Tuesday, July 25, 2006

The truth hurts.

This one may be a bit hard to handle for some.

I am at a loss right now to understand why anyone would sympathize with Hezbollah or Hamas over the current spate of killing in the Middle East.

Am I crazy? Or is this what really happened?

Israel withdraws from all of it's occupied territories. The Palestinians promptly elect terrorists as their leaders, and then attack. Coming across the border into Israel, killing some soldiers and kidnapping others.

Israel leaves Lebanon for good in 2000. Hezbollah promptly becomes entrenched along the border, stocking up on Iranian and Syrian rockets. Then a couple of weeks ago they decide to launch these rockets into cities and kill and kidnap some Israeli soldiers as well.

I'm waiting for the part where Israel provoked these actions. I'm waiting to hear about the atrocities the Jews committed to warrant such actions from their neighbors.

Still waiting.

What is more astonishing to me is that the UN, most of the EU and yes, even some people in this country - including Jews, are saying that Israel has overreacted and there needs to be a cease fire. No really, I'm not joking.

There are people so blind in this world, so full of self-loathing, that they can't see that we are in a third world war. With attacks on civilians from islamo-fascists on every continent except Antarctica, the wackos have gone global. And yet somehow it is Americas fault. We are the bad guys.

I guess this patently insane belief will be comforting when the next major attack on our shores arrives. Thousands of Americans dead, oh well. The chickens have come home to roost, we got what we deserved.

Sorry, I don't buy it.

Here is the hard truth. I know people don't want to hear this, but I fear it is unavoidable. I pray for peace in our time, but to achieve this we will most likely have to go down a dark path first.

History shows us, history has made clear - that the only way this will end, the only way to a lasting peace, is when we make it so incredibly painful for our enemies to attack us - that they will stop.

I fear we must kill, and kill, and kill. And then kill some more. We did it with the Nazis. And we must do it to these fanatics, who are the current embodiment Nazism.

Guess what. Hitler is here, in the form of religious zealots who see peace only through death and domination. And it's not just a few radicals in caves.

The government of Iran has made it clear that the starting point for their diplomacy is to wipe Israel of the face of the earth. I ask, how do you deal with this incontestable fact?

If we are smart we will strike first, before it is too late. Iran is building nukes, and make no mistake, they WILL use them. God willing, we will have the courage to do what is right and take down their nuclear capabilities with swift and precise military action.

If we wait until they strike first, then we will have to kill millions upon millions of mostly innocent Iranians. (And God help us all if it comes to that.) The scary part is, the maniacal leaders of Iran know this.

And they don't care.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Do you have what it takes to play...

For the past few years I've enjoyed watching Poker on television. From the ground breaking World Poker Tour coverage (the first televised tournament circuit to use "hole cameras" to look at players hidden cards) to the World Series of Poker on ESPN and a few others. It's a fun time, to be sure, but I was always suspicious that I was missing the bigger picture.

Enter the Game Show Network. Their program, High Stakes Poker, blows all the other poker shows away by far. It is not tournament Poker, where players frequently risk their "tournament lives". This is a cash game. Players are putting their own actual money in jeopardy. The minimum buy in for the High Stakes game is $100,000. The most a player will buy in for in a typical WPT or WSOP event is under $10,000.

In tournaments, especially WPT events, the blinds and antes escalate at a tremendous rate; artificially generating excitement and putting the onus on luck for a player to win. In High Stakes, the blinds and antes stay the same, granted you'd still lose $1700 every round of play, but even so the players are able to really use their poker skills, as opposed to automatically going "all in" when they get short stacked. This show really is a poker clinic, a showcase for some of the best in the game.

Interestingly though, since tournament players are the pros we all know, they are the ones who are mostly in the High Stakes TV show. Cash game champs, like Todd Brunson, are fewer in number; although players who are proficient at both like Daniel Negraneu or Barry Greenstein do fill out the field. Especially hilarious this last season was tournament great Phil Hellmuth finding out that he didn't have nearly the cash game prowess he thought he had.

Best of all though, is commentator Gabe "Welcome Back Kotter" Kaplan, who mixes just the right amount of sharp wit and sarcastic humor with insightful poker brain power. He makes watching the show a real joy.

And speaking of joy, when watching High Stakes, it becomes evident that there is a noticeable lack of joy around the table at key times. I absolutely think this is the biggest and most brilliant element in High Stakes.

In the somewhat sanitized realm of the World Poker Tour and the World Series of Poker, we never get insight into the dark side of the game. When people bust out they've lost their entry fee. Very rarely they blow up (i.e. notorious hot heads like Matisow or Hellmuth) but you never get a visceral sense of the gut wrenching pain that poker can deliver.

I have played in enough low stakes home games where things got testy, to know that Poker can be utterly brutal and merciless. Guys (regrettably including myself on occasion) get angry over losing $20. High Stakes gives us more than a glance at this truth. When a player gets clobbered, we really get to see the pain, and what some would call the unsavory side of poker. Tension, angst. It's all there. And I think it is an absolutely crucial part of the game that has been all but lost through the white washed lens of television.

When I day dream about making it "big" in poker, High Stakes is the program that keeps me grounded in reality, and I enjoy it that much more for it's utter honesty. It shows that those who are truly successful at this game can take the good luck with the unbelievably brutal bad luck - and persevere.

So, if you are at all a fan of Poker on TV, you must, must, MUST watch High Stakes Poker on the Game Show Network. It's poker, for real.