Sorry Hader Haters, But Names Will STILL Never Harm You

Sorry Hader Haters, But Names Will STILL Never Harm You

While MLB has wanted (and probably needed) mid-summer attention from the national media for something besides PEDs, this likely isn’t what they had in mind. During the All Star game, The Milwaukee Brewers’s Josh Hader, a man of the not-so-deep south (Maryland), was shamed for some pretty offensive Tweets from his teenage years. Clearly, he was humiliated about it. Atlanta’s Sean Newcomb, one strike away from a no-hitter, was equally shamed for the same offense, albeit with somewhat less vile content. Seeing a nice story ruined by social media’s morality police, Braves fans countered by humiliating Washington’s Caucasian speedster Trea Turner for similar youthful indiscretions, exposing HIS racist Tweets as a teenager, for the time he…quoted a Terry Crews character from a movie??

It would be nice to say that this is all surprising, but anyone who’s paid attention to what’s happened in America since the rise of social media, should be anything but surprised. Shaming famous people, and athletes from teams we don’t like (“Boooo- different shirt!”) in particular, has itself become a type of sport. It all went mainstream in 2013, when the now-defunct Gawker, a site which often used cyber-bullying as a disguise for moral crusading, shamed Justine Sacco, a young executive at IAC, into losing her job, for a poorly constructed Colbert-Report-styled joke. (They didn’t come up with the phrase, “Don’t try this at home, kids!” for no reason.) Although Justine’s shamer recanted somewhat when he HIMSELF was shamed, the trend only took off from there. So here were are, about five years later, getting mad at some jocks for things they wrote as kids- things which, by the way, predate what Justine Sacco herself wrote.
So is Josh Hader a truly hater? Is Sean Newcomb in need of sensitivity training, because he used to speak like a character from South Park? Should Trea Turner stop finding Terry Crews funny? Man, I don’t know. I DO know that I was NOT a jock when I was 18, yet still managed to write a few things that I’m not proud of today, thankfully pre-social media. Who hasn’t When Facebook started to become popular beyond college dorms about ten years ago, I told my sister that national-level politicians of the future would have to defend themselves against some really stupid things that they were typing, right as we were speaking back then. (We’re not QUITE there yet, but we will be soon.) I was all for it, because when running for national office, we need the whole picture of someone’s character, particularly when no one’s paying attention to them. (ie. What do they think they can get away with?) I never dreamed that the same standard would be applied to less-than-household named professional atheletes, who were years away from being old enough to drink at the time of THEIR youthful indescretions, even if, ironically enough, they might have been drunk while committing those indiscretions. And yet here we are, with the Washington Post, virtue signaling by telling us how these Tweets feel like- quote- “an actual gut-punch”. Really, Washington Post? First of all, whatever happened to “…names will never harm me”? Second of all, anyone who can make this statement and truly believes it- THEY threw in the word “actual”, not me- has probably never been punched in the gut. Perhaps those who truly feel let down by these jocks- from when they were KIDS THEMSELVES, no less- need to get a reality check on life. To paraphrase Charles Barkley, parents- not Major League pitchers- should be role models. Unless causing ACTUAL harm, athletes should, for the most part, be looked at as people who are paid to entertain us for a few hours a day, and that’s it. Nothing more, nothing less should be expected out of them. Outside of a few exceptional cases, there are plenty of others to turn to.

None of this is to say that the Tweets, or the culture that cultivated them, should be ignored ENTIRELY, because this type of thinking IS still a problem in our society. It just shouldn’t be a career-damaging one- let alone a career-ENDING one- because that’s a long road which should not be traveled. (Speaking of roads, if anyone wants to talk about athletes’ images versus reality? Peyton Manning normally doesn’t drive a Buick. Trust me on that one.) And when this perceptive IS challenged, it should be done so in a far more nuanced way than electing THIS guy. (Go ahead, click on the link- it’s not who you think it is!) Otherwise, we’re going to find ourselves living inside of another Terry Crews movie. As luck would have it, we’re too close to living there already.

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The Madness of Investing in AMZN

The Madness of Investing in AMZN

(Please note that this post is not a knock on the COMPANY Amazon- which is amazing- but its corresponding stock, AMZN, which is beyond insane.)

This will not end well.

During the first couple hundred years of the stock market, stocks would go up based on the promise of higher DIVIDENDS…ie. you invest in a company, they pay out based on their profits.  When the profits go up, the company pays higher dividends, thereby getting investors to pay a higher premium for shares of that stock.  With the higher amount of money invested, the company would expand its business.  Sometime in the 1980’s, that very basic premise gradually eroded away, to the point where now, few traders under 30 even know what a dividend IS, and few under 50 even care.

Amazon currently has a market cap of $880+ billion, without paying a single penny of dividends.  In other words, no matter how awesome the company is, there is NOTHING BACKING this price.  The stock can drop 50% next week, and the company’s business model wouldn’t change one bit.  It’s all based on faith and the continuation of finding new, overly excited “investors”.  Charles Ponzi can tell you all about it.

Last but not least, for anyone wondering what $880+ billion can get you, check out this old blog about Apple’s stock price, and the ridiculous amount of things that Apple stock was worth more than.   (At the time of the last blog post, Apple was worth a measly $650+ billion.)

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!
👌😣👌
The Latest “Top” – Seattle MEDIAN Home Prices At $722,000

The Latest “Top” – Seattle MEDIAN Home Prices At $722,000

(If Seattle ever gets another NBA team, will players be able to afford to live there?)

Some direct quotes from the latest article in the Seattle Times about the Not-A-Bubble in real estate…

““I think that’s just going to become the new norm. There are no signs of it slowing down

Some buyers are even coming out and saying ‘I am willing to buy X dollars over appraised value just to close the transaction

brokers say buyers are “over-confident” that they can sit on their houses and sell later because prices keep going up.”

With only the tiniest hint of incredulity (“the greater Seattle real estate market…somehow keeps picking up even more steam“), the article’s accepting tone is almost as revealing as the cited facts themselves.  There is not even a passing mention of the unraveling of the real estate market at the end of the previous decade.  (The question of a whether a bubble can form- let alone whether there already is one- gets addressed briefly, only to basically be dismissed.)  There is no mention of how interests rates are STILL lower than the supposedly reckless 1.0% that Alan Greenspan left the Federal funds rate for roughly a year.  (Rates have now been LOWER than that for EIGHT years.)  Heck, there is no mention of interest rates AT ALL- just low inventory.  I guess that explains the whole thing, huh?

What else can be said, that hasn’t been said so many times already…

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.

Stocks Rally To Record Highs, Because…The President of the United States is a DUCK?

Stocks Rally To Record Highs, Because…The President of the United States is a DUCK?

or whatever, the President is a dog- who cares!

While some might see that as an improvement, this post really has nothing to do with the Presidency.  (To read more about that, Google pretty much any other site on the Internet.)  Instead, we’re going to take a look at the latest stock market rally- a quick one, because like Stan Marsh after turning 10, I’m getting tired of the same old…well, if you haven’t see the episode, check it out sometime.

As of this writing, most American stocks are rallying substantially, with tech, in particular, rocketing to new highs.  The explanation given is that globalist Emmanuel Macron will defeat nationalist gadfly Marine Le Pen, in a country with shores located more than 3,500 miles away from Wall Street, with a GDP of less than 1/5th of the U.S.’s.  What does this have to do with the most expensive stocks in world history, increasing even more in value?  Who cares?  Buy stocks!

A less snarky explanation would be that with a global economy so interconnected, it is in need of its proponents to be in charge at all times.  Macron supposedly keeps that order maintained.  But even with THAT explanation, what does it say about the strength of the global economy, that if one of its leaders is voted out- and one not even in the top five in GDPit puts the whole system at risk?  Just how fragile is this thing?  And how absurd is it that Wall Street puts so much faith in these leaders to begin with?  Do they think its years (decades?) of easy money and endless bubble cycles can be maintained indefinitely, if they just keep people in power who believe in it?

To be fair, they’ve done a very good job with it so far- by their definition of “good job”.  But make no mistake- this whole thing is primed for a popping, regardless of who is in charge, be it a nationalist, a populist, a duck, or a Trump.  But as long as the party keeps going, enjoy your Rob Schneider movie collection, while you still can…