Monday, October 31, 2016

City and local media hypocrisy has a way of bringing out the "fan" in me

When I worked at the airport, I was assigned the task of transporting cargo to the gates of flights they were assigned to. This was not always a “simple” task, particularly when constant gate changes bespeak of barely “controlled” chaos behind the scenes. I worked alone, was self-motivated, set lofty but achievable goals, and was discontented when I didn’t meet them.  Working alone was fine by me because  there was no one who was an obstacle to my goals; the union airline employees who staged the out-going cargo in the pick-up area were “impressed” by the fact that one of the non-union “enemy” kept the area neat, tidy, and usually empty. But it was sometimes a chore, because incoming cargo was usually brought in by the non-union “kids” who were often thoughtless and lethargic and did not care for good order, just dump and run and let someone else (like me) clean-up their mess.  After seven years working outside all day in all kinds of weather, avoiding death dodging planes taxiing over the speed limit ( as if they wanted to run over one of us just out of spite), and only making something over minimum wage, I figured I had had enough and it was time to move on. I was told some time afterward by a former colleague that the cargo running responsibilities had been taken away from the non-union contractor I worked for, apparently because the airline was unhappy with the irresponsibility of the people who came after me.  
I’m sure that Chris Hansen and his investment group feel the same way about civic, political and media “leaders” in Seattle; if you want something done “right,” sometimes you just have to depend on someone who is willing to take on the responsibility, with or without the cooperation of others; and if that someone has to be you, then so be it. Those who just want to be an obstacle should just get out of the way.  

What is all this about? Starbucks’ owner Howard Schultz sold his stake in the NBA Seattle Supersonics franchise to an Oklahoma City investment group headed by Clay Bennett, who then demanded that a new arena be built, or else. Schultz was criticized for running the team like a “business,” failing to make “basketball” decisions that would make the team competitive (before the sale of the team, Rashard Lewis and a past-his-prime Ray Allen were the only players who were not a complete bust on the roster), and there was little stomach for his previous similar demands. A visit from NBA Commissioner David Stern before the state legislature urge funding for a new arena was met with sarcasm, which was exactly the wrong tact to take with Stern for future reference; the disinterested reaction to the city’s failure to enforce the lease on Key Arena—which would have effectively kept the team in town for a few more years, instead allowing Bennett to “buy out” the lease and take the team to Oklahoma City—pretty much showed where public “sentiment” was in retaining an NBA franchise in Seattle. Bennett agreed to sell the WNBA Storm to four-female group, probably for peanuts. Geez, thanks. I bet even people who are “fans” of the Storm and don’t consider them merely a political “statement” can’t even remember what years they won their WNBA championships.

There are likely reasons why NBA basketball was (and is) not considered a civic priority like football is in Seattle. It isn’t because the Seahawks are having an unprecedented run of success; unlike baseball, the NFL is less “tribal” than most sports. Football fans are fascinated by what is going on in football everywhere; even if one’s own team stinks, the overall scene retains interest. But basketball is another matter. For myself, I still am an avid follower of NCAA men’s basketball, but the NBA? Not so much. I started to lose interest following the Magic-Bird era. Something changed; was it the street “culture” of Michigan’s “Fab-Five” and those ridiculous knee-length “shorts” migrating to the NBA that turned me off? Was it incidents like “Malice in the Palace,” or the fact that a thug like Ron Artest can be given a “citizenship” award by the NBA, and within months make a mockery of the “award” by his uncivil behavior in the NBA finals against the Dallas Mavericks?  Artest went on to mock everyone by renaming himself “Metta World Peace” after these incidents—and more were to come, one punished by a seven-game suspension.  

Still, when Hansen first stepped forward in 2012 with a proposal to build a new arena and bring the NBA back to town, there was some scattered excitement in basketball fandom, but it was hardly overwhelming. The possibility that the Sacramento Kings were on the selling block and Hansen and his group, which included Microsoft billionaire Steve Balmer, were interested in acquiring the team, got many people’s hopes up; but the alienation of Stern earlier came back to “bite” any such deal. 

And it wasn’t just the NBA that was “biting.”  The Port of Seattle opposed the building of the arena in the SODO district; but it had also opposed the building of Qwest and Safeco Fields in the same area, so any opposition was just more grumbling and sour grapes than anything substantive.  The female-dominated Seattle Times editorial board was a foe of Hansen from the start, and blew-up its own credibility by resorting to juvenile name-calling in its editorials opposing returning the NBA to Seattle. The Times went on to dare Hansen and his group to pay for their arena themselves without public funds, as if that was their only “issue.” This spring, the city council voted 5-4 against selling a one block strip of Occidental Ave to the Hansen group, which owns the property on either side of it; all five “no” votes were placed by all five women on the council, while all four men on the council voted for the sale. The blocking of the sale had to be “personal” against some male trying to be too “pushy” with all his money. There was no sense at all in blocking the sale, since I’ve seen that strip of road with my own two eyeballs; to call it an “Avenue” is like calling a off-dirt road in some rural boondock an “avenue.” The ancient industrial district directly south of downtown Seattle is full of such ill or unused patches of pavement, and then only as parking spaces. After that vote, the Times Jon Talton exulted that it is now “unlikely” that a new arena will be built in SODO. 

But things have changed “dramatically” since then. Clearly angered by the ill-intentions of the majority of the city council and from the Times, Hansen and his group called the bluff of both by unveiling a proposal to 100 percent pay for a new arena from private sources, plus an overpass as a gift to the Port in exchange for their old dirt footpath. Tired of civic “leaders” and their incompetence, stonewalling, personal grudgery and simply being an obstacle to progress, the group decided they wanted no more to do with the city, and they could do what they wanted with the property they bought and paid for. Of course, there was still the matter of Occidental and the opposition of the Port, but now it was put-up or shut-up time. Would the real reason for the opposition to the arena deal be exposed? Was it less about public “spiritedness”—which the Hansen group has shown far more of than the city or the Times—or more about the petty personal? 

What has happened in the 10 days or so since the Hansen group announced their proposal? For now it seems that the women on the city council and the Times are running for cover under the skirts of the mayor, Ed Murray. The mayor immediately released a statement, not in support of the Hansen proposal, but lamely suggesting that there were still “alternatives” on the table, which of course he did not name because there aren’t any. No one wants to “renovate” Key Arena again, especially for a professional sports team. Murray couldn’t help himself but to further expose the hypocrisy of the current “leadership” of the city with its utter failure to recognize a great deal, even when it is handed to them on a silver platter. Murray’s statement continued “The City will review the letter sent by a group of stakeholders, including Chris Hansen, suggesting a revision to the previous SODO arena proposal. We share the goal of bringing the NBA and NHL to Seattle. The City will continue to consider all options to build a new, state of the art arena that will accomplish that goal and that can serve the city for years to come.”

Oh, bullshit. The current city leadership isn’t “serious” about bringing an NBA (or an NHL) team to Seattle, because it might cause everyone to forget that there is a women’s “alternative” team in town, and there is no other “option” to consider of any substance or applicability to a big-time professional sports franchise. The city seems to insist on just standing in the way of good order. Hansen wants to do things in a business-like, professional way, keeping everything neat and tidy. All the city and the Times want to do is to be obstacle for petty partisan political reasons, put common sense and reason on ice, dump in all their unsubstantiated complaints, and run when their mendacity has been exposed. Why can’t these people tell the truth, like Hillary Clinton? Am I being sarcastic there? Well of course. While I’m not an NBA fan (just as I am  not a Donald Trump “fan “), bald-faced hypocrisy has a way of bringing out the “fan” in me.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Week 8 NFL Notes

I must say that one kind of person who I don’t like to be around is a  Seahawk fan who feels like beating someone up because their team lost. I’ve said I am not and never have been a Seahawk fan, even though I’ve lived in the area for 25 years. When they lose, especially Pete Carroll’s team, I can’t be happier. The exception was Super Bowl XLVIII, because I dislike Peyton Manning more than I do the entire Seahawk team, and that is saying something. 

This week, the Seahawks got dumped by the Saints 25-20 in a game that they appeared to have in hand early, leading 14-3 in the second quarter before a Russell Wilson interception turned the momentum in the Saints’ favor. The Seahawks had opportunities to stem the tide, when a field goal attempt and the end of the first half went humorously awry, and in the fourth quarter a first-and-goal at the Saints’ five ended in only a field goal. The Seahawks still had a chance to win with just under 2 minutes;  but with no timeouts, Wilson helped waste valuable time by throwing short passes to receivers who  burned the clock in YAC instead of heading for the sidelines. Wilson was obliged to spike the ball twice, and a last play pass went out of the end zone.

The Seahawks have no running game, we have been told, and for a team predicated on a run offense with a first-line running back out with injury and a read-option quarterback who can’t run, these are something of a hindrance. The large percentage of the blame, not surprisingly, is going to the offensive line, which admittedly doesn’t have serviceable tackle play. Nevertheless, I have to wonder to what extent the offensive line is to blame with the Seahawks’ supposed offensive woes. Very few teams in this league have top-drawer offensive lines, so why should this team’s line be judged any differently? 

What I find particularly curious is the fact that Wilson has been sacked 12 times in 7 games. Does that sound like a lot? Does the fact that Andrew Luck has been sacked 31 times in 8 games sound like more to you? In fact, coming into today’s game, only four teams allowed fewer sacks than the Seahawk offensive line, this despite the fact that Wilson is averaging 35 pass attempts a game. Granted, Wilson may be getting rid of the ball quicker to avoid sacks, but this in no way should be taken out of context; I suspect that most teams have observers complaining of offensive line play. In fact that Seahawks may have a better line relative to other teams.

Elsewhere in the NFL:

Titans 36 Jaguars 22 DeMarco Murray has already surpassed his rushing yards total from all of last season with the Eagles, and with Marcus Mariota showing no signs of a “sophomore slump” despite the expectation that he was not “ready” for the pace of the NFL, the Titans are suddenly 4-4. Meanwhile, the Jaguars’ offense was completely inept until the end, which wasn’t enough to keep their offensive coordinator, Gus Bradley, from being fired on Saturday. Firing an offensive coordinator seemed to help the Bills and the Dolphins, so who knows.

Redskins 27 Bengals 27 For the second straight week a game ended in a tie, and again it shouldn’t have. Another missed chip-shot field goal try in overtime by the Redskins followed by another chance with when the Bengals fumbled on their side of the field. But Kirk Cousins 458 yards passing was a largely wasted effort, and an offensive pass interference penalty that negated a second chance at kicker redemption ended in the above result. 

Chiefs 30 Colts 14 As already noted, Andrew Luck was sacked six more times in this game to up his total to an NFL leading 31 sacks in 8 games, although this is nowhere near the pace to break the NFL record, 104 in a single season by the 1986 Eagles—a number which was inflated by Randall Cunningham’s inability to make decisions (rapid or not), being sacked an incredible one out of every four pass plays. 

Raiders 30 Buccaneers 24 (OT) Derek Carr threw for 513 yards, and the Raiders keep rolling with hardly any noticing at all, now 6-2 in the AFC West, keeping pace with the Broncos and Kansas City. Of course if this was the “old” Raiders this would be “old” news, but this team has been so long without credibility that it won’t be until next week, when they play the Broncos, that we shall see if credibility is something they can earn back.

Texans 20 Lions 13 I told you that the “MVP” talk about Matthew Stafford was premature. A “trick”  downfield fourth-and-four pass by the Lions on their very first possession set the tone as the Texans built a 17-3 lead that Lions never really threatened, despite the fact that Brock Osweiler continues to look like yet another quarterback bust, which has been an ongoing problem for the Texans.

Jets 31 Browns 28 Another close loss for the Browns, in another game where Jets’ quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick was barely serviceable in avoiding turnovers. Joe Namath he ain’t; Broadway Joe threw 220 interceptions in 140 games played, and finished with a 65.5 passer rating—and still made it to the Hall of Fame. But then again, Namath had charisma and won a Super Bowl, which is lot more than one can say about Fitzpatrick and his off-putting arrogant estimation of his own ability.

Patriots 41 Bills 25 Nowhere near as competitive as that score would seem to indicate, and with a machine like Tom Brady at the helm, who needs a running game?

Panthers 30 Cardinals 20 Wasn’t this is how the Panthers went 15-1 last season? Only three of their regular season wins were convincing “blowouts,” and the team depended more on the opposition’s failure to play to standard than anything else. Despite throwing for a lot of yards again, Carson Palmer just can’t seem to make the throws when they actually count for something. 

Falcons 33 Packers 32 A tough loss for the Packers, featuring the disconcerting habit of so many defenses to take the long “layoff” of a long scoring drive by the offense in the late stages of a game not as an opportunity for “rest,” but as one to forget what they are supposed to be doing, which is stop the other team from scoring the game-winning points. Aaron Rodger threw four TD passes, but as he has been so often this season, he was ineffective for most of the second half (11-17 for only 76 yards), and subtracting a 58-yard pass overall threw for only 188 yards off 27 completed passes. 

Broncos 27 Chargers 19 Melvin Gordon ran for 111 yards and caught passes for 44 more. Unfortunately, he didn’t score any touchdowns for the Chargers, thanks to Philip Rivers’ three interceptions, which in cumulative terms accounted for a 21-point swing in favor of the Broncos—meaning that Broncos’ offensive ineptitude in this game was just a formality.

Friday, October 28, 2016

No, we want the “complete facts” from YOU, Clinton

The American people should just stand up and say “Enough is enough. We are tired of Hillary Clinton’s lies piled on more and more lies. Screw the hyper-partisan Clinton News Network and its ‘opinion’ that the FBI director should ‘resign’ because he wants to reopen the email probe. We want the truth now. We know you and your associates lied or took the Fifth to protect you from your crimes, and have been doing so since at least 1979 beginning with ‘Cattlegate.’ It is time for you to stop playing the ‘victim,’ because the real victim is the American voter, who is being made to feel forced to ‘choose’ your criminality over Trump’s boorishness.”

So it is that the FBI is re-starting its investigation of Clinton’s email business after it was discovered that potentially classified information was kept on close Clinton aid Huma Abedin’s personal computer. This was discovered in the course of examining the contents of the computer during the investigation of disgraced former New York congressman Anthony Weiner, who is the currently estranged husband of Abedin. One wonders just how many computers of Clinton aids out there hold classified information, which is a criminal offense. Feeling “blindsided” by this new investigation, Clinton can only demand “answers” from the FBI. No, what we need to know will only come when you and your aids are forced to testify under oath, with the penalty from wanton perjury a cold cot in a prison cell. 

Meanwhile, the Clinton News Network—unabashedly using the gender card to bash Trump and promote Clinton—is equally “outraged” by this development, coming on the heels of all those WikiLeaks that have revealed Clinton to be utterly without principle. That so-called “objective” news outlet has expended every last gram of its “credibility” in promoting Clinton from the very beginning, when a far, far more principled alternative in the form of Bernie Sanders was there for the taking. Now, instead of being “objective,” it chooses to attack the bearer of more bad news about its chosen favorite—and all because, as a female, she is supposedly “untouchable.”

But let’s be frank. Is anybody going to take the time to read about this in Saturday’s paper? Probably not. The news media in general (outside of Fox News) has purposely ignored Clinton’s career of crime and non-stop lying, so why would this new investigation “hurt” her? Again, it is up to the voters to take a step back and think about the potentiality of giving a person like this all the power of the presidency of this country.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Not knowing how to "act" has been "natural" for Clinton--just ask the president

Yesterday on iHeart radio’s talk show “The Breakfast Club,” Hillary Clinton spent some time talking about how she didn’t know how to “act” as a “natural” politician because there were so few women leaders in the world. Currently there are 18 female heads of state or government in the world (three of them in Western Europe), which admittedly isn’t many, but closer to home is six female governors, and Clinton has never endangered her expectations by even considering such a run—it is better to get right down to brass tacks and make fools of voters for the highest office in the land. But the truth is that voters should be concerned about this. Unlike Donald Trump, who knows how to play the crowd because he is a “natural” at communicating with ordinary people, Hillary Clinton has always been secretive about herself and her doings, because of her contempt for “ordinary” people and her belief that laws only exist to impugn her and her “freedom” to act in any morally or ethically corrupt way that she feels is her “right” to do.

Naturally, Clinton tried to make a gender issue out of it—after she had in a rare moment of candor confessed “It is really hard for me. I've said this before. I look at somebody like my husband or President Obama. They are so natural. I mean, they are fluid, they got the moves, they can just go into a room and really capture it – they've got charisma.” I’ll give Clinton this much: her husband’s “charisma” has enabled him to escape accounting from a multitude of sins and scandals; but it has also helped her to escape accounting for her own even greater sins of corruption. If people can “forgive” Bill after accusations of sexual assault and even rape, then certainly people will give his wife the “benefit of the doubt” as well. It is only “fair.”

Today, meanwhile, President Obama pardoned another 98 prisoners in jail for nonviolent drug offenses, bringing the total to 872 whose sentences the president has commuted. Why bring this up in the context of Clinton? Because the massive influx of nonviolent offenders spending years in prison is due either directly or indirectly to the Clintons’ Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, which funneled massive amounts of funding for increased police presence and power, established special “drug courts,” and mandated the “three-strikes” rule. Although technically aimed at violent offenders of federal law, it in fact served as a template for state and local statutes that were much more harsh and comprehensive, especially for petty drug offenders, and much more likely to target blacks and Hispanics, rather than well-off whites in their “nice” neighborhoods.  One recalls that Hillary Clinton defended the law at the time, using her ignominious “super-predator” reference. 

Was this one of the “mistakes” that Hillary Clinton was guilty of that the president has made reference to during interviews of recent note, that have been “magnified” because of her position? Or does the president actually hold a secret “grudge” against Clinton, and taking mild jabs at her? I frankly think he is, after jibes from Clinton dating back to the 2008 primaries. I also have no doubt that he felt forced to offer Clinton the position of Secretary of State because he knew the vindictiveness of the Clintons (and of Hillary in particular) when they were “crossed,”  and he needed to get on their “good” side. 

There is also no doubt that the president felt that Clinton was not someone he could trust, and especially in the Middle East he felt that her judgment was not useful to his administration, perhaps deliberately so. According to a recent article in the Atlantic Monthly, the president was reportedly upset by Clinton’s and her loyal subjects’ dispersion of the president’s “don’t do stupid shit” mantra as being “unbecoming” of a great country:

Obama became “rip-shit angry,” according to one of his senior advisers. The president did not understand how “Don’t do stupid shit” could be considered a controversial slogan. Ben Rhodes recalls that “the questions we were asking in the White House were ‘Who exactly is in the stupid-shit caucus? Who is pro–stupid shit?’ ” The Iraq invasion, Obama believed, should have taught Democratic interventionists like Clinton, who had voted for its authorization, the dangers of doing stupid shit.

Clinton, against the president’s own inclinations, did do “stupid shit” by pushing for the intervention in Libya. Today, that country remains in complete tatters, ripped asunder by tribalism, proving why such a country needed a “strong hand” to keep it “under control.” Of course, there was what occurred in Benghazi, which I am certain also angered the president in that Libya was Clinton’s “baby” and she allowed that to happen. No wonder he didn’t trust her “judgement” in regard to intervening in Syria. According to the Atlantic, “Joe Biden, who is acerbic about Clinton’s foreign-policy judgment, has said privately, 'Hillary just wants to be Golda Meir (the war-hawk former Israeli prime minister).'”

Hillary Clinton still obviously holds a grudge against the president for upsetting her plans eight years ago, and this was exposed once again when last week at a Roman Catholic charity dinner in New York she made a “joke” about “How will Barack get past Donald Trump's Muslim ban?”. Reportedly the “joke” didn’t amuse anyone, as there was complete silence for a moment or two.