Category: politics

The True Meaning of “Stick To Sports”, cont’d – The NBA China Debacle

The True Meaning of “Stick To Sports”, cont’d – The NBA China Debacle

No, sports guys and gals, you don’t have to stick to what you’re paid for- but the NBA’s kowtowing to China shows why you should.

For at least a quarter century now- and arguably going as far back as the Nixon administration- the country that currently deems itself “the world’s only superpower” has bent over backwards for a vicious regime that has brutalized many of its people since the middle of the 20th century.  (This blog post isn’t really about that, but for just a few examples, click here, here, and here.)  As challenging as life may be for some Americans, none of us can comprehend what it’s like to live under a dictatorship like China, other than the ones who have had to escape from one.  This is especially true for those who believe Donald J. Trump’s presidency is the worse thing imaginable.  But again, this post isn’t about that- not primarily anyway.

People go to Twitter to take all kinds of stands on various issues- politics, sports, ice cream toppings.  But those in the public sphere who do so often create more of a stir than intended.  Such was the case with Daryl Morey, the General Manager of the Houston Rockets.  With Hong Kong rising up against the Chinese regime for months now, Morey expressed support for the protesters with a seemingly simple tweet.  But in today’s hyper-polarized social climate, very few things are simple, particularly with one of the NBA’s biggest international customers.

The NBA, usually lauded by the virtue signalers for speaking out “courageously” on social issues, was not silent on the issue, although they probably should have been.  They took the extraordinary step of criticizing Morey for supporting the protesters.  But it didn’t stop there.  In fact, they were just getting started.  Paying fans who held a banner that said “Free Hong Kong!” were removed from a game…in Philadelphia, no less.  Is there a more pathetic symbol of what’s happening with this country, when the city that once hosted the Declaration of Independence signing doesn’t allow fans to support freedom for others?  What does that say about our freedom?

Getting back to the NBA, though, the story reached a crescendo when LeBron James, who has bounced between the spectrum of sports hero and villain more times than we can count, had the nerve to criticize Morey for commenting about a subject that he (Morey) “wasn’t educated” on.  That’s right- the same man who was once infamously told to “shut up and dribble” by a conservative gadfly was now doing the same thing to a highly esteemed general manager, for speaking out on a worthy cause.

 

LeBron
LeBron didn’t deserve the hate he received from the public at the beginning of the decade, nor the love at the end of it.  The truth, as often is the case, is somewhere in between.

Ultimately, this issue is not solely about LeBron James- or Warrior’s coach Steve Kerr, who disgracefully invoked sporadic mass shootings in America as a shield to widespread Chinese oppression.  It’s about the culture of expecting athletes to be more than athletes.  Starting with Babe Ruth and leading up to Michael Jordan, superstar athletes were thought to be more like real life superheroes, long before “MCU” became part of our lexicon.  Partially overlapping that period has been the socially conscious athlete- or what is sometimes derisively referred to as “woke athlete”, derived from the idea that someone is awake to the problems our society is facing.  This can be traced back at least to Muhammad Ali, a very controversial figure in his own time, who took on the establishment in protesting the Vietnam War, at considerable personal cost.  Whatever shortcomings Ali had as a human being, this act of bravery has been lauded, at least in hindsight, as a positive example of an athlete being more than just an athlete.

Unfortunately, many poor imitations have been attempted since then.  When addressing issues in today’s society, athletes and their backers (click here for the original “stick to sports” blog post) will predictably invoke Ali, in a nauseating self-congratulatory circle-jerk.  We have freedom of speech in this country- Philadelphia 76ers pregame debacle notwithstanding- so it’s fine when a future Hall of Famer wants to speak his or her mind about topics beyond what their famous for.  But they should not automatically expect to be congratulated for “bravery”, particularly when the endgame of what passes as “sacrifice” turns out to be signing a lucrative dollar contract with Nike, a multi-billion dollar company that has cynically and successfully turned “woke culture” into an even bigger cash cow than the one that they’ve been milking for decades.

So the next time LeBron James, Steve Kerr or anyone else want to speak out on an issue, it’s worth remembering that it’s their right to do so.  It’s also worth remembering that when real sacrifice was on the line, they refused to remain silent.  They took sides with the oppressors.

(Meanwhile on the court, opening night for the Lakers is on Tuesday, as they face off against the new look Clippers.  And if I may exercise my free speech, by the time the circus at Staples Center gets going, aging LeBron’s off-court debacle will be the least of his worries…)

Advertisements

The True Meaning of “Stick To Sports”

(Shameless self-promotion- for a blog that TRULY sticks to sports, check out http://www.dodgersfyi.com!)

A couple of years ago, an unhinged leftist shot up a baseball park, where Republicans politicians were practicing for a game.  One congressman in particular, Steve Scalise, was critically wounded.  I usually leave my political rants on Twitter, saving my Facebook page for typically lighter content, to not offend those that I know personally.  But this story seemed so abhorrent, I figured I’d make an exception, as no one could POSSIBLY take issue with a call for unity.

I was wrong.  One of my Facebook friends, an acquaintance in real life, took great exception to my exception, telling me that I had decided to focus on a story for a privileged white man, ignoring many other atrocities that occur in our country on a regular basis.  That’s not how I meant it at all, but I did understand her point, however distant it would be from my own.  That was the last time I posted any “soapbox” material on Facebook again, deciding to keep away from controversy.  There are plenty of other places for me to discuss opinions that some might consider incendiary…such as this one, for example.

lebatard.pngI bring this up now because on the day I’m typing this, July 19th, 2019, sportscaster Dan LeBatard decided to use his sports platform for something that had absolutely nothing to do with sports.  Assuming that the issue he was addressing was so abhorrent that it transcended any “cowardly” (as he saw it) boundaries that had been put upon him by his bosses at ESPN, LeBatard went on a screed about Donald Trump, his supporters, Colin Kaepernick being blackballed, the civil rights movement of the sixties- a movement that he claims hasn’t seen change (?!)- and “old rich white men” that falsely (again, as LeBatard sees it) believe they have grievances against anyone who isn’t like them.  Most jarring of all, LeBatard gave this impassioned monologue under the premise that this was all rooted in fact, not his personal opinion, and that- quote- “this isn’t about politics”.

If there’s nothing else I say here that you agree with, dear reader, at least believe me on this- whenever someone feels the need to declare, “This isn’t about politics,” it is, in fact, about politics.  In this case, BY DEFINITION, it’s about politics, because LeBatard was defending Ilhan Omar, a congresswoman from Minnesota, against President Donald Trump and his supporters.  Both Trump and Omar, in the most literal sense of the word, are politicians.

By now, people all over the world have seen the, “Send her back!” chants at Trump’s rally, along with Trump’s indifference (if not tacit approval) as he allowed the chants to continue.  For what it’s worth, I thought the chants were despicable, and I am not a fan of the President.  I didn’t vote for him the first time, and won’t vote for him the next time. (I only bring this up because I have no doubt that many will read this, and picture me writing this with a MAGA hat on, and a Confederate flag draped from my wall.  Not that this disclaimer will change that false image.  But I digress.)

What LeBatard left out in his high pitched angst is that Omar herself is a divisive figure, with many beliefs and actions that many also consider troubling.  Before becoming a national figure, Omar publicly tweeted hope that the Muslim god would awaken the world to the evils of IsraelSince becoming a national figure, she assumed American support for Israel was made possible by Jewish-American money.  She publicly shamed the Covington Catholic high school kids, wearing Trump hats, latching on to the erroneous narrative that they were bullying women and minorities, while previously asking a judge for leniency of Minnesota men who intended on joining ISIS.  (She deleted the Covington tweet, although did not offer an apology nor an explanation on it.)

None of these facts are designed to change anyone’s mind about Omar- she is a very popular figure among some, and as troubling (if not more so) than Trump among others.  They’re merely included to help demonstrate just how much more complex this debate is than LeBatard’s one-sided argument is, and how the roots of the division go beyond Donald Trump and his supporters.  And yes- millions of people are applauding LeBatard’s words as I’m typing this, but I’m betting at least 99% of them already believed everything that he said, prior to him actually speaking.

Whatever its problems are, ESPN is there to provide sports entertainment– that’s what’s in the name itself!  Dan LeBatard is not secretly broadcasting from some clandestine spot in a dictatorship- no matter how much Donald Trump may act like a dictator, this is still very much a free country, one which has more platforms than ever for discussing every issue under the sun.  Sports fans tune in to ESPN, FS1, and the other sports networks, in part, because they want to escape the ultra-polarized environment we find ourselves in.  Those who buy what LeBatard is selling already made the purchase.  Those who don’t will just tune into something else.  In fact, there’s probably a third category that isn’t being considered here- those that do agree with LeBatard, but are just looking for something else at the current time.  (Sorry, but no matter how impassioned someone is about ANY issue, it’s unhealthy to be Lisa Simpson all the time.)

So personally, I agree with some of LeBatard’s points.  I disagree with some of his others, particularly that this “isn’t about politics”.  But my personal opinion isn’t what matters to me here.  There are plenty of other outlets for LeBatard to discuss his personal beliefs.  Heck, he can start a blog!  But he was hired, and paid good money, to talk about sports.  There are plenty of other career choices he can make for himself if he wants to expand upon that.  Until then, when a company is paying him well to discuss sports and that’s it, he should…well, you’ve seen the title of this blog post.  You get the idea.

⚾️🏀🏈🥎🏐🏉🎾⚽️

 

Despite All Its Problems, America Continues To Bless Colin Kaepernick

Despite All Its Problems, America Continues To Bless Colin Kaepernick

It’s hard to imagine now, but at the beginning of the current decade, Colin Kaepernick was primarily known for being a promising young quarterback.  Even then, he seemed to relish an image as something of an antihero, emerging from the ignorant noise of his loudmouth, no-nothing detractors.  This goes back at least as far as his first commercial, when a younger, much shorter-haired Kaepernick starred in a three-minute (!) spot for headphones, of all things. (Just imagine him trying to put those things on now.)  We see Kaepernick getting off a bus, as thousands of feral-like fans try to viciously shout him down.  Kaepernick, with a sense of cool not seen since The Fonz, ignores them all, stoically listening to a song titled, “I’m The Man.”  Of COURSE you are, Colin.

kapcap
Before causing trouble with his social justice crusading, Colin Kaepernick just liked to cause trouble.

At the time, this was a curious ad. Who in the ACTUAL world hated Colin Kaepernick? He was an emerging star, helping to lead his 49ers to the Superbowl in a rookie season- very marketable, and hardly the polarizing figure that this ad portrayed. Perhaps disappointed by his LACK of notoriety as his star began to fade in 2013, Kaepernick was spotted in public wearing a Miami Dolphins hat- something kind of weird for a quarterback of the San Francisco 49ers to do. Though somewhat obnoxious, it was far from the stuff of full-blown outrage. Still, there were a few 49ers diehards that took the bait, complaining about Kaepernick’s disloyalty- and, in an act of foreshadowing of much bigger things to come, disrespect. Finally, Kaepernick had his real life targets to ridicule, and ridicule them he did, posting a very sarcastic looking picture of himself holding up a Dolphins hat. Making less headlines on the field, Kaepernick seemed to relish the notoriety off the field.

103250-780x550Fast forward another three years to 2016.  Barely on the public radar by this point, Kaepernick grew his hair out, generating his off-field persona as a social justice warrior for a community that, quite honestly, he was never part of.  That’s not to say he doesn’t actually care about this community, as only he knows his true intentions- and to be fair, he has donated lots of money to causes he advocates.  (This is something ALL successful pro-athletes, entertainers, and multi-millionaires in general should do, but that’s for another discussion.)  But regardless of his intentions, the methods Kaepernick used were not exactly constructive towards advancing his newly adopted cause(s).  Rather than bring people together to try working on practical solutions, Kaepernick deliberately stirred the pot, preaching to the choir of people who already believed what he was saying, while deeply alienating those who didn’t, with an incendiary press statement about the United States.  While there are certainly plenty of issues to discuss regarding this country, including that of the troubling relationships between the police and the inner-city communities which they serve, Kaepernick’s initial statement- and this is for those who say Kaepernick’s protest is “only” about police brutality- was a far more sweeping condemnation about the country that made him a rich man, stating that he refused to “show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.”  (I suppose it’s also too oppressive for him to vote, as he skipped the 2016 election altogether.)  And while we’ve all spent WAY too much time already “debating” (actually, screaming at each other) about the merits and liabilities of kneeling, how about the fact that Kaepernick actually started his protest by sitting on the bench throughout the anthem?!  (It wasn’t enough for him that he’d spend the next three hours doing that?) It was only after realizing it would be better PR for him to kneel, and the rest is history.

And what about the socks controversy? Before becoming the world’s most famous shoe salesman, Kaepernick sported some rather nifty socks, showing pigs wearing police hats. Kaepernick responded with his usual eloquence- seriously, he’s a smart man- along with his typical faux indignation, lamenting this distraction from “the real issues”.  But come on- does someone as intelligent as Colin Kaepernick really not know that these socks would generate a “distraction”? It seems like a reasonable assumption that he went out of his way to purchase these statement-making socks- it’s not like they sell them at Walmart!

And hey, speaking of big, heartless corporations, enter Nike into the picture. Not afraid of exploiting controversies any more than they’re afraid to exploit third world workers- this is a company that once cynically used Tiger Woods’ infidelity to sell their products– they recruited Kaepernick to be the new face of their marketing campaign, under one of the most ironic marketing slogans in American history, “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.” For the sake of argument, let’s assume that everything Kaepernick stands for is pure and just, as are his motives. What exactly is he sacrificing? Already worth more than he’ll ever be able to spend in his life, Kaepernick’s unremarkable talent was simply not enough to justify the PR headache that any NFL owner surely would have had to deal with, had they signed him. Instead, he was signed by Nike, making far more than he ever would have as an (AT BEST) run-of-the-mill quarterback. And for this, he’s being compared to Muhammed Ali refusing to serve in Vietnam- or even ROSA PARKS?! Only in today’s America can this be done with a straight face, just as only in today’s America can this be consider “sacrificing everything”.

kaepernick
The American flag in the background is a nice touch.

But give credit where it’s due- Colin Kaepernick has achieved the outlaw, antihero status he longed for, probably beyond his wildest dreams, while Nike’s sales have spiked upwards. By hitching itself to his wagon, Nike made a bold but savvy move- alienating Trump’s MAGA crowd, but becoming the hero of the left- a group normally associated with being AGAINST big corporations.  Any boycott Nike will see from this PR stunt will likely be far outweighed by the sales they will generate, as early indicators seem to suggest. At the end of it all, the only “sacrifice” made will be of the Nike products that are being burned to a crisp by the misguided counter-protesters, thinking they’re making some sort of statement besides, “We’re not very intelligent.”  They’d have been far better served donating those clothes to charity, and simply stating that they’re never buying Nike again.  But that’s just not how things are done these days, in a highly politicized environment filled with venom, rancor, and silliness.

As for “The Man” Colin Kaepernick, we’ll likely never see him take another snap in the NFL again.  That’s too bad, because had he done so, he’d likely remind us of the REAL primary reason why he’s not in the NFL anymore- quite simply, he’s just not all that good.  Instead, he gets to be the martyr for a cause that he didn’t even expand beyond the base of people who already agreed with him in the first place.  No matter.  This whole thing is making Colin Kaepernick a rich(er) man, to the point where even HE will have to say, “God Bless America.”

H.R. McMaster Makes The Case That President Trump Is Not A Traitor…No Matter How Much Some Wish That He Was

H.R. McMaster Makes The Case That President Trump Is Not A Traitor…No Matter How Much Some Wish That He Was

“The President Looks Forward To A Twitter Forum” – H.R. McMaster, May 16th 2017.  I think we can ALL agree that much is true!

It is interesting- if unsurprising- that people who yelled loudest that “those who wish for President Obama to fail are wishing for America to fail,” are now the ones looking for every reason imaginable to cut President Trump down to size on the topic of Russia, among other things. Before saying else, let me just add quickly that I am not normally a defender of Donald Trump.  (Click here for supporting evidence.)  It’s also reasonable to assume that if Barack Obama was still Commander in Chief, many Republicans and their allies would be as loud, if not louder- albeit smaller in numbers- about a President being so chummy with a foreign adversary.  But for the purpose of this topic, I’m not any more interested in talking about alternative realities, than I am in talking about alternative facts.  In THIS reality, by jumping to the most sinister conclusions without all the non-alternative facts to support their claim, most of Trump’s biggest enemies are doing themselves no favors.

“For Every Reaction, There Is An Opposite And Equal Reaction”

For much of the press, it has become a daily hobby to see just how far Donald Trump can push his “Performance Art Presidency”. From ranting like an angry teenager on Twitter, to contradicting his own staff, to contradicting his own SELF, he has not disappointed.  Nevertheless, whatever his qualifications as a President (or lack thereof), the fact remains he IS the President, which means that he has some serious responsibility, whether he- or the rest of us- like it or not.

Part of being the President involves making difficult decisions, with ramifications spanning the entire globe, often out of the public eye.  Since World War II, when we partnered up with the murderous Joseph Stalin to defeat the Nazis- ACTUAL Nazis, not those who annoy us online- the United States has had a very delicate balancing act with Russia.  We are doing something similar today, as we look for allies, even unnatural ones, to defeat ISIS.  Prior to Trump’s arrival into the political world, Democrats strongly believed in this geopolitical balance, far more than Republicans did.  This is why they protested Reagan’s use of “Evil Empire” (even though he was right), as well as George W. Bush pulling out of the Antiballistic Missile Treaty.  (If you’re a fan of irony, see how upset Democrats were, for Bush supposedly disrespecting Putin.)

But all that was before Wikileaks, the defeat of Hillary Clinton, and the unexpected rise to power of a man they despised.  Truth be told, convincing oneself that Donald Trump is a traitor isn’t so hard for members of “The Resistance”.  The logic goes something like this-

  1. One of the worst things to accuse a President of is the act of treason.
  2. Donald Trump is the worst.
  3. Ergo, Donald Trump committed the act of treason.

To be fair, Trump and his people have given his domestic enemies plenty of ammo to suspect that something is going on, between the constant praise of Putin, the non-disclosed meetings with Russian officials, and the abrupt firing of James Comey.  But all that is a long, LONG way from treason.  (For anyone who thinks such activity is so unprecedented, click here , here, and/or here.)  It should also be noted that President Trump ordered the bombing of a Syrian airbase, a move that even many of his critics- briefly and begrudgingly- praised at the time, and more importantly for the purposes of THIS topic, infuriated Vladimir Putin.  Whatever else Donald Trump may be up to, that hardly sounds like the actions of a man willing to sell out his country to the Russians.

Finally, while it’s understandable that any sane person would question Trump’s motives on a variety of topics, there is no reason to ALWAYS assume the worst, particularly in this case.  Those that remain unconvinced should try watching National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster’s outstanding press briefing on the subject, making a strong case that it is the leaker, not Trump, who is at fault for putting national security at risk here.  (Relevant portion begins at 24 minutes.)  As for those who still can’t let go of the fact that Donald Trump should be criticized at every turn, fear not- all indications point to having plenty of other opportunities to do so.  From what we can tell so far, though, meeting with a Russian official to discuss defeating ISIS should not be one of them.

The Most Likely Explanation For Comey’s Firing Is Right There, For Those Who Want It…

The Most Likely Explanation For Comey’s Firing Is Right There, For Those Who Want It…

…which, unfortunately, are all too few and far between.

Let’s get something straight- Donald Trump is autocratic, bombastic, reckless, and impulsive, among other things.  This is something we’ve known about the man, long before he got into politics.  Those that have a passing knowledge of his past dealings also know that he will almost-literally bulldoze anyone in his way.  (For those who don’t, click here.)  Knowing all this about a guy who has been in public life for four decades, the abrupt firing of FBI Director James Comey actually makes sense, relative to Trump’s “normal” modus operandi.  But right now, we’re in a hostile, ultra-polarized political environment that’s anything but normal.  On one side, there’s a treasonous conspiracy theory that spans the globe.  On the other side, there’s applause for a move that we’re told was “inevitable”, even though we hardly heard anything about it before it happened.   What should the rest of us believe?

To The Left, To The Left…

For the vast majority of Trump-hating liberals, this is more “proof” that he’s in cahoots with the Russians, something that they talked themselves into before he even got sworn in.  (Of course, this was only after voter machine miscues and the original fake news accusations didn’t stick.)  The same people who told us how “frightening” it was that Trump wouldn’t swear to unconditionally respect the election results, are the same ones who now want us to unconditionally question the election results, something they’ve done ever since the day their candidate didn’t win.  This isn’t to say there’s NO evidence of Russian interference on behalf of Trump- far from it.  (We’ll get to that part in the next section.)  But with all the things that we know to be true about Donald Trump, let alone the things that are likely to be true, the idea that he’s specifically operating on behalf of Russia is only slightly less unhinged than the idea that he’s the next Hitler.

And since when have liberals cared so much about Russian dominance, anyway?  In the one accidental moment of greatness (in hindsight) during Mitt Romney’s otherwise feckless campaign, his attempt at a serious discussion of Russian dominance was treated with ridicule and scorn, from none other than President Obama, among so many others.  (Unsurprisingly, The New York Times wasn’t kind, either.)  The investigation into Russian interference might seem more credible to skeptics, if its biggest advocates would admit it is COMPLETELY about stopping Trump, not Vladimir Putin.  There have been plenty of opportunities to show real concern about Putin for two decades, but the western media has mostly been quiet, save for a few stories, lasting one or two news cycles, about some invasion or execution of a political opponent.  (Truth be told, the most covered anti-Putin story was probably about the band Pussy Riot getting arrested for its lyrics, but that was largely because the lead singer was incredibly good looking, and the media had an excuse to legitimately say the word “pussy”.)

One final point, before examining the other side’s motives and “logic”, such as it is- it’s worth pointing that to the extent that Russia did successfully interfere, it was in exposing the Democratic National Committee’s activities in the primaries.  Broken down into their most basic elements, critics screaming about Russian interference are essentially angry that voters found out how the DNC, under the leadership of Debbie Wasserman Schulz, was going to bat exclusively for Hillary Clinton, in an attempt to slow down Bernie Sanders momentum, and put Hillary over-the-top, once and for all.  Oh, the irony.

Right Here, Right Now…

None of the explanations given above justify a single thing about the firing itself.  In fact, the reckless way in which it was conducted by Trump, followed by the inconsistent stories given in its aftermath (they even tried to claim it was Comey’s harsh handling of HILLARY that led to the firing), have made it not only inevitable that the story would be covered, but it should be covered.  Just consider the facts- The President of the United States fires the FBI Director, openly admits that the investigation into Russia is part of the reason for it, and then implies blackmail on Twitter if the poor guy doesn’t keep his mouth shut?!  How can ANYONE defend that kind of behavior?!  And yet…

Tucker Carlson applauded the move of Comey’s firing, implying he was an out-of-control threat from the highest reaches of government, that people were more fearful of criticizing than Trump himself.  (I dunno, Tucker- YOU seem kind of fearful of criticizing Trump.  But I digress.)  Our old buddy Charles Hurt did the same thing, praising Trump for cleaning out “the swamp“.  Conservative after conservative commentator could not stop bloviating about liberal hypocrisy in criticizing the firing, when liberals themselves had previously been so critical of Comey.  In doing so, they completely disregarded the strongest point from the investigation advocates, and not-coincidentally the one gaining the most traction- the suspicious timing of the firing.  Why now?  You don’t have to be a Trump critic to want an answer to it, but you do have to be a Trump sycophant to NOT want an answer to it.

And At The Center Of It All…

This madness begins and ends, much like this blog post itself, with Donald J. Trump.  This is someone who wants to be the center of a universe in which he is celebrated, feared and loved at the same time.  James Comey threatened all of those things, and while no one can be sure of the main motivation of his dismissal- perhaps not even Trump himself- this seems far more likely as explanation, than the revelation of a “smoking gun” (sorry, left), or the fact that Comey was the one who was out of control (sorry, right).

But nothing about the firing reveals the nature of Trump more than the way James Comey was fired.  From the New York Times

Mr. Comey was addressing a group of F.B.I. employees in Los Angeles when a television in the background flashed the news that he had been fired.  In response, Mr. Comey laughed, saying he thought it was a fairly funny prank.  Then his staff started scurrying around in the background and told Mr. Comey that he should step into a nearby office.”

trump_comey
—President Trump clearly didn’t like the bright lights being on someone else.

Unreal, yet totally believable.  Teenage Metallica showed more tact when they fired Dave Mustaine in 1983.  Maybe Comey should’ve been fired.  Maybe he shouldn’t.  Maybe it’s part of a cover-up.  Maybe it’s not.  But the fact that the guy had to find out what happened to him from a TELEVISION SET WHILE HE WAS GIVING A SPEECH, shows yet again something we’ve known about Donald Trump, long before the Access Hollywood tapes, the wall, the comments about people from Mexico, the Birther movement, and all the other things that have come to define this guy in recent years- the man needs to be the center of his own (dysfunctional) universe.  As others have pointed out, Trump publicly speculating Comey might have become more famous than Trump himself seems less a compliment of Comey, and more about Trump fearing the loss of his own spotlight.  If his mission was to get it back, at least he accomplished THAT much.

Summarizing Talking Points About Comey’s Firing  (It’s A Quick Read, There Are Only Two)

Summarizing Talking Points About Comey’s Firing (It’s A Quick Read, There Are Only Two)

Conservatives- “It was inevitable that this was going to happen, and it was a long time coming, even though I haven’t said anything about it until just now.  But I applaud this move by our wonderful President, with his huge hands and amazing political insight.  Clearly it had to happen, and liberals are hypocrites for criticizing it, after being so critical of Comey themselves.  Sure, they’re criticizing the TIMING and not the move itself, but they’re still hypocrites.  Why?  Because!  They…well, they just are, of course!  They’re liberals!  Liberals are hypocrites!  Everyone knows that!  Case closed! *places hands over ears* Lalalalalalalalalalalalalalalala!!!  I can’t hear you!  Lalalalalalalalalala!!!”

Liberals- “Russia!  Russia!  Russia!  Russia!  It’s like Watergate!  Russia!  Russia!  Russia! Impeach now!  Russia!  Russia!  Russia!  Russia!  Russia!  Nixon!  Russia!  Russia!  Russia!  Russia!  RUSSIA!!!!!!!!

Seriously though, President Trump- you couldn’t even CALL the man directly, to let him know he’d been fired?  The FBI does have phones, you know- man, do they have a lot of phones!
👌😣👌
Basing Public Policy On Emotion Is A Bad Idea.  Maligning A Suffering Parent Is An Even Worse Idea.

Basing Public Policy On Emotion Is A Bad Idea. Maligning A Suffering Parent Is An Even Worse Idea.

In pushing his political agenda, which one of these guys showed poor taste and poor timing?

One of the most underrated storylines of NBC’s “The Office” was the hostile dynamic between Michael Scott and Toby Flenderson, a kind-natured but tepid human-resource employee, just trying to do his job.  Scott, a delusional middle manager whose mere presence was a demoralizing influence on those around him (at least in the early episodes), always assumed his verbal- and occasionally physical– abuse was exposing poor Toby to the world (or in this case, the viewers) as a reprehensible and intrusive buzzkill, while in actuality showing everyone what kind of guy Michael Scott himself was- and it wasn’t pretty.

This week in real life, we’ve seen a similar level of accidental self-reflection.  It started after Jimmy Kimmel revealed the personal and painful trauma of living through his newborn son’s heart surgery.  Kimmel is not normally one to bare his soul to the public, so it’s pretty clear that he felt and meant every word that he was saying.  Not even the most cynical viewer could take issue with his tears.  His words, however, were another story.  Without getting into a detailed discussion of the speech itself (watch here to decide for yourself) there’s no denying that Kimmel has a very specific point of view on this subject- and, just like any specific point of view, it’s not going to be shared unanimously.  After all, there are roughly seven billion of us nowadays, which leads to roughly seven billion different points of view.  Not everyone is going to see things the way that Jimmy Kimmel does.

Enter Charles Hurt, a conservative Washington Times columnist who definitely has a different point of view from Jimmy Kimmel- and what a point of view it is.  Like many of us, Mr. Hurt generally comes across in the flesh as a pleasant individual, but online often seems like a madman, writing up an angry screed on a bathroom wall (albeit with a better vocabulary).  He took it to a whole new level against Kimmel, calling him- quote- an “elitist creep”, as well as a “dirty, self-absorbed, narcissistic exhibitionist”…and for what, exactly?  Hoping that no parent would have to go through what he did, particularly poor ones that couldn’t afford the kind of care that a rich late-night talk show host could?  While Jimmy Kimmel’s endorsement of expanded healthcare has merits that are certainly debatable, his motivation for it, much like his tears, should not have been.  After all, this is a man with a newborn baby whose LIFE was in jeopardy.  To paraphrase Tina Fey when discussing Dubya going after the guy that tried to kill his dad, people become superheroes over less!

A far better (if less newsworthy) approach than name-calling would have been to criticize the idea that any single anecdote should be the final word on a serious and complex issue.  This is a common tactic to use in the Internet age- find a high-profile story that fits your worldview, share it on Facebook, and imply that you’ve just settled the debate, once and for all.  Jimmy Kimmel has every right and every reason to share his beliefs on this subject, and the public has every right to take it under consideration.  But that doesn’t mean that his experience should be the guidebook to shape public policy, any more than Kate Steinle’s tragic death should be the final say for dealing with illegal immigration.

Unfortunately, Charles Hurt didn’t take this tactic, instead deciding to malign a well-meaning individual- and by extension, the group which he belongs to.  This brings us back to Michael Scott and Toby Flenderson.  Assuming he’s being honest and not just trolling for publicity, Mr. Hurt seems to believe that he’s giving an example of why “America hates Hollywood” (his words), when in reality, he just gave Exhibit A for why so many Americans- and not just the ones in Hollywood, which is, in fact, a part of America- believe conservatives are heartless.  Also, the like:dislike ratio is actually about 30:1 on Kimmel’s video- who knew that Hollywood was so much bigger than the rest of America?!  If Charles Hurt’s intention was to expose liberals as the out-of-touch elitists, his tactic clearly backfired.  By personally and viciously insulting a new father who’s just gone through a traumatic ordeal, Charles Hurt lives up to the worst caricatures of conservatives as greedy rich people, who don’t care about others- and make no mistake, a LOT of people believe that one, not just those that live in Hollywood.  It might feel good to just take personal shots at people with a different point of view, but it’s a bad strategy long term- just ask Hillary Clinton.

Since Donald Trump’s victory, many people on the right have been laughing disdainfully at liberals living in their bubble.  For the ones nodding approvingly at Charles Hurt’s needlessly angry column, it might be about time for them to step out of theirs.

George Carlin Had Ideas Of What “Saving The Environment” Really Means

George Carlin Had Ideas Of What “Saving The Environment” Really Means

It’s nothing new to quote comedians who say things that are in tune with our own philosophy and ideology.  In fact, it’s become so commonplace, it kind of feels like a lazy tactic to “prove” one’s own argument these days.  For example, “South Park is SO spot on this season!” can be translated into plain English as, “South Park is saying things that I agree with!”  What makes this quarter-century old clip from George Carlin so unique, is that he goes after a group that normally WOULD be in agreement with the types of things that he says- environmentalists.  Carlin, like many comedians (and entertainers in general), was very much on the left on most issues, particularly social ones.  But he was far from lockstep, which is one of many reasons why he was so great at what he did.  Nowadays, he’d probably be labeled a climate change denier for making such claims, but his real message wasn’t about what was being done to the environment, but those who were trying to stop “it” from happening- whatever “it” may have been.

But this post isn’t primarily about George Carlin, or even yet another tired old argument about climate change- or “global warming”, as it used to be known as- which became an all-too-binary discussion all-too-long ago.  In other words, most people think of climate change as either, “a hoax, from people that want to control your lives!” or “the cause our impending doom, which is clearly the fault of the denier and corporations!”  The real issue is- or at least, should be– more nuanced.  But this is 2017, and we don’t DO nuance very well in 2017.

Also being 2017, the problem has to be tied as tightly to President Donald Trump as possible.  CNN’s Van Jones, normally one of the few seemingly reasonable commentators, sadly went off the rails a few weeks back, claiming that Trump, “may have just signed a death warrant for our planet”.  At a bare minimum, coupled with the accompanying link about how “Trump’s climate policies put China in charge of our future“, this shows American arrogance at its finest, demonstrating yet again that “patriotic” conservatives don’t have a monopoly on this trait.  How is a domestic policy supposed to single-handedly destroy the Earth’s environment?  Donald Trump is an overbearing figure, but we’ve been destroying the planet longer than he’s been alive, let alone in power.   And even assuming, just for the sake of argument, that Trump’s policy is as dangerous to the environment as Jones and so many others believe, how can ANY American policy stop the emerging world from doing what this country has done for nearly two centuries- that is, build an affluent, advanced society at the expense of the environment?  Sure, it’s great for us to now say, “Gosh, planet, sorry we’ve screwed things up- but from now on, we’ll behave better- so you’d better do the same!”  We’ve already gained the benefits of modernization, with all the unfortunate side effects of pollution that come with it.  And now, we’re just going to wag our fingers at everyone else for doing the same thing?  What makes ANYONE think that the rest of the world will go along with these grandiose regulations?

But even putting aside the hypocrisy of modern American environmentalism, as our society has benefited more from pollution than just about anyone else’s, what if we were just to start over?  What if we just started doing “the right thing” now?  What if we just didn’t pay attention to what was going on with the E.P.A., and became serious about making a positive contribution in our own, personal lives?  Are we willing to do that?  From what I can tell, based on a real life occurrence that was the catalyst for this entire post, the answer is absolutely not.

culver_city_parking_lot
RIP, Culver City Station Parking Lot.  It was nice while it lasted.

Nearly a hundred years after becoming a major city, Los Angeles has finally been making decent headway into expanding its Metrorail, the city’s mass transit railroad system that covers barely more than 10% of New York’s subway system.  (Still, better late than never.)  Along the Expo Line, which goes from Santa Monica into downtown LA, Culver City had become a major stop along the middle of the line, complete with hundreds of parking space.  The Metrorail is not exactly a bullet train, so one of the major selling points for even using the train is parking.

So much for that idea.  Not more than 5 years after the station opened, Culver City is now tearing down the parking lot for- you guessed it- shops and condos, because if there’s one thing LA needs more of, it’s shops and condos.  *ahem*   So where was the outrage over this?  On Twitter- normally a breeding ground for the masses to vent out- the number of complaints could be counted on one hand.  For one of the few people who DID criticize them for this move, correctly accusing LA Metro of discouraging people from taking the train, Metro responded with a 21st century version of “Let them eat cake”, essentially saying that anyone who lived in the new condos would have easy access to the train.  Technically that’s true, but it’s also not reassuring for the 95% or so who won’t be living in or near the new development, that are also looking to use that train stop.  Perhaps this would’ve generated more outrage- or any outrage, for that matter- if Kellyanne Conway had given such an absurd response.  But since most people would rather have more fancy shops and condos over a large parking lot to take the train, it really isn’t that big a deal.  (The breakneck speed that these stores and condos are getting built, not 10 years after the last time this scheme fell apart, is a whole other story.)

The bottom line is that it may be well-intentioned to criticize others for not doing their fair share for keeping the Earth cleaner than how they found it- or at least, making sure it doesn’t get any dirtier.  But before that happens, try considering whatever small part YOU can play in helping out…and sorry, but mocking the Trump administration on Facebook for alternative facts or bad policy doesn’t count.

It’s Fine To Cheer For The Demise of Michael Flynn- Just Admit What The Celebrating Is Really About

It’s Fine To Cheer For The Demise of Michael Flynn- Just Admit What The Celebrating Is Really About

With a highly opinionated yet even tempered article, Bloomberg’s Eli Lake makes an excellent case that the political targeting of Michael Flynn wasn’t actually about Flynn himself, at least not primarily.  As if to prove Mr. Lake’s point, a disgraced former news anchor insists that this might be the worst scandal since Watergate. And hey, you can trust him this time- no, really!

flynn_2
“Wait, wait- I can explain!” You won’t have THIS guy to kick around anymore, but you’ll have others. So many, many others.

This is not intended to defend a guy that was supposed to be one of the gatekeepers of national security, yet couldn’t even be forthcoming about his own international affairs.  It’s hard to be sympathetic towards someone who makes such a careless and arrogant mistake, any more than for a baseball player getting thrown out a second base, because he wasn’t hustling.  (“I swear that ball was going out!”)  But given how many enemies President Trump has, ESPECIALLY from the political establishment, it’s difficult to believe that the primary motivation behind all the outrage is for Flynn’s specific act, rather than for the greater goal of bringing the Trump administration to “justice” altogether.  Maybe you think that’s a good thing, but the level of indignation directed at Flynn, like so many other things we’ve seen in recent months (going on years now), is comically disingenuous- particularly when so many thought that this gem from the previous administration wasn’t worthy of more than a news cycle or two.

 

The bottom line is that a lot of people find the current administration be so repugnant, even dangerous, that they don’t want to wait until the next election to see it brought down.  If that is one’s prerogative, so be it.  But if that’s the case, then just admit it, and stop with the grandstanding over these fairly pedestrian scandals, when we’ve seen so much worse overlooked for so many years (decades?) already.
A Message To The #NeverTrump folks, from A Gary Johnson voter

A Message To The #NeverTrump folks, from A Gary Johnson voter

I didn’t vote for Donald Trump, for most of the same reasons that half the country didn’t vote for him- his incendiary comments, his lack of political experience, his shady business dealings, among other things.  You know the list.  But give the man his due.  His detractors ridiculed him for getting a head start in life from his father’s success, yet these are the same people that act like Warren Buffett built his empire from a lemonade stand.  (Howard Buffett, a successful businessman and congressman, gave young Warren a start that was light years ahead of the one that Fred Trump, a successful real estate investor, gave Donald.)  For all the times that Trump declared bankruptcy, he always came back, bigger than ever.  He’s made his enemies along the way, but for better or for worse, he’s overcome them all.

trump
Get used to saying it – “President Donald Trump”

And this brings us to the #NeverTrump movement, mostly well-intentioned but quixotic from the start.  From the beginning of this campaign, these people made every excuse in the book for Trump’s success- the primary field was too wide.  The liberal media was intentionally propping up this weak buffoon.  The voters were being conned.  But at the end of it all, Trump rose above it, as he always seems to, beating the greatest American political machine of our generation, in spite of (because of?) the opposition of the media, the entertainment industry, and even prominent members of his own political party.

And it’s that last group that, above all else, needs to understand what happened here, because as I’m typing this, the earliest indicators are that they still don’t get it.  Well, I’ll do my best to clarify it for them.  The anti-Trump conservatives that want to pretend that other candidates could have done so much better than Donald Trump- most notably Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio- are trying to convince everyone that it’s only because Hillary Clinton was a weak candidate.  There is this belief of false equivalency going around right now, that only Hillary could lose to The Donald, just like only The Donald could lose to Hillary.  Two problems with this-

1) The entire Democratic establishment was all in on Hillary.  The entire Republican establishment was all in AGAINST Trump.

2) Donald Trump DID beat Hillary Clinton.  Hillary Clinton did NOT beat Donald Trump.

In addition to these two seemingly self-evident facts, The Donald’s detractors refuse to acknowledge that he possesses something which alludes most politicians, particularly those on the right- a genuine ability to connect with people.  And if this is STILL not enough to convince his many detractors and critics how remarkable Trump’s triumph actually was, they should consider this…From the beginning, the corrupt Clinton machine, with Bill’s draft dodging, and sexual assault, and secret deals with China for campaign cash, and endless character assassination on not only political opponents, but those who simply “got in the way”, combined with Hillary’s smearing of a 12 year old rape victim, and Whitewater dealings, and Benghazi, and mishandling of classified materials, CONTINUOUSLY stepped on the Republicans for a quarter of a century, almost uninterrupted.  In turn, these Republicans feebly tried kicking Bill out of office, practically hanging all hope on a technicality, yet instead ended up launching Hillary’s political career.  Some of them even openly SUPPORTED HER FOR PRESIDENT, as  the #NeverTrump movement, with very few exceptions, became little more than Hillary’s minions.  And yet, Donald Trump, with all his faults and NO POLITICAL EXPERIENCE, managed to end the Clintons. Whatever else happens from this point forward, he deserves serious recognition for that act alone.

As for what does happen next?  That’s anybody’s guess.  We’re in uncharted waters now.