Friday, April 11, 2003

Most respected ... ?

This op-ed from top CNN news executive Eason Jordan in today's New York Times (registration required) is absolutely breathtaking in its admission of how far a news organization was willing to go to maintain a presence inside a brutal dictatorship. If true -- and there's no reason to believe it isn't -- CNN refused to report stories of kidnapping, torture and execution in some cases of CNN's own sources just to keep its Baghdad bureau open. So the network was willing to countenance all this ... to produce sanitized, censored, Saddam-approved news?

A principled news organization should years ago have accounted for its people, gotten them to safety, and then pulled out, publicly announcing at every opportunity whey it was doing so. Anything less looks awfully weaselly and cowardly to me.

Baghdad Bob dissed

CNN reporting that Iraqi Information Minister Mohammad Said al-Sahhaf was excluded from the DoD's pack of cards incorporating the 55 "most wanted" Iraqi regime members. Maybe they want him to hit the Fertile Crescent comedy club circuit. Or pinch-hit for Joe Isuzu.

Hey, hey, ho, ho, capitalism's got to go?

Well, that's not precisely what the protesters in Carson City were chanting at a Wednesday rally stumping for Kenny Guinn's gross receipts tax. But it was close. The demonstration was organized and financed by the state's big casinos and populated by members of the police, firefighter and Culinary unions, and attended by Guinn (who joined the demonstators in their chants!!!). Las Vegas-area Culinary members threatened to take their kids out of school and ship them to Carson City to lobby lawmakers if the GRT fails to pass.

In my memory, at least, not since the odious Lowell Weicker has a state chief executive so shamelessly cheered the potential looting of his constituents. At least other tax-hikers have the common decency to wring their hands and act somewhat reticent. Not Kenny. He's carrying a sledgehammer and joining the thugs.

It's also bizarre to see members of the Culinary (who are primarily housekeepers and dishwashers in resorts) going to the mat for this tax increase, which will almost exclusively line the pockets of teachers and other public employees. As R-J Editor Tom Mitchell says, here you have a group of workers who may make $10 an hour (and whose contract stipulates pay raises in the range of 3 percentage points or so a year) picketing so that they can pay higher taxes and allow bureaucrats who make three and four times their salaries get 7-percent raises -- not to mention cushier retirement benefits. Labor solidarity is one thing, but ...

And how can you square this? Union members chanting derogatory slogans at "big business" on behalf of a tax plan which would benefit the biggest, most profitable, most politically connected business in the state ... the casinos. Unbelievable.

It's all about Roy

Carolina fans are on needles and pins once again, as Roy Williams decides whether to return to Chapel Hill and coach or play Lucy with the football (again) and stay at Kansas. The signs are ominous, as this story from the Raleigh News & Observer points out. As in 2000, Williams was: made an offer; given time to think about it; allowed to visit a coastal city (Charleston then, Los Angeles now), after which he; rejected the deal.

Williams shouldn't turn down the invitation to Westwood, of course. He is receiving an award this weekend and attending a ceremony in which two of his senior players will be named All-Americans. But Dickie Baddour pledged that, if Roy were offered the job this time, he would have no more than 24 hours to say yes or no. Looks like that "deadline" is a bit more flexible than that.

My boss (a Michigan alum) asked, Why would they offer him the job a second time? My best guess is that Baddour, or the boosters who pull his strings, are convinced that Roy is the savior, that no one else can restore the program's reputation quickly. The flip side of this, of course, is that Baddour's screw-ups have made the nation's most-respected amateur sports program laughingstocks in less than three years. If Dickie blows this one, he'd better update his resume.

I have little doubt if Williams takes the job at Chapel Hill, he'll have Carolina in several more final fours, may win a national championship or two, and might even surpass The Dean's career victory record (which is likely to fall at the hands of Coach K anyway). And if Roy does become the next Carolina coach, this whole nightmare will be forgotten in a couple of years. That said, the Carolina faithful haven't had much to cheer about lately.

Wednesday, April 09, 2003

Plan B?

Kansas fires Athletic Director Al Bohl, clearing the way for his arch-nemesis Roy Williams to remain the Jayhawk basketball coach. Dickie Baddour's blood pressure elevates. Tar Heel fans get nervous. It's not good.