September 25, 2014 archive

Football as a metaphor

Everything That’s Wrong With The NFL Is Wrong With America, Too

By Richard RJ Eskow, Crooks And Liars

September 25, 2014 8:00 am

The NFL organization has 1,856 employees and paid $107.7 million per year in salaries last year. Goodell was paid more than $44 million. That means more than 40 percent of the organization’s entire payroll went to one individual.

Most of Goodell’s income was in the form of a “bonus” based on performance standards which, like that of many corporate CEOs, have never been publicly defined.

Roger Goodell is not a “job creator,” even by the right’s loose definition. He – like most corporate CEOs nowadays – invented nothing, made nothing, and built nothing. And the gravy train doesn’t stop at his house. Jeff Pash, the General Counsel, was paid $6,199,000. The EVP of Business Ventures got $4,180,000. The CFO made nearly $2 million. The EVPs of Operations and Human Resources made more than $1.6 million each. (Another executive, the EVP of media, was paid $26 million by an “affiliated” organization.)

All told, more than 54 percent of the organization’s entire payroll went to five individuals – the organization’s top 0.0027 percent. The remaining 43 percent or so was divided among 1,851 employees- the 99.9973 percent.

Executives like Goodell – or, for that matter, bank CEOs like JPMorgan Chase’s Jamie Dimon – seem to be compensated more for their ability to influence elected officials than for their business acumen. On that score, at least, he’s been a good investment. In addition to protecting its tax status, Goodell’s NFL has brokered loans, bonds and tax concessions for its franchises.

The NFL had annual gross receipts of $184.3 million in 2010 – and that doesn’t include earnings for the individual franchises which own it. It reported $788,113,036 in total assets on the tax-exemption form which is its only public disclosure. It gave exorbitant salaries to its top executives – and it paid no taxes.

As for his accomplishments, well … Under his leadership the NFL fought reports of player head injuries for years. Its security apparatus and legal teams have intervened when its players are arrested, often for violent crimes, securing special treatment which ordinary citizens don’t receive. It has fostered a culture of misogyny, brutality, and amorality in the field of sport, whose stars were once considered examples for young people to follow,

Goodell’s football league isn’t an example for today’s corporatized America. It’s a reflection of it.

Bill Simmons Suspended by ESPN for Tirade on Roger Goodell


SEPT. 24, 2014

Simmons, on his podcast, repeatedly called Goodell a liar for saying that he had not seen the elevator video of Rice punching his fiancée.

Simmons calmly delivered his harshly critical remarks while peppering them with obscenity – an incendiary brew, especially considering ESPN’s business relationship with the N.F.L. on “Monday Night Football,” the college draft and other programming.

On his Grantland podcast, Simmons said: “Goodell, if he didn’t know what was on that tape, he’s a liar. I’m just saying it. He is lying. I think that dude is lying. If you put him up on a lie-detector test, that guy would fail.” He added: “I really hope somebody calls me or emails me and says I’m in trouble for anything I say about Roger Goodell, because if one person says that to me, I’m going public. You leave me alone.”

Bill Simmons suspension highlights uneasy, $15 billion relationship between the NFL and ESPN

By Terrence McCoy, Washington Post

September 25 at 6:20 AM

The suspension highlights the uneasy – though lucrative and mutually beneficial – relationship between the two powerful acronyms, joined in a $15.2-billion contract over “Monday Night Football.” It also hints at questions over a conflict of interest that, despite its strong coverage of the Ray Rice scandal, ESPN has never been able to shake. How can ESPN simultaneously cover the NFL as a subject while reaping billions from their business ties?

His suspension immediately sparked concern among reporters and editors. “Did ESPN have any idea how all of this would look?” asked Los Angeles Times reporter Matt Pearce.

“Apparently saying Roger Goodell is a liar is a much worse offense than Roger Goodell lying,” added Judd Legum, the editor of ThinkProgress. “Is it ESPN’s corporate position that Roger Goodell is not a liar? Because their own reporting says he is a liar.”

The suspension comes at a particularly inconvenient time for ESPN, which just got done patting itself on the back for excising its conflict-of-interest demons. The piece, written by network ombudsman Robert Lipsyte, explicitly praised Simmons for excoriating Goodell. “The networks heavyweights – Keith Olbermann, Jason Whitlock and Bill Simmons, among others – delivered their own verbal punches,” he wrote in a blog. “I’d like to say I wasn’t the least bit surprised … but I was.”

In February 2004, ESPN canceled its popular series, “Playmakers,” after only one season. Despite the fact the series never mentioned the words “National Football League,” the football association was nonetheless offended by its sex-and-drugs portrayal of professional football players.

“It’s our opinion that we’re not in the business of antagonizing our partner, even though we’ve done it, and continued to carry it over the N.F.L.’s objections,” Mark Shapiro, ESPN’s executive vice president, told the New York Times. “To bring it back would be rubbing it in our partner’s face.”

The fraught relationship between ESPN and the NFL, however, came under its greatest scrutiny during what the network’s ombudsman called ESPN’s “darkest” hour. In August 2013, the New York Times reported ESPN abruptly terminated its affiliation with PBS’s “Frontline.” The network had teamed up with the show to produce an unsettling investigation into the league’s inaction regarding the crippling psychological effects football can have on players.

Though the NFL denied it pressured ESPN to ditch the project, high-level executives from both entities had, according to the New York Times, a “combative” meeting at a Manhattan restaurant over the documentary. ESPN President John Skipper told the network’s ombudsman he thought the trailer promoting the documentary was “sensational” and some of the comments in it were “over the top. … I am the only one at ESPN who has to balance the conflict between journalism and programming.”

On This Day In History September 25

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

September 25 is the 268th day of the year (269th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 97 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1789, the Bill of Rights passes Congress.

The first Congress of the United States approves 12 amendments to the U.S. Constitution, and sends them to the states for ratification. The amendments, known as the Bill of Rights, were designed to protect the basic rights of U.S. citizens, guaranteeing the freedom of speech, press, assembly, and exercise of religion; the right to fair legal procedure and to bear arms; and that powers not delegated to the federal government were reserved for the states and the people.

The Bill of Rights is the name by which the first ten amendments to the United States Constitution are known. They were introduced by James Madison to the First United States Congress in 1789 as a series of articles, and came into effect on December 15, 1791, when they had been ratified by three-fourths of the States. An agreement to create the Bill of Rights helped to secure ratification of the Constitution itself. Thomas Jefferson was a supporter of the Bill of Rights.

The Bill of Rights prohibits Congress from making any law respecting any establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, guarantees free speech, free press, free assembly and association and the right to petition government for redress, forbids infringement of “…the right of the people to keep and bear Arms…”, and prohibits the federal government from depriving any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law. In federal criminal cases, it requires indictment by a grand jury for any capital or “infamous crime”, guarantees a speedy, public trial with an impartial jury composed of members of the state or judicial district in which the crime occurred, and prohibits double jeopardy. In addition, the Bill of Rights states that “the enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people,” and reserves all powers not specifically granted to the federal government to the people or the States. Most of these restrictions were later applied to the states by a series of decisions applying the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, which was ratified in 1868, after the American Civil War.

The question of including a Bill of Rights in the body of the Constitution was discussed at the Philadelphia Convention on September 12, 1787. George Mason “wished the plan [the Constitution] had been prefaced with a Bill of Rights.” Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts “concurred in the idea & moved for a Committee to prepare a Bill of Rights.” Mr Sherman argued against a Bill of Rights stating that the “State Declarations of Rights are not repealed by this Constitution.” Mason then stated “The Laws of the U. S. are to be paramount to State Bills of Rights.” The motion was defeated with 10-Nays, 1-Absent, and No-Yeas.

Madison proposed the Bill of Rights while ideological conflict between Federalists and anti-Federalists, dating from the 1787 Philadelphia Convention, threatened the final ratification of the new national Constitution. It largely responded to the Constitution’s influential opponents, including prominent Founding Fathers, who argued that the Constitution should not be ratified because it failed to protect the fundamental principles of human liberty. The Bill was influenced by George Mason’s 1776 Virginia Declaration of Rights, the 1689 English Bill of Rights, works of the Age of Enlightenment pertaining to natural rights, and earlier English political documents such as Magna Carta (1215).

Two other articles were proposed to the States; only the last ten articles were ratified contemporaneously. They correspond to the First through Tenth Amendments to the Constitution. The proposed first Article, dealing with the number and apportionment of U.S. Representatives, never became part of the Constitution. The second Article, limiting the power of Congress to increase the salaries of its members, was ratified two centuries later as the 27th Amendment. Though they are incorporated into Madison’s document known as the “Bill of Rights”, neither article established protection of a right. For that reason, and also because the term had been applied to the first ten amendments long before the 27th Amendment was ratified, the term “Bill of Rights” in modern U.S. usage means only the ten amendments ratified in 1791.

The Bill of Rights plays a key role in American law and government, and remains a vital symbol of the freedoms and culture of the nation. One of the first fourteen copies of the Bill of Rights is on public display at the National Archives in Washington, D.C.


The Breakfast Club (Science and Tech Thursday)

breakfast beers photo breakfastbeers.jpg So what is “science”?

Well, to put it briefly, science is the study of phenomena characterized by the scientific method of either simply recording results in an objective way (observation)-

Objective journalism is one of the main reasons American politics has been allowed to be so corrupt for so long.  You can’t be objective about Nixon.

Or proposing a falsifiable hypothesis (a predictive model of reality that can be disproven by experiment) and devising an experiment to test it that is duplicable (if you perform it rather than I, you will get the same results) or supported by multiple independent observations (Economics is not science, it is a pack of tortise shell rattle shaking shamen).

And let’s not forget Einstein’s definition of insanity-

Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

That.  Is.  Science.

Also this-

The law that entropy always increases holds, I think, the supreme position among the laws of Nature. If someone points out to you that your pet theory of the universe is in disagreement with Maxwell’s equations – then so much the worse for Maxwell’s equations. If it is found to be contradicted by observation – well, these experimentalists do bungle things sometimes. But if your theory is found to be against the second law of thermodynamics I can give you no hope; there is nothing for it but to collapse in deepest humiliation.

Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington, The Nature of the Physical World (1927)

Science Oriented Video!

Science/Tech News

Water vapor and clear skies discovered on Neptune-sized planet

Sarah Gray, Salon

Wednesday, Sep 24, 2014 05:03 PM EST

A major discovery was announced on Wednesday by NASA: Water vapor and clear skies were discovered on a Neptune-sized exoplanet outside of our solar system – 124 lightyears away.

The discovery of water vapor may immediately trigger giddy feelings – water is one of the building blocks of life, as we know it. However, the clear skies are just as exciting. Usually thick atmospheres prevent more in-depth study of Neptune-sized exoplanets.

Though, HAT-P-11b is not an Earth-sized planet in an habitable zone, this discovery is still furthering the discovery of more exoplanets. Astronomers hope to apply these similar discovery techniques to super-Earths, other exo-Neptunes and more.

Science/Tech Blogs

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