Who Won July?

The SEVEN
by Mack Williams
31 July 2016

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I. GSW, KD, HRC…and Russ?

If there’s one thing that the NBA has in common with presidential politics, it’s that the outcome is not determined in July. “Winning” July technically means nothing in either situation, but on the other hand, a strong July can go a long way towards creating a successful outcome – and certainly the Golden State Warriors hope that is the case after their signing of Kevin Durant.

At first glance, it almost looks unfair, adding a thirty-point per game scorer to the Warriors team that set a regular season mark for wins with their 73-9 record. Commissioner Adam Silver spoke out against “super teams,” and KD is feeling the burn – not Bern – of blowback from fans who didn’t care for his version of The Decision. But before we order all the confetti for a parade in Hammertown, let’s remember that the most talent-laden teams – on paper, that is – do not always win. See ’76-78 Sixers and ’04 Lakers as examples.

As for Russell Westbrook, he emerges a winner by having an entire season without KD around to showcase his incredible skills, assuming OKC does not trade him in fear of losing him as well. As fans, that makes us winners too.

On the campaign side, Hillary Clinton is the clear winner of July, having been the beneficiary of a well-produced convention which featured speakers – aside from her – that people actually were interested in hearing. Her talents as a speaker rank far below those of many of the others, almost like when WWE has Paul Heyman serve as spokesman for the mic-challenged Brock Lesnar. But Hillary just needed to be solid, which she was, and should she remain solid through November, the White House is hers. She need not swing for the fences,

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because within these 100 days DJT will say and tweet enough racist and xenophobic things to disqualify himself in the eyes of the majority of the electorate, like this group of voters that has some knowledge of the nature of the job…

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II. Michelle Obama

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The First Lady’s incredible speech which ripped the Republican nominee to shreds without once mentioning his name demonstrated that if she should ever want to seek elective office like another First Lady has, it’s there for the taking. She says no, but she’s still young.

III. President Clinton

Everyone knows Bill Clinton is one of the great speakers of our time, as well as someone who has gotten himself in hot water – such as in South Carolina in ’08 – with his mouth. So there was a little pressure on Bubba to strike the right tone, and he did with a personalization of his wife that no one else could deliver. (That said, watch out for his acidic tongue to come out should Donald’s behavior warrant it.)

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IV. President Obama

This was the fourth Democratic Convention President Obama has spoken at, and it undoubtedly won’t be the last, but it is the last he will address as president…unless the people chanting “four more years” can get the constitution amended – and Hillary to stand down – prior to November. Obama certainly would mop the floor up with Trump, but in a sense the term limitation on the presidency illustrates one of the problems with the Trump candidacy. Trump’s belief that “I alone can fix it” – similar to former NYC mayor Rudy Giuliani’s desire to stay in office beyond the end of his term because he claimed to be the only one that could navigate the city through the post-9/11 period – shows both a narcissism unbecoming of a potential president and a ridiculous sense of government. If you die, will it never get fixed…despite the presence of 300+ million other people?

V. Mike Bloomberg

As it turns out, New York was able to continue recovery in January of 2002 under the-then incoming mayor Mike Bloomberg. In his speech to the convention, the independent made a case for Trump’s unworthiness for the job, which of course led Donald to fire off several vindictive tweets, proving his point.

VI. Rev. William Barber

For the majority of the country unfamiliar with the work of Rev. Barber in North Carolina, we have met him now, and will likely be hearing much more from him.

VII. Non-Convention Winner

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This says it all.

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Trump Sour

The SEVEN
by Mack Williams
22 July 2016

If you had been commissioned to write the script for the Republican convention in order to make them look as bad as possible, it’s doubtful you could have done any better than they did left to their own devices. For the benefit of those who couldn’t bear to watch that fantasy show, here’s why:

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I. Day One

In a Quicken Loans Arena devoid of both the “winners” promised as speakers by Donald Trump and the excitement of last month when the Cleveland Cavaliers became winners, the biggest story of day one was Melania Trump’s plagiarism of Michelle Obama’s 2008 Democratic convention speech. Plagiarism is serious – and if you think it isn’t, try doing what she did in your college course and see what happens – but what is even more striking and, frankly, insulting is the fact that after all of the birther and racist things Donald Trump has said about President Obama, his wife goes and takes Michelle Obama’s words.

II. Day Two

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Day two’s biggest story – even in the midst of Trump accepting the nomination and the chanting of “lock her up” – was the fallout over Melania’s plagiarism, and the excuses, lies and finger-pointing by the Trump camp, even going so far as to try to blame Hillary Clinton. Two days down, zero positive impact.

III. Day Three

Finally…after:

1. Melania told the Today show’s Matt Lauer she wrote it
2. A statement is put out attributing it to a team of writers
3. Chris Christie said it wasn’t plagiarism because it was only 7% of the speech
4. Paul Manafort said it’s Hillary’s fault because she lashes out whenever she’s threatened by a woman
5. Donald Trump tweets that the publicity is good news

…a Trump Organization writer, Meredith McIver, falls on her sword and accepts the blame. Indiana Gov. Mike Pence accepts the vice-presidential nomination and does not excite the crowd.

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Sen. Ted Cruz refuses to put away his sword and doesn’t endorse Trump in his prime time speech…and, quite honestly, I can’t say I blame him. I haven’t been the biggest fan of Ted Cruz – running for president of the country whose government he wanted to shut down – but I give him his props on this one. If I had been running in the Republican primary and Trump mocked my wife’s appearance, implicated my father in the assassination of President Kennedy, and called me “Lyin’ Ted,” I wouldn’t swallow my pride to endorse him, either, and would take pride in the boos I was serenaded with while leaving the stage. Three days down, little impact.

IV. Day Four

The time for Donald Trump to speak has come, and because of the lackluster first three days, he has more pressure on him to produce that he might have wanted. Then he says he is going to tell the truth at this convention. I seriously wondered how he would do on that score, but I wouldn’t have to wait long to find out, as the “lock her out”

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chants reverberated around the arena. One hardly needed the volume up, since he shouted his entire speech with a delivery reminiscent of Howard Beale, the increasingly unstable character from the movie “Network.”

V. “Fighting For The Little Man”

“My biggest concern is for our struggling citizens.” Does that include the contractors he refused to pay in full, forcing some out of business? Or the students of Trump University that were fleeced out of upwards of $30,000?
“Not going to let companies move jobs overseas.” Does that include his businesses, whose products are largely produced overseas?
“I would like to thank the evangelical and religious community because, I tell you what, the support they’ve given me, and I’m not sure I totally deserve it…” Maybe not after his mocking of the disabled.

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“Sanders supporters will join our movement…” No, they won’t. Any Sanders supporter that votes for Trump wasn’t a real Sanders supporter.

VI. Build That Wall

How would he both lower taxes and build his tremendously expensive wall on the Mexican border? Totally unbelievable that he would even utter the word “taxes,” after refusing to release his tax returns.

All told, it’s doubtful Trump will get the post-convention bounce he needs, and the Clinton vice-presidential pick and Democratic convention are coming this weekend and next week. I would expect Clinton’s percentage to rise significantly.

VII. What’s Up With That?

Not so sure it’s the best look when the NBA pulls the 2017 All-Star Game from Charlotte in support of the LGBTQ community, but the WNBA (same umbrella organization) fines teams and players wearing shirts in support of #BLM and the slain police.

RNC Makes Democrats Great Again

The SEVEN
by Mack Williams
19 July 2016

Just a few things about the comedy show that was the first night of the Republican convention…

I. White Elevators

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Okay, there had to be some other rational explanation for the White Elevators sign, but how ironic is it that it would be at the site of the Republican convention? That being said, since only 0.7% of the Republican delegates are African-American, if the sign were really for white people’s elevators, it would hardly be necessary

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II. White King

Rep. Steve King of Iowa, on MSNBC last night, basically said that only white people have created anything of substance in history. How ironic is it – on a night where he essentially claims black people don’t matter – that Melania Trump plagiarized from the African-American first lady?

The cynic would say that that was emblematic of this couple…Melania stole from Michelle Obama, while Donald stole from the students of Trump University.

 

III.   Last One Standing

 

President George W. Bush fears that he may be the last Republican president, which tells me he can either count or read tea leaves much better than some of the people in the convention he has chosen to stay away from.  This is not your grandad’s United States, GOP.

 

IV.   Write On

Did Melania’s speechwriters think that no Republicans would have seen Michelle’s speech, so it was safe to rip paragraphs out of the speech? Did they forget that there is this newfangled thing called the Internet?

They need not watch the Democratic Convention next week…chances are no speaker will take from any of these speeches in Cleveland.

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If only LeBron James were on the ticket instead of Mike Pence…his presence would insure all of these empty seats would be filled.

Dancing Without The Stars

The SEVEN
by Mack Williams
15 July 2016

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I. Melissa Harris-Perry

Hats off to BET – which has fumbled the ball on the news side time and time again – for picking up MSNBC’s fumble by hiring the brilliant Melissa Harris-Perry, who will co-anchor coverage at the Republican and Democratic conventions. She should have a lot of topics to discuss next week in Cleveland, not the least of which being Donald Trump’s refusal to address the NAACP convention.

As a long-time NAACP member and officeholder, I realize that the convention is basically a week later than it often is, and there are, in fact, overlapping days with the Republican convention – but it seems to me that if you’re a billionaire able to “self-fund” much of the campaign to date, a quick flight from Cleveland to Cincinnati (site of the NAACP convention) would be an excellent use of time and money.

Donald Trump has claimed he will get 25 percent of the Black vote; to that end, where would he find a better place to speak than at the convention of the oldest, biggest and baddest civil rights organization in the country? Decisions like this might help make his percentage wind up closer to 0.25%. I’m sure Melissa will have something to say about this.

II. BLM

Perhaps Mr. Trump is afraid he might get schooled by some of the NAACP conventioneers about #BlackLivesMatter. At the NAACP, an interracial organization founded by an interracial group of people, we know that all lives matter, and that saying that Black lives matter is not meant to denigrate anyone else.

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There’s actually a word missing when “Black Lives Matter” is said, and that word is “also.” We know – and society has shown – that other lives matter; now the goal is to make sure that Black lives are afforded the same respect.

III. How You Doin’?

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Big hats off to Wendy Williams, who was big enough to admit she was wrong about the need for the NAACP, HBCUs, and other predominantly African-American institutions that emerged as a result of discrimination – and big enough to have Roland Martin (who called her out on his TV One morning show last week) on as a guest yesterday. Some other public figures, who are loathe to admit error, should take note.

IV. Bernie Sanders

Hats off as well to Sen. Bernie Sanders, who ran a great campaign during the primaries and, similar to the campaign of Rev. Jesse Jackson in 1988, brought issues to the forefront and, ultimately to the platform, that were not being discussed.

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Sanders, who endorsed Jackson in 1988, engaged many young people and new voters and made many people of all ages Feel The Bern. But now it’s time…

V. Dancing Without The Stars

If you happen to be looking for a lot of the people who have been the faces of the Republican Party during the last 25-30 years, the place to look will not be at the Republican Convention. Ronald Reagan is dead, so obviously he won’t be there, but his vice-president that followed him as president, George H.W. Bush, is very much alive, and he won’t be there.

030114-O-0000D-001 President George W. Bush.  Photo by Eric Draper, White House.

Neither will George W. Bush, John McCain or Mitt Romney…which means that four of the last five Republican presidential candidates are skipping the convention. Ohio Gov. John Kasich – and remember, it’s taking place in Cleveland – is staying away, too.

MIA as well will be Senators Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, and Lindsey Graham, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, former Governors Jeb Bush and Arnold Schwarzenegger, and a host of other Republican officials. What could it be that is keeping them away?

VI. Et Tu, Brute?

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When African-American conservative Republican Sen. Tim Scott speaks of racial profiling he has experienced, you know there must be something there. I wonder what they will say to him?

VII. Big Papi

Although I am not one with a vote, I know there is a voters bias against selecting a full time DH as American League MVP. If they could get around that, David Ortiz would have to merit serious consideration if he has a second half like his first.

Jul 12, 2016; San Diego, CA, USA; American League player David Ortiz (34) of the Boston Red Sox tips his helmet to the crowd as he is replaced in the third inning in the 2016 MLB All Star Game at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports ORG XMIT: USATSI-260922 ORIG FILE ID:  20160712_jel_al2_184.jpg

Big Papi’s season so far has been incredible for anyone, much less a 40-year-old, but even more so in that it is his final season. Is he in the midst of the greatest swan song season in sports? Let’s check it out…

Fellow Red Sox great Ted Williams, at 41, hit .316 with 29 homers and 72 RBI in 113 games. Sandy Koufax ended his Dodger career with a monster season unlike any we’ll ever see again, starting 41 games and completing 27 with a 27-9 record and a 1.73 ERA, striking out 317 batters. But Koufax stepped off the field at age 30, so he really can’t be judged with these other guys. Same with the Detroit Lions’ Calvin “Megatron” Johnson, who had an 88 reception, 1,214 yard season prior to his unexpected retirement, also at age 30.

In the NHL, Mark Messier had a solid season at 43, 18 goals and 25 assists, while Wayne Gretzky finished at 38 with 9 goals and 53 assists. San Antonio Spurs great David Robinson had his weakest season at 37, but walked off his career with a 17 point, 17 rebound game as the Spurs won the NBA championship. Of course, we just witnessed Kobe Bryant’s 60 point final game, but it was at the end of his worst season.

So we are arguably witnessing the best Final season ever. Appreciate it.

All Animals are Equal…

The SEVEN

by Mack Williams

8 July 2016

 

I.  #Do All Lives Matter?

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In George Orwell’s “Animal Farm,” which was published in 1945, what started out as a very “all for one, one for all” situation with the various animals on the farm transitioned over time into “All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others.” Now in 2016, when people say Black Lives Matter, the response by some – including some very well-meaning people – is All Lives Matter.

Of course all lives matter.  Theoretically that does not need to be said. But the reason people are emphasizing that Black Lives Matter is that too often incidents have occurred – from the killings of 12-year-old Tamir Rice, Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner and Ramarley Graham and Philando Castile and Sean Bell and so many others – which have led some people to believe that just like in Animal Farm when “All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others,” Black lives are valued less and don’t matter quite as much .  This point is made plain in the wake of the horrific killing of five Dallas police officers last night, an act that addressed none of the issues people have, and was not done in the name of anyone who sincerely wants these issues addressed. Yet there is public outrage over these deaths that was absent when these various Blacks were killed, some of the worst coming in tweets from racist of the month ex-congressman Joe Walsh, @WalshFreedom, who managed to blame and threaten President Obama.

Saying Black Lives Matter is neither racist nor a declaration that Black lives are more important than any others – but it is meant to be a notification that we want everyone to realize that Black lives are a part of the All Lives that do matter.

 

II.    Getting Guns Away Matters

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Kudos to Congressman John Lewis, image

the conscience of the House, who marched on the bridge in Selma in 1965 and sat down this year on the floor of the House this year.  And a gas face to Paul Ryan, who I sense knows what is right but seemingly lacks the courage to act on it, whether in the case of #NeverTrump or sensible gun safety measures.

 

III.   Construction Costs

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That wall will have to be really high to keep out all the Mexicans, Muslims, Jews, and the disabled.

 

IV.   Road to FiveThirtyEight

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As in the 2012 election season, political junkies (like me) are following Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight site daily…largely because he has proven to be so on point.  In a volatile election season with two candidates like never before, anything can happen, but I do believe the fat lady is at least deciding on her outfit.

 

V.   Memo to NBA/USA Basketball

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If we’re going to continue to use NBA players to compete in the Olympics and other international tournaments, we may have to cut a few games off of the NBA regular season. After an 82-game regular season and up to four rounds and two months of playoffs, guys that go deep into the playoffs are beat, which is why so many superstars have asked out…which is not to say that we won’t have a great team, but it’s something to think about.  Plus, a slightly shorter regular season might eliminate the need for some of the days of rest for star players, which are necessary from a player/team standpoint but must be aggravating to the person that picks a certain night to attend a game, only to get there to find the star is on the bench in a suit.

 

VI.    Merry Go Round

 

If you had told me, three short weeks ago, that:

Kevin Durant would be joining Golden State

Dwyane Wade would be leaving Miami-Wade County for the Chicago Bulls

The Knicks, with the additions of Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, Courtney Lee and Brandon Jennings, would be eastern conference relevant again,

 

I would have thought you to be seriously crazy.

 

VII.   Free Madison

 

Someone please let Madison Bumgarner take part in the Home Run Derby.