Tuesday, September 25, 2012

An Open Letter to Roscoe Bartlett

Dear Representative Bartlett,

A couple of hours from the start of Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year for Jews, I am writing to you to discuss your comments from a couple of weeks ago when you argued that advocating for federally-funded student loans leads down a slippery slope to the Holocaust. I happen to disagree with your assertion that student loans issued by the federal government is unconstitutional. The founders did not address this issue, so it's open to interpretation. I am offended by your insinuation that my position would lead down a slippery slope to the Holocaust. Though we disagree, I do not believe your position is reminiscent of the Nazis or the Khmer Rouge. I would hope you'd feel the same way.

But I'm far more than offended. I am deeply hurt. Two of my grandparents were Holocaust survivors. I have heard many offensive comments about the Holocaust, but yours has had a greater impact than most. That might be due to the fact that I am now a voter in the sixth district, so you represent me in Congress.

Today, I visited my dad's grave. In the cemetery, there is a memorial to the six million Jews who perished in the Shoah. I was overcome by a rare spark of emotion standing beside the memorial and thinking about your comments. I wish you could have seen the tears rolling down my cheeks as I thought about your use of my family's misery to score cheap political points. I wish you could have seen the pain in my late grandmother's eyes. She and my grandfather endured torture that you could not fathom. Their families were tortured, dehumanized, and murdered in the Holocaust. It did not begin with them receiving federally-funded student loans from the invading Nazis.

You clearly are either ignorant of the true horror of the Holocaust or are a malicious person. I prefer to believe the former. Might I suggest reading Elie Wiesel's Night, Primo Levi's Survival in Auschwitz, and Leo Bretholz's Leap into Darkness. After you read their accounts, I find it hard to imagine that you'll ever bandy about the memory of the Holocaust in such a callously frivolous manner.

In the wake of your abhorrent comments, I believe you should resign. It would be the decent thing to do. But I'm aware that decency has no place in American politics, where power and party rule. So I ask that you learn about the Holocaust. Be more sensitive and understanding when discussing political positions with which you disagree. I hope your honor is more important to you than your career.


Saturday, September 22, 2012

Another Obnoxious Pound-for-Pound List

Here is the updated version of my obnoxiously unnecessary and utterly superfluous list of the top 10 pound-for-pound boxers. The previous list was posted on June 23.

1) Floyd Mayweather (43-0, 26 KOs), [Previous Rank: 1]
2) Manny Pacquiao (54-4-2, 38 KOs), [PR: 2]
3) Andre Ward (26-0, 14 KOs), [PR: 9]
4) Sergio Martinez (50-2-2, 28 KOs), [PR: 5]
5) Juan Manuel Marquez (54-6-1, 39 KOs), [PR: 3]
6) Wladimir Klitschko (58-3, 51 KOs), [PR: 6]
7) Timothy Bradley (29-0, 12 KOs), [PR: 4]
8) Vitali Klitschko (45-2, 41 KOs), [PR: 7]
9) Nonito Donaire (29-1, 18 KOs), [PR: 8]
10) Carl Froch (29-2, 21 KOs), [PR: NR]

Exiting the list:
Chad Dawson (31-2, 17 KOs), [PR: 10]

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Nats are Playoffs-Bound!

The lifespans of this blog and of the Washington Nationals have been just about synonymous. There have been many dark moments throughout the years.

In 2005, the Nats played the first game in DC in my lifetime.
I predicted the Nats' tailspin.
And the Nats experienced a fiasco.

In 2006, Frank Robinson stood up for his team.

In 2007, the Nats had trouble winning on Wednesdays.
An ump screwed the Nats and John Lannan.
The Nats gave up a record-setting homerun.
And we said goodbye to RFK.

The 2008 started with players in the dog house.
The Nats were in trouble that year.

The 2009 season started terribly.
The bullpen was awful that year.
Stan Kasten was perplexed at how bad the Nats were.

In 2010, I celebrated the Nats reaching .500 even though it was only April.
Strasburg was benched just before a game I paid double the ticket price.
I took a realistic view of the franchise.

In 2011, I could sense the Nats were changing for the better.
The team was inconsistent, which was better than being consistently bad.

This season, they have flirted with being the best team in baseball.
Roger Bernadina made a great catch, possibly signifying something special.
And I've defended the Nats with their decision to sit Strasburg.

I've cheered for the Nats every step of the way. Most of those steps have been wrought with pain, disappointment, and embarrassment. It makes the win tonight that much sweeter. I don't mind telling you that clinching a playoff spot brought tears to my eyes tonight. But that doesn't mean it's enough just yet.

A couple of notes:
-Someone somewhere in Moldova is rocking my Nats hat I left on a train headed there in '05 with a smile today.
-I was at RFK the day Ross Detwiler signed his first contract. He threw out the ceremonial first pitch and bounced it, so I booed. Five years later, he gets the win in the playoff-clinching victory. I think my booing deserves a large portion of the credit.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Second Wild Card

Baseball has decided that there should be two wild card winners in each league this year. As with most things baseball does these days, it is incredibly stupid.

I like the idea of a single-game playoff between the top two wild card teams if they're tied at the end of the regular season. Otherwise, I hate it. Basically, we just played 162 games and determined that 4th place is better than 5th place. But let's play one extra game just to make sure. It's insane.

I bet you thought it couldn't get stupider. You're wrong. The winner of the wild card gets the first two games of their next series at home! I hope there's a 6-team for that second wild card spot in the National League.

Yet, this idiocy does not compare to how dumb letting the All Star Game decide home field advantage in the World Series.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Yunel Escobar is Homophobic

Homophobic eye-black and the DH? This is why I hate the American League.

I wonder if he used the Sammy Sosa excuse, "I accidentally grabbed my batting practice eye-black."

Maybe it's not his fault.
It could be that he got drunk and passed out before the game and some frat boy wrote all over his face.

Monday, September 17, 2012

The Bills are 1-1

After a blowout lost in week 1 to the Jets, the Bills bounced back in week 2, destroying the Chiefs. The biggest pleasant surprise has been C.J. Spiller who has been outstanding since Fred Jackson went down with injury. The defense really struggled in week 1, but played much better yesterday. The Chiefs scored 17 points, but 14 of those were late, when the outcome of the contest was no longer in doubt.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Eleven years ago, murderous men attacked the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Washington, D.C.  As a result, the United States went to war with the Taliban in Afghanistan, presumably because they harbored al Qaeda, the group that was deemed responsible for these heinous acts.

Eleven years later, even U.S. government officials admit that al Qaeda's presence in Afghanistan is virtually nil. The group's leader, Osama bin Laden, was killed in 2011. Yet, the war in Afghanistan persists.

Now, the U.S. is fighting to quell the Taliban's insurgence. But why? The Taliban no longer harbors al Qaeda.

It's about building a natural gas pipeline from Turkmenistan through Afghanistan and to a port, probably in Pakistan. That pipeline can't be built if the war persists. The Afghan army doesn't have the ability to extinguish the Taliban threat. The Taliban can't overthrow the government and, if they did, it would like look a huge failure for the United States.

So, the war most go on in the minds of U.S. government officials. Countless people die as a result. This will be the lasting legacy of the attacks of September 11, 2001.