Friday, May 19, 2006

Phones for you...

What are we going to do about our phone calls? What are we going to do about this idea that the government is making a huge list of every single phone number that we call on a given day? Are we supposed to worry about that? I don’t know about you but that makes me a little nervous to dial up my friend Ahmed and talk politics. Who knows what they think about a guy named Ahmed from Lebanon.
This is a problem on a great many levels. At the forefront is this idea that the Bush administration has done anything in the past five and half years to make us believe that they are trustworthy. If there has been a more spin intensive White House I can’t remember it. Not since Dick Nixon has a president so adamantly told us to just mind our own business and he’ll take care of everything. Don’t worry little country; now go back to bed and dream of killing terrorists and gay people.
I find it hard to believe that this group of people who are so living in such an elevated level of fear wouldn’t be listening to random phone calls. If they can track them, they can sure listen to them. And since they believe they are the moral police and since they believe that breaking a law or two in the name of “safety” is acceptable it wouldn’t surprise me in the least.
On top of all that is this idea that they think that the terrorists don’t know that the government is going to monitor phone calls. You think that any terrorist that really has a clue, not your Moussaui’s but your Mata’s, isn’t going to use a disposable telephone, send text messages or that old school coded email? It would be too easy to bounce messages from here to say a friendly nation; then place to place until it hits Iran or Syria. They might even send an overnight package, anything but a telephone.
I am waiting for the first raid of a Persian rug dealer in the Bronx because they were making too many phone calls to Pakistan. Let’s get real here. This is just another example of an administration so freaked out by their lack of respect for he terrorists in the first place and the fact that they missed so many obvious signals that they are running around like chickens with their heads blown off. They are just grasping at straws and telling us we are the safer for it. They may have a plan but like everything that the elephant does, it’s always a step behind the mouse.
So to the guys at the NSA, all those calls to 1 800-MAN-HUNK on my list were just wrong numbers. And to those of you afraid of what they are doing I think be very afraid. Not just about the lack of respect for civil liberties and the willingness to throw the baby out with the bathwater that exists on the right, but really about how lame this administration is in protecting us from another attack. I would trade the NSA program in a second for one that searches the cargo that comes into our ports every day. But that would cost money and that would mean raising taxes and … well protecting us from terrorists isn’t more important than the money stuffed in my mattress. Right?

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Scared is as scared does

I’m so tired of being surrounded by fear. Being afraid of spiders is one thing, sitting in our homes and fretting over the inevitable terrorist attack that our president keeps telling us is inevitable is crazy. Obviously we were sucker punched in 2001 and that was horrible. I wish we could bring all those people back. I wish our president and his people had listened to the warnings that were all around him when he took office. But their mistake doesn’t mean that we need to sit in a dark room and rock back and forth with fear.
What happened is that they screwed up. What makes it hard for me to stomach is that they can’t admit and let us forgive them. We would, you know, because that is what we do in this country. But they feel like they need to look strong and infallible in order to wage this war on terrorism. What they don’t realize is the thing we all learn as children: real strength comes in humility. Admitting our mistakes takes more character than doggedly holding onto our wrongs and trying desperately to make them right. Everyone hates that person, don’t they? Absolutely.
So I sit here and watch our administration dig themselves deeper and deeper into a hole that none of us are going to be able to get out of. They are hated overseas and now they are becoming hated over here. No one likes a liar; and an arrogant one at that. When Rummi was confronted last week in Atlanta he just looked like bitter old man who is desperate to look good and not admit that he lied in order to send us to a war that we didn’t need. As Madeline Albright said, “(The Arab world) learned that if they have atomic weapons they won’t be attacked” Thanks guys.
I had a conversation with a friend today and it all tied together for me. The end result is that our countries gut reaction to this attack and allowing ourselves to live in fear has given the terrorists exactly what they wanted. A certain part of our country is willing to throw away our basic civil liberties that we fought so hard to get in order to be protected from a terrorist attack. Doing that means that the terrorists win. They are getting exactly what they want.
We have to stand up and tell them we will not lower ourselves to their level. We will not give up our belief in justice, fairness, integrity and honesty. Holding people without trial is what they do in Iran and Syria and what they used to do in Iraq. Illegal wiretapping is that they do in totalitarian regimes where they need to do whatever it takes to maintain power. Hiding the truth; standing on a podium and calling people who want to look behind the curtain traitors, smells of Nazi Germany, Stalinist Russia, and North Korea. It’s not the way that a country that honestly believes in the supremacy of their way of life acts in the face of terror.
The more they hit at us the more we need to say that we will not give in to our basest fears. We will not allow them to pull them down to their level. This country needs to hold onto our principals even harder in order to show the world that we truly are the beacon of all this is good and right in the human condition. If we don’t then it’s just a matter of time until we are just the same as they are, only doing it in the name of Jesus Christ. And that will be the most terrifying thing of all.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

I (heart) Kobe

I can’t think of a better person to take the last shot on my team than that Kobe Bryant guy. It just might be that I am one of the few Kobe lovers on the planet. Because, unlike my friend Jack, I can forgive Kobe his indiscretions. I am able to forgive the fact that he was the biggest punk, bitch, asshole this side of Danny Ainge.
That’s not really fair to Danny Ainge. Kobe is the biggest bitch since Sammy “The Bull” spilled it on Gotti. “The Ocho” told the investigators in Colorado that Shaq just paid off the women that he raped. There, I said it. He told police men that his teammate rapes women and pays them off. Maybe I’m paraphrasing, but man if that were my homie he would be capped or some kind of street justice.
See, Kobe, isn’t from the street and that has always been his fatal flaw. Kobe learned to be black in Italy. I’m sorry but they still call blacks Carthaginians in Italy. There is no angry black street population in Italy. Everyone is happy and living La Dolce Vita. On top of that his dad was basketball royalty. So there is no “mean streets of Florence” in Kobe. There isn’t any of the “my daddy left when I was six” anger. There’s none of the indigenous distrust of the white man.
Even when he came to the states he was living in Upper Merion which is like living in, well, Upper Merion. For God’s sake, his idol as a boy was Mike D’Antoni. That in itself is just sad.
So how do you expect this kid from Italy to come here and be able to relate to the American black experience? He can’t and he never will. This is a kid who didn’t get the same cultural indoctrination like an Allen Iverson or Tracy McGrady or Shaq. The only person who can come close is Grant Hill and look what happened to him.
There are a lot of people (Jack included) who will traipse out all these stats about Kobe and how his shooting percentage is not so good, how he shot us out of games early in his career and how he ran Shaq out of town. Listen, it takes two to tango and Shaq was as big a baby, if not worse since he was older, than Kobe. For me the bottom line was, Shaq ate his way out of L.A. He couldn’t stay in shape. If you look at Kobe’s stats versus MJ’s at this point in their careers and Kobe’s stacks up just fine.
So as a white guy I think it’s my duty to like Kobe. I mean, the white guys are the only ones he has left. Lord knows there isn’t a black man in the Western Hemisphere that will admit to liking Kobe.
I like his tenacity. I like his fearlessness. I like that he tried to buy his wife’s trust back with a diamond ring. He’s my kind of cheater. And he’s going to bring my Lakers back. Right? I’ll give him two more years and then I’m going to have to pull the plug. I mean, did I tell you what he said about Shaq?