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  INCOMING! JUNE 14, 2004.  


To everyone who spent Friday's National Day of Mourning heading to the beach or their local bar at two in the afternoon … Welcome Back!



The financial markets are set to reopen today now that President Reagan has finally been planted in the Earth after slipping its surly bonds. Speaking of bonds, this week you should avoid purchasing any financial product that offers a fixed return on investment.

Why? Because inflation is back, baby, and stock market observers are expecting rough seas ahead starting Tuesday, when the May Consumer Price Index is announced. The consensus is that the CPI will show a gain of .4 percent when the official numbers are released, which means the cans of


Pabst Blue Ribbon you used to drink away your presidential sorrow should now cost $1.004 instead of a buck.

As proof of inflation, it's also a sign that it's time to raise interest rates again. Doing that could kill the markets' summer rally, but ... oh, like you knew or care how the markets were doing anyway.



The Mayor of Kabul ... I'm sorry, the President of Afghanistan … Hamid Karzai, will meet with President Bush at the White House today and address a joint session of Congress in a desperate attempt to


remind the American people that his country exists.

Americans, the few who even know who he is, tend to think of him as the man doing the dirty job over there that somebody has to do. And while we're still basking in the warm glow of Reagan nostalgia, it should be pointed out that Karzai has developed a rather nasty case of Gorbachev syndrome, which afflicts foreign leaders who are well-regarded by their Western counterparts but despised at home for their ineffectualness (see, "Havel, Vaclev" and


"Walesa, Lech").

Karzai is facing Afghanistan's first popular democratic election in September, and so far he has been completely unable to control the warlords who control every patch of the country a U. S. soldier isn't currently standing on. His message to Congress today: Please send more troops. Great.



What would have happened if the Martha Stewart trial -- and subsequent guilty verdict -- had massive implications for Iraq, our energy policy and the price of oil in general? We're about to find out;


the trial of Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Platon Lebedev kicks off today in Moscow.

Khodorkovsky is the ex-chief executive and largest shareholder in Yukos, Russia's largest oil company. Lebedev is his associate and another major shareholder. Both are facing charges of fraud, corporate tax evasion and personal tax evasion, charges that have crippled their former company and prompted widespread claims that Russian president Vladimir Putin is intent on personally destroying them for privatizing Russia's most important industry.

Try to imagine President Bush setting out to crush Microsoft, with Bill Gates suddenly facing a 10-year sentence in a Siberian labor camp. That's what we're talking about here.

Considering that Russia is the second largest oil-producing nation in the world after Saudi Arabia and isn't a member of the oil cartel OPEC, purchasing what we need from Russia might make a lot more sense than continuing to do business with the House of Saud. The question is whether we'll be buying it directly from the Kremlin. Not that it'll make much difference to you … yes, you there, in the Hummer.




The phrase "low-speed chase" entered the lexicon ten years ago today, when O. J. Simpson failed to turn himself into the LAPD for questioning about the apparent murders of his wife, Nicole Simpson


and Ron Goldman five days before. You know what happened next: He wrote an apparent suicide note that was later read aloud on national TV by his lawyers and hopped into a white Ford Bronco with his friend Al "AC" Cowlings.

The resulting low-speed chase on I-405, replete with bystanders on overpasses waving signs of support while America held its breath waiting for the suicidal denouement, was the best kickoff the Trial of the Century could have asked for. A decade later, Simpson is still looking for his wife's killer on the golf courses of America. Go Juice, go!

Over at, the motor-mouthed "Sports Guy" Bill Simmons theorizes that if the trial were


held today, OJ never would have walked. Why? One word: CSI. Forensics and DNA testing were relative dark arts during the Simpson trial of 1994, and the jurors simply disregarded the evidence, despite the only 1-in-57 billion chance that the blood discovered at the scene of the crime wasn't Simpson's. Today, police procedure is the nation's highest rated form of broadcast entertainment. "This would have been the most boring episode of "CSI" ever," Simmons writes. "Gil Grissom might have sent O.J. packing in 10 minutes."

The ill-fated ABC sitcom "It's Like, You Know" would later brilliantly send up the very idea of a low-speed chase with an episode in which all the Angelenos drop everything to hunker down and watch one until its conclusion, a ritual supposedly performed every time someone grabs a gun and starts going 30 mph in the left lane. No one is allowed to leave the house, not even for food. When one character calls his local Chinese place for delivery, he's reprimanded, "Low-speed chase! No delivery!"



The second round of the U.S. Open is underway at the Shinnecock Hills Golf Club on Long Island. Will Tiger Woods finally get his mojo back? Will Sergio Garcia make the leap? Or will yet another


heretofore anonymous champion emerge?

Who cares? Most of the crowd in attendance won't. Like its tennis sibling, golf's U.S. Open is mainly an excuse for any corporation that does business with middle class white men (in other words, all of them) to booze-and-schmooze clients nearby in gigantic and lushly appointed tents stocked with top-shelf liquor and top-of-the-line catered spreads. The practice reaches its pinnacle in the tents of golf-related magazines like the Condé Nast-owned Golf Digest, for whom construction costs alone spiral in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The usual orgy will be compounded this year by the fact that the Open is located smack dab in the middle of the Hamptons, so by this afternoon, thousands upon thousands more of the obnoxiously rich will pile onto the freeways and Long Island Rail


Road in the usual weekend race to their summer shares. By tonight, Southampton will have become the nexus of every pleated-khaki-wearing, middle-aged white man living within New York City. The rest of us will sleep better that night.


Greg Lindsay is a freelance writer in New York City.


INCOMING! runs every Monday on The Black Table. Writers will be rotated, and if you're interested in contributing one, email Will Leitch at