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Marissa Alexander, Jeff Toobin and Blackledge

Screen Shot 2015-01-28 at 9.15.09 PMBy now, you probably know the story of Marissa Alexander, a charming young woman who tried to defend herself and her children from a criminally abusive ex in Florida. Another soul outrageously and scandalously prosecuted by the, by all appearances, morally and ethically bereft Angela Corey, the state prosecutor in Florida’s 4th Judicial Circuit. Marissa was, finally, released from jail today pursuant to a forced plea agreement. Via Reuters:

A Florida woman who says she fired a warning shot at her abusive husband was released from a Jacksonville jail on Tuesday under a plea deal that capped her sentence to the three years she had already served.

Marissa Alexander, 34, was initially sentenced to 20 years in prison in 2012 but her conviction was later overturned. She faced another trial on charges that could have put her behind bars for 60 years before she agreed to a plea deal in November.
Her case helped to inspire a new state law permitting warning shots in some circumstances.

Leaving the courthouse, Alexander cried as she thanked her supporters, sharing plans to continue her education in order to work as a paralegal.

Ms. Alexander is indeed out of incarceration and home tonight, though she will still, pursuant to the plea she entered, have to serve two years on home confinement, starting from this date going forward. She appeared on Anderson Cooper’s “AC 360″ tonight on CNN and looked simply radiant. I don’t normally get into red carpet like descriptions of people in legal cases I comment on, but in this case it really seems appropriate. She is quite a woman, and it is impossible not to be charmed by her, and wish her the very best.

But what I really come to write about is the commentary of Jeffrey Toobin, who was on after Marissa’s appearance to discuss the legal considerations with Cooper. Toobin was strident, unflinching, and spot on in what he said. So much so I nearly stood up and cheered. Instead, I made a transcript:

AC: Why would Angela Corey suddenly say [to Marissa Alexander] okay, if we are going to go to trial you face 60 years, we are going to go for 60 years in jail instead of the 20 years sentence?

JT: Because Angela Corey incompetent, because she is vicious and because she is a disgrace to prosecutors around the country”

AC: Really?

JT: I mean this is one of the most appalling examples of prosecutorial abuse I have ever seen. The harassment, the endless pursuit of this woman [Alexander] is just a blot on Florida, and our whole country.

AC: What makes it particularly, and why it captures so many people’s focus is during the George Zimmerman trial where obviously “stand your ground” was an issue, was raised, it seems it is a completely different interpretation of stand your ground.

JT: Well, that’s right. And I don’t know motive. I can’t tell you why Angela Corey pursued her so obsessively, and I…thinks it’s important to…all I know is what she did. All I know is what the facts are. The facts are that this woman had a very legitimate defense, this guy [Alexander’s ex] was a monster. He had a history of abuse of women, and that she [Alexander] would be pursued this way is just sickening.

AC: It is interesting, because the statute was amended subsequently basically to allow for warning shots and you wouldn’t necessarily be prosecuted for that, but it was not retroactive.

JT: Fortunately, this case has prompted a lot of outrage in Florida and around the country and that change in the law is one effect of this that was too late for her, too late to help her.

AC: It has to be such a gut wrenching decision, to decide to take a plea, to serve another 65 days in jail and then you get out, you have a record then, and you are under house arrest for another two years…or, maintain you innocence and risk another 60 years.

JT: It is a heartbreaking dilemma, but one thing tipped this case. You know, Angela Corey was not even negotiating, as far as I can tell, in good faith, but her lawyers, including Faith Gay of Quinn Emanuel, they were working pro bono on this case, they got a ruling from the trial judge that they could introduce evidence of all the abuse that Gray had imposed on other women…so that’s the trial setting that was going to happen.

Angela Corey is incompetent, vicious and a disgrace. Thank you Mr. Toobin, I could not possibly have said it better. As perfect as the description is, it may still be an understatement.

But, how did this come to be? How did Marissa Alexander face 20 years, get convicted, win an appeal, and come out of the appellate win only to face 60 years if she lost the retrial? Well, that is a subject that goes deeper than Jeff Toobin could really get into in a basic 3-4 minute cable TV hit.

Normally, a defendant such as Marissa Alexander might expect to be protected from such an escalation of sentence by the state’s attorney through the edicts of a case known as Blackledge v. Perry.

Blackledge v. Perry is a famous case known in criminal defense circles as the “upping the ante case”. Blackledge was convicted of a misdemeanor and appealed, which in North Carolina at the time meant he would get a new trial in a higher court. The state retaliated by filing the charge as a felony in the higher court, thus “upping the ante”. The Supreme Court in Blackledge held that to be impermissibly vindictive.

A prosecutor clearly has a considerable stake in discouraging convicted misdemeanants from appealing and thus obtaining a [new trial] in the Superior Court, since such an appeal will clearly require increased expenditures of prosecutorial resources. . . . And, if the prosecutor has the means readily at hand to discourage such appeals — by “upping the ante” through a felony indictment whenever a convicted misdemeanant pursues his statutory appellate remedy — the State can insure that only the most hardy defendants will brave the hazards of a [new] trial.

. . . A person convicted of an offense is entitled to pursue his statutory right to a trial . . ., without apprehension that the State will retaliate by substituting a more serious charge for the original one, thus subjecting him to a significantly increased potential period of incarceration.

So, Angela Corey impermissibly “upped the ante”, in violation of Blackledge, on Marissa Alexander when she sought 60 years imprisonment on Alexander upon retrial even though the sentence from the first trial was “only” 20 years, right? Unfortunately no.

You see, Corey did not up the number or nature of charges when charging the retrial, she alleged the same three counts, it is just that the law in Florida had changed, and Corey cravenly took advantage of it to unconscionably bludgeon Marissa Alexander.

Alexander, 33, was previously convicted in 2012 of three counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and was sentenced to 20 years in prison by Circuit Judge James Daniel under the state’s 10-20-life law. Daniel actually imposed three separate 20-year sentences on Alexander but ordered that they be served concurrently, which meant Alexander would get out in 20 years.

The conviction was thrown out after the 1st District Court of Appeal in Tallahassee ruled that Daniel made a mistake in shifting the burden to Alexander to prove she was acting in self-defense. During jury instructions, Daniel said she must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that she was battered by her husband.
….
But Assistant State Attorney Richard Mantei, the lead prosecutor in the case, told the Times-Union his office was simply following the sentencing laws of the state of Florida.

The same appeals court that ordered Alexander’s retrial separately ruled last year that when a defendant is convicted of multiple counts under 10-20-life that arose from the same crime, judges must make the sentences consecutive and are not allowed to impose them concurrently.

The law has not changed since Alexander was sentenced in 2012, but courts throughout the state have been struggling to interpret what the Legislature meant when it passed sentencing laws regarding 10-20-life.

The Alexander case inspired the so-called “warning-shot” bill that will be part of the Florida legislative session that begins Tuesday. The proposal, which is expected to pass, would create an exception to the 10-20-life law and prohibit those who fire a warning shot from getting 20 years in prison.

So, it is, unfortunately, not really within the ambit of Blackledge. Which leaves us back where we started. Angela Corey. Corey was ridiculously aggressive in not affording Alexander, a victim herself, the benefit of the doubt on self defense, including the much misunderstood, and misdescribed, “stand your ground” provision.

With no protection from Blackledge and its progeny, and the curious ability of Marissa Alexander to be subject to the new “consecutive” provision in Florida’s 10-20-life gun laws, but not the new provisions on warning shots in stand your ground cases, this was the position Marissa Alexander found herself. Take a scandalous plea, the only one being offered by the contemptible Circuit Attorney Corey, or risk her children never seeing her out of custody in her natural lifetime. After seeing what Corey was willing to do, how could Alexander not take the deal?

But, make no mistake, the only reason that this situation got to where it did is out of the sheer evil avarice of a woman not fit to represent the people of Florida, nor the justice system in America. Angela Corey is a walking talking picture of injustice. Thanks again to Jeff Toobin for saying that so clearly. And, best wishes and godspeed to Marissa Alexander.

NFL Conference Championship Trash Talk

Back by popular demand, and in the face of kudzu like anti-sports grumps, it is Emptywheel’s Famous Football Trash Talk! The field is now down to four Green Bay at Seattle, and Indianapolis at New England.

The early game is the one that Phred and I will be glued to the TV for. The Packers return to the hostile confines of Seattle’s Century Link field to face the Seahawks. This is exactly where the first NFL regular season game was played this year. In that meeting, the Squawks owned the Packers. Green Bay’s defense looked unable to cope with Russell Wilson, and Rodgers refused to throw a single pass to Richard Sherman’s side of the field and Seattle waltzed away with an easy 36-16 win.

But a lot has changed in the interim. Seattle has developed their young receivers, but has lost the game changing explosiveness of Percy Harvin. And Green Bay has changed their defense around a bit with Clay Matthews being moved inside much more frequently, especially on obvious passing defense downs. But late in the season, Matthews was playing inside even on run defense because AJ Hawk just wasn’t physical enough to get it done. It seems like a small change, but the difference has been palpable. The Pack’s defense is far better than it was early in the season. Green Bay’s offense seems to be healthy and firing on all cylinders. Except one, and that is a big one, of the Discount Doublecheck variety.

I expect Rodgers will be slightly more mobile, and confident of his ability to move laterally, this week than last week against the Cowboys. He will need to be, because Seattle’s defense is a lot more lethal than Dallas’ was. The key will be whether Eddy Lacy can get untracked early and establish the run to a reasonable extent. Lacy has been healthy and very solid of late, so there is hope. If Cliff Avril, Bruce Irvin and Michael Bennett are allowed to constantly pressure Rodgers, it will be the end of the line for the Cheese. However, if the Green Bay O-line and Lacy can take some pressure off, Rodgers has the downfield accuracy to beat Seattle. That’s a big if. The Squawks are 7.5 point favorites, and I think that is maybe low. Seattle is headed here to the Super Bowl.

In the second game, the Colts go east to tilt with the Patriots. Frankly, I didn’t think Indy could beat the Broncos at Mile High. But they did, and it was not as close as the 24-13 score indicated. Andrew Luck was everywhere, extending plays and throwing darts. And the Colts’ defense was spectacular in their ability to wrap up and tackle relentlessly. There are not a lot of known names on the Indy defense, but they have been pretty impressive in this postseason.

The Pats. What is left to be said about the Patriots at this point? Tom Brady, Darrell Revis and the best coach in football, they have all of that and a Gronk. But if the Patriots want an eighth Super Bowl appearance, which would tie them for the most in NFL history (Pittsburgh and Dallas), they will likely have to do it without center Bryan Stork, who injured a knee last week. The Pats will likely go back to emphasizing their rushing attack against Indy, after gaining a historical low of 14 net yards rushing against Terrell Suggs and the Ravens. And the Pats have lit up the Colts on the ground in the past, so expect Belichick to go back to LeGarrette Blount and Bolden far more heavily Sunday. The Colts are game I am sure, but the Pats are a 6.5 point favorite and I think they will cover that and win easily.

There you have it. This is our last Sunday of football before Super Bowl XLIX, which happens to be right here in Phoenix. Time will tell who gets to Phoenix. Drink and chat it up people. Music by Phoenix’s own Glen Campbell.

NCAA Football Championship Trash Talk (after NFL games)

UPDATE: Allright Emptywheel lugnuts, here is yer update to the post I said would serve all huge games this expanded weekend. Not much has changed on my original discussion below, however, Oregon had a number 3 receiver, Darren Carrington, suspended because of a terminally stupid positive pot test.

Both teams are not at perfect strength, so disregard the injury/suspension factor. Ohio State stands a better shot than most may think. I still think the Sweatervests will not be able to put down the Duckies. Cause you just cannot put down the Duck. And I am, despite my betting losses on Oregon in previous years, going to stick with that.

I went 3 for 4 in predictions on the NFL, but suffered a painful loss when the Colts stomped the Broncos and now confirmed peg legged Capt. Manning. Oh well, my bad.

Enjoy our first playoff NCAA Championship game! In honor of that, I have sacked the two offending Packers love songs and inserted some Quack shit. Cause the Duckies will NOT be put down (please see the new video attached.)]
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The first game up is Baltimore at New England. The Ravens seem to be the trendy pick these days, and they certainly are capable of wandering into the Big Razor and knocking off the Pats. Flacco, Suggs and yadda, yadda, yadda. I don’t think so. The Pats are a touchdown favorite, and there is good reason for that. Brady and Gronk are rocking and have a hard nosed running game with Blount. Add in that the Ravens are not all that strong in the secondary and it spells success for the Pats. Throw in the shutdown ability of Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner for the Pats in the secondary and there you go.

Second game is the late game Saturday, Carolina at Seattle. Love to see the Panthers pull off the massive upset so there might could be Conference title game at Lambeau, but that just is not happening. The Panthers are better than their record reflects, especially at this point in the season, but the Squawks are not the quarterback less Cardinals and this game is in Seattle.

Sunday early game is the game of the week. Naturally, the Cowboys at Packers, Ice Bowl II. ‘Boys won all their road games this year, Pack won all their home games. Lately Romo has been performing in a Rodgers like manner. Cowboys have the running game edge with Murray and Aaron Rodgers is got a gimpy calf. If this game was straight offense against offense, I’d have to take the ‘Boys. But defense wins playoff games, and on the Frozen Tundra, I trust the Packers’ defense more than that of Dallas. This is probably a net toss-up in my mind. Oddsmakers have Green Bay as a 5.5 point favorite. I don’t know about that, but I think they find a way to eek out the win.

Last game is Colts at Broncos. I was stunned that the Colts looked so good last weekend. They really did. But this game is not indoors in Indy, it is late afternoon/evening at Mile High. That is a whole nuther thing, Peyton has great numbers at home, and finally has Julius Thomas back and healthy. The two Thomases, Welker and Emmanuel Sanders are too much firepower for Indy to handle, and Von Miller will be bothering Andrew Luck. Toss in the vastly improved Denver running game with C.J. Anderson, and you can see why the Broncs are a touchdown favorite, and I think they will cover that.

The Cowboys are not there, but there is a big game at Jerryworld in Dallas. The first ever College Football Playoff Championship. Oregon, and I am still shocked by this, Ohio State. The Ducks just flat rolled Florida State, can OSU keep up with their high octane offense? I am tempted to say no, but Michigan State played Oregon awfully tough early in the year, so maybe. Cardale Jones is a load, and he can throw too. No way I am picking against the Quackers here, but if Ohio State plays like they did last week again, they can win. But Urban Meyer would be absolutely insufferable with a third national title, so he must be stopped, and I think the Ducks finally get their crystal trophy. If the Ducks lose, it may be because their receiving corps is depleted, both from injuries and from stupidity.

Okay, sorry about the music selections, but PHRED MADE ME DO IT! Actually, Phred wanted Let’s Go Lambeau by the Bodeans as the music. I did too, but it is not on You Tube. You can hear it at this link though, and it really rocks. If the Cheese get by the ‘Boys, maybe I will try to make a music video of it for next week.

2014 Wildcard Weekend NFL Trash Talk

It is wildcard weekend and there are four awesome games on tap. Let’s get to them.

First up is the snake bit 11-5 Cardinals visiting the 7-8-1 Carolina Panthers. In a sane seeding system, this game would be in Phoenix as the Cards have 4 more wins than Carolina. This may actually occur with some playoff reforms the NFL is considering for next year. But this is Roger Goodell’s NFL and things are not necessarily sane. That said, the edge has to go to the Panthers. They have been on a late season roll and playing very good ball. Both Cam Newton on offense and Luke Kuechly on defense are just killing it. Newton is not running up big numbers at all, but he is managing the game and not hurting the team any longer. The Panthers allowed the second fewest points in the league over the last four games, and the Cardinals struggled to score points at all over that stretch. Ryan Lindley is back at QB for Arizona. He is not good, but certainly played a lot better in the regular season finale against the Niners. Hey, if Ohio State can wax Bama with a third string QB, maybe there is hope for Lindley and the Cardinals. But I don’t think so; Panthers are a six point favorite, and that sounds about right.

Next up is the late game today, Ravens at Steelers. Pittsburgh is hit hard by the loss of Le’Veon Bell, who was really balancing out the load for Roethlisberger. Everybody knows about the Ravens’ knack for getting on a playoff roll, so they are a scary team. But Big ben and the Stillers can do that too, and they are at home, where they are 3-0 against the Ravens in playoff games. I’ll take the Steelers again in a close one.

The early game Sunday is Cincinnati at the Colts. The Bengals haven’t won a playoff game since Ickey Woods and Boomer Esiason were leading them. And the Colts are at home and have Andrew Luck. Still, something has seemed off about the Colts down the stretch and the Bungles seemed to be getting their groove back a little…other than when they played the Steelers. I think the Bengals will get the job done in an upset.

The last game is maybe the best one, Detroit at Dallas. Somehow, the appeal reduced Ndamukong Suh’s penalty for stomping on the Most Valuable Player in the NFL to a fine, so he is not suspended for this game, which is huge for Detroit. The Lions will need Suh to keep DeMarco Murray from running wild. Murray proved last week that he can play with his injured thumb. Romo is on a serious roll, and playing the best QB of his career. Detroit also gets center Dominic Raiola back from a one game suspension too. Everything seems to be in the ‘Boys favor in this game, with the exception they are an average home team at best. Dallas is a 6.5 point favorite, and that sounds right. It will take a hell of a game out of the Kittehs to win this, and I just don’t see it.

Those are my picks, what you have to say??

[ew: WTF with Trash Talk with no music YouTubes? Added Lou Reed cause you gotta have something.]

Emptywheel’s Bowl Mania Trash Talk

Wildcard weekend in the NFL is coming up soon! But, it is New Years Eve and we are well into the meat of NCAA Bowl Season. There are both traditional bowls to yammer about and the new fangled college Football Playoffs. A cornucopia if you will! ASU squeaked out a narrow win over Coach K and Duke in the Sun Bowl, thus salvaging at least a 10 win season and bowl win in what was once an incredibly promising season. Still not very satisfying. Our other major university here, University of Arizona, is in action in the Fiesta Bowl here in Cardinals’ stadium against Boise State this afternoon (should be starting soon on ESPN). I love Boise State, but this is almost a home game for the Cats, and they should prevail. TCu is on the teepee right now just freaking obliterating the ‘Ole Miss Rebels. Really ugly. Tonight, another SEC “powerhouse”, Mississippi State takes on the Ramblin Wreck from Georgia Tech in the Orangutang Bowl. I’ll take MSU, but it may be close. From here on out, I will be writing this in conjunction with Gaius Publius, still sailing high on this fine Irish win (he made me say that). For the Outback Bowl, Gaius says:

The head picks Auburn, the heart picks the Badgers. In the world of the heart, Wisconsin will run it down their throats.

Bmaz agrees, because, you know, cheese and Packers are Wisconsin staples. Booyah! For the Cotton Bowl, it is a matchup of Baylor versus the Spartys of Michigan State. Gauis says:

The head picks Baylor. The heart picks Baylor. Up yours, say the Bears, to the corrupt selection committee and its “process.”

The big games are, of course, tomorrow with the Championship semifinals in the Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl. Let’s start out with the first game out of the gate, the Grandaddy Of Them All, the Rose Bowl. The Oregon State Quackers versus the Rapists er, Seminoles, of Florida State. Bmaz is gonna take the Ducks, because, well, they are the proper Pac-12 thing to do and I also think they are a better team. Florida State is overrated. Gaius says:

Ducks-with-talons (did you see those helmets and uniforms?) makes no sense. FSU, despite their peccadilloes (yes, in the world of sports, rape is a one of the peccas), will leave it on the field; also the Ducks; also their feathers, pointed and sharp though they be. That’s the head. The heart? Hey, I’m just upriver from them, and Jameis Winston needs a bring-down, a comeuppance. Time for Winston to trip up on the field.

Next up is the Sugar Bowl with Ohio State and Alabama. How many times are the college football powers that be going to put the Buckeyes in these huge games to to get embarrassed for having done so? Just stop. For starters, OSU should not be in the Championship series to start with, both TCU and Baylor, or either one of them, would have been a FAR more deserving choice. And, next year, we can all blarney on about the raging mediocrity of the team in Ann Arbaugh. This year, the fail is from the home of the Horseshoe, not the Big House.

Gaius says:

It’s troubling to pick with the corrupt selection committee and its “process” — the one that favors the big-money “Big Five” conferences. But pick we must. The head says Alabama and its own corrupt process — the one where they sign 200 recruits, then toss out the worst 175 of them after they enroll in “school” — will take the game. But the heart says, please god, may the Bamans fall far. I’m not picking against the most corrupt — clearly the selectors are that — but the heart chooses the lesser evil, at least this time. tOSU in a heartbeat.

There you have it kids. It is bowl season, look alive! We will be back with a Wildcard Weekend NFL post (assuming I do not get too sloshed for the New Years. Music this week by the original Chicago Transit Authority with a live version of Make Me Smile. Holy shit was Terry Kath great. Rock and roll em.

End of the NFL Regular Road and Start of Bowl Season Coach Lombardi Trash Talk

Here we are at the cusp of the end of the regular season line for the NFL and official start of the college football bowl season. Man, things are not what they used to be. As I write this, I am watching the Fiesta Bowl Parade on local TV. It looks fucking pathetic. This used to be a parade that hundred’s of thousands of people came out for. Now it looks like a podunk town homecoming parade. Right this second, there is some mope on a bicycle towing a freaking monkey in a little red wagon. I need to start drinking stat! Maybe with the Tequila Gun!

Okay, so the ASU Sun Devils are playing the Blue Devils of Duke in the otherwise long ago relevant, but now piddling, Sun Bowl, and that game is on CBS and just started. I’ll take the Devils! Boston College versus Penn State, the Nittany Lions fresh off of truncated probation, in the Pinstripe Bowl from Yankee Stadium on ESPN may be a decent toss up. As may be the Cornfuskers versus Trojans in the Holiday Bowl tonight, also on ESPN. There are other bowls starting up on Monday, and there may or may not be Nuevo Trash between now and next Tuesday or Wednesday, so make this yer Bowl Trash Talk home thread until you see another one!

So being done with the Joes, let’s move to the Pro’s. Really, is there any doubt but that the biggest game of the NFL regular season comes down to bmaz and Phred’s beloved Packers versus teh Evil Kittehs of Ms. Wheel. Matt Stafford currently looks like a scruffy lumberjack that has eaten more hotdogs than Joey Chestnut on July 4th on Coney Island. Which should make pulling away from rookie center Travis Swanson, who will be taking his live first snaps ever in the critical game on the Frozen Tundra™. That would because the 12 year starting center of the Lions, Dominic Raiola, who was suspended for going all Suh on a Chicago Bear last game. Unless Aaron Rodgers gets cheap shotted by the Dirty Felines, expect the Packers to continue the Lions losing streak at Lambeau to 24 years in a row.

There are really only three other true games of interest in the league Sunday. First, Bengals at Steelers, where my bet is Big Ben once again denies Marvin Lewis and Andy Dalton the big game win they so covet. Second, the Panthers are at the Falcons for the NFC south Championship and a losing record berth in the playoffs. Not just a losing record berth, but a home field game to boot. The NFL really needs to rethink their seeding priorities. The Cardinals will almost certainly be the wild card opponent for the victor of this game, and Ariaona will have won many more games going in, and against far better competition.

Lastly, the combo of the Cardinals versus Niners in San Francisco and Rams at Squawks still counts. Were the Rams to pull the road upset over Seattle and the Cards to pull a road upset over the Niners (the Cards still have Ryan Lindley at QB, so a win would be a HUGE upset), the Cards would still win the NFC West and home field advantage throughout the playoffs. Of course, neither upset will come even remotely close to happening. Yes, I know Marcy and Rosalind say I am a whiner and bellyacher on these points, but I have not been wrong about them yet. Most unfortunately. I’d love to change this world and have had Carson Palmer for the whole season so that it was a fair fight for the Cardinals in the NFC West, but that was not to be the case. It is what it is.

Music today by Ten Years After who also wanted to change the world. Eat well, drink responsibly and let it rip!

Week 16 Trash Talk

Hey, turns out there is actual NFL football on today. Who knew? The early game is on the NFL Network, and features the Eagles at the dysfunctional Redskins. Not long ago, the Eagles had the best record in the league, now they don’t even control their own playoff destiny. So they have to beat the Eagles today and Giants next week and hope for some help. RGIIIis back at QB for Washington, but it is hard to see the Eagles losing here. The later game is on CBS and has the Bolts at the Niners. San Diego still has some life left in them, the Niners not so much.

On Sunday, the Lions are at the Bears, and should have no issue there. Cutler has been benched in favor of Jimmy Clausen. It has gotten so bad that the Bears are talking bout offering a high draft pick along with Cutler to get another team interested enough to take Cutler. Ooof.

The Chiefs at Steelers should be a decent game, as should Colts at Cowboys and Broncos at Bengals. The supposedly marquee matchup is the Seahawks at Cardinals. The winner will almost certainly win the NFC West and may well have home field advantage for the playoffs. But I say “supposedly” because it is hard to imagine how the Cardinals are going to find enough offense to hang with the Squawks. Drew Stanton is still out and Ryan Lindley will be starting. Lindley is really a quality kid, but the Legion of Boom is probably going to light him up. Hope springs eternal here for some kind of miracle game from the Cards, but the odds of that are effectively zero.

The rest of the games just aren’t that interesting, especially considering how late in the season it is.

Cuba Libre! A Momentous Shift in Relations

Without any question, the news of the day is the direct turnabout in relations between the United States and Cuba announced this morning. There is a rather long list of areas in which many people, including me, have profound disappointment with Barack Obama over. Lack of accountability for torture is but the latest and greatest in the news consciousness of the attuned public. But today is not such a day; today Barack Obama has risen to at least part of his once heralded promise. Today, Mr. Obama has my love and affection. Today is one of the type and kind of foreign policy, whether toward middle east or other global neighbors, moments promised in Cairo and rarely, if ever, fulfilled in tangible deeds instead of words. So, today, sincere thanks and appreciation to President Obama.

Here are the basics from the AP:

The United States and Cuba have agreed to re-establish diplomatic relations and open economic and travel ties, marking a historic shift in U.S. policy toward the communist island after a half-century of enmity dating back to the Cold War, American officials said Wednesday.

The announcement came amid a series of sudden confidence-building measures between the longtime foes, including the release of American prisoner Alan Gross, as well as a swap for a U.S. intelligence asset held in Cuba and the freeing of three Cubans jailed in the U.S.

President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro were to separately address their nations around noon Wednesday. The two leaders spoke by phone for more than 45 minutes Tuesday, the first substantive presidential-level discussion between the U.S. and Cuba since 1961.

Wednesday’s announcements followed more than a year of secret talks between U.S. and Cuban officials in Canada and the Vatican. U.S. officials said Pope Francis was personally engaged in the process and sent separate letters to Obama and Castro this summer urging them to restart relations.

This news alone would have constituted something earth shattering, but there is much more than just that. In fact, the AP laid out the merest of backgrounds with that opening. There is much, much, more. I have the official press release, and →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

Week 15 NFL Trash Talk: The Coming of Johnny Football

Late start on Trash this week as I was otherwise occupied and, well, with little college football, there was little action on Saturday. Navy beat Army for the 13th time in a row and Oregon’s Marcus Mariotta won the Heisman, as was expected.

But Sunday is another matter, as the NFL is really heating up. The Cardinals won a tough defensive slugfest in St. Louis against the Rams, but suffered yet another crushing injury as QB Drew Stanton suffered a sprained MCL and ACL. No one knows when, or even if, he can return. There is a big push to get Kurt Warner to come out of retirement to save the day. I, of course, am lobbying for the ‘Ole Geezer Gunslinger himself, Brett Favre. Good times.

I think the Steelers at Falcons may be a great game. Atlanta’s record sucks, but they are very much in the playoff hunt in the woeful NFC south. And they seem to be getting their groove back. The Steelers have been hot or cold lately, better stay hot or the Falcons will take them. The Pack is in Buffalo. If there is one team that won’t be freaked by cold and snow in the outdoors of Orchard Park, it is Green Bay. They are used to it. Patriots should take care of the Dolphins at Foxborough.

Broncos at Chargers is a critical game. Of course you have to pick the Donkos, and Las Vegas is. But the Chargers will be tough. The Vikings have been gelling of late and, were this game in Minnesota, I might be tempted to go with an upset over Detroit. In Detroit, however, have to ride with the Kittehs. Can the Niners get back on the winning track against the Squawks in Seattle? Nope. Cowboys at Eagles for SNF is arguably the game of the week. I rate it as a tossup, but think the eagles may wear out the Boys if Sanchez can play decent.

Now, I said Cowboys/Iggles was “arguably” the game of the week, and any other week it might be. But not this week. Oh no, this week THE game of the week is absolutely the Bengals at the Brownies. And the starting debut of one Mr. Football. Cleveland should have gone to Manziel last week. Brian Hoyer was just pitiful, and the Brown still only lost to the Colts by one point. There is no way Manziel would not have been better. But with the loss to the Colts, Cleveland is gasping, but still technically alive in the playoff hunt. America will be watching. And in a weird scheduling deal, a LOT of America will be watching because FOX, which normally runs NFC games, is broadcasting this strictly AFC matchup. Go Johnny Go, Johnny be good!

Christmas music by Dave Edmunds.

Torture? Obviously, But What About Litany Of Other Crimes?

So, just a quick thought here, and with a little prompting by Jon Turley, obviously there is torture, and outright homicide thereon, spelled out and specified by the SSCI Torture Report. As I have said on Twitter, there are many things covered in the SSCI Torture Report and, yet, many things left out.

There are too many instances in the SSCI Torture Report to catalogue individually, but let’s be perfectly clear, the failure to prosecute the guilty in this cock up is NOT restricted to what is still far too euphemistically referred to as “torture”.

No, the criminality of US Government officials goes far beyond that. And, no, it is NOT “partisan” to point out that the underlying facts occurred under the Cheney/Bush regime (so stated in their relative order of power and significance on this particular issue).

As you read through the report, if you have any mood and mind for actual criminal law at all, please consider the following offenses:

18 U.S.C. §1001 False Statements

18 U.S.C. §1621 Perjury

18 U.S.C. §1505 Obstruction of Justice

These are but a few of the, normally, favorite things the DOJ leverages and kills defendants with in any remotely normal situation. I know my clients would love to have the self serving, toxically ignorant and duplicitous, work of John Yoo and Jay Bybee behind them. But, then, even if it were so, no judge, court, nor sentient human, would ever buy off on that bullshit.

So, here we are. As you read through the SSCI Torture Report, keep in mind that it is NOT just about “torture” and “homicide”. No, there is oh so much more there in the way of normally prosecuted, and leveraged, federal crimes. Recognize it and report it.

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