I’m a news reporter. All I do, all day, every day, sometimes to my detriment, is follow the news. I'm not the "mainstream media" and I prefer not to follow it. I keep my eyes on local and national reporters on Twitter, intelligence experts, political activists, conservative, independent and liberal pundits, politicians, members of Congress, Governors, etc. I get push notifications from every major news outlet in print (NYTimes, WSJ, WaPo), scour social media for updates about what people are focused on. I watch FoxNews sometimes and read Breitbart and other further right outlets every day. I get Breitbart's newsletter, get statements issued from members of Congress and their press secretaries who I’ve connected with in the wake of big news. I have a small but interesting group of “sources” close and far to the White House who will tell me via direct message on Twitter or text message their thoughts about something, almost always off the record. Former Obama appointees do some of the same.
On Monday, I gave my weekly update about the Trump administration. It’s been about 96 hours since then. So much has happened, so much craziness, that I know every American has trouble keeping up. I have trouble keeping up and it’s my job, it’s all I’m required to do every day. So below I’ve written a quick summation of the last 96 hours.
I’m making this post public on my personal and professional page so people can share it, because I think it’s incredibly important: it shows how the Trump administration works, how they flood the news, how they distort the storyline, how big, important journalism falls to the wayside of the most bombastic headlines. It shows how despite there being complete chaos and upheaval at the most important levels of government, the White House pushes on, because it truly is almost impossible to keep up. It shows that there is a rhyme and reason to the madness, that certain news outlets and the Trump admin are working together, that if you put some effort in you can follow everything.
This update is long, close to 3,000 words, but I ask that you read it. Share it. Like it. Because even though it’s just a quick 4 days, it’s an example of how much can happen in 4 days and how important it is we do our best to pay attention. Because really, really important stuff is happening. Dangerous stuff is happening. And some good stuff, too. The Trump administration is not all bad and I don't mean to imply they are. But they are, in some ways, doing incredible damage to our country and the office of the presidency. They are misleading Americans and dividing the media. They are *buying* the media and creating their own narratives. They are flooding the common political observer with news and craziness to the point we'd prefer to just not follow along. But we should follow, we need to follow, because this stuff is really important. And, it's worth saying, it's historic and wild and unusual and crazy. It's entertaining. It's easy to be interested. I've written this over the course of the last 3 days and tried to condense it here.
Importantly, I've left a lot out. Here is a chronological breakdown of the last few days:
Let’s start with Paul Manafort’s home being raided. News broke of the raid on Monday. It was a “no-knock raid” by the FBI, in which they took documents related to the campaign from Manafort’s home, as well as financial documents related to his previous work in Ukraine and Russia. Sources say those documents included notes from the now infamous Trump Jr. - Russian lawyer meeting.
Meanwhile, on Twitter, as the report breaks, Trump is busy claiming that the mainstream media isn’t covering the unanimous UN vote to sanction North Korea, a legislative victory I gave him credit for on Monday. Of course, the “MSM” had covered it extensively, as I noted on Twitter by screenshotting a dozen major media outlets headline stories on the sanctions. It’s also worth noting there have been 8 unanimous votes to sanction NK since 2006, so the President might be overplaying his hand a little bit — it really wasn't a story that deserved more than one news cycle.
The president also used his morning on Twitter to attack Sen. Blumenthal, who at the same time happened to be making an appearance on CNN, a network Trump repeatedly claims “not to watch.” Blumenthal once lied about his service in Vietnam, which Trump — who deferred from Vietnam 5 times for "bone spurs" — took to Twitter to remind people of.
Meanwhile, three marines had recently died, a mosque had been bombed in Minnesota, and the southern U.S. was facing horrible floods — but POTUS was silent on these issues.
Trump then Retweeted a story about a North Korea missile launch. The story was from Fox News and cited anonymous sources leaking national security intelligence, a seemingly hypocritical thing for a president to do when you remember he has repeatedly promised to prosecute leakers, as recently as last week.
The Republican National Convention hires Kayleigh McEnany as its spokesperson, a major win for team Trump. McEnany is a birther who defended Trump’s comments about “grabbing em by the p*ssy” by saying the part where he said “they let you do it” implied consent and that Trump shouldn’t be demonized like he was. She’s the same woman that infamously claimed on national television Obama, as POTUS, went golfing right after Daniel Pearl was beheaded by Islamic extremists. Pearl was beheaded in 2002, six years before Obama was elected president.
Breitbart news publishes a report slamming, naming and shaming NYTimes reporters for reaching out to members of a government agency and asking for confirmation on their reporting. They framed the story as NYTimes journalists “encouraging illegal government leaks,” apparently unaware that this is how investigative journalism works. To most, the story was an obvious hit piece directed by Bannon (Breitbart's former CEO who was granted an ethics waiver by the president to remain involved in Breitbart's operations) to discourage government employees from leaking and try to scare the journalists whose emails and names were exposed in the story. It also confirmed that Breitbart doesn’t know what journalism is.
North Korea drama heats up when Trump, from his Bedminster golf club, tells reporters that "North Korea best not make any more threats to the US. They will be met with fire & fury like the world has never seen.” This sent diplomats and foreign policy experts into an apoplectic fit. Trump was threatening an unstable world leader who recently miniaturized nuclear weapons, meaning he was capable of reaching the U.S. and certainly capable of reaching southeast Asian allies like South Korea, Japan, or Guam — where U.S. forces are located. Diplomats also expressed concern that the threats, if not followed with actual action, would diminish the President’s credibility and weaken U.S.’s stance abroad.
Jeffrey Lewis, a nuclear non-proliferation expert at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies, said this a few months ago:
“Imagine we’re in a crisis — if he recklessly Tweets, people could read these things in the worst possible light,” Lewis tells me. “The North Koreans have a plan to use nuclear weapons very early in a conflict. They’re not going to wait around. If they think we are going, they’re going to use nuclear weapons against South Korea and Japan.”
Several members of the Senate Intelligence committee publicly say that the Paul Manafort raid implies evidence of criminal wrongdoing. In order for the FBI to conduct such a raid, they’d need a federal judge to approve it. Others remind the committee members that the FBI raids the homes of innocent people all the time (which is true).
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson tries to comfort Americans now worried about nuclear war:
"I think Americans should sleep well at night, I have no concerns about this particular rhetoric over the last few days."
Meanwhile, remember: there is no Assistant Secretary of State for Asia nor is there an Ambassador to South Korea. The State Department is largely understaffed, not because of Democratic obstruction but because Trump and Tillerson haven’t filled the positions or nominated people for them. It also seems worth noting that Tillerson, a former Exxon CEO, has no diplomatic experience.
White House sources tell the New York Times: ”The White House, including the national-security team, was unaware President Trump was preparing to speak publicly about North Korea.”
Then the White house then admits Trump’s words were “ad-libbed” … “improvised.” General Kelly, Trump’s new Chief of Staff who pundits said would “reign him in,” says he was surprised but not shocked. White House advisors say Americans shouldn’t look too much into the president's words.
Secretary of Defense James Mattis then says North Korea should "cease any consideration of actions that would lead to the end of the regime and the destruction of its people." As NYTimes Maggie Haberman notes, this, of course, changes the red line again. Trump said North Korea needed to stop threatening or they would risk “fire and fury,” Mattis says they better not take any action or risk retaliation. Action and threats are quite different.
Trump Retweets a Fox News story that the U.S. air force took off from Guam and assures Americans can "fight tonight" if necessary.
Then, in a stunning move, Trump begins attacking his own party’s majority leader Mitch McConnell, who probably yields the 2nd most power in America behind Trump. McConnell, remember, would be the person who whips votes for an impeachment proceeding if the Russia investigation turns up any dirt on Trump. On inauguration day, POTUS promised to bring the country together. 200 days later, it seems his party is divided.
North Korea publicly reiterates their threat to fire on Guam, apparently unaffected by POTUS’s threats.
Sen. Blumenthal, who Trump spent Monday attacking, comes back on Wednesday with a statement on the Manafort raid and its implications. Remember, Blumenthal is on the Senate Judiciary Committee. Not the guy to make enemies with.
"Apparently there is now no question of clear evidence connecting Paul Manafort to some criminal wrongdoing,” he says.
News breaks quietly that Trump’s two most prominent African American supporters from the campaign, who were largely sold as being “organic Trump fans,” were being paid by Trump the whole time. They go by the name Diamond and Silk. Despite having no policy, health care or government background, they had recently appeared on Fox News with Sean Hannity to blast Obama and Congressional Republicans for the Affordable Care Act.
Thursday, Trump continues to attack McConnell after they apparently had a tense phone call while Trump was on his golf course in Bedminster, NJ (remember, by end of August, Trump will have spent more than three times as many days vacationing as Obama did at this point in his presidency. Trump infamously criticized Obama for golfing throughout his tenure).
Then the news of the raid gets an official timeline: it happened a month ago. People begin scouring the news reports from that day and realize the afternoon after the raid, Trump called for the firing of Andrew McCabe, the acting FBI director, on Twitter. McCabe took over after Trump fired James Comey. Trump claimed it was because McCabe, like special counsel Rob Mueller, has relationships with people who donated to Hillary Clinton, so their objectivity can’t be trusted. Turns out, Trump has given more money to Democrats then all of Bob Mueller’s prosecutors combined.
Then the U.S. Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, watches as her spokesperson resigns and her chief of staff resigns in the same day, both coincidentally citing “family reasons.” I poke around to see if they are, on an off chance, related. They are not.
Trump shares a “poll” about who was a better president on Twitter: Donald Trump or Barack Obama. It was a Twitter poll, which is obviously the least reliable thing in the world because the only people who vote on it are the people following that account online. The poll shows 61% of the respondents chose Trump over Obama. The handle of the Twitter account was “@progresspolls.” The next day it comes out that the poll Trump shared was posted on account which had just changed its handle. Previously, it was a Pizza Gate conspiracy theory twitter account that amassed thousands of followers while claiming that Hillary Clinton and D.C. Democrats ran a child sex ring out of the basement of a D.C. pizza parlor. The conspiracy theory was shared so widely that you might remember a few months back when a Trump supporter drove from North Carolina to the pizza shop and discharged his rifle inside, claiming he was “investigating.”
On the back pages of the newspapers, a report breaks from the Kaiser Foundation that “mixed signals from President Donald Trump have created uncertainty “far outside the norm” and led insurers to seek higher premium increases for 2018 than would otherwise have been the case.” In other words, Trump’s negative messaging on health care and failure to change any laws are going to lead to double digit increases in your premiums.
Robert Jeffries, one of Trump’s favorite pastors, goes on Fox News and says “The Bible gives POTUS the moral authority to use whatever force necessary... to take out an evildoer like Kim Jong-un."
Trump launches Trump TV - a media outlet allegedly delivering “real news” paid for by Donald Trump and hosted by new RNC spokesperson Kayleigh McEnany. He continues to work on a deal to merge Sinclair media group and Tribune, which would give him the reach of 72% of the American market via local television and radio stations. Sinclair has notably aired pro-Trump propaganda repeatedly on its channels. News of Trump TV and the potential media merger are so disturbing that even conservative CEOs of news organizations like Newsmax, some of Trumps closest allies, have spoken out and said the deal would be “bad for American Democracy.”
Buzzfeed breaks a story that the EU diplomats said in meetings Trump would ask, “Did Obama do this?” and if the answer is yes, he will do the complete opposite without discussing the topic or listening to any arguments. “He is obsessed with Obama,” one said. Trump, remember, is one of the original birther conspiracy theorists — and this same day tweeted the poll asking people who was a better president, him or Obama.
Photos emerge from the week of Trump golfing with several different random guests at his club despite him claiming to be on a “working vacation.” The photos go viral. Then, Trump tweets, “Mitch, get back to work and put Repeal & Replace, Tax Reform & Cuts and a great Infrastructure Bill on my desk for signing. You can do it!” again attacking his party’s majority leader.
A new report breaks that Paul Manafort apparently disclosed the meeting between Trump Jr and Russian lawyers to the FBI, as he was already feeling heat throughout the investigation. Remember: at the time the story broke last month, Trump and his team repeatedly lied about the nature of the meeting before confessing it was set up to get dirt on Hillary when the New York Times said they had emails to prove it. Then, Trump's laywers, sons, Fox News and Breitbart accused “Democrats” of setting up the meeting and then leaking the meeting to the NYTimes and FBI to hurt the Trump campaign.
U.S. spy agencies confirmed to NBC North Korea can now fit a nuke on one of their missiles.
Seb Gorka, who plays no clearly defined roll in the White House and has well-documented ties to neo-nazis and white nationalism, rebukes SoS Tillerson on his comments that Americans can rest easy about North Korea and that no strike is imminent: “the idea that Secretary Tillerson is going to discuss military matters is simply nonsensical” he says.
Trump claims on Twitter his first order of president was to modernize nuclear arsenal and it's now more powerful than ever before.
“This is patently absurd,” Stephen Schwartz, a nuclear weapons and weapons policy expert specializing in U.S. nukes, says in response. “Literally nothing has happened in the last 201 days to increase the overall power of the US nuclear arsenal.”
Trump holds another press conference at his golf club. In it, he responds to the news that Putin is expelling 755 diplomats from Russia, a huge blow to an opportunity for Russia and the U.S. to work together and a clear response to bipartisan sanctions against Russia from Congress. Trump shocks the room by profusely thanking Putin, saying the expelling of the diplomats will help cut costs of payroll, seemingly unaware that Putin expelling the diplomats does not mean they don't get paid or are fired. Trump's supporters claim he was clearly joking and making the point that expelling the diplomats doesn't hurt the U.S., which is of course patently untrue.
Instead, the diplomats will still be paid — not cuts to the payroll — but just unable to do their work. Nevermind the fact they now have to uproot their families and leave their homes in Russia, and they just watched the president thank Putin for booting them.
As one journalist tweeted:
“Wanna thank Putin for kicking me in the nuts. Always thought testicles were excessive once i was done having kids. Now i don’t need surgery”
A story is posted on the conservative news outlet The Nation that “some spies have questions about report Russia interfered in the election.” Several Fox News hosts share the story.
One of the former NSA officials quoted in this story, William Binney, is a regular contributor to RT, a Russian propaganda outlet.
Trump responds to the report that NK considering an attack on Guam: "Let's see what [Kim Jong Un] does with Guam. He does something in Guam, it will be an event the likes of which nobody's seen before.”
It occurs to some reporters that “President Trump has insulted or threatened nearly every person he's ever met, including his children, repeatedly. But not Putin. Not once.”
A Fox News military expert pseudo pundit says on national television that in a nuclear strike millions will die, but dismisses the seriousness because "they'll be mostly North Koreans.”
An Indystar investigation, the local newspaper in Indiana, uncovers that in Mike Pence’s home state they made it easier for people in Republican districts to vote while simultaneously making it more difficult for Democratic districts to vote through limited public transportation and polling booths from 2008 to 2016. The results on the recent election were profound.
“Most telling, Hamilton County saw a 63 percent increase in absentee voting from 2008 to 2016, while Marion County saw a 26 percent decline. Absentee ballots are used at early voting stations.”
Within the same two hours of each other, dozens of Republican members of Congress go on Twitter in a bizarre and not so random act and issue statements thanking Sen Majority leader Mitch McConnell for various legislative victories he’s led over the years: tax reform, gun laws, blocking a Democratic SCOTUS nominee. It appears Trump may be making the wrong enemy after all.
This morning, Trump tweets “Military solutions are now fully in place, locked and loaded, should North Korea act unwisely. Hopefully Kim Jong Un will find another path!”
It's now 2:11 pm on Friday.
It has been nearly two weeks since Donald Trump got elected. Today, as promised, I am going to start my weekly Monday updates on his presidency and some other national or global happenings that struck me as significant. As I plan to with every one of these posts, I’ll end with a bit of optimism.
It’s been an important week, to say the least. Trump’s presidency is already full of so many moving targets it’s tough to know where to look. But much of the press attention has focused on where Trump has pointed them: cabinet picks, Hamilton (?) and his own Trump U settlement.
I’d like to speak, briefly, about the things president-elect Trump isn’t addressing.
Over the weekend there was a rally in Washington D.C. led by Richard Spencer, a prominent leader of the “alt-right” movement you have probably heard about in recent weeks. It was held in a building named after Ronald Reagan. Mr. Spencer delivered a speech to about 200 young white men that ended with him “railing against Jews” (1), claiming America belonged to white people, and encouraging the crowd to call the press by their “German name,” Lügenpresse, a nazi-time name that means “lying press.” At the end of the speech, members of the crowd extended their arms in a nazi salute and someone near the front of the stage — or Spencer himself — screamed “Heil the people! Heil victory!” The crowd shouted it back.
This empowered showing of “white identity” is just the beginning. On December 3rd a revived Klu Klux Klan will hold a rally in North Carolina celebrating Trump’s victory.
Is this Trump’s fault? I’m sure dozens of political scientists could make an argument either way. Regardless, it’s worthy of the president’s attention — or at the least his condemnation — of which there has been none. Instead, he spent the weekend railing against the cast of Hamilton, an eclectic group of people of color and LGBT persons, for quite respectfully asking Vice President Mike Pence to be a leader for all Americans. This came at the end of the show, as Pence sat in the crowd with his family, and was prefaced with a thank you for him coming. Trump claimed he was harassed, then claimed that the wildly successful show was underrated, and even had to delete a tweet where he claimed an actor (an award-winning Broadway actor), couldn’t remember his lines. As someone who didn’t vote for him, It was not a very comforting reminder of this man’s temperament, and that’s coming from a place where I’m trying to will myself to give him a chance.
Which brings me to his cabinet. I’m just going to give you some brief hits about the men around him, and link to any articles I found really important if you’d like to do more reading.
Mike Pence: forgotten in all this is that Mike Pence is now in office, and is probably one of the most extreme far right Christians in the entire country. This is a man that has suggested the government pay for conversion therapy for gays so they can “change their sexual behavior.” He doesn’t believe government should have to get a warrant for surveillance and he signed a law that dictates fetal tissue from abortions must be buried or cremated. You can read more here: https://theintercept.com/…/mike-pence-will-be-the-most-pow…/
Reince Priebus: Priebus is the Washington insider that will serve as Trump’s chief of staff and look to normalize and otherwise shocking group of cabinet picks to any Democrat or progressive. There’s not much to see here yet, other than the fact that he has vowed punishment of Republicans who don’t fall in line and has unabashedly supported Trump through everything.
Steve Bannon: much like Mike Pence, Steve Bannon thinks secularism is a dangerous threat to American society. When asked at a conference in 2014 whether secularism or the Muslim world were a greater threat to the Judeo-Christian Civilization, Bannon said secularism was sapping the U.S. of its strength but the caliphate was a vicious coming war we had to acknowledge. The question itself was scary enough, but the answer was worse. Many of the Jews, people of color and LGBT persons Bannon employs at Breitbart have come to his defense as he’s being labeled a “white nationalist” and anti-Semite, but it seems far more worrisome that he views globalism as a kind of disease that needs to extracted. This is the most interesting thing I’ve read about “how Steve Bannon sees the world,” as it’s basically a transcript of a Q&A he did in 2014. https://www.buzzfeed.com/…/this-is-how-steve-bannon-sees-th…
General Flynn: as Colin Powell put it, the man is a bit of a “right wing nutty.” He’s a guy that has said Islam is “cancer” and called fear of Muslims “rational.” He’s tweeted out conspiracy theories from TruePundit.com during the election that Hillary Clinton was running a children sex ring. He is now the National Security Advisor of the United States.
Jeff Sessions: pegged for attorney general, much has been made about Sessions’ being turned down for a federal judgeship in the 1980s by both Republicans and Democrats for racially charged comments. While that is eye-brow raising, what’s worse is that he is one of a few politicians who has resisted reducing mandatory minimum sentences. By all accounts, he’s a man interested in putting more people in jail. He’s also said on record that “good people don’t smoke marijuana.” The good news? He’s got a ton of experience and his resume is basically a template for what to do in order to qualify for this position.
Trump also offered positions to Mike Pompeo and Mike Huckabee, scary enough in their own right. Some have pointed out he now has 4 Mikes in his administration (Pence, Flynn, Pompeo and Huckabee), but zero women or people of color. I thought that was a nice bit of dark humor.
For many of the Americans who wanted to spend their first week “giving Trump a chance,” things have gone about as bad as they could have. It appears his administration is going far right, a disconcerting piece of evidence for a candidate who has voted for Democrats, donating to Hillary Clinton, and many thought may serve as a moderate. But all these moving targets make it hard to peg Trump or his administration for much of what is already happening. Stories about his unprecedented conflicts of interest (2), that he lied about keeping a Ford plant in the U.S., that he settled a multi-million dollar lawsuit for fraud, that he’s already making money off this election, that there has been a spike in hate crimes since the election, that Hillary now has a larger popular vote lead than 4 people who became president, that he’s talking to foreign leaders on a non-secure phone, that he’s been considering guys like Rudy Giuliani for cabinet positions, that he dismissed Chris Christie because he prosecuted his son in law’s father, all this has just fallen to the wayside, the footnotes. They’re all such headline grabbing stories that it’s impossible to give them all time, and somehow he just continues an elusive dance of controversy.
So… what’s encouraging?
Well, Bannon is going to advocate for a huge amount of infrastructure spending. That’s a democrat move, and it’s one Obama has been pausing for 8 years while congress did everything to block him. It could create a lot of jobs and, you know, fix our crumbling infrastructure. To nobody’s surprise, after blocking similar plans proposed by Obama for years, many suspect the republican congress will now play ball.
Bannon is also a Bernie Sanders-esque economic populist and will do what he can to lift the wages of the working class. He’ll go after the “corporate elite” (though according to his website, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and the Bronx are “coastal elite cities). Will it work? I have no idea. But when it comes to him and Sanders they are not “right” and “left,” more 10 and 2 o’clock on the same clock, as my friend Jake Sandler said.
There was a huge amount of backlash to reports that the Trump admin was assembling a plan for a Muslim registry. Ironic, since Muslim registries basically already exist (3). Still, though, Reince Priebus was forced to say they wouldn’t do such a thing and the public backlash is a good indicator of our power.
A group of youth plaintiffs are suing the federal government (4) for climate change and got a big win last week in court. Their case could be a new avenue to preserve the climate and protect federal regulations on energy.
Finally, I’d remind everyone that the “alt-right” is not a growing political revolution of nazis. They are mostly just young white men who are pissed off at political correctness, love the Internet and feel triumph in seeing someone like Donald Trump become president. They are also, generally speaking, hardline on enforcing immigration laws that many Americans feel like we’ve left by the wayside. I’d encourage you to read about them (5).
For many Americans, the 2016 presidential election has turned into a choice between the lesser of two evils.
Plenty of journalists, pundits, comedians, and Bernie Sanders supporters believe that there is little daylight between voting for Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. As journalist and activist Chris Hedges put it, "Trump is a less polished version of the Clintons." Former representative Ron Paul said, "from a libertarian viewpoint, there is absolutely no difference, meaningful difference, between Hillary and Trump."
I do not share the opinion of these commentators. In fact, I think that the difference is quite significant; and I believe the difference is profound enough that the United States' decision could shape the future in two markedly different ways.
For me, the best case scenario in this election would be a complete and utter rejection of Donald Trump, and a fractured democratic party in office that's forced to bend to its more progressive constituents. I know, it doesn't sound great; and for many conservatives it's the opposite of best case scenario, but for me it's the only hope we've got.
Why we shouldn’t vote for Trump.Perhaps one of the most appealing arguments against Hillary Clinton is that she is part of the establishment, a candidate who reflects everything about America that progressives and independents reject: she takes money from corporations and the one percent, and in turn advances their agendas. She is a politician above all else, changing her positions with the people's whim rather than leading. She will leave the status quo as it is and little about the country will change going forward.
These views are not unfounded. But the solution to them is not to elect the actual one percent, a man like Donald Trump. This logic, to me, is baffling: we hate the moral compass of the rich in America, so we are opposed to a woman who takes money from them. Instead, we'll vote in an actual one percenter who frequently brags and exaggerates his wealth to make a point. Am I missing something?
In fact, Trump isn't even the "anti-establishment" candidate any longer. After spending months insulting fellow Republican nominees, he is now courting them for candidacy in his office. He has fired his controversial campaign manager and begun delivering teleprompter guided speeches, two things that are sure to draw applause from the Republican establishment. Even after mocking Super-PACs for the large part of his primary campaign, Trump is now embracing them. The only issue is he has so many Super-PACs that donors don't know where to put their money.
One of the world's richest men even took to asking his supporters for an emergency fund of $100,000 dollars on Saturday, with no indication as to why he couldn't simply write the check himself.
These kinds of flip-flops should be a major concern for any true anti-establishment voter who thinks Trump is the anointed one, a candidate running on his own and for the people.
But Clinton's political expediency is also a major concern.
Frequently cited is her flip-flopping on gay marriage, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and even gun control. But in a time when political rigidness and divisiveness are at an all-time high, it doesn't take much effort to cast Clinton's political expediency in a positive light: perhaps, just maybe, she molds to the whim of her constituents. A candidate who listens to the people of America as their opinions change doesn't necessarily have to be a bad thing, does it?
But more than anything I want the American people to mop the floor with Donald Trump to make a point. I want us to show that we stand with the Mexican-Americans — who make up the largest immigrant group in nearly every state in the country — that he has repeatedly offended and threatened.
I want us to show our support for our nearly three million Muslim Americans, whose families seek refuge in the United States while they suffer unspeakable acts of violence and terrorism abroad. And then, in a sick twist of fate, become inextricably and inaccurately linked to the Islamic extremists they loathe.
As a Jew, I’ve had to face the rising tide of anti-semites who flood my Twitter feed in support of Donald Trump.
African Americans — who disapprove of Trump at a rate of about 94 percent — probably share my sentiment that they'd like to see proud bigots who have found a home in Trump's campaign stomped out once and for all.
But make no mistake: I am not a fan of Hillary Clinton.
Why we can hold out hope for the Democratic party. Voting for Hillary Clinton will not be a proud moment for me, but one that will come with great hope.
Namely, hope that she exceeds my expectations and bends to the whim of the progressives and independents that have rallied behind Bernie Sanders.
If and when Hillary Clinton gets in the White House, there will be some undeniable and immediate good about her presidency. As we've reported, and as has largely fallen into the background, the historic election of a female president — whether her views align with yours or not — is in all likelihood going to inspire future generations of women to take on more leadership roles in government and business. This increased leadership will eventually mean more representation for women, which means more thought and care into women's rights.
But the guarantees about what a Clinton presidency will hold basically stop there.
Who Clinton presents herself to be and who many Americans feel she is are very different things. Clinton boasts of her foreign policy experience, but despite Americans disapproval of Trump many think he could do a better job abroad (though people abroad seem more scared of him than liberals). She claims to be a champion of minorities like African Americans and the LGBT community, but many point to evolving positions on gay marriage and the support for laws that destroyed African American communities as proof of her dishonesty.
So instead of telling you to vote for Clinton, I am going to tell you something else: vote for the Democratic party. Do I mean that corrupt, Debbie Wasserman Shultz party that many people think rigged the election against Bernie Sanders? Yes, that's the one.
You should vote for the Democratic party because — thanks to Sanders — the DNC platform has the best chance of eliciting real, positive change. If you support campaign finance reform, reigning in Wall St., supporting minority communities, increasing the minimum wage, investing in education, embracing diversity, cutting back spending on military interventionism and finding solutions to climate change, your best shot is the committee building the democratic party platform.
That committee now includes renowned scholar and activist Cornel West, Palestinian rights activist James Zogby, Minnesota representative Keith Ellison, Native American rights activist Deborah Parker, and environmental activist Bill McKibben, who were all appointed by Sanders as part of a deal with the DNC.
While presidents have ignored the commitments of a party platform committee before, the inclusion of these five progressives means Democrats will be rallying behind and running on one of the most progressive platforms in recent memory. It also means that Sanders can still impose his will on the party, namely with the leverage of his monstrous group of supporters.
As this election season showed, the proper pressure can move Clinton and her surrogates to the left on very important issues. But just as importantly, Sanders represents a middle-ground independent American voter whose positions on guns, trade and state's rights to independence are often overlooked.
On top of Sanders' DNC committee appointments, he also has the strength of his young supporters now at the front door of the Democratic party. The Washington Post reported today that more than two million voters under the age of 30 voted for Sanders in the primary elections. That's almost 500,000 more than Hillary Clinton and Donald Trumpcombined.
Sanders amassed those votes by running on a similar kind of message that Trump did: the system is broken, politicians are beholden to the rich, and America has great issues that need to be addressed.
The difference, though, is that Sanders was genuine in his critique; he wasn't part of the broken system, a stark difference from candidates like Trump and Clinton who have been playing big money politics for decades.
And as the young voters showed, an embracement of Sanders' message is happening. While this election might not be the overhaul many progressives wanted, putting Clinton in office will stop us from taking a step backwards. Once she's there, the fractures in the Democratic party will have to be addressed — and if the political establishment is wise, they'll listen to their ever-growing constituency of young and progressive voters.
I have great news for you: America is not being destroyed.
Despite the words of almost every presidential candidate running in this year's race, despite headlines from various media outlets, America is actually doing pretty well. The streets are not on fire, the economy is not on the verge of collapse, we are not about to start World War III, and we are still living safer, healthier lives than almost every nation on earth.
It's a wonderful and relieving truth, but one that has been lost during the course of this presidential race, and most of the presidential races that preceded it. Which makes sense, by the way, as several studies have shown negative campaigning drives up voter turnout for those in fear, and negative campaign ads are more memorable.
But the saddest part about this notion of America being destroyed is that it's spreading. I see it among my friends on Facebook, political pundits on television, and even in my own perspectives about the country I call home. People have really begun to convince themselves that America is on its death bed.
So let me remind you of a few things.
First of all, we're pretty safe here in the United States. We have the largest military in the world, one that receives more than $600 billion of funding a year, more than the next 10 countries combined. We are winning the war against the extremist group ISIS, which has dominated the headlines, and it's been more than 40 years since we had a draft. That means you — unlike many people in many nations — don't have to go to war if you don't want to, and can go to sleep knowing our borders are being protected by the strongest military on planet Earth.
We're also relatively healthy. Yes, we are battling obesity, heart disease, and opioid addiction, but the average life expectancy in America is still 79.3 years, only about four years short of Japan's global high of 83.7. In countries such as India, the Phillipines and Pakistan, average life expectancy is still below 70 years of age.
Health and safety aren't everything, though. Americans have a penchant for liking (and wanting) money. It's a cultural thing, "The American Dream" of white picket fences and a nice house is as common here as a cheeseburger, which should make this next piece of news pretty welcome: the United States' $17.41 trillion economy is the largest in the world, accounting for 22.44 percent of the gross world product. While China is approaching our economic size, their $12,893 GDP per capita is measly next to America's $54,678.
You might be thinking, "where is all my money, then?" And you may have a point. Income inequality is worse in the United States than anywhere else in the world. Or you might be thinking, "but isn't the economy in trouble? What about the recession in 2008?"
The reality, though, proves once again that America is still capable of fixing its problems.
Since 2009, during the economic recession, we've had the fourth largest U.S. economic expansion since World War II. Even amid a surprisingly bad jobs report released last week, we're light-years ahead of where we were seven years ago.
But what about the housing market crash? And the greedy Wall Street bankers? Andpredatory payday loans?
As it turns out, things there are headed in the right direction, too. With the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, more than $3 billion dollars have been returned to regular working class Americans who were taken advantage of by everyone from debt collectors to payday lenders.
So if safety, health, economy, and the ability to fix problems aren't what makes a country great, what else can we have pride in?
For one, our education system offers the top four universities in the world. While college debt has hamstrung my generation, a new movement to reduce the price students pay to go to school has more momentum than ever before.
How does the world feel about us? Well, across 40 countries polled by Pew, a median of65 percent say they "have confidence in Obama to do the right thing in world affairs."
Ranked globally, America has one of the freest economies and perhaps the most freedomfor its citizens.
We're more diverse than almost every nation on Earth, and by 2044, whites won't even be a majority in our country. That might be seen as a bad thing in other nations, but here in America, we are more accepting of our neighbors than just about anywhere else.
We are home to revolutionary companies such as Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Google, and Nike. Even iconic American pastimes such as space exploration and building awesome cars are still alive and well. This week, news broke that the U.S. government will be approving the first-ever private mission out of Earth's orbit. In Pittsburgh, Google is testing out a self-driving car that is almost ready to drive on its own.
By almost every metric imaginable, the United States is a pretty good place to be. We're the 15th happiest country, and according to U.S. News & World Report, we're the fourth best country to live in, trailing only Germany, Great Britain, and Canada.
So next time you're about to say the United States is being destroyed, or next time you hear someone say the United States is already destroyed, try to have a little gratitude. And maybe, just maybe, take the time to stand up for your own country. After all, we have a lot to be proud of.
In the last few weeks, as Bernie Sanders has inched closer to Hillary Clinton in the primaries, her more ardent supporters have responded by attacking the sexism of “Bernie Bros” and their online comments.
Without question, there has been a disheartening amount of seemingly sexist comments made about Hillary from people who you would otherwise expect to at least support her unenthusiastically. But the response from the Hillary supporters has basically been a general blanket statement that goes something like this: ‘Bernie Sanders supporters hate Hillary because she’s unlikeable as a woman, and her policies really aren’t that different than his. If she were a man they’d be singing a different tune.’
We are now no longer Sanders supporters, but a “sexist mob.” It’s a provocative and completely baseless claim, but it’s working. The idea that Sanders supporters are somehow unique in having some online anger issues completely ignores the baseline atmosphere of the Internet and how people interact with others on topics on which they disagree. From the sexist comments I’ve read, which there are a few, I offer this: I do not believe Sanders’ supporters, many of whom are young men like me, hate her because she is a woman. I believe they hate her for who she is and much of what she stands for. But in that hatred, some of the most immature supporters are using her gender as a way to express their vitriol and disapproval. Is this any better? Probably not. Is it different? Certainly yes. Is it unique to Sanders supporters? Obviously, no.
Labeling all of "us" a sexist mob, as if our beef with Hillary has more to do with her being a woman than our general fears about another moderate, left of center, establishment democrat in office isn't just unfair, it’s a blinders-on-generalization used to defend a flawed candidate. Proof of this is the simple fact that I and many Sanders supporters would vote for Elizabeth Warren if she were in the race over Hillary or Bernie. That's why there were dozens of petitions from thousands of progressive liberals urging her to run, and why there are just as many now hoping she becomes Sanders' Vice President.
So when I see every article vehemently defending Hillary (SOME IN ALL CAPS LOCK) including that line about her and Bernie's policies being so similar, my mind is boggled. No matter how many times they say it, it will never be true.
Even putting aside the Clinton ties to Wall Street and her embarrassingly destructive policies for poor people and the shrinking middle class, my no.1 fear (and for many of the people who I know who are voting for Bernie) is that we're putting in another War Hawk, someone even worse than Obama, who by the way dropped more than 23,000 bombs on predominantly Muslim countries in the last calendar year.
If Clinton has proved anything over her last couple years in the political spotlight, it’s that she is ready to be more aggressive, more violent and more unforgiving in her military worldview than any “liberal” president we’ve had in recent memory. I’d even go so far as to say that it is precisely our sexism, and our inherent gender biases that do of course exist, that soften the messages she has sent repeatedly loud and clear. If say, Jim Webb, made some of the comments she made, we’d have an awfully different impression of her. Here are a few simple examples:
Via TIME magazine, January of 2014: “As Secretary of State, Clinton backed a bold escalation of the Afghanistan war. She pressed Obama to arm the Syrian rebels, and later endorsed air strikes against the Assad regime. She backed intervention in Libya, and her State Department helped enable Obama’s expansion of lethal drone strikes. In fact, Clinton may have been the administration’s most reliable advocate for military action. On at least three crucial issues—Afghanistan, Libya, and the bin Laden raid—Clinton took a more aggressive line than Gates, a Bush-appointed Republican.” After Obama took office and began the Iraq withdrawal, Clinton lobbied to keep a sizable force there.
Via The Guardian, November 2015: “Hillary Clinton distanced herself from Barack Obama’s strategy for defeating Islamic State extremists on Thursday in a sweeping foreign policy speech that called for greater use of American ground troops and an intensified air campaign.”
Via Global Research, August 2015: “I want the Iranians to know that if I’m president, we will attack Iran. In the next 10 years, during which they might foolishly consider launching an attack on Israel, we would be able to totally obliterate them,” Clinton said. She endorses using cluster bombs, toxic agents and nuclear weapons in US war theaters. She calls them deterrents that “keep the peace.” She was one of only six Democrat senators opposed to blocking deployment of untested missile defense systems – first-strike weapons entirely for offense.
Via Salon, September 2015: Even so, her speech about the [Iran] deal highlighted what ought to be–but probably won’t be–a deeply examined part of her ideology: her hyper-hawkishness. In the speech, Clinton spent most of her time “talking tough,” as they say. She flatly declared that the deal did not signal “some larger diplomatic opening” and insisted that she would “not hesitate to take military action if Iran tries to obtain a nuclear weapon.” (If the president of Iran casually threatened to bomb the United States, there would be hell to pay, but no matter.) She also pledged to to arm the already-well-stocked Israel even further, and to expand the American military presence around Iran. Never mind that multiple American intelligence estimates have concluded that Iran suspended its quest for a nuclear weapon long ago; we can always use more ships in the Middle East.
Via The Nation, May, 2014: But we don’t need a memoir to know that, comparatively speaking, two things can be said about her tenure at the State Department: first, that in fact she accomplished very little; and second, that both before her appointment and during her service, she consistently came down on the hawkish side of debates inside the administration, from Afghanistan to Libya and Syria. She’s also taken a more hawkish line than Obama on Ukraine and the confrontation with Russia.
The message is clear: Hillary Clinton is promising a “more muscular” foreign policy, as The Huffington Post put it. More muscular than 23,000 bombs dropped in 2015? More muscular than the drone strikes in Yemen that have left so many innocents dead and so many openings for the recruitment of Islamic extremists? More muscular than a government “quadrupling” the defense budget for Europe? More muscular than $610 billion spent in 2014? More muscular than spending more on military than the next eight nations combined? It sounds a lot like the tough talk we heard from Bill Clinton in the 1990s, right before he helped start a policy of mass incarceration that has destroyed low income and minority communities in America. I think I speak for all Bernie Sanders supporters when I say: No thanks.
Her language, her willingness to speak about killing more people we have no business killing, is reprehensible to us beyond forgiving. This is not a Republican telling you this. I believe Benghazi is a non scandal if there ever was one. I believe Hillary’s “emails” are essentially a non-issue. But for Bernie supporters, it’s Clinton’s promises of more war, more weapons, and more “strength” that sends shivers down our spine.
In many of these Hillary defenses, a broad assumption is made that us American liberals must like Obama, and in turn like her, because she isn’t so different. And since we don’t like her, and we like Obama, it must be solely because she’s a woman. So let me make this clear: Obama has been a good president, solving many massive domestic issues he faced when he came into office, no doubt. But he's also been far more violent, far less transparent, and far more divisive than he promised he would be. Only in the last year have I really seen shades of the President I voted for, and assuming that I “like” Obama and would “like” Clinton the same if she were a man is demonstrably inaccurate on both ends.
Then, the same democrats who claim us far-left progressive Bernie supporters are criticizing Hillary like the GOP would, drop lines like this: “FIRST AND FUCKING FOREMOST, COOL, YOU LIKE BERNIE'S WISHES AND DREAMS APPROACH TO POLITICS. "FREE COLLEGE FOR EVERYONE AND A GODDAMN PONY.” That sounds an awfully lot like the kind of GOP criticisms that have been lobbed at Bernie, too.
Sanders has a message that he's managed to stick to, unrelentingly, throughout his entire political career: poor people in our country are suffering unfathomable hardship, and it's about time the wealthiest nation on earth took care of them. Clinton's voting record doesn't prove she gives two shits about it. That is really the heart of it. His overwhelming support from my generation (in Iowa, 84% of under 30 voters caucused for him, when a year ago he only scored 7% amongst all voters in the polls), is a look into the future of our country.
My generation isn't moderate, we are overwhelmingly liberal or independent; we’re not scared of the word socialism; we are non-religious and party independent; and we aren't interested in waiting around for the 50/60/70/80-year old rich white politicians of either party to catch up and start cutting our military spending and putting it into a sweeping Medicaid and college tuition programs and ripping apart our prison system. And all of those things make us just like our favorite presidential candidate, Bernie Sanders.
Our friends are in college debt, they're opioid addicts, they’re in jail or they’re unable afford a house, and a some of that is due to policies the Clinton family has supported or even pushed. Hillary Clinton talks about fixing addiction but takes more money from Big Pharma than any candidate in this race. Asking us to forget that because Clinton is "more electable" or has been treated unfairly for being a woman while our friends cycle through rehab centers or overdose in dark hotel rooms is condescending and out of touch with the plight we feel.
She has my vote if Bernie doesn't win the primary, which maybe he won't, but I'm certainly not going to concede their policies are similar or that they are somehow equivalents. Five years ago, Hillary wouldn't have said most of the stuff Bernie said in the 1980s. And so much of her now far left progressive rhetoric follows her seeing how well it has worked for him. For long-time supporters of Sanders, this reality is as clear as day. He's been pulling people to the left since his days in Vermont, when many of his ideas that were called "radical" and "unattainable" became mainstays in today's government.
Worst of all, though, is that the “Bernie Bro” label for abusive online commenters that the Clinton camp throws around implies that all of Sanders’ supporters are young, white, privileged men, which as The Intercept’s Glenn Greenwald pointed out, simply isn't true. So to wrap this up, I will offer you some of his words:
There are literally millions of women who support Sanders over Clinton. A new Iowa poll yesterday shows Sanders with a 15-point lead over Clinton among women under 45, while one-third of Iowa women over 45 support him. A USA Today/Rock the Vote poll from two weeks ago found Sanders nationally “with a 19-point lead over front-runner Hillary Clinton, 50 percent to 31 percent, among Democratic and independent women ages 18 to 34.” One has to be willing to belittle the views and erase the existence of a huge number of American women to wield this “Bernie Bro” smear. But truth doesn’t matter here — at all. Instead, the goal is to inherently delegitimize all critics of Hillary Clinton by accusing them of, or at least associating them with, sexism, thus distracting attention away from Clinton’s policy views, funding, and political history and directing it toward the online behavior of anonymous, random, isolated people on the internet claiming to be Sanders supporters.
As for Hillary and her record on women's rights, which in the conversation of gender and sexism and having our first female President has been a major talking point for her campaign, I have one simple challenge: find me a positive, progressive policy for women that Hillary Clinton has supported and Bernie Sanders hasn't. If you can, leave it in the comments.
Bravo, High Five upset; Sockeye, Ring get vengeance
The moment the first pull went up, the sound of high level ultimate was deafening.
Cheers, screams, up-calls, heckles, curses, and arguments echoed through the men’s pre quarter fields, and the juxtaposition between this and day one was as bold as it could be. I started the round standing between Sockeye V. Rhino, Ring V. Doublewide, Revolver V. Prairie Fire and Machine V. Bravo.
Sockeye gives Rhino the little brother treatment
When I was about 12-years-old, I was wrestling with my older brother in the kitchen. I asked him if I could try a WWF move I had seen on TV, and when I did, I knocked him unconscious on our linoleum floor. I remember a few weeks later, after he had recovered from the concussion, the first time we went at it again and how it was one of the harder beat downs of my childhood. I couldn’t help but think of that fight while I watched the Sockeye V. Rhino game.
Rhino ended Sockeye’s season unexpectedly in pre-quarters last year, and then stole a cookie from the jar at regionals just a few weeks ago. So Sockeye wanted to send a message, and they did.
From the very first point it was their game, their offensive line was unchallenged. They walked it up easily to start and Phil Murray caught a goal all by himself after some of the most patient offense on the end zone I’ve seen all tournament. The following point Rhino held, but not before turning it over first, a rocky start for an offensive line that was about to feel the stranglehold presence of Sockeye’s defense.
Rehder would score to make it 3-2 after the teams traded, and his five-story-high spike brought all The Fish on the field and took the energy of the game to another level.
And then one of those game-changing moments happened: the next point, after a Rhino turn deep, Reid Koss let a monster 65 yard backhand deep to Julian Hausman. Hausman, with his 6’2” frame, galloped after the disc, left his feet and at full extension caught the frisbee with two hands and slid through the end zone, holding it up over his head. Sockeye stormed the field and their defense wouldn’t let Rhino breath for the rest of the game.
On the following point there were 6 turnovers in total, including two by Rhino with low forehands into the ground, but Sockeye’s d kept giving it back. After a grind-it-out offensive possession Rhino scored with a scoober to Dylan Freechild, who spiked the disc hard and made it 4-3. But Sockeye’s defensive message was clear: they could get the disc whenever they wanted, and when they started converting Rhino’s O would be in trouble.
Those conversions came quick. Sockeye burned a timeout up 7-4 on the goal line to take half, and moments later walked it in with — again — the most patient end zone offense of any team I’ve seen at the tournament. They are not scared to go rail-to-rail and they are less worried about dumping the disc back 5 yards for a new stall count. Their patience was rewarded, they took half 8-4, and the “blood in the water! CHOMP! CHOMP! CHOMP!” cheers started. That message, too, was clear. Sockeye wanted blood, they wanted vengeance, and they weren’t going to stop until the score card flipped to 15.
At 11-5 it looked like the wheels came off for Rhino, and the Freechild, Bjourkland and Janin connection was absent from the second half of the game. Sockeye would go onto to win 15-9.
Ring jumps on Florida United early, boo’s their way to second straight quarterfinals birth
“The offense is going to come out and score this first point and everyone is going to rush the field,” Cyle Van Auken told his Florida United team before the first pull.
But Ring of Fire had other ideas. Florida’s first shot of the game was to Cole Sullivan, and the overthrow gave Ring a chance to draw first blood. With patience offense and quick disc movement, Ring walked it up the field until a quick inside dish found the hands of Noah Saul, who threw down a huge spike as Ring of Fire boo’d themselves and stormed the field.
Florida would respond, though, with quick work on offense to knot it up at 1-1. They’d force a couple turnovers with great reset defense on Ring’s first few offensive points, but Ken Porter — who arrived this morning — would catch a Callahan on one of Ring’s offensive points for an important hold.
At 4-4 Jonathan Nethercutt dropped a center pass of the pull and essentially handed Florida their break back, bringing the game to an even 5-4 and re-energizing a frustrated Florida squad. In the first half alone, there were two collisions on up-line cuts that resulted in turnovers and d’s absent of foul calls. It was clear these two teams, arguably some of the most athletic in the tournament, were going to play physical and fast.
Ring’s next break came after Florida’s Andrew McClevey went up for a high swing and had his legs taken out from under him. He didn’t call a foul because he dropped the disc before the contact, but his honest play gave Ring a chance to take the lead, which happened after Ben Dieter went over Chris Gibson for the 7-6 break.
Ring would strike again before half for the 8-6 lead, and they’d score out of their O-point on a high stall huck for the 9-6 lead.
From there, the game was a battle of deep shots, miscues on the dumps, and observer rulings. Sullivan and Nethercutt both missed a few shots deep, and Florida had almost every call they made that went to the observer overruled. Mischa Freystaetter was overthrown a few times but still came down with some big goal scores, a must for this Florida team to win. Ring got as far away as 11-6 but Florida United clawed back to make it 13-12 before a conservative upwind possession gave them the disc on the goal line.
After a Florida injury call, Nethercutt got stuck in the far corner and then connected on a sweet around backhand goal. But Bobby Ley made a call, the disc came back, and Nethercutt turfed an inside out lefty backhand. On the ensuing Florida possesion, Freystaetter had the disc in what would become one of the more controversial moments of the game. Looking for an around backhand to the break side, Freystaetter stepped into his mark and drew contact as he lofted up a backhand, immediately calling a foul. But Michah Hood contested, arguing with the observer that he was standing still with his arms wide. There’s no doubt there was some contact, and there’s also no doubt Freystaetter made the throw and stepped forward intentionally trying to draw the foul, a perfectly legitimate play against a tight mark. Hood’s argument that he “wasn’t moving” probably wouldn’t hold up with video evidence, but the cheeky call went unrewarded: the observer called no foul and Ring got the disc, worked it in for a break to Jarret Bowen and essentially won the game. The final nail came when Hood went deep on Freystaetter during Ring’s ensuing offensive point, catching the game winner as the 6’7” Freystaetter rode his back desperately trying to get a D. Ring advanced with a 15-13 win, avenging their regional finals loss.
Madison, Machine score monster upsets
Machine took control of Bravo early on and never looked back. After jumping to a 5-2 lead, Bravo tightened up and went into a trading battle with the Chicago team desperate to get over two double game point losses yesterday in pool play. And thanks to AJ Nelson, they did just that.
The 6’4” deep cutter was open almost the entire game, at one point scoring four straight goals for Machine. He’d finish with five, including the game winner that came after Johnny Bravo received their third TMF of the game and gave Machine the disc at half field with a 14-13 lead.
For Bravo, the story was a game of inches. After Machine took half 8-6, there were several points where Bravo stacked their defensive lines and nearly came away with the d they needed. A Nelson sky over Henry Konker to make it 10-7 kept Machine in control, and on the following point they almost gave Bravo the dagger. After a huck to Mickle fell short, Machine went deep but a sliding receiver dropped it in the end zone for what would have been an 11-7 lead. The miscue let Bravo back in, who got the game to 10-9. But on their next break opportunity, Sean Keegan left one up for Jimmy Mickle against 6’3” Michael Schwenk in a battle of powerful deeps. You could feel Bravo’s sideline revving up as Mickle leaped into the air, but Schwenk kept his inside position and made a pivotal defensive play to protect their lead and get the game to 11-9.
With Mickle, Nick Lance, Pawel Janas, Ryan Farrel, Jackson Kloor, Hylke Sneider and Henry Konker on the line at 12-10, Machine immediately went deep on Lance, who made a beautiful full extension bid and came so close to d’ing the disc that I couldn’t even see the space between his fingers and the plastic. He came up yelling in frustration as Machine tossed in the easy goal to make it 13-10 and set themselves up to walk away with the biggest upset of the tournament thus far.
Over on field 16, High Five was answering the questions many had about them, and not in a good way. The Michigan crew went down big early, succumbing to a 6-1 deficit against Madison that was mostly the fault of turnovers on their own third. Colin Camp conceded that High Five had really hurt themselves with sloppy play, but also credited his own teams tough defense and smart defensive offense for converting every chance they got.
High Five, who finished second in pool D yesterday, wouldn’t go quietly. They brought the game all the way back to 14-12 but with the clock ticking on a hard cap, and only 45 seconds to score before the horn, star handler Johnny Hansfield had to force up two poor throws deep, the second resulting in a Madison huck goal to end the game and complete a sweep of Pool D’s top two teams.
Patrol makes good on my promise, tests Ironside, while Truck looks like a broken record of second half greatness
When Patrol won two games yesterday, I warned that Ironside and others should not overlook them. A team playing with nothing to lose and in their first tournament at Nationals should not be taken lightly, and Patrol proved they were the real deal, even in defeat.
The Philadelphia team battled Ironside through the first half, finishing 8-7 and on serve. After Josh “Cricket” Markette milked an up-line throw and leaped into the end zone to make it 8-8, Patrol’s O line came out with beautiful offense until a shot deep to Billy Sickles. With an Ironside defender on his back, Sickles went for the clap catch in the air, absorbed some contact and dropped the disc. He didn’t make foul call, giving the impression that he bonked it before feeling the Ironside player on his back.
Patrol would get it back after a giant Christian Foster hammer was smashed by the wind. They went sideline to sideline a few times but a Michael Panna around backhand to nobody gave Ironside their second break chance of the point, and you just knew they weren’t going to give it back. Foster redeemed himself with a huck to Jack Hatchett that gave Ironside the 9-8 lead and the control they needed to push forward. At 10 all, Patrol missed their fifth break opportunity of the game (they were 0-5 on break chances at that point) and once Ironside got the 11-10 lead they never looked back. The game finished 14-11.
In another pre quarter surprise, Truck went down early to Sub Zero. At 4-2 and 6-4, it was the story of the weekend for Truck Stop: slow starts and big holes to dig out of. Thankfully for Truck, Nate Castine, who is playing his first season on the team, earned his stripes before half. He had an assist and then a bookends goal after a layout block to give Truck Stop the 7-6 lead.
Out of half, Alan Kolick went up and over a Sub Zero defender and dished the goal to give Truck the 9-7 lead. They’d break on the next point to make it 10-7 after a Markham Shofner block, and they would never give the lead back.
Doublewide handles GOAT after a close first half 14-9. GOAT had several red zone turnovers that hurt them bad, and Doublewide continued their dominant play on the weekend.
Revolver dominated Prairie Fire 15-8 and is yet to get a challenge this weekend.
Machine V. Ring of Fire (showcase game)
Both Machine and Ring handed higher seeds upsets to pave the way for this 2014 rematch. Ring ended Machine’s season last year in pre quarters on their way to an improbable semifinals birth, so you can expect Machine to be looking for vengeance (a theme of this year’s Nationals). But how could you bet against North Carolina? At one point this year their only win over an American team they had was a win over Machine, which prompted some talk on social media about how Ring “never loses to Chicago.” They have owned them over the last few seasons but it’s tough to imagine Machine taking a loss after the way they handled Bravo. There is a reason this game is the showcase, and you can expect some fireworks. If Ring can’t stop AJ Nelson, they’re going to be in trouble. Notably, Brett Matzuka, who played for Ring of Fire for years, will be on the other side of the disc when he takes the field for Machine for the first time at Nationals against his former team. Prediction: 14-12 Ring
Sidenote: Justin Allen arrived this morning after the pre-quarter game, missing every match up to this point because of a work conflict. The fresh legs and presence of one of Ring’s biggest stars cannot be understated.
Disclaimer: Isaac Saul is the brother of Ring veteran Noah Saul, and his prediction is admittedly skewed by his desire to see a Ring win.
Revolver V. Truck Stop
Expect this to be the first challenge Revolver sees all week. Truck Stop is hungry to prove they have elevated themselves after the additions of Seth Wiggins, Nate Castine and Nicky Spiva this summer. If there was ever a game to do it, this is the one. Revolver’s easy road to this point could be an advantage or disadvantage depending on how you look at it. On one hand they haven’t felt that full stride, big game intensity yet, on the other hand they must be the freshest team at the tournament. I’d be shocked if Truck doesn’t get them on the ropes at least once this game, but I’m not ready to bet against the big dogs yet, either. Prediction: 15-11 Revolver
Doublewide V. Ironside
Ironside is back in quarterfinals and once again have shown the doubters this program can survive anything, including the loss of some of the biggest names in the sport. But don’t get anything twisted: Doublewide is the favorite here, and for good reason. Without Jeff Babbit, Ironside is going to have trouble matching Doublewide’s size, and the Texas gunslingers are sure to go deep early and often against an Ironside team that has tons of grit and brains but not nearly enough athleticism to match the Doublewide squad. Still, at a tournament like this, a good game plan can get you a long ways and it’ll be interesting to see how Ironside’s defense plans to slow down a Doublewide O-line that frequently includes Tim Gehret, Max Cook, Jeff Loskorn, Kurt Gibson, 6’6” Ethan Pollack, Kiran Thomas and Brandon Malecak. Prediction: 15-12 Doublewide
Sidenote: Malacek was a staple of Boston ultimate before landing in Texas, and it’ll be fun to watch him play his former teammates. It will be interesting to see whether he or Markette, who has taken a huge load this season, performs better at the handler position.
Sockeye V. Madison Club
This is undoubtedly the most lopsided quarterfinal match up, and Sockeye has to feel good about their draw against a team that lost to Patrol yesterday. That being said, Madison, Patrol and Machine all proved me wrong by playing a great round in pre-quarters and showing Pool A was stronger than most people thought.
I still don’t see them having a chance, though. Sockeye has played the most consistent ultimate aside from Revolver, came out on top in toughest pool at the tournament and then pummeled Rhino in a game of pure revenge in the pre-quarters. I expect the Sockeye defense to suffocate early and often, and the best end-zone offense I’ve seen all weekend to shine through. I think this one might get ugly but I’d be happy to be proven wrong. Prediction: 15-9 Sockeye
Parents all over the world are teaching their children to grow into adults by treating them like kids.
It’s a bizarre and befuddling tactic whose popularity was shown off this week when the Little League Softball World Series suddenly became entrenched in controversy.
In case you missed it, this is what happened: a team from Snohomish, Washington intentionally lost their final pool play game on Monday, reportedly to avoid a rematch with a tough Central-Iowa team that would get trapped in a three-way tie and be eliminated pending a Snohomish loss.
Snohomish coach Fred Miller instructed players to bunt and rested his starters against North Carolina who, as a result of their 8-0, no-hitter win against Snohomish, advanced to the semifinal. Reports of Iowa players watching the game and crying as they realized what was happening got national attention. Iowa protested the loss, convinced Little League officials that Washington “did not play fair” and as opposed to disqualifying the team, got officials to issue a one-game playoff between Snohomish and Iowa. Washington went on to lose to Iowa 3-2, proving their coach’s concern that they couldn’t get past the Iowa squad a reality.
But here’s the issue: parents, coaches, Iowans and sports commentators everywhere lambasted the coach for his decision to put his team in the best position to win the tournament by throwing the game. National opinion quickly swung against Miller, and the criticism and character bashing were relentless.
"You look at the poor girls from Washington. They're suffering now because of a decision made by their coach," Central Iowa Little League president Chris Chadd told ESPN after Iowa won the one-game playoff. "I just feel for those girls. It makes me sad to know that those girls' hearts are breaking because of this.”
Chris Chadd, who pleaded for Washington to get disqualified altogether after their loss eliminated Iowa, later called the fact Washington wasn’t thrown from the tournament a “cop-out,” proving he really doesn't care about the girls or the game at all — but winning, the same as coach Miller.
Mike Young, a league President of Walnut Creek Baseball, hopped on the hate-Miller bandwagon.
"You see in any youth sport plenty of people that are genuine, good-hearted, wonderful people, and then you put the coaching shoes on and they turn into a totally different person, completely unrecognizable,” he said. "The great thing about all this exposure is that maybe it lets coaches in any sport do a double-check and see that maybe it isn't as important to be competitive in every game as it is to do it the right way.”
And what exactly is “the right way?” SB Nation author Alysha Tsuji congratulated the Iowa team on their win thusly: “Wipe away the tears, Central Iowa, because you're moving on! The good guys don't always finish last.”
Am I missing something? The object of a game is to win. And the best way to do that in a bracket format is to play teams that you know you’d fair well against. Teaching our kids that it’s “wrong” to throw a game they earned a right to lose isn’t just counterintuitive, it’s disingenuous. We’re treating them like children in an effort to help them turn into rational, problem-solving and spirited adults.
As an athlete, I get the sentiment: you play the game to win. You play each inning to get better. You give each opponent your best shot. It’s just the little leagues, right?
But when you’re a group of girls who has worked all season to win this tournament — even if you're 11 and 12-years-old — and you see a path to that victory that is easier than another, you should take it. Whose to say otherwise? Coaches, fans and parents should be intellectually honest with their children, they should encourage them to think outside the box to accomplish a task, and they should do it without feeling guilty.
Here’s a newsflash: if Central-Iowa wanted to advance to the semifinal, maybe they shouldn’t have lost a game in pool play. On the national stage, coaches, parents and league officials had an opportunity to teach kids that sometimes winning involves another layer of strategy and creativity. Instead they taught them that popular opinion and soft parents can take away a path to success you earned, simply by whining and scapegoating until they get what they want (but hey, maybe that’s the game plan we want to teach our children?).
And please, whatever you do, don’t give me the trope about putting “fun first” or keeping the game focused on pleasure. Any competitive athlete (and trust me, these young ladies are extremely competitive) will tell you that winning is fun. You know who has the most fun in the NFL each year? The team who wins the Super Bowl.
Our kids deserve to be taught how to win. Thats why athletes like James Harrison take away their children’s “participation trophies.” Sports, and the lessons they are designed to teach, are about hard work and accomplishing goals. Winning their first three games in pool play games was a result of Snohomish’s hard work. That hard work gave them the right to throw their game, a game that — guess what — served as an opportunity to give less talented players time on the field. Whether we’re ready to admit it to our kids or not, sometimes winning involves shortcuts, sometimes it involves strategy, adaptability and foresight. And all of those things were present in Miller’s decision to rest his stars and bunt through their final game.
If I were a parent, I’d be happy that Coach Miller was instructing my children; I’d be glad to know they were learning from someone who understood how to bend the rules in your favor, work the system, and give yourself an upper hand when you have an opportunity. Especially when that opportunity “did not violate the letter of the rules,” as Snohomish Little League President Jeff Taylor told the Everett Herald on Monday. Because if being “spirited” or “honoring the game” is about giving your best, then you should truly do everything you can to come out on top.
“Radical Islamists, have brought the fight right here to the Red, White and Blue and it's about time we bring it to them. Full force. Let's show them what the U.S. of A looks like up close and personal. Show 'em what a B1 bomber looks like flying overhead. Show 'em what they're messing with. Put the fear of OUR God in their desert. Because clearly our lack of strategy isn't working.”
That was the meat and potatoes of 22-year-old Tomi Lahren’s “Obama rant” that went viral on YouTube and Facebook this week, bringing in millions of views and receiving high praise from conservative pundits across the country, to the point where she was invited on as a guest of Fox & Friends.
The video, which I saw shared by conservative friends on Facebook, is a scary and disgusting look into the one-track, short memory minds of the talking heads that continue to spew their hatred and division on national television each week.
Because my fellow Americans do not all believe everything they hear without a second thought, I’d like to explore some of Ms. Lahren’s rhetoric, “facts” and opinion. I’m going to do this by quoting her directly from this video, answering some of her questions, and then putting her words next to objective, factual evidence that we have today (and, of course, some of my own rationale). I will not be linking to or embedding the video because, frankly, I think it’s a pretty dangerous thing to be propping up.
Lahren starts by reminding everyone of the horrible tragedy that took place this week:
“4 United States marines are now dead. Climate change didn't kill them, lack of free community college didn’t kill them, the income gap, wage inequality, nope, not those things either… gay marriage? Nope. Oh, white racism? Not that either. So what did? President Obama, if you won’t say it, I will: radical Islam. This is not work place violence, this is not a criminal act with motives unknown, this is terrorism, the suspected shooter Mohammad Youssef Abdulazeez a devout Muslim.”
At this line, a green screen of a soaring bald eagle flying next to our flag appears behind her. No, I’m not kidding. It literally looks like something out of the satirical Colbert Report.
Firstly, she seems to flippantly dismiss every major issue she can think of that liberals care about, from gay marriage to Dylan Rooff killing nine black people solely because of their race. Unlike Rooff, however, Mohammad Youssef Abdulazeez didn’t leave behind a memoir explaining why he did what he did. In fact, this is precisely a "criminal act with motives unknown." Asserting that it was “radical Islam” isn’t just presumptuous, it also implies that Mohammad was a devout Muslim, which doesn’t appear to be true. As multiple reports have confirmed, despite once describing himself as “devout” in a blog post years ago, Mohammad - like many 24-year-olds I know - struggles with his faith. He drank, smoked, dated American women, was an American citizen, and was treated for depression; all things you aren’t likely to find in a devout Muslim. Of course, when Rooff killed 9 African Americans, most on the right assumed he wasn’t a racist but rather “mentally ill” despite there being no evidence of any illness or depression. When Mohammad, a muslim, kills five marines (the fifth passed the day Lahren was uploading her video), and has an actual history of being treated for depression, the words or “depression” or “mentally ill” are never mentioned by The Right.
“Do I care that he seemed like an All American young man? Do I care that he was good at mixed martial arts or a smart quiet guy? Do I care that his high school friends wouldn’t classify him as “overly religious”? No, I don’t give a flying you-know-what about any of that.”
Of course she doesn’t, because these kinds of things hurt the narrative she is desperate to create.
"Was he linked to ISIS or Al-Qaeda or Hamas or any of the other 15 plus offshoot terrorist groups? Does it matter?"
Um… yes? It does. It matters quite a bit, actually. Whether he was linked to a terrorist group, or working under someone's instruction, is extremely important in gauging our response as a nation.
“I’m sorry, but radical Islam is becoming the rule, not the exception. Yesterday’s moderate is today’s terrorist.”
Here, Lahren just goes completely off the walls. First of all, “yesterday’s moderate is today’s terrorist” is about as rational as me saying “yesterday’s pro-gun activist is today’s Dylan Rooff.” It’s simply and belligerently absurd. Her assertion that radical Islam is becoming the rule or that it’s trending in that direction is also plainly untrue. In Iraq, only 7% of the 31 million Muslims say that a suicide bombing could sometimes be justified. In Afghanistan and Palestine, those numbers climb as high as 40%. A frightening statistic, no doubt. But a majority? Of course not. These are countries in a perpetual state of war, wars that have a history that give a question like “do you support suicide bombings” loads and loads of nuance. Two-thirds or more of Muslims in Egypt (67%), Tunisia (67%), Iraq (68%), Guinea Bissau (72%) and Indonesia (78%) all say they are concerned about religious extremist groups in their country. In other words, two thirds of the muslims in those countries share the same view as Lahren.
"I care this s.o.b. killed four of our United States Marines. And I care that our commander in chief is more concerned with Muslim sensitivity than the honor and sacrifice made by these Marines. Now this is the 21st time our military men and women have been attacked here at home. This is not a Middle East problem, this is an America problem. I’m sorry but I can’t sit here and let this go, not any more. I come from a family of Marines… [lists her relatives who have served in the military…] But the sad thing is, I was telling him last night, I think you’re safer over there than you would be right here in the United States of America.
She’s right, this IS an American problem. We are the ones, after all, who have poured money into offshoot terrorist groups. We are the ones who helped de-stabilize the region when we killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, many of them civilians, over the last 15 years since 9/11. Our Commander in Chief's “concern” about “Muslim sensitivity” is not about him not caring about our servicemen and women. It’s about us, America, catching up to the rest of the world and working on the way we make blanket statements about people because they are associated with an individual through race, religion, creed or political party. As for her husband or boyfriend being safer overseas: Tomi, you and your husband are 55 times more likely to be killed by a police officer than a terrorist in America. In 2011, eight Americans worldwide — including the ones living in those Muslim countries you fear so much — were killed by terrorism. 29 were killed by lightning strikes. You are 2.5 times more likely to die as a U.S. servicemen than as a typical civilian. So, in short, your assertion that your husband is safer overseas in a presumed war zone is ridiculous and offensive.
"I've had it with this failed strategy that is halfway, half baked tip toe be friendly to Jihadi mentality thats pushed by this administration. They, the radical Islamists have brought the fight right here to the Red, White and Blue and it's about time we bring it to them. Full force. Let's show them what the U.S. of A looks like up close and personal. Show 'em what a B1 bomber looks like flying overhead. Show 'em what they're messing with. Put the fear of OUR God in their desert. Because clearly our lack of strategy isn't working.”
She then encourages her audience to check out her hashtags, tweet at her and check her out on Instagram. Cute.
This closing is the pinnacle of the grotesque agenda that she’s pushing. But at least she’s honest about it, unlike some of the Republican leaders she undoubtedly votes for. She wants U.S. military to fly over countries with Muslims in them and drop bombs (as if we aren't already doing that). She wants dead Arabs, maybe, hopefully, some of them terrorists (as if we aren't already killing them). She wants the same thing that we’ve done dozens of times before, the same thing that has helped grow and foster the anti-American sentiment that runs rampant in the Middle East. She wants your son, daughter, brother, sister, husband, wife, cousin or friend who serves in the military to be thrown into harms way because a man with a Muslim sounding name killed five marines in cold blood. And anger is okay… being upset is okay… it is a horrific tragedy, and one that may have been preventable. But pushing a violent agenda to millions of people is not okay, especially not when the administration she pretends to abhor is already doing everything she's asking: sadly, Obama leads all Presidents in drone strikes. But he did help capture and kill Osama Bin Laden. He has destroyed several terrorist outposts in the Middle East in the last few months alone. Most tragically, every day Muslims are killed in the Middle East with American weapons, whether those guns or bombs are being held by American soldiers or terrorist organizations. And Tomi Lahren either knows this and is lying willfully or doesn't know this and is showing her ignorance. I'm not sure which is more discouraging. She is a disgusting excuse for a journalist, a news anchor and an American. Her memory is short and her foresight is weak.
In closing, I'd like to include the response of one former army ranger, a self-proclaimed 21 year veteran (I have cautious optimism because it's the Internet), who responded to the video thusly:
- A B-1 bomber? Have you not learned anything from our failures. For every terrorist we may or may not kill, we inevitable end up killing a few dozen civilians. Do you think the family of the victims let this go. NO, they pick up arms against the US for unjustly killing their family members, and I don't blame them one bit. We invaded their countries first. We already dropped over 5,000 bombs there.
- Groups like ISIS have been created by geo-political tensions and a power vacuum in the middle east, these violent groups trying to seize power will always appear in situations the the current middle eastern war.
- In 2001, Afghanistan was invaded and occupied because the U.S. accused the former Afghani government (known in the West as the “Taliban”) of harboring “al-Qaeda” extremists even when al-Qaeda never took responsibility for the 9/11 attack on the U.S. When the Afghani government offered to apprehend those extremists on behalf of the U.S. if the Bush regime provided the evidence against them, the U.S. refused the offer and embarked on a murderous and illegal war of aggression.
- You just don't get it. The more you torture these people, the more you fuel their hatred and their fanaticism, the more you convince them of how godless our western civilization is. Hatred breeds hatred that breeds hatred that breeds hatred. There is just no end to it. Not before we all go to a very dark place.
Now, Lahren, you have an answer to some of your questions and the facts and history to combat your outlandish claims. While the "strategy" you despise so much may not be "working" how you want it to, it is far, far better than anything you suggested in your lying, pathetic two minute rant.
During the last year, I have spent an unhealthy and inordinate amount of time arguing about politics, race and sports on my social networks.
Many of my friends have begged me to stop, pleading through text messages or private messages or email, imploring me to understand that talking about serious issues on Facebook will never do any good. And they may be right.
But what I've found on the Internet this last year is what has been supported by a frightening Pew research study: our country is more divided now, across partisan lines, than it has been in a long time. And that division is creating a hatred for fellow Americans, a hatred for people that don't share your political views, that is nearly unprecedented.
What I've come to find true, more than any other thing I've learned from interacting with this other side, is that we have to start working together. We have to start talking to each other, fleshing out meaning from our words, investigating our motives, working together to keep the powers over us in check. It seems so obvious when you say it, but we have to start doing it and doing it honestly. Facebook and Twitter are great tools for these kinds of conversations, enabling us to communicate our ideas and feelings with people we know, people we've never met, and people from all over the country. If we do it responsibly, and honestly, the effect could be tremendous.
So when I say "Dear Conservatives, let's not f*ck up 2015," I mean it quite literally: let us, liberals and conservatives, not f*ck it up like we did in 2014.
So here is my effort of turning over a new leaf of honesty in the new year, and to plead with both my "conservative" and "liberal" brethren to be more honest with each other and ourselves. Let's just call it a guide to not f*cking up 2015 like we did in 2014. Liberals and conservatives, democrats and republicans, centrists and libertarians, independents and people who claim they hate politics, we're all in it together and we're all responsible for our country's actions — whether we voted for those actions or not.
Firstly, and most importantly, we need to be better at digesting our news. Liberals need to stop worshipping Jon Stewart and start voting. I love the Daily Show, and I'll watch it until it's off the air, but how about listening to Stewart when he tells us not to use his show as a news source, k? It's on Comedy Central for a reason.
Libs should also stop screaming and start talking, and quit trying to inherit the struggles of others. Yes, empathy is important. But using your understanding of the struggles of others, particularly people of color, to advance some kind of sympathy for yourself, is a short-sighted and slimy thing to do. It just shows your privilege (also, conservatives can try grasping the simple concept of privilege in 2015).
While we're at it, conservatives need to find another news source that isn't FoxNews. Liberals can stop drooling over MSNBC (which misinforms its viewers just as frequently). Or, as a more general rule, we should all start reading our news instead of watching it. Television is a great way to track breaking news, or to watch incredible footage, but it's also designed to keep you watching and to keep you scared (even if that means keeping you misinformed). If you want real news, or real understanding, you're going to have to read to get it.
Here is a good guide:
We need to be optimistic about the economy, for the sake of the economy. There is no doubt things were bad when President Obama took office. For many people, including the African American community, things have gotten worse or stayed the same. But all news about the economy isn't bad, and both conservatives and liberals need to accept the hard truth that *your* bank account not growing doesn't mean the country's economy isn't improving. When 'economic growth is at an 11-year high, job growth is at a 15-year high, the stock market is soaring, wages are rising, gas prices are plummeting, American manufacturing is improving, and the uninsured rate is dropping,' we can no longer greet it with silence.
We need to start being real about our women and men in uniform. That means not acting like every soldier joined the armed forces to kill, or believing every cop gets a high from arresting a person of color. Speaking of uniforms, it also means accepting that the families of people wearing police uniforms are more likely to suffer from domestic abuse than families of people wearing NFL uniforms. It means understanding that many of the men and women who take a gun to their day job, just like many of our country's immigrants who work low-wage, hard labor positions, are probably doing a job you wouldn't want to do yourself. So be grateful for them. Part of that gratitude means caring about the repercussions of their service, and knowing when to shy away from blind hero worship. Like lawyers, doctors, celebrities and athletes, men and women in uniform are fallible the same way we all are. And, like the rest of us, sometimes they are scrutinized unjustly and sometimes they operate with impunity.
"Until the color of a man's skin is of no more significance than the color of his eyes." White conservatives need to stop telling people of color that the color of their skin doesn't make them more susceptible to police violence, to profiling or to a general negative assumption about their character. Especially if you've never been a person of color (read: all white people). Especially not when, as recently as 2012, a majority of Americans still held "explicitly anti-black attitudes." White liberals need to stop acting like our race issues are becoming worse, when many of the statistics show it is only getting better. The fact that 53% of Americans believe race relations have gotten worse since Obama took office is more a product of click-worthy headlines and sensationalist television news than the day-to-day experience for many. While we may not "agree" about race across partisan lines, we (shockingly) do agree on some solutions. We also need to avoid the illusion that having a black President is some kind of progress for people of color. As Chris Rock so aptly put it (by the way, conservatives need to stop quoting Chris Rock about black on black crime): "To say Obama is progress is saying that he’s the first black person that is qualified to be president. That [Obama] is not black progress. That’s white progress. There’s been black people qualified to be president for hundreds of years."
We need to stop being so scared of guns. Dear Liberals, just because someone owns a gun doesn't mean they want to use it, they hate gays, they love Jesus or they're anti-marijuana legalization. Dear Conservatives, just because we "have the right to bear arms" doesn't mean you should have a gun, or that guns are good for the country. Liberals need to stop acting like the majority of Americans are against gun ownership, when they aren't. Conservatives need to stop acting like high rates of gun ownership can't be directly linked to the horribly tragic number of gun deaths, when it can. As a whole, let's accept the fact that far more people are dying in mass shootings in our country than anywhere else. The issue cannot be ignored any longer, and whether we need to reform our gun laws or work on the mental health of our country (presumably both), we need to do it quickly, in an informed manner and together.
We need to stop acting like Republicans don't care about the poor. As has been widely reported and studied, the 'inconvenient truth' for liberals is that Republicans are actually more charitable, and it isn't because they have more money. The motivations for being a giver vary drastically between liberals and conservatives, which is also an important conversation. But the bottom line is that when it comes to caring about the poor, going about it differently doesn't give liberals the right to act like they are somehow better. The belief that wanting to give healthcare to the uninsured is a more effective way to help poor people than, say, the countless religious organizations that raise money and do community outreach, is unfounded. The Bible belt could teach the rest of us a lesson about how to be better givers.
We need to stop wasting our time and money on pointless, accusatory, headline-grabbing bullsh*t. I apologize for the candor, but this one is mainly directed at some maniacal Republican congressmen and women and the FoxNews hosts who feed the beast. Here are four things that you've probably heard about, spent time worrying about, or had to argue about during Thanksgiving dinner: Planes disappearing, Ebola, Benghazi, and the IRS. Unfortunately for FoxNews, CNN, MSNBC and the like, flying in 2014 was the safest year thus far in the 21st century. I know that doesn't sell newspapers, but it might be worth including in the endless coverage of these admittedly fascinating plane disappearances. Ebola-fear was a fad produced by your cable news networks, and has quickly passed. Despite the fact FoxNews is (still?!) calling for the GOP to tackle 'Benghazi and IRS scandals,' after years of Republican-led investigation both the Benghazi and IRS-imposing-sanctions-on-Republicans myths have been de-bunked.
We need to remember that, quite literally, we're all in this together. The 1% and the 99% is not some anarchist or liberal ideal. Our country's wealth, its health and the politicians on the ballot you vote for, are all at the whim of a small group of wealthy elites who seldom have your interests in mind. Part of this truth is because such a shockingly low number of Americans exercise their right to vote. Part of it is because, in politics, money is power. This truth is so evident that I can't decide how to link it, so I'll leave it to you to do the research yourself. It's a liberal myth that these big money-grabbing politicians are always Republican; the truth is almost all of our most powerful politicians bought their way into their power, and use their money to stay there.
As the dawn of 2015 approaches, let's all keep in mind that the men and women of our country, the Jesus-lovers and the Muslims, the cops and the criminals, the blacks and the whites, the republicans and the democrats, the children and the elderly, and the 10,958 Americans born every day, need each other. We need to stick together, to work together, to look out for each other, to keep each other safe and to lend a helping hand when we're capable. Sometimes I wish we could all act with the unity, the same regard for the people around you, as we did in the days following September 11th (with the exception, of course, of the rabid Islamaphobia). And if we could do that in the New Year, without a devastating tragedy forcing us together, we'd be off to a great start in 2015.
I have a news flash for you: The NFL does a lot more good than bad.
Can I tell you the current top brass in the league aren't a bunch of scum bags? No, I can't. Roger Goodell, Ozzie Newsome and the rest of the Ravens cast seem to have — in all likelihood — orchestrated a massive cover up of a damnable, disgusting crime.
Can I tell you that every player in the NFL has been obeying the laws of the United States of America? No, no I definitely can't.
Can I tell you its teams are absent of belligerent owners, racist names, underpaid cheerleaders and the greed of Wall Street? No, I wouldn't dare.
But guess what? Welcome to the United States of America. We incarcerate people like nobody else, we like money, we like drugs and we're still learning how to treat our women.
What I see when I watch people throw stones at the National Football League is bunch of crazies screaming in the mirror. I know because I did it too, and I was wrong.
In the year 2011, 1 in 25 Americans were arrested. That's 3,991 Americans for every 100,000 (what amounted to more than 12.4 million people). On average, over the course of the last four years, the NFL has an arrest rate (for a population of 100,000) of 2,466. No, you are not reading that incorrectly. The NFL is better behaved than our beloved average Joe.
For all the screaming, tweeting, Facebooking and disgust you shared about this league "full of abusers" and "violent criminals," did you ever stop to look at us? Did you ever google "how many people does the NFL employ?"
The answer is around 115,000. That's about the population of Berkeley, California. Or Columbia, Missouri. Or Wilmington, North Carolina. Literally, a small city of employees, some feeding their families and others buying absurdly expensive homes. Seriously though, do you need a job? Forget Indeed.com, try the NFL.
Speaking of employment, there has been a lot of talk about equal pay and employment for men and women recently. While the NFL has dropped the ball on its cheerleaders, don't forget it was the first major sport to have a woman play a prominent role in its coverage. After winning the 1971 Miss America Pageant, Phyllis George joined NFL today and landed on CBS Morning News as a result. Should women be thankful to the NFL? Of course not. Can women like Erin Andrews and Pam Oliver say the NFL helped break down barriers with them? Yes, yes they can.
But the National Football League isn't just about making money and divvying it up to those that worked for it. They're also about giving that money away.
Of course, if you google "NFL charities" you have to dig through pages of the same story being plagiarized over and over again: "Only $3.54 of every $100 the NFL claims to raise for breast cancer research actually goes to breast cancer research." But alas, what is buried in the 7th and 8th paragraphs of those articles are little tidbits like this: "that percentage is actually not inconsistent with what other major corporations donate to select charities through consumer purchases, according to Charity Watch president Daniel Borochoff."
In reality (a noun meaning "real things, facts, or events taken as a whole"), the NFL makes single donations as large as $30 million. They have contributed $368 million to football-related charities, building fields, getting kids outside and promoting exercise. They have given millions to 9/11 charities, the Cooper Institute, sports medical research, and so forth. The NFL players themselves combine for a laundry list of charities that would literally put you to sleep.
Eli Manning alone "raised $2.5 million for the University of Mississippi Medical Center’s Children’s Hospital and recently donated $1 million to the University of Mississippi’s Ole Miss Opportunity Scholarship fund."
In the same tune, Detroit reporter Lauren Beasley recently recorded all the charitable, selfless things the "lowly" Lions organization had done in just the last few weeks. If you're getting bored already, here some excerpts:
- "...provide scholarship to students of African decent throughout the United States to go to college."
- "The group of Lions players not only spent the morning with third-graders from Marion Law Academy but they also helped to educate them about the importance of healthy snack choices and proper nutrition."
- "...grand opening of “The Project Phoenix Learning Center,” which is a new 21st Century computer lab and learning center at the Detroit Lions Academy."
Doesn't all this good just put you to sleep? Who could go for some celeb nudes and TMZ videos right about now?
While these dollar signs and statistics prove a point, they still do nothing to represent the intangibles. Stats, arrest records, millions of dollars; they pale in comparison to the most obvious thing the NFL does: bring joy and happiness into people's homes (unless you're a Browns fan).
No FBI report will ever be able to tell you what it's like for me to sit down on a comfy couch in the middle of a brisk October afternoon, crack a beer with my dad, stuff myself full of warm food and let go of the week. No public statement could make you understand a fourth quarter touchdown, diving into the arms of your favorite people and rubbing your heads together with joy. It'd be easy for me to explain why a fantasy football league helps my friends keep in touch, or how a simple diversion like football has opened up some of the best conversations I've ever had in my life, but you wouldn't want to hear that, would you? Judging by the 111.5 million people that watched the Super Bowl last year, I'm not the only one whose family and friends gets together for the big game.
Instead you'd rather throw your stones, call your names and beg for your justice. There is no doubt the NFL is a scarred organization today, one that has a lot of explaining to do. There is no doubt that there are bad men who operate inside the lines the same way bad men operate in every society on every continent on this planet.
There is an undoubtedly a stern punishment that needs to be served by a few, and messages that need to be sent to others, but let's be sure that this justice is just.