Don’t Believe the Superhype

"I left my Dab in San Francisco..."

Sorry. There is no dabbing in the Super Bowl.

The only thing we like in America more than celebrating our winners is tearing apart our losers. We wildly cheer them one week when they thrill us and we boo them without mercy the next when they do trip up and do a face plant.

Cam Newton smiled and threw touchdowns and dabbed and danced his way to a Superhype Bowl. Then a funny thing happened. He essentially wet the bed in front of 111 million people.

Superhype Bowl 50 did likewise. Two teams clenching, grappling, and throwing half-hearted pokes at each other (at least both the offenses were pretty anemic) until someone screwed up in a way their defense couldn’t cover for their ineffectual asses.

How bad were the Panthers and Broncos on offense? This bad.

The Panthers had 21 first downs. The Broncos had 11.
The Panthers converted on 3 of 14 third downs. The Broncos on 1 of 14.
Cam Newton and Peyton Manning tasted the tacky, torn-up turf of Levi Stadium a combined 12 times in sacks.
The two teams fumbled seven times losing four of them.
Both quarterbacks threw more interceptions (1 each) than touchdowns (none).
Both quarterbacks combined for slightly over 300 net yards passing which is pretty awful in Roger’s Goodell’s pass-crazy NFL.
The two teams punted 15 times.

That’s some lousy football, folks.

Didn't do much to win it. Just didn't too much to lose it.

Didn’t do much to win it. Just didn’t too much to lose it.

The Panthers lost ugly and the Broncos won ugly and everyone still had to go to work the next day. The game was bad and the commercials were bad and Coldplay was really bad. Where’s so super about that?

Cam Newton led the Carolina Panthers to a 17-1 record going into Super Bowl 50. Then for the next 60 minutes he played like shit and now those 17 wins before that second loss don’t count?

Newton didn’t lose the Super Bowl. Not by himself though it’s his contributions which will be scrutinized without pity or mercy. He fucked up over under sideways down, but the hammering the Panthers took on Sunday night in San Francisco? That was a team loss.

Newton didn’t play well enough but Jonathan Stewart and the running backs didn’t run well enough and Ted Ginn, Jerrico Cothcery, Greg Olsen and the receivers didn’t catch enough passes. Graham Gano shanked a makeable field goal. The offensive tackles couldn’t block a busload of angry nuns let alone DeMarcus War and Von Miller who regularly snatched the jocks of Mike “Turnstile” Remmers and Michael “Don’t Put Me On The Blindside” Oher on their way to smash Newton again.

Head coach Ron Rivera fussed and cussed and wasted his red flag challenges and pretty much stood on the sidelines looking like a man who just knew he had left his wallet in the toilet before the National Anthem. Offensive coordinator Mike Shula had no clue what to do to keep Cam from getting creamed because whoever the offensive line coach is hadn’t told him before leaving the stadium at halftime and was updating his resume on Linkedin in a cab on his way to the airport.

After the game Manning shamelessly plugged Budweiser and denied CBS an announcement that this was indeed his last rodeo which indeed it needs to be because his right arm has all the strength of a wet noodle. For what his contributions were to the Broncos 24-10 win, there are third-string scrubs on 31 other teams who could eke out a limp stat line of 13 completions on 24 attempts for 141 yards, no touchdowns and one interception.

Please retire, Peyton. You got your 200th win and your second Superhype Bow ring. Now go sit down and hum that horrible Nationwide Insurance theme while you pound down some rancid Papa John’s pizza and wash it down with some nasty-ass Bud. See you in five years when you go into the Hall of Fame.

Go away, Peyton.

I repeat: THERE IS NO DABBING IN THE SUPER BOWL.

I repeat: THERE IS NO DABBING IN THE SUPER BOWL.
As for Cam and the crew, there is no dabbing at the Superhype Bowl. For your immediate future there is only an incoming storm of endless condemnation of how immature you are and how you need to grow up and respect the game.   Oh, and you and your team are a bunch of choking dogs.   They’ll probably remind you of that too.

Shake it off, Cam. If they didn’t like you before, they’re loving how much they get to hate on you now. If success has a thousand fathers and failure is an orphan, you’re all alone in the end zone as you gloomily reflect upon how close you came and how far you still have to go.

This was an unsatisfying end to an extremely satisfying season. Winning 17 games and a league MVP does not suck. The Panthers are young and tough and if the front office is smart, they’ll find some more receivers and some offensive tackles that can roadgrade oncoming linebackers. Put that on your “to do” list, and I guarantee the Panthers will be back in the Superhype Bowl before the Broncos are.

But until then, Newton and the Panthers will hear it loud and hear it loud. Hear it good and don’t forget how it made you feel when you heard it. Then next season, remember those names and make them laugh out of the other side of their mouths along with the split lips and broken teeth.

The Panthers aren’t going to sneak up on anyone next season. Good. When they see you coming with blood in your eyes it will make the ass-whupping you’re bringing with you all the worse.   Let their hate be your fuel.

I hope those Panthers are not playing the 49ers next season. That is, unless they get rid of Colin Kapernick and the Niners run Blaine Gabbert out there. Then I want the Panthers to stomp the cowboy shit out of them.

See you at SB100?

See you at SB100?

The Difference Between a Victim and a Villain

Tamir Rice: Armed and dangerous playing with a toy gun. Had to die.

I read a lot of stuff online.  Some of it is smart and most of it is not.  I read something on a website after last week’s FBI shooting of Robert “LaVoy” Finicum, one of the militia militants who have taken over and occupied the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, now dragging into 33 days with no end in sight.

Finicum’s death has given his fellow extremists the martyr for their anti-government rebellion and one of Finicum’s fellow fanatics, Jason Patrick made a totally insane comparison when he likened Finicum’s death to the killing of Tamir Rice, an unarmed 12-year-old African American boy fatally shot by police outside a Cleveland recreation center in 2014.

“The government can kill who they want for whatever reason they want with impunity,” Patrick said.

An anti-government, gun-toting, wannabee revolutionary crazy man is comparable to what happened to Rice? BULLSHIT!  Finicum was armed with a rife with real shells. Rice had a toy pistol. Rice was blown away by the Cleveland cops within three seconds. Finicum wandered around federal property for 27 days before he was shot while toting a weapon.

I forgot how much Americans love their outlaws and there will always be those who take the side of the outlaws even when they bring their fate down on their own head as one poster did in a forum post.

“And now one of them’s dead. Poor dumb bastard. I get the impression he didn’t want to live, and I wonder how his life went so wrong. Was he reaching for a gun? Damned if I know. I’ve watched the slowed-down aerial shots, and maybe he was just flapping his arms around trying to keep his balance in deep snow. People do that. I’ve done that within the last week, my muscles still remember what it feels like. Maybe at that moment he didn’t mean any more harm than Tamir Rice did. Or maybe he did. But he’d created a situation, blustering and posing, where the guy who shot him had no other choice. I hope the guy who shot him comes to understand that.”

It shouldn’t be necessary to explain Robert “LaVoy” Finicum was a 55-year-old White man armed with a rifle who declared he would rather die than surrender who illegally occupied the refuge for nearly a month while Tamir Rice was a 12-year-old Black boy armed with a toy gun who never had a chance to surrender as he died on a Cleveland playground with three seconds of the police arriving.

Like flies to cow pies, this sort of lawlessness contempt and disdain for any authority whatsoever only encourages more contempt and disdain for the law and authority. Wannabees have been emboldened by the Oregon stand-off and some of them are ready to kill for their twisted beliefs.

The cops and the FBI didn’t start this, but they have guns too and if these snack-swallowing “patriots” want to go out in a blaze of glory, that’s their call.

Finicum abandoned his home and family to sit in the snow and give bullshit press conferences railing against the government. Rice was being a boy doing what boys do in playing with a toy gun. Finicum was an armed militia extremist. Rice was a kid. Finicum proclaimed he was a law-abiding citizen who loved, God, family, and freedom. Rice didn’t hold any press conferences to proclaim what he loved. Pizza, maybe?

Rice was a boy who never had a chance to grow any older. Finicum was a grown man who threw away his chance and there’s one less gun-toting nut in the world.

If someone wanted to compare the fate of Mr. Finicum with that of other anti-government radicals like Gordon Kahl, Randy Weaver, and Timothy McVeigh, that would be a valid comparison. Tamir Rice’s killing has nothing to do with what happened to Finicum. One was murdered where he stood while the other reportedly yelled, “Just shoot me!” and the authorities complied.

Agitating to die is not the same thing as being gunned down without so much as a warning.

No matter how many how many of his fellow armed militia extremists or simple-minded sympathizers try to dig up and co-opt Rice’s corpse and try to compare the death of an innocent boy with the death of a radical extremist, there is zero truth to it. It only cheaply devalues the life of an innocent who was murdered before he ever had a chance to live to make a misanthropic hater who chose suicide-by-cop look a little less crazy.

There’s a world of difference between a victim and a villain. Robert Finicum thought he was a hero. Thought he was a patriot. Thought he could overthrow a government with a rifle. He thought wrong and now he’s dead.

Robert Finicum. Sedition. Armed with a rifle. Giving press conferences for nearly a month.

Robert Finicum. Sedition. Armed with a rifle. Giving press conferences for nearly a month.

Tamir was just a kid in the park who crossed the path of a trigger-happy killer cop who had no business whatsoever with a gun and a badge. They aren’t remotely the same sort of death. They aren’t even remotely on the same planet.

It shouldn’t be necessary to explain this but I’m not surprised it is.

Why Hate Cam Newton Because He Has More Fun On His Job Than You Do?

Cam is the Man for the Fans.

Cam is the Man for the Fans.

One of the smarter moves I made last year was calling up DirectTV and asking for a discount on the NFL Sunday Ticket (and I ended up getting it for free).  Last year was the first year I actively avoided Niners games.  It made zero sense to pay $300 to watch the 49ers stack up 5 wins against 11 losses.  That would have been an expenditure even my extremely tolerant wife would have given the side eye too.

I can’t say what any other Niner fans did to escape watching a deadly dull football team stumble through such a rotten season even the Cleveland Browns put a foot all up in that ass,  but my refuge was to follow the Carolina Panthers and their charismatic QB, Cam Newton, the likely NFL Most Valuable Player.

The Panthers went 15-1 in the regular season and crushed the Seahawks and Cardinals on their way to the NFL Championship and punched their ticket to Super Bowl 50 where they face the Denver Broncos, hoping to win what appears to be a last run for a ring for 39-year-old Payton Manning.   The Broncos feature a kick-ass defense and an aging, creaky QB who looked frail and fragile at times this season, but rebounded somewhat in the playoffs.

It should be an epic match-up between the old gunslinger trying for one last shot at glory and the new fast draw who is cocky and on top of his game.    As dreary and miserable as slogging through the 49ers’ Season in Hell was, the tonic was watching the Panthers’ wide-open offense and take no prisoners “D” plow through the NFL, and it was enjoyable to watch Newton play with a smile on his face  and making plays with his legs as well as his arm.

Newton had the sort of season where it wasn’t only fun to watch him, he was having fun doing it.   The trouble is if you have too much fun in the No Fun League you’re going to take some from the fans (not Carolina fans mind you).

15-yard penalty for Dabbing While Black.

Don’t Hate Me Cuz U Can’t Dab Like Me.

Here’s a sampling of the dogpile from Pro Football Talk:

Newton’s style is obnoxious, juvenile and bush league that’s why people don’t like him. Not because he’s black. Russell Wilson is black and NFL fans respect his style because it is professional and shows humility.

·         Cameron “the thief” Newton celebrates a first down when he is losing by 24 points. The guy is the definition of ME ME ME.

 ·         Newton has always been about trying to get as much attention as he can get. It doesn’t matter to me whether or not it can be backed up. I just can’t find it possible to actually like him.

 ·         I don’t think any fan has a problem with celebrating. But Newton celebrates every TD like he just won his 15th straight super bowl, cured cancer, and created an unlimited source clean, free energy for the planet.

 ·         Once Cam Newton starts acting like a Professional he will be elite like Peyton.

I always enjoy when someone says “it’s not because he’s Black” and then immediately follows up with an example of a Black person they find acceptable.  It’s even more hilarious to say when Newton starts acting professional like Peyton Manning that will make him elite.

Does that mean Newton has to start shilling lousy pizza for a right-wing millionaire and be investigated for using human growth hormone?

Football is both a kid’s game and a billion dollar business. Cam loves the kids and the kids love Cam, especially when after the Panthers score, Newton hands a ball to a kid who is usually so excited they’re probably going to sleep with that ball for the next five years.

Young, Incredibly Gifted, and Black. Rich, too!

No kid who gets a football from Newton thinks he’s a selfish showboat who only cares about himself.  Newton pisses off other players and purists, but he’s delighting the Panthers fans and developing a national following for the team.  That’s good for the business of the NFL which is far from being the most fan-friendly sport.

Cam Newton does not take games off because he’s getting drunk and lying to his employers or fighting in strip clubs or depositing babies across the NFL     If the worst thing anyone can say about Newton is they don’t like how he celebrates a touchdown, they should be mad at the other team’s defense for not stopping him.

I don’t know if Newton reads James Baldwin, but he explained it a long time ago when he said, “The power of the white world is threatened whenever a black man refuses to accept the white world’s definitions.”  All those small-minded types clutching their pearls and grumbling how Newton doesn’t act like that nice Russell Wilson or that elite Payton Manning are missing the point.  Cam Newton chooses to define himself and that threatens the White world that insists only they can do that.

They will never forgive Newton for that so he might as well keep on dancing and dabbing and having a good time all the way to a Lombardi Trophy on Sunday.

If Cam Newton scowled and frowned his critics would say he needs to smile more.   He can’t win with them and shouldn’t bother to try.

Thankyouforlettingmebemyselfagain.

 

Not Ready Yet to Feel the Bern.

Elect me and GET EVERYTHING FREE!

I keep hearing some rumor about Bernie Sanders as the Democratic nominee for president.  So can someone tell me what that’s about? The Bernie Sanders I know isn’t a Democrat and never has been.

Sanders has definitely over promised and will undeliver as president. If a moderate Democratic president gets nothing from a far-Right Congress a Democratic Socialist will get less than nothing.

Bernie jump starts the heart of dissatisfied liberals in way Hillary Clinton never could, but the idealism has to be offset by the practical in a purely practical sense I do not see a way Sanders gets anything done with a Republican Congress which would be even more hostile to his Democratic socialism than they were to his predecessor President Obama whom Republicans accused of being a socialist.

Politics does not care about “possible” and “impossible.” Politics cares about do you have enough votes? A President Sanders would enter office with not enough reliable votes among the Dems and none among the Repubs.

Optimism is one thing Sanders supporters have in spades. What they don’t have are policy initiatives which can be turned into the law of the land. I said Sanders has over promised. He has. I said politics is about how many votes you have and Sanders doesn’t have enough: not in the popular vote, not in the Electoral College, and certainly not in the House and Senate.

No..I'm not interested in being your vice-president, Hillary.

No..I’m not interested in being your vice-president, Hillary.

Look at history and see what happened the Democrats nominated a candidate as liberal as Sanders. That would be George McGovern in 1972 and he lost all but two states to Richard Nixon and got slaughtered in the Electoral College 520-17.

I hate to tell my fellow progressives this hard, but salient truth: the majority of Americans are not as far to the Left as we are, but if you’re going to be on one political extreme than the other, it works better to be on the far Right. Just ask Trump and Cruz. Moderates on both sides far better than the fringes.

For a Bernie Sanders presidency to work, you would first need to have Democratic Socialists in prominent positions as U.S. governors, senators, and representatives. There would have to be a established, entrenched and vibrant base already securely in place for a President Sanders to succeed with his ambitious agenda. Without that support system, electing Sanders would make him nothing but a figurehead with no legislative clout whatsoever.

I don’t dislike Sen. Sanders in the least. If anything I’m far closer to Sanders in terms of my personal philosophy than I am a mushy moderate like Clinton. However, I don’t believe Sanders can win the general election and that is what I’m most concerned about.

If you can’t beat your own local Republican representative it doesn’t matter if Sanders wins (which I don’t believe he can because they never would LET him win and I don’t see a snowball’s chance of him getting 270 electoral votes), so if you don’t want to deal with more gridlock, start by voting against EVERY Republican on the ballot because little ones grow up to become big ones, start running and supporting progressives and real liberals locally and groom them to become national ones.

That’s how the other side is doing it and they’re winning. We’re just whining and losing.   You have to play a long game to win the game of politics unless you have Koch and Adelson bucks when you can just buy all the whores you want and get them elected.

I don’t give a shit about progressives/centrists/liberals/moderates/conservatives or any of these manufactured, made-up terms designed to divide and conquer people. Everybody needs clean water, fresh air, edible food and a safe place to live. Tell me who’s got the best PLAN to get Black folks there and I’m all-in.

No permanent friends, no permanent enemies. Only permanent interests. I do not discern a significant difference in how a Republican or Democratic lights the streets and picks up the garbage. If Bernie Sanders is the best choice to advance my interests, I’ll support him.

But first Sanders has to convince me he can win in November.  I want the strongest candidate in the general election who can keep the White House from falling into the hands of the Republicans.  I know how Clinton can win.  I’m waiting for Sanders to show me how a Socialist can win in Red State America.

I’m still kicking the tires on the Bernie Bus and the Clinton Cruiser and haven’t decided which one I’m ready to ride on.   It would be nice if if the Sanders supporters weren’t on my ass to choose a side or questioning whether I’ve taken leave of my senses because I haven’t signed on yet.   Back up and give a brutha room to breathe, okay?

David Bowie: Loving the Alien

If you’re lucky…really, really lucky, you get to live in the same time as an Original. They don’t have to proclaim it themselves and nobody has to tell you they are. You just know it.

David Bowie was an Original.   One of that rare breed who can get away with just the surname.  Bowie.  Nuff said.  There were some like him before and there will be some like him after, but nobody was Bowie but Bowie.

There have been many guitarists but only one Hendrix or buried alive in the blues singers like Joplin or visionaries like Lennon. They are artists in every sense of the word and David Bowie was an artist. Never will forget when he appeared on Soul Train, probably coked to the gills lip synching “Fame” which was huge on Black radio. It was singing backup to Bowie on the Young Americans tour a future soul star named Luther Vandross would first appear on the scene.

Bowie was so White he was clear and he never claimed to anything as obnoxious as a “blue-eyed soul singer. ” However, many of his bands were interracial and his passion for R&B and soul was without doubt gliding through musical genres like a chameleon over wet leaves.

His last album, Blackstar became his first Number One album, knocking the mighty Adele from her perch.   This would not have happened had Bowie not pulled the greatest sales promotion tactic ever: dying unexpectedly and shocking the world.   To his last Bowie never stopped coming up with ways to amaze us.

There’s something incredibly bad-ass about dropping a new album on your birthday and then as the accolades begin rolling in, check out at home with your family around you. It’s both making the definitive artistic statement and maintaining your reputation for being unpredictable and playing by your own rules. Even in death.

All things considered, if you gotta go, go out your own way and Bowie went out the way he came in.   With style and cool to spare.

Ziggy Stardust. Rebel, Rebel. Major Tom. The Thin White Duke. Heathen. Actor. Musician. Madman. Genius. Icon. Ashes to Ashes.

requiescat in pace. Ch-ch-changes. Turn and face the strange.  We are the Goon Squad and we’re coming to town.  Beep-beep!

We’ve Been Here Before and We’re Going Back Again.

Hey, Donald, here's how you really scare the crap out of those pointy-head intellectuals.

Hey, Donald, here’s how you really scare the crap out of those pointy-head intellectuals.

Another Republican debate and another one dominated by Donald Trump as the hare and the rest of the field trying to catch up while tripping all over themselves trying to match Trump for bombast, bluster and bullying—and succeeding.

It’s not only other politicians scratching their heads in bafflement over what accounts for Trump being the leader of the pack for so long with the most committed supporters in the race.    Mental health pros are trying to figure it out too.

Psychotherapist Joseph Burgo supported this idea, saying that Trump’s personality could be perceived as one that would be useful if the country were threatened.

“For many people, Trump’s braggadocio, contempt, and grandiosity come across as self-confident strength,” he said. “When frightened by dangers from abroad or here at home, many people gravitate to the ‘strong man’ who promises to vanquish their fears and confusion.”

“Trump gives voice to the feeling of dismissal and mines the anger,” according to Stanley Robinson, a political scientist at CUNY and a psychoanalyst said. “And what is that anger, it’s the anger of ordinary Americans who feel they have been lied to, that the policies they have been promised don’t work, and, by and large, they feel they have not been taken into account. Trump says to them, “You are right. Watch me, I am making them take me into account. I’ll do the same for you.

Wallace-72.01

Dr. Robinson should refer to his political history instead of his degree in psychoanalysis.   Don’t try to put Trump and his fans on the couch.  Ask instead, why is Trump doing so well?   It’s simple.

People support Trump because he gives voice to their fear of change, fear of foreigners, fear of losing out to all those moochers and layabouts and bums and leeches who haven’t worked for a thing.

People support Trump because he says horrible things about women, about people of color, about different religions and anyone who happens to have pissed him off today and any suggestion he has crossed the line is waved away by his refusal to bite his tongue over “political correctness.” What was once recognized as crude and rude is now applauded as being a straight shootin’ son of a gun.

People support Trump because he provides easy and simple solutions to complex problems. Muslim extremists worrying you? Ban all Muslims from entering the U.S, including those born here! Afraid of the Browning of America as Latinos surge past Whites as the new majority? Build a wall and make Mexico pay for it! Concerned about the latest shooting spree? Arm everybody and let ’em shoot it out!

People support Trump because he is the Angry White Man. The spawn of an Scottish mother who imports his wives from Europe and now talks about building walls to keep out the undesirables from Mexico. Illegal immigrants make up 5% of the U.S. work force, or some 8.1. million people. Not all of them have jobs, but anyone trying to make you believe American citizens are lining up to work 42 hrs a week for $7.25 an hour is trying to sell you something you don’t want to swallow because its bullshit and its bad for ya.

People support Trump because he appeals to their mean, selfish, frightened, isolationist, xenophobic, nasty, bigoted side and certainly not the goodness, charity and hopefulness that are the central tenets of the American character.

Some 44 years ago there was another demagogue who whipped his supporters into a frenzy by giving it to them raw and rough by calling out his enemies, demonizing people of color and urging hate and fear instead of love and understanding.   George  Wallace, the archetype of Southern segregation,  had a motto Trump’s bland “Make America Great Again” couldn’t compete with:  the my-fist-your-face implied threat of “SEND THEM A MESSAGE!”

People support Trump for the same reasons people supported Wallace. They both speak to the ugly intolerance of the dark side of America’s soul.

Defeat Trump. That'll make America great again.

Defeat Trump. That’ll make America great again.

President Obama’s Last Bow

I watched, I enjoyed it and I think the president took pains not to take a victory lap. He didn’t try to introduce a wish list of items Congress will never give him. He was definitive that America is still the world’s Number One superpower and our military takes a back seat to nobody. Obama made it clear he isn’t going to cut ISIS and Al Qaeda any slack for the rest of his presidency and he used the word “terrorism” repeatedly.

I told you earlier all the talk of America’s economic decline is political hot air. Well, so is all the rhetoric you hear about our enemies getting stronger and America getting weaker. The United States of America is the most powerful nation on Earth. Period. It’s not even close. We spend more on our military than the next eight nations combined. Our troops are the finest fighting force in the history of the world. No nation dares to attack us or our allies because they know that’s the path to ruin. Surveys show our standing around the world is higher than when I was elected to this office, and when it comes to every important international issue, people of the world do not look to Beijing or Moscow to lead – they call us.

Priority number one is protecting the American people and going after terrorist networks. Both al Qaeda and now ISIL pose a direct threat to our people, because in today’s world, even a handful of terrorists who place no value on human life, including their own, can do a lot of damage. They use the Internet to poison the minds of individuals inside our country; they undermine our allies.


But as we focus on destroying ISIL, over-the-top claims that this is World War III just play into their hands. Masses of fighters on the back of pickup trucks and twisted souls plotting in apartments or garages pose an enormous danger to civilians and must be stopped. But they do not threaten our national existence. That’s the story ISIL wants to tell; that’s the kind of propaganda they use to recruit. We don’t need to build them up to show that we’re serious, nor do we need to push away vital allies in this fight by echoing the lie that ISIL is representative of one of the world’s largest religions. We just need to call them what they are – killers and fanatics who have to be rooted out, hunted down, and destroyed.
If this Congress is serious about winning this war, and wants to send a message to our troops and the world, you should finally authorize the use of military force against ISIL. Take a vote. But the American people should know that with or without Congressional action, ISIL will learn the same lessons as terrorists before them. If you doubt America’s commitment – or mine – to see that justice is done, ask Osama bin Laden. Ask the leader of al Qaeda in Yemen, who was taken out last year, or the perpetrator of the Benghazi attacks, who sits in a prison cell. When you come after Americans, we go after you. It may take time, but we have long memories, and our reach has no limit.
Our foreign policy must be focused on the threat from ISIL and al Qaeda, but it can’t stop there. For even without ISIL, instability will continue for decades in many parts of the world – in the Middle East, in Afghanistan and Pakistan, in parts of Central America, Africa and Asia. Some of these places may become safe havens for new terrorist networks; others will fall victim to ethnic conflict, or famine, feeding the next wave of refugees. The world will look to us to help solve these problems, and our answer needs to be more than tough talk or calls to carpet bomb civilians. That may work as a TV sound bite, but it doesn’t pass muster on the world stage.

The President saved a backhand for Cruz

The President saved a backhand for Cruz

Obama rejected Donald Trump and the scare tactics and saber-rattling of Trumpism without ever mentioning him as well as dishing up a backhand to the absent Sen.Ted Cruz mocking his talk of “carpet-bombing” civilians areas in search of ISIS while firmly repudiating the singling out of Americans based upon sharing a religion with our enemies.

That’s why we need to reject any politics that targets people because of race or religion. This isn’t a matter of political correctness. It’s a matter of understanding what makes us strong. The world respects us not just for our arsenal; it respects us for our diversity and our openness and the way we respect every faith. His Holiness, Pope Francis, told this body from the very spot I stand tonight that “to imitate the hatred and violence of tyrants and murderers is the best way to take their place.” When politicians insult Muslims, when a mosque is vandalized, or a kid bullied, that doesn’t make us safer. That’s not telling it like it is. It’s just wrong. It diminishes us in the eyes of the world. It makes it harder to achieve our goals. And it betrays who we are as a country.

Obama also accepted his own failure to stem the partisan rancor and division in Washington which has now become rigid, systemic and seemingly irreversible.

A better politics doesn’t mean we have to agree on everything. This is a big country, with different regions and attitudes and interests. That’s one of our strengths, too. Our Founders distributed power between states and branches of government, and expected us to argue, just as they did, over the size and shape of government, over commerce and foreign relations, over the meaning of liberty and the imperatives of security.

But democracy does require basic bonds of trust between its citizens. It doesn’t work if we think the people who disagree with us are all motivated by malice, or that our political opponents are unpatriotic. Democracy grinds to a halt without a willingness to compromise; or when even basic facts are contested, and we listen only to those who agree with us. Our public life withers when only the most extreme voices get attention. Most of all, democracy breaks down when the average person feels their voice doesn’t matter; that the system is rigged in favor of the rich or the powerful or some narrow interest.

Too many Americans feel that way right now. It’s one of the few regrets of my presidency – that the rancor and suspicion between the parties has gotten worse instead of better. There’s no doubt a president with the gifts of Lincoln or Roosevelt might have better bridged the divide, and I guarantee I’ll keep trying to be better so long as I hold this office.


But, my fellow Americans, this cannot be my task – or any President’s – alone. There are a whole lot of folks in this chamber who would like to see more cooperation, a more elevated debate in Washington, but feel trapped by the demands of getting elected. I know; you’ve told me. And if we want a better politics, it’s not enough to just change a Congressman or a Senator or even a President; we have to change the system to reflect our better selves.

President Obama gave his last State of the Nation speech. It may have been his finest.

How Burfict and the Bengals Bungled In the Jungle

Vontaze Burfict: It’s no fun to watch a man meltdown in public.

It is a testament to the power of the NFL that on a weekend of mostly lousy football games they can come up with a compelling story when two players choose at the last minute to show their butts and turn a memorable win into a catastrophic loss.

Meet the 2015 Cincinnati Bengals, but wave “bye-bye” because they pulled out a choke job of epic proportions as they gave away a game they had won to their hated rivals, the Pittsburgh Steelers by a score of 18-16.

I can take bad football…to an extent. The Chiefs/Texans game was nothing but bad football. The Steelers/Bengals was bad, then it got good, then it got crazy, then it went right off the rails with some of the STUPIDEST football I’ve seen in a loooong while.

The Bengals had come all the way back from a 15-point deficit and all they had to do was run out the clock.  Pittsburgh was missing starting QB Ben Rothelisberger after a sack delivered by linebacker Vontaze Burfict.   Jeremy Hill coughed up the ball on a fumble and a few moments Burfict’s big play was negated when he went headhunting for Steelers receiver Antonio Brown.  That got the Bengals flagged for a 15-yard penalty and then cornerback Adam Jones added a second unsportsmanlike penalty thus turning a 50 yard field goal into a 35 yard which kicker Chris Boswell put through for an improbable win for the visitors.

Burfict and Jones were morons, but so were the officials whose non-call of  Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier helmet-to-helmet kill shot to Bengals running back Giovani Bernard in the 1st half.  There’s NO excuse for the Bengals melting down at the end and giving the Steelers 30 YARDS in personal fouls. That’s just stupid. At the very least the Bungles should cut Jones loose and send Burfict to anger management classes.

“Now Taze, make plays, but don’t do anything stupid out there, ‘kay?”

Burfict is a wrecking ball on the field. He causes havoc on opposing offenses. He sacked and knocked Big Ben out of the game and made an interception. You want him out there and you need him out there, but he has to control the fury he plays with or he’s gonna get flagged and cost his team a game.

If they can’t block you, they’ll bait you. Which is what happened.

Football is as much a mental as it is a physical game. As we’ve seen before Mike Tomlin isn’t above playing head games to get an edge. Steelers coach Mike Munchak scrapping with Bengals’ Reggie Nelson on the sidelines?  Head game. Another Steelers coach Joey Porter coming out on the field (and you know he was yapping) and baiting Jones into losing it?  Head game.

Ask Bill Belicheat if you don’t believe me. Head games work!

Even injured starting quarterback Andy Dalton knows how badly Burfict’s brain cramp cost the Bengals.

“You can’t have stupid penalties at times like that,” Dalton said. “Vontaze is obviously a great player for us. He’s done a lot of really good things. So, I’m not saying he’s hurting this team. But the penalties are.”

The Steelers didn’t choke and lose their poise in the clutch and the Bungles did. Which is why Pittsburgh has so many SB rings and Cincinnati has so few–like none.   It is a true blessing for Starvin’ Marvin Lewis to play for Mike Brown, a cheap skate owner who runs his team like a corner carry-out.

You think  Jones would keep around a coach with an 0-7 record in the playoffs after 12 years? Nah. Brown should fire Lewis because he can’t close. He won’t. Same old sorry ass Bengals. Lewis and Brown deserve each other.

Jones is a moron, but he’s a moron with Super Bowl rings and the NFL’s most valuable franchise. What’s Brown got but a plastic ring he found in the bottom of a Cracker Jack box?

The Bengals had pulled off one of their greatest comebacks in a critical game with a backup QB. They had it right there. Hill’s fumble was costly, but the dumb and frankly, selfish plays of Burfict and Jones made it fatal.

You cannot lose your cool or go headhunting at that point of a game and hand Pittsburgh 30 free yards. Play smart, play in control, win the game and send the Steelers to the showers. That’s all it took and they blew it.

This one is on the Bengals. Win as a team and lose as a team. They lost because they lost their cool when it mattered most to keep it.

Hey, Marvin? Mike Tomlin owns your butt. Again.