Friday, September 30, 2016

Trump Supporter & Advocate Rudy Giuliani Continues to Discredits Himself

Rudy Giuliani always struck me as kind of an odd man.

He was the first Republican to be elected mayor of New York in a long, long time. Not a surprise that the Big Apple had rarely voted for a Republican, as it is most likely one of the most liberal cities in the world, and certainly among the very most liberal cities in the country. 

So it was a bit surprising that Giuliani would ascend to this position. Yet, the very next year, he seemed to put his political career on the line by going against his party and backing Democrat Mario Cuomo for governor of New York, rather than the Republican candidate, George Pataki. Pataki won in a mild surprise, and it seemed that Giuliani had hurt his own career.

Yet, Giuliani won re-election, and had earned a reputation as the man who was cleaning up the city. He was mayor during September 11th, and showed a measure of leadership that won him respect throughout the country, if not perhaps even the world. 

However, it should be remembered that Giuliani also had a reputation by some as a nasty man. Former Mayor Ed Koch even wrote a book about Giuliani detailing how nasty this man was. He was no friend of the homeless, and suggested that they should realize that they would be better off in warm weather cities than in New York City. His efforts to clean the city up essentially sped up the process of gentrification. And following September 11th, he seemed to use the respect that he had earned to pursue higher political achievements, running for the White House in 2008, and briefly being seen as the GOP frontrunner.

However, Rudy Giuliani started unraveling after a joke made in passing by Joe Biden. Biden basically said that Giuliani lacked substance when he said that Giuliani's sentences consisted of a "noun, a verb, and 9/11."

That was all that it took for Giuliani's seemingly overnight success story to turn into a laughing stock for late night shows. If he had indeed more substance, surely he would have been able to get past that. Yet, since he indeed did remind anyone within earshot of 9/11, and lacked any more substantive stance on issues that this troubled country was facing at the time, then he surely would have stuck around.

But he didn't, and that should tell you something right there.

Giuliani faded. He quickly lost his front runner status and, before long, was forced to suspend his campaign. There would be no President Giuliani.

Over time, the rest of the country also got clued into what New Yorkers had already largely known about Mayor Giuliani prior to September 11th - that he was a nasty man. That he was petty, divisive, and often ruthless against people who could not fight back, particularly the homeless. In fact, this would grow to be more the case, not less.

Now, Giuliani has less a running joke, and more a nagging sore to the country. He keeps saying things that people - most tellingly his former supporters - really wish he would not say. Things that sound quite blatantly racist. No surprise, then, that he has lent his support to the Donald Trump for President campaign.

The latest absurd statement to pour from his big mouth is that laws do not apply when it comes to war, that "anything's legal."

This is more or less an extension of some of what the Bush administration was advocating, when they tried to imply that the guarantees of the Geneva Convention did not apply to "enemy combatants," and that methods of persuasion that were uncomfortably close to torture could be used by Americans. Only Giuliani is going still farther, and treading into downright Trump kind of territory, as he is assuming that the United States could and should simply take what it wants from a country, let's say oil, of course. Because that was pretty much obviously the reason that we got involved in Iraq and so much of the Middle East to begin with.

Specifically, Giuliani worded it thus:

“Of course it’s legal. It’s a war. Until the war is over, anything’s legal.” 

Actually, that is not correct. Law and order is not officially suspended simply because of a war. Nor is this a new trend. Laws governing war, and specifically, protecting private property, have been around now for over one hundred years.

A lot of Giuliani supporters, for that matter, have grown tired of the former Mayor's increasingly erratic behavior and rather ridiculous statements, to the point that they believe that these kinds of statements are potentially harming Giuliani's legacy, which was, until recently, more or less a positive one. After all, he showed undeniable leadership during 9/11, so credit needs to be given where it is due.

However, his rather racist statements as of late, mixed with this latest statement on how anything is legal during war, not to mention surely other idiotic statements (he is supporting Trump, after all) probably have already compromised his legacy, and have discredited him and, yes, his legacy.

Here is the link to the Giuliani article where he argues that everything is legal during war, including forceful seizure of private property. It includes video. I recommend taking a look for yourself, just to see for your own eyes and hear with your own ears what this former mayor and, perhaps even hero, has become (or perhaps he has always been that way, and was just good at hiding it at the most opportune times).

Trump Surrogate Rudy Giuliani: ‘Anything’s Legal’ During War by Christina Wilkie, September 11, 2016:

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Today is International Coffee Day!

Yes, even though I do not recall ever hearing about this particular holiday until earlier today, it still nonetheless is something worth noting.

Indeed, today is International Coffee Day (and it can also be referred to as National Coffee Day). 

Not entirely sure how this product came to be celebrated to the extent that it has it's own designated day of honor, although it sure is a common enough drink the world over to be so recognized.

Personally, I love coffee. But I have to be careful, because I do not want to become a coffee addict. Some people drink three or four cups a day, and perhaps even more. There was a time when I used to drink significantly more than I do now. 

Back then, I found it actually relaxing, and coffee seemed to have little to no effect on me, in terms of waking me up. In fact, there were times that I would have a nice, hot cup of coffee before going to bed, just to relax!  

These days, I do not do that so often (although admittedly, I did it today). Nowadays, I usually drink maybe five cups or so of coffee a week, although if my workload is more than usual (I work two jobs, with an unsteady workload), then it can be more. Often times on days off, I can drink two cups, as again, I find it relaxing. It is extremely rare for me to have more than two on any given day, although sometimes, while on vacation or, if the opportunity presents itself, I will indeed try a few cups if there is something new to try. The last time that this happened, to my recollection, was while in Poland, because the coffee there is generally much stronger than here in the United States. 

In any case, it just seemed like a good idea to write a blog entry about International Coffee Day. Here's hoping that it is a good one on your end. Here's to coffee!

Remembering Pearl Jam On This Date at the Fleet Center in Boston, 2004

Image result for charbor chronicles pearl jam

Every year on this day, I remember one of the concerts that I was, and still feel, very grateful for having attended. That would be seeing Pearl Jam  at Randall's Island (Downing Stadium) in 1996. Being a big Pearl Jam fan at a time when they really had done very few shows in the New York area, there had been few opportunities to see them. I had gone to some lengths in trying, which I went into some more detail with in the following blog entry, which was originally published last year, and which documented my experiences regarding that concert, which was part of the 1996 tour supporting No Code.

From that point onwards, I always associated September 29th with that Pearl Jam concert. Ironically, this was reinforced even more when I saw Pearl Jam yet again on this date, this time in Boston, in support of the "Vote for Change" tour against George W. Bush. 

That, too, was an amazing show! Pearl Jam fans like myself often follow the setlist that the band performed for concerts, and hope to see some rarities. Currently, there are still some songs that I never actually got to see them perform live, including "Hunger Strike" and "Garden". It always seemed that they would play one, or both, either the concert before, or the concert after, the one, or ones, that I went to. Always kept missing them.

But on that day, I was truly blessed! They performed a lot of great tunes, and just had an awesome setlist! The most memorable song (for me) was "I Have a Feeling", a cover of the Beatles. It was one of the songs from their early days, and they had not performed it in years. That felt like a thrill! 

There were other songs that I had never seen them perform that day, as well. "The New World" was one of them, as well as "Man of the Hour", which I think was a first for me by then. "American in Me" as well. At the time, I was especially thrilled also to hear them perform "Alone". It was a song that had seemed a relative rarity for a while during their setlists, but which they have begun to play more frequently since. Also, Eddie had come out for a solo acoustic piece, singing "The Patriot in Me". 

That really was an awesome night, as well! I would see them in Reading a few nights later (again, I was a fanatic), and I remember being thrilled with them performing "Masters of War" (cover of Bob Dylan), which also had seemed like a rarity, and a real surprise with a cover of the Dead Kennedy's "Bleed for Me". That was incredible and unexpected, and the DK had always been among my favorite punk bands! That entire tout was just a great time to see them, not least of all becaused it was in support of a good (if ultimately unsuccessful) cause: getting the worst President in American history out of the White House!

Still, the most memorable concert of Pearl Jam that I went to would probably still remain the Randall's Island show. There was just something incredible about that first ever time seeing them. It is also probably has the distinction for me, personally, as the only date on the calendar that I immediately associate with a concert that I went to, although perhaps now, December 12th may come close. Then again, that concert, which was huge news at the time, was quickly overshadowed by the tragic events at Sandy Hook Elementary School that transpired maybe 36 hours after the end of the concert.  

In any case, I already posted e blog entry earlier today, as a tribute to that concert and my memories of it:

Here's a link to the other September 29th show, which I also attended (I was really a Pearl Jam nut!) eight years later in 2004, in Boston's Fleet Center, for the Vote for Change tour, with Death Cab for Cutie as the opener:

And here's a link to the other September 29th show, which I also attended (I was really a Pearl Jam nut!) eight years later in 2004, in Boston's Fleet Center, for the Vote for Change tour, with Death Cab for Cutie as the opener:

Pearl Jam at Randall's Island, NYC, September 29, 1996 - 20th Anniversary of a Great Concert!

Okay, so I wrote the following a few years ago, when I turned around and realized, on September 29, 2012, that it had been exactly 16 years since one of the most memorable concert experiences that I ever had. That would be seeing Pearl Jam for the first time at Randall's Island in New York City back in 1996, when they were finally touring in support of the "No Code" album.

There are a lot of things that immediately come to mind when I think about that concert. First of all, it happened to fall on my then girlfriend (now ex-wife) and my first anniversary. Secondly, although I was beginning to go to a lot of concerts by that point, this concert felt somehow like a turning point. Pearl Jam was a huge band, and they were my favorites. Up to that point, despite having seen a growing number of concerts, there always was that one band, my favorites, whom I had yet to see. Then, suddenly, my friend managed to obtain tickets shortly after I returned from a trip to Chicago with another friend (who also happened to be a Pearl Jam fan and wound up going with us). This was the one band that I really, at the time, felt ready to drop everything to go and see, if the opportunity presented itself, and it finally did. I came somewhat close a couple of times in 1994, but ultimately failed. So, the next time that they came around, I was determined to see them come what may. When that friend managed to snag these tickets, it felt like pure elation, and I felt like a little kid eagerly anticipating the Christmas holiday to come, knowing in my head that the date was approaching, but feeling that, somehow, it could not come soon enough.

Even today, I remember how glad that concert made me feel, and just how huge it was for me. Since then, I have been to 24 Pearl Jam concerts, and have seen almost every song that meant something special to me, and then some! Some of the shows were amazing, and for some of them, I had amazing seats, including the second time that I saw them, making a point of reciprocating my friend's purchase of these tickets back in 1996 by bringing him to Pearl Jam's concert at East Rutherford in 1998, where we had second row center.

Yet, despite having some better seats (well, Randall's Island was standing room only, so there technically were no seats) at some other concerts, this particular Pearl Jam concert really stands out for me even to this day. Rarely has any concert mad me feel this good. There have been other concerts, and I have seen some amazing bands and performances. Very few of them made me feel anywhere near what the Pearl Jam concert in 1996 made me feel.I discussed some of these a few years ago, and shared my thoughts in past blogs, and will add those to this particular blog entry below. But seeing Pearl Jam finally take the stage, after years and years of waiting for that opportunity, felt just amazing! It wound up being the longest concert to that point that the band had ever done, and attained a certain legendary status among PJ fans. I remember how crowded it was, people body surfing, and how some of the staff started spraying grateful fans with water to help cool us off. For that matter, simply arriving at Randall's Island, where just a couple of months and change before, that same friend and I had seen Lollapalooza, was an amazing experience. We were discussing the Fastbacks, and he mentioned how Eddie Vedder "creams over them." 

Hard to believe that it has been twenty years since then!

So, here are some thoughts that I had four years ago on that concert, which took place on this day, two decades ago:

I have seen a lot of concerts in my own time. It's approaching two hundred since 1992, when my brother and I went to see Metallica and Guns 'n Roses, with Faith No More as the opening act, at Giants Stadium in the summer of 1992. That concert was intense, particularly Metallica's set. It was so loud, so long, so energetic, and it left a lasting impression. It was quite memorable. More recently, there have been other concerts that were quite memorable, as well. Seeing Pink Floyd at Yankees Stadium in 1994. Seeing the Vote for Change Finale in 2004, with incredible acts like Pearl Jam, REM, the Dave Matthews Band, John Fogerty, John Mellencamp, Jackson Brown, James Taylor, the Dixie Chicks, and with Bruce Springsteen and the E-Street Band as the closers. That was incredible. I have seen Paul McCartney give a free concert in Quebec on the occasion of the 400th anniversary of that city. Sir Paul was also involved in another incredible concert memory: joining Ringo Starr on stage a couple of years ago on Ringo's 70th Birthday and playing "Birthday". It was as close to a Beatles reunion, or a Beatles show, that I'll have ever seen, most likely, and as a big Beatles fan (could you guess?), that was very memorable! And since that article that I wrote about this Pearl Jam concert, I was at the 12/12/12 Sandy Benefit concert, which included some huge names that included Eddie Vedder, who accompanied Roger Waters on "Comfortably Numb," Bruce Sprinsteen and the E-Street Band, Bon Jovi, Billy Joel, Kanye West (not a big fan of his, admittedly), Chris Martin of Coldplay with guest star Michael Stipes of R.E.M., Alicia Keys, Eric Clapton, the Rolling Stones, the Who, and Paul McCartney, who at one point brought out the remaining members of Nirvana to perform a song, and this wound up being the first public performance of "Sirvana." Some at the time were suggesting that this was the greatest concert ever. Nowadays, some are suggesting that the Iheart concerts in the desert, also with huge names, are the greatest. For my part, I still think that Woodstock tops all of these in terms of sheer brilliance and cultural influence, and I think that Roger Waters performance of "The Wall" live in Berlin back ni 1990 deserves honorable mention, but I digress. 

I started going to see a lot of concerts particularly starting in 1992, and especially gaining momentum in 1994. But at that point, there was one major act that I really wanted to see, probably more than all others, but which it sometimes felt I would never see: Pearl Jam. The thing about Pearl Jam was that, at the time, they were phenomenally popular, probably at the height of their power, if you will. Granted, much of that was the cult of personality surrounding lead vocalist Eddie Vedder. He was the iconic leader of the group, if you will. The type of guy that, as cliche as this sounds, women wanted to be with, and men wanted to be. They had an incredible, raw energy to them in those days. They have retained some of that over the years, but at that time, it was their defining trait. Their music was intense, and charged with powerful and meaningful lyrics, with more than a touch of poetry to them. They really were a band that seemed almost to offer at least a little something to everyone. I desperately wanted to see them, and felt, on many levels, that no matter how many concerts and acts I saw, it would not be or feel complete or impressive until I saw Pearl Jam.

But they rarely ever toured, and never seemed to come to my area, the New York greater metropolitan area, at the time. True, they came around for several shows in their earliest days in the early nineties, playing some very memorable, even legendary shows, at places like the Limelight, but I really started getting into Pearl jam early in 1993, and by then, they were becoming a rare act to see in New York. They had actually come in the area and done a show at the Paramount, in Madison Square Garden (but not outright MSG), and I had desperately tried to get tickets, but was unsuccessful. I waited outside on the side of a road in New York City with a group of equally determined friends to try and get stand by tickets to Saturday Night Live, and actually managed to get one of these tickets. But there was literally not one opening that night, and so all stand by tickets were sent home. I even tried to see them at the Boston Gardens, and came somewhat close, but no cigar. I collected bootlegs of their shows by then, and that 1994 tour still looms large in my memory, although the pleasure of actually going to one of those shows was not mine.

Eventually, however, the opportunity did come. I was friends with someone who had a penchant for obtaining rare tickets, and he managed to get tickets to one of the two Randall's Island shows that the band scheduled for September of 1996, to support their latest album, No Code. This came around a month after the release of that album, which I remember having gotten while on a trip to Chicago, in late August. So, knowing that I would finally get to see them, I was incredibly excited. I just couldn't wait to finally see this group in concert.

There were three of us who went to the concert together. We got there early, and I remember kind of just taking in the atmosphere. The Fastbacks finally came out to open the show, and then it was Ben Harper, who I was not familiar with at the time, but was tremendously impressed with. Still, the group that I wanted to see was in the waits, and the excitement grew. It seemed to take forever for them to take the stage, and it was so hot that night, I remember. Maybe it was just because we were all so tightly packed in. There were a lot of people there.

Finally, the lights went out, and I saw candles on the stage that Pearl Jam was about to take. I don't remember having seen candles at a concert before like that, so it seemed like a new touch. The band came on stage, and it was a thrill to see the immediately identifiable locks of Vedder's then still long hair, and knowing that they were finally there, that the concert had finally begun.

But the music waited, as Eddie Vedder spoke first. He assured us that while the previous night (they had played Randall's Island the night before, as I understand it, in heavy rain) had been highly charged, tonight, they were going to take it a bit easier. But he had the feeling, he told us, that the music would be better sharper, than it had ever been, and that the concert would be longer, maybe, than any other that they had ever performed.

He was right. It wound up being, at that time, the longest show that the band had ever played (it had since been overtaken, and the longest concert that they have played to date now, to my knowledge, was the third Mansfield show in 2004, when they tried to play mostly all different songs in the three shows combined, and opened that third and final show in the Boston area with an acoustic set prior to their main set).

They opened up with "Sometimes", which is also the opening song of their then new album, No Code. It was a strange choice, I thought. It was followed by an intense version of "Go", and the intensity was on. The crowd was really fired up, and seemed as excited as I was in just seeing the band, finally. The next few songs were also highly charged, despite Vedder's previous prediction. During "Animal", Vedder stopped the song and warned the crowd that people were acting crazy, and given the overly crowded circumstances, he did not want something to happen. He even mentioned that they did not think they could keep playing music if someone was to lose their life at one of their shows, something that a friend of mine mentioned some years later, following the tragic incident at Roskilde during the Pearl Jam set.

In any case, that show indeed was legendary, and just as Vedder had forecast, they did in fact play more sings, and played a longer show, than they had ever done before. Everyone went home satisfied, and that certainly included me. I was flying high for maybe a week or so after, feeling so privileged to have felt like that. Since then, only the shows that I mentioned earlier have really allowed me to feel that way, as far as concerts are concerned. Most recently, it was Ringo's 70th birthday show that made me feel that concert magic. It's a nice feeling, and I remember just feeling so content following that legendary 1996 show. Even the massive traffic jam following the show's end did not bother me. Nothing bothered me after that for a while.

That show was on this date, September 29th, exactly 20 years ago, and I was there! I was sure that it would forever be the greatest Pearl Jam show that I would ever see, but I have seen them over twenty times since then. One of the other very memorable shows that I saw of theirs also occurred on this date, back in 2004. It was also part of the Vote for Change tour, about two weeks before that Washington DC finale that I mentioned earlier in this blog. That also had an incredible set list, and was one of the most intense shows of Pearl Jam's that I had ever seen. Even that was now eight years ago. They were both a long time ago, but, ah, what memories!

Here's a link to Pearl Jam's website with the setlist of this 1996 show (as well as an illustration of the poster from the show, now a real colector's item):

And here's a link to the other September 29th show, eight years later in 2004, and eight years ago on this date:

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Our Earth Passes Carbon Dioxide Threshold

Earth from Space with Stars

Photo courtesy of DonkeyHotey Flickr Page:

The old button from the Environmental Club days which I just happened to find on Earth Day! It is a little beat up (particularly the ends of the ribbon), but no worse for the wear, I think. And it is one of the few items that I have left from those days, so it carries a lot of great memories for me! Nothing Changes Until You Do!

Here is a picture of a very similar logo, with the same message, that was on the t-shirt that I purchased from the BCC Environmental Club and, if memory serves me correctly, may even have helped to make. There were a few projects like that which club members, myself included, were regularly involved with. It has been so long, however, that I no longer recall specifically if I actually helped to make these or not, although I do believe so, since I remember seeing the process of the t-shirts being dyed. In any case, I loved this t-shirt, and have kept it ever since, even if I do not regularly wear it. Since it was part of my experience with the BCC Environmental Club days, as well as more generally having an environmental theme, it seemed appropriate to share it here. 

"Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's needs, but not every man's greed."

~Mahatma Gandhi

"Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future."
~John F. Kennedy  

There is a symbolic mark that the world just reached that should give all of us pause for thought: carbon dioxide has now reached the 400 parts per million threshold.

This level has been steadily rising, of course, since massive pollution began starting with the Industrial Revolution. It was no secret that it was going to reach and surpass this mark sooner or later, one way or the other.

Still, this is a sad distinction, and it should make us reflect solemnly on what we are doing right now, exploiting every possible corner of land that we can reap profits from, and draining our world's precious valuable resources.

Today, I recognize this solemn occasion, with hopes that we still will collectively wake up on time to do something to make this world a more livable planet for us all.

The Earth just permanently passed a symbolic carbon dioxide threshold Mashable, September 27, 2016:

Beatles Album Covers Are Now Honored With Official Great Britain Issue Stamps

Photo by Luiz Fernando Reis (Bealtes cor 36 on Flickr) 
Creative Commons License -


I have long been a collector of both stamps and Beatles albums, both of these hobbies dating back to when I was about six years old!

So, how perfect to see official stamps from a major country like Great Britain honoring probably the most influential rock act in history!

Yes, the Beatles are being honored as every album that they released (during their lifetimes, not the "new releases" that came decades after the band broke up and ceased to exist as a band anymore), which is a really cool idea that, frankly, is greatly overdue.

Beatles album covers made into stamps

Beatles stamps the most popular special collection released by Royal Mail in last ten years 00:01, 3 JUN 2015 BY AGENCY STAFF

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

NFL 2016-17 Season Week 4 Predictions & Review of MNF Week 3

Atlanta 45, New Orleans 32 - Wow! Here I thought Atlanta was well on their way towards another mediocre season, and they have played like killers in the last couple of weeks. The Falcons scored on six straight possessions, as they showed their offensive capabilities and explosiveness. The Saints defense was clearly overwhelmed and outmatched, and could do nothing to stop or even slow the Falcons down last night. The Falcons have pulled off two straight road wins in Oakland and New Orleans, although they now have a stretch of three straight games that are going to be very tough for them. Still, this 2-1 start is solid, and for right now, they are in sole possession of first place in the NFC South. Who would have thought that Carolina would be struggling to the degree that they are at this point? Not as much of a surprise for the 1-2 Bucs, although for New Orleans, this loss stung especially, coming as it did on the ten-year anniversary of what had been the huge game against Atlanta, in what was the first home game for the Saints since Hurricane Katrina. New Orleans won that game, and went on to the NFC title game that season, although they would go on to win the Super Bowl following the 2009-10 season. This edition of the Saints, however, are now 0-3, and there are no teams since the NFL revised their current playoff format who have ever overcome an 0-3 start to qualify for the playoffs. That said, the 1992 San Diego Chargers overcame a dismal 0-4 start to not only qualify for the playoffs, but to win the AFC West with an 11-5 record, and won a playoff game before losing to Miami. Also, Kansas City overcame a 1-5 start last season to finish the season at 11-5, and also won a playoff game (on the road, and by shutout!), before losing to New England. History is not on the side of the New Orleans Saints, although hope is not completely dead in the Big Easy, although last night's loss certainly had to be discouraging. 

NFL Week 4 Preview and Predictions:

Thursday Night - Miami at Cincinnati - The Bengals are reeling after two stinging losses in a row now, although those two defeats came against two very tough teams in Pittsburgh and Denver. The Bengals are still a solid team, and especially tough at home. They host the Miami Dolphins, who finally earned their first victory, even though it was against Cleveland. The Browns gave the Fins all that they could handle, although Miami did pull it out finally in overtime. Still, the Dolphins look a bit overmatched in this one against a Cincinnati team ready to end this losing streak and get back to winning. It is hard to imagine them not doing so. My pick: Cincinnati

Indianapolis versus Jacksonville from Wembley Stadium, London, UK - Another big match in Jolly Old England, the first since the Brexit vote. The Colts finally notched a hard earned win against the tough Chargers last weekend, and they now take on a Jacksonville team that is in danger of watching their season spiral out of control after dropping their first three games. The Jaguars came painfully close to beating the Ravens last week, and are obviously hungry for a win. Can they do it against Indianapolis? It will be a tall order, although I will go ahead and predict that the Jaguars pull off a mild surprise and upset the Colts in London. My pick: Jacksonville

Tennessee at Houston - The Titans are getting better, slowly but surely. They are more competitive than most people would have given them credit for. However, that does not mean that they are not going to suffer close losses, or perhaps even not so close losses. After all, this team still has a long way to go before they start to seriously look like contenders. Heading into Houston to face a Texans team that will try and erase the bitter memory of a blowout loss in New England, by shutout no less, will be a tall order. The Texans are a good team that happened to look bad against the Patriots, but at home against Tennessee, Houston should be primed and ready to go. Hard to go against the Texans in this one. My pick: Houston

Detroit at Chicago - The Bears will try to avoid what would be almost an assured last place finish should they lose this game at home to Detroit. It would sink them to 0-4, and drop them to a full two games behind even the third place team. However, the main problem is that Chicago just is not that good. Detroit has looked competitive in every game so far, despite two straight losses. But the Lions should be able to get in top form at Soldier Field, against a team that certainly appears to be in disarray. The offense has been hitting a good stride, the defense has looked solid at times, and that should be enough to allow Detroit to pull this one off. My pick: Detroit

Oakland at Baltimore - This is a tough game to call. The Raiders definitely appear to be improving, as they steadily close in on the traditional powerhouse teams in the AFC West in Denver and Kansas City. However, they also show quite a bit of inconsistency. As for the Ravens, they already managed to win some tight games to avoid anything like the disastrous start that they had last year. Still, they need to play at their defensive best and contain the Raiders, or else they are staring at their first loss. That said, the Ravens are a careful team, and playing at home is when they are at their best, while Oakland traditionally struggles when they have to travel east. My pick Baltimore

Carolina at Atlanta - The Panthers really lost both of the games that they lost so far because the opposing defenses were tough and physical and kept getting to Cam Newton. However, the Falcons do not have that caliber defense, and will thus have to try and win in a shootout against Carolina's normally explosive offense. True, the Falcons have looked good so far this season, and with a win, they can really take a solid lead within the division. However, it is hard to imagine Carolina struggling that mightily this early, and digging themselves in that deep of a hole. I expect Carolina to put it all together both defensively and offensively this weekend, and to win the kind of statement game that puts their season back on the right track. They need this one. My pick: Carolina

Seattle at NY Jets - The Jets lost pretty badly at Kansas City last weekend, but at least they are returning home. The problem is that they are facing the Seahawks, one of the most talented teams in the league right now. Seattle looked surprisingly sluggish through the first two weeks, and there are definitely still questions regarding the health of starting quarterback Wilson. However, Seattle finally showed what they were capable of in crushing the 49ers last weekend, and their defense finally started to resemble the "Legion of Boom." In the meanwhile, the Jets are reeling after that loss to KC, in which they shot themselves in the foot time and time again. It will be difficult to straighten themselves out against a team of Seattle's caliber, although New York would have a shot if they somehow manage to exploit the potential weakness of a Seahawk offense either minus Wilson, or with a limited Wilson. Still, it is hard to go against the Seahawks in this one. My pick: Seattle

Cleveland at Washington - The Browns keep coming close but, at least so far, no cigar. Washington finally clinched their first victory on the road at the Giants last weekend, and return home fully expecting to beat a weak Cleveland team. I would love to say that the Browns will pull off an upset, and even think that they do have a chance at it, as I still am a bit skeptical about Washington. However, logic suggests that Washington should win this one, and it is hard to actually predict against them. My pick: Washington

Buffalo at New England - The questions that were raised by the suspension of Tom Brady for the first month have so far been answered, and there is now only one game left for a team to take advantage of Brady's absence and steal a win. Yes, Buffalo will bring Ryan's trademark tough defense into Foxboro to try and hand the Patriots their first loss. If you are trying to remain optimistic that New England can indeed be beaten, keep in mind that the Bills played the Pats tough in both games last season, and that was with Brady at the helm. Plus, the Bills finally won a solid game this season, and against a good club in Arizona. This would definitely be a huge boost for their momentum. However, Belichik always seems to have some strategies in place to make playing in Foxboro a very daunting task, and you can bet that he will have something solid in place for this one, as well. For anyone else in the AFC East to have anything like a realistic chance to catch New England before they can manage to run away with it, then the Bills need to find a way to take this one, especially since both New York and Miami have very tough games that are not sure bets by any stretch. However, a likely Buffalo loss in this contest would indeed allow New England to survive the suspension with an undefeated 4-0 record, and a huge, and all too comfortable, three game lead against everyone else in the division, if everything works the way that most people probably expect it. My pick: New England

Denver at Tampa Bay - Like some other teams, the Bucs are pretty clearly showing improvement, even if it is not reflected too strongly in their record yet. They are getting better, and are a tough team. However, they might just be facing the toughest team in the league right now in the Broncos, with that nasty defense, and that is a very tall order for a Tampa team that was overmatched by the Rams last weekend. Denver will likely grind out a victory, doing enough on offense, and allowing their defense to rough the Bucs up a bit. Hard to see how the Bucs can win this one. My pick: Denver

Los Angeles at Arizona - The Rams have played the last two games as well as you could ask them to play. Despite getting blown out in Week 1 at SF, and then not scoring any touchdowns during the first two weeks, LA absolutely exploded last weekend against Tampa, earning a hard road win in the process. In the meanwhile, the Cardinals are probably just happy not to have to play an AFC East team, as they cannot seem to beat any so far. This was supposed to be one of the real favorites to make the Super Bowl, but we have yet to see those Cardinals emerge. This team went 13-3 during the regular season last year, but they are only 1-2 so far this season, and have looked surprisingly vulnerable. Still, they are at home, and they need this far more than the Rams do. If the Cardinals were to drop this, and Seattle wins, then they would find themselves trailing not one, but two teams within the division by a full two games. My guess is that they will not allow this, and will come away with a big and timely win. My pick: Arizona

Dallas at San Francisco - Remember when this was the biggest rivalry in sports? These two teams gave us some classic contests between their numerous playoff clashes, dating back to the early 1970's, and peaking in the 1990's, when these two teams were, far and away, the two best teams in the league. Well, both of these teams have fallen a bit since then, and they combined for a total of 9 wins and 23 loss last season. The 49ers are hosting, but they also got their butt handed to them for two games in a row now. Dallas, in the meantime, lost their first contest, but have won two big games in a row, and need this win to keep within range of the Philadelphia Eagles, who could threaten to run away with it if they keep going on this pace. The Cowboys are feeling hot right now, and if they play the way that they are capable of playing, they should win this. Not by a blowout, but they should indeed come out on top. My pick: Dallas

New Orleans at San Diego - The Chargers have played surprisingly well, while the Saints are treading dangerously close to traditional "Aints" territory right now. Having to go on the road to take on a Chargers team that has played well, yet is feeling angry after dropping to 1-2, will make the Saints task much more difficult. San Diego has some momentum right now, while the Saints simply do not. This one should be all Chargers. My pick: San Diego

Sunday Night - Kansas City at Pittsburgh - Pittsburgh looked very strong this year, until they got absolutely slammed by Philadelphia last weekend. They will be angry and looking to avoid dropping a second straight game. In the meantime, the Chiefs seemed to have kicked off some of the rust with a convincing drubbing of the Jets last weekend, but their task in Pittsburgh is significantly tougher. If the Chiefs play as well as they did last weekend, they really have a chance. However, Pittsburgh is always a tough place to play, and so it is hard to go against the Steelers. My pick: Pittsburgh

Monday Night - NY Giants at Minnesota - As a Giants fan, I really wish I could say that the Giants are going to win this one. However, the Vikings are off to a 3-0 start, and already defeated some of the better teams in the conference. They handed the Packers their first loss, and then shocked the Panthers in Carolina! By contrast, the Giants barely edged out the Cowboys in Dallas, then basically outlasted the winless Saints, probably getting lucky in the process, before losing to Washington. The Giants are tied for second in the NFC East, but this is their toughest game yet, and the way that they have been playing, it is very difficult to see them go on the road and beat one of the truly elite teams. My pick: Minnesota

Monday, September 26, 2016

NFL Week 3 Review

Washington 29, NY Giants 27 - This game gave me a bad feeling all week. Just had a feeling that Washington would be absolutely determined to find a way - any way - to win it. And indeed, that is what they managed to do. Of course, they were helped by some inopportune interceptions by Eli Manning. Odell Beckham caught seven passes for 121 yards, and he had some spectacular catches among those. Still, it was not enough, as Washington, wearing their older style uniforms reminiscent of their glory days from the 1980's and 1990's, did just enough to take this one. The Giants are knocked off from the ranks of the unbeaten teams.

Green Bay 34, Detroit 27 - After snapping a losing streak at Lambeau that had lasted more than two decades last season, the Lions were hoping to rebound from a disappointing loss last week to get back to a winning record. Indeed, they played well, too. Matthew Stafford was sharp, and he was impressive in a losing cause. But the Packers just proved to be too strong today, as they recovered from a disappointing loss at Minnesota last weekend.

Miami 30, Cleveland 24 (OT) - The Browns have played well so far this season, but they just cannot seem to catch a break. Indeed, despite the Cavs finally bringing a championship back to Cleveland, the Browns have seen no change in their "Factory of Sadness" curse. This time, they were good enough to challenge the Dolphins in Miami, and  even forced the game into overtime after being down by 11 in the fourth quarter. But in overtime, the two teams exchanged possession, before the Dolphins finally got in gear, getting into the red zone. Jay Ajayi then ran it in from 11 yards out to hand Miami their first victory of the season, while the Browns continue to wait for their first taste of victory this year, dropping down to 0-3.

Minnesota 22, Carolina 10 - Now, to me, this surely was the most shocking outcome of the week! I mean, okay, fine, the Panthers lost in Denver in week one. But the Broncos are the Super Bowl champs, and Mile High has always been a tough place to play. The Panthers entered this home game with a 1-1 record, and looked to get their second straight win. Remember, this team went 15-1 last regular season, and everyone is kind of waiting for them to catch fire again. But it did not happen today, as the Vikings defense wore down Carolina's dangerous offense. They sacked Newton eight times, and there were other hits on him, as well, as the star quarterback, last season's MVP, looked frustrated and worn down. Minnesota just outmuscled them, taking the script from Denver in the opener and the Super Bowl, and Carolina, rather shockingly, now stands with only a 1-2 record after three games. For the Vikings, this was a huge road win that establishes them as a bona fide playoff contender, and keeps them as one of the five remaining unbeaten teams.

Buffalo 33, Arizona 18 - This came as a surprise as well, although when you make as many mistakes as the Cardinals did against Buffalo yesterday, there is a good chance that you are not going to win. Carson Palmer threw four interceptions, and the Cardinals just appeared sloppy throughout this game, while a hungry Buffalo team took care of business and got the job done when they needed it, earning their first victory of the season. The Cardinals made it easy for them, allowing Buffalo to stand back and take advantage of the plentiful opportunities when they came.

Denver 29, Cincinnati 17 - This was an early season battle between two consistent playoff contenders. However, one team happened to be the defending Super Bowl champions, and the other happened to be the Bengals, a team that has not won a playoff game since the first Bush was occupying the White House, and Gorbachev still was the leader of the Soviet Union. Not surprisingly, the Broncos had their defense wear the Bengals down, and Cincinnati, with two losses in a row to Pittsburgh and now Denver, looks like they are being exposed as a weaker team than many had expected. Denver now stands at 3-0, and are looking truly awesome this early on!

Baltimore 19, Jacksonville 17 - Another back and forth affair, and another low scoring game involving the Ravens. Also, another win for the undefeated Ravens, and another loss for the winless Jaguars. Baltimore had a seemingly commanding 10-0 lead until Jacksonville finally got a touchdown when Blake Bortles found Allen Robinson late in the second quarter. That same combination struck again late in the final quarter, drawing Jax to within two points, and the Jaguars actually had the lead late into the fourth, before Ravens placekicker Justin Tucker converted a successful 54-yard field goal attempt to win it.

Oakland 17, Tennessee 10 - A surprisingly tough, defensive game. Very low scoring, with physical play. And the Raiders managed to overcome an up and coming Titans team on the road, as well as some really questionable calls on the part of the refs, in order to take this game. After last weekend's disappointing loss to the Falcons, Oakland needed this. For the Titans, they suffered a disappointment on this day, but they clearly seem to be getting better and more competitive, which is a positive to take away from this loss.

Kansas City 24, NY Jets 3 - The Jets had some incredible scoring chances, but kept turning the ball over with key interceptions. Mostly, the balls were tipped in the air and then caught by Chief defenders, so it is not simply the case of it being Fitzpatrick's fault. However, Fitzpatrick did have six interceptions in this game, so a good deal of the blame does fall on him, even if there were a couple right by the end zone that were not his fault. New York kept missing on opportunities, and although the defense came up with some good stuff today, this game was decisively in KC's favor. 

Indianapolis 26, San Diego 22 - The Colts earned their first win of the season by outlasting San Diego in a back and forth contest. Both teams held the momentum at different points in the game, and the Chargers showed why they have been surprisingly good to this point. Yet, the Colts finally managed the win in the end, their first of the season, as both teams walked off the field with identical 1-2 records. In the end, the Colts managed to barely scrape by with Andrew Luck hitting TY Hilton for a 63-yard, game-winning touchdown.

Los Angeles 37, Tampa Bay 32 - This was a hard fought and intense game by both sides. Both teams played well, and can be proud. Ultimately, though, there can be only one winner. For the first time in well over twenty years, the Los Angeles Rams scored a touchdown in a regular season game, as they had failed to do so in either of the first two games that they played this season. In fact, the Rams scored quite a few touchdowns in this contest, going from one of the offenses that showed the least potential, to a downright explosive looking offense in this game. Tampa Bay played well also, but just fell short against LA. 

Philadelphia 34, Pittsburgh 3 - Now, this was surprising! In a battle of two unbeatens, the Eagles took early advantage, and then kept building up their lead, until the game was simply out of reach for the Steelers. The Eagles won the battle of Pennsylvania by leaving absolutely no doubt about which team was better in this game, as they remain one of the league's five undefeated teams.For the Steelers, they really will leave this week with their tail in between their legs, and they need to hope that Philly did not expose weaknesses that other teams can now exploit.

Seattle 37, San Francisco 18 - Russell Wilson completed 15 of 23 passes for 243 yards and a touchdown, helping Seattle romp over San Francisco. However, Wilson left the game with an injury to his left knee. For the Niners, Blaine Gabbert completed 14 of 25 passes for 119 yards, with one interception. This game was not as close as the score would indicate, as Seattle was completely obliterating the 49ers, 37-3, before San Francisco scored a couple of garbage time touchdowns to make it look more respectable. 

SNF - Dallas 31, Chicago 17 - It is almost surprising that it took over a year for the 'Boys to win a home game again. But with a weak team like the Bears coming to town, you had better take advantage of opportunities, and the Cowboys did last night. Dallas scored a lot of points, making this game not even really as close as the score would indicate, even though the score indicated a Dallas blowout win. Chicago is in serious trouble. They cannot stop anyone from scoring, and they cannot keep up with the scoring. Not a good combination, and this is evidence of why they are currently 0-3, and surely on their way to being a cellar dweller this year. 

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Jimmy Fallon Accused of a "Softball" Interview With Donald Trump

The first time that I heard about this particular issue, it was a few days ago, or maybe even as far back as last week. Essentially, it was a Facebook post (more like a rant) from a former classmate of mine who was always extremely political. Way back when, he used to be a staunch Democrat. Now, however, he converted into a Republican. Being a loyal Democrat would be bad enough, but in this day and age, being a proud Republican is, to me, inexcusable. In the last decade alone, some of the biggest names associated with the Republican party included, but was not limited to, George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Sarah Palin, Ted Cruz, and Donald Trump, just to name a few of the most prominent ones. They have not forwarded many ideas at all to resolve the nation's pressing problems, but only make every effort to block action in Congress, making the government feel like they are doing nothing. There have been several Republicans who seem to have suggested that women being raped might not be such a bad thing, and quite a few of them argue for more wars. Ted Cruz suggested during a nationally televised Republican debate that he would find out if sand glows in the dark after intense bombing. As he is allegedly a proud Christian who wears his faith on his sleeve, I wonder if he ever asked himself what Jesus would think about that?

In any case, this guy was blasting the "libs" (his word, not mine) for basically demanding that Jimmy Fallon had an obligation to, as he put it, "be an asshole" to Trump during the interview. He basically blasted this thinking, criticizing Hillary as being in the same league (which I actually agree with, more or less). 

Of course, Fallon's interview was a "softball" one and, of course, he received quite a bit of criticism for that. In fact, Hillary came on his show and gave him a gift - a basket full of softballs. He basically laughed it off,  He said that those softballs were actually his gift to Trump, and that he would be giving her those same softballs during the interview he would do with her. Overall, as I understand it, his response is that he is an entertainer, a comedian.

Yet, if you are going to invite a guy like Trump onto your show during the height of the election season, is there not some responsibility to be a bit serious and challenge the individual? After all, other entertainers who hosted talk shows have done the same, particularly with Trump. Hillary Clinton even used one such instance as an add, the one showing David Letterman embarrassing Trump by reading off where they were all made (hint: not in America). So, why was Fallon so reluctant to be even a little bit more challenging?

Now, I agree with this point, although I understand the idea of civility, as well. That said, these two, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, are both aiming to be the chief public servant in the land, and so they have to be scrutinized. And every time that they make a public appearance, they should be prepared to possibly get grilled, and answer the tough questions. Trump should be called out for his countless lies and inconsistencies, and people should indeed try to knock down such a megalomaniac. As for Clinton, she needs to be grilled for the questions regarding the highly questionable Democratic primary and her request for help to Debbie Wasserman-Schultz and the rest of the Democratic establishment. She should also be held to account when she is demonstrably caught either lying or having acted in an irresponsible manner, which includes her Bosnia sniper fire story and the email account while she was Secretary of State. Also, she should be forced to release the transcripts of all of those speeches where she collected so much money from. That is what we the public need to be hearing about, and not softball questions.

Still, admittedly, the softball nature of Fallon's interview with Trump did not come as a surprise to me. You see, I have had to watch Fallon's show numerous times while at work (I have never watched the show of my own accord), and the feeling that I got was, indeed, one of this aversion to politics or anything even remotely divisive, that might cost ratings. Other talk show hosts like Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, and David Letterman let loose on their personal opinions, braving potential ratings drops as a result. Hell, Bill Maher even lost his television show "Politically Incorrect" shortly after September 11th for opinions that he mentioned there, so these can really come at a cost. Other comedians have similarly spoken out on these kinds of issues, including some of my personal favorites, Robin Williams and especially George Carlin.

Fallon, however, just is not that kind of comedian. Almost everything that he does is too safe, which is really not so much a throwback of the eighties, but a continuation of that overly sanitized and superficially unified and lighthearted approach to entertainment that, unfortunately, has contributed to the ridiculous atmosphere of American politics today. After all, what is it about politicians going on these comedy talk shows? When Fallon jokes around with Trump and, essentially, lets him off the hook with no real challenges, then he is basically legitimizing Trump as a person and, thus, as a candidate for the highest office in the land. For reasons that I admittedly could never quite fathom, Trump has traditionally been a ratings winner. When he is on such talk shows, the ratings go up. He had a popular reality television show. People just always seemed fascinated by him, although to me, he is the real-life incarnation of the fictional, slimy Gordon Gekko. 

Yet, legitimizing Trump was what Fallon did, and again, it really should be to no one's great surprise. As far as I am concerned, this is what makes Fallon's show boring, and why I do not watch it. It is what makes other shows, including Stephen Colbert's and even Seth Myers, much more interesting and funny to me, because despite also being constrained by their position (which of course relies on ratings), they do not feel as bound to stick with what is safe. Every now and then, those guys are willing to voice their opinions, or to make jokes that might actually offend people. But that never applies to Fallon, who prefers softball questions and playing silly games with his guests, rather than anything that might actually reveal more about them. Certainly, that is why I had little hopes that Fallon's interviews of either Trump or Clinton would be worth watching. He is an overly safe comedian who puts his ratings above everything else, to a fault, which means that the interviews will systematically lack substance and be boring. 

You know, I have voiced my admiration for President John F. Kennedy here on this blog in the past, although I will be slightly critical of him on one level. A large part of his charm was that he did not stick doggedly, rigidly to formality. He could be quite informal, and that was part of his whole image. That was why people seemed to love him and the whole Camelot thing. They were entertaining, they appealed to the masses of American people, who could identify with him. Of course that quick wit of his added more entertainment value. 

Ever since, politicians have increasingly looked for opportunities to show a different, less serious side, as well. The trend towards increased informality has grown, if anything. It worked for Kennedy, and perhaps we needed a little less formality back in those days. However, it seems to have gone way too far towards the other end now, where politicians and news anchors now feel that they have to be entertaining, as well. They want everyone to see a more human side to them. Certain politicians (Al Gore and Hillary Clinton particularly come to mind) seem to struggle to show that lighter side, and sometimes, this feels forced. I remember George W. Bush was seen as more likable, and someone (can't remember who) once described it as Gore being the smart kid who did everything that he was supposed to, but was standoffish and would not let you copy his homework. In the meantime, Bush would allow you to copy his homework if he could, but he had not done his homework, either.  

That, to me, is a big part of the problem. These politicians now feel required to show that entertaining side, and if anything, that seems to be more important to many Americans than more substantive things, such as intelligence, honesty, and integrity. Returning to Kennedy for a moment, was it not true that how he appeared in the debates against Nixon greatly helped him get elected in the first place? People listening on the radio, without actually seeing the candidates, actually thought that Nixon had won, but the people who watched the debates on television felt otherwise, as they saw Kennedy looking great, and Nixon sweating and looking uncomfortable. That ushered in a new age, and new trends have abounded ever since. 

But I feel this has gone too far, and that this has, in fact, allowed candidates (and sometimes elected officials) who really do not meet what should be very high standards for being elected. Witness the rise of Dan Quayle, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Sarah Palin, and now, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. It is the same with news anchors, as well. They now feel the need to entertain, to throw in their jokes or wisecracks or, even worse, their opinions. I feel that this has contributed greatly towards the dumbing down of America. We need people either making the news or reporting on it who are actually going to do their homework. We need less appearances by prominent politicians on Jimmy Fallon, and we need more seriousness. Trump might be an entertainer and, apparently, according to the ratings continually spiking for his television appearances, he may even be a great one. But that does not translate to him being qualified to hold the highest office in the land, and that is why his appearance on Jimmy Fallon seems just utterly ridiculous to me. It continues the unfortunate, perhaps even tragic, trend towards a decided lack of substance on issues that really matter. This is the reason why the end of Brangelina seems to get far more press coverage than the shooting of unarmed victims by police, or the Natives peacefully protesting a pipeline, and then being attacked by dogs. It is not only a sign of the times, but a measure of the health of our country. And the health of our country just is not good.

Until we get serious about things that matter, that is not likely to change. That, more than anything else, is what stinks about Donald Trump and/or Hillary Clinton being on comedy talk shows like Jimmy Fallon to begin with. Because before long, the lines become blurred. When everyone wants to entertain, then only entertainers can discuss issues, and these issues too easily are either marginalized or, ultimately, ignored. 

Not long ago, we had two late night comedians who were considered more serious truth tellers when it came to the news then the news anchors who's job it was to inform the American public of the news. That is the product of the privatization of the news by major corporations with a vested interest in slanting the news in their favor, and they do this by emphasizing the entertainment value of the news. When everything needs to be entertaining, who has time to listen to boring details about complicated scandals? 

It works, too. After all, if Ryan Lochte can be so quickly and easily forgiven for disgracing the country simply by joining "Dancing With the Stars,", than why can't Trump be normalized on the Jimmy Fallon show? And that, to me, is why mixing politics with entertainment just does not work. Why should we then expect it to?

Here is the link to an article about hundreds of scientists warning Americans that voting for Donald Trump would be disastrous for the Earth, quite literally. Of course, far, far too many Americans ignore science to begin with, and generally seem to feel uncomfortable with facts as well. Too many Americans truly seem to believe the standard oil company line that these scientists are all in on some gigantic conspiracy, and are reaping huge financial benefits by advocating a limit to otherwise limitless plundering of the world's resources. Still, this is an important thing that we should take notice of, because we simply cannot afford yet another climate change denier (and really, a denier of science in general) back in the White House. Please take a look at this article, particularly if you are voting in November's American elections:

375 Top Scientists Warn Us Not To Vote For Trump by Chris D’Angelo,  Associate Editor for HuffPost Hawaii, 09/21/2016:

New York Times Decides to Call Lies by Donald Trump Out More Directly

Donald Trump has been getting away with every conceivable thing during this election. He says blatantly racist and offensive things, even obscene things, and he not only remains a viable candidate, but he wins the Republican nomination and then closes in on Hillary Clinton to make it a surprisingly close race.

Here is a guy who has insulted Mexicans, Muslims, blacks, women, the disabled, and quite a few other people along the way. Although he receives some measure of criticism for these actions, they do not seem to cost him anything overly significant.

Also throughout this race, he has consistently lied and contradicted himself. He makes allegedly bold statements that feel like he is proclaiming himself to be the cure all for everything that ails America, promising to restore it to some version of greatness that he and his supporters see, even though a part of that, evidently, is some restoring of racism. He claims that he is the only one who can save the country, and that he will be the best job-creating president in history. He also proclaims that he is the fittest person to ever run for president, which just on the face of it sounds absolutely absurd. 

One thing after another, his exaggerations or outright lies have just kept on coming. And somehow, he always has managed to avoid paying the price for these.

Well, at least one major and majorly reputable publication has had enough, and decided to call Trump out on his lies. No longer will these be called by any other name but what they are: lies. 

That sounds a lot more direct than "falsehoods" now, doesn't it?

Of course, many people feel that the media in general seems to be doing their job less and less impressively over time. It was over a decade ago now that the media seemed to give President George. W. Bush and his administration several passes, beginning with the stolen election and all of the conflicts of interests involved with everything that came later, including numerous corporate scandals and, of course, the invasion of Iraq, which destabilized the whole region that is now plagued by ISIS. It has been slowly eroding for several decades now, although one cannot help but wonder if this is by design, as this degradation of quality reporting coincided with the privatization of the media by huge corporations with a clear vested interest in controlling "the news."

Still, this move by the New York Times is probably a good one. After all, we need more directness and less politeness when dealing with someone like Donald Trump. He certainly does not make any real effort towards observing niceties, so why should anyone else make the effort for him? He has lied time and time and time again, and so it is time for someone to finally just call him out on it.

This is especially true since his run of successes has come with all of the lies that he spoke and promised going virtually unchallenged. It may be clear that a lot of people do not like Trump, find him either frightening or disgusting (or both), and that some people will do anything to prevent Trump from ever becoming president, but the fact of the matter is that specific points need to be challenged. When he lies, he should be called out on it, point by point. Even if he gives a new speech every single day, and each of these are filled with lies, there should be a team of reporters working to unmask those lies, and reveal them to the public.

Yet, the fear has to be that facts like these might no longer matter. People believe what they want to believe these days, and Trump has taken advantage of that little fact more than anyone before in American electoral history. Politicians are known for lying, of course, and even though Trump is hardly a typical politician, he certainly takes the cake when it comes to unwarranted bragging and boasting and, yes, outright lying, all to promote himself and his agenda.

New York Times decides to call a lie a lie, and its Trump coverage may never be the same  By Laura Clawson, Sep 20, 2016:

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Anniversary of a Great Game!

I originally published this on September 2, 2015, for the 24th anniversary of this game, but really meant to be more patient and save it for the 25th anniversary. However, I forgot about this anniversary when it came earlier this month - over three weeks ago, in fact!

Still, I wanted to recognize it, because it was one of the games that made me happiest as a Giants fan. You see, the Giants were the defending champions at that point, coming off a truly spectacular season. They had capped that with a second Super Bowl championship in five years, and barely got past the Buffalo Bills in Super Bowl XXV. To qualify for that Super Bowl, though, the Giants had to travel to San Francisco to take on the 49ers, who were aiming for what could have been a third straight Super Bowl title themselves. In the most intense NFL game that I ever saw, the Giants and 49ers showed their hard-hitting style, and the intensity was palpable. In the end, fittingly, it came down to the last play -  a field goal attempt to win it by Matt Bahr, New York's placekicker. When the ball sailed through the uprights, the Giants had managed to do what nobody believed they could, and what nobody else had managed to do in almost three years, and eliminate the 49ers. In the process, they ended a dynasty - one of the greatest dynasties in NFL history!

Roughly seven months and a half later, the Giants opened their title defense at home against - who else? - the San Francisco 49ers. At that time, it seemed like the Giants-49ers rivalry was the best one that the NFL had seen in years. A few years later, it would be Dallas and San Francisco, but at that point in time, it was those two teams. And the game was similar - almost eerily similar in some respects - to that epic NFC Championship Game that I just described. There were more mistakes made by both teams, and obviously, not nearly as much was at stake. 

Still, it felt to me that if the Giants wanted to have an chance at a repeat, they absolutely needed to win this game. So, when the game came down to another Matt Bahr field goal with mere seconds left in the game (although technically, it was not the last play), it really did feel incredibly reminiscent of the title run earlier that year. Once again, Bahr's kick sailed through the uprights, and the old Giants Stadium went wild!

Again, I am a Giants fan, and just felt elated. It felt like a big thing that you hold your breath for, and only when it's done, you can exhale again. This, more than any other game, mattered for the 1991 Giants. This was the one team that I personally wanted to see them beat.

Of course, the dreams of another championship faded fast. Roughly about six days, until the G-Men showed up in Week Two for what proved to be a letdown, as they played a lackluster game against a mediocre Rams team, and lost at home. If it did not end precisely after that game, then surely by week three, when New York once again lost a tight game at Chicago, there was a feeling that this season was not like the previous one. 

Before long, the entire season was basically out of control. The Giants were inconsistent, winning that home opener against what appeared to be a great team, then losing to a team that was not great at all. They were 3-4 before they finally earned their first real win streak of the season. Then, the Giants managed to win four of the next five games, and looked to have a chance at least to qualify for the postseason following an electrifying road win at Tampa Bay, in the same stadium where they had won their second Super Bowl earlier in the year. Yet, the next week, they went to Cincinnati to play the 1-11 Bengals, who very well may have been the worst team in the league at that point. The Giants blew a fourth quarter lead and the game, and whatever dim hopes had existed for a playoff run were over. That was the first of three straight losses, and a regular season finale win against playoff-bound Houston was small consolation for what felt like a season of missed opportunities. 

Still, despite what proved to be an otherwise mostly forgettable season, there was a magical feel after the win against San Francisco in the opening game of the season that felt almost as intense and important as a playoff win, at least at the time. It was an exciting game between two of the best teams of the era, and I enjoyed it enough back then to recognize it now. Here is what I wrote about it last year:

Today marks the 24th anniversary of a very memorable game that opened up the 1991 Monday Night Football season. It featured the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants hosting the San Francisco 49ers. Combined, the two teams had won four of the previous five Super Bowls, including three straight heading into that season.

That alone was enough to make this particular match-up intriguing. But the two teams also had a very strong rivalry at that point. I would argue that it might have been just a notch below the epic rivalries between the Cowboys and 49ers later on in the decade, or like the rivalry between the Patriots and Colts in the 2000's. That was how good the rivalry was, and how solid these two teams were. It was not that there was a lack of other teams that were breaking through. Chicago and Washington had won Super Bowls in recent years at that point, as well. But the Bears, despite that one awesome and incredibly dominant season, had never followed up with something remotely as impressive, and Washington seemed to find ways to win championships when other teams, particularly the Giants and 49ers, were struggling through miserable seasons, or at least disappointing losses. Combined, Washington and Chicago eliminated the 49ers from the playoffs once in the 80's and early 90's, while they got eliminated by the 49ers a total of five times during that era.

It was different with the New York Giants, who managed to be the only team in the 80's to repeatedly knock off that decade's best team, the 49ers. Yet, the 49ers had some impressive wins against the Giants during that era as well, which made it a true rivalry.

The two teams first met in the playoffs following the 1981 season. Both franchises had suffered through years of losing - the Giants in particular had failed to make it to the playoffs for 18 consecutive years! But the Giants made it that season, beating the defending NFC Champion Eagles at Philadelphia, then going off to meet the top-seeded 49ers in San Francisco. The Giants did some impressive things, but they never seriously challenged the 'Niners on that day. San Francisco would next play that epic NFC Championship Game against the Dallas Cowboys, culminating in "The Catch" that handed the 49ers an amazing victory, and earned their first Super Bowl appearance in franchise history. They would defeated the Cincinnati Bengals for their first title ever.

San Francisco would host the Giants in the playoffs again following the 1984 season, once again in the Divisional round. And once again, while New York did some impressive things, they ultimately could not stand up to everything the then 15-1 49ers did. San Fransisco would go on to shut out the Chicago Bears in the NFC Championship, en route to their second title in four seasons, beating Dan Marino's Miami Dolphins handily in the big game.

The next season, the two teams would meet again in the playoffs, this time at Giants Stadium. The Giants managed to do more than just a few things right this time around, shutting down the 'Niners explosive offense en route to a convincing 17-3 victory. Still, they would lose the next week to the legendary 1985 Chicago Bears, who trampled on New York's championship dreams in a 21-0 route. Amazingly, that was the closest that any playoff team would get to beating the Bears that year.

Finally, the Giants themselves rose to championship form in 1986. They enjoyed a dominant 14-2 regular season mark, with one of their most impressive wins coming on Monday Night Football in a showdown against San Francisco. Coming from 17-0 down, the Giants rallied after a huge play by Mark Bavaro, who dragged numerous 49ers defenders to pick up a first down. The Giants came back to win that one, 21-17. The two teams met again in the NFC Divisional playoffs, with the Giants crushing San Fran, 49-3. They would shut out Washington in the NFC Championship, then whipped Denver to capture the franchise's first Super Bowl championship in history.

Technically, the two teams met in 1987, although both teams had replacement players during the players strike. The 49ers won that one easily, although it was not really the two teams that everybody identified as the Giants and 49ers. But they would meet again in 1988, at Giants Stadium, in another legendary game. San Francisco seemed to be just edging the Giants out all game, until Phil Simms orchestrated what appeared to be a game winning touchdown drive very late in the 4th quarter, putting the Giants ahead, 17-13, for an apparent come from behind win. But in the games final seconds, Joe Montana found Jerry Rice very deep as two Giants defenders crashed into one another, and Rice ran in for the score to stun the Giants and their fans, earning an amazing 20-17 win. This game proved huge for both teams, as they both finished the season at 10-6. But for the Giants, 10-6 meant that they missed the playoffs that season, and in light of that, the loss to the 49ers seems huge. For San Francisco that season, 10-6 was good enough for a division title and the second seed in the playoffs. They would beat Minnesota at home, then embarrass Chicago on the road in the NFC Title game, before just edging out the Cincinnati Bengals in Super Bowl XXIII, with Montana leading the 49ers on what has come to be known as "The Drive" to lead San Fran past the Bengals in what was the first truly exciting end to a Super Bowl to that point. The Super Bowl victory earned the 49ers "Team of the Decade" honors.

But if there was any lingering doubts that San Francisco was the best team of the eighties, their dominance during the 1989 season erased these. The 49ers dominated, earning a 14-2 mark, and beating the Giants in a tight Monday Night Football showdown along the way. New York earned a 12-4 mark that season, second best in the league to the 49ers. But they were eliminated in the Divisional round by the Los Angeles Rams. The 49ers, in the meantime, crushed everyone in their way, stomping on he Vikings again, then humiliating the Rams, before scoring an unprecedentedly lopsided victory over the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XXIV.

That led to the 1990 season, and the peak of the already impressive rivalry between the San Francisco 49ers and the New York Giants. They met twice that season, culminating in the epic NFC Championship Game struggle that still is remembered as one of the most physical and intense games in NFL history!

Yes, I have written plenty about the Giants amazing victory on the road in the NFC Championship Game at San Francisco on January 20, 1991.

The thing about the 49ers was that they really were like the perfect adversary, or even enemy. This was not only the team that had won the previous two Super Bowls (and the most recent one at the time by the widest margin even of 45 points), but they had begun celebrating very early in Super Bowl XXIV, and holding up three fingers, as kind of a promise to achieve the rare "three-peat!" They had reason to be very confident, too. That was a great team, a very well-disciplined team, and they had earned "Team of the Decade" honors with the back-to-back championships in the 1988 and 1989 seasons.

Now, in 1990, they had started the season off in incredible fashion, with a tight road victory against the New Orleans Saints to open the season up, then racing out to an undefeated, franchise best 10-0 start. Simply put, they looked virtually unbeatable, and most people had them pegged as the eventual Super Bowl champions again.

The thing was, the Giants were keeping them company. With shades of the greatness that New York had shown during the 1986 season, when they had risen to Super Bowl championship form themselves, the Giants also sprinted out to a 10-0 unbeaten start, which was a franchise record for New York as well.

And the two teams were slated to meet in two weeks later, with everyone assuming that they would both be 11-0 heading into that game, and that it would be a historically important showdown between two of the best teams ever.

However, they both lost the week before to divisional opponents, and had matching records of 10-1 instead.

it was still an intense game. It was called by some "The Clash of the Titans," and many expected fireworks on that night.

What they got instead was a defensive struggle. A low-scoring game, with defense dictating play for both teams.

Ultimately, the 49ers won that one, 7-3. The Giants had their chances. They could have gotten a safer field goal in the fourth quarter to close to within a point, but Parcells gambled, as he was known to do. This time, he lost, and the Giants failed to convert. This came into play big time towards the end, when the Giants were in scoring position. Had they only needed a field goal, they very well might have won. But they needed a touchdown instead, and when they failed to convert, San Francisco preserved the 7-3 victory, in what was the lowest scoring contest of the 1990 season.

The Championship Game was also low-scoring, but that was even more intense with the physicality, particularly from both defenses. It was a game of jarring hits, and both quarterbacks, Joe Montana and Jeff Hostetler, suffered some cringe worthy injuries with hits received. Hostetler got up and came back into the game. Joe Montana did not, and his career, in fact, never was the same after that.

It was also a game that was very even, and became sort of a chess match between the coaches. This was not to be a blowout for either side, and both teams were playing for the end game. Despite it being a low-scoring affair, it had a bit of that feel of a game where the last team with the ball winds up winning. In fact, that was exactly what happened.

It is a testament to the Giants and their defense that, despite not scoring a single touchdown in either meeting against San Francisco during the 1990-91 season, they kept both games close, and managed to win the more important of the two meetings. That was behind Matt Bahr's five field goals (out of six attempts), earning the 15-13 win. And although that might sound boring, it most certainly was not. That game was absolutely filled with excitement and great plays, such as the touchdown pass from Montana to John Taylor to give San Francisco a 13-6 lead, and bring the 'Niners faithful to their feet, exploding with excitement as their team seemed to finally break through. But the Giants kept on pounding away, and closed in with another field goal. Parcells then called a very memorable fake punt that caught the 49ers unawares, as Gary Reasons took the ball and easily picked up enough for the first down. The Giants would get another field goal, making it a 1-point game.

Very late in the game, as the 49ers seemed on the verge of running out the clock on the Giants after an impressive first down to Brent Jones, Eric Howard of the Giants hit 49ers running back Roger Craig right where he was holding the ball, forcing it to pop out. Up to that point, this was threatening to be the first postseason game in NFL history without a turnover. But Lawrence Taylor picked it up, giving the Giants the ball with very little time remaining, and another chance - a last chance - to finally beat the 49ers in San Francisco this season.

The 49ers defended quite well, but the Giants steadily plugged away, marching down the field with their physical offense, and got themselves into field goal position. They allowed the clock to run down to the final seconds, to give themselves another Matt Bahr field goal attempt. If the kick went through the uprights, the Giants would win, and would earn themselves a trip to Tampa to meet Buffalo in Super Bowl XXV. If the kicked was no good, then time would have run out on them, and the 'Niners would be in their third straight Super Bowl.

Bahr's kick sailed through the uprights, and the Giants celebrated a huge victory!

The next weekend, in Super Bowl XXV, there were plenty more huge and memorable plays, as two worthy opponents met. The Bills seemed on the verge of blowing out the Giants at some point in the first half, but the Giants always managed to fight their way back and pull the score much closer. Eventually, in another very physical game with big hits and chess matches between the coaches, the Giants managed to hold off Buffalo to take a 20-19 lead late in the fourth quarter. But Buffalo had the ball and, similarly to the Giants the previous week, had the chance to position themselves for a field goal. With just eight seconds left on the clock, the Bills had a 47-yard field goal attempt, and much like the Giants had the week before against San Francisco, a made field goal here would win it for Buffalo, and a miss would hand the Giants the Super Bowl victory. It was one of the most memorable moments in Super Bowl history. The kick sailed wide right by around two feet, and the Giants were champions once again.

All of that led to the big showdown between these two storied franchises to open up the 1991 season on Monday Night Football. It was about as big a showdown on opening weekend as you could get.

What was at stake? For both teams, this was an opportunity to defeat their biggest rivals, and with a win, go ahead of half of the rest of the league with a hard-earned victory. For the loser, a bad way to start the season, with a nationally televised loss. To make the game even more compelling, the 49ers entered this game with an NFL record 20-consecutive road game win streak, which still stands as an NFL record. For the defending champion Giants, this would be a chance to start off their title defense in the best way possible, against their biggest rivals. It would also signal that these 1991 Giants were not going to suffer the same fate as the previous time that the Giants had a title defense season in 1987, which spiraled out of control early with an 0-5 start (although three of those games, again, were with replacement players) en route to a 6-9 season that saw them finish in last place in the NFC East.

Despite the win, the Giants were not nearly good enough in 1991 to repeat as champions. They won the battle against San Francisco, and for one week at least, Giants fans could rejoice at the huge win against their best opponent. But as it turned out, neither the Giants nor the 49ers would even so much as qualify for the playoffs that season. The championship dreams for Giants fans like myself began to be washed away when the Giants suffered a let down the following weekend, at home against the Rams. When this was followed up by a loss at Chicago, everyone knew that any real hopes of a repeat were basically done. These were not the same Giants as the season before. In fact, the Giants would never quite look the same again. The Bill Parcells era was over for the Giants, and so to were those championship runs. It would take an entirely different era, with Tom Coughlin at the helm as coach, and Eli Manning at quarterback, for the G-Men to once again become a championship team.

At that time, however, nobody could know that neither team would even be remotely close to the stellar level of play that both teams had exhibited the season before. Sure, there was a lot more sloppiness in this contest than either team had shown during the two meetings in 1990, but that could be forgiven, since this was opening day. What seemed apparent was that this was another installment of the best rivalry that the NFL had going at that point, and it was another memorable match before a nationally televised audience. For Giants fans like myself, it proved to be one final opportunity to get really excited about the prospects for another championship. Beating the 49ers again still seemed like such a huge deal at that time, that it felt like the Giants had overcome possibly their biggest hurdle during the regular season towards another title run. After all, given the success of winning seasons and division titles and championship runs that fans from both teams had come to expect by that point, there was nothing to indicate that both teams had dropped off significantly by the 1991 season.

But as it turned out, it was not a sign of things to come. The Giants would have an up and down season, until the climax late in the season, when they returned to Tampa, to the same stadium where they had beaten the Bills for the championship. Hostetler got injured, and Simms stepped in and orchestrated a late touchdown drive to win, and the Giants improved to 7-5, with hopes for the playoffs still very much alive. Those hopes were quickly extinguished when they would lose to the 1-11 Bengals the following week, and New York finished with an 8-8 record, well out of the playoffs. The 49ers struggled through much of the season, and stood at 4-6, before they caught fire and won their final six games. But this too was not enough, as the Saints won the division, and the Atlanta Falcons earned a playoff spot, having swept the 49ers. Both teams and their fans would watch the playoffs go on without them.

Indeed, both teams were very different than they had been the season before. Hostetler was the starting quarterback for the Giants, and not Simms. That was a first, as Simms had started for the better part of a decade by then. And the 49ers also had Young starting, instead of Montana. Roger Craig was gone, and so was Ronnie Lott. Parcells was gone for the Giants, although he would be head coach again with the New England Patriots in 1993. Both teams were beginning new eras in their history.

Still, for one last game at least, the rivalry between the Giants and 49ers was renewed, and the game certainly echoed some of the great moments from the past. The end almost mirrored the finish of that legendary 1991 NFC Championship Game, ended as it did with the Giants behind by one point, and then earning the win with another Bahr field goal. Even knowing what I know now, that the season would prove a disappointment for both teams (and their fans), memories of that particular game still gives me a pleasant feeling. For if there was a consolation to quickly falling from greatness to a mediocrity that the Giants would become only too familiar with at that point, it was in beating the San Francisco 49ers before a national television audience, and watching jubilant Giants fans celebrate such a seemingly enormous win when two quality opponents met, even if it really was the last time.