The Airing of Grievances
Tuesday, June 29, 2004
What's A 5 Letter Word For "Involuntary Troop Call-Up"?

Becoming less crazy an idea by the day.
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It's Good To Be The King
Two things I love about being a Yankee fan: results like this against your biggest rival and the knowledgeable fan base:
With Vice President Dick Cheney looking on and a sellout crowd of 55,231 yelling from the first pitch, there was a postseason atmosphere at Yankee Stadium...

...Cheney, who visited both clubhouses after batting practice, watched part of the game from the box of Yankees owner George Steinbrenner and part from a first-row seat next to the Yankees dugout, where he sat between New York Gov. George Pataki and former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani. Cheney was booed when he was shown on the right-field videoboard during the seventh-inning stretch.

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Cozmo, Out!
Hitting the hinterland for a fortnight of good times and jiggin'. I will report in with anything interesting!

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"I Stand By My Racial Slur! Do Your Worst, You Filthy, Pretentious Savages!"

I'll admit, I like France. In the half dozen times I've been there, I've always found the food and wine exquisite, the environment picturesque, and the museums informative. Hell, even the people are OK, provided you make a little effort to rise above the rank of tourist rube. Sure, there's dog shit all over the sidewalk and everybody secretly hates you, but Paris is still in my top 5 of world cities.

I even thought, way back in 2003, that we would have been well served to heed de Villepin and Chirac's requests to cool our jets a bit in the run-up to the Iraq War. Many made the argument that the French didn't want us going in there and seeing how well they had supplied Saddam over the years. But that argument doesn't really hold much water, now does it?

However, let's not confuse Old World charm and a rare streak of temperance with the cynical nihilism of modern French foreign policy. They make our shady, ham-fisted efforts in Iraq seem downright Quixotic by comparison.

[Note: this is a subscription site - you might be able to view the article once (I was), but after that you have to pay. It's worth the $2 if that's the case.]

French-bashing really never gets old, does it? Here's a hilarious beatdown from those heady pre-Iraq War days.
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Vice City

It's shaping up to be a sleazy summer. First, as Cozmo linked to yesterday, the travelling company of "Cathouse" hits the Big Apple for the convention in late August. Today, the Supreme Court threw a monkey wrench in to the plans of those who want to punish online pornographers. And, as of yesterday, the high court agreed to hear a case involving medicinal marijuana, with a chance to do the right thing and allow people to treat tremendous pain with a non-addictive, safer-than-alchohol-or-tobacco-but-not-quite-as-aggressive-corrupt-or-lucrative-of-a-lobbying-effort product.

Hookers, porn and weed. This just about makes the political landscape in our country tolerable...
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Monday, June 28, 2004
Hey Trent Lott, Where's My 200 Scrillah?
Apparently, sex workers from around the globe will be converging on NYC to "service" the delegates. Expect a boom in ho-related expenditures in the CPI that week.

Monena figures to be prominently involved.

So, expect some high-falootin' bilble-beatin' public moralizing at the RNC this year. Catch the excitement, and a friend for life.
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Saturday, June 26, 2004
Boo F'ing Hoo
Poor Ralph Nader. One political party, whose endorsement would have been a boost to his presidential campaign, ain't playin' that game. It's a good thing he's still got his conservative base working hard in Oregon and Arizona for him.

Can you imagine if the GOP actually had to try and run Bush's re-election campaign based on his own merits and accomplishments?
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Wastin' Time
David Brooks writes the easiest column in the world, a partial list of some of the stupider things Michael Moore has ever said. This is the approach that's being taken by most of the vociferous right, who are no doubt shit-scared of what "Fahrenheit 9/11" could do to swing American sentiment even further against Bush, that strategy being to attack the author of a statement, rather than the statement itself. It's an effective tactic in deflecting the story away from the issue at hand, but ultimately, it just slows the momentum down and doesn't accomplish anything. After all, Picasso was a Communist, but nobody ever compared his work to that of Arno Breker, the way Moore is being compared to Leni Riefenstahl. I wonder why a newspaper would allow one of its editorial writers to write an entire column using someone else's words towards making, well, really no point whatsoever other than that the person who made the remarks has said some pretty dumb shit in the past. Oh, it's the New York Times? Well that explains it...

I just came from seeing "Fahrenheit 9/11", and I'm sure I'll have more to say on it later (it being 80 degrees and sunny in New York right now), but it's worth your hard-earned. Some of the connections Moore makes (or, rather, leaves the viewer to make) require a stretch of the imagination, but it's pretty tough to not come away moved by footage of soldiers in Iraq openly questioning the logic behind why they're there or of an honorably discharged Marine emphatically stating, if he were ever asked to re-up, that he would go to jail before serving in Iraq again. Maybe that's why Rumsfeld continues to extend tours of duty for our soldiers over there. Can't have dissenting opinions like those aired in an election year. If "Fahrenheit 9/11" does a third of the business that "Bondage Prisoners VI", er, "The Passion of the Christ", did, Bush is screwed.
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Friday, June 25, 2004
Come On - Frank, You're Better Than That
Here's the pick you wanted to post to...

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Thursday, June 24, 2004
"Oh Yeah? I'll Tell You What's Stupid. You. Stupid"

The whole "Bringing Dignity Back To The White House" program is working like gangbusters!!

But at least someone this childish and petty wouldn't be in a position to be running the show during one of our nation's greatest moments of crisis, right? Right?
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News On The Wire
From Market News International:
[12:30 EDT 6/24]
Washington update: AP reports Pres Bush was questioned for 70 mins today by a Justice Dept official for an investigation into who leaked the name of a CIA operative
No word on whether or not Edgar Berg- er, Dick Cheney was along for the ride.
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Following up on my last post about the Iraq handover, the process is apparently going swimmingly, because the insurgents are still trying to make us fail and a shitload of innocent people seem to keep dying.

Just a reminder: if attacks like this happened on a similar scale in the United States, it would be the equivalent of 1,000 Americans dying in one day. 1,000. In other words, the kind of attacks that might indicate a deeper problem than a few ragtag evil doers trying to cause trouble and screw with the handover process.

The Onion provides one of the few moments of levity that can be drawn from this mess.
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I Want My Speeches Dammit!!
So are we going to get one a day or was this just another lie?
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Wednesday, June 23, 2004
A Big Day For A Former Blogger

Please welcome the newest permalink on AofG, Sports Guy's World. Chock full of celebrity-obsessed, TV and movie-referencing, sporty goodness
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Tour De Force and An AofG Upgrade
As Cozmo noted, yesterday was the most prolific day in AofG's short history, an outpouring of material spurred by an abysmally slow work day. But we weren't the only ones bringing you the good stuff, Dave Pell at Electablog had his fastball hitting all the corners, particularly on these two items:

- A hilarious satire of what you can expect from the more right-leaning media outlets in reviewing Clinton's new book. [My review so far: Heavy. Literally, very heavy. I've got two other books ahead of it in the queue and haven't read a page yet.]
- The perfect companion piece to my too-brief post on Michael Moore from yesterday.

Let's see, it's 10am and I'm already bored. I smell another big day brewing. Oh yeah, you can now correspond with your hosts here at AofG. Drop us a line at festivus1223@yahoo.com with any questions, fawning fan mail, complaints or submissions.
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Tuesday, June 22, 2004
Frank Rulez, Cozmo Dulez - 6 Posts In 1 Day!!!

Sorry about my hiatus recently. F me.
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Jon Stewart, Why Must You Be So Dreamy?

I watched the TIVO of last night's Daily Show and in a matter of five short minutes, they managed to cut through much of the garbage and spin that has been coming from the vicinity of the White House this past week. Much has been blogged elsewhere so I'll leave it be.

The guest on the show was Stephen F. Hayes, author of a timely book called "The Connection", detailing the supposed ties between the Hussein regime and Al Qaeda. Most of his book is based on intelligence coming from Douglas Feith's memo to the Senate Intelligence Committee from last year, which was leaked to The Weekly Standard and put forth as the foolproof link between Saddam and Al Qaeda. One problem: much of the intelligence in that memo had already been dismissed or contradicted by overwhelming intelligence to the contrary. (the story I link to also discusses the long since discredited notion of Atta meeting with Iraqi agents in Prague, the meeting that Cheney still says we can't prove didn't happen). Seems tough to write a scholarly tome based on a memo that was eventually found to be a one-sided piece of propoganda by just about everyone last year, no?

In a bit of a departure, Jon Stewart really took him on and made him look like a fool, you really have to see it to believe it. Here was my favorite part, on the Bush Doctrine of preemption:
Hayes: I think the idea, I think the idea behind the Bush Doctrine is that if you support or harbor terrorists, um, we are gonna come after you. We'll consider you a hostile regime. I don't think that, frankly, in the aftermath of September 11, I really don't think that's an unreasonable doctrine.

Stewart: Here's the problem: it's not unreasonable, but it's not the point. The point is, I'm gonna, I'll list you four things: developing weapons of mass destruction, inflammatory rhetoric against the United States, uh, supporting and harboring terrorism, uh, and, uh, oppression of their own people. Now here's the problem with your doctrine: you can't tell me what country I just named. And that's a problem when you're talking about war.

Hayes: That is a problem when you're talking about war (as loud applause starts up)

Stewart: That's, that's, that seems like the issue, because you don't know if I'm talking about Iraq, Iran, North Korea, or Sudan.

Hayes: No, I think that's a good point, but I think on the other hand, Iraq, in this case, presented a unique threat...

Stewart: Why?

Hayes: ... precisely because of its weapons of mass destruction, because of its demonstrated use of weapons of mass destruction...

Stewart: Iran has done the same

Hayes: ... they've used weapons of mass destruction...

Stewart: Yes

Hayes: When have they used weapons of mass destruction?

Stewart: In the Iran-Iraq War, they both were mustard gassing back and forth

Hayes: Well that's, yeah, that's one theory. I don't think that that's been shown. But in any case...

Stewart (jokingly): Well, you're no one to talk about what's been shown...
God, I love that man. Oh yeah, it has been show that Iran used WMDs, and it took Google a whopping 0.55 seconds to help me prove it.
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TrimSpa Here We Come!
Boy, that didn't take long. No sooner do the Olsen twins turn 18 than the "E! True Hollywood Story" fodder starts piling up.

And how anticlimactic was that whole countdown to their 18th birthday? That "milestone" really spelled the end of any sort of cultural relevance. Now they just have Playboy, diet pill endorsements, and straight-to-video movies to look forward to.

The real countdown has only 10 days to go...I mean, seriously, is this even a choice at all?

A. or B.
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Just A Few Typos And Misspelled Words
Clerical mistakes.


Here's something else that wasn't a clerical mistake:

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Poll Dancing
So, during my self-imposed hiatus (during which I, ironically enough, saw a Phish show), a couple of polls were released:

Harris Poll - "Hey, good thing for Bush that Reagan died, his numbers finally seem to be improving!"

ABC News/Washington Post - "Hey, good thing for Kerry that Reagan died; Bush, by comparison, looks like even more of an inarticulate boob!"

Of course, you always have ol' reliable, the daily Rasmussen Tracking Poll - "Huh? Reagan died?"

But don't forget the AofG-I-Took-A-Few-Days-Off-From-Ranting-And-Raving-Because-Frankly-I'm-Becoming-More-Bitter-And-Disillusioned-Than-A-Gainfully-Employed-White-Guy-Is-Supposed-To-Be Sentiment Index: 100% of respondents are becoming restless for the conventions and debates to start.
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Fahrenheit 9/11 Jibba Jabba

Apparently, Michael Moore has a new movie coming out this week. I wasn't aware.

No matter your thoughs on Mr. Moore or his movie, Christopher Hitchens has a must-read on Slate about the holes that can be driven through some of Moore's points and how they often contradict each other.

My take is this: Moore is the left's representative in the war of the talking heads, in opposition to the Coulters, Limbaughs, and Hannitys of the world. Each camp presents skewed, if not contradictory, viewpoints, leaves out inconvenient facts, and relies on cheap shots to score points and build credibility with their sycophantic, built-in audience such that that audience will continue to blindly nod their heads in agreement when they start making their more complex, and shadier, assertions. Oh yeah, I also think anybody who takes anything any of these self-proclaimed demagogues say at face value, without doing some research or thinking of their own, is a complete pinhead, beneath my consideration for a rational discussion.

I'll reserve judgement on the movie until I actually see the movie. I wish the amateur Moore critics and supporters that have been coming out of the woodwork would have the same courtesy.

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Thursday, June 17, 2004
What a dipshit:
"The reason I keep insisting that there was a relationship between Iraq and Saddam and al-Qaeda is because there was a relationship between Iraq and al-Qaeda," Bush told reporters after a meeting with his Cabinet.

"This administration never said that the 9/11 attacks were orchestrated between Saddam and al-Qaeda. We did say there were numerous contacts between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda," the Republican president said.

"There were numerous contacts between the two," he added, citing reports of a Sudan meeting between al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and Iraqi intelligence officers.
So, by Bush's logic, the reason 2 + 2 = 5 is because he says 2 + 2 = 5.

OK, yes, Al Qaeda agents contacted Iraqi officials, maybe even Saddam himself, about a possible working relationship. Strictly speaking, yes, this constitutes a "relationship" between Iraq and Al Qaeda. Saddam blew them off. If the 9/11 Commission's report is to be trusted, no working relationship was ever forged. Period.

I don't know what scares me more about these mental midgets - the refusal to see reality for what it is and admit a misjudgement or the fact that one of Bush's rationales for going to war at this point boils down to semantics.

I gotta stop reading "1984", reality is fast becoming stranger than fiction.
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Have Corpse, Will Exploit
President Reagan's body has been in the ground less than a week, but that ain't long enough to keep the professional necrophiliacs at bay. Charles Colson, William Clark and the WorldNetDaily have absolutely no shame, as they make the claim that Reagan would not have supported his own wife's current calls for President Bush to relax his opposition to federal funding of stem-cell research. To advance his agenda, Colson cites a 16-year old executive order, drafted by Reagan before he was diagnosed with Alzheimers Disease and before much of the research currently being debated was medically possible, calling for a continued moratorium on federal funding for certain types of fetal experimentation. WorldNet also relies on the insistence of former National Security Advisor and close Reagan friend William Clark that there's no way Reagan would want try to find a cure for his own disease:
Writing recently in the New York Times, he said, "After the charter expired for the Departments of Health, Education and Welfare’s ethical advisory board – which in the 1970s supported destructive research on human embryos – [Reagan] began a de facto ban on federal financing of embryo research that he held to throughout his presidency."

The presidential adviser also noted Reagan, in his 1993 speech known for it's "evil empire" reference, "spoke strongly against the denegration of innocent human life."

"And [Reagan] favored bills in Congress that would have given every human being – at all stages of development – protection as a person under the 14th Amendment," Clark said.
One important thing to remember: Chuck Colson is a loony, convicted felon.
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Wednesday, June 16, 2004
Stop Me Before I Lie Again!
Dick says one thing.

Two days later, a bipartisan commission says the opposite.

Dick don't know dick.

But then, when the lie is this big, you're knee deep in the shit, and when you're preaching to a choir of automatons, I guess it's pretty easy to lose track of reality.

(Thanks to Big Willie Style for doing all the legwork for me on an extremely hectic day)

Leave it to the right-leaning elements of the media to gloss over an embarrassing blow to the neo-con platform. Here are a sampling of lead headlines:

Fox News: "'Your Country Is Proud of You'" (story about a GWB speech to our armed forces that no other major media source is covering)
Drudge Report: "Dan Rather Gives Clinton Book 'Five Stars'" (damn that liberal media!! Bill Clinton couldn't have possibly written a good book)
WorldNetDaily: "Beelzebub To Make Televised Appeal For Increased Gay Marriage" (OK, not really - but the actual headline isn't any more relevant)
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Tuesday, June 15, 2004
Just Asking
I know he's kinda busy and we had the week-long Reagan deification taking up much of the nation's attention, but wasn't Bush supposed to be making five weekly speeches on progress in Iraq before June 30? At this rate, he's gonna have to knock one out every three days.

Or was this a Man-On-Mars idea, something that sounds like alot of fun and makes for good press, but doesn't actually receive any follow-up?
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Monday, June 14, 2004
More Hits Than Sadaharu Oh
In stores now (OK, not right now, but it will be by the time most of you read this)

Do it.
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I wonder if the First Amendment-hating mouth-breathers (new favorite word) behind this campaign realize that their efforts will result in the exact opposite of what they desire. According to this article, "Fahrenheit 9/11" is already going to be the largest opening for any of Michael Moore's movies. If the backlash increases in fervor, look for every theater owner in America to want in on the action.

For more on how to turn a small movie into a blockbuster via controversy, see also Christ, The Passion of
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Welcome. I Am Honored To Accept Your Waste

Fox News unveiled their new website design today - the effect is not unlike watching those crazy Japanese cartoons that used to give kids seizures. I guess the upside is that the typical Fox News viewer/surfer will be so confused and disoriented that they'll start lookng elsewhere for their daily pap.
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Junior On Junior
Just in case you thought Ron Reagan wasn't taking a thinly veiled jab at President Bush in his remarks Friday night, here's a Salon piece from last year that provides some background.


[Note: I've linked to a repost of the original article from another blog - Salon being a subscription service and all]
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Saturday, June 12, 2004
There Goes My Day
Damn you, Internet! Why must you be so much fun?

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Not On A Mission From God
Gee, I wonder what Ron Reagan was getting at last night:
"Dad was also a deeply, unabashedly religious man. But he never made the fatal mistake of so many politicians wearing his faith on his sleeve to gain political advantage. True, after he was shot and nearly killed early in his presidency, he came to believe that God had spared him in order that he might do good. But he accepted that as a responsibility, not a mandate. And there is a profound difference."
Now what kind of politician would wear their faith on their sleeve in the name of politics or try to twist God's grace into a mandate? Wait, give me a sec, I'm trying to think of an example...

Well said, Mr. Reagan. Other sons of former presidents could learn much from your words.
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Friday, June 11, 2004
For DonDonDon...
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Why is My Aunt & Uncle's House Being Used by Bush?
Saw one of GWB's new attack ads last night during the History Channel's facinating, yet creepy, look at the Gipper. The ad is called Pessimism, and says that even though the economy has been good for a whopping 10 month's of Bush's term, John Kerry is saying that the Bush presidency has been bad for the economy (where does he get off, i mean, really). 21 seconds into the spot, two guys go running onto the porch of a 100 year old farm house with cedar siding. Clearly their home. Just Bizarre. See the spot here.

Anyway, my Uncle's home has been filmed for alot of different commercials, but I'm pretty sure they used to be hard core Dems, and I know they are Catholic, and more than likely they are Kerry supporters. I wonder if this was just stock footage from other shoots, or if they went their to film the two second clip? I also wonder if they know their house is being used as an attack ad base camp?

More on this story as it develops.
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Freak or Jesus Freak - You Make The Call

Apparently, the Son of Sam is convinced he is saved! David Berkowitz is letting the world know of his testimony via the world wide web, in which he claims he is forgiven for life. Do you buy it? Not I... Hey, Billy Graham is in, hook, line and sinker...but then what do you expect? One of the most famous serial killers of all time, claimed to be possessed by Satan via a dog, and a Jew to boot, finding Jebus...You know that some people can't pass that up. The NY Daily News, in a not so shocking development, is playing up the "victim's rights" angle of this story.

Tell us what you think!
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Thursday, June 10, 2004
Parting Gift
Thanks to Ronnie R, I gots the day off tomorrow, so, unless something really strikes a chord, you probably won't be hearing much from me over the long weekend. In the mean time, chew on this piece from Whiskey Bar, maybe the best breakdown of the Bush campaign strategery that I've read.
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Wednesday, June 09, 2004
A Small Imposition
We're all busy, but you have 4 spare minutes to experience sheer brilliance, don't you?

[Fast-ish connection required - Thanks Pitchfork]
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J-Lo's Bangin' Booty

OK. J-Lo cheesecake shots are not the real reason for this post. Our google-supported blog-spot ads never cease to amaze me. It started back when Frank linked to an article about Rush Limbaugh being a slanderer. Now, since he linked to the Christian Exodus page, we have Pat Buchannan and Faith-Based Initiatives up there.

Consider this AofG's first google based internet experiment. I'm pretty sure that the ads driver either runs on post titles of the content of the page we link to and how many people follow it (I'm guessing the latter is the more likely option) So, let's try this. Everyone on this page over the next day, please follow the folloing humorous J-Lo Booty Links.

Link to J-Lo Information HERE, HERE, and HERE. (All links work-friendly.) (Also, the MIDI file on the first one amazes me. Who has the time to program something like that into his computer.)

I want this to change our Blog Spot ads for good. Make a difference now. Don't do it for J-Lo's booty. Do it for science.
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Movement Of Jah People

A Texas-based group has arrived at what is really the only logical solution to the vexing breakdown in morals and standards sweeping our country: migration to South Carolina, followed by secession from the Union.

How can I help make this happen? Seriously, what do they need? Would we really miss the people who would be making the move? Would those of us in the other 49 states (otherwise known as pagans) regret giving up all that South Carolina has to offer? You can golf elsewhere, NASCAR hits plenty of other states, towns on the Jersey Shore can replace Myrtle Beach (and in a slightly less tacky fashion), and the South would still be chock-full of cracker-ass crackers. OK, maybe we carve out Hilton Head and Kiawah as Swaziland-esque oases of hedonism, but this is addition by subtraction, people.

Christian Exodus, the group behind the proposed move, cited the recent Massachusetts ruling allowing for gay marriage as the last straw. An anonymous vistor to their website gets the early jump in defining legislation for the new country:

"Well on one hand I kinda favor a 'don't ask, don't tell' policy. But should homosexuals speak up, they should be deported, sanctioned, or held in jail," said one person, discussing whether their new "country" should endorse or permit lifestyles they believe go against biblical teachings.

Homosexuality? Hit the bricks, Lance. Hate and persecution? Cool de la and, apparently, biblically sound!
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Tuesday, June 08, 2004
Would Somebody Marry J. Lo Already?
From the Who F'ing Cares? Department, Marc Anthony is now refusing to confirm reports that he is the latest sap in The Bootylicious One's quest to nail down a husband, citing his long-standing precedent for not discussing his personal life.
"I've always been just so private and I've kept what's mine, mine," Anthony said.

"It's still hard for me to understand, what is to me, the morbid fascination with celebrity," he added. "I just want to sing, I want to work on my music, I want to make my movies, that's all I want to do. I understand, you know, the interest but I really don't understand the fascination with it."

Hey Marc? The Latin music "explosion" fizzled out about three years ago, your music was pretty lousy to begin with and I had no idea you were even in movies. This is all you have, brother. Milk it.
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I Like How He Lays Out In The Hole...
Major League Baseball scouting report, or gay personal ad...you decide:


The name, the innuendo, it's just too much, when you think about it. I wonder if Dan Savage reads this stuff as porn. Ugh, bad thought.

(Thanks, Sportsfrog!)

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Hell Freezes Over
Well, Gary Bettman, you have finally done it. You have ruined the NHL. The Stanley Cup is in Tampa Bay, one of your beloved "expansion cities". Not that I don't love Dave Andrychuk, Marty St. Louis, Vincent LeCavalier, and Khabibulin... But Tampa Bay? The Stanley Cup?

Seriously, one of these things is not like the other - you decide...

1. 2. 3.

Hockey mad Calgary; with the games greatest player (Jerome Iginila, who is black, no less), and home of fans like this [EDIT: NOT WORK FRIENDLY], was a worthy champion. But in Gary Bettman's world, Tampa Bay is the more appropriate place for sports most coveted and traveled prize.

Bettman's career is beset with different ways to dis Canada and other traditional hockey strongholds. Let's take a look at Bettman's record as Commissioner on a pro vs. con basis.
1994 Rangers Win Stanley Cup

- 1994-95's crippling lockout directly after the sport's surge in popularity from the Rangers' Stanley Cup run. To make matters worse, there were no real gains made during the lockout, which set the stage for the CBA Armageddon to come.
- Moved Minnesota North Star Franchise to Dallas (supposedly for Star - name synergies) and they won the Stanley Cup in 1999.
- Moved The Quebec mortgages to Colorado, Colorado wins two cups (1996 & 2001) with the core of players built in Quebec.
- Moved Winnipeg Jets to Phoenix? Let them have the worst major league uni's in modern sports for two years.
- Created an environment in which an average franchise loses $12 million in cash yearly

Seriously, is their a sports executive in history worse than Gary Bettman? I think not.

Fittingly, Tampa's Stanley Cup could be the last awarded by the NHL as we know it. Hockey is in for a long, cold war of a strike. Basically, hockey owners are losing their shirts on a yearly basis, their TV contract is going away, and their players make 6 times what they did ten years ago.

In summing up the NHL's Strike Issues, I will quote a great sports writer ... namely, Yours Truly, from another website about three months ago. Check it:

"[After working] on the financing of professional sports franchises, and I can't stress this enough - The NHL as it is currently constituted is insolvent - plain and simple. The league and almost all of its teams are hemorrhaging cash. It comes to a point where people won't buy the franchises, and owners can't get new money from banks or other sources to continue to fund the losses. Another thing, part of the problem is that most NHL franchises were receiving franchise fees every year in the amount of $5-$6 million from its expansion franchises (Atlanta, Nashville, Minnesota, Columbus, etc.) Teams used that money to pay players more money, which amounted to an artificial increase in salaries of 10-12%. When the franchise fees ran out ('01-'02), there is no way to correct salaries down for that 10-12% increase, and teams were just negotiating new salaries on the inflated rates. There is no way for the league to increase revenues by that factor so that revenues can keep up with salaries. As it is currently constituted, the NHL is in a death spiral, so that contraction doesn't fix their problem, only a rational CBA ("Collective Bargaining Agreement") will.

That said, let me give the [AofG] a little Finance 101. Businesses are generally valued based on a multiple of their current earnings. A hypothetical company making $10 million in positive cash flows may be worth up to $60 million dollars to another buyer, depending on how much the buyer believes he can increase those cash flows in the future (Maybe more, maybe less). As cash flows go down, so do values. This does not mean, however that the price for a business goes to zero. Businesses retain a positive value in most cases because of a marginal opportunity for future upside, (kind of like Ricky Davis...but I digress). Some businesses look to sustain minimal cash losses and then sell their assets at a future date for more than the combination of what they paid for them and what they lost along the way (Kind of like a house...you have mortgage costs, electricity, capital improvements, and you hope that you get those costs back when you sell it to another person at a future date). A good example of this is that if a franchise were to be purchased for $100 million, lose $5 million a year for 5 years, and then be sold for $150 million, the owner would make an implied return of $25 million. This is an inherently flawed situation though, as future cash flow has to be able to support the higher value. A lot of times, as in the internet bubble, earnings never catch up with values, and values plummet. Today, the NHL is full of franchises that have been purchased for $150 million, and are now worth south of $100 million and falling, while losing over $10 million a year. The implied loss of these franchises, if you take their market value of these , is even worse than the NHL states on its CBA website.

To top this off, ABC & ESPN are the current national TV contract for the NHL in the United States. They have publicly stated that they are going to lower their contract amount by at least 50%. This just means that each team's cash hole is at least $3 million per year larger.

Actually, the internet bubble is a great parallel here. You have a lot of companies in one "space" losing a great deal of money, and spending money based on bad assumptions(Franchise income, noted above, would continue forever, - a new TV deal for more money would be struck) had inflated values for a period of time, then crashed when it became clear that those assumptions were untrue and companies like eToys or the Pittsburgh Penquins were bottomless pits of expense and cash losses.

Anyway, short story long, don't expect much professional Hockey in North America in 2004 & 2005. The NHL is prepared for a long work stoppage and I can't see it not enforcing a lockout if they don't strike a bargain that the NHLPA can never deliver. If you like hockey, you better enjoy this year's playoffs or plan a trip to Sweden and Prague next winter."

I guess all I really wanted to say was, Lord Stanley, Fare Thee Well. It's been fun being a hockey fan for the first 29 years of my life. I hope to see you again soon.

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Monday, June 07, 2004
On Reagan
He is the elephant in the room, so, even though enough has been written elsewhere this weekend, there's no point in avoiding a discussion here at AofG. Being only five when he was elected, Reagan was the first president I remember. Any family members who read this will no doubt remember my becoming completely obsessed with the presidency around that time (quite possibly the first episode in a long history of obsessive behavior...I'm sure this will be discussed on a couch someday). The "President" section in the "P" volume of our World Book Encyclopedias was completely dog-eared by the time I was six, as I stared for hours at the black and white portraits of the thirty-six men (it was the 1965 edition) who had served in America's highest office, memorizing their order. I would pull each volume that had a biography of a president and read through them, in order, from Washington to Johnson, and then consult the yearbook updates for the bios on Nixon, Ford, and Carter. I still remember how psyched I was to get the 1981 yearbook with Reagan's biography, having my Mom help me affix the update label in the "R" volume that would refer future readers (pretty much just me and my sister) to the proper place to read about the Gipper. When I was 5 year old, I wanted to be a lawyer. Why? Because in that list of all the presidents, under "Occupation", the majority were lawyers.

This is a long, overly sentimental way of describing my respect and awe for the office at a very early age, a respect that, believe it or not, I try to maintain. Despite the aura of fallibility that LBJ and Nixon brought to the White House, I always saw presidents as a cut above, leaders to whom, no matter your political leanings, you could look to as models of ambition. Past presidents understood the challenges presented to them and, at least from my naive perspective, responded pragmatically rather than in a partisan manner. Sure, you had your Harrisons, Hardings, and Hoovers, but for the most part, presidents represented an elite moral authority, the best our country had to offer. Reagan, I still feel, fit this mold. If he ran for office today, I might not vote for him, but I would respect him and I would not feel the need to lower myself to the level of muckraking that this blog has reached all too frequently in recent months.

Probably better than any president in my lifetime, Reagan understood his office, what it meant and how to most effectively deal with its inherent challenges. The major policy directives of his administration, jumpstarting a moribund economy and initiating the denouement of the Cold War, were placed in a paramount position and decisions made were towards achieving practical solutions to the tasks at hand. You may not have agreed with the methods, but the decisions were firm and rooted in a genuine sense of what Reagan felt was best for the country. There were no overly politicized, triangulatory attempts to make everybody happy, nor were ridiculous accusations of being un-American or giving comfort to our enemies lobbed in the direction of those who stood in opposition to Reagan Era policies. There was respect for the political process and the vitriol of middle-aged white guys was only observable between the lines, during working hours. The current set of dilettantes that now curse us on all sides, at all levels gives rise to a cynicism and a pessimism within me that Reagan, in his infinite optimism and desire to make America a stronger, better country, would never be able to fathom. I try to be hopeful, but like so many problems these days, it seems like things need to get worse before people realize that they have to get better.

You take it from here. Discuss in the Comments section...
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Friday, June 04, 2004
It Was Only A Matter of Time
Hopping on to the hottest grammatical bandwagon to sweep the blogosphere in quite some time, Josh Marshall makes the move from the singular "I" to the collective "we". AofG considers this a truly exciting development and we look forward to future implied groupspeak from our favorite blogger.

(Good post too...happy weekend, y'all)
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Links Updated
Weeded out some of the crappy links, threw in a few that have been getting my attention lately. Enjoy and, as always, suggestions are welcome.
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A Large Grain of Salt
OK, this is gossipy as hell, the source (Capitol Hill Blue) is questionable, and it all seems a bit too nutty even for me. Sadly, none of it is schocking, but if half of this crap is true, well then I'm just a little bit more scared than I was yesterday. Read it and weep.
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Expensive Frustration
Remember Mitch Blaser, the insurance executive who ran up a $28,000 tab at New York's legendary Scores and then tried to claim the club overcharged his credit card? No matter what Blaser actually spent, Tauhidul Chaudhury makes him look like a cheapskate.
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Thursday, June 03, 2004
Ahmad Who?
This Chalabi stuff is starting to make my head hurt. We're about to see a new level of lying from those who have already perfected it as an art form.
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Wednesday, June 02, 2004
History Repeating Itself
Remember a few years back, I think it was at the 1992 Republican National Convention, when Pat Buchanan declared that America was embroiled in a culture war? Remember how that felt kinda icky and sanctimonious and how it tended to confirm suspicions of Buchanan's wing-nuttery? According to Jim Towey, that war is soooo back on.

"It's true that much attention is being placed on the war in Iraq, but there's also another war that's going on," said Jim Towey, director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, during a conference promoting the funding of religious groups engaged in social service activities. "It's a culture war that really gets to the heart of the questions about what is the role of faith in the public square."

Still feels icky and sanctimonious, doesn't it? I have an idea for Towey: the role of faith in the public square, particularly the discretionarily funded corner of the public square, should be that of bystander.
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Two days after blaming the horseless carriage for the high number of overweight Americans, CNN finally figures it out.
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Guaranteed Tremendous Safety

Not only is Larry David a genius, his show changes lives.
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Tuesday, June 01, 2004
Happy Days
Finally, a ray of optimism from Quagmire 2004, as Ghazi al-Yawar is named president of Iraq. A consensus pick for a largely ceremonial role, Yawar is a Sunni with Shiite and Kurdish support sans the stench of CPA/US endorsement that had so damaged favorite Adnan Pachachi.

One superficial downside? This move likely reduces the frequency of hearing President Bush uttering the word "Pachachi".

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