Category Archives: History

LeBron James & the NBA Finals = Must-See TV

Banner 2USP NBA: GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS-MEDIA DAY S BKN USA CABanner 4Today, LeBron James will play in his eighth straight NBA Finals.

King James and his Cleveland Cavaliers will face the Golden State Warriors for the fourth year in a row.

UnknownLeBron and the Cavs are the clear underdogs.

In fact, the Warriors are historic favorites in the 2018 NBA Finals. The reigning NBA champs are favored by 10 to 1 odds to win their third title. The Warriors are favored by 12.5-points in tonight’s Game One: the largest point spread in recent Finals history.

So, despite the odds — why do I believe LeBron James has a legitimate shot to win his fourth NBA title?

I have three simple reasons:

He’s LeBron James.

He’s having an historic year.

And I hate Kevin Durant and the Golden State Warriors.

AUSTIN-CARRFull disclosure: I’m a Cleveland boy, born and raised. I’ve been a Cavaliers fan since the franchise was launched in 1970 — and Austin Carr led them to the ‘76 Eastern Conference Finals against the Boston Celtics, losing valiantly in 6 games.

The Cavs had their moments after that — making 10 playoff appearances from 1985 to 1998. But they rarely made it past the first round.

04araton-articleLargeIn 1989, for instance, Michael Jordan famously dashed their hopes by draining a first-round series-winning buzzer-beater over Cleveland’s Craig Ehlo. It was Game 5 of a 5-game series. (Remember those?) And Cleveland was playing at home.

Man, that was painful.

Then came LeBron James.

James played high school basketball in Akron Ohio – just 40 miles from Cleveland.

Already a national sensation as a teenage high school player, his hometown Cavaliers made  LeBron the first overall pick in the 2003 NBA draft .300_003_lg

As a 20-year-old kid – in just his second year in the NBA — LeBron poured in 56 points against the Toronto Raptors, setting Cleveland’s single-game scoring record and was named to his first All-NBA Team. (This year, in his fifteenth season in the league, he earned that honor again.)

In his third season in 2006, LeBron was named the NBA All-Star Game Most Valuable Player and finished second in the NBA MVP voting to Steve Nash. He led The Cavs into the playoffs for the first time since 1998, losing to the Detroit Pistons in the second round.

LeBron’s fourth year in the league marked him as a true superstar. He led the Cavs to 50 wins for the second year in a row and took his team all the way to the 2007 NBA Finals against one of the NBA’s greatest teams: the San Antonio Spurs. LeBron and his overmatched Cavs were swept in four games – setting the stage for his infamous “Decision” to jump to the Miami Heat.

goneLeBron’s years with the Heat are well documented.

At the time, I went on the record that I didn’t blame LeBron for leaving the Cavs. Far from burning his jersey like some bitter fellow Clevelanders, I cheered him as he won two NBA championships in his four years in Miami – then welcomed his Northeast Ohio homecoming.

It didn’t take long for LeBron to return the Cavaliers to the NBA Finals. He did it in his first year back. And if Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving had been able to play in the 2015 Finals against the Golden State Warriors they might have won.

20609133-standardAnyway, LeBron led the Cavs to victory the following year – my hometown’s first major sports championship since Jim Brown, Frank Ryan and Gary Collins led the Browns over the Colts in 1964!

Then LeBron and the Cavs lost to Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry and the Warriors in last year’s Finals. It was The King’s seventh straight NBA Finals appearance.

And tonight’s tip-off marks Lebron’s eighth straight Finals.

Okay, I know that Bill Russell and his 1960’s-era Celtics made a shitload of NBA Finals. In fact, Russell made 10 straight Finals. Bill Russell is certainly one of the all-time greats — but let’s look at a typical NBA playoff bracket from Russell’s playing days.1964nbaplayoffsbracketresults

Do you notice something?

CN73LMUFYWN5IIN7SWW5XC7K7AFor most of those ten dominant years, Russell and his Celtics played just 2 or 3 rounds in the playoffs. And they usually played only two. LeBron James – like all of his modern NBA contemporaries — has faced four grueling playoff rounds every single year. Just sayin’.

And then there’s this business about Kevin Durant vs. LeBron. Don’t compare Durant’s playoff success with LeBron’s. (How far did The Slim Reaper ever take the Thunder?) And please don’t equate Durant’s jump to the Warriors with LeBron’s move to the Heat.

When LeBron went to The Heat, it had been 5 years since they were in the Finals and won an NBA championship. Durant joined Golden State the year after they had made two consecutive Finals appearances and won their first NBA title.

Kevin Durant is a front-runner. LeBron James is something else altogether.

kloveAs both teams prepare for tip-off tonight, I am confident that LeBron James will burnish his legacy in these NBA Finals.

And if Kevin Love is healthy enough to make his usual All-Star contribution on the boards and from the 3-point line – and Kyle Korver or J.R. Smith or Jeff Green or George Hill step up and hit some shots – then I like my team’s chances, despite the long odds against them.

One thing is certain.

I’m not betting against LeBron James.

I’m not betting against The King.

Go Cavs!

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Gowdy Goes Off The Reservation

“When you are innocent — act like it.”

Is Trump just a cynical serial liar? Or is he something even worse?

Bat BoyLet’s be clear. Trey Gowdy is no friend of Democrats and progressives. And he looks kinda like the infamous “Bat Boy” of tabloid fame.

But lately he’s been an unlikely hero for the truth.

Very unlikely.

A deeply conservative House member from South Carolina, it was Gowdy who chaired the committee that spent over two and a half years and $7.8 million investigating Hillary Clinton’s role in the 2012 Benghazi embassy attack. And he barely put up any honest, objective resistance while House Intelligence Committee Chairman (and traitorous weasel) Devin Nunes turned that formerly bipartisan body’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election into a Republican whitewash of Donald Trump’s role in that affair.

gop-rep-trey-gowdy-contradicts-trump-on-informant-claim-678x381But in recent days, Gowdy, who served as a federal prosecutor before he became a politician, is taking positions that few Republicans have dared to take. Of course, Gowdy is not seeking re-election to Congress, so like GOP Senator Jeff Flake and a precious few others, he no longer has to sacrifice every ounce of his integrity to satisfy the prejudices of the rabid Trump/GOP base.

Thus, unlike the vast majority of Republicans who are in the thrall of Trumpism, Gowdy is free to speak the truth.

Having been given access to classified info during the controversial May 24 meeting between GOP Congressmen and members of the Justice Department regarding an anonymous FBI informant who contacted certain members of the Trump campaign in 2016, Gowdy told FOX News that “I am even more convinced that the FBI did exactly what my fellow citizens would want them to do when they got the information they got, and that it has nothing to do with Donald Trump.” 

gettyimages-963634044Trump has been using his bully pulpit – with an accent on the word “bully” – to make wild claims that President Obama ordered the FBI to spy on his campaign. But in the days after that May 24 meeting, Congressman Gowdy has been busy throwing cold water on Trump’s spurious “Spygate” claims.

Undeterred by the facts, as usual, Trump insisted during a rally in Nashville last night that his campaign had been “infiltrated” by the FBI under Obama – as his Trumpist minions in the audience booed lustily.

But Gowdy has stated that the FBI is only following Trump’s own orders by investigating his campaign’s ties to Russia. “President Trump himself in the Comey memos said, ‘If anyone connected with my campaign was working with Russia, I want you to investigate it.’ Sounds to me like that was exactly what the FBI did.”

giulianiGowdy’s refutation of Trump’s “Spygate” bullshit hasn’t stopped the Mango Mussolini from continuing his Goebbels-like assault on the truth. He and his bug-eyed TV lawyer Rudy Giuliani have doubled down on their “Spygate” lies – and aren’t likely to stop.

So, what are we to make of Trump as this point? Even when a loyal member of his own party goes on FOX News to tell the truth – Trump clings to (and amplifies) his disproven lies.

Is Trump just a cynical serial liar? Or is he something even worse: a delusional despot for whom the truth is whatever he wants to believe? Whatever works for him.

Either way, Trump is a clear and present danger to our democracy.

We need many more Republicans to have moments of honesty like Trey Gowdy, who has also said of Trump’s anti-Mueller antics, “When you are innocent — act like it.” Screen Shot 2018-05-30 at 2.07.15 PM

We need more bipartisan candor in both houses of Congress – and a big turnout for Democrats in the upcoming midterms!

And, by the way, Kim Kardashian made a visit to the White House today. We’re told she was there to discuss prison reform with Trump.

Somehow, that doesn’t make me feel any better.rs_1024x759-180530141224-1024-kim-kardashian-white-house-053018

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Amid “Roseanne” Fallout, USA Cancels “Trump”

USA FINALLY SAYS, “YOU’RE FIRED!”

Following ABC’s swift decision to cancel its hit series “Roseanne” in the wake of a firestorm over racist Tweets by the show’s star, Roseanne Barr – USA moved quickly to stop production on “Trump”, the absurdist political tragi-comedy which launched to mixed reviews in the Fall of 2016.

roseanne-2018-tv-show-cast-episodes-wikiUnlike “Roseanne” — which drew 18.2 million viewers for its debut in March 2018 and established itself as ABC’s highest-rated and most watched new series of the 2017-18 season – “Trump” had suffered from historically poor ratings from the outset.

GettyImages-491877616.0.0Savaged by the critics, “Trump” relied on relatively strong numbers among its core demographics: poorly educated whites (ages 50-105), white evangelicals (ages 45-Rapture) and racists and xenophobes of all ages.

“Roseanne” was a re-boot of Ms. Barr’s popular blue-collar family sitcom, which ran from 1988 to 1997. “Trump” was the unlikely spinoff of “The Apprentice”, the NBC reality competition series in which Donald Trump played a business mogul who knew how to run a successful organization.

2-200Trump became famous for whittling down the contestants by firing one of them at the end of every episode. “You’re fired” became its host’s trademark line.

Now, ironically, “Tump” has been fired by USA.

Unlike the format of “The Apprentice”, which required its host to project an image of an executive endowed with high business acumen, core competency, wisdom and intelligence, “Trump” turned that model on its head. In “Trump”, Donald Trump’s petty, vulgar and narcissistic “President Trump” character lurched from one chaotic episode after another, displaying none of the admirable executive qualities he’d shown in NBC’s long-running reality series.

gettyimages-617806568Though Trump still fired one or more employees at the end of every episode, the “Trump” series format was confused and convoluted — made even more so by a drawn-out subplot in which Trump was investigated for various sinister activities ranging from money laundering and paying hush-money to porn stars and Playboy bunnies to conspiring with Russian agents to steal the 2016 election. Though these plot twists made headlines, they failed to lift his sagging ratings beyond his core demo of greedy sociopaths, hypocritical self-styled Evangelicals and angry, aggrieved white people.

Trumpy 2In a statement announcing the cancellation, USA noted that “’Trump’ was never a ratings winner, but we hoped that it would improve over time and widen its appeal to a larger, more inclusive audience. It failed to do so.” Left unspoken but resoundingly clear in USA’s statement was the fact that “Trump” attracted a negligible audience among blacks, Latinos, and other minorities – nor was it a hit with large majorities of women, educated whites and religious people with a moral conscience.

trump-cabinet-insiders-outsiders-millionaires-1480717606838-facebookJumbo-v2USA’s statement went on to say that, “Over its less than two-year run, “Trump” presented an increasingly skeptical public with a revolving cast of ever more bizarre characters and outrageous plot lines that defied credulity and provoked confusion and disgust among the wider audience we had hoped the series might someday attract.”

USA insiders say that the final nail in the “Trump” coffin may have been driven in by its titular star’s recent Tweet wishing Americans a “Happy Memorial Day!”

Said one USA executive who spoke on background, “That ham-handed, insulting Tweet represents the kind of lousy writing, poor editorial judgment, low character, and hostility toward American norms of decency, dignity and honesty that ultimately doomed “Trump”.

For some inexplicable reason, USA plans to run the remaining episodes of “Trump” until the mid-term elections in November 2018.

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Exclusive: First Draft of Trump’s Follow-Up Letter to Kim Jong-Un.

slack_imgs_9Trump’s sudden cancellation of his proposed June 12 nuclear summit with North Korea’s despotic leader Kim Jong-Un caught just about everyone — including our South Korean allies — by surprise. Perhaps the most surprising aspect of Trump’s about-face on the summit was the tone of his letter informing Kim of his decision.

Now, I’m in possession of the first draft of a follow-up letter that Trump is planning to send to Kim Jong-Un. Don’t ask me how I acquired this 3-page, handwritten draft — after, all it’s a very leaky White House. The letter speaks for itself.

 

 

 

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An Exclusive Interview with Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller III.

As President Trump pumps out Tweet after shameless, petty Tweet and his TV lawyer Ruby Giuliani lies outrageously on any show that will give him a microphone – the American body politic is left to wonder, “What would Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller say?”

In recent weeks, Trump and his mob have launched a campaign to discredit Mueller and his investigation – but standing placidly amid the faux outrage and bombast, the man fixed in the dead center of Trump’s target has remained silent. Owing to his sense of duty, propriety and professionalism – the veteran U.S. Marine officer and former FBI Director Robert Mueller III has kept quiet.

Until now.

Unknown-6I was stunned when my iPhone buzzed this morning at 7:00 AM ET. I was expecting a call from my pool maintenance guy to say what time he was coming over to fix the light bulb in my hot tub – so imagine my surprise when it was the Special Prosecutor himself!

Mr. Mueller explained that he enjoyed my recent blog post on a hike my wife and I made in Yellowstone National Park  – and that he needed to let off some steam without winding up on the front page of The New York Times. I wasn’t entirely sure it was a compliment when he told me that he was certain nothing I wrote on my blog was going to make headlines anywhere.

Unknown-3Mueller didn’t have much time to chat. He, Rod Rosenstein and Christopher Wray had to leave shortly for a breakfast meeting with Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Of course, Mueller told me, they can’t really talk about anything with Sessions because (A) he’s recused himself from the Trump investigation, (B) he’s likely to leak info to Trump and (C) they suspect he’s angry because he’s lost his magic powers and can’t remember where he buried his pot of gold. You can’t trust a bitter ex-leprechaun.

Unknown-4In the short time we talked, Mueller got a number of things off his chest.

He said I could ask him anything I wanted.

What follows is a transcript of our phone call.

ME: You’re getting a lot of pressure to wrap up your investigation…

MUELLER: Hold on, what do you mean by pressure?

ME: You know. Giuliani and the President are waging a campaign to discredit you…

MUELLER: (Laughs) Oh, that? You call that pressure? I’ll tell you what pressure is – and Donny Bone Spurs has no clue – but pressure is trying to keep a squad of young soldiers alive when you’re waist deep in a muddy rice paddy taking incoming fire from an enemy you can’t see. That’s pressure. This is no deadly jungle firefight. I can see Trump and his impotent bullies coming a mile away. Nothing they say affects me.

ME: But it does seem to affect public opinion.

MUELLER: That’s not my concern. I’m not hosting a popularity contest – I’m running a criminal investigation. Facts matter to me. I don’t give a rat’s ass for anyone’s opinion. And certainly not a flack like Sean Hannity or a soulless, Mephistophelean mouthpiece like Kellyanne Conway. Funny. Her husband actually sounds like an intelligent guy. That’s a real odd couple there.

ME: But what do you say to those who complain that your investigation has gone on too long and has spent too many taxpayer dollars?

MUELLER: You mean what do I say to my fellow Republicans who say that?

ME: Oh, that’s right, you are a Republican.

MUELLER: Have been all my life. So are Rod Rosenstein and Chris Wray. We’re rock-ribbed members of the Grand Old Party. Accent on “Old”.

ME: So, are your fellow Republicans correct? Is it time to wrap this thing up?

MUELLER: First of all, not every Republican wants to end this investigation. There are still quite a few in Congress who want to see it play out and justice be done.

And between you and me — many of my fellow Republicans won’t say it publically, but they’d love to have me indict Trump and his whole White House mafia so I’ll rid them of the disaster they helped to create.

Secondly, let’s dispense with this bullshit about how long my investigation is taking. Does anyone remember Whitewater? That took more than 5 years. Never heard any GOP flacks complain about that. Benghazi? Please. That shit show ran longer than the Watergate probe. And those idiots in the House Freedom Caucus still want to investigate Benghazi some more! And how about “Uranium One?” It’s madness! Those ginned-up, penny-ante cases are nothing compared to my investigation. We’re trying to get to the bottom of how a hostile foreign power managed to meddle in an American Presidential election.

ME: I see, but…

MUELLER: I mean, Putin and agents of the Russian government fucked with our most scared democratic process! They even tried to hack into our voting systems. That should set my fellow Republicans’ hair on fire. And when I get done, they’ll want to set Trump’s hair on fire, too. What a blaze that’ll be! Not since I saw napalm in Vietnam…

ME: But Trump and Giuliani are certain you haven’t found any evidence of collusion.

MUELLER: Collusion? I don’t give a fig about collusion. I’m running down a conspiracy: a criminal conspiracy. And it’s a big case.

It’s like a vast all-you-can-eat buffet. There’s so much perjury, malfeasance, chicanery, money laundering, petty grifting, influence peddling, and conspiracy to defraud the American electorate that you simply can’t pile it all on your plate. You can’t digest it all in one meal. If I tried to ingest this immense, illegal feast all at once – I’d explode like Mr. Creosote in Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life.

ME: What about Trump and his allies calling for an investigation of the origin of your investigation?

MUELLER: I could care less. This probe started long before I took charge of it. It began because our brilliant and patriotic intelligence community learned that folks working on the Trump campaign had all sorts of sordid contacts with Russian oligarchs, the Russian government, Wikileaks and, possibly, Putin himself.

ME: Putin?

MUELLER: Trump’s mysterious man crush.

ME: Okay. Trump’s relationship to Putin is notably homoerotic – but let’s stay on point…

MUELLER: And your point is…?

ME: Are you going to indict President Trump for conspiracy with the Russians to manipulate the vote in the 2016 elections?

MUELLER: Certainly. Eventually. And a whole lot of other things, including that crazy sale of his Florida mansion to some Russian for a half-million more than it was worth.

ME: Well, when?

MUELLER: Look. Here’s the thing. Because of what Comey did during the last Presidential election, I have to be careful. I can’t make any kind of public statement that might affect the mid-term elections.

ME: You can’t?

MUELLER: No. Think about it. If before this year’s critical midterms, I laid out the litany of crimes that I intended to charge Trump and his mendacious mob with — there wouldn’t be a Republican elected dogcatcher outside of Wyoming and the Dakotas.

ME: Would that be so bad?

MUELLER: That’s not my call. I’m not about politics. I’m not about public opinion. I’m all about the law.

ME: Is there any way you can tell us more about what you already know? Must we rely on Michael Avenatti to keep us informed?

MUELLER: I love Avenatti! I wish I could be like Mike!

ME: Really?

MUELLER: Of course! Mike’s a bull in the china shop. I can’t behave that way. But without giving away the whole game, I’m sure he and I will end up in the same place.

ME: Are you saying that President Trump and his minions are guilty?

MUELLER: Guilty of what?

ME: Of criminal conspiracy and everything else!

imagesMUELLER: I can’t reveal that information. It’s classified. Let’s just say that Trump and his lying legions will ultimately be connected to a Russian conspiracy to screw with the 2016 Presidential election.

ME: Wow!

MUELLER: And to make money and effect policy during – and after — the campaign.

ME: That should be revolutionary!

MUELLER: It should be. But it may not be.

ME: Why not?

images-2MUELLER: Because the end of this legal drama is up to the American people. I may or may not be able to indict Trump (there’s this whole Presidential thing) – but even if the Supreme Court says I can’t indict Trump – the Congress can impeach him. This government is yours. You can let your representative know that Trump should be impeached,

Donald Trump is a cheap criminal. And I’ve got the goods on him — in spades. I can’t wait to bring the hammer down on this un-Presidential prick.

ME: You don’t sound very objective…

MUELLER: I’m completely objective.

ME: So, do we American lovers of democracy have anything to fear in the near future?

MUELLER: A low turnout in the midterms.

ME: Why so?

MUELLER: Because, you liberal morons, if you don’t elect a Democratic majority in the House, they’ll never impeach Trump — let alone convict him in the Senate.

ME: Oh….

MUELLER: Sorry, I’ve gotta go. Jeff wants to push our breakfast meeting by a half hour (he’s texting Trump) – and move it from Denny’s Diner to the nearest Waffle House.

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A Glorious Hike in Yellowstone Park

IMG_5707My intrepid and indomitable wife Victoria and I traveled to Yellowstone National Park in August of 2017 (just before the total eclipse) and hit the many wonderful trails with gusto.IMG_5449

We enjoyed our walks through the various geyser basins – making sure to get up at the crack of dawn and arrive at each of these phenomenal landscapes early in the morning.

In the lonely morning quiet, we could appreciate the eerie, awesome geothermal sights and sounds — before the inevitable onslaught of loud, excited tourists.

We also loved our hikes in the fabulous areas beyond the amazing geyser basins – especially the day we hiked the south rim of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River.

We expected to experience one particular hike – but fate intervened – and we had to embark upon another. But we were, delightfully, not disappointed.

Here’s our account of the hike we were able to take that day…

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The Times They Are A Changin’…

Scenes from the March For Our Lives in Los Angeles, to the tune of Bob Dylan’s classic protest song: as relevant today as it was when it was released on January 13, 1964.

Come gather ’round people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown…IMG_6418And accept it that soon
You’ll be drenched to the bone…IMG_6419
If your time to you
Is worth savin’
Then you better start swimmin’
Or you’ll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin’.IMG_6423Come writers and critics
Who prophesize with your pen
And keep your eyes wide
The chance won’t come again…IMG_6425
And don’t speak too soon
For the wheel’s still in spin…IMG_6428
And there’s no tellin’ who
That it’s namin’
For the loser now
Will be later to win
For the times they are a-changin’.IMG_6429Come senators, congressmen
Please heed the call
Don’t stand in the doorway
Don’t block up the hall…IMG_6430
For he that gets hurt
Will be he who has stalled
For the battle outside ragin’…IMG_6434
Will soon shake your windows
And rattle your walls
For the times they are a-changin’.IMG_6438Come mothers and fathers
Throughout the land
And don’t criticize
What you can’t understand…IMG_6439
Your sons and your daughters
Are beyond your command….

Your old road is
Rapidly agin’
Please get out of the new one
If you can’t lend your hand
For the times they are a-changin’.IMG_6443The line it is drawn
The curse it is cast
The slowest one now
Will later be fast…IMG_6446
As the present now
Will later be past…IMG_6447
The order is
Rapidly fadin’…IMG_6451
And the first one now
Will later be last
For the times they are a-changin’.IMG_6453

 

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