August 31, 2016

I believe in terms of political campaign-speak, there are only three words that can best described the Donald Trump presidential campaign over the past three weeks:

Shock.
And.
Awe.

Coming out of the Democratic National Convention, Hillary Clinton’s campaign and her supporters had every right to feel that her campaign was right where it needed to be. She had gotten what looked like at the time a modest bounce, whereas the same modest bounce that Donald Trump had received coming out of the Cleveland RNC had disappeared. There was even talk in the Clinton campaign of cutting her television ad spending in a number of battleground states. I can virtually guarantee you that Hillary had already started think about what color the drapes she should have in the Oval Office.

Then, all of a sudden, you had the Trump campaign shake-up at the top, followed by a series of on-point speeches before audiences that increasingly targeted the African-American and Hispanic votes, then the trip to the flood-stricken folks in Louisiana that caught everyone – the White House and the Clinton campaign – by surprise. At the same time, the previous dribble of documents from WikiLeaks involving Clinton Foundation and Clinton Global Initiative interactions with Hillary and the State Department became a deluge that even the mainstream media couldn’t overlook. The media, thirsty to counteract the Clinton campaign’s absence from the campaign trail in the face of all this and focus instead on Trump, looked everywhere for Trump gaffes and misspeaks they could use, but couldn’t find anyway – he was using the Teleprompter and on message every day. Trump’s accusations of “pay for play” at the State Department with foreign donors were then only given greater credence when the Clinton campaign resisted calls from even their biggest supporters in the mainstream press to shut the Foundation down, saying it would only consider doing so if Clinton were elected.

The polls started to close, virtually overnight. Trump’s remark about Hillary being a bigot became a major topic of discussion all over the cable news networks. This in particular had to have stung and stung mightily; the internal polling being done by the Clinton campaign must have begun showing a slow erosion in Hillary’s support amongst African-Americans because the Clinton campaign obviously panicked: yet, instead of having Clinton appear before a friendly audience of African-Americans and speak in a measured, confident tone to contrast her style of leadership against Trump’s, it instead rushed her out in front of a largely-white (not to mention small) audience in Reno, Nevada (of all places!) to deliver a wild screech against a new vast right-wing conspiracy known as the “alternate right”.

In baseball terms it would be called a wild swing and miss, for all it did was highlight the very aspects of her personality and reputation that made folks remember why they didn’t like her in the first place. She sounded harsh, petty, paranoid, and vindictive. Not to mention joyless. The result of which saw her poll numbers continue to slide into what has become a virtual tie with Trump. And that with seventy days still to go.

Then today the Trump campaign delivered what could only be called a double haymaker to the Clinton campaign: Trump accepting an invitation from Mexican president Pena Nieto and then appearing with him at a brief press conference, followed shortly thereafter with his major speech on illegal immigration delivered on all the major cable networks in front of 15,000 people in Phoenix. As for the first event of the day, Byron York writes in the Washington Examiner:

About an hour before Donald Trump made his joint statement with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, a strategist in Trump’s extended circle saw success on the horizon.

“I bet they have a nice meeting where they both explain their positions and promise to talk further — it doesn’t have to be any more complicated than that,” the strategist explained. “If [Trump] just has a calm, behind-closed-doors meeting, has a photo taken, looks presidential, and gets out of town, that’s a big win.”

Indeed, it was a big win — a very big win — for Trump. Going into a meeting with the potential for disaster — who knew how [Mexican president] Pena Nieto would receive the world’s most controversial presidential candidate or what embarrassments might lie ahead? — Trump came out of the meeting looking very much like a potential President of the United States. Standing beside the Mexican leader in front of a green-gray granite wall reminiscent of the United Nations, Trump presented the picture of a statesman.

Contrast Trump’s moment with the Mexican president with Hillary Clinton’s appearance in Cincinnati, Ohio earlier to speak about “American exceptionalism” before a sparse American Legion crowd. Looking tired and like she just rolled out of bed, Clinton offered yet another speech where she appeared to be simply going to the motions, offering nothing new, saying nothing memorable. This on a day where it was revealed she had e-mailed classified information even after she left the State Department and the State Department being ordered by a federal judge to hand over the files of Clinton’s closest aide, Huma Abedin.

And further contrast her appearance with Trump’s in Phoenix where, forceful and energized, he laid out a detailed ten-point plan to overhaul America’s immigration system. As Sundance so ably lists in his Conservative Treehouse post:

One: We will build a wall along the Southern Border.
Two: End Catch-And-Release
Three: Zero tolerance for criminal aliens.
Four: Block Funding For Sanctuary Cities
Five: Cancel Unconstitutional Executive Orders & Enforce All Immigration Laws
Six: We Are Going To Suspend The Issuance Of Visas To Any Place Where Adequate Screening Cannot Occur
Seven: We will ensure that other countries take their people back when we order them deported.
Eight: We will finally complete the biometric entry-exit visa tracking system.
Nine: We will turn off the jobs and benefits magnet [E-Verify].
Ten: We will reform legal immigration to serve the best interests of America and its workers.

Were the speech solely a litany of what the Obama administration has done and what a Clinton administration would do, that would have been forceful enough, but bringing up the parents of children killed by illegal immigrants made it even more forceful and brought more than a human element to it. More than that, it stuck a finger in the eye of all the mainstream media pundits who had spent the last week accusing Trump of “softening” his approach on illegal immigration. Trump’s call to them in his speech, to basically do their jobs and focus less on the so-called plight of illegal immigrants and more on the plight of American workers whose jobs are being taken from them by illegal immigrants and wages that have stagnated with the influx of unskilled and undocumented workers was simply the cap to what was, perhaps, the most memorable day in the 2016 campaign thus far.

Expect this message to be pounded home further when Trump brings his campaign directly to African-Americans in Detroit this coming weekend. And then watch mainstream media heads explode in faux outrage.

It’s all starting to coming apart at the seams for the Clinton campaign – not as if we haven’t seen this kind of thing before – and if Democrats are starting to panic behind the scenes they have damned good reason to. I can guarantee you that the Clinton campaign is starting to panic, and I would expect you’ll see some tell-tale signs of it in the coming days.

What the Trump campaign is doing is showing what a winning campaign looks like: it’s deft, quick on their feet, and several steps ahead of both the Clinton campaign and the mainstream media. For example, we now know why Trump’s immigration speech planned for last week was postponed until this week – it was rescheduled to a larger venue for greater impact, and coordinated around the meeting with President Pieto for maximum impact. Of course, all you heard from the naysayers in the press was how “confused” the Trump campaign was over the event, and how Trump’s hard line on illegal immigration was “softening”. How foolish they now look.

It’s clear the Trump campaign is playing chess while everyone else is playing checkers. And watch for more of it in the coming days.

Filed in: Politics & World Events by The Great White Shank at 23:19 | Comments (0)

This album might raise some eyebrows across the Goodboys Nation weblog landscape, but it shouldn’t: after all, one doesn’t undertake a “treasure hunt” like I did back in 2010 for an artist whose work was inconsequential to the The Great White Shank’s canon.

I can’t remember how my brother Mark and I came upon The Sandals and their soundtrack album to Bruce Brown’s iconic surf movie. I do remember it was somewhere around 1973 or ’74 – nearly a decade since its original release. I don’t think we ever saw the movie, but maybe we did, who knows? Otherwise, why would we have gotten the album to begin with, right? Forty years after the fact things get kind of blurry. What I do know is that, for some reason, we had the album and we both loved it. After a while, we both outgrew it in favor of other stuff, but I remember coming upon it while Tracey and I lived in Louisville around 2000 and falling in love with it all over again.

Since then, this album not just remained one of my favorites, but, more importantly, became a springboard to other surf music: originally, classic surf from around the same time as The Sandals’ short heyday, but gradually, to surf music as a genre spanning bands from around the world trying to capture the same youthful spirit as the originators from decades since. My “Zen Surf” collection I’ll put up against anything anyone has ever compiled.

But back to this particular album. The music is simple and straight-forward, the album recorded over just two nights by a group of teenagers who could have never imagined the impact a single song would have in relationship to not just a sub-culture, but a generation as well. You listen to the “Theme From The Endless Summer”, and it’s wistful, breezy, almost jazz-like vibe creates the perfect image of two surfers in shadow against a setting sun. The iconic poster created by John Van Hamersveld serves as the perfect artistic complement to the song itself: keyboards player Gaston Georis’s and guitarist John Blakeley’s response to Brown’s request to, in his own words, “create me a sunset”.

While the rest of the album is a hodge-podge of well-rehearsed and tightly-performed (though not altogether memorable) surf originals, it really doesn’t matter: The Sandals’ album recalls a time when life seemed a whole lot more simple and innocent. It’s #10 on my list not just for the title track – one of my favorite tunes of all time – but for the impact it has had on my life, music-wise, and because it introduced me to so much more than I ever could have imagined when Mark and I first gave it a listen back in the early ’70s.

Other cool tunes: “6-Pak”, “Wild As The Sea”, “Lonely Road”, “Decoy”.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 01:33 | Comments (0)
August 30, 2016

I’m not a fan of top ten lists in general because in the end they don’t mean anything. Not to mention the fact that they’re so very subjective. So when The Great White Shank promises to deliver on commenter Jim P’s request from my post a few days ago, you ought to know what my top ten list really means. It’s not the top ten greatest albums of all time. It’s not the ten best albums of all time. It’s not even the top ten most popular albums of all time. It’s just a top ten list of albums that have had the greatest impact on me over my six decades here on earth.

And that’s not even correct, either. After all, were I were to include the ten albums that influenced me the most over my life I would then have to at least consider including albums that my mom and dad would play on the stereo while they cleaned the house each Saturday. Albums like the soundtrack to South Pacific. Or Herb Albert and the Tijuana Brass’s !!Going Places!! – the first album I can remember actually listening to and trying to differentiate between trumpet, trombone, guitar, bass, keyboards, and drums. Or Frank Sinatra Sings for Only The Lonely – a classic album in every sense of the word. Or folk albums by the Chad Mitchell Trio and The New Christy Minstrels. I can remember being over at my Auntie Marge’s house and hearing her listen to Jackie Gleason records, with their dreamy, exotic orchestral arrangements. While none of these albums or artists hit my top ten, they were instrumental (no pun intended!) in cultivating the ear for music that I have today.

So my top ten list might be considered, then, the answer to the question: what ten albums would you insist on having if you were shipwrecked on a deserted island in the South Pacific? Now you’d be getting a little closer to the soul of what makes The Great White Shank tick, at least musically. Some of these albums, no doubt, intersect with the greatest albums of the rock era as chosen by folks like Rolling Stone and Billboard and such – after all, the greatest stuff is still the greatest stuff. But you’ll notice albums missing from my list that reflect some unwritten rules I have when it comes to popular music that contradicts popular wisdom – for example, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band might be perhaps the most overrated album of all time, and Bruce Springsteen’s Born To Run right next to it. (Actually, the same holds true for just about all of “The Boss’s records.) And with apologies to fellow Goodboy “Doggy Duval” McLaughlin, anything by the Grateful Dead. And, while one or two of their songs might warrant a perking of the ear, don’t look for anything from the likes of Taylor Swift or Katie Perry, either.

So before I reveal my top ten, here are some albums I consider falling just outside that magical number, and not in any particular order:

Creedence Clearwater Revival, Cosmo’s Factory

Marvin Gaye, What’s Going On

Enya, A Day Without Rain

Rolling Stones, Exile On Main Street

Bob Dylan, Blood On The Tracks

Frank Sinatra, The Capitol Years

Elvis Presley, He Touched Me

The Monkees, Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn, and Jones, Ltd.

The Beatles, A Hard Day’s Night

The Traveling Wilburys Vol. 1

Are you ready to get on with it? OK then, as the late, great, Marvin Gaye would croon, let’s get it on.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 01:12 | Comments (2)
August 29, 2016

GILBERT, AZ (UPI): Following several days of mounting speculation and rumor run amok, The Great White Shank, one of the “founding fathers” of Goodboys Nation, and the founder of Gooboys Nation weblog, officially announced the kick-off of his 2016-17 “Six Strokes Across America” tour. Standing before a crowd of, well, no one, on The Great White Shank’s “Margaritaville patio” on a sun-drenched Sunday afternoon in the Valley of the Sun, Executive Director Gaylord Pellrine described the upcoming tour as, “a chance for The Great White Shank to greet his many fans and share his goal of taking six strokes of his MyScorecard.com handicap with the general public. Because, after all, he’s one of them, and they’re, er, uh, one with him. I think.”

Asked how many events The Great White Shank has planned for this tour, Pellrine responded, “The Great White Shank wants to play as much as possible, and in as many states as reasonably possible, between now and April 1, when he traditionally begins his preparation for Goodboys Invitational weekend. So, without knowing for sure, let’s just say it will be somewhere between the number of concerts Prince has scheduled for this year and the number of years Hillary Clinton will end up in prison once the Trump administration’s Department of Justice gets through with her.”

Pellrine announced the tour’s kick-off event will be held at Superstition Springs Golf Club in Mesa, AZ this coming Thursday, September 1st, with the next outing planned for Stonecreek Golf Club in Phoenix approximately two weeks hence. In addition, Pellrine announced plans to play Las Vegas National Golf Club on Thursday, October 6, and a New England leg of the tour planned for sometime mid-to-late October. Pellrine wouldn’t speculate on the New England courses that might be played during that leg, saying only that, “There are a number of courses who have reached out to us, and The Great White Shank looks forward to playing courses he has come to know full well.”

Superstition Springs Golf Club in Mesa, AZ was quick to respond to The Great White Shank’s announcement:

“Superstition Springs Golf Club is honored to be chosen as the kick-off venue for The Great White Shank’s 2016-17 “Six Strokes Across America” tour. We guarantee the course will be ready and waiting for him, and we humbly suggest he not forget to bring every facet of his game with him.”

Las Vegas National Golf Club also issued a statement in response to The Great White Shank’s announcement:

“Las Vegas National Golf Club, home of the legendary ‘Rat Pack’, welcomes its inclusion on The Great White Shank’s “Six Strokes Across America” tour. We’re sure that if Dean, Joey, Sammy, Peter, and Frank were still alive they’d be kicking themselves at the thought of TGWS teeing it up with them at our wonderful golf club. We wish TGWS the best of luck in his endeavor and look very much forward to his presence this coming October!”

While Pellrine declined to announce additional future venues for the Tour, it is widely speculated that courses in the San Diego and Myrtle Beach areas, as well as the state of Texas are also being discussed as possible venues.

Filed in: Golf Quest by The Great White Shank at 02:21 | Comments (0)
August 28, 2016

A few thoughts while I watch the swimming pool temperature drop a degree a day. While the heat and humidity are still here and will be for another six weeks, sad to say pool season is almost over.

…Forget about radical Islamic terrorism, is there a more lethal combination on the face of the earth than Red Sox manager John Farrell and reliever Junichi Tazawa? Folks around these parts will remember The Great White Shank on my 8/21 post imploring, actually begging Tazawa to be placed on the DL. But that would take away Farrell’s favorite shiny object, wouldn’t it?

…I remember paying vague attention to a 49ers game that was on at the Mexican place down the street from where my folks live last fall and remarking to no one in particular that Colin Kaepernick was a lousy quarterback and wondering how he could even be in the NFL. Now we hear he won’t stand during the national anthem because of the way minorities are oppressed in the country.

“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” Kaepernick told NFL Media after Friday’s game. “To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”

You can teach a man to play football and earn millions of dollars playing a sport but you can’t teach class. What a loser.

…It’s hard to believe that I started my Tropical Breezes music collection seven years ago! Last week I uploaded what I consider the final additions to the collection in the form of four releases by Antonio Carlos Jobim. And to think the whole collection started because we were moving from Dish Network to DirecTV, and I had enjoyed listening to Dish’s “Tropical Breezes” music channel, which was nothing more than mellow Jimmy Buffett tunes mixed in with Caribbean steel drum music. It’s hard to believe how my collection has grown since then: nearly 4 Gbs of an eclectic mix of Caribbean, Jimmy, classical Cuban, reggae with selections from the likes of Herb Alpert, Linda Ronstadt, Frank Sinatra, Harry Belafonte, Kenny Chesney and just about anyone and anything that could be even remotely related to a boat drink or Daiquiri on a moonlit or sun-drenched patio. I’d challenge anyone to come up with anything that comes close to it.

…BTW if you want the latest just drop me a comment. :-)

The issues over Hillary Clinton’s health and well-being are so close to breaking through into the mainstream media and the 2016 campaign narrative I can almost taste it. And this kind of conduct is only going to add fuel to the fire. I give the Trump campaign, oh, a maximum of threedays before they make this public. Not only is she a corrupt, vile, vindictive, lying, reptilian and vicious witch, she’s also a sick, corrupt, vile, vindictive, lying, reptilian and vicious witch.

…So I’ve been thinking about commenter Jim P’s question about my top 10 favorite albums of all time and I guess it’s time. Consider the onslaught to begin next week. I hope y’all find it entertaining!

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 01:20 | Comments (0)
August 26, 2016

As a veteran (albeit amateur) watcher of presidential campaigns I pay very little attention to the kinds of things the mainstream media can’t seem to help itself from focusing on: polls, polls, and, yes, more polls. Can one say that polls are useless as a gauge for what might be actually going on? No, of course not. But polls released in August, 2 1/2 months before Election Day, “national” polls, polls that cite “registered voters”, and polls that rely on 2102 turnout demographics (as pretty much all the media-driven polls are doing right now) are not worthy of the paper they are released on. Can they detect trends? Perhaps, but only if they follow the same criteria over and over again.

Me? I look at the behavior of campaigns, because that’s where it’s really at (and most interesting). Campaign insiders don’t care about the national, mainstream media polls. Oh sure, their spokespeople might use them as talking points on the cable news channels, but most, if not all, campaigns employ their own internal pollsters, and it’s those pollsters who help drive a campaign’s general strategy, actions, and activities based on what they are seeing.

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that, from folks I know who really and truly know this stuff at both the state and national levels, two weeks ago the race between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton was essentially tied, but no one knew for sure – there were too many variables in the mix. The reasons for this were five-fold:

1. The 2012 turnout models being used by pollsters having no basis in reality compared to 2016 primaries
2. The lack of an incumbent in 2016 indicating a “change election” – very difficult to predict
3. The high negatives of both major party candidates – who will turn out for whom?
4. The “great unknown”: unaffiliated voters or traditional non-voters who will come out for Trump
5. The unknown number of voters who, for a variety of reasons, won’t admit their supporting for Trump

As my contact told me, this is a truly “once in a lifetime” election, and anyone who can tell you what’s really going on three months out is kidding themselves.

So let’s forget about the polls for a moment and look at the behavior of the Trump and Clinton campaigns over the last few weeks. You had a shakeup in the Trump campaign (of course they won’t call it a shakeup, but anytime a campaign replaces a Paul Manafort with the likes of a true conservative firebrand like Breitbart.com’s Steve Bannon and a “mainstream” campaign veteran like Kellyanne Conway, that’s a shakeup). I half believe the Trump campaign saying that Manafort’s primary role was to work the GOP backrooms to ensure there was no monkey-business at the Cleveland convention and that, having succeeded in that regard, they wanted a different mix to strategize the stretch run of the 2016 campaign. Still, there’s little doubt that following Cleveland the Trump campaign was flailing around a bit, trying to find a cohesive message and identity, not to mention a general campaign strategy.

The change in the Trump campaign since the arrival of Bannon and Conway has been nothing short of amazing: having Trump use a Teleprompter to refine his message, the reach-out to African-Americans, and a trip to flood-stricken Louisiana that caught both the White House and the Clinton campaign flat-footed showed a remarkable ability to (as they say in political campaign-speak) “pivot”. Trump’s speech at the Detroit Economic Club and the follow-up speeches in Florida and Milwaukee in the wake of the racial violence there was not just fortuitous, but – a very important quality when it comes to political campaigns – an opportunity. Within just ten days’ time, the Trump campaign went from a plodding, uncertain operation to a deft and efficient machine.

As for the Clinton campaign, one has to realize that Hillary is a creature of 1990s machine politics, and her campaign is a reflection of that. Top-heavy and full of veteran Democratic operatives, at its core the Clinton campaign relies on a handful of trusted confidants whose sole concern is to protect the Clinton image and its interests at all cost. They trust no one, they listen to no one. As a result, she simply can’t bring herself to learn anything from what happened to her in 2008, when Barack Obama’s campaign, full of piss-and-vinegar upstarts who never could have imagined their candidate doing anything more than putting himself in position for a VP gig and 2016, showed a deft yet aggressive touch in painting Clinton as Washington establishment and their guy as someone who would shake that establishment up (sound familiar?).

Clinton’s campaign, being protected by the DNC and Debbie Wasserman-Shultz, insulated by their friends and cohorts in the mainstream media, and never really pushed by Bernie Sanders, never felt challenged during the primary process and, as a result, was never forced to think on its feet, anticipate, and respond accordingly – qualities absolutely essential in a general election campaign. Rather than play the aggressor’s role during Trump’s ascendancy, it instead chose to sit back and let “Trump be Trump”, figuring that his high negatives would counterbalance Hillary’s, and that in the end the vaunted Democratic ground game in November would be sufficient to take the battleground states Hillary would need to reach 270 electoral votes. Big mistake.

What the Clinton campaign didn’t anticipate was the daily drip-drip-drip of the WikiLeaks release of e-mails hacked from Clinton’s home-grown server. It didn’t count on their candidate being so flat-footed in countering charges leveled against her in the most softball interviews possible (the Chris Wallace Fox News Sunday performance being only the most obvious) about her e-mails. All this did was help reinforce the public’s perception of her carelessness (if not criminality), and allow the goings-on at the Clinton Foundation while she was Secretary of State to enter the daily 2016 campaign narrative.

Before I go further, remember one thing: political campaign operatives hate surprises. Surprises mean having to play defense, and if you’re playing defense that means you’re not on offense and in a perpetual reactive mode. Campaign operatives want to dictate the narrative, not respond to it. It is essential that in politics this principle be understood above all others: He who dictates the narrative holds the high ground on the field of battle. Once again: He who dictates the narrative holds the high ground on the field of battle.

Until two weeks ago, the Clinton campaign dictated the narrative: Trump was a hot-head. Trump’s mouth was a human highlight film, too careless, reckless, and dangerous for anyone seeking the Oval Office. They really didn’t have to do anything: they knew their sycophants in the mainstream media would do their work for them. While they sat back and watched in amusement, the mainstream media raked Trump over the coals for things he would say as an aside or off the cuff, no matter how inconsequential or innocent it might have been in intent. In short, Hillary’s campaign didn’t have to play offense as long as Trump’s campaign stayed on the defensive. While Trump’s events (you could call them nothing but) played to thousands upon thousands of enthusiastic supporters, Clinton’s campaign pretty much kept her out of the spotlight, emerging only occasionally for small, highly-staged gatherings or appearances in high school gyms where a few hundred supporters could gather to watch her read a twenty-minute speech and then disappear for days on end.

Which was OK – after all, they owned the narrative, they held the high ground in the field of battle.

The arrival of Bannon and Conway to Trump’s campaign changed all that. Virtually overnight, the wildly unpredictable, entertaining, and amusing stand-up routine previously offered by Trump on the stump was replaced with the candidate reading – from a teleprompter, no less! – a carefully-honed and hard-hitting attack on Clinton as the embodiment of Washington corruption and inside political gain. While his speech at the Detroit Economic Club only hinted at what was to come, the reach-out to African-Americans (“What the hell have you got to lose?) made in Milwaukee was a bona fide shot not just over the Clinton campaign’s bow, but the entire Democratic Party’s most sacred turf as well. Then, as if to emphasize the point Trump was attempting to make, his trip to Louisiana showed him in a role most folks had never seen him in before: a leader, a man of the people.

And the major news networks and mainstream media had no choice but to cover it.

Why the Clinton campaign didn’t see this opportunity before the Trump campaign did is actually unfathomable. Or perhaps they did, but the candidate wasn’t willing to leave her fundraising and vacation in trendy Nantucket. In the end it will all come out for sure, but it was hard not to see the contrast between the billionaire candidate lifting boxes of toys out of a semi while his Democratic counterpart schmoozed with the likes of Cher and the Obamas on Martha’s Vineyard. In campaign vernacular, it was an “optics nightmare”: a missed opportunity no veteran campaign should ever have allowed to happen.

Which is why the Clinton campaign was forced out of hiding for yesterday’s campaign event in Reno, Nevada where she played the race card without shame or hesitation. The Clinton campaign saw what was happening, heard the message being emphasized by the Trump campaign day after day, and knew it was beginning to draw blood. But it is here that the campaign’s inability to move both deftly and smartly revealed itself, and think back to what I wrote earlier: the Trump campaign was now controlling the narrative and holding the high ground on the field of battle.

I’m guessing the Clinton campaign might look back at yesterday’s speech as yet another lost opportunity. Rather than featuring the candidate in, say, Baltimore, or Ferguson, or Milwaukee, surrounded by a sea of African-Americans and taking the high ground to portray herself as a leader and what her party stood for when it came to race relations, it instead chose to roll her out in Nevada, of all places, and in front of a bunch of white folks, to rail against something most folks have never heard before, the “Alt-right” – a fringe group even I never knew existed. And here on display for everyone to see was the “bad” Hillary Clinton, the Hillary Clinton many people suspect as the real Hillary behind the candidate: paranoid, shrill, almost reptilian, spouting right-wing conspiracies to the point of almost tinfoil-hat stuff.

In short, Hillary blinked.

What we are seeing in front of us is two campaigns moving in different directions. Deep down, the Clinton campaign has to know the opportunities it has blown – opportunities that could have put the Trump campaign away. Deep down, the Clinton campaign has to know that between the flawed candidate Hillary is and the steady drip-drip-drip of the WikiLeaks e-mails that opportunities to show your candidate a compassionate, capable leader and champion of the people don’t come often. In this case, two times that opportunity presented itself, and both times the Trump campaign grabbed the momentum. Don’t believe me? Who do you think will be the candidate discussed ad nauseum by the mainstream media over the coming weekend?

Mark my words (and here you just gotta trust The Great White Shank): the mainstream media has gone out of its way to paint Hillary and her campaign in the most positive of light, and they will turn on her if they don’t start seeing a return on their investment. You’re already starting to see it: as much as they’d like to, even the most rabid partisan can’t turn a blind eye to the obvious “pay for play” scandal enveloping Clinton during her tenure as Secretary of State. My guess is they are probably giving her until the first debate with Trump (something I’m still not entirely sure will happen) to turn this thing around, and if it doesn’t, well, they’ll bury her. Or, at the very least, stop propping her up.

There came a point in the 2008 campaign where the mainstream media simply couldn’t keep the Clinton campaign afloat any longer: the upstart Obama campaign and the sharp contrasts it successfully drew with the Clinton campaign made it virtually impossible to ignore. Unless things change radically in the next few weeks – say, if the Trump campaign were to make a huge misstep – that point in time will come again. As the saying goes: “fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me.” The Clinton campaign is playing with fire right now, and if both they and their candidate are not extremely careful, they are liable to be burned again.

Don’t watch the polls, watch what the campaigns do. The Great White Shank won’t steer you wrong.

Filed in: Politics & World Events by The Great White Shank at 23:44 | Comments (2)
August 25, 2016

So last Sunday I finally decided to unpack the clubs from my travel bag and head out to hit a bucket of balls for the first time since Goodboys Invitational weekend. It felt good, and I’m pleased to say the swing is still there. My handicap presently sits at a 24.1; my goal for the coming year is to be at around a 18 by the time the 2017 Goodboys Invitational comes around. That’s six strokes to knock off, and I really think as a goal it is more than doable. The scores I posted during Goodboys weekend were OK enough, but my game inside 100 yards was abysmal.

It was at the turn on Goodboys Sunday that I decided to ditch the ridiculous Steve Stricker / no wrist technique I’d been playing around with starting around the turn of the year. While it’s true there were a couple of rounds where it seemed to work really well, it just killed me the first 54 holes of Goodboys weekend. So I went back to my old chipping technique simply to survive on Sunday, and it felt pretty comfortable.

After hitting a bucket on Sunday I spent the better part of an hour just chipping around the practice green at Papago Park, making a tweak here and there on my old technique to get it to a point where I felt it needed to be. I also hit half a bucket of pitching wedges and sand wedge to 60 yards and less, working on keeping my feet planted instead of coming up out of it: a bad habit I realized I had fallen into who knows when. Bottom line: I’m committed to working really hard on my short and not-so-short game in the coming weeks, as that’s where those six strokes will come from. A better short game means less putts, and less putts bring lower scores.

Everything else is there.

My swing coach Alex Black thinks I have the ability to get down to more than a 18: he thinks I can get to down to a 14, perhaps even a 13. We’ll see. But for now, a goal of six strokes seems like a great place to start. I’ll tee it up for the first time since Goodboys weekend a week from now, and I’m eager to see how the changes to my short game play out.

Filed in: Golf Quest by The Great White Shank at 20:30 | Comments (0)
August 24, 2016

When historians look back on the week of August 15, 2016 they will do so not just because it highlighted Donald Trump’s campaign pivot from the GOP convention to the general election, but the overwhelming suddenness by which it occurred. It will come to be seen as if the entire conventional wisdom of the masses got turned upside down; as if the canoe known as the Hillary Clinton campaign were a canoe suddenly upended by events they should have been able to anticipate but never did. Or perhaps couldn’t.

The week started with the first of four big speeches before the Detroit Economic Club followed by an unprecedented (at least for the GOP) reach-out to the African American community, and ended with Trump shaming both President Obama and Hillary Clinton into disrupting their respective summer vacations on hoity-toity Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket, respectively, by visiting the flood-stricken folks in Louisiana and preparing the stage for his formal proposals on immigration reform.

We’re talking all this in the span of one week, folks. Talk about a pivot!

Of course, if all you followed was the mainstream and traditional media, you would have thought Trump’s campaign was imploding, reeling from Hillary Clinton’s DNC bounce, and sinking so far in the polls that some were actually predicting Trump’s withdrawal from the presidential race. Not to mention their repeating ad nauseum the supposed “softening” of Trump’s position on illegal immigration.

A few thoughts:
1. The reach-out to African-American voters has been long overdue in the GOP, and only someone like Trump could do it. Not because of any character flaw in recent GOP candidates, but because Trump doesn’t talk, act, or think like the Bushes, Romneys and McCains of the world. As politicians, they’re surrounded by political operatives cautioning them to play it safe, let they make a mistake and the whole thing blows up on them and their careers as political consultants. Trump, frankly, doesn’t care about that, and he also has shown a remarkable ability to see people not as Beltway politicians do (i.e., identity politics), but simply as Americans. This is going to serve him well in the general election, bank on it.

2. Trump’s “pivot” on illegal immigration away from from mass deportation – implied or not – to instead enforcing existing immigration laws and providing a step-by step immigration strategy…

1. Close the border
2. Start building wall
3. Enforce all existing immigration laws
4. Deport the bad guys

…is just a total win/win that paints the Democrats and Hillary Clinton especially in a deep, dark corner. Anytime Trump can contrast enforcing existing law against the daily drip-drip-drip of corruption, lying, and pay-for-play going on with the Clinton Foundation is winner-winner-chicken-dinner. After all, what can Hillary possibly come back with? How could she be trusted to enforce existing immigration law when couldn’t even be trusted to follow the law while Secretary of State. Which is why the Trump campaign has escalated the pounding of this fact over the past week. A big punch is being telegraphed, and the mainstream media is (as usual) missing it completely. What this also does is make it a little easier for the GOP establishment squishes to hop on board the Trump campaign come September and the final weeks of the campaign. Once Trump’s speech is made they can all say something like, “well, now that mass deportation is off the board I’m willing to give Trump the benefit of the doubt” and hop on board.

3. The polls are a joke. First of all, any pollster worth his or her salt understands the difference between a presidential campaign where there is an incumbent and where there is not, as in 2016. So why are all the pollsters using a 2012 model in their polls? Does anyone out there really think that Hillary Clinton’s campaign will have the same Democratic voter loyalty as Barack Obama’s did? Does anyone really think that African-Americans will go to the polls in support of Hillary as they did for Obama? And finally, given that the Gallop organization earlier found party affiliation between Democrats and Republicans even this year (I believe it was 28% each, could have been a little higher) why are all the pollsters favoring Democrats anywhere from +5 to +15 in their polls? Especially given the fact that, even with all the Bernie Sanders enthusiasm on the Democratic side, the total primary vote came out as R+1? And that doesn’t even take into account the number of Democrats who won’t vote for Hillary under any circumstances. I’m telling you folks – Trump is going to win in November, and it won’t even be close.

Filed in: Politics & World Events by The Great White Shank at 20:49 | Comments (0)
August 23, 2016

Posted without comment:

Barack Obama’s golf swing.

Donald Trump’s golf swing.

And for that matter, here’s Ivanka Trump’s golf swing (in dress and heels, no less!).

Like the saying goes, we report, you decide.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 02:10 | Comment (1)
August 21, 2016

A few thoughts while noting this was the first week you could start to see the upcoming change in seasons. The sun’s angle in the morning is just a little bit lower, and the landscaping lights are now coming on at just the right time as the days revealing showing their shorter lengths. Not to mention the fact that the pool has dropped to a luxurious 88 degrees!

So who’s presidential? Donald Trump donates an 18-wheeler full of supplies ahead of a visit to flood-stricken Louisiana. Hillary uses the floods for fundraising. Barack Obama plays golf, warns Louisiana about discriminating against how folks are helped, and is ultimately shamed into interrupting his gold vacation on Martha’s Vineyard to visit the folks in crisis. No other way to put it: Trump is acting presidential, Hillary is her same shameless reptilian self, and our president is a dickhead.

BTW, the best way to help the folks in Louisiana is to do what I did and donate to Samaritan’s Purse. These folks do a wonderful job, and unlike with the Clinton Foundation, the money truly goes to the people being helped.

And speaking of that criminal enterprise known as the Clinton Foundation, from the “You Can’t Make This Stuff Up” Department: so Hillary now says the Clinton Foundation will stop taking foreign and corporate contributions if she is elected president. The fact that she can say this without virtually any mainstream media scrutiny tells you all you need to know.

Thursday’s loss to the Tigers was just the latest example of manager John Farrell’s ineptitude when it comes to managing the Red Sox pitching staff – in this case the bullpen. I’m sure thousands of viewers yelled out in frustration when Farrell turned the ball over to Junichi Tazawa; I mean, for gawdsakes, it’s been apparent to anyone who knows anything about the game that Tazawa – like Koji Uehara – has absolutely nothing in the tank. Yet Farrell keeps running him out and keeps getting burned for it.

Along those same lines: I’d like to see the Sox to bring back Jonathan Papelbon to reinforce their bullpen for the stretch run. Sure, he’s not the same Papelbon he was when he left Boston, and sure, he has a few rocks loose in his head (always did), but I believe he loved the team and loves the town and would flourish in designated spots and as an occasional closer. That’s assuming, of course, he had a manager that could identify the correct spots for him – something Farrell has shown himself totally incapable of.

…For all the hoopla and money NBC and Golf Channel has spent on the Olympics the golf itself has been a snooze. The Olympics ought to be a celebration of amateur athletes going for gold and glory they might otherwise never see in their lives. These pros teeing it up have made millions of dollars, and we see them week in and week out on the professional tours in the same kind of individual competition the Olympics is doing. If they really wanted to re-introduce golf it should have been two-man teams representing countries, and the participants amateurs.

…Speaking of amateur golf, I just finished reading Mark Frost’s The Match: The Day the Game of Golf Changed Forever, and it was both interesting and a delight, talking about a match between two professionals (Ben Hogan and Byron Nelson) playing a big stakes match against two amateurs at the time (Ken Venturi and Harvie Ward). It’s a reminder of just how much esteem amateur golf used to be held in before Arnold and Jack came along and made professional golf what it is today. And here is where the Olympics folks made their mistake. Professional golf (just like professional basketball) already has their place in the sports world; making the Olympics opened solely to amateurs would make for a far more interesting narrative.

Frost’s book also serves as a reminder about how glamorous the game of golf was back in the late ’50s and early ’60s, with all the Hollywood stars involved and the colorful players of the time. Frost’s book goes into how important the “Crosby Clambake” was in terms of putting up prize money for the pros and helping the. You not only had Bing’s Clambake, but tournaments sponsored by the likes of Bob Hope, Dean Martin, and Sammy Davis, Jr. Reading about those times, and then having to watch the likes of Bill Haas and other current-day PGA Tour pretty-boy robogolfers going about their business without any color whatsoever is just indicative of what happens when too much money gets involved.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 03:15 | Comments (0)

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