Waiting for Gortat

elvin-hayes-bulletsIn Washington D.C., in terms of basketball, we have been waiting for someone.  Moses Malone. Bernard King. Chris Webber.  Juwan Howard.  Gilbert Arenas. And so now, we have Gortat.  Marcin Gortat,  In Washington Bullets land (please don’t say Wizards), getting a new player who is going to deliver us from the darkness of our basketball discontent is always a good thing. Then, that good player gets injured. Or that player shows promise and gets caught with reefer on the Interstate. Or that player has some really good years but then gets injured and brings a gun to the arena. You know the story. It has been a long time since pro basketball meant anything here in Washington D.C.

Once was we were a top franchise.  One of the best. Don’t laugh. This was the 1970’s and my Bullets went to four NBA Championships and were victorious in 1978. But then the league changed. In the 1980’s, the Bird-Magic era began and the Bullets were caught thinking it was still the 1940’s. Wes Unseld and Elvin Hayes, our two biggest stars of all time, retired and we sank into mediocrity.

We had good big players after the 1970’s – Rick Mahorn.  Ben Wallace. Rasheed Wallace.  Moses Malone; however, they usually didn’t have a supporting cast or Abe Pollin, our humble owner for forever, traded them away in bad, bad trades.  All of those players got rings with other teams (except Moses who already had one) and we, the Bullets continued to be terrible.

The Magic-Bird years were followed by the Bad Boys of Detroit domination, the Jordan years, the Hakeem years, and then the Shaq-Kobe years. That was intermingled with the Spurs dominating, the rise again of the Lakers with Kobe Bryant, the Celtics with the Big Three, and other teams who we could not dream of ever beating. We were bad, are bad, remained bad, had a few good years here and there, but mostly, we were waiting for someone,. So now that person, I guess is Marcin Gortat.

Gortat was solid in Orlando. He was back-up to Dwight Howard. Last year, he averaged nearly a double-double – 11.5 points and 8 rebounds.  He is 6’11 and can shoot from the perimeter.  From 2010-2012, he actually did average a double-double if you average the two season (it is about 14-10).  They got Gortat for a less than impressive Emeka Okafor, who is a solid rebounder-defender, but who lacks an offensive repertoire.  I am good with the trade though I know, in this league, with Big Roy in Indiana, The Big Ticket in Brooklyn, Tim Duncan, Chris Bosh, Brook Lopez, Paul Gasol, and other solid, big men, forwards mostly, Gortat is going to have to raise his level of play.

Gortat will join a solid nucleus of players: John Wall at point guard. Bradley Beal at shooting guard.  Martel Webster at small forward. Otto Porter, the rookie from Georgetown, will have to get physically ready for the rigors of the league.  There is also Kevin Seraphim, Nene, and other players. This is not a deep playoff team but with some luck and health, and if Wall plays, for 90 percent of the games, they have a shot to make the playoffs.

In Washington, with our recently basketball history, this is good enough for me.   No more trades for big for small, old for young. No more morality moves Just win baby. As Larry Graham and his famous band sang: we  have been waiting for so long.


The Daily Jab

Bert-Williams-cutoutIn the movie, “Liberty Heights” by Barry Levinson, one of the Jewish characters dresses up for Halloween as Hitler. He is garbed in full Nazi regalia. His father, who runs a strip tease theater downtown in Baltimore, and is otherwise not exactly Mr. Morality, makes his son reconsider the choice of costume.  In fact, it becomes clear that this is inappropriate and not a wise choice, if you know what I mean.

This week, on Facebook, as Halloween, one of the dumbest holidays ever invented, approached, photos began to appear of individuals dressed in blackface as Trayvon Martin, the murdered Florida teen.  One such photo, traced to someone in Massachusetts, even had the Martin impersonator accompanied by a George Zimmerman dress-up.  The photo came down fast amidst digital death threats, etc.  It was stupid, sick, racist, and otherwise _______________ (you can add an adjective here). I received it so many times now I am sure on Halloween, something bad is bound to happen.

Yet, the larger point here is that somehow in this society more and more individuals with racist beliefs or individuals simply being insensitive are becoming more open and brazen in their expressions of bad attitude. I am not amazed; I am just making an observation. But one wonders, do such individuals feel safe to make such cruel statements? Is it because there is a black President and as such it has forced racial hatred out of the woods into the light? Or is it an education issue; are these students not being exposed to information and experiences that would assist them in understanding why doing such acts are so bad? And finally, and simply, what kind of home did they grow up in that would produce such hatred?

We all live in America. The United States. White supremacy (racism) is a foundation of this nation. We are swimming in a pond full of it each day. If you are an American, in some way, racism has altered you, and that is the shame of it all.

But you can do something rather than give in to the easy hate. You can work each day to educate yourself and think of your actions and your words as they might express hatred. It is either that or this society will never evolve racially. Perhaps, many don’t want to evolve and would rather self-destruct rather than work for a society where racism has been neutralized.

Tell me why, tell me why, tell me why can’t we live together? Can we all just get along? Why Can’t We Be Friends? You’ve heard all of those songs?  No one seems to be listening.

The Daily Jab

holmesThe reason we have the Affordable Care Act is because of the Republican Party’s own failure to govern.  They have no one to blame for this but themselves. This makes the shutdown even more of a sorry tale.

Don’t believe me. Here is the salient history.

President Barack Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law in March 2010. This was that small window of time when the Democrats controlled both houses of Congress and the President was also a Democrat.  By that fall, the Republican had taken back control of the House of Representatives. But it is what happened before the passage of the Affordable Care Act that matters. This is when George W. Bush was President.

The Republicans controlled both houses of Congress, were openly corrupt, drunk with power and exuding an anti-government attitude, did not govern. Everything was geared towards allowing big businesses and banks do what they wanted to do.  Hearings were not held, agency heads were not urged to play watchdog, laws and ethics were brazenly ignored and soon, in 2007, the housing market collapsed specifically because the government let business do whatever it wanted to do on the watch of the Republicans.  They failed in their basic duties to govern. Following the collapse of the housing market, the economy collapsed. The Republican nominee for President, John McCain, was caught in the crosshairs and had no chance to win the election in 2008.  But it was the lack of oversight by the Republicans in Congress during the Bush administration that is crucial to remember.

By 2006 the stage was already set and dissent was setting in on the GOP. After the Bush administration showed the world it was sleep at the wheel with its sorry response to the crisis in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina, the dominos had fallen: the Democrats surged ahead in 2006 and took control of Congress.  Two years later, Mr. Obama was in office as the second shoe dropped. An agenda was forged; Republicans were outsiders by this point. There was little they could do but wait.

So, all of the drama this past week is actually due to the failure of the Republicans to govern when they were in power. They had a golden opportunity to demonstrate their ability to lead this country. They blew it. And now, because of their own mistakes, they shut down the government and wasted $29 billion.  What should happen in November 2014? Should they be rewarded again or is this latest episode by them proof of their inability to get beyond ideology and govern?

Ain’t Nothin’ But A “G” Thing…

BigGovernmentI was born and raised in Washington D.C.  I am a product of the government culture. My father was a G-man. 32 years. Federal and local. My mother did like 25 years. Federal and local. My brother has already done 30 plus. I have cousins and friends working there now. My neighborhood was full of good government workers. Postal workers. Secretaries. Managers. Assistants to diplomats. Military. School teachers. Truck drivers. Cartographers. They tried to build a great community for us and they did most days and nights.

They worked hard for the people. The government workers. The salaries are not huge. The benefits are good but it isn’t as if they get a month off in the summer like they are in France or Lebanon. They get a set number of days for the year. I admire these people. Civil servants.  I am not in the group that does not believe in government. In fact, I know government works and sometimes it saves lives. Millions of lives.  This is why the shutdown is an insult.  Those shutting it down are greedy, self serving pigs. (Yes, I said that – PIGS).  I usually try to refrain from this kind of criticism but this is BLOG ACTION DAY so the gloves are off. Lets support the government workers and give the finger to those who don’t. Those who shut down the government can eat shit today.  If you see them somewhere today, any of those who shut it down, give them the finger. Tell them to fuck off.

Growing up in Washington D.C., I keep wondering what would have become of us had there not been a government operated playground. How about the government operated Bookmobile that came around and gave us more books to read for free? In the summer, because my father was a G-man, I had a summer job. I didn’t make much money but I learned a work ethic and I got a chance to see black people dressed in suits and dresses working like professionals every day. It challenged all of the hate.

I know what the reject anti-government people are saying: you would have been fine; you didn’t need the government. But we never looked at the government like it wasn’t ours. It was ours. I am sure there was waste and corruption but we never separated ourselves from the civic function of government.

I ran a writing workshop down the street from my house for years at the local government run public library. When I was a kid, my mother took me and my siblings to get our shots at a public health clinic. This is the government. Washington D.C. is a government town. This is why it disturbs me that the no account Republicans hate government but want to be paid to run it into the ground. They should all be recalled and run out of town at this point. I keep saying, feel good we are a country with democratic traditions. If this were Egypt? God help you.

But enough of that. This is about government.

I spent my youth on government run playgrounds, swam in government run pools, played on government run tennis courts. They used to have older black men who came through our neighborhoods and reached out to troubled youth. They called them “Roving Leaders.”  They kept some out of trouble especially those who were from unstable homes. I know, the government has no business in this kind of work, right? I disagree.  The government is the people. We just have been led to believe by the rhetoric that it is something else, something outside of us.

What good has government done on a big scale?  Have you ever heard of FHA? The Federal Housing Administration created during the Great Depression? Well, it is responsible for the most successful government run housing program in the history of the United States. The government guaranteed home mortgage loans for people buying homes so people got the loans and were able to buy houses.  The country expanded because of this.  So next time you hear someone say, public housing is wrong. Tell them about this program. Of course, the program didn’t allow blacks to get loans so it has a black cloud over its legacy as well.

I could name hundreds of programs like this, run by the government, that were successful.  The internet? Created by the government through DARPA and the National Science Foundation.  FDIC. NIH. Social Security. These are all successful government programs.

Right now, in Washington D.C., thousands of civil servants are off work behind another reckless act by extreme politicians.  Newt Gingrich led a shutdown in 1995 that backfired. This one will too. I just wish they would pay dearly for their betrayal.   How we always soon forget. This time, lets remember what they did to all of us.