Archive for February, 2015

2016 Presidential Campaign – #2

February 22, 2015

Note from the author: from time to time during the upcoming presidential election, I’ll be sharing articles and my thoughts about it here. For those hardcore political junkies among you, here’s a link to a very good non-partisan website, 2016 Election Central, which will keep you up to date over the next two years of campaigning http://www.uspresidentialelectionnews.com/. Charles

Quotes of the Week

“I love my father and my brother…But I am my own man—and my views are shaped by my own thinking and own experiences.” – Jeb Bush on February 17, 2015 in a speech to the Chicago Council on Global Affairs

However, two of his key advisors include Paul Wolfowitz, one of the key architects of Bush 43’s Iraq War strategy, and longtime GOP/Bush family consigliere James Baker.

“Rand [Paul] is an interesting guy…No, he is…And Rand Paul said the Republican Party needs to show up on the South Side of Chicago and shout at the top of its lungs that the GOP is the ticket to the middle class.” – President Barack Obama in Washington, DC on February 20, 2015 to the winter meeting of the Democratic National Committee.

The Week in Review

Just when RNC chairman Reince Preibus thought that he’d been able to reduce the number of potential landmines for the 2016 presidential primary campaign, things heated up when noted media whore and failed presidential candidate, former NYC mayor Rudy Giuliani opened his mouth and stuck both feet and hands in when he leveled a charge so nakedly evil and racist in its content and form – “President Obama doesn’t love America” – that one has to seriously ask this question: Is Rudy Giuliani insane?

More questions about the assumed Hillary Clinton campaign announcement and key staff members were posed and some of them were actually answered.

Can Jeb Bush Shutdown His Competition?

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“I’m Jeb, the ‘smart’ Bush brother.”

As this Politico article clearly shows, Jeb Bush’s stealth “pre-campaign” campaign was a carefully crafted, designed and executed attempt to deliver a knockout blow to any of his potential opponents. Its first victim: Mitt Romney. Bush’s early and deadly shot across the bow has brought him a great deal of attention, but even more importantly, he’s moved quickly to lockdown key big-money bundlers/donors and staffers. But, as a speech in Chicago last week revealed, his biggest enemy just may be Jeb himself.

The GOP’s “Rudy G” Problem

Somewhere down the line, sooner or later, thinking adults in the GOP – and by “thinking” I mean anyone with the sense that God gave a seedless grape – are going to have to stand up and address the overt racism and hatred so many of its leaders have for President Obama.

Hillary vs The GOP Field

While Hillary Clinton continues as the Democratic front runner – actually, she’s the only serious candidate at this time – without any real competition on the horizon, the race for the GOP nomination remains wide open with Scott Walker and Jeb Bush as the early leaders.

Scott Really Wants To Be POTUS

We may be about to find out if, in the age of FOX News and its dumbed-down approach to “journalism,” someone without a college degree can be a serious candidate for president. Wisconsin governor Scott Walker who dropped out of Marquette University 34 credits short of a degree is doing the groundwork for a potential primary run, but is already feeling the heat of the enormous difference between a gubernatorial race and a national one.

Chris Christie Being Chris Christie

He simply can’t help himself.  Good or bad, Chris Christie is exactly who he is. And that will most likely be his downfall in New Jersey long before the first vote is taken in the Iowa Caucuses next year.

The Gay Marriage Dilemma for GOP Candidates

As this Boston Globe clearly shows, gay or same-sex marriage, is becoming much more a fact of life across America (nearly 72% of the US population now lives in a state where same-sex marriage is legal) and yet, for some in the GOP, it remains a highly charged and divisive subject that any presidential candidate will have to address sooner than later.

The Debbie Wasserman Schultz Factor

Marco Rubio has a huge factor in deciding whether or not to run for president that no other candidate other than Rand Paul must deal with: it’s against the law in Florida (and Kentucky) to run for two offices at the same time. And so far, there’s a big difference in how the two first-term senators (both elected in 2010) are handling the situation: Rubio says he’ll decide soon on which office he’ll seek and Paul has indicated that he will challenge Kentucky’s law in court as being unconstitutional. Where Wasserman Schultz enters into this is the fact that for the foreseeable future, the GOP will most likely hold an overwhelming majority in the House where her power will be limited. However, the Senate is far more volatile and should Rubio not run for his seat, the race will be wide open in Florida. However, if Rubio doesn’t run for president and stands for reelection to his Senate seat, Wasserman Schultz, who also can’t run for two offices at the same time, will have to make a career decision that just two years ago, seemed highly unlikely.

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NBA 2015 Trade Deadline Recap

February 20, 2015

The Day All Hell Broke Loose in the NBA

Prior to last Thursday’s trade deadline, most NBA pundits, reporters, talking heads and the ever-popular “sources close to __________ say…”, believed that this would be one of the sleepiest days in recent league history. They were as wrong as Mitt Romney’s final 2012 Election Day polls as this report from espn.com’s  grantland shows. Almost 40 players changed teams, Don Patrick Rileyeone recalibrated the Heat and reshaped the race for the Eastern Conference title, the Blazers picked up a great back-up guard, the Pistons obtained Reggie Jackson from OKC as a possible replacement for rehabbing point guard Brandon Jennings, OKC found someone to take Kendrick “Mr. Smiles” Perkins while restocking their bench, Andre Miller and Aaron Affalo continued adding to their “Teams I’ve Played For” jersey collections, the Knicks and Lakers did nothing, Kevin “Old Man River” Garnett went back to his old Minnesota Home for whatever reason, the Clippers and Lakers did nothing, and the Philadelphia 76ers continued their mystifying trip to this June’s draft.

Grading the 2015 NBA trade deadline by Kelly Dwyer

All-Star Weekend Recap

It very well may still be LeBron James’ league, but the future just may belong to “Splash Brother” Stephen Curry who won the 3-Point Shooting Contest with a final round that included 13 consecutive made shots in a row.

Russell Westbrook scored 41 points – one short of Wilt Chamberlain’s All-Star Game record – and won the game’s MVP award with an incredible, court-scorching, eye-popping performance.

Speaking of MVPs, Celebrity All-Star Game legend Kevin Hart won his fourth consecutive award despite being embarrassed by Little League World Series star Mone Davis. During an appearance on the Jim Rome national radio show, Hart said, “That little girl embarrassed me on live television…It’s only going to get worse if I keep going back. I don’t want to see what’s going to happen next.”

Melo, Melo, Melo

Was it really that important to play in the All-Star Game just because it was on your home court? Have we seen the best of you? What does the future hold for you and the Knicks franchise after this season ending surgery that could have you out for 4-6 months?

Kobe Talks and Talks

Suddenly, towards the end of his incredible career, Kobe Bryant, is opening up and talking about his life and process more than ever before.

The NBA at the All-Star Break – 02/15/15

February 15, 2015

NBA Coast to Coast: All-Star game brings Gasol brothers together again

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Grizzlies center Marc Gasol works in the post against his brother, Bulls forward Pau Gasol (16), in the first half of a game earlier this season. (Brandon Dill / Associated Press)

The NBA Coast To Coast at the break gives you a professional’s look at the current NBA season so far. Later on, I’ll be giving you my perspective. But first…

QUOTES OF THE WEEK

Ageless

Golden State Coach Steve Kerr, 49, the Western Conference All-Star coach, got a chuckle out of knowing that he’s going to coach former San Antonio teammate Tim Duncan, 38, in Sunday’s All-Star game. “I’m sure I’ll have some choice words for him too,” Kerr said. “And maybe even threaten to play him 42 minutes just to wear him down.”

I’ll be there

Golden State guard Stephen Curry couldn’t help but crack on his easy-going teammate, Klay Thompson. Curry was asked what Thompson’s response was when Thompson found out he was starting for the West in his first All-Star game. “Huh, really?” Curry said, imitating Thompson. “That’s cool. Wait, when’s the All-Star game?”

Jokester

So you think Gregg Popovich doesn’t have a sense of humor? When the San Antonio coach was asked how he relates to the younger players in the NBA, Popovich, 66, left the media laughing. “The young kids are easy,” Popovich said. “The old ones are hard. Timmy [Duncan] and I divorce once a year.” —Broderick Turner

GAME OF THE WEEK

San Antonio at Golden State

When: 7:30 PST. TV: ESPN

The first time the teams met in November, the upstart Warriors were shown how NBA champions do things, losing, 113-100, to the Spurs in Oakland. But since that time, the Warriors have produced the best record in the NBA and the Spurs are the seventh-seeded team in the West. Since it’s the second game on back-to-back nights after the All-Star break for San Antonio, it will be interesting to see whether Spurs Coach Gregg Popovich rests any of his regulars. — Broderick Turner

CHARLES’ TAKES

The league’s three most historic and storied teams, the Celtics, Lakers and Knicks are shells of themselves, but because of Danny Ainge’s aggressive and unemotional approach to letting go of the recent past, Boston is in the best shape of the these franchises. At the break, the Celtics are only 1 & ½ games out of the last playoff spot in the woebegone Eastern Conference and are loaded with draft picks for 2015 and 2016 with salary cap space as well. Meanwhile, both the Knicks and Lakers are in limbo with both of their superstars ailing; Carmelo Anthony is contemplating shutting it down after making a cameo appearance in today’s All-Star Game and Kobe Bryant, with one season left on his contract, is out for the third consecutive season with a major injury.

So far, the post-Dr. Jerry Buss Era is a failure (just ask Lakers legend and constant John Buss critic Magic Johnson) and the Zen Master himself, Phil Jackson has admitted that this season is the same in New York. Critics of both franchise’s owners and front office abound in the media and blogosphere and many believe that things will get worse before they get better. The Lakers face another summer of trying to convince a premier free agent (or two) to ignore their recent history and take their money while in the Big Apple, first time president Phil Jackson and head coach Derek Fisher face an uphill battle to prove that they know what the hell they’re doing amid questions about Jackson’s long-term commitment at the age of 69 with fiancée (and Lakers co-owner) Jeanie Buss in sunny Los Angeles. And team owner James Dolan isn’t exactly helping things either.

Meanwhile, positive stories and rising young stars abound around the league. Golden State, Memphis and Portland are legitimate title contenders in the West; Andrew Wiggins is showing Minnesota and the Cavaliers why he was drafted so highly and other young players are coming to the forefront across the league. Speaking of the Cavaliers, after a rocky start and recent trades, the LeBronites seem to be gelling at the right time. The Bulls, as always, are as good as Derrick Rose’s knees while the Raptors are drawing record crowds in Toronto and showing why any title talk in the East must include them.

The All-Star Game weekend showed a changing in the guard and most likely featured final appearances by players such as Tim Duncan and Dirk Nowitzki. Meanwhile, injuries to Kobe Bryant, Blake Griffin and Dwyane Wade allowed young stars such as Damian Lillard and Klay Thompson to make their initial appearances on the globally broadcast game. And, taking full advantage of the extended break (a week), many of the game’s brightest stars and their celebrity counterparts from the worlds of movies and television and other sports gathered in New York City to network and party together.

For old-timers such as myself, it’s not our father’s NBA anymore. Adam Silver is celebrating one year as commissioner, the players association has an aggressive new executive director in Michele Roberts who’s already made it clear that the owners are in for a fight over increased revenues from the new TV contracts due to take effect for the 2016-17 season, and in what may be one of the most important player moves in recent history, Lebron James is taking an increased role as a leader of the game off the court.

Thursday’s trade deadline could portend who positions themselves for both a playoff run this season and this summer’s draft. Will the Lakers trade Steve Nash’s (yes he’s still alive) expiring contract or just hold tight and hope to keep their protected draft choice while waiting on promising rookie Julius Randle to heal from his broken leg suffered in the opening game of the season? What contender/s will make a bold move to bolster their roster? Can Kevin Durant get and stay healthy long enough to lead the Thunder, along with Russell Westbrook, to a playoff slot? And, are the Spurs just lying low, trying to conserve energy as only “Pop” can do?

For the first time in recent years, there’s no clear-cut leader to hold up the Larry O’Brien Trophy in June. And for fans, that’s a great thing as the playoffs promise to be exciting and thrill-filled from start to finish.

The Times’ NBA rankings – 02/15/15

February 15, 2015

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Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry drives around Utah Jazz forward Gordon Hayward during a game on Jan. 30. (Rick Bowmer / Associated Press)

Broderick Turner ranks the 30 NBA teams – February 14, 2015 @ 6:39pm

My comments

By BRODERICK TURNER

Last week’s ranking in parentheses, statistics are through Thursday’s games:

  1. GOLDEN STATE: Curry, Thompson are first two All-Star starters for Warriors since Barry, Thurmond in 1967. (3) – Still not convinced that they can win a ‘Larry O’Brien’ without a healthy Andrew Bogut, but damn, this is an exciting team especially with the “Splash Brothers.”
  2. ATLANTA: Hawks have record-tying four All-Stars: Kyle Korver, Jeff Teague, Al Horford, Paul Millsap. (1) – Sexiest “cheerleaders” in pro sports history; group meetings held at Magic City.
  3. MEMPHIS: Back to the Grind House, with the Grizzlies giving up 95.7 points a game, tops in the NBA. (2) – proverbial ‘Window of Opportunity’ is NOW with Marc Gasol’s free agency looming this summer.
  4. CHICAGO: Won four in a row after losing 10 of previous 15 to open 1&1/2 -game lead over Cavaliers in Central Division. (10) – Fair or not, it’s all on Derrick Rose and his legs.
  5. CLEVELAND: Went through the motions in loss to Bulls in last game before All-Star break. LeBron had eight turnovers. (4) – Paging Kevin Love!
  6. HOUSTON: James Harden for MVP? He leads NBA in scoring (27.4) and has scored more than 40 six times. (5) – And yet, Dwight Howard’s nagging injuries and seemingly lack of total commitment makes me think the Rockets are more title “pretenders” than contenders.
  7. TORONTO: Making history. At 36-17, it’s the Raptors’ best record at the All-Star break in team’s 20 years of existence. (7) – Best city in the NBA outside of Miami.
  8. SAN ANTONIO: Tim Duncan selected to 15th All-Star team, tied for third-most with Shaquille O’Neal, Kevin Garnett. (6) – As usual, just going about their business down by the Riverwalk.
  9. PORTLAND: Damian Lillard is the only player to score in double figures in all of his team’s games this season. (8) – If LaMarcus Aldridge’s thumb injury doesn’t get any worse, Blazers could be the sleeper in the West.
  10. CLIPPERS: Clippers go 2-1 after Blake Griffin’s elbow surgery, with DeAndre Jordan putting up 20-20 in wins. (11) – Lob City could become Sob City.
  11. DALLAS: Got to get healthy. Rajon Rondo (eye), Tyson Chandler (ankle), Monta Ellis (hip) all have injuries. (9) – In a word: no. In two words: hell no.
  12. WASHINGTON: All-Star break needed after losing six of eight. Bradley Beal out nursing leg, big toe injuries. (12) – Nope, not even a remote chance the Wizards can win the East.
  13. MILWAUKEE: Bucks are the first team in NBA history to double last season’s win total by the All-Star break. (13) – Yeah, but it’s still Milwaukee and no premier free agent will ever sign there.
  14. OKLAHOMA CITY: Making its playoff push with two stars healthy and is just behind the last spot in the West. (18) – One and a half seasons to convince Kevin Durant to stay in the OKC.
  15. PHOENIX: Lost seven of last 10 before the break, and can see Oklahoma City coming fast in rearview mirror. (15) – Uh…no.
  16. NEW ORLEANS: Must get Anthony Davis back for playoff push. He missed two games with sprained right shoulder. (16) – Davis, great as he’s becoming, simply can’t do it by himself.
  17. CHARLOTTE: Health issues. Kemba Walker (knee), Michael-Kidd Gilchrist (hamstring) out. Lost three straight. (14) – And now Michael Jordan must make a move before Thursday’s trade deadline.
  18. BOSTON: Flying under the radar, Celtics are only 1 & 1/2games out of playoff spot in East after winning four of five. (20) – Danny Ainge’s rebuilding project slowly but surely coming together.
  19. MIAMI: Dwyane Wade, out last seven games with hamstring injury, plans return in first game after All-Star break. (21) – Heat will make it interesting but it’s time for Don Pat Rileyeone to come out of retirement and bolster the roster.
  20. BROOKLYN: Won three straight, including impressive victories over Clippers, Raptors, but then lost last three. (17) – Barclays is a great new arena!
  21. DETROIT: Pistons have lost seven of last 11, but they’re still in playoff picture, two games out in the woeful East. (19) – “Woeful East” is redundant, like saying “Sarah Palin is an idiot.”
  22. INDIANA: Good news. Paul George, out with a broken right leg, eyes March 1 return from gruesome injury. (22) – Why?
  23. UTAH: Passing the ball a bit more couldn’t hurt. Jazz ranks 28th in assists, averaging only 20.3 a game. (26) – Ironic considering insurance agent Don Stockton’s twin brother is NBA’s all-time career assists leader.
  24. DENVER: Rumors have the Nuggets looking to move Arron Affalo, Wilson Chandler, Jameer Nelson. (24) – Jameer Nelson is still alive? Who knew.
  25. SACRAMENTO: George Karl takes over as coach after the All-Star break. His new team has lost eight of last 10. (25) – George Karl is the one former Tarheel that I root against.
  26. ORLANDO: Why not add him to the All-Star team? Nik Vucevic third in NBA in double-doubles with 32. (23) – Who?
  27. LAKERS: Set franchise record for most consecutive losses on road (11). Is worst record (19-53) next? (27) – Loyal (or crazy depending on one’s point of view) fans holding out hope that Kobe Bryant comes back healthy next season and leads team back to the Promised Land. In a possibly related action, hard liquor sales are up 200% in LA since December.
  28. MINNESOTA: Ricky Rubio making strides. Had 18 points, nine rebounds, five assists against Warriors. (28) – So what?
  29. PHILADELPHIA: Time to reflect during 10-day break. Hope to get Michael Carter-Williams (finger) back. (29) – Reflect on what? They’ve already got tanking down to an art.
  30. NEW YORK: With Knicks going nowhere, will Carmelo shut it down after All-Star break because of nagging knee? (30) – If Knicks can’t sign a major free agent this summer, how long will Phil Jackson stay in NYC? That, all apologies to Sir William Shakespeare, is THE question in Jim Dolan’s world.

2016 Presidential Campaign – #1 – 02/04/15

February 4, 2015

Note from the author: from time to time during the upcoming presidential election, I’ll be sharing my thoughts on it here. For those hardcore political junkies among you, here’s a link to a very good non-partisan website, 2016 Election Central, which will keep you up to date over the next two years of campaigning http://www.uspresidentialelectionnews.com/. Charles

“Money talks and bullshit walks.” – Disgraced Pennsylvania Congressman Michael Myers as recorded on tape during the ABSCAM sting operation on August 22, 1979

“Money will talk even louder than ever before in the 2016 presidential election.” – Charles L. Freeman, Jr – February 4, 2015

Here we are only six months out from the first official GOP presidential primary debate and eleven months from the Iowa Caucuses on January 18, 2016 and already, we’ve witnessed a seismic event among the party’s potential candidates for the right to run against (and probably lose to) Hillary Rodham Clinton. Less than a month after telling a private meeting of some of his biggest donors in the 2012 campaign that, “I want to be president” and ramping up speculation that he might run for a third time, Mitt Romney announced last Friday that he won’t be running again. Despite his stated belief that he could “probably win the nomination and beat Hillary Clinton” and raise the estimated $1 billion plus needed for long, grueling primary and general campaigns, Romney most likely saw the writing on the wall that became even clearer when Jeb Bush jumped the line and announced that he was going to explore the possibility of running for president: “Please go away Mitt and stay away.”

Unlike the Democratic side where it appears that Hillary Clinton will be the only serious candidate unless Elizabeth Warren can somehow be convinced by the progressive wing of the party to run, the Republican pool of potential candidates runs from the must be taken seriously Jeb Bush who so far appears to be ignoring the far-right wing of the party to the ridiculous threats of Donald rhymes with Chump and Sarah “I’m Serious This Time” Palin. In between that spectrum, in no particular order, lie Chris Christie, Ted Cruz, the quixotic Dr. Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina, Lindsay “Boots on the Ground Everywhere” Graham, John Kasich, Rand Paul, Rick Perry, Marco Rubio, Rick Santorum and Scott Walker. Paul Ryan, who was Romney’s 2012 running mate, says that with Romney out of the race, he’s going to remain neutral for now.

This list of potential candidates comes with several caveats and possible problems led of course by Jeb Bush’s last name which, because of his brother’s disastrous end to his second term, must be seen as a huge impediment particularly should he be the party’s nominee. But, because he’s far more moderate on Common Core and immigration reform among other crucial issues than most of the party’s hardcore conservatives can stomach today, and the fact that he’s been out of office since 2007 and hasn’t run a campaign since 2002 – a lifetime in today’s hyper-digital 24/7 news cycle atmosphere – there’s reason for many to wonder if Bush’s ability to tap into his family’s vast donor base will be enough to propel him to the nomination.

Then consider the following: Christie faces possible indictment from several current investigations; Perry is already under indictment and facing trial in Austin, Texas while Cruz, Graham, Paul, Rubio, Santorum and Walker all have questions about their ability to raise the money needed for a nationwide run. Plus, both Paul and Rubio face decisions about running for president or their Senate seats as Kentucky (Paul) and Florida (Rubio) have laws against appearing on the ballot twice – Paul is threatening to challenge the law while Rubio has said he’ll make a decision soon on which office he’ll seek (most observers think he’ll run for reelection to the Senate). Kasich and Walker are Republican governors in Midwestern states – Ohio and Wisconsin respectively – who’ve taken vastly different approaches to governing; Kasich is more pragmatic and seeks to solve problems via common sense and consensus while Walker seems intent on destroying labor unions in his state and across the country.

Looming over all of this: an improving economy, immigration reform, terrorism, Citizens United’s “dark money” being funneled into Super PACs, Karl Rove’s Crossroads, Sheldon Adelson’s desire to force any and all candidates to swear allegiance to Israel and the notoriously secretive Koch Brothers who say they will spend upwards of $800 million on the 2016 campaign.

RNC chairman Reince Priebus, who vowed to take control of the debates this cycle in order to end the circus that surrounded the 2012 primary campaign, has implemented a series of changes that not only limits the number of party sanctioned debates, but punishes those who participate in non-sanctioned events and created a baseline of support that candidates must meet in order to appear onstage. In other words, no Michele Bachmann and Herman Cain in 2016 (sorry Dr. Ben Carson and fired Hewlett-Packard former CEO Carly Fiorina) to provide reams of material for Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert and SNL.

Mitt Romney is the first victim of 2016 and only time will tell if he can continue to influence the race via his vast and deep-pocketed donor list. Whoever taps into it the best and right now, Bush seems to be the most successful at doing so, will have a decided advantage.

In 2011, I told anyone who’d listen: when it’s all said and done, Mitt Romney will be the Republican nominee because the powers that be in the party aren’t going to risk what they think is a very good chance to defeat a seemingly weakened incumbent Barack Obama by nominating some far-right wing candidate. And that holds even truer today in 2015: when it’s all said and done, after billions of dollars in official and unofficial campaign spending, after a campaign that’s going to give Game Change authors Mark Halperin and John Heilemann their third joint best-seller, it’s going to be Jeb Bush against Hillary Rodham Clinton for the right to be the 45th President of the United States.

That’s what I think today.