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There’s No [Easy] Exit

Not an European scholar or sage. Have tried to pay attention to the Brexit question across the pond, but unsure how well I have done so. Generally, however, it has struck me that, given real problems either way for the Brits, the best choice was to stay in the EU.

Really, there was a definitive majority to join then, so what is the plan now?

Tell me why the secrets have disappeared
cover up the traces of wasted years,
the traces of wasted years

build it up
alibies for the damned
hide away
don’t ever reveal your plan.

So, what is the plan now for the always diminished, but oh so egotistically adventurous Brits, given they are woefully short on empire and hegemonic power? Oh so much like the terminally behind the queue United States?

Isn’t that a lesson the US ought not heed? If not decades ago, maybe finally now?

The UK may be leaving the collective, but do they really have an exit plan? The number of modalities in which they simply cannot have a great and immediate plan are too number to plow through.

There is no easy exit. Despite the vote in the UK. Germany and France make it clear this is not easy.

Lock it up,
standing behind closed doors
give it up,
no hiding place anymore

The value of the British pound and stock prices in Asia plummeted as financial markets absorbed the news.

I don’t know how it is going to be in the UK going forward. But if the vote is what it looks, the Brexit has definitively occurred, the only question now is what happens.

On the whole, pretty scary proposition, and the effort to get there seems much like the brain dead Trumpian movement afoot here in the States; i.e. shortsighted, uninformed and stupid. Hope I am wrong.

But here we all are, on both sides of the pond, looking inordinately stupid and shortsighted.

The world is being consumed by Trumpalos and Juggalos.

There is no exit.

[If you don’t know this band in the video featured, you should. They are The Angels, and this song is perfectly prescient for today even if from long ago.]

El Nino Scalia

Antonin Scalia is dead. Say what you will, there is no rejoicing from me. Was Nino a malefactor in Supreme Court jurisprudence over the decades since his confirmation on September 26, 1986? Yes, and an irascible one as well. Once Bork got Borked, Scalia was the whipping post for all liberals, on the continuity of the spectrum. Did he earn that status? Yes, and maybe then some.

The hagiography of Nino is already quite well underway. I was out shopping for garden/landscaping things and had no idea until called by Marcy. It still took me a while to get back and dive into this. There are a million takes already underway on the net and in the press, such as the press may be these days. If you want a recap of the same old, this ain’t it. And, for now, what I have to say is not all that long or extricated.

First off, let’s talk about Scalia the man and Justice. As said above, once Bork got Borked, there was going to be a piñata for liberals (like me) to pound on. And, over the years, boy have I, and we, done just that. And for, mostly, good reason.

But anybody can blabber about what a prick Nino was. Fairly. But, in the current context, I want to do something different. As loathsome as Scalia often was, he was still somewhat of a hero to people that practice actual criminal law. No, not across the board, but enough that it ought be mentioned and left as a part of his legacy.

Why? Okay, this is a quick take:

Fourth Amendment: There is actually a long thread of Scalia decency on Fourth Amendment issues over the years. I have had occasion to quote him from both majority and dissents frequently. But, most recently, you can probably relate most easily to United States v. Jones, Riley v. California and, significantly, Kyllo v. United States. Now Scalia only penned Jones and Kyllo, but his fingerprints were all over Riley too. This is just my opinion, but I am not sure that a lesser conservative justice on the court would have seen these decisions through, and allowed them to be as consensus as they were.

One law professor, Tim MacDonnell, put it this way:

Since joining the United States Supreme Court in 1986, Justice Scalia has been a prominent voice on the Fourth Amendment, having written twenty majority opinions, twelve concurrences, and six dissents on the topic. Under his pen, the Court has altered its test for determining when the Fourth Amendment should apply; provided a vision to address technology’s encroachment on privacy; and articulated the standard for determining whether government officials are entitled to qualified immunity in civil suits involving alleged Fourth Amendment violations. In most of Justice Scalia’s opinions, he has championed an originalist/textualist theory of constitutional interpretation. Based on that theory, he has advocated that the text and context of the Fourth Amendment should govern how the Court interprets most questions of search and seizure law. His Fourth Amendment opinions have also included an emphasis on clear, bright-line rules that can be applied broadly to Fourth Amendment questions. However, there are Fourth Amendment opinions in which Justice Scalia has strayed from his originalist/textualist commitments, particularly in the areas of the special needs doctrine and qualified immunity.

I do not agree with everything in MacDonnell’s article, but it is quite good and his dubious context is spot on. Scalia has been more than prominent in Fourth Amendment jurisprudence since his time on the court. I have serious issues with many of the “exceptions” he has bought off on in the name of police expediency, but I can, and do, imagine a different justice being far, far, worse on the Fourth (can you say “Alito”? Of course you can). So, there is that. But, by the same token, I remember coming out of court and getting informed of the Kyllo decision. Several drinks were hoisted to Scalia that afternoon and night.

Then, there is the Sixth Amendment. This is an area on which Scalia gets scant attention and credit for. And, yes, if you practice criminal law, it is one of critical importance, whether pundits or the press realize it or not. Because if you happen to actually do criminal jury trials (or bench for that matter), you know the critical importance of being able to confront and cross-examine the witnesses and evidence against your client, the defendant. I have cited Scalia’s words, both successfully and unsuccessfully, for a very long time on confrontation issues. But the successes I, and clients, have had owe in large part due to Scalia. Here is a bit from David Savage, of the LA Times, from 2011 that summarizes Scalia’s Confrontation Clause championing about perfectly:

The 6th Amendment to the Constitution says the “accused shall enjoy the right … to be confronted with the witnesses against him.” To Scalia, this clause not only gives defendants the right to challenge actual witnesses, but also the right to bar testimony from all those “witnesses” who did not or cannot testify in court. He takes this view even if the witness is dead.

Three years ago, Scalia led the court in reversing the murder conviction of a Los Angeles man who shot and killed his girlfriend. A police officer testified the victim had reported that Dwayne Giles threatened to kill her. Scalia said that testimony violated Giles’ rights because he could not confront or cross-examine her.

“We decline to approve an exception to the Confrontation Clause unheard of at the time of the founding,” Scalia said for 6-3 majority. This went too far for liberal Justices John Paul Stevens and Stephen G. Breyer.

Two years ago, Scalia spoke for a 5-4 majority reversing the conviction of an alleged cocaine dealer from Massachusetts because prosecutors did not bring to court a lab analyst whose test confirmed the bags of white powder were indeed cocaine. The dissenters, including Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justices Anthony M. Kennedy and Samuel A. Alito Jr., said a lab technician who conducts a test is not a “witness” in the ordinary sense of the term.

In June, the court went one step further. The Scalia bloc, by a 5-4 vote, overturned the drunken-driving conviction of a New Mexico man because the lab analyst who testified about his blood alcohol did not actually work on the defendant’s blood sample. He put together an odd-couple coalition with Justices Clarence Thomas, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.

“This is not a left-right split. This is principle versus pragmatism,” said University of Michigan law professor Richard Friedman.

Frankly, Scalia has only reinforced that since late 2011 when Savage wrote said words. If you practice in a criminal trial courtroom, you owe a debt of gratitude to Antonin Scalia for your ability to still confront and cross-examine witnesses and evidence. I don’t think it is hyperbole to say that, without Scalia, this fundamental procedural right would be totally shit right now.

So, this is but a nutshell of the greater whole, and I am still trying to catch up. But those are my thoughts for now. Do not get me wrong, Antonin Scalia was never, nor will ever be, my favorite, nor even an overall positive Supreme Court Justice in my eyes. There is too much malignancy and caustic history from Scalia, on far too many fronts, for that to ever be the case. But the man is not yet even in the ground, and there were a couple of important positive things to say before the ultimate obituary is written.

And, on one other note, let’s keep in mind that the warm and fuzzy stories of Scalia with Ruth Bader Ginsburg, from court interaction, to opera to shooting at animal trips is not the only history of Nino Scalia and women on the Supreme Court. He was, certainly less famously, in some instances, a frat boy jerk to Sandra Day O’Connor. So, take the lionization of the Kagan relationship with a healthy grain of salt.

Antonin “Nino” Scalia was a flawed, but important man. He is now gone. So, the biggest issue is, what happens now? Republican leadership did not have to announce that they will stall their asses off and try to prevent the confirmation of ANY nominee that Obama would put up. Frankly, that went without saying in today’s Congress.

But, can they do that, will there be no Obama SCOTUS nominee confirmed, no matter what? I would not be shocked if that were not so. By the same token, the longest a confirmation battle has ever taken to confirm a SCOTUS Justice is 125 days (Obama has 361 left).

Obama has already said he will make a nomination, and I believe he will. If I had to bet right now, my bet is that the nominee is Sri Srinivasan. I have long thought this, and Sri, while being a decent guy, is a dead nuts centrist, barely a “liberal” at all kind schlub that Obama loves. But I doubt the crazed GOP led Senate would confirm even a milquetoast centrist like Srinivasan. Let other speculation begin now even though the chances of confirmation of any nominee are close to nil.

Irrespective, the primary, and certainly the general, elections just got FAR more interesting. Frankly, this is the only part of the election I was really worried about from the get go. Now it is squarely on everyone’s plate.

Super Bowl 50 Trash Talk

It’s the most wonderful time of the year again…..Super Bowl time! Yet, for all the incessant hype, this one feels a little flat to me. Maybe it is because I so wanted the Cardinals to be there. Maybe it is because, just as much, if not more, I wanted the Patriots there so as to drive bilious jackass Roger Goodell crazy. Maybe it is because the thought of cobbled together halftime show of Coldplay, Bruno Mars and Beyonce makes me want to vomit. What, was Nickelback not available? Maybe it is the fact that ESPN seems to have cloned the unctuous Stephen A. Smith so that he can annoyingly be on their air 24 hours a day for the last two weeks. Maybe it is because I have heard horror stories from pretty much every person I know in the Bay area about how interrupted and on security lockdown status the entire area has been. Maybe it is because everybody thinks it will be a blowout, like Super Bowls of yore, instead of a great game like last year.

But all griping aside, the game is nigh. Two truly superb defenses. For all the talk of Denver’s kick ass defense, Carolina strikes me as being nearly as good, with excellent strength in all three levels. Allen and Johnson upfront, Kuechly and Davis in the middle and Josh Norman on the back end. That is pretty damn formidable. The rest of the Carolina DB’s are decent, but not great, and if Manning is going to make hay, that’s where it will probably be. So, while the Broncos may have a slight edge on defense, it really is slight.

Which brings us to the offense. The conventional wisdom is that Carolina is overwhelmingly superior, and that is were the game is lost. Frankly, that is probably right. The Donks won, but certainly didn’t light the field up against the Pats, who have a good defense, but nothing like the Panthers have. But Manning has two more weeks of relative rest and practice. Several people watching him are saying he looks as good or better than at any time this year. That is good news as he was mostly horrible this year. I think Manning has a little magic left in him and will play well. Will it be enough? I wouldn’t bet on it. The current line is Panthers by 5.5. Both teams have all players as probable or better, so come in healthy and ready to go.

What else is up in random sports musings? Johnny Football is officially Johnny Fucked now. When even your father is saying you are on a death track, it’s bad. The Dallas cops took the report from his rather bizarre reported incident and then promptly announced the investigation was closed and there would be no charges. I am not privy to how it came to be closed without charges with a report containing such bad facts. But, generally, my experience is it means that the alleged victim was seen as not particularly credible AND indicated she didn’t want to cooperate in prosecution. The facts reported would appear to indicate both misdemeanor and felony conduct if believed. Cops and prosecutors still charge that if they truly believe the complainant, whether she wants to cooperate or not. So, my bet is there is a credibility issue. But, suddenly yesterday, Crowley got a restraining order and told the cops she wants to cooperate, and the “investigation” is reopened. We shall see what comes of it all, but the whole thing is pretty sad. Looks to me like Manziel and his ex-girlfriend Crowley both need some serious help. Let’s hope they get it.

Noticed how so many ads surrounding the Super Bowl refer to “The Big Game” instead of “The Super Bowl”? I have, and it turns out there is a reason. Could it be that Goodell and the NFL are sociopathic jackass asshole bullies? Of course. From BostInno:

The obvious reason for this is that the NFL fiercely protects its brand, allowing only a handful of “official sponsors” who pay exorbitant fees to use the term Super Bowl. Everyone else risks trademark infringement if they say Super Bowl. This is why most choose to say “big game” instead.

“But the NFL is a bully and has been known to send cease & desist letters to advertisers of all sizes using “Super Bowl,” and when you get a C&D from someone known to be litigious and to have really deep pockets, you usually cease and desist.”

Is there really legal precedent clearly on the NFL’s side here? No, of course not. The better argument is that it is an ubiquitous phrase and incidental use of it is “fair use”. But no one wants to take on supremely litigious assholes like Goodell and the NFL, so they all cower. By the way, a Stanford study found that Super Bowl ads are an ineffective waste of money in most instances.

In more Goodell and NFL assholery, at this big Super Bowl press conference, Goodell got asked about the data and results from the league’s year long ball inflation testing. Well, that was just another #Deflategate lie from Goodell and the league, like everything else they put forward against Brady and the Pats in #Deflategate was a lie. When the excellent Tom Curran of CSN asked Goodell about the league data, boy did he get a load of horseshit from Goodell:

Aren’t you glad we got to the bottom of that PSI thing with White Shoes Goodell?


His 309-word answer when I asked at his Friday press conference what constitutes a ball pressure violation and whether any balls measured under 12.5 PSI in 2015 was a study in deflection.

He didn’t so much answer as he did orally ejaculate syllables for a prescribed length of time before he felt safe to go on to a stuttering query about whether the Pro Bowl will ever be played in Austria.

Before I left the ballroom where Goodell held his press conference at a dais made up like an altar, I realized – with some help – that the NFL doesn’t care about PSI.

They don’t care to know how much air pressure a football will lose on a 28-degree evening with freezing rain or on a crisp 46-degree day under bright sunshine.

They didn’t go into the 2015 season trying to find out if they’d convicted Tom Brady of a crime he didn’t commit.

So, #Deflategate was the giant fraud I said it was from the get go? Yes. And it continues to so be.

Gronk is at the Super Bowl. Here he is, with brother no less, in a Buffalo Wild Wings chicken wing eating contest. Here he is giving a lap dance to a rather attractive Fox Sports reporter, Julie Stewart-Binks, who asked the Gronk about his Magic Mike lap dance prowess. Pretty, uh, wild, but all seemed to genuinely have fun. Perhaps the best take came from Stewart-Binks’ Fox Sports colleague Katie Nolan (who is great):

“It’s Gronk. He’s gonna do what he’s gonna do. He’s a really nice guy who knows what his brand is. People pitch him segments based on his brand, so he won’t be like “NO!” become something might make him look uncool. But I think when were we’re in sports, and there are only so many women, and that’s how a show chooses to use them… I would love a lap dance from Gronk. I wouldn’t televise it. I wouldn’t use that time to be like, ‘Here’s what it’s like to get a lap dance from Gronk.’ I don’t think anyone meant any harm by it, but the most shared moment from my network today is gonna be a woman getting titty-fucked by Gronk on a couch.”

Anyway, that’s a wrap, enjoy the Super Bowl. Music today by Bob Marley, as requested by our very long time reader and commenter, RadioFreeWill, who I had several beers with last night.

NFL Pro Bowl Trash Talk

Hahahahaha, psyche!

No, there is no substantive Pro Bowl Trash Talk. Because the Pro Bowl is a complete worthless joke.

This is a let loose on idiocy in general post. Which is more than what the NFL Pro Bowl is at this point.

Have fun and let yer hair down.

Music by Jefferson Airplane. Paul Kantner was an incredibly nice, and extremely under appreciated, seminal musician. RIP Mr. Kantner, and thanks.

NFL Conference Championship Sunday Trash Talk

It is early Saturday afternoon here in the comfy confines of Casa de Bmaz in the desert cactus patch. Snowly Shit is afflicting everywhere from the northeast to southeast. Bad. It is kind of sick, but I have been watching the news and fielding Twitter feeds from good friends in the afflicted area for 24 hours now. All from the comfort of 74º high days. Wearing a suit, I actually had to use the air conditioner in my cay yesterday afternoon. Don’t fret, in a few more months, it will be 110º here and they can all laugh at me.

Frankly, I would kill to be in the winter maelstrom in New York and Washington DC, just to experience it. With plenty of food and booze properly stocked up, along with backup power, of course. But I am here, and so many of you and other friends are there, and my heart and best wishes go out to you. There are conference championship games afoot, and hopefully all can enjoy them comfortably, wherever you are.

First up is the Patriots at Broncos. Peyton Manning versus Tom Brady. Yadda yadda yadda. But there are 10 other people on the field for each on offense and 11 on defense. Brady will not lose the game. Manning could given his old age infirmities, but I would be stunned if that were the case. The Pats, despite Belichick’s infamously worthless injury reports, seem to be pretty healthy. Especially so as to Edelman and Gronk, which mean everything to Brady. The Donkos, maybe a little less so because of DB Chris Harris’ shoulder. If he is weak opposite Aqib Talib, that will be an exploitable problem.

It would be pretty easy to take the Pats here, all things being equal. But things are never equal, especially in this kind of battle. There are two other factors that I think – think – may be key. First, the Broncos are home in Mile High. And that is a brutal place for any team to play, anytime. But it has been especially toxic for the otherwise invincible Patriots, Brady and Belichick. It is not that they have never won there, but it has been an uncommonly black hole.

Secondly, the Broncos, under Mike Shanahan, had the best head to head success against Belichick, Brady and the Pats of anybody. Gary Kubiak was the OC on most all of those matchups. Shanahan altered his offense against Belichick to have a balance two tight end set on offense to compensate and pitch up the Belichick tactic of overloading the weak side. This not only protected the QB, but facilitated the run game. Kubiak knows the tricks that Shanahan used to be so successful. I bet Kubiak draws off that. Is it enough?

I dunno, but if I was betting real money, it would be on the Pats and Brady. I think they want to see Roger Goodell at Super Bowl 50, and I think they will. Even the New York Times now recognizes that Goodell and the NFL were horse’s asses in Deflategate. Which I explained from the start, both on Twitter and here. Also, ESPN has a real problem with ignorant assholes. First it was Curt Schilling, then Chris Mortenson perpetuating the patent fraud of Deflategate, and now blithering idiot Danny Kanell who is literally calling for the Broncos to take Tom Brady out with dirty hits.

The second game is Cardinals at Panthers. I probably have too many emotions wrapped up in this one to be overly fair. The Cards versus Packers was tough for me. Cards versus Panthers, however, is beyond an easy call. The Panthers are very good, and Cam Newton has turned into one hell of a pro quarterback, but the Panthers are basically not that easy to like for me.And certainly not this weekend.

The quarterbacks, on paper, look to be nearly a draw. If there is any justice, they will seriously finish first and second in the league MVP voting. Newton should absolutely win, but Carson Palmer is an arguably close second. Palmer is a better read and throw guy, and arguably better passer, but Cam Newton has gotten very good at that and can run in ways that Palmer can’t dream of. Edge Newton and Panthers. But Palmer and the Cards have better receivers and packages to exploit them, by a light year. Huge edge to the Cards there. The battle of offenses will come down to which offensive line plays and protects better. Frankly, that is probably what the game comes down to as well.

Which leaves the defenses. Both are better than average on the defensive line. Carolina has a big advantage at linebacker, and Kuechly is simply killer. Despite Josh Norman, the Cards may, if they play well, have a slight advantage in the secondary. This would be a no brainer in the Cards’ favor if Tyrann Mathieu was on the field, but, alas, that is not to be.

So, what is the bottom line? Carolina is at home, which is always to be paid attention to. These are very clearly the two best teams in the NFC this year, and it is perfect they are playing for the Championship. I have no idea who wins, but they match up well against the Panthers and the two teams played in Carolina last year. But there is a hell of a difference between a healthy Arizona team with Carson Palmer at QB than a decimated Cards team with Ryan Lindley at QB. By the same token, Palmer and the Panthers are far better too. It is a tossup, but heart is very much with the Cardinals. Go #BirdGang

Alrighty then, that is a wrap for this Trash. Music, in honor of all the winter weather affecting the east is by the Bangles, with an incredibly awesome version of Hazy Shade of Winter. Rock and roll hootchicoos.

The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Cards from Arizona

College football is done and over. I thought Clemson had a lot better chance against Bama than many did, mostly because of their quarterback, Deshaun Watson, and their defense. One of those was spot on, the latter, not so much. Irrespective, Alabama won fair and square in a fantastic game. Big hat tip to Tide QB Jake Coker, who proved to be calm and cool under big game status. He reminds me a little of Jim Harbaugh (and, seriously, I was personally present at Harbaugh’s last college game. Was in the Rose Bowl against ASU, and big Jim did not fare so well, but has had a hell of a career as a player and coach afterwards). Coker is a big kid, with a strong arm and huge heart. Coker might actually be a smart late round draft choice for an enterprising NFL team that could afford to try to groom him. I know Alabama QB’s have a bad name since Bart Starr and Joe Namath, but Coker seems to have something intangible.

Before we get down to the games, a word about David Bowie. Music, for better or worse, has always been a part of Trash Talk at Emptywheel. If you like it, many thanks, if not apologies. But a part it has always been. Because Trash has mostly been one of my duties here, you all usually get stuck with some music I select. Sorry about that.

I have been around a while (read: way too long chronologically) and, truly, have a pretty diverse range of likes in music. There has been everything from Charlie Pride and John Cash to Jimmy Hendrix and Be Bop Deluxe. And everything in between, here in Trash Talk. They are not particularly random selections, it is all music I have known and loved throughout my life. It is a very mixed bag, but I hope you enjoy it all as much as I do.

So….with a heavy heart, a bit of homage to David (Jones) Bowie. I almost did a standalone post on Bowie’s death, but I was pretty tied up in court this week, not to mention a few other things that consumed attention. But the sudden awareness of the loss of Bowie did indeed have a profound effect on me. David Bowie was never the number one band in the moving target of my rock fandom, but he was never very far off either. He was that good, that long, and in ever changing ways that made Bowie both unique and remarkable. There will always be music, but there will never be another Bowie. RIP Ziggy and David.

First up on the docket is the Chefs at Patriots. Edelman is back and ready to go full out. What does that mean, and will his foot hold up? Nobody knows. That was the early concern. But now it the bigger concern is Gronk. No, not the knee that has bee jabbered about, but his back. Gronk missed practice Thursday to get “treatment” at a local Boston hospital. Best bet that was for a serious epidural. Ouch. If Edelman and Gronk both play the full game and play well, then I will take the Pats. If not, then the Chefs may cook them. Alex Smith is not sexy, but he is scary good and consistent. And Andy Reid, while not maybe a game clock genius, is one heck of a coach overall.

The late game today is here in the cactus patch. Packers at Cards. I’m sure some sport will be made of my dual loyalties. I am a Cheesehead from very early in my childhood. It started when I read a book about a former Bear Bryant player by the name of Bart Starr and, about the same time, Lombardi and Green Bay drafted and featured an electrifying ASU player by the name of Travis Williams. Arizona had no pro football then, and still didn’t for a long time after the Cardinals plopped their carpetbags down here. The Cardinals were unlovable losers until they drafted Jake Plummer, another ASU hero. Jake the Snake was also electrifying. But the Cards were still the loser Cards until Kurt Warner and Larry Fitzgerald brought some real game. Both should be in the Hall of Fame, and both will be I hope. Now, under the guidance of Michael Bidwell, son of Bill Bidwell, and a quite decent chap I know from his days as an AUSA in the District of Arizona, the Cardinals are really embraced by the city of Phoenix and the state.

It took a very long time, but the Cards are really ours now, as Jerry Colangelo’s teams, the Suns and Diamondbacks were from the start. The Packers have won and been everything to pro football, from its inception. They are Titletown incarnate. But there is something special about the current Cards of Bruce Arians, Fitz, Carson Palmer, Honeybadger and all the rest. It is pretty contagious. I think Rodgers and the Pack are WAY different than they were a few weeks ago when Arizona rolled them. This will be a hell of a game, but Go Cards!

The early game on Sunday is Seattle at Carolina. The Panthers have been the darling of the 2015 season, and Cam Newton has been simply spectacular. Luke Kuechly, Josh Norman and the Carolina defense are better than even advertised. But the Squawks simply scare the hell out of me far more than the Panthers. We shall see what the Mode does, but the Seattle beast seams to be coming alive at just the right time. I’ll take the Squawks.

Lastly, the Steelers are gassing in the altitude at Mile High. Big Ben has a wounded clock arm, and Antonio Brown is out with the concussion the Bengals thugs claim didn’t happen. Bottom line, never count out the Stillers if Roethlisberger is on the field. But it is hard to see how the Steelers pull this off with an O-line that allowed the damage to Big Ben it did against the Bengals. Not to mention, of course, that Antonio Brown and D’Angelo Williams are out. Is it possible the Stillers overcome “against all odds”? You bet. But that is not my bet. I am betting on one last epic Peyton versus Major Tom battle for the AFC crown. But that is just me, the games speak for themselves.

So, that’s it. Music, of course, by Bowie. Suffragette City is one of the great rockers of all time. The overlaid guitar work by Mick Ronson is simply spectacular. Here’s a bit of trivia: There is a line in Suffragette City “Hey man, droogie don’t crash here, There’s only room for one and here she comes, here she comes”. Droogie is an homage to famed Brit author Anthony Burgess and his classic work A Clockwork Orange. The original book actually has a glossary with definitions for the liberal slang used throughout the book, and “droogie” is one of the more frequent terms used. It made it into the later (and, sadly, more famous) movie as well, but it really comes out in the book. Second fun fact: As quintessential a Bowie rocker as Suffragette City is, Bowie offered it to Mott the Hoople, but they took All the Young Dudes instead, which gave Mott new and continued life and, arguably, created their brand with the public. Bowie did so much for so many musicians over the years, his greatness is in all of them in addition to his own catalogue of work.

Wild Divisional Card Trash Talk

Four games on the schedule this weekend. No time for chit chat about balls that are round, whether large, as in the NBA, or small, like MLB. This is Playoff Football baybee!

In order, we have these games:

Chefs at Texans: This looks to be a surprisingly good game. Like the Skins in the other conference, Houston is hard to read. On a late roll. But they are4 on a roll with great defense and a boring, if marginally competent offense. That has been working for the Texans down the stretch. The line seems to consistently be on the Chefs. The real hesitation seems to be KC’s quarterback, Alex Smith. So, okay, Smith is not Joe Montana, but, then again, neither is Brian Hoyer, of whoever Houston is sporting. Edge Tejanos.

Steelers at Bengals: The matchup all the howling jackals on ESPN are uniformly calling the best of the playoffs. As usual, they are a bunch of NFL league co-opted mouthpieces that make Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy look like pikers. Especially twats like Chris (11 out of 12 balls) Mortensen. Welp,back to the game, Cinci is a minor favorite at home. But they are starting Mr. AJ McCarron. Is that enough to squash Big Ben and the Stillers? Yeah, not if.

Squawks at Teh Norske: Wowzah. I have no idea on this, but a shocking lot of talking heads on ESPN and whatnot are saying Minnesota has a real chance and may well win this. As Lee Corso would scream, not so fast! I will stick with Pete Carroll and the Emerald City Boys, even if Beast Mode is not in the mix. Squawks are on a roll, and my bet is only Carolina or the Cards will stop that roll. Hope I am wrong, but not betting otherwise.

Pack at Skins: Probably the best game of the weekend. Will Rahdgahs be Rodgers? Can the Pack O-Line block, or would H and R do better? Is there any secondary left for the Pack? I have no clue. It is not a pretty picture in Title Town right now. Yes, the Cheese are in the playoffs, but as our greatest President, Jed Bartlett said, “Boy, I don’t know”. On the other hand, I liked Kirk Cousins from the get go. Before the Cards collected up Carson Palmer, I actively lobbied to have them trade some bullshit to Dan Snyder to get Cousins. Ask Marcy, she will confirm. But Shanahan was right about Cousins being the man, and not RG III. You like that? I do, and right now, if I had to put money down, I would take the Skins, and that would be a fine story. But my heart will always be made of Cheese and my eyes filled with Geezers and Starrs, of the Brett and Bart variety. I will throw my sorry lot in with the Cheese, but the Washington Professional Football Franchise has been playing awfully well lately. This is a pick em.

Music this fine weekend by the one and only, dearly departed, Robet Palmer. Don’t kid yourself, the dude and his band seriously rocked. I wish there were words, but there are not.

Repurposed Auld Lang Syne – Now NFL – Trash Talk

NFL Sunday Update: Okay, I have been having fun thinking and talking about the idiocy going on up in Oregon. And, so far, that is all it has been, but there are real fears about what will transpire when the Feds finally interact a little more strenuously. So far, it seems both the Feds and locals have been pretty smart and letting it play out and seeing what happens without going all Ruby Ridge or Waco gonzo. The protest and action in Burns really does seem to have been peaceful, and the locals seem to want little to do with the nut bags that then split off and went out to the Malheur Wildlife Refuge. It is an extremely remote location, and there have yet to be any homicides, shootings, kidnapping or other serious criminal offenses that would elevate the issue into terrorism or other major federal felonies. Let’s hope it stays that way.

But this is Trash Talk, and we have a full slate of games. The big one locally is of course the Sea Squawks here in the Big Toaster to take on the Cardinals. Hard to tell how long either team will play their key personnel, but they will all (mostly) start and play. It will not affect either team that much for playoff seeding, and won’t affect the Cards at all. It’s a pick em, but these two always put on a good show. Skins were all over the ‘Boys early, but Dallas is catching up and getting momentum. Pats/Fish, Bills/Jets, Steelers/Browns and Lions/Bears all within a touchdown nearing the start of the fourth quarter.

Going to take the Broncos over Chargers, Chefs over Raiders and Panthers over Bucs in the late afternoon bloc. Though it would be real nice, and much appreciated, if the Bucs would knock off the Panthers! The bigger got flexed to Sunday Night, i.e. Vikes at Packers in the finally Frozen Tundra. I am not going to pick against the green and gold at Lambeau, but this could be a great game. Get yer Cheeseheads on!


As we close another year out, thanks to one and all for joining us here. And I hope that one person, long a fixture on this blog, that is right about now surely missed…Freepatriot…can see this. For Freep, Go Oklahoma!

As I write, Boomer Sooner is down 17 to 23 to Clemson. I have no idea how to pick this game. There are a hundred reasons why I ought to like the Sooners here. But Bob Stoops is the anti-Belichick, he really does not usually win big games with championships on the line. A little Dabo will do ya.

Later tonight, the other final four game goes off with Michigan State taking on Alabama in the Cotton Bowl. Most of the media attention has been on the Nick Saban mentor and Mark Dantonio plebe meme. I find that hard to buy after all these years. They are both great coaches, and both great teams. Alabama will probably win, but my heart is with Michigan State. Can’t stand the Big Ten/B1G, but they are better than the SEC. And East Lansing rocks.

Every ounce of rooting goes out to the Northwestern Fighting Journalists, but the Tennessee Vols are better than you think, and I am not going to bet against them. My city is full of Irish and Buckeyes. A decidedly unpleasant situation. Two diseases at one time, in the same place. One of them has to not die I suppose, and I will, regrettably, take the Domers. Because I just can’t think about taking either Urban Meyer or Ohio State, much less them together. Never.

Gators versus Wolverweenies is a great game. Maybe as good, interesting and perplexing a matchup as there is in the bowl schedule this year. It is also Marcy versus Jim White, which has heretofore only occurred in women’s softball. But, here we are on the gridiron. I’ve no clue who to take here, but it is hard to root for any team coached by Mr. Khaki Pants, dude is insane.

The only other bowl – until the championship game – that is really worth mentioning is the Rose Bowl. That would be the Stanford Tree versus Herky Hawkeye. I have been to football in a lot of states, in a lot of places, and at a lot of schools. But I have never been in a more magical place than the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. It is not just the fabled parade. It is not just the pageantry. It is the place. Simply magical. There is just a feeling and a vibe that comes from the location and the structure itself. Kirk Ferentz is one of the more underrated coaches in the business. He and the Hawks are class. But never bet against a Pac team in the Rose Bowl against a Big-10 team. Never. Any given year, you might not win, but overall, it is one of the soundest bets in the history of man. I’ll take that bet.

So, as we reach the end of yet another year at Emptywheel, again thank you. Tomorrow is a new year, and it will be even brighter and better than the last. Rock on friends, and have a safe and great New Years Eve.

Interstitial Trash Talk

I was away, playing in New York with my family and a few friends last week. Predictably, everyone got along quite fine! Yet, like a bad cold, here I am again. It is a weird week with the football spread out as it is. NFL and lesser bowl games today, NFL tomorrow, and then weird bowl games through the next week. Not sure how often we will post up new Trash, we shall see. But, here it is for now, on an interstitial basis, so let’s rock and roll.

This is a sports forum, but we have always focused on the NFL. Okay, NCAA football and my hobby horse, the F1 Circus too. But, as we round out yet another year, let’s go to the NFL. Tonight we have a great game, Skins versus Eagles. By the way, for all of you who think the US Government is your ride to elimination of the dreaded “Redskins” name for the Washington Professional Football Franchise, I have news for you. Think again. I warned there were First Amendment concerns with the much publicized patent/trademark decision earlier, and the Federal Circuit has, unsurprisingly, found just that. Personally, I think Snyder should change the name of the team, but I do not think it is a function of an US Government agency to mandate that he, or anybody else similarly situated, do so. And I doubt the Supreme Court, should this case get there, will disagree.

Back to the Skins. They play the Eagles tonight. Washington is even at 7-7, Philly not so even at 6-8. The game is at the Linc in Philadelphia, which is a boon to the Iggles. Sam Bradford is back, and playing for a job with the Eagles next year. Hard to see who else will take him as a starter next year (Houston??) Bradford and the Chip Kelly offense is looking more consistent over the last two weeks. But hard to see that as enough.

Ever since Kirk Cousins lit up Tampa Bay at the end of October, he has been a different QB. Not perfect, but poised and confident, and playing like a real NFL QB. Washington seems off the snide now, and they are getting the full return of Desean Jackson. If this game was not in Philly, it would be an easy call. I am taking Washington anyway.

Okay. tomorrow there are a few games too! None bigger here that the meeting up of my once and always beloved Packers and my now (though NOT when I was young and picked my team) home town Cardinals. I am ready for all the potshots Marcy, Scribe, BSL and Phred etc may lob at me on this. I think. Seriously, this is tough. I seriously love the Packers, and have since I was a kid and long before Bidwell and the Cards carpetbagged their way here to Phoenix. But this is my town, and I will root for Larry Fitzgerald, Carson Palmer, Pat Peterson and the boys tomorrow. Sorry Aaron and Cheese, you will always be first in my heart, but I gotta do this now. The Pack have more NFL Championships than anybody ever. Phoenix could use one, just a measly single one. I am sorry Phred.

As much as i would hope differently, Cam and the Panthers should have no problem with the snakebite Falcons. Atlanta is not that bad of a team, and clearly Mike Smith was not the problem. But not much has changed, has it? Really, after the Cards and Pack, the game of the day may be Pats at Jets. A game that matters a hell of a lot more to the Jets Jets Jets than it does Bill Bel and the boys. That said, NY is the home of Goodell, and do not expect Tom Brady to take his foot off.

Giants at Vikings also has big significance. If the Eagles knock off the Skins tonight (big if!) then Gents at Vikes is huge. Better question is can Eli and the Gents beat the Vikes in their Norske home irrespective of what happens in other games? Frankly, I am not so sure; tend to think Teddy Bridgewater and the Vikes are a better team, especially at home.

That leaves the final game of the weeks, Bengals at Broncos. This game is in Denver at Mile High. You all know what a problematic forum Mile High is for other teams, even the mighty Patriots. If you have never been to a game at Mile High, especially in the cold of winter, you just don’t know what a tough joint it is. Brock Osweiller is starting again for the Donks. I got a chance to see him up close here at ASU, and Osweiller is a great kid. Is he the long term answer for Elway and Denver? Not sure. Better question is whether he will continue to be a better option for the Broncos after this week, as Manning really will be available. I tend to say no, let Peyton ride his rest and experience into the sunset, win, lose or draw. If Manning’s legs are healthy, his arm is certainly rested, ride it out. Will be fascinating to see what Elway does.

Okay, that is it for this week’s Trash Talk. Music by Jefferson Starship, and a song I always hear when seeing a full moon over big mountains like I am seeing right now.

Christmas At The Wheelhouse, And A Giving Of Thanks

Here we are at yet another Christmas. We have been doing this a long time now, and even longer for those that go back to The Next Hurrah. Yes, we are all getting old together. But let that be painfully, fitfully and difficult for the government, corporate and political forces. And that battle is not done yet.

We are all for the better for gathering here. So, to one and all, thank you. It means everything to us. Seriously. And the Merriest of Christmases to one and all, no matter what your faith or following. It is a season for sharing and love, and we send that to one and all.

With that said, let’s give thanks to one and all, not only here, but who have come and left. There are so many friends that have come and, sadly, departed there is no good way to cover one and all. There have been so many.

We can only say thanks to one and all. It is one thing to have a forum to talk to people. It is yet another where people both listen and interact positively and brightly better than what you ever hoped. That has been the hallmark here from the start. Thank you for that. And, a Christmas Eve should never go without a mention and thank you to our early friend and colleague, Mary, who left us on Christmas Eve 2011. Vaya con dios Mary Beth Perdue, you are still remembered and missed.

For all, sincerely, thanks, both for the year that was, and the time to come. Be well.

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