Thursday, July 30, 2015

New Collection of Prison Writings by Mumia Abu-Jamal Provides a Compact History of America's War on People


Writing on the Wall-- Selected Prison Writings of Mumia Abu-Jamal
(City Lights Books, 2015)
Foreword by Cornel West
Edited by Johanna Fernández

by Denise Sullivan

Mumia Abu-Jamal has been in jail longer than members of the millennial generation have been alive. Those who've followed his case---from the time he was a Philadelphia radio journalist, framed by police in 1981, through the wrongful death sentence he served until 2011 (when it was converted to a "slow death" or life sentence)---know he's served his time in the Pennsylvania State Correctional Institution "ona move," to use one of his catchphrases. Agitating for America to live up to its claim as land of the free, when it comes to his positions on our injustice system, unbridled capitalism, and the "need" for wars of aggression, he's also served as the invisible line so-called liberals will not cross. Even in the more radical and progressive wings of politics there is a tyrannical hierarchy of supporters more concerned with who's protested louder and longer for Mumia, than for what Abu-Jamal stands for (life in the face of death and and faith against the odds, in case there is any doubt).

Thirty-three years after his incarceration, it would seem Abu-Jamal's 15 minutes in the media spotlight would have elapsed, a possibility that would not be lost on Abu-Jamal who knows well the Society of the Spectacle. Yet while over two million Americans are neglected in prisons, and despite the age and attention gap, it's a victory we are still talking about him all. The most identifiable prisoner in the known world, through his own persistence and with the help of a core council of support who works to deliver his books and his Prison Radio broadcasts, Writing on the Wall is his latest communique to reach us from the confines of the prison nation.

Published by City Lights Books and selected by Johanna Fernández, a scholar, educator and coordinator of the Campaign to Bring Mumia Home, over 100 previously unpublished short essays by Abu-Jamal well-cover our history of violence (from the police bombing of the MOVE headquarters in Philadelphia, to commentaries on the violence in Ferguson, MO ) and the media circusry that accompanies it. Prepared in the style and format of his Prison Radio pieces broadcast on public radio, Fernández wrests hope from Abu-Jamal's prophecies that one day America might live up to the truth of its own advertising. "Like Nelson Mandela, Mumia defies his captors by preserving his integrity and compassion in the face of the hateful repression orchestrated against him," she writes.

Despite his personal circumstances on the inside, Abu-Jamal consistently, dispassionately, and evenly assess the cost of selling freedom worldwide. The book opens with early writings on MOVE, the black liberation organization bombed out of its headquarters on order of Philadelphia's first black mayor, Wilson Goode, in 1985. Though there is a repetition to these writings, they serve to set the stage for the larger theme of state violence, the bulk of it waged on people of color, along with our poorest and most pacifistic citizens.

Two essays from 1991 serve as examples of Abu-Jamal's ability to see things clearly where the rest of us may be blinded to the reality of everyday racism, our vision obstructed by denial or the demands of surviving. Dated February 7 and titled Opposing Anti-Arab Racism, Abu-Jamal cautioned of a developing anti-Arab sentiment at the dawn of the first Iraq war. "The potential for extraordinary evil launched against them is real." In the piece that follows dated March 10 simply titled Rodney King, he writes, "'There's always a few bad apples in every bunch,' the cops will say, adding, 'Don't blame the bunch!' To now cry 'bad apples' is to insult Black intelligence. It is not 'bad apples,' but a bad system, that relegates Black life to the psychic underworld of terror." Both statements, written over 20 years ago, are alarming in their prescience. For anyone who needs the idea of systemic racism and police violence further unpacked, he writes, "For what did Black youth cross the seas of Saudi sand? For what did their fathers wage war in Vietnam? For what did their grandfathers fight a fascist Hitler? To be eaten in the streets like dogs?" These questions would appear to remain unanswered.

As if further documentation was needed, in the piece that is perhaps the book's most profound, Abu-Jamal outlines the danger presented by the "doorway execution" of Amadou Diallo in New York City in February of 2000. He perceived the appalling 41 shots fired at Diallo, "A harbinger of greater violence against unarmed Black and non-white life by the cops… contributing toward the illusion "That perhaps Black life will somehow be safer in the city with Democrats in political control." Somewhere along the way he has introduced the term "police terrorism" into the social and racial justice lexicon. He continues, "No major political party in America can even begin to promise Black folks in America the power to stand on their own doorstep, or ride their own car, or walk the streets of the urban center, without the very real threat of being 'accidentally' blasted into eternity. A politics that cannot, or will not, control the agents of that polity (that is the police) is unworthy of our support."

He writes on Abu Ghraib with an authority that can't be denied, given his firsthand experience with torture. Just this year, Abu-Jamal was denied proper medical treatment and visitation following complications from diabetes, its onset not unrelated to lack of care by a deficient prison hospital. His words on the surveillance state, inspired by news that the pacifist organization, the Thomas Merton Center had been suspected of ties to terrorism, are also chilling. "Thanks to the utility of fear, we are seeing how virtually silent people are in the asphyxiation of the alleged constitutional rights of the People."

Whether he's writing about Palestine, George Zimmerman or singer Nina Simone, the years flash by and the events of our times unfold, until finally, in 2011, Abu-Jamal leaves death row, but not before an inspirational missive titled, To My Brethren and Sistas on The Row: "I write not of death but of life. If I can walk off, so can you."

It's not every prisoner, political or otherwise, who has the endurance and temerity, nor the call to testify like Abu-Jamal, from researching the miscarriage of justice in his own case to becoming a self-proclaimed jailhouse lawyer; few have streets in France named for them or public support from figures diverse as Cornel West, Amy Goodman, Alice Walker, Noam Chomsky, Tariq Ali, and Eddie Vedder. It's safe to say, though consigned to prison for life, Abu-Jamal will not be forgotten now or any time soon: His collected prison writings will be appreciated by human rights activists for ages to come, but more importantly they are useful right now, for anyone seeking a light in the darkness of the American night.

Denise Sullivan is the author of Keep on Pushing, Black Power Music from Blues to Hip Hop and an occasional contributor to DownWithTyranny.

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Alan Grayson Introduces Legislation To Expand Medicare


Wednesday my doctor told me that I'm recovering from 9 months of cancer treatment much more rapidly and strongly than she expected. She was so overjoyed that she told me that instead of coming to the hospital for checkups twice a week, I can come twice a month

One thing that was really lucky for me is that I was diagnosed when I was 66, a year into my relationship with Medicare. As president of a division of TimeWarner, I had incredible health insurance (part of my employment contract). My coverage lacked for nothing. But-- except for some glaring omissions that Orlando Congressman Alan Grayson is addressing in his new bill-- Medicare is at least as good. My cancer treatment cost way over a million dollars. Medicare, plus the inexpensive supplemental insurance I buy on the side, paid all the costs. I don't think I spent $100 out of pocket for anything related to the treatment!

Most Americans are proud that our country is celebrating the 50th anniversary of Medicare. Grayson, though, is working on expanding it. "Today I introduced a bill," he wrote, "that will repeal the ban on Medicare coverage for eyeglasses, hearing aids and dental care... Seniors have eyes, ears and teeth, and any program designed to keep them healthy must include access to vision, hearing and dental care. Thanks to Medicare, for 50 years now our seniors have received the healthcare that they’ve needed to stay healthy, and to live a full life. But despite this success, this glaring gap in Medicare coverage needs to be closed.

Somewhere in Florida tonight there's a senior who is going to have to figure out how to get to sleep with the searing pain of a severe tooth ache throbbing away. Tomorrow morning, a senior somewhere in Florida will struggle to make out a blurry prescription label through a pair of glasses that haven't brought life into focus for months. Across our great state, grandmothers and grandfathers will wonder if they'll be able to hear their grandchildren's voices, or the doorbell, or even sirens.

That's just wrong.

Seniors who depend on Medicare should be able to afford eyeglasses, eye exams, hearing aids, cavity fillings and dentures. And it says something about our priorities as a nation that the law currently bans treatment for medical conditions that lead to blindness, deafness, lost teeth and serious gum disease, which has been strongly linked to heart disease.

There are 2.7 million seniors in America who are blind. How many of them would be able to see today, if they had received a simple annual eye exam as part of their Medicare coverage?

You can tell a lot about a society by how we care for their elderly. Right now, our seniors are being shortchanged.

I think it's time to give seniors a raise and make sure that they have he quality healthcare that we have promised them from a system they've paid into for decades.
There's no reason to think "ex"-Republican Patrick Murphy would support Grayson's initiative. Murphy has voted more frequently than almost any Democrat in Congress for Boehner's anti-family agenda rather than progressive alternatives. But Chuck Schumer, at the behest of his pals on Wall Street, is forcing the DSCC to work to sabotage Grayson, while pumping for Murphy. Schumer has personally been calling New York progressive donors and demanding they not contribute to Grayson's campaign. He doesn't want another senator from the Elizabeth Warren wing of the Democratic Party. He wants conservative Wall Street shills like Murphy. 

You can watch Grayson's announcement video-- and, if you want to-- contribute to his Senate campaign right here.

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Happy 56th Birthday, Mark Meadows (R-NC)


To best understand the resolution North Carolina Republican Mark Meadows filed to oust Boehner as Speaker, let's go back to his message to Boehner last June and to Boehner's open secret of plotting against GOP "rebels"-- primarily members of the so-called Freedom Caucus-- with his pals at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Meadows has been complaining, publicly, that Boehner's tyrannical leadership style has created "a culture of punishment and fear." And, taken to the extreme, that led to Boehner backing the failed multimillion-dollar campaign by Establishment Big Business Republicans against libertarian Justin Amash (R-MI) and plans to find weaker members of the Freedom Caucus this cycle who can be defeated-- either in primaries or by conservative Democrats.

"There has been a suggestion," said Meadows in June, "that I should keep quiet and mind my manners for several months and then I will be given an opportunity to receive some of the benefits leadership allows. But if we allow ourselves to be bullied in the House of Representatives, how will we stand for Americans being stripped of their freedoms?" Tuesday Meadows, in fact, did the opposite, filing a resolution to "vacate the chair," which would remove Boehner as Speaker. Meadows' resolution went to the Rules Committee, where chairman Pete Sessions (R-TX), a firm Boehner ally, is expected to kill it without a vote.
“It’s really more about trying to have a conversation about making this place work, where everybody’s voice matters, where it’s not a punitive culture,” said Meadows, who has felt the repercussions of bucking leadership.

Just last month, Meadows saw his subcommittee chairmanship revoked, then reinstated as leadership attempted to put the two-term congressman in his place for joining 33 other Republicans in trying to sink a key procedural rule vote on trade legislation.

In filing his motion in a non-privileged form-- meaning it did not require immediate consideration, or consideration at all-- Meadows said he wanted to see if just raising the issue of dissatisfaction with Boehner might prompt some changes at the top. He said he hoped for a “family discussion,” borrowing Boehner’s favorite euphemism for ugly intraparty fights.

But when he was asked if a lack of results on that front could culminate in Meadows bringing the motion up again, this time as privileged, Meadows was clear.

“Correct,” he said.

Republicans speculated Tuesday night that Meadows knew he didn’t have the votes at this point to remove Boehner and deliberately filed the motion as a non-privileged measure in order to let the prospect of a leadership change-- however far-fetched-- simmer over the monthlong August recess.

Speaking on background to scrums of reporters lingering near the Speaker’s Lobby, some lawmakers dismissed the attention-grabbing move as a gambit by Meadows to gin up fundraising. They also accused the North Carolina congressman of needlessly creating a distraction that could overshadow what many Republicans would prefer to focus for the next several weeks: Bashing President Barack Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran.

Meadows objected to both accusations.

“I haven’t raised money off of anything that has happened to me in this House,” he said.

“There’s no one that’s been stronger on the Iran message, and to suggest we can only have one message when we go back home to talk to the American people would be to imply that our town halls can only have one question,” he said.
Fox News' well-connected chief congressional correspondent, Chad Pergram, reported: "In a single stroke, the rebellious congressman has not only infuriated the GOP leadership but scrambled their plans of using the August recess to focus on the Iran deal and a web of other issues. Now, the House goes into recess with this debate churning, even if the push stands little chance of succeeding."
"The Speaker has, through inaction, caused the power of Congress to atrophy, thereby making Congress subservient to the Executive and Judicial branches, diminishing the voice of the American People," Meadows wrote in his resolution to bump Boehner from his leadership perch.

Betcha' Boehner didn't phone Meadows to wish him a happy birthday or send over a bottle of Duckhorn Merlot.

That said, a rambunctious group of Republican insurgents, contemptuous of the House GOP leadership, may be more than happy to fete the birthday boy. Twenty-five House Republicans voted for someone other than Boehner for speaker at the start of this Congress in January. Rep. Brian Babin, R-Texas, voted "present."

"There's been a lot of discussion about leadership or the lack of leadership," said Rep. Ted Yoho, R-Fla., who waged a Quixotic effort of his own to claim the speaker's gavel over the winter. Yoho marshaled precisely two votes for speaker. His own and the ballot of Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky.

"I'll probably support [the resolution]," said Yoho.

"This will be pervading our thoughts through the recess," said Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, who backed Rep. Daniel Webster, R-Fla., instead of Boehner. "It gives constituents the chance to lobby their members of Congress."

...Boehner loyalists could barely contain their anger as they stormed off the House floor Tuesday night, having just learned of Meadows' gambit.

"It's something that will disrupt our plans to talk about policy for the August recess," fumed Rep. Charles Boustany, R-La. "It's really damaging. We were trying to leave on a high note. It's divisive."

"People are stunned. People are angry that somebody would pull this stunt," said Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) and a top Boehner lieutenant. "I thought we had gotten past all of this. It seems odd and bizarre."

Republicans had plotted an August agenda to hammer Democrats on the Iran nuclear deal, funding Planned Parenthood, sanctuary cities for illegal immigrants, targeting by the IRS, Hillary Clinton's emails and ObamaCare.

And now...

"The August recess is going to be about a lot of things," Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich., said.
Late yesterday, Boehner was telling journalists that Meadows' effort to unseat him "frankly...isn't even deserving of a vote." He also said, "You've got a member here and a member there who are off the reservation. No big deal... I've got broad support among my colleagues." We'll see; Boehner's Congress has an 8% favorability rating among voters, the lowest in history.

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Wednesday, July 29, 2015

House Republicans Vote To Prevent The EPA From Enforcing Regulations That Protect The Public


A Republican vision of public health

Only two "Democrats"-- both right-wing Blue Dogs, Henry Cuellar and Collin Peterson-- voted for the Republicans' REIN Act (HR 427) Tuesday afternoon. Todd Young (R-IN) was the chief sponsor, but the enthusiasm among Republicans was huge-- 171 cosponsors. It passed 243-165

Ted Lieu, an active duty Air Force Reserve officer was in California on official business and couldn't vote. But he explained to his constituents why he opposes the bill, which he termed
a radical, potentially unconstitutional House Republican-authored bill that guts the ability of federal agencies to establish rules protecting food safety, clear air, clean water and other crucial common-sense safeguards. The Reins Act is strongly opposed by a broad range of consumer, health, environmental, labor, scientific, and public interest groups.

In a press release to local media, Lieu explained his dogged opposition to the bill:
I strongly oppose H.R. 427, the so-called Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act of 2015. This bill is a blatant attempt by House Republicans to create another hurdle for the Administration to protect the environment and to act boldly on a foremost issue of our time-- combating climate change. Under the Clean Air Act, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will soon implement the final rule of the Clean Power Plan, a critical rule to protect the environment and public health and to strongly curb climate change-inducing pollution. The REINS Act would implement a new hurdle for the EPA to implement this crucial rule. This is an unnecessary, dangerous piece of legislation, and I hope my colleagues will oppose.
President Obama has promised to veto the bill, if it passes in the Senate.

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Yes, Long Island DINO Steve Israel Is Still Dooming DCCC Recruitment Efforts


More than a few highly qualified progressives told me they would never-- or, in many cases, never again-- waste their time and resources running for Congress with Blue Dog Steve Israel anywhere near the DCCC. Technically, Nancy Pelosi replaced him with New Mexico novice Ben Ray Luján, although many observers see Luján as little more than a figurehead, with Israel still calling entirely too many shots, especially in regard to recruitment. And, as could have been easily predicted, Israel and the DCCC are failing again-- in a cycle that's supposed to be great for Democrats, a presidential year with strong Democratic presidential contenders in Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders and with an insane, even horrifying array of crazy Republican opponents, from Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and Mike Huckabee to Jeb "Let's Phase Out Medicare" Bush, Scott Walker and Chris Christie.

Yesterday Emily Cahn, writing for Roll Call, noted that the Democrats’ window to find strong House candidates is slowly closing. Blame Steve Israel, who is still conducting his suicidal jihad against progressives.
When former Nevada Secretary of State Ross Miller passed on a bid in the Silver State’s 3rd District last week, it sent Democrats back to the drawing board again to find a nominee for this Tossup seat in 2016. Miller’s decision to sit the race out was a disappointment for national Democrats, who thought his profile would make him a strong candidate for this highly competitive seat. But it’s indicative of a larger issue Democrats face this cycle: Recruiting House candidates in 2016 hasn’t been as easy as many predicted two years ago.

More than a year from Election Day, Democrats are without top-tier recruits in five of the 11 races rated Tossups by the Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report/Roll Call. Democrats are also searching for strong recruits in at least five more of the 15 other districts rated as competitive in 2016.

The holes in the roster contrast with the message former Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel pushed last cycle. In a June 2013 interview with BuzzFeed, Israel said he spoke to a number of candidates in the early days of the 2014 cycle who were reluctant to run in a daunting midterm environment. Israel said candidates wanted to wait to run until 2016-- when presidential turnout and the promise of former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton at the top of the ticket would make for a better Democratic year.

“Whoever has the job of recruiting for the DCCC after I leave will not have a difficult job for as long as people believe Hillary Clinton is gonna be on the ballot,” Israel told BuzzFeed at the time.

Among the seats Democrats must win in 2016 if they have any shot at chipping away at Republicans’ 30-seat House majority-- but where the party still doesn’t have recruits-- is upstate New York’s 24th District. The Syracuse-based seat voted for President Barack Obama by a 16-point margin in 2012, making it one of the most Democratic districts held by a Republican in the country, but so far no candidate has emerged to take on freshman Republican Rep. John Katko.
Eric Kingson, co-founder of Social Security Works and one of the best qualified candidates running for Congress anywhere, has been blackballed as "too progressive" by Israel. The DCCC is desperately searching for a more Wall Street-friendly, pro-Big Business candidate, a DINO like Israel, to oppose Kingson in the primary. One DCCC insider told me they're running around like chickens without heads to find someone to prevent Kingson from getting the nomination. NY-24 is a D+5 district, one of the bluest held by a Republican anywhere in the country. "This should be a slam dunk," my DCCC source told me, "but Steve would rather lose the district again than see another progressive win the nomination... and the seat."

Israel and his DINO allies are working to sabotage progressives everywhere, but especially in IA-01 (Pat Murphy, despite his huge polling advantage among Democratic primary voters), CA-25 (Lou Vince), and WA-08 (Jason Ritchie). In each race, Israel is dead set on a track that will lead to a Republican victory in a blue district. People ask me if I blame Pelosi. I do.
In California’s 21st District, a seat Obama carried by an 11-point spread in 2012 but that is now held by two-term GOP Rep. David Valadao, Democrats are hunting for a stronger recruit after the current candidate posted a measly $24,000 fundraising haul in the second quarter. And in Iowa’s 3rd District, a competitive seat held by freshman GOP Rep. David Young, Democrats are also without a recruit. Democratic former Gov. Chet Culver is mulling a run there, but it’s unclear when or if he’ll announce.

Still, national Democrats say they are unconcerned about the current state of recruitment, noting there are potential recruits mulling bids behind the scenes in a number of districts-- though they declined to name names or specify which seats.

They also point to a number of districts where the party has secured top-tier challengers in top-target races in 2016. They include Colorado state Senate Minority Leader Morgan Carroll, who is challenging GOP Rep. Mike Coffman in Colorado’s competitive 6th District, and former Michigan Democratic Party Chairman Lon Johnson, who is running against vulnerable GOP Rep. Dan Benishek in Michigan’s 1st District.
Morgan Carroll is one of the only progressives the DCCC hasn't undermined, and Lon Johnson is a useless DINO who's failed at everything he's tried in life except getting Obama-connected Juliana Smoot, now a corporate lobbyist, to marry him. Perfect Steve Israel candidate in a district Israel has habitually lost!

Learn how to be a habitual loser

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The Rorshach Candidacy of Hillary Clinton


Thom Hartmann on Donald Trump's other strong appeal to Republican voters (hint: Think Ross Perot). People who like Trump for this reason are potential Sanders voters. Mainstream Democratic trade policy, another party problem, is discussed below.

by Gaius Publius

Schedule note: This will be the last piece for a few weeks from me. Writing will resume the third week of August. Happy summer, all!

[Updated to clarify and correct some language.]

It's been clear for a while that from the left, the biggest criticism of Hillary Clinton is her close relationship with holders of big money. One could argue that she may or may not have agreed with Bill Clinton's strategy of incorporating the interests of "big money" into the Democratic Party. But it's nevertheless clear that her current relationships, and those of the people around her, show a strong and current interest in maintaining the interests of wealth. More on that below.

This suspicion (on the part of some) and certainty (on the part of others) that Clinton will "take care of" her well-heeled friends while also (and sincerely) trying to mitigate the damage done to ordinary Americans — these form much of the reason the Sanders campaign is surging among Democratic voters. (Our own brief looks at Clinton's relationship with "money" are here and here and here, among other places. Or just click here and scan the list of titles.)

Now come a series of news stories that add to that larger story.

Hillary Clinton Will Not Reinstate Glass-Steagall

From Robert Reich, former Clinton labor secretary, on Clinton's unwillingness to reign in Wall Street banks (my emphasis everywhere):
Hillary Clinton’s Glass-Steagall

Hillary Clinton won’t propose reinstating a bank break-up law known as the Glass-Steagall Act – at least according to Alan Blinder, an economist who has been advising Clinton’s campaign. “You’re not going to see Glass-Steagall,” Blinder said after her economic speech Monday in which she failed to mention it. Blinder said he had spoken to Clinton directly about Glass-Steagall.

This is a big mistake.

It’s a mistake politically because people who believe Hillary Clinton is still too close to Wall Street will not be reassured by her position on Glass-Steagall. Many will recall that her husband led the way to repealing Glass Steagall in 1999 at the request of the big Wall Street banks.

It’s a big mistake economically because the repeal of Glass-Steagall led directly to the 2008 Wall Street crash, and without it we’re in danger of another one.
Why does reinstating Glass-Steagall matter? Reich again:
Under the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933, banks couldn’t both gamble in the market and also take in deposits and make loans. They’d have to choose between the two.

“The idea is pretty simple behind this one,” Senator Elizabeth Warren said a few days ago, explaining her bill to resurrect Glass-Steagall. “If banks want to engage in high-risk trading — they can go for it, but they can’t get access to ensured deposits and put the taxpayers on the hook for that reason.”

For more than six decades after 1933, Glass-Steagall worked exactly as it was intended to. During that long interval few banks failed and no financial panic endangered the banking system.

But the big Wall Street banks weren’t content. They wanted bigger profits. They thought they could make far more money by gambling with commercial deposits. So they set out to whittle down Glass-Steagall.

Finally, in 1999, President Bill Clinton struck a deal with Republican Senator Phil Gramm to do exactly what Wall Street wanted, and repeal Glass-Steagall altogether.

What happened next? An almost exact replay of the Roaring Twenties. Once again, banks originated fraudulent loans and sold them to their customers in the form of securities. Once again, there was a huge conflict of interest that finally resulted in a banking crisis.

This time the banks were bailed out, but millions of Americans lost their savings, their jobs, even their homes.
Two ideas — first that big banks are too big to be allowed to fail, so they must be bailed out, and second, that banks can gamble with government-insured customer deposits — add to this state of affairs:
  • All banks will be allowed to continue to gamble on the riskiest of investments.
  • All gambling ("investment") profit goes to the banks.
  • Large gambling ("investment") losses go to taxpayers for reimbursement via FDIC deposit insurance or Fed and congressionally managed bailouts, like TARP.
If you're a Wall Street bank, it's impossible to lose money in this scheme (a scam or racket, actually). And if you "own" everyone who matters in government, the scheme will never end.

Clearly the not-so-secret formula for ending the hostage relationship between the public's money and Wall Street banking is to (a) reinstate Glass-Steagall and (b) break up "too big to fail" (TBTF) banks so they can ... well, fail ... when their business plan brings them to grief (because, capitalism, right?).

Hillary Clinton, according to Reich and others, will not reinstate Glass-Steagall, the first part of our solution, even though, according to Reich, "Hillary Clinton, of all people, should remember." There's a lot more in Reich's piece; it's a good informative read.

"Bernie Sanders backs big bank breakups, in contrast with Hillary Clinton"

Now let's look at the second piece of our "too big to fail" solution — break up the big banks so the public is never forced by their size to bail them out again. We have a pretty clear indication from the Clinton campaign that she would not pursue that policy either, and a clear indication from Sanders that he would.

Bernie Sanders backs big bank breakups, in contrast with Hillary Clinton

Bernie Sanders is backing a bill to break up big banks after advisers to presidential rival Hillary Clinton made clear earlier this week she will not support reinstating the Glass-Steagall Act.

Noting that he’s long supported reimposing a firewall between investment and commercial banks, the Vermont senator said he’s officially rejoining an effort led by Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) to break up the big banks, saying, “If we are truly serious about ending too big to fail [TBTF], we have got to break up the largest financial institutions in this country.”

“Allowing commercial banks to merge with investment banks and insurance companies in 1999 was a huge mistake. It precipitated the largest taxpayer bailout in the history of the world. It caused millions of Americans to lose their jobs, homes, life savings and ability to send their kids to college,” said Sanders, who said that change in the financial world “substantially increased wealth and income inequality.”

Earlier this week, a Clinton campaign adviser told Reuters that “you’re not going to see Glass-Steagall.” Clinton was also interrupted by a heckler on Monday who challenged her to revive the depression-era policy, though she did not answer the question.

By moving quickly to reassert his support for a proposal from liberal superstar Warren, Sanders is highlighting the differences between his platform and Clinton’s more centrist [in DC and NY] positions on financial regulations, a major issue among progressives. Sanders actually cosponsored a version of the bill in 2013, well before he began challenging Clinton for the Democratic nomination, and in a press release reminded reporters of a speech he gave in 1999 as a House member.
I realize that the statement "you’re not going to see Glass-Steagall" is the same one that Reich uses, and is about Glass-Steagall only. Is Politico being unfair to Clinton in saying she would not back a Sanders-Warren–style breakup policy? I don't think so, since of the two "not-so-secret solutions" I listed above, reinstating Glass-Steagall is by far the milder from a Wall Street standpoint.

And now the third news story in this story.

Hedge Fund Titans Choosing Hillary Clinton Over Top Republicans

It's hugely rewarding to Hillary Clinton professionally to maintain money-friendly policies like these, independent of whether you think she's personally aligned with the interests of "big money" and "the one percent," or whether you think she's disgusted by their behavior but feels somehow forced to go along. Either way, it looks like she's taking their money and planning to advance their interests.

It looks like they think so too. About that "taking their money" part, here's Bloomberg:
Hedge Fund Titans Choosing Hillary Clinton Over Top Republicans

Hillary Clinton received donations from some of the biggest names in the hedge fund industry, including Paul Tudor Jones, even as the presidential candidate wants to boost their tax rate.

Jones, the billionaire founder of Tudor Investment Corp., Jamie Dinan, who started York Capital, and Neil Chriss, who runs Hutchin Hill Capital, each contributed the maximum $2,700 to Clinton’s bid for the White House, according to Federal Election Commission filings for the second quarter.

Clinton, who’s made closing the wealth gap the centerpiece of her campaign, lured more donations from boldface industry names than Republican candidates 16 months before the election. Hedge fund managers, their employees and family members donated at least $54,000 to Clinton, a Democrat, according to the FEC. Republicans Jeb Bush got at least $27,000, Marco Rubio took in at least $10,800 while Carly Fiorina received at least $4,200.

“Something is wrong when CEOs earn more than 300 times than what the typical American worker earns and when hedge fund managers pay a lower tax rate than truck drivers or nurses,” Clinton said in May.

The candidate’s populist rhetoric didn’t dissuade many managers from supporting her. They include Frank Brosens, co-founder of Taconic Capital Advisors, Mitchell Julis, co-founder Canyon Partners, David Shaw, the billionaire founder of D.E. Shaw & Co., BlueMountain Capital Management Managing Partner James Staley, Jake Gottlieb, who runs Visum Asset Management, and Richard Perry, who heads Perry Capital.

Bush, Rubio and Fiorina drew a smaller cohort of top hedge fund managers.
Note that this story merges two elements. The first, that even though Clinton speaks against income inequality (not the same as speaking against wealth inequality, by the way) ...
“Something is wrong when CEOs earn more than 300 times than what the typical American worker earns and when hedge fund managers pay a lower tax rate than truck drivers or nurses,” Clinton said in May.
... the big money people are financing her anyway ...
The candidate’s populist rhetoric didn’t dissuade many managers from supporting her.
You can draw a number of conclusions about why this is happening. In that sense, the "Clinton and money" story is a kind of Rorschach test — you can see in this picture what you're looking for.

The Rorschach Candidacy

Put these stories together and ask yourself what this means to you. You could end up in a couple of places.

If you're Clinton-resigned — If you're a Clinton fan who was really "ready for Warren," resigned rather than eager, you may see someone who cares about people but has to deal with "big money" to get elected. She doesn't like what many are calling "rule by the rich," but like many of her supporters, she's also resigned. The way of the world is regrettable, but the exclamation point at the end of "Jeb!" is a dagger to be avoided at all costs. No Republicans; vote Clinton anyway — even in the primary so she comes out strong.

If you're Clinton-quite-hopeful — If you're an eager Clinton fan, you're much more positive. In a Clinton presidency, you may expect strong advocacy for "Black Lives Matter," maybe even with DoJ prosecutions of murdering police and corrupt departments. You may expect to see executive-mandated immigration reform with even more teeth. And you certainly would anticipate that all of the issues faced by women, from abortion rights to pay rights, will certainly find an eager and effective friend. All of this offsets for you whatever damage her "friends of money" bargaining may entail.

And if you're very hopeful, you're convinced that her presidency could be far to the left of the other Clinton presidency, even on money matters. After all, there's no proof yet that this hopeful analysis is wrong. If this is your picture, your primary choice is easy — it's Clinton all the way.

If you're Clinton-appalled — But if you see "capture by wealth" as the root of almost every evil in this country except our deep-seated racism, and especially if you see that the climate crisis will reach multiple additional tipping points and are certain a carbon-captured Clinton would be a disaster ... well, what's a Democratic primary voter to do?

I'll put that differently. The Clinton-appalled (on the left) see a candidate who's threading the progressive needle while trying not to anger her moneyed friends, or at least not undo their expectations that this "rein in the rich" stuff is just campaign talk. Her critics on the left see one who does care about people, but also one who sees her role as confirming the current order, with better mitigation for the suffering worst among us.

They also see someone who will take us into a fossil fuel–heavy future — again with mitigation for the suffering worst, but with no loss of profit for the wealth-heavy carbon industry. For example, this is former Secretary Clinton speaking in 2013 at Hamilton College in upstate New York's Oneida County:
Late into the lecture portion of Clinton’s Oneida County appearance, she referenced a report that the U.S. in on track to surpass Russia in domestic oil-and-gas production.

That’s good news, Clinton said.

“What that means for viable manufacturing and industrialization in this country is enormous,” she said to the crowd of 5,800 in Hamilton’s athletic field house.
For the Clinton-appalled and carbon-aware, it means "we're cooked," literally, and sooner than anyone expects — because this crisis is always moving faster than anyone expects, or publicly claims to expect. (You should know that in private, a great many climate scientists are, frankly, freaking out, and not metaphorically. They know that what no one is saying is nevertheless true.)

In other words, the full awareness of the damage we've handed ourselves — the wide-eyed Wile E. Coyote "nothing beneath me" moment — will likely come on a President Clinton's watch, and she and Obama will get the blame for not being more aggressive, for being too wealth-serving.

Wile E. Coyote considers his climate future.

And that's just the "Clinton, money and carbon" piece of the story. The "Clinton, money and banking" piece says the next financial meltdown will also come on Clinton's watch, that the next bailout may be a "bail-in" (a bailout using depositor funds) as is being done in Europe, and in either case, the economy is screwed — but only for people who aren't good friends of "friends of money."

So what will hit first under a money-friendly (but better-than-Republican) presidency — climate or the next banking bailout? How about an aggressively pursued endless war that truly "comes home," the way European and Middle East wars have always come home? How about environmental disaster after environmental disaster caused by exploding oil trains, frack-poisoned ground water, burst pipelines, and oil spill after oil spill?

Or how about even more exported American jobs under a bipartisan (but decidedly Democratic) "trade" regime? Want to go worse? How about imported foreign contract labor being fast-tracked into the country when the deadliest of the coming trade deals, TISA, is signed by the next wealth-serving Democrat? The just-passed Fast Track law — the discussion of which Clinton's campaign wanted to "go away" — hands, to this president and the next, six years' worth of job-destroying, global investor–enabling power.

If you're this appalled, what's a primary voter to do? Avoid damaging Clinton so no Republican can win? Cheer all the wonderful things that a progressive Clinton might do? Or vote for Sanders and if he loses, walk away?

I'm hearing all three cases being made, and the voices are getting louder. Who's right? Of course, only time will tell.

Leaving It to the Voters to Decide

You can look at the Clinton candidacy and see what you want by adjusting what's foreground and what's background in your mental image. Is Clinton a woman who deserves much better than being trashed by the constant misogyny of the troglodyte Right? You can see that person.

Is Clinton a bright Sixties rebel who now wants a chance to do the best she can to fix a wealth-dominated world? You can see that person.

Is Clinton a person who's long bought into "rule by the rich" — rule by the class she hangs with, the class that knows better than us how to run things that matter — but thinks their regime can use some tweakage so the "most vulnerable" are protected? You can see that person too.

I guess this is why we are leaving it to voters to decide, and not to the few of us who pay early attention. Because if the voters choose wrong, they will pay the price, but at least they will have done it to themselves.

Unless there's friends-of-money mischief afoot, of course. Like this perhaps?
DNC Chair Says Candidates Must Meet 'Threshold' For Debates, Though Criteria And Dates Still Unclear

Democratic presidential candidates will have to meet a certain “threshold” to participate in the party’s six scheduled primary debates, Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz said Thursday, though she did not specify which criteria, such as state or national polling, will be used to determine who qualifies.

“It’ll be a threshold that’ll be expansive and allows for the maximum inclusion of our major party candidates," Wasserman Schultz told MSNBC’s Ari Melber. She said the DNC hasn’t “quite finished formulating the details” for the debates, including specific dates, locations and media sponsors.

The lack of clarity has been frustrating to both campaigns and major TV networks, the latter of which produce the debates and need to book venues and handle logistical details well in advance.

In May, the DNC announced plans to hold six primary debates, four of which would be held in the early voting states of Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada. The DNC said debates would begin in "the fall of 2015," though didn't specify when. 
Kind of a Rorshach news announcement, right? Starting with how you see Debbie Wasserman Schultz.


Mike Papantonio and Farron Cousins of Ring Of Fire in a discussion of the Bloomberg article linked above. (Apologies for the lurid preview image; not my first choice.)


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Is Fox's GOP Debate Going To Be A Big Ratings Winner? Today's Day In Republican Craziness


Ted Cruz, who doesn't get on the wrong side of Rush Limbaugh, seems to be throwing his lot behind all the craziest Trump and Huckabee remarks. If there's one thing Tailgunner Ted understands, it's how to exploit fear and anxiety-- and superficial faith. The other contenders are trying to figure out if appearing to be more cautious is a better tactic. But wouldn't that caution fly in the face of what their own base wants? After all, the new CNN poll shows that 63% of Republican voters favor mass deportation of millions of Mexican families (over 10 million people)-- generally speaking, the majority of elderly Republicans, uneducated Republicans, Evangelical Republicans and rural Republicans. And these are Trump supporters.

And speaking of polls of Republican voters, a new one came out yesterday from Monmouth University showing Trump with a 2-to-1 edge over his nearest rival, Jeb Bush. Trump takes votes from the whole field of contenders but seems to be hurting Chris Christie, Scott Walker, and Ted Cruz the most. Trump has the support of 24% of GOP primary voters, followed by Jeb! at 12%, John Kasich and Scott Walker tied at 7%, Marco Rubio at 6%, Ben Carson and Rand Paul at 5% each and Chris Christie at 4%.
Trump does especially well with very conservative voters (36%), far outpacing Walker (10%) and Cruz (9%) among this group. Somewhat conservative voters prefer Trump (22%), followed by Carson (10%) and Walker (9%). Moderate to liberal voters choose Bush (22%) and Trump (18%) as their top tier.

Tea Party supporters back Trump (35%), with Walker (13%) a distant second. Non-Tea Party voters split their support between Trump (18%) and Bush (18%), followed by Kasich (8%).
Yesterday Paul Krugman mused in his column about the Trumpmania sweeping the GOP base. He wrote:
What I’m wondering: How, exactly, does the Trump implosion everyone is predicting happen at this point? The punditocracy wrote him off over the McCain comments, and was totally wrong. If base voters haven’t decided that he’s a buffoon yet, what new information will convince them? Also note that mainstream Republican candidates are responding to the Trump surge by amping up their own inflammatory rhetoric, which makes their difference from The Donald ever less apparent. I don’t know about other people, but I am starting to hedge my bets a bit. Maybe he really can get the nomination.
Maybe Trump's backers will get fed up with him if they ever find out he's been lying about his net worth, a net worth he leans on to claim the right to the presidency. A Kasich strategist, John Weaver, got a gut kick in against Trump on Twitter Monday: "Imagine a NASCAR driver mentally preparing for a race knowing one of the drivers will be drunk. That's what prepping for this debate is like." But many think it's Chris Christie-- who isn't even considered a top-tier candidate at this point-- is best suited to successfully take on Trump. His own nasty, even vicious and bullying, approach to campaigning is pretty similar to Trump's-- and so far, Trump has deprived him of that trademark among Iowa and New Hampshire GOP voters.
If Bush underperforms in the Granite State (and other early contests) and/or Christie over-performs, the New Jersey governor could well become a major contender for the nomination, they argue quite reasonably.

Of course, it’s far from guaranteed that Christie would be the ultimate beneficiary of a Bush flop, should one occur.

All of Christie’s supporters acknowledge that, ultimately, a large part of the governor’s appeal is personal. They insist he is impressing voters in the early states with his command of issues and specific proposals, drawing good reviews from attendees who started out skeptical but warmed to the candidate after seeing and hearing him.

But Donald Trump’s success, which relies on a style that is similar to Christie’s, undercuts the New Jersey governor’s uniqueness and may cause establishment voters to look for a candidate who is more diplomatic and polished in his approach.

Recent national polls generally show Christie drawing in the low single digits in the race for his party’s nomination, placing him often in ninth or 10th place. That could be a problem since only the top 10 candidates in polling conducted before the first sanctioned debate, on Aug. 6 in Cleveland, will appear onstage.
Christie dipped a toe in the anti-Trump water this week and seems to be testing whether or not it will work for him.
He was prodded to talk about Trump by Shirley Paulson, 83 of Keene, who asked Christie how he could do a better job at jumpstarting the country's economy since Trump already proved himself a successful businessman.

"I just don't believe that the skills you're talking about that Donald has are transferable," Christie told her.
 "You cannot fire the speaker of the House or the Senate majority leader because you don't get what you want," Christie continued. "What I'm saying is that you have to have some experience in dealing with people in that way ... (and that) there are certain skills that you have to have to be able to operate in a system that's built on compromise."

Paulson didn't seem appeased, so Christie continued.

"In the end, and I've said this to Donald, I think if he became president he would be incredibly frustrated because what he does in the business world could not be replicated in the world of government or in the world of international relations," Christie said.

"For instance, when he says he's going to build a wall across the entire 2,000 mile border between the United States and Mexico, and he's going to make Mexico pay for it," he said, to some laughs from the crowd. "Now, that's a great line, right? Everybody loves that, great we're going to get the wall and we don't have to pay for it."

Paulson interrupted, "He got a lot of attention with it."

"Of course he did," Christie responded, "See, I thought we were talking about about actually governing a country and not getting attention. Listen, if the goal here is to find the person to be president of the United States who can get the most attention, he's going to win hands down. If it is the person who can most effectively govern our nation and deal with the world, I suggest to you that I'm in this race because I think that I'd be better at it than he would."

More NH voters have seen Christie than any other, but he's at just 3%.

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Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Football Watch: The NFL stands firm on Tom Brady's punishment -- plus suddenly Prince Tom apologists have more to apologize for


No, this isn't Prince Tom's actual smashed cellphone, it's just a smashed-cellphone stock photo. But the way these things go, it may be just a matter of time before we have cellphone video of the actual phonicide ordered by the prince.

by Ken

At 3:05 this afternoon posted this "Early Lead" item by Clinton Yates, "Tom Brady’s four-game DeflateGate suspension upheld by Roger Goodell":

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has upheld New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady’s four-game suspension for his role in the DeflateGate scandal, according to the NFL. In a statement released by the league office Tuesday afternoon, Goodell stuck with the initial punishment when he received information that Brady destroyed his cellphone.

“On or shortly before March 6, the day that Tom Brady met with independent investigator Ted Wells and his colleagues, Brady directed that the cell phone he had used for the prior four months be destroyed. He did so even though he was aware that the investigators had requested access to text messages and other electronic information that had been stored on that phone,” said the email from the league. “‎During the four months that the cell phone was in use, Brady had exchanged nearly 10,000 text messages, none of which can now be retrieved from that device. The destruction of the cell phone was not disclosed until June 18, almost four months after the investigators had first sought electronic information from Brady.”

Ten thousand text messages in four months. The further implication here could be that the appeal process potentially made things worse between Goodell and Brady. The conventional thinking, as is often the case with NFL suspensions, was that it would be reduced. Greg Hardy had his suspension — for a domestic violence accusation, no less — reduced from 10 to four games earlier this offseason. And now that Brady allegedly decided to destroy his phone, he’ll be out the same amount of time.

“The commissioner found that Brady’s deliberate destruction of potentially relevant evidence went beyond a mere failure to cooperate in the investigation and supported a finding that he had sought to hide evidence of his own participation in the underlying scheme to alter the footballs,” the NFL’s email said.

According to the report, “at the hearing, Mr. Brady testified that it is his practice to destroy (or give to his assistant to destroy) his cellphone and SIM cards when he gets a new cellphone.” Even if you do believe that, there has to be some question about how Brady is looked at as a quarterback now. How will this new destroyed phone scandal hang over his increasingly bruised legacy?

Goodell dismissed the notion because this was a first time offense of its kind, that the penalty was not appropriate. He went on to reference Bountygate, Brett Favre’s harrassment of a New York Jets employee and two other incidents involving tampered balls. “In terms of the appropriate level of discipline, the closest parallel of which I am aware is the collectively bargained discpline imposed for a first violation of the policy governing performance enhancing drugs; steroid use reflects an improper effort to secure a competitive advantage in, and threatens the integrity of, the game,” he wrote.

At the end of the 20-page report, Goodell said he had no choice to uphold the suspension.

“I entered in the appeal process open to reevaluating my assessment of Mr. Brady’s conduct and the associated discipline. Especially in light of the new evidence introduced at the hearing – evidence demonstrating that he arranged for the destruction of potentially relevant evidence that had been specifically requested by the investigators – my finding and conclusions have not changed in a manner that would benefit Mr. Brady,” the commissioner wrote in conclusion. “Notwithstanding my enormous respect for this accomplishments on the field and for his contributions and role in the community, I find that, with respect to the game balls used in the AFC Championship Game and the subsequent investigation, Mr. Brady engaged in conduct detrimental to the integrity of, and public confidence in, the game of professional football.”
Now hold on a second, partner. What's this about Tom Brady smashing his cellphone? Curious readers can follow a link included with this post to an earlier "Early Lead" post by Cindy Boren, "Stephen A. Smith says Tom Brady destroyed his cellphone during DeflateGate investigation," which originally went up at 11-something this morning but was updated at 4:50pm to reflect the new Goodell ruling ("Updated with Smith's information proving correct"). This is the original version:

As if the DeflateGate saga couldn’t get any odder, it took another turn for the weird Tuesday with a report that New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady destroyed his cellphone — the one on which he allegedly communicated with equipment men about deflating footballs — during the NFL’s investigation.

ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith served up that steamy take Tuesday, telling Skip Bayless, his partner in bloviation on “First Take,” exactly what he was “hearing” without naming sources or saying that he was actually reporting it.

“Skip, remember when we had conversations about the text messages [between Brady and the Patriots’ personnel] and refusing to show it? I’m hearing that Tom Brady actually destroyed his cellphone.”

Of course, that’s not exactly how it works with cellphone technology, but Smith was on a roll.

“I just heard that Tom Brady’s suspension will likely be upheld. We all recognize that anything’s possible, um, obviously minds can change. But from what I’m hearing, in the next 24-48 hours the NFL will announce that they are upholding the four game suspension against Tom Brady,” he said. “He will serve his four-game suspension. They know and expect the [NFL Players Association] to appeal that decision.”

Brady’s refusal to cooperate with the investigation was part of the reason he was suspended four games for being “at least generally aware” that Patriots footballs were being underinflated. Since then, he has appealed the suspension and the world is waiting with increasingly less baited breath to learn whether it might be reduced by Commissioner Roger Goodell. After Goodell hands down his opinion, Brady and the players’ union will decide whether to head to court.

Smith wasn’t done connecting dots, though. He brought it all back to that other scandal.

“In Spygate in 2007, when [Coach] Bill Belichick and the Patriots were fined – apparently there’s some language in that agreement – in that fine that ultimately handed down to him, that if something like this happened again, you’re talking about Bill Belichick being banned. Which, in some folks’ eyes may have facilitated [owner] Robert Kraft showing a willingness to accept the penance and the penalty Roger Goodell handed down to him.”

So…there you go.
Now this last bit, about language in the league's Spygate decision "that if something like this happened again, you're talking about Bill Belichick being banned," well, it's interesting if awfully vague (not just the "apparently there’s some language in that agreement," but the definition of "something like this"), not to mention undersourced. In any case, while it does suggest a reason why both Pats owner Bob Kraft and coach Belichick, however grumbly, might be relieved that Commissioner Goodell's original ruling in DeflateGat wasn't worse, I don't think it's pertinent to the immediate question of Tom Brady's crime and punishment.

But this business of the cellphone smashing? Certainly Commissioner Goodell believes it happened, and believes it was ordered by Tom Brady with the intention of destroying the contents. Interestingly, Cindy's original observation, "Of course, that’s not exactly how it works with cellphone technology," has been changed in the updated version to: "Of course, that may not completely delete the cellphone trail (especially since the texts could be seen on the recipients’ phones)." Either way, it certainly makes a person curious to see what may lie among those four months' worth of 10,000 texts. Even allowing for the likelihood that, say, 90 percent of them deal with how talented and beautiful Tom is, that would still leave 1,000 others to riffle through.

Probably nothing there would impress the Post's Adam Kilgore, who before the new ruling had written a derisive screed about the commissioner, "NFL’s post-DeflateGate rule changes undermine league’s punishment of Tom Brady," breathlessly touting the revelation this weekend (linking to an "Early Lead" post yesterday by Cindy Boren) by Fox Sports analyst Mike Pereira, a former head of NFL officials, that the league has quietly overhauled its procedures for enforcing the rules regarding the handling of game footballs. Somehow Adam has concluded that, because the league has admitted that its old security procedures were inadequate and spottily enforced, Brady's flouting of those rules has somehow become retroactively okay.

It has apparently never occurred to Adam that the league's now-replaced system simply never anticipated the lengths to which people might go to break the rules. People like, say, the Crowned Prince of Belichickland. And so Adam raves on and on about the lamb-like innocence of his boy Tom and the horse's-assitude of Roger Goodell, and boy, are Tommy and the NFL Players' Association gonna whup Roger's ass in court if he doesn't have the sense to back down and kiss the prince's private parts.

Now I'm not here to defend Roger's stewardship of the NFL, though I think it's well to remember that he's not so much the commissioner of a professional sports league as the manager, hired by a bunch of billionaires, of a business enterprise that accounts for a key segment of the U.S. economy. But as between Roger and Tom, let's be clear here. Even before we heard about the smashed cellphone, it has to have been clear to anyone who read the texts of those equipment guys' texts which were made public that Tom:

(a) knew the balls he used were being doctored, in flagrant violation of league rules,

(b) believed he was nevertheless entitled to have balls supplied that suited his comfort,

and (c) demanded like the most imperious princeling (or spoiled brat) that the sniveling little people in the clubhouse take care of it without further inconvenience to a big person like himself.

Above and beyond that, it's well established that he not only stonewalled every aspect of the league's investigation but flat-out lied whenever he actually answered questions. Adam's ridicule of the NFL begins with the length of time the league has spent on DeflateGate, again without asking the really important question (somehow Adam never seems to have any idea what the important question is): Whose fault is it that the issue has dragged on this long?

I say it's the guy who cheated in the first place, then lied about it while stonewalling the league's attempt to find out what happened, and now -- it turns out -- did his best to destroy what sure looks like it would have been evidence? Why, it's Adam's golden boy, Tom!

Yes, Tom Brady is a superbly gifted athlete, and yes, he has worked relentlessly to master the game and his position. For which he has been rewarded as richly as any human being ever could be. And yet somewhere along the line he seems to have gotten the idea that he is entitled to bend and rewrite rules to suit his convenience -- that rules are for the game's little people, not for a handsome prince like himself. I'll stand by what I wrote in May: "Just 'cause you're as pretty (and, yes, talented) as Tom Brady doesn't mean you get to cheat -- and then lie about it."

POSTSCRIPT: This may not be the best time to ask
me to feel sympathy toward a pampered NFL star

An "inside" look at Episode 1 of Ballers

I recently got around to looking at the episodes of HBO's Ballers I had stored up on my DVR, and I watched with increasing fascination, and also increasing revulsion. As I've written before, by the last couple of seasons I'd lost pretty much all of whatever lingering interest I had in professional football, and now the thought of watching even a quarter of a game fills me with boredom. But the Ballers portrayal of the game's behind-the-scenes rings true in a way that suggests that those people -- players, officials, tycoons, and, yes, fans (and groupies too) -- form a closed loop of suckers and suckees who all deserve one another. But maybe that's another story for another time.


Some things to think about before you call the cops in on a missing-keys case


Apparently no stranger to misadventure, the Owen Grundy Pier on the Jersey City waterfront, the site of Sunday's incident, was depicted that evening on the Jersey Journal website in this photo from November 2013, when the pier was reopened after being struck by a ferry owned by Goldman Sachs. (Goldman Sachs famously moved its "back office" operations to a skyscraper on the new skylined Jersey City waterfront.)

by Ken

Perhaps it just marks me as a "glass half empty" kind of person, but there seemed to me -- just from the basic facts of the incident -- to have been two fairly major conceptual flaws in Tereek DaSilva's scheme for retrieving his keys, which I'm sure you saw right away too, and then a third, more practical flaw that became evident with the addition of a bit of background information.
Charges downgraded for Elizabeth man who lied to cops about nephew jumping into Hudson River

By Michaelangelo Conte | The Jersey Journal
on July 28, 2015 at 8:15 AM, updated at 8:42 AM

JERSEY CITY -- Charges were downgraded yesterday for an Elizabeth man accused of causing false public alarm on Sunday by falsely telling police his 10-year-old nephew had jumped into the Hudson River and disappeared.

Tereek Q. DaSilva, 19, appeared in Central Judicial Processing court this afternoon via video link from Hudson County jail in Kearny. At the hearing, his bail was set at $5,000 with a 10 percent cash option and the charge was downgraded to a disorderly persons charge rather than a criminal charge.

Around 2:40 a.m. yesterday, DaSilva called 911 and reported that his 10-year-old nephew had jumped into the river to retrieve car keys DaSilva had accidentally dropped from Grundy Pier. He said the boy went under the pier and did not resurface, reports said.

All available police units converged on the area but after searching for the boy for 15 minutes and finding nothing, officers asked DaSilva if he was certain the 10-year-old was in the water. DaSilva said yes, reports said.

That's when three women who were with DaSilva spoke up. They told police DaSilva dropped his keys into the river and in an attempt to get cops to retrieve them, he made up the story about his nephew diving in, reports said.

Confronted again, DaSilva admitted the story was a rouse [at a guess, it was more likely a "ruse" he admitted to -- Ed.] and was arrested, reports said.

DaSilva has five prior arrests and a criminal conviction for receiving stolen property, court officials said. CJP Judge Margaret Marley also noted that there is a warrant for his arrest out of Elizabeth Municipal Court with a $100 bail.

He is to appear in Jersey City Municipal Court tomorrow in person if he posts bail or by video link if he does not.
The conceptual flaws first.

Conceptual flaw No. 1: Aren't the cops going to be looking for the kid, not the keys?

Say what you will about cops, when they're called in about a 10-year-old kid who has disappeared in the river, it's going to be awhile before they or the additional people they call in think about anything except the missing kid. The scenario Tereek seems to have had in mind was a team of frantic searchers coming up to him and saying, "Sorry, sir, there's no sign of your nephew, but you'll be glad to hear that we found your keys." I'm not seeing it.

Conceptual flaw No. 2: Doesn't there have to come a time when the cops are made aware that there isn't any missing kid?

Again the imagined scenario seems to have been that whatever team of searchers was assembled would be so overwhelmed by the good news that they would say, "Well, that's a relief, sir! Now you have a good day!" I don't think this one stands up to scrutiny either.


You know, based on having a bit more background info. I'm thinking here of the five prior arrests, the criminal conviction for receiving stolen property, and the outstanding Elizabeth Municipal Court arrest warrant. These might have seemed to me good reason for not initiating contact with the police, especially contact with the above-noted conceptual problems unlikely to dispose said police to a favorable outlook.

It might be taken as a touching show of faith that, with his history of extensive contact with the police, Tereek turned to them for help with his problem of the lost-in-the-river keys, but I'd be surprised if the cops looked at it this way. I guess, though, that under the pressure of having, you know, just dropped your keys in the Hudson River, you don't always think things through completely.

Although I haven't seen an account that mentions it speciically, as far as I can tell, the keys were not recovered.

Also left open is the question of those mysterious "three women who were with DaSilva," who psuddenly pop up out of nowhere to blew the missing-nephew cover story. I can't help thinking that for a complete picture of the incident we need to know a little more about them.

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Supporting The Iran Deal


For a candidate to get a Blue America endorsement, we try to get to know them down to the core of their being. What we're not looking for is some phony politician willing to tell us what they think we want to hear on any set of issues. We learned our lesson long ago after helping reactionary Blue Dog Chris Carney win a Pennsylvania congressional seat. 

We don't send out questionnaires and we don't depend on any one issue before making an endorsement. Maybe that's why we endorse so few candidates each cycle. When we ask perspective endorsees about women's Choice, punishment for corrupt Wall Street banksters and LGBT equality, it has more to do with learning about their core beliefs and how they make decisions and about their courageousness than how they stand on any particular issue. This year we started asking candidates to explain their thinking on BlackLivesMatter so we can get a better understanding of their thought process on such a complicated-- if not morally ambiguous-- issue. Similarly we're asking candidates to tell us their thoughts on the Iran nuclear deal.

Although we think the deal is definitely worth supporting, we don't consider it a make it or break it issue. There's more than one way of looking at the deal, and again, what we're looking for is a thought process. Interestingly, even Joe Manchin, the most conservative Democrat in the Senate, says he is leaning towards supporting the deal. "I'm leaning very strongly towards that because of the options that I have," Manchin said on CBS' Face the Nation. "The only other option is go to war, and I'm not ready to send our people into harm's way again until people in that part of the world want to clean up their own mess." Manchin agrees with our position on Iran-- and, despite Huckabee's insane screed, that of most American Jews-- but his overall record isn't one that would ever move us to consider endorsing him. Grayson is against the deal, but overall, we find him to be as close to an ideal candidate as possible.

It's worth mentioning that, according to the latest polling, the American people also favor the deal with Iran.
A new Public Policy Polling survey finds that there’s strong support nationally for the Iran deal, that voters want their members of Congress to let it move forward, and that there’s no potential political backlash for members who do support the deal.

Key findings from the survey include:

Only 38% of voters are opposed to the Iran deal, compared to 54% who are supportive of it. Democratic voters (75/17) are far more united in their favor for the agreement than Republicans (36/54) are in their opposition to it. Voters within every gender, race, and age group are in support of it, reflecting the broad based mandate for the deal.

Similarly 54% of voters want their members of Congress to vote to allow the agreement to move forward, compared to just 39% who would like to see it blocked. There is very little public sentiment to let the deal fail and then see how things play out from there- voters want to see their elected officials move this along.

There are basically no potential repercussions politically for members of Congress who do vote in support of the agreement. 60% of Americans say that if their members vote for it, they will be either more likely to vote for them in the future or it won’t make a difference either way in their future voting. Fully 79% of Democrats said they’d be more likely to support their members in the future or it wouldn’t make a difference. Just 36% of overall voters say they’ll be less likely down the line to vote for a member who supports the Iran agreement.

The message is clear: voters think the Iran deal is a good one for the country, they want Congress to move it along, and if anything they’ll reward elected officials in the future who throw their support behind the agreement. It’s a winner politically.

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