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It’s Not the Economy, Stupid

Despite Bill Clinton’s famous catchphrase that he rode to two terms in the White House, and despite its echo in the 2016 campaign when Trump voters were described as acting out of “economic anxiety”, politics in the United States in my lifetime comes down, first and foremost, to racism. Yes, in Trump’s case and for most Republicans in office, there is a hefty dose of misogyny mixed in, but the animus against those who are not old, rich, white males unites their hatred.

Russia affected the 2016 contest. Clearly. But one of their primary tools was to stoke racial animus. Another huge impact on the actual outcome of the election was the outright suppression of minority votes by Republicans. It now appears that they may well have tipped the Wisconsin vote through suppression. And all those millions of votes for Trump, in the end, amount to nothing more than a huge endorsement of his outright racism. In the end, they came out on top with a little help from Republican policies expressly developed to prevent minorities from voting.

Trump is America’s racism unmasked and he would not be President if there weren’t a huge racist component to American culture today. The primary home for that racism is the Republican party.

The last few days have shown Trump revealing both his deep-seated racism and his cynical understanding that virtually his only support now is rooted in America’s racism. He tried his best to make his response to NFL protests be about the flag and patriotism. But that is most definitely NOT what Colin Kaepernick was protesting when he started this movement in August of 2016:

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick has willingly immersed himself into controversy by refusing to stand for the playing of the national anthem in protest of what he deems are wrongdoings against African Americans and minorities in the United States.

His latest refusal to stand for the anthem — he has done this in at least one other preseason game — came before the 49ers’ preseason loss to Green Bay at Levi’s Stadium on Friday night.

“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” Kaepernick told NFL Media in an exclusive interview after the game. “To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”

Making matters even worse, NFL teams and even billionaire NFL owners–the very parties responsible for Kaepernick still not being on a roster despite abysmal quarterback play on several teams–came out with what some folks saw as admirable statements and actions in response to Trump calling for owners to “fire the sons of bitches” who kneel during the national anthem. The best response to that development came from Shannon Sharpe. If you haven’t seen it yet, watch the entire statement, it is a thing of beauty and something that every American needs to hear:

So what are we to do?

First, those of us who carry the advantage of being old, white males who are at least comfortable if not rich must speak up every time there is an instance of racial injustice. Especially at the local level, when the police treat minorities without respect, make it known that this will not stand. Support larger groups that are working to promote racial justice.

But perhaps it is also worth taking look at our own lives. What aspects of our own lives help to perpetuate racial injustice? Even simple actions can accumulate. The next time you reconcile a credit card statement, take a look at your choices. Do you only eat at faceless chain restaurants? When was the last time you had a meal at a locally owned restaurant with a minority owner? Those are likely some of the best eating establishments in your town if you take the time to look around and try some new cuisines.

How about schools? Do you send your kids to private schools, most of which have been established to get around integration? Worse yet, do you send them to charter schools, which are set up expressly to take money away from public schools?

How about your place of worship? Is it integrated? Does it have any activities or programs aimed at racial justice?

One small action that I’ve decided to take is that I won’t watch another down of NFL football until Colin Kaepernick has been signed by a team.

Trump is the poster child for American racism, but we could all benefit from spending a little time thinking about our own roles both in how he came to be President and what we can do to make sure his sort never gets there again.

Many years ago, Jim got a BA in Radiation Biophysics from the University of Kansas. He then got a PhD in Molecular Biology from UCLA and did postdoctoral research in yeast genetics at UC Berkeley and mouse retroviruses at Stanford. He joined biosys in Palo Alto, producing insect parasitic nematodes for pest control. In the early 1990’s, he moved to Gainesville, FL and founded a company that eventually became Entomos. He left the firm as it reorganized into Pasteuria Biosciences and chose not to found a new firm due a clash of values with venture capital investors, who generally lack all values. Upon leaving, he chose to be a stay at home dad, gentleman farmer, cook and horse wrangler. He discovered the online world through commenting at Glenn Greenwald’s blog in the Salon days and was involved in the briefly successful Chris Dodd move to block the bill to renew FISA. He then went on to blog at Firedoglake and served a brief stint as evening editor there. When the Emptywheel blog moved out of Firedoglake back to standalone status, Jim tagged along and blogged on anthrax, viruses, John Galt, Pakistan and Afghanistan. He is now a mostly lapsed blogger looking for a work-around to the depressing realization that pointing out the details of government malfeasance and elite immunity has approximately zero effect.

Did President Trump Violate Federal Law With His Alabama Rant?

I wrote yesterday about the racial, social and football implications of Trump’s rant in the history and home of George Wallace.

But a new, and by all appearances excellent, commenter on that post noted this:

“It occurs to me that his tweets are at least arguably in violation of 18 U.S. Code § 227. That section prohibits the POTUS (among others), from “attempting to influence or interfere” in a private company’s labor matter, to urge a “political” firing. This is especially true where the basis for the POTUS’s urging of the firing of such a private company employee (union covered, collective bargaining agreement governed) — is (as here) centered on protected political first amendment expression.”

So, is that right? Well, it is a LOT closer call than most would dismissively think. Let’s look at the language of the relevant statute, 18 USC §277:

18 U.S. Code § 227 – Wrongfully influencing a private entity’s employment decisions by a Member of Congress or an officer or employee of the legislative or executive branch:

(a) Whoever, being a covered government person, with the intent to influence, solely on the basis of partisan political affiliation, an employment decision or employment practice of any private entity—
(1) takes or withholds, or offers or threatens to take or withhold, an official act, or
(2) influences, or offers or threatens to influence, the official act of another,
shall be fined under this title or imprisoned for not more than 15 years, or both, and may be disqualified from holding any office of honor, trust, or profit under the United States.
(b) In this section, the term “covered government person” means—
(1) a Senator or Representative in, or a Delegate or Resident Commissioner to, the Congress;
(2) an employee of either House of Congress; or
(3) the President, Vice President, an employee of the United States Postal Service or the Postal Regulatory Commission, or any other executive branch employee (as such term is defined under section 2105 of title 5, United States Code).

Read the statute. It is a lot closer call than you think. Will Trump’s own Department of Justice pursue this? No, no chance, nor probably should it be. Is it a viable question, and one that ought be discussed in the public and media, yes, absolutely.

As sports law “experts” would say, let’s break it down. There are elements to a crime. Trump is unequivocally a “covered person” within the ambit of the statute. Also unequivocal is the fact that his words in Alabama were meant to influence “an employment decision or employment practice of any private entity”, in this case, the National Football League.

The problem lies in section (a)(1) of the relevant statute, which requires:

takes or withholds, or offers or threatens to take or withhold, an official act

It is easy to see and admit that Trump would do just that in a heartbeat. But Trump did not do that per se in his Alabama speech.

No. That element cannot be met by Donald J. Trump’s Alabama Song of hate. So, no, there is no exposure to 18 USC §227.

It is a great thought and question though.

And it is a perfect example of the precipice of racism, bigotry and ignorance on which the political discussion in the United States, and our Article II Executive Branch, courtesy of President Trump, nows perilously treads nearly every day.

The events and actions in and from the NFL today, tomorrow, and in the next few weeks pale in comparison. They are a symbol and a voice. But it is so much more and bigger than that.

Bmaz is a rather large saguaro cactus in the Southwestern Sonoran desert. A lover of the Constitution, law, family, sports, food and spirits. As you might imagine, a bit prickly occasionally. Bmaz has attended all three state universities in Arizona, with both undergraduate and graduate degrees from Arizona State University, and with significant post-graduate work (in physics and organic chemistry, go figure) at both the University of Colorado in Boulder and the University of Arizona. Married, with both a lovely child and a giant Sasquatch dog. Bmaz has been a participant on the internet since the early 2000’s, including active participation in the precursor to Emptywheel, The Next Hurrah. Formally joined the Emptywheel blog as an original contributing member at its founding in 2007. Bmaz grew up around politics, education, sports and, most significantly, cars; notably around Formula One racing and Concours de Elegance automobile restoration and showing. Currently lives in the Cactus Patch with his lovely wife and beast of a dog, and practices both criminal and civil trial law.

When The President Hates A Race And Talks Racist Trash

President Donald J. Trump is a racist bigot. Jemele Hill was right on that one, not that sane people had not already realized it long ago, and well before his election. Take his ignorant position on the Central Park Five case, just as a for instance. Then add on how he was sued decades ago for discriminating against blacks in housing. Throw in a thousand other tell tale points and you have a picture of a self entitled candy assed rich New York racist. That is just who he is. It has always been there for inquiring minds to see if they so desired.

Now the latest pure and unadulterated racism from the now President of the United States. Last night in Alabama, Trump let loose a rambling self centered screed of a speech that would make George Wallace cringe. Here is a sample:

“Wouldn’t you like to see one of these owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now, out, he’s fired. He’s fired!”

He then went on to state that any player so exercising free speech should be “fired” and unemployable at their career job. From Michael David Smith at PFT:

Trump said an NFL owner who releases a player would instantly gain broad support across America.

“Some owner’s gonna do that. He’s gonna say, ‘That guy that disrespects our flag? He’s fired. And that owner . . . they’ll be the most popular person in this country. Because that’s total disrespect of our heritage. That’s total disrespect of everything we stand for,” Trump said.

Trump added that he believes fans should walk out if players don’t stand for the anthem. “If you see it, even if it’s one player,” Trump said, “Leave the stadium.”

Trump also argued that if they do this to boycott the NFL and personal free speech, they would be supporting him and his position.

Clearly aiming at Colin Kaepernick, Michael Bennett and Malcolm Jenkins, prominent NFL players who have had the audacity to be free thinking humans and exercise the protected free speech our Bill of Rights is led by and that generations of American patriots fought and died to preserve. Donald Trump shits on every ounce of that every time he goes on one of his little pointed and racist rants. And boy did he shit on it last night in Alabama. You’d almost think Trump is aligned with the neo-Nazi white supremacists with torches in Charlottesville that he praised as “fine people” instead of the full diversity of American citizens. Including, you know, black people.

Was Trump done? Of course not. He then cravenly went on to scold the NFL for being soft because of their (still lame and ineffective) concern about CTE degenerative brain disease:

“When the ratings are down massively, massively. The NFL ratings are down massively. Now the number one reason happens to be that they like watching what’s happening….with yours truly. They like what’s happening.

Because you know if they hit too hard…Fifteen yards! Throw him out of the game! they hd that last week. I watched for a couple of minutes. Two guys, just really, beautiful tackle. Boom, fifteen yards!

The referee gets on television, his wife is sitting at home, she’s so proud of him. They’re ruining the game! That’s what they want to do. They want to hit. They want to hit! It is hurting the game!”

An outrageous thing to say about, again, American citizens and their workplace safety issues. Especially when the most recent studies found CTE degeneration in 99% of the brains from NFL players they have examined. And when the NFL was just slapped with a complaint on Aaron Hernandez that exhibited that even a relative young player displayed “a raisin-like brain of a 70-year-old even though he was 27″. Simply craven, bigoted and outrageous.

It is the the stuff of a narcissistic self entitled bigot plantation slave owner. Trump literally thinks he is not only the the better, but genetically superior to other humans, including the constituents he works for. Including people he thinks are owned as slaves by the NFL and other terrorized employees.

When Trump instructs NFL owners to fire people that disagree with his own petty world view, he thinks they are plantation owners such as he sees himself with the rest of humanity. Trump makes “the best deals” but cannot see, nor appreciate, the NFL collective bargaining agreement (CBA), nor does he respect that deal for squat if employees thereunder happen to annoy the fat ass boy king and god.

Apparently Trump thinks the illustrious group of NFL owner oligarchs are his bitches too. As Don Van Natta noted, “Bob Kraft, Jerry Jones, Stan Kroenke, Daniel Snyder, Shahid Khan, Woody Johnson & Bob McNair each gave $1M to Trump”. That is nearly one quarter of the NFL owners. What are they rewarded with by their benefactor Trump? A call for boycott of their business interests unless they enforce an unconscionable suppression of political free speech he disagrees with.

This may “only be sports”, but this is one of the more stunningly outrageous and un-American symbols of the cancer the Trump Presidency really is. And what a demented, sick and small man Trump really is.

Did Trump stop with that stunning pettiness and bigotry? No, of course not. He woke up and decided to be the charlatan of humanity he really is, and decided to lash out at another icon of sports. Steph Curry. And more:

Well that is brilliant Art of the Squeal Like a Pig Don.

So, lets see, who has Donald Trump lashed out at exclusively in the last 24 hours? Ryan Lizza hit it on the head:

Trump has now attacked Jemele Hill, Colin Kaepernick, & Stephen Curry. All have something in common but I can’t quite put my finger on it.

Ryan was being sarcastic about the putting a finger on it. And, again, he was completely correct in his observation. I wonder what Trump would say about a golden white boy who turned down a White House invitation”? Oh, wait….

The face of the New England Patriots, Tom Brady, did not attend Wednesday’s White House ceremony with his teammates due to “personal family matters” — but the show went on without the star quarterback.

Brady’s decision not to visit the White House comes on the same day former teammate and convicted murderer Aaron Hernandez was found dead after an apparent suicide in his prison cell.

Yes, a pure as white can be Tom Brady gets no bad mouth at all from our racist bigot President, but be a black person in sports, whether athletes like Colin Kaepernick and Michael Bennett, or sports journalist like Jemele Hill, and he will try to deprive you and your family of the essential income your professional career provides.

This is where we are in America in the Age of Trumpism. If you are a white nationalist fat ass racist bigot, your President thinks you are “fine folk”. If you are an intelligent black, brown, gay or other, even trying to serve your country’s military, your President, Trump The Genetically Magnificent, will attack you and your family’s very source of income, and well being, mercilessly.

It is the shame of modern America.

I’m sorry, I’ve no stomach for the actual games this weekend at this point. We can all discuss that in comments, but not here. Not now. Not after this.

Bmaz is a rather large saguaro cactus in the Southwestern Sonoran desert. A lover of the Constitution, law, family, sports, food and spirits. As you might imagine, a bit prickly occasionally. Bmaz has attended all three state universities in Arizona, with both undergraduate and graduate degrees from Arizona State University, and with significant post-graduate work (in physics and organic chemistry, go figure) at both the University of Colorado in Boulder and the University of Arizona. Married, with both a lovely child and a giant Sasquatch dog. Bmaz has been a participant on the internet since the early 2000’s, including active participation in the precursor to Emptywheel, The Next Hurrah. Formally joined the Emptywheel blog as an original contributing member at its founding in 2007. Bmaz grew up around politics, education, sports and, most significantly, cars; notably around Formula One racing and Concours de Elegance automobile restoration and showing. Currently lives in the Cactus Patch with his lovely wife and beast of a dog, and practices both criminal and civil trial law.

[Photo: Keith Johnston via Unsplash]

Trash Talk: The Trashiest Trash Until Next Trash

It’s warm and sticky here. I don’t feel like doing much of anything except lounge in a chaise beneath a sprinkler. But it’s probably the last hot weekend of the summer; our local forecast shows temperatures dipping to 69 F degrees later this coming week. Football weather, even.

Speaking of which, we have these pro games today:

NFL

Pittsburgh Steelers v Atlanta Falcons — 4:00 PM ET

Los Angeles Chargers v New Orleans Saints — 8:00 PM ET

No Kaepernick? I’m still not watching any NFL.

MLB

As I write this there are 10 games underway — check the schedule.

Team in my backyard — Detroit Tigers — isn’t in the basement (yet), but it needs to cuff baseman Ian Kinsler along the backside of his thick head and tell him to stop mouthing off to the umps. So unprofessional. If he’s got a legitimate complaint about referee performance, take it up with management.

~ | ~

In hindsight, I should probably have a ‘Fuck You’ sports column.

Fuck you, NFL, for your continued racist bullshit toward Colin Kaepernick. Just because you’re not waving the Stars and Bars doesn’t mean we can’t see what you’re doing.

And fuck you, Mitch Albom, because a journalist doesn’t get to decide which expression of free speech is more acceptable than another.

Speaking of Confederate flags, fuck you, NASCAR and your racist fan base because you just won’t move on after more than 150 years.

And finally, fuck you USA Gymnastics for marginalization and erasure of women gymnasts by failing more than 100 who have reported sexual abuse by a single team doctor. How many women does it take to speak out about criminal abuse before anybody takes effective action to prosecute the alleged abuser and fix the system which allowed and perpetuated the abuse?

Highlight of my week: All Blacks beat the Wallabies in the first game of the Rugby Championship. Full video here – haka starts at 06:34 into the video. Other championship news here.

And another end: Mo Farah won his last competitive race. He’s retiring to spend more time with his family in Oregon, which is a really nice way of saying Trump’s racist Muslim travel ban has forced a world class athlete to stay put for fear of future detention. I probably should have added this to the Fuck Yous; Fuck you, Trump, and your bigotry as policy.

That’s a wrap. Consider this an open thread — sports stuff preferred.

Blogger since 2002, political activist since 2003, geek since birth. Opinions informed by mixed-race, multi-ethnic, cis-female condition, further shaped by kind friends of all persuasions. Sci-tech frenemy, wannabe artist, decent cook, determined author, successful troublemaker. Mother of invention and two excessively smart-assed young adult kids. Attended School of Hard Knocks; Rather Unfortunate Smallish Private Business School in Midwest; Affordable Mid-State Community College w/evening classes. Self-employed at Tiny Consulting Business; previously at Large-ish Chemical Company with HQ in Midwest in multiple marginalizing corporate drone roles, and at Rather Big IT Service Provider as a project manager, preceded by a motley assortment of gigs before the gig economy was a thing. Blogging experience includes a personal blog at the original blogs.salon.com, managing editor for a state-based news site, and a stint at Firedoglake before landing here at emptywheel as technology’s less-virginal-but-still-accursed Cassandra.

[Photo: Jose Chavez via Unsplash]

Trash Talk: Watch This Space

I think I’m the only one left in town today. Everyone else I know has bailed out to make the last of the rapidly dwindling summer.

Here in Michigan it’s been autumn-like all week. I half-expect to see a school bus trundling down the street each morning with dawn temp’s below 60F degrees.

It’s a blessing for the high school football players, though, who are now practicing every weekday afternoon before their season begins. It’s perfect football weather.

And since everyone else has hightailed it to the woods or beach, I’m slapping up a Trash Talk post to catch whatever you folks have to say about sports.

NFL on tap today:

New York Jets v. Tennessee Titans at 4:30 p.m.

Los Angeles Rams v. Dallas Cowboys at 6:00 p.m.

Arizona Cardinals v. Oakland Raiders at 7:00 p.m.

Sorry, I’m not watching any NFL games. Still royally pissed off about Colin Kaepernick’s continuing unemployment for no damned good reason. Don’t even give me “But his last season…” baloney. Nearly all of us have been lucky at some point in our lives that prospective employers didn’t tell us that after an interview and looked instead at the entire body of our work and other mitigating circumstances affecting performance.

Non-football:

Sadly, today saw Usain Bolt’s last heats for Jamaica at the World Athletics Championships in London. Really going to miss watching his superhuman speed; he was an inspiration to my son during his running career. Not many tall men can run like that — my son, being tall, pressed on with running because he knew from Bolt being competitive was a possibility. Now we’ll have to watch for the next world record runner to emerge.

The PGA Championship continues today at Quail Hollow in Charlotte, North Carolina. Golf industry is all worked up about an uptick in interest among millennials, probably because of 24-year-old Jordan Spieth. Meh. As long as this sport is too expensive for the average millennial to play on a regular basis, recent interest will fade. There’s a reason there hasn’t been a remake of the movie Caddyshack.

I forgot to ask my prospective son-in-law and uber-NASCAR fan why he isn’t at the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Pure Michigan 400 this weekend. The weather would be great — breezy and cool — though we’re getting spotty rain showers which will make for iffy track conditions.

What else is going on? Tell me about it.

p.s. jo6pac, this post is for you, buddy. ~wink~

p.p.s. I need to edit this photo, damn it. I love it but the gallery cuts off her head and the football. Don’t really want to do it, though, because it’ll mess with the aspect ratio. Photo is by Jose Chavez at Unsplash.
[Photo: Jose Chavez via Unsplash]

Blogger since 2002, political activist since 2003, geek since birth. Opinions informed by mixed-race, multi-ethnic, cis-female condition, further shaped by kind friends of all persuasions. Sci-tech frenemy, wannabe artist, decent cook, determined author, successful troublemaker. Mother of invention and two excessively smart-assed young adult kids. Attended School of Hard Knocks; Rather Unfortunate Smallish Private Business School in Midwest; Affordable Mid-State Community College w/evening classes. Self-employed at Tiny Consulting Business; previously at Large-ish Chemical Company with HQ in Midwest in multiple marginalizing corporate drone roles, and at Rather Big IT Service Provider as a project manager, preceded by a motley assortment of gigs before the gig economy was a thing. Blogging experience includes a personal blog at the original blogs.salon.com, managing editor for a state-based news site, and a stint at Firedoglake before landing here at emptywheel as technology’s less-virginal-but-still-accursed Cassandra.

Tuesday Morning: What’s News, Tiwes?

[Screencap, Newsmap, 0815h EDT]

[Screencap, Newsmap, 0815h EDT]

It’s the day belonging to Tiwes, the Norse god of single combat. What will we engage in battle about today? Looks like sketchy news coverage is a good reason, after taking a peek at Newsmap this morning to check global media coverage of the Panama Papers.

Very thin reporting, according to the results. Canada, come on — Bill Cosby is bigger news than global corruption?

Ditto for India, which covered the HSBC money laundering scandal exhaustively last year. Very little coverage in that country’s English language outlets.

Don’t get all peeved off about the U.S. media, which hasn’t done a particularly good job over the last 24 hours. It’s not just us; the lack of coverage may say something about media ownership around the world.

One possible example on shore here: the acquisition of the Las Vegas-Review Journal last year. Nevada happens to be the eighth most popular tax haven in the world, and Las Vegas is its heart. Was this paper acquired in order to influence reporting in and about this topic?

Mossack Fonseca has a subsidiary in Las Vegas, by the way.

Let’s take a look at science and technology news…

  • No change yet to claims that Panama Papers were obtained by an attack on Mossack Fonseca’s email server (The Register-UK) — Of particular note, this observation by this tech news outlet:

    To date, The Register hasn’t seen a strong presence from the tech sector in the staged release of the documents, perhaps because the “Double Irish Dutch Sandwich” tactic favoured in this business works without hiding companies’ links to their international associates.

    The comments at that link are rather interesting, offering both a perspective from our overseas “cousins” as well as technical assessment about the leak.

  • Are you ready for some Thursday night Twitter streaming? (WaPo) — NFL’s awarded a deal to Twitter for streaming some of its games. This is an interesting development, given how much co-watching TV Twitter users do.
  • I’m afraid I can’t do THAT, Dave: humans aroused by touching robots special places (Phys.org) — Ewww. Don’t ask me to travel through the Uncanny Valley with you on this one.
  • Revolv’s home automation hub now a casualty in the Internet of Things universe (BoingBoing) — Device fell out of the product plans for Google’s home automation subsidiary, Nest. Unfortunately, Revolv was sold with a lifetime subscription which will be defunct in May.
  • “Routine management reshuffle” replaces three senior execs at China’s telecom manufacturer ZTE (Reuters) — coincidentally happens weeks after U.S. authorities revealed attempts by ZTE to circumvent sanctions against Iran.
  • Name a non-Zika disease also transmitted by Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, facing a drastic vaccine shortage (Science) — You win if you said yellow fever, which has no cure and can be deadly.
  • Article 27: Algorithmic Politics (Furtherfield) — Necrocapitalism. Wrap your head around that term. A thought-provoking essay about a world where algorithms are our political system.

That’s enough for your coffee break or lunch hour. Catch you here tomorrow morning!

Blogger since 2002, political activist since 2003, geek since birth. Opinions informed by mixed-race, multi-ethnic, cis-female condition, further shaped by kind friends of all persuasions. Sci-tech frenemy, wannabe artist, decent cook, determined author, successful troublemaker. Mother of invention and two excessively smart-assed young adult kids. Attended School of Hard Knocks; Rather Unfortunate Smallish Private Business School in Midwest; Affordable Mid-State Community College w/evening classes. Self-employed at Tiny Consulting Business; previously at Large-ish Chemical Company with HQ in Midwest in multiple marginalizing corporate drone roles, and at Rather Big IT Service Provider as a project manager, preceded by a motley assortment of gigs before the gig economy was a thing. Blogging experience includes a personal blog at the original blogs.salon.com, managing editor for a state-based news site, and a stint at Firedoglake before landing here at emptywheel as technology’s less-virginal-but-still-accursed Cassandra.

Monday Morning: Get a Pick and Shovel

Mississippi John Hurt’s lyrics seem appropriate this morning — get a pick and shovel to dig your way out of all that snow and ice this Monday morning.

Getting a late start here because I stayed up watching the X-Files revival.

Apple iMessage users’ content at risk if backed up to iCloud
While iMessages themselves use end-to-end encryption, the same content when backed up to iCloud is encrypted by an Apple-controlled key. As many as 500 million users have data in iCloud services, at risk of exposure. You’d think after The Fappening, Apple users would be more leery about enabling iCloud backup.

Network problems affect NFL’s Microsoft Surface tablets, left New England Patriots in the dark
Wow, right down to the “last defensive possession” and *blip* — nothing on the Surface tablets for Pats’ coaches to show their players. Not the first time there’ve been problems with this technology, either. NFL’s network problems are blamed for the loss of play information, but Microsoft’s tablets are taking the brunt of it. Have to wonder why there wasn’t adequate redundancy to ensure network burps would not affect the game. Can’t fault the tablets or the network outage for the delay of X-Files on FOX, though, since the Patriots vs. Broncos were on CBS.

Donald Rumsfeld, video game designer
One of the last things I ever expected to see in my feed: Donald Rumsfeld, former Secretary of Defense under George W. Bush, designed a video game. It’s an obscure form of solitaire attributed to Winston Churchill. “…I’ve signed off on something they call ‘UX’,” Rumsfeld said. Heaven help us.

I’m deferring my date with a shovel for later today and crawling back into bed. Stay safe and warm, gang.

Blogger since 2002, political activist since 2003, geek since birth. Opinions informed by mixed-race, multi-ethnic, cis-female condition, further shaped by kind friends of all persuasions. Sci-tech frenemy, wannabe artist, decent cook, determined author, successful troublemaker. Mother of invention and two excessively smart-assed young adult kids. Attended School of Hard Knocks; Rather Unfortunate Smallish Private Business School in Midwest; Affordable Mid-State Community College w/evening classes. Self-employed at Tiny Consulting Business; previously at Large-ish Chemical Company with HQ in Midwest in multiple marginalizing corporate drone roles, and at Rather Big IT Service Provider as a project manager, preceded by a motley assortment of gigs before the gig economy was a thing. Blogging experience includes a personal blog at the original blogs.salon.com, managing editor for a state-based news site, and a stint at Firedoglake before landing here at emptywheel as technology’s less-virginal-but-still-accursed Cassandra.

NOT Trash Talk: Watch This Space

Most unsportsy member of the Emptywheel team here, throwing up a placeholder post to catch the sports stuff.

Commenter Lefty665 “seeds the kitty”:

How about them Redskins? Gonna kick some Cheesehead butt. Rogers has all the history, but since the bye Cousins has been the better QB. GM Scott McCloughan has turned the ‘Skins around, Gruden has grown up as coach, and miracle of miracles, Snyder has apparently kept his fingers out of the pie for the first time ever.

Here’s a link to the tune for the day, Patty Loveless doing Darrell Scott’s “You’ll never leave Harlan Alive.”

Have at ’em. Marcy, bmaz, edit this post as you see fit whenever you have a few minutes.

Oh yeah, might be helpful to post this weekend’s NFL playoff game lineup:

Saturday: Pittsburgh Steelers versus Cincinnati Bengals — 8:15 P.M. EST — CBS (free)

Saturday: KC Chiefs versus Houston Texans — 4:15 P.M. EST — ABC/ESPN (free on ABC)

Sunday: Seattle Seahawks versus Minnesota Vikings — 1:05 P.M. EST — NBC (login required)

Sunday: Green Bay Packers versus Washington Redskins — 4:40 P.M. EST — FOX (login required)

Mashable’s posted info about streaming these games. Sucks if you have crappy internet, especially if you’re one of the roughly 30% of Americans without high speed internet access. Given how damned little came out of the FCC’s auction for 700Mhz bandwidth formerly used for analog television broadcast, does it ever feel like the auction was a scam to force the public to pay more to view sports?

UPDATED — 5:30 PM EST —
Head upstairs where bmaz has posted the REAL trash talk tackling the divisional playoffs. I’ve also corrected the lineup to add Kansas City vs Houston *now in progress*, per NFL’s schedule. Wow, so pressure, much football, very relief. /Rayne

Blogger since 2002, political activist since 2003, geek since birth. Opinions informed by mixed-race, multi-ethnic, cis-female condition, further shaped by kind friends of all persuasions. Sci-tech frenemy, wannabe artist, decent cook, determined author, successful troublemaker. Mother of invention and two excessively smart-assed young adult kids. Attended School of Hard Knocks; Rather Unfortunate Smallish Private Business School in Midwest; Affordable Mid-State Community College w/evening classes. Self-employed at Tiny Consulting Business; previously at Large-ish Chemical Company with HQ in Midwest in multiple marginalizing corporate drone roles, and at Rather Big IT Service Provider as a project manager, preceded by a motley assortment of gigs before the gig economy was a thing. Blogging experience includes a personal blog at the original blogs.salon.com, managing editor for a state-based news site, and a stint at Firedoglake before landing here at emptywheel as technology’s less-virginal-but-still-accursed Cassandra.

The Roger Goodell Fraud and Stupidity in Seattle’s End Zones

Screen Shot 2015-10-05 at 10.57.28 PMMost all who read this blog already know the patent bogosity that is #Deflategate. But, Roger Goodell, on behalf of the entire National Football League, relentlessly and petulantly screams that not only is the ginned up horse manure worthy of occupying the NFL’s time, he and the NFL have seen fit to copiously waste the time of two different levels of the federal court system.

Even worse, they have either sought, or by their unyielding craven attitude, caused stipulations to be entered that the federal court system accelerate their cases while far more important criminal and civil cases wait. It is the epitome of arrogance and corporate hubris and personal narcissism.

Roger Goodell has consistently lectured all the rest of us, who do not make $44 million a year for being an incompetent jerk, that the whole ginned up, factually unsupported, steer manure that is #Deflategate is all “to protect the integrity of the league”.

What a load of horse manure. Has Roger Goodell seen what happened in the end zone at the end to the game in Seattle last night?? If the “integrity of the league” is not at issue with this type of blatant misapplication of the clear rules, and … what confirmation (or not!) by the NFL’s vaunted replay system (which is curiously not applied in many situations when it is dispositive), then what is?

Well, okay, THAT was really stupid and in complete contradiction of the crystal clear NFL rules. But hey, it is not like the referees could have looked at tape and done the honest thing to not hand the game on a platter to the Seahawks and skew the league for the entire year. Well, of course, they actually COULD HAVE done the right thing, but just did not. But beyond screwing the pooch, then the NFL’s stenographers at ESPN put up some former NFL referee expert™ to explain and cover for the patently obvious wrongful cow dung. Because that is what toadies do I guess.

Not exactly the first time, however, the NFL has willingly sanctioned and ratified stupidity in a Seattle Seahawks end zone that ended up screwing, and altering, the lives and seasons of teams and players across the league. No, of course, there was this intellectually insulting crap that occurred because Roger Goodell was too cheap to pay the referees and umpires in his league a few extra bucks (maybe if NFL paid more, they could get better, and full time, officials). Watch Goodell’s inglorious work in the 2012 game between Seattle and Green Bay:

So, the “integrity of the game” didn’t matter when Roger Goodell was trying to bust the game officials’ union for a cheap last couple of dollars. The “integrity of the game” apparently doesn’t matter to the NFL, or their apologists, over the sham that clearly occurred in Seattle last night. And Goodell and the NFL’s precious “integrity of the game” seems, to them, to be worth more than all other civil litigants in SDNY and the 2nd Circuit, even if there are serious civil rights and criminal cases that get shoved aside for their arrogance.

But Roger Goodell struts out like the $44 million a year arrogant peacock that he is and claims obsessively that a ginned up sting job the league ran on Tom Brady and the Patriots, that has absolutely no credible evidence to support it, was “necessary” for the “integrity of the game”.

The millions of dollars for an inherently biased, not to mention intellectually and legally incoherent, Ted Wells report, the waste of time, and acceleration before all other pending cases and controversies, including criminal cases with lives in the balance, of a federal judge in the Southern District of New York (SDNY)…that was in Roger Goodell’s “Integrity of the game”. They now waste time in the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals, and on an accelerated basis – all on affirmative initial filings by Goodell and the NFL – that, too, is in the precious “integrity of the game” for Roger Goodell.

The only thing that does not seem to be within the “integrity of the game” for Roger Goodell and the NFL is actual integrity and sense of place for the game. What a clownshow Roger Goodell is, and is running for the vaunted NFL shield.

Bmaz is a rather large saguaro cactus in the Southwestern Sonoran desert. A lover of the Constitution, law, family, sports, food and spirits. As you might imagine, a bit prickly occasionally. Bmaz has attended all three state universities in Arizona, with both undergraduate and graduate degrees from Arizona State University, and with significant post-graduate work (in physics and organic chemistry, go figure) at both the University of Colorado in Boulder and the University of Arizona. Married, with both a lovely child and a giant Sasquatch dog. Bmaz has been a participant on the internet since the early 2000’s, including active participation in the precursor to Emptywheel, The Next Hurrah. Formally joined the Emptywheel blog as an original contributing member at its founding in 2007. Bmaz grew up around politics, education, sports and, most significantly, cars; notably around Formula One racing and Concours de Elegance automobile restoration and showing. Currently lives in the Cactus Patch with his lovely wife and beast of a dog, and practices both criminal and civil trial law.

Killer Football Is Trashing Its Real Capital

So we are on to week two of Trash Talk for the nascent NFL season, and week three for the NCAA. There is a ton that could be unpacked as to the particular players, plays and whatnot but, as was the case with the first week, I have little inclination to do so anymore, at least not at great length. Maybe just a little later on, but there are more pressing matters at hand.

Football is hard to turn away from, it is great pageantry and spectacle. It is incredibly compelling sport. But the game is at a crossroad as to its deadly nature and its decimation of its real capital: the players. A stunning article came out yesterday from PBS Frontline:

A total of 87 out of 91 former NFL players have tested positive for the brain disease at the center of the debate over concussions in football, according to new figures from the nation’s largest brain bank focused on the study of traumatic head injury.

Researchers with the Department of Veterans Affairs and Boston University have now identified the degenerative disease known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, in 96 percent of NFL players that they’ve examined and in 79 percent of all football players. The disease is widely believed to stem from repetitive trauma to the head, and can lead to conditions such as memory loss, depression and dementia.

In total, the lab has found CTE in the brain tissue in 131 out of 165 individuals who, before their deaths, played football either professionally, semi-professionally, in college or in high school.

Wow. We have known for quite a while about CTE and its debilitating, and sometimes deadly, effects on football players. But the starkly presented facts portrayed in the PBS piece are really eye opening. And people are talking about it. It is in the regular news rotation at CNN this morning, and you know how muchit had to pain the programmers and producers at CNN a LOT to eat into their All Trump, All The Time philosophy.

But the NFL is being a good corporate citizen and proactively protecting their players, right? No, maybe not so much. While Roger Goodell and the NFL paint a happy face on their “improvements”, the real fact of the matter is that their “progress” is mostly just another Roger Goodell and NFL PR shitshow. Do take a look at the above trailer for the movie “Concussion” set to be released in December. It looks fantastic.

Again, from the PBS Frontline article we started out with:

The film, Concussion, starring Will Smith, traces the story of Bennet Omalu, who in 2005 shocked the football establishment with an article in the journal Neurosurgery detailing his discovery of CTE in the brain of former Pittsburgh Steelers center Mike Webster. At the VA lab and elsewhere, CTE has since been found in players such as Hall of Famer Junior Seau, former NFL Man of the Year Dave Duerson, and Colts tight end John Mackey, a past head of the player’s union.

While the story is not a new one, for the NFL, it represents a high-profile and potentially embarrassing cinematic interpretation of a period in which the league sought to refute research suggesting football may contribute to brain disease.

From 2003 to 2009, for example, the NFL’s now disbanded Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Committee concluded in a series of scientific papers that “no NFL player” had experienced chronic brain damage from repeat concussions, and that “Professional football players do not sustain frequent repetitive blows to the brain on a regular basis.”

In the case of Omalu, league doctors publicly assailed his research, and in a rare move, demanded a retraction of his study. When Omalu spoke to FRONTLINE about the incident for the 2013 documentary, League of Denial: The NFL’s Concussion Crisis, he said, “You can’t go against the NFL. They’ll squash you.”

“THEY WILL SQUASH YOU”. Yes, that is exactly the consistent message from the oh so “fan friendly” good ‘ole NFL of Roger Goodell, and the billionaire owner baby tyrants he works for. Little different than coal mine owners, the NFL cares primarily about their bottom line. First they look at the purse. This is why the Brady/NFLPA case is so important. And why Bountygate, Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson’s cases before it, were all so important. And, yes, even the disciplinary travails of James Harrison. They all reflect the ad hoc, arbitrary and capricious, and self serving nature of the treatment of labor by owners and management in the NFL.

You may see them only as millionaire malefactor petulant football players out doing bad things and think they deserve what they get. And maybe that is true in most cases. Ray Rice absolutely assaulted his fiancé and now wife Janay. Adrian Peterson, engaged in punishment of a child that was pretty common when I was a kid, but is entirely medieval by today’s standards.

Say what you will, where there is wildly disproportionate power between ownership/management and labor, and where there has been a collectively bargained agreement to protect labor, that must be jealously protected. That is exactly why Tom Brady is so critical. Brady is no gangster nor domestic abuser. He is the furthest thing from it; indeed, Brady is Mr. Clean Cut GQ All American. If Roger Goodell and the NFL he represents can arbitrarily, capriciously and imperiously take out Tom Brady – on trumped up junk with no credible evidentiary basis whatsoever – and can do so in a biased and unfair process, then all of labor loses. Not just high flying football players, but teachers, autoworkers, miners, and rank and file employees of all stripes and colors.

I digressed a little from today’s CTE issue, but the labor issue is intertwined. The players need more honesty, more protection, and more complete future medical coverage from the NFL because of the disease that is CTE. That, my friends, is a labor issue, and a huge one. And Roger Goodell and the NFL are already acting in bad faith in their “settlement” efforts as to long past players. It is simply pitiful.

So, what about this week? I dunno. The Broncos looked like toast through 7 of their first 8 quarters of the season. But, the Donks are 2-0. If Manning and Kubiak can find a mutual equilibrium, watch out, because Von Miller, Aqib Talib and the defense are some flat out ball hawks. Yak all you want about Peyton’s decline and fall, and maybe it is true. But do NOT sleep on these guys.

Cowboys, Gents or Iggles? Yeah, I have no clue there either.’Boys looked best week one, not sure I buy it. Why is RGIII still on the active roster of the Washington Professional Football Franchise? Seriously, the Washingtonians are like the Duggars of football; it is on public view, but it is all horrible. The Eagles? Hmmm, Chip Kelly’s troops better show up this week or else the great hype is dead.

Aaron Rodgers is a renaissance man (this is a fantastic article). Oh, and Go Pack! against those pesky Seasquawks. This time it is at Lambeau in title town. There are other games of note too, including, of course Bill Bel and the Brays at the Wagon Circling Bills. That is shaping up to be some big fun.

So, go whoop it up and have some fun. The game goes on, even if a reckoning is necessary. The music number today is First I Look At The Purse by the J. Geils Band, and is in honor of the craven Roger Goodell and the NFL I described above.

Bmaz is a rather large saguaro cactus in the Southwestern Sonoran desert. A lover of the Constitution, law, family, sports, food and spirits. As you might imagine, a bit prickly occasionally. Bmaz has attended all three state universities in Arizona, with both undergraduate and graduate degrees from Arizona State University, and with significant post-graduate work (in physics and organic chemistry, go figure) at both the University of Colorado in Boulder and the University of Arizona. Married, with both a lovely child and a giant Sasquatch dog. Bmaz has been a participant on the internet since the early 2000’s, including active participation in the precursor to Emptywheel, The Next Hurrah. Formally joined the Emptywheel blog as an original contributing member at its founding in 2007. Bmaz grew up around politics, education, sports and, most significantly, cars; notably around Formula One racing and Concours de Elegance automobile restoration and showing. Currently lives in the Cactus Patch with his lovely wife and beast of a dog, and practices both criminal and civil trial law.