PUTIN V. TRUMP: WHO’S PLAYING WHOM?

Former FBI agent Clint Watts testifies before Senate Intelligence Committee

In yesterday’s first Senate Intelligence Committee hearings into Russian meddling during the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign, Senator James Langford (R-Okla.) asked former FBI agent Clint Watts, “Why did he (Putin) think he could get away with it this time?  This isn’t new for the Russians, they’ve done this for a long time across Europe. But it was much more engaging this time in our election. Why now?”

Why now?  Because it worked!  Why else?  That’s essentially what the ex-FBI guy said. Trump and his people actually picked up Russian conspiracy stories like ‘the election was rigged’ and passed it along to the American public during the campaign like it was a relay baton.

Now, that may cause some to think Mr. Trump to be an unwitting stooge, or even Putin’s puppet. But let’s gives our president more benefit than doubt.  Perhaps there is another way to see it, nothing any less unsavory, mind you, just different.

All we have to do is go back and look at patterns.  We all fall into them, racers do, and we rely on them as long as they keep working to our advantage. And just as election meddling falls into a Putin pattern, so does ‘the false promise’ indicate to Trump. The examples are legion, especially among tradesmen working his building sites, but you might remember this story from before the election as well. Continue reading

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HUMAN NATURE – THE FIX IS NEVER IN

“Let’s get to the root cause, and fix it.”

This is both the message and plea we are hearing, whether in talking about the drug and corruption issues splitting the Olympic movement, or in dealing with the civil disorder roiling the nation (and world) in this year of Our Lord 2017.  Again today, another terror attack in London outside Parliament killed four and injured 40 more.

While issues like performance-enhancing drugs and the corruption of officials overseeing sport are vitally important within their own particular sphere, they pale in comparison to the wider unrest that is unsettling the world at large.

But what, exactly, is the root cause, much less the fix?  Is it ending the 1500 year-old religious division in the Middle East, or the millenium-old rift between the Middle East and the West?  Is it righting a 400 year-old slavery-seeded mind set that simultaneously declared freedom and equality while enslaving millions in America? Or should we direct our attention at the granular level, at the particular perpetrators like the man in London who mowed down pedestrians on the Westminster Bridge today then rushed out and stabbed a police officer who was protecting Parliament?

It’s amazing really. The Internet can be such a powerfully positive tool while at the same time it can serve the cause of a nihilist’s jihad.  In the tiny sliver of the world known as running we see more more young high school students performing better than ever, because, in part, they know what others like them are doing in training and racing everywhere else.  And buoyed with that knowledge their belief in themselves skyrockets.

And yet there are other young men who surf more sinister sites who are also emboldened by what they read, but who are turned against their fellow man when armed with their own new supporting beliefs.

Societies of men engineered these divides. Or were the terrorist in cities around the world born that way? It’s either muddy gene pools or a societies-wide virus. Which are we more willing to bet that it is? Continue reading

BY THE LIGHT OF A NEW DAY

stars-in-night-skyAstronomers believe there are hundreds of billions of galaxies in the universe, and between 100 and 300 billion stars in our own Milky Way alone.  The sheer immensity is both humbling and beyond our modest comprehension.  Yet increasingly, people can’t even take in the vast spray of stars cast across the night sky anymore, as that display has been veiled by the light pollution enveloping our cities. Thus, while much has been gained in our relentless technological trek, much too has been lost along the way, too.

With even the majesty of the night sky taken we tend to shrink in the dim light of man’s own making.  By that weak light many people remain shaded in the darkness of fact-aversion, beyond the light of acquired knowledge and accepted science.  And though all science is amenable to challenge, there is no light strong enough to penetrate blind denial or unquestioning allegiance.  Accordingly, many see only right-wrong, light-dark, win-lose, here-there, yes-no, ME-YOU, a very  brittle outlook, indeed. Even our political framework has been constructed into cartoonish either-or choices.

Continue reading

BREAKING DOWN THE EVENTS – SHOWCASING THE SPORT

As the NCAA  Indoor Track & Field Championships get under way in College Station, Texas (watch ESPN3  6:30-10pm Eastern Friday) and the New Balance National Indoors are contested at the New York Armory through Sunday, I thought I’d extend the conversation I began earlier this week.

On Tuesday I suggested that track & field build on the marketing momentum generated by the NFL’s Scouting Combine by challenging track and field athletes in the same Combine events – 40 yard dash, vertical jump, and standing broad jump – to show how our sport’s talent stacks up against America’s most popular sport – PIGGY BACKING ON THE NFL COMBINE.

In 2015 UConn corner-back Byron Jones set a broad jump world record at NFL combine at 12′ 3″

Today, I want to amplify on that suggestion by encouraging track to include mimicking the way America’s pro sports break down their games for their fans.  In that sense, let’s begin by deconstructing our events into their component parts by taking splits in the 100 meter dash and other shorter speed races, as well.

Consider, we split the bejezus out of the marathon to make it palatable, every mile, every 5K.  We give the 400m split on the 800, all four 400s in the mile, etc.  If the sport is going to be about clocking speed, then break it down into its component parts with some secondary and even tertiary level granulars to identify the basic elements that lead to these remarkable performances. Continue reading

PIGGY BACKING ON THE NFL COMBINE

 

RETURNS FOR PEACE

WARNING: POLITICS

The long knives are out, of that there is no doubt. Which is why for President Trump to have any chance at all to fulfill his campaign promises and deliver on his upset election win, he will need to get in front of the nagging Russian election hacking scandal that continues to hobble his administration’s early agenda.

As we know, President Trump is a man sensitive to bad press. But simply complaining about the criticism his administration is receiving – “total witch hunt!” – won’t scabbard the blades he faces. For him there is only one way to put this behind him, and it is that most awful of solutions from his standpoint, the full release of his tax returns.

It has been the pebble in his shoe since that first ‘Rude Descending Escalator’ moment in June 2015 when he announced his candidacy.  Yes, he won the Republican nomination and the general election without tax transparency, but as he is finding out running is one thing,  governing in a tripartite system quite another – think three-legged race.

Questions of a Russian connection linger due in part to the opacity of his business dealings in conjunction with the rather genteel nature of his Putin pronouncements in the face of the Russian election meddling.  And his stubborn non-disclosure will only increase the drag on his administrative goals, even with both houses of congress in hand. Continue reading

TWIXT THE SPIRIT AND LETTER

As an athlete Alberto Salazar was willing to delve more deeply into the dark raging corridors within than any athlete I ever encountered.  That do-or-die spirit is what elevated Al to iconic status as a runner, but it also brought him to the edge of the abyss. Twice he ran himself to the precipice of a serious medical crisis, once at the Falmouth Road Race 1978 (hyperthermia), again at the 1982 Boston Marathon (hypothermia).

Now, with the release of a 269-page interim USADA report on the Nike Oregon Project and its coach by Russian hackers, we find Coach Salazar’s intense drive to succeed once again putting him on the edge between fair and foul, not only in the court of sport, but in the court of public opinion.   Continue reading