10 Thoughts for the Week of November 15, 2020

1. MARK ESPER FIRED

The week started off with President Trump firing Secretary of Defense Mark Esper. Esper had disagreed publicly with Trump about sending troops to control protests in American cities back in June. Maybe he refused to send troops to enforce Trump’s imaginary win.

2. DOJ VOTER FRAUD OFFICIAL RESIGNS

The Justice Department’s election crimes chief resigned this week when Attorney General, Bill Barr, changed the department’s policy allowing US attorneys to probe alleged election fraud prior to the results being certified. John Pilger, who was awarded the DOJ’s John C. Keeney Award for Exceptional Integrity and Professionalism, could not be involved in the baseless challenges to the election results.

This seems like another attempt by Bill Barr to take Rudy Guiliani’s place as President Trump’s personal attorney.

3. FIGHTING POLL TAXES

In the state of Florida, a convicted felon cannot vote once he has served his time in prison until they pay whatever fines they owe the state. Earlier the Supreme Court of the United States affirmed that this rule was constitutional.

With the help of Michael Jordan, Lebron James and Michael Bloomberg, 13,000 for the 40,000 felons unable to vote in Florida had their fees paid. That was a great investment and it is good to see these guys step-up to make a difference in the election.

4. N.L. MVP

Freddie Freeman was named the National League Most Valuable Player on Thursday. Mookie Betts was second in voting. Freeman was deserving of the award. However playoffs have a way of making everyone question the results. When Charles Barkley or Karl Malone won the MVP, they faced Michael Jordan and the Bulls; where Jordan always looked like the MVP. Lebron James had done the same thing to Stephen Curry. Curry and the Warriors got to do the same thing to James Harden.

This happened again in the National League Championship Series where Freeman played well, but Betts did the things and made the plays that won the series for the Dodgers. In the words of Kevin Durant “you the real MVP”.

5. CORI BUSH AND BREONNA TAYLOR

Cori Bush, from Ferguson, Missouri and BLM activist, was elected to Congress last week. She showed up to her first day at work wearing a mask with Breonna Taylor’s name on it. Many of her Republican colleagues believed her name was Breonna Taylor. This may be an innocent mistake with some other name, but a public official does not know who Breonna Taylor is.

6. ISAIAH THOMAS AND THE GOAT

Isaiah Thomas has always been a hater of Michael Jordan. He has taken his hateration to a new level. He claimed that Jordan was the fifth toughest player he ever faced. His list was

  1. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
  2. Magic Johnson
  3. Larry Bird
  4. Julius Erving
  5. Michael Jordan

All those guys were great competitors but it seems like Isaiah went out of his way to make sure Jordan was not #1 on the list. The funny thing about the list is Thomas never had to guard these guys. His qualification of “tough” may be different than what I think of tough.

7. THE WEEKEND FOR THE SUPER BOWL HALFTIME SHOW

The Weekend has been tapped to perform during halftime of the Super Bowl. I like his music but I am not sure he is ready for that kind of show. One of my favorite halftime shows was Bruno Mars. I wouldn’t even mind if he performed the same show. The thing about men performing is we don’t gawk about their appearance.

8. RICHARD MARX IS PROTESTING THE ELECTION

With all the drama surrounding the presidential election, I decided to put some comic relief up. Richard Marx was totally robbed by Michael Bolton.

9. USC v. UofA

USC pulled out another late game victory again. They were not impressive until the last seven minutes of the game. Most fans are frustrated …I am just glad they keep winning.

10. PLAY OF THE WEEK – HAIL MARY

Had to end with this amazing catch.

10 Thoughts for the Week of November 8, 2020

1. 2020 ELECTION DAY #1

The most important presidential election in my lifetime took place this week. The much anticipated event. It was super crazy! The polls had Biden with a significant lead. With all that happened in 2016, it was hard to believe any prediction or poll.

I started watching the results, flipping between MSNBC and Fox News, at 4pm. The first hour was exciting and seemed to go with the flow of the polls. Biden was jumping out to leads states he was supposed to have no chance in. Then there were the next couple of hours where all the live voting results were giving Trump a lead. At the end of the night there was no final result and predictions the results would change as the mail in ballots were counted.

 

2. PROTESTERS FOR TRUMP

As the results started to turn in favor of Biden, Trump and his supporters began to protest to stop counting the votes in states he was winning and keep on counting in states he was losing. I am all for protesting, but let’s just be consistent.

3. 2020 ELECTION DAY #4

Friday morning, I woke up and Biden was leading in Pennsylvania and Georgia. There was nothing official yet, but there was something inevitable happening. I found great pleasure in John Lewis’s district being the one that delivered Georgia to Biden. I doubled my pleasure with John McCain’s home state of Arizona kicking Trump in the balls.

4. STEVE KORNACKI’S BROWN PANTS

Steve Kornacki, whom I preferred over CNN’s John King, worked the results board. Maybe I have bad feelings from watching everything go down on John King’s board in 2016.

 

5. MARK MEADOWS HAS COVID

While the White House did everything it could to hide it, President Trump’s chief of staff, Mark Meadows, contracted COVID. There were four other White House employees who tested positive as well. One of the most important locations in the free world is COVID spawner.

6. 2020 ELECTION DAY #5

Saturday morning, while I was watching the USC game (more on that later), there was an alert across the bottom of the screen notifying the general public that Joe Biden was officially the president-elect. Then,as the day unfolded I saw more and more celebrations all over the country. I cannot recall if people celebrated like this when Trump won four years ago or when Obama won twelve years ago.

There was a collective relief that comes from knowing that in two months politics will resemble some kind of normalcy. Each day won’t bring the next outrageous thing the president did.

 

7. COLORADO JOINS THE POPULAR VOTE COMPACT

On Election Day, the people of Colorado decided they were done with the Electoral College. They joined the Popular Vote Compact where each state in the compact commits to giving their electoral votes to the presidential candidate who wins the national popular vote. The states in the compact make up 190 of the 270 electoral votes need for the compact to go in to effect.

8. GEORGE GASCON DEFEATS JACKIE LACEY

George Gascon became the District Attorney elect of Los Angeles on Election Day. He defeated Jackie Lacey (I hate voting against black women) who had more than 600 police shootings while she was district attorney. Only one police officer was convicted of a crime. When you have numbers like that, you gotta go.

 

9. ROCK & ROLL HALL OF FAME

Over the weekend, Whitney Houston and the Notorious B.I.G. were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. While I don’t think of rock & roll when I think of these two, it is a crazy coincidence they are going in posthumously.

 

 

10. ARIZONA STATE vs USC

The #20 USC Trojans barely won on Saturday against the ASU Sun Devils. The Trojans were trailing by thirteen points with less than three minutes left.

They came through down the stretch with the help of a successful onside kick. There is an argument for the first game of the season rust. The defense looked like it hadn’t been hitting the way it needed to in order to be ready for a game. A championship team gets one of these games in a season. Let’s see if USC used theirs up too early.

 

 

10 Thoughts for the Week of November 1, 2020

1. DODGERS WIN THE WORLD SERIES

The 60-game season and bubble playoffs of Major League Baseball concluded with the Los Angeles Dodgers being crowned the champions. Corey Seager was deservedly the MVP of the Series. It was an entertaining and stressful series. This was the first one since 1988.

I have had a surreal feeling about the Dodgers win but I was not as elated as I thought I would be. The Dodgers were hands down the best team in baseball and winning the World Series was more of an expectation than an achievement. Maybe I was used to my own annual expression of disappointment the team couldn’t reach the mountaintop.

My only point of reference for championship feelings are the Lakers of the 2000’s and the Pete Carroll USC Trojans. I was far more elated for those championships. I think because those teams always had a finiteness to it. There was always a free agent or draft eligible junior whose absence could make it very difficult to repeat the championship.

The Dodgers do not have that problem. They are loaded to compete for championships for the next three to five years…at least.

 

2. JUSTIN TURNER TESTS POSITIVE FOR COVID

A strange thing that happened during Game 6 of the World Series is Justin Turner was pulled from the game in the eighth inning. It was later disclosed he tested positive for COVID. I find it strange the results were only discovered in the eighth inning. I guess I wrongly assumed that a player would have to test negative before he would be allowed to play in the game.

I was definitely uncomfortable seeing Turner on the field celebrating. I am just going to throw the MLB under the bus for not doing their job before the game. Maybe they knew but they didn’t do anything until they were pretty certain the Dodgers were going to win. Maybe they didn’t want to postpone the World Series to quarantine the players.

3. KEVIN CASH’S DECISION NOT MAKE MONEY

During Game 6, there was a collective exhale of relief when Kevin Cash took the ball away from Blake Snell. Snell was having one of the best outings in World Series history. He had spent five innings baffling the Dodgers.

While this was unusual for the World Series, this was not unusual for the Rays. Blake Snell had not pitched past the sixth inning all season. Cash trusted his bullpen which, it could be argued, was a big part of their success. The move didn’t hold up when they needed it the most.

Unlike the Dodgers, the Rays aren’t built to get back to the World Series. Their window is closing as they let the team options for their important pieces go.

4. MAIL-IN VOTING

94 million mail-in ballots have been cast so far in the 2020 election. That is two thirds of the number of votes cast in the 2016 election. The state of Texas has received more mail-in ballots than they did votes in 2016.

I think there is a collective fear in out country of our vote getting suppressed in one way or another.

5. MAKE SURE YOU VOTE

I voted…did you?

6. HUNTER BIDEN SEX TAPE

Two weeks ago, Rudy Giuliani claimed he had Hunter Biden’s laptop. He also admitted there was a chance the laptop came from Russian intelligence. The laptop didn’t gain any traction. President Trump tried to bring up Hunter at the last debate. That didn’t gain much traction. The week before the election, a Hunter Biden sextape was discovered in Russia. Boy! These guys are desperate.

7.LIL WAYNE AND TRUMP

Watch out hip-hop heads…the President is coming for you.

He stole from Ice Cube’s Contract with Black America to enhance his Platinum Plan. Last week, 50 Cent backed Trump, but then Chelsea Handler slapped some sense into him and he endorsed Biden.

This week, after meeting with Lil Wayne, who Trump called an activist, social media was ablaze. Wayne complimented Trump for criminal justice reform and the Platinum Plan.

I love the talents of Kanye, Ice Cube, and Lil Wayne, but they are not they guys I look to help me make decisions about the future of the country.

8. TOM BRADY & ANTONIO BROWN

Antonio Brown signed a contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this week. Last we saw him, AB was getting cut by the Raiders and the Patriots. He also had some issues with the law. Not exactly the guy you want on your team, but what Tom Brady wants he gets. They made such a connection during Brown’s short stint with the Patriots that AB is living with Brady so he can learn the playbook.

9. RIP SEAN CONNERY

We lost a great one on Saturday. At the ripe age of 90, his performances are too numerous to name. It’s difficult to lose an actor who has brought so much to the table for so long.

10. TREVOR LAWRENCE TESTS POSITIVE FOR COVID

College football is a very confusing sport. The season has teams starting at different times. Coastal Carolina University is in the AP Top 25. Cincinnati is in the Top 10. USC is ranked #21 and they haven’t played a game yet.

Wisconsin is on quarantine for three weeks.

Trevor Lawrence, the de facto #1 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, tested positive for COVID. Clemson barely beat Boston College last week. This week they travel to #4 Notre Dame and Lawrence’s participation is in doubt. The result of the game will have no bearing on Lawrence’s draft status, but it is hard to say the same for Clemson.

 

 

10 Thoughts For The Week of October 25, 2020

Sorry for the delay getting this post out…I think online learning and too many Zoom meetings caught up with me.

1. LOST BORDER CHILDREN

What has to be the most shocking story of the week is the release of ICE losing track of 545 children who were separated from their parents when they were caught crossing the border. The separation was supposed to be a deterrent for future crossers. A common sense assumption for such a deterrent is a plan to reunite the children with their parents. After all, who would want to be responsible for caging and feeding these kids for a long period of time. Maybe they think losing kids will be a bigger deterrent.

2. PASTORS FOR TRUMP

In a survey of Protestant pastors who plan to vote in the presidential election, more than half intend to vote for Donald Trump. The supposed moral leaders of our country have sold their souls to a real estate shyster to overturn Roe v. Wade. I wish they felt as strongly about criminal justice reform or income disparity. I guess they don’t really know what it means when God says “I desire mercy and not sacrifice.”

3. E. JEAN CARROLL v. TRUMP

This week the Justice Department attempted to defend Donald Trump in a lawsuit filed by E. Jean Carroll. She accused Trump of sexual assault. He called her a liar. She filed a slander and defamation lawsuit claiming calling her a liar damaged her reputation. The Justice Department, which should not be the president’s personal attorney, claims they should represent him because he made the statement as part of his job as president and you cannot sue the government for defamation.

4. RUSSIAN INTELLIGENCE CHARGED WITH HACKING AND ELECTION TAMPERING

The Justice Department, in a completely different move, charged six Russian Intelligence officers with hacking including the 2016 election, the 2018 Winter Olympics and many other events. Just in case there was any dispute about that.

5. 2020 WORLD SERIES

The World Series has been all a baseball fan can ask for. The Dodgers dominated in Game 1 behind Clayton Kershaw and Cody Bellinger. Blake Snell and Brandon Lowe lead the Rays to a win in Game 2.

Game 3 was dominated by Walker Buehler. In Game 4, the Dodgers were let down by their manager and their bullpen. Dave Roberts left Pedro Baez and Kenley Jansen on the mound too long and the Rays took advantage.Kershaw was dominant again in Game and the bullpen was solid.

So much of past postseason failures have fallen on Kershaw in an unfair manner in my opinion. I am glad that he has been able to shine this World Series.

6. FINAL PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE

The presidential debate was a vast improvement from the first debate. The mute button played a big part. I cannot understand why Trump goes out of his way to talk about conspiracy theories. Maybe there are people who see it differently, but I always think that he is shooting himself in the foot. I do understand I am not part of the demographic he is trying to reach. The only thing that makes sense to me is he is getting ready for a civil war and he wants to make sure all the people with guns and crazy agendas know he is with them.

7. TRUMP CHINESE BANK ACCOUNT

The New York Times published a story about the discovery of a bank account in China that was not disclosed on the president’s list of assets. It may be that he has bank accounts everywhere. The fact that the account has never been disclosed before is a little disturbing.

8. 50 CENT SAYS VOTE FROM TRUMP

Last week, I brought up Ice Cube shopping his Contract with Black America plan to both presidential campaigns. This week, 50 Cent announced that he was voting for Trump because he would pay more taxes if Biden was elected.

If I gave Ice Cube flack for trying to help black people, I have to give ten times as much to 50 Cent for just thinking about himself.

 9. GOOGLE ANTITRUST LAWSUIT

The Justice Department filed an antitrust lawsuit against Google. It is convoluted and will take a long time to work out. All I can really say about the lawsuit is this is just the beginning.

10. PENN STATE BASKETBALL COACH RESIGNS

Pat Chambers, coach of the Penn State basketball team, resigned this week after months of turbulence about a racially insensitive statement he made to a player. He told the player he wanted to “loosen the noose around his neck”. The player blasted the statement all over social media.

I am debating who was right and who was wrong. I was more curious if there was a racially offensive statement I could say to a white person that could cause the same kind of response.

10 Thoughts For the Week of October 18, 2020

1. ACB CONFIRMATION

There is nothing more frustrating than a Supreme Court Justice confirmation hearing. Particularly when you only need 50 votes, and you already have them, there is no incentive to honestly ask a question.  Even though she had made statements in the past, she refused to comment on them. She didn’t have any serious skeletons in the closet like Brett Kavanaugh to make things more interesting. I am not sure if there was enough time to dig up the skeletons. Outside of her sexual preference comment, she was backed by people calling her a woman of faith. 

I am glad the Democrats didn’t just sit around trying to trip her up. They made sure to talk about the 215,000 people who have died from COVID-19, Republican hypocrisy and the end of Obamacare. She may be confirmed. But I like the way they didn’t waste their time.

2. NLCS

The Dodgers and the Braves have battled into what is aptly called a championship series. Each team has given the other their best shot. The Brave shut the Dodgers down for the better part of two games. The Dodgers had a 15 run explosion in game three. Atlanta put up 10 runs in Game 4. The Dodgers pounded the Braves at the end of Game 5. Then they put up three runs in the first inning of Game 6 and that was all they needed.  

Game 7 was a battle that was climaxed by Cody Bellinger’s 7th inning home run. Corey Seager was the MVP of the NLCS which he completely deserved. What I was most impressed throughout the series was the Dodgers defense.

3. ALCS

The Tampa Bay Rays and the Houston Astros went the full seven games in their series with the Rays coming out on top. The Astros battled back from being down 3-1 in the series. They were on a mission to clean up their reputation. They were the team everyone couldn’t wait to lose. It would be a great karmic mistake if they were to win the World Series the same year after they were exposed for cheating. 

4. TRUMP AND Q’ANON

The President’s love of conspiracy theories appears to have come back to bite him. During his town hall this week, President Trump was given a chance to denounce Q’Anon. Instead of being rational the president ducked and dodged and made Q’Anon look like white supremacists. 

The whole event was supposed to be an opportunity for the president to bounce back from his terrible showing at the first presidential debate. Unfortunately Trump is a one-trick pony and the trick is not working anymore.

5. TRUMP AND ICE CUBE

So I heard a lot of buzz about Ice Cube being connected to the Trump campaign. I had to get to the bottom of this; so this is what I know. Ice Cube has been shopping his Contract With Black America Plan to both presidential campaigns. He was being courted by both campaigns.

The Trump campaign, desperate for black votes, put in more work. They add one of the items of Ice Cube’s plan to their own. Then Katrina Pierson, a Trump advisor, announced Ice Cube helped the administration with its economic plan. In response, all hell broke loose.

Ice Cube is treating this whole issue like a mercenary. He has more loyalty to his plan and his people than he does to a particular party. I am not sure if that is right or wrong. Trump had four years to do something economically for black people, but has really only made promises in the last six months. I tend to lean toward Diddy’s movement to get rid of Trump.

6. THE TRUMP-WHITMER WAR

Last week, I talked about the plot to kidnap Michigan governor Meg Whitmer. This week another man who was surveilling her home was included in the number of people charged with the conspiracy and it was discovered that the plot included kidnapping Virginia governor Ralph Northam.

Governor Whitmer has gone around calling this incident domestic terrorism. President Trump blames Whitmer and has called her a dictator. I wonder if the president would feel the same way if the FBI had arrested a ring of men plotting to kidnap and execute him. I doubt he would take responsibility and call himself a dictator. He has even brought back the “Lock Her Up” chant…one trick pony

7. THE HUNTER BIDEN LAPTOP

How Hunter Biden’s laptop ended up with Rudy Guiliani is one of the most unbelievable stories in this whole election cycle. It is the equivalent of a murder suspect’s weapon being delivered to the prosecutor’s office. No wonder Facebook and Twitter have marked a New York Post article about the laptop as misinformation. Guiliani himself has acknowledged there is a 50/50 chance the laptop was given to him by the Russians.

8. NEW ZEALAND PM RE-ELECTED IN A LANDSLIDE

Jacinda Ardern, the prime minister of New Zealand, won re-election in a landslide this weekend. Her re-election was fueled by the way she handled COVID-19. She swiftly locked down the country and began reopening things back in June. She also brought stability to the country with her leadership.

I know we are not New Zealand, but decisive stable leadership is not how I would describe the president’s response to the pandemic.

9. HUBBLE TELESCOPE SHOWS STARS BEING BORN

No words necessary.

10. 23-0

23-0 is Alabama football coach Nick Saban’s record against his former assistants who have gone on to coach other teams. The big question is why the SEC continues to hire these guys. It is obvious they don’t have the secret sauce.

10 Thoughts For the Week of October 4, 2020

1. TRUMP TAX RETURNS

If Donald Trump has ever had a worse week than this week, I cannot imagine what would make it worse. The week started off with the New York Time releasing Trump’s mysterious tax returns that could not be released because they were being “audited” by the IRS. 

The detail of the tax returns that stuck with everyone is that Trump paid $750 in federal taxes in 2016. My family and I are doing well and we still don’t make as much income as the president did in 2016. However we paid almost ten times as much in taxes. 

There are those who say that the tax law is the true problem. The problem by applying that to the president is that he got himself over-leveraged by applying for loans and telling banks he had several high-value assets as collateral. Then he filed tax returns that he claimed losses of more than $150 million. One of those statements cannot be true and makes the president guilty of committing a crime. 

2. KENTUCKY ATTORNEY GENERAL TO RELEASE THE GRAND JURY RECORDINGS IN THE BREONNA TAYLOR CASE.

After one of the jurors of the grand jury in the Breonna Taylor complained about the proceedings resulting in no charges against the police officers who shot Ms Taylor, Daniel Cameron, the attorney general of Kentucky, said he would release the recordings from the grand jury. 

One of the jurors disclosed Cameron never put the question of wrongful death charge to the jurors. Wasn’t that the most important question to take to the grand jury.

3. THE FIRST PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE

President Trump’s worst week continued when he came out too strong at the debate on Tuesday. It was hard to call Tuesday’s event a debate. There was no debating. If there were two black candidates, I would have called it the dozens. I couldn’t understand Biden’s policies because Trump was constantly interrupting him. I couldn’t understand Trump’s policies because he spent the whole event insulting Joe Biden. 

4. TRUMP TESTS POSITIVE FOR COVID

It looks like Trumps wear a mask “when appropriate” came back to bite him. It bit his wife in the butt. There are also nine other people who have tested positive connected to the president’s diagnosis. 

Things have come full circle for the president who called the virus a hoax and then said it would miraculously disappear.

5. FOX GUTS ITS FACT CHECKING DEPARTMENT

COVID has even affected Fox News who laid off some 70 people. 30 of those people came from the fact-checking department. I didn’t even know they had a fact checking department.

6. MLB PLAYOFFS

The MLB Playoffs have moved to the Divisional Series round. This round is feeling very personal. Everyone seems to be playing their division rival. For the Astros, the remainder of the playoffs will be personal if they play the Yankees and the Dodgers.

7. WEIRD OREO FLAVORS

On the somewhat weird front, I read an article ranking strange Oreo flavors. I think watermelon made me puke in my mouth just thinking about it.

8. LAKERS ARE UP 2-1 IN THE NBA FINALS

The Lakers are on in front of the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals. Miami lost two of its best players to injury in Game 1. This should allow the Lakers to march to an 18th NBA championship. The question is whether they are tough enough to put Miami away. Jimmy Butler will make sure they do not go quietly.

9. THE BEST THING I READ THIS WEEK

This week, the best thing I read was an article about how social bots and humans spread fake news like wild fire. This is because of the novelty hypothesis.

10. ALL POWER TO THE PEOPLE

A piece of art I can get behind.

10 Thoughts for the Week of September 27, 2020

1. BREONNA TAYLOR INDICTMENTS

The most insane thing to pop up this week was the state of Kentucky’s refusal to charge any of the officers who shot Breonna Taylor with murder. Ms. Taylor was shot ten times and there was no charge. The only charge was a wanton recklessness for the three bullets that went through her walls into her white neighbors apartment. 

With no charge for the death of Ms. Taylor, the wanton recklessness charge feels like a slap in the face. As Derrick Johson of the NAACP said “the justice system has failed us”. He forgot to put “again” at the end of that sentence.

2. DANIEL CAMERON

The Republican superstar and attorney general of Kentucky made sure to claim he could not find facts for murder. The Mitch McConnell protege made sure to say that mob justice was not justice. What Mr Cameron fails to recognize is the same “mob justice” was used to break the back of Jim Crow in the 1950’s and 60’s.

3. RAIDERS ON MNF


The Las Vegas Raiders opened their new stadium with a very impressive win over the New Orleans Saints on Monday Night Football. It was a signature win of the second Jon Gruden Era.

4. MICHAEL JORDAN ENTERS NASCAR

Michael Jordan (The GOAT) has started a NASCAR team with Bubba Wallace as the driver. This is a big move for Jordan and it feels like he is kicking the hornet’s nest. I hope he is a better NASCAR team owner than he is a NBA team owner.

5. MARVEL PUSHING BACK BLACK WIDOW MOVIE…AGAIN

Disney announced they were going to back up the release date of the Black Widow movie to some time next year. This is disappointing because it delays the next chapter in the MCU. Disney is delaying it because they want the money that comes from showing it in movie theaters. With all that is going on, why not give it Premiere Access like Mulan? I wouldn’t pay $30 for Mulan but I would for Black Widow.I believe Star Wars and Marvel are cultural property. Disney should not be able to exploit them for profits. Just my feeling.

6. THE ROSA PARKS OF THE PANDEMIC

I read an article in the New Yorker about the Michigan Militia and a barber who refused to close his business during the government imposed shutdown. His supporters claim he is the Rosa Parks of the pandemic. He compared the government control to the Third Reich and he was not going to be a Jew who naively walked into a freight train and to certain death.

I am not sure how refusing to shutter your business to prevent the spread of deadly virus is the same as refusing to move to the back of the bus to protest a system that made black people second class citizens. I am also not sure how it compares to the extermination of a race of people.

7. TRUMP’S ATTACK ON CRITICAL RACE THEORY

I also read an article about Trump’s war against critical race theory. The biggest tenant of critical race theory is that America must reckon with how its values and institutions feed into racism. First Trump issued an executive order banning federal contractors from conducting racial sensitivity training, emphasizing his desire to stop “efforts to indoctrinate government employees with divisive and harmful sex- and race-based ideologies”.

He also believes it is attacking our “patriotic education.” I guess the truth is a dangerous thing.

8. KANYE WEST VISITS HAITI

The Kanye West for President campaign made stops in Jamaica and Haiti last week. In Hait, he said he came to “complete the revolution and rebuild Haiti”. As someone who has spent some time in Haiti, I am grateful someone is giving it some attention. I love the island of Haiti and it breaks my heart all at the same time.

9. THE U

The University of Miami is back in the AP Top 10 (for what it is worth) after spanking the Florida State Seminoles 52-10. There have been many false sightings of the return of “The U”. I have been a sucker for some of them and skeptical of others. This time may be legit. They have a real quarterback and the defense was dynamite.

10. LAKERS ARE BACK IN THE FINALS

The Lakers have returned to the Finals for the first time since the Kobe Bryant Era. This would be a great year to win to honor Kobe. They will face the Miami Heat who are more formidable than anyone believed pre-bubble. The Heat actually scare me because of people like Tyler Herro and Goran Dragic will be the X-factors in this series.

10 Thoughts for the Week of September 20, 2020

1. CLIPPERS GONNA CLIP

Last summer, when the Clippers signed Kawhi Leonard and traded for Paul George, everyone thought they were going to be contenders. They added two all-stars to a team of scrappy players who overachieved with no all-stars the year before. Things were supposed to be different. 

Steve Ballmer and Doc Rivers had created a new culture in LA. The addition of Leonard and George was supposed to be a new era for the Clippers. 

The curse of Donald Sterling is hard to break. I never thought about it until the Clippers made it to the 2nd round and people were excited about a Clippers/Lakers conference finals. The Clippers had never been to the conference finals. The last time they were this close, they were up 3-1 on the Houston Rockets and lost three games. This time the Clippers were up 3-1 on the Denver Nuggets and were up late in two of the last three games before losing.

2. PAUL GEORGE

After watching Paul George over the last three seasons, I have decided he is not the difference maker people think he is. He has had good to great regular seasons and when ended in disappointing performances in the playoffs. One season is not a big deal, but three years of not showing up when your team needed you the most is more than a coincidence.

3. WHAT ABOUT THE NUGGETS

I don’t want to take anything away from the Nuggets. They have come back from being down 3-1 in two straight series. Their resilience cannot be underestimated. It seems like the longer a series goes, they seem to figure the other team out and get better. Jamal Murray, Nikola Jokic and Michael Porter Jr are dynamite when they are hitting on all cylinders.

They are down 3-0 to the Lakers and it is hard to write them off until they lose that fourth game.

4. RIP RBG

On Friday, we lost an icon. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader-Ginsburg passed away after years of battling and fighting to stay alive for the election of a new president. She had made so many strides for women and been a force on the bench. We lost a great one.

5. MITCH McCONNELL

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has promised to quickly get a vote on the president’s next nominee for the SCOTUS. This is the same Senate Majority Leader who would not bring Merrick Garland up for a vote when he was nominated nine months before the 2016 election. He argued it should be up to the American people to decide who picks the next justice. Now that we are forty days away from the election, Mitch has changed his opinion about the American people deciding who should pick the next justice. 

President Trump has promised to nominate a woman. Already two Republican Senators have stood up and said they would not vote for a nominee before the election. Nancy Pelosi has said she will start impeachment proceedings to stall a Senate vote on a nominee. Joe Biden went as far as to say he will demand the nominee withdraw if he is elected.  

6. 8 STRAIGHT FOR THE DODGERS

It’s almost like clockwork. The Dodgers clinched their eighth consecutive postseason this week. As good as the Padres have been this year, I don’t see anyone in the NL West giving the Dodgers trouble for a long time. They have the talent and the farm system to keep this streak going for a long time.

7. WHAT’S UP WITH THE AP POLL?

In its pursuit of normalcy, the Associated Press has released their weekly poll for college football. It seems kind of strange given half of the teams in Division I football are not playing right now. Is there really going to be a national championship this year?

8. JA MORANT GOES AFTER THE ONE REPORTER

Ja Morant of the Memphis Grizzlies was voted the NBA Rookie of the Year. He made a point of forsaking the 99 reporters who voted for him and going after the one reporter that did not vote for him.

9. QUEEN & SLIM

A timely movie I gotta watch this week was Queen & Slim. It had elements of Bonnie & Clyde and a heist movie; while dealing with the civil unrest issues that have plagued our country the last six months.

10. BEST THING I READ THIS WEEK

Check out A Story for Your Daughters, a Story for Your Sons by Rebecca Makkai

10 Thoughts for the Week of August 30, 2020

INTRODUCTION

What a week! Putting this piece together took a lot more decision making than I normally make. There are so many diverse things to talk about as well.

1. Republican National Convention

I could only stomach so much of the Republican National Convention this week. I did suffer through the last half of Tim Scott’s speech. I even heard Herschel Walker spoke at the RNC. The true spectacle was Wednesday night where President Trump turned the convention into a true reality television show. First Trump pardoned Jon Ponder (well deserved). Then he oversaw a naturalization ceremony for five people. I was waiting for him to push the button to launch a missile into Iran or China.

2. JACOB BLAKE

Much like George Floyd and Rayshard Brooks before him, Jacob Blake is a name I should not know that I know. Jacob was breaking up a fight between two women when the police arrived. They tased him and Jacob Blake was shot in the back seven times at close range. No matter what he was doing, he didn’t deserve that. The video is horrifying.

3. NIKKI HALEY

Two night after Jacob Blake was shot, Nikki Haley spoke at the Republican National Convention and said America is not a racist nation. 

4. NBA BOYCOTTS

Wednesday was Boycott Wednesday. It started with the Milwaukee Bucks boycotting their game which led to three days of no NBA basketball and questions of whether the playoffs were going to continue. It’s rare that I feel as proud of the NBA players as I do now. Their boycott has led to the teams turning their arenas into voting centers with more to follow. A basketball returned on Friday, the boycott was not over; it was paused to see if NBA owners were going to keep their word and move forward with initiatives for change.

Boycott Wednesday reminded me of the Montgomery Bus Boycott led by Dr. Martin Luther King. You mess with peoples’ money and they become more open-minded to change.

5. MLB BOYCOTTS

On Boycott Wednesday, only three games were postponed due to boycott. I am proud of my Dodgers being one of those games (Thank you Mookie Betts). It would be super ironic the franchise that opened the door to Jackie Robinson would ignore people of color at this time.

The fact that only a fraction of the games on the schedule for Wednesday were postponed says a lot about the game itself. There are very few African American players in the game and there are fewer who stand up at times like these. 

They should take a note from Naomi Osaka, who withdrew from a tournament she was favored to win to protest the Jacob Blake shooting.

6. KYLE RITTENHOUSE

Rittenhouse is another name I should not know…but I do. He showed up at a protest in Kenosha with a Smith and Wesson AR-15 style rifle to protect a friend’s shop. After he allegedly shot two people to death because he felt his life was threatened and wounded another, a photo showed how Kenosha police ignored him as he walked down a street with his hands up. He was charged with first-degree murder.

7. HURRICANE LAURA

In the midst of all this drama, Louisiana has been battered by Hurricane Laura. It is

sad that with everything going on this #7 on my 10 thoughts this week.

8. BACK TO SCHOOL

My son started 2nd grade this week and school was online. He worked in my office with me while I was working. It was super EXHAUSTING. I am trying to be patient because I know there is no proven playbook for online learning. We were all volunteered and our kids are guinea pigs to figure it out or all the kids get the vaccine; whichever happens first.

9. BOLAWRAP

The LAPD has been testing out BolaWrap as a safer alternative to chokeholds and shootings. The LAPD has requested an extension of time to continue testing. I support anything that would reduce chokeholds and shootings.

10. MESSI WANTS TO LEAVE

Last week, I mentioned FC Barcelona’s loss in the Champions League and the leadership’s contemplation of making Leonel Messi available for transfer. Messi got his feelings hurt and now there are rumors of Messi moving on to Manchester City or Juventus with Cristian Ronaldo.

Who Makes a Difference – The X-Factors – Part 2 – 10 Thoughts on the NBA Conference Finals

Who Makes a Difference Part 2 (The X-Factors) – 10 Thoughts on the NBA Conference Finals

 

With the Conference Finals here, I thought I’d make another stab at ten players who have the ability to turn series for their team.

  1. Steph Curry – With Kevin Durant out for at least Game 1, the Warriors will go as far as Steph takes them. He needs to put up at least 30 for a win. He has a history of being streaky in the playoffs. Golden State cannot have a bad Steph Curry day.
  2. Kris Middleton – A remnant from my last list. Middleton is the key to their offense and I imagine he is going to spend some time guarding Kawhi Leonard. Middleton needs to provide the shooting that opens up the lane for Giannis. He also had to do the best he can to slow down the hottest player in the playoffs.
  3. Draymond Green – Guarding Dame Lillard and CJ McCollum is a daunting task. It cannot be done by one person. Steph and Klay are going to need the support that Draymond provides defensively and keeping Enis Kanter off the glass.
  4. Eric Bledsoe – When Bledsoe is hot, Milwaukee is unbeatable. He needs to be more than hot. He has to be smart. Kyle Lowry, who is not as athletic as Bledsoe, knows how to play intelligent defense. Bledsoe has to make smart plays and timely three-pointers.
  5. Kyle Lowry – The Raptors cannot be dragged to the Finals by Kawhi the way he dragged them to the Conference Finals. Lowry needs to take and make big shots. The rest of the team struggled through the second round and Lowry cannot be passing up shots if the Raptors are going to make it to the Finals.
  6. Andrew Bogut – The Warriors weakness is rebounding. Enis Kanter has dominated the glass in the playoffs. If the Blazers have any chance to dethrone the Warriors, they need Kanter to change the game by dominating the glass. Bogut is tougher than Nikola Jokic and he needs to physically dominate Kanter.
  7. Rodney Hood – Hood showed he can swing a game in playoff series. The Blazers probably need him to swing at least two. He has found his confidence and that makes him dangerous. His size and skill make him difficult to guard. If he commits to playing defense, he is a tenacious defender. Will his confidence wane when he is face to face with the defending champions?
  8. George Hill – Since he is healthy, Hill is the kind of point guard the Bucks need leading their bench. Hill was a surprise game-changer against the Celtics. I almost forgot that he was the point guard on those Indiana Pacer teams that made it to the conference finals. A healthy George Hill makes the Bucks such a deep team. They may be able to wear down the Raptors.
  9. Pascal Siakam – Siakam is not a second scorer on a championship team, but he is a third scorer and he can cause problems on defense with his length and athleticism. He needs to make his mark on the series or the Raptors are going home.
  10. Zach Collins – Collins showed in Game 7 against the Nuggets the effect he can have on a game. He is the type of player that could give the Warriors trouble. He could also spend a lot of time on the bench with foul trouble. We will see which Zach Collins comes to play.