An Alternative Super Bowl Prediction: A Division of the White House-Trumpco

Today is NFL Championship Sunday.  Of course this means the New England Patriots host the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC Championship while the Atlanta Falcons host the Green Bay Packers for the NFC Championship, and 3/4ths of the country will not give a flying crap except to see if their checking account is still intact or has been drained of all discernable life.

I could not go through today without weighing in about this day with the help of my cats.  Max, Annabella, Bentley and Rex have all provided their particular predictions on who will win today’s contest by way of their behaviors which, through my amazing powers of feeding them and changing their litter, will attempt to interpret.

Max:  When I mention the Atlanta Falcons, Max makes a bizarre chirping noise which sounds like a cross between a cricket and dinosaur in mating season.  That would correspond well to the sound a Packers fan makes when they had one too many Miller Lite cans.  Prediction:  Packers win by 3 belches…and a field goal.

Annabella:  My youngest cat has very little idea about football, but she likes bright colors.  Sadly, no team has any bright colors so she goes for the team which tosses the ball around the most.  Prediction:  Falcons lose but throw the ball a lot (which is why they lose.)

Bentley:  My oldest cat really don’t give a flying shit about who wins becuase, as far he’s concerned, they are all genetically inferior to him.  Based on that assessment, we are going to assume he is a Pats fan today.  Prediction:  Patriots win and protests ensue.

Rex:  The weirdest cat we own likes to bark like dog, and that means zilch today.  The Georgia Dome will also be rendered meaningless today, as well the Steelers.  Prediction:  Falcons win and so do the Patriots, and they both jump like little boys and girls around the respective trophies.

Now, my Super Bowl matchup prediction, based on the level of stink in my home after a recently collective crapping by all cats, is the Atlanta Falcons vs. the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LI:  Embrace the Stink and Make the NFL Great Again with Alternative Super Bowls.

Have fun and drink one for me.

President Obama’s legacy may be cemented by an asset-turned-liability

Now that the Presidential transition is upon us, a time to reflect on President Obama’s term in office bears mentioning. This is not an examination of his accomplishments or failures but, rather, a critical look at his overall term eight years after being elected the first black President in our nation’s history. The facts speak for themselves, but facts are always open to interpretation.

As an executive, there can be no argument that Barack Obama was vastly different from any of his predecessors. This is not a particular shock to anyone. George W. Bush was very much a delegating sort of executive and fiercely loyal to his advisors. This sometimes served him well but, more often than not, was a source of cannon fodder for his critics. Obama was nothing like George W. Bush in that regard, and that’s just for starters. Where Obama diverged from his predecessors was his desire to be in near constant control of his surroundings. Indeed, a President who is “asleep at the switch” is a danger to himself and others, but Obama’s management style was that of a “micromanager.” Perhaps this is owed to his days as a community organizer in Chicago, where day-to-day minutia is often managed by the very person doing the organizing. After all, a leopard can’t change his spots, so it was foolish for anyone to believe Obama would change his habits. His near obsessive use of a prepared statements and reading from teleprompters was evidence of President who possessed a near-pathological desire to control everything, for good or ill.

Still, Obama’s greatest single failing in his presidency was his greatest asset on the campaign trail; his seeming stoic, “rise above it” attitude. For a Presidential nominee this is a wonderful trait because it allowed him to shrug off attacks and accusations which would demolish the confidence of other candidates. That same attitude does not do so well in the Oval Office, where the ability to empathize with everyday Americans was something he attempted to do, but his cool demeanor was nearly Vulcan-like at times, and turned off much of the electorate, as well as gave his opponents ammunition to pick him apart and find the various weaknesses in his armor. Much to Obama’s credit, there was actually precious little which he lost his temper over publicly – he was usually quite even-keeled at both press conferences and public appearances. There was, however, one area where his emotions boiled to the surface – the issue of race.

There is one thing which I have told people time and again; when Barack Obama was elected, America was ready for a “Black President.” The real problem was that America wasn’t ready for a Black President who advocated for Black America. Some would argue he “acted black,” but the question then becomes “what is the definition of ‘acting black?’” In Obama’s case, racial issues in America were something he was hoping our nation could move past with his election; that the era of racism in America was coming to an end. Instead, several factors came into play which so polarized the nation along racial lines, President Obama simply could not overcome reality, no matter how amount of vision with which he was endowed.

One of the great problems for Obama when it came to race was, again, the very stoicism which served him so well in other areas. When black men such as Trayvon Martin were killed by either police officers and white citizens, Obama was quick to condemn systemic racism within law enforcement agencies such as the one in Ferguson, Missouri, and even unleashed the Justice Department to investigate possible Civil Rights violations. The problem was when confronted with irrefutable evidence of self defense on the part of police, as was the case in Baltimore, or malicious intent admitted by some of the cop killers, or even political negligence for political gain’s sake, Obama remained silent in almost disturbing fashion. It was as though he simply couldn’t come to grips with the possibility that both sides were guilty of bad choices. Yes, the Justice Department’s 9th inning decision to hit the Chicago PD with charges of cultural racial bias may have been well founded and based in legitimate investigation results, but the case of the murders of Georgia officers Nicholas Smarr and Jody Smith by a black male with an extensive record, and subsequent social media threats made against the families of the slain officers by both supporters of the murderer and self-proclaimed “activists,” combined with President Obama’s rather muted response to this tragedy, did little to help his legacy as a “transformational President.” If anything, his desire for justice of the black community, however well-intentioned, may have suffered from severe tunnel-vision, and thus damaged his chances of a legacy behind his initial historical achievement from an electoral standpoint. Indeed, even White House reporters admitted to various news organizations that the President seemed to have “checked out” for a while, and some even wondered if the President had felt betrayed by the very nation which elected him.

President Obama’s term in office will likely go down as mediocre rather than transformational. The Republicans in Congress have already taken highly aggressive moves to roll back Obama’s legislative initiatives, and there seems to be no indication that incoming President Donald Trump will be anything more than a rubber stamp with a very loud mouth. Yes, Obama was the President who ordered the operation which ended the life of Osama Bin Laden, and he did take a tough line with Russia over the Syrian chemical weapons crisis, but he also presided over gaffe-laden jobs programs, an economic recovery which took far longer than expected, and was cited by Politifact.com for the 2014 “Lie of the Year” when he said “if you like your doctor, you can keep him,” when speaking about the Affordable Care Act, a claim which later proved impossible. Yes, his aggressive tack against police brutality towards black Americans, particularly males, was historic in its intensity, but his political style also polarized the electorate as never before. While the Republican Party was complicit in many a legislative crisis, it was Obama’s own stoic approach, bordering on the appearance of complete hubris, which may have, fair or not, cemented his legacy not as an unifier or transformer, but as a party apparatchik and “front man” for the likes of Hillary Rodham Clinton, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid.

Time will tell what Obama’s real legacy is, but it is very clear that a Donald Trump presidency, if he chooses to avoid the excesses of Andrew Jackson and Warren Harding, could be the true transformer America has wanted, for better or for worse.

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Despite his good intentions with such things as his “shovel ready jobs” program, President Barack Obama’s own stoicism and party-line stubbornness will likely relegate him to the list of mediocre Presidents.

FRIENDSHIPS:  Healthy, and unhealthy things which end them

If only all friendships could be this strong

One of the hardest lessons we ever learn is that not every friend we regard as “close” or “best” will be there for us through everything.  You can wish upon a star, mash bloody fingertips together, and pinky swear all you want, the fact is people change, and that means friendships evolve or end.  Usually it is the latter.

There are a ton of theories and hierarchies about friendships and relationships, all of them based in some sort of study.  Here are just some observations of my study of the greatest teacher of all, life.

Most friends are seasonal:  Yes, some friendships can be lifelong, but most friendships only last a short amount of time.  Everything from professional associations to changing tastes can affect a friendship.  People often drift apart as time goes on, and it’s a natural rhythm, just like a season’s change.  Let them be them and you be you.

Money does end friendships:  Let’s be honest – money can and does affect friendships.   Those of means can do things and meet people others can’t.  They often have very different world views and when friends who started out the same financially end up in diametrically different positions, the relationship is often strained.  Resentment can and does often take root and, despite the best efforts friends often make, even the strongest relationships have failed when others plant the dread “why is he/she your friend? He’s not like us” seed in our minds.  The scene in Pretty in Pink where the one rich boy says to the other about Molly Ringwald’s character “she’s not from our world” is, sadly, quite accurate in many cases.

Politics often end friendships, too:  If there is anything this recent election cycle has proven, it’s that politics can fracture and end even the best friendships.   No amount of “besties” could save many relationships affected by vehemently oppositional opinions.  Liberals and conservatives often like to associate with like-minded folks and, as much as this is a detriment to our society as a whole, it is a reality which has destroyed many a good friendship.  In addition, politics often bring out the worst traits and prejudices in people, which also end friendships.

Romantic relationships are nasty things:  A boyfriend or girlfriend can end a relationship with a close friend faster than almost anything.  When you hear them whisper or say directly to you how they don’t like you, that’s a signal you’re on borrowed time.  Your friendship may reboot later but, chances are, with a massive loss of trust and vastly changed circumstances.

Unrequited feelings:  Well, this is a big one.  There are a lot of people who decry the “friend zone”, but it is based in a sound, common sense concept.  Some friendships develop into romantic relationships which are extremely healthy while others, not so much.  In same cases, there is an attraction in both sides but, for whatever reason, one of the friends is either afraid to pursue or wishes things to stay “status quo” because they are afraid to lose the friendship.  It’s time for a reality check:  a friendship with admitted romantic, unrequited feelings on one side are nearly impossible to maintain.  The emotional pain and damage caused can last for years and talking about other relationships only causes further trauma.  It is, actually, better to end the friendship than it is to keep it dragging along despite the wishes of either side.  This is the one instance where an ending of the friendship is usually in everyone’s best interest.  It’s all about growth, and one person cannot grow when they are pining for the other with no hope of anything in the future.  It is truly unfair to the one who has the feelings and if the one who doesn’t can’t see that, there’s even more profound issues which need to be addressed.

May your friendships all be rich and joyful and may you all enjoy a wonderful happy life.  Remember this one quote:  if you aren’t losing friends, you aren’t growing as a person.