Monthly Archives: January 2016

Imagine if the races were reversed: Cleveland Cavaliers fire successful white coach, citing need for black former player to “refine the habits and culture”

The NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers, under first-year head coach Dave Blatt, won the Eastern Conference title last season (losing to the Golden State Warriors in the finals).  They entered the season as the betting favorites to win in all this year, and have hardly disappointed in amassing a 30-11 record halfway through the season, the best in the East.

None of this stopped Cleveland from firing Blatt yesterday, reports ESPN, and replacing him with former player and assistant coach Tyronn Lue.  No coach had ever been fired during the season with a better record.

Sports Illustrated answers the first question on everyone’s mind:  “Already there are credible reports insisting that James was not directly consulted in the decision to fire Blatt”—note the intriguing use of the word “directly,” also mentioned in the same verbiage in the ESPN article—in an article headlined “LeBron James’s imprint on Cavaliers evident in firing of David Blatt,” referring to the Cavs’ superstar and face of the league.

It seems that Cavaliers’ general manager David Griffin doth protest a lot:  “I didn’t talk to any of the players before this decision” and “LeBron doesn’t run this organization.”  And the media was also quick to pick up the spin.  “A team source told ESPN’s Dave McMenamin that Blatt’s firing means ‘everyone is in the crosshairs right now.'”  ESPN published various sympathetic pieces about the firing.

Even with the absurd turnover in the NBA coaching ranks, this seems surprising on its face.  There were vague rumblings about Blatt’s cultural fit (this was his first NBA job after spending most of his playing and coaching career in Israel, though he was born in Boston and graduated from Princeton):

“What I see is that we need to build a collective spirit, a strength of spirit, a collective will,” Griffin said. “Elite teams always have that, and you see it everywhere. To be truly elite, we have to buy into a set of values and principles that we believe in. That becomes our identity.”

“I am more than confident that [Lue] has the pulse of our team and that he can generate the buy-in required to start to refine the habits and culture that we’ve yet to build,” Griffin told ESPN’s Brian Windhorst.”

Perhaps the money quote:  “James fondness for Lue and his desire to be coached by a former player were well-known throughout Cleveland’s organization. . .”

We don’t pretend to be qualified to understand the dynamics involved in basketball coaching.  Like any business, leadership and the culture created by management are no doubt as important or more important than employees’ sheer talent.

But this episode strikes us as a bit ugly.  We have one question.  If a team of white players, say in Major League Baseball, were grumbling that their short-tenured, winning black coach was unable to relate to them, or unable to bring out their best “collective spirit” or “principles” or “identity” or “habits and culture” or “buy-in,” and they needed a white former player with no head-coaching experience to instill these values, wouldn’t the likes of ESPN and Sports Illustrated be screaming racism!?  The media is already saturated with complaints that black coaches don’t get a fair chance due to, of course, management’s racism that overrides their desire to win.  They would likely call the bit about needing a “former player” a dog whistle alluding to all of the racist narrative about black coaches’ inability to lead.

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Vice President Biden’s hail Mary might work yet

Perhaps Vice President Biden is among us who are hoping for Hillary Clinton to be indicted over her mishandling of classified e-mails while she was Secretary of State.  With the latest revelation that Secretary Clinton instructed Jake Sullivan to delete the classified markings on a document and send it over an unsecured communications medium, we might get our wish.  Such brazen and reckless conduct would condemn anyone else to criminal punishment.

Meanwhile, Biden is reminding everyone, I’m still here!

When he decided not to run for president, he probably figured that he had a small—much less than 50%—chance of defeating Clinton in the primary.  Maybe he figured, if Clinton gets indicted, then I can enter the race as “elder statesman/savior who has been coaxed into service out of necessity” rather than “also-ran who has been getting trounced in the primary but is the last viable man standing.”  He can keep the non-candidate glow aflame until it’s too late.

It may yet work out for him.  Though he might do better to cue Maureen Dowd to prepare a column about how reluctant he is in carrying this burden instead of seeming too eager.  Then again, we are not qualified to question Biden’s political savvy.

 

 

 

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Restricting Muslim immigration is impractical, harms freedom, and is legally dubious, and therefore not worthy of considering even if it improves our safety. Restricting gun ownership, on the other hand. . .

All right-thinking people seem to think that, even if it were practical, banning Muslims from visiting the United States would be at best an ineffective overreaction and at worst, a violation of human rights and abdication of America’s standing as a beacon of liberty in the world.

We—and Donald Trump—concede that banning all foreign Muslims would ensnare some innocent people who only want to visit the U.S. and have no terrorist sympathies at all.  But we are apparently not allowed to consider such trade-offs in debating how best to promote Americans’ safety when it comes to deciding which foreigners to allow the privilege of entering the country.

Meanwhile, President Obama has gone ahead in unveiling various actions to restrict Americans’ access to guns.  “We understand there are some constraints on our freedom in order to protect innocent people,” the President said, while claiming to support the Second Amendment.  “Our unalienable right to life, and liberty, and the pursuit of happiness — those rights were stripped from college students in Blacksburg and Santa Barbara, and from high schoolers at Columbine, and from first-graders in Newtown.”

We understand there are some constraints on our [sic] freedom in order to protect innocent people.  Our unalienable right to life, and liberty, and the pursuit of happiness — those rights were stripped from Americans serving their country at Fort Hood and in Chattanooga , police officers serving their communities in Philadelphia and New York, and innocent civilians attending a holiday party in San Bernardino, the president did not say.

Banning foreign Muslims from entering the U.S. would create unforeseen problems in our foreign policy, would be difficult to implement, and might entail some legal challenges—so we should not even think about how to overcome these barriers.

Obama’s executive actions on gun control would “present new and unforeseen enforcement problems,” “create untold logistical . . . difficulties,” and be “subject to legal challenge,” according to a White House staffer.  But it’s worth it.

Banning foreign Muslims from the U.S. enjoys majority support in polls, but that is not reason to consider it, according to mainstream media editorialists (most of whom supported the president’s proposals on guns).  According to the Washington Post, majority support is a good reason for Obama to act:  “Obama said gun owners would support his new restrictions. He was right.”

Banning Muslims from entering the U.S. would affect some innocent people, who just want to enjoy their vague “right” to visit the U.S. and are no threat to our safety.  Making it harder to purchase a firearm would affect mostly innocent people, who just want to enjoy their constitutionally-protected right to own a gun and are no threat to our safety.

So are we to conclude that personal freedom, implementation challenges, and public opinion are relevant factors in considering measures to improve public safety only when it comes to some issues?

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UPDATE: “Mental health” will be a screen for gun ownership

President Obama’s executive action on gun control includes one of the provisions about which we fretted a couple of years ago.

Bureaucrat:  Why do you want to acquire a gun?

Citizen:  I like to camp in the woods and hunt animals.

Bureaucrat:  [Marks “mentally ill” in his notebook.]

. . .

Bureaucrat:  Why do you want to acquire a gun?

Citizen:  I want to be able to defend my business in case of Ferguson-style rioting.

Bureaucrat:  [Marks “mentally ill” in his notebook.]

. . .

Bureaucrat:  Why do you want to acquire a gun?

Citizen:  I want to defend myself in case of an Islamic terrorist attack.

Bureaucrat:  [Marks “mentally ill” in his notebook.]

. . .

Bureaucrat:  Why do you want to acquire a gun?

Citizen:  I fear government tyranny.

Bureaucrat:  [Marks “mentally ill” in his notebook.  Adds Citizen to the FBI watch list.]

The framework starts, according to Politico, with “enabl[ing] health care providers to report the names of mentally ill patients to an FBI firearms background check system.”  Even if this is all that will be in place, what could possibly go wrong?  Let’s see:  delays in background checks; false positives and name mix-ups, followed by a bureaucratic maze akin to the “no-fly” list; data sharing that will find someone’s supposed mental illness being recorded elsewhere; data breaches, either intentional (government bureaucrats spying on their neighbors or their daughter’s boyfriends) or negligent (e.g., OPM); new liability risks for doctors who are found to have treated patients who later commit gun crimes but did not report them.

An even bigger risk is when this program expands, to become compulsory, eventually resulting in an affirmative mental health check being a prerequisite to gun ownership.  “The administration has taken great pain to try to clarify that there is very limited information that would be reported only within a very limited group,” quotes the credulous Politico article, which naturally only cites “mental health” and gun control advocates and does not raise any of these potential pitfalls.

Luckily, we needn’t worry about a government program that begins with “very limited information that would be reported only within a very limited group” and greatly expands, often surreptitiously, thereafter.

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Does Obama’s “indecisiveness” on foreign policy imply “weakness”?

In a Fox News poll about foreign policy in October, 52% of voters said that President Obama is a “weak and indecisive leader,” compared to 32% who rate him “strong and decisive.”

This is a false dichotomy.  Obama, as Dinesh D’Souza aptly illustrates, is not always indecisive when it comes to the issues that are true to his heart.  There are plenty of stories of the faculty-style dithering that goes on in his administration, and it’s easy to see him as feckless, but it is important to understand that the president has a clear ideology related to American’s strength in the world—he despises it—and we read his foreign-policy agenda more as aggressively in pursuit of that ideology than as being overcome by events.

Donald Trump remarked, in the words of The Hill, that the deal was “so bad it’s suspicious”:

“It’s almost like there has to be something else going on.  I don’t think there is, I just don’t think they’re competent.”

As usual, Trump is at least partially correct in getting right to the heart of the matter.  Obama is the first ’60s radical to become president.  Anyone who attended an American university in the past half-century is very familiar the leftist discourse that holds (with a complete lack of irony as they owe their livelihoods entirely to the luxuries made possible only by western civilization and especially American values) that America is responsible for all of the ills of the world.  From “hey-hey, ho-ho, western civ has got to go” to multiculturalism to postmodern identity politics, these academics’ main premise is that imperialist west has subjugated the noble brown peoples of the world via colonialism, cultural domination, capitalism, and various other forms of oppression.

This is the worldview to which Obama gravitated at least since his university years, carried with him to community organizing and urban politics, and reinforced daily by mentors such as his wife, Bill Ayers, and Rev. Jeremiah Wright.

President Obama subscribes to an ideology in which anything that brings America’s global leadership down a peg is good, and anything that uplifts regimes of which America is perceived to have gotten the better over the years is fantastic.  Just as he removed a bust of Winston Churchill from the White House as one of the first acts of his presidency, and he conspicuously refuses to ascribe terrorists’ motivation to Islam—that quintessential antithesis of American values—he felt compelled to push through the aggrandizement of two of the most ideologically anti-Western regimes in the world.

It’s hard to see his unilateral attempts to appease Iran and Cuba as indecisiveness:  they were principled gambits to fulfill his ambition to make America weaker.  Ditto for his insistence to release Islamic terrorists from Guantanamo at all costs.  Thus Donald Trump is right in observing that the deal with Iran doesn’t really seem to have been much of a negotiation, though we would argue that it was “competent” in that it achieved his objective.  It’s clear that he and Secretary Kerry—who no doubt shares his passion to uplift those who  have been so aggrieved by the United States—were committed to give a victory to the Iranians.  The mullahs on the other side of the table knew that they weren’t required to give much in return, as evidenced by their actions afterward.

The Americans would have begun any serious give-and-take with Iran with something to the effect of, “The requirement that you release the Americans you are holding as political prisoners is not part of this negotiation.  It is a precondition of it; call us when they have left Iranian soil and then we’ll talk.”

Similarly, the Castros have also utterly refused t0 change their behavior after their gift from Obama.  One wonders if Obama and Kerry, as well as the deep pro-Castro contingent among the Democratic caucuses in Congress, feels silly at the aftermath.  (That’s a rhetorical question.)  One can imagine how Obama must have been fantasizing for decades about the prospect of talking politics on the Castros’ veranda in Havana.  It would make Bill Ayers proud.

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