2015-nba-season-preview

On the 17th episode of Bacon Shorts by Bacon Sports with Rob Cressy, Rob give his 2015 NBA Season Preview in the most awesomely random jerseys way possible by rocking every basketball jersey he owns all at once. He gives his predictions for who is going to win the NBA title, league MVP, gives a team by team breakdown of the storylines that interest him the most, plus talks about his excitement of having NBA League Pass for the first time.

It’s almost Movember and it’s time to get those stache’s out and do our best Magnum Pi, Adam Morrison, and Kevin Bass impressions. Why don’t you join Team Bacon and became a Mo Bro or Mo Sista with me? It’s fun, you’ll look awesome, and it’s all for a good cause.SIGN UP HERE!


Here’sanaudio only/podcast version as well.

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1. The first design in our latest t-shirt collection was just released and it pays homage to former New Jersey Nets center Yinka Dare. This will be a limited edition run as we only made 25 of these. The price is $20 and is a high quality fabric. GET ONE NOW!

2. Check out the World’s Largest Random NBA Jerseys Database. There’s over 763 different past and present players whose jerseys you can choose from.

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The post 2015 NBA Season Preview appeared first on Bacon Sports.

blogs with balls 7

I just attended Blogs With Balls 7, a sports media conference that was straight balling. I wanted to share with you some of the highlights of what went down so here’s a look at the Snapchat story I put together.

I’ve got to give a big shout out to the Blogs With Balls crew that put this together. The lineup of panels, guest appearances, and overall sports awesomeness was top notch. I highly recommend it for anyone in the sports blog or sports media space as it was a great opportunity to connect with other link minded ballers.

Some of the highlights from Blogs With Balls 7 included:

  • Drew Brees kicking off the event with an introvideo of him laying on a mattress.
  • A live taping of Barstool Sports podcast Pardon My Take.
  • Oscar De La Hoya being live streamed in to promote the upcoming Canelo vs Kahn fight.
  • Guinness doing a sweet activation where they engraved a Guinness glass for you.
  • Open bar. At 9 am.
  • The people. Everyone was super personable and receptive to chatting. This is probably the #1 highlight for me as I made a ton of good contacts that I’ll hopefully be able to do business with.

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Some of the things that stood out from the panels included:

  • If you want to work in sports keep sending pitches. Be consistent with your work and how you approach things on a daily basis. (You can check out the podcast series I created called How To Make It In Sports Media for more insight in how others have done it.)
  • Learn as much as you can. Meet as many people as you can.
  • You should be on Snapchat right now. The engagement opportunities and the ability to cultivate your personality are through the roof.

bacon sports snapchat

If you were at Blog With Balls 7 and want to connect or you are looking for someone to host a sports podcast, create some awesome videos, or you’ve got some ideas you want to bounce around then drop me a line at boom at baconsports.com.

The post Blogs With Balls 7: Snapchat Story & Sports Awesomeness appeared first on Bacon Sports.

cubs podcast david aardsma

On this week’s Bleacher Boys Jack McLauglin & Bobby Thomsen discuss the Cubs recent losing streak and bullpen troubles (1:35), then chat with former Cubs reliever David Aardsma about his pitching career, the Cubs, Dusty Baker, and Ryan Dempster’s Harry Caray impression (4:17). Segments also include #RandomAthlete.

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Marred in a boundless rut for the past two seasons. Aric Almirola prepares himself for life after Richard Petty Motorsports in 2018.

Following a disappointing 2017 campaign (29 starts, o wins, 3top 5’s, 6 top 10’s 29th in the driver standings) the former Fresh Prince of Tampa made perhaps the most difficult decision of his racing career leaving RPM, a place he’s called home for the past six seasons.

Despite never setting the world ablaze in their six years together Almirola & RPM collected (1 victory, 10 top 5 finishes, 30 top 10 finishes, 1 pole, 1 Playoff appearance 2014) disguisedly respectable numbers for a driver/team combination absolutely, nobody had ever given a fighting chance back in 2012.

Gradually as time progressed Almirola found his groove in the #43 car, collecting a dramatic victory at the mecca of racing, Daytona in July of 2014. The win would be the first of Aric Almirola’s career in the Monster Energy Cup series and the first for RPM since 2012. Winning at Daytona elevated Almirola in to the playoff picture that season (2014) ultimately finishing 16th in the final driver standings following a first-round exit.

Qualifying for the playoffs in 2014 generated new life into both RPM & Aric Almirola. Hitting their stride when it mattered most Almirola would once again solidified himself as a playoff contender in 2015.

Finishing inside the top 20 in 19 of the first 26 races of the season. Aric Almirola entered the final race of the regular season at Richmond in September firmly inside the playoff picture sitting 16th in the driver standings.

Notwithstanding his courageous efforts in the closing moments of the race, the Fresh Prince of Tampa would fall one lap shy of producing back to back playoff seasons. Finishing 4th in the race dropped him into 17th place in the driver standings one position short of making it back atop center stage with the sports elite drivers.

The cyclical nature of the business would have a profound impact on Richard Petty Motorsports over the next two seasons. Incapable of replicating prior successes RPM regressed considerably. A bevy of changes within the organization ranging from crew chief changes to downsizing the King’s multi car operation into a single car team for 2017 left the door wide open for Aric Almirola to take his talents elsewhere.

Aric Almirola and longtime Richard Petty Motorsports sponsor Smithfield foods are on the move for 2018. Both are set to take over the #10 car at Stewart Haas Racing.

Stewart Haas Racing made an official announcement in mid-November, welcoming Almirola into the fold after weeks of speculation regarding the future of the #10 car. Even with championship caliber drivers on the open market SHR was one hundred percent committed to signing Mr. Almirola once he became a free agent at the end of the summer.

Crew Chief Billy Scott will remain with the team in 2018, his third overall with SHR. Scott was hired in December of 2015 to work with then driver of the ##10 car Danica Patrick in hopes of turning her racing career around following flashes of brilliance on the track the previous season in 2014. With Billy Scott at the helm Danica would only record 1 top ten finish in three seasons. Vainly the Danica/ Billy Scott experiment lost its gleam.

Smithfield’s involvement is paramount for a team that found itself overwhelmed by sponsorship woes last season. For Almirola having Smithfield grace the hood of the #10 car provides him with a sense of familiarity. Both driver and sponsor have been together through thick and thin for the past 6 years. Smithfield’s undying loyalty to Aric Almirola is incredibly remarkable.

Joining a championship winning organization for the first time in his 11-year Cup career undoubtedly elevates Almirola’s confidence beyond any fragment of time prior to his arrival at SHR.

The simple fact Tony Stewart believes whole heartedly in Almirola’s credentials speaks volumes for a driver most racing fan have failed to connect with.

Perhaps the most integral component of Almirola’s future success at SHR relies heavily on establishing a firm working relationship with championship winning teammates Kevin Harvick and Kurt Busch. Both whom have experienced a career renaissance since joining Stewart Haas Racing in 2014.

Taking a few pointers from two of the sport’s finest drivers can only make Almirola better on race day.

Unquestionably, the addition of Aric Almirola transforms the #10 car from a middle of the pack team into a team that will most certainly contend for a coveted playoff position in 2018. Having tasted bittersweet playoff glory in the past, Almirola knows he’s been given a second chance to make a profound impression on the entire Monster Energy cup series garage.

Although he most likely won’t compete for the championship in 2018, Aric Almirola’s number one goal in year one with SHR is establishing the #10 car as a legit playoff hopeful for the next several years. Building a successful campaign in 2018 automatically gives credence to Tony Stewart’s unconventional driver choice.

While the jury is still out on Aric Almirola following a couple of dismal seasons, I’m totally convinced this is the best possible situation for both a team and driver in dire need of a positive transformation.

Yes, Aric Almirola is a minor upgrade from Danica Patrick as driver of the #10 car, but under no circumstances can we expect a career year from the Fresh Prince of Tampa in 2018.

The pieces are finally fitting, but the puzzle won’t be completed until 2019.

Final grade C+

Photo courtesy of MRN

)

So, it has been decided that Russia as contributing nation is excluded from the Winter Olympic Games in Pyongyang, South Korea and that the Russian athletes who are clean are allowed to compete under a neutral flag, which is the same as the Olympic flag.

Perhaps it was after all a quite-expected decision, but if it was a fair or unfair decision that I cannot say, even if I think that it is in general better to exclude individual athletes instead of a whole country.

On the other hand, it has been proven that Russia has major issues with doping at least in some sports.

And, perhaps it is a good reminder and a good message to every country that it is best to have regular checks on the athletes so they do keep themselves clean of doping substances of any sort.

Overall, it is understandable that the whole matter was not an easy thing to decide for the Olympic committee.

But, they had to decide something and we have received it after a whole year of waiting.

However, there is one point of view we seldom discuss; I am not sure why, but my intention is to bring forth that point of view. The reason why I mention the following is simple, it is a fair question.

Think about this question for a moment:

What rights do we have to demand that athletes be clean?

I have been thinking myself about this quite a lot, and my conclusion after that time is that we have actually no rights at all to demand that athletes be clean.

Why so, you might ask?

Well, I ask you this: why are you not “clean” when you are watching sports on TV? Why do you have to drink beer and spirits as soon as you put on the sports?

Why do you have to drink alcohol at all as soon as you go to the restaurant have just come home from work and think that you should “chill out” (or even drink a few beers for lunch at work)?

Or why do you have to even smoke marijuana between the zips?

I am not saying that you are not allowed to drink or smoke pot, that’s all up to you to choose as you so desire, I couldn’t care less.

But, let me ask this: Isn’t it quite ridiculous to shout in front of the TV with a beer or a whiskey in your hand that the athletes should be clean when you are yourself pretty drunk or even high as a building?

Although, there is a larger view to consider beyond your beer, your whiskey, and your pot, and the athletes doping.

It is our ever-greater and unrealistic demands.

Why do we see a fifth place for example as a major disaster and fiasco? What rights do we have to demand that the athletes always shall achieve a medal or win?

I have to say that we have quite unrealistic expectations on the athletes overall, and very unreasonable as well.

And, I can’t think that anyone comes to our daily work with impossible demands or calls it a fiasco as soon as we drop a pen on the floor or perhaps forget the work-phone on our table, or even if we fail for some reason to be nice to a customer.

To sum up this column:

It is up to all of us what kind of environment we want, what kind of world we want including the sporting, and it all begins with each of us.

Behaviour is the mirror in which everyone shows their image.

Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe, German poet 1749 – 1832.

Notable:

Here is a brilliant article about the meaningless to be a die-hard fan, Click at the colored link below:

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On the 16th episode of Bacon Shorts by Bacon Sports with Rob Cressy, Rob channels his inner Black Rob with a new segment called Like Whoa where he dishes about things that went down over the sports weekend that made him say “like whoa”.

It’s almost Movember and it’s time to get those stache’s out and do our best Magnum Pi, Adam Morrison, and Kevin Bass impressions. Why don’t you join Team Bacon and became a Mo Bro or Mo Sista with me? It’s fun, you’ll look awesome, and it’s all for a good cause.SIGN UP HERE!

PARTICIPATE:

1. The first design in our latest t-shirt collection was just released and it pays homage to former New Jersey Nets center Yinka Dare. This will be a limited edition run as we only made 25 of these. The price is $20 and is a high quality fabric. GET ONE NOW!

2. Check out the World’s Largest Random NBA Jerseys Database. There’s over 763 different past and present players whose jerseys you can choose from.

3. Got a #randomathlete, #FlagItTagIt, #randomjersey or idea that you want in a future episode of Bacon Shorts by Bacon Sports? Send it over on any social media outlet. We want this to besomething that you are part of.

CONNECT:

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2. Become part of Team Bacon, our bacon loving, jersey rocking, sports fancommunityby signing up HERE!If you dig rocking jerseys, sports comedy, all while getting some serious sports knowledge dropped on youthen you’ll be bout it bout it with our newsletter.

3. If you missed anyof the episodes of Bacon Shorts by Bacon Shortsyou can check themout hereand subscribeto our YouTube channelfor future episodes!

The post Sports Weekend Got Me Like Whoa appeared first on Bacon Sports.

The John Wall-less Washington Wizards took on the Blake Griffin- and Patrick Beverley-less Clippers in Los Angeles today, in a game that managed to be pretty fun even with roughly a quarter of its normal star wattage. The Clippers dominated the first half, but Bradley Beal came alive in the second half, and the…

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Three weeks ago, after Leeann Tweeden accused Minnesota Sen. Al Franken of groping her and kissing her without her consent, we argued that Democrats ought to have pushed for Franken to resign. Doing so would have allowed them to claim the moral high ground at a time when allegations of sexual misconduct had implicated both Democratic and Republican politicians — including President Trump and Roy Moore, the Republican Senate candidate in Alabama. It would also have come at a relatively small political price, since Franken’s replacement would be named by a Democratic governor and Democrats would be favored to keep the seat in a special election in 2018.

Democrats didn’t see it the same way; instead, the party line was that Franken’s case should be referred to the Senate ethics committee. But the party has since shifted gears: On Wednesday, a cavalcade of Democratic senators — first several female members, such as New York’s Kirsten Gillibrand and Hawaii’s Mazie Hirono, but eventually including party leaders such as New York’s Chuck Schumercalled on Franken to resign. Franken’s office has said he’ll make an announcement about his future on Thursday, which many reporters expect to be a resignation.

So what changed? Most obviously, several other women came forward with accusations that Franken had groped them or made unwanted advances toward them, including two new accusations on Thursday alone.

Unfortunately, this was fairly predictable: Sexual predation is often serial. (Consider, for instance, that, on Jezebel’s fairly exhaustive list of prominent men accused of sexual harassment or sexual assault, all but a handful have multiple accusers.) The lesson is that even if party leaders think that an initial allegation against one of their members may be politically survivable or morally tolerable, it will often be followed by other accusations.

But something else changed too: Democratic leaders got a lot of feedback from voters in the form of polls, and it wasn’t positive.

Voters care about sexual harassment allegations — and thought both parties were mishandling them

Polling suggests that voters care a lot about sexual harassment allegations — a Quinnipiac poll this week, for instance, found that 66 percent of voters thought that politicians should resign when “accused of sexual harassment or sexual assault by multiple people.” And the poll also found that only 28 percent of voters approve of the Democrats’ handling of sexual harassment and sexual assault claims, as compared with 50 percent who disapprove. That’s better than the numbers for Republicans (21 percent approve, 60 percent disapprove), but not by much. Meanwhile, a Huffington Post/YouGov poll last month found equally poor numbers for Democrats and Republicans when voters were asked whether the parties had a sexual harassment “problem.”

Voters are also not necessarily interested in making overly fine distinctions among different types of sexual misconduct. A YouGov poll this week, for instance, found that roughly the same proportion of voters wanted Franken (43 percent resign, 23 percent not resign, 35 percent not sure) and Moore (47/22/31) to step down.1 All of this goes to show that voters face a number of complexities when considering these allegations, such as the number of accusers; the severity of the alleged misconduct; the age of the victims and their ability to consent; the amount of time passed since the alleged misconduct; the credibility of the accusers; whether the politicians apologize for the conduct or how persuasive they were in denying the allegations; and whether the allegations involved an abuse of public office. As a human being, I have my own intuitive and moral sense for how to weigh these factors — but as someone who tries to diagnose their political impact, I don’t necessarily expect everyone else to sort them out in quite the same way.

The moral high ground could also be the political high ground for Democrats

It’s reasonable to be a little bit suspicious of polls showing voters to be highly worried about sexual harassment because sometimes partisanship can outweigh voters’ self-professed concerns.

There’s also some partisan asymmetry in how voters interpret these claims. As The Huffington Post’s Ariel Edwards-Levy points out, voters in both parties largely believe sexual harassment claims made against the other party — but Democrats also tend to believe claims made against fellow Democrats, while Republicans are more skeptical about claims made against GOP lawmakers. Note, of course, that Trump won the Electoral College last year and received 88 percent of the Republican vote despite more than a dozen accusations of sexual misconduct against him.

All of this can be frustrating to Democratic and liberal commentators, who complain about “unilateral disarmament,” i.e. the notion that Democratic legislators such as Franken and Rep. John Conyers will be forced to resign because of sexual misconduct allegations while Republicans such as Moore, Trump and Texas Rep. Blake Farenthold will survive theirs because their bases will rally behind them.

This may be more of a curse than a blessing for Republicans, however. Somewhat contrary to the conventional wisdom, the allegations against Moore have had a meaningful impact in Alabama. Moore has put Republicans in an unenviable position: He’ll either lose a race to a Democrat in one of America’s reddest states, trigger a nasty intraparty fight over expulsion, or stay in office but potentially damage the Republican brand for years to come. Voter concern over Republican mishandling of the accusations against GOP Rep. Mark Foley, who sent sexually explicit messages to underaged teenage pages, was a contributing factor in the landslide losses Republicans suffered in 2006. And while it isn’t a perfect analogy because they weren’t accused of sexual misconduct themselves, Missouri’s Todd Akin and Indiana’s Richard Mourdock lost highly winnable Senate races for Republicans in 2012 after making controversial comments about women who had been raped.

So it may well be that Democratic politicians usually resign from office when faced with accusations of sexual harassment while Republicans usually don’t. If so, that could work to Democrats’ benefit. If the Democrat is in a safe seat, he’ll be replaced with another Democrat anyway. And if he’s in a swing seat, the party would often be better off with a new candidate rather than one who’s damaged goods.2 In Minnesota, for instance, Franken’s approval rating has plunged to 36 percent, according to a SurveyUSA poll, down from 53 percent last year. Whichever Democrat replaces him would have to win the special election in 2018 but would then probably have an easier time than Franken holding the seat for the full six-year term that comes up in 2020.

Moreover, a tougher stance toward accused harassers such as Franken makes Democrats look less hypocritical when party leaders such as Nancy Pelosi talk about having “zero tolerance” on sexual harassment.

Maintaining the moral high ground isn’t always easy. It means you have to hold your party to a higher standard than the other party. It means you sometimes have to make real trade-offs. But it can also pay political dividends and mitigate political risks. Democrats just lost an election in 2016 against a historically unpopular candidate because their candidate was disliked nearly as much. The political environment is favorable for Democrats in 2018, but perhaps the easiest way that Democrats could blow their opportunity is if voters conclude that as bad as Republicans are, Democrats are no better. With Democrats coming around to a tougher stance on Franken and Conyers while Republicans equivocate on Moore and restore funding to his campaign, they’ll be able to draw a clearer distinction for voters.

A host of Israeli leaders and pro-Israel voters had long been advocating for the decision that President Trump announced on Wednesday, which recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and began the process of relocating the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv. The fact that the controversial decision was carried out by a Republican president is indicative of the dramatic change in the GOP’s position on Israel since Israel was founded.

The Republican party has moved from not supporting Israel enough, in the eyes of many Jewish Americans, to backing policies that now go further than the positions espoused by many Jewish voters — but are in keeping with the views of evangelical voters. As bipartisan support for Israel erodes, the controversial move risks further accelerating a growing party split.

Jewish Americans have for decades voted overwhelmingly for the party of Franklin D. Roosevelt, who defeated Hitler and was beloved for his New Deal policies, and Democrats were the party that championed Israel when it was first established in 1948. In contrast, Israel and the Republican Party had a tumultuous relationship early on. In the 1950s, following Democratic President Harry Truman’s recognition of the state of Israel, support for the country within the Republican Party and the conservative movement was highly limited. Since the vast majority of Jews were Democrats, there was little push from within the GOP to support the newborn nation.

The GOP’s domestic and foreign policy orientation in that era didn’t strengthen the case for the party supporting Israel either: The Middle Eastern country’s socialist bent scared away the anti-communists in the Republican Party, and the GOP’s foreign policy pragmatists were concerned that support for Israel would undermine America’s ties with the increasingly important oil-producing nations in the Middle East, many of which had fought against Israel when it declared independence.

Typical of Republican sentiment at the time were the critiques of Israel published in The National Review. Political philosopher Leo Strauss went so far as to write a letter in 1956 to complain. The journal’s editor, Willmoore Kendall, acknowledged there was an “anti-Israel bias among my colleagues, and in Right-wing circles in general.”

Although Kendall emphasized that he did not believe that anti-Semitism was behind that bias, successive Republican presidents were eyed warily by many pro-Israel Jews well into the George H.W. Bush administration. Richard Nixon, though he supported Israel in the 1973 Arab-Israeli War, was believed to be a raging anti-Semite (a belief that was vindicated when tapes of his conversations were released decades later), and even Ronald Reagan’s support for Israel was questioned when he penalized the Jewish state for its bombing of Iraq’s nuclear reactors.

By the end of the 1990s, though, attitudes began to shift, due largely to world events, changes in a major GOP constituency and changes in the Jewish community. Israeli politics also played a role.

The most pronounced turning point in GOP voters’ support for Israel came after 9/11, as increased U.S. military involvement in the Middle East resulted in more pro-Israel policies percolating into the Republican agenda. Israel was struggling with its own upswing in terrorist attacks, so many influential conservatives saw new relevance in Samuel Huntington’s model for a clash of civilizations in which Israel and the United States were aligned as members of “the West,” in opposition to other cultures — in this case, Islam.

At the same time, the Jewish community was increasingly made up of baby boomers who had rejected their parents’ affinity for the Democratic party and found themselves at home in Republican administrations seeking to project American power and values. They also took on key roles in campaigns, both as donors and advisers, which allowed them to bring more attention to their top issues.

Starting as early as 2004, casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, for example, began to throw his financial weight behind Republican candidates, whom he said better represented his values — and especially his support for Israel. Writing in The Wall Street Journal in 2012, Adelson explained that he had left the Democratic Party because it had changed, becoming home to “a visceral anti-Israel movement among rank-and-file Democrats.”

It can be argued whether Adelson’s assessment was fair, but public opinion polls over the last decade have suggested that Democrats’ support for Israel has cooled even as support among GOP voters increased.

In some ways, Israeli politics themselves have contributed to the Republican Party’s shift in views. Since the mid-1990s, the Israeli right wing has been dominated by Benjamin Netanyahu, who served as prime minister for part of that decade and now holds the office again. Netanyahu broke away from the traditionally statist Israeli right to support economic policies that lined up with those of U.S. economic neoliberals. He shares a major supporter — Adelson — with many top U.S. Republicans, and he has cultivated personal relationships with U.S. Republican leaders.

When Republicans now look to Israel, they see in Netanyahu a leader cut from a similar ideological cloth to many of their own representatives — not just in terms of foreign policy beliefs but also in economic positions, one who shares a Republican skepticism of the welfare state and embraces free markets. A 2015 poll found that Republicans ranked Netanyahu alongside Ronald Reagan as the “national or world leader you admire most.” Netanyahu’s headline-grabbing tussles with then-president Barack Obama, which alienated many Jewish Democrats, only served to raise his profile among Republicans.

But perhaps most importantly, since the 1990s, evangelical Christians have come to represent one of the strongest and most hawkish pro-Israel demographics within the Republican party. Until the 1970s, evangelicals tended to avoid direct involvement in political activism. When Jerry Falwell’s Moral Majority emerged at the end of that decade, fusing religion and politics, Israel wasn’t the top issue. But Falwell did emphasize that evangelicals — a group that at times had had mixed attitudes toward Jews and Israel — should understand their theology as strongly backing Israel. (Many pro-Israel evangelicals believe that Israel is essential to the second coming of Jesus or that they are following a literal interpretation of a Biblical injunction that God will bless those who bless Israel and curse those who curse Israel.) In the early ’80s, support for Israel dovetailed with strong anti-communism, as evangelicals slammed the Soviet Union for maintaining harsh policies restricting Jewish and Zionist activities.

Today, Israel is a voting priority for many evangelicals. A 2015 poll noted that 64 percent of evangelical Christian Republicans say that a candidate’s stance on Israel matters “a lot,” compared with 33 percent of non-evangelical Republicans and 26 percent of all Americans.

And evangelical Christian voters, unlike Jews, represent a significant percentage of Republican voters. Some 26 percent of the electorate identified in the 2016 elections as born-again or evangelical Christian, and 81 percent of them voted for Trump over Hillary Clinton. Capturing evangelical support is essential for Republican candidates; as of 2014, evangelical and born-again voters represented the plurality (45 percent) of voters who are Republican or who lean Republican.

Propelled by evangelicals, the GOP has in many cases become more hawkish than most U.S. Jews. While the Republican Party has notably turned away from traditional U.S. support for a two-state solution, which would establish a Palestinian nation alongside Israel (only 23 percent of evangelicals polled in 2017 agreed that Israel should agree to the creation of a Palestinian state), the majority of U.S. Jews believe that Israel and an independent Palestine can coexist peacefully. Although members of the Trump administration — most notably, perhaps, Mideast negotiator and Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner — support Israeli construction in the disputed West Bank, only 17 percent of U.S. Jews believe that Jewish settlements in the area help Israel’s security. An election-night poll of Jewish voters in 2016 by the dovish J Street suggested that Israel isn’t even really the primary voting issue for many Jews: Only 9 percent listed it as one of their top two voting priorities.

In fact, it is the pro-Israel evangelical community — and particularly Pastor John Hagee’s Christians United for Israel — that has mobilized alongside hawkish pro-Israel Jews to push for a change of U.S. policy on Jerusalem. Hagee, whose organization boasts over three million members, has been pushing Trump to move the embassy since the 2016 campaign season, to prove the president’s commitment to evangelical values.

The evangelical community is unusual in their support for moving the embassy to Jerusalem. A November poll indicated that 63 percent of Americans oppose the move, but 53 percent of evangelical voters support it.

Whatever GOP constituency pressed for the move the most, what matters in the end is that they succeeded. Though Democratic and Republican presidential candidates alike have long promised to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and move the U.S. Embassy there, none who won the office ever did so — until Trump.

But the president is not widely embraced by Jews as a whole (while some 50 percent of Orthodox Jews voted for Trump, the two larger streams of U.S. Judaism — Reform and Conservative — opposed Trump), so it remains to be seen whether his recognition of Jerusalem increases Jewish affinity for the Republican Party. That outcome will surely be influenced by what happens next.

pittsburgh sports podcast

The Pittsburgh Penguins won the Stanley Cup and I amsoaring in yinzer bliss. I had to lay down mythoughts on the entire series, the PensStanley Cup run, theplayers, and all the awesomeness in between. As a Pittsburgh fan this is as good as it gets.

On this all Pittsburgh Sports podcast I also talk about what’s going on with the Pirates. Sure seems like yinzers are getting a little chippy for this early in the season. You can stop all the Gerrit Cole and Andrew McCutchen hate. Remember, there are 162 games and you’ve just got to put yourself in a position to make the playoffs. I also talk about the Steelers and Big Ben wanting the Steelers to go for 2 (I agree).

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Celebrate your yinzerdom with this2016 Pittsburgh Penguins Stanley Cup Champions hat.There’s a whole bunch of other awesome Pens Stanley Cup apparel in the NHL shop too.

This is a 61 day time lapse of myPens Stanley Cup Winning Playoff Beard. #BecauseItsTheCup

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1.World’s Largest eBay NBA Jerseys Database: Find NBA jersey on eBay easier. We’ve got over 763 past and present NBA players from 1985 whose jerseys you can buy. If you love basketball jerseys then this is the holy grail!

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Imaging What A New Diddy Kong Racing Might Look Like

Diddy Kong Racing for the N64 was never able to escape that long shadow cast by Mario Kart. While the game got a remake for the DS, it never got a true successor. And if we’re being honest, it probably never will. Fortunately there’s a fan video to help fill the void left by its eternal absence.

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Foreign governments are granting Trump projects big favors to get what they want from...

President Donald Trump purportedly stepped away from his business interests for the duration of his term as president, but Vanity Fair‘s Tina Nguyen says that foreign governments are granting favors and greasing the wheels for Trump-branded projects around the world.

Anita Kumar at McClatchy reported that the Indonesian government has chosen to build a new road to shorten the drive between the island chain’s main airport and the new Trump golf resort.

In Panama, the national government directly intervened in a lagging sewer project connected to the new Trump Ocean Club International Hotel and Tower in Panama City. The original contractor tasked with constructing the system went bankrupt, prompting the government to use its own money to construct sewage and water pipes connecting to the resort hotel.

“And in other countries,” Kumar wrote, “governments have donated public land, approved permits and eased environmental regulations for Trump-branded developments, creating a slew of potential conflicts as foreign leaders make investments that can be seen as gifts or attempts to gain access to the American president through his sprawling business empire.”

As Nguyen noted, all of this appears to place Trump squarely in violation of the Emoluments Clause, which prohibits federal officials from accepting gifts or anything that might be constituted as a bribe from foreign governments.

However, she said, “Just weeks after Trump won the election, the Argentinian government suddenly granted a permit for a long-delayed Trump Tower development in Buenos Aires. In September, Trump’s Middle Eastern business partners granted a company partially owned by the Chinese government a contract to build a road to Trump World Golf Club in Dubai, seemingly going against his pledge to not engage in foreign business transactions during his presidency. And, of course, there is the ongoing constitutional crisis that is the Trump International Hotel Washington D.C., which critics claim violates the Emoluments Clause on a regular basis.”

Two lawsuits have been brought against the Trump administration alleging these violations, one of which was dismissed by a judge just before Christmas.

Kumar spoke with Noah Bookbinder of the Committee for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), who said, “If you have a foreign government providing a benefit to the Trump company that is going to violate emoluments clause of the Constitution.”

The president is reportedly receiving boons to his projects — which he claims he handed over to the management of his sons, Donald Trump, Jr. and Eric Trump — from the governments of Uruguay, India and the Philippines.

Read the full McClatchy report here.

Mormon leader Thomas Monson dies aged 90

Thomas S Monson, who served in top leadership councils for the Mormon church for 50 years and became its president in 2008, has died. He was 90.

Monson was a church bishop at 22 and in 1963 the Salt Lake City native became the youngest church apostle ever, at 36. He was a counselor for three church presidents before assuming leadership of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Monson died at his home in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, according to church spokesman Eric Hawkins. The next president was not immediately named, but the job is expected to go to next longest-tenured member of the church’s governing Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Russell M Nelson, 93, per church protocol.

Monson’s presidency was marked by his noticeably low profile during a time of intense publicity, including the 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns of Mormon Mitt Romney. His most public acts were appearances at church conferences and devotionals as well as dedications of church temples.

He will be remembered for continuing the religion’s push to be more transparent about its past; his emphasis on humanitarian work; and lowering the minimum age for missionaries.

He will also be remembered for leading the faith’s involvement in the passage of a gay marriage ban in California in 2008. At his urging, Mormons were vigorous campaign donors and volunteers. That prompted a backlash against the church that included vandalism of church buildings, protest marches and demonstrations outside church temples nationwide.

In subsequent years, the church began utilizing a softer tone on the issue. In 2015, the church backed an anti-discrimination law in Utah that gave unprecedented protections for gay and transgender people while also protecting religious freedoms.

But the religion came under fire again in the fall of 2015 when it banned baptisms for children living with gay parents and instituted a requirement that those children disavow homosexual relationships before being allowed to serve a mission. The changes were designed to avoid putting children in a tug-of-war between their parents and church teachings, leaders said.

Thomas Monson attends a corner stone laying ceremony at the dedication of the Draper Utah Temple in Draper, Utah, in 2009.
Thomas Monson attends a corner stone laying ceremony at the Draper Utah Temple in Draper, Utah, in 2009. Photograph: George Frey/Reuters

The revisions triggered anger, confusion and sadness for a growing faction of LGBTQ-supportive Mormons who were buoyed in recent years by church leaders’ calls for more love and understanding for LGBTQ members.

Monson also continued the church’s push to be more open about some of the most sensitive aspect of the faith’s history and doctrine. A renovated church history museum reopened in 2015 with an exhibit acknowledging the religion’s early polygamous practices, a year after the church published an essay that for the first time chronicled founder Joseph Smith’s plural wives.

Other church essays issued during Monson’s tenure addressed other sensitive topics: sacred undergarments worn by devout members; a past ban on black men in the lay clergy; and the misconception that Mormons are taught they will get their own planet in the afterlife.

The growth and globalization of the religion continued under Monson, with membership swelling to nearly 15.9 million, with more than half outside the US. There were 71,000 church missionaries serving around the world at the end of 2016.

Mormons considered Monson a warm, caring, endearing and approachable leader, said Patrick Mason, associate professor of religion at Claremont Graduate University in California.

He put an emphasis on the humanitarian ethic of Mormons, evidenced by his expansion of the church’s disaster relief programs around the world, said Armand Mauss, a retired professor of sociology and religious studies at Washington State University.

Monson often credited his mother, Gladys Condie Monson, for fostering his compassion. He said that during his childhood in the Depression of the 1930s their house in Salt Lake City was known to hobos riding the railroads as a place to get a meal and a kind word.

“President Monson always seemed more interested in what we do with our religion rather than in what we believe,” Mauss said.

A second world war veteran, Monson served in the navy and spent a year overseas before returning to get a business degree at the University of Utah and a master’s degree in business administration from the church-owned Brigham Young University.

Before being tabbed to join the church’s governing Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Monson worked for the church’s secular businesses, primarily in advertising, printing and publishing including the Deseret Morning News.

He married Frances Beverly Johnson in 1948. The couple had three children, eight grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren. Frances died in 2013 at the age of 85.

Monson was an avid fisherman who also raised homing pigeons, specifically, roller pigeons who twirled as they flew. He was known for his love of show tunes, Boy Scouts and the Utah Jazz.

The man expected to take Monson’s seat, the 93-year-old Nelson, has been a church apostle since April 1970. Nelson will choose two new counselors from the Quorum of the Twelve who will join him to form a three-person “presidency” that is the top of the religion’s governing hierarchy. Monson’s two counselors were Henry Eyring and Dieter Uchtdorf. They will go back to being regular members of the Quorum unless they are chosen again.

A Fixer Upper Cast Member Admits the House Isn’t Always Done on Reveal Day...

Crafty home blogger, mom, and Fixer Upper expert Rachel Teodoro is at it again with her great research into

How Donald Trump’s war on intelligence is destroying American national security

President Donald Trump’s insecurity over losing the popular vote and the salacious allegations in the Steele Dossier have prompted him to lash out at the intelligence community’s claims that Russia influenced the 2016 election. Now that war against the intelligence community is impacting American national security.

A Wednesday Washington Postreport revealed that the National Security Agency is hemorrhaging staff at an alarming rate. Some of these “highly skilled” staffers have become “disillusioned” with intelligence but the leadership and a reorganization effort under the new administration has sent many to update their resumes.

The work these experts do included monitoring a broad array of subjects including the Islamic State, Russian and North Korean hackers, and analyzing the intentions of foreign governments, and they were responsible for protecting the classified networks that carry such sensitive information. Yet, these staffers saying that they want a higher-paying job in the private sector or more flexible hours.

Since 2015, hundreds of hackers, engineers and data scientists have bailed on the NSA, former officials said. Now it’s reaching a level that national security can be impacted. Of the 17 spy agencies, the NSA is the largest and they’re responsible for collecting the information that goes into the presidential daily briefing that Trump doesn’t understand. Over the first year in office, aides have even been forced to tailor the briefing so it doesn’t include anything about Russian interference in the election so as to not anger Trump.

“Some synonym of the word ‘epidemic’ is the best way to describe it,” said former NSA senior researcher Ellison Anne Williams. She left her job at the NSA in 2016 to start her own data-security firm and took 10 NSA staff with her. “The agency is losing an amazing amount of its strongest technical talent, and to lose your best and brightest staff is a huge hit.”

The agency won’t disclose the number of vacancies over the last year, but it said there is 5.6 percent decrease in staff who specialize in science, technology and math. The NSA isn’t the only place the Trump administration has implemented the right-wing war on science. In Scott Pruitt’s Environmental Protection Agency, scientists became the enemy. Even Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg was told never to say the words “climate change.” Losing the experts means new staff are filling the positions without the experience central to the NSA’s mission collecting huge swaths of data and analyzing it.

Former staff have complained that they felt their mission was marginalized by a restructuring of the agency. Others allege the reorganization was “an enormous distraction.” Some even call the pay structure and promotion program part of the problem. According to former staff, it prioritizes seniority over experience or expertise.

Another former employee alleged that the problems began with former contractor Edward Snowden and the arrest of former contractor Harold T. Martin III in 2016. Accessing data and information became more difficult for those trying to do their jobs. The witch hunt searching for leakers made things worse. An environment with collaboration has turned toward suspicion, a former staffer said.

“It comes down to death by a thousand cuts,” said a former employee, adding that people “tend to quit in packs. One person hits their breaking point, and once they leave, the dominoes start falling.”

NSA spokesman Tommy Groves didn’t discount the reports.

“If the price of security becomes that we drive away the very men and women that generate value in the first place, we now have a self-induced mission kill,” National Security Agency Director Administrator Michael Rogers said in a conference speech.

Trump’s attacks on the 17 intelligence agencies that confirmed the Russian interference couldn’t have made morale any better. After meeting Russian President Vladimir Putin, Trump swore that Russia didn’t do it.

“He said he didn’t meddle, he said he didn’t meddle. I asked him again. You can only ask so many times,” Trump told reporters in November. “Every time he sees me he says I didn’t do that, and I really believe that when he tells me that, he means it.”

Trump has also waged a war with the FBI, calling it “tainted” and alleging it is part of the “deep state” shadow government.

“It is also a possible obstruction of justice, witness intimidation, and it’s obstructing justice by saying to agents, ‘you better not dig too deep, you better not find anything because I will attack you,'” former Watergate prosecutor Jill Wine-Banks said to MSNBC.

The only way to maintain staff is to tape into the sense of duty “for God and country,” said former threat operations center chief Daniel Ennis. He thinks the agency will recover, because it always has.