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Conflicted About LeBron’s Return to Cleveland

Friday, July 11th, 2014 - by Paula Bolyard

lebron-james-muraljpg-d6d91970e0cd4ea9_large

Four years ago this week, workers tore down the iconic, 10-story-tall  Lebron James Nike mural that had graced the side of the Landmark Office Tower in downtown Cleveland  for most of the Cavaliers star’s tenure with the team. The transparent mural covered the window of my husband’s office in the building and he watched as a part of Cleveland history fell to the ground in heaps that day, along with the hopes of hundreds of thousands of Northeast Ohioans. A handful of diehard fans stood on the sidewalk below that day, snapping pictures of what they thought was the last glimpse of their hero on Cleveland soil. It was a terrible day after a terrible week. In the hours following James’ announcement that he was “taking his talents” to the Miami Heat, angry fans hurled rocks at the mural, which featured a triumphant James with his head thrown back and “We Are All Witnesses” emblazoned on it.

It’s an indisputable fact that James handled his departure poorly, sticking a thumb in the eyes of fans — who had supported him since he was a standout at Akron’s St. Vincent-St. Mary High School — by turning “The Decision” into a national media event. It was tantamount to a high-profile Cleveland-shaming in the eyes of many fans, who burned #23 (and #6) jerseys in response, knowing that their hopes of a Cavaliers championship had just defected to Florida. Cavs owner Dan Gilbert wrote a scathing, emotional letter to Cavs fans that week (which was still on the team’s website until last week) calling James a “former hero” who had “betrayed” the team. Gilbert, founder of Quicken Loans and a major partner in several Ohio casinos, told fans at the time that they didn’t deserve James’ “cowardly betrayal.”

It was a painful episode in a long history of Cleveland sports disappointments. No Cleveland team has won a championship in half a century, not since the 1964 Browns won a (pre-Super Bowl) NFL title. The last time the Indians won a World Series was 1948 and the city has never won an NBA title. So perhaps it’s not difficult to understand, just a little, why LeBron found himself the repository of fifty years’ worth of pent-up frustration.

For the last two weeks Northeast Ohio has been on “LeBron Watch,” waiting for “The Next Decision.” On Thursday reporters and fans were camped outside his Bath Township mansion (just outside Akron, where LeBron has maintained a residence) after the media reported that an announcement was imminent. Fans and pundits speculated about factors the NBA star might be considering as he pondered his decision: money, family, roots, championship, legacy.

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San Francisco Giants Ponder Banning ‘Culturally Insensitive’ Attire at Its Stadium

Friday, July 11th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

If the Giants do this, the question will be, which cultures will win or lose? It won’t be very hard to predict.

SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS)— The San Francisco Giants organization is in the final steps of adopting a policy to ban fans from wearing “culturally-insensitive” attire at AT&T Park.

Giants’ Sr. Vice President Staci Slaughter said the Giants are very proud of their diverse fan base, but want fans to respect one another.

A lone incident involving a protected group sparked this radical change.

A couple of weeks ago, at AT&T Park’s Native American Heritage Night, two groups of fans had a disagreement over the issue of what should and shouldn’t be worn.

SF Examiner reported two Native American fans asked a third fan, who appeared to be Caucasian, to remove a headdress he was wearing.

Slaughter said the consideration to revise their dress-code policy partly stems from that incident.

It’s funny actually. The Giants got what they wanted — people celebrating a specific culture. Like this, from the same event in 2012.

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And this.

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And this.

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You get the idea. People in the stands who were wearing the same things that people on the field were wearing in the official program caused a stink.

That turned into a disagreement and now no one gets to play.

But which cultures will win and lose?

It’s San Francisco, remember.

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America’s Best Soccer Player Criticizes US Coach Klinsmann. Is He Right or Wrong?

Thursday, July 3rd, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

Another soccer post. Give in to your anger, soccer h8terz. Let the hate flow through you.

If you don’t really care one way or another, bear with me. Or bare with me if your grasp on language is a little loose or you’re into that sort of thing.

Landon Donovan is the leading scorer in US soccer World Cup history. He has scored more World Cup goals than Cristiano Ronaldo and Leonel Messi. If you know much about soccer, you know that that’s a big deal.

Donovan is 32 years old, not in his prime but still has a lot of gas in the tank, but was left off the US roster for this year’s World Cup. He isn’t shy and does have an arrogant streak. He is a player who already has a coach’s view of the game. He’s also probably the best that the United States has ever produced. So he has some credibility. I’ve seen him play in person once. He’s exceptional. He knows what he’s talking about, as long as he’s talking about soccer.

After the US crashed out by losing to Belgium, Donovan gave up some quotes that Yahoo! Sports is describing as a “bitter slam” on coach Jurgen Klinsmann.

“I think we’re all disappointed in what happened yesterday, Donovan told MLS Soccer on Wednesday. “I think the most disappointing is we didn’t seem like we gave it a real effort, from a tactical standpoint. I thought the guys did everything they could, they did everything that was asked of them, but I don’t think we were set up to succeed yesterday, and that was tough to watch.”

Cut from the World Cup squad in late May in a surprise move that prevented him from playing in his fourth World Cup, Donovan has never been one to mince words, but his detailed assault on the U.S. World Cup team’s flaws, and Klinsmann’s role in the developing of those flaws, was still pretty shocking.

“If you really look at the performances, there were some good performances by guys, some not-so-good performances by guys. As a whole, I think tactically, the team was not set up to succeed,” Donovan said. “They were set up in a way that was opposite from what they’ve been the past couple years, which is opening up, passing, attacking — trying to do that. And the team’s been successful that way. Why they decided to switch that in the World Cup, none of us will know.”

Donovan pointed specifically to how Michael Bradley and Clint Dempsey, the U.S. team’s two best field players, were used at the World Cup.

“Michael was put in the wrong position,” Donovan said. “He was put in a position that he’s not used to playing. He does a better job, as you saw with Julian Green‘s goal, being in a deeper position. And having someone in a front of him, someone to help Clint also, makes him that much better because he’s got more opportunity to pick out different passes, more attacking options ahead of him. I think that was clearly an error.”

Yahoo! adds:

Whether driven by anger at seeing his friends, and his national team, miss a golden opportunity to make a deep World Cup run, or driven by continued resentment at being denied his chance at playing in a fourth World Cup, and playing on the sport’s biggest stage one final time, Donovan decided to join the folks bashing Klinsmann rather than taking the high road and letting the court of public opinion cast a verdict on Klinsmann’s performance as coach.

it may have felt like something Donovan had to do, but in the end it smacked of petulance and bitterness and not the actions of someone who once said that he would be the U.S. team’s biggest fan even if he were left off the World Cup team.

I can’t agree with that. Donovan was asked questions and he answered them. He’s a soccer player, not a politician. If you don’t want his actual opinion, don’t ask for it.

A little perspective is in order. The USA looked great in qualifying but drew the worst group at the World Cup — Ghana, Portugal and Germany. Hardly anyone expected them to get out of that group. I didn’t expect them to get out of that group, with or without Donovan. Germany and Portugal were the favorites, but the latter got hammered by the former and never recovered.

The US did get out of that ghastly group, and that was a huge achievement, and Klinsmann deserves huge credit for that. His tactics mostly worked, even against Belgium. Very few defenses have been able to stop Belgium striker Romelu Lukaku even when they’re not tired. He came on when the US defense was already haggard and had stopped Belgium’s talented group, and he made the difference. That’s what great players do, and Lukaku is on track to become great.

Klinsmann rolled the dice by taking only one real big-body striker to Brazil, Jozy Altidore. Altidore has had a very off year at Sunderland. His selection was a bit of a surprise given how poorly he has played over the last year, when Eddie Johnson was available and they’re very similar players. Johnson was not selected for Brazil either. So the USA went into Brazil too thin at a very important position.

Altidore’s hamstring injury in the first game versus Ghana forced Klinsmann’s hand. He had to refigure the team. He had to push Dempsey into more of a lone striker role, and he chose to push Bradley, who is usually more of a deep-lying midfielder, farther forward into more of a center attacking role. Bradley is a very good player and has experience in Europe, but that position shift didn’t suit Bradley, and it showed — he was the guy giving the ball away all the time. His giveaway in the closing seconds against Portugal led directly to the tying goal, which cost the US two points and sent it into the knockout round against a tougher opponent. That’s what Donovan observes in the quotes above. He’s right.

Had Donovan been available — had Klinsmann taken him to Brazil, that is — Altidore’s injury probably would have hurt less. Donovan is not the same kind of player as Jozy Altidore. Altidore is a big, bullying striker. He’s a wrecking ball. Donovan is a creative midfielder who can score from just about anywhere. He pulls the strings. He unlocks defenses. He has loads of experience. He can change a game at any moment with the killer pass or an unexpected shot. He can carry a team that is struggling. He can be the creative outlet for a team under siege, as the US was for most of its games, because the US still isn’t a world power in soccer. But we’re getting there.

Klinsmann left Donovan out of Brazil. That had to hurt.

It’s hard not to have some sympathy for Donovan. He is better than almost every player that Klinsmann ended up taking to Brazil. Dempsey can claim to be better, maybe, on his best days. He is certainly very good. Tim Howard is definitely a world class keeper, but you can’t really compare a keeper to a creative midfielder like Donovan. Howard just seems to get better every year. But Donovan is a unique talent, not terribly big, not the fastest man out there, but he is extremely skilled, very elusive, and hyper aware of the game around him. He makes any team a little better, and sometimes a lot better. I mentioned his arrogance, which is real, but there is a selflessness about him too. He is a team player. Donovan could have played in Europe, and has at times, but he has chosen to play most of his career in the US to help grow soccer here by being the face of the sport. Playing in Europe pays more and offers the big trophies and endorsements. Donovan basically left those opportunities on the table to keep playing here.

And Klinsmann left him out of Brazil.

So I don’t read Donovan’s comments as bitter. They’re honest. He’s an athlete, not a politician.

Klinsmann probably won’t like them, mostly because they’re coming from Landon Donovan. But Klinsmann knows better than anyone else that Donovan is right, and he also knows why Donovan is right. He knows that not all of that has to do with Donovan, but some of it does.

Jurgen Klinsmann is a great coach and he’ll be great for American soccer. He’ll learn from this and build a better team for the next cup. And he will build it without Landon Donovan, unfortunately. It’s a shame that two of America’s top soccer brains will probably never end up working together again.

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ChiPOTUS

Thursday, July 3rd, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

Patrick Ruffini is a very smart man. He posted this on Facebook last night.

While there’s rightfully talk about making them smarter and more data-driven and efficient, this is meaningless without creating a real emotional connection with voters and getting the relationship with the supporter right. We can’t be all brain and no heart.

That’s exactly, 100% right. It’s something I’ve come to accept over the past few years, especially the Obama years. While issues do matter to some extent, and campaigns and tactics surely matter too, the emotional connection that a candidate makes with potential voters can make or break their career. Especially at the presidential level, where many voters vote symbolically rather than on qualifications, character or issues.

Barack Obama has understood this more deeply, and longer, than most of us. Well, either he understands it or his advisers like David Axelrod understand it. Either way, or probably both, explain quite a bit about why he has won two presidential elections despite being unqualified the first time around, and an obvious failure the second. He had established an emotional bond with enough voters that they didn’t care about the details. They liked him, and that was enough. Plus his IRS had suppressed conservative groups.

Ever since he began his presidency, Obama has tended to avoid specifics in his speeches, while pursuing policies mostly through regulations. Regulations don’t need congressional input. The regulatory state is harder to track. Obama can defer to the EPA, DHS, HHS, whatever, whenever one of his regulations causes him any political problems. Or he can blame Bush, one of the progressives’ Emmanuel Goldsteins. The Koch brothers serve that role now, too, as the Bush presidency fades from memory and more Americans are realizing that compared to Barack Obama, W wasn’t so bad after all.

Back to the emotional connection. Barack Obama has been making some odd moves as his world burns seems to be burning down around him. He is sliding badly in the polls. America is getting a case of buyer’s remorse over electing him. His presidency is a rump of what it was up to 2011. Even many of the congressional Democrats don’t really trust him. Candidates like Wendy Davis won’t even be seen with him.

While Putin and ISIS march forward, Obamacare remains a mess, the economy remains stagnant, etc etc, Barack Obama pops out for lunch at Chipotle. And makes a point to let everyone know about it.

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It backfired on him, a little, because Barack Obama is a cad.

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That was a week ago, during a parenting summit. As a parent, I’ll state categorically that Barack Obama has been the worst president for parents since Bill Clinton turned cigars into sex toys. Clinton hauled politics into the gutter and polluted the meaning of “is.” Obama’s assault has been against our ability to make a living, and against the churches we belong to to teach our children our faith, and against our property and religious rights. Plus Obama just can’t get enough of Planned Parenthood, the industry/lobbyist/special interest built upon abortion.

The parenting summit was obviously a play for suburban vote, the soccer mom vote, the middle class vote. It was mostly to blunt charges that his policies are subversive and anti-family. See here, he’s having a whole summit on families!

What he was actually doing was creating more anger among some women voters over equal pay, an issue he supposedly resolved with the stroke of a pen years ago.

But for lunch, why Chipotle?

Here’s why.

Companies and restaurants are now especially feeling the Millennial affect because the population dines out and purposefully spends in ways more different than ever, and now that their spending power has increased, companies have no choice but to follow suit and appeal to them the best way they know how.

If you think the Millenials’ influence can’t be that dramatic yet, just ask McDonald’s (NYSE:MCD) if its business has been affected by the maturation of the huge generation. The world’s largest fast food chain once had drive-thru lines spiraling out of parking lots, but now the restaurant is faced with a new generation that is focused on health and fresh ingredients to such a degree that consumers have never been before. Barkley reports that 26 percent of the generation considers themselves health fanatics, and thus, the likelihood of those Generation Y’ers visiting McDonald’s every night is lower than ever, and that reality is only expected to continue.

McDonald’s is still in the top ten restaurants for millennials. But look which chain comes in at numero uno.

1. Chipotle (NYSE:CMG)

Last, but certainly not least, America’s favorite Mexican grill. Almost half of all those Millennials surveyed byGlobalHue noted Chipotle as their favorite fast food brand, and the company boasts an impressive 46 percent figure. Generation Y’ers are drawn to the Denver, Colorado-based company’s fresh salads, meaty burritos, and infamous guacamole, and colleges are even noticing the trend as more and more campuses recruit the Mexican restaurant to set up shop on their grounds.

Chipotle’s stock has risen significantly within the past few quarters as it continues gaining popularity and new consumers, and its latest earnings still even managed to live up to lofty expectations.

Along the same lines, he has made a very grand show of paying attention to the US run in the World Cup. He crashed a watch party, led a chant on camera, and called up Clint Dempsey and Tim Howard after the US loss to Belgium.

Because millennials rate the World Cup as the top story that they’re paying attention to. More than the IRS scandal, more than the VA scandal, more than any scandal, more than the Middle East and even the economy.

That will probably change now that the US is out.

If I’m right about this, that Obama’s choice of lunch and sports comes down to his attempt to hold onto the millennial vote by keeping their emotional connection with him, even while his economic policies are screwing them over, then watch for him to pop out to a Panera, a Subway, or a Taco Bell before long. He’s one of us! He cares about what we care about! He listens to the music we listen to! He eats where we eat! He likes the five dollar — five dollar footlong!

And I’m still jobless and living in my parents’ basement!

Taco Bell would give him a two-fer — it’s #4 with millennials and probably #1 with stoners. Taco Bell is also climbing with Hispanic customers.

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5 Reasons that Soccer Is Not a Pansy, Socialist Sport — And Why Americans Can Love It

Wednesday, July 2nd, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

Soccer haters, you’ve had your fun. You’ve mocked kicky ball, you’ve said it’s socialist, you’ve tarred it as communist. You’ve bragged that you don’t know anything about soccer, and that you don’t want to know anything about soccer, and you’ve smeared anyone who does know anything about soccer as either a socialist, a communist, or a pantywaist.

Tell that to Tim Howard. If you have the guts.

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So here’s the deal. Soccer is not only not any of the things that you haters claim, it’s actually much more of a capitalist sport than you realize. Because you don’t know anything about it. Here are five reasons that soccer is actually capitalist and ruthlessly American.

1. Soccer rewards success and punishes failure ruthlessly.

The NFL, NBA, NHL and MLB are mostly static leagues. Regardless of their win-loss records, the leagues keep the same teams around year in and year out. Franchises like the Detroit Lions become embarrassments that go on for years on end, yet they are never booted out of the NFL. Loser teams stick around in all of the US top sports leagues. That’s also true of US Major League Soccer. Teams move from town to town every once in a while, but they’re still the same team nearly all the time. Even if they get a new name.

But in the world’s soccer leagues, if you suck, you get kicked out of the league. And if you’re good and finish at the top of your league and you’re in a league that’s lower than the top league, you get promoted up to the big league. Of the 20 teams that make up England’s Premiere League every year, three have been promoted because of their accomplishments in the second-tier Championship League the season before. And the worst three Premiere League teams got relegated down to that second-tier league. If they want to get back to the top league, they have to earn it by finishing high enough to either earn automatic promotion or go into a playoff to earn it. Any EPL team can get relegated if they have a bad enough season. The same is true for leagues all across Europe, wherever there are enough teams to have multiple leagues with tiered systems.

One year of suckitude and you and your club get sent down to a lower league. That’s hard core. US sports could learn a thing or two from the creative churn of soccer’s relegation-promotion system.

And by the way, a good player in a lower league team can find himself scooped up directly into a top team in a top league if his play is good enough. It’s all about how well he plays as an individual. If you shine even on a horrible team, you’ll move to a good team.

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New York Times Declares American Dream Over with Soccer Loss

Tuesday, July 1st, 2014 - by Scott Ott

This was the end-of-game post on the New York Times’ live blog of the USA v. Belgium World Cup game moments ago.

American Dream is Over

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Apparently it’s a phrase that just comes naturally at the New York Times

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‘Hype’ — ESPN Releases Killer Video Ahead of US World Cup Clash With Belgium

Tuesday, July 1st, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

The United States can make some history today. A win over Belgium would send the US into the quarterfinals of the World Cup for only the second time ever in the current World Cup tournament structure. The last time it happened was 12 years ago. The farthest the USA ever got in a World Cup is the semifinals in 1930. That was the very first World Cup, and it only included 13 teams. The USA defeated Belgium in the first round of that tournament, 3-0.

ESPN is cranking up the hype machine for today’s match with this gritty video. Take a look.

Team news for today — the USA may have striker Jozy Altidore available from his opening match hamstring injury, while the Belgians may be without both of their center backs, Manchester City’s Vincent Kompany and Arsenal’s Thomas Vermaelen. If all of that comes to pass, the USA have a very good shot. The USA have decent shot anyway. The Belgians have a great collection of individual players, but the US have played as a strong team so far.

Texan Clint Dempsey, broken nose and all, leads the Yanks as captain.

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Explained: Why Obama Pretends to Care About the World Cup

Tuesday, July 1st, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

A new Pew poll makes some sense out of a couple of last week’s major Obama tweets. In one tweet, the president allowed himself to be seen watching the US vs Germany World Cup match aboard Air Force One. In another, ABC’s George Stephanopoulos tweeted that President Obama had shifted foreign policy decisions around World Cup soccer matches.

Apparently Obama’s internal polls show the same thing that Pew found. That is, that among younger Americans — the 18 to 29 year olds who propelled Obama to victory and on whom he still depends — the World Cup is blowing all other stories away.

Young people typically express lower levels of interest in news stories than older Americans, and the age differences are striking when it comes to Washington news and violence in Iraq. Just 13% of those younger than 30, and 19% of those 30-49, say they tracked news about Iraq very closely. That compares with 36% of those 65 and older and 34% of those 50 to 64.

Republicans interested in IRS scandalHowever, the World Cup is a different story. About a quarter (24%) of those under 30 say they are closely following the World Cup – making it by far the story they express the most interest in. Young people are more likely than older age groups to be closely following the World Cup.

Pretending to care about the World Cup so much that it even impacts his foreign policy moves connects Obama to two of his preferred groups, millennials and Hispanics.

Interest in the World Cup is also relatively high among Hispanics. Overall, 23% of U.S. Hispanics say they are following the soccer tournament very closely while another 32% are following fairly closely.

The World Cup beats the weaponization of government for this president, any day. Did you notice that on Monday, Obama timed his immigration announcement so that it would hit between the day’s two World Cup knockout matches?

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Contest Winners: Obama Opens Wide and More

Monday, June 30th, 2014 - by Myra Adams
Obama icecream

Credit: Doug Mills

Thanks to everyone who entered our latest, successful contest.

Now, good luck defeating that kick-a** IRS audit team who will soon be knocking down YOUR door! And here is why….

The grand prize winner was Allan Crowson with:

From: “I have a pen and I have a phone” To: “I have a chin and I have a cone.”

The rest of the winners were:

Chris Henderson with:

Ice cream courtesy of Ben & Ghazi’s 57 states 31 excuses flavors.

MeridianMan won with:  Conehead.

Two from Cfbleachers:

Obama is celebrating his month of VA waiting list death march, IRS destruction of evidence, the economy contracting at an alarming rate, ISIS rampaging Iraq, and Obamacare second monthly payments evaporating. The path he’s charted for America has only one flavor. Rocky Road.

Eating ice cream like Jaws? Most people lick it.  But as Putin, the Mullahs, Assad and ISIS have shown, Obama can’t lick anything.

RockThisTown gave us:

The President’s Top Ten favorite ice cream flavors:
10) Equal Distribution 9) Fudge on Everything 8) America Snickers 7) My Un-Rocky Road [to the White House] 6) Seventeen-Trillion Mint 5) Neapolitan Media Spin 4) Let ‘em Eat Cake 3) Michelle’s Vacation Delight 2) Choom ‘n Cherry Garcia 1) GNP Crunch n’ Slide

Here are the soccer photo winners.

Credit: Doug Mills

Credit: Doug Mills

The grand prize goes to wintermute for:

Soccer continues to grow in popularity and even America’s leader is known to relax while watching a World Cup match (also pictured, Barack Obama).

The second grand prize winner is CraigZ with: Obama in the Situation Room during the assault on Benghazi.

Wintermute also had a runner-up with: Hey, have the NSA pull up Merkel’s phone feed to see if she’s gloating about this.

Cfbleachers had several winners:

Some people say that Obama ignores world crises while watching sports on TV. That’s not fair.   Sometimes he plays golf.

Obama and Jarrett sit and watch helplessly as yet another opponent delivers a crushing defeat.  Oh, and they also watched soccer.

Why is Obama sitting around watching soccer? Because Air Force One doesn’t have a golf course.

Someone raised in Iran sits with someone raised in Indonesia to take time out from rooting against America.  

(Editor’s note: Most people do not know that our “Madame President” was born and raised in Iran for the first six years of her in life.)

Allan Crowson had two winners:

Watching soccer: “Now THIS is what I’m talking about! I wish my foreign policy worked like this game: moving us forward by losing!”

Just like the Obama economy: all the good stuff’s at the top, with empty remnants of crumbs at the bottom.

Chris Henderson won with this amazing entry:

No wonder Obama likes soccer: It’s a Third World and European namby-pamby sport that often has no winners, is watched by rioting hooligans and has a red line drawn down the middle of the field that is crossed without penalty.

Zip Code (our newest Caption) King won with:

Mr President, Mr President, yoo-hoo Mr President:
(The emergency phone is ringing and all the lights are flashing.)
The President:  Is there any popcorn left?

See you all next time a photo is worthy of a PJ Media photo caption contest!

Oh wait there’s more…  I love this image from Roger Simon’s piece on the Blood Feud  book (that I am reading as I post this contest because I can not put it down.) So go ahead and caption this image, courtesy of Ed Driscoll, if you are up for a deeper, longer and more expensive audit.

driscoll

Credit: Ed Driscoll

 

 

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New Caption Contest: Obama Opens Wide and More

Friday, June 27th, 2014 - by Myra Adams
Credit: Doug Mills

Credit: Doug Mills

The subject of our latest caption contest is from New York Times staff photographer Doug Mills’ Twitter account.

Mills’ caption read: “President Obama takes a bite of his ice cream at the Grand Ole Creamery in Minneapolis.”

Now I bet a double scoop that PJ Media readers are capable of writing sweeter and creamier captions.

There are no rules for this contest but just a note of caution: Obama’s IRS may be under fire but still can make your life hot enough to melt all your ice cream.

Because Doug Mills’ Twitter account is a gold mine of contest worthy photos, below is another caption writing opportunity that will be sure to catch the eyes of IRS auditors.

Credit: Doug Mills

Credit: Doug Mills

“President Obama watches the USA vs Germany World Cup game aboard Air Force One en route to Minneapolis,” read Mills’ caption.

I expect loyal contest writers will score more goals with their captions than the USA scored against Germany.

Have fun and try to stay within bounds.

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The US Men’s Soccer Team Can Still Make the World Cup Knockout Round. But It Won’t Be Easy.

Monday, June 23rd, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

Let’s just state the obvious first: US Men’s National Soccer Team captain Clint Dempsey is a warrior. A beast.

The man from Nacogdoches, Texas scored the opening goal in the World Cup opening round match vs. Ghana in all of 32 seconds. Later in the match a Ghanaian player kicked him in the face, breaking Dempsey’s nose.

Dempsey not only did not come off for that injury. He played through, and decided not to wear a protective mask for the second round match vs. Portugal. So he faced off against one of the best international teams in the world with a face full of pain. Every header must have been excruciating for him.

Against Portugal, Clint Dempsey was dangerous all night.

Dempsey not only had one of his best games in the American shirt vs. Portugal Sunday night, he scored the goal that looked like it would put the Americans through to the knockouts, while knocking out world 4th ranked Portugal at the same time. It was a warrior’s goal, an ungraceful belly bump that sent the ball into the Portuguese net in the 81st minute.

Portugal. That would be the team that includes Cristiano Ronaldo, the current holder of the World’s Best Player title. A team with a roster of Champions League players with a better than outside chance of winning it all.

If you missed either of Dempsey’s performances in this year’s World Cup, you’ve missed something special. Something grandparents tell the grandkids about.

Dempsey’s heroic performances haven’t been enough, though, to guarantee the Americans a place in the World Cup’s last 16. With time expiring Sunday night and the US holding an improbable 2-1 lead thanks to Jermaine Jones and Dempsey’s second half, come-from-behind strikes, US midfielder Michael Bradley committed one of his six-dozen turnovers in the tournament, the Americans were stretched too far forward, the ball came to Ronaldo down the right, the World’s Best Player who had been mostly anonymous to that point. He curled in a nanometer-perfect cross to Portugal substitute Silvestre Varela, and the game finished 2-2. Varela’s header off Ronaldo’s cross was the last move of the match. It was a heartbreaking way to overachieve, for the Americans.

Group G stands like this: Germany in first with 4 points thanks to a 4-0 win over Portugal and a 2-2 tie with Ghana, +4 on goals. The US in second on four points thanks to its 2-1 win over Ghana and the 2-2 tie with Portugal, +1 on goals. Ghana in third with one point and -1 on goals. Portugal on one point and -4 on goals.

I think most US Men’s Team fans would regard this current position as better than expected, going into the tournament. Group G is the Group of Death. No one really expected the US to have beaten Ghana and come within an inch of roping Ronaldo in the opening two matches. Plus, it’s four more points than England and Spain have. Spain won the World Cup four years ago. England invented soccer. They’re both out of the tournament after two losses, zero points.

Right now, America is better than England at its own game. Perhaps England should consider playing as Great Britain from now on, just to take on the two young world class players available in Wales.

Thursday’s two simultaneous matches will decide who escapes Group G and who dies there in the Group of Death. The Americans could have escaped it already, had that last-kick goal not happened. That midfield giveaway could turn out to have been fatal. Similar giveaways against Germany will create a rout.

Instead, the US needs a win or a draw versus Germany. Either result will see the US through. A draw would send both the US and Germany through — cue the conspiracy theories. Germany only needs a draw, in fact, to win the group. They don’t have to be at their best on Thursday. A draw could keep them from having to face Portugal again at some point in the later stages, when Portugal would play to avenge that opening round humiliation. They could rest a couple of players, but that’s risky too. A US win plus a Ghana hammering of Portugal could leave the Germans out of the knockouts. Very unlikely, but not impossible. Ronaldo isn’t 100% fit. If he goes out early on Thursday, Portugal are lost without him. Ghana have firepower and could punish them.

If the Americans lose to Germany — very possible, as Germany are ranked second in the world and are world class at every position, and arguably have the best midfield in international soccer — then the path to the knockouts gets murkier.

If the US lose by 2 or more to Germany, then Ghana has a clear path to the knockouts: Beat Portugal by any score. The team that knocked the US out of the World Cup in 2006 and 2010 would have done it again.

Portugal needs the US to lose to Germany by four or more. Unlikely, but not impossible. If that happens and Portugal beats Ghana Thursday, then Germany and Portugal get through. Ghana defend well, though. Portugal has the least likely route out at this point.

If both matches end in draws, then Germany and the US both go through. And Clint Dempsey gets to warrior on.

The showdown is at noon Eastern time Thursday.

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Patent Tyranny: The Gravity of the Redskin Trademark Cancellation

Thursday, June 19th, 2014 - by Walter Hudson

Imagine receiving a letter from your local police department informing you that your person and property will no longer be afforded their protection. Perhaps your religious views have been deemed offensive, or you contributed to the wrong political campaign last year, or maybe the chief just doesn’t like the cut of your jib. Regardless, no one will be responding to your 911 calls. Your property will not be protected. Crimes against you will no longer merit a response. And any attempt to defend yourself will be regarded as criminal aggression.

In essence, that’s what the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has just told the Washington Redskins. As you’ve likely read by now, the USPTO’s Trademark Trial and Appeal Board recently issued a ruling canceling the team’s trademark under the rationalization that it proves “disparaging” to Native Americans.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid enthusiastically supports the move. Washington D.C.’s delegate to Congress has declared the development a “historic” and “inevitable” victory.

The gravity of this moment cannot be overstated and may be easily lost in pontification over racial sensitivity and the relative importance of a sport’s mascot. This is not about football. It’s not about race. It’s not even about political correctness anymore. This is about whether we live under the rule of law. Or, to put it more directly, whether we live under tyranny.

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(Today’s Fightin Words podcast on this topic and more. 11:01 minutes long; 10.57 MB file size. Want to download instead of streaming? Right click here to download this show to your hard drive. Subscribe through iTunes or RSS feed.)

Tyranny? In reference to a patent case? You bet.

What would you call it if you received that letter from the police? You still owe them taxes. You still have to answer to their commands. You just can’t expect their protection or the recognition of your rights. We’re witnessing the establishment of a second class of citizen, a lesser class whose rights shall go unprotected. Is that not infinitely more offensive than any name?

Redskins owner Daniel Snyder deserves full support in his fight against this egregious action. Whether you believe the team name to be disparaging or not is wholly beside the point. This is no longer about that. Ironically, it’s about whether individuals in the United States are afforded equal treatment under the law. If our rights are contingent upon not offending others, then we have no rights.

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D.C. Delegate: Necessary to Force Redskins Name Change Since NFL ‘Failed to Exercise Leadership’

Wednesday, June 18th, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

Washington, D.C.’s, delegate to Congress claimed victory today in her fight to force the Washington Redskins to change their name, calling the ruling canceling the team’s trademark both “historic” and “inevitable.”

This is the second time the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s (USPTO) Trademark Trial and Appeal Board has issued such a ruling, though the first was overturned by the courts on procedural grounds.

“The handwriting was almost indelibly on the wall that this historic decision was close to inevitable if the USPTO followed its own precedents,” Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D) said in a statement. “The USPTO’s first decision finding the name ‘disparaging’ was not overturned on the merits but on a technicality, and on four separate occasions since then, the USPTO has turned down attempts to register the same name.”

“As if that were not enough, a grassroots movement led by Native people themselves and organizations that represent them has spread with allies of every background and members of the House and Senate. Team owner Daniel Snyder instead tried to turn the name on its head, but there was no way to put a positive cover on a name with racist origins,” she continued.

Washington Redskins manager Bruce Allen responded to recent Senate criticism of the team’s name with a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) late last month, stressing that the team’s logo was designed by Native American leaders in 1971.

Allen added that they’ve visited reservations in more than 20 states and were “warmly received” by tribal leaders “on every occasion.”

Norton said that since NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell failed “to exercise the needed leadership” it “guaranteed that it would take the law to force a change.”

“We in the District of Columbia are particularly relieved about the ruling, which upholds values of the people of the District of Columbia. Goodell still has an opportunity to exercise some leadership. He, the other NFL team owners and FedEx should urge Snyder not to appeal this ruling. It is time for the team and the NFL to put this issue to rest.”

The Redskins have already vowed to appeal.

American Samoa Del. Eni Faleomavaega (D) introduced a bill last year to cancel existing trademark registrations containing the term “Redskins,” and deny registration for new trademarks using the term.

White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters today that he hadn’t spoken with President Obama about the news.

“But I would note that last October in an interview with the Associated Press, he was asked about the issue of the team name and said, quote, ‘If I were the owner of the team and I knew that there was a name of my team, even if it had a storied history, that was offending a sizable group of people, I’d think about changing it.’,” Carney said.

“It’s an independent administrative tribunal within the Patent and Trademark Office. The board is authorized to determine a party’s right to register a trademark with the federal government or if the party already owns a registration, its right to maintain it. The board is not authorized to determine whether a party has the right to use a trademark, just whether it has the right to register it.”

The Patent Office stressed that their decision can be reviewed by a federal court and registrations will not be affected until court action is done.

“The petitioners met their burden to establish that the term ‘Redskins’ was disparaging of Native Americans, when used in relation to professional football services, at the times the various registrations involved in the cancellation proceeding were issued,” the office said in a statement about the 177-page ruling.

“The decision to cancel the registrations means that, if not appealed or if affirmed following a possible review by a federal court, the trademark owner (Pro Football, Inc.) will lose the legal benefits conferred by federal registration. These benefits include the legal presumptions of ownership and of nationwide scope of rights in these trademarks, as well as the ability to use the federal registration ® symbol, and to record the registrations with the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol Service to block importation of infringing or counterfeit foreign goods. The decision does not, however, require the trademarks in the involved registrations to be changed or no longer be used by Washington, D.C.’s pro football team. The Trademark Trial and Appeal Board does not have jurisdiction in a cancellation proceeding to require that a party cease use of a mark, but only to determine whether a mark may continue to be registered.”

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Poll: What Should the Redskins’ New Name Be?

Wednesday, June 18th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder is not a particularly admirable man. He tends to treat the Redskins as if he’s playing fantasy football. They tend to lose more often than they win. He’s not exactly a fan favorite. But Snyder isn’t taking the U.S. Patent Office’s ruling against his team lying down.

The team has released a statement saying the ruling “will have no effect at all on the team’s ownership of and right to use the Redskins’ name/logo”. They’re correct, but it does allow others to use the name as they wish…the just can’t trademark it either.

Which, in the short term at least, means we’re likely to see a whole lot of pirated Redskins merch hit the streets. Dan Snyder just won’t make any money from it.

For its part, the NFL is trying to be Switzerland. It’s not going to say anything in support of or opposition to the Patent Office’s decision.

At some point, the Washington Redskins will be forced to change their name. It’s only a matter of time. The hostile occupying force that is now the Beltway cannot abide anything less than total capitulation from the rest of us. After that, maybe Washington will see fit to force Oklahoma (translation: “red people”) to officially call itself “Texas’ Pan-Shaped Hat.”

Snyder could have some fun with a Redskins renaming contest, though. Twitter has lit up with alternative names. Snyder could poll test them to see which ones capture Americans’ current attitudes.

What do you think the Redskins’ new name should be?

What should the Washington Redskins new name be?

View Results

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Reid Declines Invitation to Redskins Game While Team ‘Disparages the American People’

Monday, June 16th, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) had a sharp response to a simple invitation to attend a football game.

Washington Redskins manager Bruce Allen responded to recent Senate criticism of the team’s name with a letter to Reid late last month.

“More than a decade ago one of the foremost scholars of Native American languages, Smithsonian Institution senior linguist Ives Goddard, spent seven months researching the subject and concluded that the word ‘redskin’ originated as a Native American expression of solidarity by multi-tribal delegations that traveled to Washington to negotiate Native American national policies,” Allen wrote, adding that the team’s logo was designed by Native American leaders in 1971.

“The highly respected Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania surveyed Native Americans nationally and reported that an overwhelming 90% of respondents said the name was not offensive,” he continued. “More importantly, Native Americans continue to embrace and use the name and logo.”

Allen added that they’ve visited reservations in more than 20 states and were “warmly received” by tribal leaders “on every occasion.”

The Redskins also responded to the controversy by launching a foundation that helps tribes in more than 40 projects across the country in its first two months, including distributing more than 1,000 tablet computers to students.

“I hope you will attend one of our home games, where you would witness first-hand that the Washington Redskins are a positive, unifying force for our community,” Allen said.

In a letter last Thursday, Reid fired back in a letter about Allen’s “invitation to attend a Washington, D.C. football team event.”

“During my time in the United States Senate, I have worked to right many of the injustices endured by Americans throughout the country. Among the most egregious in the history of our country are those injustices inflicted upon American Indians, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians,” Reid wrote.

“This is personal for me. I represent 27 tribes as the Senator from Nevada and have worked to protect their homelands and their sovereignty. I have a duty to ensure that the United States uphold centuries-old treaty and trust obligations towards Native Americans, and I take this responsibility very seriously.”

Reid vowed to “not stand idly by while a professional sports team promotes a racial slur as a team name and disparages the American people.”

“Nor will I consider your invitation to attend a home game until your organization chooses to do the right thing and change its offensive name,” he said.

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The 2014 FIFA World Cup Kicks Off Today. Here’s What You Need to Know.

Thursday, June 12th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

The 2014 World Cup kicks off this afternoon in Brazil. Brazil may or may not be ready to host the world’s biggest soccer event, but ABC and ESPN are. The Mouse networks will televise all 64 games. They’ve published the full schedule here.

It all starts this afternoon, with host Brazil taking on Croatia. If Brazil fails to win convincingly, expect riots. I’m not kidding.

Click on the link above for the rest of the schedule.

Thursday, June 12 (all times Eastern)

4 p.m.: Brazil vs. Croatia at Arena Corinthians, Sao Paulo (ESPN)

Friday, June 13

12 p.m.: Mexico vs. Cameroon at Estadio das Dunas, Natal (ESPN2)

3 p.m.: Spain vs. Netherlands at Arena Fonte Nova, Salvador (ESPN)

6 p.m. Chile vs. Australia at Arena Pantanal, Cuiaba (ESPN2)

Saturday, June 14

12 p.m.: Colombia vs. Greece at Estádio Mineirao, Belo Horizonte (ABC)

3 p.m.: Uruguay vs. Costa Rica at Estádio Castelao, Fortaleza (ABC)

6 p.m.: England vs. Italy at Arena Amazonia, Manaus (ESPN)

9 p.m.: Ivory Coast vs. Japan at Arena Pernambuco, Recife (ESPN)

The U.S. won’t see action until Monday, when it takes on Ghana.

The U.S. is in a group of death, along with powerhouses Germany and Portugal, and our bogey team, Ghana. Ghana has eliminated the United States in the knockout rounds of the last two World Cups. The U.S. comes into the Cup playing as well as anyone right now and ranked in the top half, even without Landon Donovan, but getting out of that group will be a tall order. Honestly, I’d be surprised if anyone other than Germany and Portugal move on to the knockouts.

If the U.S. can’t get far, personally, I’m rooting for Germany. I like several of their players and the way they play. Spain will be tough, as always. I also like the way Japan has looked lately, but they’re probably too weak to get past the first knockout. England come in looking flat. If they don’t fix that, they may not get to the knockout rounds either, which will be a humiliation for the birthplace of the sport. All the pressure is on Brazil, who comes into the tournament playing well, ranked #3 and is expected to do nothing less than win it all. Anything else will be considered a failure. Neymar will have to turn up big. I’m hoping Hulk has a good tournament, mainly because he’s called “Hulk.” Argentina look strong. Uruguay will do well if Luis Suarez is healthy. France and Belgium could surprise a lot of people. Especially Belgium. They have looked very sharp for going on a year now.

By the way, if you’re on DirecTV, you’ll get some added bonuses to watch the World Cup. Those include some extra mix channels so you can watch up to eight games on screen at the same time, plus extra camera angles.

Update: I am so in.

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Ohio Gubernatorial Candidate Proposes ‘Win Tax’ for Cleveland Sports Teams

Saturday, June 7th, 2014 - by Paula Bolyard

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Embattled Democratic Ohio gubernatorial candidate Ed FitzGerald threw a hail Mary pass in an attempt to bolster his flagging campaign on Thursday, proposing a ‘win tax’ on Cleveland sports teams. His plan would award 20 percent of Cleveland’s renewed sin tax – estimated at $2.6 million a year — based at least in part on how well the teams perform on the field. In May Cuyahoga County voters approved the extension of the sin tax on cigarettes and alcoholic beverages until 2035 to pay for maintaining Cleveland’s three publicly owned sports buildings.

“If competition is good on the field, maybe competition between these teams for these public dollars makes sense to incentivize them a little bit more,” said FitzGerald, who does not support competition for public dollars in education. “Our fan base is frustrated and they want the sense that their tax money is actually going to be supporting, to some extent, championship teams,” FitzGerald said.

FitzGerald, the current Cuyahoga County executive, showed reporters a slide show of Cleveland sports failures, contending that the city, with it’s 50-year championship drought, has one of the nation’s worst records in professional sports. He suggested there could be a “fan council” to determine which teams are more deserving of the tax revenues and called plans for equal tax sharing “distribution for dummies,” raising some eyebrows since that is the plan favored by Democrat Mayor Frank Jackson.

The “win tax” was immediately panned by nearly everyone in Cleveland. Community leaders from both ends of the political spectrum disagreed with the concept of performance-based competition for public dollars that fund the city’s beleaguered sports teams. 

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Two More Democrats Call for Shinseki to Resign, But There are Still More Democrats on the Record About the Redskins Name than the VA Scandal

Thursday, May 29th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) has joined a growing number of Democrats who want Veterans Affairs Administrator Eric Shinseki to resign as the agency’s neglect scandal builds. Most of the Democrats calling for Shinseki to go are vulnerable, facing tough odds in the fall mid-term elections. Rep. Steve Israel (D-NY) is one outlier, a Democrat in a safe seat and in a position of party leadership who is also now calling for Shinseki to go.

So far, most Senate Democrats still have not weighed on on Shinseki or on the scandal itself. That’s unlike a group that is often very quick to wade into issues when it suits them. Fifty Senate Democrats are on the record calling on the Washington Redskins football team to ahcnage its name, for instance. Why are there more Democrats on the record over something they do not control, than over something they do?

At the White House briefing today, reporters asked spokesman Jay Carney when the president learned about the fake waiting lists in the VA system. Carney repeatedly refused to answer the question, referring instead to a report on the scandal that is yet to be released. In the past, Carney has claimed that Obama has learned about various scandals in his administration from the news. That answer has been used so often that it has become a target of mockery. Now, evidently, the administration prefers an “ask me no questions and I’ll tell you no lies” approach. The reason is obvious. Once Obama admits when he learned about the scandal, he is either shown out for being more interested in attacking others than in taking care of veterans, or he is shown out as a president who learned of the scandal some months or years ago but did absolutely nothing about it.

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Jarrett: Admin on Quest to Spot Sports Head Injuries, Kids Wanting to Get Back in the Game

Thursday, May 29th, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett said a “culture” of kids wanting to get back in the game needs to be addressed when assessing how to cut back concussions and other injuries in sports.

“Two hundred and fifty thousand children each year go to the emergency room with sports or related head injuries. And what we’ve got to figure out is the basic research to understand concussions and other head-related issues and then to figure out what we can do to prevent them, identify them and then treat them,” Jarrett told MSNBC this morning.

She previewed today’s “series of announcements of unprecedented magnitude, partnerships between the NCAA and the Defense Department, $30 million funds that are going to be allocated to continue the research and increase awareness.”

“The NFL partnering as well, again to raise awareness. The Center For Disease Control, the National Institute of Health. And it’s not just football. As we know, it’s soccer, it’s cheerleaders. I mean, we’re finding these head-related injuries across the board.”

Jarrett said the administration’s challenge is cutting back on sports injuries while making it “clear that sports is healthy, it’s good, it’s a way of staying active, teaches team sports, leadership skills.”

A clinic on the lawn of the White House also “to show exercises and how we can do this in a safe way” was rained out today.

“So we need to increase our basic research in this field, and that’s what you’ll be hearing about today. And that’s what’s going to help raise awareness so that parents and teachers and coaches and students know how to protect themselves,” Jarrett continued.

“We also know that there’s a culture, particularly with the concussions, of young kids wanting to get back on the field quickly and continuing to play, not following the treatment course once they’ve been diagnosed. And so, raising awareness will help everybody really tackle this issue and ensure that we can have our children be safe.”

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50 Senators Tell NFL Commissioner to Follow NBA Example, Condemn ‘Racist’ Redskins

Thursday, May 22nd, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

The congressional push to urge the Washington Redskins to change the team’s name has heretofore mostly been coming from the House, with D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D) and nine other members of Congress firing off letters a year ago to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, team owner Dan Snyder, the 31 other NFL franchises, and Redskins’ sponsor FedEx to urge that the team’s name be changed.

Also last spring, American Samoa Del. Eni Faleomavaega (D) introduced a bill, co-sponsored by those who signed the letter, to cancel existing trademark registrations containing the term “redskin,” and deny registration for new trademarks using the term.

Today, though, half of the Senate jumped on the NFL’s back in an effort to force a name change — using the NBA swift punishment of L.A. Clippers’ owner Donald Sterling to say the NFL shouldn’t tolerate a racist team name.

The letter to Goodell, led by Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), stresses that “Americans applauded the rapid and decisive reaction from new National Basketball Association Commissioner Adam Silver to the racist remarks of Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling. Commissioner Silver sent a clear message that racism will not stand in the NBA.”

“Today, we urge you and the National Football League to send the same clear message as the NBA did: that racism and bigotry have no place in professional sports. It’s time for the NFL to endorse a name change for the Washington, D.C. football team,” write the 50 senators, all Democrats and Independents.

“The despicable comments made by Mr. Sterling have opened up a national conversation about race relations. We believe this conversation is an opportunity for the NFL to take action to remove the racial slur from the name of one of its marquee franchises. Professional sports have tremendous power to influence American society and strengthen our communities. From Jesse Owens to Jackie Robinson to Billie Jean King, athletes have often been a driving force for equality and diversity in our nation. Now is the time for the NFL to act. The Washington, D.C. football team is on the wrong side of history. What message does it send to punish slurs against African Americans while endorsing slurs against Native Americans?”

The senators also argued that changing the Redskins name is an issue of tribal sovereignty. These are all federal laws intended to protect and respect tribal culture and identity,” the letter states. “Yet every Sunday during football season, the Washington, D.C. football team mocks their culture.”

“The NFL can no longer ignore this and perpetuate the use of this name as anything but what it is: a racial slur. We urge the NFL to formally support and push for a name change for the Washington football team.”

Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) separately sent a letter to Goodell lobbying for a name change.

Goodell has said previously that it’s up to Snyder, since it’s his team.

In April, Snyder pointed to his recent formed foundation to help American Indian tribes and said people should focus on those issues, not a name.

“We understand the issues out there, and we’re not an issue,” Snyder said. “The real issues are real-life issues, real-life needs, and I think it’s time that people focus on reality.”

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D.C. Lobbyist Seeks to Ban Gays from NFL, Southern Baptist Leader Objects

Friday, May 9th, 2014 - by Scott Ott

At first blush, this looks like the classic man-bites-dog story.

A Washington lobbyist leads an NFL boycott against teams that draft avowedly homosexual players, but a Southern Baptist leader rebukes him. Jack Burkman (whose last name, oddly enough, has more than three letters and doesn’t start with “A”) is on a one-man campaign he claims is a nationwide movement, to punish teams that draft openly gay players. Enter the presumed baptist bumpkin bigot, who says…

“I’m adamantly opposed to such efforts,” said Dr. Richard Land, president of the Southern Evangelical Seminary in Charlotte, North Carolina, and former president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission who is also the executive editor of [Christian Post]. “A person’s sexual preference should not be an impediment to their livelihood in the sports industry.

“I think it’s unwarranted, unjustified and unfair to try to intimidate NFL teams from drafting someone because of their sexual orientation.”

Were you surprised?

I wasn’t. Having been a Southern Baptist for a decade or so, I can tell you that Land’s comments aren’t peculiar in the church, even as evangelicals acknowledge what the Bible frankly says about homosexual behavior.

Land’s remarks only sound surprising if you have a caricature of evangelicals cultivated by the media. That’s not to say that haters don’t gotta hate, even in the church. But, in general, we Jesus freaks have little difficulty parsing the world in which we live, where we can recognize sin for what it is, and also love the sinner, who, after all, is just like me.

The guy who wrote the biggest chunk of the New Testament called himself chief of the sinners. Unlike NFL draft picks, there’s no hierarchy of sin. Sin is rebellion against God, missing the mark of God’s holiness, and we all do it. That’s why we needed forgiveness from Jesus, the savior. So a Christian who looks down on sinners is really an oxymoron, or a parody, or a Washington lobbyist who’s found a way to get some facetime.

Burkman and Land have provided a point-counterpoint. Which do you think the media will attribute to the general evangelical populace?

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The NBA/Sterling Saga Is About to Get Ridiculous and Scary

Tuesday, April 29th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

The National Basketball Association has the right to accept and reject the owners of its franchises, so there don’t seem to be any First Amendment issues with the actions that Commission Adam Silver took today when he issued Clippers owner Donald Sterling a lifetime ban. The NBA has a brand to protect. The teams are franchises. The NBA isn’t the government. The NBA doesn’t want Donald Sterling as a franchise holder, it doesn’t have to have Donald Sterling as a franchise holder. I’m sure this will end up in court, but it all starts with what the NBA deems unacceptable from its franchise owners.

But the Los Angeles City Council is government. And now it is now wading into a situation that the NBA has already taken care of, and in a particularly odious way.

Government colluding with media to go after a private citizen who has not been accused of any actual crime other than thoughtcrime.

The Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to back the NBA’s decision to ban Clippers owner Donald Sterling from games and practices for life, condemning racist remarks attributed to Sterling and demanding a personal apology to Magic Johnson and all Angelenos.

Fine, so far.

The resolution, presented by Councilman Bernard C. Parks, also asked The Times and other newspapers to stop running ads for Sterling’s real estate empire and “alleged civic activities.” The Times had no immediate comment on the request to drop Sterling’s advertisements.

Whoa.

The LA government doesn’t need to do a thing. But its members clearly want to be seen doing something, even if it’s terrifying and illegal. They need to step back and stand down. They’re behaving like tyrannical clowns.

The resolution also called on the Los Angeles branch of the NAACP to revoke its nomination of Sterling for the NAACP Humanitarian Award. The award has already been withdrawn after the remarks attributed to Sterling were released by celebrity news website TMZ last week.

If anyone can come off looking worse than than a racist like Sterling, it’s opportunistic local political hacks. Congrats, LA!

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Quick-Thinking Brazilian Soccer Player Embarrasses Racist with Humor

Tuesday, April 29th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

Well played, Dani Alves.

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(CNN) Barcelona’s Dani Alves reverted to humor when dealing with racist abuse but it has proved no laughing matter for the Villarreal fan who threw a banana at him during Sunday’s match after being handed a life ban by the La Liga club.

Villarreal issued a statement Monday saying it “deeply regrets” the incident. “The club has identified the person responsible and has decided to withdraw his membership card and prohibit access to the El Madrigal Stadium for life,” it added.

Brazilian international Alves was taking a corner during Barca’s 3-2 win when the banana landed at his feet. Maintaining his composure, Alves picked up the banana, peeled it and took a bite and got on with the game.

“Dani Alves owned him,” tweeted the Brazilian’s teammate Neymar. “Take That bunch of Racists. We are all Monkeys So What.”

Alves later tweeted:

Translated: My father always taught me to eat bananas to prevent cramps.

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Does MSNBC Golden Boy Ronan Farrow Know Anything About Anything?

Tuesday, April 29th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

The phrase that MSNBC’s appointed savior Ronan Farrow is actually looking for is “starting line-up.” Not “start-up line.”

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Another Democrat Donor Caught Up in a Racism Scandal

Monday, April 28th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling is a Democrat, at least going by his political donations. Sterling has been caught on tape making what are obviously racist remarks to his girlfriend, who is mixed-race herself.

– “It bothers me a lot that you want to broadcast that you’re associating with black people. Do you have to?” (3:30)

– “You can sleep with [black people]. You can bring them in, you can do whatever you want.  The little I ask you is not to promote it on that … and not to bring them to my games.” (5:15)

– “I’m just saying, in your lousy f******* Instagrams, you don’t have to have yourself with, walking with black people.” (7:45)

– “…Don’t put him [Magic] on an Instagram for the world to have to see so they have to call me.  And don’t bring him to my games.” (9:13)

The NAACP was set to hand Sterling a lifetime achievement award. That’s now on hold, and Sharpton is gearing up to protest. The Clippers players protested before their most recent playoff game. Magic Johnson has called for Sterling to sell the Clippers. The NBA is investigating. The Clippers are losing corporate sponsors. Sterling will probably lose control of the team when it’s all said and done. He may even lose control to Magic Johnson.

The NAACP’s intent to hand Sterling a lifetime achievement award is itself a bit strange, given Sterling’s history of being sued by the federal government twice over racist practices at properties Sterling owns. Did he just buy the NAACP into giving him an award?

Oh, and by the way, Sterling is a Democrat if you go by his donations, who has only given political donations to Democrats.

Let’s watch progressives pretend that Sterling is not a Democrat, and let’s watch the media not take any look at his political donations. Some of the more adventurous among the progs and media may even try to associate Sterling with Republicans.

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Dallas Cowboys Release 2014 Schedule, Begin Early Preparations for Late Season Collapse

Thursday, April 24th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

There’s no way to sugar coat this: The Dallas Cowboys’ 2014 schedule is brutal. It would make Attila the Hun look away with trembling lower lip.

America’s Former Team open the season at home against the San Francisco 49ers. Show of hands, who thinks Jerry’s Boys will win that one?

Yeah, it’s at home and it’s the season opener, but Jerry World hasn’t exactly been a fortress for the home team. Going into last season the Cowboys had compiled a record of 17-15 at what is now AT&T Stadium. Last season they went 5-3 at home but lost key games against the Green Bay Packers and the Philadelphia Eagles. The Great Cheesehead Debacle of 2013 was the most painful — the Cowboys capitulated after leading by 23 at halftime to a team that didn’t even have its MVP quarterback. It was a disgraceful result of failing to follow the law that you run the ball when you have the lead, especially when your running back is averaging well over 5 yards per carry.

Don’t get me wrong, AT&T Stadium is great for importing European soccer matches. But the sheer spectacle of Jerry World seems to motivate the NFL’s visiting teams while the home crowd is too busy watching the pole dancers and the gigantic TV to cheer in sync with what’s happening on the field. The Niners will come in ready to roll over their old nemesis, and will probably come out with a season opening win.

Let’s suppose that the Cowboys then reel off a string of wins and get to November 23 with a record of 9-1. They won’t — they face the Seahawks on Oct 12 at Seattle, for one tough match, and have the Saints at home for another. Realistically, the Cowboys will be 5-5 or at best 6-4 after the first 10 games. The Cowboys have been weak in games against non-NFC East opponents over the past couple of years. They face some very difficult non-NFC East opponents in the first part of this season, plus a tricky match against the Texans, who were terrible last season but are always up for the in-state rivalry game.

But again, let’s just say that the Cowboys are 9-1 through Nov 9.

November 23 begins a nasty run. They travel to New York to face the Giants, who might actually be good again this year, then home to the Eagles, at Chicago, at the Eagles, home to the Colts and finish the season at Washington.

Those six games will define the season. The Cowboys over the past few seasons have gone into the late run with a chance to win the NFC East and get to the playoffs. But they have dropped just enough games in the late run to see them miss the post-season. In 2012, they went 3-3 after Thanksgiving and lost to the Redskins in a game that decided their post-season fate. In 2013, they went 3-3 after Thanksgiving, and lost 3 of their last 4 games, including a Jerry World loss to the Eagles that, again, decided their playoff fate.

Now look at this year’s late season run again.

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The Bears will be in their usual dogfight for the NFC North. The Colts have Andrew Luck to pick apart the always generous Dallas D, which if anything got weaker in the offseason. And four NFC East games that will decide who takes the division, including near back-to-back games against the Eagles. The Cowboys were very strong against the East last season, going 5-1, but thanks to their non-divisional games they still went 8-8 and missed the playoffs. They’re not likely to run up a division record like that again this season. None of the East teams look particularly strong, but the Cowboys haven’t used the offseason to get stronger either. They lost two key veterans on the defense, DeMarcus Ware and Jason Hatcher, while also releasing WR Miles Austin. Austin has been injury-prone, but was still a threat when healthy. Hatcher went to Washington and is already talking smack.

The Cowboys could well go 1-5 during that late stretch, leaving them 9-7 even if they have gone into that stretch in command. The best realistic scenario is for them to get to that point at 5-5 and then break even, to end up with yet another mediocre 8-8 season and miss the playoffs by losing at the Redskins on Dec 28. Watch for Hatcher to close out the season by sacking Tony Romo and causing a fumble, when the Cowboys should have been running the ball anyway.

What the Cowboys will need in that run-in is someone on the sidelines and someone the field who can put some steel into the team and carry them across to the playoffs. But that’s the kind of personnel that the recent vintage Cowboys have lacked the most.

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J.K. Rowling Intends to Milk Her Harry Potter Success In a Whole New Ridiculous Way

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

There is no such thing as a “Quidditch World Cup.” I repeat, there is no such things as a “Quidditch World Cup.”

Harry Potter fans will be able to read regular updates from the Quidditch tournament via the Pottermore website.

Characters from the books will feature in the reports, which will be credited to Harry’s wife Ginny.

Ginny is billed as “the Daily Prophet’s Quidditch Correspondent in the Patagonian desert” where the tournament is said to be staged.

The first installment of Rowling’s History of the Quidditch World Cup was posted on the digital platform last month, with the second part following shortly afterwards.

 

 

 

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Rand Paul Must Wear Blumenthal’s Huskies Tie After NCAA Game

Tuesday, April 8th, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

Kentucky’s senators have to pay up to the Connecticut delegation after the Huskies beat the Wildcats in the NCAA championship game last night.

Sens. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) wagered a selection of Kentucky Derby-Pies from Kern’s Kitchen in Louisville. Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) put Stew Leonard’s brownies and UCONN Dairy Bar ice cream on the line.

“Kentucky has made an unbelievable run and is one win away from its 9th National Championship. Big Blue Nation couldn’t be more proud and excited. So, I look forward to enjoying desserts after Kentucky beats UConn tonight,” Paul said before the game.

McConnell noted they’d already won brautwurst and cheese in a wager over the Wisconsin game. “I do believe, however, that some dessert is in order,” he quipped.

Blumenthal, one of the eventual victors, said Monday he’d “eat a light dinner so I can save room for derby pie.”

Murphy said he looked forward “to a big portion of humble pie from my friends from Kentucky.”

White House press secretary Jay Carney said before the game that President Obama’s picks “washed out in the brackets

The Senate wager grew as the day went on…

 

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NFL to Allow ‘Seat Visits’ by Cheerleaders. What Can Go Wrong?

Tuesday, April 1st, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

At first I thought this must be an April Fool’s joke, but the date is wrong for that — the story came out March 31. And it’s…interesting.

The National FootballLeagues has partnered with an app developer that will allow fans to get an in-seat visit from cheerleaders.

Sports Business Journal reports the NFL has teamed up with Experience in an effort to help improve the in-game experience for fans. On top of having cheerleaders visit fans in their seats, the app will allow fans the opportunity to upgrade their seats and also allowing them to be on the field before the game.

I don’t know about this. But I do know that I blame/credit Jerry Jones.

When Cowboys Stadium debuted in 2009, it edged the NFL cheerleader’s tasks just a bit farther from the family experience that the NFL says it wants. Cheerleaders dance up in little stages/cages on one of the field during Cowboys games.

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That got one-uppped by the app, which is going across the whole league this coming season.

Now we’ll have “seat visits.” Plus flowing alcohol. And in some states, maybe, pot smoking.

I don’t know about this…

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VIDEO: New Yorkers Boo Their Socialist Mayor

Monday, March 31st, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

What is going on in the world? First France goes about ousting local socialists who have been in power forever. Now New Yorkers greet their new socialist mayor on baseball’s opening day with a hail of boos as he throws out the first pitch for the Mets.

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Open Thread: MLB Gets Ready For Its First Big Replay Season

Wednesday, March 26th, 2014 - by Stephen Kruiser

Sign of the times.

The baseball purists will be losing it over this one, but that’s what they do. I’m only a purist when it comes to the designated hitter, a loathsome rule designed simply to give fat guys another five years of playing time and American League managers the opportunity to nap during the part of the game where National League managers have to earn a living.

Baseball is already a slow game and there is some justified trepidation about replay making it even slower. That’s mostly based on the fact that the NFL replay officials take an average of seventeen hours to see what everyone else with the same video feed can see in fourteen seconds. The NFL, however, is working with a couple of guys and and a couple of small monitors. MLB has gone all NASA for its replay purposes.
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Obama, Putin Release their March Madness Brackets

Wednesday, March 19th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

In keeping with his annual tradition, President Barack Obama has gone on ESPN and released his 2014 NCAA men’s basketball tournament bracket. The president has released his bracket, which he has clearly spent a great deal of time personally formulating, every year since 2009. That year he predicted the North Carolina Tarheels to win it all, and that remains the only year in which he has called the winner correctly.

This year, Obama is predicting Michigan State to win the final.

“Tom Izzo is a great tournament coach,” Obama said. “I’ve got Michigan State going all the way. … He know how to motivate folks and he knows how to coach. My pick: Michigan State. Bring it home for me. It’s been a while since I’ve won my pool.”

Besides the fourth-seeded Spartans and Cardinals, President Obama also selected No. 1 overall seed Florida and top seed Arizona to reach the Final Four in Arlington, Texas.

“I know these are not imaginative picks, but I think they’re the right ones,” Obama said of his Final Four picks.

In a first, Russian President Vladimir Putin has also released his take on March Madness. Putin stuck to the friendlier confines of state-run Russian media rather than ESPN for his announcement. Putin says that as a man who wrestles bears shirtless, his pick is similar to Tom Izzo in that he also knows how to motivate folks, but that’s where the similarities end. He is expecting this motivated team to win it all. Take a look at Vladimir Putin’s bracket on the next page.

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Open Thread Video: Sportsmanship Isn’t Dead

Monday, March 10th, 2014 - by Stephen Kruiser

It’s always nice to end the day with something fun and/or hopeful.

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NBC Depicts Married 23-Year-Old Olympian as Living an ‘Alternative Lifestyle’ (Update: Yahoo Too!)

Wednesday, February 19th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

Just read this and weep for our future.

David Wise is at the top of his sport. He’s always smiling among his friends and competitors, however, he’s not like the rest of the field. He is mature.

Not to say the rest of the freestyle skiers of halfpipe are not mature, but Wise is mature far beyond his years. At only twenty-three years old, he has a wife, Alexander, who was waiting patiently in the crowd, and together they have a two-year-old daughter waiting for them to return to their home in Reno, Nevada.

At such a young age, Wise has the lifestyle of an adult.

Well, at 23, he is an adult. He has been an adult for five years. He is old enough to have graduated from college, gotten married, started a family, become a world class skier — all kinds of adult things. Because he is an adult. He also sounds like a great guy.

He wears a Baby Bjorn baby carrier around the house. He also attends church regularly and says he could see himself becoming a pastor a little later down the road.

I’ll grant that in our day, when Christian business owners find their livelihoods threatened by Obamacare mandates and same-sex marriage proponents targeting them with lawsuits, being a Christian is a countercultural path. The culture and the media try their hand at tearing you apart, when they’re not mocking you.

But if being a married, responsible father at 23 is an “alternative lifestyle” then we are well and truly doomed.

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Update: NBC has deep-sixed its own story. Click on the link above, and now you’ll get this instead of the story.

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I’m sure they’re thrilled that we captured a screenshot of the original story.

Update: This story is such a train wreck for NBC. Note in the excerpts above that NBC names David Wise’s wife as “Alexander.” Her actual name is Alexandra.

Update: NBC aren’t the only ones who have gone after David Wise for being a married adult taking care of his family. Yahoo Sports says he is “wildy uncool.”

yahoo-wise

Update: NBC’s article is back up, here, complete with the poor spelling of Mrs. Wise’s first name.

Update: Sign. The last time I checked, 23-year-olds are adults. They can drink and everything.

If you take both the NBC and Yahoo treatments together, Wise’s perfectly sane and ordinary life is cast as “alternative” and “wildly uncool” in the most important part of the stories — the headlines. I see this as media elites once again reporting on flyover types as if they’re anthropologists studying some mystifying lost tribe. I guess some disagree.

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Bipartisan Bills Want Olympic Medals to be Tax-Exempt

Wednesday, February 19th, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

Both chambers of Congress have introduced legislation to keep 2014 Olympic medalists and beyond from having to pay taxes on their newly acquired metals.

The Senate version, introduced by Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), is co-sponsored by Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Chuck Shumer (D-N.Y.), Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Tim Scott (R-S.C.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), and John Hoeven (R-N.D.).

It would amend Section 74 of the Internal Revenue Code to state that “gross income” for U.S. Olympic and Paralympic athletes will not include the value of any medals or prize money they win while competing in the Olympics or Paralympics. Medalists would still have to pay taxes on any endorsement or sponsorship income.

“I congratulate all of our Olympic and Paralympic medalists who have dedicated their own time and money to compete on behalf of our nation,” said Isakson. “They should be welcomed as heroes, not handed a tax bill, when they return home from competition. This legislation is just the right thing to do.”

The House version was introduced by Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Texas).

“It’s stupid to tax the medals our Olympic athletes won,” said co-sponsor Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-La.). “They represent America as ambassadors as well as superior competitors in their sports. Medal winners in particular are a source of pride to us all. The last thing we should do as a government is send them a bill from the IRS when they return home.”

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