What Kevin Durant Could Learn From Kyrie Irving and LeBron James

The grass is rarely greener on the other side, a lesson Kevin Durant may learn should he decide to take his talents to New York or pretty much anywhere. Durant’s two-year $61.5 million contract is up and most agree he’ll opt to become a free agent and test the waters. One might reasonably ask, “why would he leave a situation where he would be the odds on favorite to win two or three more NBA titles with the clearly best team in the NBA?”

The reason most give is that Kevin Durant isn’t getting the credit he’s due as an individual, surrounded by four other All-Star’s; Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, DeMarcus Cousins, and Draymond Green. His two years with Golden State has led to two titles and two NBA Finals MVP Awards. How exactly is he not getting enough credit?

One issue, of course, is money. Kevin can go somewhere else and get a max deal. There’s nowhere else he can go and be surrounded by the talent his present team has. Kyrie Irving got tired of dwelling in LeBron James shadow. Despite being part of the last NBA championship team not residing in Oakland, CA while hitting clutch shots and being a major factor. There’s no telling what their Cleveland team might have done in the future had Kyrie not bolted to Boston where he could be, “the man.”

LeBron James has been “the man” on every team he’s been on since middle-school. Even when playing with fellow All-Star’s Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. He carried the responsibility for whatever happened, win or lose. LeBron went to the Lakers, hoping to restore glory to a legendary franchise, molding a third team into his image. Beset by injuries including to LeBron, this Laker team won’t even make the playoffs.

Midseason, Kyrie Irving called LeBron to say he was sorry for the way things worked out. His stint in Boston where he had to be the leader, taught him what he hadn’t learned previously. LeBron is likely wishing he’d gone to a team with more maturity and talent. Both might wish they’d stayed together in Cleveland?

Kevin Durant when at Oklahoma City, shared top billing with Russell Westbrook, a man with his own opinion as to who was the team leader. He can go to New York or elsewhere and be the man, winning might be another thing entirely. Championships in the NBA are a rare thing. As Kyrie is learning, having already won is no guarantee the magic is easily recaptured. Even LeBron is finding that out.

Trying to win three championships in a row is a grind. The motivation to get through the regular season when everyone is after your crown is tedious. What’s even more tedious is losing. LeBron will be watching the playoffs on television this year. At least he’ll get an extra month of rest this offseason. What would he be willing to give for another opportunity to strive for another ring? Kyrie’s team is in the playoffs but is nowhere near reaching his potential unless they make a dramatic turnaround. Durant’s team is tied for the lead in the Western Conference and the odds on favorite to win it all again. Think about it, Kevin!

Trump’s Big Payback: After The Mueller Report

It’s not fair to portray the 4-page letter released by Attorney General William Barr as The Mueller Report. Until we see the actual report and the underlying facts. We don’t know what Robert Mueller has found? The Justice Department just announced it will “be weeks, not months” before “some version” of the Mueller Report is released to the public. Until then, we are left with Barr’s assertion that neither Trump of his campaign conspired with “the Russian Government.” Leaving open the possibilities that they conspired with Russian Oligarchs, the Russian Mob, or while drinking White Russians. Barr, a Trump political appointee, determined that Trump was not guilty of Obstruction of Justice, although Mueller specifically refused to exonerate him.

While the Democrat-led House passed a unanimous resolution requesting the full release of the Mueller Report to the public. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced his refusal to bring up a vote asking for the same thing. Some Republicans who had previously indicated the need for the full report to be publicly released, are now satisfied to know no more than what Attorney General Barr has told us, not wanting any of those pesky underlying facts to get out.

President Trump, never known for his composure and class, has begun his payback tour, coming after any and everyone he feels opposed him. Without regard to The Constitution, the law, or concern for the American people.

In the two days since the 4-page summary that Trump calls “total exoneration,” despite Mueller’s statement of the exact opposite, he’s announced his enemies list and started coming for them. By name, he’s called out Democrat leaders Adam Schiff, Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, Eric Swalwell, the mainstream media, the FBI, and the Special Counsel he felt never had the right to investigate him. He and his lucky-not-to-be-indicted-yet son Donald, Jr have called for the investigators to be investigated. They have called for anyone who has claimed to have seen evidence of Trump malfeasance to be banned from the airwaves. Trump said his enemies that did “evil” and “treasonous things” will be “under scrutiny,” bringing Big Brother fully to life.

Senator Lindsay Graham, once known as the late Senator John McCain’s best friend. Emerged at Trump’s side, a couple of days after Trump spent a week lambasting a dead man, Graham’s one-time friend. Graham went on to infer he’ll be opening up his own investigations as the new Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, to help Trump in his assertion, “It was a false narrative, it was a terrible thing, we can never let this happen to another president again, I can tell you that. I say it very strongly.”

Almost lost in all the turmoil over the Barr Report (certainly not Mueller’s) was the Trump Justice Department instituting a new effort to kill Obamacare completely, throwing another 20–30 Million people off their healthcare plans. Doing away at the same time with coverage for pre-existing conditions without drastically raising rates.

There were some that hoped that Trump would take this opportunity to pivot and attempt to govern on behalf of all the people, taking on Infrastructure and maybe protecting our elections from future attacks. It’s clear that any hopes for bipartisan Trump, a figure that hasn’t been seen since taking office, will be dashed again, acknowledgment dawning that he never will exist. Perhaps James Brown said it best in his 1973 song, The Big Payback. To paraphrase:

“Trump don’t know karate, but he know ka-razy”

For The Good Of The Country: What Next?

The Republicans have settled on a single refrain, “For the good of the Country,” drop all investigations into Donald Trump, his family, and his administration. Stop the “Presidential harassment” as Trump called it. The Country is tired of all the investigations and we should simply let the rest of them go; “For the good of the Country.”

While Trump had what seems like a good day. It’s way too soon to declare him innocent of anything, based on William Barr’s summary of Robert Mueller’s report, which no one outside of the Special Counsel’s office and Barr has seen. Barr’s summary said there wasn’t conclusive proof that Trump participated in a coordinated effort to conspire with Russia. He also indicated that he and Rod Rosenstein decided there was no Obstruction of Justice. This was not the finding of the Special Counsel who declined to make that prosecutorial decision, only providing both sides of the argument for obstruction, arguments we haven’t seen.

Almost lost in the announcement was the mention of undisclosed information “of relevance in other matters.” If I were Don Jr, Erik Prince, Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump, and several others. I wouldn’t sleep easy yet. We have no idea how many other cases have been spun off to various US Attorneys in districts including the SDNY.

The bottom line is, we don’t know what we don’t know. It will take longer than we hoped for, but the likelihood is we’ll still find out. Although the Republicans, including every member of the House of Representatives, just voted to make public the entire Mueller Report. They’ll now leap on the bandwagon to keep the actual report secret, lest any inconvenient facts get out, all for the good of the Country mind you. What’s important to remember is that Mueller’s mandate was narrow and generally limited to Russian efforts to influence the election and American participation. Even though the report has been issued, there are other trials related to conspiracy with Russia including that of Roger Stone.

Though Mueller chose not to indict members of the President’s family that lied to Congress or the FBI. Those same people are under investigation by SDNY and the State of New York for activities of The Trump Foundation, Trump Inauguration, and Trump Organization. Their celebration is deserved, as they’ve had very few good days in the last year. But all those investigations are in full swing and Congress (the House anyway) is just getting warmed up and ready to issue it’s first subpoenas to the White House.

The Mueller Report specifically didn’t exonerate Trump of obstruction. There is a reason that Rick Gates hasn’t been sentenced yet because he’s still cooperating in “several investigations.” Michael Cohen is still talking to the SDNY. Michael Flynn just finished up any meaningful cooperation within the last two weeks. Barr’s summary of the Mueller report may seem a temporary setback, but the long arm of the law hasn’t stopped reaching for Donald Trump and some of his family. Have yourself a good tweet storm Donald, but save some of your energy. You’ll be needing it because people are still coming for you, for the good of the Country.

I Didn’t Get My Way Today!

I don’t always get my way

Mostly, but not always

I don’t like it when mommy tells me no

She used to give in when I cried

Then she started acting like she couldn’t hear me

I used to throw tantrums and layout on the floor

She learned to step around me

She wants me to use my words

I do sometimes and she still says no

What was the point

I will come up with a new plan

I want what I want

The day’s not over yet

Going To The Park With Grandpa

When I go to the park with my mommy

I slide down the slides

I swing on the swings

She chases me and I let her catch me

I have lots of fun

When I go to the park with my grandpa

We have different rules

I remind him I’m not supposed to get dirty

He tells me, “Mommy won’t mind”

When there’s water on the slide I slide thru it anyway

When I go on the swings I go higher than ever before and I’m not scared

Grandpa pretends to be a monster

When he almost catches me, I pretend to be the monster and chase him

I climb in trees when Grandpa takes me

Mommy doesn’t let me climb in trees

I hang on the rings until I fall

Grandpa catches me

I pick flowers to bring home to my mommy

Two ways I know when I’ve been to the park with grandpa

I take a long nap

I leave a ring in the bathtub

America’s Breeding Farms: What History Books Never Told You

In 1808, America banned the import of slaves from Africa and the West Indies. The impact on actual slavery in America was almost non-existent. There was still some limited smuggling of slaves but the majority of new slaves in America came from what Professor Eric Foner called, “natural increase.” One could reasonably ask, “Why ban slave imports and not slavery itself?” The answer is because, for many of the proponents of the prohibition including Thomas Jefferson, the reason was not based on humanitarian concerns but on economics. The South was producing and selling enough slaves internally that the slave trade was reducing prices for slaves and cutting into profits.

In 1819, another act was passed allowing US ships to not only patrol its own shores but the coast of Africa in an attempt to stop slave ships at the source. Not for concerns about ending slavery but in protectionism for American slave owners. Everything was contingent on the fact that there was a “self-sustaining” population of about four million slaves in America at the time. Southern legislators joined with northern ones in passing both the acts that banned the external slave trading but ignored slavery.

Most of us are aware that slave owners often bred their slaves to produce more workers. We are taught almost nothing about the breeding farms whose function was to produce as many slaves as possible for the sale and distribution throughout the South to meet their needs. Two of the largest breeding farms were located in Richmond, VA, and the Maryland Eastern-Shore.

As far as cities I’ve never lived in, I’ve spent as much time in Richmond, VA as anywhere. I traveled there multiple times a year, often for a few days or a week at a time. Richmond is serious about most of its history. I’ve visited the Edgar Allen Poe Museum. Monument Avenue contains several statues mostly of Confederate Civil War heroes; Stonewall Jackson, Jefferson Davis, J.E.B. Stuart and Robert E. Lee are honored there as is the late African-American tennis star Arthur Ashe who was from Richmond. In August 2017, Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney said Richmond would consider the “potential removal” of the statues glorifying the legacy of the South after issues raised in nearby conflicts and protests involving white supremacists. One major part of Richmond’s history is barely remembered, hardly spoken of and taught publicly nowhere.

Richmond is a port city and exported between 10,000 to 20,000 slaves a month to states further south and west. Slavery, not tobacco was Virginia’s primary domestic crop. You may have seen scenes of slaves being offloaded in New Orleans for example. They were more likely to have come from Richmond around Florida than from Africa.

You never hear the names of the industry leaders, Robert Lumpkin ran his “jail” which was a compound surrounded by a 12-foot fence with iron spikes. Should a slave escape, by law, The Fugitive Slave Act guaranteed they would be returned courtesy of the Federal government. The slave population of the breeding farm was mostly women and children not old enough to be sold, and a limited number of men whose job was to impregnate as many slave women as possible. The slaves were often given hoods or bags over their heads to keep them from knowing who they were having forced sex with. It could be someone they know, perhaps a niece, aunt, sister, or their own mother. The breeders only wanted a child that could be sold.

Richmond also had five railroads. Slaves could be shipped both by rail and boat which allowed slaves to arrive in better condition and thus fetch a higher price. Slavery was more than man’s inhumanity towards man. It was always about economics. Cheap labor that allowed America to compete with other nations. Much of America was literally built on slavery. Texas schoolbooks are now trying to make it sound not quite so bad. The breeding farms receive no mention at all.

The Mueller Report: The Devil Will Be In The Footnotes

The highly anticipated report of the Special Counsel will not be all that some have hoped for. Robert Mueller has shown a willingness to defer not only to the internal Justice Department memo stating a sitting President can’t be indicted but also his mandate to focus on Russian interference in the 2016 Presidential election and possible involvement by the Trump campaign. There is the caveat that he can investigate, “any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation.” To the chagrin of many, Mueller won’t be bringing charges on the money laundering, fraud, foreign bribes, and other unrelated crimes that turn up under every rock Trump has touched along his life journey.

The Mueller report will certainly have highlights. Within his narrow scope, he will detail the interactions with the Trump campaign with Russians ranging from President Putin to the Russian mob. The list of his family and associates that have had secret dealings with Russia, and lied about them, is already long. We’ll learn much more than has already been reported. Whether that is enough to convince Republican Senators to vote to impeach Trump will still be in doubt given that they know these things to be true already and look the other way.

The contents of the Mueller Report will be scandalous, directly point out the treasonous behavior of the President of the United States and most of his family. It will list crimes that some will dismiss as “process crimes,” newly defined as crimes we’re willing to overlook because they inconveniently involve someone we like. The report will detail criminal behavior that is already built into their political consideration because the general information has been available for so long.

The real damage to come from the Mueller Report will not be from the body of the report, but from the footnotes. And if you’ve seen any of the documents publicly released by Mueller’s team. They’re some footnote writing sons (and daughters) of guns. The footnotes will detail what became of all the criminal behavior uncovered that Mueller chose not to retain for the Special Counsel to prosecute. We’ll see familiar names like Michael Cohen who was referred out to the Southern District of New York (SDNY) and ultimately pleaded guilty to eight felony counts not brought by Mueller. The charges against Cohen stemmed from the review of his financial documents which revealed things like the Campaign Finance Violations involving payments fro Donald Trump to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal. Review of Cohen’s finances revealed crimes he wasn’t even charged with including acting as an Unregistered Foreign Agent. Keep in mind, Robert Mueller has seen all of Donald Trump’s finances.

Various court documents involving Paul Manafort, Michael Cohen, Michael Flynn, and others have been heavily redacted when released to the public because of their impact on “continuing investigations.” Rick Gates has his sentencing postponed because of his continuing assistance in “several” investigations as well. Although the Special Counsel is winding down his personal involvement and that of his staff. The footnotes will enshrine the crimes uncovered by Trump, et al, and what is being done in response.

The footnotes will tell us of all the referrals, some of which haven’t yet resulted in indictments, and some that perhaps never will. There is no way to look at Trump’s finances and not find money laundering, bank fraud, payments to women not yet identified (Steve Bannon suggested hundreds) and the crime that brought down Al Capone; tax fraud. Donald Trump Jr, Jared Kushner, Erik Prince, and others have lied to Congress. Crimes which Mueller might yet charge himself and turn over to others for prosecution. Trump’s multiple instances of Obstruction of Justice will be outlined for all to see.

While part of the report may never be revealed to the public due to national security or editing by Attorney General William Barr. The President may claim Executive Privilege to keep some parts of the findings secret. There can be no legitimate excuse to keep from Congress the footnotes indicating actions taken by the Special Counsel to refer cases to other jurisdictions. It will be a roadmap of criminal behavior will fuel House Investigations for the rest of the Trump Presidency, and it will all become public. Those Republican Senators will face questions on a daily basis about their willingness to overlook the criminal behavior of the President and his family, while eventually a Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) charge is levied against The Trump Organization. Those Senators will have to defend their equivalent of siding with the mob, siding with Trump will no longer be a viable option. The law defines 35 specific acts as constituting racketeering. Trump has to be good for at least 30 of them.

Trying To Give Candace Owens The Benefit Of The Doubt

Candace Owens is a public figure, she worked hard to make a name for herself as a black conservative, she just got more than she asked for. A white supremacist terrorist cited her as an inspiration for his role in the murder of 49 people at two mosques in New Zealand. Her first response began with LOL and a laugh emoji, followed by a statement that she’s never created any content espousing her views on the 2nd Amendment or Islam. Twitter went on to bash her for her response and it is here I’m trying to give her a pass.

Despite her public figure status, nobody expects to wake up and be named as an inspiration for mass murder. There is no playbook with instructions as to how you’re supposed to respond. If there were one, it might be to speak to a Public Relations professional, craft a response that shows empathy for the victims, denounce the attack and white supremacy and show remorse for anything you might have done to inspire this madman as it was never her intention.

The part that Candace missed, was to consider the possibility that there is anything she might have done differently or change in the future. Her position is to deny that she was an inspiration for a mass shooter when the shooter himself named her in a 70-page manifesto. Like it or not, she was an inspiration for a killer. She issued a later statement saying “black conservatism” wasn’t an inspiration. I agree, the killer didn’t name black conservatism, he named her specifically.

I knew who Candace Owens was before this incident, I’ve seen her on Fox News and read some of her statements. I pretty much disagree with everything she says but I can empathize with the situation she found herself in unexpectedly. She might take a moment to consider how her writings/speech/conduct might have inspired the hate it took to kill innocent people at a mosque and decide whether to continue on her same path? Don’t follow the Trump philosophy of never apologize and double down. How about, do better?

Profits Vs. Death: Why Good Government Matters

Corporations are in business to make money. They have a fiduciary responsibility to their shareholders to responsibly provide a return on investment. Secondary goals might include providing employment and being good citizens in their communities. Most major corporations have charitable foundations, their executives serve on boards of not-for-profit organizations, they donate to youth programs, mentor students, and provide scholarships. Corporations absolutely do a whole lot of good, except sometimes when they don’t.

Looking back, cigarette makers have produced a product that literally kills people. Big Tobacco initially hid the fact that one of the major ingredients (nicotine) was highly addictive, over the years they altered the chemical configuration so that cigarettes now contain twice the amount of nicotine, according to a 2014 Surgeon General’s report. Sugar and flavors were added to make the smoking experience more pleasurable. Additives helped the smoke enter your lungs and effects reach your brain faster. Today’s smokers have a greater risk of getting lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases while smoking fewer cigarettes than those of previous generations. These corporations knew they were killing people, yet made the determination that their need for profit was more important than their responsibility to the public. The government, in particular men and women in Congress, accepted millions in donations and for the most part, did nothing.

In the last week, a Boeing 737 Max 8, crashed in Ethiopia, killing everyone on board. It was an almost new plane, and it was very unusual that it crashed so early in its service. It was an aberration, except for the other Boeing 737 Max 8 that crashed early in its service, six months ago. Other nations responded almost immediately, grounding their Boeing 737 Max planes until the cause of the crashes was known and a solution provided. The United States was different, the FAA while sending representatives to investigate the cause of the crash, saw no reason to ground the planes, while literally the rest of the world did so. Surely it couldn’t be because the C.E.O. of Boeing, called his personal friend President Trump and assured him everything was fine? The FAA could have shut down Boeing 737 Max flights, the Secretary of Transportation had the same power. Both did nothing. Eventually, with the weight of the entire world’s different decision and new satellite evidence showing similarity in the two crashes, did the United States government order the Boeing planes grounded. Prior to that, Boeing and some government officials had engaged in a public relations campaign to assure us there was no similarity in the two crashes and there was nothing to see here. The concern for lost profits was put ahead of the safety of the American people.

Would that these were isolated incidents, or limited to the excessively pro-business Trump administration. Yes, he turned over the EPA to people that don’t believe in climate change. His Cabinet is full of people whose primary mission is to eliminate regulations that protect our air, water, and land. Corporations are allowed to knowingly poison each of these while our current government greases the skids. Campaign finance makes our legislators dependent on corporate contributions to get elected or re-elected. Citizens United keeps us from knowing which donors gave what. Climate change which threatens our very extinction is being denied by those that make the calculation that profits are the most important variable in the equation, death comes in a distant second.

As we approach the 2020 Election and every other election. It’s time to identify and vote for people at every level that will concern themselves more with the effect of their legislation on peoples lives, whether it be gun control, climate change, or destroying the environment than fundraising and getting elected. If they’re going to serve corporations and not the people. They don’t deserve to be in office in the first place.

Paul Manafort and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

With apologies to Alexander, Paul Manafort also had a very bad day. Last week he arguably got a very light sentence of 47 months when sentencing guidelines dictated he receives between 19–24 years in Federal prison. Judge T.S, Ellis had somehow been bamboozled into believing that Manafort had, “led an otherwise blameless life.” Calling into question his own fitness to continue serving on the bench.

Manafort rolled the dice again, this time before Judge Amy Berman Jackson who added another 3 and 1/2 years to his sentence, berated him for his lies and conduct, criticizing his attorneys as well. She put the lie to the claims of Manafort’s attorneys who keep saying, “No Collusion,” which they ran to repeat in a press conference on the courthouse steps.

You’d think facing 7 and 1/2 years in Federal prison would be bad enough? His lawyer, begging Trump for a pardon by repeating, “No Collusion!” despite the evidence presented about his conspiring with Konstantin Kilimnik and providing internal polling data to the Russians. Was shouted down by protesters, calling him a liar and correctly pointing out the Judge didn’t say there was no collusion.

Topping things off, minutes after his court appearance. The State of New York charged Manafort with 16 counts of criminal behavior related to mortgage fraud, conspiracy, and falsifying business records. If convicted, these charges will not be eligible for a Presidential Pardon, something Manafort was desperately hoping for.

Manafort is allegedly suffering from a variety of medical conditions including gout which he claims have worsened as a result of his months in prison during his trial. He wasn’t allowed his jet black hair dye, exposing his white hair as surely as his fraud was uncovered. His hopes that the highly unreliable Trump would free him appear to have been dashed by the State of New York with a big F.U. to both Manafort and Trump. A very bad day indeed!

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