Friday, July 26, 2002

ZoNotes: You're Everywhere...

Pride of the Fall, Installment 1: The Broncos Open Training Camp
Spirits and optimism are high in Denver this summer as training camp opens for the 2-time Super Bowl champions. After turning away the flirtatious approaches of the University of Florida, Coach Mike Shanahan figures to be in the mix in the newly renovated AFC West Division. ZoNoter Livy Keithley (C'98) gives us a broad early snapshot of the team as it begins camp in earnest today:
"For your liking, my first entry as the official
ZoNotes correspondent. Today (Friday) is the first
day of Broncos training camp, and to say spirits are
high would be a drastic understatement. Let me put
it this way: SUPER BOWL, HERE WE COME.

I don't know about you, but I can't remember who
won the Super Bowl - we were all too concerned with
security and who was playing the half-time show.
What has become of our glorious football? How can it
have become so bland that people forget, even look
away? But fear no more...

Don't believe me? Here's the top 5 reasons the
Broncos are going to bring back the Lombardi Trophy:
5) no holdouts. I don't know how other teams are
coming along, but there are NO holdouts at camp
this year; everyone is signed, everyone is in pads,
everyone is ready to play.
4) no distractions. True, we did lose Romo,
arguably one of the best linebackers in the league. But
this time last year, the team was helping him slog
through a prescription drug fraud case, and it
really hurt the team's focus and impacted their game.
3) Brian Griese. Zo asked me recently whether
Griese was a washout, or just wasn't playing to his
caliber. Neither. Griese has shattered some of
Elway's early career records, had one of the top QB
ratings in the league last year, and has really shown
himself as the champion he is.
2) The Triumvirate is Healthy. Without question,
the Broncos are probably the only team in the
league whose third string RB can run circles around most
all other RBs in the league. Olandis Gary, Mike
Anderson, and Terell Davis are all healthy. In a
way, I do feel sorry for the rest of the teams in the
1) Shannon's back. I'll be the first to say that
Shannon was a huge key to the Broncos two wins last
time around. It was a bad decision for Shanahan to
trade him to Baltimore, even though we did need the
room under the salary cap. But now he's back.
Except for Elway (but see #3, above), the key
components of the champion offense are back.

Two words: BRING IT."

Stay near your browser as more Pride of the Fall reports come in. Remember, pick a team and join the banter!

Guilty or Innocent?
Well, playing to form, accused/confirmed/denied/confirmed/denied 9.11 plotter Zacarias Moussaoui withdrew his guilty plea from just last week. So concluded the preliminary hearing of the century, a mix of bluffs, bluster, drama and, in a Hannah Arendt kind of way, banality. One must credit Moussaoui's sense of the theatrical -- again, he tried to show up Judge Brinkema. Her patience is something to marvel at. Plus, Moussaoui has yet few months of life on this earth thanks to his manuvering, as the case heads for a 30 September jury selection. What do I think? I think he's Al-Qaeda personified. Whatever portion of his psyche isn't downright evil is maybe lost to dementia.

"You live with the heat, you damn the humidity."

Thursday, July 25, 2002

ZoNotes: Gonna Have to Face It You're Addicted to Love...

So, in this time of war, pestilence, greed, avarice, envy, sloth, pride, gluttony, and inanity, how do you encourage an upsurge in the market? Find an insolent company and indict them, then go arrest their chief executives in broad daylight! The takedown of Adelphia Communication's leadership cadre coincided with a reassuring market rally, the largest point gain this year. Sean Mullaney (B'00) noted to me on Saturday that it was actually a great time to get in the market giving the plummeting stock values. That mentality probably combined with the friendly grip of the long arm of the law to make for the rally. The question now is whether or not this surge can sustain itself to the end of the week.

After a long, overdrawn debate, the House voted 420-1 to expel convicted Rep. James Traficant (D-OH) from the Nation's lower chamber, a nearly unprecedented event. Given the duration of commentary and Traficant's hopelessly irrelevant defense, it seemed deflating that the vote was so lopsided. However, one congressman did make himself the answer to a future Trivial Pursuit question. Unfortunately for him, he probably already was one. Lame duck California Rep. Gary Condit (D-CA), whose involvement with the deceased Chandra Levy cost him his seat in the primary, cast the lone vote against expelling Traficant. How fitting, and indeed circular.

"Age can arrive before maturity."

Wednesday, July 24, 2002

ZoNotes: We'll Put a Boot In Your Ass, It's the American Way...

Scooby's Antidote: It It Hadn't Been For You Stinkin' Kids...
Today the nation marvels as 7-year-old Philadeplhian Erica Pratt escaped her kidnappers and improbably escapes certain death. For the Smart and the Van Dam families, her escape must be the lament of wishful thinking. Certainly at this juncture of the Republic's life, this is a time of mixed fortunes. The patriotic surge after the 9.11 attacks has been replaced with a gritty realization of the length of the War on terrorism, market woes, and the specter of a strike on Iraq. It is not so much American arrogance as it is optimism that clouded us in the 1990s. Only the paranoid and the imaginative conjured up crop dusters dropping anthrax and Islamic terrorists sending airliners the way of the missile. Besides, as the market accelerated in value and new economic venues were found, we were willing to look on the bright side.
This is a strange time in the history of the country. The wars and massacres of the rest of the world -- Rwanda, Chiapas, Colombia, even the War of the Balkan Successions, were very much "Over There" affairs. The Israeli-Palestinian war seemed to have a twilight at Camp David in 2000. It was all working. Or so we thought that it was.
Had we suffered a 9.11 in 1976, we may not have been so resilient in our retaliation. For a variety of reasons -- Carter's "malaise" sums it up -- we were trapped in self-doubt and constant navel gazing. The response since 9.11 has been direct and morally clear. Along the way, we have encountered setbacks and shortfalls, but I argue that we are in an appreciably better situation than before. Granted, this isn't the case for everyone, but as a whole the American people have responded capably and beyond expectations in the aftermath. But this doesn't represent an ending, but merely a beginning. We're only approaching a year since that oddly serene Tuesday morning before the planes struck. The country is by no means finished with business.
This war will likely end in a place and under circumstances never anticipated by the most prescient strategic thinkers and experts. A mistake would be to assume that the war ends when Marines conquer Baghdad, or when the despots fall in Pyongyang. Defeating the current threat means forcing a change in worldviews. The Cold War ended not only with a decrepit Soviet Union dissolving into history, but with a discredited Soviet Union collapsing. The Soviets might have kept its empire together and its minions pliant if it still had a legitimate face -- but both its glaring economic woes and Reagan's push brought the moment sooner than anyone could have imagined.
Conversely, the economy's great cleansing of the inefficient and the pretenders is both troublesome and at the same time reassuring. Capitalism is an unforgiving lover, rewarding but vengeful. The demise of Enron, WorldCom, Global Crossing, and Andersen's accounting arm is the result of the patrons getting too close to the alligator. Eventually they get swallowed whole. Another system would have been more forgiving, as government operatives thrusted to keep them alive. Yet, they wilt on the vine. Hopefully the laid off and those who lost their savings will recover, maybe not fully, but new opportunities will emerge.
Americans love happy endings, not only as a literary device, but as a perpetual guide throughout the tunnel
Not only do we expect things to pay off, but we make them pay off through our own efforts. Erica Pratt chewed through tape to spite and mock fear. There isn't any reason the rest of us can't.

"Showing up doesn't make you ready."

Tuesday, July 23, 2002

The archives should still be here...
ZoNotes: These Are Days, To Remember

Atlas Rides an M1
Morton Kondracke surveys 3 prominent magazines and their view of American power in this article. Since I don't have access to the Economist's main website, I recommend checking out the stately Foreign Affairs and the stridently anti-American Foreign Policy. All 3 publications, however, focus on the sheer overwhelming presence of the American identity in the world. It is as if comparisons to Rome and the British Empire are a parlor game compared to the unprecedented strength of the United States. This is truly an era of virgin territory. American military dominance and economic power aren't even the only factors that play into this superiority. American cultural mediums -- film, comic books, television, video games, cinema -- the classic "soft power" dynamics figure prominently all over the world. Over the last 200-plus years, we have matured to the point where we are less like our European cousins as they are more like us. French films are the stuff of art houses. American movies, even the bad ones, saturate theater houses across the globe, and then are repackaged with all sorts of extra (or extraneous) goodies in DVD format. It is truly amazing.
And, of course, here is another problem. Potential competitors -- the Europeans and the Japanese come to mind immediately -- have essentially contracted away their own national security to the United States. Unwilling to spend the necessary funds to upgrade logisitical reach, supply precision-guided munitions, and reform old structures, the Europeans have to rely on the Americans to carry the defense bucket in a major crisis. More traditional competitors -- China and Russia, must make severe capital investments in defense to even approach the American position.
And what of the current war against Muslim extremists? For the majority of the last century the United States' primary adversary was inherently more martial. Their societies were constructed for war and conquest, their economies configured for martial domination. Nazi Germany, Imperial Japan, and the Soviet Union fielded armadas and legions of mortal threat to the U.S. Over the course of time, ordinary Americans worked together and overcame these enemies. The same applies now. The current adversary has already shown an aptitude for deception, maliciousness, and cruelty. All the while they make the same mistakes about the character of American power -- that we are lost in a sea of decadence and comfort. But the American industriousness is such that the consequences of making that mistake are huge.

"Anger does not always indicate strength."

Monday, July 22, 2002

ZoNotes: Yoouuuuuuuu Get Me.

A brief note about Tiger Woods' 10-over 81 on Saturday that demoted him from contention at the British Open in Muirfield. It is no sin shoot an 81 and then receive the sweet commiseration of a Swedish supermodel girlfriend while millions and millions of dollars flowed into one's coffers. AND, Tiger still has an excellent shot at winning the PGA Championship. While the Grand Slam this year for Tiger was lost, I opine that it is merely a matter of time before he captures one. And remember, the "Tiger Slam" he accomplished is no small feat. And this isn't a Dan Marino-will-make-it-back-to-the-Super-Bowl argument. Tiger's game is such that it is very much within the realm of possibility. Unlike other championship-deprived athletes, Tiger only has to rely on himself.

My job hunt takes me to a firm inside the concrete underbrush of Crystal City, VA later this morning.

The Way of the Law
Surprisingly, the issue of posse comitatus didn't come up as a regular topic of conversation in the opening phase of the U.S. antiterrorist campaign. For a variety of reasons, the ramifications of giving the military expanded police powers within the country's borders were buried at the low end of the spectrum, as the anthrax attacks and Operation ENDURING FREEDOM dominated frontpage headlines. Couple that with the stock market's freefall to just over 8,000, and it is understandable that this became something to talk about just this past weekened.
Inevitably, the Administration had to confront the delicate framework of the posse comitatus law. Homeland Security chief Tom Ridge was thus tasked with picking Pandora's lock in a subtle attempt to argue that the law needs to be looked at again. Where exactly this all ends up depends on congressional willingness to grant wider exceptions to the law, and in turn how far the uniformed Services are willing to exercise whatever powers that the civilian authorities release to them. Some military publications have already explored the dynamics of posse comitatus in the face of a severe terrorist attack. As this goes from a hypothetical exercise to a full-fledged partisan debate, it is useful to follow the process along to figure out how far the system expects to go.

"A bad day does not make for a bad life."