Lazy Saturday Reads: Will Roger Goodell’s Handling of #DeflateGate Be the Final Straw for NFL Owners? And Other News . . .

 cat on radiator1

Happy Saturday!!

I’m so tired of being cold. The Boston area tends to get a lot of snow–especially late in winter–but we rarely experience the frigid temperatures we’ve had this year. We usually get a lot of sun and temperatures in the 20-30+ range in the winter months. This year we have had many gloomy days in the teens and nighttime temperature in the single numbers. My house isn’t particularly well-insulated, and my furnace isn’t powerful enough to keep the house at 70 degrees when it’s that cold. Fortunately we enter February tomorrow and spring is on the way, even though it doesn’t feel like it yet.

On mornings like this one, I wish I could drape myself over a radiator and sleep for 16 hours a day like a cat. Honestly, I have to admit I’ve been taking a lot of catnaps lately to deal with a cold that isn’t all that bad but just keeps hanging on. Between that and following the buildup to the Super Bowl, I’ve been kind of ignoring politics for the time being. The 2016 race will begin to heat up soon enough, and the antics of the GOP Congress are just too depressing for me to want to know the gory details.

cute-kitten-sleeping-in-radiator

I haven’t written anything yet about the recent attacks on my beloved New England Patriots, but since it’s the Saturday before the Super Bowl, I’m going to write a little about it today.

I understand that most people around the country hate the Pats for the same reasons everyone hated the Yankees when I was a kid. They always seemed to be winning, and we got so sick of having to watch them in the World Series. Not to mention that their fans were unbearably arrogant and obnoxious. Growing up in the 1950s and ’60s, I learned to root for the underdog.

At the beginning of the football season this year, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell was in hot water over the mild 2-game suspension he handed out to Ray Rice after the league learned that the Baltimore Ravens running back had punched his then-girlfriend Janay Palmer in the face in a Las Vegas elevator in February 2014, knocking her unconscious. Rice was arrested and charged with aggravated assault.

After video surfaced of the incident, Goodell turned around and suspended Rice indefinitely (this arbitrary decision was later overturned). After that the media began calling attention to other cases of domestic violence by NFL players, and many people called for Goodell to be fired. At the time, Patriots owner Robert Kraft was one of the few team owners to publicly support the commissioner. Goodell survived and the controversy died down temporarily.

Now Goodell has made an enemy of Kraft. Will a silly controversy about deflated footballs lead to Goodell’s final downfall? I’m not going to get into the details of “Deflate Gate,” but I’ve followed the story closely, and at this point I’m convinced that whole thing is ridiculous.

At first I was stunned by the accusations and then I began to believe that the Patriots must have done something wrong. But over time, I’ve concluded that the whole thing was a tempest in a teapot, and I’ve reached the point where I’m embracing the hatred and laughing about the whole thing.

cat on radiator5

I’m not a huge fan of the Super Bowl, but to me it seems stupid that this year’s game has been overshadowed by this ludicrous controversy. I think it’s time for Roger Goodell to go, and now that he has lost the support of one of the NFL’s most powerful owners–and one of Goodell’s bosses–it might actually happen. As former Commissioner Paul Tagliabue told CQ Magazine, Goodell doesn’t seem to understand the value of treating the players like adults and working for peace and understanding rather than enraging everyone.

Tagliabue also said that Goodell hasn’t spoken to him since the former commissioner vacated Goodell’s ridiculously over-the-top punishment of another winning team–the New Orleans Saints–for supposedly paying bounties to players for big hits during games in 2011. This practice was common around the league and none of the hits by Saints players had lead to serious injuries. Tagliabue felt that it was unfair to penalize one team so harshly for behavior that was widely tolerated around the league, and he overturned the punishment after Goodell asked him to review the case.

Why would the NFL commissioner want to tear down winning teams? It doesn’t make sense unless you understand that the NFL doesn’t like dynasties. Here’s a piece from the Bleacher Report from 2009 about another scandal involving the New England Patriots.

Cat basking in the radiator

The Truth About Spygate: Punishing Success and Promoting Parity.

Excellence isn’t against NFL rules—at least not yet.

 But, the league punishes success anyway.

 They punish success to achieve parity among the teams. In theory, when more teams have a chance to win it all, the ratings are higher. That means more advertising dollars for the networks and bigger TV contracts for the league.

 Twelve games into the season and your team has four wins and eight losses?

 Keep watching.

 They still have a chance, just like the 2008 Chargers.

 Current rules allow scenarios where nine win teams make the playoffs and go to Super Bowls, while 11 win teams miss the playoffs….

They don’t want dominant teams. They want mediocrity. They don’t want dynasties.

They want to spread the wealth.

So, the league punishes successful teams, hoping to weaken them, and rewards bad teams, hoping to strengthen them.

Read the rest of that article to learn why the Patriots were punished with a trumped-up scandal over something every other team was doing.

cat on radiator8

So far the strategy has worked with the Saints, but maybe they can still turn it around. I hope so. After “spygate,” the Patriots refused to lie down and die. They just kept winning, and Goodell and some other team owners and coaches resented it. I think Goodell’s ham-handed strategy for promoting parity is bullshit. There have to be other ways of doing it than ruining the NFL’s most important event–the Super Bowl–and humiliating players and coaches who have worked their asses off to achieve excellence.

Rhode Island sportswriter Tom E. Curran has followed the Patriots since the late 1990s. At the beginning of “deflategate,” he thought that the Pats had cheated, but he gradually learned that the NFL had zero evidence to show any wrongdoing by the team;  and yesterday after Roger Goodell gave his “state of the NFL” speech, Curran wrote a scathing response.

Goodell Deflategate stance shows he’s a fraud.

Congrats, Roger. You successfully debased your marquee event.

You allowed one of your marquee franchises to be devalued.

You allowed the legacies of a Hall of Fame quarterback and coach to be battered.

You watched with disinterest as one of the league’s visionary owners and most influential proponents had his influence siphoned and his investment diminished.

Your NFL has bookended the 2014 season with two perfect embarrassments.

First, the wink, wink “investigation” into Ray Rice punching his fiancee into unconsciousness which exploded on the Monday morning after the season openers.

Now, a vindictive, self-important, spare-no-expense investigation into footballs being less than 12.5 PSI during the AFC Championship.

And there you were Friday, Roger, on a rainy morning in Phoenix – two days before the best two teams in the NFL will play a game that’s been terribly overshadowed – puffing out your chest.

Read about Curran’s evolution on the deflategate issue at the link.

cat on radiator7

Here’s his conclusion:

The NFL had to know it had no numbers written down before Monday dawned. But the leaks of leaky balls flowed. The NFL had a choice. Step up and say, “Look, this is standard stuff, we frequently do a review of procedures and we are not alleging any wrongdoing by anyone. We just have to make sure our footballs aren’t defective.” Or do nothing and let the whisper campaign turn into a full-throated, planetary roar that the Patriots are cheaters.

The NFL chose the latter.

And everybody’s paying for it.

The league itself. The players. The coaches. The fans.

The revenue streams keep cascading and because of that, Goodell’s 32 bosses can go to sleep every night knowing that, no matter how bad it gets, it will never slow to a trickle.

Still, he’s got to be congratulated for finding a way to let the Super Bowl be overshadowed. Seemed impossible.

The only thing that can save the week now will be the game itself. I think it will.

What will save the reputation of Roger Goodell? Nothing.

We’ll find out about the game tomorrow night. Goodell may stick around for a little while, but I think his goose is cooked.

I’ll end this diatribe with a hilarious video that finally dissolved all my resentment over what has happened over the past two weeks of deflate gate hype.

Now that I’ve bored you stiff with my obnoxious Boston fan routine, here are some other stories you may find interesting.

Matt Taibbi at Rolling Stone: While Deflategate and Chaitgate Rage, America Quietly Robs Its Elderly.

NYT: Support Waning, Romney Decides Against 2016 Bid.

WaPo: Up to foot of snow possible for Midwest, Northeast.

OMG!! CNN: Mary Cheney: Why is drag ‘socially acceptable’ and blackface isn’t?

Raw Story: Drag queens respond to Mary Cheney’s question of why drag is acceptable if blackface isn’t

Reihan Salam at Slate: The Upper Middle Class Is Ruining America. And I want it to stop.

cat on radiator10

Michael Moore on Facebook: The Day Clint Eastwood Said He Would “Kill” Me, 10 Years Ago This Week.

Michael Schiavo at Politico: Jeb ‘Put Me Through Hell’.

Talking Points Memo: Jeb Bush’s Former Classmates Say He Was A Hash-Smoking Bully.

Nina Burleigh at Newsweek: What Silicon Valley Thinks of Women.

Talking Points Memo: The Sounds of Solidarity: Remembering Pete Seeger at Selma.

From The New Yorker, April 10, 1965: Letter from Selma, by Renata Adler.

RedOrbit via Raw Story: ‘Horrific’ pre-historic shark makes a rare appearance in Australian waters.

Georg Gray: Rare Historic Photos You’ll Never Forget.

What else is happening? Let us know in the comment thread and have a fabulous Super Bowl weekend!

 


Tuesday Reads: Heroes and Villains

Good Morning!!

Well, the President gave another speech last night, and it frankly put me in mind of the movie Groundhog Day. I think Obama’s handlers should be told to keep him under wraps until such time as he actually has something to say. I’ve had it with this whole debt ceiling mess, and I’m not going to say anymore about it in this post.

Instead, here’s an inspiring story that Dakinikat called my attention to: German tourist rescued teens during Norwegian island massacre.

A German tourist is being hailed as a hero for rescuing at least 20 people from a gunman’s rampage on Utoya island in Norway, according to media reports.

Marcel Gleffe, 32, was with his family Friday at a campground across the water from the island when he heard gunshots, Der Spiegel reported. He and his family looked out from the shore, thinking it might be fireworks, but instead they saw a plume of smoke and a girl swimming frantically in the water and screaming.

Gleffe got into the boat he had rented and set off, Der Spiegel said. He was the first person to reach the island where Anders Behring Breivik gunned down dozens of youngsters at a summer camp….

“You don’t get scared in a situation like that, you just do what it takes. I know the difference between fireworks and gunfire. I knew what it was about, and that it wasn’t just nonsense.”

We need a lot more people like Marcel Gleffe in this world. And what do you know? Via The Hinky Meter, here’s another hero: David Kemp of Beaverton, Oregon.

Kemp knew something was wrong when he was jogging on the Seaside promenade Saturday and saw 6-year-old Hailey’s face as she struggled to get away from Knox when having a Fantastic Race on a group of people.

“She was scared to death – terrified,” Kemp said.

He asked Hailey if she knew the woman and she shook her head in horror.

“I knew there was a problem at that point (and) that this is very, very serious. This child is terrified,” he said.

He knew he had to do something, especially when he heard what sounded like a death threat.

“She kept telling Hailey: ‘I am your queen; I am going to take you to see our king, our Lord. I am taking you with me.'”

Kemp broke the woman’s grip on the little girl, and when the kidnapper tried to get away, he chased her down and held her till police arrived. This isn’t the first time Kemp has been a hero.

In 2004 he rescued a woman who was injured by a hit-and-run driver and left lying in the road. Then he found the car which led to an arrest.

He’s also chased down and caught a shoplifter running from a store and another time he caught a robber who just held up a Hallmark shop.

Finally, there’s Robert Kraft, owner of the New England Patriots, who was instrumental in ending the four-month-long NFL owners’ lockout. At the press conference announcing the agreement yesterday, Kraft apologized to the fans.

“First of all I’d like, on behalf of both sides, to apologize to the fans that for the last five, six months we’ve been talking about the business of football and not what goes on on the field and building the teams in each market, but the end result is we’ve been able to have an agreement that I think is going to allow this sport to flourish over the next decade and we’ve done that in a way that’s unique among the major sports that every team in our league, all 32, will be competitive, we’ve improved player safety, and we’ve remembered the players who have played in the past.

During the months of the lockout, Kraft was going back and forth between labor talks and his wife Myra’s bedside. She was ending a long battle with cancer, and was buried on Friday.

It’s difficult to imagine how trying – emotionally, physically, mentally – these last few weeks have been for Patriots owner Robert Kraft, as his beloved wife, Myra, was dying of cancer and difficult negotiations dragged on between NFL owners and players over the terms of a new collective-bargaining agreement.

[….]

“He is a man who helped us save football,” Jeff Saturday, the center for the Indianapolis Colts and a member of the NFLPA’s executive committee, said Monday after the league’s players joined the owners in approving a new collective-bargaining agreement. “Without him, this deal does not get done.”

Kraft previously had made it possible for New England to keep its football team when he bought the Patriots in 1994 just as they were about to move to St. Louis. Kraft is proof that people can be wealthy and remain decent human beings.

Randy Vickers, America’s chief of cybersecurity has abruptly resigned without any explanation.

The director of the agency that protects the federal government from cyber attacks has resigned abruptly in the wake of a spate of hacks against government networks.
U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT) director Randy Vickers resigned his position Friday, effective immediately, according to an e-mail to US-CERT staff sent by Bobbie Stempfley, acting assistant secretary for cybersecurity and communications, and obtained by InformationWeek. A Department of Homeland Security (DHS) spokesperson confirmed the email was authentic.

The DHS has not provided a reason for Vickers’ sudden departure and the spokesperson, who asked to remain anonymous, declined to discuss the matter further. Vickers served as director of US-CERT since April 2009; previously, he was deputy director.

Current US-CERT deputy director Lee Rock will serve as interim director until the DHS names a successor for Vickers, according to the email.

Was he forced out? Maybe we’ll learn more about this today.

David Neiwert is an expert on right wing extremist groups–he’s written two books about them–and he had a post up yesterday on Crooks and Liars about Anders Breivik, the Norwegian terrorist/mass murderer. It would be hard to choose excerpts from the story–please read the whole thing if you can find time. One important point Neiwert makes is that Breivik is not “crazy,” he’s just a right winger with connections to a group in Norway that is similar to the Tea Party here.

Scott Shane had an excellent article yesterday in the NYT on the connections between Breivik’s sick ideology and a number of American bloggers and media personalities. Of course Dakinikat has been writing about this for the past couple of days also.

The Guardian UK has an in depth article about Breivik, his appearance in court, his threats that “more will die.”

The rightwing extremist who confessed to the mass killings in Norway boasted in court on Monday that there were two more cells from his terror network still at large, prompting an international investigation for collaborators.

After Anders Behring Breivik pleaded not guilty, despite admitting that he had carried out the attacks in Oslo and on Utøya island, officials said it was possible he had not acted alone.

Prosecutor Christian Hatlo said Breivik had been calm in court and “seemed unaffected by what has happened”, adding that the suspect had told investigators during his interrogation that he never expected to be released.

“We can’t quite rule out that someone else was involved. This is partly based on the information that there are two other cells,” Hatlo said.

The prosecutor said he could not discuss whether Breivik had organised the cells or whether he was working alongside them. Police have said they have no other suspects at present.

It also emerged on Monday that Norway’s police security service had been alerted to a suspicious chemical purchase by Breivik in March, but had decided not to investigate further.

Norwegian officials have lowered the number of deaths from the attacks to 76.

At the Daily Beast, Michelle Goldberg, who wrote about about right wing Christian fundamentalism, discusses Breivik’s hatred of women.

Conservatives worried about the Islamization of Europe often blame feminism for weakening Western societies and opening them up to a Muslim demographic invasion. Mark Steyn’s bestselling America Alone: The End of the World as We Know It predicted the demise of “European races too self-absorbed to breed,” leading to the transformation of Europe into Eurabia. “In their bizarre prioritization of ‘a woman’s right to choose,’” he argued, “feminists have helped ensure that European women will end their days in a culture that doesn’t accord women the right to choose anything.”

This neat rhetorical trick—an attack on feminism coupled with purported concern about Muslim fundamentalist misogyny—is repeated again and again in Islamophobic literature. Now it’s reached its apogee in mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik’s 1,500-page manifesto, “2083: A European Declaration of Independence.” Rarely has the connection between sexual anxiety and right-wing nationalism been made quite so clear. Indeed, Breivik’s hatred of women rivals his hatred of Islam, and is intimately linked to it. Some reports have suggested that during his rampage on Utoya, he targeted the most beautiful girl first. This was about sex even more than religion.

It’s a fascinating article with lots of psychological background on Breivik’s misogyny.

That’s all I’ve got for today. What are you reading and blogging about?