Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

I have not posted on this blog for quite some time, as this has mostly become a Walking Dead-related focus, but I would be remise if I held in my opinions about the current state of the election season. It has been said that holding in such stress/tension can be bad for your health, so let me do this for my betterment.

The election process this time around can be said to be one of the worst of American history. Whether you focus on the scandal or the continued division of the American people, both major party candidates hold the highest disapproval ratings in history and neither seems to be the real choice that their parties would have preferred rise to the surface (Clinton better than Trump but still not with much confidence). The third party candidates are laughable, either because they lack understanding of the global community, foreign policy, or economic growth or simply because they are too narrowly focused to understand the breadth of presidential responsibilities.

 

I could go into a breakdown of Hilary versus Donald, but most people know the issues (or at least the surface-level presentation of the issues). What I want to address is truly how bad this election is.

The Better of Two Evils:¬†Although I¬†do not believe that Hilary is truly an evil candidate, the way that people are voting seems to be more about preventing one candidate from getting elected rather than truly believing in their party’s nominee. So many Trump supporters now did not support him in the primary. They have gravitated to him because they are so against Hilary and are simply voting on party lines. The same could be said for Hilary, after the Sanders fans struggled following their candidate’s loss to Clinton.

Trump is truly the evil candidate, as his character is in constant question.

The Question of Preparation: There has been an interesting question about whether preparation is a good or bad thing. I agree that canned answers and soundbites are off-putting. Tim Kaine was a huge example of this during the VP debate, as was Hilary with the Alicia Machado addition to the end of the first debate with Trump. I am not saying that their prepared statements lacked value, but that value is distorted by the fact that they appeared to simply be inserting these comments as soon as they could be relevant.

The bigger concern to me is this idea that Clinton is too much of an insider rather than simply being an experienced candidate. I agree that corruption exists in Washington and Clinton is tied up in some of that. She is still the most prepared candidate in American history, having held positions in multiple states and throughout DC.

On the other hand, Trump has no political experience and is touting this as making him incorruptible. As much as he wants to promote this, he seems to be representing all of the evil elements of politics in his public statements and debate involvement. He has his own canned answers and flip-flops on issues all the time. He dodges and redirects with almost every question answered from reporters and moderators. The lack of experience seems to me to be a major negative rather than a reason to select him over Hilary.

Character & Temperament: With Clinton, it is simple. She has remained level-headed and metered throughout the campaign. She has certainly participated in the negative campaigning against Trump, but she has used his own words and temperament against him to contrast her readiness. Her issue is trust. The emails, Benghazi, and the Clinton Foundation have been areas she still is trying to explain away, and they will haunt her throughout the rest of the campaign and beyond. She has apologized and attempted to show remorse, but it seems that people also have trouble with her being more of a facts & figures leader rather than an emotionally-aware one.

Clinton’s biggest challenge is that she is a woman. It is still hard for many to believe that a woman can be president. It is hard for people to see a more metered, focused, and intellectual woman and label those qualities as presidential. Instead, people assume that she is unemotional and untrustworthy. While some of her issues are related to trust, her temperament should not be misattributed as unprepared or non-presidential.

Then there is Trump… This is a candidate who does not care about going off the handle or insulting large populations of people. He has discriminated against every population in American and abroad, and he somehow still holds a strong enough population of voters to be considered a threat to Hilary’s potential win. The latest controversy with women is the most disconcerting because of how it paints pictures for both candidates. For Hilary, she is being forced to answer for her husband’s infidelity while also having to answer for the way she handled the women associated with the scandal. For Trump, he has been quoted supporting sexual assault and his involvement in assault behaviors and actions. While Bill Clinton have been paraded out to alter the conversation off of Trump’s indiscretions, there are now accusers¬†speaking out against Trump and his foolish and abusive behavior.

Turning away from the offensive comments he has made, Trump also fails to pass the honesty test. His constant changing of opinions makes it too difficult to nail down what his true beliefs are. He used highlight liberal ideology but has changed to conservative opinions since he chose to run as a Republican. Even during the current campaign, his opinions have changed week to week, day to day.

Is the System Rigged?: The answer is both yes and no. The news media tends to be more liberal than conservative, so more liberal ideas tend to dominate the airwaves than conservative ones. At the same time, Trump could not survive without the media coverage. He has been a glutton for media coverage. His empty podium gets significant coverage, leaving correspondents to fill the void with Trump talk.

It this election more rigged than other elections? No! Trump’s negative representation in the media is his own doing. While Hilary is not clean by any account, she does not parade her issues in speeches and debates. She gets to focus on her platform and responding to Trump’s crazy comments. Trump has continuously thrown his indiscretions in people’s faces. He cannot complain about the coverage if he is creating it.

Voter fraud is also a non-factor. It has been studied on numerous occasions and has been found to have virtually no effect on elections. Trump has been boasting about his awareness of the rigged nature of the election process, but he is simply creating doubt in the event he loses. He wants to ensure that people question his lose to help him save face. If he wins, he will claim it a victory for the truth. Let it go…


I don’t know how the election will truly go, but I hope that people find some sense and just elect Hilary. She may not be the cleanest option, but she has prepared for this moment and will at least keep things stable following Obama’s term in office. A vote for Trump is a vote for chaos. The third party candidates do not have enough experience or awareness to take on the responsibility. Let’s get this election over with and move on to the real issues and demand better from our politicians to work together to get it done.

This is not my first blog post on this topic and will likely not be my last, but the narrative has officially gone too far. It is time to change the name of the Washington Redskins.

Two posts gained broad attention in the past 24 hours and neither of them are the types of stories that Washington should be promoting or that fans should be dealing with.

The first was what appeared to be a 50-year celebration photo of the Washington Cheerleaders. In poor taste, the costumes ranged from the more common style of cheerleader uniforms we see today to dressing up in stereotypical clothing representing Native Americans. When the cheerleaders were first introduced to the team in the 1960s, the stereotypical costume was something that barely attracted any negative attention. Interestingly when considering that this was during the time of civil rights, Washington ran with the cheerleader uniforms until sometime during the 1970s. There was a fringe element that was maintained over the next couple variations, but this style of uniform would never be accepted by the public with today’s social climate. In comparison to other challenges with the team image, this falls more toward the poor taste side of the continuum compared to the outright offensive.

The second article came straight from the organization’s playbook. With pressures coming from 50 US senators and countless other groups, there was bound to eventually be a more marquee supporter outside of the Washington organization. Enter Democratic Virginia senator Chap Petersen. Leading the charge, he has developed the group Redskins Pride Caucus, aimed at defending the use of the name and images. Claiming the representations as¬†“symbol[s] of unity,” he blasted the recent climate as socialist and the attacks on the team as unjust. The article seemed to be missing one very important element…actual discussion of the name. As much as they talked about wanting to defend it, there was no defense provided for the term’s actual meaning.

Outside of these two recent posts, there are plenty of other discussions, videos, and blogs highlighting the issue. The ones that demand a change are more direct and poignant about why the name is offensive, citing definitions and historical use of the term. There is some flaws with these posts, at the same time. One of the things that Washington has been able to do relatively effectively is craft a narrative where Native American support is strong and a large majority of surveyed Native Americans have supported the continued use of the name. ESPN’s First Take took on this debate, where Stephen A. Smith discussed this challenge and how his resistance¬†to the continued use of the name was fading in light of the strong documented/reported support from Native American representatives and with consideration of the early history of the team. The team was the Boston Braves for the first year and turned into the Boston Redskins, with 4 players identifying as Native American. Because the team has maintained the Redskins name for the vast majority of their history and with Native Americans associated with the organization, there are elements of a¬†case for their name support.

But then you have to think about the definition of the word and the potential true impact of the name publicly. While many supporters of the name abhor the idea of going to the encyclopedia definition, the Oxford English Dictionary defines the term as American Indian (dated or offensive). The definition continues to discuss that there were three variations of the name (redskin, Red Man, and Red Indian), none of which are positive or remained neutral. The first two were originally used to distinguish the native peoples living in North America and their affinity for using face paint, but the terms eventually were used in a disparaging fashion. The final one was more of a British term but quickly turned negative in line with the other challenging terms used in the US. There are records that highlight the use of the term in treaty negotiations during the early centuries of the US and would support a more accepted use of the term, but more examples exist of the negative representation of Native Americans with Redskins¬†as a slur in printed announcements that document the hunting and killing of the population during the 19th and 20th centuries. Some references actually attributed the term to the scalping of Native Americans in the collection of bounties. Persecution and discrimination tend to be intertwined with the narrative of the term’s history.

During the history of the team, the term has more broadly been considered a racial slur but was used to distinguish between the Boston Braves baseball and football teams. When the team moved to Washington, the Redskins label followed it. Throughout the team’s early history, there are few records that highlight public attention to the term, but that started to change around the Civil Rights movement. There have been judicial battles, conflicts between students and school administrators, and discussions in the public forum over the past 40+ years. High schools and colleges have mostly moved away from the use of the name and some courts have banned¬†the use of derogatory terms, including the term Redskins. Meanwhile, Washington has refused to make the same change because of their commitment to the tradition and the blinders-crafted story of the honor and pride behind it.

So there are a few big questions that remain…

  • How many people (or what percentage of the population) of Native American heritage have to be offended for the change to occur?
  • Because the likelihood of the change will be determined by the economic impact during the social and political battle,¬†is this the only way to make change or is there a preponderance of evidence that would overrule the economic impact?
  • Would the NFL owners ever step up the way the NBA did in the Donald Sterling situation to put the issue to a vote?

I do not have the answers, but there is something else that I do believe could be a difference-maker. The news about the team over the past 2 decades has not been that great with regards to the performance. Since 1992, the team has been to the playoffs only 4 times. They have only won the division twice in that timeframe. In addition, there have been 8 different coaches, not including Jay Gruden and 21 different starting quarterbacks. In the past 10 years, the offense and defense has fallen below the league average more than above. RGIII has provided some excitement, but the overall optimism levels have diminished and are tempered until tangible proof reveals itself. Fans are loyal enough, but performance needs to improve soon before…the only narrative about the team is the name controversy.

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One of the possible consequences of this situation is that regardless of the performance, the team may be hammered in the media about the name from both sides. When the team played against the Minnesota Vikings in 2013, a protest of hundreds of people took place on the Thursday prior to the game. This was not the first and it certainly will not be the last. If the team does well and goes to the playoffs again, more protests like this could continue to sprout up. Many of the protestors are not of Native America heritage, but the vast majority in the protests are. If this is not enough to get attention, the team is in for more and more turmoil for its foreseeable future. Performance will take a backseat, as it has during this offseason, to the continued outrage over the stubbornness of an owner and organization.

I want to finish this post by stating that I am a huge supporter of the team (minus the name) and will continue to support them. The history and the future of this team does not need to be blanketed by a poor decision back when the¬†franchise was formed and we have an opportunity to return the conversation about the team back to football. I am almost to the point that I don’t even care if the name ends up being something off-the-wall ridiculous with no actual ties to the nation’s capital or surrounding area, as long as it abandons the continuation of racists themes.

Change the name, change the narrative. It is that simple.

Corruption in political activities is not a new concept, particularly with campaigning. Parties toss around attack ads rather than actually promote their beliefs and platforms with any legitimate detail. “Disconnected” groups make public claims to defame opposing candidates. Voters get turned away by threatening individuals. Parts of the Voting Rights Act have been stricken down in connection to a belief that racism has diminished or vanished, which creates more challenges against Voter ID laws. Large donors have found ways to use Super PACs to get around the $5,200 limit per donor. Money seems to be the most significant concern out of all of these, although there are some other elements that are used to represent this corruption.

Money…the element that influences politics. The Supreme Court has now opened the flood gates for more control of money from the wealthy. The former policy was that a donor could only contribute $5,200 total, but companies and organizations could donate whatever they wanted into Super PACs. The new ruling allows for individual donors to donate to as many candidates as they choose. They just cannot donate more than $5,200 to a single donor.

On the surface, conservatives can argue that this is just opening the opportunity for more people to participate in the process. The problem is that you have to have the money to contribute to multiple candidates, as the average American is never going to contribute more than the $5,200 allowed to one candidate. Average donors may contribute $5 or $10 to their favorite candidates, but they cannot compete with the available bank of the wealthiest 1%. Less than even a fraction of 1% of campaign contributors ever have hit the $5,200 limit. This leaves the playing field for candidates significantly on the side of the two-party system, particularly the conservative business connection part of that, and decreases the value of the average American.

Liberal/democratic candidates will be able to benefit from this as well, as they have some wealthy potential contributors at their disposal, but this means that moderate and independent candidates are now facing a steeper climb to have the opportunity to succeed in politics. It is too easy to imagine that corruption will breed expectations for quid pro quo for donors to candidates. Justice Scalia has stated that he believes that only that type of corruption would be of concern, but he somehow seems to fail to see that as a clear possibility in this case. All I can see happening is that the 646 wealthy donors that contributed the $5,200 maximum in the last election will spread their wealth around to more of their favorite candidates and/or those that cozy up to them for their money, like Sheldon Adelson.

I just hope that enough people pay attention to the significance of this change after others, like Citizens United, and find ways to keep the process as honest as possible.

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To see the episode with Jon Stewart’s attack on the ruling…

The fault is not entirely the GOP’s…but it is definitely primarily their responsibility to grow up and support their constituents by stopping their assault on the American people. A government shutdown has been looming for some time but the conversation only became a reality within the past week to the general public. How did we get here?

The reality is that government never runs smoothly. They have been fighting well before President Obama entered into office. With every year, it feels like we get more and more divided and groups within the parties are getting more and more polarized. Staunch beliefs are not new, but taking the government and the country hostage seems to now be the direction congressional leaders are choosing to take.

As far as the current shutdown, the GOP has been unhappy with the passage of the Affordable Care Act well before it even got to the floor for the vote. It is understandable that government should never get too large, but there are clear examples of government-assisted (and even government-run) healthcare systems around the world that are successful and provide much better support for healthcare opportunities than the US provides with the free market system. Providing healthcare for millions of people who currently are unable to get it seems unreasonable for a large portion of the GOP.

After rejecting the fact that Congress approved the law, President Obama signed it in, and the Supreme Court upheld it as not unconstitutional, the Tea Party and ultraconservative members of the GOP have been fighting tooth and nail to get provisions blocked, changes made, and ultimately get rid of the entire ACA. They have failed, multiple times.

For a tactic that they feel might actually work, they turned to the economy. Usually, the GOP is very focused on keeping the country working and maintaining a balanced and healthy economy. With all of the party line fighting going on, economic stability seems to be the weapon to scream for attention, like a child screaming in a toy store when their parent refuses to buy them something they want. Refusing to agree with the democratic side of Congress on economic plans without revisions, we have gotten close to this situation on several occasions but avoided it when continuances and band-aids to funding and economic plans were enacted. Now the GOP is screaming NO MORE and has decided to take the budget hostage, putting over 800,000 people on furlough and out of work.

REALLY?!? I have actually said it multiple time now but the GOP is acting like children. Before, it was about screaming at the top of their lungs to try to force people into submission to their demands. Now they are playing chicken (with no one, since ACA is LAW and not a bill waiting to get passed) and are like children holding their breath to get what they want. The problem is that they continue to get paid and have healthcare during the shutdown. What about the over 800,000 people who are forced to wait to see if backpay will get approved or when they will get to return to work?

Do they ever think about the stupidity of their decisions or the consequences of their actions? The ACA websites actually crashed yesterday under the weight of the number of people trying to access them and sign up. Do you need any more proof that the American people want the provisions of the ACA?

The following videos represent this challenge in a couple different ways, whether it be one congressional member’s rational thoughts about the shutdown, the unfortunate misunderstanding of the lack of difference between Obamacare and ACA, or late night’s interpretation of the challenges of this situation.

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It is only fitting that I get to have such a phenomenal topic to serve as my 100th post on this blog. The Supreme Court made some remarkable steps toward real progress with their decisions announced earlier today. Equal rights in relation to marriage are a step closer to actually being true.

DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) was officially pronounced to be unconstitutional in a 5-4 decision. Of course Justice Scalia dissented but it does not matter in the end. This is also not the end of the debate. the Supreme Court did not officially endorse gay marriage or equal marriage, but rather denied the block to the future opportunity. This does serve as a real accomplishment but it is also a major moral victory. It allows gay couples and advocates to feel like there is more acceptance of partnerships beyond “traditional” heterosexual ones.

In addition to DOMA, the Supreme Court also dismissed the case for California’s Prop 8, which looked to ban same-sex marriage. While this did not get rid of the bans in 35 other states, it sets a precedent for additional battles with other state bans. This also brings back the rights of people in California looking for love to mean the same thing for all people.

This was a good day!

http://www.cnn.com/2013/06/26/politics/scotus-same-sex-main/index.html?hpt=hp_inthenews

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“I’m Running!”

Posted: February 24, 2013 in News, Politics

Hilary Clinton has had speculation circling around her for quite some time now. Will she run for president in 2016 or not? All predictions say she will but she has not given a straight answer in any of her interviews or conversations with the media. There is a lot of support for her to run, but, if she chose to, she would meet a lot of tough questions to answer for. The biggest of all of the questions would be her involvement in the Benghazi incident. She has shown an ability to get people behind her and respond to the tough questions, but it would be an uphill climb.

Adding to both the humor and the speculation of her situation, a reporter recently asked her whether she would be in the presidential race for 2016. Specifically, the reporter asked, “Do you have time for a few quick questions about 2016?” Her response … “Not now, I’m running!” A little double entendre to poke fun a the reporter’s question and the constant questions she receives from every angle.

Whether she will actually run or not will remain to be seen (though she probably will), but it is good to see her as more personable than she may have been portrayed in the past.

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Author and inspiration for the book¬†The Favored Daughter, Fawzia Koofi continues to rise in the spotlight of the Muslim world. It is extremely rare for a woman to gain such notoriety and high political status, but it was not so easy for her to get their as the title of her book would recommend. When she was born and her parents realized that she was a girl, they neglected her, believing that there was no real future for a young girl in the Muslim world. Eventually, that changed and her mother showered her with love and support. Still, she has had to battle through an ultra-conservative world and has had her life threatened on multiple occasions to reach her current position as a woman’s rights advocate and a member of the Parliament. She is now running for president for the 2014 Afghan election.

Check out her recent appearance on the Daily Show here: http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/wed-february-13-2013/fawzia-koofi?xrs=share_copy

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After taking a break from the world of politics, I feel compelled to return to the fray of the insane and misguided. While few in Washington are putting forth solutions that make sense for everything ranging from hurricane relief to fixing the economy, the worst of the debates seem to be the ones focused on the right to bear arms. Gun owners and enthusiasts versus safety and security fanatics.

On a personal note, I fall more on the safety and security side of the debate, but there are extremes in every conflict, even when the rational solutions are relatively clear. After the shootings over the past year, the debate has emerged to the forefront of national discussion. This has not been without its radicals though. While most of the public and politicians have vocalized an interest in having a rational discussion over the issues and even revisiting policies that were originally created to make the gun trade safer, the loudest voices are the ones that have been derailing opportunities for real growth and positive change.

Let me start with the most absurd on the pro-gun side…

As absurd as it is for there to be a national holiday for gun appreciation, it was actually more absurd that it was associated with MLK Day when he stood for equal rights in a peaceful society. Larry Ward of FOX News was on-air when he proclaimed that slavery may not have been a chapter in America’s history had black people been allowed gun ownership during the early years of the colonies. Take a moment to let that sink in…Ships delivered men in chains to the colonies and slavery could have been avoided by allowing those trapped in bondage the opportunity to own guns? I think the face of the country would look drastically different had the colonists given their captives the means to fight back. This argument implies an outcome that is all circumstantial, hypothetical and completely outrageous.

Just as absurd was the recent argument that Jews would have been able to fight off Hitler had they been equipped with assault weapons during the Holocaust. Similar to Ward, it has been argued that Jews suffering from oppression would have had better luck than France and Russia fending off the Nazis. While it of course would have been a better situation for the Jews to have been able to better defend themselves and there is no telling how successful they could have been fighting off the Nazis, this is not Inglorious Basterds and we are speaking in hypotheticals again. This is not a worthwhile argument.

It has also been mentioned that Americans need to defend themselves from a government that wants to steal away all of their rights and run the economy into the toilet. While Obama may not be the savior of the US, he is also not the person trying to derail progress in the way the conservative movement has suggested. His policies have been met with massive opposition in the Congress to a point of gridlock. The House Republicans have threatened sequestration, stating their strong inability to agree on the direction laid out by the opposing party. There are fundamental differences in the party platforms but not to an extent that has been painted in a desire to weaken or destroy the country’s current degree of stability. There is no government-issued attack on its people coming and no need for some sort of revolution. So what is the real threat?

Guns themselves are not the problem. People are and have always been. The reality is that the guns are dangerous tools that can be used to protect and to destroy lives. In the hands of individuals with mental instability or ill-intent, tragedy is almost a given. Where is disagree with the gun lobbyists is that everyone owning a gun makes me feel less secure than less people owning weapons. If everyone was carrying around a concealed weapon, I would be more cautious of the possibility that anyone could snap and feel compelled to use their tool of pain to end a life without hesitation. While I know that people would not be killing each other left and right, the idea of guns flowing freely out there does not make me feel safer.

Assault weapons are definitely a bigger issue than handguns, in that one is meant for use in war zones and the other is low capacity. The idea that assault weapons are collectables or can be purchased with ammo for regular citizens to own seems awfully scary. In the recent tragedies at Sandy Hook, Aurora, California and Arizona, assault weapons were accessible to the assailants and multiple lives were lost in each incident. It may be an extremely small percentage of people who fall into this scary category, but one individual can make a huge impact if given access to the right tools. Restricting access to assault weapons seems like a no-brainer. Some people can handle a handgun or a shotgun, much less a semi or fully automatic rifle.

I hope that the combination of the recent tragedies and public nature of this issue at the moment bring about some real revision of the government’s stance on gun control. There are hundreds of policies out there at both a federal and state level that are being blocked by dummy legislation or ultra conservative views that ignore the evolving nature of society from the original colony’s development of the Bill of Rights. Let’s take the time to reflect on what we’ve blocked or misused and find ways to be more mindful of creating a safe and supportive community.

There are a mix of emotions at the moment. At a time when it seemed that the college landscape had settled, a new revelation has set in motion a new set of dominos that keeps the door open for even more moves. Maryland has been in talks throughout the weekend to make the expensive move to the B1G Ten, followed by Rutgers agreeing to follow suit. This afternoon, President Loh, Kevin Anderson, Jim Delany and the host of Maryland’s coaching staff stood before the media and announced that the decision had been approved by the Board of Regents and Maryland would officially joined the B1G Ten for the Fall 2014 season. Rutgers will be making their announcement on Tuesday.

From a personal perspective, I am completely torn. I know that the main motivation for this move is money, but there are so many different challenges at the same time. Let me break it down (though the positive list is fairly minimal)…

Positives

  • $$$$$$ – Maryland will receive a bigger television contract with the B1G Ten than they would ever get in the ACC. Enough said.
  • Stability – The money is part of the equation. With the strapped for cash operations of the past few years, the program could start to turn attention from fundraising back to coaching and expanding. There is also the possibility of a continually changing realignment process and Maryland will at least have their position cemented. The Big East is definitely still in jeopardy and the ACC may also be less stable than it appears.
  • The B1G Ten was looking for a market expansion, which it gets with UMD (Baltimore/DC) and Rutgers (NY/NJ), though how Rutgers is a big enough school is a little farfetched.
  • New rivalries – The ACC’s realignment was going to create new challenges for Maryland’s matchups. The basketball schedule was going to eliminate the 2-game setups with UNC and Duke for Home & Home matchups with Virginia and Pittsburgh. Had Maryland been able to get one of the North Carolina schools and Syracuse, there may have been more they would be losing in the men’s basketball arena. Matching up with Indiana, Ohio State, Wisconsin, Michigan and Michigan State is not the same but also not as huge of a loss. At the same time, ACC football is not impressive, so the B1G Ten is a definite upgrade.
  • Potential recovery of the program – In the past few years, the school has struggled with the threat to and eventual loss of multiple athletic programs.
  • Recruiting – Tied into this is also the lack of strength in Maryland’s football program with the ACC. The lack of rivals and consistency in performance has hurt Maryland from attracting competition away from regional schools in other conferences and even other schools in the ACC. Stronger competition could open new doors for developing a stronger program.

Negatives

  • Tradition lost – Maryland was a founding member of the ACC. They have a history in all of their sports, particularly in basketball, soccer, lacrosse and field hockey. Men’s and women’s basketball against UNC and Duke are the biggest games of the year. While there is still opportunity to schedule early season matchups with these schools, nothing beats the ACC in excitement in college basketball.
  • Loss of identity – While Maryland struggled to identify and gain foundational rivals in the ACC, they have always been an ACC school. The B1G Ten does not seem excited to welcome us in.
  • Competitiveness – This is a problem on both sides. Football is significantly more talented in the B1G Ten, so it is difficult to understand how Maryland will be able to compete with the likes of Ohio State, Michigan, Wisconsin and Penn State. On the other hand, Maryland’s programs in women’s basketball, soccer and field hockey matchup so much better with the likes of UVA, UNC and Duke than the best of the B1G Ten. Maryland may come out a winner in those sports, but some nifty scheduling magic will have to take place to ensure that there are still matchups against the best the ACC has to offer.
  • Lacrosse – The B1G Ten does not have lacrosse and Maryland boasts one of the best programs in the nation. The ACC will probably not be happy to entertain that Maryland remains a member in just 1 sport. Will Maryland have to channel Notre Dame and become a Division 1 Independent to keep the program afloat?
  • Image in question – Maryland has gone through several years of tough image problems. Debbie Yow and the administration during her leadership conducted some questionable financial management and business practices that put the school in a position to have to cut some longstanding and successful teams. When Kevin Anderson came in, he fired Ralph Friedgen and managed the dissolution of those unprofitable teams, cutting some marketable interest from prospective students. This move came out as a surprise without any significant public discussion more than days before the official announcement. This raises questions as to why the move took place in he public eye so quickly and will the school be looking at some interesting investigations in the near future that uncover the shady business practices that led to this move?
  • Is Maryland being used? – The B1G Ten’s motivation is clear ($$$$$$). What about Under Armour? Kevin Plank is strongly for this deal because it opens him up to an entirely new market that is not challenged by Nike with the strong UNC connection. Maryland could be collateral damage for an attempt at a new market.

Additional Effects

  • Expansion of certain programs – The B1G Ten would certainly get a boost from the addition of Maryland lacrosse (if they can get up to 6 teams for an automatic bid), soccer and field hockey. Maryland basketball also has a great history and would add a little something to the conference.
  • Continued drama for the Big East – As another team prepares to leave the Big East, the conference is scrambling to keep its current members. Pitt, Syracuse and Rutgers are all dodging for the ACC. UConn could be right behind them. It is only a matter of time that Louisville and Cincinnati wise up to maintain competitiveness in football. The new additions are also going to start having second thoughts due to the lack of strength of the conference and the ridiculous travel schedule. It will not take long for San Diego State, Houston, Boise State and SMU to also wise up and find their way into more regional conference that make sense.
  • Continued realignment to SUPER conferences – Louisville and Cincinnati would be strong candidates to take the B1G Ten up to 16 teams. Notre Dame could also decide that they are a better fit for the B1G Ten and jump the ACC ship, causing one of the other teams to go ACC. SDSU and Boise State would probably go to the Pac-12. Houston and SMU would fit in with the competitiveness of the Big 12. South Florida, Memphis, Temple and UCF could be the odd schools out, as the SEC has shown no interest in taking on more Florida teams (and they would want more competitiveness from the likes of FSU or Miami over South Florida and UCF).
  • SUPER conferences to the extreme –¬†Even the ACC could be in trouble with these continued moves. There have been thoughts that UNC would make an eventual strong addition to the B1G Ten structure, and Kansas also is a member of the Association of American Universities (which is a prerequisite for the B1G Ten). The ACC could follow the pattern of the Big East, losing North Carolina teams to the B1G Ten and/or Big 12. FSU, Miami, Georgia Tech and Clemson would go south to the SEC. Boston College, Syracuse, Pitt and the Virginia schools would have a tough sell to figure out which conference they fit into, but the B1G Ten would make the most sense regionally.

It is a done deal, so there is no sense trying to deny that it is happening. Let’s just sit back and enjoy the ride, I guess…

I have spoken much in the past several posts about the divisiveness of the media and prevailing belief structures on the extremes of both of the main parties of our political system. This is an issue that continues to plague our nation as we try to move beyond the election and get back into the necessity of figuring out how to survive the fiscal cliff, growing tensions in the Middle East and maintain the best path for our country to continue as a premier nation of the world. Then Mike Huckabee reminded us that we will continue to remain too stubborn for our own good.

While on¬†The Daily Show¬†earlier this week, Huckabee was responding to some concerns by Jon Stewart about FOX News’s exaggeration of the intimidation issues in Philadelphia on Election Day as well as, more importantly, the political ad that Huckabee sponsored toward his conservative, religious constituents. The problem that Stewart was trying to highlight was that the perspectives on FOX News and his commercial played more toward this divisiveness issue rather than support a more positive narrative about the direction of our political landscape. Huckabee refuted the claims by claiming that his message was a positive message for his fan base and not a negative one against non-believers.

Where my frustration comes to play in this interview was with Stewart missing the opportunity to more clearly point out that being pro-traditional, biblical marriage does mean that you are anti-gay marriage. While Jon tried to refocus on other missing issues with poverty, Huckabee was able to divert without actually responding to the larger concern. When his commercial talked about Christian values standing the test of fire, it gave off a sense that non-believers were sinners and were therefore invalid in their desires for stances that go against the interpretations of the Bible. This, of course, ignores the fact that the Bible has been reinterpreted on multiple occasions and there are beautiful LGBT-identified families in existence, most of which are more successful than the average heterosexual marriage.

Both sides actually need to wake up with these divisive issues. I do not think that democrats should reduce their fight for equality and access, but there should also be more of a focus on the issues that are typically seen as stronger for conservatives (i.e. economy, foreign policy, military support, state governance). Democrats also need to be more ready to articulately support their social policies in a way that reaches a broader population while also listening to their reasons for struggling to support the same issues.

The republican party is in a much more difficult situation. Pandering to voters only weeks before the election by starting to talk about issues that were important to them instills no confidence that they are actually going to carry out positive change if elected or reelected.

The demographics are changing, but in reality, they always have been. Each new population overtakes the last one at some point, and a new population tries to search for acceptance under a discriminating lens. The colonists arrived and took the land away from the native peoples. Protestants discriminated against Irish immigrants, Catholics and Jews. Men maintained dominance in the political and social realm until the suffrage movement. People of color had to fight for their equality, just to be recognized as equal citizens. Now the LGBT community is asking for the same access to rights afforded to heterosexual couples. The discrimination never fully disappears, but society does eventually begin to progress forward.

Can we just agree that this is a problem and that we all have to begin to look at how we contribute to it? I think that is called Step 1.

Huckabee Interview – Pt. 1

Huckabee Interview – Pt. 2