Off the Cuff: When Sports Is No Longer an Escape From Politics

Sports is where we go to get away from the daily barrage of partisan politics. At least, it used to be.

That’s the topic of my Off the Cuff audio commentary this week. You can listen to it by clicking on the play (arrow) button below.


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If Only Whataboutism Could Defeat the Coronavirus

Supporters attend President Trump’s RNC speech on the South Lawn of the White House.

Last Thursday, on the final night of the Republican National Convention, President Trump broke longstanding American tradition by transforming the White House into a purely political venue… complete with platforms, stage lights, campaign banners, and rows and rows of seating on the South Lawn

It was a controversial move for its inappropriate use of the people’s house, but it also wasn’t terribly surprising. If we’ve learned anything from Trump over the past few years, it’s that he loves creating splashy, norm-defying public spectacles that bring him maximum attention. And if those spectacles get his political opponents riled up in the process, that’s all the better (at least to the president and a good chunk of his supporters).

But rather than spend a dozen or so paragraphs carrying on about this latest indignity to the office, and detailing the type of meltdown Republicans assuredly would’ve had if Obama had turned the White House into a Democratic Party convention hall, I wanted to write about something that bothered me about the event even more.

CBS News’s Mark Knoller tweeted about my concern earlier in the day:

The result of the setup was a mass gathering of attendees (more than 1,500 people) crammed together in one area. There also wasn’t a mask requirement, and very few people elected to wear one.

Now, as we all know (or at least should know), outdoor events are less dangerous than indoor events of the same nature. I’ve written about this topic numerous times; it has to do with airflow. And for that reason, it’s fair to argue that Thursday’s episode didn’t quite reach the level of inanity as Trump’s Tulsa rally back in June. Still, it was bad enough, with the strong potential of that many people (in such close proximity to each other) creating a super-spreading event for the coronavirus.

There are several things that have angered me about the response of our political leaders to the global pandemic that continues to kill our citizens, devastate people’s lives, and cripple our economy. At the top of that list has been the societal disregard for the most basic (and thus far, most effective) of mitigation practices.

It’s one thing for a mask-less Grease Monkey employee to suddenly open your car door while you’re parked in line for an oil change, stick their head into the cab of your vehicle just a few inches from your face, and loudly ask what type of oil you prefer… (I’m using this obscure example because it unfortunately happened to me this morning; ugh).

It’s another for the President of the United States, who swore to defend our nation, and whose leadership the country needs during a national health crisis, to repeatedly (and very publicly) defy not only the CDC’s crisis guidelines, but also his own administration’s. It is the height of public irresponsibility, and it stokes needless confusion and carelessness (not to mention conspiratorial sentiment) in many of those watching.

Simply put, there is no legitimate excuse, six months and 185,000 American deaths into this crisis, for the president to be failing Pandemic Management 101 so badly. There is, however, a really terrible excuse for it — one that I’ve been hearing over and over again by those who feel obligated to defend the president on this matter. In fact, Lara Trump presented it earlier this week on Fox News Sunday

When Chris Wallace asked and pressed about the lack of social distancing and mask wearing at Thursday’s convention speech, here’s what the president’s daughter-in-law brought the argument down to:

“… I’ll remind everybody that the folks that were spitting in the faces of our people leaving the convention that night were not social distancing. It was an absolutely disgusting display. The next day, there were thousands of people on the National Mall packed together as well. So look, we either say that everybody has to play by the rules, or we have to stop talking about it. Because whenever you’re talking about the president’s campaign, and how people weren’t specifically social distant, but the next day, thousands of people were on the National Mall, and that’s not a problem for anybody… It seems a little hypocritical.”

It’s the same sentiment that’s been shared by many on the political right, in regard to the mob violence we’ve seen in major U.S. cities this summer:

The logic may sound good to a particular type of partisan, but it’s really a garbage argument.

Let me rephrase that… It’s a garbage defense.

As a separate argument, it’s completely fair and appropriate to point out that many liberals in politics, the media, and even the medical profession have indeed been hypocrites on the issue of social distancing and mask wearing… specifically in regard to protesters whose views they happen to agree with. If the cause is righteous enough, in their view, they tend not to voice any concerns about scores of individuals congregating together in the streets. Some have even outright encouraged it, as we saw in the wake of George Floyd’s death.

These same folks weren’t nearly as kind, however, to the business owners and others who protested lockdowns and stay-home orders just weeks earlier, portraying such individuals as immoral and even “murderous.” And of course, they’ve done the same type of thing with Trump.

So, if the argument is purely about hypocrisy, the case for people on the right is actually pretty strong. But whataboutism is never a legitimate defense of anything, and its deployment as a rationalization of Trump’s recklessness during a global pandemic is particularly idiotic.

The fact of the matter is that COVID-19 doesn’t care about partisan hypocrisy, or partisanship of any kind. It doesn’t discriminate on who it infects based on the societal merits of whatever scenario led to that infection. From an epidemiological and public safety standpoint, a large gathering of church members helping to feed the poor is no different than a large gathering of drunken attendees at a Smash Mouth concert.

When Lara Trump says, “we either say that everybody has to play by the rules, or we have to stop talking about it,” she’s describing an abdication of leadership and public responsibility across the board, but most strikingly from the Oval Office. She and others who share her view are conceding that the president’s behavior isn’t qualified by what’s in the country’s best interests, but rather by partisan hypocrisy.

It’s basically the child’s argument of “They’re doing it, so why can’t I?” And the obvious answer to that question is: Because he’s the President of the United States during a global pandemic.

Trump should be practicing the sermons of his own administration’s guidelines. He should stop encouraging needlessly reckless behavior from those who believe in him. He should put the well-being of Americans before his personal ego and desire to make headlines.

Those would be the responsible and normal things to do. But Trump’s brand is largely built on shattering norms (even when it comes to simple stuff like preserving the sanctity of the White House during campaign season); it’s one of the things his base loves about him. Thus, there’s no reason to believe he’ll ever change.

This leaves Trump’s loyal defenders relegated to rely entirely on whataboutism at times like this. Unfortunately, whataboutism can’t cure the coronavirus. And that’s a shame, because we have such an ample supply.

Order John A. Daly’s novel “Safeguard” today!

The Lockdown Has Gone From a Mistake to a Crime

Four months ago, I wrote a column titled “The Worldwide Lockdown May Be the Greatest Mistake in History.” I explained that “‘mistake’ and ‘evil’ are not synonyms. The lockdown is a mistake; the Holocaust, slavery, communism, fascism, etc., were evils. Massive mistakes are made by arrogant fools; massive evils are committed by evil people.”

Regarding the economic catastrophe in America and around the world — especially among the world’s poor who are dependent upon America and other first-world countries for their income through exports and tourism — I wrote, “It is panic and hysteria, not the coronavirus, that created this catastrophe.”

Unfortunately, I was right.

The world should have followed Sweden’s example. That country never locked down and has even kept children under 16 in school the entire time. As Reuters reported on July 15, the number of Swedish children between 1 and 19 years of age who have died of COVID-19 is zero. And the percentage of children who contracted the illness was the exact same in Sweden as it was in Finland, which locked down its schools.

As regards teachers, Sweden’s Public Health Agency reported that “a comparison of the incidence of COVID-19 in different professions suggested no increased risk for teachers.” Nevertheless, with few exceptions, teachers in Los Angeles and elsewhere refuse to enter a classroom that has students in it. Their disdain for their profession has been superseded only by that of the Los Angeles teachers union, which announced that teachers will not resume teaching until the police are defunded.

People who defend lockdowns and closing schools point out that Sweden has the eighth-highest death rate per million in the Western world. But, needless to say, this has no bearing at all on the issue of whether Sweden was right to keep schools open or whether our country was wrong to close them, let alone keep them closed now. The overwhelming majority of deaths from COVID-19 in Sweden were among people over 70 years of age, and most of those were people over 80 and with compromised immune systems.

Reuters reported that three separate studies, including one by UNICEF, “showed that Swedish children fared better than children in other countries during the pandemic, both in terms of education and mental health.”

For more than a month, Sweden has had almost no deaths from COVID-19 while the entire society remains open and almost no one wears masks. (In Holland, too, almost no one wears masks.) For all intents and purposes, the virus is over in Sweden.

I live in California, a state governed by that most dangerous of leaders: a fool with unlimited power. Despite the fact that California ranks 28th among the 50 states in deaths per million, Gov. Gavin Newsom has destroyed and continues to destroy tens of thousands of small businesses and untold numbers of livelihoods. His continuing to forbid — a half-year after the onset of the pandemic — indoor dining in restaurants is leading to a projected permanent closure of approximately 1 in every 3 restaurants in the state. The same catastrophic destruction will likely affect retail businesses and services such as hair and nail salons. But all this human tragedy — not to mention increased depression and suicides among the young and increased abuse of children and partners — means nothing to Newsom, to Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti or to the Los Angeles Times, whose editors and columnists continue to advocate for the lockdown while they receive their salaries.

Why can people eat with no mask in an airplane — inches, not six feet, from strangers — but cannot eat in a California restaurant, which is so much bigger than the inside of an airplane, while sitting six feet from others? Because Newsom ordered it, the Los Angeles Times supports it and, like sheep, Californians have accepted it.

According to the California Association of Museums, “Museums are losing over $22 million a day due to the statewide quarantine. As of August 1, 2020, California museums have lost more than $2.9 billion in revenue. Museums have a $6.55 billion financial impact on California’s economy, support 80,722 jobs, and generated $492 million in tax revenues for the State of California in 2017 and over $1 billion in federal taxes.”

And the American Alliance of Museums issued results from a survey on July 22, 2020, that warned 1 out of every 3 museums may shutter forever as funding sources and financial reserves run dry.

On Aug. 3, The Wall Street Journal wrote, “In March … There was broad public support for the prudent goals of preventing hospitals from being overwhelmed and buying scientists time to develop therapies.” But the left — the media and Democratic governors and mayors — immediately moved the goal posts to “bending the curve” and “saving one life,” enabling them to get away with destroying lives and livelihoods.

I conclude with the words of a Swedish medical doctor, Sebastian Rushworth:

“Covid is over in Sweden. People have gone back to their normal lives and barely anyone is getting infected any more. I am willing to bet that the countries that have shut down completely will see rates spike when they open up. If that is the case, then there won’t have been any point in shutting down in the first place … Shutting down completely in order to decrease the total number of deaths only makes sense if you are willing to stay shut down until a vaccine is available. That could take years. No country is willing to wait that long.”

The lockdown is a crime. But even more upsetting is that it is supported by so many Americans. This country is unrecognizable to those of us who lived through the 1968-1970 pandemic, which killed, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 100,000 Americans — the 2020 equivalent of 170,000 Americans. Nothing shut down. Not one mask was worn.

Dennis Prager is a nationally syndicated radio talk-show host and columnist. His latest book, published by Regnery in May 2019, is “The Rational Bible,” a commentary on the book of Genesis. His film, “No Safe Spaces,” will be released to home entertainment nationwide on Sept. 15, 2020. He is the founder of Prager University and may be contacted at


Last Updated: Monday, Aug 31, 2020 20:13:06 -0700

Shouldn’t ALL Black Lives Matter?

What we’re witnessing now isn’t the first time professional athletes have taken a stand on matters of civil rights.

There was Jackie Robinson and Curt Flood; Bill Russell and Jim Brown;  John Carlos and Tommy Smith with their black-glove clenched fists at the 1968 Olympics; Arthur Ashe and, of course, there was Muhammad Ali.

But nothing quite like this has ever happened before in the world of sports: Not only individual players, but entire teams protesting what they see as police brutality against African Americans, refusing to play.

There were boycotts in the NBA, in major league baseball, in the pro soccer league, NFL practices were called off and players indicated they might boycott at least one week of the regular season; even the NHL whose league is 97 percent white, stopped playing for a day.

And you couldn’t turn on ESPN in the morning, in the afternoon, in the evening or at night without hearing about “systemic racism,” social justice, and police violence and racism … and how much black lives matter.

It was a constant theme all day long.

I heard Lebron James say that,  “Black people in America are scared.”

I saw several players openly weep when talking about Jacob Blake, a black man in Kenosha, Wisconsin who was shot seven times in the back by a white policeman, at close range.

(According to one news reports, police officers attempted to arrest Blake after a woman called police and said her boyfriend [Blake] was present and not supposed to be on the premises. Two officers used stun guns on Blake to try to stop him.  It didn’t work.  He went to his car and that’s when he was shot.

There’s an investigation underway about what actually happened, whether Blake was reaching for a weapon when he was shot. But the video of him getting shot seven times, was enough to provoke the boycotts and calls for legislative action.)

And I heard Doc Rivers, the head coach of the Los Angeles Clippers, deliver an emotional message saying, “It’s amazing to me why we keep loving this country and this country does not love us back.”

But you didn’t have to watch for long to figure out that neither the aggrieved athletes or their sympathetic media allies actually meant that all black lives matter.  The only ones they were concerned about were the black lives that came into contact with white cops.

During the hours and hours of coverage on ESPN I never heard anyone talk about the black lives that are snuffed out on a daily basis in places like Chicago.

As I write this more than 2000 people have been shot in Chicago this year – and more than 400 have been killed, almost all the shooters and victims are black.

During the Memorial Day weekend alone in Chicago 85 people were shot; 25 were killed.

That’s something Doc Rivers, who grew up in Chicago, didn’t talk about.  Neither did LeBron James.  I didn’t hear any journalist ask the athletes what they thought about those black lives.

And I didn’t see any tears for the black children who have been shot and killed by young black men in Chicago as they played in the street, rode in a car, or even as they slept in their bed.

A few weeks ago in Chicago, a 9-year old boy who was playing outside was shot by a black man who walked up to a group of people, which included the young boy, and opened fire.

In June, a one-year-old boy in Chicago was shot by a stray bullet while riding in a car with his mother.

About 40 black children have been gunned down in Chicago so far this year.

Couldn’t the athletes, aggrieved by what they see as racist cops, throw in a word about those children?

I guess talking about them would take attention away from Jacob Blake, and George Floyd and other African Americans who were killed or maimed by white police.

It would also air dirty laundry, which is something no racial or ethnic group is anxious to do.

When cops go rogue they should be punished. And if that means charged, tried and convicted, so be it. To protest genuine racism and police brutality — and to do it peacefully as those athletes have — is not only legitimate, it’s understandable and even worthy.

But watching and listening to the athletes, you’d get the impression that white cops are out on the street hunting down black people; that white cops put targets on African Americans and then go after them.

That’s simply not true.  “There is no epidemic of fatal police shootings against unarmed Black Americans,” as a headline over a column in USA Today states.

But let’s be clear: Not all cops are good cops. Some are bullies.  Some are racists. They should never have been allowed to become officers of the law in the first place.  They’re psychologically unfit to wear a badge and carry a gun.  But the damage they’re doing – serious as it is — is nothing compared to what young black men are doing to other young black men in America.

I wish I had heard something about that from the black athletes fed up with black deaths.

Upon hearing about what happened to Jacob Blake, LeBron James tweeted (in all caps), “FUCK THIS MAN!!!! WE DEMAND CHANGE. SICK OF IT”

If LeBron and the others are sick of the more than 7,000 African Americans who are murdered each year, almost always by other African Americans, I haven’t heard it.

Saying “All Lives Matter” is enough to get you branded as insensitive, maybe even a racist, someone who is downplaying black concerns over police misconduct.  Turns out, if what I’ve been hearing on ESPN is any indication, it’s bad form to even talk about how  “All Black Lives Matter.”  That too, I guess, is a distraction.

But would it really take anything away from the concerns of athletes  about bad cops to acknowledge what’s going on in places like Chicago?  Those black lives should matter, too.

Mobbed Up

You know President Trump scored some points at the Republican convention by the way his media enemies attacked after his nomination speech ended.  Almost instantly, an after-party hate buffet was served up by CNN and NBC News but it amounted to little.  By 11:30 on Thursday night only Trump supporters were still watching.  Most of the resistance had gladly entered the land of nod.
Did you notice that the President barely mentioned the media in his 70 minute address?   It was amazing.  He disciplined himself to lay off Morning Joe and the other Trump-loathing zombies.  Who knew the President could actually do that?
The reason the media was not scolded as usual is that Donald Trump had more important points to make.  So the fun-bunch press people receded for the moment in his mind.
There are two simple issues that could win Mr. Trump re-election.  First, that he is the candidate that can best reignite the economy when Covid finally subsides.  And second, that he will smash the radical left “mob” and Joe Biden will not.
Voters with weak attention spans can understand those things without repetition. And folks who don’t pay much attention to politics will decide the election.  There are legions of them.
Donald Trump helped himself at the convention but angry, rampaging fanatics helped him more.  Most Americans understand that police need stronger standards on using lethal force, but they despise the lawless conduct currently on display.
You are not going to win hearts and minds by threatening Senator Rand Paul and his wife as they walk home from the White House.  You will not hurt President Trump by terrorizing restaurant diners.
Joe Biden looks weak on the radical issue even as Mr. Trump makes it a centerpiece of his campaign.
The truth is that the more threatening radical leftists become, the more likely it will be that President Trump and senate Republicans will prevail in November.
The backlash against radicalism is already on display.  Let’s take the National Basketball Association for example. Players in the league are actively participating in the protest movement right now.  And some of them are aligning themselves with the Black Lives Matter movement.  Big economic mistake.
The BLM leadership is Marxist and destructive.  It condones violent protests and seeks to destroy police authority.  So, how much is that Laker jersey?
Millions of Americans disagree with BLM tactics and will not watch or support organizations that embrace violent chaos. Someone tell ESPN.
History is a fluid thing.  Weeks ago, it looked bleak for Mr. Trump.  Covid, unemployment, schools struggling to reopen, racial tension, I mean who could get re-elected with all that?
But things are changing fast.  And will change again and again before November 3. Both Trump and Biden are caught in a swirl of unpredictability.
Even as the debates loom.

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