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Ordinarly American / Unordinary Writing

Bill Orton spent decades working in politics and the Labor Movement, and now -- after a stroke -- is simply an obscure novelist. | EMAIL BILL

The Flag

Go, Washington Fat Cats!
Because we don't want bad things to happen to rich white men

You’ve heard the talk about whether the NFL team in our nation’s capitol should change their name. Why, even the former Majority Leader of the U.S. Senate won’t attend home games unless the name of the team changes.

Everyone’s entitled to their opinion. Here’s mine. I believe they should change it. To call a professional sports team the Redskins and use iconography that depicts Native Americans in distasteful, disrespectful ways is not only bad for football, it is bad for the NFL and bad for business.

As the Governor of Massachusetts said, “words have power.” Negative words have negative power.

Negative words can make bad things happen to good organizations.

Think about the NBA, which we hopefully agree is a good organization that tries to make good things happen, like promoting multi-million-dollar salaries for people who play a game and wear silk clothing.

As we’ve seen in Los Angeles, with the Clippers organization, the consequence of distasteful, disrespectful crap talk is that fans and sponsors were making it known they would stop pouring dollars into the organization – and, hence, the NBA.

Bad things were going to happen. Really bad things, like rich white men seeing a drop in the value of their business enterprises, because hate is so last-century.

And the NFL, just like the NBA, is first and foremost a business. And a successful one. The National Football League’s nine billion dollars a year in revenue is not a bad take, again for a small number of mostly white men who would really feel like a bad thing had happened if the value of their business took a hit because of disrespectful crap talk.

So, if moral imperatives and passionate pleas are not enough to change the mind of the Washington franchise owner, than looking out for the bottom line of all that small group of rich mostly white men is reason enough to make a change.

The sale of the Clippers came about because momentum built that demanded action from a Commissioner and the fellow owners, who had to look out for their fat cat positions. It’s not free to dine at the owners’ table, after all.

Let’s assume that the same momentum is building behind the need to either change the name of the Washington team, or to push out the owner who refuses to protect the financial well-being of his fellow fat cats.

The big question then becomes not “when” or “if” the name changes, but instead: What do you change the name to?

We’ve got to move from the complaining phase to the money-ball round, where we can ring up value by finding a name that takes us away from controversy, and instead makes for fan enjoyment, merchandizing opportunities and just general all-out good times like Washington has not felt since Teddy Roosevelt won the Presidents’ Race.

I present for your consideration, a few iconic franchise opportunities for our nation’s capitol….

The Washington Independents. America is breaking with parties, and so the Indies are true to the changes in the country. The hometown team in our nation’s capitol could be claimed by all sides. If Harry Reid and John Boehner can’t find common ground in congress, at least they can cheer on the Indies, in luxury boxes supplied by corporate fat-cats, who don’t care which party is in power, so long as their will be done.

The Washington Mavericks. Maybe the moment has passed for the Mavs, since Sarah Palin can’t lead the crowd in a drinking game about how many times she can use the word in a debate, but everyone in Washington would be proud to call themselves Mavericks, if it meant being able to make money off of a shirt or paying six dollars for a cup of Genuine Southwest Maverick Chili. (Can’t beat Ben’s Chili Bowl, though.)

The Washington Orgasms. Perhaps controversial in its own way, but Big O Stadium would be a place people would come to over and over to watch a team that explodes with such power that they make you fall in love all over again with the hometown boys. Smoking rates may rise on game day and marketing whizbangs will have to be delicate about pitching the Os as a wholesome family experience, but just think of the merchandizing. The shirts. The giveaway nights. And as the long litany of congressional scandals show, everyone in Washington loves their Orgasms.

The Washington Roadkill. We’ve been worshipping at the temple of dead animals since time in memoriam. Why not just admit that no one truly can tell us what is in a Dodger Dog or even the Milwaukee Bratwurst? Scoop it off the highway, put it in the grinder and throw it in a bun, and give the fans what they want – charred meat on soggy starch. Package it for twelve bucks, and the real winners are not just the players on the field and fans in the stands, but those rich mostly white men up in those luxury boxes, who are laughing all the way to the bank.

The Washington Fat Cats. Let’s just call it like it is. Washington has always been home to the Fat Cats. Giving them their due on the field of play merely sets the record straight. True, Toupee Night might be under-attended and giving a bailout to all K Street lobbyists could make for some angry fans, but with renegotiated TV royalties spread around to the rich mostly white male owners of the league’s franchise, who would care? Well, who among those who matter would care?

There will always be naysayers about any name that is proposed. After all, the arch of progress isn’t straight. It’s an arch.

Should we care what it takes to get Harry Reid to a game? I say, yes, because the only way to ensure the financial future for those rich mostly white men who populate the rarified ranks of NFL owners is to move past controversy and starting ringing the registers again in Washington.

Who would miss a showdown between the Orgasms and the Rams? Who wouldn’t cheer the Indies or Mavs as they take on the Patriots? And who wouldn’t feel good about the Roadkill going on a murderous march up the middle of Meat Eater Field?

Go, Fat Cats! (Can we all do the Big O wave on that play?)


A lightning round.
  • Pro-choice, pro-labor, pro-environment..
  • Single payer? Yep.
  • Champion our ports? I will.
  • Freeway toll-lanes? Absolutely not!!!
  • Veterans medical and mental health care? Damn straight. It is a sacred promise.
  • Restore the Voting Rights Act? We must.
  • Comprehensive immigration reform? Si.
  • Label GMOs? Absolutely.
  • Marijuana? Treat it like alcohol. No open container, no DUI, not for minors; otherwise legal, taxed, regulated.
  • Enough gun laws? Let's enforce the laws we already have.
  • Universal preschool for 3-year-olds? Yes. Prosperity lay in people attaining their full potential. That starts with early childhood education.
  • Shipping lanes in an ice-free Arctic? Unwise.
  • Homeslessness... Think what you want about homeless adults, but kids are total innocents. They had no say in their fate. We should feed homeless kids and give them the normalcy of going to a school... one that helps their family get services.

What will Bill spend his congressional career seeking to bring back to the 44th?
  • San Pedro Butane Tank Farm... Get Dept of Energy into talks with Plains All-American about the company vacating their site.
  • The Waterfront... Get the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Admin to berth vessels at AltaSea to study ocean acidification, whale incursions into shipping lanes, and sea-level rise.
  • Carson... Create a National Institute on Goods Movement, at CSUDH.
  • Asian Pacific Trade... Work with the ports and myriad agencies to boost trade with Samoa, the Philippines, and Cambodia, but I would vote no on the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
  • Somewhere in the 44th... A federal building dedicated to handling immigration and naturalization cases, with space for an OSHA office (to investigate accidents at the ports), EPA (to monitor air and water quality), Army Corps of Engineers, and Fish & Game.

We have to take care of it forever... or we can't live.
  • EARTH... Massive federal effort, with legislation if necessary, to save bees, which stand as perhaps God's greatest gift to the planet; investment in topsoil preservation; a federal version of the Williamson Act, to reduce the pressure to turn cropland over for residential development; coordination with Native American nations on habitat restoration and long-term, sustainable economic development on reservations; support through USDA of urban victory gardens to encourage a re-connection with the cycle of growing seasons.

  • WATER... Greater capture, percolation, treatment, and re-use of stormwater runoff; the soft-bottoming of channels now hardened with concrete, like the Los Angeles River; continued talks between the feds and California to assure the continued viability of the Great Central Valley as our nation's most productive cropland; restoration of degraded wetlands, particularly along the Gulf Coast; research to advance desalination to bring down costs and lessen environmental impact; and bringing realistic assumptions into the management of the Colorado River watershed.

  • FIRE... Investment in forest management, to reduce the fuel accumulation that leads to super fires; added firefighting resources, in light of dryer hotter times; matching funds for state and local firefighting, since the fire "season" is now year round.

  • AIR... Mandate all US sea and air ports create emission reduction plans for mobile sources, similar to work done by the ports of LA & LB; cooperative efforts with the major automakers on electric battery technology.

How do we send people to war?
How do we treat them when they come home?

  • WAR... We must be prepared for major warfare, but anticipate fighting asymetrical conflicts against force like the Islamic State and Al-Queda, but a headlong screaming plunge into war is irresponsible. We must brace for sacrifice, but choose conflicts carefully, so any sacrifices hold meaning.

  • ON THE FRONT... We need more forces, particularly throughout the Marines, in civil administrative units of the Army, and special operations in each service. Full integration of women into all jobs in the military must continue. We need more airlift, like the C-17 Globemaster, which is the modern truck for moving personnel and materiel. With more airlift comes the need for more air bases.

  • WHEN THEY GET HOME... Everyone exiting military service gets a full physical and mental health assessment, which is formally conveyed to the VA. Guarantee three months of home base stationing after final deployment, to conduct health assessments and give a transition into civilian life. Include contract provisions to give exiting personnel a dog or gym card, to smooth the transition.


Bill's Novels
The 'Hope for Change' trilogy

A Business Plan
Monument House

Father's Day Essay
Two Years on the Water

Election Finale 2008
POTUS Knows Best

September 3, 2008
Palin masters first week on national stage

July 22, 2008
Shoot them, try them or set them free

June 1, 2008
The Anvil of History

March 4, 2008
Cheers, Mr. Roosevelt

February 20, 2008
Going Beyond a Single Word

February 6, 2008
The President's Lawyers Fight our Troops on Health Care

August 22, 2007
Lots of ’splaining to do

July 12, 2007
More Happy Talk from the President

April 13, 2007
End the Army's Bull Puckey

April 12, 2007
Americans in the crosshairs of death

January 30, 2007
SPEECH: The Three Paths to Power

November 11, 2006
Clean Government, Civility and Cooperation

October 8, 2005:
Bill's break of support for Senator McCain

June 28, 2005:
On the President’s War Speech

January 1, 2004:
The Three Rs: The Path to National Recovery

November 22, 2003:
In Memorium: John Fitzgerald Kennedy

November 3, 2003:
Iraqi farmers, Achilles & The President

September 24, 2003:
The President's Most Feared Foe

May 31, 2003:
Springtime Snowflakes: The Rummygram Blizzard

May 13, 2003:
George, Victoria & Empire: A new ballgame for "The Big A"

April 1, 2003:
Resign, Mr. Rumsfeld

March 13, 2003:
The War, the President & Mr. Lincoln

March 6, 2003:
Press conferences, U.N. vetoes and Jacques Chirac

March 1, 2003:
IRAQ: War, Peace & Secrecy

February 13, 2003:
Ari's 'Old News,' or Who let the North Koreans get The Bomb

Jan 27, 2003:
POLITICAL SUPERBOWL: Our team isn't scoring too many points, but the game isn't over.

January 13, 2003:
Stopping the Second Korean War

May 22, 2001:
GMO labeling & testing is cure for crop export panics

Bill's 2002 campaign for the state legislature

Campaign Home Page

Press Releases Page

Sample ballot candidate statement

The 'First Day in Office' series
First Ten Bills
First Ten Phone Calls
First Ten Resolutions
First steps on budget reform

Bill Didn't Win
Official Election Results
Bill's Concession Statement

Congratulations to those who Bill endorsed during the race who won their own elections:
  • Margie Rice, Russ Parris and Andy Quach, in Westminster
  • Bruce Broadwater and Mark Leyes, in Garden Grove
  • Jill Hardy, in Huntington Beach
  • Jack Rosenthal, in Rossmoor
  • Tom Daly, of Anaheim
  • Esther Wallace, of West Anaheim
  • Denese Jayne Mansfield Reinking, in the Anaheim Union HSD
  • Matt Harper, Brian Garland and Bonnie Castrey, of the HB Union HSD
  • Lan Nguyen, of Garden Grove Unified
  • Laura Lee, of Cerritos
  • Jenny Bethune, of Carson
Warm wishes to local candidates Bill endorsed who step from the arena unbowed:
  • Frank Feldhaus, of Anaheim
  • Joey Racano, Steve Ray and Jim Moreno, of Huntington Beach
  • Joe Pak, of Garden Grove
  • Sergio Contreras, of Westminster Unified
  • Victor Manalo, of Artesia

Bill Orton is a novelist and historian living in Long Beach, California.