Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The Two Donalds

Donald Trump blames it on the scheming girlfriend.  She put Donald Sterling up to it, egging him on to make those racist comments, all the while taping the phone call.  Poor Sterling didn't even know she had him at "hello." The one percent know how to stick together even if the rest of us don't.

I was once sureptitiously taped by my boss when he called me in for a job review.  Later, at a board meeting I was attending, he pulled out the tape and was about to play it for the group.  I was totally outraged.  I grabbed the tape, left the room in a fury,  and never went back to that job.  The deception really hurt, and it really hurt to give up the paycheck.

So, does being a racist get you voted out of the basketball billionaires club?  Mark Cuban, another owner,  calls it a slippery slope.  Maybe Mark's been in on some other conversations that the girlfriends never heard.  Or, the rest of us never heard.  Remember, the infamous Romney speech was caught by a waiter with a cellphone.

Bill used to have season tickets to the Clippers. He liked them because they were the "other guys" -- not the Lakers.  Oh well.

Here's an idea that's too radical to seriously explore, but, in the Donald Sterling moment, deserves our attention:  Public ownership of sports teams.  Green Bay Packers for all!

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Readers' Rebellion?

A few years ago there was a literary moment that sparked discussion and debate.  It was when several books about atheism captured our attention.  Titles like Richard Dawkins' The God Delusion, Letter to a Christian Nation by Sam Harris, and God is Not Great by the late great public intellectual Christopher Hitchens, all reached the top of the best sellers lists.  There was a "Freedom From Religion" display at Daley Plaza this Easter.  And yes, the writers of The Good Wife series had the courage to have Alicia Florrick express atheistic thoughts on network TV.  Hardly a trend.

Now, the literary moment belongs to discussion and debate about income inequality.  Who knew those scruffy Occupy people would occupy our syntax.  "One percent" and "Ninety-nine percent" indeed. Two books on the subject have soared to the top this time:  Capital in the 21st Century by Thomas Piketty and A Fighting Chance by Elizabeth Warren.  Capital is 700 dense pages from a French economist, but readers got right to the "good parts" and are quoting away.  The compelling idea is that merit cannot stand up to inherited weath and power. And history, aside from a few years after World War II,  affirms this.

Elizabeth Warren is, of course, the straight talking professor/Senator who tells it like we apparently want to hear it.  She believes in the more optimistic idea that democracy, if only we would participate,  can even things up.

Will income inequality be a momentary topic?   I laughed the other day when I heard that the three contestants on Jeopardy were all stumped when asked to come up with the name of the pizza magnate who ran for President of the U.S.

It was Herman Cain, remember?  One of his famous lines was:  "If you're not rich, blame yourself."

There's more than a moment invested in that sentiment.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Kain Colter Channels Curt Flood

The Northwestern football players are going to vote tomorrow on whether to form a union.  The ex-quarterback Kain Colter spearheaded the fight which he and his supporters took to the National Labor Relations Board.  The issues were about coverage for medical expenses if a player is injured, guaranteed scholarships, and a voice at the table.   It was NOT about players earning salaries even though the media seized upon this possibility.

I'll be shocked if the Northwestern players vote "yes."  There is too much intimidation, and much confusion.  But, the door has been opened.  You can laugh at the NCAA giving a few more meals to the players after a star basketball player said he went to bed hungry.  ("Let them eat cake.")  But, you didn't see that happening last year, right?

Maybe it was the flavor of the 1960's that encouraged Curt Flood to challenge baseball's reserve clause.  This clause gave baseball owners total control over a player's career.  It took until 1975 before the clause was overturned.  Sadly, Curt Flood never played again.

I don't expect the Northwestern players to sacrifice their future.  Especially when their own coach who controls their playing time, tells them to vote "no."

That's why Curt Flood, and the others like him, deserve every bit of our attention when thinking about this vote.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Bulls Blues

The Bulls are who we hoped they weren't.  Hustle losing out to talent.  Just short of enough.  It's only two games in, but I don't think I have the heart to keep a close eye on the rest of the series.  So, thanks Bulls for a great regular season.  You kept me happy watching you on TV during some of the worst weather ever.  Okay, I'll say "it ain't over 'til it's over."  But that's just a whisper.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Lawyers Then and Now

A few months ago, I endured the polar vortex by binge watching a TV series I had missed while watching the White Sox, Bulls, et al.  One of my favorites was "The Practice", a lawyer show from the late '90's.  The plot revolved around a criminal defense firm struggling to pay its bills because so many of its clients were the poor and middle class who needed dedicated legal help . . . which they got.  It was riviting.

Last week I came across another TV lawyer show: "Suits."  The lawyers in this one are busy serving their "one percent" clients when they aren't fighting Darwinian battles among themselves. The penthouse offices -- all glass and steel --  are as cold as the "take no prisoners" personalities and plots on display.  Watch it for the dialogue, the wit, the audacity.

But, feel with me a little sad about how --  in TV lawyer land --  the ideals of "The Practice" gave way to the conquering  "Suits."