Sunday, May 31, 2009

Forgetting Iraq

The United States' international focus has shifted to Afghanistan, Pakistan, and North Korea. In the meantime, Iraq has slowly faded from the nation's consciousness.

I love how killings in Iraq decrease somewhat and everyone thinks the campaign has been a success. When I say I "love" that, what I really mean is that "it makes me sick." Reportedly, 134 Iraqi civilians died in the month of May directly because of the war. In the last two months, 424 Iraqi civilians were reportedly killed. That's a success?! Only, relatively speaking.

The May 2009 total is the least since 2003. That low is still over 4 murdered Iraqis a day. Over the last two months, the number of murdered Iraqis a day is 7. In most places, that would be a catastrophe. It is more a measure of how horrific the war had become and less an indication of any real triumph.

Iraq's political system is still based on ethno-sectarian divisions, which is to say, it is far from a success. A lower, yet still intolerable, number of Iraqi civilian deaths doesn't represent a success either. Success in Iraq should not come cheap. We need to redefine what success means in Iraq. (International affairs)

Saturday, May 30, 2009

The Afghan Root Canal

I had a big hole in my tooth. Eventually, because it was ignored, it became infected. The pain spread all across that region of my face. I took anti-biotic and that seemed to help, although the hole remained.

Then, I went to the dentist. He used overwhelming force to cover up the hole. The temporary cover is too big and whenever I bite down, it hits the root and hurts like hell.

Some have said that I was in trouble as soon as the hole developed and that trouble intensified as I ignored it. They claim that I should have taken steps to prevent the hole. Even now, they argue that there are still things I can do to prevent another hole from forming. These critics claim I should stop the drug trade even if it means punishing pro-American Afghans and I should stop giving indiscriminate aid to the Pakistani military because it will just end up in the hands of extremists no matter what the Pakistani military says. If I tell you I've been flossing for the last 20 years and I still have problems with my teeth, there's a chance I might be lying.* But I may have lost the metaphor somewhere in there.

* I do floss frequently, I just like candy.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

NBA Playoff Update

Everyone assumed the Cavs would coast to the championship after their breezy first two rounds. But the NBA is a league of matchups. Logically, what does beating the Hawks have to do with playing against the Magic?

The Cavs happen to matchup poorly with the Magic. I can see why. Normally, the Cavs can use their two combo guards to their advantage. They have an offensive-minded center and a dirty-worker power forward. It's a recipe for success, especially when you add LeBron James into the mix.

But the Magic negate the Cavs personnel strengths. Unless LeBron is forced to guard one of the Magic's two best offensive players, Lewis or Turkoglu, he guards the Magic's shooting guard. That leaves either Mo Williams or Delonte West to try and stop Hedo Turkoglu. Turkoglu has a combination of size and talent that makes that chore impossible. Then, Varejao must contend with the inside-out ability of Rashard Lewis. And it isn't like Varejao or Ilgauskus can take Lewis down in the post on the other end- that's not their game. Then, Ilgauskus has no chance of contending with the strength and speed of Dwight Howard. Add Rafer Alston and Mickael Pietrus, who are both on fire, and you get a 3-1 Magic lead despite LeBron's play.

I criticized Dwight Howard when he called for the ball. He can't yet dominate in the post and is nonexistent in fourth quarters with good reason. Now, Pau Gasol is calling for the ball. Pau needs to follow Howard's lead and shut up. Pau is not the reason the Lakers are in their current position. He's a nice second scorer. Since I've been following the league, I've never heard a second scorer demand the ball (well until Howard, the team's third option, did so). If Kobe decides you should have the ball, then you'll get it. If not, shut up and get back on defense. In Game 5, Gasol took 8 shots and scored 14 points. In Game 4, Gasol took 11 shots and scored 21 points (the game that caused him to complain). Guess which one the Lakers won?

Besides all the ball demanding and with all the clutch shots in the East and Trevor Ariza's memorable steals in the West, this has been an exciting Conference Finals, which is good for the league.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Andy Van Slyke's Rampage

Andy Van Slyke has always been overshadowed, both on and off the field, by his former fellow early-1990s Pittsburgh Pirate outfielders. Yesterday, he did something to at least get rid of the off the field shadows.

While volunteering at a local youth center, Van Slyke went crazy, nipple twisting anything in sight. At first, the kids thought it was fun, an adult playfully breaking the rules. But the episode soon turned tragic. Tiny little nipple after tiny little nipple left twisted, distorted, mangled. Kids fell to the ground holding their bosoms in tears. No one who witnessed it will soon forget.

In his wake, Andy Van Slyke, who hit .274 in 13 seasons in the Major Leagues, left dozens of hysterical children and twice as many bloody nipples. "It was like a scene out of war," recalled the janitor, John Jaffey.

The youth center sent out a memo stating, "We are very disturbed by the actions of Mr. Van Slyke yesterday. His role with the children at our center was supposed to be one of protector and educator, not of nipple-twister. We are disappointed. Mr. Van Slyke will be suspended from all our activities for the next two weeks."

According to prosecutors, Van Slyke will be charged with 97 counts of child abuse and 52 counts of child sexual molestation.

After numerous attempts, Andy Van Slyke could not be reached for comment.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Defensive Player of the Year

If Dwight Howard deserves the Defensive Player of the Year, then killing Afghan civilians is a good idea. This guy is one of the best shot blockers in the league. Penetrators have to think twice when they're in the paint against the Magic. But mere off-the-ball shot blocking should not a Defensive Player of the Year make.

Howard is often out of position. In attempting to block every shot, his man, generally the big man with the least offensive ability, finds himself open more than he's used to. Howard also needs a new nickname. He is "The Goaltender." He must lead the world in granting the other team two undeserved points.

The NBA needs a new system to determine the Defensive Player of the Year. It shouldn't be based on ppg. Steals and blocks are the only ways to quantify defense, but they are often misleading numbers. I mean, Gilbert Arenas puts up a lot of steals when healthy and he's one of the worst defenders I've ever witnessed.

Beat writers should nominate players who play great defense night in and night out. These writers follow a team throughout a season and know who the good defenders are and which players merely make the occasional highlight reel play. It should not be limited to one nomination per team. If you're a beat writer for the Rockets, you might nominate Battier and Artest. If you write on the Wizards, you might not nominate anyone. But this new way will reward guys who truly are good and often unheralded defenders, instead of great offensive players, who have a few flashy plays to hang their hats on.

Monday, May 25, 2009

100,000 Miles

On Sunday, May 24, 2009 at 5:36pm in Virginia on George Washington Parkway just off the Beltway headed south, my (first) car hit the 100,000 mile mark. And do you know why? Because it's not American.

I demand respect, I drive a Honda!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

The New Republican Party

Often times a devastating election loss is nothing more than another stage in the cycle that is politics. But there are elections that indicate something deeper. After three straight presidential debacles throughout the 1980s, the Democrats sought a more centrist candidate. The party as a whole moved slightly to the right. Well, the Republicans face the same dilemma.

The Republican party is a turd right now. The leadership wants to spray perfume on that turd. What the party needs is an overhaul. The Republicans' solution to every economic problem is indiscriminate tax cuts. The party continues to back an indeterminate oversees military presence. It remains a tacit supporter of torture, the restriction of civil liberties, and corruption. At the moment, the GOP is trying to resurrect the issue of abortion; a clear sign of desperation.

Certain policy shifts will allow the Republican party to disassociate itself with its recent history while providing attractive alternatives to the party in power. Domestically, Republicans need to stop advocating blanket tax cuts. Americans always enjoy paying fewer taxes, but, at this moment, the policy appears insulting. Taxes were cut massively under Bush and the result has been a recession. Whether or not the tax cuts played any role in creating the recession, I have no idea, but that is the logical perception.

Instead, the Republicans need to change their tone towards advocating efficient government, as opposed to small government. Americans expect the government to provide services, but don't want to pay for it. If Americans are shown that their tax money is put to use, they'll live with paying taxes. The Republicans' argument should be: a more efficient government will serve the dual purpose of reducing taxes while still providing services.

On the foreign policy front, there is a clamoring on both sides of the political spectrum for an isolationist approach. Liberals disapprove of America's neo-imperialist role on the international stage. Conservatives are concerned with the amount of money being thrown at the problems of other nations.

Putting socially conservative issues on the backburner, and advocating for efficient government and a noninterventionist foreign policy will provide the Republican party with a relevant message that appeals to a broad range of the American population. It will become a national party again and actually provide a true alternative to the policies of the Democrats.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Root Canal

A bad thing about having tremendous tooth pain is that you can't sleep. A good thing is that you can't eat, so you lose weight. I hadn't been to the dentist for 3 years. He said he missed me and asked if I missed him. "Umm..."

He told me I needed a root canal. The good news is now if I say, "Well that was about as fun as a root canal," it'll be genuine. The dentist mentioned that the tooth is in the back and he'll probably have to force me to keep opening my mouth wider. He asked if I would be mad at him for that. "We'll see."

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Jewish Children's Books Series #3

Mommy, Why are the Kids at School Throwing Pennies at Me?
A HarazQuack Publication

"Because, Shlomo," said Mamala, "wait, who's throwing pennies at you? I'm going to call their mothers."
"No, please don't. I just want to know why they're doing that."
Mamala shoots a frustrated smirk, "Because those kids are ignorant."
"Yes, Shlomo. They don't know any better."
"But Mamala, why are they throwing pennies at me?"
"Because, Shlomo, there is a stereotype that Jews are cheap."
"A stereotype?"
"Yes, Shlomo. A stereotype is when people think you're a certain way because you belong to a group. For example, people think you're cheap because you're Jewish."
"That doesn't make any sense!"
"Well, I'm not sure how to explain it any different, Shlomo."
"No. I mean if people think I'm cheap just because I'm Jewish. That doesn't make any sense!"
"You're right, Shlomo. It doesn't."
"Then why do people think like that?"
"Because they're ignorant idiots."
"That makes sense. Can I go play now?"
"Sure, Shlomo."

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Nats Bullpen

Dear Nats Bullpen,

The point of pitching is to get the other team's batters out, you fucking douchebags!

The Management at The HarazQuack Times

Monday, May 18, 2009

The Caterpillar Massacre

A bird had just shit on my head. That wasn't a good start to a walk that was supposed to clear my head. Looking down, I passed a gruesome sight. A group of dead caterpillars were sprayed about on a single sidewalk square.

Here's what happened:

They call it the Caterpillar Massacre of 1937 (the caterpillar Jesus came a few years after the human version). A group of caterpillars smooshed another group, simply because the victims were a little bit darker than the perpetrators. After months of hate-speech, a simple misunderstanding sparked one of the worst tragedies in the history of caterpillars.

One of the so-called darker male caterpillars asked out one of the so-called "lighter" female caterpillars. Another "lighter" caterpillar overheard the conversation and took it as an attack against the "malehood" of the "lighter" caterpillars. The episode pushed tensions over the edge as the "lighter" caterpillars had been feeling that jobs were taken away from them. The eavesdropping caterpillar rounded up his posse and they struck again and again leaving in their wake the horrifying carnage I witnessed.

The shame of it is that we'll never know how many of the victimized caterpillars were going to turn into beautiful butterflies. But caterpillars are such primitive creatures. They don't possess the capacity to know any better. It's not an excuse; it's the sad reality of the situation. Rest in peace valiant caterpillars, rest in peace.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Have I Misjudged 50 Shekel?

A while back I noticed 50 Shekel left MySpace and Facebook. I was nervous. To me, it seemed like an unstoppable descent towards depression and, perhaps, eventual suicide. I sure hoped not. Let me be clear, I don't want 50 Shekel to kill himself. I do, however, want him to stop rapping. Because he's terrible. I'm sure he has some sort of talent. I'm sure he can contribute something to society. But, I repeat, he is a terrible rapper.

Around that time I played some of 50 Shekel's Christian-theme rap for a Christian friend of mine. With each nasal lyric that spewed from 50 Shekel's nebbishy nose, my friend's face filled with redness. His chin sank into his chest. It was the first and only time I've ever seen a white Christian man filled with shame. He was embarrassed to be who he was. Written on his face were the muted words, "If I'm associated with this, then there must be something wrong with me."

It's a feeling that people who belong to groups in the minority all over the world know well. You are forced to constantly question yourself. You have to carry the weight that your people place on your shoulders because your shoulders are precisely the location your people are told to place the weight. For the first time in my presence, a white Christian male could empathize.

That made me think. Maybe 50 Shekel isn't a terrible rapper at all. Maybe, he never started as an offensive stereotype and never transformed to a sell out after all. Perhaps, he is a genius. His raps fill Christians with an inescapable humiliation in themselves. A feeling that recollecting 2,000 years of consistent anti-Semitism has never instilled in them. There is a chance that 50 Shekel is the messiah.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

I'm Pissed at the Taliban

I'm pissed at the Taliban. They've decided to shave their beards in an attempt to escape from Pakistan. We had a deal!

I remember when it all happened. The Taliban were sitting around chilling. They knew they needed a gimmick, but they weren't sure which to choose. One guy suggested, "Dude, why don't we all grow beards?"

The rest of the Taliban were all like unsure and junk. One guy's girl didn't like beards. Another couldn't get his beard to connect with the mustache and that was a source of embarrassment. Yet another guy said that beards were currently out of style.

That's when I stepped in. I said, "If you guys decide to grow a beard, I'll grow one too." Evidently, all they needed was that little bit of reassurance. So we all grew beards and everything was cool.

Now I read that the Taliban are shaving off their beards. I was never consulted. I'm the reason why they have beards, the least they could have done was talk to me about it! Well, I'm not shaving my beard. I'm not going to follow them if they don't want to even tell me what they're going to do. From now on, this is an anti-Taliban beard!

Friday, May 15, 2009

NBA Playoffs Update

Cavs 4 Hawks 0
LeBron James has the pieces around him and he's focused. Williams and West round out Cleveland's three scorers. Ilgauskus gives them a post presence. The Cavsalso have big guys who have no problem getting dirty in the paint. The Hawks were heavily overmatched, but with some retooling, they should be back in the 2nd round next year.

Celtics 3 Magic 3
There is no real reason why the Magic aren't sitting at home right now waiting for the Cavs. The Celtics without Garnett don't have much. healthy big men who belong anywhere near an NBA court. But they've stayed in the series thanks to coming out parties by Rondo, Perkins, Davis, and House.

Meanwhile, Orlando continues to blow big leads. It's a problem when your best player in not a viable option at the end of games. The funny thing is that Dwight Howard had the nerve to blame his coach and his teammates for his own faults. This guy does a number of things really well. He is one of the best shot blockers and rebounders in the game. His Defensive Player of the Year award is laughable though, as he has plenty of opportunities to block shots from the weak side thanks to poor perimeter defense. His rebound stats are also inflated because Orlando doesn't possess a true 4 man.

Howard has the ability to over power defenders within the restriced circle. But he's not Shaq and he's not Duncan. He can't dominate a game offensively. His post game isn't there yet. He doesn't pass the ball well. Unlike Shaq and Duncan, his poor free throw shooting doesn't improve when it counts. In Game 6, the Magic won without Howard down the stretch. Howard shot 1 for 4 from the line in the last 4-plus minutes and did little else offensively.

Nuggets 4 Mavs 1
Dallas went as far as they could with this team. Kidd is no longer a championship-caliber point guard. Josh Howard and Jason Terry are too inconsistent. Dirk sure is good though. With Carmelo and Billups, the Nuggets have two primetime scorers. They actually play good defense now. They seem to have all the pieces to go far. If they have to play the Lakers, they won't have home court and that will hurt if the Lakers come to play each night.

Lakers 3 Rockets 3
The Rockets are up 2-1 since Yao went down. Yao is a very good player and I won't start the whole "are they better without Yao?" thing just yet. The problem with Yao is that some nights he's great and others he's terrible. The Rockets do things the right way. They have a number of unheralded guys who know they have to work their asses off if they want to stay in the league. In basketball, heart often beats talent.

People are asking, "What's wrong with the Lakers?" They wonder why the team doesn't leave it out on the floor night in and night out. Their effort does appear to be inconsistent but people are overlooking the fact that they're not as good as everyone assumes. The reason is because they're not a great defensive team. Kobe is a great defender. But Fisher can no longer stay with quick little point guards and the big guys are lacking on that end of the court. Kobe doesn't need a team filled with scorers; he needs guys like Chuck Hayes, Carl Landry, and Luis Scola.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

The 2009 Mozambican Presidential Election

The next presidential election in Mozambique is scheduled for October 28, 2009. Current president Armando Guebuza represents Frelimo, the party that has been in power since independence. The main opposition party, Renamo, is led by Afonso Dhlakama, making his fourth run at the presidency. A new political party, the MDM, has formed as an offshoot of Renamo and is led by the mayor of Beira, Daviz Simango.

Mozambicans certainly have a number of options (including several candidates from smaller parties) for the presidency. However, none of them are very good. Guebuza has been a member of Frelimo's inner circle for decades. He deserves part of the credit, as well as part of the blame, for Frelimo's past policies. In the early 1980s, Guebuza oversaw a program called Operation Production, which instituted a form of virtual forced labor as people were systematically rounded up and transported to the countryside. Guebuza was one of the four or five major figures during Frelimo's authoritarian one-party rule. In 2004, he won a presidential election that international observers did not deem to be free or fair.

Dhlakama's past is at least as troublesome as Guebuza's. He took over Renamo, a rebel group founded and funded by white racist apartheid regimes, in 1979 after the death of the original leader, Andre Matsangaissa. Under Dhlakama's leadership, Renamo was responsible for human rights violations, such as recruiting child soldiers. Dhlakama's ties to Renamo's suspicious roots and his role in the nation's civil war do not make Dhlakama the ideal presidential candidate. This is highlighted by the fact that he only received 31.7% of the vote in 2004 and has failed in his three previous attempts at the presidency.

Daviz Simango is part of a new generation of politicians. However, the mayor of Beira has his drawbacks as well. His split with Renamo is not over issues, but because of a personality clash with Dhlakama. As a result, the split may serve to marginalize the opposition in Mozambique. In this scenario, Frelimo would become a de facto one-party state, which was largely the reason for the civil war in the first place. Simango's father, Uria, was a major leader in Frelimo until he was outmaneuvered for the head of the organization after the death of Eduardo Mondlane in 1969. Frelimo labeled the elder Simango a traitor. However, the father's role should not matter towards determining the son's merits.

There is a persuasive argument asserting that it doesn't really matter who wins the presidency because the "international community" essentially makes the decisions in Mozambique. Mozambique relies heavily on aid and the president's only real power might be to attempt to direct that aid within a narrow set of possibilities. As October 28 approaches, it appears that Mozambicans will be called on to choose a candidate without a comprehensive vision for Mozambique's future or the clout to institute that vision were they to have one. The country needs a new generation of leaders devoid of the contentious connection to the civil war and free from the international community's control. (International Edition)

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Is She the Perfect Woman?

There are so many women in the world. How do you find someone that you can live with for the rest of your life? And when you do find someone, how do you know if she's The One? You have to find out how much plaque she has. If she has too much plaque, that's no good. But if she doesn't have any plaque, you have to ask yourself, 'What is she hiding?' She is probably covering up some insecurity. The old saying, 'If it seems too good to be true, it probably is," rings true with women and their plaque.
You might ask me how I know this. My grandmother told me. She said, "If you want to find the right woman, look to her plaque." There is a chance that "plaque" is Polish for something else. Or maybe I just misunderstood her; she had a very strong accent.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Part of the Index of My Autobiography

gaydar, 144
George Mason University, 150-158; Final Four, 156
girls, mocked by, 76, 85, 94, 103, 112, 121, 146, 167, 186, 194, 204, 216, 267, 298; rejected by 84, 93, 102, 111, 120, 129, 138, 146, 150, 152, 178, 183, 190, 193, 245-63, 298; told their friends I have a small penis, 88, 104, 123, 148, 156, 184, 204, 217, 224, 238, 298
Goucher College, 141-2
Guebuza, Armando, President of Mozambique, 275
HarazQuack Times, The, 145, 168-186
Heathrow Airport, London, 143
Hell, being in Mississippi, 140, 176; dental appointments, 28, 38, 183
hemorrhoids, 214-217, 246
heteroskedasticity, 17
Hitler, Adolph, 1-109, 111-302; Anschluss, 204; asshole, is a, 6, 19, 26-29, 112, 127, 146, 184, 214-217; dreams of fucking Eva Braun just to spite, 211; failed art student, 68, 76, 114, 120, 184, 258, 297; one ball theory, 154; Poland, attack of, 253; stupid mustache, 7, 45, 82, 116, 139, 162, 179, 209; suicide, 269; vegetarianism, 186-191

Monday, May 11, 2009

Terrible Things Kids Said to Me

You can take it for what it's worth, but I give you my word these are true. Most comments were seemingly out of nowhere.

9 year old: "You'll never get married. You're too short and not handsome enough."

9 year old: "You got an even uglier haircut."

5 year old: "You look like a monkey. A goofy monkey."

8 year old: "Hello, almost-grown up."

6 year old: "How old are you?"
me: "Guess."
6 year old: "100?"

11 year old: "How old are you?"
me: "Guess?"
11 year old: "14?"

12 year old: "You should shave your beard and style your hair to look like Wolverine. The girls will like it."

6 year old: "Oh yeah. You're not American, you're Jewish." [It begins already?]

9 year old: "You're Jewish? I'm gonna tell Hitler to come get you."
me: "I'm gonna tell Hitler to come get you!"
9 year old: "Nuh uh, I'm Asian."
me: "Hitler didn't like Asians."
9 year old: "Oh yeah. He only liked German people." [That's what I like to call a "teaching opportunity"]

sign from a 12 year old found on my computer: "UR THE MEANEST TEACHER EVER!! =(" [At least that one was an April Fools Day joke]

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Jewish Children's Books Series #2

Mommy, Why Did the Teacher Threaten to Fail Me if I Didn't Come to Class on Yom Kippur to Take the Test?
A HarazQuack Publication

"Because, Shlomo," said Mamala, "your teacher's an anti-Semite."
"What's an anti-Semite?"
"It's someone who hates Jews or doesn't know about us," according to Mamala.
"Oh, that makes sense because the teacher was very rude to me when I told her that I wouldn't be coming to class for the test because it was Yom Kippur. The school said she wasn't even supposed to give a test on Yom Kippur because it's not fair. And I asked her if she had many Jewish students before and she said, 'No'."
"Well Shlomo, I'm glad you spoke up. There are lots of people like your teacher. You have to be patient with them but firm."
"When I grow up, I'm going to be a teacher and give a test on Christmas and fail all of the gentile kids who don't come to class!"
"No, Shlomo!" Mamala scolded. "You have to be better than them."
"Ok, Mamala. I'm sorry."

Saturday, May 09, 2009

U.S. Role in Dominican Democracy

Following the assassination of Rafael Trujillo and the collapse of his regime, the Dominican Republic encountered numerous obstacles towards achieving democracy. The U.S. largely played a destructive role in the process.

After the assassination, towards the end of 1961, Trujillo's brothers attempted to gain control of the country, but U.S. warships docked just off the coast of the Dominican, deterred them. In the first post-Trujillo election, Juan Bosch of the PRD became president in 1963. He was soon overthrown. Bosch, a leftist, was overthrown by a military coup inspired by rightists. Donald Reid Carbral became the leader of the military junta that assumed power.

Dissent grew between both sides. Civil war broke out in 1965 between the Constitutionalists and the Loyalists. The Constitutionalists favored reinstating the democratically-elected Bosch. The Loyalists did not want Reid in power, instead backing the reinstatement of the previous president, Joaquin Balaguer. Balaguer had been the nominal president during the Trujillo regime, beginning in 1960.

The U.S. felt the violent division within the Dominican was to the super power's detriment. So, the U.S. intervened militarily to stop the war. The result was the contentious election of Balaguer in 1966. Balaguer ruled the Dominican for 22 of the next 30 years in a borderline autocratic manner. The intervention led to widespread condemnation of the U.S. in Latin America. Both sides of the Dominican war resented U.S. presence on their shores. They considered the war to be a domestic concern and the U.S. presence infringed on Dominican sovereignty.

One of the prevalent motives for the U.S. intervention was the pervasive fear that a communist regime would surface in areas engaged in conflict. Stability, even if at the hands of a non-democratic leader, was favorable to the potential of communism.

In part because of U.S. invention, the Dominican remains a semi-democratic nation, as scholars have deemed it. Political parties often rely on personalities as opposed to policies. Balaguer is a prime example of this point. More recently, Leonel Fernandez, the current president of the Dominican Republic, is serving his third term at the helm (1996-2000, 2004-present). (International edition)

Friday, May 08, 2009

Jewish Children's Books Series

Mommy, Why Aren't There Swastikas on the Other Houses?
A HarazQuack Publication

"Because, Shlomo," said Mamala, "we're different."
"Good different or bad different?"
Mamala sighed, "Depends who you ask? If you ask those schmucks who spray painted swastikas on our house, they would say bad."
"I won't ask them then."
Mamala looked up and chuckled. She looked back down and said, "You don't have much of a choice, Shlomo. Those people are cowards."
"What's a coward, Mamala?"
"It's someone who won't tell you how they feel about you to your face, Shlomo."
"If I see those guys, I'll tell them I don't like them, because I'm not a coward."
Mamala laughed, "Ok, boychik. Not now though. Now, it's time for bed."
"And I would tell them that we're good different. Not bad different."
Then Mamala bent down and gave a kiss. "Good night, Shlomo."
"Good night, Mamala."

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Ron Artest is a Genius

Ron Artest is one of the most maligned players in the NBA. He's also one of the most misunderstood.

I defended Artest in the wake of the infamous brawl in November 2004 in Detroit. He should have been suspended. I would have put it at 20 games. Artest committed a hard foul. In retaliation, Ben Wallace shoved him in the throat. Artest decided to cool off and laid down on the scorer's table in an effort to do so. For his trouble, he got a beer in the face courtesy of a Pistons fan. Artest did what most of us would have done in a situation with tensions running high; he ran after the guy in an attempt to punch him in the face. As a result, he was suspended for the entire season (72 games plus the playoffs).

But that's not why Artest is a genius. For that, we need to look at his comments from last week. Artest was asked why Brandon Roy scored 42 points on him. Artest answered, "He's the best player I've played against." Better than Kobe or LeBron? Yes, was his unequivocal answer.

"Not on defense now. His defense is kind of suspect," Artest added with a wry smile.

Brandon Roy is a nice young scorer, but the best Artest has ever played against? Well actually, no. "He is, he's the best player I've played against, outside a guy from my hood in Queensbridge."

What must Brandon Roy have been thinking after hearing those comments? First, he must have been humiliated by the over-praise. Second, insulted by Artest's shot at Roy's defensive ability. Third, even more insulted because, according to Artest, Roy's not even as good as his boy Mike from Q-boro. And last, scared out of his mind because Artest is crazy. Artest came out and dominated the next game, clinching the series.

In Game 2 against the Lakers, Artest's reputation got the better of him again. Kobe threw an elbow into Artest's throat in a bid for a rebound. Artest was mysteriously called for the foul. Artest justifiably protested the call. His pleas were getting nowhere, so he confronted Kobe to let him know that would not be tolerated. The two were separated. Artest voluntarily walked away and continued to complain. He later said that his intention was to receive a technical foul to prove a point. He was clearly under control. Then, he made a motion with his arm, indicating the elbow Kobe threw at his throat. I believe Joey Crawford mistook this action for the “Chris Childs” throat slash and threw him out of the game.

Artest's actions were rational throughout. I understand Crawford's point of view. He thought Artest was heated at Kobe, needed to be restrained, and then directed a gesture in Kobe’s direction. But that isn't what happened. Let's start giving Artest the benefit of the doubt and change our thinking about him.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

All 50 States!

My perception of every state in the Union (and DC) in a few stereotypical phrases:

Alabama - poverty and hate groups
Alaska - snow and moose
Arizona - dry heat and cacti
Arkansas - Bill Clinton
California - Hollywood, hippies, and Mexicans
Colorado - Denver and its surrounding mountains
Connecticut - rich people
Delaware - the beach and no sales tax
District of Columbia - corruption and gentrification
Florida - old Jews, humidity, and florescent colors
Georgia - Atlanta and its surrounding racists
Hawaii - beaches and Hawaiians
Idaho - potatoes and neo-nazis
Illinois - Chicago and stupid accents
Indiana - basketball and racists
Iowa - corn and caucuses
Kansas - corn
Kentucky - horse racing and racists
Louisiana - gumbo and Marde Gras
Maine - bears and lobsters
Maryland - crabs and my life
Massachusetts - colonial history and douchey sports fans
Michigan - cars and hunting
Minnesota - housewives and their stupid accents
Mississippi - the mecca of bigotry
Missouri - those arches
Montana - gun nuts
Nebraska - corn
Nevada - Las Vegas strip
New Hampshire - small government fanatics
New Jersey - pollution and jerkoffs
New Mexico - Mexicans
New York - big buildings and snoody attitudes
North Carolina - friendly racists and basketball
North Dakota - I forgot it existed
Ohio - Midwestern racists
Oklahoma - cowboy hats and Amerindians
Oregon - old hippies and tall trees
Pennsylvania - Philadelphia and Pennsyltucky
Rhode Island - not an island
South Carolina - hellbent racists
South Dakota - Mount Rushmore
Tennessee - country music
Texas - self-righteous assholes and cowboy hats
Utah - Mormons
Vermont - gay marriage and maple syrup
Virginia - Yuppies and racists
Washington - rain and fishing
West Virginia - sex with family members
Wisconsin - cheese and stupid accents
Wyoming - horses and gun nuts

What a great country!

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Many Hats

I would like to take this time to inform my dear citizens of all of the hats I wear in order to make sure your lives are as prosperous as is humanly possible. I know, I know, you thought I was only your "Dear and Fearless Leader." Oh ye of little faith. I actually have lots of official titles. Let me now state them in decree form.

Today's decrees
"Dear and Fearless Leader" hereby accepts the following titles and all of the responsibilities attached.
"Great Protector of the Populace"
"Savior of the People"
"Fosterer of Intellect"
"Grand Promoter of Happiness"
"King Bikini Inspector"
"Chili Cookoff Champion"
"Nation's Best Speller" *
"Chief Jay Strongbow"
"Grandmaster Supreme"
"Two-time J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award Winner"
"Breast Health Ensurer"
"Bal Shem Tov"
"Voted Prettiest Balls"
"His Excellency, Pope Delicious I"
"Guy Who Determines Whether or Not College Players Can Declare for the NBA Draft Early"

key- * No matter how I spell a word, it is hereby correct.

Monday, May 04, 2009

The Revolutionary's Dating Service

RevDate: A service to help you find the person that you will some day not only have on your t-shirt, but also in your heart.

Please fill out the following form

turn ons: long strolls up to the president's place of residence, cuddling up by the plans to overthrow the government, and long untamed hair
turn offs: the status quo, the 700 Club, short tamed hair

preferred form of government: anyone but this one
favorite kind of coup: bloodless

method of spreading your message of revolution (put an "x" next to no more than 3)
television show:
radio program:
low budget newspaper:
blog: x
nonsensical fliers passed out at unrelated protest:
screaming from street corners: x
secret cabal:
Ponzi scheme:

Describe your perfect partner: She rejects all assumptions that are programmed into our heads from an early age, espouses compassion and empathy towards the plight of our fellow human beings, and wants to change the way we relate towards one another starting with our entire system of government. She does everything in her power to achieve these goals so that our descendents will have the opportunity to strive towards reaching the limits of human capability. And she has a cute butt.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

The Question of Renamo's Roots

There are scholars who have tried to downplay Renamo's roots. Renamo is the main opposition party in Mozambique. It began as a rebel movement, created and funded by two apartheid regimes, Rhodesian and South Africa.

Renamo gained sympathy from right wing circles in Europe and the United States during the late 1980s and early 1990s. Frelimo, the guerilla movement who led Mozambique to independence in 1975, ran a self-described Marxist-Leninist state. Renamo was viewed as an anti-communist force designed to inflict another blow on the Soviet bloc. Thus, Renamo received funds from conservative sources, such as Pat Robertson (yes, the one and only).

Another form of support came in the form of pro-Renamo literature. These academics sought to describe Renamo as fundamentally a black Mozambican nationalist movement, engaged in a legitimate struggle against a repressive regime. Certainly Rhodesia did not force Renamo on unwilling participants. There was a local clamoring for resistance to Frelimo in various parts of Mozambique. But Rhodesia's role in forming Renamo is undeniable.

After the Rhodesian regime disappeared in the wake of the Lancaster Agreement in 1979, paving the way for majority rule in the newly renamed Zimbabwe, South Africa took control of the direction of Renamo. The level of South African involvement is a source for debate. Some scholars claim that South Africa provided only scant logistic support, and only did so during the first 10 years of the civil war.

In 1984, South Africa and Mozambique signed the Nkomati Accord, calling for South Africa's support of Renamo to cease in exchange for a halt to Mozambique's support for the ANC. However, it is widely accepted that South Africa continued to back Renamo. The Vaz diaries, also known as the Gorongosa documents, give a detailed account of South African involvement in Renamo's affairs even after Nkomati. Vaz, the secretary of Renamo's leader Afonso Dhlakama, left his diary in Renamo's headquarters where it was captured by Zimbabwean troops during a raid and handed over to Frelimo. Right wing scholars tend to ignore this revelation in order to downplay Renamo's historical ties with white racist regimes.

From its founding in 1962, Frelimo was always marred by dissidents. Renamo tapped into an existing disaffection when it was formed shortly after independence. Frelimo was a one party state that did not allow room for dissent. But to deny Renamo's ties to apartheid regimes, who had their own agendas for creating havoc within Mozambique, is intellectually dishonest. (International edition)

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Hatton - Pacquiao

This is a tough one for me. I'm not sure who to root for. Manny Pacquiao is smaller. That's a check in his corner. He was an unabashed underdog against Oscar de la Hoya and thrilled viewers with a dominating performance. Another check.

For some reason, Pacquiao is an overwhelming favorite this time around. That's a check for Hatton. When I first heard the pairing I figured Pacquiao's streak in video game-like matchups was over. Hatton's in his prime. 140 is his usual weight. He's the best in the world at that weight. Pacquiao may have bit off more than he could chew.

Not that Pacquiao couldn't win. I was hoping he would and pull off an even more impressive upset. But now, as stated above, Pacquiao isn't the underdog. Hatton has another check in that his hot fiancée is taller than him.

Maybe I'll just root for an exciting fight and that no one gets hurt. Actually, I'm rooting for being able to watch it for free on the internet.

Friday, May 01, 2009

100 Days

Barack Obama has been president for 100 days. I'm not sure if we're headed toward fascism or anarchy, but wherever we're going, it's not good.

Obama is the head of a totalitarian regime that kowtows to foreign dictators. He bowed to the Saudi king! Can you believe that? He should've held the king's hand like a president's supposed to. He "engaged" in rudimentary "dialogue" with Venezuela's Hugo Chavez at a recent meeting of hemispheric governments. Obama should revert to the arrogance of the Bush administration. After all, the U.S. was kept safe for most of his tenure. Did you know more Americans died in foreign wars during the Bush administration than did due to the attacks of September 11, 2001? It's all part of his brilliant strategy to die over there so we don't have to die here.

Obama has created a situation where even the terrorists enjoy civil liberties. Yet, as I said earlier, we're headed towards a totalitarian state. How is he doing it? Obama is a slick intellectual, whose charisma and celebrity-style appeal convinces Americans and foreign leaders that he can do the impossible. He has the ability to face contradictory criticism without it sticking. Watch out my fellow Republicans. He's even recruiting amongst us. More than anything, I feel bad for Arlen Specter. The last Jewish Republican senator was brainwashed by Obama's suave pragmatism and shrewd consensus-building. Stay strong my conservative brothers. We're less than four years away until our savior Sarah Palin takes over the country!