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“The NFL’s Twisted Sense Of Justice”: The Priorities Are Wildly Out Of Proportion

Where would NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell have gotten the idea that a two-game suspension was an appropriate sanction against a player who beat up his fiancée? Maybe from the example set by prosecutors and the criminal justice system.

Baltimore Ravens player Ray Rice yesterday was cut from the team and suspended indefinitely by the NFL. But that obvious punishment came long after the attack, and only after the NFL – rather improbably – said it had just seen a damning video of the event.

The grainy, jerky tape is sickening. There’s a beefy professional football player, beating his then-fiancee Janay unconscious and proceeding to drag her out of the elevator like she was a too-heavy sack of potatoes.

For this behavior, Rice initially got a two-game suspension – not much to complain about when you have a $35 million contract and have collected more than $28 million from the league already. He avoided not just jail, but even probation, and was instead slapped on the knuckles with a “diversionary” program. What’s more, the Ravens stood by their domestic abuser, tweeting that “Janay Rice says she deeply regrets the role that she played the night of the incident.”

It’s hard to separate out who is the worst actor here. Rice himself is an obvious choice. There’s no way to interpret the terrifying video other than to conclude that he beat the woman he supposedly loved until she fell helplessly onto an elevator floor, unable to even get out of the car, while her husband-to-be slung her onto the floor and pushed her legs together with his foot. That’s the sort of behavior that will get you, at the least, a personal foul in the NFL – that’d be 15 yards – when done to another muscled and football-padded man. But little happened to Rice when he did it to a much smaller and weaker woman.

That brings us to the Ravens, who had the insensitivity to treat the abuse like it was just a little couple’s spat, and worse, suggested that the victim herself was at fault. The fact that Janay Rice commented on her “role” in the assault only proves how endangered she was and is – and anyone who has an elementary school level of education, or who has watched even a single episode of “Law and Order: SVU,” ought to know that.

Then there is the NFL, whose authorities claimed not to have seen the videos – a more detailed one was revealed this week – that show the brutal assault. One wonders how that is even possible, unless Goodell was determined to stick his head in the AstroTurf to protect the right of players to be violent, and the mission of teams to keep them amped up and aggressive.

But Rice still avoids time behind bars, which is no surprise. The criminal justice system takes the same distorted and twisted view of infractions as has the NFL. A first-time drug offender in the NFL, for example, can get a four-game suspension without pay; a third-timer could go a year without pay. That’s much worse than the penalties imposed – and recently increased, in light of the Rice incident – for pounding your fiancée into unconscious submission.

And in the criminal justice system? Rapists, who do the math, can feel pretty confident. Just three out of 100 rapists will spend a day behind bars, according to an analysis of Justice Department statistics by the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, a victims’ advocacy group. While one in five women will be raped at least once in her lifetime and one in three women will experience some kind of domestic abuse, the Centers for Disease Control recently reported, fewer than half of rapes are reported, since victims are afraid to come forward. A fourth of reported rapes result in arrests, and a fourth of arrests end up with a felony conviction or incarceration, according to the victims’ advocacy group.

But for drugs? The average sentence for a federal drug offender is about six years and for a crack cocaine violator, eight years.

The NFL – and Goodell’s – priorities are wildly out of proportion, putting abuse of a person’s own body ahead of the assault of a woman’s body. But the example set by prosecutors and the criminal code are just as bad.


By: Susan Milligan, U. S. News and World Report, September 9, 2014

September 10, 2014 Posted by | Domestic Violence, National Football League, Violence Against Women | , , , , | Leave a comment

“It’s Actually Revealing Talk”: Quotes Of The Day; On Obama’s ‘Deep Belief’

Every once in a while, a politician speaks the truth. Today, that politician is Georgia Republican Jack Kingston, talking about the possibility of Congress voting on a resolution authorizing President Obama to use force in Iraq and possibly Syria against ISIS. Behold:

“A lot of people would like to stay on the sideline and say, ‘Just bomb the place and tell us about it later,’ ” said Representative Jack Kingston, Republican of Georgia, who supports having an authorization vote. “It’s an election year. A lot of Democrats don’t know how it would play in their party, and Republicans don’t want to change anything. We like the path we’re on now. We can denounce it if it goes bad, and praise it if it goes well and ask what took him so long.”

Now that is some serious candor. Not that it isn’t anything a hundred pundits might observe (because it’s true), but it’s not often you catch a politician being so forthright, particularly when he’s talkiong about his own party. How can such a thing be explained?

It’s not complicated: Jack Kingston is retiring. He ran for Senate this year (unsuccessfully), and in order to do so, he had to give up his House seat. So he has been liberated.

And as long as we’re on the subject of people being candid (or not), there’s another quote I want to point out from the same newspaper. In an article about President Obama saying some things that have gotten him into trouble (I’m not even going to use the “g” word), we get this little gem:

To Mr. Obama’s critics, the disparity between the president’s previous statements and today’s reality reflects not simply poorly chosen words but a fundamentally misguided view of the world. Rather than clearly see the persistent dangers as the United States approaches the 13th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, they said, Mr. Obama perpetually imagines a world as he wishes it were.

“I don’t think it is just loose talk, I think it’s actually revealing talk,” said Peter H. Wehner, a former adviser to President George W. Bush now at the Ethics and Public Policy Center. “Sometimes words are mistakes; they’re just poorly put. But sometimes they’re a manifestation of one’s deep belief in the world and that’s what you really get with President Obama.”

So there you have it: when my guy says something that in retrospect looks misguided or mistaken, his words are just a slip of the tongue, revealing nothing (and if memory serves, Wehner’s old boss did say a few such things). But when your guy does the same, his words reveal his true nature. But only the words we don’t like! When he says things that turn out to be true or wise or right, that’s just a bunch of phony baloney and you can ignore it.


By: Paul Waldman, Contributing Editor, The American Prospect, September 9, 2014


September 10, 2014 Posted by | Politics | , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Next Stop, Twilight Zone, Colo”: Cory Gardner’s Hedging On Personhood, Birth Control And Abortion Laws

Rep. Cory Gardner’s, R-Colo., campaign got some more bad news this weekend. A new NBC News/Marist poll showed Gardner trailing Democratic Colorado Sen. Mark Udall by six points, 47 percent to 42 percent. A similar NBC poll in July showed Udall leading by seven points.

With mail-in ballots dropping on October 14, Gardner’s window of opportunity has closed and he has no discernible path to victory. Polls have consistently shown Udall leading with the key voter demographics here. The same questions that were asked when Gardner announced six months ago – how does he win Colorado Latinos and suburban women – have been answered: He can’t.

Worse yet for Gardner, the NBC poll showed his favorable/unfavorable rating in bad shape, at 40/38. This says the Udall strategy of hammering Gardner on his support for birth control and abortion bans in a pro-choice state like Colorado is paying off.

This also explains the panicked move by the Gardner campaign, which ran an ad on birth control and Gardner’s denying the existence of a federal birth control and abortion ban bill, the Life Begins at Conception Act, that the congressman co-sponsors. When asked about his co-sponsorship of the federal “Personhood” bill by Denver’s KUSA/NBC political reporter Brandon Rittiman, Gardner said this:

Rittiman: How do you square your recent change on personhood at the state level with the bill that you still are on in Congress. The life begins at conception act?

Gardner: Well, there is no federal personhood bill. They’re two different pieces of legislation, two different things.

Rittiman then noted that other co-sponsors of the bill say it is federal personhood legislation. “But it’s still a piece of legislation that says abortion ought to be illegal, no?” Gardner responded, “No. It says life begins at conception.”

This is Twilight Zone material, a clear indication that Gardner is losing because of the issue. And props to Rittiman for asking the follow-up and making Gardner answer the question about what his legislation actually does.

According to, these are identical bills:

We don’t see how the Colorado initiative and the federal bill, which supporters in Congress describe as a “personhood” measure, are different on this point. And neither does one of the groups supporting the state initiative. Jennifer Mason, a spokeswoman for the Yes on Amendment 67 Campaign, which supports the ballot measure, told Colorado public radio station KUNC: “Obviously [Gardner’s] a victim of some bad political advice, there’s no reason for him to pull local support while he’s still 100 percent behind the federal amendment. It doesn’t make any sense.”

We agree. And we didn’t receive any further explanation from the Gardner campaign on the contradiction. We asked Nash at the Guttmacher Institute if there was something in the federal bill that would preclude the concerns over birth control, but Nash agreed that the “moment of fertilization” language was the reason these types of proposals had the potential to prohibit access to hormonal forms of birth control.

…voters in Colorado should know Gardner still supports a federal bill that would prompt the same concerns over birth control as the state measure he says he rejects on the same grounds.

The campaign adage is that if you’re explaining, you’re losing. In Gardner’s case, he’s both explaining and losing his grip on reality.


By: Laura K. Chapin, U. S. News and World Report, September 8, 2014

September 10, 2014 Posted by | Cory Gardner, Personhood, Reproductive Rights | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Donors Before Constituents”: The First Amendment, According To Mitch McConnell

Have you heard that Senate Democrats are working this week to repeal free speech?

I did, yesterday morning, from Mitch McConnell.

Have you heard that Democrats are going to go out and “muzzle” pastors who criticize them in the pulpit?

We did, from Ted Cruz.

Did you hear that Democrats are going to shut down conservative activists and then “brainwash the next generation into believing that this is how it should be”?

We did, last month, from the Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins.

A good rule of thumb in politics is that the scarier someone sounds, the more you should doubt what they’re saying. Another good rule in politics is not to trust what Mitch McConnell says about money in politics.

Because, yes, that’s what we’re talking about here. Not a secret new Orwellian regime. Not a new anti-pastor task force. What we’re talking about is simply limiting the amount of money that corporations and wealthy individuals can spend to influence our elections.

This week, the Senate is debating a constitutional amendment that would overturn recent Supreme Court decisions that have paved the way for an explosion of big money in politics. In those decisions, including Citizens United and this year’s McCutcheon, the Supreme Court radically redefined the First Amendment to allow corporations and the wealthy to drown out the speech of everyday Americans with nearly unlimited political spending. The Democracy for All amendment would restore to Congress and the states the power to impose reasonable restrictions on money in politics, just as they had before the Supreme Court started to dismantle campaign finance laws.

So, what are Mitch McConnell and Ted Cruz so scared of?

In fact, it wasn’t that long ago that Mitch McConnell supported the very laws that he is now dead-set on blocking. Back in 1987, McConnell said he would support a constitutional amendment to allow Congress to regulate independent expenditures in elections — just as the Democracy for All amendment would. And then he introduced that very constitutional amendment. Either McConnell has dramatically changed his mind regarding what constitutes a threat to the First Amendment, or he’s motivated by something more cynical.

So, if Mitch McConnell doesn’t actually think that limiting the amount of money that wealthy interests can spend on elections is a violation of the First Amendment, what is he up to? Could it be that he now finds it more useful to court the dollars of major donors than the votes of his constituents?

Washington is the only place where campaign finance reform is a partisan issue. A poll this summer found that 73 percent of voters support a constitutional amendment to get big money out of politics. Americans know that our First Amendment is about protecting the speech of citizens, not the interests of wealthy campaign donors.

Faced with a large, bipartisan grassroots movement that threatens their big-spending friends, the only arguments that Mitch McConnell and Ted Cruz have left are wild accusations, flat-out falsehoods, and outlandish interpretations of the Bill of Rights.


By: Michael B. Keegan, The Huffington Post Blog, September 9, 2014

September 10, 2014 Posted by | Campaign Financing, Mitch Mc Connell | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“The NFL Is Full Of Ray Rices”: So Much For Zero Tolerance

After the first video of Ray Rice dragging his unconscious fiancée out of an elevator surfaced in July, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell suspended him for a mere two games. An apparent knockout punch was punished with a slap on the wrist, which Goodell later acknowledged wasn’t enough.

“I take responsibility both for the decision and for ensuring that our actions in the future properly reflect our values,” Goodell wrote in August. “I didn’t get it right. Simply put, we have to do better. And we will.”

Goodell revised the NFL’s disciplinary policy with regards to domestic violence: a six-game suspension or more for the initial infraction and up to a lifetime ban for recidivists, with the opportunity for annual appeals. Even though Goodell said that “domestic violence and sexual assault are wrong. They are illegal. They have no place in the NFL and are unacceptable in any way, under any circumstances,” a great many abusers of women still in fact have a place in the league.

Ray Rice’s teammate and All-Pro linebacker Terrell Suggs has twice gotten into altercations with his then-girlfriend and current wife. In 2009, he allegedly, “threw a soap dispenser at her head, hit her in the chest with his hand, and held a bottle of bleach over her and their 1-year-old son.” In 2012, he “punched her in the neck and dragged her alongside a speeding car with their two children in the vehicle.” Unlike Rice, Suggs was on the field with the rest of the Ravens on Sunday.

Carolina Panther Greg Hardy was convicted this summer of assaulting his girlfriend and threatening her life.

“He looked me in my eyes and he told me he was going to kill me,” Nicole Holder told the court. “I was so scared I wanted to die. When he loosened his grip slightly, I said, ‘Just do it. Kill me,’”

Hardy was given a 60-day suspended sentence and put on probation for 18 months. Last Sunday, he suited up for the Panthers, registering one sack and four tackles.

Brandon Marshall, wide receiver for the Chicago Bears, has a rap sheet including two domestic violence charges. He caught eight passes for 71 yards and a touchdown in an overtime loss to the Buffalo Bills last weekend.

Dez Bryant of the Dallas Cowboys hit his mom and then said, “I’m done with domestic abuse” at a 2013 “Men Against Abuse” rally. The NFL is not done with him.

Ray McDonald of the San Francisco 49ers was part of a defense that shut down Bryant’s Cowboys, even though he was busted for felony domestic violence a mere 72 hours after Goodell’s revised policy was announced. 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh said last week, “If someone physically abuses a woman and/or physically or mentally abuses or hurts a child, then there’s no understanding. There’s no tolerance for that.” Unless you play for Jim Harbaugh.

Randy Starks was forced to miss a single exhibition game despite striking his fiancée. He still plays for the Miami Dolphins.

Frostee Rucker had a one-game suspension overturned by Goodell in 2007 despite two counts of spousal battery. Rucker now plays with the Cincinnati Bengals.

The only reason charges against Chicago Bears wide received Santonio Holmes were dropped in 2006 is because his accuser—the mother of his children—refused to testify against him. Holmes often lines up next to fellow abuser Brandon Marshall.

Even if you think they all should all be kicked out yesterday, it’s hard to imagine a plausible scenario in which Goodell—with a tenuous grip on the commissioner’s plush leather chair—might enact a Stalin-esque, retroactive purge.

First, doubly punishing the aforementioned players would definitely raise howls from their union, the NFL Players Association. Second, the 32 team owners aren’t particularly interested in having their very valuable assets taken away from them. After all, they didn’t sever the contracts of Suggs, Hardy, Marshall, McDonald, Starks, Rucker, Holmes, et al after their abuse became public.

Furthermore, were these wealthy men to take a hard-line stance, you’d have to assume that the Commissioner would have to bring the hammer down on the owner of the Dallas Cowboys, Jerry Jones, should he lose the lawsuit which alleges that he sexually assaulted a woman a third his age, and “fondled her genitals, forced her to touch or rub his penis, and required she watch as the 71-year-old Jones received oral sex from another woman.”

To paraphrase Fox & Friends, don’t get caught beating women on camera and you’re safe to play in the NFL.


By: Robert Silverman, The Daily Beast, September 9, 2014

September 10, 2014 Posted by | Domestic Violence, National Football League, Violence Against Women | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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