Mumbai Attacked!

November 27, 2008

I have no current news to add, other than to comment that holy shit are the amateur reporters owning this story.  It’s all CNN and the New York Times can do to quote them, and basically send you to their websites.  Check out wikipedia for a phenomenal, evolving description of this story.  This attack is similar to 9/11 in worldwide scope to me, in part because of its far superior organization.  9/11 was 20 guys again Delta ticket agents.  This is hundreds of well-armed men destroying the downtown center of the largest democracy in the world.

Further research about Mumbai (which of course used to be Bombay):  It’s the financial capital of India with 13 million people.  It’s the largest port in India, handling half of the trade volume and corresponding import taxes.  It pays 40% of the nation’s income tax, with a population of 13 million in a sea of 800 million people.  Mumbai scientists built India’s atomic bomb. 

India is a much different nation than the U.S., and I’m sure Mumbai’s relationship with the rest of the country is far different as well.

Here’s some of my personal commentary about this event, as posted on New York Times:  At this early stage of this story it is crucial not to jump to conclusions.  But when we step back we see that this is a leftist group attacking India’s version of Wall Street, as Mumbai is the financial center and largest, richest port city, and in a very organized and dangerous way.  We may need to soon consider that international terrorists has moved its war towards the financial crisis of 2008 as a rallying cry.  This would be a replacement of earlier frustrations with American global military reach (eg. bases in Saudi Arabia).  In this scenario, I wonder if the next step could be America’s cultural influence: where are the symbolic centers of McDonald’s and WalMart?


Karma for South Carolina

November 5, 2008

If you made a movie about how George Bush smeared John McCain in the Republican primaries before the 2000 elections, it would be pretty depressing.  The way, after a victory by an upstart in the independent, spunky, and tough state of New Hampshire, maybe there was a real chance for change among Washington politicians.  After all, McCain was for campaign finance reform as one of his signature issues, and “taking on the special interests.”  This was great, especially since McCain was so well-liked, and the rules would have really given an advantage to the best candidates, and no longer money.

In short, the rest of the movie is about McCain getting smeared by the stupid, obnoxious guy with more money, unbelievably calling voters and telling them that McCain had fathered an illegitimate black child.  This against a guy with more character than any republican in decades, who served 5 years as POW and tried to serve his country as best he could when he got back.

Flash forward 8 years through the Bush fiasco and McCain is losing, mostly as a result of Bush.  Bush has so disgusted lots of reliably republican voters, that McCain is crushed in a landslide by a brilliant African-American, who inspires the nation to hope for something more than the incompetence of the man McCain seemed poised to defeat 8 years earlier.  A beautiful black family waves to adoring crowds of tens to hundreds of thousands.  If that isn’t Karma for the ultimate low for Republicans in racist, lying politics.  I guess “W” gets off into the sunset scot-free.

If one wanted to flash further forward than that, they could show a Reagan-like effect and decades of dominance by the Democratic party.  In particular, you have the entire generation of young professionals with a mob-like mentality to support Democrats.  Bush insulted both our education and our intelligence for eight years!  This one is going to be tough to recover from, for Republicans.

Goodbye, John McCain

November 5, 2008

You would have made a very good president.  But your time was in 2000, and I’m sure even, especially Republicans wish you had won then instead of “W.”  America needed you back then, but now we need someone else, for reasons of inspiration and getting this country’s global self-respect back.

Free NBA picks: 11/5/08

November 5, 2008

Tonight in the NBA:

UTAH (-7) over Portland.  Did people forget that Utah never loses at home?  Last year they were the best in the NBA at home, and one of the best teams in the Western conference.  Portland may be one of the most promising up and coming teams in the NBA, but don’t forget what that means: they’re not there yet.  Also I like how much depth they have, but In a way I think they have a team full of 3/4/5 guys on a typical NBA team, without any real 1 or 2 best players (although Brandon Roy may get there this year).  Boozer and D. WIlliams will be the two best players on the court, and that will be enough as the Jazz support players hold there own against the Blazers.

CLEVELAND (-8.5) over Chicago.  I think Cleveland is one of the top 4 teams in the NBA, and don’t believe that people has recognized this yet.  They just demolished Dallas, a veteran and still formidable team, on their home floor.  Chicago still stinks until proven otherwise, and while D. Rose looks like the real deal, he is a rookie in his first two weeks in the NBA.  This game will be over in the 3rd quarter.

McDyess is back with Detroit!

November 3, 2008

I could lie and cite an unnamed source, but I really think this will happen.  If Denver really does want to buy him out then I bet he’ll be back with the Pistons in a pre-arranged deal in a couple of weeks.  Great move by Detroit to make them a contender again this season.  Let Maxiel and Johnson fight it out for the rest of the minutes I guess.  Amir Johnson: mr. garbage time.

Billups/Iverson trade: Denver’s take

November 3, 2008

CHAUNCEY BILLUPS:  The main cog that Denver got, he has 4 years and $50 million left on his contract.  While people are worried about the salary, I think this trade makes sense for the Nuggets because Billups, will be so valuable for them.  Although he is 32, he is in the midst of having the best years of his career, and is not slowing down statistically.  His defense has only slipped a bit, since he relies more on size and strength against other guards.  And because Rip Hamilton is so quick and can often guard the other team’s quickest player, Chauncey’s slight loss of footspeed is masked.

In every other way on the court, Billups is usually better than the point guards who guard him.  He’s an excellent ballhandler and passer, and generally only takes open, high-percentage shots.  In addition when he does shoot from three, he’s deadly.  This has been especially true in the playoffs, when he earned the name Mr. Big Shot.  He really was, hitting 3-pointers that iced the game in several close Pistons playoff games.  Hopefully he can do the same with Denver, with Carmelo being the go-to player for the next few years.

NBA Trade: Iverson to Pistons, Billups to Nuggets

November 3, 2008

Joe Dumars threatened/promised to make a major change to the Pistons following their loss in 6 games to the Boston Celtics last season.  It was their 5th straight trip to the NBA Eastern conference finals, with only two trips to the finals and one championship.  Clearly Joe thought that with most of his core now over 30, and even his youngest starter Tayshaun Prince at age 28, he needed to make a move to get younger and keep the Pistons in contention.

Well today he made his move.  He didn’t exactly get younger, getting The Answer, but he certainly made a splash in picking up one of the NBA’s best scorers and exciting players.  Antonio McDyess was a throw-in for the deal for salary reasons.  While he was a veteran big man that had a role in the Detroit rotation, the Pistons need to get more minutes for Maxiel, Amir Johnson, and possibly Kwame Brown depending on how he plays.  Clearly the frontcourt was too crowded, something had to give, and it was McDyess.

In a way he may have made it easier to get younger, freeing himself from the final 3 years of Chauncey Billups’ $50million contract, and making it easier to sign young talent like Rodney Stuckey.  Iverson is in the last year of his contract, which pays him $20 million this season.  If he likes his role in Detroit he may re-sign, although for much less than his current rate, and for probably more like a 2-year deal.

How does this change the play on the court?  The first thing is it establishes Stuckey as the point guard of the present, with no other true point guards on the roster (other than 12th man Will Bynum).  What this means is that Stuckey, Rip Hamilton, and Iverson will play a good deal of time with each of the other two, leaving Iverson and Hamilton as two shooting guards sharing the backcourt at times.  Afflalo will take the rest of the minutes, especially when the Pistons need a defensive stopper on a high-scoring 2 guard.

On Offense:  The advantage of adding Iverson is that he is an explosive one-on-one scorer on a team that has few, and in addition his quick penetrating moves often lead to open shots for his teammates (Hamilton from midrange, Prince from the corner, and Rasheed Wallace for 3 from the perimeter).  The downside is that the Pistons lose their point guard and facilitator of their offense.  This effect should not be dramatic, however, because Detroit runs primarily isolation plays on offense that don’t require a classic pass-first point.

On Defense:  Detroit will likely be worse.  Having watched Iverson the past 2 years in Denver I can vouch that he is a truly bad defender.  He takes wild gambles to intercept passes, and for every one he catches he misses 4 that lead to wide open shots for the opposition.  In addition, Rip struggles with stronger guards, and he has always been helped by Chauncey’s muscle, leaving him free to guard the quicker of the opponents guards.  With Iverson and Hamilton on the floor together, the pistons will have two wispy-thin players who could really struggle with a stronger guard (think Dwayne Wade or some of the West’s big 2s like McGrady and Kobe).

Overall, I like this trade.  The downside of a poorer defense should be mitigated by several factors:

1.  An explosive offensive player.  Iverson likely becomes Detroit’s go-to player in crunch time, someone who can go shot for shot with LeBron, Paul Pierce, or Wade over the final 2 minutes of a close playoff game.

2.  More minutes for young bigs:  I love how hard McDyess played in the playoffs last season, but he wasn’t going to be the starting 4 for a Piston’s championship team.  We have to hope that it will be either Amir Johnson or Jason Maxiel, or even a rejuvenated Kwame Brown at the 5 with Rasheed at the 4.

3.  Contract relief:  The Pistons should have significant cap space next season even if they re-sign Iverson, and if he doesn’t work out they will be one of the teams with the cap space to sign a major free-agent.  Next summer they should be one of the few, since many teams are saving up for the Lebron/Wade/Carmelo sweepstakes of 2010.  They also will need to give big bucks to Rodney Stuckey soon assuming he keeps developing, so in the end this trade could go down as a 30-something Chauncey Billups for a young Stuckey just entering his prime.

Way to go Joe D!  Keep screening your calls and refusing to pick up for your old backcourt mate Isiah Thomas looking for a job.  Go Pistons!