Thursday, August 28, 2014

Last Call For Domestic Disagreements

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, under blistering pressure for suspending Baltimore Ravens RB Ray Rice only two games for a domestic abuse charge against his wife (while Browns wideout Josh Gordon got a one year suspension for weed), has admitted that Rice got off way too easy, and that the league now has a real policy against domestic abuse.  Deadspin's Barry Petchesky:

In a memo sent to the owners today, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announced massive new punishments for all NFL personnel—not just players—who commit domestic violence offenses. Offenders will be suspended six games for a first offense, and receive an indefinite ban for a second, with the ability to apply for reinstatement after one year. 
In the letter, Goodell specifically cited the league's actions regarding Ray Rice as the motivation behind these new rules.
"At times, however, and despite our best efforts, we fall short of our goals. We clearly did so in response to a recent incident of domestic violence. We allowed our standards to fall below where they should be and lost an important opportunity to emphasize our strong stance on a critical issue and the effective programs we have in place. My disciplinary decision led the public to question our sincerity, our commitment, and whether we understood the toll that domestic violence inflicts on so many families. I take responsibility both for the decision and for ensuring that our actions in the future properly reflect our values. I didn't get it right. Simply put, we have to do better. And we will."

Pretty bold words and bold action from the notoriously conflict-averse and image-conscious Goodell. Apparently this is going in under the league's player conduct policy, meaning the NFL Players' Association can't really challenge it. Considering the league's long and ugly history involving players and domestic abuse towards NFL spouses and significant others (and the NFL is far from the only major league sport with a huge domestic violence issue) this is a long overdue move on Goodell's part.

Now he just has to fix the Josh Gordon problem.  A year for weed in a league where players are wracked by chronic pain and devastating brain and spine injuries?  Let's try addressing that first, Rog.

Not Even Common Core-tesy

Louisiana GOP governor and perennial punchline Bobby Jindal has decided that the state's failing educational standards have to be Obama's fault, so he's suing the federal government.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal filed a federal lawsuit Wednesday accusing the U.S. Department of Education of illegally coercing states to adopt the Common Core academic standards by requiring states that want to compete for federal grants to embrace the national standards. 
Jindal, a potential candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, was once a strong supporter of the Common Core standards, but he has become increasingly critical as opposition to the standards has grown, particularly among conservative Republicans and tea party groups. 
Jindal has tried unsuccessfully to remove the Common Core from Louisiana but has been stymied by the state legislature, the state board of education and Jindal’s own state superintendent of education — all supporters of the Common Core. 
“The federal government has hijacked and destroyed the Common Core initiative,” Jindal said in a statement. “Common Core is the latest effort by big government disciples to strip away state rights and put Washington, D.C. in control of everything.” 
Before filing the lawsuit Wednesday, Jindal also tried unsuccessfully to sue his state board of education over the Common Core standards.

What makes this all laughable is that for the last two decades, Republicans have been screaming about how schools were not being held accountable, how there weren't national standards of performance, and how teachers and educators weren't graded on performance like their students were.  Common Core actually does all that and offers incentives to states for participating, and suddenly it's "we have to sue the government for this coercive federal overreach!"

What makes this all pathetically depressing is that Jindal is trying to dodge responsibility for Louisiana's educational disaster by blaming the President.  After all, Jindal's the one who wanted to make massive cuts to public schools by privatizing them through religious organizations and slashed spending so harshly that libraries closed across the state and the resulting plummet in the polls can't be his own fault, you know.

Jindal has been the worst governor in the state's history, and yet he's still making plays like he has some sort of chance in 2016.

Coming at the expense of state taxpayer, no less.  Typical.

At The Water's Edge

Sen. Rand Paul reminds us once again that Republicans don't consider Barack Obama to be human, let alone President of the United States.  The amount of disrespect they regularly display is astonishing, especially when it comes to foreign policy disagreements.  Rand Paul went to Guatemala to tell everyone that yes, everything is Obama's fault.

According to the report in The Hill, the Kentucky Republican sat down with Guatemalan President Otto Perez Molina for 45 minutes, and the senator discussed politics with the foreign head of state. 
“I think what’s happened at the border is all squarely at the president’s lap,” Paul said. “The problem and the solution aren’t in Guatemala. The problem and solution reside inside the White House.” 
As a substantive matter, the senator’s position is tough to defend or even understand. President Obama didn’t sign the 2008 human-trafficking measure into law; he didn’t create awful conditions in Central American countries; and he didn’t encourage anyone to lie to desperate families about what would happen to their children. If there’s a coherent explanation for why the White House to blame, it’s hiding well. 
But even putting that aside, since when is it kosher for U.S. officials to travel abroad to condemn U.S. leaders like this?

Good question.  Remember when the Dixie Chicks were blackballed for suggesting as Americans that George W. Bush's foreign policy on Iraq was wrong?  Eleven years later, it's now 100% acceptable for a sitting US senator to go abroad and openly attack the President, with the head of state of a foreign nation in attendance.

Isn't that illegal?

Just to flesh this out further, in 2010, then-House Minority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) traveled to Israel in the hopes of undermining U.S. foreign policy towards Israel. At the time, this caused quite a stir in foreign-policy circles – it seemed extraordinary for an elected American official to travel abroad in order to work against his own country’s position. 
Perhaps now, with the Rand Paul example in mind, the practice is becoming more common. 
For even more context, note that in 2007, then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) met with Syrian officials in Syria. Republicans, including Cantor, suggested Pelosi may have violated the Logan Act, “which makes it a felony for any American ‘without authority of the United States’ to communicate with a foreign government to influence that government’s behavior on any disputes with the United States.

One wonders who, if anyone, will raise similar allegations against Rand Paul.

So did Paul violate the Logan Act?

Nobody seems to care that he did, openly.  And that he admits it.


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