Oguchi Onyewu has completed a loan move from Standard Liege to Newcastle United. The loan move includes an option to buy if Newcastle is impressed by him. I am betting they'll buy.

Gooch has been linked with Chelsea, Real Madrid, Middlesborough, Lyon, Manchester United, Inter and Fulham over the past few months. It's good that he's moving to a big club like Newcastle, however the bad part is that Newcastle is a cursed club that hasn't won anything in decades despite having top class players and rabid fans (they are the Red Sox pre-2004).

However, as far as the US National team is concerned, Onyewu will be training against Michael Owen, Damien Duff, Obafemi Martins and a lot of other very very good players.

Very exciting. Gooch joins Clint Dempsey as the winter arrivals to the Premiership. Soon the US will be able to field a full team of players from the Premiership.

Gonzales needs a civics lesson

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales last week said something pretty astounding in his testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee:
"there is no express grant of habeas in the Constitution."
Senator Arlen Spector, R-PA, was flabbergasted.
SPECTER: Now, wait a minute. Wait a minute. The constitution says you can’t take it away, except in the case of rebellion or invasion. Doesn’t that mean you have the right of habeas corpus, unless there is an invasion or rebellion?

GONZALES: I meant by that comment, the Constitution doesn’t say, “Every individual in the United States or every citizen is hereby granted or assured the right to habeas.” It doesn’t say that. It simply says the right of habeas corpus shall not be suspended except by —

SPECTER: You may be treading on your interdiction and violating common sense, Mr. Attorney General.

"Just because we can only take it away in certain cases doesn't mean anyone has it to begin with!"

This is amazing because it really gives an insight into how this administration thinks of the Constitution and of the law in general. Rights, such as habeas corpus and the right to a trial, are not inherent in the demos; they are instead granted by the state, and thus the state can take them away when it so wishes (like when the President decided that if he declares someone as a terrorist, they get no rights). This is amazing because the Constitution does not grant a single thing. It recognizes rights that are inherent in individuals. The Declaration of Independence (while not a legal document, one might expect the Attorney General of the United States to be familiar with it anyway) states that rights are inherent as part of natural law - given by the Creator, not by the State.

In a larger sense, the administration's line of thinking leads to the conclusion that individuals can be defined by the freedoms granted to them by political authority. That is really really dangerous thinking. It reminds me of something I read in high school history class:
Granted that the XIXth century was the century of socialism, liberalism, democracy, this does not mean that the XXth century must also be the century of socialism, liberalism, democracy. Political doctrines pass; nations remain. We are free to believe that this is the century of authority, a century tending to the 'right', a Fascist century. If the 19th century was the century of the individual (liberalism implies individualism) we are free to believe that this is the 'collective' century, and therefore the century of the State. (Benito Mussolini, The Doctrine of Fascism)
Colbert did a piece on this, you can watch the clip here.

"The failure of an all-volunteer military"

Op-Ed by Andrew Bacevich in the Boston Globe.

"WAR IS the great auditor of institutions," the British historian Corelli Barnett has observed. In Iraq, the United States has undergone such an audit and been found wanting. The defects of basic US national security institutions stand exposed. Failure to correct those defects will only invite more Iraqs -- unnecessary wars that once begun prove unwinnable...

...For the vast majority of Americans, Desert Storm affirmed the wisdom of contracting out nation al security. Cheering the troops on did not imply any interest in joining their ranks. Especially among the affluent and well-educated, the notion took hold that national defense was something "they" did, just as "they" bus ed tables, collected trash, and mowed lawns. The stalemated war in Iraq has revealed two problems with this arrangement.
The first is that "we" have forfeited any say in where "they" get sent to fight. When it came to invading Iraq, President Bush paid little attention to what voters of the First District of Massachusetts or the 50th District of California thought. The people had long since forfeited any ownership of the army. Even today, although a clear majority of Americans want the Iraq war shut down, their opposition counts for next to nothing: the will of the commander-in-chief prevails.
The second problem stems from the first. If "they" -- the soldiers we contract to defend us -- get in trouble, "we" feel little or no obligation to bail them out. All Americans support the troops, yet support does not imply sacrifice. Yellow-ribbon decals displayed on the back of gas-guzzlers will suffice, thank you.

Ties in to The Progressive Case for Military Service, in the first issue of Democracy Journal last summer. It seems to me there has been a general downturn in civic responsibility - half of Americans don't vote, most Americans don't bother to educate themselves about the rest of the world, people drive giant gas-guzzling SUVs as a status symbol... sometimes I think it is because life is too easy - middle-class Americans are not really forced to struggle for what they want. The military advertises that you sho9uld join up not because you should, but because you can get lots of money, or get trained for jobs after the military, or because it will be exciting, or you can be manly. This isn't specific to the U.S. - the new Canadian Forces advertisement is "Fight Fear" (go be masculine and tough! Go do cool stuff!).

I can see why it would be difficult to gain recruitment by saying "Join the Army, because you should." Especially when there are a lot easier ways to give back to the community, like working at soup kitchens and stuff. And I think there is a fine line between a society saying "it is a civic responsibility to defend your community" and glorifying war. The ancient Greeks who we supposedly emulate with our "citizen-soldier" ideal were so far beyond that line it's shocking to me that we even give them lip-service.

Nothing really to say, just thought Bacevich's article was good.

USA beats Denmark 3-1

The US Men's National Team played their first game under new interim coach Bob Bradley yesterday, beating a Danish B team 3-1. The US team was also a B team, without the European-based players.

Here's a good Boston Globe article by Frank Dell'Appa on Bob Bradley.

The US had a bad first half and a good second half. You can read about it here.

Players who's stock rose (in my opinion):
Ricardo Clark (looked dangerous going forward, won a penalty kick, looked composed and had a good second half)
Kenny Cooper (first cap, first goal, also looked very smooth on the ball and his size created real problems. Could be our Mark Viduka)
Johnathon Bornstein (first cap, first goal)
Justin Mapp (incredible run to set up Bornstein's goal)

Players who stock fell:
Chris Albright (terrible marking on Denmark's goal, was beat by Simon Poulsen all day)
Landon Donovan (was anonymous against the Danish B team, almost had his penalty saved, and was totally upstaged by Justin Mapp)
Pablo Mastroeni (you have to try to get a yellow card in a friendly match, but that's what Pablo did)
Nate Jaqua (very slow, looked like he had no idea what to do when he got the ball)

Players in the middle:
Jimmy Conrad (terrible marking on Denmark's goal, but had an OK game otherwise)
Matt Reis (Denmark's goal wasn't his fault, had nothing to do the rest of the game)
Bobby Boswell (did well enough)
Eddie Johnson (didn't get much service, but worked hard on defense)
Chris Rofle (was played at both midfield and forward, looked better as a forward)
Bryan Namoff (wasn't the disaster Chris Albright was at right back)

I was disappointed to see Michael Parkhurst wasn't even on the team sheet. I really think he is a better defender than Boswell and that when paired with someone bigger he could be very effective on the international level. Also I want to cap him as soon as possible for the USA so that Ireland doesn't steal him (he is a dual-citizen).

New semester, new classes

My classes for this semester are:
Net Assessment and Strategic Thinking, with Barry Watts;
Theory and Practice of Intelligence, with Jennifer Sims; and
International Security: Core (a required class) with Jasen Castillo.

So far, Theory and Practice of Intel definitely looks like it's going to be a great class with a great professor. I have no idea what Net Assessment is going to be like - our first week's reading included an essay on economics articles, an essay on cultural anthropology, an essay on theoretical debates within string theory, and the Sokal Affair. International Security will be a boring class (material I've covered in classes already, at least until we get to case studies) but the professor is at least entertaining.

Torture doesn't work

The Intelligence Science Board just released a study on interrogation. The Intelligence Science board is:
The ISB comprises experts from private industry and academia representing a broad spectrum of expertise and experiences across many intelligence disciplines. The ISB provides linkages among the intelligence, business, and scientific communities, performs special studies, and assists the Office of the DNI in addressing and recommending solutions to priority national intelligence problems.
Anyway, this advisory panel just released a 374-page long study on interrogation called "Educing Information - Interrogation: Science and Art - Foundations for the Future." It's about what works, what doesn't, the history of interrogation, and even a little bit of epistemology thrown in there too. It brought together people from all over the US intelligence community - FBI, Defense Intelligence Agency, DHS, the different military intelligence branches, and three members from Counterintelligence Field Activity, the Pentagon counterintelligence outfit that has been collecting vast amounts of information on ordinary Americans in the name of protecting military bases. It was a little surprising that there was nobody from the CIA involved in this study, seeing as how the CIA are the ones that have actually had all the "practice" with interrogation recently.

The conclusions of this study are only surprising when contrasted with the actual behavior of the intelligence community - the study concludes (among many other things) torture doesn't work. Here's an excerpt:
And what are we to make of “public opinion”? Unfortunately, that is a relatively easy question. Prime-time television increasingly offers up plot lines involving the incineration of metropolitan Los Angeles by an atomic weapon or its depopulation by an aerosol nerve toxin. The characters do not have the time to reflect upon, much less to utilize, what real professionals know to be the “science and art” of “educing information.” They want results. Now. The public thinks the same way. They want, and rightly expect, precisely the kind of “protection” that only a skilled intelligence professional can provide. Unfortunately, they have no idea how such a person is supposed to act “in real life.”
Is there a theme here? Yes, a simple one. Prime time television is not just entertainment. It is “adult education.” We should not be surprised when the public (and many otherwise law-abiding lawyers) applaud when an actor threatens the “hostile du jour” with pain or mayhem unless he or she answers a few, pointed questions before the end of the episode. The writers craft the script using “extreme” measures because they assume, as our own government has, that police-state tactics studied for defensive purposes can be “reverse engineered” and morphed into cost-effective, “offensive” measures.
Though eminently understandable, such reactions are incredibly short-sighted and profoundly unethical. We don’t need just any answers, we need good answers. Our health and safety, and our posterity, depend on it.

A big WTF

Mind control in the Washington Post Magazine.
THE IDEA OF A GROUP OF PEOPLE CONVINCED THEY ARE TARGETED BY WEAPONS that can invade their minds has become a cultural joke, shorthanded by the image of solitary lunatics wearing tinfoil hats to deflect invisible mind beams. "Tinfoil hat," says Wikipedia, has become "a popular stereotype and term of derision; the phrase serves as a byword for paranoia and is associated with conspiracy theorists."

...In response to a Freedom of Information Act request filed for this article, the Air Force released unclassified documents surrounding that 2002 patent -- records that note that the patent was based on human experimentation in October 1994 at the Air Force lab, where scientists were able to transmit phrases into the heads of human subjects, albeit with marginal intelligibility. Research appeared to continue at least through 2002.
Read the whole thing, it's fascinating. Remember, President Bush also hears voices.
Nabil Shaath, who was Palestinian foreign minister at the time, said: "President Bush said to all of us: 'I am driven with a mission from God'. God would tell me, 'George go and fight these terrorists in Afghanistan'. And I did. And then God would tell me 'George, go and end the tyranny in Iraq'. And I did."
If you think people speak directly into your brain you must be crazy, but if you think God speaks directly into your brain, you get to be President!


Beckham to LA Galaxy for up to $275 million

A-Rod who? David Beckham is now the highest paid athlete in the US. He is letting his current contract with Real Madrid run out in June 2007 (his last game for Madrid will probably be in May because that's when their season ends). He then joins the Galaxy for a deal worth approximately $250 million. Here's how it breaks down according to the BBC (yearly):

An annual salary of $10m
His existing sponsorship contracts with his four sponsors - Motorola, Pepsi, Gillette and Volkswagen - are estimated to be worth $25m
His merchandising shirt sales will bring in $10m
His share of the club profits: $10m

Multiply all of that by five. That last one is a bit dubious. While the Galaxy were the first MLS team to have a profitable season, there is no way they make $10 million in profit per year.

I can't wait to see Jeff Larentowicz tackle/crunch Beckham and put him on his ass.

Seriously though I have a lot of respect for Beckham. I used to think he was a pampered whiny superstar but watching the World Cup where he was obviously sick but soldiered on anyway upped my respect for him. Plus while he isn't an international superstar in terms of skill he is still better than 95% of MLS players (there are a few I'd take over him at his position, like Clint Dempsey or Dwayne DeRosario). And I would agree with Alexei Lalas that he is the premier player in the world in terms of exposure. Most Americans know who he is thanks to his movie, whereas if they're lucky they might know that Brazilian who's name starts with an R that they can't pronounce.
This is a good deal for the league. Half my friends at happy hour tonight were telling me about this deal, plus my girlfriend, and none of them follow the sport. The immediate media hype will fade, but that's OK. The goal is not to maintain this level of media hype, the goal is merely to increase the level of media exposure. Beckham will be on ESPN for his first game, his first assist, his first goal, his first win, his first playoff victory, his first injury, his first American mistress, etc... One unfortunate thing is that Beckham probably only transfered over to MLS once he was told that he was out of the picture for England's national team (pure speculation on my part, but I doubt he will be picked while playing in MLS, and I don't think he would give up his national team career for MLS), so unfortunately L.A. Galaxy bandwagoners won't be buying FoxSoccerChannel to see him in an England shirt.

Anyways, in honor of Beckham's transfer to MLS, I present Ali G's interview of Posh & Becks!

Liberals and Conservatives think differently

Most people are surprised to learn that there are real, stable differences in personality between conservatives and liberals—not just different views or values, but underlying differences in temperament....

...conservatives have a greater desire to reach a decision quickly and stick to it, and are higher on conscientiousness, which includes neatness, orderliness, duty, and rule-following. Liberals are higher on openness, which includes intellectual curiosity, excitement-seeking, novelty, creativity for its own sake, and a craving for stimulation like travel, color, art, music, and literature...

When people were in a benign state of mind, they tended to oppose Bush and his policies in Iraq. But after thinking about either death or 9/11, they tended to favor him...

"People have two modes of thought," concludes Solomon. "There's the intuitive gut-level mode, which is what most of us are in most of the time. And then there's a rational analytic mode, which takes effort and attention."
The solution, then, is remarkably simple. The effects of psychological terror on political decision making can be eliminated just by asking people to think rationally. Simply reminding us to use our heads, it turns out, can be enough to make us do it.

The Ideological Animal by Jay Dixit. Fascinating article. Go read all of it.

Posting while the girlfriend is sleeping

What better way to welcome the new year than to celebrate... death? Saddam Hussein was executed. You can watch the grainy and poor-quality video over at Catholicgauze, here. There are some questions about the execution's legality. You can read Glenn Greenwald's post here. Whether or not the execution was actually legal is almost secondary though - perception is reality. In a society governed by the rule of law, ends should not dictate means, and from watching the video of Saddam's execution that is definitely the perception.