I’d love to see King James come home to the Best Location in the Nation.
And then I’d like to see Dan Gilbert publicly eat that letter of his at center court!
I’d love to see King James come home to the Best Location in the Nation.
And then I’d like to see Dan Gilbert publicly eat that letter of his at center court!
Okay, I’ll be honest. I’ve neglected my blog for most of this year.
Last year, inspired by the exciting political pageant of the Presidential Election and touring with my very funny wife in our comedy revue, I was posting an article on something or other once or twice a week.
This year I’ve barely eked out one or two posts a month.
So, why is that?
I could lay the blame for my sporadic blogging on a number of factors.
Since the show began airing in early June, I’ve too often fallen into the trap of following the catty back and forth sniping on the Pretty Wicked Moms Facebook page: hours of online time lost to a guilty pleasure.
Eva’s graduation was the culmination of a months-long, celebratory parade of proms, dress fittings, awards night, a baccalaureate mass — and finally, a commencement ceremony resplendent with white gowns and red roses.
I could blame my poor posting on the fact that my daughter Emilia graduated from college on June 21st. That proud and wonderful occasion took us to Evanston, Illinois for a week of moving events: some were emotionally moving and some involved actual moving.
Emilia was leaving her apartment, so all of her belongings had to be boxed up by mom and dad and her furniture – including two cumbersome couches — hauled out of her second-floor unit and trucked back to her aunt’s house on the South Side, nearly 50 miles away. Luckily, I was aided in these exertions by Robert Rashid: an athletic 20-something friend of the family.
We all recovered in time for a glorious weekend of parties, toasts, beloved friends, commencement ceremonies and receptions. Then it was time to lug several heavy suitcases stuffed with our daughter’s college detritus to O’Hare Airport for the flight home.
Following the fortunes of Blake Griffin, Chris Paul and company became a near obsession and, were it not for my wife’s infinite patience and understanding, my basketball jones might easily have caused domestic discord.
I could also blame my failure to faithfully blog on the fact that my favorite NBA team, The Miami Heat, won their second straight NBA Championship. I’m one of those rare native Clevelanders who has remained a LeBron James fan – so watching the Heat’s progress from their 27-game regular season winning streak through their dramatic, buzzer-beating odyssey in the playoffs consumed many of my evenings from January to June.
But distracting and demanding as all of these events have been, I can’t truly blame any of them for my lack of attention to this blog.
The fact is that politics and current events have become maddening – and seeing how important stories (and totally bullshit stories) are covered in the mainstream media makes me want to scream. The daily, mind-bending inanity of the network talking heads – especially those employed by the incredible, shrinking CNN – has gotten the best of me.
I’ve been too intellectually and emotionally exhausted to shout down the unrelenting, inexorable stupidity and vapidity of mainstream television and newspaper reportage. So, I’ve focused on the things I can actually control: my professional life, my family life – and the NBA Playoffs.
However, now that high school and college diplomas – and the Larry O’Brien Trophy – have been handed out, I’ve gotten my second wind. And now it’s time to let off some steam on a variety of topics that have dominated the news so far this year…
The Snowden Affair
Were any of us really and truly surprised to learn the vast extent to which our government was collecting information on us? What do Americans think the Patriot Act was all about back in 2001?
It was like watching some absurdist comedy to hear all those earnest voices in the press and on Capitol Hill react to Snowden’s leak as though he was finally shining a spotlight on something shocking and heretofore unknown.
Didn’t anyone in the White House press corps or on Republican congressional staffs – or reporters working for a CNN or CBS or ABC news show or website – ever bother to read the many articles written for Truthout, Common Dreams, Daily Kos, The Nation or Talking Points Memo about the vast information gathering network being assembled by General Michael Hayden, Director of the National Security Agency from 1999 to 2005?
That anyone in America thinks Snowden’s revelations are shocking proves what a miserable job mainstream media does of informing the public. In fact, we can only assume that public enlightenment is not big media’s true purpose. Keeping us entertained between advertisements is what they’re really all about.
However, when we sit down on the couch to watch Pretty Wicked Moms, we know we’re just being entertained. Yet, we expect that serious looking, gravely intoning Wolf Blitzer is truly giving us the news from The Situation Room. Let us disabuse ourselves of that quaint notion. Ted Turner is gone. Peter Arnett is gone. Walter Cronkite is gone. And Wolf Blitzer has not replaced them.
As for Mr. Snowden, I’m not sure how big a hero he is. I’m glad he stirred the pot with his leak – but his flight to Hong Kong and then to Moscow is curious at best. How does a person who portrays himself as a champion of openness and transparency in government find himself seeking refuge in China and Russia? Now, that’s a conundrum I’d like to see Wolf Blitzer puzzle out in his fuzzy, constipated brain.
The Trayvon Martin Affair
My bottom line is this: if George Zimmerman isn’t armed with a gun, he doesn’t have the balls to approach Trayvon Martin in the first place.
Zimmerman’s deadly, concealed weapon gave an average guy with a hero complex the false courage to pretend that he was some kind of vigilante crime fighter. I’m almost surprised George didn’t dress up in a “Kick Ass” hero costume. Zimmerman was playing out a macho fantasy – with tragic results.
I don’t care who had the upper hand in the fight that preceded the fatal gunshot. Zimmerman on top or Trayvon on top – it doesn’t matter to me.
Why not? Think about it.
Imagine if it was okay to end every fistfight, bar brawl or dustup at a nightclub by shooting the other guy with a gun. I got into my share of fights when I was a kid, some when I was a teen. But, lucky for me, none of the guys I got the upper hand on decided to quickly even the odds with a handgun. If Zimmerman is such a macho man – why did he need a gun to defeat a 17-year old kid?
I believe it’s sound practice not to pick a fight you can’t win without shooting somebody.
Neighborhood watch citizen volunteers should not be armed. I don’t remember the old lady next door on Spokane Avenue coming out at night – packing a rod or not — to confront suspicious people in the street. She called the cops. That’s what amateur crime fighters should do: call in the trained professionals. George Zimmerman should have called the police and let it go at that — as he was directed to do by the emergency operator.
Alas, I do think the local prosecutors overcharged Zimmerman with second-degree murder due to public pressure. Manslaughter would have been a more appropriate charge. And I’m not sure whether under Florida law the jury can find him guilty of the lesser charge. (I hope they can.) But, whatever the verdict, it’s a pathetic tragedy: yet another bad situation made far worse by a gun.
The Obama Scandals
Benghazi-gate? IRS-gate? Reporter-gate? And now Snowden-gate?
Am I shocked that American embassy personnel were killed in a hotspot like revolutionary Libya? And am I surprised to learn that the Obama administration was careful about how they dealt with the aftermath? The answer is no.
But does the fact that U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice went on the Sunday talk shows to recite carefully-worded (and somewhat inaccurate) talking points pale in comparison to the bald lies that Vice President Cheney and National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice peddled on those very same Sunday shows to dupe our nation into war? The answer is a clear and emphatic yes. Then there’s this:
I’m also not shocked that the Internal Revenue Service would do its job by scrutinizing alleged non-profit organizations on the right or left. And now it turns out the IRS wasn’t just going after right wing Tea Party groups — it was looking into organizations on the left as well. (Though you won’t see that in a screaming banner headline on FOX News or scrolling by on the CNN crawl.)
Besides, why shouldn’t the government agency charged by Congress with collecting our taxes investigate whether radical groups dedicated to avoiding taxes — and ultimately abolishing the IRS — truly qualify for the tax breaks granted to non-profit organizations?
I’m not thrilled that the Obama administration went after the Associated Press to find the source of government leaks. I’d like to see Attorney General Eric Holder as aggressive going after white-collar criminals on Wall Street as he is putting the screws to reporters to reveal their sources. (And, while I’m compiling my Justice Department wish list, I’d like Holder to lay off the medicinal pot clinics in California, too.)
In a post 9-11 world I can understand a heightened sensitivity to security leaks. But while I’d love it if “reporter-gate” would inspire our political leaders to have a serious debate over national security, government transparency and freedom of the press, I don’t hold out much hope that a wingnut like House Government Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa will do anything more than hold a series of show trials in hopes of driving down Obama’s poll numbers heading into next year’s mid-term elections.
The mainstream media loves these pseudo scandals du jour. It’s clear they’d would rather not cover something truly scandalous – like the environmental catastrophe revealed in a stunning International Energy Agency report on June 10th that said:
Global emissions of carbon dioxide from energy use rose 1.4 percent to 31.6 gigatons in 2012, setting a record and putting the planet on course for temperature increases well above international climate goals, the International Energy Agency said in a report scheduled to be issued Monday.
The agency said continuing that pace could mean a temperature increase over pre-industrial times of as much as 5.3 degrees Celsius (9 degrees Fahrenheit), which IEA chief economist Fatih Birol warned “would be a disaster for all countries.”
Wait. What’s that? You haven’t heard about this shocking, absolutely frightening report issued a month ago? The human race is demonstrably on course to destroy itself – and the mainstream media spends it’s time yakking about Obama’s “scandals”, hawking gossip tidbits about Kanye and Kim’s baby, and debating what’s worse: The N word or “cracker”.
On second thought, forget it. She’s not worth the space on this blog. Anyone who thinks it’s fun to have a “plantation style” wedding deserves all the vilification she’s getting. With sugar – and lots of butter – on top.
So, there. I’ve unburdened myself.
Now, let’s see…
Could this be the year we win our first World Series since 1948?
Here I go again…
Okay, last week I admitted that my head was buried in the NBA season as it drove toward the playoffs — and that my favorite teams were the Los Angeles Clippers featuring Blake Griffin and Chris Paul, and the defending NBA Champion Miami Heat, led by LeBron James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh.
Well, on a night like tonight – March 20, 2013 – it’s easy to see why I’m captivated by the drama playing out on the NBA hardwood.
By the time my Western Conference team, The Clippers, walked off the court after trouncing the Philadelphia 76ers at Staples Center in downtown L.A. by 29 points, 101-72 – my Eastern Conference team had already come back from a ridiculous, impossible-to-overcome deficit to earn its 24th consecutive victory.
LeBron James and The Heat were playing The King’s former team, The Cleveland Cavaliers (my hometown franchise). LeBron & Company were behind by 27 points with about 7 minutes left in the third quarter – and still managed to pull out the victory to extend the second-longest winning streak in NBA history, surpassing the 2007-08 Houston Rockets.
With a roaring, rabid, sellout Cleveland crowd of 20,562 taunting their former hometown hero at the foul line — with the game on the line — a cold-blooded LeBron, the reigning NBA MVP, drained two free throws to win the game 98-95.
The moment was ridiculously dramatic. The irony was exquisite. That LeBron should cap such a furious, historic comeback cooly at the foul line was one thing — but that he should do it against the team that he left so infamously a few years ago was the final scene of an almost preposterously perfect script, played by the greatest actor currently performing on an NBA court.
Even though I’m a proud Clevelander, I gotta give props where they’re due.
Now, LeBron and The Heat are within nine games of matching The Los Angeles Lakers’ record of 33 consecutive wins during the 1971-72 season – a mark of excellence once thought to be untouchable.
“This was one of the most bizarre, unique days of my life with everything that happened,” said James, referring to the fact that a fan ran onto the floor, wearing a t-shirt encouraging him to re-sign with Cleveland next year. “It also was one of the best comebacks I’ve ever been a part of. The streak wasn’t on my mind, but us getting blown out was.”
LeBron, of course, scored a triple-double — with 25 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists.
ESPN just informed me that in the long history of the NBA — in games where a team was behind by 23 points or more at halftime — the team that was losing lost the game more than 2,000 times.
And only a dozen of them hung on to win the game.
What a wild, historic night.
I have to admit that after the exhausting, exhilarating and ultimately victorious contest that was the hotly contested 2012 Presidential Election. I’m taking a breather from politics to immerse myself in the NBA Basketball season.
Though I’m paying close attention to the Papal Conclave, the Sequester melodrama, Rand Paul’s drone strike filibuster, the Chuck Hagel affair, Paul Ryan’s continuing budgetary impudence — and everything else that Lawrence O’Donnell is covering on MSNBC — the fact is, I don’t have much disposable time.
Between my day-to-day work in television, writing The New Vic & Paul Show with my hilarious wife, the imminent graduations of my two younger daughters (Eva from Louisville High School in May and Emilia from Northwestern University in June) — and trying to develop some new TV shows to pay for it all, I have scant time for recreation and vicarious emotional release.
That’s where the Miami Heat and the Los Angeles Clippers fill the bill.
Let’s be clear. I am not a front-runner. Never have been.
As a Cleveland native and Cavaliers fan since the days of Austin Carr in the Cleveland Arena during my grade school years, I was nonetheless completely supportive of LeBron James’ move to join Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh with the Miami Heat.
After seven years of servitude under an owner who surrounded The King with nothing better than Mo Williams and Antawn Jamison, LeBron had a right to pursue a championship in Miami.
So, in the East, I am rooting for LeBron James and The Heat.
In the West, my preferences are just as personal and idiosyncratic.
After spending my post-Northwestern University, early adulthood in Chicago in the 1980’s, I was a Michael Jordan and Bulls fan who had just moved to Los Angeles in 1991 — when Air Jordan and the Bulls defeated The “Showtime” Lakers for the first of six NBA titles. If I had any money at all that June, I could have made a mint betting against all the overconfident Lakers fans I watched those NBA finals with.
Despite living in Los Angeles, I was never really a Lakers fan. I loved former Chicago Bulls coach Phil Jackson – and I hated Bulls owner Reinsdorf and his General Manager, Jerry “players don’t win championships, organizations do” Krause. But while I celebrated The Zen Master’s success with The Lakers, I could never embrace Kobe Bryant, despite his incandescent talent.
So, like Billy Crystal, I turned my attention to the underdog Los Angeles Clippers. I enjoyed the rise of The Clippers during the Elton Brand/Chris Kaman era – but, in the past two years, my devotion to The Clippers has been repaid with interest.
This year, The Clippers have been the greatest show in the NBA. “Lob City” has been a nonstop showcase of team play, dazzling, high-flying dunks, aggressive, larcenous defense – and the deepest bench in the NBA. Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, Chauncey Billups, Caron Butler, DeAndre Jordan – and super subs Jamal Crawford, Matt Barnes and Eric Bledsoe have raised expectations for what The Clippers can do in the NBA playoffs.
After that, I’ll get back to what really matters.
But, boy oh boy – would I love to see LeBron James go one-on-one with Paul Ryan…
He’s a professional basketball player who wants to win and be remembered as the best to play the game. That’s a tall order, and yet he’s one of the very few with the physical gifts, youth and talent to potentially eclipse the legendary legacies of Wilt, Russell, Oscar, Bird, Kareem, Magic, MJ and, yes, Kobe. So, as an unestricted free agent, having sized up his chances for multiple NBA championships with the Cavaliers in Cleveland, LeBron has chosen to move on. So be it.
After all, LeBron already did the Hometown Hero thing. Born in nearby Akron, LeBron went to Cleveland to start his career when he could have pulled some kind of “I won’t sign” stunt to avoid it. (Others certainly have.) And he brought a lot of excitement to Cleveland: 7 seasons with no behind-the-scenes demands to be traded, no belittling of his teammates, or any of that negative superstar prima donna crap. That’s why Cavs fans loved him. It wasn’t just his points, assists, rebounds, and come-from-behind shot-blocking — it was his behavior as a relatively-solid citizen.
I don’t know what happened against the Celtics in the playoffs. How can you go from blowing the Celtics out in Boston to being unable to win anther game? (I’ve heard ALL the rumors.) But, now that the NBA playoffs are over, it’s obvious the Celtics were better than any of us thought they were at the end of the regular season. That collection of veteran all-stars took The Lakers to Game 7. Maybe, just maybe — all the locker room rumors notwithstanding — the Celtics were still the better team.
A player the caliber of LeBron James deserves his shot at winning multiple titles. That wasn’t happening in Cleveland. Am I disappointed? Yes, of course, I am. Do I feel betrayed? Not at all. The bitter Cavs owner, Dan Gilbert, says LeBron quit during the playoffs. He’s crying out loud in an open letter about LeBron’s lack of loyalty. Hey, Dan! You just fired a head coach and GM who won more games in the last two seasons than anybody else in the NBA. Stuff your indignation. Perhaps Gilbert’s fit of pissy pique is an inside glimpse at yet another factor in LeBron’s decision to exit the Cavs. Dan Gilbert owns the Cavs. He doesn’t own LeBron James.
As for “The Decision” and all the pomp, pageantry and ESPN schmaltz that attended it? If the media and fans dub somebody “King James”, don’t be shocked when he behaves like royalty. I, for one, will be rooting for my Cavs and for LeBron James and The Miami Heat. (I’ve always liked D. Wade.) But if the Cavs and Heat match up in the playoffs, I’ll be rooting for LeBron to remain ring-less. That would be a great story.
Oh yeah, now about those two wars we’re fighting and that oily problem in the Gulf…