

I'd Like to Thank The Academy...
...for making me look like a genius last night with the Oscars. True, I missed out on a good number of my initial picks, but somebody give me a cookie for acing the Best Actress, Best Actor, and Best Picture. It seems that Hollywood's institutional ceiling on African American actors has cracked, with both Denzel Washington and Halle Berry scoring Academy wins. On a tangential note, did you guys see Best Supporting Actor nominee from Lord of the Rings Ian McKellen and his lover? Gay or not gay, that, dear sir, is cradle robbing! Cradle robbing indeed!

Saturday Night of the Living Dead
After catching the ads on television, I went to a late showing of Wesley Snipes' vampire-slaying sequel to Blade, aptly titled Blade II. I almost missed out on the 10:30 screening at Hoyt's Potomac Yards, because I waited for 20 minutes in line and then another 10 waiting to get herded into the stadium-sized #9 theater. The movie is gory, I mean blood-splattering, gunfighting, tongue lashing, head slicing gory. I really enjoyed it. Only Snipes can play the lead role well enough to make the movie enjoyable. If not for his range as an actor, then this would be a B-movie of humble pedigree. Ron Pearlman steals the show as the cocky vamp Reinhardt. Oh, and one other thing...that seam down the chin of the Reaper vampires isn't a real I found out. I will admit though that there were some scenes I just couldn't watch because they were so gross. A minor point -- how is it that vampires become masters of kung fu immediately after "turning"? I mean the latest trend here is that every vamp is an undead Bruce Lee clone. It happens in Buffy, it happens in the Blade series. Kudos to director Guillermo Del Toro for painting a crimson gem of utter carnage.

The Wars on Terror
Sean Mullaney (B'00) sends the latest Bob Novak column. The question this op-ed poses for all of us is who gets to fight the war on terror, the United States and her allies, or solely the U.S.?

Or else...
Both Time and the Washington Post have run articles detailing various plans by the Israeli Defense Force to destroy terrorist cells operating in Yasser Arafat's Palestinian entity. This is a very explosive situation.

Today's Wordplay brought to you by Aaron Ammerman (F'00):
"What deep wounds ever healed without a scar?" -- Lord Byron

Sunday, March 24, 2002

ZoNotes: Have You Ever Danced With The Devil in The Pale Moonlight?

Oh My!
I hope this Sunday finds you in good stead. Here's some lighter fare for the easy Sunday in all of us. Do note however that OU and Indiana are in the Final Four. Should Kansas and Maryland win today, then I would have successfully picked 75% of the Final Four participants. Cheer me on!

Recapping the Week
Earlier this week I ranted about the inadequacies of campaign finance/incumbent protection reform, calling it a "racket." Aaron Ammerman (F'00) shared his thoughts with me on the great outrages he sees:
"Normally, an industry in America can establish an
arbitrary limit on the amount of a product that it
will produce in a given period of time. Even though
the consumers would like an increased supply and it
could produce more than this cap, the industry
chooses not to, because limiting the consumer's choices
and the availability of the product drives up the
value of each individual product. Imagine further
if the industry were to decide- not only would it
regulate its output, but instead it would also
establish a fixed quantity of the product that will be
available in the market at any given point and will
not produce more- merely replace the product that
it's already produced, without raising the overall
total of product available.

Hmmmm? Sound like the guv'mint would have a
problem with any industry that dared exert such
monopolistic influence? mebbe.

Now, let's imagine that the producer of that
product didn't set the limit. Let's imagine that the
product itself was sentient and could determine how
much of itself was wanted on the market!! Wouldn't
the product, if it were intelligent, want to limit
its availability so that it would have the maximum
value possible? So that people will fight over it
and spend oodles of money on it?

Americans get worked up every year by the thought
that MS, Sony, and Nintendo underproduce video-games
and gaming consoles so that they can pump up the
hype at Christmastime. I'm talking about a more
important product.

The industry I'm talking about is the American
population and the product is the honest American
citizen that we send to Washington to represent us in
democratic governance.

Beginning in 1790, the U.S. government bumped up
the number of representatives in the lower house of
Congress to keep pace with the explosive population
growth in America. It did this every 10 years or
so so that the number of representatives would be
reasonably represent the changing American

"In 1789, the very first House consisted of 65
members. Since the nation’s population was roughly 4
million people at the time, each member of the House
represented approximately 62,000 people."

Times change, technology changes. With the advent
of the locomotive and the telegraph, it became much
easier to communicate with your representative.
The trip from Buffalo to Albany no longer took a week
for example. The advances in technology allowed a
single representative to represent more
constituents effectively.

In 1911, Congress declared that it was capping
membership in the House at a nice, round 435. At this
time, with 92 million Americans, each Congressman
in the House represented roughly 210,000 people.
This is a bit of a shift, from 62,000 to 210,000
people in a congressional district. Technology is
powerful indeed.

Since 1911, the U.S. has fought and won three
global conflicts. The U.S. now stands as the world's
single most important entity. Since 1911, broadcast
radio and television have revolutionized American
media. The government's budget has risen to $2
TRILLION each year (more than TWICE the entire GNP of
1911). The U.S. population has tripled since 1911.
[That's raw population, not "voting population."
let's factor in 1) women's suffrage, 2) the civil
rights movement, and 3) letting 18-, 19-, and 20-year
olds vote. Have those had any effect on the U.S.

Nonetheless, the sacred number of 435 shan't be

Today, each congressman "represents" an average of
650,000 people. Three times that in 1911, over ten
times that at America's founding.

Gasp! But you can't possibly suggest increasing
the size of the governmental behemoth!!!

The U.S. government has run amuck. Look at the New
Deal, the Great Society, and Sept 11th. Increase
the employees! Increase the budgets! Increase the
rules! From time to time an emergency calls for the
dramatic expansion of goverment to deal with the

A billion here and a billion there and sooner or
later you're talking real money.

Congress spends lots of money. The bulk of that is
NOT on Congressional salaries, nor on the upkeep of
Congressional offices. Even a dramatic increase in
the number of representatives will not represent
more than a drop in the budget bucket.
If we shrink the size of a congressional district,
we reduce the costs of access to a politician
without depriving anyone of their Constitutional rights.
The more congressmen, the less each of their votes
count. More importantly, the more congressmen, the
more each of their constituents is worth.
The American people are worth that much. I'm not
suggesting that we have 5,000 congressmen. I'd also
suggest that we shy away from a round number like
one thousand (as George Will tossed out at one
point). A randomly chosen number between 1100 and 1300
would do the trick. As for the weakest argument of all- "the Capitol
building is too small to accommodate the number of
congressmen we already have." Since when has the
government ever been reluctant to build bigger and
bigger temples to itself. If they come, they will
build it."

The Simon & Zo Correspondence
Here are some recaps of the discussion Simon and I had earlier this week about Israel, referring to the article that about the Labor Party that I posted a couple of days ago:

"An interesting article. A few thoughts come to mind. The first is that there’s no greater strain on the party that isn’t in power like a war, especially one in the fashion that Israel has on its hands. There is a high possibility that Sharon might have over-extended himself rolling tanks and troops into Ramallah and Bethlehem last week, and admittance of that mistake (and it was one, and even the US will say so) has made him real damn apt to sit down with Powell and Cheney. However, Labor doesn’t have an alternative of any kind and on any front, and given people’s general frustration with a war that seems to be never-ending, the Israeli public is tired of Labor’s hang-wringing.
Another thought: Oslo was probably the right thing to do at the time, but its failure is coming back to haunt the party in that no one trusts them. A good friend of mine who lives in Tel Aviv (and who I met at NAIMUN) says that she’s never seen anything like the party’s spectacular erosion of public support, starting with the death of Rabin and ending with the travesty that was Barak’s brief stay in power. So long as things stay the way they are, Sharon and Likud will be given the benefit of the doubt, given if they slip in the polls."

And my response:
"I think the only factor that perplexes me is the fact that Labor has its warriors, too.
Barak, Rabin, Peres, the current MoD Ben-Eliezer, Moshe Dayan, etc., etc., it's not like Sharon was the only general pushing the Arabs back in '67 and '73. "Old" Labor is still very much hawkish, not "greater Israel" hawkish, but hawkish nonetheless. With all of that in mind, you'd think Labor as a whole would know better than to trust Arafat. Maybe there's another Palestinian that they can deal with, but since the PA is a thug kleptocracy, how can the Israelis ever find that person?
If it weren't for the way Barak called elections, Netanyahu would have been the Likud's man in office right now. Maybe I'm a bit too taken with Bibi, but I think he's better equipped to deal with the "reality on the ground." He strikes me as more articulate and capable. I think Sharon is too old and too myopic at times to be effective.
As you've seen from my howtizer-pounding in ZoNotes lately, my opinion is that it's not the Palestinians who are the mortal problem, it's the Syrians. Israel gave up the Sinai, and it made astonishing concessions before the second intifada. But the Heights, the Heights are too much to give up. Can you imagine Hizbollah planting Katyushas up there? Or worse, regular Syrian artillery?"

"The longer the title, the less power you have."