This Is Bullshit: Are You Seriously Evicting Voters, Democrats? [UPDATE-1]

[NB: Check the byline, thanks. Update at bottom of post. /~Rayne]

Swear to gods “This Is Bullshit” will become a post category — stuff that is just outrageous bullshit which shouldn’t go unnoted without pushback.

Today’s bullshit comes to us via the Democratic Congressional Caucus and the Biden White House.

Do you recall the margin of votes between Joe Biden’s win and Trump’s loss?

Roughly seven million votes.

Do you know how many American households are at risk of eviction as of midnight tonight?

Roughly seven million.

Do you know why those seven million Americans are at risk of losing their homes AND THEIR VOTING ADDRESS?

Because the Democratic Congressional Caucus left for their summer break without passing a bill to stop this debacle.

And Joe Biden did next to nothing to encourage the caucus to make this a priority and to whip the votes.

Rep. Cori Bush (D-MO) slept outside the Capitol Building last night to make the point that Americans who have already suffered so much during the pandemic have been left out in the cold again by their elected representatives.

While the Centers for Disease Control has implemented a moratorium on evictions until tonight on top of $46 billion in funding provided under the American Rescue Plan passed last December, states have only distributed $3 billion in rent assistance so far.

You can almost guess which states are the worst for handing out aid.

NBC found 26 states had distributed less than 10% of the funds they received for housing assistance (1:20 in this video report).

Wrap your head around who is mostly likely at risk; these are the same people most of these same states are trying to disenfranchise with prohibitive voting law changes. They’re going to be forced out of their homes at a time when many of these voters will be forced to obtain new IDs and jump through more hoops to vote in 16 months time.

Some of the aid money already set aside by Congress hasn’t been requested because the states made the process difficult — these same states are applying the same suppressive tactics they use on voting. Congressional Democrats failed to take GOP’s hostility toward economically disadvantaged Americans into consideration when they wrote the housing aid component of the American Rescue Plan. It’s a failure mirrored by their inability to solve the voting rights problem.

Is it possible Democrats blew this off because the folks affected are more likely to live in red states? Did they forget their own seats and their majority in Congress rely on the same margins obtained by these same voters?

Did they think a magic fairy would drop down with a magic wand and make this go away though the White House has already said the Supreme Court won’t let the executive branch issue another moratorium?

Did Biden trust Pelosi and her chief minion Steny Hoyer to do too much of the whipping when they may have conflicts due to real estate donors? Hoyer received $815,086.30 in campaign donations from Finance, Insurance & Real Estate businesses in 2018, for example; Pelosi received $216,214.68 the same year.

What’s particularly galling is that we’re still in a pandemic, and the states with the worst COVID numbers due to the Delta variant are also the ones which have done the least to help at-risk renters. These folks will end up crammed into shelters and other family and friend’s homes amplifying the risk of a surge which will affect even more Americans.

It’s just plain bullshit.

May I suggest you contact your representative and senators and tell them they’ve failed to protect at-risk Americans, which is one of the jobs they were elected to do?

Congressional switchboard: (202) 224-3121 or look up your representative’s/senators’ local office number and leave a voicemail.

You can also fax them or use Resist.bot to text them.

UPDATE-1 — 9:20 PM ET — 31-JUL-2021 —

Rep. Cori Bush continues the fight tonight for Americans who are facing immediate housing precarity:

If you’re in DC and you attend tonight’s rally, let us know in comments. Thanks.

Carlson to McCarthy to Nunes: Obstruction or Worse?

[NB: Note the byline, thanks. /~Rayne]

Before Axios’ scoop was published last evening and Marcy published her post this morning, I’d started a tick-tock of the events related to Tucker Carlson’s recent fauxtrage claiming the NSA was spying on him.

It sure looked like Carlson was doing more than his usual white rage whining.

28-JUN-2021 – Monday evening – Carlson claimed the National Security Agency (NSA) was spying on him.

More specifically, Carlson said,

It’s not just political protesters the government is spying on, yesterday, we heard from a whistleblower within the US government who reached out to warn us that the NSA, the National Security Agency, is monitoring our electronic communications and is planning to leak them in an attempt to take this show off the air.

It’s doubtful Carlson was expressing outrage on behalf of protesters since he doesn’t distinguish between BLM protesters demanding an end to police brutality or MAGA/Qanon rabidly denouncing the outcome of democratic elections.

Who the “we,” “us,” or “our” is to which Carlson referred to is nebulous. The screed was unhinged because there was no evidence provided, just a reference to a shadowy whistleblower who felt compelled to tell Carlson rather than file a complaint through normal channels.

29-JUN-2021 – On Tuesday, Fox News published a partial transcript of Carlson’s program from the previous evening; the network published zero investigative reporting about the alleged spying.

29-JUN-2021 – 8:00 pm ET – The same evening, the NSA tweeted a denial:


As noted in Axios’ and others’ reporting, the NSA pointedly says Carlson “has never been an intelligence target of the Agency” which leaves the possibility Carlson’s communications could have been picked up as incidental to a foreign target if Carlson was communicating with a target.

29-JUN-2021 – 8:46 pm ET – Shortly thereafter, CNN-Business’s Oliver Darcy updated his report including the NSA’s denial while noting that none of Carlson’s Fox News cohort reported on his claim.

30-JUN-2021 – 10:51 am ET – On Wednesday morning, NYU’s Jay Rosen noted Fox’s failure to report such a serious claim.

30-JUN-2021 – 5:07 pm ET – Later that day House minority leader Kevin McCarthy tweeted about Carlson’s allegation:

How convenient – a neat turnaround in less than 48 hours.

~ ~ ~

Note in the partial transcript of Carlson’s Monday fauxtrage this bit toward the end:

Only Congress can force transparency on the intelligence agencies and they should do that immediately. Spying on opposition journalists is incompatible with democracy. If they are doing it to us, and again, they are definitely doing it to us, they are almost certainly doing it to others. This is scary and we need to stop it right away.

Emphasis mine.

Did Carlson actually demand Congress — meaning McCarthy — take action? Or did Carlson provide cover for McCarthy’s selection of Nunes?

If Fox News had investigated Carlson’s claim and found any credibility, one might believe McCarthy had adequate reason to engage Nunes. But without such investigative reporting and no documented formal whistleblower complaint, it’s purely political posturing on Carlson’s part last Monday which drove McCarthy’s action.

McCarthy’s engagement of Nunes itself is odd since McCarthy has resisted for nearly a decade doing anything to restrain the NSA’s surveillance. Why would he sic Nunes on the fruits of his own inaction?

Nunes’ role in the obstruction of the Special Counsel’s investigation suggests the reason why McCarthy would set Nunes loose, along with a slew of other sketchy and obstructive behavior including Nunes’ role in pressuring Ukraine for disinfo about Hunter Biden. With McCarthy’s blessing, Nunes may be continuing the obstruction both of the past investigation and now the Biden administration’s operation.

Marcy’s post earlier today lays out Nunes’ habit of sowing faux scandal; perhaps Nunes didn’t sow this one directly but indirectly through Carlson, laundered by McCarthy until the Axios’ report last evening.

But timing is everything as they say. The Carlson-McCarthy-Nunes sequence occurred roughly 10 weeks after the exit of one of Nunes’ flunkies, Michael Ellis; you’ll recall Ellis is under investigation for leaking classified info, as is fellow Nunes’ flunkie Kash Patel. Patel left his role with the Trump administration on January 20 along with another Nunes’ flunkie, Ezra Cohen-Watnick.

The Carlson-McCarthy-Nunes sequence also happened 12 weeks after yet another Nunes’ flunkie, Derek Harvey, had been sanctioned along with his attorney for filing a defamation lawsuit against CNN which the judge’s ruling said was filed in bad faith.

If we can account for these sources Nunes might have used in the past to obtain intelligence, assuming Nunes might have used Carlson to move McCarthy on his behalf, who was the “whistleblower within the US government who reached out to warn” him about his communications? This is a rather important question since the “whistleblower” leaked to Carlson about communications collection which may have been related to tracking an identified foreign agent; who is the mole?

Perhaps Nunes, a government employee, tipped Carlson himself, closing the feedback loop?

The tricky part about Carlson’s claim after Axios’ report: if Carlson had not made a good faith effort to request an interview with Putin between the period January 1, 2019 until June 28, 2021 as Carlson indicated in his FOIA to the NSA, is it possible that some or all of his content in his program on Fox has been on behalf of a foreign entity?

Has Fox News, by failing to investigate this matter and report on it as a legitimate news network should have, by failing to exercise adequate editorial oversight of its “talent” contacting foreign leaders, also been in the service of a foreign entity?

Has House minority leader McCarthy allowed himself to be manipulated by a foreign entity in responding to Carlson’s claim by engaging Nunes to investigate it, rather than asking the Department of Justice or the Office of the Inspector General to do so? What if any effort did McCarthy expend to validate Carlson’s claim before handing off the situation to Nunes? Did McCarthy make any effort at all to contact Speaker Pelosi and/or Rep. Adam Schiff, the chair of the House Intelligence Committee?

~ ~ ~

Marcy wrote, “If the FBI believes that Tucker really was pursuing a long-term relationship with Russian agents, then even Fox News might rethink giving him a platform,” based on the 30-month period of time in which Carlson had been in dialog with Russian agents, allegedly pursuing an interview with Putin.

I don’t think there is or will be any government-based effort to take the Tucker Carlson Tonight show off the air — hello, First Amendment, which Carlson clearly doesn’t understand. But I wouldn’t be surprised if the program or its network was eventually obligated to file paperwork under the Foreign Agents Registration Act.

Three Things: Waves of Stupidity

[NB: Check the byline, thanks. /~Rayne]

Scrolling through my social media feed Wednesday I noticed wave after wave of incredible stupidity. Of course there’s a lot of stupid out on the internet, so much wrongness there’s an xkcd cartoon for those of us who can’t help but point at the trash fires burning online.

But Wednesday’s exceptionally bad piles of idiocy are worth noting because they’re indicative of trends.

~ 3 ~

Jesus Christ, this woman is a moron AND she’s a doctor. Proves not everyone who earns a doctorate should be trusted with sharp objects or your life.

Magnetism, I has it. Now that I’m vaccinated all the metal in my house is clinging to me — even brass keys which aren’t conductive. ~eye roll~

Watch as this nurse — a health care professional who must have attended secondary education and passed a state licensing exam — demonstrates before the same state legislative hearing how COVID has increased her magnetism.

Lady, take a fucking shower. It’s sweat and skin oils causing small objects to stick to you.

What an incredible waste of government personnel hours. Expect more of this kind of idiocy as long as it’s profitable for these hacks to monetize their wretchedness while spreading this ignorant disinformation.

~ 2 ~

Two words should tell just how bad this next bit of stupid is: Louie Gohmert.

Rep. Gohmert has become a synonym for brain-sucking vapidity if you aren’t already familiar with this elected representative’s cred. But he really outdid himself today.

Bet he also believes Superman could stop or reverse time by flying fast enough around the earth in the opposite direction of its rotation.

Gohmert tried to correct what he felt was a misunderstanding, but…

We knew what you meant the first time, Gohmert. Voters in TX-01 need to catch the clue train in 2022 and elect someone with a few more watts upstairs.

Best analysis of Gohmert’s question in this thread:

The last tweet in the thread is perfection.

Until voters get fed up with this kind of moron representing them, we can expect more Gohmert-ish output from the likes of Representatives Boebert, Cawthorn, Gaetz, Gosar, Greene, so on. What a pity they all belong to the same political entity which has apparently abandoned science.

~ 1 ~

Remember all the posts this site has written in praise of investment firm BlackRock? That would be zero if you’re a newbie here which is in line with most sites on the left.

The firm may have begun to clue in that climate change and a lack of diversity are eating into their investment performance, but that’s not a shift to the left — it’s an acknowledgment of facts and science.

For some reason this Ohio GOP senate candidate believes The Left — just say it, Vance, the Democratic Party — in particular are big supporters of BlackRock:

Vance, the author of Hillbilly Elegy, attacks Democrats instead of focusing on the problem which is plaguing Ohio homebuyers. No doubt he’ll do the same thing if he’s elected — avoid confronting the financial investment sector from which he’ll expect campaign donations while crabbing about the political party which has swept up problem after problem created by lousy GOP tax policy.

As I’ve noted before, lower wage workers can’t afford housing when prices skyrocket due to investment bankers buying single family and other residential housing. Don’t like increasing wages? Get the investment banks out of single family housing and revisit policy toward investment banking in multi-family housing.

Businesses are still going to have to respond to the suppression of wages over the last couple decades; some of the wage increases are merely catch-up. Food service, hard hit by the pandemic, may respond earliest and pass the cost immediately onto their customers.

But at some point shareholders need to ask themselves why they are paying so much for executives when they aren’t the frontline facing customers. With Standard & Poor index members’ median CEO compensation reaching $13.7 million this past year in spite of the pandemic, executives have raked in the cash during the pandemic; they can afford to yield a few million in compensation in order to assure worker retention through pay increases to living wage level.

Betting Vance won’t say anything about the inequity of executives’ compensation being too busy trashing Democrats to expend any wattage on systemic problems and solutions. He’s still unable to grasp the true root causes of poverty just as his hillbilly memoir revealed.

I can hardly wait for another year and a half of this crap while he runs for Ohio’s open senate seat.

~ 0 ~

There was plenty more stupid where that came from, but the stuff is toxic and one can easily overdose. Let’s hope Thursday is a little smarter.

Track This Post: U.S. Postmaster DeJoy Must Be Fired and Hajjar Hired

[NB: Check the byline, thanks. /~Rayne]

No. Hell no.

The U.S. Postal Service has been covertly monitoring Americans’ social media. The surveillance program was first reported last month; this is some seriously ugly stuff.

Now we learn the USPS has been using Clearview AI for facial recognition, Zignal Labs for keyword searches, and Nfusion software to create untraceable covert accounts.

Why has the USPS been using anything other than intelligence from the Department of Justice for monitoring events which may pose risks to normal mail delivery?

Why were these resources used to monitor First Amendment-protected protest rallies like those in the wake of George Floyd’s death last year?

While this was running under Louis DeJoy’s tenure at the U.S. Postal Service, it began under the previous postmaster Margaret Brennan’s term. Did Brennan know the scope of this surveillance program when it began? Did the scope change over time with or without her awareness?

Did the USPS Board of Governors know about this program and its spying on American’s social media?

Surprisingly, there are GOP members of Congress who are unhappy with USPS’ spying on Americans — Matt Gaetz and Louis Gohmert have both expressed concern. One might wonder why.

Of course these GOP members tipped their hand and submitted a bill to defund the USPS which gives away GOP’s desire to kill the USPS as a government service which private sector businesses could carve up, ditching unprofitable parts along with the USPS’ obligation to protect privacy of mail contents.

~ ~ ~

All of which brings us to another ongoing problem: the U.S. Postal Service’s Board of Governors still doesn’t include all of Joe Biden’s nominees. At least one of three nominees remains unapproved, obstructing Biden administration’s ability to deal with the lousy mail service under DeJoy’s leadership and the covert domestic spying program. There’s ample reason for both parties to light a fire under the confirmation process based on the history of the USPS under DeJoy’s highly-questionable leadership:

16-JUN-2020 — Louis DeJoy assumed office as U.S. Postmaster; he joins a Board of Governors which are all Trump appointees, white and all male.

10-JUL-2020 — A USPS internal memo restricted overtime and ordered postal personnel to return to their post office on time, thereby reducing priority on timely delivery of mail.

07-AUG-2020 — DeJoy overhauled USPS’ upper management; 23 senior USPS officials were reassigned or displaced.

24-AUG-2020 — Before the House Oversight Committee, DeJoy said, “I did not direct the elimination or any cutback in overtime.”

SEP-NOV-2020 — Several lawsuits were filed due to USPS’ handling of mail related to the election including ballots and dissemination of false information by the USPS about voting by mail in Colorado.

02-NOV-2021 — On the eve of the election, first-class mail on-time delivery rate had dropped to 80% after DeJoy’s changes from over 90% before DeJoy became postmaster.

21-FEB-2021 — By way of a FOIA lawsuit, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington obtained documents which showed DeJoy lied to Congress about cutting overtime.

23-FEB-2021 — USPS awards Oshkosh Defense a contract worth approximately $6 billion for a next-generation fleet of 165,000 delivery vehicles which are “equipped with either fuel-efficient internal combustion engines or battery electric powertrains and can be retrofitted to keep pace with advances in electric vehicle technologies.”

24-FEB-2021 — Hearing before House Oversight Committee in which DeJoy testifies about mail slowdown.

24-FEB-2021 — Biden announced three nominees for open seats on the USPS Board of Governors.

11-MAR-2021 — House members submitted a bill to halt the contract with Oshkosh Defense as the contract may violate Biden’s executive order dd. January 27 requiring all federal fleet vehicles purchased thereafter to be “clean and zero-emission.”

22-APR-2021Confirmation hearing before Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee for all three Biden nominees.

12-MAY-2021Ronald Stroman (Democrat) confirmed by the Senate; his term will expire December 8, 2028.

13-MAY-2021Amber Faye McReynolds (Independent) confirmed by Senate for term ending December 8, 2026.

19-MAY-2021Anton Hajjar (Democrat) remains unconfirmed.

Finish this job, Senators. Constituents on both sides of the aisle need better, more reliable postal service; they also don’t need a postmaster who is so egregiously disrespectful of his role as a public employee, nor another covert surveillance program outside the scope of USPS’ mission relying on iffy platforms like Clearview AI.

The public also needs more diverse representation within their federal government; Hajjar’s confirmation would realize two men of color on the Board of Governors, both appointed by Biden along with McReynolds.

But it doesn’t stop with Hajjar’s confirmation. Governors Ron A. Bloom and Donald L. Moak, both identified as Democrats, both appointed under the Trump administration, may need to be replaced. They failed to object forcefully enough to the use of a covert surveillance system on Americans’ protected First Amendment speech. Can the country depend on them to do the right thing to work with the other Democratic and Independent appointees to remove DeJoy after they’ve failed the public?

~ ~ ~

A few last thoughts: Since the USPS was surveilling the American public, did it also fail to advise Capitol Police and the Department of Justice there was a growing threat leading up to the January 6 insurrection?

Did someone use the USPS system to see what the other intelligence agencies saw ahead of the insurrection?

Did the USPS collect documentation about what it saw brewing?

Sure hope somebody asks behind closed doors on Capitol Hill.

Three Things: Eff These Effing Effers

That mealy-mouthed compromised weasel Lindsey Graham spent a lot of time whining on the Sunday talk show circuit this weekend.

Somebody out there has the dirt on Graham. Just. Spill. It. Find a vehicle to do the job, get yourself clear, and let it rip because all of us, Democrats and Republicans alike, are going to spend too much time mopping up Lindsey’s alligator tears if his personal problem isn’t addressed out in the open.

He wouldn’t be doing all this whining about Democrats and backstabbing his own party if he was hidey-holed trying to lick his wounds. It’s not like he’s got anything to lose in 2022 or 2024 because he was just re-elected, goddamn it all.

Just. Spill. The. Dirt. Lance the festering boil animating Graham. Back up the truck, press DUMP, and run like hell.

~ 3 ~

Until somebody gets smart and dumps the dirt on Graham, we need to regroup and get in gear for 2022. We can’t lose the Senate or we’ll end up with two years of stagnation and worse. If the last two years were bad, an economic depression making the 1930s look like a piece of cake could result from the GOP taking the Senate again.

Here’s the targets of our offense:

State Class III Cook PVI Age Now Open ‘2018 Moscow Convict Trump
Pennsylvania Pat Toomey (R) Even 59 Open N Y
Wisconsin Ron Johnson (R) Even 65   Y N
Florida Marco Rubio (R) R+02 49   N N
Iowa Chuck Grassley (R) R+03 87   N N
North Carolina Richard Burr (R) R+03 65 Open N Y
Ohio Rob Portman (R) R+03 65 Open N N
           
Arizona Mark Kelly (D) R+05 56   N Y
Georgia Raphael Warnock (D) R+05 51   N Y
           
South Carolina Tim Scott (R) R+08 55   N N
Alaska Lisa Murkowski (R) R+09 63   N Y
Missouri Roy Blunt (R) R+09 71   N N
Indiana Todd Young (R) R+09 48   N N
Louisiana John Kennedy (R) R+11 69   Y N
Kansas Jerry Moran (R) R+13 66   Y N
Alabama Richard Shelby (R) R+13 86 Open Y N
South Dakota John Thune (R) R+14 60   Y N
Arkansas John Boozman (R) R+15 70   N N
Kentucky Rand Paul (R) R+15 58   N N
North Dakota John Hoeven (R) R+17 63   Y N
Idaho Mike Crapo (R) R+19 69   N N
Oklahoma James Lankford (R) R+20 52   N N
Utah Mike Lee (R) R+20 49   N N

These are all the GOP seats up for re-election or open in 2022, sorted by their Cook Partisan Voting Index rating. The strongest rated GOP are at the bottom, the weakest at the top.

There are three columns identifying which seats are open, which of these GOP senators went to Moscow on July 4 in 2018, and which ones voted to convict.

Sen. Shelby, one of those who went to Moscow, is 86 years old. He’s likely retiring due to age; it’s not clear why Putin would have ensured he was invited unless he knew something about Shelby not obvious to us. But Shelby is the likely ceiling on Cook PVI at R+13.

I’ve inserted two of the newest Democratic senators in the table, noting their state is rated R+5. This should tell us that every single seat at R+5 to Even is highly gettable with solid organizing on the ground. If you live in one of these states, you should be looking into helping as soon as possible. Those two Democrats, Kelly and Warnock, also need help; they won a special election, but must now fight for the Class III seat for the full six-year term.

Every one of the GOP senators who went to Moscow is vulnerable. Moscow wouldn’t have invited them if they weren’t either compromised, soft and could be compromised, or whatever psychographic and demographic data Putin’s data trolls had pulled together indicated these seats would trend left long before the pandemic.

Louisiana, for example, is increasingly non-white, its population become less white and more non-white at a rate of 1/4% per year. In 2018, the state was 58.4% non-Hispanic white. COVID may have stemmed some of that shift by way of Team Trump’s passive genocide by neglect, but that still means 41.6% of the population is non-white. Strong, effective organizing like that in Georgia this last election season could make Louisiana gettable, and it could explain why Moscow reached out to Sen. Kennedy.

Iowa is gettable for other reasons — the damage Trump did to farmers with his unnecessary trade war, Chuck Grassley’s decrepitude, a strong Democratic candidate pipeline, to name a few. What Iowa will need, though, is to get its act together with regard to its primary process. DNC’s new chair Jaime Harrison may be looking into this early rather than later to assure smooth sailing into 2022.

Speaking of Harrison, all those other less-gettable seats shouldn’t be ignored. Harrison appears ready to reinstitute a 50-state strategy leaving no seat uncontested. Kentucky, for example, shouldn’t be ceded because it’s rated R+15 and McConnell just won re-election there; if Charles Booker was interested in running against Rand Paul, he could stand a decent chance of winning, let alone make Paul work hard for his seat.

Pick a race or two. Get engaged early. Figure out how to help. Do not let the fascist GOP believe it has a chance at continued minority rule.

~ 2 ~

A new conservative party may soon emerge, consisting of more traditional conservatives who identified as Republican and are not Trump supporters.

This is a good move; I hope these folks do all the right things, getting their party formally established and organized in all 50 states. Could these folks peel away a few centrist Democrats? Possibly. But they’re more likely to fragment the power of the existing GOP.

We’d also be closer to a multi-party model than we have been, preventing a far more fascist entity like the Party of Trumpism from taking control of any branch of government.

Many Democrats have been upset about House Speaker Pelosi’s remarks saying this country needs a strong Republican Party:


But I wonder if what she really meant was a the country needs a strong party which believes in a republic — a democratic republic — giving a subtle nod to McMullin and the other breakaway Republicans who are interested in a pro-democracy conservative party.

Consider the timing of her remarks made on Saturday, while McMullin discussed the potential new party on Friday.

~ 1 ~

Of all the whining that pasty, soft-handed, slack-assed Graham did this weekend, this pissed me off the most.

Right, asshole. You want to impeach the first Black-Asian woman VP because she supported First Amendment-protected peaceful protests against racist police brutality while she was a senator? Or are you really just eager to impeach Harris because she’s Black-Asian, woman, and a VP like you will never be?

Go ahead and try it, whiner. You’re only giving every American who is non-white and/or woman impetus to organize even harder to get out the mothertrucking vote.

I really do hope there’s a new pro-democracy conservative party ready to run for Lindsey Graham’s seat in six years. I’d even donate money to them to see them make him whine even harder.

~ 0 ~

If you’re inside the polar vortex, I hope you’re able to stay warm. Reduce your electricity consumption as much as you can tolerate it to keep the load on the grid down. This web site is cheesy looking but it has some decent pointers about keeping warm. If you’re not in the vortex, do some emergency preparedness work because we don’t know with certainty how this or the next vortex will pan out.

And for dogs’ sake, stay off the road if at all possible if you live where snow and ice are rarities.

Oh, and double mask to protect against the newer highly-transmissible UK version of COVID.

Donnie The Wimp And His Impeachment Coffin

There was a pretty astounding report by CNN early this morning depicting the, and I am being kind here, disarray in Trump’s impeachment defense. The gist is this:

Butch Bowers and Deborah Barbier, who were expected to be two of the lead attorneys, are no longer on the team. A source familiar with the changes said it was a mutual decision for both to leave the legal team. As the lead attorney, Bowers assembled the team.
Josh Howard, a North Carolina attorney who was recently added to the team, has also left, according to another source familiar with the changes. Johnny Gasser and Greg Harris, from South Carolina, are no longer involved with the case, either.

No other attorneys have announced they are working on Trump’s impeachment defense.

A person familiar with the departures told CNN that Trump wanted the attorneys to argue there was mass election fraud and that the election was stolen from him rather than focus on the legality of convicting a president after he’s left office. Trump was not receptive to the discussions about how they should proceed in that regard.

That sounds ominous!

But here is the part that even more stuck out to me:

“As the lead attorney, Bowers assembled the team.”

and, most notably,

“The attorneys had not yet been paid any advance fees and a letter of intent was never signed.”

Lol, for the uninitiated, that means Trump never paid a dime as to a retainer, and never signed a fee agreement. That not only is inappropriate, in most jurisdictions it is, in and of itself, unethical. Even when the lawyer is agreeing to do work pro bono, there is a retainer agreement. Always, because real lawyers don’t blithely hang their asses out on the line without specified parameters. That is just how it is.

As I said on Twitter:

A rather large discussion ensued. Go look if you so desire, but I will stand by that for now. No, I do not really know, but it almost makes sense.

Trump is not cash rich. Expending collected campaign funds to perpetrate a fraudulent defense might be a dicey proposition. And no competent attorneys are lining up to pitch that. Trump may literally be down to Rudy and Jenna Ellis. Dershowitz and Jon Turley are squirrely as shit, but even they may not be that stupid.

So, where art thou go Donald?

Minority Report: Biden’s Waiver-Needed SecDef Nominee Lloyd Austin

[NB: Check the byline, thanks. Opinion herein is mine alone. / ~Rayne]

I started writing this post about Biden’s nominee for Secretary of Defense during the first week of December; this portion of the post remains unedited after the events of January 6. I’ve left the first two-thirds unchanged to make a point.

~ ~ ~

Before I get to the meat of this post let me pose a few questions:

Can you name a Fortune 1000 CEO who is American by birth, Black, or a woman, or both?

Can you think of a Fortune 1000 CEO who is American by birth and a minority with a long, successful track record of leading a transnational corporation with more than 50,000 employees?

Can you think of an American citizen who is a minority who has led an international NGO with more than 50,000 employees?

There are fewer than 40 CEOs fitting the description leading in the corporate sector. In late 2019 the percentage of Black and/or woman CEOs was roughly 0.036%.

Corporate America is still absurdly homogeneous even after decades of women obtaining more than half the business degrees awarded in the U.S., and after affirmative action efforts by universities up to 2006.

We can be certain that the next layer of management below CEO and president looks just like this — ridiculously white and male. Major U.S. nonprofits look marginally better.

However this is the most obvious pool of candidates for Secretary of Defense under the National Security Act of 1947, from which Joe Biden should select the next SecDef.

~ ~ ~

Today’s military is deeply challenged:

The collisions of the USS Fitzgerald and USS McCain in 2017 revealed serious weakening of discipline at a time when geopolitical tensions are mounting with China and Russia. Corrective action is ongoing.

The disappearance and murder of Army Spec. Vanessa Guillén in 2020 as well as the death of Pvt. Gregory Wedel-Morales in August 2019 brought to light systemic problems at Fort Hood in Texas. Punitive measures were only just announced yesterday, resulting in firing and demotion of at least 14 leadership personnel at the base. If these failures were deep in the third largest U.S. military base on American soil, there are likely similar failures if at smaller scale at other bases.

The military has become a training ground not for our own troops but future domestic terrorists, as these examples demonstrate:

  • An active-duty Marine, Vasillios Pistolis, assaulted counter-protesters at the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, SC in 2017. He had been a member of white supremacist group Atomwaffen and then a different unnamed extremist organization while he was in the military.
  • ProPublica found multiple active-duty military members and veterans who were members of white supremacist or nationalist extremist groups during their investigation into Pistolis post-Charlottesville.
  • This past June in Nevada, three veterans were arrested on terrorism charges. They intended to elevate protests against pandemic-related business closures into violence.
  • Three of four neo-Nazis planning to attack Black Lives Matter protesters were former Marines; the fourth was an active duty Marine serving in North Carolina when he was arrested in October along with his co-conspirators.

In response to ProPublica’s investigative reporting on Pistolis, House Rep. Keith Ellison demanded an investigation into white supremacy’s influence on the military; he also asked then-Secretary of Defense James Mattis to share “steps currently being taken to screen recruits for extremist ties.” It’s not clear what happened following Ellison’s demand.

A sizable number of domestic terror threats generated by veterans and active-duty military have roots in far right extremism associated with white supremacy, from veteran Timothy McVeigh who bombed the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in 1995 to this October’s planned attack on BLM protesters. The military needs to stem the toxic influence of white supremacy with active anti-racism, including deplatforming Confederate icons. The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) passed in early December by a veto-proof majority in the House; the bill required the Defense Department to remove names of Confederate leaders and rename them in an effort to remove racists figureheads from the military.

Effectively addressing systemic lapses in military discipline and subversive influences threatening national security requires a strong grasp of U.S. military culture, let alone an appreciation for the diverse force of 1.3 million active duty personnel, of which only 57% were white in 2017:

… In 2017, women represented 16% of the overall active duty force, up from 9% in 1980 and just 1% in 1970.

The percentage of officers who are women has steadily grown since the 1970s. For example, in 1975, 5% of commissioned officers were women, and, by 2017, that share had risen to 18%.

… In 2004, 36% of active duty military were black, Hispanic, Asian or some other racial or ethnic group. Black service members made up about half of all racial and ethnic minorities at that time.

By 2017, the share of active duty military who were non-Hispanic white had fallen, while racial and ethnic minorities made up 43% – and within that group, blacks dropped from 51% in 2004 to 39% in 2017 just as the share of Hispanics rose from 25% to 36%.

Fortune 1000 corporations’ diversity among C-level executives is a joke by comparison.

~ ~ ~

To realize the principle of civilian control of the military, the National Security Act of 1947 requires the president to select and nominate a SecDef from the civilian population. Candidates may be veterans but must not have served in the military during the previous seven years before nomination.

In a liberal democracy, civilian control of the military should ensure the military serves the interests of the nation rather than the other way around. It’s also intended to avoid the rise of a state within a state, in which a military co-equal in authority to the civilian government may act in a fashion contrary to the nation it is supposed to serve.

1947 was a very different time; the nation was wholly unified, still unwinding from its war footing. It was beginning a reduction in force in a measured fashion. The U.S. had also learned considerably about the nature of fascism and autocracy during the previous decade and was extremely sensitive to threats to democracy.

Today, however, we can see fascism blooming rapidly, some encouraged by hostile entities outside the U.S., some within the U.S. arising from dissatisfaction with the status quo. Without a unifying sense of purpose, too many Americans have pulled away from democratic values seeking instead to be gratified by autocratic power.

It’s led to the nascent development of a state within a state — the rise of white supremacy as a fifth column inside our military.

And the civilians who have served as secretaries of defense over the last four years have failed to stem this toxic bloom which poses a clear and present national security threat.

With Trump, the reality TV CEO as commander-in-chief, the fifth column feels encouraged and validated.

Real CEOs and other C-level executives are simply not up to the job of extirpating the poison when it cannot see the same white supremacy at work within its ranks. In their world a fifth column represents a group ready to spin off a new startup or seek a buyer to acquire the parent corporation. That’s not democracy.

~ ~ ~

Biden nominated retired four-star general Lloyd Austin to be SecDef, though Austin only left the military in March 2016. As you can see from the 2009 photo used on the front page, Austin served during Biden’s tenure as VP under the Obama administration. Biden knows Austin.

But because Austin has only been out of the service not quite five years to date, there has been immediate rejection of Austin’s nomination on both sides of the aisle out of concern for the civilian-controlled military doctrine.

Austin requires a waiver from Congress to serve as SecDef because of the 1947 National Security Act. He should receive the waiver because he has not yet been deeply acculturated into Corporate America’s deeply racist system, and he’s still very familiar with the military as it was before Trump’s term aggravated the relationship between the executive office and active duty personnel. The inadequate response to Russia’s sponsorship of attacks on American and coalition forces in Afghanistan serves as one example.

~ ~ ~

And now the January 6 Capitol Building insurrection makes it ever more obvious there’s a deep challenge inside the Defense Department. Far too many of the participants in the rebellion were active duty military, reservists, or veterans, suggesting they may have gone into the military with the idea they were training for this moment. Or perhaps they managed to get through their military service with their pre-existing bigotry intact if not enhanced. DOD needs to do a better job of weeding these persons out of the service because they are a clear and present danger to national security as January 6 proved.

But a leader from Corporate America will not be up to the task. They have proven themselves incapable of fixing the diversity problem in their own industries. When it comes to institutional misogyny, they can’t claim a pipeline problem because women have been more than half of all bachelor’s degrees awarded each year for more than two decades. The number of bachelor’s degrees awarded to whites has fallen over the last two decades while it increased among Black, Latinx, and Asian Americans. And yet representation at upper levels of America’s corporate sector has barely budged.

Nor will a leader from Corporate America understand what the options are for screening, remediating, and removing insurrectionist elements inside the military. We do not have the luxury to teach someone from the corporate world where the problems are and how to address them after coming so close to the overthrow of our government.

How many corporate leaders would be able to stop a hostile takeover of their own corporation? It’s not the same as armed insurrectionists showing up in their offices threatening to kidnap, try, and execute management, but we can’t even be certain the corporate world produces leaders who can fend off traditional takeovers.

We don’t have time for on the job training; we can’t fuck around and find out with our national security at stake.

And I haven’t even mentioned the possibility of rapid deployment of military resources to aid rollout of vaccines and PPE in our response to the COVID pandemic — yet another facet of our nation’s security.

~ ~ ~

Lastly, we have to think of this period as a reset — our democracy has been threatened deeply, and the threat had nothing to do with having former military lead the Defense Department. It came from persons who included those who were radicalized in spite of their previous or current military service; it came from the top of the executive branch from someone with absolutely no respect for the military except as a means to his personal ends.

It fomented while civilians led the Defense Department.

15 former Defense Department leaders have asked Congress to offer a waiver for Austin, including former senator Chuck Hagel, former Obama chief of staff Leon Panetta, and William J. Perry, all of whom were SecDefs under previous administrations. Their letter to members of the Senate Armed Services Committee makes a sweeping opening acknowledging the unique challenges of this moment in history:

As former Republican and Democratic Secretaries of Defense, Deputy Secretaries of Defense, and Service Secretaries representing the Departments of the Army, the Navy, and the Air Force, we understand the qualities necessary to lead the U.S. Department of Defense. More pertinently, we understand what it takes to lead as a civilian at the department charged with the first and most essential task of the United States government, namely, to keep Americans safe. Rarely in our history has that been a more difficult challenge. Our nation faces a pandemic that has taken a terrible toll on America and on our allies; aggressive adversaries challenging us around the globe and in cyberspace; a rising China whose interests and values often do not align with ours; and a threat from domestic terrorism that has rarely been more clear or more dangerous.

In essence, they acknowledge a civilian leader at SecDef may not be up to the job this transitional period demands, though they acknowledge the importance of civilian-led military to our democracy.

The only previous waivers granted have been for George Marshall under Eisenhower in 1950, and James Mattis in 2017 under Trump. In hindsight Mattis’ waiver may have been a mistake since the problem of white supremacy and nationalism inside the military festered under his watch as SecDef; but one might also make the case that civilian leadership following Mattis by Mark Esper did no better. Under the more recent leadership of Acting SecDef Christopher Miller, conditions worsened — we still won’t know for some time exactly what Miller’s role was in the failures to protect the Capitol.

What all three most recent SecDefs shared in common may also have led to their failure to check the internal threats: all nominated by Trump, all of them white men who may simply not grasp the ways in which systemic racism and misogyny gnaw at our defense infrastructure.

The threat racism poses to our national security is immediate, exemplified by the two National Guard members removed from inauguration duties for their ties to right-wing militia organizations, nearly all of which are sympathetic or overlap with white supremacist or nationalist entities.

The Senate may have its doubts but it should offer the waiver for Austin and approve him as SecDef given the nature of threats we face. Congress should also follow through on Rep. Ellison’s demands for an investigation into white supremacy, nationalism, and other insurrectionist threats within the military, only give it teeth by legislating this as a regular institutional obligation with mandatory reports, measurable oversight, and punitive action spelled out. Make sure that the Secretary of Defense is directly responsible for this effort.

Legislate a review of this investigation and subsequent corrective action by the congressional committees responsible for military oversight on an annual basis, with a recommendation to retain or replace the SecDef based on measurable performance.

That’s where the ultimate oversight of the military should occur and where civilians continue to restrain military power — in the halls of Congress.

Where’s The Anger? Where Are The Consequences?

On January 6 a mob attacked the Capitol. Legislators were rushed out of their chambers and into safe rooms barely ahead of thousands of seditionists. Staff people, Senators and Representatives cowered under desks and behind barricaded doors. People died. Dozens of police were injured, many hospitalized.

Then the legislators resumed business as if nothing horrible and terrifying had happened. The newly-created Insurrection Party shouted about the theft of an election and lied about their concerns. Democrats responded with facts and logic. In the middle of the proceedings, Sen. Amy Klobuchar appeared on A Late Show with Stephen Colbert. In response to Colbert’s increasingly agitated questions, she said that the important thing was that they went back to the floor and did their job. Like Colbert, I’m stunned by the normalcy she displayed. There isn’t a hint of anger, hostility, or outrage in her face, even when she claimed to be angry about it.

Colbert asks if it upsets her at all that six Senators only changed their votes after they were physically attacked, even though they knew they were stirring up trouble around the country by repeating Trump’s big lie about election fraud. She says (my transcription):

Of course it does. But I figured my job today was to bring as many people with me and with our side as we could and to do it in a way that would give them that space. And the reason I did it is because, I made this case to our caucus, is that I want Joe and Kamala to come in with bipartisan support. I want to leave the what Joe Biden calls the grim era of demonization behind us and actually get things done. … I think what they did was atrocious, but at the same time we have to move forward as a nation.

[1] Colbert, his voice rising with emotion, asks if there shouldn’t be consequences for people who promulgated the lie that the election was stolen, consequences “… so severe that no one will ever think to foment an insurrection against this government again without shuddering at the prospect of what will happen to them.” She moves straight to “I’m a former prosecutor”, and starts talking about jailing the invaders. Colbert tries to focus her on the Senators, but she won’t answer whether they should face consequences. She launches into what a toad Trump is, and never responds about the co-toads. Colbert surrenders.

Nothing changed among Democratic politicians after that. On January 15, for example, I saw Jason Crow, D CO-6, on CNN discussing the revelation that some Representatives or their staffers might have led invaders on a reconnaissance tour of the Capitol the day before the attack, even though tours were banned. The oily flow from Crow could be used to lubricate a Mack Truck.

Where’s the demand for accountability for those shits who repeated Trump’s lies with their own imprimatur? [2] Are there no consequences for lies that undermine our democracy? Are elites just utterly free from any duties? Cruz, Hawley, Blackburn, Hyde-Smith, Marshall, Tuberville, and Kennedy are not stupid. Well, Tuberville is a couple of hundred million neurons short of a human brain. But the rest are pretty close to average in intelligence and a couple of them might pass for bright normal.

There are two who simply should be expelled immediately: Mo Brooks, R AL-05, [3] and Madison Cawthorn, R NC-11. These bastards spoke at Trump’s incitement rally and encouraged the assembled mob to action. There’s video. We know what they said, we know what they meant, and we know what happened. If Speaker Pelosi can ask the House to impeach Trump for his incitement based solely on what he said, what he meant and what happened, why can’t she summon the anger and grief we all feel and throw those anti-democratic shits out of the House?

======
[1] I’ve got a mental draft of remarks in response to objections to certification, starting with “I ask the Gentleman from Texas who told him there was fraud in the election? Was it the loser, the guy who lied about his own election in 2016, and has lied continuously about rigging ever since? Or was it @JohnnyFeathers39873858 Flag Flag? Or one of the witnesses dug out of internet swamps by the Loser’s elite legal team of crack lawyers? Were they vetted by the Gentleman’s brilliant staff?”

[2] I salute Freshman Representative Cori Bush, who introduced a resolution, co-sponsored by Freshman Representative Marie Newman;

St. Louis representative Cori Bush is calling for the investigation and expulsion of any representatives who objected to election certification, saying their actions lead to the Capitol riots that cost five people their lives.

Compare the aggressive action of the Freshman Congresswomen with elderly Senator Ben Carden D-MD. On January 16 on CNN Carden said expelling these seditionists was up to the voters in their states.

[3] There is a resolution calling for censure of Brooks, sponsored by Debbie Wasserman-Schultz and Tom Malinowski. That’s bullshit. He’ll frame it and use it in the next election.

Advancing Our Country Forward, A Security Perspective

TOPSHOT – Trump supporters clash with police and security forces as they try to storm the US Capitol in Washington, DC on January 6, 2021. – Demonstrators breeched security and entered the Capitol as Congress debated the a 2020 presidential election Electoral Vote Certification. (Photo by Joseph Prezioso / AFP) (Photo by JOSEPH PREZIOSO/AFP via Getty Images)

[Hi, bmaz here, I am posting this from our beloved Roving Reporter Rosalind. She knows a bit about highly charged security issues, give it a read please.]

I spent my 20s and 30s working in large-scale concert production working for rock promoter Bill Graham Presents, dealing with crowds from 20,000 to 60,000 people packed into one defined area. In preparation for each show production staff would go through a procedure called “advancing the show”. As most tours were routed east to west, our production manager would call the band’s production manager after the tour had been underway and go through the production rider – the contract detailing the staging requirements – to confirm details and cover any surprises that had cropped up. Added equipment that made the truck pack go slower triggering overtime, feuding band members who needed their dressing rooms separated, a health issue requiring a local doctor to be on call backstage.

The most critical staff member for advancing the show was our Head of Security. She would call her counterpart at a venue where the band had already played to get their after-show report. At the end of each show the Security Head writes up the report detailing any arrests, what charges, how drunk, how many security staff were assigned, what time alcohol sales were cut off, what time the gates opened, what procedures were used to screen the crowd, notes on anything that should be done differently the next time. Each show required a different security set-up, based on the audience profile.

As most acts toured every summer, a level of institutional knowledge built up about what to expect but you never took anything for granted. When you have 20,000 people in the audience and 200 security staff keeping watch, the art of crowd psychology becomes critical to ensuring a safe event. Add in gravity, with the audience angled up, if anything triggered an unexpected mass movement down there would be no way of stopping it.

To keep things in control, you start at the gates, doing a thorough search to catch contraband items, especially anything that can be used as a weapon. Alcohol sales are monitored and cut off early if people are over-indulging. You start the show on time, end it on time. Security watches the crowd, not the show, ready to step in quickly should anything pop up. The key is to catch a situation before it has a chance to spread. At the end of a show the audience may see those in front suddenly move into the aisles and head down to the stage to dance and sing and exult in their proximity to their idols. While this may look like a moment of spontaneity, 95% of the time this is a pre-planned maneuver called “releasing the aisles”. It is done in coordination with band security, allowing the audience a release while keeping everyone safe. The other 5% of the time is when a performer, often an overnight sensation who has never before played to a huge venue, gazes up at her 20,000 adoring fans and invites them to “come on down!!” (looking at you, Madonna). Security has to spring into emergency action to keep the audience within their sections and prevent an out of control stampede.

Watching the horror unfold on January 6th in Washington, D.C. at our People’s House has prompted my memories of how to conduct proper security, and how not to. As soon as I saw the barricade set-up I got a pit in my stomach, correctly predicting someone would get crushed and suffocated or trampled to death. I immediately flashed back to my worst concert experience from a crowd safety standpoint: a Neil Young & Pearl Jam show at The Gorge Amphitheatre in Washington State.

The show was put on by a different promoter, and my friend and I were there to see the show and hang with our friends on the band production staff. When it was close to showtime we made our way to the area in front of the stage and looked at each other in alarm. Before us was a standing room area, then a steep cliff, then a large section of bleacher seats perched at the top overlooking. The lower standing room area was bisected by temporary fencing to carve out a VIP section at the very front. The people behind were literally forced to look through a fucking fence to see the stage. You now have a pissed off section of audience wanting to be up there in first class and not stuck back here in steerage. Worse, the temporary fencing was poorly installed and in one look we knew it would never hold. A man on the other side of the fence agreed, and we watched as he walked along the perimeter, methodically punching it every few feet, the security guard oblivious. It was obvious he was testing for the weakest link, and the moment the show started he would make his move. Meanwhile way up top a man began to climb down the cliff face, holding onto bits of shrubbery, until gravity took hold and he plummeted down landing at the back of steerage. The crowd roared. Another man immediately stepped up to take the plunge.

My friend and I ran backstage and explained the situation to our band production buds, begging them to get the promoter to take down the temporary fencing, but for whatever reasons they did not share our concern. We went back out front and watched and waited. The moment the band hit the stage the recon guy threw his full body weight into the fence, toppling it over onto people on the other side, trapping them underneath where they got trampled as people poured through the hole. At the same time body after body came plunging down the cliff, landing in a heap. My friend and I pushed to the front of the stage, waving our arms wildly, screaming at the band, trying to get their attention, the crew’s attention. Finally they stopped the show and tried to calm the crowd while personnel went to the aid of the people crushed under the fence. Injured people carried out, remaining fence taken down, steerage merged in with first class, the show restarted.

That the promoter made it out of that show with only broken bones and no deaths is nothing short of a miracle. In the aftermath, the Gorge was completely re-done, the cliff dug out to turn it into a more conventional amphitheatre configuration. I hear it’s beautiful. I haven’t been back.

As the country grapples with the ongoing repercussions of the Trump insurrectionists, the pressure for a knee jerk reaction to the security failure is gonna be huge. To encase the Capitol in a barricade bubble with armed security on every corner. This will be a tragic mistake. There will be much more to come out in the weeks ahead to fill in the who, what and why. But what’s already known shows that the Trumpists have been “testing the fences” for months and years now, zeroing in on the weak links in full view. Preparing for the start of show, and the moment their Glorious Leader invites them all to storm the stage.

We do not need a massive increase in the number of police personnel. We do need a massive increase in thinking outside the conventional box. To be pro-active, and stop trouble in its tracks before it can spread. Unfortunately, tragically, almost all levers of power in our Country have worked together to soften and excuse the growing crisis of Americans taking up arms to promote their white supremacist beliefs and QAnon conspiracies, standing by as the groups target our fellow citizens for violence. That any politician or law enforcement official can profess shock at the Capitol Siege is to confess their sin of complicity before the world. They watched the toxic clouds erupt all across our nation, streaming towards D.C., but told themselves soothing fairytales to sleep at night. They’ve now awoken to our collective nightmare where democracy destroying extremists are embedded at every level of our society, from law enforcement to the top tiers of government. And we will be forced to work furiously to counteract this poison for years to come.

Back at Bill Graham Presents, we did not prepare security plans for a particular concert based on the color of the audience’s skin, or their political beliefs, or social standing. We based it on verifiable facts, a proven track record and shared information to keep our decisions rooted in current events. There are hundreds of trained concert security personnel sitting at home, waiting for the touring industry to re-start. I say we bring a brigade of these folk to D.C. to consult with Congress and the District of Columbia leadership on ways to re-think crowd control and security. To make them better understand the intricacies of crowd psychology and mob psychology. To illustrate how the current protest preparations are flipped, with the “audience” that has a proven track record of being peaceful is deemed violent and gassed & smashed before they’ve made it through the front gate, while the “audience” storming State Capitols is given a light pat down and friendly smile.

The first area I’d welcome rock’n’roll security is on either side of the new metal detector inside Congress. I guarantee you not one single shitheel Republican will be able to arrogantly push their way past or sneak a loaded gun into the Chamber. Our crew don’t let any unauthorized motherfuckers backstage.

NFL Playoff Football Is Back, And We’re Gonna Get In Trouble Trash Talk

It has been a hell of a fun first few months week of 2021. So, with no further adieu, lets get to the ball. A nearly unprecedented SIX games in one weekend (there was that one weird strike season, which doesn’t really count). And, there really are no bad matchups on tap. Away we go!

First up is Indiana at Buffalo. The Colts seem a better team than their 11-5 record, and Phil Rivers can still chuck the ball. They have weapons on both offense and defense. But, dang, the Bills have looked like a serious Super Bowl contender all year. And, while Rodgers may be the MVP of the league, to my eye, Josh Allen was pretty close. The Bills are at home for a rabid and great fan base that has been dying for this since the mid-90’s. And the Wagon Circlers have weapons too, including Stephon Diggs, arguably the leagues best receiver this year, a fair, if not great, running game and a very good defense. Expect the Colts to be good, but the Bills to win. And that would be a very good thing for the City of Buffalo and their long suffering excellent fans.

Second up for Saturday is LA Rams at Seattle Squawks. This is a harder call. Rams first string QB Jared Goff is “questionable”, but expected to play (but for how long with a recently broken thumb on his throwing hand?). Jamal Adams, the Seahawks safety that is one of the best is in the same boat. It is not the same without the 12th Man fans in Seattle, but, despite a rough patch, the Squawks seem to be gelling. And then there is those Russell Wilson and DJ Metcalfe dudes. They are pretty good. Seattle wins.

The Saturday Night Game is Tampa at the Washington Football Team. WFT is on the clear rise under Riverboat Ron Rivera, they are better than you think, and on both sides of the ball. Young Chase Young and the superb DC D-Line are going to try to spook and hurry the old man Brady. The rest of the WFT defense is really good as well. But this is the first time Brady has been defended this way, and Tampa has a very talented defense as well. All pro receiver Mike Evans is nicked up, but will play, as will Ronald Jones. WFT is nicked up, but the most relevant one is QB Alex Smith. His entrance turned their moribund season around after Dwayne Haskins. If Smith can play, and play well, this could be an upset. Not gonna bet that, but that may be the X factor. Still will take the old man and the Bucs.

Okay, and here we go with the Sunday games.

First up Sunday is Baltimore at Tennessee. I have no real idea what to make of this one. Tennessee is good, and made it to the AFC finals last year. They have Derrick Henry, and that is one powerful weapon. But the Ravens have been rushing the heck out of the ball over the last five games. Sure, there is Lamar Jackson, but it is more than that. By a tiny margin, think the Ravens are better on D, but only a tiny amount. Am still inclined to go with the Titans at home.

Second comes Bears at Saints. This, on paper, is the least interesting game of the weekend. It is probably Drew Brees’ last year. The Aints are at home in the Dome. Nawlins will, apparently have both Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara on the field. Sorry, not sure how the Bears and Trubisky have a real shot here.

Lastly, Brownies at Steelers. For a short period, it really looked like Pittsburgh was in the doldrums and Cleveland would do the unthinkable and take the division championship. But the Steelers righted the ship and won out over Cleveland for the title. Nick Chubb and Baker Mayfield (watch out for Mayfield on play action, he is really good) are maturing and growing quite nicely. And the Cleveland defense is pretty good. But this is still the Stillers, and the Browns will be without head coach and chief play caller Kevin Stefanski because of Covid. That seems rough. Have to take Big Ben and Pittsburgh at home, but this could be a great game.

A lot of people are saying they want a revolution. John, Paul, George and Ring have one for you. Rock it up.

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