Monthly Archives: July 2006

Landis

So, the isotope analysis confirms that he was cheating, according to the NYT.

I feel a little chumpish, because I believed him. I felt like the French targeted Lance because he was American and won their race too many times, and now they got Landis–and they were able to get the results leaked before they were confirmed, so he was guilty either way.

Too bad about this. But is there really anything wrong with doping? I mean–is it cheating? Is it any more cheating than, say, using a bicycle is? Is running without shoes the only real sport?

I don’t know if these results are final or not (he was supposed to have had some amount of steroids in him for medical use). I’m not really a cycling fan–my dad was all about it. I think it’s lame. I think it starts with cycling and ends up with NASCAR.

Sports either need to be a direct reflection of an athletes skill or strength for non-team sports. Team sports are cool as long as winning and losing has as much to do with team spirit as it does the athletics. When machines get involved, it really starts being about engineering.

Come to think of it, I’d like to see golf where evey player had to use the same clubs (of different sizes).

"Checklist" liberalism

This is an interest post. The idea is that the blog-fueled Lamont campaign may be ending “checklist” liberalism. In other words, Joe can say he’ll support affirmative action, and he can say he’s some kind of pro-choice, and maybe against drilling in ANWR, but unless he somehow moves the ball in a kind of essential Democratic way, it doesn’t matter.

It’s about time.

This isn’t the same as a demand for ideological purity–you can be for drilling in ANWR both in a self-interested corporatist way and in a pro-labor sort of way–but it a demand for some persuasive structure to a politicians beliefs and motives.

Being “bipartisan” isn’t one of those motives–that’s a procedural approach, not a substantive one. If it means unilateral disarmarment (e.g., the gang of 14), then substantively, it only means that the Republicans win, with Joe getting to bask in the glow of being so “reasonable.”

Some bloggers have started writing polemics against the “myth” of a centrist America. I hope they are careful to distinguish between Americans and Americans engaged in politics. America, I still believe, is polarized, but they are persuadable to accept reasonable centrist positions. For that reason, it probably takes a very great politician and leader to advance a truly centrist agenda (Clinton). Those that form the moving parts of political parties, on the other hand, gravitate towards the extremes. This basic dichotomy occurs every time we see a primary and then a general election.

Another problem is “centrist” can mean almost anything. Is someone like Arnold who is socially liberal and yet who is pro-business a centrist, or is Governor Riley of Alabama, who is socially conservative yet somewhat fiscally liberal a centrist? Add that problem of creating a true centrist essence to the fact that what’s considered “centrist” has gone far to the right of public opinion in the last 15 years, and you have nothing.

But Liebermann is not a centrist. He’s a conservative that ran as a Democrat to defeat a liberal Republican (Weicker), and, as such, had to pay homage to certain checklist groups.

Well, those checklist groups haven’t been providing for any victories lately. Time to drop them.

Overrated Rice

Now that Condi has failed to make any meaningful dent in the Israel/Hezballoh-Lebanon situation can we all admit that she is just as incompetent and useless as the rest of the Bush junta Conservatrons that bulloxed every up from the start? There’s more to Secretary of Stating then reviewing the troops in interesting boots. As if being asleep at the switch on 9/11 wasn’t enough!

Arnold Will Be Back

I’ve never had the hatred of Arnold that many California Democrats do. First of all, during this entire time I’ve been far more concerned about President Bush. Arnold can’t do too much harm because he has an entrenched Democratic legislature nipping at his heels. Honestly, having a split government does have it’s benefits. Last but not least, the left-right axis in California is almost entirely along the labor/business divide. The Democrats in California are powered largely by unions, so-called “trial” lawyers (i.e. the plaintiff’s bar), minority interests, and, to a lesser extent, New Left orgs like environmentalists and feminists. The Republicans are basically a wholly owned subsidiary of the Chamber of Commerce.

In other words, as California Democrats at the state level, we are not voting on war in Iraq, gay rights, pet Christian issues, and the like. It’s not an unimportant axis, but it’s not as complex or as absolutely extreme as at the federal level. The socially conservative California Republican is a rare bird with almost no political power on the state level.

The worst thing about Arnold is that he’s a little too transparently a politico. When Bush was riding a wave of popularity, Arnold’s agenda was right wing to da max. When that didn’t last, Arnold hired a Dem chief of staff and moved back to the center. If he was a Democrat, we’d hear how he was against the minimum wage before he was for it, etc. Problem is, a guy like Angelides, who’s made a career out of state level office, isn’t going to be any different in that regard.

I will vote for Angelides. But he’s going to lose, so he’s not getting any time or money.

Gomez Arbitration

Five million is a bit much. Gomez became a complete player last year in progressing from a passer and agitator to all of that plus scorer and back checker. If he did that two years in a row he would deserve five million. Part of making the big bucks is a guarnatee of consistency. For now, 4 million to 4.25 is fair. Gomez probaby could’ve gotten that.

Assuming the accolades he’s given the Devils are true, why hold out for the extra million $$$s? Is it worth the risk of going from a perennial contender like the Devils to a foolish also-ran with a Mickey Mouse coaching staff like the Phoenix Coyotes?

Whatever. We are where we are. According to TSN Lou will bite the bullet and pay Gomez thereby putting the Devils over the cap even + 10% (I think).

So, what’s a crusty, diminutive third-generation Italian to do?

Here’s what I think will happen tomorrow:

Devils trade Malakhov, Mogilny a prospect and a second round pick to the Capitals for an anonymous 3rd or 4th liner, a slightly better prospect, and a fifth round pick.

Why would Washington do this? They are under the minimum cap. In that Malakhov is retired the Caps can add him to get over the Cap. His salary will count against their cap space but the Devils will actually pay it. Therefore, by the Caps would be over the min salary cap without having to actualy pay all of it. Automatic revenue increase! Mogilny scored 25 points in 34 games last season when the Devils were not very good. He was on pace for a 70+ point season. I always felt that it was odd the he got sent to the minors (the prevailing theory amongst the usual unreliable sources is that he boned Brodeur’s ex-wife; but who knows?). Needless to say, he would make a good duo with Ovechkin. Assuming the Caps are far from a playoff team, Mogilny – with his stats and trade value inflated from the Ovechkin overflow – would be formidable trade bait at the deadline. In this scenario the Caps would increase revenue, add a scoring winger who will turn into picks/prospects, and move up in the ’07 draft.

A fairly reasonable deal, but it might also take a Sergei Brylin to get it done. :(

Either way, Devils sign Gomez.

Total Ignorance on Global Warming

Read this journalistic shitburger in today’s Los Angeles Times. First, start by adding chicken-shit caveats about how global warming isn’t what so-called “alarmists” say it is:

The record hot spell did not occur in 2006, but 1955, long before scientists raised the prospect of global warming and climate change.

Right, it’s not new. No shit. The point is it’s more common. Global warming is not a theory that every day or every season is hotter now than every day in the past. It’s that the average temperature is higher, you fucking ignorance perpetuating dickweed.

Get a scientist unskilled in political rhetoric to hedge for you:
There is such natural variability in temperature that even a record scorcher is just one data point in a long temperature timeline.

“To call it global warming would be overdoing it,” said climatologist Daniel R. Cayan of Scripps and the U.S. Geological Survey. “This is largely natural variability.”

OK, dumbshits—we’re not saying that this global warming caused this heat wave, and that there wouldn’t be heatwaves without carbon pollution. oy.

Then for the non-troglodytes who can read, add the read information after that, but make it stupid so that pseudo-intellectual high school republicans can still follow it:

The first six months of 2006 were the warmest in the United States since record-keeping began in 1895, according to the National Climatic Data Center. The 10 hottest years on record have all occurred since 1990, a trend that a majority of scientists say is in large part attributable to human production of greenhouse gases, which trap heat in the atmosphere.

All told, the planet has been slowly warming for a century, with Earth’s average temperature rising by 1.6 degrees. In Los Angeles, the average daytime temperature has increased 3 degrees over the last century, while nighttime temperatures have increased 7 degrees, records show.

No, actually EVERY published peer-reviewed scientist says that there is a direct connection, and the average temperature is world wide, and it will be higher towards to poles. LA is over 1/3rd of the way to the north pole.

Fucking idiots. The controversy is over. This is not a future event. This is happening.

Is Olmert fending off the Likud?

An interesting perspective from the Guardian this morning. To sum up, it suggests that Olmert’s disproportionate response against hizb’allah has been done in the name of deflecting criticism from the hard right in Israel regarding the efficacy of unilateral withdrawals.

The author suggests that if Olmert was made to look weak (something that wouldn’t have happened to Sharon), he might not have been able to withstand the criticism. I’m no expert on Israeli internal politics, but this seems plausible to me. It sounds a lot like what I imagine the post-9/11 reaction might have been like with Gore in the White House.

Others are suggesting that this offensive is in no wise a response to the kidnapping of Israeli soldiers, or in response to any kind of internal Israeli machinations, but, rather, is part of a broader Neo-Conservative plan. That would be unfortunate.

The reality is, the US can afford to bungle invasions of Iraq on ideologies dreamt up in College Republicans meetings and remain in existence. With the kill ratio near 1:1 for the first time in any Arab-Israeli conflict, a loss of even the veneer of Israel being on the defense will ultimately lead to bigger problems.

I mentioned below that the US is clearly no longer an honest broker. The Annan administered UN isn’t either. Their suggestion that Israel deliberately bombed them is absurd–why on earth would they do that? It just shows that the broader world community is against them, for whatever reason.

It’s time for the EU to step up, but they won’t.

Adios, Señor Gómez.

Arbitrator: Gomez, $5M.

There will be some speculation that they might trade Gionta instead, which is what I would hope they would do, but chances are this contract will be his last with NJ anyway. Now–how does Lou get something in return?

Italian Soccer Restored To "Disgrace" Status

Italians are reinforcing stereotypes today by being too clever by half. Is anyone surprised at the reduced sentences given to match-fixing teams today?

Lazio and Fiorentina were restored to Serie A, and AC Milan’s punishment was reduced from 15 Serie A points to 8–enough for it to still qualify for Champions League play without much difficulty. Juventus were left in Serie B with only a 17 point penalty, reduced from 30. Now, instead of facing possible relegation to Serie C, Juventus will easily be back in Serie A in 1-2 years.

This reduces what was already a light punishment to a slap on the wrist. Now that the World Cup is over and the spotlight is off Italian soccer, only leave the veneer of punishment.

This falls far short of the punishment of the Black Sox:

Regardless of the verdict of the juries, no player who throws a ball game, no player who undertakes or promises to throw a ball game, no player who sits in confidence with a bunch of crooked players and does not promptly tell his club about it, will ever play professional baseball.

What if It Happens Again?

Lately, I’ve been trying to recall the sensation of “the fear years.” That horrible epoch between 9/11/01 and ~1/1/04 when anyone who dared criticize Generalissimo Bush was libeled as a traitor. Iraq War II is the great end product of the fear years and it represents a complete failure of our system. Most of our elected leaders failed to inquire critically. Many Democrats who surely knew better – I knew there was no way Bush wouldn’t use the war authority if it was given! – did not vote their conscious. The professional bureaucrcy was bullied and usurped. The neutered barnacles in the SCLM became an appendage of the ruling party. Many citizens protested, but the multitudinal majority went along without introspection.

Never Again! Nope. Too late. It already happen. Fascism Lite. Witness the concentration camp at Gitmo. Recall the scapegoating, the jingoism, the hatred. There was magical realism suited to any Latin American dictatorship: Great Leader still being great while looking like an outpatient during the moment of crisis, Hussein subbing for bin Laden, Freedom Fries!

Some of the failures are systematic. Of any democratic country the USA has, arguably, the least representative government. The votes of a handful of Iowans and New Hampsherites holds disproportionate sway over our Presidential candidates. Our current President was elected after a putsch and a Supreme Court coup d’etat engineered by his dad’s appointees. Our representatives are gerrymandered into extremist districts. At least our Senators have to run statewide, but their legislative body still gives disproportionate sway to a minority of citizens.

The fear years are over and Generalissimo Bush and his junta have been exposed for the mess of incompetents that they are, but the mass of the citizenry has given up its freedoms of privacy to the government (or corporations). Power in our semi-democratic system has been concentrated in the hands of the executive.

What if there is another 9/11-caliber attack?

I believe that the America forged, however hypocritically and imperfectly, by the ideals of the American Revolution will be at a crossroads. A vocal and large minority of Americans will never trust Bush again or give him the benefit of the doubt. Will the middlemen join with them and demand a change to a more effective leader? A true democratic uprising. Or, will they rally behind the only leader they have, as they did after 9/11, and get caught up in expunging the treasonous groups in their midst?

Perhaps this is a false choice, but you can feel strains of both the democratic and fascist tendencies in the air right now. Should another 9/11 occur, one can only hope that George W. Bush is not President.

War.

  • Seems clear that the US is no longer an honest broker here. While this is a very fun chance to poke fun at Bush, it is a fact that won’t change unless seven or eight people in the line of succession die. So, this poses the question: where is the EU? This could truly be their moment.
  • Israel’s response is disproportionate, and I’m not seeing the point of further missile attacks. They can quarantine Southern Lebanon–for a time–but then what? If Likudnik Netanyahu’s affirmation that Iran did this to distract from its nuclear program is correct, then why help them?
  • Can we now pass judgment on Bush’s final theory regarding Iraq: to stabilize the middle east? From the Khyber to the Blue Nile to Kurdistan, the entire region is not stable.

The Master Plan of the Neo-Cons?

As vigorously as I defend the right of Israel to defend itself, and as unrealistic the left-wing is about how Israel should behave, I can’t help but seeing this situation unfolding according to the Apocalyptic fantasies of the right wing.

First, long before the Microphones described this as a proxy war between the US and Iran, I had figured as much. But the first inklings I had that this might have been well-founded were when Israel blamed the abduction of one of their soldiers on Iran.

Now, there is some dispute over whether Israeli troops have entered territory that is occupied Lebanese or occupied Syrian territory, to which the Syrian government has threatened that they will not stand by if Israel gets within 12 miles of some threshold. (CNN)

I sure hope Syria checks its eastern flank before it thinks about that. Of course, I imagine that Iran would have to get involved all of a sudden if the US enters Syria, or flies air sorties against it.

Newt, either you knew or you are still quite smart: this very well may be WWIII.

A Note on Arabic Transliteration

Puzzled by my rendering of hizb’allah?

‮حزب الله‬ is, letter by letter, hizbu’llah. “Hizb” is the Modern Standard Arabic rendering, and allah is the uncompressed form of “allah” (the term means Party of God). “Hezb” might more correctly reflect the Levantine pronunciation, as might ‘llah, but then again “Burpin’ A” might more closely reflect the french term Bourbonnais. Spellings contain artifacts of etymology in them, live with it.

This is the spelling used by Al-Jazeera.

Absent in Liberal School

I must have been absent on Israel day in liberal school.

I still cannot understand how the American and European left continues to blindly support the Arabs against the Israelis. I always thought we were supposed to like democracy, abhor military dictatorships, and oppose theocratic radicals. I guess that’s true as long as it doesn’t mean even potentially agreeing with our ideological opposites on anything.

I know there are those on the left that live in some world where there is never a need for war, and, as such, they are never going to support any military action. Furthermore, there are those who seem to find some congruity between left-wing folk heroes like Che Guevara and some of these radical Islamic leaders. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Yes, both engaged in asymmetrical, guerilla warfare, but ideologically they couldn’t be further apart. Left-wing guerillas around the world are primarily concerned with land and property reform. I have yet to be informed of one who are jihadists, or who have anything to do with spreading a religion.

Indeed, lying underneath the left’s position on Israel are some of the most profound contradictions of the American left’s instincts. We are against religionists in our country, but strangely mystical about those in other people’s cultures. Somehow, we assume, they are more valid there. (Why this does not mean, for example, that Baptists are a valid expression of the culture of Alabama, I do not know.) Included in the ways meant to be instilled by these groups are severe oppression of women, the curtailment of basic civil liberties, and the overall defiance of most of the liberties we take for granted. Again—women’s lib is for Americans only, even those Americans whose culture rejects it.

The “Palestinians”—a name created by Arab propagandists to identify a diverse group of Arab nationals who never before had an independent state—deserved better than they got when they were displaced from Israel, both by Israel, but also by those who received them. They were just left in tent cities, and yet Lebanon, Jordan, and Egypt were never called upon to remedy this situation—Israel was.

Israel also appears to be forbidden by the American left to respond to any attack on it. When they attack infrastructure, they are hurting civilians, even when those targets were used to support attacks on Israel. When they attack a rocket-launcher site, they are killing civilians (something surely never done by Hizb’allah ) and that’s their fault—not the fault of the guerillas placing military targets among innocents.

Indeed, Israel cannot appear to do anything right, so it seems like there is little purpose to be served by trying to comply with political pressure from the left.

Has Israel committed atrocity? Indeed, numerous times. I am unaware of an innocent state in the entire world. But lack of virginal purity is not a reason to deny a state or a people a right to defend itself, or a right to exist. Even America retains this right despite the pain it inflicts on the rest of the world.

It’s tempting to take the side of the seeming “little guy” especially when he is opposed by people supported by end-times rabid Christian militarists, but if there is one thing that keeps the left wing alive in dark times and gives it rebirth, it’s its intellectual rigor. The left consensus focuses these days on social democracy, not communism; on equal opportunity, not forced equality; separation of church and state, not forced abolition. Why can’t it come to accept the limited use of military power instead of the unachievable dream of total peace?

Neil Smith Fired.

Neil Smith finally set a record: shortest stint as GM in the NHL! (Unconfirmed.) My surmise? They told him to quit drinking. Heh.

UPDATE:

At a time like this, all you can do is quote Slapshot. “Trade me right fucking now.” Is what I would be telling my agent if I was on the Islanders. This is a terrible, terrible joke. Garth fucking Snow? It’s obvious he’s just a figurehead, and Milbury is still running things.

Let’s see… Neil Smith… Cup winning GM… how many active GMs can say that? Few… versus Garth Snow–zero management experience! And Patrick Roy wants to try his hand in juniors before he comes up to the NHL?!

Heh. This is worse than the fishstick jersies.

Redistributing the NHL Wealth

If there’s one thing to notice about the NHL this summer, it’s that teams are not holding together (with rare exception, see below.) Detroit finally retired it’s 90s dynasty with the departure of Shannahan and Yzerman. Colorado, who already were forced to part with Forsberg, lost another of its glory-day snipers. Indeed, all of the formerly big power teams are falling apart due to their failure (either deliberate or negligent) to adjust to the upcoming cap.

Players like Peter Foresberg, who you could afford to have in a non-cap structure, you really can’t now. He’s too injury prone to be the one guy you drop $7m on. Same with Jagr–he just doesn’t get it done in the playoffs (without Mario).

A few of the teams that did prepare for the cap era didn’t lose anyone they didn’t want to. Here you can list the Ducks, Flames, Predators, Wild, and Coyotes. These teams will have the advantage of having some modicum of cohesion going forward, in addition to their suddenly arriving position as teams that can afford to acquire players.

Which brings me to the Devils. I have been a fan of Lou Lamoriello for a long, long time. I’ve defended his moves and non-moves. But, I’m not beyond pointing out a couple of his mistakes that have been disasters.

The 1999-2000 year was a multi-layered triumph for Lou. The Devils won the Cup in dominant fashion on the backs of not just their established champion core of Brodeur, Stevens, Niedermayer, and Holik, but also with a group of all-star rookies fresh out of the box, including John Madden, Brian Rafalski, Scott Gomez, and Colin White. He made brilliant moves at the deadline, brining in Alexander Mogilny and Vlad Malakhov to create the team that would win the cup and go on to have the highest scoring offense and second stingiest defense the next year on route to a game 7 loss in the finals.

But in that triumph the seeds of a disastrous 2006-7 season were sewn. Ralfalski and Madden were undrafted, which meant at the time that their contracts functioned outside of the normal group numbers. They played so well beyond expectations that when their contracts were up for renewal, instead of the normal qualifying offers, all Lou had to do was provide notice. He failed (or was a day late–I forget exactly) and those two would have been kept in the loop for a long time at a discount. Instead, he had to sign them for UFA prices.

Second, last summer’s bizarre signings of Mogilny, Malakhov, and Dan McGillis ate up even more cap room. All of these errors together account for roughly $10m of lost cap space–more than enough to put this team back in contention, or at least retain Gomez and Gionta, who, in the absence of Patrik Elias were this team’s entire offensive engine.

Next year is gonna suck.

Misc

  • Why won’t the Bush administration take a victory lap and get us out of Iraq. They have a government, right? Right?
  • Does anyone really believe there is a quick solution to the Israel situation?
    (P.S. If hizb’allah is hiding rocket launchers in civilian areas, what is Israel supposed to do, just sit there and take it?–and don’t tell me a list of things they could do to make peace–seriously, how are they supposed to respond? Seems to me it’s hizb’allah putting the civilians in danger. I don’t suppose the IDF could quarantine Lebanon?)
  • This whole kindergarten sandbox reaction to Bush saying “shit” is sickening to me. We’re going to pick on him for this of all things? We need to start a serious programme of decriminalizing our vocabulary.
  • Can the Supreme Court command the President? Hate to say it, but drawing a distinction between what the executive can do and what they can introduce in court is not a facile apologist distinction. If a person’s life, liberty, or property can’t be taken by an executive action, then who cares what they do? Let’s just see if the Right-wing chirpers agree with this principle when they have a Dem president.

Al Gore For President

A little over a year ago, I declared that I was for Gore in ’08.

In that time, the idea went from surmise on my part to a shitstorm of rumor (not that my surmise had anything to do with it). There are draft Gore groups and websites a plenty. Gore is winning straw polls on Alternet and DailyKos. Even the mainstream press has starting kicking the rumor around (which almost makes it enough to kill it). Gore himself has almost denied it, but not entirely. He says he’s focussed on his project of waking people up to global warming.

I saw An Inconvenient Truth today. I almost sobbed at points during the movie. Mostly because of the terrible, terrible and uncontrollable damage we are doing to the planet, but, at least a little bit because this guy missed out in 2000. What a different world we would live in now.

What’s clear from this movie is that Gore has the brains and the guts to take leadership on the issue that should be the most important issue on earth. His presentation is excellent, even if the “up close and personal parts” are a little sappy.

Gore should be elected solely on the merits of this work. You can ignore his history and experience in politics. If we manage to avoid calamity, or even just limit it in degree, Al Gore will have had a hand in that victory, and that is something that is certainly more important than inventing the Internet–and also far harder to take out of context.

America has no leaders anymore. Those who rule do so for their own benefit, and those who attempt to lead are really following the fickle and uninformed masses by way of opinion poll. True leaders inform us of what the issues are and how to tackle them. That is what Gore is doing here.

At one point in the movie, Gore quotes Churchill and his prescient warnings about the terrible evil of fascism. Remember how Bush tried to use this same logic to promote his pet war? Just like that, and like Cheney’s supposed “one percent doctrine” it only seems to apply to financially interesting targets that involve oil, and filling the coffers of the military-industrial complex.

When it comes to issues that are equally cataclysmic as nuclear war, Bush and Cheney fail as Churchills–even as Chamberlains–and remind me more of Vichy facilitators. So perilous is the issue of global warming, that I, as person who cares deeply about the earth, am willing to shout down nuclear-power-naysayers with Coutler like screechiness. Nuclear power isn’t perfect. Solutions to things like this never are. Wind and solar power cannot provide the base load. There are very few things left that can if we remove all fossil fuels. Nuclear power is really the only viable solution. One day, wind and solar power may provide enough energy to create the hydrogen that we otherwise need, but the utopian visions of the enviro-left cannot be made so instantaneously like some Biblical day of genesis.

We should even consider giving oil companies and their shareholders monopolies on nuclear power for a set term. Yes, it’s that bad–Faustian bargains must be struck. The lives of billions depend on it.

At the end of the movie there are some suggestions for what you can do. As a tonic for the guilt that the viewer might feel at the time, this might be nice. But in reality, none of those things will usher any real change in. For real change, we need real leadership. For that reason, I will scream from the hilltops that Al Gore should be the next president of the US.

UPDATE:

Gore has softened his “not running” statements even more.

Of course, Gore can always go back to being an ordinary presidential candidate — he hasn’t completely sealed off that option. ”I do not expect to run for president again,” he says, choosing his words carefully. ”But I haven’t completely ruled out the possibility of running at some future time. I haven’t given any Sherman-esque statements: ‘If nominated I will not run, if elected I will not serve…”’

9-11: Loose Change

I just watched a totally disturbing internet movie called “Loose Change.”

It’s central allegations are:

* A plane could not have struck the Pentagon.
* The plane strikes did not bring down the WTC; demolitions did.
* Flight 93 did not crash in Pennsylvania.
* None of the 9/11 hijackers are necessarily who the government says they are
* An impostor was in the bin Laden “confession” video.

The film’s conclusion is that this was a “self-inflicted wound” that benefitted certain money interests and the Bush administration.

The conclusion is flimsy. The irony of the film is that it’s basis is very detailed examination of the evidence, debunking official conclusions, only to replace them with its own extremely weak case. This is the classic downfall of the conspiracy theorist. They don’t just stop with the forensics–they go on to explain the absence of evidence as evidence on its own.

The furthest afield I ever went in the 9/11 conspiracy world was to take seriously the charge that flight 93 was shot down. But I’m not an expert about any of this stuff, and so I simply lack the tools to build my own positive case.

What “Loose Change” does very well–to the point that it deserves an official response–is deconstruct some of the canons of 9/11. Even if there are explanations that fall short of “magic bullet complexity” (the producers have a Kennedy moment in the beginning, with General Lemnitzer suggesting some staged shenanigans as a pretext to attack Cuba), they should be given, because some of the evidence presented in this film is simply damning. To me, the most compelling part was the Pentagon strike.

Conspiracy theoresists suffer from the same mental deficiency that people who rely on the supernatural to explain everything: everything has to have a source, a reason, a primum mobile. They do not. For example, it is entirely possible that there were smoked filled rooms of industrialists and military types who wished Kennedy dead so thoroughly that if ESP were real he would have dropped dead even sooner. And it’s entirely possible that entirely independent random forces induced all of the same wishes on the part of the mafia, yet the two groups may never have spoken or even winked at each other. It’s also possible (though I personally don’t believe it) that Oswald was moved by these same emotions without any command or connection from anyone else. After all, people seem to agree on things often without being told to. I don’t recall anyone telling me … pssst dislike Bush. Yet me and others seem to dislike him.

Therefore, I believe it’s possible that al Qaeda, bin Laden, Rumsfeld, and the whole cast of characters could have benefited from 9/11 and even wished some sort of “eye opening” cataclysm on America, and yet there may be no causal connection between the two. In fact, it approaches irrelevance if they did. Regardless of any connection, both the Bush administration and al Qaeda have both harmed America’s interests and both deserve our censure for their actions.

So, with those metaphysics expounded, I submit that the project of this film should not be to provide answers, but only to ask questions. That it does well.

Strachan: Cap means Churn

Buying Muckler’s excuse hook line and sinker, Al Strachan argues that the cap means that a few players will get a ton of money and the rest will churn under the new system.

Horseshit.

Why? Why does it mean that? If the players were willing to take less, they could stay. Sure, the system should probably be altered so that players who are re-signing with a team only count for, say, 75% of a cap charge, but even without it, they could just, you know, take less.

Martin Brodeur doesn’t even have an agent. He gets paid about half what he might have under the non-cap system. He likes playing for the Devils. If all players were like him, under a $44m cap system there wouldn’t be any need for churn.

P.S. Al — why is it then that some of the teams can stay together? ie those that planned for the cap.

A Tale of Two Caps

So, the two teams mentioned on this blog couldn’t be in different positions with respect to the cap. The Ducks currently have 18 players on their roster, with all but three under contract (Bryzgalov, Kunitz, and Vitali Vishnevski). They are committed to $36,319,300 of their $44,000,000 cap for next year ($7.68M remains). About $4m more could be freed by trading away J.S. Giguere. An interesting idea would be to trade Giguere for a quality forward. The only names I can come up with would be players that aren’t RFA at this point, so it’s arbitrary who I would name.

That leaves the Ducks in position to sign one of the remaining quality forwards for a couple of years. Brian Leetch might fit better in a third pair. Sergei Samsonov would probably want a longer committment than Burke can provide given the likely raises for his budding stars Perry, Getlaf, and Ryan. Still, Cup hungry veterans might be willing to try and ride the Pronger/Nieder wagon. With so much room left, Burke can continue to shop.

The Devils currently have only 18 players under contract, with $43,930,000 committed, leaving a scant $70,000, with Brian Gionta, David Hale, Scott Gomez, and Paul Martin not yet signed. This would still be a problem even if Mogilny and Malakhov weren’t on the roster. They are accounting for a wasted $7.1m. The 4 unsigned kids will take more than that anyway.

Rangers Bloggers: Shannahan Not Like Kamesky, Fleury

As soon as I heard that Brendan Shannahan was signing with the Rangers, I wondered if that meant that his three year delay before a vote on hall of fame membership begins now, or only after he really stops playing.

Of course, the NYR bloggers are explaining why it’s different. It may well be, but there’s no reason to conclude that at this point. Seriously, in every fact that matters, it’s the same situation. Granted, Shanny may have taken LESS money to go to New York, but the reality is, he’s past his prime, out of his comfort, and he even admits that he’s doing this just to turn the page.

I’ll admit I’m wrong if he can top 30 goals or matter in the playoffs.

World Cup Round 2

The matches are set! Here are my picks.

Germany defeats Sweden
Argentina defeats Mexico
Italy defeats Australia
Switzerland defeats Ukraine
England destroys Ecuador
Portugal defeats Netherlands
Brazil puts Ghana to sleep
Spain beats France (The Ref beats Spain)
Germany beats Argentina
Italy beats Switzerland Ukraine
England beats Portugal (FIFA beats England)
Brazil beats Spain France

Germany beats Italy
Brazil beats England France beats Portugal

Brazil beats Germany Germany beats Portugal for the Championship Italy beats France for the Championship. Sigh.
England France beats Italy Germany beats Portugal for 3rd

I’m not sure I picked an “upset,” though I’m sure some people will pick the Netherlands over Portugal.

UPDATE: Zidane back in form put Les Bleus into the semi-final against an arrogant Brazil.

UPDATE II: The Italian residents of Interlaken, Switzerland deemed a quart-final victory sufficient cause to raise a car-horn ruckus all around town. Next time Italy wins, lets hope they channel that energy towards learning how to clean up graffiti, learning how to queue, and learning how to clean up the piss smell prevalent in their country.

UPDATE III: I’ll be in Germany in about 4 hours. I’m sure there I will find that there will be recriminations over not starting Oliver Kahn against Italy. I don’t think it was Lehmann’s fault, but that’s how such things are. I figured Germany would blast Portugal in the 3rd place game and they did. Soccer’s silly own-goal rules denied Schweinsteiger a hat trick, but despite incidental contact with the Portugal player, it was his kick that put the second goal in. He gets credit for a brace.

I suppose I favor France in my heart, but in my mind, I’m pretty sure they won’t be able to overcome the Italians.

Europe, again.

When I was a small child, I went to Norway with my parents to visit my dad’s mom. I actually have some faint memories other than what I’ve seen in pictures. I was way to young at that point to think about social and political differences between countries.

When I was a teenager, I travelled to Finland, with the intent of living there for a year. I found out that–get this–my hick town American high school wouldn’t accept classes from the very advanced Finnish school. I went back home, but I was back the next summer.

When I was 20, I went to Germany in an abortive attempt to study abroad. I hadn’t been back since, until this summer.

The start of these trips always cause me to marvel at the things that are so much better here. Education, health care, public transportation. Towards the end, I focus on the worse things: bureacracy, arrogance, and, desepite common perception, the hideous fashion of the average European.

By comparison to years ago, I’m amazed by the replacement in Finland of Ladas and other Eastern bloc cars with Lexuses, German cars and other luxuries. The era of the EU and the WTO has made so much the same everywhere. Actual Italians running Italian restaurants in London, with Polish waitresses. But that’s not what strikes me most this time.

What strikes me most is that despite the annoyances, Europe appears to have kept its sanity, even Spain and England, even after terrorism. The US, on the other hand, is locked in a downward spiral of self-destruction that I’m not so sure it will pull out of intact.

North Korea

So, Kim Jong Il hasn’t seen his poofy hair on the front page of a western newspaper in a while and wants some attention, does he? So, he test fires some missiles towards Japan. This guy is clearly unstable. Whether he’s unstable enough to actually do anything is another question. Surely, any strike by North Korea would result in his palaces being turned into glass.

But we shouldn’t worry, should we? We have a president committed to removing oppressive dictators who threaten us with WMDs, right? Hardly. The Bushies, who made so much noise about Clinton’s compromises with Kim have done nothing more but talk on their own–exactly what they said wasn’t the answer with Iraq.

What is clear is that not only did the Rumsfeld-Cheney junta know there were no WMD in Iraq, they preicated their entire invasion on that thesis. They just wanted to use the scare to get us in there. As for Suskind’s presentation of the “one percent doctrine” in his new book (which is excellent)–is it not a 1% likelihood that Japan, Hawaii, or Alaska (or even California) could be hit with a nuclear strike by Kim now?

The difference between Kim and Saddam is that even if Saddam had a nuclear payload, he was never even close to having the delivery technology. Even conventional bombs delivered by ICBM threaten the US more than a low-yield nuclear bomb that will never get out of its bunker. (Ask any survivor of the blitz about this!)

North Korea is essentially one large concentration camp. No where on earth are human rights more imperiled. No other regime with the potential to deliver nuclear weapons is more of a threat to the United States. Yet for some reason, we have pulled our army out of there to fight for god knows what in Iraq.

This is exactly the reason I oppose the Iraq war. I’m not a shiny happy hippy. I’ve seen the world too much to think that a bunch of fat white europeans sitting around a table in Geneva can solve much of anything. But thanks to our alienation from the rest of the world over Iraq, and the stress it has placed on our military, we are in no position to be proactive about Kim.

Unfortunately, here, to paraphrase Condi, the first sign we will be able to do anything about without turning our country into a rogue nation would be a mushroom cloud over Seoul or Tokyo, or, god forbid, Honolulu.

If I’m Koizumi right now, I would be telling Bush, Putin, and Hu that Japan can no longer rely on the alienated US for its protection, and it’s time for Japan to enter the nuclear club.

In the bowl of spaghetti that is history and international politics, Bush and his Iraq war have made the threads even more impossible to unwind. We are hemmed into defending his patricidal conquest instead of stabilizing the world a la pax britannica.

Pronger to Los Anaranjados

The Orangemen acquired their second all-world defender today in Chris Pronger. He went south while Joffrey Lupul and a puckbag went north.

Even here in Nice, France, I could hear the circum-polar echoes coming from Edmonton whining over yet another Missouri-born housewife stealing their champion. I was delighted by the news because I saw it coming. It wasn’t like Burke to do nothing, not when he’s holding about $14M in cap room, and to let Ruslan Salei walk away so easily. Salei’s departure and Jovo, Chara, and Blake already being signed signalled to me that Burke was close to a deal for Pronger.

Lowe got rinsed on this one because he had already signed Roloson. Roloson is 36–he’s never going to be the same after that knee injury. Pronger for Giguere et al. would have made a lot more sense. But, hey, Lupul is the grandson of an Oiler owner.

This is hands down the best blue line in hockey. Niedermayer and Pronger each play 30 minutes a game. This means that one of them will always be on the ice. Think about that.

Oh, and the Ducks still have plenty of cap room left.