Friday, August 16, 2002

ZoNotes: I Fall To Pieces...

Sign of the apocalypse, # 266B -- NASCAR discussed and analyzed on Lehrer News Hour...and I saw the interview!!!

All That High-Falutin' Book Learnin'
Go to the Tuesday, 13 August entry of "Jane Galt's" blog and read her hypothetical question about a land war with the defunct Soviet Union. Click the comment link and scroll down to #45, where I give my dollar's worth of opinion.

"Being morally right is good, but I want the cash, too."

Thursday, August 15, 2002

ZoNotes: More than a woman to me...

Pride of the Fall posts this afternoon with my Top 5 picks, Dallas and Cleveland updates, and a rant on the Manning family

A Matter Of Life and Death
Mexican President Vicente Fox Quesada abruptly cancelled his trip to President Bush's ranch in Crawford, TX after the State of Texas executed convicted murderer and Mexican citizen Javier Suarez Medina, who killed Dallas detective Lawrence Cadena in 1988. This was an odd case from the start, as Dallas officials apparently lied about Suarez's nationality to the Mexican Consulate. The merits of the case deserve some examination, which of course is ex post facto after the execution. Again, revisiting a topic I mentioned last year, Fox has two constituencies to cater to -- the Mexican population within his own country and the growing diaspora in the United States. Reading the Dallas Morning News today, more attention goes to Fox's popularity on this side of the border. What is particularly irking is the assertion that Mr. Fox has been doing the heavy lifting in the U.S-Mexico bilateral relationship. He's not being accurate. The White House in the pre-9.11 environment was ready to make major immigration benefits available to the Mexican nationals living in the country. President Bush had gone far in distancing himself from the GOP's traditionally nativist stance on immigration from our hemispheric partners from the Americas. Both political parties were on track for the biggest overhaul in immigration policy in years before the 9.11 attacks altered the outlook of the current leadership. Additionally, in 1995 President Clinton stepped into the breach at considerable domestic political risk to save the peso from oblivion. Fox, much like his predecessors, enjoys maximum benefits at minimal risk. He goes to the traditional canard of anti-Americanism while knowing that the U.S. will do right by the tenets of the bilateral relationship.

"Momentum goes where you take it."

Wednesday, August 14, 2002

ZoNotes: Amarillo By Mornin'...

The college football preview for Sports Illustrated has Oklahoma defensive tackle and Killeen, TX native Tommie Harris on the cover, providing a lethal double-dose of the SI cover curse. Not only is the OU defense featured prominently in the magazine, the SI staff has done the favor of picking the Sooners as its preseason #1. Ask Oregon State where that crown of thorns led to last season. Tomorrow on Pride of the Fall I'll be unveiling my "Top 5: All That Matters" list. Y'all are free to lobby me in the meantime for who you think #1 should be.

When the Skies Moved
What separates Americans from both our adversarial competitors and friendly allies is logistics. Americans have the ability to move large things over great distances, the product of both geographic necessity and capitalist ingenuity. For an anecdotal exapmple, the otherwise historically challenged movie Battle of the Bulge had a revelatory scene. A fierce SS Panzer commander is speaking with his senior enlisted man, and he holds up a fresh chocolate cake. If the Americans can do this, the Panzer commander reasons, can they really be defeated? More concrete cases are everywhere -- the planning for D-Day and its execution in 1944, the American deployment in the Gulf War, the war in Afghanistan. In our civilian lives, we rely on goods that ship from the supercenter that is Memphis, TN. We are organized. From chaos, we get transport.

Thus, the FAA's brave and unprecedented order to ground all civilian traffic after the 9.11 attacks is not only the most important 4 hours in aviation history, they are perhaps the most important hours in the history of the Republic. Over 4,000 planes dotted the landscape on the pristine morning of the 11th. The subsequent effort to get the planes down is a feat of great magnitude. USA Today chronicled the tense hours in the sky, and it gave me goosebumps as airliners descended into places they were never intended to land, hoping to avoid a repeat attack that had crippled the Pentagon and obliterated the World Trade Center.

"Salary caps punish the strong and make the weak mediocre."

Tuesday, August 13, 2002

ZoNotes: They call me the fireman...that's my name

Delay Option
The players' union opted to not set a strike date, choosing to revisit the matter on Friday. This is perhaps the last full week that Donald Fehr and the gang have to measure the costs and implications of a work stoppage. The latest, I estimate, that the players have to call a date is somewhere between the 16th and the 19th of August. Letting the negotiating stalemate drag to the 20th or 21st means that a strike call rolls right into the end of the month and possibly into the first week of September. Fehr is aware of the implications -- on yesterday's date in 1994, the union triggered the strike that ended up cancelling the World Series. The reaction from the owners and the goadish sports media would have been apoplectic, and the union would have handed an "image" victory to their opposites.

"Email gives you courage that you could never have in person."

Monday, August 12, 2002

ZoNotes: Nobody in His Right Mind, Would've Left Her...

Many thanks to the Harper-Razavi residence for yet another fine evening of festivities on Saturday night, as Armin Razavi and her beau Jordan head off to Virginia and VA Tech, respectively. Between the shisha and the hamburgers, I was thoroughly entertained.

Strike on Warning
Being America's most powerful union does not always guarantee great timing. Such has been the case of the baseball players' union, which has haggled for the duration of the summer with setting a strike date to avoid an owners-enforced lockout that could come after the completion of the World Series. Given the owners' collective weakness at the bargaining table, the real adversarial relationship here has been the union's own conscience versus its bookend ruthlessness in securing unity and benefits for its members. Union chief Donald Fehr, perhaps the most intelligent man in sport, must realize the delicate calculus involved in determining the path for the players. As it stands today, on 12 August, a narrow window is open. Setting a strike date for, say, 29 August leaves a 17-day window for the antagonists to negotiate a workable collective bargaining agreement. Given the hard absolute power that the union can muster, it is likely that any revenue-sharing or luxury tax option will form in a manner most favorable to the players. Plus, a 29 August date steers clear of any conflict with the month of September, primarily the 11th.

As an aside, I would like to make a point here. Florida State head coach Bobby Bowden invited relentless criticism from the sports media for his use of the "Let's Roll" phrase from Flight 93 that crashed in Pennsylvania on 9.11. Yet, these same sportswriters and commentators use the 11th as a hammer to bash the players for their rigid negotiating stance. Granted, I wouldn't advise a 9.11 strike date, nor am I high on the cancellation of the World Series. However, the owners' negotiating position has a bedrock position -- and that bedrock is 11 September. Exploitation, thy name is baseball.

Again, as I stressed earlier in this summer of malcontents, do not trust the owners. None of the current crop of baseball owners has an iota of creativity or innovation. Pro football's owners are at least divided between innovators/capitalist shock troops willing to shake the cherry tree (Jerry Jones in Dallas, Daniel Snyder in Washington, the Hunt family in Kansas City, Al Davis in Oakland) and staid traditionlists, patricians of the status quo (the Giants' Wellington Mara, the Ravens' Art Modell). Given the chance to set the agenda and the track of baseball, the owners could either A) ruin the game's competitive dynamics, ushering an era of tax-driven mediocrity, or B) ruin the game's antitrust exemption through a return to collusion and managerial excesses. When a group of headmen includes the conflicted-of-interest Bud Selig, White Sox caudillo Jerry Reinsdorf, and the financially elastic Mets ownership, one cannot be reassured.

This isn't about steroids testing -- the players were going to settle on some sort of testing regime, lest their credibility be undermined in the long run. When a sporting figure like Barry Bonds -- a man of jackass-ish persuasion -- is toasted as the game's greatest player after belting out 600 runs, hailed as a muscle-bound adonis of the diamond, the players realize their steel-plated durability. The sleek athletes of this game -- the Jeters, the A-Rods, the Glavines are the main draw every summer, not the stuffy suits with the cooked books.

The aforementioned Jordan coined this morning's Wordplay, commenting on a person he knows in our nation's defense community:
"He's like the Mel Kiper, Jr. -- of war!"