Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Last Call For Black Lives Still Matter

The NY Times has obtained audio of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell's meeting last October with NFL owners and players about blackballed former Niners QB Colin Kaepernick and the national anthem protests in the league, and it is depressing to read about, but should not be shocking in any way.

N.F.L. owners, players and league executives, about 30 in all, convened urgently at the league’s headquarters on Park Avenue in October, nearly a month after President Trump began deriding the league and its players over protests during the national anthem. 
It was an extraordinary summit; rarely do owners and players meet in this manner. But the president’s remarks about players who were kneeling during the anthem had catalyzed a level of public hostility that the N.F.L. had never experienced. In the spirit of partnership at the meeting, the owners decided that they and the players should sit in alternating seats around the large table that featured an N.F.L. logo in the middle. 
“Let’s make sure that we keep this confidential,” Commissioner Roger Goodell said to begin the session. 
The New York Times has obtained an audio recording of the roughly three-hour meeting, and several people in the room corroborated details of the gathering. The unvarnished conversation reveals how the leaders of the most dominant sports league in the country and several of its most outspoken players confronted an unprecedented moment — mostly by talking past one another.

I know it's easy to dismiss this as millionaires whining to billionaires about how unfair life is when most of us are out here trying to make a buck to keep food on the table and a roof over our heads, but follow along here with me.

The players sounded aggrieved. After discussing a proposal to finance nonprofit groups to address player concerns, they wanted to talk about why Colin Kaepernick, the quarterback who started the anthem protests to highlight social injustice and police brutality against African-Americans, was, they believed, being blackballed by the owners. The owners sounded panicked about their business under attack, and wanted to focus on damage control.

“If he was on a roster right now, all this negativeness and divisiveness could be turned into a positive,” Philadelphia Eagles defensive lineman Chris Long said at the meeting.

Long said he did not wish to “lecture any team” on what quarterbacks to sign, but “we all agree in this room as players that he should be on a roster.” The owners’ responses were noncommittal. The Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie said that fighting for social justice is not “about one person.” 
The New England Patriots owner Robert K. Kraft pointed to another “elephant in the room.” 
“This kneeling,” he said. 
“The problem we have is, we have a president who will use that as fodder to do his mission that I don’t feel is in the best interests of America,” said Kraft, who is a longtime supporter of Mr. Trump’s. “It’s divisive and it’s horrible.” 
The owners were intent on finding a way to avoid Trump’s continued criticism. The president’s persistent jabs on Twitter had turned many fans against the league. Lurie, who called Trump’s presidency “disastrous,” cautioned against players getting drawn into the president’s tactics. 
“We’ve got to be careful not to be baited by Trump or whomever else,” Lurie said. “We have to find a way to not be divided and not get baited.” 
The Buffalo Bills owner Terry Pegula sounded anguished over the uncertainty of when Trump would take another shot at the league. “All Donald needs to do is to start to do this again,” Pegula said. “We need some kind of immediate plan because of what’s going on in society. All of us now, we need to put a Band-Aid on what’s going on in the country.” 
The Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shahid Khan countered that the worst was behind them. “All the damage Trump’s going to do is done,” he said.

The owners kept returning to one bottom-line issue: Large numbers of fans and sponsors had become angry about the protests. Boycotts had been threatened and jerseys burned and — most worrisome — TV ratings were declining. 
Pegula complained that the league was “under assault.” He unloaded a dizzying flurry of nautical metaphors to describe their predicament. “To me, this is like a glacier moving into the ocean,” he said. “We’re getting hit with a tsunami.” He expressed his wish that the league never be “a glacier crawling into the ocean.” 
The Houston Texans owner Bob McNair was more direct. He urged the players to tell their colleagues to, essentially, knock off the kneeling. “You fellas need to ask your compadres, fellas, stop that other business, let’s go out and do something that really produces positive results, and we’ll help you.” 
After the Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross raised the idea of a “march on Washington” by N.F.L. players and owners, Eric Reid, Kaepernick’s former teammate and the first player to kneel alongside him, brought the discussion back to Kaepernick.
Reid, who attended the meeting wearing a Kaepernick T-shirt over his dress shirt and tie, said that his former teammate was being blackballed. 
“I feel like he was hung out to dry,” Reid said of Kaepernick. “Everyone in here is talking about how much they support us.” The room fell quiet. “Nobody stepped up and said we support Colin’s right to do this. We all let him become Public Enemy No. 1 in this country, and he still doesn’t have a job.”

Two things here:  The NFL owners were terrified of Trump attacking them (and still are).  They are, quite frankly, cowards, even Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shahid Khan, arguably among the most progressive of team owners.

It's been six months since this meeting, and nobody's given Kaep a shot still.  And as long as he kneels, they won't.

Because they fear Trump and the hate he commands more than Kaepernick and the players and fans who support him and his free speech.  I skipped the NFL completely last season, but until Kaepernick gets a shot, I'm not going back.

Two, Eric Reid is 100% correct.  Kaepernick is being blackballed.  I hope he wins his case against the NFL and gets tens of millions, and I hope he turns around and gives that money to charity, he's already given so much of his time and his blood and his soul.  But you know what?  Part of me wants Kaep to get $100 million from these guys and keep the cash just to spite the league.

We'll see.  But after this, there's no chance I'm going back to the NFL without Kaep.

And I blame Donald Trump for this too.

The Consumer Financial Extortion Bureau

Trump's head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and former Trump budget chief Mick Mulvaney knows he has one job: to keep the CFPB from laying a glove on banks and mortgage lenders while openly shilling for filthy lucre to grease the wheels of commerce.

Mick Mulvaney, the interim director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, told banking industry executives on Tuesday that they should press lawmakers hard to pursue their agenda, and revealed that, as a congressman, he would meet only with lobbyists if they had contributed to his campaign.

“We had a hierarchy in my office in Congress,” Mr. Mulvaney, a former Republican lawmaker from South Carolina, told 1,300 bankers and lending industry officials at an American Bankers Association conference in Washington. “If you’re a lobbyist who never gave us money, I didn’t talk to you. If you’re a lobbyist who gave us money, I might talk to you.”

At the top of the hierarchy, he added, were his constituents. “If you came from back home and sat in my lobby, I talked to you without exception, regardless of the financial contributions,” said Mr. Mulvaney, who receivednearly $63,000 from payday lenders for his congressional campaigns.

Mr. Mulvaney, who also runs the White House budget office, is a longtime critic of the Obama-era consumer bureau, including while serving in Congress. He was tapped by President Trump in November to temporarily run the bureau, in part because of his promise to sharply curtail it.

Since then, he has frozen all new investigations and slowed down existing inquiries by requiring employees to produce detailed justifications. He also sharply restricted the bureau’s access to bank data, arguing that its investigations created online security risks. And he has scaled back efforts to go after payday lenders, auto lenders and other financial services companies accused of preying on the vulnerable.

But he wants Congress to go further and has urged it to wrest funding of the independent watchdog from the Federal Reserve, a move that would give lawmakers — and those with access to them — more influence on the bureau’s actions. On Tuesday, he implored the financial services industry to help support the legislative changes he has requested.

At least he's being honest.  After all, Trump's tax scam bill got the six largest US banks more than $3 billion in tax savings so far this year alone, and it will be tens of billions more in the future.  Mulvaney's straight up telling the banks to use that money to buy Congress to have them do everything they can to defund the bureau he's been tasked to run.

This is how America works now in the Trump era.  Unless we get rid of the GOP, it will be the way America works forever.

The Blue Wave Rises, Con't

Democratic candidate Dr. Hiral Tipirneni came up a few points short in last night's special election in Arizona's 8th to replace Trent Franks, Republican Debbie Lesko won 52-47.  Nearly three-quarters of votes were early ballots, and they heavily favored Lesko.  On election day however, Tipirneni greatly narrowed the gap.  But there are plenty of reasons for the GOP to be terrified, as this race should have never been close.

The Arizona seat opened up in December, when Republican Representative Trent Franks resigned amid allegations that he offered $5 million to a female employee to be a surrogate mother for him and his wife (she was unclear on how involved he intended to be in the conception process).

The front-runner to replace him is Debbie Lesko, a former Republican state senator. She’s run a typical GOP campaign, voicing her support for President Trump, his tax cuts, and his border wall. Her opponent is Democrat Hiral Tipirneni, a former doctor who has focused largely on health care and Social Security.

That seems like a wise move in a district where 24 percent of residents are 62 or older, but the area’s other characteristics don’t work in Tipirneni’s favor. As FiveThirtyEight notes, registered Republicans outnumber registered Democrats by 41 to 24 percent among active voters in the Eighth District, and they haven’t sent a Democrat to Congress since 1980. The district includes a large chunk of the Phoenix suburbs, which comprise Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s base of support, and Trump won the district by 21 points in 2016, while his lead over Hillary Clinton in the state overall was only 3.5 points.

Arizona’s early voting also makes the district much harder for Democrats to flip. The state has a permanent early-voting list, so people are automatically mailed a ballot for the election. Of the 150,000 Arizonans who voted by April 20, 48.6 were Republicans, 27.7 were Democrats, and 23.3 were independents. Unless Tipirneni won over a large number of Republicans and independents, her chances aren’t looking good.

Yet, the Republican National Committee and the National Republican Congressional Committee have together pumped $900,000 into the race, and both House Speaker Paul Ryan and Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy have held fundraisers for Lesko. Meanwhile, Democratic groups have mostly stayed out of the race.

In other words, Lesko had every possible advantage. This is a gerrymandered R+13 district that Trump carried by 21 after it was redrawn to keep Democrats out (AZ-08 used to be Gabby Gifford's district), a district where Franks won his three previous House races by 28, 51, and 37 points respectively.  For Lesko to win by only 5 and change is a heart-stopper.  Democrats didn't even bother to put up an opponent after losing in 2012, it was Franks smacking around third-party candidates.

Tipirneni should have been crushed by 20 points plus.  She wasn't.

Republicans should be very, very scared, because once again they have lost support in every special election since Trump took office.

And the next special election is OH-12 in August, a much more competitive district than AZ-08 at R+7.

Stay tuned.


Related Posts with Thumbnails