Friday, August 29, 2008

On the Cusp of History

Barack Hussein Obama is the Democratic nominee for President of the United States of America.

Obama's nomination is a victory for all of those groups- that make up a majority of the United States- who could never dream of leading their nation simply because of the accident of birth. This is for blacks, women, Jews, Muslims, gays, Amerindians, and Hindus. This is for people whose parents immigrated to the United States in search of a better life. This is for Africans, Asians, and Latinos. He belongs to all of us. His cause is our own. His fate forever linked to our aspirations.

Barack Obama's nomination is a victory for all Americans. It shows that enough of us have moved past the violent bigotry of history and have pushed aside our instincts for division and instead tapped into the true American creed, that we are all created equal. But Obama's triumph represents far more than a signal to the world that we are a nation devoted to healing and progress. It grants an added ambition in minds of little black boys and girls all across this land. All Americans now realize that though we may never realize the American Dream, we are allowed to close our eyes and hope.

Barack Obama is more than a mere symbol, however. There is a reason why he is the first person who is not a white Christian man to win a major party nomination for the highest office in the land. He has a unique ability to trivialize our differences and uncover the common ground with which we walk together.

But before we go too far, we must remember that Obama is one step away from fulfilling America's promise. If he fails, what then do we make of our country?

Thursday, August 28, 2008

China After the Olympics

The Chinese view their history in terms of dynasties. Periods with a strong central government are referred to as "Golden Ages," while those eras where China was decentralized as considered dark ages. With the fall of the Qing Dynasty, generally given the date of 1911, until the Communist Party's victory over the Nationalists, two warring factions prevented a strong central government from functioning.

Accepting a strong central government does not come naturally to China. It is a large landmass with many diverse groups of people. There are several different languages spoken in the country. I like to make the joke that China has about a billion different dialects. From city to city, you feel like you're in a different country with each stop. None of this is a new phenomenon. If anything, China is slowly becoming more homogenous.

The Qing Dynasty, ruled by a minority ethnic group- the Manchus- had to preserve its culture while at the same time appeasing the dominant ethnic group within China, the Han. The Qing did so by rooting their legitimacy in orthodox Confucianism and rarely imposing Manchu cultural aspects on the wider population of the empire. They kept their culture alive by maintaining the Manchu language and using it to supplement governmental declarations. However, the only cultural aspect that the Manchus imposed was the queue hairstyle. Otherwise, they kept in place some fundamental aspects of Han culture. In addition to the Confucian value of filial piety, the Manchus also kept such ancient institutions as the civil service exam system.

Thus maintaining their distinctness and yet not imposing their culture was a shrewd political tactic and a means of gaining legitimacy in the eyes of the Han. Today, the CCP has a similar task in seeking legitimacy in order to keep all of China within their realm. The CCP's legitimacy rests on the ideology of socialism. They have worked to convince the population to serve the state. Everything one does should be for the betterment of the state. If the Party allowed democracy to flourish, their principle for legitimacy would likely be undermined, which may result in a massive breakup of China.

That is not to place judgment in either direction on the actions of the CCP, but merely to put them into perspective. The Olympics brought people from all over the world to Beijing. It is plausible that the result was an exchange of ideas. Perhaps this exchange will plant a seed of dissent and create an active movement to challenge the government's limitations on free speech in China. But it is important to realize that an unrestricted freedom of speech might very well divide China into lands based on ethnic groups. Whether or not the realization of self-determination among these various groups will have a positive effect for their people is a question for another time. (If you like all this seriousness, check out the new HarazQuack Times - International Edition)

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Hillary Clinton Delivers

Hillary Clinton firmly supporter Barack Obama's candidacy during her convention speech. She drew contrasts between Obama and John McCain that would lead any self-respecting Clinton supporter to choose the former. She poignantly asked whether her supporters worked for her or for the people she tried to help. Clinton effectively slammed the door on the ridiculous question of whether or not she would back Obama. One would think her supporters would follow, instead of voting for McCain, with whom they completely disagree.

Clinton received some criticism that her praise of Obama was generic. One commentator mentioned that this speech could have just as easily been delivered if Chris Dodd was the nominee. I disagree. The image of Harriet Tubman served the role to bring Clinton supporters and Obama supporters together. Women and blacks have fought a similar struggle and have each faced intense oppression. Tubman represents both struggles, a coming together of the two groups that has now occurred on the presidential stage.

Incidentally, Clinton mentioned that Tubman was "from New York" but actually she was born and raised in Maryland. I'd never give up a chance to namedrop a fellow Marylander, except for maybe Spiro Agnew.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Jews of Glory, Jews of Disgrace 2008

This is the fourth annual Jews of Glory, Jews of Disgrace.

5) Glenn Cowan - One of the principles in initiating ping pong diplomacy between the United State and China when he got on the wrong bus and made friends with a ping pong competitor.
4) Ryan Braun - 2007 NL Rookie of the Year. Needs to strike out less though.
3) Miri Ben-Ari - The Hip Hop violinist.
2) Jon Stewart - The most trusted man on television.
1) Sammy Davis Jr. - In the words of Nas, "David’s Star on the chain of Sammy Davis. He helped pave the way for Southern Crankers and them Harlem Shakers."

5) Rabbi David Kaye - The child-fucking Rabbi from Rockville caught on Dateline's To Catch A Predator. Reinforces the stereotype that Jews are child-fuckers.
4) Joe Lieberman - Supports John McCain and is scheduled to speak at the Republican Convention. Reinforces the stereotype that Jews kowtow to Christians.
3) Ehud Olmert - The Prime Minister of a repressive country probably took bribes. Reinforces just about every negative the stereotype of Jews.
2) Bobby Fischer - Former chess champion turned self-hating anti-Semite died this year.
1) The schmuck who pissed off Hitler.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Evil Leaders League, Week 6

The Olympics are over and nothing evil happened. No wars, no coups, no human rights violations, and no affairs involving former presidential candidates cheating on their terminally ill wife. Thankfully, the Olympics are over now and evil has exploded back onto the scene. Let evil ring in every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city! Let's get the results from this week.

Musharraf vs Kim
Pervez Musharraf resigned as the President of Pakistan last week. He's still the "king of the throne" in his own bathroom, however. "All turds bow before the mighty monarch Musharraf! You don't like my decree? Well then... FLUSH!" Musharraf's wife is currently searching for a psycho-therapist for her recently deposed husband. One question you might be wondering is what caused Musharraf to resign? There can only be one answer: the Evil Leaders League! North Korea's Kim Jong-Il hasn't resigned from his post as leader for life. Instead, he greeted returning failed Olympians with imprisonment until they learn to stick the dismount (regardless of the sport).
winner: Check the ELL site

Nazarbayev vs Ahmadinejad
Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbayev has a big admirer named Bill Clinton. Despite the absence of political dissent in the land of the Kazakhs, Clinton thinks Nazarbayev is a pretty swell guy. A reporter asked Clinton, "Don't you think silencing dissent is wrong?" Clinton retorted, "It depends upon what the meaning of the word is is." When asked what he thought it meant, he replied, "I hope it means a blowjob from Nursultan's hot wife." To which Nazarbayev laughed and advised Clinton to do with her what he wished.

Iran's little leader is named Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The Ayatollah, the supreme leader of Iran, gave Ahmadinejad's political fortunes a boost by endorsing him for a second term as president. To put that in American terms, that endorsement is a little below one from Ronald Reagan, but better than one from Clay Aiken. The Ayatollah criticized Ahmadinejad for allowing inflation to rise too high, which is slowing down Iran's pretend pursuit of nuclear weapons.
winner: Check the ELL site

Shwe vs Chavez
Than Shwe is the only leader in this league who rules two countries, Burma and Myanmar. Some "experts" might argue that Burma and Myanmar are the same country, but they're probably just arugula-eating elitists. Shwe recently met with UN special envoy Ibrahim Gambari. Gambari realized that he was wasting his time in meeting with the dictator when Shwe blurted out that he enjoys killing Buddhist monks because it makes him feel like a big man. Shwe likes to tell the Buddhist riddle: If a Buddhist monk falls in the woods, does he make a sound? Hugo Chavez is the leader of Venezuela. He is seriously considering changing the name of his nation to Socialzuela. Just recently, he nationalized a Mexican cement company and the tip of his own penis.
winner: Check the ELL site

Calderon vs al-Bashir
Mexicanese President Felipe Calderon has thought up an innovative way to fight crime. He's created anti-abduction squads. Before criminals are able to kidnap people, these squads will do it first. Then, the anti-abduction squads will train the people to invade the United States by way of illegal immigration. Does Felipe Calderon's evilness know no bounds? Only a giant wall will extinguish this man's pure evil genius. Sudan's Omar al-Bashir claims that his hands are tied when it comes to stopping the violence in the Darfur region. Then he lifted up a pair of bound hands from a Darfuri citizen and said, "See!" Afterward he laughed so heartily a little bit of pee came out. Next, he used the detached hands to scratch his ass before tossing them into the garbage, going back into his office, and taking a nap.
winner: Check the ELL site

standings: Check the ELL site

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Gold Medal

The U.S. won the gold medal after defeating Spain, 118-107. It was a tough game, officiated tightly in the beginning and later turning into a street fight. It appeared as if Spain's first half whining paid off in the second half. Spain was helped by some unlikely performances as well. For the Americans, Tayshaun Prince and Dwyane Wade performed well in the first half.

Spain would not go away. They managed to cut the lead to two in the fourth, a quarter that saw big shot after big shot by both teams. The U.S. struggled defensively throughout. In the end, Kobe Bryant took over the game and showed the level of greatness that he has reached in recent years. He trusted his teammates, easy to do with such a talented roster. LeBron James was the vocal leader throughout. Kobe completed a four-point play that seemed to end the competitive phase of the contest.

The U.S. brought home the gold in a global tournament for the first time in eight years. The American players showed a lot of class throughout the entire ride. For all of the negative attention that American NBA players receive, it is very easy to be proud of this group of men.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

About Joe Biden

Dear Senator Obama,

Why would you pick Joe Biden to be your running mate? I don't understand it. Do you want to spend the rest of your campaign hoping that your partner keeps his mouth closed? Do you want to wake up every morning having to pray that he doesn't so much as compliment you by saying that you are "the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy" to run for president? Sure, he has experience. But what does that matter when his experience is filled with stupid ideas?

In one narrow sense, it's a courageous selection. Biden will not be a yes man and it's always nice to have differing viewpoints when making decisions that will affect the entire world. But politically it doesn't make any sense. Choosing Biden is an admission that you are weak on foreign policy. It undermines your judgment argument. It undermines your change argument. It undermines your argument for reforming Washington. I don't see how adding a man who voted to authorize the war in Iraq and repeatedly voted to fund the war adds to the ticket. If I wanted to vote for an experienced person like that, I would vote for McCain.

Friday, August 22, 2008

One More To Go

The U.S. defeated Argentina 101-81 to avenge their 2004 Olympic semifinal loss. The U.S. dominated Argentina in the first quarter and took a 21 point lead early in the second. Manu Ginobili went down with an injury and would not return. The game seemed over.

But Argentina never gave up. A one-legged Andres Nocioni came in and gave his team a lift. The Argentine coach shrewdly switched to zone and inserted his little-used bench. The U.S. relaxed and relied far too heavily on the three-point shot, lulled by early success. Dwyane Wade sat on the bench in foul trouble. Twenty out of their 33 first half field goals began behind the arc. Argentina brought the lead down to 6 in the second quarter.

In the second half, the U.S. kept the lead in double digits. The two teams played fairly evenly. The U.S. still shot too many three-pointers. They were terrible from the free throw line. The trapezoid lane confuses the eye from the charity stripe, but the poor shooting is still inexcusable.

On the positive side, the U.S. played the type of game that produced losses in past years and still won by 20. However, it should be noted that they faced a banged up Argentina team with a weak point guard and fell into bad habits. Next, America will battle Spain for the gold medal. This is potentially a trap game. Spain has never beaten the U.S., which includes an awful loss in pool play in these Olympics. The U.S. better be ready; this is for the gold medal. They will be.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Obama & McCain VP Possibilities

We will know the running mates of the two nominees soon enough. But for those who can't wait, it's time for a little speculation. Things have changed since the last time I wrote about potential vice presidents.

The three names most associated with the position of Barack Obama's running mate are Tim Kaine, Evan Bayh, and Joe Biden. Tim Kaine is a governor from Virginia. He would be a good choice because, as a governor, he balances the ticket. He is popular in a swing state that may represent a political shift in the north-south divide along the east coast. Winning Florida or Ohio seems to be a tough task for Obama, in which case, Virginia becomes all the more important.

Evan Bayh is a senator from Indiana. His greatest asset is that he was a strong backer of Hillary Clinton. He also has foreign policy experience, but has a youthful appearance, which plays into Obama's theme of change.

Joe Biden would be a potentially disastrous choice. He carries a lot of baggage, some of which contains other people's speeches and the rest has various slurs directed at various minority groups. During one debate, Obama stuck his neck out to defend Biden, claiming that the old man doesn't have a bigoted bone in his body. Unfortunately for Biden, just because Obama doesn't believe he's bigoted, doesn't mean others won't. Me, for example.

Also, Biden has a monstrously stupid and dangerous plan for Iraq. He calls for a decentralized government with three semi-autonomous regions based on ethno-sectarian differences. The problem with the plan is that Iraq isn't divided into three nice and neat sections. The plan would create movement in the country that would result in extreme violence similar to that during the partition of India when a million people died. In addition, the minorities that stayed in the "wrong" region would be in a very precarious position. After the first and second waves of violence ended, you would essentially have three enemy groups within the same county. So, the divisions would only serve to exacerbate the ethno-sectarian tensions in Iraq, to say the least.

Of these three, Obama should pick Governor Kaine. He should not pick Joe Biden under any circumstance!

John McCain's trio of possibilities seems to be whittled down to Mitt Romney, Tim Pawlenty, and Tom Ridge. Mitt Romney was the governor of Massachusetts. He would be an awful selection. During the campaign, the two presidential competitors brought out the worst in each other. Romney is prone to gaffes, doesn't truly appease radical conservatives, and doesn't come across as all that likable. He's the Spiro Agnew of this generation.

Tim Pawlenty is the governor of Minnesota. In some ways, he's a trap for McCain. It might appear that he represents change and youth that would offset McCain's long and distinguished career in Washington, which is a nice way of saying that McCain is old and represents the establishment. However, to quote Johnny Mathis, chances are Pawlenty isn't a skilled enough politician to overtake Obama in the youthful change department or else Pawlenty would probably be the Republican nominee for president. Instead, he might be this generation's Dan Quayle.

Tom Ridge is a former governor of Pennsylvania and a former secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. Of these three, I believe he's the best option. In theory, he and McCain would be a superb duo on foreign policy and national security. In theory. Ridge is best known for his color coded alert system. I don't know how effective it was, but I know whenever we got to terror alert level orange, I could not contain my bowels. While Ridge is clearly a conservative, he is also pro-choice. If McCain wants to remove the stigma that he's kowtowed to the administration over the past 8 years, and prove that he's a maverick, selecting Ridge would be wise choice. In a sense, McCain would be saying, win or lose, we're doing this my way. Americans admire that.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

On To The Semis

The U.S. beat Australia by a score of 116-85. The Aussies played a near perfect first quarter. They only turned the ball over once. They were able to force the U.S. to settle for contested threes. Even their free throw defense was effective throughout the opening half.

The U.S. was able to force more turnovers in the second quarter, which gradually stretched the lead. With time running out in the half, Deron Williams hit a buzzer-beating three to expand the margin up to 12. To begin the third quarter, the U.S. went bonkers, nailing three after three and putting the game out of reach. Just about everyone played well, especially Kobe Bryant and LeBron James. Dwight Howard kept up his strong play down low early. Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh provided their usual spark off the bench.

Australia was able to get the ball to the paint often, but missed most of their lay ups while searching for shot blockers. As with most teams this Olympics, they hung in with the U.S. until midway through the second quarter. Their third quarter collapse was sudden and left them reeling. The U.S. faces the winner of the Greece/Argentina contest. Argentina is a talented unknown, while the U.S. is familiar with this version of the Greek squad, destroying them in pool play. Whoever is the opponent, you have the sense that America will be ready. And this Olympics, the U.S. even has the crowd behind them.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Worry Follows Musharraf's Resignation

Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf resigned yesterday. Whether or not this event is truly cause for celebration depends on the direction the government takes next.

Musharraf was essentially a military dictator from the moment he took control of the country in 1999 until he relinquished his role as military chief last year. He understood the language of democracy, as he has always considered himself to be within a secular liberal tradition; however, he consistently defied the Constitution in order to maintain power.

He managed to become increasingly unpopular at home, not only because of his disregard for the Constitution, but also because of his ostensible support for the U.S. war on terror. However, the U.S. realized rather late that the ISI and the military continued to support to Taliban and Pakistani extremists even after pledging their allegiance to the U.S. Thus, while attempting to play a double game, Musharraf alienated most Pakistanis and the U.S. government at the same time.

While the resignation of a dictator is cause for celebration, any sense of optimism should be cautious. The world will focus on the next president, but the most important man regarding Pakistan's future might be military chief Ashfaq Parvez Kayani. He managed to keep his word by restraining the military from saving its former boss after impeachment charges were filed against the President. It would benefit Pakistan if General Kayani brought the military under civilian control. However, there is no chance of that happening. The best circumstance to hope for is that General Kayani allows the civilian government to govern unimpeded and if they fail, he allows the Pakistani people to vote them out.

The U.S. and India will want the new president, regardless of who it becomes, to go after al Qaeda, Pakistani extremists, and the Taliban. The government will probably follow in Musharraf's footsteps and continue to fight al Qaeda. Al Qaeda is viewed as a foreign source and enjoys limited popularity in Pakistan. However, it is far less politically viable for the government to target its own citizens, even those who are extremists.

The government should bring Pakistani extremists into legitimate politics. It would be political suicide for an American politician to advocate this, but it would serve to marginalize the extremists. They maintain the scant popularity they receive because of their opposition to the pro-American government and these extremists do not have another avenue to express their frustrations. So they turn to violence. While most Pakistanis are currently anti-American, few are extremists. If the extremists are legitimized yet continue to use violence, it would turn the tide of Pakistani public opinion firmly against the extremists.

Pakistan must marginalize the extremists by bringing them into legitimate arenas and the U.S. needs to help build up Pakistan's economy, instead of granting billions in aid to the military. Those are the best hopes to secure peace and stability in Pakistan and those actions will only serve to make the U.S. and India safer.

Monday, August 18, 2008

No More Room For Error

The U.S. men's basketball team ruined Germany, 106-57. America got off to a quick start for the first time in these Olympics. After a 20-3 run to open the contest, they never looked back. The U.S. shot and guarded the three effectively. Dwight Howard had a big game.

With Dirk Nowitzki on their team, I've always wondered why Germany wasn't better. Now I know. He has nothing around him and it's easy for the opponent to crowd around him. Up next for the U.S. is Australia in the quarterfinals. An Andrew Bogut-less Australia squad has given the U.S. its toughest game dating back to the pre-Olympic exhibitions. The U.S. cannot afford to take them for granted and I doubt LeBron and company will.

When I played picup games in China three years ago, I found that most players were slashers. I shot very poorly, but still shot better than everyone I played against. The long range shot was simply not part of the Chinese game. With that in mind, I get a kick out of watching the Chinese fans' reaction to three-pointers in the Olympics. If you listen closely, the oohs and ahhs have been as loud whether a three-point shot is made or an alley oop is completed.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

More Olympics

I wasn't sure if I wanted Michael Phelps to break Mark Spitz's medal record or not. Phelps is from Maryland; Spitz is a Jew. Maryland vs. Jew, that's a tough one. My brother had a good point though. He said it wasn't a question of Maryland vs Jew, but of seeing the record broken vs. not seeing it. Plus, in two of Phelps' relay races, he was helped by Jewish teammate Jason Lezak. Ok, that sealed it. I'm glad he broke the record.

I was watching the women's weightlifting, specifically the super heavyweight's clean and jerk. Just from my own experience, I think they have that backwards. I'd love to get an up-close and personal viewto watch that Ukrainian woman jerk, I'd even let her clean, but not before I get to see her snatch.

Weightlifting is dirty. Racewalking shouldn't be an Olympic sport. Running is faster than walking, so it doesn't make sense that there's a sport where you're racing, but aren't allowed to move as fast as you can. The same is true with the various swimming strokes. Every race should be "freestyle." if you can swim faster using a butterfly stroke than any other stroke, by all means use it, but there shouldn't be any restrictions slowing you down.

Also, there should be any sports in the Olympics where the score is solely determined by judges. I like gymnastics, but it's not really a sport. It's more like a competitive circus performance. I hate the diving for some reason. I don't like that the winner of the trampoline competition gets a gold medal, but the fourth place finisher of the marathon gets nothing. Something doesn't seem right about that.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Ripping Their Hearts Out

The U.S. men's basketball team destroyed Spain 119-82. Spain showed a total lack of heart, which doesn't compliment well the total lack of brains they showed by doing the "slanty eyes" ad. LeBron James and Dwyane Wade were the catalysts once again, but it was a total team effort.

Carmelo Anthony had his best game by far in these Olympics. He built up his confidence late against Angola when the game was out of reach, played alright against Greece, and caught fire from behind the arc today. For the first time in the tournament, the U.S. shot the ball well from three. For the third game in a row, they defended the three well. It's amazing how a hand in the face effectively disrupts international players' shot from long distance.

If there is a gripe with America's play in this game it was first half fouls and turnovers. But come on, this was a near perfect performance. Jason Kidd, whose role is as the table setter, hasn't been proficient in limited duty thus far, but he turned it around today. Dwight Howard finally played well, although I'm still not convinced he understands the lax goaltending rules. Yes, you can swipe the ball off of the rim. No, you can't pluck it out of the air.

This game got me thinking. The United States thoroughly beat down an NBA-filled Spanish squad by a greater margin than they defeated the other lesser teams. I think they get up for teams with NBA players on the roster more than they do for the others. That can be dangerous because once the medal round comes, there's no room for error.

Friday, August 15, 2008

John McCain's Attack Ad

[voice over]: Barack Obama. Is he ready to lead?

[crowd cheers "Obama, Obama" in background]

[voice over continues]: Barack Obama is very popular. He's well-liked. He has the capacity to bring people together. He's charismatic. He's intelligent. He stands for change. He has a bright vision for the future. He's handsome. He's the type of guy you hope your granddaughter marries. He might just solve all of the problems the Republicans have created over the past 8 years. He would make an excellent president. The Republican presidential nominee, John McCain, is going to vote for him.
Barack Obama. Is he ready to lead? John McCain thinks so.

[John McCain]: I am John McCain and I approve this message.

Thursday, August 14, 2008


Greece showed up looking for a three-point shooting contest and a basketball game broke out. The U.S. took a small step towards erasing the memory of their semifinal loss in the World Championships to Greece by winning comfortably, 92-69.

The game began predictably enough. Greece hung tough until the second wave of American All Stars entered the contest and blew the Greeks into the Mediterranean. Jason Kidd struggled again, picking up 3 fouls within a minute and a half of play. The game was also officiated poorly with a strong pro-Greece bias, particularly early on.

When Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh entered the game, the U.S. began to dominate. Greece could not handle America's ball pressure, committing as many turnovers in the first half as field goals scored. Greece also did not make a three until the game was out of reach. The U.S. had a few lapses, which led to easy Greek layups, but it was a side effect of a strategy to halt the opponents' three point attack. The plan worked.

Wade was in a zone on both ends of the floor. LeBron James and Kobe Bryant also played very well. On one play, Wade stole the ball, grabbed it as it was flying towards the sideline, flung it towards the basket, where Kobe caught it and threw it down. Defensively, Greece was frustrated. The U.S. guards sliced open the defense with awe-inspiring efficiency. On both sides, the U.S. forced Greece to play an NBA-style game and the European country was woefully unable to comply with any effectiveness. Besides Kidd, the only other negatives were a couple of defensive miscues by Dwight Howard and missed free throws. All in all, a great performance from the Americans.

Next up is Spain. While Spain might not know what will hit them on the court, they know what will off of it. The team posed for a magazine ad by stretching their eyes to mimic "slanty eyes." What's worse is that only Pau Gasol had even an inkling that it could be perceived as offensive. Apparently, the Spanish team is stuck in the 1850s. Racism in Spain is well documented, but when do we stop using cultural ignorance as an excuse and demand personal responsibility? Hopefully, the U.S. team will stick up for our Asian brothers and sisters and give Spain a beat down. And then blow them out in basketball.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Olympic Injustice

Korean boxer Lee Ok-sung's face mercilessly beat the white part of American Rau'shee Warren's gloves. Naturally, as a result, Lee got the victory.

With under a minute left in the bout and Warren down 1, he ran, not realizing the score. He figured he was winning because his fists repeatedly landed at their target. Three days ago I wrote about the unique scoring in Olympic boxing, saying, "Often you get a point for receiving a punch in the face. The key is to avoid your opponent's facial attack against your fists."

Warren must have thought the scoring was the other way around, but what he failed to realize is that would have made too much sense. The misunderstanding resulted in the painful display at the end of the match, where the man down was running away. Lee became confused and even (cautiously) chased Warren.

So Warren lost 9-8, because of a last second boner and atrocious judging. Terry Smith, who oversaw the judging claimed, “I thought the fight was extremely close, and I think the judges were quite close with their decisions,” which is the politically correct way to say the judges messed up. Lee received a couple of points while the two boxers were clenching and a couple of more points following exchanges that Warren appeared to get the better of and also received points. At one moment, Warren was punched in the face, lost his balance, and received a point.

Announcer Jim Gray theorized that the judges probably pressed the wrong button on occasion, giving the wrong boxer the point. His theory is consistent with the evidence. Warren didn't dominate the fight, but he should have won by about 5 points.

The U.S. women's gymnastics team can relate to Warren. Alicia Sacremone made a couple of mistakes which opened the door for the Chinese women to take the gold. But it never should have gotten to that point because the Chinese team had a few girls under the minimum age requirement of 16 years old. The one girl looked like she was 8 years old. You wonder if she ever saw the 1990s. You know, if you put makeup on an 8 year old, she's still 8 years old. In fact, I think that girl has had a few play dates with my 7-year old cousin. After she finished her vault, her mother changed the girl's diaper. She celebrated the victory with a glass of her mother's breast milk. I can keep going....

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Less Than 40

Angola is a beautiful country with ancient cultures and a proud people. Unfortunately, basketball doesn't figure into any of that.

They are apparently the class of African basketball as they always seem to qualify for the Olympics, but they're not quite at a world class level yet. The Angolan coach's goal for their game against the U.S. was to lose by less than 40, an interesting motivational aspiration.

The U.S. won 97-76, which fell well within Angola's goal. It might sound ridiculous to find much fault with a 21-point victory, but America's win was shrouded in flaws. The U.S. got the W because of superior talent and size, but not much else went right. Angola's effort put the U.S. to shame. America struggled from the free throw line and the three-point stripe. Jason Kidd didn't play well for the second straight contest. Carmelo Anthony wasn't much more than a waste of space out on the floor. Kobe Bryant continued to struggle shooting from beyond 20 feet 6 inches away from the basket.

Games are going to be close early on and this one followed suit. But this game was different because the U.S. played so sloppily, particularly early. America was able to force a ton of Angolan turnovers, which compensated for their other mistakes. While the game was not well played, it mercifully ended quickly, lasting under an hour and forty minutes.

Two side notes: 1) LeBron James had one block that looked more like a volleyball spike. 2) Angola's Eduardo Mingas was impressive. The 6'5" center had plenty of heart and a few tricks up his sleeve in the post after apparently nailing four threes against Germany in the previous game. The Knicks could use someone like that; a player who tries hard.

Monday, August 11, 2008

USA, Number One

The U.S. 4 X 100 meter freestyle relay team eked out a win against the favored French today. The frogs were croaking then they were choking. I'm not sure what the rules are in France, but if you promise to smash the other team, you can't turn around and lose. That's unacceptable in America. Winning by a small margin isn't even an option in that scenario. But maybe snooty pretentiousness coupled with a lack of results flies in France. History tends to confirm that hypothesis.

France has been riding America's coattails since the American Revolution inspired the lesser French Revolution. The Nazis dominated the country creating Vichy France. I don't remember there being a Vichy America. Know why? Because France sucks. After this most recent embarrassment, perhaps they should finally just give up and cede themselves to Belgium.

Even if France doesn't give its sovereignty to Belgium, bigmouth Alain Bernard should probably go into hiding. Might I suggest one of the former colonies of the brutal French Empire as a possible hideaway, you foot-in-mouth goat turd.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Olympic Excitement

While watching women's beach volleyball, it occurred to me that the sport probably shouldn't be part of the Olympics. But it sure gave me a gold medal boner.

I watched a bit of boxing as well. The way boxing is judged in the Olympics is interesting. Often you get a point for receiving a punch in the face. The key is to avoid your opponent's facial attack against your fists.

The U.S. men's basketball team beat China 101-70. Depth of talent was the reason for the lopsided victory. Most teams will be able to hang with the U.S. through the first quarter, but no other country has the option of continuously inserting a fresh All Star into the lineup. China had open three point opportunities the entire game. They cooled in the second half from behind the arc because of fatigue and the fact that they're not generally a proficient shooting team in the first place. The lack of three-point defense is cause for concern, but the U.S. made up for that deficiency with tremendous ball pressure.

On a side note, I became so excited after one LeBron James dunk that I felt a squirt in my pants that sent me scurrying to the bathroom.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

The Olympic Shield

One gets the impression that certain events have been timed to coincide with the Olympics in the hopes that the world's attention will be distracted.

The timing of the terrible war between Russia and Georgia is quite curious. John Edwards' televised admission of infidelity was aired in competition with the opening ceremony. Perhaps the Olympics influenced the moment of Mauritanian President Sidi Ould Cheikh Abdallahi's decision to sack four top military men; maybe the military was emboldened to overthrow the democratically elected president with the Olympics on the horizon. I'm thankful that the Olympics are happening now because the games should divert international attention from the fact that my finger is stuck in my penis hole.

Friday, August 08, 2008

W: The Unauthorized Autobiography

Here are a few excerpts from W: The Unauthorized Autobiography of George W. Bush

From page 137, September 12, 2001: I entered a room filled to the brim with my most trusted advisors and Colin Powell. I sat down to receive ideas about what action to take next in our new war on terror. Donald Goodie Goodie Gumsfeld brought it to my attention that al Qaeda had had a meeting with Iraqi agents at some point. It became very clear to me that to save the American people we would first have to invade Afghanistan and then Iraq. Powell tried to argue some "jive" about no evidence of a link between the attacks of yesterday and Iraq. But he didn't have any proof that there wasn't any proof of a link. Condi kept looking at me all weird like.

From page 221, May 1, 2003: As I stepped onto the USS Abraham Lincoln, a rush of feelings flowed through my body. I was proud that America had liberated the Iraqis from the tyrannical rule of Saddam Hussein. I was glad to see the Iraqis greet us as liberators by tearing down the statue of their former dictator. I was relieved that our mission of shock and awe was accomplished. We were about to embark on a new journey with Iraq towards freedom and democracy. The entire ordeal was thrilling. After my speech, I called up Donald RumAndCokesfeld and thanked him for the idea. He told me that Condi wanted to tell me something that she had been waiting a long time to say. Something important.

From pages 276-7, July 17, 2006: I've always known I had magic fingers. My fingers were responsible for the numerous signing statements I used to "clarify" the Constitution. Condi told me they were magical the night of my "horrible misadventure." So when I saw Angela Merkel, my magic fingers jumped towards her shoulders. The sight of Angela has always filled me with a passion that I am hard pressed to describe. Don't get me wrong, I love Laura, but it's more of a comfortable love. She's been with me for a long time. She's a great lady, although her abortions bother me.

But it's different with Angela. I just wanted to rip her clothes off and move my magic fingers up and down her body as she quivers with delight. Well, my desires got the better of me and I placed my fingers on her shoulders and began to massage her. In that brief moment, visions of our naked bodies rolling around the floor together consumed my mind. I was fortunate enough to pull away before we grabbed each other. Later, Donald GinRummysfeld and I watched the tape of my moment with Angela over and over again. He assured me that he sensed she had feelings for me.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Going to China for the Olympics?

If you are on your way to China for the Olympics, you might be wondering what to expect. Maybe you heard a lot of scary things. Well, here are a few helpful hints from someone who has been there.

The Stereotypes

  • China is a repressive place with a strong military presence and no freedom of speech.
  • There is a one child per family policy in place.
  • The air pollution is unbearable.
  • Chinese food is the same as it is in America.
  • You will be fined for spitting.

The Reality

  • There is no visible military presence outside of the Tiananmen Square area in Beijing. I don't remember seeing so much as a police officer anywhere else in the country. In fact, I have pictures of me and my friends mockingly marching behind soldiers and making fun of Mao in Tiananmen Square. I advocated freeing Tibet and Taiwan in classes that I taught and getting around the internet controls was very easy.
  • There might still be a one child policy in place but everyone I met had a brother or sister.
  • If you stay in China for a few years, the pollution will probably have an effect on you. If you are just going for the Olympics, it really shouldn't bother you and if it does, it might be an indication that you should be in a hospital hooked up to a respirator. Beijing was less polluted than some other Chinese cities in my estimation. I ran and played basketball the entire time I was in China. There was one day in a city far away from Beijing when the pollution was unimaginable. My friend and I could hardly open our eyes. We were told that the farmers were burning their crops just outside the city, but I'm not so sure. Regardless, that one day was an aberration.
  • If you find a chicken breast, wing, or thigh in China you are a very lucky person (unless they kept them for all the foreigners during the Olympics). You get what's left, including the feet, knees, and face.
  • If you think the government can control spitting, you are in for a phlegm-filled surprise! Do your best to avoid the little old ladies hocking loogies your way and don't say I didn't warn you.

Hopefully, you have as great an experience as I had and will gain a better understanding of Beijing. Keep in mind, every Chinese city is different, even ones in the same province!

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Preview of the USA Men's Basketball Team

The USA basketball team hasn't faired well in the last three global tournaments. Hopefully, this year will be different.

Strengths: As always, the U.S. is the most talented and athletic squad in the Olympics. This year's team has done an effective job pressuring the ball in the back court, which has led to easy baskets. Transition offense is where the U.S. shines and as long as they're creating turnovers or missed shots, it will be a tough team to stop. This version features much improved perimeter shooting.

Weaknesses: Despite the improved outside shooting, the U.S. team still struggles in a half court game. Other teams will clog the middle defensively and there still isn't a dominant post up player on the U.S. roster, particularly up front. One of those centers from yesteryear would be a perfect fit for this year's bunch, but unfortunately, there isn't an American player who fits the bill. It's an unselfish team, but when they struggle, they revert to NBA-style isolation offense. The U.S. is still not good at defending the perimeter. They don't do an inspiring job at accounting for three point shooters or stopping penetration, though the latter is less frequent in international play.

Kobe Bryant is the biggest addition to the U.S. squad. He is the team's best defender. Within the last two years, he has grasped how to make his teammates better. He's also one of the best shooters in the world. If America recaptures the gold, it will be because of all of the little things Kobe does.

Chris Paul and Jason Kidd concern me. It sounds silly to say, because both are so good in the NBA. But Paul fits the mold of the players that were chosen for international competition in the recent past. He's very flashy, but doesn't possess the style of play compatible with the international game. He's not a consistent shooter (yet). He isn't a good defender on the perimeter and even if he was in position every time, opponents can just rise over his short stature and sink threes in his face. He often wants to penetrate, which works well in the NBA, but in the Olympics, opponents will simply crowd the paint and Paul will be rendered ineffective. Kidd is simply a shadow of his former self. He's clearly lost a step. Chauncey Billups should've been on the team as he was in the Tournament of the Americas last year.

This is a really good team with a bunch of very good players. But I fear that if the team's shooting goes south, or the opponent is able to handle the ball confidently, the U.S. will struggle to score in the half court set. That's especially bad because offensive efficiency determines the level of defensive play for a number of these guys. Personally, I think Tayshaun Prince needs a lot of playing time. It's nice to have Michael Redd to nail a few threes if needed. The key player might be Deron Williams because of the critiques I wrote about the other two point guards above. The U.S. needs to refrain from overconfidence, knock down its free throws, and a gold medal should return to the red, white, and blue.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

McCain Likes It Short and Sweet

Since 2000, each Republican policy can be summed up in a neat little sentence. While they are often half-truths or outright lies, you have to admit, they're catchy. Let's look at the two major issues of John McCain's campaign right now.

1. "The surge is working."
It's short, it feels good to say, it's hard to argue against, and it's almost true. In a very narrow sense, the surge is working. American deaths in Iraq have gone down. However, Iraqis fall victim to suicide bombs just about every single day. It's not known how many Iraqis have died because the U.S. doesn't care to keep track. Iraq is not close to becoming a stable country and much of the U.S. soldiers' progress will erode as soon as they leave, whether that is tomorrow or in 100 years, because the underlying issues dividing the country have not been addressed by the surge.

Of course a heavier military presence will discourage people from acting out, but it won't create a fundamental change. I am a short man. The more tissues I stuff in my shoes, the taller I appear. But we all know, no matter how many tissues are in my shoes, I will always be a short man.

2. The oil and Middle East crises will be solved through offshore drilling.
No, John McCain isn't your fairy godmother. And this doesn't make any sense. The oil companies already have plenty of apportioned land off the U.S. coast with which to drill. If they were allowed to drill in environmentally protected areas as well, that gas wouldn't hit the pump for almost a decade, so the U.S. would still be forced to rely on oil from the Middle East to the same degree until then. Even at that point, U.S. reliance on Middle Eastern oil would only decrease slightly.

The U.S. needs to move towards alternative energy, which would help to solve the economic and environmental crises we face. Drilling for more oil just seems insane. If I'm addicted to cocaine and I have a bunch in my house that I haven't used yet, giving me more cocaine doesn't seem like the best solution in this particular situation.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Evil Leaders League, Week 5

This is the last week of evil action before we break for the Olympics, because we all know that nothing evil happens during the Olympics. The official ELL site is here. Let's get the results.

Musharraf vs Chavez
When Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf ended his 8 year run as military dictator of the country in 2007, he became just a regular dictator. All that means is he lost his 20% discount at all Army Ranger Surplus outlets. For many years he was able to play a double game, where he was a staunch U.S. ally in the war on terror while allowing the ISI to continue supporting Islamic militant groups. But as my anal herpes prove, all double games eventually end; sometimes very painfully. Hugo Chavez of Venezuela runs a socialist nation. But not the good kind of socialism. His type doesn't include hairy collegiate girls who will sleep with you. Instead, his version focuses on the whole nationalize everything so we can centralize power aspect of socialism. Frankly, I like the hairy college girls variety better.
winner: Check the ELL site

Kim vs Calderon
Kim Jong-Il, the leader of North Korea, is only slightly less popular in South Korea than his southern counterpart, Lee Myung Bak, but its not from a lack of trying. Kim has threatened to expel all South Koreans from the North. The reason for such a threat? No, not Frank Stallone. The North killed a South Korean housewife who was touring Mt. Kumgang. Kim is like the guy who rapes you and tells you it was for your own good. Every woman is thinking about a guy they know like that right now. Mexico's President Felipe Calderon is a shrewd customer. He's planning an invasion of the U.S. When asked what part of Mexico his ancestors are from, comedian George Lopez responds, "Los Angeles, bitch!" Calderon is planning a strategy that will have American comedians making the opposite joke in just a few short years. Beware! Stop eating tacos, you're only encouraging them!
winner: Check the ELL site

al-Bashir vs Nazarbayev
Sudan's leader Omar al-Bashir was indicted for genocide by the ICC recently. South Africa's Thabo Mbeki (Robert Mugabe's bff) rejects the ICC's ruling. Nowadays, an endorsement from Mbeki only increases one's evilness. Omar's next step is to seek out the friendship of Gary Busey. Despite how Borat portrays Kazakhstan, President Nursultan Nazarbayev will tell you that his land is not backwards and not filled with bigots. In fact, Nazarbayev just now condemned the misogynist commentary of the first two ELL contests this week. Then he had a hooker lashed 50 times for not buckling her seatbelt while she blew him the backseat of his massive presidential limousine. He's a stickler for safety.
winner: Check the ELL site

Ahmadinejad vs Shwe
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Iranian president, continues to claim that he will resist all attempts to stop his glorious nuclear program. He's always talking about his nuclear program. He's that guy. At McDonald's, he responds to whether or not he would like fries with that by saying, "Yeah, working on my awesome nuclear program has made me in the mood for some fry'age." Listen Mahmoud, if you keep mentioning it, it makes it a lot less evil. Now people have even questioned whether he's simply trying to stir up national pride to distract Iranians from their crumbling economy. Myanmar (and Burma) is led by a military man named Than Shwe. Not only does he treat democracy like a disease, but he kills Buddhist monks, which are the best kind of monks. The Dalai Lama has said that Shwe reminds him of a "goat's sphincter."
winner: Check the ELL site

standings: Check the ELL site

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Former George Mason Patriots Update

Tony Skinn played last season with Clermont of the LNB (France's A League). He averaged 15.6 ppg and 3.5 rpg in 30 contests. For the 2008-2009 season, he has signed with Gravelines of in the LNB. Here's his profile and his EuroBasket profile. Here's some of his highlights from last season.

Jai Lewis played for Hapoel Galil-Elyon in Ligat HaAl (Israeli's first division league) last season. He averaged 12.7 ppg and 4.3 rpg in 22 games. In June 2008, Hapoel Galil-Elyon became Hapoel Gilboa-Galil Elyon, but it is unclear if Lewis will be on the team as of this time. Here's his Safsal profile.

Lamar Butler played last season with Pertevniyal in the Turkish Second League. Here's his EuroBasket profile.

Folarin Campbell has signed with Solsonica Rieti in Italy's Serie A for next season.

Will Thomas has signed with Liege Basket in Belgium for next season. Here's an article and the official site (in French).

Good luck in whatever you do, fellas.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Is Chad Johnson Crazy?

Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Chad Johnson wasn't so sure he wanted to stay with his current employer. He said so publicly, though probably not in the classiest manner. However, the amount of venom that sports writers have spewed back at him makes me wonder if Johnson isn't secretly aiding al Qaeda or something of the sort.

When I worked at a summer day camp, the little kids used to do things that were wrong because they knew it would rile me up to a comical degree. The little kids had a lot of power over me in that regard. I've always suspected that professional athletes say things that they know will make media members fall off of their stools upon hearing, just to get a rise out of them. If you've heard some of the sports media's rants about Chad Johnson's comments, you would assume that he killed their mothers.

This goes back to the media's reaction about Ricky Williams’ departure from the Miami Dolphins. I agree that Williams should have made his decision earlier in the offseason, instead of leaving just before the season was to start. But that wasn't the reason for most of the criticism directed at him. The media cursed him for leaving the game of football during the prime of his career. Yes, he's good at playing football, but he didn't want to do it any more. So what? There's no rule that he has to keep playing football, even if he's good at it, if he doesn't want to. Leave these guys alone.

These attacks only further the stereotype that sports writers are simply attempting to live out their failed dreams of athletic heroism. How about treating athletes like people, not just while talking to them, but when talking about them as well. And if you want something to rave about, there are plenty of more important things that deserve the energy.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Obama and the Jews

Most American Jews are liberal. Most liberal American Jews will vote for Obama. But apparently Barack Obama has a perceived problem attracting Jewish votes.

There are some (mostly elderly) Jews who don't like Obama because he kind of seems like a Muslim. A number of Jews believe that anything Islamic is necessarily negative. I reject their inference. These Jews are forgetting that there is no doubt that John McCain is a Christian. The Muslims are responsible for a suicide bomb here and an anti-Semitic rant there, but the Christians are responsible for 2,000 years of persecution, including the Spanish Inquisition and the Holocaust. I'm certainly not blaming McCain for those tragedies, I'm just saying he was alive during them.

Some Jews don't like Obama because he's black. My grandma's friend Yenta once said, "I heard this Obama is a black radical Muslim who does the hip hop rapping and was friends with Arafat. I heard it from Ester. Are you calling her a liar?" The rest of Grandma's friends cursed out Yenta in Yiddish and said she was meshugge. Yenta didn't take it well.

But there is a fundamental issue responsible for the rift between Obama and the Jews. No, it's not Israel. If anything, Obama's a little too pro-Israel, to the point where it makes us a little uncomfortable. We don't like his slogan, "Yes We Can." The question in our minds remains, "But why should we?" And, "Exactly what am I agreeing to do?" And further more, "What can we do? Will there be running involved? Will there be time to stretch before we start running?" Or, "Is the rest of that sentence '... Kill The Jews?' I hope not."

Most Jews don't have a problem voting for a black president, even one whose name kind of sounds Muslim. We care more about the issues, as is the case with most people. Where do the candidates stand on farm subsidies, that's what every Jew really wants to know.