The headbutt heard round the world

France had the World Cup win. If it hadn’t been for French striker Zinedine Zidane’s reaction to what is reported to be a racial slur by an Italian player, they would have won. The Irish Times puts it this way:

On the dark stone slopes of Hitler’s stadium the flashbulbs popped and a heedless generation sang Que Sera Sera as they waited for extra time to begin. Then all hell broke loose, writes Tom Humphries in Berlin

This was to be the game that put history to rights. In the stadium where Jesse Owens dealt with racism 70 years ago, the issue rumbled on last night as Italy won the World Cup for the fourth time and the first time since 1982.

Thing is, Jesse Owens kept his temper. Zidane didn’t.

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A Tour with no center


I’ve been watching the Tour de France for several years—Lance Armstrong made it impossible not to watch—and this year’s is exciting because there’s no center to the event. Without the Armstrong, who retired, and Ivan Basso and Jan Ullrch Jens Ulrich, the two team leaders who were expected to step into the void left by Armstrong, each leg of the race is a study in self-organization without discipline.

The teams normally work around their leader. This year, so many stars are gone that the teams—some stripped of one or more members because of the banning of riders or injuries—are barely holding together. Discovery, Armstrong’s team, hasn’t come to the fore I think in part because they’re waiting for the mountains.

It’s clear that the masters of all disciplines, Armstrong, Basso and Ullrich Ulrich, were organizing the race from within. Now, with them gone, it’s a different race. Great fun those watching still, but different.

UPDATE: Thanks to Don McArthur and David Szente for pointing out that I messed up Jan Ullrich’s name. For some reason, I blended it with CSC rider Jens Voight’s name.

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Shabby performance, shiny disposition

Today the Bureau of Labor Statistics announced that the economy added 121,000 jobs last month (click here for the BLS report in full), about a third of what it need to in order to keep up with population growth. President Bush had this to say in Chicago, where he was characteristically sunny:

This morning we got some good news — the nation added 121,000 new jobs for the month of June. That’s over 5.4 million jobs since August of 2003; that’s 34 months of job increases. In the first quarter, our economy grew at 5.6 percent; productivity is high. People are better off, things are working. And so the fundamental question we face in Washington is how do we keep economic vitality alive. What do we do, what are the policies necessary to keep this growth strong?

The President is spinning to save his mid-term elections, calling for more tax cuts. Let’s compare Bush’s economy to the same month of Clinton’s presidency, June 1998: 205,000 jobs added after two months of more than 300,000 jobs added, or 805,000 jobs added for the three months ending in June. Remember, it required far fewer new jobs to keep up with population growth back in 1998, so June 1998 was a poor performance but still better as a percentage of the economy.

Under President Bush during the past three months, the economy has added just 75,000 in May and 138,000 in April for a total of 334,000.

To sum up:

  • At this point in the Clinton presidency, the economy over three months added 805,000 jobs.
  • Currently, in the Bush presidency, the economy over three months added 334,000 jobs
  • Bush is 471,000 jobs behind Clinton, or 58.5 percent behind.

But everything is great, according to Bush, who clearly has more work to do. Fortunately, hourly wages were up 3.9 percent year-over-year, but they are still down since 2001.

Note also, that when the President and the BLS talk about the economy having added 5.4 million jobs, they are talking about since August 2003, not during his presidency. If you look over Bush’s entire presidency, including the approximately 2.4 million people who had lost their jobs during the first two-and-a-half years, Bush has created only about 3 million jobs. Clinton’s tenure saw 22 million jobs created.

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