What’s really going on?

So for my first few posts I touched on the current political climate, in terms of the upcoming presidential election. But I’d be remissed if I didn’t give my honest opinion on this whole process.

The first time I voted was in the 1996 general election. President Clinton was running against Senator Bob Dole, and I was 18 years old at the time but had a slight inkling of how things really worked. Even though I had my cynical views on elections and the election process I cast my ballot nonetheless. I have always looked at my vote as my cover charge to the bitch-fest that takes place before, during, and after elections. If you don’t pay the cover charge, you have no reason to bitch.  The following election in 2000 would be the one to confirm my suspicions about just how corrupt and full of shit the entire process really is. As many of you remember that year Vice President Al Gore ran against then Texas governor George W. Bush. The election was decided in the courts instead of “by the people” and Bush became the president after losing the popular vote. This single event proved that greater powers decide who the “elected officials” in this country are and how it is decided. Names and people that we will never know or hear of plan and decide these elections long before they occur. The campaigning and everything else is nothing more than an elaborate theatrical production meant to distract the populace and give the illusion that they actually have a say in what happens.

Now people will tell you that this is a democracy and we have the right to vote and our vote does count for something. That’s bullshit. True we have the ability to go and cast a ballot, and pay that cover charge to give us the right to bitch, but it’s only that. These elections, and the candidates who end up winning these elections are the faces we know. We’ll never get a chance to see what happens behind the curtains because the people who pull all these strings have paid for the anonymity to be able to have this influence. By no means am I a conspiracy theorist, but if you really buy into the illusion of your vote counting for something, you are being fooled. Everything is always about one thing, and one thing only – money. When you hear all this talk about the 1% that is the distribution of wealth, which equates to power. That 1% decides who the next president is going to be, who the next senator from Idaho is going to be, who the president of Afghanistan is going to be, the president of Egypt. You get the idea.

This entire election was decided years ago. When Trump was made the standard bearer for the Republican party, and the “heavyweights” of the party were broomed to the side, you kind of knew that this whole thing has been set up for a Clinton win. Even Bernie Sanders who I talked about yesterday is a pawn in this whole game. Each and every person that has come and gone in this election cycle has a role to play in this production. Even you and I have a part in this show, that’s when that cover charge comes into play. People need to believe that this whole thing is real, they want to believe that their voice and what they feel and go through matters. People don’t want to believe that what I’m talking about could actually be possible, but it is.

I know the way I’m describing it makes it seem like it’s this dark smokey room with a bunch of men seated around a table deciding the fate of the world. It may not be exactly that way, but the way it’s being packaged and sold to us is not the way it is either.

 

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Bernie Sanders, the people’s candidate

When you take a look at all the candidates running in the 2016 presidential election; both on the Democratic and Republican side, it’s hard to argue that Bernie Sanders and his message is the one that truly looks to benefit the working and middle class. The only problem for Bernie Sanders and his message is it’s not the way things are normally done.

If you take a look at the issues Sanders wants to tackle and reform, you can’t help but get excited and want to throw your full support behind this guy – he makes you “feel the Bern”. He talks about income and wealth equality, free college tuition, taxing Wall Street, medicare for everyone, lowering prescription drug prices, and on and on and on. This is exactly the guy we need to turn this country around and completely reform the American political system so the people have a voice. This is the guy that is going to combat global warming and take on the banks that sent this country into the greatest financial crisis since The Great Depression. Bernie Sanders is a political superhero! He’s a true man of the people. And in the interest of full disclosure, if he were to win the nomination I would most certainly vote for him, there is no question.

The fact of the matter is, business in Washington has been done a certain way for a long time. Every 4 years a general election occurs, and we get a bunch of new candidates that come out with their list of issues and how they are going to change America, and make it the America it used to be. Progressive candidates emerge in every election cycle, they tend to gain popularity on college campuses and they run on platforms that always appeal to younger, educated voters. In 2004 Howard Dean mounted a formidable campaign, and at one point looked poised to win the Democratic nomination, until his now infamous scream. John Kerry, the establishment candidate eventually won the nomination and lost to Bush in the 2004 presidential election. In 2008 Obama sold us hope and we bought it – but what really changed? Sure, he got a lot of his legislation pushed through, and a lot of what he accomplished did benefit average Americans. But did anything really change? That brings us to 2016 and Bernie Sanders. He’s this election cycle’s progressive guy, but be sure that because of his radical ideas he could never be allowed to win. And in the crazy off-chance that he were to win, everything we have heard would be a distant memory once Senator Sanders took up residence at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Because no matter who the person is that “we the people” elect, the way business is done does not change.

Sanders is talking about taking on some of the strongest, most influential lobbies and special interest groups in the country – the people who really make the laws. Taking on Wall Street, oil companies, pharmaceutical companies would NEVER be allowed to happen. These politicians all know how Washington works, and they all know how to run a campaign and energize their supporters, and in the end every single one of them does the same thing as all the others that came and went before. Our attention spans are short, and a million things happen between election cycles, that’s why we forget all the beta versions of Bernie Sanders, but he’s not the first and he most certainly won’t be the last.

Trump steps in another pile of shit

I know I said I wasn’t going to make this a political blog, but I just can’t resist. I’m sure most people have seen the news, and the story about Trump and his comments regarding abortion. Before we go any further, I am not going to make this a pro-life or pro-choice debate. That is a very sensitive subject for most, and I tend to take a position on this that people like myself aren’t raised to take, but that isn’t what I want to talk about.

Trump was being interviewed MSNBC’s Chris Matthews when the subject of abortion came up. When pressed by Matthews about punishment for women if there were any theoretical ban, Trump said, “the answer is that there has to be some form of punishment, yeah”. Later in the day his campaign backtracked and said, “The woman is the victim in this case as is the life in her womb. My position has not changed – like Ronald Reagan, I am pro-life with exceptions”. Wait, what the fuck did he just say?! Like Ronald Reagan?! Woman is the victim? Obviously the backlash was swift and harsh, otherwise their would have been no retraction. But seriously, who the hell is he kidding? We know Trump and his racist, misogynistic, and vitriolic views – suddenly he had a moment of clarity and decided to change his position on a comment he made only hours before? Or perhaps his people realized that you can not alienate half of the electorate by trying to pander to a small percentage of idiots who would applaud such an outrageous statement, and most likely will not win you the election anyway. I was not a fan of Reagan, the last Republican president that was worth a damn in my book, was shot at the Ford’s Theater by a guy named John Wilkes Booth. But I will be the first to stand up and say, Trump is NOTHING like Reagan. Reagan was a diplomat, he had a way of making people understanding what he was doing and always offered a sense of comfort to the American people, no matter what the situation. Trump is the antithesis of comfort, everything this guy says and does is offensive, and he has surrounded himself by people who are equally offensive. You never know what the hell Trump is blabbering about, so understanding anything he is trying to convey is impossible.

There are some hot button topics that come up during presidential elections. Undoubtedly abortion is at the forefront when it comes to controversial issues, but the Supreme Court ruled a long time ago on the legality of abortion, and Trump or any other candidate or elected official can not reverse the court’s decision. Comments made during election season about these kind of topics are only made to stir up support among a candidate’s base, but a comment like this can only manage to piss off everyone who hears it.

Golden State is ‘that’ team

With the end of the NBA regular season approaching, and the start of the playoffs upon us, the Golden State Warriors are poised to set the single season record for wins. The current record of 72-10, held by the 1995-1996 Chicago Bulls is one that I hold in reverence and followed minute by minute 20 years ago. People that know me know that I have been a HUGE Bulls fan my entire life. My mother and siblings will attest that I had a Michael Jordan shrine in my room growing up. So for people to say that this Warriors team is the greatest team of all time is a tough pill for a die hard Michael Jordan fan like me to swallow. But let’s take a closer look at it and see if perhaps there is some credence to calling the 2016 Warriors, the greatest team of all time.

The Warriors are sitting idle tonight with a record of 68-7, and are set to take on the Boston Celtics tomorrow night in Oakland. They have a perfect record at home of 36-0 this season, and a streak of 54 regular season home wins, dating back to last season. Stephen Curry is the first player in league history to make 300 3 pointers (356) in a single season, and Klay Thompson is chasing Curry’s previous record of 286 3 pointers made, set last season. It is incredible to think that a player can, and most likely will finish a season having made 400 3 point FGs, and his teammate will finish with close to 300 made. This is also a the team who is the reigning NBA champions, and look to be unstoppable heading into the post season. When you list all of their accomplishments which I did not list in full, and step back to take a look at what we are witnessing, it’s hard to argue against this team being the best ever. But what does best ever mean?

Many people will tell you that the game being played today is watered down, and softer than the NBA I grew up watching in the 80’s and 90’s. There’s no doubt that the game played today is a much more finesse game, and the physicality that I loved watching with teams like the Bad Boys of the late 80’s, and those Knicks teams of the mid 90’s is a thing of the past. That isn’t the fault of the Warriors though. The Warriors can only play in the era they play in, the way the game was played and officiated in the past is not a fair comparison. A lot of people will tell you, Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen would mop the court up with the Splash Brothers, I will admit that I am one of those people. The reason I always say it is because I know they’ll never play against each other. In reality, could Jordan and the Bulls, or Magic and the Showtime Lakers, or Larry Bird and the 1986 Boston Celtics beat the 2016 Golden State Warriors? Nobody can ever answer that question, that’s the beauty of sports. That’s what makes sports debates so much fun, because it’s all opinion, and it’s comparing eras, and it’s questions that we can never answer with certainty, but we always back our arguments with stats and memorable performances.

So, sit back and enjoy these final handful of games this season. And while you watch and contemplate if the Warriors could beat team X, or if Steph could have hit all those 3 pointers with Pippen’s hand in his face. Just remember that what you are watching is something historic and has never been done by any team before this team.

 

 

Bro code – the shit’s real

Today’s post is coming from one of the stories I saw online that’s gaining a lot of traction. LA Lakers rookie, D’Angelo Russell apparently recorded his teammate Nick Young aka. Swaggy P, discussing his “extracurricular activities” while traveling throughout the season. Swaggy, who’s engaged to pop star Iggy Azalea, probably found himself in the frying pan when this video surfaced. This story is outrageous on so many levels, but one thing clearly stands out, and I’m not talking about the shitty nickname that Nick Young adopted. D’Angelo broke the bro code, and that is a bell that he can never unring.

The only question I would ask D’Angelo, if I had the opportunity to ask him would be – what in the hell could have made you think this is a good idea?! What would ever motivate a guy to do that to another guy? The craziness doesn’t end with him recording Swaggy saying what he said. Somehow this recording found its way to an internet gossip site. D’Angelo, what the fuck man?!?! Forget that your teammates have shunned you, and that it’s probably like high school in the cafeteria when “that guy” shows up, and he finds himself eating his mac and cheese at a table just for him. This is even bigger, lifelong friends can and will shun you for this kind of stuff. Nobody, and I mean nobody likes a snitch, and D’Angelo took snitching to a whole other level with this genius move. This is not something that will be soon forgotten by his teammates, or members of other teams should he find himself playing elsewhere in the future. This is a dark cloud that will follow this kid around for a long time and he can blame his immaturity for this. Social media and the ability to send out information immediately is a dangerous tool if left in the wrong hands. I hate to date myself, or sound like the old man yelling at the kids to get off my damn lawn, but this is obviously a generational thing. Athletes before the advent of social media certainly conducted themselves in a way similar to what Swaggy described, but players back then never had to worry about a teammate tape recording them, or outing them to a beat writer or anyone other member of the media.

So guys and ladies, I want to be absolutely clear and cover my own ass so my wife doesn’t read too much into this; in no way am I condoning or promoting infidelity. What I am saying is, if you know something you don’t have to be the asshole to let the cat out of the bag. The code is real and the majority of men adhere to said code, don’t be D’Angelo Russell.

Trump, Cruz take it to a new low

Is this what American presidential elections have descended to? Is this what we can and should expect from the people we elect? What we have seen in recent months from the candidates; specifically the GOP candidates, has been shameful and most certainly not a reflection of the vast majority of people in this country.

It started with 16 candidates all vying for the Republican nomination. From the onset it was mud slinging and a lot of name calling. Slowly the field dwindled, and names that most of us expected to see at the end when the dust settled are not the names that remain. The Bush’s, Christie’s and Rubio’s of the political world all fell by the wayside, and now we are left with Trump, Cruz, and Kasich. This in itself comes as a shock to anybody who knows just a little bit about politics, and I could delve into the reason a man like Trump is the Republican front-runner, but that is another topic for another day.

Today I want to discuss the immature and disgraceful way 2 of the 3 remaining prospective nominees have chosen to run their campaigns and why neither stand a snow ball’s chance in hell of being elected. In the past week, we have seen Ted Cruz’s people release an ad that has caused a bit of a stir among the candidates. The ad featured a partially nude Melania Trump in a photo shoot from her days as a model. This probably wasn’t the most tasteful ad the Cruz campaign could have chosen, but they chose it and they pissed on a hornet’s nest when they released it. As we all might have expected from Trump, he fired back and threatened to “spill the beans” on Cruz’s wife, Heidi. When asked later by reporters, Trump’s response was “he started it”. This is the response given by a man who is hoping to be the next president of this country, “he started it”. Later Cruz responded to Trump’s threat about “the beans” by telling Trump to “leave my wife Heidi, the hell alone”.

In 2016, the party of Lincoln and Reagan is being represented by 2 immature, petulant, cry babies. I can’t believe that I can even write a blog post about a presidential election and reference these type of situations, and it not be completely fictional and a story that I came up with myself. This is the reality that we are living in folks. The fact that either of these clowns have any kind of following or support is scary and indicative of a greater problem. The hateful rhetoric each of these guys put forth, and the ideas they have floated out there should not leave us completely shocked that we have reached such a low place in campaigning, but I am completely and utterly shocked. I can not believe that people subscribe to this sort of thinking, and can back a person who is willing to wage battle against a candidate’s family. These candidates are the assholes that nobody could stand when they were growing up, and they managed to evolve into adults and “political figures” that nobody can stomach now, sans the uneducated and uninformed minority who show up to their racist mob rallies. The Republican establishment is sickened by the sort of candidates they have been left with to send to Cleveland this summer for their convention, and they should be sick. Life-long Republicans that I know personally have told me that they will not vote this November. Rather than giving their vote to the Democratic candidate, they have chosen to sit this one out completely. They would rather allow Clinton to win the White House by not voting for their candidate, than cast a vote that would in their words,  “put us all in danger”.

This race is just starting to heat up, and all the filthy shit we’ve seen is only the beginning. Imagine what a guy like Trump will come up with when he takes the stage in a debate in September and October against Hillary Clinton. If people are uncomfortable now with the garbage that spews from his mouth – imagine if you can, how much worse this thing is going to get.

 

 

 

Separate and unequal

What we are witnessing in politics is shameful. The laws that are being proposed by state legislators are appalling and dangerous. How is this sort of thinking still possible in 2016? We are taking major steps back in the civil rights movement when laws like House Bill 757 in Georgia, and House Bill 2 in North Carolina are introduced and voted on by state legislators. In the case of House Bill 757, GA governor Nathan Deal announced that he would be vetoing the bill, amid mounting pressure from corporations that do business in Georgia. Essentially this bill gave faith-based organizations the right to discriminate against the LGBT community based on “religious liberty”.

Last week, the North Carolina legislator introduced House Bill 2 and Gov. Pat McCrory signed the law just 12 hours after its introduction in a special legislative session. House Bill 2 declares that state law overrides all local ordinances concerning wages, employment, and public accommodations.  The law also directs all public schools, government agencies and public college campuses to require that multi-occupancy bathrooms and changing facilities, be designated for use only by people based on their “biological sex” stated on their birth certificate. Transgender people can use the bathroom and changing facilities that correspond to their gender identity only if they get the biological sex on their birth certificate changed. This law comes on the heels of a Charlotte, North Carolina ordinance that was approved and set to take effect April 1. The ordinance was supposed to prohibit discrimination in housing and public accommodations based on someone’s gender identity or sexual orientation.

How does this type of discrimination still have life in 2016? Southern lawmakers have decided to apply the same Jim Crow logic their predecessors used when enacting these new laws. These laws serve no other purpose but to humiliate and degrade the LGBT community. By passing such laws, lawmakers are arming mobs fueled by hate with justification for their actions. If a transgender woman is being forced to use a MEN’S restroom, the consequences can be catastrophic for that woman if some crazy person decided to start beating the hell out of her for being in there. Why are we passing laws that put people in danger? Do people really believe that a sex offender would go to such great lengths, by changing his/her gender; to gain access into the opposite sex’s restroom or locker room to fulfill their deviant urges?

Hate and intolerance have become a platform for mainstream politics and the platform some candidates choose to take up, and many people are responding to that sentiment. If pressure isn’t exerted by businesses and opposing lawmakers to strike down these types of laws, then we are doomed as a society and the enactment of harsher and more discriminatory laws will become expected and accepted. Americans need to stand up and be heard, they need to vote these people out of office and remind these lawmakers that we have put this ugly chapter behind us as a country. We will not trade one group for another and discriminate against the LGBT community. Religious liberty is protected by the constitution, that doesn’t mean that freedom gives people the right to exclude others by passing laws discriminatory laws.