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Month: May 2003

Terrible timing

Rick Carlisle, coach of the Detroit Pistons told ESPN he was fired yesterday. The Pistons are denying it but there’s a press conference Monday so I’m kind of guessing it’s true. In my opinion, this is an incredibly foolish move. Carlisle won Coach of the Year last year and deserved it. The Pistons have the #2 draft pick this year, and Carlisle should have gotten a chance to work with whoever they pick. Sure, they got swept by the Nets in the playoffs this year and were somewhat embarassed by the Celtics last year, but the Celtics and the Nets are currently the scariest teams in the Eastern Conference. (Yes, I mean it; the Nets own the Celtics but it’d be silly to ignore what the Celtics have done to Indiana, Detroit, and Philly in the playoffs the last couple of years.)

The thing that really kills me, though, is that Jim O’Brien just signed a two year contract extension, so he’ll be coaching the Celtics through 2006. I think he’s a good coach, and he has the trust of his players, but his weakness is certainly offense — which is Carlisle’s strength. In fact, when Larry Bird was coaching Indiana, Carlisle was the offensive coach and Dick Harter was the defensive coach, a combination which came pretty close to a title. And hey! Dick Harter is currently the defensive coach of the Celtics.

What’s more, Carlisle was a teammate of Danny Ainge, the current Celtics GM. They got along; there’s a good chance that Ainge could have tempted Carlisle over to the Celtics. So speculation about what Carlisle might have done as Celtics coach is not as futile as (say) speculating on the chances that Jason Kidd might want to play for them for the veteran minimum.

Alas, they resigned O’Brien, which struck me as a good move at the time. How could anyone have known the Pistons would be stupid enough to fire Carlisle? Now he’ll probably wind up with Indiana as soon as the Pacers get around to sacking Isaiah.

Where's WMDo?

I actually wasn’t gonna link to the long list of administration statements about Iraq’s WMD. But then I thought about it some more, and I came up with a thought experiment.

Let’s assume the best. Let’s assume Bush and the rest believed everything they said. Let’s assume Wolfowitz’s rationale for misinformation is justified.

Great. But now you know the government either a) bungles intelligence information, or b) is willing to stretch the truth a good long way to get your support. So when the next one comes around — when Bush starts talking about Iran’s Al Qaeda connections — how can you trust that? You gotta have more evidence than just his assertions, because they have been proven wrong before in similar situations, and that is true no matter who you blame or don’t blame for that inaccuracy.

The real evil

This story about getting Darth Vader’s autograph is the best autograph story ever. You have to admire an evil that has such excellent attention to detail. Luke was just darned lucky that Vader turned from the dark side; if he’d stayed true to his path the Rebels wouldn’t have had a chance.

Reagan is a piker

Showtime is filming a two hour movie based on Bush’s 9/11 actions. This might be a good time to refer back to the CCR timeline of his movements on that day. I’m suspecting that since the movie is put together by a White House supporter who describes himself as “a member of the administration,” it won’t really touch on the sense of uncertainty one gets from that chronology.

I’m pretty much gobsmacked, here. I’m not big on the “What liberal media?” call, because there are some aspects of our media which are very liberal — and some which are very conservative. However, I can’t believe Showtime is going to air a two hour campaign commercial. You can talk about the media loving Clinton if you like, but man, his movie was Primary Colors.

More on death

The Telegraph has partial confirmation of the earlier Gitmo capital punishment story. It seems fairly likely, at this point, that there are plans for a camp that include an execution chamber.

Talking about this is not being alarmist; it’s part of the system. Which is to say, it’s citizens expressing their opinions when (as may well be the case here) some military personnel let their enthusiasm get the better of them. The reason abuses like that don’t happen is because people speak up. It is not sufficient to simply say “Well, we’d never do that.” It’s our job to remind our government that we don’t do that.

A greater war

The Economist has a very good report on the Congo (via Gary Farber, who would like as many bloggers as possible to raise awareness of the situation). 2.5 million have died in the Congo over the last four years; the death toll makes Saddam look like a piker. If humanitarian motivations suffice to justify the war on Iraq, then the Congo ought to be next in line. If they don’t — we still ought to do something about this.

Kofi Annan has asked for help. There are reports of cannibalism. It’s ugly.

Scooby snacks

Joshua Ellis writes on Taste Tribes to good effect. It’s also another demonstration of the slight gap between the political blogs and the social blogs; both create tribal effects but the binding is of a different type. Not a different nature, though. As always with tribes, it’s all about commonality. (Via Mr. Ellis.)

Draining away

Paul Krugman, fearless economist, explains liquidity traps for the non-economists among us. Interesting stuff. He gets political towards the end, but I happen to think he’s mostly right. The extra few hundred bucks parents get on their taxes may make more of a difference than he claims, though.

Parenthetically, I am a bit baffled as to why more liberal commentators don’t address that aspect of the tax cut. It’s very hard to convince people that the tax cut mostly benefits the rich when you completely ignore the increase in the child credit. 400 bucks per child is not chump change. It is a pretty small percentage of the total cut, but that doesn’t mean middle and lower class parents won’t notice it, and you just look like a complete idiot if you pretend it doesn’t exist.

Back to the liquidity trap. Basically, the liquidity trap is what happens when you run out of room to lower interest rates. Suddenly, you’re short on ways to encourage people to spend money. This makes it hard to kickstart the economy. It happened to Japan, and there are signs we may be close to it; the EU is certainly close to it.

Krugman explains it way better than I do, anyhow.