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Archive for August, 2012

Safety and the NFL Referee Lockout

[ 51 ] August 30, 2012 |

Travis Waldron has a very good piece up at Think Progress about the referee lockout and player safety.

The National Football League Players Association, a year removed from being locked out by NFL owners, are monitoring the NFL’s current lockout of the league’s officials for its ramifications on player safety, the union’s top official told ThinkProgress. And as officials attempt to end their dispute with the league before the start of the regular season next week, NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith said the union reserved the right to examine “every possible remedy” to ensure the safety of its players.

The use of replacement officials, Smith said, “flies in the face” of the players’ efforts to make the game safer during their own negotiations, which resulted in a lockout by NFL owners, before the 2011 season. “The issues that we, the players, pushed hard for in the collective bargaining agreement were structural, fundamental changes in the way football is played,” Smith said. “All that flies in the face of a unilateral decision to prevent the most experienced on-field first responders from being involved in an incredibly physically challenging activity.”

It’s clear that the owners value union-busting far more than player safety, to which they only give lip service. Waldron gets to the crux of it:

It’s quite clear, from the memo and from the NFL’s actions to this point, that the league has embraced the tried-and-true corporate strategy of locking out its workers and then attempting to wait them out, hoping to settle on its own terms. The easiest way out now, it seems, is for officials to abandon their fight, but Arnold made it sound as if the NFLRA is prepared to continue waiting for the NFL to negotiate. “They locked us out. We’ve been serious, made major concessions, and have been willing to negotiate. But all they’ve told us is to take it or leave it,” Arnold said. “It takes two sides to negotiate. We’re prepared, we’re ready to go.”

Again, I don’t think this is going to work for the NFL, not with real games on the line, not with playoff performances on the line, not with 24-7 sports radio talking about the replacement refs costing teams games. But the NFL is simply the most prominent employer using early 21st-century union-busting tactics. This type of thing is happening all over the country without 1% of the coverage the referees receive.

Speaking of NFL player safety, Jeffri Chadiha has a good list of 10 concrete things the NFL could do to make players safer, including eliminating kickoffs, forcing all concussed players to sit a minimum of 1 full game, and creating a licensing board that would declare whether players are healthy enough to be certified to play. Of course, the owners will hate most of this because it will mean higher labor costs through the expanded rosters necessary to cover for the concussion depletions.


Romney v. Roe

[ 45 ] August 30, 2012 |

Mitt Romney needed to distance himself from the Republican Senate candidates who have been explicit about the misogyny opponents of legal abortion are supposed to leave latent, babbling nonsense about how women can’t get pregnant from “legitimate rape” and comparing being raped to having sex outside of marriage. So Romney did what he does best: coming up with a another evasion on abortion. Earlier this week, he asserted that the issue of abortion has “been settled for some time in the courts” and “the decision that will be made by the Supreme Court.” This is a classic strategy for politicians who need to finesse the issue — argue that because the courts have issued a ruling the matter is now out of the hands of elected officials.

The problem is, as Sarah Kliff and Irin Carmon point out, that this isn’t actually true. The next president will have a potentially large impact on abortion policy, beginning with (but not limited to) the possible opportunity to replace one of the 5 pro-Roe justices on the Supreme Court. Of these 5 votes, 3 have to be considered candidates to retire in the next four years: the 76-year-old Anthony Kennedy, the 74-year-old Stephen Breyer, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a 79-year-old cancer survivor. This makes it very likely that the fate of Roe hangs in the balance of the 2012 elections.

Some people may see predictions that Roe will be overturned, however, as having a “boy who cried wolf” quality. After all, a majority of the justices on the Supreme Court have been appointed by conservative Republicans for more than two decades, and yet Roe is still standing (albeit in weaker form.) Overturning a popular precedent would have political downsides for the Republican Party. So would Romney actually nominate an anti-Roe justice?

Almost certainly yes, for two reasons. First of all, the survival of Roe was not the result of Republican calculation but was highly contingent. Had Ronald Reagan nominated Robert Bork and Antonin Scalia in reverse order, Bork would have been confirmed by a Republican Senate and Roe would have been overruled by 1992. George H.W. Bush’s nomination of David Souter reflects the relative lack of priority the former put on the abortion issue, but Souter certainly wasn’t nominated because he supported reproductive rights; Bush could have just as easily nominated a candidate with relatively unknown views who turned out to be anti-Roe. A lot of luck has been involved in maintaining Roe, and it would be unwise to assume that this will continue.

And secondly, conservatism has changed. Mitt Romney will not be permitted to be as indifferent about a Supreme Court justice’s position on Roe as George H.W. Bush was. (David Souter’s moderation insured that it will be a long time before a Republican president appoints someone similar.) And while a justice who explicitly opposed Roe would be vulnerable to a Democratic Senate like Bork was, a generic Republican appellate court nominee is substantially more likely to favor overruling Roe than a generic Republican nominee 20 or 30 years ago would be. Even if Mitt Romney wanted an otherwise conservative pro-Roe justice, he wouldn’t have many options — and there’s no reason to believe he would want do that.

In addition, as Carmon correctly points out given the cases currently percolating in lower courts a conservative court could do substantial additional damage to the reproductive freedom of American women without announcing the overruling of Roe v. Wade. Abortion law, in other words, is not “settled” in any sense, and this should be a major issue in the 2012 election.


[ 35 ] August 30, 2012 |

Probably the best thing Obama has going for him in his reelection campaign is that John Kasich so overreached in his union-busting tactics, making the people of Ohio very angry at the Republican Party. My year in rural Ohio was eye-opening, having coincided with the 2010 midterms. Ohio is a strongly pro-union, pro-economic justice as any state in the country. But the good people of the Buckeye State are also susceptible to the cultural warfare card Republicans play. That’s the threat to Obama. Particularly when you get into southeast Ohio, the open racism skyrockets. And had Kasich not reminded Ohioans that Republicans will take away your good jobs, Ohio could very much be a toss-up. But it really isn’t and combined with Republican failures to make inroads in Pennsylvania, the electoral math still looks grim for Romney, even assuming Ryan flips Wisconsin.

The Remarkable Achievement of Paul Ryan

[ 81 ] August 29, 2012 |

After Zell Miller’s speech at the RNC in 2004, Matt said that “I don’t believe I’ve ever heard a more disgusting speech delivered in the English language.” After Paul Ryan’s speech tonight, I think that judgment must be considered anachronistic. Admittedly, the Zombie-Eyed Granny Starver can’t touch Zell in the demagoguery department, but in terms of the sheer weight and variety of dishonesty, Ryan’s speech was a transcendent accomplishment. The bit about how “He created a bipartisan debt commission. They came back with an urgent report. He thanked them, sent them on their way, and then did exactly nothing”* might have been the most jaw-droppingly brazen. But the whole thing, which can be summarized as “keep your government hands off my Medicare, Barack Obama was a terrible president from 2001-2008, and strengthen the welfare state by ending it,” was a truly remarkable piece of work. And the prose his speechwriters crafted was a good match for the level of honesty.

*Granted, helping to torpedo the Catfood Commission for the wrong reasons will be the only positive thing Paul Ryan will accomplish in his lifetime of living off the American taxpayer. Although we shouldn’t forget those hardscrabble summer jobs he took in high school!

Presidential Knife Fight

[ 274 ] August 29, 2012 |

Which U.S. president wins in a knife fight? The rules:

To begin, here were the original conditions of the hypothetical, as suggested by the redditor Xineph:

Every president is in the best physical and mental condition they were ever in throughout the course of their presidency. Fatal maladies have been cured, but any lifelong conditions or chronic illnesses (e.g. FDR’s polio) remain.
The presidents are fighting in an ovular arena 287 feet long and 180 feet wide (the dimensions of the [1] Roman Colosseum). The floor is concrete. Assume that weather is not a factor.
Each president has been given one standard-issue [2] Gerber LHR Combat Knife , the knife [3] presented to each graduate of the United States Army Special Forces Qualification Course. Assume the presidents have no training outside any combat experiences they may have had in their own lives.
There is no penalty for avoiding combat for an extended period of time. Hiding and/or playing dead could be valid strategies, but there can be only one winner. The melee will go on as long as it needs to.
FDR has been outfitted with a [4] Bound Plus H-Frame Power Wheelchair, and can travel at a maximum speed of around 11.5 MPH. The wheelchair has been customized so that he is holding his knife with his dominant hand. This is to compensate for his almost certain and immediate defeat in the face of an overwhelming disadvantage.
Each president will be deposited in the arena regardless of their own will to fight, however, personal ethics, leadership ability, tactical expertise etc., should all be taken into account. Alliances are allowed.

I expect everyone to have obvious answers here. But is the result so obvious as to feature TR, Jackson, and Washington? I don’t know that things would go this way. Personally, I might put some money down on Lyndon Johnson. And Zachary Taylor was a tough, tough man.

Author of Racist Vote Suppression Bill Gets Big Yucks From Racist Email

[ 32 ] August 29, 2012 |

Nobody could have etc.

The Two American Flags

[ 147 ] August 29, 2012 |

What is the flag of the United States of America?

I bet you thought it was this:

Such a nice flag. Doesn’t it want to make you eat some apples, light some fireworks, steal the natural resources of poorer countries.

And it’s so versatile. Here are a couple of beautiful examples.

But that’s just the flag for you and I, the flag of the 99%. The United States of America has two official flags. There’s also the flag of the 1%. Until now, it was known as the flag of the Cayman Islands:

What is that lovely little flag with the Union Jack doing on a big yacht?

Gov. Mitt Romney’s campaign toasted its top donors Wednesday aboard a 150-foot yacht flying the flag of the Cayman Islands.

The floating party, hosted by a Florida developer on his yacht “Cracker Bay,” was one of a dozen exclusive events meant to nurture those who have raised more than $1 million for Romney’s bid.

“I think it’s ironic they do this aboard a yacht that doesn’t even pay its taxes,” said a woman who lives aboard a much smaller boat moored at the St. Petersburg Municipal Marina.

Romney’s Cayman-based investments have come under fire during the campaign.

The event, attended by no more than 50 people, along with Romney relatives, including older brother Scott, appeared on no public calendars. ABC News obtained a schedule of the Romney campaign’s “Victory Council” and waited dockside to speak with members.

“It was a really nice event. These are good supporters,” said billionaire Wilbur Ross, an energy industry executive.

I mean, we could criticize Romney for holding an event on a yacht called the CRACKER BAY (!!!) with a flag demonstrating that this billionaire, like the Republican candidate himself, pays no taxes to the United States government.

But then that would be insulting the real flag of the United States of America, the one that allows plutocrats to concentrate their wealth. Which is the true meaning of America after all.

Hack of the Day

[ 17 ] August 29, 2012 |

Erin Burnett.

He Stopped Loving Him Today

[ 34 ] August 29, 2012 |

The end of an error.

…lest I scare more commenters, he’s still alive.

Only 10?

[ 42 ] August 29, 2012 |

This is indeed some serious crazy. The plan to combine a regressive federal sales taxes with making a federal income tax unconstitutional is obviously the definitive one, but I also like this one:

Affirmative action for Republican officials inside the District of Columbia. “D.C.’s Republicans have been in the forefront of exposing and combating the chronic corruption among the city’s top Democratic officials. We join their call for a non-partisan elected Attorney General to clean up the city’s political culture and for congressional action to enforce the spirit of the Home Rule Act assuring minority representation on the City Council. After decades of inept one-party rule, the city’s structural deficit demands congressional attention.”

#2 is obviously keeping with the same theme…

…in fairness, it must be noted that Republicans believe that gays and lesbians should be completely stripped of their civil rights with dignity.

LGM on Stage!

[ 22 ] August 29, 2012 |

Maybe it’s a good thing that the LGM event in New Orleans got canceled.

Because it turns out that we are on stage in beautiful Franklin, Pennsylvania this weekend–and no one even told us!

This is easy enough for me since I’m in the area but the rest of the crew better hightail it out here to western Pennsylvania.

And boy howdy are you all in for a treat. You haven’t lived until you’ve seen Farley’s comedy show based around battleships. Lemieux and djw will be doing their updated “Who’s on First” routine. SEK will be literally driving on stage in his own Batmobile.

As for me, I’ll naturally be doing my 1 man show on the Centralia Massacre. Whether I mock castrate myself like the lynchers are supposed to have done to Wesley Everest, well, you’ll just have to pay the $25 to find out.

Yes, Governor Christie, I’m sure this will impress him.

[ 213 ] August 29, 2012 |

You have to feel for Chris Christie. The biggest political speech of his life and he backdrops himself thus:

If that looks familiar, that’s because if you have anything resembling taste it damn well should:

Christie loves him some Springsteen. Grew up listening to and idolizing the Bard of the Badlands. The feeling’s mutual:

Despite heroic efforts by Christie, Springsteen, who is still a New Jersey resident, will not talk to him. They’ve met twice—once on an airplane in 1999, and then at the 2010 ceremony inducting Danny DeVito into the New Jersey Hall of Fame, where they exchanged only formal pleasantries. (Christie does say that Springsteen was very kind to his children.) At concerts, even concerts in club-size venues—the Stone Pony, in Asbury Park, most recently—Springsteen won’t acknowledge the governor. When Christie leaves a Springsteen concert in a large arena, his state troopers move him to his motorcade through loading docks. He walks within feet of the stage, and of the dressing rooms. He’s never been invited to say hello. On occasion, he’ll make a public plea to Springsteen, as he did earlier this spring, when Christie asked him to play at a new casino in Atlantic City. “He says he’s for the revitalization of the Jersey Shore, so this seems obvious,” Christie told me. I asked him if he’s received a response to his request. “No, we got nothing back from them,” he said unhappily, “not even a ‘Fuck you.’”

Did I write “mutual”? I meant the opposite of mutual. You have to wonder about someone who embraces a musician this deeply without listening to a damn thing he sings. The disconnect between lyric and listener is borderline sociopathic: if you spend your nights ears-deep in working-class tales of toil and despair and your days enacting policies that guarantee a future full of working-class tales of toil and despair, people may begin to suspect that you’ve embraced some strange form of patronage-by-poverty. They may begin to think that you’re trying to manufacture the social conditions necessary to create a newer, “better” Springsteen whose “convictions” won’t interfere with yours because you’ll have whispered the Gospel of the Free Market in his ear from the moment you turned him into a foundling. Not that you murdered his parents, mind you, they’re just not in his life anymore. And then years later, when you successfully run for President, you and your pet Springsteen will tour the country and your rallies will begin with your pet’s new hit, “Burn Down the U.S.A.,” a rousing tune about the virtues of small government.

People may begin to consider that you indulge in this pathetic fantasy because you’re as small of mind as you are large of body, and the man whose approval you so desperately seek won’t even begrudge you a “Fuck you.”


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