Friday, July 31, 2015

Roger Goodell justice upheld: 4 games for slightly under inflated footballs, 6 games for killing a man.

To watch the way some football fans carry on over a football game you would think it was life and death. And Roger Goodell and   the NFL seems to want  you to feel exactly that way as every game begins with some kind of paramilitary, psuedo-patriotic, pseudo-religious fervor. Or is it frenzy?

Which might explain why Tom Brady got a 4 game suspension for his suspected  but unproved complicity in some slightly under inflated footballs and Dante Stallworth got 6 games in 2009 for killing a man while driving drunk.

For Roger Goodell in both cases he must have felt the punishment fit the crimes.

The contrast between the two cases is stark and surreal. Which in many ways is what football has become, from a sport, a game, something to root for on a Saturday and Sunday to a surreal quasi-religious experience as sold by the NFL who has seen the Super Bowl promoted and treated like a national holiday.

In the case of Dante Stallworth it was something out of  the Thomas Wolfe novel Bonfire of the Vanities only the races were reversed.In 2009 Stallworth was driving his Bentley in South Beach in Miami at 7 a.m. after a night of drinking and partying at a Miami hotel and was drunk as a skunk when he plowed into and killed Mario Reyes, a 52 year old  construction worker crossing the street trying to catch a bus on his way to work. Stallworth hit him at 50 mph in a zone where the speed limit was 35. 

Stallworth's blood alcohol level was 15 times the legal limit, 1.26 versus the legal limit of 0.08.

In the kind of injustice that started the French Revolution, ( take notice activists who claim African Americans are always being victimized by the justice system - the dividing line for injustice isnt race, it's class, status and wealth) in a plea deal Stallworth was given 30 days in jail  for killing a man after pleading guilty to DUI and vehicular manslaughter ( as an aside while the makers of  Budweiser felt compelled to issue a statement of concern and disapproval over the leniency originally shown to Ray Rice by Goodell for knocking out his wife, they made no statement back in 2009 about the leniency of 6 games for killing a man while driving drunk.)

How did Roger Goodell handle an NFL player who pled guilty to driving drunk and vehicular manslaughter? 

Goodell issued a statement that the NFL would review the Stallworth case for possible disciplinary action.

That possible disciplinary action became a 6 game suspension. For killing a man. Stallworth's Bentley hitting Reyes at 50 mph deflated Reyes a lot more than the footballs that Brady was accused of conspiring to deflate. But not to Goodell.
Based on NFL justice they were roughly similar .

Brady's appeal of his 4 game suspension was rejected by Goodell on the grounds that Brady destroyed his cell phone after switching phones ( something Brady did in every case to protect his privacy) which the NFL surmised contained incriminating evidence. So Brady's 4 game suspension was upheld for destroying his cell phone.  Dante Stallworth got 6 games for destroying a life. It's a question of values. And what did more damage. In Goodell's eyes anyway.  

Naturally there was no outrage in the news media over Stallworth's light suspension. And no outrage now or even an attempt by the media to compare the two cases and Roger Goodell's idea of NFL justice. So it must be a case of shared values. Societal, journalistically  and otherwise.

Brady is going to court and a New York judge has asked all parties to appear August 19. Brady has a good case. It'll be even stronger if his attorneys make the ludicrous comparison between the Stallworth case and Brady's punishment. 

For now DUI which kills 17,000 people a year isnt politically correct enough. As proved by another lenient Roger Goodell suspension of Colt owner, Jim Irsay who this year received a suspension of a few games for a recent DUI.  Maybe one of these days it will be taken as seriously as it deserves as a form of domestic terrorism without the politics.  Especially if it's an NFL player who is  killed by a drunk driver instead of the other way around. Then the country will really get mad. 


Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Dr. Strangedeal: Or How Obama Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Iran's Bomb.

There are very few experts, or even people with common sense who in hearing about the deal the U.S. agreed to, didn't all agree that the U.S. gave up a lot and got little in return.
And the rationale being used by both Obama, Kerry and others is so irrational  its easy to conclude from that alone, that there are reasons why Iran is celebrating and no one on the U.S. side is.
Probably the most crucial and bizarre aspect of the deal is inspections. If it can't be absolutely verified that Iran is complying then the entire deal is worthless, though many have pointed out that its ten year delay for Iran to develop a nuclear weapon is also worthless regardless of inspections now.
Supporters of the deal including Obama tout that IAEA inspectors will have 24/7 access to any site they want any time anywhere. So they claim. What Obama doesn't say is that 24/7 access applies unless Iran objects. A little caveat Obama doesn't mention. 
Far from the "anytime anywhere" ability to inspect suspicious sites that the U.S. and most in congress say is crucial to the deal, a cumbersome process has been devised that can give Iran up to 24 days of stalling before it has to comply with an inspection by claiming there is no legitimate interest in inspecting the site. If they refuse access they have 14 days to review an IAEA request submitted in writing as to why they want access, then if they refuse try to  convince the IAEA inspectors that the activities at the suspected site are legitimate. If they can't convince the IAEA there is another 10  day period where the UN Security Council reviews the dispute. If 5 members vote that Iran must give access then Iran must allow the inspections (after 24 days) or face new sanctions.
Ollie Heinomen a former IAEA top nuclear safeguards inspector says the agreement  is inadequate. In Foreign Policy magazine, Heinomen says he is "disturbed" that  the deal provides for multiple weeks of negotiation between Iran and IAEA inspectors  to gain access to" sensitive" or" undeclared" sites. It allows Iran to declare "off limits" any site it decides is military or national security related and has no nuclear connection.
The deal  only gives unfettered inspectors access to "key" nuclear sites some already declared.  But doesn't say who decides what else might be "key".  If Iran decides a particular site is not "key"  they can refuse inspections and the 24 day delaying process goes into effect.
Heinonen says that from an investigative point of view there is nothing good in the agreement. Quoting from Foreign Policy magazine he says, " before Iran grants you access it can take measures to change the environment in the place you are looking and destroy evidence".
And Iran has done just that in the past and were caught.  When Heinonen was an inspector in 2003 he said Iran tried to cover up convert nuclear activity at the Kalaye Electric company plant, covert activity they had secretly been engaged in since the 1990's. When IAEA demanded access, Iran delayed and refurbished the entire facility before allowing inspectors in.
That doesn't sound like "any time any where" to any body. Which is why in his victory lap Obama didn't mention military sites which the IAEA always said were critical and the Iranian military kept stating publicly would never happen. 
Aaron David Miller, a middle east expert has already said on CNN that Iran has gone one better on Obama. And the more the deal is looked at the more bizarre it becomes.
The Iranians insisted and recieved as part of the deal, a provision that will also allow Iran  in 8 years to have ICBMs capable of reaching the United States.  Which as Obama and everyone knows is essential to a healthy economy.

 The deal will also end the arms embargo on Iran in five years. It was only a week ago that outgoing chairman of the Joint Chiefs General Dempsy told congress that under no circumstances should Iran be allowed to build or buy ICBMs and under no circumstances should the arms embargo be lifted. Oops.
As for the sanctions, according to the deal they are to be "phased in". But what does "phased in" actually mean? Who's idea of "phasing in" will prevail? No one is saying specifically other than the IAEA has to certify that Iran is complying with the agreement. But what if Iran believes they are complying in a matter of weeks? What if they say, " see that back hoe over there? We are converting and complying", and claims it wants the sanctions lifted before the conversions are completed? What then? And given that when the framework of the deal was announced in April Iran saw it differently than the U.S. It could throw the whole deal into chaos.

 The deal could become a shambles in a matter of weeks of being implemented assuming it gets through congress and there is no override of Obama's veto  (which at the moment is no sure thing) since "phased in"  based on compliance can mean anything depending on one's point of view. If Congress insists on clarification of that issue alone it could scuttle the deal. 
Basically the deal that Obama is touting is an Iran nuclear deal  that went from preventing Iran from getting a nuclear weapon to compromising  by delaying it for ten years.

 Everyone looking at the deal says the winner is Iran who will get hundreds of billions in revenue from sanctions relief and the end to an arms embargo, both of which guarantees that Iran will  send weapons  and money to Hezbollah and Hamas while at the same time giving them ample opportunity to cheat or the very least set up a program that will allow them to hit the ground running and  launch into enrichment for a bomb as soon as the ten years are up at which time they will already have the hundreds of billions in sanctions relief in their pockets. 
Other notable points: U.S. allies like Israel and Saudi Arabia have condemned the deal and traditional U.S, adversaries, Iran, Putin and China have praised it. At the announcement Kerry looked worn, the Iranians jubilant.
And when you hear anyone, journalist or politician or government official or Obama himself,  defend the deal by  asking "what was the alternative?"  it's practically an admission that the deal was negotiated on the defensive and from a position of weakness.  Because the alternative to strangling Iran's economy with sanctions which is what was done for the last ten years, was to continue to strangle  Iran's economy with sanctions if they didn't agree to a tougher more effective deal.  The sanctions is what the Iranians wanted to end. The U.S. didn't need an alternative. Iran did.  Yet that simple truth was ignored or not understood by Obama and Kerry and reveals the unnecessary  position of weakness and compromise  from which Obama and Kerry negotiated. We didn't need "an alternative." Iran did. And as everyone remembers, throughout the entire length of the negotiations, it was,  in every case, Obama and Kerry who were afraid Iran would walk away from the negotiations. With the U.S. holding all the cards and some smart and tough negotiators  it should have been the opposite. 
The deal in its own way is  nuclear Obamacare. It is almost impossible to look at any Obama initiative and policy, without comparing it to Obamacare, Obama's first and biggest policy failure and how it came about, which was  an egregious sell out and compromise of both principle and policy by caving in to the health insurance industry by dropping health care reforms's  most important provision the public option, ( as stipulated by Nancy Pelosi herself)  which in the end has failed to help 96% of the people healthcare reform was supposed to help. 
The analogy is valid. Except the consequences of the nuclear deal are greater.
Many feel this deal is an unncessary capitulation to Iran in much the same way Obama capitulated unnecessarily to the health insurance companies on Obamacare and weakens the U.S. and its allies, and in the end will help no one but the Iranians.
Kerry  in defending the deal said, " sanctioning Iran until it capitulates is not acheivable 0utside a world of fantasy". With that kind of inherent defeatism and weakness in both Kerry and Obama, which was apparent from the beginning, they seem to ignore the fact that it was the sanctions that brought Iran to the table in the first place,  and it was Iran that was looking for an alternative. The only real fantasy world is the one that Kerry and Obama negotiated from.  Which is why Iran is celebrating.  
Adam Schiff, a Democratic member of the House Intelligence Committee when asked if there would really be unfettered inspections of any site in Iran said, " it depends on the interpretation of the deal". Interpretation? Do people get to interpet what a 65mph speed limit is if they get a ticket? Who is living in a fantasy world?  Schiff also said he wants to talk to people to discuss what's "between the lines of the deal".   Not what's in the deal but what's between the lines.  What's between the lines is empty space.
Last but not least, along with the Iranian celebration,  Putin and China both think the deal is just great. And as a result, Russia announced immediate plans for arms sales to Iran in the form of the S-300 air defense system.

The U.S. countered when Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter, buttressing  Obama's argument of how much safer the world is going to be as a result of the Iran deal, announced today that the U.S. is increasing it's military cooperation  with Israel including selling Israel new F-22 fighters. 
Can anyone say, " Gentlemen you can't fight in here, this is the War Room"?

Saturday, July 4, 2015

The Confederate flag has to come down but no one calling for it now is a hero.

After the tragedy in Charleston and pictures of the psychopath who committed the mass murder surfaced showing him posing with a confederate flag, there was and still is a chorus of calls from politicians both conservative and liberal and civil rights activists for the confederate flag to come down from official state government sites and monuments. The legislature in South Carolina has already voted to remove the flag as expected. 
The flag needs to be removed from all official state and local government property.  But no one calling for it now  or demonstrating for its removal in the wake of the mass murders in Charleston is a hero or should be looked upon as courageously standing up for civil rights. It isn't a moment to be proud of but a time to ask what took so long? 

Everything that is offensive about the Confederate flag and what it stood for was offensive before the murders. It was offensive a year ago, 5 years ago, 25 years ago, 50 years ago and 150 years ago. 

Many in the south say the flag doesn't represent racism it represents heritage. The south has an awful lot of things to be proud of. But that flag and the heritage that inspired it isn't one of them. 

It doesn't just represent racism. It represents atrocities sanctioned by Southern state governments committed against a large segment of the American population. And the Confederate battle flag represented the fight to have the right to continue to commit those atrocities and that the  federal government had no right to stop them. 
That it took 9 African Americans getting murdered in a Charleston church by a psychopath who posed with the Confederate flag for people, black as well as white, to finally say that flag has no place in a government office or building or to be flying at state houses or be part of a state flag, and to call for its removal 150 years after the Emancipation Proclamation and 50 years after the Civil Rights Act doesn't make any one a moral hero. Or courageous. 
Though the flag has few supporters now, some who do support it's display say it's not about slavery but States rights. What they don't say is that the states rights they are talking about was the right of those states to commit those atrocities as part of their way of life. That is the principle they were fighting for.  Yet those flags continued to fly at southern state houses or were integrated into the flags of the states that were once part of the confederacy. And does anyone really believe the presence of the Confederate flag at statehouses and as part of official business didn't fuel and justify racism in the old South? 
So no one calling for the removal of those flags now including Obama  is demonstrating any act of courage even though Obama claimed himself "fearless" the week of the eulogies . If anything it's an admission the flag should've come down a long time ago from state capitols and schools and universities in the south as something that was part of official business. 
About 25 years ago on a Saturday afternoon I settled down in front of my TV to watch a college football game. Ole Miss was playing at home. 
Before the game, a black male cheerleader came running out of the tunnel onto the field carrying and waving  a Confederate flag about the size of 10 bed sheets leading the Ole Miss football team running behind him as the crowd roared. I thought it was one of the most bizarre things I had seen in a long time. I thought to myself, " what's wrong with that guy? How could he do that"?  After a minute I didn't give  it another thought since whatever that black cheerleader wanted to do was his own business, nor was it my place to criticize him or something the university and its supporters sanctioned. And the announcers said nothing about it either even if I did think it was ridiculous. 
Why  black lawmakers, like that black cheerleader, went to work at southern state legislatures every day where those flags were flying and never objected, only they know.  Why there wasn't some public debate sooner about whether it was appropriate to still be flying the Confederate flag connected to any official  government or public function can only be because no one seemed to care. Or at least care enough. Until it took 9 murders to make them care. 
There are some who try to defend the flag by bringing up the courage of the southern boys who fought under that flag. No one ever questioned their courage or bravery in battle so it's not about that and never was. It's a fact that,  like it or not, in reading contemporaneous accounts of civil war battles, especially Gettysburg, those southern boys showed unparalleled courage and bravery in battle , equal to any ever displayed by American  soldiers anywhere even if the cause they fought for was morally reprehensible . 

Its always mentioned that hardly any of those soldiers owned slaves and that the rank and file soldier wasn't fighting for slavery. And that was true though slavery is what the politicians and rich plantation owners were having them fight for. So many of them fought bravely but duped into believing they were fighting for some other cause. 
At Gettysburg during Pickets Charge General Lewis Armistead put his hat on the tip of his sword and egged his soldiers on shouting, " for your mothers, for your wives,your sisters and your sweethearts".  Well, not exactly. Those boys may have believed that but it was for the rich plantation owners whose wealth depended on slavery and all the atrocities that went with it that they were fighting for.  One thing is certain however. Any one man on either side of that battle had more courage than all the politicians and activists calling for the flag to come down now in the wake of the Charleston murders. 
Bree Newsome who some were incredulously calling a hero for climbing a flag pole and taking down the confederate flag at the state capitol in South Carolina is no hero. Which naturally didn't stop CNN and their usual pandering from trying to treat her like one. 
If Bree Newsome had taken that flag down a week before the Charleston murders, or 6 months before, or a year ago or 5 years ago and sparked the debate, caused the debate, forced the debate instead of trying to cash in on the debate, she might have been courageous.  Doing it after every politician in the country including southern conservative Republicans,  the Republican governor of South Carolina, the conservative Republican senator from South Carolina, governors of Mississippi, Georgia and Alabama, and every major retailer in the country from Amazon to Walmart who announced they are removing items with the flag from their shelves and inventories, when even the head of NASCAR said they are going to remove the confederate flag from NASCAR related events and asked fans not to bring it or display it, removing the flag took no courage. Everyone knew it was coming down anyway. 
It wasn't even a political statement, those having already been made.  It didn't rise much beyond the level of a prank under the guise of a political statement about civil rights since Newsome knew political,  public and news media opinion was on her side. Not exactly Freedom Summer. 
The people who do deserve some credit are the retailers and NASCAR. At least they put their money where their mouth is and are doing it even though they risk angering a large segment of their customer base. In other words they are putting principle ahead of profits and self interest,  something no politician from the president to state and local politicians were ever willing to do until the tragedy in Charleston.
It's true that one can argue better late than never. But people calling for the flag to come down now who think they are heroes or deserve some credit hopefully will not dislocate their elbows patting themselves on the back.
There is an old disparaging comment about those who in the field of battle find their courage in a bottle. For many politicians and those in the news media who are now, after all this time, standing up and calling for the removal of the Confederate flag from all official government property, they could all be looked on as those having found their courage at Walmart.  

 There are enough reasons for the Confederate flag to have been officially removed from government buildings  a long time ago. So no one, black or white, calling for it now should consider themselves heroes or feel any pride. But they could all learn some lessons. 

According to the AP, the confederate flag was first hoisted at the South Carolina state Capitol in 1961 as -- get this -- a defiant protest and symbol of resistance against the growing civil right movement.  Instead of feeling a sense of pride in its removal, society might do better to ask why it took 9 murders in 2015 to bring it down.