Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Clinton Supporters Trying to Figure Out Who's Responsible for Election Loss to Trump

I notice in each presidential election, certain themes are repeated, ad nausea. 

When Democrats win, which they usually do not do, there is much rejoicing from young people, from minorities, and from the so-called intellectual elites. Usually, conservatives remain relatively quiet for a while, and do feel they have a lesson to learn. I remember the somber tones conservatives seemed to speak in following Clinton's win in 1992 and especially after Obama's win in 2008, and to a lesser extent, in 2012. Within weeks, you will see derogatory signs or off-color remarks made. I remember being shocked to see, within a few weeks of his first taking office, an IMPEACH CLINTON bumper sticker on someone's car. It did not take too long

When Republicans won in the past, there was general acceptance. I am talking about the elections back in the 1980's. But with the close and highly controversial election in 2000, a lot of things changed. That was, of course, the first modern election in which the candidate who failed to receive the majority of votes won anyway. There was fierce resistance to Bush in 2004, but that time, he won a clear majority. Finally, in this past election, the Republican "won" again, but did so by losing the popular vote by more than two million! Once again, dissenters are urging Hillary Clinton to fight, to contest the validity of the past election, even though she conceded on the night of the election, exactly like Al Gore did in 2000. In both cases, this simple concession cast a dark shadow over the credibility of the possibility of seriously contending the results later on. 

Yet, there is talk now that she should contest the election results, that maybe she should be challenging it, and preparing for a presidential term in her own right.

The people who want her to do this have failed to realize that she will never, ever be the President of the United States.

This election was lost by Democrats for a variety of reasons. As a Bernie Sanders supporter, I still maintain that Hillary Clinton's credibility was lost when she turned to the Democratic Party leaders, particularly Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, for help, and they gave it to her. The entire Democratic Party was hurt by that, because it was their version of the George W. Bush fiasco following the 2000 election: just a mess of one sign after the other that they had cheated. Unlike with Bush, so-called "liberals" did not complain, but swept it under the rug. This they should not have done, and they should not have even gotten actively involved in the race to begin with, but should have let things play out. Bernie Sanders was surging, while Hillary Clinton was sinking. The warning signs were there, and many Sanders supporters were quick to point this out back then. The fact that the rest of the country did not simply forget all of this, simply because the Democrats had a case of sudden amnesia, only reinforced the perception of the Clintons in general, and of Hillary Clinton in particular, as being above the law, being some kind of ominous and corrupt presence in a dark room, making decisions that favor themselves. Bill Clinton meeting with Attorney General Loretta Lynch while his wife's emails were being actively investigated was yet another major story that went largely unnoticed by her supporters, but which reinforced this shady perception of the Clintons. She also reinforced this perception of being smug and dismissive towards millions of the same Americans that she hoped to represent by referring to them as a "basket of deplorables." 

Yes, loyal Democrats may have cringed when she made that statement, but I have no doubt that most of them did so only because of how this might have hurt her chances at winning the election. That they ultimately agreed with it, I have no doubt. The irony of them looking down on millions of other people based on the notion that those people supposedly looked down on millions of people surely was lost on them. That, in large part, is why I cannot take their talk of refusing to unify under Trump particularly seriously. After all, she herself was running to be the President for all Americans, and not excluding the millions who fell under her "basket of deplorables" grouping. 

The fact of the matter was that she represented the worst of the Democrats. She was old, she was in a powerful position for entirely too long, and seemed to really feel that it was her time, that she was entitled to her time in the White House. That anyone who did not agree with her was so easily and readily dismissed, as the millions of grass roots Bernie Sanders supporters were in the primaries, or as the "basket of deplorables" were in the general election, was proof that she was out of touch and a little too full of herself. The fact that Democrats remained blind to all of these things that seemed so obvious to everyone else was in no small part responsible for them losing this election.

Since the election result, however, they have acted shocked - Shocked! - that Clinton lost, and that Trump, of all people, won. Donald Trump will be the next president, and this reality has proven a bit too much for many people to take. What has ensued is a tiresome bunch of finger pointing by her loyal supporters. Judging by their reactions, there are a ton of people responsible. Bernie Sanders supporters and Jill Stein supporters are among the  most popular scapegoats. Julian Assange was responsible for releasing material on Wikileaks that was harmful to Clinton. The Russians were responsible, and some are suggesting that we need to take action. Of course, the almost half of registered voters who did not bother showing up at the polls were also criticized, but that is one criticism that I do happen to agree with. The others, however, are ridiculous.

Hillary Clinton lost because she is Hillary Clinton. People have grown tired of the Clintons, tired of them always getting their way, tired of them always seeking high office, and taking their inevitable win for granted. The American people spoke clearly well before she ever officially received the Democratic nomination, and they said that they did not trust her, and they did not like her. Despite running against Donald Trump, she was actually the least trusted major party candidate in this election, and she was also the most disliked. Not only did the Democrats not do themselves any favors by making sure that she would be their candidate, but they could hardly have shot themselves in the foot any more thoroughly.

You want someone to blame? Blame yourselves for remaining blind to what was so clear for everyone else who was not a card-carrying Democrat. That, first and foremost, is what Democrats have to come to terms with. The fact that so much of the media was complicit with all of this, and consistently ran with the establishment Democrats refusal to take Bernie Sanders seriously, and continued to ignore stories that painted Hillary Clinton in a negative light (and there were plenty of them) while going overboard in their criticism of every little thing that Trump did and said, making every insignificant gesture or careless word a harbinger of just how evil the man was, also had something to do with it. Really, the perception that Hillary kept getting off easy - despite numerous things that she was involved with and deserved to be highly scrutinized for - while Trump was blasted for every little thing that he said and did, and was generally dismissed as this racist monster, made it feel like this whole thing was being predictably orchestrated in her favor. The fact that the polls never showed her pulling away, like most strong candidates would have managed to do with a candidacy as weak as that of Trump's, also should have told them something.

Still, it also goes beyond the extremely flawed Hillary Clinton, her campaign, and the Democrats, or even the complicit media that transparently favored her. No, a large part of it has to do with the overall perception that elite politicians could and would say anything, promise anything, only to conveniently forget their campaign promises and turn their backs on those who voted for them in the first place. This has happened time and time and time again, and people get very tired of that. In 2016, all signs pointed to just how fed up people were of this trend, and they showed it in a big way with both major parties. The reason that Republicans won is that they saw this message, seemed to understand it and accepted it, however reluctantly. The reason the Democrats lost is that they refused to see this message, let alone understand it, and much less accept it. This refusal got them the candidate that they seemed to want in the primaries, but it cost them very dearly in the general election.

Outside of the strictly political sphere, though, it does bear asking some questions as to what happened. Why did so many people - particularly white working class people, men and women alike - choose the billionaire Trump, believing that he somehow could relate to their struggles enough to earn their votes.

Below, there is a video of Bill Maher, claiming that the politically correct crowd was responsible. There are others, such as Paul Krugman, who are urging a different interpretation. 

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

NFL 2016-17 MNF Review & Week 13 Preview

Green Bay 27, Philadelphia 13 - Well, the Packers finally woke up and showed some life after over a month. This scenario would not have been surprising at the beginning of the season, when everyone expected the Pack to cruise to another division title, or at least to another playoff berth. But at least they showed some intensity before it is potentially too late. Had they lost, they realistically would have had no shot. This win keeps some hope alive, although they will be fighting an uphill battle. For Philadelphia, this was as disappointing a result as they could have expected to have, because it sinks them still further into last place in the NFC East, and solidly has them standing on the outside of the playoff picture, looking in. 

Week 13 Preview

Thursday Night Football - Dallas Cowboys (10-1) at Minnesota Vikings - A second straight Thursday game for both teams. The Vikings just lost a heartbreaker to the Lions, and for the first time this season, lost first place in the division (although they were tied with Detroit for the prior two weeks). Now, they go up against the hottest team in the NFL, as Dallas is enjoying a franchise record 10 game winning streak. Surely, pressure is building week after week for the 'Boys, and you figure that, sooner or later, they will lose a game again. The question is whether this is that game, or not. The Vikings have tightened up a bit in the last couple of weeks, following that dreadful four-game losing streak. Also, they have home field advantage. But Dallas probably really wants to win this game, with some tough games against Tampa, at the NY Giants, versus the Lions, and at Philly coming up. So, they really need this win to stay hot. My guess is that they will eke this one out, as well. My pick: Dallas

Detroit at New Orleans - The Saints keep finding ways to win, and Drew Brees seems to have found some fountain of youth in the Big Easy this season. The Lions are tough, and they are a dangerous team, having earned the nckname as this year's "cardiac kids." However, while the Lions roar loudly in the Motor City, they are decidedly tamer on the road, and New Orleans is a tough place to play. The Lions can play well, and they will be a threat to win it if they keep it close. But something tells me that the Saints will be a bit too much for them in this one. My pick: New Orleans

Los Angeles Rams at New England - The Patriots are having an excellent season, once again, and appear on their way to another division title, although Miami is keeping it close enough that New England knows that they have to be careful, as they have little to no wiggle room. That is why they absolutely have to win this week, because they have some tough games remaining, and there really are no gimme's. The Rams are clearly overmatched, and it is hard to see how L.A. can even stay in this thing in the second half, or at least into the fourth quarter. They are hardly fighting for anything, while the Patriots remain hot, and have everything to fight for this season. My pick: New England

Denver at Jacksonville - The Broncos just might be in trouble. That loss to the Chiefs in Denver last week really hurt any chances of them earning a sixth straight division championship, and they are now tied with the Dolphins for that final playoff spot for the AFC, so it is not even assured that they will qualify for the postseason! However, help is on the way, because the Broncos will go to Florida to play the 2-9 Jaguars. This should be an easy win for the defending champs. My pick: Denver

San Francisco at Chicago - The 49ers played well at Miami last week, and very nearly pulled off a stunner, although it ended in heartbreak. The Bears also played their favored opponents, the Titans, tough last week. So, these two teams may very well be better than their combined record of 3-19 would suggest. Also, somebody is bound to win this game, right? San Francisco has been coming on a bit as of late, and are probably due for a win. Yet, Chicago has also improved their level of play in the past month or so, and they do have home field advantage, with this game being played in likely frigid Soldier Field. This one could probably go either way. My pick: Da Bears

Houston at Green Bay - The Texans blew a chance to really jump ahead in the division, and they might now have to pay the price. That said, the Packers are hardly what anyone thought they were going to be this year, so this could be a win for the visiting Texans, who need to end their losing streak posthaste in order to stay atop the weak AFC South. Green Bay is experiencing all kinds of problems, and the simply want to stop the bleeding at this point. A determined and focused Texans team could help prevent that from happening for yet another weekend, though. My pick: Houston

Kansas City at Atlanta - The Chiefs just earned a huge road win in Denver, and they have to be fired up. The Falcons, in the meantime, just dismantled the Cardinals, and are in the driver's seat in the NFC South. Both teams are in tight races within their division, and both have big showdowns and tough games to play in the near future. Both could really benefit from a win in this game. The Falcons are tough to beat, and have one of the best, most explosive offenses in the league. But something tells me that the Chiefs are tougher, and will prove it in this game. My pick: Kansas City

Miami at Baltimore - The Dolphins are one of the hottest teams in the league right now, but they are facing another hot team in the Baltimore Ravens, who are fighting to stay in a first place tie with the Steelers. Miami did not play as well as they should have against San Fran last week, while the Ravens basically outlasted the Bengals. It will be a tough game, and either team could potentially win this one. My pick: Baltimore

Philadelphia at Cincinnati - The Eagles are fighting for their playoff lives, while the Bengals are already realistically, but still unofficially, eliminated. Cincy was a very steady contender for the last few years, but this season has been a disaster for them. They have home field, though, and that should count for something. Still, I suspect Philly takes this one. My pick: Philadelphia

Buffalo at Oakland - The Bills are back to winning, but they will now have to go on the road to face one of the hottest and most surprisingly successful teams in the league this year in the Raiders. The defense is tough, but can they really contain the silver and black? Oakland has some tough games coming up against divisional opponents, so they really cannot afford to lose this game. My guess is that they won't. My pick: Oakland 

Tampa Bay at San Diego - The Buccaneers are sneaking up on people and playing surprisingly well. Then again, so are the Chargers. But Tampa Bay has so much more to fight for right now, and they seem to find some surprising ways to win. That said, the Chargers keep surprising other teams, as well. This could go either way, but I suspect San Diego comes up with the goods at home in this contest. My pick: San Diego

NY Giants at Pittsburgh - The Giants are coming into this game with their longest win streak since the 2011-12 Super Bowl run, but they face perhaps their stiffest challenge yet since that began, as they go to the Steel City to face the Steelers. On paper, New York took care of winless Cleveland convincingly last week, although that game was quite a bit tougher then they likely expected it to be. It will not get any easier a couple of hours to the east, when they take on Pittsburgh. The Steelers are again hot with two straight wins following those four straight losses, and they are tied for first place with Baltimore, so they need this win. The G-Men, in the meantime, have the second best record in the NFC, yet they need this win to keep within striking distance of the Cowboys, who always threaten to run away with it. With both teams needing the win, it comes down to hunger, focus, and execution. The Giants have had plenty of that lately, and despite this being a tough game, I am sticking with my team. My pick: NY Giants

Washington at Arizona -  The Cardinals are very hard to figure, although it seems to be getting easier to figure them out this season. This was a team that many favored to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl. Now, they are fighting just to keep their slim playoff hopes alive. Washington, meanwhile, currently hold that last playoff position if the season ended today, so this game certainly has playoff implications. The good news for Arizona is that they are playing this one in the desert. The bad news is that they are playing a much hotter team, and potentially the better team. My pick: Washington

Sunday Night Football - Carolina at Seattle - A rematch of last season's divisional title game, when the then 15-1 Panthers jumped out to a stunning 31-0 lead over the Seahawks, before Seattle clawed their way back into it, although that comeback fell just short in the fourth quarter. For this game, however, you have to expect that the advantage goes to Seattle, as they enjoy home field advantage, and are poised to win the NFC West again. Carolina has not had many breaks this season, and it is hard to imagine why that break would come in the Emerald City, against a team of the caliber that the Seahawks are. More struggles for Carolina, as the Seahawks bounce back from last week's disappointing loss at Tampa Bay. My pick: Seattle

Monday Night Football - Indianapolis at NY Jets - The Colts are kind of a hard team to figure, while the Jets have consistently under-performed for several seasons now. The major advantage that the Jets have is home field advantage. Andrew Luck is expected back, although if he will be back at 100 percent is anybody's guess. The Jets really got last season's success going with a road win at Indianapolis, so they are capable of winning this. Plus, they probably want to overcome the sting from the home defeat to New England this past weekend. Still, the Colts have a lot more to fight for, so they very well may take it. Yet, I think at some point, we will see some teams play the spoiler role, and that is what the Jets may be this week. My pick: NY Jets

Monday, November 28, 2016

NFL 2016-17 Season Week 12 Review

New Orleans 49, Los Angeles 21 - No surprises here. The Rams have won one game in over a month, while the Saints are fighting for a playoff spot, and are always particularly tough at home. New Orleans benefitted from having Brees at quarterback, as they sliced the Rams apart all day, leading to this obviously convincing victory.

Tennessee 27, Chicago 21 - The  Bears hung in there and played tough, but the rising Tennessee Titans were just a bit too much for them in the end. This win, coupled with the loss by Houston, gives the Titans an incredible opportunity to contend for this division title, a scenarios that seemed highly unlikely at season's beginning. For Chicago, this was another loss in a season that must be feeling incredibly long right about now.

Baltimore 19, Cincinnati 14 - This was the loss that likely ended any realistic hopes that the Bengals might have had to qualify for the playoffs this year, for what would have been a franchise record of six straight years. For Baltimore, this game was just what they needed, as it keeps them in a first place tie with the Steelers.

NY Giants 27, Cleveland 13 - Well, the Giants won, and avoided the chance of being the first team to lose to the Browns this season. It was considerably closer than the score would suggest, and the Giants needed two fourth quarter touchdowns to really secure this game. Still, a win is a win, and so they keep their current winning streak alive, extending it to six games - the longest winning streak for them since the 2011-2012 Super Bowl championship season! As for Cleveland, they are still trying for their first win of the season, but are running out of time now.

San Diego 21, Houston 13 - The Texans have a couple of teams right on their heels right now in their own division, and they are not playing particularly well. They keep losing at key moments, but those losses are adding up. Once again, they failed to capitalize on a solid opportunity, and now, they face the very real prospect of losing their almost season long divisional lead, with both the Titans and the Colts right on their heels. Scary times right now for the Texans!

Atlanta 38, Arizona 19 - Like with the Bengals, any realistic shot of the Cardinals recovering to qualify for the playoffs pretty much went out the window with this loss. It could technically still happen, but there really are no indications whatsoever that Arizona is capable of suddenly fixing all of the problems that has plagued them throughout this season, and prevented them from winning, the way that so many people expected them to. A solid win for the Falcons, and likely a crippling loss for Arizona, who are n the verge of having to wait for next year.

Buffalo 28, Jacksonville 21 - The Bills are an extremely streaky team this season. Right now, they are on a good streak, having won their last two. They required a comeback to take this game against the lowly Jaguars, but come back they did, and get back to enjoying a winning record. They have a tough game coming up at Oakland, though!

Miami 31, San Francisco 24 - Whew! The Dolphins escaped a dangerous potential upset here! They made this one far more interesting than most people expected, but they ultimately held on and won, which is a good thing for them. It keeps their playoff hopes, and even their divisional hopes, alive. For San Francisco, this was their tenth straight loss, and like with Chicago and Cleveland, this season must feel quite long by now.

Tampa Bay 14, Seattle 5 - I thought that the Seahawks were better than this! They allowed the Bucs to jump out ahead early, 14-0. Then, even though their defense tightened up and kept Tampa Bay from scoring the rest of the way, they only managed 5 total points! This was, of course, a huge win for the Buccaneers, while it was just a disappointing, but not necessarily crippling, loss for Seattle.

New England 24, NY Jets 17 - The Jets always play the Patriots tough. Unfortunately for New York, they still could not stop New England when it counted the most. Yes, the Jets looked like they might just pull off a stunning upset, the kind of win that would vindicate them at least a little bit this season. But then, the Patriots scored with just under two minutes left, and not long after, Ryan Fitzpatrick was stripped of the football, and that turnover was ball game.

Oakland 35, Carolina 32 - What a game! And what a season for the Raiders! For that matter, what a nightmare game and overall season for the Panthers, who basically lost whatever realistic hopes they still might have had for winning the division or qualifying for the playoffs. From 15-1 dominance and the Super Bowl, to this dismal 4-7 season where the balls just have not been bouncing their way. The Panthers may be the best 4-7 team that I have ever seen, although it is hard to tell. The fact of the matter is that they just seem to always come up short.

Kansas City 30, Denver 27 (Final/Overtime) - What a game! The battle between the second place teams of the AFC West went to the visiting Kansas City Chiefs. It was a back and forth affain, with the momentum continually swinging between the two teams. It went into overtime after the game ended at 24-24 during regulation time, and Denver got the first score in overtime, with a field goal. But the Chiefs battled back, got a field goal of their own to tie it back up, and ultimately, got another field goal which stood, and allowed them to essentially clinch perhaps the most important win of their season so far.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Christmas Tree With My Son

Jonathan Pie Diagnoses the 2016 American Election

This guy is something else. If you have not seen his videos before (the ones that supposedly did not air, but which are generally readily available on Youtube) then you should check him out.

He has a lot to say, and let's just say it: he is very angry. This particular video is his reaction in the wake of the election victory of Donald Trump. Here, he lambasts American liberals for essentially looking down on Trump supporters and others who do not think the way that they think. He feels that these intellectual elites look down on Trump supporters, and in so doing, they close the door on any chance of discussion. What he suggests is that labeling all Trump voters as racists or mysoginists or sexists, and generally portraying them as backwards, is counterproductive.

His point is well taken. After all, think of the contradiction: liberals are looking down on people who they feel are looking down on others, precisely because they are looking down on others! Now, that is what is wrong with our country, and that is the role that liberals play in it. They are both enablers and hypocrites in this regard. Now, I should note that I hate using that word for a variety of reasons, as it has become a bad word in the United States since the Reagan years, and it also is misused, with people like the Clintons and Obamas allegedly representing or being part of the "liberal" label, which they are not. Finally, in this age where conspiracy theories seem to outweigh facts in terms of importance, many people have this incredibly mistaken impression that there are some "liberal elites" who are ruling over us all, and devise their evil plots to rule the world. This little lie has been repeated time and time again by right wingers, and in part, it was a huge part of the reason why Trump won this election. 

All of that said, I do agree with his main talking points here. Americans who supported either Hillary Clinton or Jill Stein often have gone too far in simply labeling Trump supporters as backwards and as representing everything that this country should not be, and dismiss their very real and legitimate concerns without anything resembling close or serious examination. 

Now, I have probably been guilty of this myself, to a certain extent. Frankly, the though of some of what Trump said was enough to send chills down my spine. Labeling Mexicans as rapists, proposing a ban on all Muslim immigration into the United States and, moreover, desiring that all Muslims register, talking in a brash manner about his sexual exploits and generally treating women as mere sexual objects and conquests and, of course, disgracing himself by making fun of the disabled. Plus, let's face it, the guy is a piece of...well, you know. I thought that way back in the 1980's, viewing him as the real life version of Gordon Gekko, this guy who builds an economic empire by feasting on the carcasses of the companies that he kills, essentially. He was one of the original vulture capitalists that have gone so far to ruin much of what was great about the country. Indeed, he represented the very worst that the country had to offer, as one editorial from a New Zealand paper so aptly pointed out last year, during the Republican primaries:

The takeover of American conservatism by evangelical Christianity, Fox News and a handful of shadowy billionaires has transformed the Republicans into the party of wilful ignorance: doctrinal purity is more valued than intelligence; tolerance has been supplanted by persecutory moralising; paranoia has replaced realism.  

This process may be reaching its logical conclusion with the emergence of property billionaire Donald Trump as the front-runner for the party's presidential nomination.  

Trump personifies everything the rest of the world despises about America: casual racism, crass materialism, relentless self-aggrandisement, vulgarity on an epic scale. He is the Ugly American in excelsis.  

You might expect a tycoon/buffoon cross to be a political player in some Latin American failed state or backward former Soviet republic, places with no democratic tradition or public institutions that have stood the test of time and no such thing as "the people" in the sense of an educated, civic-minded citizenry.  

The fact that so many Republicans are comfortable with the thought of this monumentally unqualified individual in the Oval Office shows how warped the party has become. To borrow the rhetoric of their candidates, the party is now an existential threat to America's leadership of the global community.

Yes, all of this is true, and I used this particular quote already somewhere here on the Charbor Chronicles before, admittedly. But Paul Thomas, the guy who wrote this piece, really hits the nail on the head with his description of Trump as "everything the rest of the world despises about America: casual racism, crass materialism, relentless self-aggrandisement, vulgarity on an epic scale. He is the Ugly American in excelsis."

Indeed he is. 

Which makes his rise to the top not only of the Republican field and eventual nomination, but his election to the highest office in the land, all the more alarming. This was a wake up call, and we would do well to take a serious look now at why so many Americans were willing to support him, despite all of these things that he said and did that so many Americans (let alone people outside of these borders, who tended to be far more horrified at what this man said and did). If he represented so much of what is bad about the country, why do so many people hail his as the nation's savior?

Unfortunately, that is exactly what happened. And let me just say that I have probably dissected this election to death already. Quite a few readers are likely getting sick of my obsession with this election. But this was, to me, both the most amazing and, yes, the most horrifying election of my lifetime. We had someone like Bernie Sanders, who showed that a true and principled candidate can actually have a real chance at the White House. True, he would not have had an easy time getting things passed, granted. But we would at least have had someone in there who gave a damn about real Americans to actually use the power of the highest office to fight for their interests! He inspired millions, and seemed to be a refreshing change. For a while, I actually thought he had an outside chance, because he won numerous states in a row (I think it was ten), and Hillary and her campaign were reeling (which, frankly should have been the first real sign to them that maybe her presidency was not going to happen). 

Of course, Hillary's people interceded. They rigged things to ensure that their candidate would get through. So instead of a refreshing candidate with a new perspective and new ideas that were inspiring millions, we had the same old same old. Some suggested that she was exactly the wrong candidate at exactly the wrong time, and I would agree with that. The only people who did not recognize the signs that this election would not favor traditional politics as usual were Hillary supporters, because Bernie Sanders rose like the Phoenix for the Democratic side, coming from near anonymity to the brink of the nomination (had the Democratic establishment allowed the election to go on freely and fairly, which they most certainly did not), while Trump showed a rejection of far more conventional Republican candidates, one after the other, for the Republicans. With both of the major parties, the message could not have been clearer: people were tired of shallow, self-serving politicians with their empty rhetoric and overly processed viewpoints and statements, all geared to be as favorable with approval ratings and election results as possible. 

What many people were so horrified with regarding Trump was what so many others felt was refreshing. Love him or hate him, he spoke what was on his mind. Very clearly, he did not rely on a team of professionals to carefully weigh his opinion and statements on the issues. He was not a Marcobot or a Hillbot, in other words. That was why he dispatched with some of the more obvious and favored candidates, such as Jeb Bush, Rick Perry, Marco Rubio, John Kasich, and Hillary Clinton. That was also why the opposition from far more established politicians, including every major Democrat and many, if not most, prominent Republicans, including Mitt Romney, the Bushes in general, Paul Ryan, and Mitch McConnell was not crippling to Trump. He realized that they were not only part of the problem, but that in many ways, they were the problem. It was a shock to Republicans, too, but they, to their credit, did not interfere with the primaries, even when they did not like the results. The message was received, loud and clear, that established politicians would not win out this year, and in allowing Trump to thrive, they were able to win the White House, the Senate, and the House of Representatives and, surely, the Supreme Court. A vast majority of states are controlled by Republicans, as well. 

By contrast, the Democrats did not like what was going on, and they did interfere with their primaries. They did not want to accept that a more conventional, less original candidate like Hillary Clinton would lose to a grass roots candidate like Bernie Sanders, and they made sure that he would not win. By so doing, they also made sure that their candidate would not win the general election. It was a classic case of unintended consequences, and they have nobody to blame but themselves. They look to blame everyone else but themselves for the loss: Bernie Sanders and his supporters, Jill Stein and her supporters, racist rednecks, and even the Russians. But those arguments do not hold water. They should not have stood in the way of progress, of the inevitable shifting winds. They are to blame for their candidate losing. Period. 

And a part of why they lost is indeed diagnosed (I think correctly) by Jonathan Pie in this video below. He blasts these intellectual elites who deemed Trump supporters as too backwards, as basically beneath their dignity to engage with. And he blasts Hillary Clinton and that kind of Democrat as what passes for liberal or progressive these days. I have said this before, too. How can anyone believe Hillary Clinton to be a liberal? True, she described herself as the "true progressive" in this election when she was facing off with Bernie Sanders. At other times during this campaign, however, she described her own politics as "grounded in conservatism" and also described herself as "moderate." You can't be all things to all people, and that kind of disingenuous approach, trying to be all things to all people, was and still is a Clinton family trademark. Just because it worked in the nineties, does not mean that it will always work. Clearly, in 2016, people wanted something different than that. The only people who seemed clueless on that score (and many still seem clueless on that score, frankly) are establishment Democrats and blind supporters of Hillary Clinton. 

We have to stop looking down on people who think differently then we do. The paradox of looking down on others as a whole because we feel that they look down on others is a little too much hypocrisy, even for a country that too often represents such paradoxes in the eyes of the world.

At some point, we are going to have to get over ourselves, and our overly idealized way of looking at the world and dreaming of an overly accommodating place in the future that, somehow, never quite comes into fruition. This time, that daydreaming of shattering glass ceilings cost us dearly, and brought us Donald Trump. I want to see a female president in the Oval Office someday, but was not comfortable with Hillary Clinton. To me, she represented the very worst of what the American political system represents. The paradoxes surrounding her and her entire family were just a little too glaring for the country's voters to ignore. She tripped over herself trying to say whatever the polls or her team of experts felt would get her elected, she catered to the "too big to fail" banks and corporations that are still ruining this country, even while promising to get tough on them, she herself personally got rich with some of these secretive deals and speaking engagements, all while being officially in a position as a "public servant." According to an article by The Washington Post (Hillary Clinton says she has "both a public and a private position" on Wall Street: WikiLeaks release by Ben Wolfgang, October 8, 2016) she claimed that it was okay to have "both a public and private position" regarding Wall Street, which is the kind of statement that not only was not going to help her overcome those crippling issues of trust, but exacerbated them. In similarly slippery and overly slick fashion, she could claim, with a straight face, that she was the "real progressive" while battling the rising star of Bernie Sanders during the Democratic primary, while having claimed, just weeks earlier, to be the "moderate" candidate when she felt comfortable with her lead. And, of course, she also claimed that her politics were "rooted in conservatism" dating back to the Goldwater era, when she proudly considered herself a "Goldwater girl."

Add to that how quickly and thoroughly she was wiling to change her political positions when they suited her, such as disavowing the same TPP deal that she had once proudly claimed to have helped to construct, and which she once held up as the "gold standard" of trade deals, is just not going to win you the trust of the people you are trying to get to vote for you. Even had she won, those issues with trust would have continued to dog her presidency, much as they stained the presidency of her husband. Let's face it: the Clinton family, and no one else, is responsible for those issues with trust that the American people had regarding the Clinton family as a whole. They are always willing to be whatever they feel the people want them to be, and that kind of wishy-washy kind of posturing was itself the problem in the 2016 election. Clearly, people felt tired of overly processed politicians who relied on a team of experts to tell them what their public position should be on the issues, according to the latest polls. That was true with Jeb Bush and the Marcobot on the Republican side, where the two far less conventional candidates, Ted Cruz and Donald Trump, were far and away the most successful. And it was true on the Democratic side, where the only thing that really stood in the way of the momentum of the campaign of Bernie Sanders was the blatant interference by the Democratic Party establishment that was supposed to remain neutral, and which responded to Hillary Clinton asking for help. So, it stood to reason that the candidate who at least appeared to be the least processed and scripted would at least hold a decisive advantage, as proved to be the case. With Hillary Clinton holding conflicting positions in her past on everything from healthcare to the PATRIOT Act to the Iraq invasion to the bailout to getting tough on Wall Street firms to the TPP, it was hard to know her positions, let alone trust them. Indeed, that proved to be her albatross, her Achilles Heel. And that was not something that she could blame on investigations over her emails, or the Russians, or supporters of Bernie Sanders and/or Jill Stein. That was all on her.

Hell, let's face it: the Clintons are old-fashioned politicians. The fact that among the numerous people that they blame for costing them the elections are the Russians, of all people, is solid proof that they are stuck in an old-fashioned and outdated mode of thinking. They are used to scamming people, and took it for granted that this would always be the case. They have always tried to sell the American people a bill of goods, and indeed, with the smooth talking and charismatic Bill Clinton, they were able to get away with it far longer than they probably should have. But Hillary Clinton lacked her husband's speaking abilities and natural charms, and her flip-flopping and emphasis on secrecy cost her dearly. The Clinton family had assumed that they would always be able to win elections with enough people believing their nonsense. Pardon my bluntness, but whenever there was a mess, she would change her positions. But as Lincoln famously said, you can fool all of the people some of the time, and you can fool some of the people all of the time, but you can't fool all of the people all of the time. This time around, the only people who were fooled (and they were really just fooling themselves) were the hardcore Democrats. And instead of acknowledging their own foolishness, they simply took an arrogant stance by looking down on the vast majority of people who did not buy into the Clinton nonsense as readily and unconditionally as they did. There was no real debate as to whether Hillary Clinton was actually qualified, because they were too busy cramming her down everyone's throats, and stifling any dissent. The huge, game-changing stories that should have dominated the media when it was discovered that the primaries were indeed rigged were instead swept under the rug, as if they were no big deal. But Bernie Sanders supporters did not forget or overlook this. And you know who else didn't? Republicans, who came out en masse against what they perceived was the very real threat personified by Hillary Clinton and all that she represented to them. Some of the things that they believe about her were exaggerations and, frankly, ridiculous. But some of the things that they believed her, in fact, grounded in reality. She never could be trusted, and only her staunchest supporters failed to see that.

Unconditionally backing a candidate with that kind of a history, the people that pass as liberals in this country, and a huge portion of whom looked at Hillary Clinton, of all people, as nearly angelic and, as they put it, "the most qualified person ever to run" for the White House, clearly looked at supporters of Donald Trump in that same, generalized way. When they are blind to Clinton's faults and see their very flawed candidate only in the most positive way, it would only stand to reason that they went to such extremes in viewing all Trump supporters in the same, highly exaggerated manner. For them, this election was clearly a case of good versus evil, and it was beyond them to understand how anyone could have any reservations whatsoever about voting for Hillary Clinton, despite her glaring flaws. They not only looked down on Trump supporters, but they looked down on all voters who did not see things exactly as they saw them. And I think that if this election showed anything, it is that looking down on whole clumps of people based on generalizations can be costly. By so doing, they clearly helped to make the canyons dividing the American people even wider, with their camp claiming the so-called high ground - a position that seemed laughable (and with some reason) for all detractors of the Clintons, who once again relentlessly threw this hypocrisy in the face of those people who pass as liberals in the United States today.

The fact of the matter was that Hillary Clinton was not "the real progressive" that she claimed to be, and that those who bought into this particular hype, and who too easily looked past her flaws and trust issues, brought this on themselves. Many of them still refuse to view her as anything but the ideal candidate, even when a vast majority of Americans (two-thirds of them, in fact) viewed her in very unfavorable terms. They felt that all of these stories and scandals were, pardon the expression, trumped up. And they also remained blind to the contradictions and the flip-flopping on the issues that she was very well known for. While everyone else viewed two very flawed candidates, the supporters of both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton saw the other candidate as having only flaws, while they viewed their own as basically perfect. Their own candidate could do no wrong.

The thing is, the most passionate Trump supporters have been known for provocation, and so this is no surprise. But the dismissiveness and, yes, arrogance of the Clinton supporters, even with all of those flaws, and even with her outright cheating in the primaries, was more than a little troubling, and in the end, it was just not something that voters could overlook.

Now, many of them are mad as hell, and predictably, they are pointing the finger of blame at anyone and everyone, while remaining blind to their own hypocrisy and their own polarizing stances.

Until that changes (assuming it actually does change), the Democrats should get ready to lose plenty of other elections in the future.

Quote above taken from:

The greatest threat to America? Republicans  by Paul Thomas of the New Zealand Herald, Jul 17, 2015:

Here's another video going a bit further back. This was the first video that I ever saw of Jonathan Pie, where he tells, in his words, the "fucking news.":

Saturday, November 26, 2016

According to Noam Chomsky, We Missed the Biggest News of November 8

Tuesday, November 8th will long be remembered by many Americans, if not even most Americans, as a historically important day. Not only was it an election day during a presidential election year but, to boot, the election of Donald Trump marked an important turning point in American history. Depending on who you talk to, that could either be good or bad. In most cases, people hold very strong opinions on the subject either way. 

His victory was shocking to many who did not see it coming, and elicited tearful reactions from people who viewed him as a vile monster and/or a pseudo-fascist. Many viewed his triumph as a step backwards for the country, and the celebrations by some who traditionally are on the fringes of American society - particularly supporters of the alt-right movement that has ties to white supremacists - has dispirited many. 

Indeed, the election that brought Trump to power and, in many ways, served to lend some legitimacy to his loudmouthed lies and trademark arrogance, made the world take notice. Coming just months after the shock of the Brexit vote in the United Kingdom, Trump's victory probably was an even greater seismic shock, making it hard for the rest of the world to ignore. How could anyone overlook what is still the world's leading superpower electing such a man into it's highest office?

Yet, it might not even have been the biggest news of that day. Indeed, the news story that was cast in the shadows of the election may indeed prove to have longer lasting ramifications for all of humanity than the election of one man into political office, no matter how shocking it may have seemed, or how much it might swing the political agenda of one country.

Noted thinker Noam Chomsky is arguing that, in fact, the biggest news story that should serve as a wake-up call to us all was largely overlooked. It underscored a problem that the world has neglected for far too long and, in fact, the other big news story of the day - namely, the election victory of a noted climate change denier - actually could serve to make far, far worse before his time in office is done. 

Yes, the other big news story is regarding climate change, which most of the rest of the world acknowledges, but which Americans seem reluctant to accept, despite the overwhelming scientific evidence of it from experts in the field around the world. Many Americans dismiss climate change as some kind of elaborate hoax, conjured up either by the CIA, or as Trump suggests, China, in order to limit America's economic potential. In this day and age, facts seem to be viewed not merely with skepticism, but with outright disdain, and conspiracy theories abound, with so many millions of people believing basically whatever they want, even when the facts strongly go against these beliefs.

Unfortunately, climate change denial has become one of those points that detractors stubbornly make a point of discrediting. Many of the same people who argue against it are, by their own admission, not experts, and do not bother even trying to understand the science behind these "theories." Yet, these same people - supposed leaders like Donald Trump and Jim Inhoffe and many, many elected Republican officials holding high office - are somehow seen as authorities in the field. This undeserved status is serving to make the United States a laughing stock of the world regarding this particular issue - and it is not the first or second or third time that this is the case. For a long time, now, the United States has collectively refused to believe in the science of climate change. It is nothing new. It was the case when George H. W. Bush refused to recognize the Rio climate conference during his presidency more than a quarter of a century ago. It was the case when his son claimed he would be the "environmental president" but cited new research as the basis for breaking his promise to be strong in this field, just two short months into his presidency (although he did admit that climate change was apparently real in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. It has been the case for a long time, in fact, as other countries have taken the lead in efforts to combat climate change, while Americans continue to drag their feet and mock this "conspiracy" while driving their gas-guzzling SUV's and wasting far more energy per person than any other nationality on this planet. Most recently, it was the case with the election not only of a climate change denier into the Oval Office, but providing him with a very clear Republican majority in both the Senate and the House of Representatives, thus empowering Trump to further dismantle the already too weak environmental laws of the land. 

As an American, I feel ashamed when I hear that a country as tiny as Iceland - with a population far smaller than that of tiny states like Vermont or Wyoming - is nonetheless ahead of the world's leading superpower in the development of alternative energy. 

Chomsky, like others, has seen all of this. And he warns that time is running out, that the threat is real, and that the scientific reality of climate change is proceeding regardless of whether Americans, or anyone else, chooses to ignore the warning signs. Chomsky recently said:

I think it is important to spend a few moments pondering just what happened on November 8, a date that might turn out to be one of the most important in human history, depending on how we react.  …

On November 8, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) delivered a report at the international conference on climate change in Morocco (COP22) which was called in order to carry forward the Paris agreement of COP21. The WMO reported that the past five years were the hottest on record. It reported rising sea levels, soon to increase as a result of the unexpectedly rapid melting of polar ice, most ominously the huge Antarctic glaciers. Already, Arctic sea ice over the past five years is 28% below the average of the previous 29 years, not only raising sea levels, but also reducing the cooling effect of polar ice reflection of solar rays, thereby accelerating the grim effects of global warming. The WMO reported further that temperatures are approaching dangerously close to the goal established by COP21, along with other dire reports and forecasts.

Yes, the world is getting warmer, even though it does not prevent some moron in Congress from bringing in a snowball and making a mockery of his country, his government, his party, and of science, in order to disprove what is clearly a global reality.

The fact of the matter is that Americans need new leadership. Not just in the White House, but everywhere. We need leaders who are not just going to smile pretty for the cameras and say things like, "God Bless America," and keep reiterating that this is the greatest country in the world, all while allowing the corporate world to suck out so much of what made the country great in the first place. What we need are real leaders who recognize scientific reality, and actually do something about it. We need leaders who, as Jimmy Carter did almost four decades ago, realize that nothnig is stationary or static in this world, and that American leadership around the world is not systematic, but requires an ability on our part to recognize, accept, and adapt to changes, even if we might not want to. If we allow ourselves to indulge in the luxury of believing whatever we want to believe, others are going to quickly leave us in the dust. That already has happened in some areas, but in this one area in particular, we not only have not taken the lead, but have become a laughing stock for our trademark dragging of our feet, and stubborn reluctance to accept reality.

Trump is apparently not going to be such a leader. Some find him a refreshing change, although most people outside of the United States recognize that, in fact, he is very much representative of all of the worst traits that Americans sometimes are known for outside of our borders. He is loud, crass, very opinionated and arrogant, incredibly greedy and narcissistic, with a false sense of entitlement. He has a long history of being a con man, but he might have pulled his greatest con this year, by winning the election. Now, he is the face of the country for at least the next four years, and once again, I find myself slapping my forehead in frustration, as the country's reputation takes yet another hit, and a major one at that!

What is wrong with Trump is that he is more of the same, and nowhere is that as apparent as with his stance on climate change. But the time when the rest of the world looked to the United States for real leadership on this key issue has long passed, and they have gotten used to our national absence in aiming for strong, meaningful change to try and make the world a cleaner and better place. Here, short term profits apparently outweigh a healthy planet.

As for those of us inside of American borders, and feeling a bit trapped, many of us have already turned away from not only our "political leaders," but from our broken political process in general. I know that is the case for me, where the people I most admire, and feel can offer a real change, and generally represent the best that the country has to offer, almost exclusively are outside of the political sphere. With an election year that disgusted so many people inside and outside of the country, and which was surely the most pro-corporate election season to date (and isn't that a depressing thought!), to end up with a supposed rebel like Trump is like a cruel joke. At this point, we need to look elsewhere but from Washington for any real answers on how to make this a better country and, by so doing, a better world.

We could do worse than listen to the warnings from a an intellectual like Noam Chomsky.

Noam Chomsky thinks the biggest news of November 8 was actually ‘barely noted’ by Ari Phillips, Nov. 15, 2016:

Friday, November 25, 2016

Fidel Castro is Dead at 90

Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro died earlier today. He was 90 years old.

Castro successfully led a revolution overthrowing the Batista government, and then was a scourge for numerous American presidents dating back all the way to John F. Kennedy. A nuclear war almost broke out over the Soviets attempting to bring missiles into Cuba, and the Bay of Pigs disaster marred Kennedy's presidency some. Somehow, he managed to bring Communism into the Western Hemisphere, just 90 miles off of American shores. Even more startling, he managed to stay in power for an incredibly long time - from 1959 all the way until 2006, when he stepped aside to let his brother, Raul Castro, rule the country in his place. Raul Castro has indicated that he intends to step down in 2018. 

Since then, each president until President Obama kept the economic boycott in place. Obama ended almost fifty years of boycotting Cuba, and began the process of normalizing relations between the two countries.

Castro was one of the few old style Communist leaders who remained while much of the world changed, as the Berlin Wall falling marked the end of Communist domination in Eastern Europe, which itself accelerated the dissolution of the Soviet Union. China also grew increasingly more capitalistic, and although it is still ruled by the Communist Party, it hardly can be said to be a pure Communist nation in the old-fashioned sense. He had ruled for longer than any other living head of state with the sole exception of Queen Elizabeth.

Indeed, even Cuba is changing, and Castro's death might accelerate that change, as well.

Fidel Castro, Cuban Revolutionary Who Defied U.S., Dies at 90 By ANTHONY DePALMANOV. 26, 2016:

Cuba's Fidel Castro, former president, dies aged 90 6 minutes ago  by BBC News, From the section Latin America & Caribbean, November 26, 2016:

NFL Thanksgiving Games Review & Week 12 Preview

Okay, so I realize that my writing routine here has been thrown a bit off ever since the election, and apologize for it. Last week, I do not believe I either reviewed the games played, nor gave my predictions for this week on time for the Thanksgiving Day games. 

So, to try and remedy that, I wrote a review of yesterday's games, followed by my predictions for this coming Sunday in the NFL Granted, it's a bit late, but better late than never, right?

Detroit 16, Minnesota 13 - A tough, close, defensive battle in the Motor City for Thanksgiving yesterday, in what was a battle for first place in the NFC North. As a result, for the first time all season, the Lions improved to 7-4 on the year, and are in sole possession of first place in the division, after handing the now 6-5 Vikings their fifth loss in a span of six games. That follows an undefeated 5-0 start for Minnesota, although that is feeling more and more like it might as well be ancient history. In terms of this season, it actually is. Sam Bradford completed 31 of 37 passes for 224 yards, with no touchdowns on one interception. Matthew Stafford completed 23 of 40 passes for 232 yards and one touchdown. Neither team had particularly great running stats, as this was mostly a defensive battle. The major difference here was that Detroit needed no last minute, come from behind heroics, instead earning a tough victory in a close game, holding onto it in the end, and claiming first place in the NFC North, and with hopes to win their first division title since the 1993 season - which was 23 years ago now! 

Dallas 31, Washington 26 - Another important divisional rivalry game yesterday, and the Dallas Cowboys brought out their rare dark jerseys, which has kind of become a thing now for Thanksgiving - kind of their new tradition. Kirk Cousins had a pretty spectacular game in a losing cause yesterday, completing 41 of 53 passes for 449 yards and three touchdowns, with no interceptions. However, Dak Prescott was simply efficient enough to get the job done, not putting up spectacular numbers, but more than filling the role he needs for what was a far more balanced Dallas offense that did not put all of the pressure on their quarterback, as was the case with Washington. Prescott completed 17 of 24 passes for 195 yards and a touchdown, and spread the wealth considerably, as six Cowboys had catches in yesterday's game, and four of them had multiple catches. Prescott also added 39 more yards, as well as another touchdown, with his legs. Speaking of the Cowboys' running game, Ezekiel Elliott was fantastic again, pounding out 97 yards on 20 carries, with two touchdowns on the day. Behind an impressive offensive line, these two rookies, Prescott and Elliot, are really just enjoying incredible seasons, and the Cowboys are clearly benefiting. This was the 10th straight win for Dallas, marking a franchise record, as they move their record up to 10-1 in the year, which also happens to be the best mark of any team in the league. Washington drops to 6-4-1 on the season. 

Pittsburgh 28, Indianapolis 7 - Not much of a game, this one. Heading into it, this is probably right around what most people would have assumed would happened. The Steelers earned an impressive road win at Indianapolis, although it should be noted that Andrew Luck did not play for the Colts due to injury. Pittsburgh raises it's record to 6-5 on the year, as they assume sole possession of the lead in the AFC North, breaking the tie with Baltimore, at least for now. As for Indianapolis, this was yet another disappointing loss in a season where such losses have been common. They drop to 5-6 on the year, and this loss allows the Texans to potentially take a two-game lead for the AFC South division title with a win this weekend.  

Week 12 Preview: 

NY Giants (7-3) at Cleveland Browns (0-11) - As a Giants fan, this is a tough game heading into it. If the G-Men win, even if they do so convincingly, it is nothing more than what almost everyone expects. The only way that most people will raise their eyebrows after this one is if New York become the first team to lose to these Browns. The Giants have a five game winning streak going into this game, and that is the longest winning streak for them since the Super Bowl season in 2011. By all rights, they should win, but this could be a tricky one for them. Still, it would be hard to go against them going in. My pick: NY Giants

Los Angeles (4-6) at New Orleans (4-6) - The Rams have been an up and down team all season. They started off poorly, getting blown out and shut out in San Francisco. Then came an emotional win against Seattle, the first of three straight wins that had people thinking playoffs. Since then, the Rams have lost five of their last six, and are reeling. The Saints have also been quite streaky, but they are tough at home, and are in a much tighter race in their division than the Rams are in theirs. This game is being played in the Super Dome, which gives New Orleans an advantage. Plus, Dew Brees. All that adds up to what should be a Saints victory. My pick: New Orleans

Arizona (4-5-1) at Atlanta (6-4) - Like with so many teams around the league, both of these teams have had an up and down season thus far. The Cardinals came in full of swagger, and were many people's favorite Super Bowl pick for the NFC, but they have hardly looked anything like the team that went 13-3 and went into this season with high expectations. The Falcons, in the meantime, were not supposed to be particularly good, but they have played quite well, and are still in the driver's seat in the NFC South. Matt Ryan has provided solid veteran leadership, and Atlanta sees their opportunity to potentially take the division this season. This is a key game for them to win if they are going to make that happen. My pick: Atlanta

Tennessee (5-6) at Chicago (2-8) - It seems fair to say that the Titans are improving by leaps and bounds this season. Chicago, meanwhile, is going in the opposite direction, although John Fox has had them tighten up a bit in recent weeks. That makes this a tough game to call, and really, it seems like it could be anybody's game. Still, I am looking at Tennessee, and see the way Mariota is developing, and just how important it is for them to pick up this win, and I think that gives them a bit of an edge in this contest. My pick: Tennessee

Jacksonville (2-8) at Buffalo (5-5) - Let's see: the Bills are at home in cold Buffalo, and desperately trying to cling to their playoff hopes. The Jaguars, meanwhile, have suffered through yet another dismal season, and will have to adjust to the cold conditions. The Bills have a tough defense that keeps them in games, and the Jaguars...well, are a bit overmatched in this one. Barring a major letdown by Buffalo, it is hard to see how Jax takes this one. My pick: Buffalo

San Diego (4-6) at Houston (6-4) - The Texans are coming off a disappointing near win in Mexico City against the Raiders, but are back home, where they have been stellar all season. The Chargers have had an up and down kind of a season, and they will have their moments in this one. But too much is riding on this for the Texans, and they know what's at stake. They also know that they need to win every game that they can from here on out, and that is particularly true of home games. A win here gives them a two game lead in the division, with only five games to go. The Chargers, in the meantime, are too far behind the leaders of the AFC West to seriously entertain any hopes of coming back to qualify for the postseason. Still, they could always play spoiler, right? This should be a good one. My pick: Houston

San Francisco (1-9) at Miami (6-4) - Two teams heading in opposite directions meet in this particular contest. San Francisco has lost nine straight games, while Miami has won five straight, following a dismal 1-4 start. The Dolphins have a very impressive running game, arguably the best in the league right now, while the 49ers have shown a measure of toughness at times this season. Still, the Dolphins are red hot right now, and with home field to boot, that should make Miami really hard to stop come Sunday. My pick: Miami

Seattle (7-2-1) at Tampa Bay (5-5) - Another tough game for Seattle, who seem to play these kinds of games week after week. That might actually be a good sign, as it might just be toughening them up for a possible long postseason run. In any case, the Seahawks will have to visit the surprisingly resilient Buccaneers, who seem to be teetering on the edge at points, only to keep coming back with impressive wins to remain in the playoff picture. They are only one game behind Atlanta for first in the NFC South, although they are also only one game ahead of both New Orleans and Carolina, both of whom are tied for last, as well. Plus, the Bucs have shown a capacity to play some teams very tough this year. But the Seahawks have a ton of experience, and they are the better team, so I expect them to win this one in the end. My pick: Seattle

New England (8-2) at NY Jets (3-7) - I would like to say that the Jets have a real shot here. But it is hard to see how they can beat the Patriots, who clearly seem to be the superior teams, and at least seem to enter this game with most of the advantages. In fact, the only two advantages that I see Gang Green having in this contest would be home field, and the fact that they are well rested, coming off a bye week. Every other advantage seems to favor the visiting Patriots, who are slowly but surely inching their way to locking up another division title, and likely playoff bye. Hard to see how the Jets, who have not beaten a winning team yet this year, can slow the Pats down here. My pick: New England

Carolina (4-6) at Oakland (8-2) - The Raiders are gaining confidence with each passing week, as they keep winning and defying many people's low expectations for them this season. The Panthers, in the meantime, are just still trying to recover from that miserable, shocking 1-5 start. This from a team that dominated most of last season with a 15-1 record, and continuing on through to the Super Bowl, before they were finally humbled by the Denver Broncos. I've said it before and will say it again: it does not appear that they have really recovered from that loss, and have not looked the same since. Still, they have won three of their last four games, and are generally playing better. But a road win against one of the best teams so far this season will be a tall order. With yet another come from behind, tight victory, Oakland's confidence has to be soaring, and with home field advantage here, the Raiders will be tough to beat. This should be a tight one and, really, either team could win it. My pick: Oakland

Sunday Night Football - Kansas City (7-3) at Denver (7-3) - A bit battle for sole possession of second place, or possibly even a tie with Oakland for first place if the Raiders lose. The Chiefs are tough, and have shown glimpses of the form that saw them win their last 10 regular season games last year, and then shut out the Texans in Houston in the Wold Card Game, before giving the Patriots all that they could handle up in Foxboro. Still, the Broncos are the champions, this game is at Mile High, and Denver always seems to take Kansas City's lunch when it counts the most in recent seasons. I do not see any reason why that will necessarily change here. My pick: Denver

Monday Night Football - Green Bay (4-6) at Philadelphia (5-5) - Both teams have shown a lack of consistency this year, although unfortunately for the Packers, that might be changing for the worse. Green Bay came into this year expecting to be one of the elites, and most people's favorite to take the division. Early on, they were looking like those same calibur Packers, until this recent losing streak really started to derail the season. Already, it has gotten to the point where it is hard to imagine them recovering on time to make the playoffs. If they are to do it, they absolutely need this win badly just to stop the bleeding and get the playoffs back on their radar. The Eagles, in the meantime, are still fighting hard, and are still very much in the playoff picture with a win. Carson Wentz seems to clearly be developing into their quarterback of the future, and Philly is taking strides towards a brighter future. They have shown inconsitencies on a weekly basis, but with Green Bay struggling, look for them to take advantage and take this one. My pick: Philadelphia

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Being Thankful # 11...

Thanksgiving Day is today. So, what better time to write a blog about being thankful for things than today, right?

So, let me get to it.
Once again, I am thankful to be able to share and enjoy this Thanksgiving meal with family and friends.
Also, I am very thankful for the relative good health of those family members and friends, as well. The older I get, the more obviously important that is, and the more appreciative I am of it.
More generally, I am thankful also for all of the blessings of life, that make the bad times, the less savory times, more easy to digest and get through.
Here's hoping that those of you reading this have a blessed day!

Thanksgiving From a Native American Perspective is Nothing to Celebrate

First Fun Thanksgiving, after J.L.G. Ferris

Like with my other Thanksgiving posts, this one has been published before. In fact, republishing the same Thanksgiving posts is becoming somewhat of a holiday tradition for me in it's own right.

Yet, this year, there is something different. This year, we are watching the Dakota Access Pipeline protesters in North Dakota, many of whom are Native Americans, and the pipelines themselves run through traditional, sacred burial grounds for Native Americans.

It is really disgraceful, the methods being employed in order to test their will. Just a couple of days ago, water was sprayed on some of the peaceful protesters, in subfreezing temperatures! One woman apparently almost lost her arm, and had to be airlifted out, because the roads were closed by local police. Dogs were brought in months ago, biting and tearing into the peaceful protesters, in scenes that were reminiscent of the civil rights movement of the 1950's and 1960's. Perhaps this is fitting, given the obvious racial tensions and issues that this election year of 2016 so highlighted, with everything from the recent police shootings and beatings that have been caught on tape, to the election win of a man who made racist statements and had no problems being the great white hope for the alt right. 

So for this Thanksgiving, as we sit at our tables and hope to avoid political conversations with in-laws who hold views that we hope to to hear for dinner, let us remember that Native Americans not only do not celebrate this holiday, but look at it as a reminder of the long line of betrayals that led to their downfall, and our modern society's takeover. It is thus quite ironic that Native American (and other) protesters are being treated so harshly trying to defend their land and protect drinking water, while we collectively will be seated inside comfortably and stuffing ourselves after giving thanks, before going out to camp out for the night so that we can grab the best deals on the latest cell phones and other electronics, or whatever else people seem to covet. Let us recognize that this world seems in far greater danger now than it did during Thanksgiving a year ago, with two huge election results that seemed to run counter to the idea of progress, and with confirmed reports that climate change is accelerating not only at a faster pace than previously experienced, but that we will be seeing the effects soon enough - all while a climate change denier is preparing to take office.

I remember first rearing Ward Churchill explaining why he was not going to celebrate Thanksgiving many years ago, and it opened my eyes about this holiday. I have asked some Native Americans about it, and they made clear - crystal clear - they they never, ever celebrate on Thanksgiving. The origins that are commonly believed are mere myth, and the reality is far less flattering. Yes, I know this is depressing, but it is true history. Still, the holiday has grown into something bigger, and there are positive aspects to it. And I, for one, have always celebrated with family. Still, understanding the history and the controversy behind it is something worth keeping in mind, and we should understand and appreciate why natives not only do not celebrate, but feel that it represents a betrayal of their culture and their ancestors in a very real sense.

As I mentioned in my last couple of posts, Thanksgiving today has a certain beauty to it, a nobility of spirit with that increasingly rare purity of intentions. It seems relatively benign, although that purity is increasingly compromised by the sales of Black Friday, which has become a sort of madness that has overtaken both consumers and retailers combined. The doors opened their doors sooner and sooner, so that they went from opening at ridiculous, overnight hours, and now are opening their doors on Thanksgiving itself, right in the afternoon.

I mentioned in one of those earlier posts that one of my coworkers at my relatively new weekend job works at Walmart, and they are forcing all of their employees to come in on Thanksgiving afternoon proper. So, Black Friday is already now starting on Thursday afternoon, on Thanksgiving itself, which detracts from the very notion of being truly thankful for what we have. Personally, going out to the stores to do some shopping is the last thing that I want to do on Black Friday, and I try to avoid it like the plague. It brings the worst out in people. Thanksgiving is supposed to be a refreshing break from that, but apparently no longer.

Now, we will begin to hear horror stories of excess greed and a certain madness right on Thanksgiving itself, unfortunately. Perhaps it is fitting, since consumerism is what this society care about the most, if we are honest with ourselves. After all, one of the lesser known aspects of the history of Thanksgiving was, simply, that the tradition actually started the day after a massacre of Native Americans by the Pilgrims, when Governor of Massachusetts William Bradford wanted to honor the day by marking the date as something that should be celebrated well into the future. Thus, the tradition dates back to the massacre of the Pequots, and their essential removal from New England during the Pequot War in the 17th century. These are the words he specifically uttered in hopes of establishing a holiday of giving thanks for what he saw as a hard-won victory over natives (even while what was actually described sounds a whole lot more like a ruthless massacre):

“For the next 100 years, every Thanksgiving Day ordained by a Governor was in honor of the bloody victory, thanking God that the battle had been won.” 

Is it not completely understandable that Native Americans refuse to celebrate?

So, it seemed appropriate on this day to present a very different angle of this holiday, by the perspective of the native people themselves. Here are a few links to articles from natives about Thanksgiving, in order to gain a deeper and truer appreciation of what it truly represents to them:

Thanksgiving, Hope and the Hidden Heart of Evil  by Jacqueline Keeler 11/26/14:

6 Thanksgiving Myths, Share Them With Someone You Know  Vincent Schilling 11/28/13:

The Wampanoag Side of the First Thanksgiving Story  Michelle Tirado 11/22/11: