Anything from current events, campaign finance reform, sports (especially baseball), corporate/political/legal ethics, pop culture, confessions of a recovering comic book addict, and probably some overly indulgent discourses about my 3-year old daughter. E-Mail: sardonicviews -at-
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Saturday, February 28, 2004

Pulling Things Together As They Fly

Some posts, articles, bits of news or analysis stay with you. They float in the back of your mind, hide in the recesses of your conscious until something triggers them. Then they are triggered and it seems like they all flow and connect at once. That's the sensation I have right now. This long, and very well thought out, post by Steven Den Beste on the Israeli security fence about a month ago is one of them (and his follow-up a week later and debate elsewhere). He details much of the history from 9/11 to the point of the security fence to provide explanation to how it came to that point. The ultimate outcome of the security fence and the withdrawal of Israeli forces from the West Bank and Gaza will be civil war between Palestinian factions. Israel will have made de facto borders that as time goes on, will be that much harder to change.

With Palestinians cut-off from sneaking into Israel to go boom and see how many children they can kill (Palestinian view: they're not children, they're military targets because they will eventually serve in the Israeli armed forces) as frequently, the terror groups there will vie for control and influence. There will be a lot of Palestinian bloodshed at the hands of other Palestinians. Arafat has been the cockroach of the Middle East, but he has been reported to be in poor health, and sooner or later at age 77 he is going to die. When that happens, all bets are off as to who will be in charge in the West Bank and Gaza.

This led to Jon Rauch to consider the fence and it's meaning (and what triggered this post). The article is at least a month old, but only recently went online. The article considers various possibilities but ultimately seems to conclude that

A long siege is what Israel must now prepare for, even while hoping for a breakthrough.

Israelis, the White House, and more or less all people with eyes in their heads now believe that, as Makovsky puts it, "So long as Yasir Arafat remains leader of the Palestinians, there is no hope for peace and no hope of partnership." The resignation, in September, of moderate Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas established that the vampiric Arafat retains his stranglehold on the Palestinian power structure. So now the focus shifts to waiting out Arafat and, if necessary, waiting out the chaos -- or, more accurately, the even greater chaos -- that may follow him.

The Jewish settlements in Gaza do nothing for Israel's security. To the contrary, they are expensive to defend and they draw the Israeli army into conflict with the Palestinian population, as Sharon well knows. "He calculates that taking care of 7,500 people in a very populated Palestinian place is an untenable proposition in the long term, militarily, strategically, economically," says Yossi Shain, the head of Tel Aviv University's government department.

By getting out of Gaza, Sharon can firm up his lines and redeploy his resources. Abandoning some vulnerable West Bank settlements serves the same purpose. So does erecting the security barrier, which makes Israeli targets harder to bomb. Moreover, the barrier sits east of the Green Line, which, from Sharon's point of view, means that Israel retains land with which to bargain in negotiations with an eventual Palestinian partner.

Hence a two state solution which Israel wants, and the Palestinians don't.

The news I read today only convinces me that Den Beste was correct in his analysis. First I saw this article

The mayor of the West Bank's largest city has resigned, accusing Yasser Arafat's Palestinian Authority on Friday of letting Nablus descend into lawlessness.

The announcement is a major blow to Arafat as he tries to stem demands for change in his Fatah movement. The Palestinian leader agreed Friday to hold Fatah elections within a year. But disgruntled younger activists said they doubt he will keep his word. Nablus Mayor Ghassan Shakaa told The Associated Press that he has submitted his resignation to protest what he called the failure of Palestinian leaders and security forces to crack down on violence inside Palestinian areas.

"I see my city collapsing, and I don't want to stand idly by and watch this collapse," Shakaa said. "My resignation is a warning bell to the Palestinian Authority and the residents of Nablus, because both of them are doing nothing for this city."

Lawlessness within the Palestinian areas is completely unreported in the West -- I mean aside from occasional lynchings of suspected collaborators with Israel.

This, apparently, wasn't the only resignation.

In the West Bank, the Revolutionary Council of Palestinian President Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement, reiterated a call for a cease-fire with Israel, but did not announce major reforms to the group, which some members had been advocating.

"Fatah's Revolutionary Council announces Fatah's commitment to the peace process," it said in a statement at the end of a four-day meeting. "Based on this, the Revolutionary Council urges Israel to an immediate mutual and binding cease-fire agreement."

It said it would form a committee "to carry out internal reforms... within (Fatah's) central committee..." and that the council would reconvene in a year.

The Fatah meeting was a bid to head off a slide into chaos signaled by mass resignations by officials, accusations of corruption by the old guard and faltering control over Fatah militants.
Arafat has blocked Prime Minister Ahmed Qurie from revamping Palestinian security forces and assuming security powers key to a U.S.-backed "road map" peace plan, which calls on the Palestinian Authority to dismantle militant groups and on Israel to freeze all construction works in Jewish settlements.

It is going to get real ugly inside the West Bank and Gaza really, really fast after Arafat kicks off. When the dust finally settles, whoever is left standing will have no choice but to practically beg for help and settle for whatever is tossed their way.

Friday, February 27, 2004

Syracuse University Tries to Squeeze Sites

Syracuse University, through its attorneys at Bond, Schoeneck and King, PLLC, has sent "cease and desist" letters to the operators of two web sites. Both and were told to close up their sites because both "cuse" and "SU" are registered trademarks of Syracuse University. Apparently the content of the site -- especially -- is the real issue received negative attention last month when derogatory comments were posted in a greek life forum, and some professors disliked the class and teacher ratings.

"The site was really meant to be a resource for students because the course evaluations that the students fill out at the end of the semester aren't made public," Peruta said. "Why not have a Web site or a way to present this info in an anonymous fashion?"

Peruta said they planned to create other resources, such as a service for students to buy and sell books, post classified ads, list apartments and add messages to open forums.

"I do know that a lot of students have told that when it was registration time, they used it as one of their main resources," Peruta said.

Hagan and a group of friends, who do not attend SU, created his site earlier this academic year. It offers a book exchange, photo gallery and message boards for students use.

Peruta is an adjunct professor at Syracuse. Give him credit for standing up to his employer. Of course, what does that say about the intelligence of Syracuse, that they didn't just go and talk to Peruta first.

As the editorial at the Daily Orange pointed out, they aren't targeting every user of a Syracuse owned trademark, only these where they don't like the content.

Thursday, February 26, 2004

McCormack Must Be Leading Hagan More than Expected

I haven't seen any polls (hmmm, wonder why?), but it's the only way to account for this attack in the Cleveland Plain Dealer Editorial Page,, less than a week before the election. I mean, the PDEB has already endorsed Hagan for Cuyahoga County Commissioner. At least this editorial was signed. From Joe Frolik, associate editor.

First he sets out the themes of the two as being retro. Hagan is characterized as talking of partnernship with the City of Cleveland, working to get things done. The way things were when he was in office before. Naturally, there is no mention of Gateway, or anything else he actually accomplished that is still a positive. Just that Hagan got along with past mayors to accomplish "things."

For McCormack, it is being like Dennis Kucinich. The attack is

McCormack is countering with his own oldies theme. He's running as the second coming of Dennis Kucinich - and not presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich, the wayward West Side congressman who's busy channeling Eldridge Cleaver and the Peace & Freedom Party, circa 1968.

Rather, McCormack is reprising the role of Mayor Dennis Kucinich, casting himself as the target of "powerful men" - labor bosses, fat cats and (cue the hisses) The Banks.

During their City Club debate on Monday, a red-faced and resentful McCormack even turned and pointed in the general direction of the National City Bank Building, a gesture of contempt aimed at NatCity CEO David Daberko, the chairman of Cleveland Tomorrow and the Snidely Whiplash of McCormack's morality play.

Funny, "red-faced and resentful" wasn't the way the PD's own reporting characterized that portion.

The incumbent, Tim McCormack who makes no apologies for his intense, hard-charging style opened the debate between the Democrats Monday at the City Club of Cleveland with a fiery declaration that he was "under attack by powerful, self-serving men."

Alluding to Cleveland bankers, primarily executives from National City Bank who have contributed thousands of dollars to his opponent's campaign, McCormack leaned over the lectern and insisted that business leaders would not oust him.

Not that McCormack was wrong about who wants to see him ousted.

While more people gave money to help Cuyahoga County Commissioner Tim McCormack win re-election, challenger Tim Hagan got bigger donations from fewer people, including a number of local business leaders.

Pre-election campaign finance reports, which were released Thursday afternoon, showed that "Friends of Tim Hagan" had received $154,925 and has spent more than $130,000.

Hagan's campaign consultant Gerald Austin received $100,000 of that, though most of it has gone to buy television time. New York-based Global Strategy Group, which is doing polling for Hagan, received $11,300.

"Friends of Tim McCormack" raised $97,205 and has spent less than $9,500. McCormack has yet to start running TV commercials.
Three individuals, National City Bank Chief Executive David Daberko, Progressive Insurance Chairman Peter Lewis, and Gordon Gund each gave $10,000 to Hagan's campaign.

Local developer John Carney, who is also Hagan's former brother-in- law, gave $13,000 through five different organizations. Invacare Chief Executive A. Malachi Mixon III gave $5,000.

Ten National City Bank executives - including the president and several executive vice presidents - were generous to Hagan's campaign as well, giving $12,500.

The Kucinich slander is actually a pretty effective one. Not apt, but effective. Kucinich put the town in the hole and buried the city. McCormack didn't throw himself behind the Convention Center (he didn't oppose it, but he was less than supportive) and can be a bit of a self-righteous ass.

It's amusing to see the PDEB move beyond mere "endorsement" to advocacy in the last week. I'm betting on at least one more "editorial" on the matter by Tuesday, and at least one op-ed piece (probably by Brent Larkin) on Sunday.

Baseball, Steroids and Fans

Actually, it isn't just steroids its human growth hormone (HGH) and a host of other body modification drugs. The BALCO case is just part of the mess. BALCO, though is the highest profile because it has ensnared some of the elite players in the game -- Barry Bonds, Gary Sheffield and Jason Giambi. It is also one of the few clear central sources of the juice. Barry Bonds has faced the most scrutiny, though Giambi isn't far behind any longer with his, um, sudden loss of weight.

The individual players are all saying the same sort of thing boiling down to this: Test me. I'm clean. Go ahead, make the tests public. I want to clear my name. I want to be tested. They can say this because the Players Union won't let them do so. They all, more quietly, say they won't go against or challenge the union. So, the noise continues. The union is sticking to its position, because that's part of its job. Serving as a shield for the players. Individual players can say what they want, but when it comes time for a closed meeting and/or vote they can hide behind it.

Major League Baseball and the Players Union actually seem to be on the same page on this one -- try and weather the storm and maintain plausible deniability. Neither really wants to deal with the issue. MLB's hardest line is to at least keep the steroids out of their direct line of sight

Major League Baseball, embarrassed that trainer Greg Anderson drove straight from BALCO headquarters to the Giants' private parking lot and free reign in the team's clubhouse, intends to crack down on a post-9/11 directive to limit clubhouse access. After Sept. 11, baseball was moved by security reasons to keep hangers-on and non-team employees out of clubhouses, though teams tended to ignore the order. Now the idea that the Giants gave carte blanche to a guy who since has been indicted as part of a steroid distribution investigation has redoubled baseball's effort to clean up the clubhouses. Moreover, teams have been ordered to re-evaluate what medicines and supplements they supply players. "We've been told to take a hard look at what is distributed to players,'' one GM said. "What concerns everybody now is the team's exposure from a liability standpoint. So everything is under review.''

Actually MLB is probably just trying to figure a way to blow this up in their face. I can't help but figure they just want to use the issue against the union, but will end up bashing their own product in the process.

This brings me to the media. The media's coverage has been, shall we say, uninspiring in two parts. It has consisted of lots of interviews with players saying mostly the same thing -- I'm in favor of more and open testing. I'm clean, I think most of my teammates are clean. I want to be tested, but the union won't let me, and I won't break ranks with the union. The second part is the punditry where they summarize the interviews, tsk-tsk the whole thing. Talk about what a joke the present testing is, and then complain how the fans -- unlike themselves -- don't seem to care. This article is not quite so typical because the author seems willing to place the media in the same boat as the fans, but you get the idea.

And we, the fans, we don't care. We just want to be entertained. We don't care who's on drugs. It's never stopped us from watching a movie or attending a rock or rap concert. For years and years, we've cheered on "college-educated" athletes who we know can't read, write, speak, count past 10 or recite their ABCs. We don't care about cheating. And we damn sure don't look for any real virtue in sports. It's a waste of time. We're not that naive.

Instead of lying to ourselves and, subsequently, lying to our kids, why not try the truth? Professional sports, like the rest of the entertainment industry, have always been devoid of morality, integrity.

That's about it. There has been no real investigations. A couple summers ago, Sports Illustrated did a cover story on steroids in baseball with some investigations, but that was it. The investigation showed just how prevalent it was from the top down through the minors.

Now here's how I see it. I care about the steroids and the abuses. I think a lot of fans actually do care. The problem is, we don't get much of a say in this. Baseball -- players and owners -- has shown that it could care less about the fans other than lip service and PR. And the fans don't have anywhere else to go unless you think watching American Legion baseball or beer league softball is an alternative. So all we can do is say we'd like to see the game cleaned up, hope our favorite player is clean, and grow more cynical.

Well, that and wait for actual confessed, physical harm to occur to a player or former player from the abuse; that may result in an ephedra-like backlash.

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Everywhere, Everywhere

Michael Totten notes another left-leaning magazine that has decided that there is a Jewish conspiracy from neocons (Totten also points out that the editorial can't even understand what/differentiate between neocon is, versus a religious freak and a real conservative). Read it and be depressed.

How Tightly Do I Have to Hold My Nose When I Pull the Lever?

On the other hand, maybe I'll vote for Nader. I can't see voting for Kerry (Edwards, possibly) -- I've been reading Mickey Kaus far too long (and on a purely emotional level, I get an "eewwww" feeling about him). I was pretty sure I could vote for Bush, based on the War on Terror, but this whole decision to push a Federal Amendment on Marriage is a joke. The actual chances of it being enacted are slim and none. Sure it's going to be a nasty wedge issue Kerry will tap dance around.

Let's be honest. The only reason to oppose gay marriage is on religious beliefs. The US Constitution doesn't play religious favorites. I tried thinking of all possible reasons to be against gay marriage, and the best I could figure -- an increase in the court dockets for divorces. Stephen Green has a short round-up of conservatives opposed to the FMA, including Jonah Goldberg and Ward Connerly.

The Daily Show with Jon Stewart should be something tonight.

Nader Natterings

I really don't care about Nader. His decision to run as an independent is an ego-driven joke. I don't see him having the impact that he may have had in Florida this time. Those who would actually want to support his stated platform, are so committed to the "Anybody But Bush" plan that he has generated more animosity from them by announcing that he is running than if showed up before a crowd of them driving a Hummer, got out of it wearing a full length fur coat, holding a Big Mac in one hand, a Starbucks coffee in the other, smoking a Camel, and he announced that he was joining the boards of Halliburton, GM and Enron to push for sending more jobs to China and India to boost profits.

Still, one of my friends (a Democrat) sends me this e-mail (edited slightly for language)

Ralph F***ing Nader.

Thanks, Ralph! We HATE to win elections and we're glad you're here to help guarantee that we don't.

A bit of an overreaction,perhaps, but given that this was gonna be an uphill battle for any Democrat this year I can't help but be gloomy. 2-3% going for Nader may well kill the Dems' chances come fall.

My advice to this friend. Check your next tuition bill from Pitt. See if you have a charge to PennPIRG, then see about getting out of it.

f you're putting a kid or two through college, or putting yourself through, there's a good chance you're donating to a PIRG, too.

And Ralph Nader would like to thank you for your support.

Yes, the same man who rails against corporate welfare - because it coercively takes money from taxpayers and funnels it to corporations - has set up a rather ingenious, if underhanded and manipulative, way of coercively taking money from college kids - and funneling it to Ralph Nader.

The PIRG scam is short for "Public Interest Research Group," and there are well over a hundred chapters of the organization spread out across the country. The scams vary from campus to campus, but it basically works like this:

Each time your kid registers for classes, the local PIRG chapter has arranged with the school to tack a fee on to his/her tuition. On most every campus, the PIRG chapter has made attempts to make this "contribution" as secretive and misleading as possible. Just how secretive and manipulative the method depends on how much resistance each chapter has met in trying to get the scheme implemented. At most schools, they first attempt to make the fee both mandatory and nonrefundable. If that doesn't work, they lobby for as underhanded and sneaky a scheme as the school will allow.

I think the handwringing over Nader's impact on the election is a bit much. I do however, enjoy seeing a lot of people take this opportunity to take well deserved and well placed potshots at Nader and his various ventures.

If Nader is to have any effect on the election, it won't be due to people actually voting for him. It will be the threat that people might vote for him that would keep Kerry (or Edwards) from moving more to the center come the general election.

Monday, February 23, 2004

Kent State. The Legend Grows

The Golden Flashes need more proofreaders.
Kent- Kent read, Kent write, Kent State, or so the joke goes.

And now, Kent spell.

Embarrassed university officials have asked more than 1,000 graduates to return their diplomas if they contain a misspelling of privileges, as in "all the rights, and privileges and honors pertaining thereto."

They spelled privileges, "privilieges."


(Copyright © 2002-2005 Chas Rich All rights Reserved.);
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