Tuesday, September 30, 2008

MLB Playoff Predictions

Divisional Round
Angels over Red Sox 3-2
White Sox over Rays 3-1
Dodgers over Cubs 3-1
Brewers over Phillies 3-0

Angels over White Sox 4-0
Brewers over Dodgers 4-2

World Series
Angels over Brewers 4-1

Monday, September 29, 2008

Evil Leaders League Finals, Game 3

Here it is. The final contest of Season 4 of the Evil Leaders League. Will Omar al-Bashir capture his third championship in the fourth ELL season or will Than Shwe grab his first in as many tries? Let's get the result.

al-Bashir vs Shwe
One of the reasons there were calls to boycott the Olympics in China was because of their support for Omar al-Bashir's Sudanese government. That's like condemning Gandhi because his brother was a dick. Ghana is asking their president, John Kufuor, to disallow entry into their country for Mr. Bashir and it's not because Omar smells. The ICC is still on al-Bashir's ass just because he happens to be responsible for a few hundred thousand deaths. Chalk it up to a youthful indiscretion. Hey, aren't we all entitled to make a few hundred thousand mistakes without being indicted on charges of genocide?

Than Shwe kills Buddhist monks in Burma and he kills Buddhist monks in Myanmar. It's just his thing. Now the anniversary of a major crackdown against the protesting monks is near and Shwe and his military junta are ready to roll (over the monks with their tanks if need be). Every once in a while, Shwe has this weird sensation in the pit of his stomach. It's a tingly feeling. But he can't quite seem to articulate it. Because there's no Burmese word for "guilt." But there are plenty of Burmese words for murderous dictator. Two of them are "Than" and "Shwe."
winner: Check the ELL site
series: Check the ELL site

Congratulations to ............. The season in review extravaganza is still to come.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

The First Presidential Debate

Barack Obama was extremely erudite in articulating his positions. That elitist egghead! Why was John McCain blinking so much? At about 9:45pm onward, it looked like he was very cranky and just wanted to go to sleep. He was probably missing a Matlock marathon or something. I finally realize why McCain doesn't want to talk with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad; it's because McCain can't pronounce his name.

Anyway, let's be serious for a change.

I thought they had an interesting discussion on the economy and both did an effective job explaining their stances, even as Jim Lehrer (who did a good enough job) was needling them to answer his questions specifically that they were answering in a roundabout way. It came down to McCain making a good case for tax cuts, reduced spending, and less government regulation, while Obama gave an equally effective case for closing corporate loopholes, taxing the very wealthy, and advocating a role for the government in regulating the economy.

On the initial discussion about the war in Iraq, McCain did a more effective job explaining why we should stay than Obama did about why we should go. But McCain made a tactical mistake by returning to the subject. During a rambled response, he mentioned that the mother of a fallen soldier asked McCain to win the war. Obama rebutted by mentioning that the mother of another fallen soldier told him to make sure no other mother has to feel the pain that she must endure. Obama's response was more poignant than McCain's.

Obama understood the issues in Afghanistan and Pakistan to a far greater degree than did McCain. McCain believes that Iraq is the central front of the war on terror, even using bin Laden's words as evidence. Do we want bin Laden to dictate how we should fight the war? Is he going to give us an honest assessment or try to dupe us into a distraction? This was McCain's lowest point. I don't believe we should add more troops to the war in Afghanistan or go into Pakistan, but Obama made a good case for it. He advocated going after bin Laden and other high al Qaeda operatives even if they are in Pakistan. Most people would agree with that. McCain was in favor of continuing the same failed policy towards Pakistan, sending enormous aid without condition, which invariably goes into the pockets of the ISI and then to our enemies.

McCain looked lost on how to handle Iran. It was bizarre how he claimed that if Obama meets with Ahmadinejad, Obama is somehow legitimizing Ahmadinejad's positions. It was an absurd argument. I've talked to plenty of anti-Semites, that doesn't mean I'm legitimizing anti-Semitism. I'm Jewish. I'm trying to promote understanding through dialogue.

The line of the night went to Obama. He did not believe McCain could show restraint when it comes to war because he has called for the extinction of North Korea and sang a song about bombing Iran. Then McCain answered back by listing all of the military conflicts he has supported, which I found strange.

Overall, McCain was well informed. He made a tactical error by continuously claiming that Obama didn't understand the issues. Whether or not you agree with Obama, you have to admit he knew what he was talking about. McCain appeared to belittle Obama by constantly calling him naive. Obama was helped by low expections due to lingering questions about his experience. He showed that he understood the issues. All in all, the debate won't have much impact on which way people vote, but it was an informative discussion.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Evil Leaders League Finals, Game 2

Can Than Shwe end the Evil Leaders League season today or will Omar al-Bashir force a deciding Game 3? Let's find out.

Shwe vs al-Bashir
The Burmese leader from Myanmar is Than Shwe. On Tuesday, Shwe ordered the release of numerous prisoners, included famed politic dissident, Win "Tin" Tin. Shwe personally freed Tin and gave him a doggy biscuit for being such a "good boy." While releasing those prisoners, Shwe's henchman were rounding up other political opponents, including Lassie Wei and Scooby Du. So ultimately, Shwe just broke even this time around. Evil leaders want to be breaking things, but not even.

Because of the crisis in Darfur, the Sudanese president, Omar al-Bashir, has stopped his media tour and rushed to Khartoum to try and solve the genocide. Due to the crisis, al-Bashir wants to postpone the debate within the country until a time after the crisis has been resolved. The Sudanese autocrat claims this move is above politics. He assures that the time to talk has passed, now is the time to grandstand. People are dying and they need a leader who shuns them and refuses to express his ideas on the subject to the public. It's called being a maverick. Oh, that Omar al-Bashir is callous to his soul and evil to the bone. Well played.
winner: Check the ELL site
series: Check the ELL site

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Stephen Colbert is a Double Hypocrite

On the Thursday, January 19, 2006 episode of the Colbert Report, the phrase "It's true because it rhymes" appeared during the show's segment entitled "The Word." Then, on the Tuesday, September 23, 2008 episode of the Colbert Report, Stephen Colbert attempted to refute Jackson Browne's case against the war in Iraq by claiming, "Just because it rhymes doesn't make it true." That makes him a hypocrite.

On last night's episode of the Colbert Report, Stephen Colbert told Cornell West that he agreed with the concept of Professor West's new book because the title, Hope on a Tightrope, rhymes.

It's as if Stephen Colbert read my blog and then decided to mock me by contradicting his original contradiction. And he knows there's nothing I can do about it except call him out on my sad little blog.

Touché Mr. Colbert- you double hypocritical douchebag- touché.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Stephen Colbert is a Hypocrite

On the Thursday, January 19, 2006 episode of the Colbert Report, the phrase "It's true because it rhymes" appeared during the show's segment entitled "The Word." At the time I was upset because that's my expression. Actually, it's more than an expression; it's a way of life.

That takes us to the hypocrisy part. On this evening's episode of the Colbert Report, Stephen Colbert attempted to refute Jackson Browne's case against the war in Iraq by claiming, "Just because it rhymes doesn't make it true." Well, which is it, Mr. Colbert? You can't have it both ways.

And yes, I have become that guy.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Evil Leaders League Finals, Game 1

As always, the ELL Finals is a best out of three affair (first competitor to reach two victories grabs the title) with a quick turn-around. Than Shwe, the Burmese leader of Myanmar, is in his first season while Sudan's Omar al-Bashir is gunning for his third ELL championship in his fourth playoff appearance. This is the best matchup the ELL Finals has ever seen as the two participants went a combined 13-1 during the regular season.

al-Bashir vs Shwe
Omar al-Bashir has no idea how many houses he owns, but he knows exactly how many genocides he's perpetrated. One; against the people of Darfur. For those concerned that the genocide might be losing steam, al-Bashir assures you, "The fundamentals of the genocide are strong." When questioned about his statement in wake of his ICC indictment on that very charge, al-Bashir clarified to say that he meant the people carrying out the genocide, the Janjaweed militia, are strong. Particularly because they have guns and all the Darfuri civilians have is malnutrition.

Than Shwe would love to perpetrate a genocide as Burma's Buddhist monks have learned the hard way. But a vicious cyclone wiped out much of the population over the summer, which has made it hard to commit one. Shwe has decided to put on a mock election, just to stick it to the country's democracy-hugging, arugula-eating elitists. He's labeled the first primary, Cyclone Tuesday. His platform will consist of two major points. On the domestic front, his administration has reduced crime, by allowing thousands of people to die in the aftermath of the cyclone because Shwe wouldn't allow aid agencies to enter the country. People tend to like safer streets. Touting his foreign policy credentials, he claims that Burma is near Russia. Then, Shwe went ahead with the election and won with 100% of the vote. The vote total was 1 for Than Shwe, 0 for everyone else in the country.
winner: Check the ELL site
series: Check the ELL site

Monday, September 22, 2008

The 2008 Tournament of Complimentary & Alternative Medicine (and More)

First Round
Andrew Weil vs Elizabeth Kubler-Ross
winner - Elizabeth Kubler-Ross

Deepak Chopra vs Sharon Saltzberg
winner - Sharon Saltzberg

Jon Kabat-Zinn vs Stephen Levine
winner - Jon Kabat-Zinn

Dalai Lama vs Joseph Goldstein
winner - Dalai Lama

Lama Surya Das vs Phil McGraw
winner - Lama Surya Das

Jack Cornfeld vs Martin Rossman
winner - Martin Rossman

Ram Dass vs Marianne Williamson
winner - Ram Dass

Herb Benson vs Jeanne Acterberg
winner - Jeanne Acterberg

Elizabeth Kubler-Ross vs Sharon Saltzberg
winner - Elizabeth Kubler-Ross

Jon Kabat-Zinn vs Dalai Lama
winner - Dalai Lama

Lama Surya Das vs Martin Rossman
winner - Martin Rossman

Ram Dass vs Jeanne Acterberg
winner - Jeanne Acterberg

Elizabeth Kubler-Ross vs Dalai Lama
winner - Dalai Lama

Martin Rossman vs Jeanne Acterberg
winner - Jeanne Acterberg

Dalai Lama vs Jeanne Acterberg
winner - Dalai Lama

Congratulations to Dalai Lama for winning the first annual Tournament of Complimentary & Alternative Medicine (and More). This is probably the proudest day of his life.

*The running of the tournament was aided by a very special expert

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Buffalo, Three and Oh

Oakland scored a touchdown to bring the lead back up to nine with only minutes left in the fourth quarter. It seemed like those same old Bills. Just coming off of a win in Jacksonville, they were about to give one back at home and to Oakland no less.

But these aren't your older brother's Bills. Buffalo came back to score twice, including a last second game-winning field goal by Rian Lindell. This win showed two important positives. The Bills did not have a let down against a weaker opponent, an occurrence Buffalo has had over the last few years. I constantly find myself thinking, "If only we had beat (insert shitty team) at home, we'd be right in the playoff chase."

The second important positive comes in the form of winning another close game. The bad teams lose them, the good teams avoid them, but the great teams are able to pull out a win in whatever situation they may find themselves. Trent Edwards can lead a sustained drive or he can go deep. And he showed he can do it in the clutch as well. So far, the Bills are the real deal.

And somewhere, Tim Russert is sitting back in his chair with a big smile on his face after that one.

Saturday, September 20, 2008


Looking around, I often wish there were more beautiful-looking people. But what if there are, and our standards have just shifted. People were probably even uglier back in the day. Evolutionarily, it makes sense.

Whenever I see a man driving a Lamborghini, BMW, or the like, I always think, "At least my penis is bigger than somebody's." That happened today. I needed the confidence boost.

Don't you hate when people make up words just to sound smart, like irregardless or evolutionarily.

I never put a bumper sticker advocating a political candidate on my car. If the election doesn't turn out the way you want, you look like a loser. But if it does and the candidate fucks everything up, then your car is a prime target to get peed on. Or at least it should be.

Don't you hate when people accuse you of making up words- like evolutionarily or Bush Doctrine- just because their stupid ass has never heard of it.

If you still see someone with a Bush bumper sticker on their car, and they're not trying to be ironic, please pee on the car. You have my permission.

Friday, September 19, 2008

If Only Dennis Green Was Right

Former Arizona Cardinals' head coach Dennis Green famously screamed, "They are who we thought they were!" after his team had given up a large lead late in a game against the Chicago Bears.

If only Dennis Green was right about everybody. But life has proven otherwise. Maybe there's someone that you really like because you think they're just so genuine and it turns out that they were actually withholding a humongous lie from you. Maybe a person told you they were a woman, but, as it turns out, they were actually a man. Maybe somebody had a boyfriend for, oh let's say, a year and a half, and you actually met the guy, but she never told you that she had a boyfriend, instead referring to him as a friend. Perhaps your grandfather, who you thought was Jewish and who gave a beautiful speech at your Bar Mitzvah, was actually put up for adoption by an Austrian family named the Hitlers.

Maybe you see yourself as a war hero, who has never lost touch with the common man, but in reality, you have no idea how many houses you own and you believe that the middle class cut off point is $5 million. Maybe you attempted to invade a country with nuclear weapons that your hero sold to them and, by some stroke of magic, they didn't have them any more.

"They are who we thought they were." If only Dennis Green was right.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Lack of Scholarship on the 1844 Presidential Election

As the title suggests, there is a lack of scholarship on the 1844 presidential election, and it makes me so fucking angry.

It doesn't make any sense. I don't see why there is a lack of scholarship on the 1844 presidential election. It had everything. In 1840, William Henry Harrison won an election that would forever change the way campaigns were conducted. Shortly after taking office in 1841, President Harrison died. It was the first time in history that a sitting U.S. president croaked. In order to win, the Whigs had nominated John Tyler, a southern states-rights' advocate, as vice president. Now Tyler, who leaned Democratic on the issues, had become president. But he never gained wide support and was forced to drop out of the 1844 campaign.

As a result, there was a free-for-all for the Democratic nomination. Former president Martin Van Buren made a bid. Future president James Buchanan tried his luck. Former Vice President John Calhoun, who first began running for president in 1821, put forth a feeble attempt for the honor. In the end, the victor was the eventual president, a dark horse candidate, James K. Polk. He would go on to defeat the standard-bearer of Whiggery, Henry Clay.

Why aren't there any books on this? This is taking place less than two short decades before the commencement of the Civil War. This election was virtually the cause of the Mexican-American War. Yet, I searched the Georgetown library and JSTOR and nothing! I'm filled with a rage greater than you can imagine. It's like someone murdered my parents. And then grabbed each of their decapitated heads by their hair and then used those heads as puppets in order to act out a commonplace argument between two spouses in which they eventually makeup. Why is the murderer showing me this? That's exactly the feeling bubbling within me at the reality that there is a lack of scholarship on the 1844 presidential election.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Evil Leaders League, Semis 2nd Leg

The winners of each contest will face each other in the ELL Finals for the championship. Let's see who that will be. The official Evil Leaders League site is here.

Shwe vs Chavez
Than Shwe leads Myanmar, a.k.a. the country formerly known as Burma. The United Nations is determined to iron out an agreement with Shwe. Shwe is determined to iron out the face of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi. The military junta-tarian is also considering following in the footsteps of Bengals Wide Receiver Chad Johnson by changing his name to "Greater Than Shwe" because it would piss off Head Coach Marvin Lewis.

Hugo Chavez is not only the president of Venezuela, he's also a painter. His last painting sold for $250,000 and was bought by the triumvirate of Sean Penn, Danny Glover, and Cindy Sheehan. Chavez also received a letter from the ailing Fidel Castro. The letter read in part, "Dear Hugo, Please don't get shot. I like butterflies. Sometim... fjgksolftrldkfgkldklgggggggggggggggg." Apparently, old Strokey McCastro had a relapse in the middle of dictating the letter.
winner 2nd leg: Shwe by 7
winner overall: Check out the ELL site

al-Bashir vs Kim
Omar al-Bashir runs Sudan for now. He also runs the genocide in Darfur. Recently, Holocaust scholars have come out against him. The last person Holocaust scholars publicly condemned had a funny little mustache and liked to yell things in German. Of course, I'm referring to David Hasselhoff back in college. So, this is not a good sign for al-Bashir. Kim Jong-Il will head North Korea as long as he stays alive. Both the United States and South Korea do not possess a strategy for a post-Kim North Korea. That means that they hope he lives and stays in power. When your most ardent enemies want you to stay in power, you've lost your evil edge. Kim is like a porn star with ED. A sad sight indeed.
winner 2nd leg: al-Bashir by 30
winner overall: Check out the ELL site

Monday, September 15, 2008

The Trap of Unity

Later today, Robert Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai will sign an agreement to create a government of unity in Zimbabwe. Mugabe has ruled the country since independence 28 years ago. Tsvangirai defeated him in the presidential election in March. While Tsvangirai won a majority, Mugabe's government rigged the vote so that Tsvangirai received less than the required 50%, although he still out gained Mugabe. After a wave of violence perpetrated by Mugabe's followers, ZANU-PF, against Tsvangirai's MDC, the latter was forced to drop out of the runoff campaign. Mugabe stole the sham vote to retain control of the country.

Robert Mugabe has been down this road before. The war of liberation was fought primarily by two different factions. Mugabe's ZANU (whose military wing was ZANLA) and ZAPU (ZIPRA was the name of its military wing), led by Joshua Nkomo, fluctuated between being allies and rivals, despite always having the same broader goal of independence.

After independence was won, Mugabe and his party dominated the elections of 1980, a bitter defeat for Nkomo and ZAPU. Shortly after the birth of Zimbabwe, the government-led Fifth Brigade stormed into the Matabelelands, the home area of Nkomo, to allegedly put down a rebellion. In reality, the government massacred thousands of people, mostly civilians. This massacre forced Nkomo and ZAPU to enter into an agreement with Mugabe to form a government of unity in 1987. The agreement effectively ended any political clout Nkomo could have hoped for and marginalized ZAPU.

While the particulars of this latest agreement are unknown at this time, Tsvangirai has to be careful not to fall into the same trap. He has some advantages. Nkomo led a party largely confined to the Matabelelands and one whose followers were predominantly members of the Ndebele tribe. Tsvangirai's MDC is home to people of different races, tribes, classes, occupations, and political outlooks. It is a true coalition.

Regardless of the intricacies of the agreement, there are powerful military leaders who do not want to see Mugabe stripped of power because of their illegal actions during the war in Congo in the late 1990s. Mugabe could sign away power and then grab it right back.

The other fear this agreement presents is its impact on the role of democracy in Zimbabwe. Even though Tsvangirai won enough votes to legitimately claim the presidency, what message does it send to the Zimbabwean people if he gains power through an agreement with Mugabe, rather than by the ballot? To actually maneuver his way to power, Tsvangirai may have to border on the autocratic in order to forcibly remove Mugabe, a man who will not relinquish his position easily. In this scenario, it is almost irrelevant who is the leader because democracy will be denied its rightful place in Zimbabwean politics.

The situation has put Tsvangirai in a terrible position. He must be concerned with the welfare of his people and the safety of his party members. But he must also not sign away the most powerful opposition Mugabe has ever faced. He needs to promote democracy above all else, but he knows that Mugabe will not willingly walk away from presidential power. It is a tenuous place to be for Tsvangirai, but his actions will influence the direction of his people for years to come.
(International Affairs Edition)

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Good Start for the Bills

The Buffalo Bills have gotten off to a quick 2-0 start this season. Quarterback Trent Edwards is the perfect fit for this consistent club. Edwards is not yet a world-beater, but he is efficient, which is exactly what the Bills need at that position right now.

Last seasons epidemic of injuries to the defense is starting to pay off this season. It has resulting in defensive depth, an attribute the Bills would not have possessed without last season's misfortune. Buffalo continues to have a stellar special teams. It's early, but optimism for this season is justifiably high at this point. Next up is Oakland.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

My Interview with Sarah Palin

Me: Welcome Governor.
Palin: I'm ready.
Me: That's good to know. Let me first ask you about your qualifications to be vice president. You've been the Governor of Alaska for less than two years. Before that, you were a small town mayor...
Palin: Being the mayor of a small town is kind of like being a community organizer, except you have real responsibility.
Me: Um, ok. A shot at Barack Obama and community organizers I see. But in that comparison, I believe your role as a small town mayor is aligned with Obama's eight-year tenure as a state senator. Regardless, let's turn to some of the issues. Voters might be concerned that you are the only candidate who does not possess foreign policy experience.
Palin: I do. Alaska is close to Russia. You can see Russia from Alaska.
Me: Well that's a new interpretation of the term foreign policy experience. Have you ever met a world leader, say, for example, Vladimir Putin, the prime minister of Russia?
Palin: In what regard?
Me: In what regard? Never mind, let's move on. If elected, what would be your main objective in the war on terror?
Palin: I'm sending my son to Iraq to fight the people who attacked us.
Me: Whoa, sorry, I thought I was magically teleported back to 2002. I'm back now. Ok, let's try this from a different angle. Do you agree with the Bush Doctrine?
Palin: ... ... ... ...
Me: Excuse me, Governor Palin? Your take on the Bush Doctrine?
Palin: Do you know the difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull?
Me: I'm not sure that's releva...
Palin: The lipstick! Hahahahahahahahaha!
Me: Alright Mel Brooks, let's turn to some domestic issues. Your pregnant daughter is underage and unwed; that doesn’t seem to mesh with your Christian conservative beliefs?
Palin: That is a private choice made by my daughter and my family. I would appreciate if we refrained from discussing that matter.
Me: Ok. But aren't you against the right to choose to have an abortion? By definition that position is advocating government interference into the lives of women everywhere.
Palin: Uh, um. Alaska is close to Russia. My son's going to Iraq. Um. Do you want to hear that lipstick joke again?
Me: No thank you, I'll pass. Anyway, thank you for taking the time to talk to me today, Governor Palin.
Palin: The U.S. shouldn't second guess Israel.
Me: Fine, whatever. We're done now. Just go away please.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Anonymous, The Courageous Anti-Semite

There is a gentleman named Anonymous. I don't know his last name. Anonymous enjoys sporadically posting rabidly anti-Semitic comments on my blog. He also likes spray-painting swastikas throughout my town.

I'd love to meet Anonymous so we can hash out our differences. He thinks "Zionist Kikes perpetrated 9-11." If I had the chance, I'd ask Anonymous: how can Zionist kikes perpetrate a date? Perhaps he meant that they perpetrated the attack that took place on September 11, 2001. Well, in that case, I would have to respectfully disagree. I believe al Qaeda has taken responsibility for that attack. Unless. Unless al Qaeda and the Zionist kikes plotted together to take down the towers. That's it! Maybe we've solved the mystery.

Anonymous also contends that the Jews control the media. If I could ask him, I'd like Anonymous to give me a bit more proof. Although. What better place to express that opinion on a Jewish-controlled media outlet? And of course, my blog, read by all of four people, proves that the Jews run the media.

Come to think of it, Anonymous has some good ideas. I'd love to talk to him. I can't see any reason why Anonymous wouldn't want to meet me to discuss some of his anti-Semitic opinions. Can you?

Thursday, September 11, 2008

George Bush wishes the last seven years had been like lipstick on pig. Unfortunately, the world has taken a turn for the worse and Bush deserves much of the blame. More Americans have died in the two wars than on that fateful day. Innumerable people who were not America have been killed because of the reaction of the United States government. They are innumerable because we don't care to count them.

We should not be angry a radical fundamentalist militant Islamic jihad any more than we are with ourselves. It is not that we have become a murderous regime because of George Bush in the wake of those terrible attacks. Bill Clinton ordered bombs to drop on Afghanistan and Iraq too. The difference is in the scale. More innocent people are dying at our hands then ever before. The war in Iraq is slowly becoming one of the deadliest in terms of American casualties in our nation's history. The optimism that Afghanis felt at the removal of the Taliban is long gone.

Why does bloodshed beget bloodshed? We should not allow it. Not our country. Not in our name.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Is India Secular?

The Western stereotype of India is that it is a spiritual place. Officially, India is a secular country. The Western perception of India is ridiculous and not worth delving deeper, but the question of India's view of itself is pertinent. It is largely a provincial question, but at this point it is more manageable to simply view the issue in general terms.

Much of the tension between India and Pakistan stems from a disagreement over which country rightfully owns the province of Kashmir. During partition, in 1947, the British government did an inadequate job of dividing the two nations, specifically with regards to the disputed territory. While the real reasons for the tussle involve money, land, and power, both sides offer justifications for their position. Pakistan itself is actually an acronym that would be incomplete without Kashmir. Pakistan was created to protect the sub-continent's Muslims and Kashmir is a predominantly Muslim province. India takes a different view. Almost every Indian province is majority Hindu. With control of Muslim Kashmir, India's assertion that it is a secular country carries more weight. It is ironic that, to claim its status as a secular country, India places added importance to the concept of religious identity.

India has two major political parties. The Congress Party was the main political independence movement under the British Raj until the collective took over control of the country in 1947. It is nominally dedicated to a secular government. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) advocates Hindu Nationalism. In recent years, the BJP has gained more power and challenged India's secular identity. One such way is through the symbolic act of changing the names of many cities back to one of their designations before the Raj.

Before I went to India, I practiced saying Mumbai in place of Bombay. The name officially changed in 1995 under the Hindu Nationalist Shiv Sena government, which was aligned with the BJP. As I traveled around India, people asked me which cities I had visited. Every time I mentioned Mumbai, I would receive a subtle correction, something to the effect of, "Yes, Bombay is a lovely city." Some have framed the issue in terms of the name Mumbai representing Hindu nationalism and the name Bombay representing pluralism. That is an oversimplification, but it certainly rings true.

The political debate in some ways represents the tensions within Indian society. It is difficult to walk a major street in an Indian city without confronting religious symbols. One encounters pictures of deities in trees and small shrines on street corners. In Goan cities, the practice is duplicated, but often with Christian symbols in place of Hindu ones. Muslims do not practice idolatry. When taking into account the attendance of religious services, statistically India is one of the most religious societies in the world. In many situations, socio-religious mores last even if they have been outlawed by the secular government. However, popular culture- especially Hindi movies- continues to challenge the religious status quo.

Whether or not India is a secular country is a complicated question. In the case of Kashmir, religion is used to justify political aims. The BJP uses political means to push through a nationalist agenda based on religious fundamentalism. India's initial declaration as a secular nation very well may have been a political tactic in hopes to isolate newly formed Pakistan, a Muslim country, from the secular West. It is clear, however, that it does not define Indian society. The BJP has intended to exploit the rift between the declaration of a secular government and a highly religious society. However, the BJP's philosophy of Hindu nationalism offends not only secular Hindus, but also religious persons of other faiths. But the political phenomenon of Hindu nationalism still exists on a national stage in India.

The political and popular cultures and the secular and religious realms are engaged in a constant dialogue with one another, a dialogue that has turned deadly on occasion. Right now, the people of India are attempting to find a balance between these competing forces and develop an updated identity. (International Affairs Edition)

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Evil Leaders League, Semis 1st Leg

We've finally reached the playoffs. That pause for the Olympics was obnoxious, wasn't it? Here is the point where the heavy hitters of evilness are ready to do battle for the most malevolent title in the land, the ELL championship. Now up is the semifinals, which will consist of two legs, best aggregate score wins. Let's get the results.

Chavez vs Shwe
Hugo Chavez, the president of Venezuela, is an evil guy in his own right. Opposition parties consider the state media coverage unfair. Shockingly, they believe that the state media favors the people in charge of the state. But the media isn't the only entity Chavez has nationalized in an attempt to create his Socialist paradise. He's nationalized the fuel industry, the pornography industry, puppies, head lice, your grandmother, Wednesdays, foot odor, and genital warts but not anal warts because Mitt Romney has a pretty good hold on that industry.

Than Shwe is the military ruler of Myanmar and Burma. In Myanmar, Shwe jails and kills dissenters. Aung San Suu Kyi is one of those jailed dissenters. Shwe denies that Suu Kyi is on a hunger strike protesting the lack of freedom in the country. Shwe asked the question, "Is it a hunger strike if we don't feed her? Of course not. There is no indication that she is performing a hunger strike." In Burma, Shwe refuses to allow aid agencies to work unfettered to help its struggling citizenry. Chavez might be an evil guy, but Shwe is evil enough for two countries. Two is better than one.
winner: Check the ELL site

Kim vs al-Bashir
Kim Jong-Il is the reclusive leader of North Korea. If he hasn't been dead for the last five years, as a Japanese professor reported, then he at least might be on his way. He collapsed last month according to Chinese sources. The cause of the collapse is believed to be related to the episode of Friends where Ross cheats on Rachel and then justifies it by claiming that they were on a break. When Kim awoke, he was comforted by the fact that his subjects are still impoverished, often dying of starvation, and that Ross and Rachel would eventually get back together.

Omar al-Bashir reigns over Sudan. It seems love is in the air for al-Bashir. I always hear women say there are no good men anymore; well ladies, I present Omar al-Bashir. He's very successful, running his own country since the late 1980s. He's ambitious, refusing to stop massacring the people of Darfur until someone forcibly stops him. But he's not all about work either, girls. He's quite a dancer and is an excellent dart thrower. But his passion is hunting (black Africans). So stop falling for the wrong guy- men who will "treat you with respect"- and give Omar a call.
winner: Check the ELL site

Monday, September 08, 2008

The Orkin Man

The Republicans treat terrorism like it's an ant problem. If you kill all the ants, then you won't have an ant problem. The funny thing about killing ants is you will invariably kill other kinds of bugs as well- good innocent bugs.

There is a major difference between killing ants and killing terrorists. We've established that when you kill ants, there is bound to be some collateral bug damage. Spiders, crickets, roaches, flies and other bugs will die in the anti-ant attack. But once those bugs are dead, that's the end of the problem. There aren't bugs in waiting ready turn militant at the injustice of the indiscriminate assault.

Whether stopping an ant problem or terrorism, it's important to resolve the root causes. If you leave food lying around, the ants will keep coming. If you create permanent military base in Muslim countries and continue to back despotic leaders, terrorism will continue. So maybe the Republicans were right to treat terrorism like an ant problem and they're just going about it all wrong. Cleaning up your house works better than Raid.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

2008 NFL Predictions

NFC East: 1) Dal, 2) NYG, 3) Phi, 4) Was.
NFC North: 1) Chi, 2) Min, 3) Det, 4) GB.
NFC South: 1) NO, 2) TB, 3) Car, 4) Atl.
NFC West: 1) Sea, 2) Ari, 3) SF, 4) Stl.

AFC East: 1) NE, 2) BUF, 3) NYJ, 4) Mia.
AFC North: 1) Pit, 2) Cle, 3) Cin, 4) Bal.
AFC South: 1) Ind, 2) Ten, 3) Jax, 4) Hou.
AFC West: 1) SD, 2) Den, 3) Oak, 4) KC.

NFC Wildcard: NYG vs Chi, TB vs Sea.
NFC Divisional: TBvs Dal, NYG vs NO.
NFC Championship: Dal vs NYG.

AFC Wildcard: Buf vs Pit, Ten vs SD.
AFC Divisional: Buf vs NE, SD vs Ind.
AFC Championship: Buf vs SD.

Super Bowl: Buf over Dal

Friday, September 05, 2008

McCain Makes History

John McCain was nominated as the Republican presidential candidate. He is attempting to be the 44th ostensibly-straight white Christian man to hold the office of the presidency. That truly would be historic.

His nomination gives hope to the little white Christian boys who are born into prestigious families all across this nation. One day, they too may become powerful and rule the United States of America. But McCain is more than a mere symbol. He carries a populist message, particularly to the part of the populace who earns over $5 million a year. Even his nomination speech was historic. It was the first time at a national convention that television panned to show every black delegate (all 36 of them) during just one speech.

McCain represents change. Generally, the incumbent party is voted out during a recession. A McCain win would represent change in that vein. McCain stands for hope. Even though many people no longer live in a house in the wake of the foreclosure crisis, because of John McCain, they are dreaming of how a person can own more houses than can be remembered.

Alright, so McCain is more like a continuation of history than a history maker. But there will be history made no matter who wins the election. If Obama wins, we'll have the first FLILF since Lady Bird Johnson and if McCain wins we'll have the first V-PILF since Spiro Agnew.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

The Republican Convention

Republican speaker after Republican speaker belittled Barack Obama’s messages of hope and change and in the process seemingly advocated despair and stagnation. The Republicans came up with their own slogan of “Drill Baby Drill,” something you might expect your psychotic dentist to prescribe, not a party platform that delegates at a national convention would scream. When Rudi Giuliani actually tried to pay the Democratic nominee a compliment by explaining that Obama's story could only happen in America, the delegates took it as a punchline and chuckled. The way the Republicans dealt with Obama reminded me of the third grade. What's next, are they going to attack his big ears?

The Republicans delighted in chanting "zero," the amount of executive experience possessed by Obama and Joe Biden. One could argue that running a presidential campaign, directing what will be about a billion dollar enterprise involving more people than have ever resided in the state of Alaska, is a nice little test. But the explanation of Sarah Palin's experience does more to discredit the disparaging remarks against Obama.

The Republicans actually laid the crux of their argument for Palin's experience by claiming that Alaska and Delaware have the same amount of electoral votes. Apparently, you can fit 250 Delawares (geographically, not in terms of population) into Alaska. Palin evidently has foreign policy experience because Alaska is near Russia. I know, this sounds like Stephen Colbert's shtick, but I assure you that it is their actual argument.

The Republicans allege that Obama and Biden are the first and third most liberal senators. I wish! I believe they claimed that Kerry and Edwards were first and fourth last time around. Bernie Sanders, Russ Feingold, Ben Cardin, Ted Kennedy, Barbara Boxer, Diane Feinstein, and numerous others have something to say about that. Just about all of the Democratic senators are more liberal than Biden. I was upset at the Biden pick because he was too much like McCain. I don't think McCain is too liberal or too conservative, I just think he's wrong on too many issues.

The rest of the Republican Convention has been a parade of minorities in an attempt to show that the party is not simply a bunch of good-ole-boy white men. So you have white women who are former CEOs and a black guy who used to be Lieutenant Governor (from Maryland, where we vote on the Governor and the Lieutenant on the same ticket). There was an old Jewish senator well past his prime and a Latino guy who works in middle management somewhere. If you are a Republican and a minority, you probably have spoken at the convention.

When the white men finally spoke, it was apparent that they were very angry. Mitt Romney was forceful in condemning Al Gore's private jet, but made no mention of his own. Romney also accused the Supreme Court of being too liberal, which nearly made my head explode. Hopefully the Republicans will start to talk about the issues that concern us. So far, there's all red meat and real substance.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Evil Leaders League, Week 7

All season long, we've watched these competitors reach down deep and pull out moments of evilness that have left us breathless (and have left some headless). We've come to the last week of the regular season and our participants will try to make it work one last time. Let's get the results.

Chavez vs Calderon
The President of Venezuela is named Hugo Chavez. Despite being a radical leftist, the daughter of his vice president just had a baby, even though she's been married for years. What a hypocrite! When he's not shopping at Babies R Us, which was recently nationalized, Chavez is threatening to expel the U.S. ambassador to Venezuela. Chavez is angry that Ambassador Patrick Duddy- who was not the dad in Step By Step, but did enjoy the show- keeps mentioning the lack on democracy in Venezuela. If Chavez decides not to expel Duddy, he'll at least nationalize him. Mexico's President Felipe Calderon is the most threatening Spanish speaker to the United States since Jose Jimenez. After the President's army of illegal immigrants takes over the United States government, he'll introduce himself as such: "My name... Felipe Calderon. I your president new."
winner: Check the ELL site

Ahmadinejad vs Musharraf
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the first term president of Iran, and Bolivia's Evo Morales have become strong allies. Guess what Ahmadinejad, to quote Danny Ainge, "Che is not walking through that door. Simon Bolivar is not walking through that door. An arsenal of nuclear weapons is not walking through that door." Give it up. Pervez Musharraf used to be the president of Pakistan until two weeks ago. Now, he's just some guy. Musharraf's resignation has made Indian political cartoonists very sad. Now they have to resort to lambasting their own corrupt public officials. Though not the most powerful man in his country, at least Ahmadinejad doesn't have to pick up his own dry cleaning yet. When that day comes, he'll call Musharraf for advice.
winner: Check the ELL site

Kim vs Nazarbayev
North Korea's feisty little leader is Kim Jong-Il, whether he's dead or not. There have been reports that he died five years ago. Either way, Kim is flexing his evil muscle (no, not his penis). If he's alive, it always helps to keep the enemy guessing. But if he's dead, he has reigned over his terrorized population and taunted the world's global powers from beyond the grave. That would be legendarily evil. The war between Russia and Georgia was beneficial to Kazakhstan’s autocratic president, Nursultan Nazarbayev. He can afford to manufacture a bit of leverage over his country's former master, Russia. If it provokes even stronger tensions between Russia and the U.S. then Kazakhstan's strategic importance might become so high, that Nazarbayev could follow in the footsteps of Islam Karimov and boil his opponents without consequence. War to an evil leader is like ice cream to a cranky toddler. But we know Nazarbayev is alive.
winner: Check the ELL site

al-Bashir vs Shwe
For the first time in ELL history, we will have an undefeated leader after the final week of the regular season. The question is: which one? Omar al-Bashir is a two-time ELL champion and the ruler of Sudan. Omar al-Bashir might be prosecuted by the ICC on charges of genocide in Darfur after all. If he does face a trial, his only request is he wants a more comfortable cage than the ones provided to Saddam Hussein and Adolph Eichmann. Oh, and preferably Marcia Clark and Chris Darden could be the prosecuting attorneys.

Than Shwe not only leads the military junta that rules over Myanmar, but he leads the military junta that rules over Burma. This is his first season in the ELL and he has yet to lose. Shwe unveiled a new slogan to the department of tourism, "It's so nice, we named the country twice." Shwe added to the slogan, "Regardless, you're not invited." The crisis in Burma remains static, which is coincidently also the new torture method Shwe has instituted against the enemy Buddhist monks. The monks should have known the wool carpeting installed in their prison cells was too good to be true.
winner: Check the ELL site

standings: Check the ELL site

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Sarah Palin's Baby's Baby Bump

Sarah Palin is a Christian conservative. Her underage unwed daughter is pregnant, but Sarah Palin is not a hypocrite- I repeat not a hypocrite- because her daughter is not having an abortion! Christian conservative = pro-life ... and don't you forget it!

It's called having morals. You liberal bastards should try it some time.