Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Iraq Interview, Part 5

Here is the continuation of my interview on Iraq. Check out Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4 first.

Q: Will granting Iraq's neighbors a role in stabilizing the country give them added clout in Iraq? Wouldn't that allow Iran and Syria more influence within Iraq?
A: Well, we've talked about Iran, but I understand your point. No matter which countries you name, there are the same negatives and positives in allowing Iraq's neighbors a greater role in Iraq. Fundamentally, we need to get away from the "Great Game" style of thinking. These are not spaces on a chessboard; these are nations with human beings residing within their borders. America's actions directly impact the lives of these people.

Q: What will be the positives and negatives of an increased role for Iraq's neighbors in stabilizing the situation?
A: The negatives include heightened influence for countries that the U.S. deems as enemies. Whether or not Iraq is allied with Iran or Syria does not constitute a significant threat to the U.S. unless America perceives it as one. For example, Iran is a poor country that does not possess a nuclear weapon. Even if Iran did, the military mite of the U.S. far exceeds that of Iran. The Iranian threat has, to a large degree, been manufactured by politicians and policy-makers. The very same ones who told us that Iraq was a grave and urgent threat to U.S. security.

But let's look at another country in the region that is an American ally. Turkey, with reluctant support from the U.S., has invaded northern Iraq to go after the PKK, a Kurdish group. Turkey has a history of brutal repression against their own Kurdish minority. We must realize that American allies are not always right and America's so-called enemies are not always wrong. Much of the anti-American feelings among average Muslims are due in part to America's support of corrupt and repressive regimes in the Muslim world.

Q: Can you conceive of a situation where U.S. troops would have to come back to Iraq after withdrawing?
A: No. Iraq is already in chaos. The sad fact is that there have been civil wars all over the world in recent years. For example, in Afghanistan, Lebanon, Angola, Liberia, Tajikistan, Sudan and others. America has either exacerbated these conflicts or ignored them. As long as the U.S. is in Iraq, Iraq will not be peaceful. So, as much as we would like to think that keeping U.S. troops in Iraq will prevent deaths, the opposite has proved to be, and will continue to be, true. As I've mentioned, there is no impetus to negotiate for peace from outside forces because of antipathy towards the U.S. If peace only helps the Iraqis and does not legitimize America's invasion, the wider world will step in.

The U.S. must realize that its interests are not the most important entity at stake. The lives of the American soldiers and those of Iraqis are the most precious resource. Every action must be taken to limit the killing. The only logical thing to do is to cut off the source of the killings, which is America's presence in Iraq.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

NBA Playoff Parallels

After three games, five playoff series looked remarkably similar with one team easily taking the first two games and then losing the third. Four out of the five- Boston/Atlanta, Cleveland/Washington, Orlando/Toronto, and New Orleans/Dallas- saw the home team win the first three games while the Houston/Utah series had a similar mold except it was the road team winning each time.

Four of those five series went to 3-1. Only Boston couldn't win Game 4 out of the five teams up 2-1 in our scenario. Boston's loss was surprising. I certainly didn't give Atlanta a chance. Joe Johnson and Josh Smith scored all of the Hawks' points in the 4th quarter. No other Hawk even took a shot during the last period.

The Lakers and Spurs each took a three game lead. The Suns showed a lot of pride in winning Game 4. They finally put in the effort of the defensive end, but I can't see them doing so consistently from here on out. If the Suns can't pull off the miracle, the Shaq trade will be a failure. I questioned the trade when it was first announced, because I didn't see the wisdom in giving away the future for a past-his-prime player. Many experts felt that all Shaq needed was some motivation and he'd be back. But he is only able to show flashes of his former self now. It's only going to get worse for him.

Denver's effort against the Lakers was terrible. Carmelo Anthony heckled his coach during Game 3, telling George Karl, "Don't just sit there." I don't even really know what he meant by that comment. Anthony also claimed his team quit in the 4th quarter. Karl asserted that it was the team's best quarter of the series to that point, a shot at the effort of his starters. Listen, Carmelo Anthony is a very good offensive player. He plays well during international competition. Other than that, he's garbage. He's Tracy McGrady without the effort. Anthony is such an awful defender. He shows absolutely no heart, it's disgusting. I just ran 15 miles last night (didn't get paid millions of dollars for it either), so I know a little bit about effort and heart. Carmelo Anthony needs to shut up and grow some balls.

Larry Brown is the new coach of the Charlotte Bobcats. I like Larry Brown; he's a Jew. But I though Sam Vincent should've been given a better chance to succeed. He coached a team that isn't tremendously talented and had significant injuries to boot. Vincent mustered a 32-50 record with a 32-50 team. Any higher expectations would have been ludicrous. But Michael Jordan showed no loyalty or foresight once again. I guess running a team isn't as easy as paying off referees to ignore your incessant traveling. You're only allowed TWO steps Jordan.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Iraq Interview, Part 4

Here is the continuation of my interview on Iraq. Check out Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 first.

Q: Assuming withdrawing the troops from Iraq is the right thing to do, it will come at a price. What about all of the innocent Iraqis who have helped America during the war?
A: That is a noble sentiment. I think it represents part of the good side of America. I sincerely hope that the administration is not playing on the good side of Americans to keep the troops in Iraq in order to further their own interests there.

As far as those innocent Iraqis are concerned, the United States can provide them with asylum or perhaps pressure its Arab allies to provide them with asylum, if uplifting to a completely different culture is too daunting. But the U.S. can't trade the lives of American soldiers and perpetuate the violence in Iraq for the sake of saving a few lives. It's a sad reality that it comes to down to that type of choice. But the question itself is very telling. It implies that pro-American Iraqis would be in danger without America protecting them, which illustrates the level of hatred that many Iraqis feel towards the United States.

Q: If the United States leaves Iraq completely, who will control Iraq's oil wealth?
A: Good question. I have no idea. Obviously, we hope that the Iraqis can come up with a wealth-sharing solution on their own. There will be international pressure for them to figure out a solution. But the U.S. cannot control Iraq's oil reserves or profit from them. It will only serve to cement anti-American feeling around the world and strengthen the reserve and the appeal of the terrorists. Any U.S. plan would be considered illegitimate for the reasons I've discussed before.

Q: Could Al Qaeda or bandits take control of Iraq's oil wealth?
A: Al Qaeda could disrupt the business of oil distribution, but I don't believe they could take control of it because of Iraqi antipathy towards them. There is a potential that war lords could control particular regions in Iraq, as has been the case in Afghanistan for decades. Those war lords would most likely also disrupt the flow of oil, rather than profit from it. However, I don't believe Iraq's neighbors would let that happen. There is too much wealth at stake.

Q: Speaking of Iraq's neighbors, is Iran's involvement in Iraq cause for concern?
A: Iran is not a serious threat to the United States. But Iran has the potential to continue to be a pest to America's interests in the region. One of the significant consequences of toppling Saddam Hussein's regime is that it was a gift to Iran. Under Saddam Hussein, Iraq and Iran were enemies. They fought a war throughout the 1980s. The United States actively backed Saddam Hussein, providing him with lethal weaponry.

The U.S. invasion of Iraq provided the country's Shiites a chance to grab power. Incidentally, Iran, which is also majority Shiite, was the first country in the region to recognize the new U.S.-propagated government in Iraq. Iran supports militants in Syria, Lebanon, and the Palestinian territories, and there is a real chance that Iraq could be influenced by Iran. But it's important to remember than Iraq is largely an Arab country and Iran is largely a Persian one. There is a disconnect between the two ethnicities. So Iran's influence in Iraq is a minor concern, but probably nothing more.

Q: What should be the role of the United Nations?
A: The U.N. and Iraq's neighbors need to take a leading role in stabilizing Iraq. However, they are reluctant to do so because it would legitimize America's invasion and subsequent occupation of Iraq. If the U.S. withdraws from Iraq, the U.N. and the surrounding countries in the region would rush to Iraq's aid. The neighboring countries don't want a failed state touching their border.

Here is Part 5.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

The Close of Passover

It started eight days ago, marked by a raucous seder that probably would have been unrecognizable to most Orthodox Jews. Passover is thankfully coming to an end soon. I've longed to stuff my mouth with a cheeseburger, hot dog, pizza, tacos, and Indian food. Not all at the same time.

With my personal eating habits, food has been hard to come by this week. It hasn't helped that I'm training for a marathon. I guess the MacArthur genius grant will probably elude me once again. We ran out of seder leftovers on Tuesday, so I've had to work hard to find something to eat since. I just, I just can't eat any more matzah.

I missed the annual two-second ad on the various television channels commemorating the holiday. Usually the words "Happy Passover" are written out in fancy cursive over images of lit candles and a dreidel lying on a wooden table. I think they're talking about a different holiday.

Sundown creeps closer and frankly, I can't wait.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Iraq Interview, Part 3

Here is the continuation of my interview on Iraq. Check out Part 1 and Part 2 first.

Q: Is there a political solution to the violence in Iraq?
A: There is nothing that the United States can do politically. In the eyes of many Iraqis, America is the enemy. Many Iraqis view American motives with skepticism. Thus, any political plan that the United States devises won't have much credibility in the view of most Iraqis. That is a difficult realization for American politicians, who are expected to have a plan or at least "do something." The best thing the U.S. politicians can do is work to bring the troops home and refrain from interfering with Iraqi politics.

Q: So there is nothing the U.S. can do politically to help Iraq?
A: The U.S. invaded Iraq, destabilizing the country. Iraqis are distrustful of Americans and America's intentions. Senator Joe Biden has a plan to divide Iraq into three autonomous regions. He claims that at least he has a plan. But having a plan isn't helpful if it's a bad plan. Iraq's population is not divided into the three neat regions that Senator Biden suggests. The relocation effort of numerous Iraqis would most likely result in a grave tragedy, much like the partition of India. A million people died as Muslims traveled to live in Pakistan and Hindus crossed the new border into India. India and Pakistan have been bitter enemies ever since. But in Biden's plan, the three enemy regions would be part of the same country.

Q: Do you believe that the soldiers are doing a good job?
A: For the most part, I believe so. Scandals such as Abu Ghraib contradict that sentiment, but all cannot be judged on the actions of a few. I am far from a military expert, though. The debate over whether to withdraw troops or not relates to the mission, not the performance of the soldiers themselves.

Q: Is the surge working?
A: That is not a yes or no question. In the short term and in a narrow way, the answer is yes. There have been fewer American deaths since the implementation of the surge. However, the surge was a response to an unbelievable spike in violence in 2006. The level of violence has returned back to levels before the spike, which were considered to be intolerably high by most Americans, and of course by Iraqis as well. We must also realize that these levels of violence are determined on the number of American casualties, not on those of the Iraqis.

The violence in certain cities has been reduced by the method of America's control. The U.S. has instituted vehicle bans, which obviously lowers the number of car bombs and the like. Iraqis are stopped every couple of blocks and checked by military personnel. If an Iraqi is acting suspiciously, American soldiers have orders to shoot to kill. So, while these methods have lessened the violence in those cities, it comes at the expense of Iraqi freedom. We were told that this war was fought in part to grant Iraqis the freedom that Saddam Hussein had deprived them of.

Q: Do you support the troops?
A: In what capacity? Financially, I certainly do, through the taxes that I pay.

Q: Do you support the troops in any other capacity?
A: I certainly do not have a "Support Our Troops" bumper sticker on the back of my car, if that's what you are referring to. Those bumper stickers are extremely patronizing to the soldiers fighting the war. If someone truly supported the troops, they would sacrifice for them. If they were able to fight, they would join the troops, who they claim to support, on the front lines.

The discourse over the war has been dominated by clichés such as the one you asked me about. The belief that we must "support our troops" is a code for saying that we must support their mission. But their mission is not a moral one. It's certainly not the fault of the soldiers; they didn't decide to invade Iraq. When discussing the war in Iraq and America's future decisions, we need to move beyond clichés and look at the issue with some depth.

Here is Part 4 and Part 5.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Iraq Interview, Part 2

Here is the continuation of my interview on Iraq. Check out Part 1 first.

Q: Hasn't America done some good things in Iraq?
A: Sure, but it has been on a very small level and certainly does not justify the invasion or maintaining U.S. troops in Iraq. On the big questions, even America's noblest intentions have managed to exacerbate the divisiveness in Iraq. In each election, most Iraqis have ended up voting based along ethno-sectarian lines. This has resulted in further separation between Sunnis, Shiites, and Kurds. There are also divisions within each group.

America's attempts to train the new Iraqi military have had catastrophic results. At first, the Sunnis boycotted the military, so in essence, the U.S. was training and arming Shi'a death squads. Since then, the U.S. has also provided Sunnis with weapons, in order to fight against Al Qaeda. So both sects are well-armed and increasingly hostile towards one another.

Q: You mentioned Al Qaeda. Won't a full withdrawal of U.S. troops be a propaganda victory for Al Qaeda?
A: Invading Iraq was a far greater propaganda victory for Al Qaeda. But we are talking about the lives of our soldiers and those of Iraqis. Talk of propaganda victories should take a back seat.

Q: What if, after we leave, Al Qaeda takes control of Iraq?
A: That is not a likely scenario by any stretch of the imagination. There was no link between Iraq and Al Qaeda before the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Al Qaeda is seen as a foreign entity in Iraq. The presence of U.S. troops is the only thing keeping Al Qaeda relevant in Iraq. For some Iraqis, they must figure that the enemy of my enemy is my friend, so they tolerate Al Qaeda because they are willing to fight against the American occupiers.

Q: So Al Qaeda is not a significant force in Iraq?
A: Well, I wouldn't go that far. Any time you have a murderous group killing others, it's significant. What I'm saying is that Al Qaeda is not the all-powerful monster that the West perceives it to be. It should be particularly weak in Iraq. Iraq is 60% Shi'a and Al Qaeda is one of the most virulent anti-Shiite groups in the world. They see Shiites as unIslamic. The only reason for Al Qaeda to have any support in Iraq is the presence of U.S. troops. Once the Americans leave, most Iraqis will not support Al Qaeda and will do everything to eradicate this terrorist group from their country.

Q: Many Americans will be shocked and angry to here you say that Al Qaeda is not very powerful.
A: That stems from a lack of understanding about the wider world, particularly the Muslim world. Before the war began, many Americans believed that there was a link between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda, but that is absurd. Hussein was a secular ruler who did not believe in Al Qaeda's fundamentalist version of Islam.

Even American leaders are ignorant about the Muslim world. John McCain has repeatedly made mistakes, saying that Al Qaeda is Shi'a. As I mentioned, Al Qaeda is violently anti-Shiite. It's as if McCain is saying that the Nazis were Jewish. It really should bring his capacity to be president into question. He has also claimed that Iran has trained Al Qaeda operatives. But that is also false and McCain was corrected by his advisers. Iran is predominantly Shi'a. It's worrisome, because it's further evidence that McCain will misrepresent the facts to build up support for a war with Iran.

Here is Part 3, Part 4, and Part 5.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

NBA Playoffs Update

Some musings from the various playoff series:

Cleveland/Washington - I could be at least as productive as DeShawn Stevenson in the playoffs. He shot 1-9 in Game 1. Give me 9 shots in an NBA game, I think I could make at least one of them. I also think I could play defense up to Setevenson's standard. I would have no trouble standing in front of LeBron James as he dribbles past me for yet another monster jam. But here's the key difference. I would keep my mouth shut. I wouldn't wave my hand in front of my face after making a meaningless shot. I wouldn't call LeBron overrated; after all, at least he's rated.

Gilbert Arenas should also shut up. He believes that he's the games best fourth quarter player. In the same vein, Chris Dodd still thinks he will be the next president. Brendon Haywood should have been ejected for his hard foul in Game 2, but rightly wasn't suspended. I feel bad for Caron Butler and Antawn Jamison. They are the true leaders of the team, but they have been overshadowed by their teammates yapping their big mouths.

Houston/Utah - Houston's 0-2 deficit is not Tracy McGrady's fault. The Rockets have been decimated by injuries. But it is a good indication that McGrady is not in the elite class of NBA players. He's very good and he's giving everything he has. He also has given maximum effort in the playoffs. But if he was truly one of the games greatest, his team would win a first round series.

New Orleans/Dallas - I was wrong about the Hornets. They have shown maturity in the playoffs. But let's not get ahead of ourselves. They've only won two playoff games. As good as Chris Paul has been, let's enjoy his meteoric rise as oppose to preemptively anointing him as the game's best point guard. Tony Parker and Chauncey Billups have done it when it counts the most, both winning Finals MVPs. Steve Nash has won two regular season MVPs. Paul still has some work to be done. And if Dallas' collapse in the 2006 Finals and their first round lost last season hasn't lingered, they have the players to come back in this series.

Orlando/Toronto - Wow, Dwight Howard has impressed me. The Magic defense funnels their man into the vortex that is Howard and he swats any ball within arm's length. But similar to Paul, let's not rate Howard better than he is just yet. He's had two incredible games thus far. It takes a little more to cement your legacy in the NBA.

Lakers/Denver - I heard a lot of experts picking Denver here, I hope there is some accountability. That was really a dumb pick. I had Denver winning twice in the series and they still could do that. But they simply don't play any defense. I like Marcus Camby. He’s a former Knick. But his defensive numbers are inflated because he has a lot more opportunities to black shots in close, because the other team has usually driven right by one his teammates.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Iraq Interview, Part 1

Recently, I was interviewed about the war in Iraq. Here is Part 1 of that interview:

Q: Do you believe there should be an immediate withdrawal of all American forces from Iraq?
A: Yes.

Q: Will that result in chaos in Iraq?
A: Iraq is in chaos now. Iraq was a stable society before the U.S. invasion in 2003. Now it is a society in disarray. I don't understand the assumption that U.S. troops are somehow preventing the violent destruction of Iraqi society when the U.S. invasion is responsible for creating that very condition.

Q: Was Iraq better off under Saddam Hussein?
A: Well, that is a very general question. Certainly not for Shiite dissidents or the Kurds who fell victim to Hussein's attacks. However, for the majority of Iraqis, they are worse off now. Iraqis are now under the constant threat of violence. Food, water, and electricity are hard to come by. They are not free to move about in their own neighborhoods. Their blocks are littered with constant checkpoints and curfews are imposed on them. Under Saddam Hussein, Iraq featured a burgeoning middle class. The U.S. invasion has destroyed it.

Q: You mentioned dissidents. Iraqis did not enjoy freedom of speech under Saddam Hussein.
A: That is true. Many people all over the world do not enjoy freedom of speech. That doesn't make it right, but that is the reality. People usually will sacrifice that freedom in exchange for necessities, such as food, water, and electricity. Under Hussein, Iraq was a stable country with an expanding middle class. The war has destroyed Iraqi society. Now every Iraqi lives under the fear of death.

Q: How much time should the withdrawal of U.S. troops take?
A: As quickly as possible. It should start immediately. However, I don't know much about military tactics. This is an area where the next president can confer with the generals in Iraq. With General Petraeus's Congressional hearings, there is an assumption that his word should somehow dictate policy. It shouldn't. The role of a general is to create a military strategy with the given policy. It is the job of the appropriate government officials to determine the country's foreign policy. General Petraeus' job should be to advise the president on how to withdraw the troops, not on whether to leave them in Iraq or not.

Q: Doesn't the United States need to ensure Iraqi democracy before fully withdrawing troops?
A: That is a noble thought. However, any government in Iraq will not be seen as legitimate by the Iraqis as long as there is an American presence in their country. It will be seen as a puppet government to American interests. Any true democratic government in Iraq will fundamentally be anti-American.

Q: So there can't be a democratically-elected pro-American government in Iraq?
A: Right. A large majority of Iraqis have a negative view of America and understandably so, given the destruction of the war. Thus, if the government is determined by the will of the people, it must be anti-American. The U.S. is going to have to accept this fact and do everything possible to help the Iraqis from afar. That is the only way to change public opinion.

Q: Why does American help have to be from afar?
A: Because the Iraqis are distrustful of America's intentions and understandably so. Remember, it was the U.S. invasion that destroyed their way of life. Now we wonder why the Iraqis are distrustful of America's intentions. It doesn't make sense.

Here is Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, and Part 5.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Evil Leaders League, Season 3 in Review

This was a pretty great season for the Evil Leaders League and its competitors. It wasn't as great for the people who live in their countries, but we all can't be winners. If there weren't oppressed and persecuted people, we wouldn't have evil leaders. And then we wouldn't have the Evil Leaders League. Now that would be a tragedy. The official ELL site is here. Check throughout the off season for updates.

The Champion - Kim Jong-Il 4-3 (2-0) [all-time: 13-8 (3-2)]
North Korea's little leader has nuclear weapons and touts them in a politically shrewd manner. Whenever, he feels a budget crunch, he start to spout threats and in turn receives aid after flippantly promising to disarm. This tactic extends his legitimacy within his country a little while longer. But that's not why he won the ELL championship this season. It's not because he dissent in his country is nil. It's not because he runs one of the most isolated nations in the world. His people are perpetually kept down; they've been abandoned and most are left to starve and many are forced into labor camps. But that's not really why he won either. The reason is: big sunglasses give me the creeps.

Here are some of this season's best out of context quotes:
  • Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, goes by the nickname of Tehran-i-saurus Rex.
  • Hu Jintao is the leader of China. Many believe that he is sitting on a sleeping giant that could potentially dominate the world. It's his penis.
  • An opposition boycott to an election is the evil leader's version of an orgasm. And in the aftermath, there's a lot of shame and regret.
  • So bring your family and come to Darfur! There's a chance you won't be raped and killed.
  • Hugo Chavez didn't make the list once again. Technically, Venezuela is still a democracy, which apparently disqualifies someone from being a dictator. Saggy man boobs disqualifies someone from being a valuable member of society. Sorry Hugo, you're 0 for 2.
  • It’s a very conflicting time for him. Plus, he just found out his son is gay. Come on Pervez, tell him it's ok, kiss him on the forehead, and detain a few opponents to make yourself feel better.
  • I'm sure Western powers will be up-in-arms over this, but keep in mind Iran's quest for nuclear weapons involves Ahmadinejad googling "how to make atomic bomb" on a particularly mundane Saturday night. Still, that's terrifying.
  • Why don't you shove that oil up your ass and see how far that gets you (depends how far away the closest hospital is located).
  • The former Pakistani army general has never lost in chess, because whenever he's about to lose, he knocks all the pieces off the board and says, "Do over."
  • Kim Jong-Il has been running North Korea since Tonya Harding was in the spotlight for her skating ability. It has been reported that someone called the diminutive ruler "Kimmy," and Kim Jong-Il bit the man's balls right off of his body.

Last season's winner: He's cock-blocked George Bush's foreign policy objectives so many times, Bush has resorted to jerking off to old tapes of Margaret Thatcher invading the Falkland Islands.

The Challengers
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad 5-2 (1-1) [13-8 (1-1)] - Threatening others with nuclear weapons that you don't possess gets you second place.
Omar al-Bashir 5-2 (0-1) [16-5 (4-1)] - Genocide only got him third place this season. Mass murder runs thin after a while.
Pervez Musharraf 5-2 (0-1) - A newcomer to the league, he detained opponents with great frequency. But the U.S. is an ally, so we were alright.
Hugo Chavez 4-3 [13-8 (1-2) - Barely missed the playoffs this time, Maybe he should've actually started a war with U.S.-ally Colombia, instead of just talking about one.

The Relegated

Robert Mugabe 2-5 [5-9] - He beat his opponents and ruined his country, but it wasn't enough to stay in the league. He lost because his time in power might be coming to an end thanks to an election that is still hanging in the balance as of this moment.
Vladimir Putin 2-5 [8-6 (0-1)] - His right hand man will become the new president of Russia next month. He hasn't been appointed Prime Minister yet and can't run for president again until 2012, so he was relegated.
Hu Jintao 1-6 - With the Beijing Olympics on the horizon, Hu has become more evil. But only in perception, not in practice. And even the perception of his evilness didn't arise until after it was too late for Hu.

Some Facts and Figures:
Uses of the word during the third ELL season - some variation of the word "fuck" 5 times; some variation of "ass" 3 times; some variation of "shit" 4 times; "evil" 40 times; "constitution" 4 times; "penis" twice; "low self-esteem" once.
5 people will return for next season.
4 mentions of persecuting the gays.
2 separate chess references.
2 separate mentions of eating balls.
1 reference to Schindler's List, Hobby Lobby, and the Golden Girls.

Join us next season for more Evil Leaders League action.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Predictions For College Players in the NBA

For the second time, a few of us tried to predict which players would have the better NBA career out of groupings of 2-4 players. Here are those predictions:

Michael Bealey, O.J. Mayo, Bill Walker
me: Mayo, Beasley, Walker.
Ian: Beasley, Mayo, Walker.
Mike: Beasley, Mayo, Walker.

Tyler Hansbrough, Roy Hibbert, Brook Lopez, Kevin Love
me: Love, Lopez, Hibbert, Hansbrough.
Ian: Love, Hibbert, Lopez, Hansbrough.
Mike: Lopez, Love, Hibbert, Hansbrough.

Eric Gordon, Derrick Rose
me: Rose, Gordon.
Ian: Rose, Gordon.
Mike: Rose, Gordon.

Corey Fisher, Scottie Reynolds
me: Reynolds, Fisher.
Ian: Reynolds, Fisher.
Mike: Reynolds, Fisher.

Patrick Ewing Jr., Roy Hibbert, DuJuan Sommers, Jonathan Wallace.
me: Sommers, Hibbert, Ewing, Wallace.
Ian: Hibbert, Sommers, Ewing, Wallace.
Mike: Hibbert, Ewing, Sommers, Wallace.

Wayne Ellington, Gerald Henderson
me: Ellington, Henderson.
Ian: Ellington, Henderson.
Mike: Ellington, Henderson.

D.J. Augustin, Darren Collison, Ty Lawson
me: Augustin, Lawson, Collison.
Ian: Augustin, Lawson, Collison.
Mike: Augustin, Lawson, Collison.

Damion James, DuJuan Sommers, Bill Walker
me: Walker, Sommers, James.
Ian: James, Sommers, Walker.
Mike: Walker, Sommers, James.

We made predictions last year as well. They are here. Though we were predicting for their entire careers, let's check out who is better one year later.

Kevin Durant (20.3 ppg), Greg Oden (injured).
Joakim Noah (6.6 ppg 5.6 rpg), Greg Oden (injured), Roy Hibbert (college).
Al Horford (10.1 ppg, 9.7 rpg), Joakim Noah (.9 bpg, .9 spg), Corey Brewer (5.8 ppg).
Al Horford (49.99 FG%), Jeff Green (10.5 ppg, 4.7 rpg).
Jeff Green (1.5 apg), Roy Hibbert (college).
Corey Brewer (3.7 rpg, 1 spg), Arron Afflalo (3.7 ppg).
Mike Conley (9.4 ppg, 4.2 apg), Ty Lawson (college).
Brandan Wright (4 ppg, 2.6 rpg), Julian Wright (3.9 ppg, 2.1 rpg).

The playoffs can only affect the Brewer-Afflalo and the Wright matchups. But again, we still have about a decade to sort everything out here.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

2008 NBA Playoff Predictions

Boston 4-0 Atlanta
Cleveland 4-2 Washington
Detroit 4-1 Philadelphia
Orlando 2-4 Toronto

Boston 4-2 Cleveland
Detroit 4-1 Toronto

Boston 3-4 Detroit

Lakers 4-2 Denver
Utah 4-2 Houston
Hornets 2-4 Dallas
Spurs 4-3 Phoenix

Lakers 4-2 Utah
Spurs 4-1 Dallas

Lakers 4-2 Spurs

NBA Finals
Detroit 4-1 Spurs

Friday, April 18, 2008

Islam Karimov Goes After Islam

Islam Karimov is the leader of Uzberkistan. Islam attacks Islam. No, he's not schizophrenic. Islam persecutes people who follow the faith of Islam. It's as if the U.S. Terrorism Czar was named Al Kida. Or if the Under Secretary of Defense was named Taliban Wolfowitz.

Karimov targets any man with a beard, which endangers me and Yakov Smirnoff. It also unfairly imperils your average Muslim man in Uzbekistan. Hopefully, for the sake of his nation, Islam will stop attacking Islam. And hopefully, the United States will stop supporting him.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

My Conversation with the Pope

I ran into the Pope outside of the bathroom at the Deli Nosh (awkward!). Here's how our conversation went.

Me: Hey Pope.
Pope: Hi.

uncomfortable silence

Me: So, any words of wisdom?
Pope: Yes my child. Remember to always treat every human as if they were part of your family. You should shower them with an endless love and empathy. When we are able to feel each other's pain, we will stop hurting one another. Then we will experience Heaven here on Earth.
Me: Nice. Where'd you learn all that, in the Hitler Youth?

more uncomfortable silence

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Nats in the Dog House

The season has been a wild one for the Nats so far. Wild means bad, right? They won their first three, but blew a big lead in the fourth game which triggered a 9 game losing streak. Then I went to a game and they won. Then they lost again.

The Dog House - The dog house is a place where beloved players go when they've done something wrong.

Wily Mo Pena - In his first game back, Pena went 3 for 4... in the outfield catching fly balls. At the plate, he was 0 for 4 with 3 strikeout and a GIDP. I would certainly do better because I would have simply struckout 4 times. I could probably catch 3 out 4 balls in left field too,

Lastings Milledge - In the field, he's dropped a fly ball and lazily came to another, allowing Matt Diaz to strtch a single into a double. Work harder Milledge.

Paul Lo Duca - The steroids or HGH or whatever he took still bothers me. And he never really owned up to it.

Jesus Colome - Pitch the damn ball already!

Cristian Guzman - Great year so far, but it's gonna take a lot to make up for 2005.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Evil Leaders League Finals, Game 3

For the first time in Evil Leaders League history, the Finals have moved to a deciding third game. This one will determine the evil champion for Season 3. Let's see who won it all. The official ELL site is here.

Ahmadinejad vs Kim
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad made two gaffes this week. The first gaffe was his customary boasting that Iran is a powerful country with nuclear weapons. He states, to anyone who will listen, that his country has nuclear weapons. Mahmoud, you say it too much, it's just not believable. It's like the high school boy who claims that he has sex all the time. That kid is obviously a virgin and suffers from low self-esteem. His second gaffe comes in the form of a statement. He claimed that people from Semnan province are "bitter, which causes them to cling to guns or religion or to antipathy towards Israel or anti-American sentiment." Ahmadinejad added, "And thank Allah that they do. It's the only reason I'm in power. And I'm glad they buy the whole nuclear weapons bullshit. That should distract people from the fact that I screwed up the economy."

North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il is a dictator, a strong man, a cult-personality leader, a manipulator, and an incredibly callous man. All of these attributes help to explain Kim's success in the ELL. His recent foray into evilness includes taking control of the local markets that litter North Korea's landscape. All politics are local, even for authoritarians. Kim Jong-Il does not have to succumb to any sense of accountability. His country is at the mercy of his discretion. Other nations take his threats of nuclear annihilation seriously and they provide him with aid, so that he can hold off a revolt from his starving constituency just a bit longer. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad isn't anywhere near as evil as Kim. Ahmadinejad doesn't even deserve to buy Kim's evil hair gel.
winner: Kim
series: Kim 2-1

Congratulations to Kim Jong-Il for winning his first Evil Leaders League championship! The season in review extravaganza is still to come.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Boycott the Beijing Olympics?

The talk to boycott the 2008 Summer Olympics in China has heated up lately. The logic that calls for the boycott is embarrassingly elementary. It boils down to: China commits human rights violations so we should boycott the Olympics in their country to show our outrage at their abuses.

The protesters don't seem to understand the implications of their call to boycott. There have been protests of the Olympic torch running in France, Germany, and the United States. While France and Germany are guilty of human rights violations, I am from the United States, so I will speak to the protesters from my country.

The Chinese government is surely guilty of violating the human rights of not only its citizens, but those from other nations. However, so has the United States. We've ruined Iraq's society; we've killed numerous Afghan citizens. We dethrone the leaders of other countries as if it's our right. We've detained countless individuals without providing them with their due rights. The United States of America has violated the human rights of people all over the world. Yet, there were no protests before the 1996 Atlanta Olympics or the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics. We must take care of our own house first, before we protest the actions of others.

Freeing Tibet has been the fad cause of the West for a while now. I oppose the culture destruction of the Han Chinese against the Tibetans. But understand what you are saying when you call for Tibet's independence. Other regions will declare their independence based on ethnic lines. You are saying that a non-Western country cannot be multi-ethnic. There is an implicit racism in this belief. "They" are not capable of getting along with other ethnicities.

The other implication of the break up of China is to cut the power from this large and most populous nation. The West wants to hold on to it's power and China is threatening. If China is cut into pieces, they are no longer a threat. That's why the Dalai Lama has always approved covert CIA action to resist the Chinese government on behalf of Tibet. I admire the Dalai Lama, but this is not a discussion of Good versus Evil. The Dalai Lama has blood on his hands too.

The Western powers don't want China to have Western privileges like hosting the Olympics. Hosting the Olympics is a symbol that China is the new power-broker on the block and that scares the West. I am surprised that liberal activists are working to maintain the status quo of Western power. Instead, they should fight to right the wrongs in their own countries and celebrate the fact that a non-white-dominated country will host the summer Olympics for the first time since 1988 and only the second since 1968.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Baby Names

My friends are having a baby soon, so I was thinking about possible baby names.

If it's a girl:
Shari'a - Repressive laws have never sounded so beautiful.
Juma - As in Namangani, the leader of the violently radical Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan; could be a pretty girl's name, too.
Sarah, Rachel - Brand your daughter as a Jewish stereotype.
Doctor - Give her a degree that she didn't earn.
Douche - Pronounced Doo-shay.
Diarrhea - Named after the Princess.
Titler - What better way to combine boobies and Hitler than with your daughter's name!

If it's a boy:
Al - Middle name, Qaeda.
Penis - Dick, for short.
Pope - Great name for a Jewish boy.
Pops - Confuse the hell out of everybody.
Murs - After the emcee, just sounds cool.
Tikki tikki tembo no sa rembo chari bari ruchi pip peri pembo - Show your son that he is the greatest thing to ever happen to the world.
Chang - Works, too. Especially if he falls in a well.
Shmendrick - Good motivation for him to learn Yiddish.

Unisex names:
MountainOutOfAMole - Makes sense if you know the last name.
Kike - Makes things awkward for the genitles.
Hoboken - It's as much a name as Paris.
Frank - Let your daughter know that you wanted a boy.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

President Cult-personality

The former president of Turkmenistan, Saparmurat Niyazov a.k.a. the Turkmen Wayne Newton, has made me wonder: what if I was president-for-life and able to impose my cult-personality on my country?

Here's what I would do:
  • Similar to Niyazov, I would name every day, month and street after my mother.
  • I would name every illness or ailment and it's medicine or surgery after my brother.
  • My entire cabinet would be made up of women who I am attracted to; they like me and could potentially go for me, but given the choice they'd rather not.
  • The make up of my cabinet would provide the necessary sexual tension to result in good governance. Or maybe the necessary sexual tension to result in catastrophic governance. Either way, it would make a great reality show.
  • I wouldn't crack down on dissenters. But if you criticized me or my cabinet, you would be labeled an anti-Semite or a sexist (or both!)
  • I would have to sign off on whether a college player could leave school early to enter the NBA Draft.
  • Religious freedoms would be upheld, but at every Christian funeral, someone is required to say, "I guess Jesus isn't so powerful after all."
  • I would ban all vegetables and torture underground vegetable-pushers by shoving lettuce up their ass until they died.
  • More Reggaeton!

Friday, April 11, 2008

Evil Leaders League Finals, Game 2

Will Mahmoud Ahmadinejad take home his first ELL championship or will Kim Jong-Il force the series to go to a deciding third contest? Let's find out. The official ELL site is here. There's a new slideshow under "photos," a poll, and some updated evil profiles. Check it out.

Kim vs Ahmadinejad
North Korea's top dog (awful pun, not befitting the ELL Finals, I apologize) is Kim Jong-Il. With conservatives now in power in South Korea, Kim Jong-Il has suddenly morphed from Bruce Banner back into The Hulk. He has nuclear weapons and an itchy button-pushing finger muthafucker! Thank the lord Kim spends most of his time searching on eBay for old Golden Girls memorabilia. He's already bought Blanche's nighty and Sophia's glasses.

Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad uses UN resolutions to clean up his "Shahnameh!" after watching Schindler's List (emaciated naked Jewish ladies turn him on). He has said that Israel is a weak and collapsing nation. He also thinks the San Antonio Spurs have no chance in the NBA playoffs and Manchester United's roster is filled with a bunch of scrubs. He also claims that Iran is a powerful nation with nuclear weapons, the Tampa Bay Rays will win the World Series, and Mike Huckabee will be the next president of the United States. I asked General Petraeus to help with the scoring of this matchup and he wants the series to go on a little longer for no discernible reason. So...
winner: Kim
series: Tied 1-1

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Charlton Heston - American Hero

Charlton Heston was a true American hero. He believed that our nation's diversity was the reason for its high murder rate, not the guns used in the murders. That just makes perfect sense to me. Shooting another human doesn't kill people, attending a Kyrgyz film festival does.

Heston stalked school shootings, holding NRA meetings in the same cities and towns soon after the tragedies. That is just so admirable. It's easy to claim that guns are used for killing children right after children are murdered with guns. Any coward can do that. It takes balls to spit in the face of the victims' families and claim that guns are good right after they've lost their innocent loved ones.

Charlton Heston preached the holy Commandment of: "Thou shall not kill (without a semi-automatic weapon)." Who should know the Commandments better than Heston, who played Moses in a movie. As a Jew, I'm frankly thrilled that Heston of all people played one of our most famous. It does not fill me with rage at all. I definitely don't have an inclination to pee on his grave.

They say that only the good die young. Charlton Heston died at the age of 84. After he passed on, a nurse grabbed the guns out of his cold dead hands and put 5 in that damn dirty ape’s cold dead face.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Two Backs and a Shoulder

Tennessee has won back-to-back NCAA basketball championships on the women's side despite their best player's injured shoulder. Candace Parker wore a windbreaker underneath her uniform to protect her dislocated shoulder. Parker is one of the best college players of all time in the women's game and managed 17 points and 9 rebounds while enduring the pain.

Parker had plenty of help from her teammates. Nicky Anosike added 12 points, 8 rebounds, and 6 steals to go along with her three majors. A triple major and a basketball star? Marry me, Nicky. Little Shannon Bobbit poured in 13 points.

Except for a couple of rough patches, Tennessee played well throughout the ball game. They execute efficiently on the offensive end and their ferocious defense forced Stanford into an astounding 25 turnovers. Stanford looked like a grade school rec team in the second half. Their performance included a missed layup and three airballs, which seem to plague the women's game. Two of the airballs were from three-point range by their best player Candice Wiggins and the other may have been the worse shot I've ever seen in my life. Wiggins ended with 14 points. Jayne Appel scored 16, but she missed 5 free throws in a row and shot 4-10 from the line.

Tennessee won 64-48. Coach Pat Summitt captured her 8th title. Candace Parker is expected to go first in the WNBA Draft later today.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Evil Leaders League Finals, Game 1

We've reached the ELL Finals. It will be a best of 3 series (first one to 2 wins), with a short turn-around in between contests. Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad- making his first ELL Finals in his second playoff appearance- defeated North Korea's Kim Jong-Il- who is in his second championship series is his third playoff showing- in the regular season. The ELL website is here.

Ahmadinejad vs Kim
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad recently visited the Natanz nuclear site on the National Day of Nuclear Technology. In reality, the "Natanz nuclear site" is actually a strip mall containing a Winn Dixie and a Hobby Lobby. In Iran, the "National Day of Nuclear Technology" is a holiday only slightly less important than Passover. So that visit is about as threatening as a Ryan Seacrest left hook. But Ahmadinejad has called for OPEC to stop trading in U.S. dollars. If that call is answered, we may actually have World War III. Saddam Hussein messed with the United States' oil money and his evil stock nearly reached a Hitler-like level. The dreams of an evil championship for the relatively powerless president of Iran could be enhanced immensely if his demand is taken seriously.

Tensions are mounting on the Korean peninsula. Kim Jong-Il has visited military facilities, asked his southern neighbor to honor the peace summit of 2000, and has reached a nuclear impasse with the United States. Kim hasn't disarmed his nuclear program in the timely fashion that the U.S. requested. It's ironic because Kim dis-arms his critics with great frequency. Then he beats them with their own dismembered limbs. It's not an effective torture method because these people are usually so emaciated that their arms aren't much of a weapon. Torture and actually possessing nuclear weapons is plenty evil, but doesn't compare to questioning America's oil profits.
winner: Ahmadinejad

Monday, April 07, 2008

Super Mario and Brothers

With 4:16 left in the game, Derek Rose hit "the shot of the tournament" to give Memphis a seemingly insurmountable lead. At first it was scored a three, but later reviewed and called a two. How it was ever considered a three-pointer is inexplicable as Rose's foot was clearly inside the line

With just over two minutes remaining, Kansas coach Bill Self instructed his players to foul Memphis in an attempt to expose their one weakness. Chris Douglas-Roberts, who was having a good game, missed three straight free throws, including a 1-and-1. Derek Rose was only able to split his two attempts. The free throw struggles were reminiscent of Darius Washington's misses three years ago. Washington would have been a senior this season had he stayed in school.

Up two, Memphis' Antonio Anderson stripped the ball to apparently save the game and win the championship. The next Kansas possession, Mario Chalmers knocked in a shot that will be remembered for all time, a well-guarded three to send things into overtime. In the overtime, with Joey Dorsey of the Tigers fouled out, Kansas took control and won the game.

It was not a well-played game. But the contest was interesting and highly competitive. Both teams were loaded with talent because their players made wise decisions to stay in college an extra year. Chris Douglas-Roberts and Derek Rose highlighted an incredible Memphis squad, but coach John Calipari was unable to win the championship yet again despite the quality of his players. Free throws were their undoing. Kansas was as deep as they were skilled. Bill Self accomplished something that Roy Williams never could at Kansas. It wasn't a very memorable tournament, but that shouldn't diminish the achievements of the Kansas Jayhawks this season.

On a final note, the announcers, Jim Nantz and Billy Packer, were especially bad. They didn't seem to know that Dosier and Dorsey were different players. They downplayed Antonio Anderson's great defensive play near the end of regulation. They did a poor job of mentioning the names of the players who had just made the previous play. I particularly dislike Packer. I enjoy the history of the game, but he relays it as if it has an impact on the present game. He claimed that Kansas would benefit from experience in overtime because they played a triple overtime championship game in 1957, about 30 years before every current Kansas player was born. He also coaches the players, making sense half of the time, instead of providing analysis.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Zbigniew Brzezinski vs Donald Rumsfeld

Zbigniew Brzezinski was Jimmy Carter's National Security Advisor.
Donald Rumsfeld has been the Secretary of Defense twice, under Gerald Ford and George W. Bush.

Zbigniew Brzezinski armed and funded the Afghani Mujahideen, many of who would form the Taliban. Way to go, douche.
Donald Rumsfeld represented the United States to show our support for Saddam Hussein and provide him with intelligence and strategic advice. What a jerkoff.

Zbigniew Brzezinski enjoys walks on the beach. That's so cliché.
Donald Rumsfeld first attacked Afghanistan in 2001, massacring their civilian population in the process. Nice job, fuckface.

Zbigniew Brzezinski once bowled a 68. Not very good.
Donald Rumsfeld initiated a war against Iraq, who neither had weapons of mass destruction nor a desire to attack the United States. The war is still ongoing and Iraqi society has been decimated. Such a murderous turd.

I can't say Zbigniew Brzezinski or Donald Rumsfeld... for different reasons.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Noam Chomsky's Atrocity Rankings

1. War in Iraq - Sure tens of thousands of Iraqis have died as a direct result of the war. And I guess 4,000 U.S. troops have died as well, but under international law, they are terrorists, so it doesn't count. What people fail to realize is that millions of people died last year and that must be attributed to the U.S. war in Iraq. These people probably watched a news report about the war and died over the horror.

2. U.S. attack on Nicaragua - The U.S. is the only terrorist state in the world and this is a perfect example. Others include the U.S. reluctant support of Turkey's attacks against Kurds and U.S. aid given to Israel which in turn oppresses the Palestinians. (Mr. Chomsky, your reasons explicitly contradict your initial assertion...) What?! I'm Noam Chomsky dammit! Don't question me!

3. George W. Bush has diarrhea - This led to the violence in Kenya following their election. It's well-documented elsewhere, I won't go into it now.

4. The Portland Trail Blazers pick Sam Bowie 2nd in the 1984 NBA draft [Michael Jordan was picked 3rd] - This directly led to the starvation of tens of millions of people in China a couple of decades before this draft took place. There are many mainstream sources to prove this. (Mr. Chomsky, a respected scholar generally presents those sources and doesn't simply acknowledge their existence) That's ridiculous. Actually citing sources would take work and intellectual honesty. Not my deal.

5. George Bush throwing up on the Japanese prime minister - My calculations show that 45 million people died as an indirect result. If you care about human rights at all, you will agree with me on this.

6. U.S. war in Cambodia - The U.S. war in Cambodia was a secret war. That's only one example of U.S. secret wars, which means there have been many more. (Well, that's the start of an important point Mr. Chomsky, but your logic is quickly derailed. Maybe you shouldn't sully your point with silly conclusions like that) Who is this kid? Do you know who I am? I'm fucking Noam fucking Chom-fucking-sky! I'm a genius.


487. The attack of September 11, 2001 - These attacks were horrible. I condemn them. But I can see bin Laden's point that "the death of imperialist pigs can be erotic."


100,463. The Holocaust - I probably lost some family in the Holocaust, but Israel's occupation of stolen land lessens its impact for me. Plus, is a Jew really human? C'mon.

note: I'm sure Mr. Chomsky has said these words, but maybe not in this order or relating to these topics.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Don't Need Balls to Have Courage

In the first half of Tennessee's contest with Texas A&M to decide which team would make the Final Four and my friend Mike or I would win our women's NCAA Tournament pool, the game's best player dislocated her shoulder... twice.

Candace Parker, of Tennessee, should an incredible amount of heart, grit, and determination in returning to the game. She scored 18 points in the first half and added 8 in the second despite the injury. Parker is probably going to leave school for the WNBA after this, her junior year of college. But don't worry, she would've graduated already by then.

Parker is so fundamentally sound. She is the real deal and I'm hopeful that she will turn the tide in favor of women's basketball and lead the game's popularity increase.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

The New Top 25

Here are my current top 25 men's college basketball rankings, based the NCAA championship tournament, so 5-25 are final for the 2007-2008 season.

1-4. Kansas, Memphis, UCLA, UNC.
5. Davidson
6. Texas
7. Lousiville
8. Xavier
9. West Virginia
10. Western Kentucky
11. Stanford
12. Tennessee
13. Washington State
14. Michigan State
15. Wisconsin
16. Villanova
17. Georgetown
18. Butler
19. Texas A&M
20. Duke
21. Mississippi State
22. Marquette
23. Purdue
24. Pittsburgh
25. Notre Dame