Today in Not Helping: AP's real leak/fake news

Yesterday, the press seemed to have Donald Trump caught in a lie when he said that the leaks on General Flynn were really but the news coverage about it was false. Well, thanks to the people at the AP, we now have a great example of how Trump's comment can be true.

First, the AP tweeted out a story that Trump was considering militarizing the State Guard units in order to round up illegal aliens. The AP said that the White House and DHS wouldn't respond to their requests for a comment on the story but they ran with the story anyway, going so far to add a headline, "Trump weighs mobilizing National Guard for immigration roundups"

The first blow to this story was Sean Spicer saying that the report was 100% false. "I wish you guys would have asked before you tweeted." The press jumped at that comment, saying that the AP asked for comment and the White House, almost as if this was a set-up, waited until after it was published to denounce it. They also cited Spicer's debunked-by-the-Prez-himself comments re: General Flynn as a reason why perhaps we shouldn't believe his "100% false" proclamation. In turn, reporters called on the AP to release the document that was leaked to them to help support their case.

Which the AP then did.

And it all fell apart.

Upon reading the memo, many journalists started shaking their heads at the AP for their gross mischaracterization of the draft memo that was an internal memo and might not have ever even made it to the White House - a fact that even the AP seems to admit now as they've changed their headline to "DHS weighed Nat Guard for immigration roundups." A not-so-subtle change in subject and verb tense. 

Making matters worse, as Gabriel Malor has pointed out in his Twitter account, the memo doesn't militarize the Guard rather it's just an extension of Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) Section 287(g), which was signed into law in 1996 by then-President Bill Clinton. 

So frustratingly, yes, there is a real leak/fake news issue. The draft memo is real but the reporting on it is wildly off to the point that it should be retracted and, probably, apologized for. This is yet another unforced error by the press that is giving Trump cover to claim the reports he doesn't like are fake news. It's another shot to the media's credibility and favorability rating which I believe is lower than the President's. For all the laughter that came from the media about Trump's press conference today, there needs to be some somber coverage about the Associated Press basically proving Trump's point. 
And also frustrating to me is that the AP continues updating and changing their story without adding any notes that the story has been updated. If you're going to tout a breaking news exclusive that you then have to double-back on and clear up the mistakes, you should have at the top of your article, bullet points of what changes have been made and why. 

So thanks AP for adding the annals of Not Helping. The days of trumping up (pun intended) non-stories to try to get clicks has to come to an end or the media will never rebuild the public's trust. 

Kevin MendoncaComment
2/14/17 - Building a Better Mendo

So today's Valentine's Day and I'm sitting on my couch typing a blog so I don't think I have to tell you how the ol' love live is doing. But I think one of the biggest issues is that I'm just not happy with myself. I want to lose weight. I want to invest time in my side projects. I did a good job last year (and this year so far) getting out and about more so now I have to put up or shut up when it comes to self-improvement and actually going out and accomplishing some goals. Or at least TRYING to accomplish some goals. 
Making matters easier, after three years on Cutthroat Kitchen, I've started a hiatus so I can use my FUNemployment time to get my shit together. So far, not so good as I've spent more time on my couch than, well, anywhere, really, so Valentine's Day is the new New Year's Day. Time to get those resolutions cooking. 
For now, I'm going to focus on some weekly goals.
1. Finish the script "The Cleanse" I've been putzing around with.
2. Record one song I have in my head.
3. Work out every morning and three times at night. 
4. The ongoing resolution - try out one new locale and one new event this week.

I'm not sure what I'm doing with this blog and I might turn it into more of a running diary. But I would like to get at least one post a day, even if it's just the Song of the Day, which I've been slacking on. 

(Oh, and Mendo is my nickname, hence the name of the post, for the few people who wandered over to this site by mistake and don't actually know me.)

Today in "Not Helping!": Chris Cuomo and the Botched Slam Dunk

Chris Cuomo was kind of given an easy slam dunk response to Donald Trump and he botched it. 

Cuomo had a lot of things going for him
A. He did bring up the Blumenthal's past problems with the truth.
B. Blumenthal has owned up to his lying about his service in the Vietnam War and apologized for it, something that Trump hasn't done very often. Some might not buy the excuse (when saying he served "in Vietnam", he meant "during" Vietnam, not actually "IN Vietnam.") but he's apologized and stopped repeating the lies.
C. A spokesman for Judge Gorsuch said that, while not addressing Trump's tweets specifically, Gorsuch believes that all attacks on judges on demoralizing. It stands to reason that Gorsuch would have found Trump's attacks demoralizing.

So what does Cuomo do?
First, he compares "Fake News" to racial or ethnic epithets which is the kind of grandstanding and Woe is Me nonsense that people don't want to hear from cable news, especially talking heads who aren't really journalists, in my opinion.  Fake News is not the new N word. Trump's petty attacks on the media do not equal the racism, sexism, xenophobia that minorities are often surrounded by. 
Second, he admits that Blumenthal ducked the question and then says that is fine. Now pretty much anyone Cuomo interviews can duck his questions and say, "Hey, it's fine. You said politicians do it all the time." If it mattered, Cuomo should have pushed back and not allowed Blumenthal to duck. He should have asked again, why Blumenthal has any credibility here. That answer, of course, was also a slam dunk because of the statement that Gorsuch's rep made. He could have said that Gorsuch told us privately that he found attacks generally demoralizing; he should speak up publically against Trump's attacks. He doesn't have to cite the case in question, just speak out against the Executive Branch attacking judges. Also, he could say he apologized for the lie and his constituents voted him in again so their confidence and forgiveness (as well as the lesson he learned via his egregious mistakes) gives him credibility.
Again, this was an easy slam dunk for Cuomo and he ended up like this:

And I realized that I should probably do something to try to help myself, rather than just calling people out so, for now, my helping of the day is a quick tweet to the Office of Government Ethics and Jason Chaffetz, head of the House Oversight Committee, about Kellyanne Conway's self-described "commercial" for Ivanka Trump.

It's not much but it's a start. 

Twitter Needs a Retraction Button

TL;DR Summary:
Social Networks should give media outlets a retraction button that, if a tweet/story is proven to be false, would send a corrected tweet not only to their followers but to the followers of people who retweeted their initial false tweet. (If they make it available to everyone, maybe call it a "My Bad!" button.) It would also delete the initial, incorrect tweet.
On a similar note, Facebook/Twitter should change the background color or font color of so-called parody or satirical sites to help people differentiate "jokes" from actual news. Or maybe just have a header ("Satirical Post") above those posts as they do with their "Suggested Posts."

The Full Thought
It should come as no surprise to anyone that the latest shooting, this one at a mosque in Quebec, was met with hasty reporting that ended up being false. In this case, news outlets quickly covered that the two suspects were in custody, one being a French-Canadien with some hints of white nationalist leanings and the other being a Muslim of Moroccan origin.
You'd think that upon hearing this, a red flag would go up. A Moroccan Muslim and a French-Canadien nationalist walk into a mosque... sounds more like the start of a joke than a description of a team of shooters. Still, people ran with the story. Fox News put an extra level of spin on it.

When Fox News realized their mistake, they quickly updated the story and made sure to point out who led them astray.

A second man, Mohamed el Khadir, was initially identified as an additional suspect by Quebec officials. Reuters and the French languard newspaper La Presse reporterd earlier that one of the suspects was of Moroccan origin, a report that was picked up by Fox News and other news outlets. But police later announced there was only one suspect in the attack, and Khadir was identified as a witness.

The language in that paragraph seems to implicate Fox's tweet more than excuse it. "A second man." "An additional suspect" Yet Fox's tweet focused only on him and not the white guy aka the prime suspect. You don't have to be a conspiracy theorist to wonder if there weren't some ulterior motives behind their spin on that tweet.  

Now, given that they mistakenly accused a Moroccan man of shooting up a mosque and that the event was even cited by the White House press secretary as a rationale for President Trump's "proactive" immigration ban, you'd think Fox News would want to get out the fact that the report was wrong. But it wasn't until over 12 hours later that they sent out a new tweet (and it appears to be a scheduled tweet as many of their stories of the day have been tweeted about as well.) In fact, they haven't even deleted the old tweet; It's still out there with a bogus headline and since I took that screengrab of it last night, it's been retweeted out almost 100 more times.

That gave me an idea. "Fake News" isn't usually something that is shared with the intent of sharing alternative facts. People see a headline, believe what they read (be it the article or, often, just the headline), and share. Hours or sometimes days later when the truth comes out, it's too late. The fake news is out there and the correction rarely sees as many shares as the initial post.

So how about a retraction button. Ideally, it would first be for news sources. If Fox News sends out misinformation like the aforementioned tweet, they can update it and send a new tweet that will go out, not just to their followers but to the followers of everyone who retweeted it.  This way, most everyone with direct contact with the incorrect tweet could see the correction.
Part of me thinks that the re-tweet should go to the top of people's feeds, perhaps with an "OK, I saw this" button to dismiss it, although I could see people misusing that as a way to get their posts at the top of people's feeds. At the very least, it should also delete the initial "problematic" tweet. 
After seeing how the media utilizes the retraction or My Bad! button, social media sites could see if they wanted to perhaps use it at times when the publishers don't. For instance, if Twitter sees that Fox News hasn't updated their tweet, they could send out their own retraction, correcting this tweet and, in this case, connecting to the updated Fox News story. Or maybe just freeze the ability for said tweet to be retweeted, which would give people a heads up that something might be awry with the info in the tweet.
This, of course, leads to potential issues of bias, gray areas, and questions of limits (who do we retract: public figures, media, would there be a retweet threshold that would trigger test of tweet's veracity? How blatant does a falsehood or mistake have to be to get corrected?) but there are examples such as this tweet from Fox that are just simply wrong and have remained active despite being admittedly false. Also, the social media sites having that power might pressure members of the media to report themselves more quickly. Better to retract it themselves than be called out by Twitter or Facebook.

Along the same lines, I think Facebook or Twitter might want to come up with a new background or font color for satirical websites. Many "fake news" sites pass themselves off as satire or parody and I think it's beyond clear at this point that people can't be bothered to figure out if the story they just read was a joke or not, so giving the Onion and others a green background or blue font might help clue people in that what their reading isn't real. 

Fake News isn't going anywhere because nobody's really doing much to stop it or stop sharing it or even noticing/caring that what they shared turned out to be false. This could be one step towards solving the problem.

Kevin MendoncaComment
Amendments to Trump's Executive Order on Immigration

Elon Musk asked for amendment ideas that he could potentially bring to the President's attention. Here are six areas of President Trump's Executive Order on Immigration that I think could use clarity or an amendment 

Amendment #1: Green Cards
The initial statements from Trump's team signified that people with green cards would be included in the ban. Hours later, DHS secretary Kelly deemed "the entry of lawful permanent residents to be in the national interest." Clarity on this issue is needed.

Amendment #2: Children
Cases like this shouldn't exist.
I don't know what national interest would keep children from being united with their parents. If a child has a parent in the US, that child's visa should be honored. I'd also ask that we consider allowing kids be sent over to not just parents but to close relatives as well. If someone is here to shelter and give care to children refugees, we shouldn't let this executive order keep them from escaping their suffering. 

Amendment #3: Students/Medical
Two exceptions should be made for students from the countries in question.
1. An exception for students currently residing in the United States so that they can be allowed to go home over vacation or if there's a family emergency without fear of not being able to get back into the country. 
2. Students who are currently outside of the US but trying to get back to continue their schooling or residencies (as is the case of this young man) shouldn't have to wait three months to get back in. There should be some sort of process in which someone from a school or hospital can vouch for these people so they can get back in and continue their educations. At the very least, doctors, medical students, etc. should receive some help getting back to their patients here in the U.S.

Amendment #4: The Luol Deng Exemption
Luol Deng of the Los Angeles Lakers is Sudanese but has British citizenship. If the Lakers go to play the Toronto Raptors, this executive order could prevent him from returning to the United States. People currently in the United States shouldn't have their business travel limited by this executive order. Perhaps there needs to be a new type of visa created for this and Amendment #3. A kind of exemption visa that allows them to travel despite the ban.  

Amendment #5: US Military Support
People in the countries in question have put their lives on the line to help our military. While refraining from issuing new visas might make some sense, renegging on visas that have been offered and, in some cases, earned by these men and women sends a terrible message and will make the jobs of our military in those countries more difficult. We should honor these visas and share the freedoms that we promised these people when they agreed to help.

Amendment #6: In-Process Refugees
The current vetting process takes around 15 months. I believe that we can let the process continue for people who've been through a year of vetting. Rather than shut everything down immediately, allow these people who have made it through most of the vetting to get a shot at starting over in the United States. 

Kevin MendoncaComment
Liberal Mania - Not Helping Vol. 2: WaPo's Josh Rogin

As frustrating as it is to watch President Donald Trump (or even type those three words), I find it equally annoying to watch the media's inability to get out of their own way. With his actions, Trump has opened up multiple doors for the press to walk through and point out his mistakes. Instead, the press decides, "Let's see if I can run through this wall!" 

The latest example is Josh Rogin's piece on State Dept. exits in the Washington Post. 

Step 1: Rogin posted his EXCLUSIVE "The State Department’s entire senior administrative team just resigned.I saw the story posted a few times on Facebook. The lede was:

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s job running the State Department just got considerably more difficult. The entire senior level of management officials resigned Wednesday, part of an ongoing mass exodus of senior foreign service officers who don’t want to stick around for the Trump era.

But in this day and age, you have to wait a bit to make sure that the story is legit. Wait for a follow-up story with confirmation, ideally named stories, and not just rehashes based on the same initial reporting. 

Step 2: Rogin tweets out CNN"s take on the story. "Top State Department Officials Asked to Leave By Trump Administration." That story refutes Rogin's assertion that the people quit because they "don't want to stick around for the Trump era". Every new administration starts with people turning in their resignations. In this case, the White House, surprisingly to some, accepted these resignations. (Well, except for one person who had been planning on retiring for months and probably shouldn't have been included at all in the initial story.) 

Step 3: The Washington Post echoes CNN's story with a new story entitled, "Trump Administration Choosing to Replace Several Senior State Department Diplomats." It would seem that the Post has looked things over and decided CNN's version of the story is the one to go with. 

Later in the day, President Donald Trump would add to the litany of things that the Washington Post could have spent their time on by bringing a 20% tariff on Mexican goods that would be levied in order to pay for his wall, an idea that was so immediately shot down by both parties and pundits everywhere that Sean Spicer had to then go out and say that Trump was just spitballing and that the 20% tariff wasn't an actual policy proposal, it was just the kind of thing that we COULD do to pay for the wall or one of "a buffet of options" as Chief of Staff/Co-Head of Verbal Janitorial Reince Priebus noted.. Although, if it's a bad idea then it's not really a thing that we SHOULD even bother considering to pay for the wall, right? 

Unfortunately, Josh Rogin helped give conservatives a different talking point to focus on with his apparently off-base "exclusive". (I say apparently because, who knows, maybe I'm wrong and somehow Rogin will salvage his report with a new exclusive but, at this point, I'm willing to wrap this story up and say he gave a fairly uneven report, to put it nicely.)
Rogin has since tweeted out the new WaPo story but no word on whether he is rescinding his story or an explanation for the direction he took his tale but I'd hope that the Washington Post higher-ups and the ombudsman are grilling him and perhaps there should be some consequences. You can't have writers making mistakes like this with zero repercussions. I mean, you can because everyone does and it's why we're in the state that we're in today but eventually somebody needs to stand up and act responsibly. Why not today?

EDIT: Rogin has finally responded to someone and wrote: "Technically, they resigned, but the Trump team wanted them gone, so in a way they were fired." So basically, the general thrust of his story that the State Dept. people were making some sort of principled stand against Trump is wrong. Again, I think there should be consequences for this type of reporting. Or we should just change Michelle Obama's quote to, "When they go low, we go low but point out that they went low first so that makes it just the common sense reaction to those who go low."
 

Donald Trump and The Botched Gotcha

Tonight we had another great example as to why the media and basic facts are losing their battle with Donald Trump. ABC's David Muir interviewed the President and he had a kind of GOTCHA! moment when he told Donald Trump that the author of the Pew report that the White House has been citing as evidence of voter fraud actually disagrees with President Trump and claims there was no evidence of voter fraud. 
But the President then responded with, "Really? Then why did he write the report?
Muir had no response.
Trump seized the silence and spun it that the author must be groveling to reporters. 
And with that, the moment was lost. 

What's most frustrating is that Muir's response was a very easy one. Why did the person write the report? Because it was an analysis of our current voter registration system, which most people would agree is flawed. However, admitting there are flaws in the system doesn't prove that there were fraudulent votes. For instance, Muir could have pointed out that Steve Bannon, Steve Mnuchin, and Tiffani Trump are all registered in two states; that doesn't mean they voted in both places.

Unfortunately, because Muir failed to make this point and instead responded with silence, it allowed Trump to give his completely made up rationale for why the researcher would claim zero voter fraud; an anti-media excuse that his base will undoubtedly eat up and regurgitate whenever someone questions the need for an investigation into voter fraud.
(The better-informed supporters might point to this report that claims non-citizens do vote and while it is small, it could swing electoral votes. Although there's a response to that study as well.)

Muir is hardly alone, though. I think he made a mistake that many people dealing with Donald Trump make. The mistake is that they don't truly understand the depth of Trump's misunderstanding of an issue. They don't understand that, when faced with a fact that he doesn't comprehend or like, he's going to search out a different way to cling to the "truths" he believes. One GOTCHA! moment isn't going to shake his faith in his own opinion. Trump's the guy who asks 19 friends "Should I?" and if they all say "No!" he'll look for a 20th friend to ask. Honestly, even if Muir had answered Trump's "Why did he write the report?" question, Donald probably would have clung to the idea that messed up rolls mean fraud. He would have put the onus on Muir to prove that they weren't used for fraudulent reasons. But at least then Muir could have asked, "Well, voter registration is messed up everywhere so why do you only think fraud happened where you lost? Why, a few weeks ago, did your team say there was zero proof of election fraud? Have you questioned Bannon and Mnuchin about their possible roles in the fraud?"

But perhaps what's most frustrating of all is that the Left has been handed a great opportunity to push for Automatic Voter Registration and they're passing it by to mock Trump. Yes, Mr. President, voter registration rolls are an issue. We do need to modernize. And the best way to make it cheaper, easier, and more reliable is Automatic Voter Registration! The gift and the curse of President Trump is that his ham-fisted way of dealing with things leads to a lot of opportunities but we usually miss them because we're focused on the ham-fisted way he deals with things. 

Celebrating the Sevens!

I've always wanted to watch more classic movies but I just never make myself sit down and do it. Most of the time, I just get lazy and put something on that I can half pay attention to as I clean or surf the internet or roll over and go to sleep. But 2017 is the year that Kevin Stops Procrastinating so I'm going to actually sit down and start catching up on the great films that I've missed over the years. As a little gimmick to keep me invested, I'm going to celebrate the movies from 10, 20, 30, etc. years ago. In 2017, we'll be Celebrating the Sevens!

1937: La Grande Illusion (Directed by Jean Renoir; Written by Renoir and Charles Spaak)
1947: Black Narcissus (Written/Directed by Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger) 
1957: The Seventh Seal (Written/Directed by Ingmar Bergman)
1967: Weekend (Written/Directed by Jean Luc-Godard)
1977: Close Encounters of the Third Kind (Written/Directed by Steven Spielberg)
1987: Au Revoir, Les Enfants (Written/Directed by Louis Malle)
1997: Taste of Cherry (Written/Directed by Abbas Kiarostami)
2007: Eve's Bayou (Written/Directed by Kasi Lemmons)

When choosing the titles for this first go around, I tried to go with films that I have never seen but, in one case, I made an exception. I've seen Close Encounters before but it was probably two decades ago so I feel like I could use a refresher. The 90's and Aughts will be tougher since I've seen most of the great movies of those decades so I went with one foreign film and one flick in Eve's Bayou that I've been meaning to watch since, well, 2007. 

To keep myself honest, I'm just going to go down the list so we'll always start with 1937. In this case, it'll be La Grande Illusion, a film I know pretty much nothing about besides the fact that the poster for it is seen on cinephiles walls all over the world. I'm going to try to watch one movie a week but I might double-up now and then to make up for weeks in which I might not have time to settle down with a movie (or if I want to see something that just came out instead.) 

So join me in Celebrating the Sevens!

1/24/17: Rationale - Prodigal Son

I was bummed to wake up to news that Rationale's album release had been cancelled. I've been loving all of the singles he's been putting out and was anticipating the album enough that I pre-ordered it on Amazon. While I think "Vessels" might be a more timely song and "Reciprocate" is his latest single, I think "Prodigal Son" might be my favorite. Well, "Fuel to the Fire" might be my favorite but that was a Song of the Day last year. (Edit: And I forgot about The Re-Up!) Either way, Rationale has been dominating my Spotify this month (with Dua Lipa making a late run for the title) and I realized that I hadn't given him a Song of the Day slot yet. So here it is. 

Recxpectations: Train to Busan

I checked out "Train to Busan," Korea's highest grossing film 2016, and I came away pleasantly surprised and eagerly awaiting the American remake. If you like zombie movies or are looking for a fix while waiting for The Walking Dead to return, I'd definitely recommend this film. (And this is from someone who tapped out of The Walking Dead a couple seasons ago.) 

You Should Expect: a zombie movie. This seems obvious, but I wouldn't go into this expecting a genre-defying flick. It is what it is. That being said, expect some timely statements on the state of the world today (kind of a Snowpiercer with zombies.) Also, expect more feels than you'd normally get out of a zombie movie.
Oh, and it's fast zombies. At times, I thought slow zombies might have been better; in fact, I still think there's an argument for slow zombies in this one (it's another thing I hope the remake considers but I doubt it.) 

Don't Expect: gore - This isn't a flick that revels in blood and sinew being snapped out of necks and the such. Don't expect the most imaginative direction. One reason I'm excited about the US remake is that I think some of the moments could have been handled better. 

Also, as usual, don't expect the trailer not to give away nearly the whole thing so I'd recommend watching up to the forty-one second mark and stopping. That gives you a feel of the movie and, honestly, you don't really get much more from the trailer besides more zombie action and reveals of what happens in the second half of the flick.

Shout out to Ted Welch for the recommendation! Ted also recommended "The Autopsy of Jane Doe", for those of you looking for another horror flick to check out. 

1/22: Boy Willows - I'm Good

I like the idea of Spotify's "Fresh Finds" mix but I struggle to find tunes that fit my tastes on it. The one song that jumps out at me every time it pops up though is Boy Willows' "I'm Good". I couldn't find it on YouTube (well, I found one version but not sure it was via the artist which is preferred especially with up and comers) so here's the song on SoundCloud. 

Kevin MendoncaComment
1/21: Dua Lipa - Be The One

Late on this one since it's up to two million hits but I'm definitely digging this 80's throwback. Although I feel like in the 80's, it would have been a peppier, Spanish-tinged Gloria Estefan song. 

Kevin MendoncaComment
2017 2.0

While I did a good job kicking off 2017, the past week or so has gone off the rails a bit so it makes sense to use today, the first day of the Trump Presidency to get myself back on track and hold myself accountable.

As for the response to the new President, I feel like fairness should be our first requirement. I'm having a hard time taking a lot of the critics of Trump seriously because they are so over-the-top. In fact, I think they are actually doing a detriment to their cause because they've established such a low bar for Trump to clear that he basically just needs to not start World War III and declare Putin as the new Head of State and people will think he did an OK job. 
On the other hand, many Trump supporters seem to be blindly following whatever he does (much like Obama supporters did for 8 years) so I hope that both sides can partake in some honest accountability. I doubt it'll happen but it would be nice and I might try to do a Friday New Roundup from here on out to highlight good stories and point out bad stories. I also want to try to build a list of reasonable people to follow on Twitter but that might be the hardest challenge yet. 

I'm also wary that I don't see any hope on the horizon for the Democrats. I'm still not sure why more people didn't run for the Democratic Party's nomination (I think the DNC made a strong push for Hillary and dissuaded people but I have no evidence to support that) and it's not like people who have been taking the lead so far like Chuck Schumer, Cory Booker, etc. are people that I think are all that inspiring. And the fact that some people are clamoring that "We need to run a celebrity of our own" makes me even more worried. 

In the end, all I can do is work to help the organizations that are pushing the agenda I believe in, work to fulfill my personal goals, and just try to be a better person overall. It's hard for a random American like myself to lead by example but really, that's the first thing we have to do. 

Until then, only 654 days until the midterms and 1382 days until the next Presidential election. Let's make the most of them.

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Who Wins An NBA Alma Mater 3-on-3 tournament?

I've always wanted to see more games or weird matchups during NBA All-Star weekend. One thing I've wanted to see is a 1-1, 2-2, or 3-3 Scramble. Basically, in a Scramble, you have all of the players/teams line up under the hoop. First in line is on offense, next is on defense. Whoever wins that matchup (offense wins by scoring, defense wins by making a stop) becomes the offensive team, loser goes to the back of the line, and next person/team in line plays defense. First person to 15 wins (11 if there are a lot of people, 21 if a smaller bunch.) 

I was wondering how the NBA could do this and I thought having players team up by college could be a fun way to do it. I went through the listing and while there were about 25 teams that could field decent squads, five squads stood up. So my question was: who would you put your money on? My ranking of the five teams is:

#5: High Schoolers - LeBron James, Dwight Howard, JR Smith or Monta Ellis
A decade ago, the high schoolers might have had the three best teams. But with the one-and-done rule shutting down the direct pipeline, we don't have as many options for this squad. Still, LeBron is LeBron, Dwight could still do some damage, and if JR Smith shows up, he could cause problems. 

#4: Kentucky (White Squad) - Anthony Davis, Karl-Anthony Towns, Brandon Knight
I'm a Brandon Knight believer so I put him in over Devin Booker, who hasn't taken the step up, nevermind a leap, as I had hoped. Still, the AD/Towns duo would cause a lot of problems for opposing teams, especially on the offensive glass. 

#3: UCLA - Russell Westbrook, Zach LaVine, Kevin Love
At first, I had Jrue Holiday in this lineup but I thought Zach could play better off of Russ. Love could struggle defensively against Dwight or AD/Towns (who also would post the hell out of this team) but once Russ, Zach, and Kev Love get on offense, they'll be tough to shut down. 

#2: Texas - Kevin Durant, LaMarcus Aldridge. Avery Bradley
Yes, I'm a Celtics fan so maybe I'm overrating AB right now but I think his defense would be huge and he's a perfect guy to knock down threes if teams have to help on Aldridge and Durant. This team could get even better in a year or two if Myles Turner continues to improve and takes over for Aldridge. This team might be the best 2-way squad and could be the #1 overall but I gave the crown to...

#1: Kentucky (Blue Squad) - Boogie Cousins, John Wall, Eric Bledsoe
The scary thing about Kentucky's class of NBA players is that this probably isn't even the best possible version of their varsity 3-on-3 team. Replace Boogie with The Brow and I think they're even better. But I put these three together because they actually played on the same collegiate squad and would probably want to team up. Wall has been amazing this season, Boogie seems to finally be coming close to his full potential (although defense still seems like a 50-50 proposition most nights), and Bledsoe's been hampered mostly by injuries but he's having a stellar season for Phoenix. (I'm a huge Bledsoe fan. He's one of my fantasy hoops go-to guys.) If Boogie gives a damn on defense, and I think something like this could get him to focus, this squad could take the gold. They're no sure-thing but they'd be who I put my money on.

As for other schools, there were some interesting squads but most of them came a player short or didn't have the superstar-caliber guy leading the way. Duke could enter the fray if Brandon Ingram lives up to the hype, with Jabari and Kyrie already proving my doubts wrong at every turn. If this 3-on-3 actually did happen, I'd throw Duke in there as well as Michigan State's Draymond, Z-Bo, and Gary Harris squad. Washington might at least enter the conversation with Isaiah Thomas, Marquess Chriss, and Markelle Fultz. Josh Jackson might give Joel Embiid and Andrew Wiggins the third wheel they need, although Wiggins still needs to step up as a second wheel to help this squad place. If Chandler Parsons can bounce back from injury, Florida's lineup with him, Al Horford, and Bradley Beal could put up a fight. Then again, would they even be better than Kemba Walker, Andre Drummond and Rudy Gay? 

No matter how you rank these teams, I think this is the kind of game that could add some interest to All-Star Weekend. 

 

 

1/11/17: Vacay - The Other Side

I'm going to be honest, I just had some of Howlin' Rays chicken HOWLIN' chicken and the heat has short-circuited my brain a bit so I'll just offer up this song that I saved from a while back. 

Kevin MendoncaComment
The Good Fight - CBS All Access 2/19

The Good Fight is the spin-off of The Good Wife that I've been waiting for. And the trailer has me even more excited as the premise looks cool and the cast is top notch. Delroy Lindo is one of the most underused actors in Hollywood, in my opinion, and I'm very happy to see Erica Tazel, who I would have preferred to see in a Tim and Rachel-led spinoff of Justified but this will do. And as always Cush Jumbo and Christine Baranski are phenomenal. And I haven't even mentioned Rose "You Know Nothing, John Snow" Leslie yet. Or Sarah Steele, who was always a breath of fresh air whenever she appeared on The Good Wife. 
The show will air on CBS on 2/19 and then move to CBS All Access, CBS's online streaming venture, for the rest of the 10 episode run.