Not all the athletes are millionaires, many are not paid near that and are just trying to hang on and make a living for themselves and their families. That is a good thing. But even the common professional athlete makes many times more than a teacher.
Who is more important to society in the long run? The league personnel and athletes are getting tested and traced relentlessly in their bubbles and training camps because billionaire owners, TV platforms and gambling lobbyists demand it. They are tired of their gravy train being interrupted. An understandable thing if in their shoes. But 99.9% of the citizenry is not in their shoes.
Teachers and their schools are being ordered to open with nothing in place for their, or their students’, safety. How many teachers in Florida could be tested in Florida if the insane capacity being expended in the Magic Kingdom on the NBA were reallocated to a better benefit? How will that play out with that which is allocated to the NFL, MLB and NHL were reallocated across the country?
Where are the real priorities in a time of pandemic this country, and this world, has not seen in the last 100 years?
I want to reemphasize, would love for all the sports to be back. That would be wonderful. Especially when we all are sequestered unnaturally in our own homes.
But maybe teachers and their students….our children….and the future of all are more important than the current demand for sports.
The Covid danger is real, it is not a joke. It is not partisan politics. Here is a heartbreaking story. This man ran through my neighborhood to a win. The young and strong are in danger, not just the old and infirm.
Maybe, at least temporarily, our priorities ought change. Maybe LeBron James and Tom Brady should give their daily test to a teacher.
The Good Trouble of John Lewis
Another lion has left the earth. John Lewis. And that damn bridge in Selma needs to be immediately renamed for him, as has been discussed for years. Do it now. But finally abolishing the name and specter of the Edmund Pettus Bridge will not be enough. Structurally, the Pettus is not very large, it only has four piers, but it spans the arc of civil rights. The very civil rights still at issue today. John Lewis is the epitome of that arc.
Representative John Lewis, a son of sharecroppers and an apostle of nonviolence who was bloodied at Selma and across the Jim Crow South in the historic struggle for racial equality and who then carried a mantle of moral authority into Congress, died on Friday. He was 80.
Mr. Lewis’s personal history paralleled that of the civil rights movement. He was among the original 13 Freedom Riders, the Black and white activists who challenged segregated interstate travel in the South in 1961. He was a founder and early leader of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, which coordinated lunch-counter sit-ins. He helped organize the March on Washington, where Dr. King was the main speaker, on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.
Mr. Lewis led demonstrations against racially segregated restrooms, hotels, restaurants, public parks and swimming pools, and he rose up against other indignities of second-class citizenship. At nearly every turn he was beaten, spat upon or burned with cigarettes. He was tormented by white mobs and absorbed body blows from law enforcement.
This day was clearly coming, it was widely known Lewis was not well and in the throes of cancer. The death also comes as the racist cancer in society he fought so hard as a youth is center stage yet again. Not just in the abuse in the streets by police, not just in the Black Lives Matter movement, but in the despair of the poor and downtrodden. And, importantly, in favor of all citizens voting.
“Generations from now,” Obama said when awarding him a Medal of Freedom in 2011, “when parents teach their children what is meant by courage, the story of John Lewis will come to mind — an American who knew that change could not wait for some other person or some other time; whose life is a lesson in the fierce urgency of now.”
The fierce urgency of now is every bit as critical as at any time in history.
Maybe Trump Really Is Never Going To Leave
Now that Rayne has you all festive for the holidays, I am gonna leave you with one more little nugget of joy. Trump really is planning on not leaving even if he loses badly to Biden. I have kind of poo poohed this kind of talk, but this morning on Morning Joe, there was a discussion with former Colorado Senator Tim Wirth and Tom Rogers, a journalist and original founder of both CNBC and MSNBC. These are two very smart and credible people, and they are pretty convincing. If you can find a video clip of their appearance, post the link and I’ll add it in to the post, it is harrowing.
Wirth and Rogers lay out two paths they expect Trump to take. The first is the obvious one pretty much everybody is aware of, severe voter suppression and goon poll watchers challenging voters pretty much anywhere and everywhere, along with claiming fraud as to the vote by mail. But it is the second path that is truly frightening.
This spring, HBO aired The Plot Against America, based on the Philip Roth novel of how an authoritarian president could grab control of the United States government using emergency powers that no one could foresee. Recent press reports have revealed the compilation by the Brennan Center at New York University of an extensive list of presidential emergency powers that might be inappropriately invoked in a national security crisis. Attorney General William Barr, known for his extremist view of the expanse of presidential power, is widely believed to be developing a Justice Department opinion arguing that the president can exercise emergency powers in certain national security situations, while stating that the courts, being extremely reluctant to intervene in the sphere of a national security emergency, would allow the president to proceed unchecked.
With this, Trump has begun to lay the groundwork for the step-by-step process by which he holds on to the presidency after he has clearly lost the election:
1. Biden wins the popular vote, and carries the key swing states of Arizona, Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania by decent but not overwhelming margins.
2. Trump immediately declares that the voting was rigged, that there was mail-in ballot fraud and that the Chinese were behind a plan to provide fraudulent mail-in ballots and other “election hacking” throughout the four key swing states that gave Biden his victory.
3. Having railed against the Chinese throughout the campaign, calling Biden “soft on China,” Trump delivers his narrative claiming the Chinese have interfered in the U.S. election.
4. Trump indicates this is a major national security issue, and he invokes emergency powers, directing the Justice Department to investigate the alleged activity in the swing states. The legal justification for the presidential powers he invokes has already been developed and issued by Barr.
5. The investigation is intended to tick down the clock toward December 14, the deadline when each state’s Electoral College electors must be appointed. This is the very issue that the Supreme Court harped on in Bush v. Gore in ruling that the election process had to be brought to a close, thus forbidding the further counting of Florida ballots.
6. All four swing states have Republican control of both their upper and lower houses of their state legislatures. Those state legislatures refuse to allow any Electoral College slate to be certified until the “national security” investigation is complete.
7. The Democrats will have begun a legal action to certify the results in those four states, and the appointment of the Biden slate of electors, arguing that Trump has manufactured a national security emergency in order to create the ensuing chaos.
8. The issue goes up to the Supreme Court, which unlike the 2000 election does not decide the election in favor of the Republicans. However, it indicates again that the December 14 Electoral College deadline must be met; that the president’s national security powers legally authorize him to investigate potential foreign country intrusion into the national election; and if no Electoral College slate can be certified by any state by December 14, the Electoral College must meet anyway and cast its votes.
9. The Electoral College meets, and without the electors from those four states being represented, neither Biden nor Trump has sufficient votes to get an Electoral College majority.
10. The election is thrown into the House of Representatives, pursuant to the Constitution. Under the relevant constitutional process, the vote in the House is by state delegation, where each delegation casts one vote, which is determined by the majority of the representatives in that state.
11. Currently, there are 26 states that have a majority Republican House delegation. 23 states have a majority Democratic delegation. There is one state, Pennsylvania, that has an evenly split delegation. Even if the Democrats were to pick up seats in Pennsylvania and hold all their 2018 House gains, the Republicans would have a 26 to 24 delegation majority.
12. This vote would enable Trump to retain the presidency.
Is this nuts? Sure. Is it possible? Yes, given who and what Trump and Barr are, it may well be.
The Chicks Are Owed An Apology
Once upon a time, back when the United States was under the leadership of another fairly incompetent Republican President (yes yes, Bush and Cheney look a little better now compared to Trump and Pence, but only because they were actually semi-competent in their evil, but they were still very evil), there was was sensationally good crossover country/pop group known as the Dixie Chicks.
They were country, but never of the “stars and bars” Dixie kind. It was simply an appellation. In fact, they were all pretty forward and progressive thinking and talking. And man did they get in trouble for it. I guess the new term of the day is “cancelled”, which is kind of an idiotic term, but the howlers really did try to obliterate Natalie Maines, Emily Strayer and Martie Maguire. From Wiki:
On March 10, 2003, nine days before the invasion of Iraq, the Dixie Chicks performed at the Shepherds Bush Empire theater in London, England. It was the first concert of their Top of the World tour in support of their sixth album, Home. Introducing their song “Travelin’ Soldier”, Maines told the audience the band they did not support the upcoming Allied invasion of Iraq and were “ashamed” that President George W. Bush was from Texas. Many American country music listeners supported the war, and Maines’s remark triggered a backlash in the United States. The Dixie Chicks were blacklisted by thousands of country radio stations, and the band members received death threats. Maines issued an apology, saying her remark had been disrespectful; in 2006 she rescinded the apology, saying she felt Bush deserved no respect. The backlash damaged sales of their music and sales of their next album and tour.
In a September 2003 interview, Maguire told the German magazine Der Spiegel: “We don’t feel a part of the country scene any longer, it can’t be our home anymore.” She noted a lack of support from country stars, and being shunned at the 2003 ACM Awards. “Instead, we won three Grammys against much stronger competition. So we now consider ourselves part of the big rock ‘n’ roll family.” Some fans were dismayed, but the group made no clear response.
If you have forgotten, which is awfully easy to do in these pandemic days of Trump, this was a huge deal at the time. The United States government under the Bush/Cheney regime, and the entire country music scene hated on them and ostracized them. It was one of those kind of fulcrum moments. It was not just the Iraq war, it was torture, the unitary executive, free speech, protest…..everything was wrapped up, in a cultural way, in the actions of the Dixie Chicks. It was symbolic of the divide.
But Natalie Maines, Emily Strayer and Martie Maguire were bad ass and stuck to their morals and thoughts. They got hammered at the time, but they hung in and are still here bigger and badder ass than ever. They are now just The Chicks, having dumped the Dixie part of their original name. The Chicks are owed a debt of gratitude and an apology for the idiocy and bigotry they faced from the howlers during the Bush/Cheney years, and they are here to let you know they are still on the good side of the cutting edge.
The Chicks have a new song and video out. “March March”, and it is truly awesome. A song for this time. I saw it last night at Atrios’ joint, and it is really superb. Take a look. Expand it and watch it full screen, it is worth it. This is the music of protest, and in the best way. Music was key in the 60’s and it is key now. It spreads far and wide what people feel, whether they are in the streets or at home. The “at home” part seems even more pertinent now in the time of unabated pandemic at the hands of yet another evil Administration. And that is our trash talk for this weekend, get on it!
Trash Talk: The NBA’s Insane Money Grab Scheme
I really don’t have a lot for this week, but there is this: The National Basketball Association is desperate to join the Grand Reopening. And boy is it a doozy. Via ESPN:
“the NBA’s board of governors overwhelmingly approved a proposal for 22 teams to return to play, starting July 31 at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida.
Before the NBA can come back, teams must reassemble in their home markets. That means bringing back players who left for their hometowns — or, in some cases, home countries — while the league sorted out its plans. Players who return from overseas are likely to be subject to a two-week quarantine upon arrival, under current federal rules.
Teams will continue to hold individual workouts in their facilities. A training camp will start June 30 and last a week. All teams will fly to Orlando on July 7, three weeks before the restart of the season. They will likely have to quarantine for some period; Florida law requires people flying in from some states, including New York, to quarantine for 14 days.”
Orlando you say? Yep, they are all going to DisneyWorld to live and play in a “bubble”! The 22 teams include six, including the Phoenix Suns, that were not in playoff contention when the season was stopped. Why, you ask? Well it is literally as simple as more teams equals more games to broadcast, and therefore more money to make for the plantation owners of the NBA. A group that is all white with the exception of Charlotte’s Michael Jordan, Sacramento Kings owner Vivek Ranadivé, who is Indian and Joseph Tsai of the Brooklyn Nets. The players they are summonsing to live and play in the bubble are, of course, about 75% black.
“In a string of tweets on Wednesday, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski outlined conversations that were taking place over the last couple of days including a large group of “several dozen” players who believe resuming play in Orlando is a bad idea.
According to Wojnarowski, because of the dissenting views, the NBA and NBPA are likely to agree on a provision in which players would not be required to join their respective teams for the restart of the season. The two sides are working toward an agreement that would not include disciplinary action for players who choose to stay home, though they would lose a portion of their salary for games missed.”
Yeah, while players want to play theoretically, who wants to live in a bubble far away from home, with limited, if any fun, friends and nightlife so the league can rake in some bucks off of TV revenue? And probably little to no family contact. There will, of course, be no fans and players and coaches will be Carona tested every day. Older coaches may not be allowed, which would be horrid, and, frankly, probably a violation of age discrimination protections.
There are a LOT more issues too, starting with how Covid secure will “the bubble” actually be? It might work. It might t not. There are a lot of moving parts on that. As to those parts and all the other problems, this article by Zach Lowe at ESPN is really good, and I urge you to take a read of it.
It will be really interesting to see how this plays out. Were I an NBA player, I think I’d take a pass on this harebrained scheme and say see you next year guys.
Well, that’s it. The Zach Lowe piece really is a worth a read to get the full picture. Today’s music is, of course, Roundball Rock, one of the best sports theme songs ever. Yeah, I know, it is John Tesh, but with a full big band, and it is pretty good. Hoop it up folks!
The Fabulous Emptywheel Music Blog: Country AND Western Edition!
Welp, it has been another glorious month week living the glorious life in Trump’s America. So let’s have a little fun and games.
I am pretty much normally a rock and roll person. Ed Walker’s opera and Zappa post was wonderful. So, let’s change it up a bit. Country and Western! Believe it or not, when I was younger, and before I had a drivers license, I went to a few C&W shows with some family friends. He was, seriously the principal of my grade school, and his wife the school nurse. Both simply fantastic people. And they loved C&W.
Pretty sure the first one was Johnny Cash and the Carter Family. I was not expecting much, I was just going because, well why not? And boy was I wrong. Fantastic. Oh, and I do believe the great Carl Perkins was on guitar for Cash at the time and did a truly rocking version of Blue Suede Shoes.
My recollection is that the second was Charlie Pride. Again truly fantastic.
What a presence. What a band. What a voice. Smooth and beautiful.
The third was Buck Owens and the Buckaroos. They had a huge following in Phoenix from very early on. In their early years they were serious regulars, if not kind of the erstwhile house band, at the original Phoenix Honky Tonk, Mr. Lucky’s.
Mr. Lucky’s was a place that regularly hosted some of the biggest names in country music – Glen Campbell, Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, Ray Price, Tom T. Hall, George Jones, Loretta Lynn, Waylon Jennings and pretty much everybody else. But Buck and the Buckaroos kind of owned the joint (literally for a while as I recall).
There is truly a lot of great country and Western out there, lets discuss it!
Normal Trash Talk rules apply, anything and everything flies.
Is The Time Of Keisha Lance Bottoms Now?
It might be. But if not, it is a genuine question for Democrats. Of all the Democrats on a national platform over the last few days, including Joe Biden, who has not been bad at all, Keisha Lance Bottoms stands above all of them. She is making a case, and not for herself, as much as for American humanity and competence.
My preferred candidate for the Democratic nomination, Sherrod Brown, did not even run. Bernie, Liz, Bloomie, Amy, Kamala and Tulsi barely registered. Voters, in many states, voted and the Democratic nominee will be Joe Biden. Again, whatever your preferences, voters voted.
So, the talk is turning to who will be Joe Biden’s running mate as VP? The usual suspects, along with Stacy Abrams, are in the preceding paragraph. But it is a different woman from Georgia, way before Abrams, that ought to be seriously considered.
Keisha Lance Bottoms. The Mayor of Atlanta. Before you go any further, view the video clip attached. Seriously, go watch it. You will be glad you did.
She is really genuine and impressive. Not endorsing her per se, just noting that she deserves into the consideration. A week ago, I thought she was good, but time not currently here yet. Now, not so sure about that. She deserves serious consideration. There is something genuine and real with her. Something refreshingly sober and somber, but quite positive.
Bottoms has an unusually clear air and ability about her. Biden has to pick who he is both comfortable with, but that he is sure has the mettle to take over if needed by any emergency to him. And that can capture the interest of both young and old in the party. This woman, this mother and mayor, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, seems to have that stuff in abundance. She is young, strong, and good on every level. She deserves in the conversation, and near the top to it, for Biden.
If now is not yet the time of Keisha Lance Bottoms, it is coming soon. She has that political star quotient, keep your eye on her.
Trump’s America: Racism, Imperious Police and CNN Under Arrest in Minneapolis
There is a surreal situation going down in Minneapolis. The CNN crew covering it was literally arrested on live air. Not all of them understand you, just the reporter, Oscar Jimenez, that was a minority, the white correspondent a few feet away was, of course, not. The stormtroopers, and, yes that is exactly what they look and are acting like, were totally polite to the white guy.
And then they arrested the CNN camera guy documenting the bizarre arrest of the correspondent. While doing so, the camera was on the ground, still live, documenting it all for posterity. You could then see the camera being dragged off by a state trooper, still on and broadcasting. As I said, surreal.
When last seen the CNN camera was still on and broadcasting from a black space that appears to be the trunk of a police car. I guess the camera, though hostage to thugs, at least is alive and does not have a knee on its neck.
As they say, the situation is developing…..
Wait, there is an update! The camera is now in an elevator, and still live!
Oh, and what could have fomented all this? Yeah, The American President:
Judge Emmet Sullivan Makes A Serious Holiday Move on DOJ and Flynn
I have expressed some qualms over Judge Sullivan naming John Gleeson as the court’s amicus on the crazy Flynn situation. But today there is a new player on the pitch, Beth Wilkinson.
Folks need to understand the Yoda like move Emmet Sullivan made in hiring Beth Wilkinson.
First off, she is an absolutely fantastic advocate and tough as hell.
Second, she has serious DOJ cred.
Third, she still has major friends at Paul Weiss, and that counts below the surface.
Fourth, Brett Kavanaugh may well owe his Supreme Court seat to her.
Fifth, her husband is David Gregory, the former NBC guy and now senior political guy at CNN. That is some media contact potential whether direct or indirect.
Also, again, she is really kick ass. Beth Wilkinson is a serious player, and a killer advocate. Judge Emmet Sullivan is not going quietly into the night. I actually thought that, given the short response time the DC Circuit ordered, Sullivan and his clerks might do the response themselves. Obviously they will still have major input, but this battle is joined, and in a very big way.
The Emptywheel Fabulous Car Blog! Formula One and Car Flicks
So, we shall take a brief respite from the fabulous music blog this weekend to bring you a fabulous car blog. Off to the races!
There has been a shake up in the F1 force. And man is it palpable. By the end of the last circus, it was quite clear that management at Ferrari had come to consider young Charles Leclerc as their number one driver, over four time World Champ and presumptive number one, Sebastian Vettel. It was no secret on the paddock from the people I still talk to. Vettel knew it, Leclerc knew it, everyone knew it. It has so come to pass. The 2020 season driver stables were already set, and they will continue as such. But for the 2021 season, which is now well less than a year away, big changes are afoot.
Vettel is out at Ferrari, and Carlos Sainz is in. Sainz is very, very good, and his family has a rich history in motorsports. He is commonly viewed as a very good pilot, but one hampered by less than first order equipment, and I think that is right. Sainz will have that kind of car now. He and Leclerc will make for a great, and energized young team. That is something Ferrari is not usually known for, but this is a great move, and one for the times at hand. Sainz is leaving McLaren, who is poised to replace him for 2021 with Daniel Ricciardo. This is also a great move for McLaren, who sign up a true number one driver, with numerous F1 wins and podiums, to pair with the still quite young, but promising, Lando Norris. Take note: for 2021, McLaren starts getting Mercedes engines to pair with their already ridiculously good chassis. Don’t sleep on McLaren.
Where do the rest of the chips fall? Now there is the great unknown. Vettel is a four time champ, can he find a home at all? Sebastian can still drive, you would think so, but that is up in the air. Do Hamilton and Bottas stay as a team for 2021? My guess is yes, but that is also a question. The F1 season was supposed to kick off in March with the Australian, but the Covid thing put the kibosh on that. It is tentatively scheduled to start with Austria in seven weeks, maybe for two races, and then Siverstone with two races. They are desperate to get at least a fifteen race schedule in, if possible. And will there be fans in the stands? Initially, it looks like no, but stay tunes.
Okay, since not everybody knows F1 as well, we are tossing in car movies for this weekend. There are a litany of great ones. You know what you have seen and appreciated over the years. I am going to throw out a few of my favorites just to get the ball rolling. They are by no means exhaustive, and not necessarily in a perfectly ranked order.
Grand Prix _ John Frankenheimer’s 1966 opus is the gold standard. It is a tad long, but the characters gritty and the performances beyond fantastic across the board. The driving scenes are some of the best ever, as well as John’s innovative use of split screen, a legendary move.
Vanishing Point – From 1971, and calling it a cult classic is not giving it enough credit. Spectacular and haunting in a myriad of ways.
They Drive By Night – Directed by Raoul Walsh and starring George Raft, Humphrey Bogart, Ann Sheridan and Ida Lupino. It is both a driving movie and film noir, both at their best. Fantastic.
Two Lane Blacktop – This movie is great. The genius is obvious. Really, you have to see it, and while James Taylor is surprisingly good, keep your eye on Warren Oates, in a legendary performance. Duel from the same year, generally considered to be Steven Spielberg’s first full movie. is very good, but Two Lane Blacktop is better.
It Happened One Night – There has to be room for at least one comedy here, and this is it. Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert are simply perfect, as is the story. Capra and Cohn at their best. Walter Connolly darn near stole the show.
Some honorable mentions in no particular order: Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry, Thelma and Louise, Used Cars (Kurt Russell and Jack Warden were fantastic. A real sleeper, even if a low budget one), Baby Driver (seriously great and a must watch).