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Things I'm Thinking 06/26/13

Calum Hayes |
June 26, 2013 | 11:03 a.m. PDT


Editor's Note: "Things I'm Thinking 06/26/13" is part of Calum Hayes' summer opinion series, Things I'm Thinking.

Edward Snowden is on the run, and apparently the U.S. government can't do anything about it. (Creative Commons)
Edward Snowden is on the run, and apparently the U.S. government can't do anything about it. (Creative Commons)
1. I’m thinking I’ve never been more baffled by the United States government. This isn’t about my phone being tapped, it’s not about congress being seemingly incapable of doing anything, and it’s not about whatever the latest terrorist threat is (can we just start naming them A-Z like hurricanes?) It's about the complete and utter incompetence of our government when it comes to tracking Edward Snowden (the NSA whistleblower) down. In news that came out three days ago, an anonymous source confirmed the United States government has revoked Mr. Snowden’s passport. Three days ago puts us at June 23, but the NSA wiretapping information came to light on June 6. Using a little simple arithmetic (something I’m starting to question our government would be capable of) that is 17 days in which the government had the chance to revoke Mr. Snowden’s passport. 

We are living in an age of big government. An age in which we are told that the government knows what is best for us and can run things exceptionally well. In that case, I would love someone to explain to me how it took 17 days for this man’s passport to be revoked. Maybe I’m crazy, but it seems like someone could have made a call on June 6, maybe even 7, and said some version of, “hey, we may end up charging this guy with espionage, among other things, so how about we try and make it slightly more difficult for him to find his way into other countries and evade us between now and then?” Seriously? I’m supposed to look at this government and feel a surge of confidence? I’m supposed to think this government is capable of actually doing anything well? I’m thinking I don’t trust our current government in the slightest. Not because they have my phone tapped and not because I have some fear that they can’t protect me from terrorism, but because at this point, I’m thinking they couldn’t tell their ass from their elbow.

2. I’m thinking that while I understand the objections Russia has to decreasing their nuclear weapons stores along with those of the USA, it just doesn’t hold enough water to leave me convinced. Russia (as well as more than a few members of the United States Senate and Congress) is of the opinion that they put themselves in a position of weakness if they decrease their nuclear weapon cache by another third. That group believes that before either Russia or the U.S. gets rid of any more nuclear weapons, the rest of the world has to agree to do the same. Those individuals are of the belief that the United States and Russia having large numbers of nuclear weapons helps keep the rest of the world in line (I’m guessing Iran and North Korea would disagree, if their citizens were allowed on the internet.) 

Some quick numbers for you, because as in point one, I’m in the mood for some arithmetic. The current numbers of deployed strategic nuclear warheads from what are known as the “Nuclear Powers” are as follows (all numbers from April 2013):

- United States of America: 1654

- Russia: 1480

- France: Roughly 300 (operational)

- China: 240 (operational)

- UK: Less than 160

- India: Less than 100

- Israel: Anywhere between 75-200

- Pakistan: 90-110

Now for the math portion of this exercise: under the new Obama proposal both the United States and Russia would drop their deployed arsenals to roughly 1000 warheads. Lets say both countries agree to that deal and each has an even 1000 weapons capable of destroying entire cities around the world. If you add the total nuclear weapons of all other countries on that list…you get between 965 and 1110 bombs. In other words, even if we take the high end of that estimate, the rest of the world still barely has more weapons than either of those nations do on their own. I’m thinking I would love someone to give me a convincing argument for why we should be decreasing nuclear arms across the world, because I’ve yet to hear one (for a fun idea of how many of these weapons it would take to blow up the entire planet, peruse this at your leisure.)

3. I’m thinking it’s never too early to speculate on where LeBron James will play after his current contract runs out. I’m also thinking unless you’re a Miami Heat or Cleveland Cavaliers fan you wont like the answer. By all accounts, LeBron James is a student of the game (I would have linked you to examples, but a Google search of “LeBron James student of the game” gave me pages of results about his company seeking summer interns. I may have perused the application.) He is not only a student of the league how it stands now, but also of the history of the game. It is for that reason LeBron James wont be playing anywhere but Miami or Cleveland after the summer of 2014. LeBron James is past the point when he can be judged by those he plays against; he must be judged by the legacies of the greats who came before him. He is past the point of needing a market like Los Angeles or New York to be a global icon. This past year, Nike sold $300 million of his shoes. The next closest shoe was Kobe Bryant's at $50 million. All of this while he plays in Miami, a market that comes in at 14 for NBA teams. 

A brief look at the top ten players in NBA history (my list, as I’m sure you disagree): Jordan, Bill Russell, Magic, Bird, Kareem, Wilt, Kobe, Duncan, Shaq, and then you can choose between Hakeem, Oscar Robertson or LeBron. What do all of those players, minus Shaq, have in common? Not a single one of them played for more than two franchises: Jordan (2), Russell (1), Magic (1), Bird (1), Kareem (1), Wilt (1), Kobe (1), Duncan (1), Shaq (6), Hakeem (2) and Oscar (2). As a student of the history of basketball, there is no way LeBron James isn’t aware of this. I’m thinking while everyone is talking about where LeBron can go to add to his number of rings in the summer of 2014, they should be talking about a far different set of numbers.

4. I’m thinking this is going to be an abbreviated Things I’m Thinking this week. The things I’m thinking for points four and five are both being turned into larger pieces, so look out for those later in the week. 


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