Tuesday, November 29, 2011

“Subtle” anti-Latino discrimination in new MLB labor agreement

There has been much talk of continuing the “labor peace” in Major League Baseball’s new collective bargaining agreement, but there is a sinister angle to it. The agreement appears to benefit current players from “competition” from younger players in the future, for as long as it remains in place. A limit on bonuses paid to draft picks and the banning of signing them to major league contracts accomplishes part of this “mission.” If those new rules sound amiss, it is because they are: Athletes who play multiple sports are less likely to consider professional baseball if there is no money in it for them upfront. But the greater “dirty little secret” in the agreement is the one that appears to be motivated by prejudice against foreign-born players; given the relatively small footprint of European and Asian players, this is clearly aimed at prospects from Latin America—apparently because some players, like Torii Hunter, were possessed of sentiments such as the following:

"As African-American players, we have a theory that baseball can go get an imitator and pass them off as us. It's like they had to get some kind of dark faces, so they go to the Dominican or Venezuela because you can get them cheaper. It's like, 'Why should I get this kid from the South Side of Chicago and have Scott Boras represent him and pay him $5 million when you can get a Dominican guy for a bag of chips?’”

The real issue for African-American players is that there are fewer opportunities to learn to play in inner city environs, and thus basketball and football have become the sports of choice. But anti-Latino sentiment goes beyond that; here in Seattle listening to local (white) sports commentators, if you are a Latino player you must be All-Star caliber—or be subject to malicious ridicule, as if they exist on a different social dimension or planet. Latino players have a greater footprint in professional baseball than in the other major U.S. sports, being virtually invisible in football and basketball (not to mention hockey); apparently some demographics in this country feel a great deal of angst over the perception that Latinos are “taking over” even one “American” sport. This is, of course, in keeping with anti-Latino political sentiment in the country generally, to be used for scapegoating purposes. Why not blame them for keeping the “natives” down in baseball too?

The CBA limits the number of foreign-born players by reducing spending to an astonishingly low $2.9 million on amateur free agents, which would include almost all players from Latin American countries. In 2012, this spending will be “adjusted” according to how good or bad a team is, and subsequently a team can “trade” for cap space another team doesn’t use. But the average of $2.9 million per team will remain, which is a ludicrously low amount in this day and age. It guarantees that far fewer Latino players will be signed, and that some teams will find it pointless to sign any Latino players who are foreign-born. Baseball is claiming that other rules put in place cut-down on age and identity “fraud,” but that is mostly a fear-mongering shibboleth; there has been no documented case of that concerning any current foreign-born Latino player in the majors. Obviously this all benefits white players as well as black, so the racial discrimination aspect cannot be denied. Curiously, posting fees for Japanese players, which can run into the tens of millions of dollars per player, are not counted against the cap.

New York Yankees blogger Mike Axisa put the impact of all of this in blunt terms: “The MLBPA sold out its future members for the sake of its current members. The draft and international spending limitations are severe and will drive young talent away from the game, and you’ll see legitimate two-sport guys like Zach Lee and Bubba Starling be pushed to college by the spending restrictions. Teams also have little incentive to run a baseball academy in Latin America now. We’ll see the real impact of these changes in five or ten years, when there’s a sudden lack of young talent and barely enough real athletes to play the middle infield.”

As I have often suggested, there is nothing intelligent about bigotry; it merely brings out the stupid in people.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Packers remain unbeaten, but doubts linger

This past Thanksgiving Day match-up between the Green Bay Packers and the Detroit Lions started out less the 1962 Lions blow-out than last season’s December game, when the Lions beat the Packers 7-3 after knocking out a listless Aaron Rodgers leading an equally listless Packers offense before being knocked-out with a concussion. Although though the Packers led 7-0 at halftime this time, they managed less than 100 yards by halftime, less than half what the Mathew Stafford-led Lions gained. The question entering the second half was whether the Packers would show some life, or the Lions would get around to taking as much advantage of the Packers defense on the scoreboard as they did moving the ball up and down the field. There seemed as much chance for the latter scenario as the former; one thing that has always irritated me about Rodgers—but seems to go unnoticed by the pundits—is that when he is under pressure to lead the team to a score, he seems to flounder more often than not, which went far to explain why after a 13-3 season under Brett Favre, the same team went 6-10, losing seven games by a touchdown or less. With 1:02 left in the first half at their own 37 yard line, the Packers did the following:

1st and 10 at GB 37 Rodgers pass incomplete short middle to Finley.

2nd and 10 at GB 37 Rodgers pass short right to Jennings pushed ob at DET 46 for 17 yards. Penalty on GB-Jennings, Offensive Pass Interference, offsetting, enforced at GB 37 - No Play Penalty on DET-Vanden Bosch, Roughing the Passer, offsetting.

Rodgers pass incomplete short left to Starks.

3rd and 10 at GB 37 Rodgers pass incomplete short middle to Nelson. PENALTY on GB-Bulaga, Offensive Holding, 10 yards, enforced at GB 37 - No Play.


Now, I admit to being one of Brett Favre’s “supporters.” On his website, Favre thanks his “supporters” rather than his “fans,” suggesting that for him, its personal. I want to like Rodgers, being a long-time Packer through thick and very thin. But this Quarterback God stuff has too much anti-Favre stincture. My attitude is, alright, if Rodgers can do no wrong, than that is what I expect to see; if I don’t see it, than I want an explanation for why pundits are lying to me. Pro-Football Reference purports to keep a tally on the number of “game-winning drives” for each quarterback. Some of these are more legitimate than others; throwing out the doubtful ones, quarterbacks that have received a certain amount of malignment for their quarterbacking abilities, Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow, have seven and four legitimate last minute and OT game-winning drives respectively to their credit. What about Rodgers? Supposedly he has five, but I would regard only one as legitimate.

Take for instance a 2008 game against the winless Detroit Lions; on the surface, the Packers handed them a 48-25 whipping. But according to the criteria used, and despite the fact the Packers led 24-9 after the third quarter, the Lions actually came back to take a 25-24 lead before the Packers—helped by two interception returns for touchdowns—to the apparently easy win. Another two “game-winning drives” occurred after the game was tied entering the fourth quarter. A fourth “game winning drive” was one of 11 yards following an interception early in the fourth quarter against the Bears in 2009. The only “legit” game-winning drive that Rodgers has led was on opening day 2009 against the Bears, when down 15-13, Rodgers threw a 50-yard TD pass with 1:11 left in the game to take a 21-15 lead. The Bears subsequently had the ball first down on their own 38 yard line with 1:06 still left in the game, but Jay Cutler threw an interception on the next play. That leaves us with the question if what can we expect from Rodgers when the game is on the line? That is a question that remains to be answered.

Meanwhile, the Packers have hardly dominated their opponents, winning by 12 points or less in eight of their eleven victories, meaning there hasn’t been much “garbage” time for back-ups to get in the games. There has been talk by “the experts” that if the Packers lose a game but otherwise clinch home field for the playoffs before the season finale against the Lions, McCarthy will rest the starters and the team will likely loss by default. But I wouldn’t write-off this game so fast. This will be back-up quarterback and soon-to-be-free agent Matt Flynn’s best opportunity to show case himself, and given that he is considered by many as one of the top, if not the top, free agent quarterbacks available next year, many a GM will no doubt have great interest in this match-up’s game film. Flynn has shown enough to be regarded as a top-five fantasy pick in the event that Rodgers goes down with an injury; it would be foolish for a quarterback-starved team (like the Seattle Seahawks) to ignore him just because of what John Clayton thinks and the local pundits relishing the idea of continuing the team’s historically bad record of drafting quarterbacks.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Seahawks offensive problems go deeper than people think

After the Seattle Seahawks lost to the Washington Redskins, I listened to a local sports commentator state that he has been minutely observing wide receiver Mike Williams, and suggested that he was quitting on routes, and even giving away running plays because of his supposed lackadaisical play--and this explained why he was rarely targeted on pass plays. Now, how often did we hear early in the year that Seahawk's quarterback Tarvaris Jackson was constantly eye-balling Sydney Rice while missing a wide-open Mike Williams? How often did we hear how few times early in the year Williams was targeted, apparently because Jackson didn’t have a “rapport” with him like he did with Rice (and let's not over-state that case; in Minnesota, Jackson didn’t know how to take advantage of Rice’s size until Brett Favre showed him how). There is no doubt that Williams, after having such a fine year last season, feels that he is being ignored because Jackson and Rice are “buddies” and Williams is just some guy in the way. It doesn’t surprise me in the least that he has gone juvenile on the team, if that is the case. How can you be a "team" player when you feel you are not even part of the team?

I don’t so much blame Williams as much as I do Pete Carroll for allowing this situation to fester, and offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell for not correcting it. It seems to me that Bevell, Jackson and Rice are in their own private little clique—a team within a team. What does that give you? A team that is 30th out of 32 in total offense, 26th in points scored; amazing how the local sports media have let those little tidbits slip by unnoticed. Some are blaming the team's latest loss on the defense; I prefer to remember that in their last four possessions, the Seahawk offense advance the ball from the original line of scrimmage a total of minus-10 yards. The Seahawks passing game is a fraud; you can’t blame a 14-30 day all on dropped balls—even the best quarterbacks experience dropped passes. Somehow you have to get the ball in the general vicinity of the receiver at least 75 percent of the time. 17 points against a mediocre defense? Sorry, that’s not going to cut it.

When Favre was in Minnesota, he made every receiver look better than they actually were—including Rice; that’s what a “franchise” quarterback can and should do. Favre, within only a few games in an offensive system he knew only from playing against twice a year, knew who he could trust to either catch a jump ball (Rice), be a big target in the end zone (Visanthe Shiancoe) and who could be counted on to make a big play on a slant or short pass (Percy Harvin). Jackson is trying to shoehorn Rice into be all three for him, and now we see this dysfunction. This is why this offense with this quarterback can’t function in the long-term.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Turkey shoot

Yeah, my bloods so mad, it feels like coagulatin.’
I’m sitting here just contemplatin.’
I can’t twist the truth, it knows no regulation.
Handful of senators don’t pass legislation.
And marches alone won’t bring integration.
When human respect is disintegratin.’
This whole crazy world is just too frustratin.’

The cartoonish vocal by Barry McGuire on his hit “Eve of Destruction” is likely to bring as many cringe-inducements as that by Zager and Evans on “In the Year 2525,” but that doesn’t mean that we should dismiss the song’s message out-of-hand. The problem with today’s music (originating with the “me” generation of the 1980s), is that it expresses narcissism and a bit of indifference to current issues and a wider worldview. That reminds me of another 60’s song, “Easy to be Hard,” from the musical “Hair” and a hit for Three Dog Night:

How can people be so heartless
How can people be so cruel
Easy to be proud
Easy to say no
Easy to be cold

And people want to know what is wrong with this country today.


On November 8th, the Seattle Times reported that the state Secretary of State announced that it was likely that 21,000 voters had not received their mail-in ballots. It was suggested that voters who had not received their ballots should take a stroll on down to their local election office and request a provisional ballot. The problem, unfortunately, was that November 8 just happened to be Election Day, and those voters who had not noticed that they had not received a ballot might not be newspaper readers either. Well, thanks for letting us know, anyways. The problem seemed to have originated with the implementation of the “Motor-Voter” registration procedure; the Department of Licensing allowed people to update their addresses for voting purposes, but the State office supposedly had not received these updates until two days before the election.

Now, I’m not saying the Republicans are behind this, although I wouldn’t put it past them. The concern, however, should be the incompetence of bureaucrats and the lackadaisical attitude of public officials and the media. This WAS a big deal, not a “Heah, guess what happened today,” and then forget like it never happened. If this was a down-to-the-wire presidential or senatorial election, this “mistake” would hardly be treated like a joke or simple but forgivable mistake, nor should it.


Speaking of local media (i.e. the Seattle Times) another confounding failure to adequately break down issues logically is a story last week in the Times in regard to the 20 percent decrease in enrollment of in-state students at the University of Washington since 2006, while over the same period the number of foreign nationals entering as freshmen increased from 133 to 1,036—rising from 2 percent to 18 percent of the total. The university claims that it is not actively recruiting foreign students, but it is hard to believe that it isn’t greasing the path to make it easier for them, given officials comments about how they like the extra money they get from them. The story, written by Katherine Long, is overly fawning over Asian students, particularly Chinese—especially nauseating given the thinly-disguised racial animosity by the newspaper toward Latinos, especially those who are threatening the high-paying jobs of the “natives.” Or is that low-paying, I forget which. According to the story, there is an “upside” for Washington students in all of this, but it was difficult to ascertain what that is. Sure, they are “studious,” as if they have anything else to do being unfamiliar with the local after hour activities. They are praised for having an “entrepreneurial spirit,” which I don’t doubt, but hearing it from UW professors makes one wonder why they are failing to instill that in the “natives.” How there is an “upside” if all they do is go back to their own countries to start businesses that negatively affect the U.S. economy through job and trade loss is a question naturally not asked. All UW is doing is training another generation of Chinese businesspeople who have no desire to show their “appreciation” toward America for the education they received at the expense of American students.

And of course there is the issue of why the state education has devolved to this point. Tax revenue has continued to fall, and it seems it is an annual ritual to cut education funding across the board. Instead of celebrating the slow demise of UW as a state university serving state residents, the state should be making clear that without revenue adjustments to improve education funding, it is mortgaging the future of its own residents while making our foreign competitors even stronger.

Ok, so I don’t like reading locally-produced stories in the Seattle Times, because the reporting is so amateurish and superficial. There was a story recently about how the courts are striking down laws such as those that deny subsidized health care based on immigration status. Of course the reason why such laws are passed is to pretend that the state legislators are doing something and creating scapegoats. The story claims that $17 million would have been saved with this health care law. The problem is, this figure is nothing more than a top-level guesstimate based on the estimated number of immigrants of questionable status and the assumed amount of money spent on them based on the average for everyone; although public officials have no idea how much the actual amount, a “worst case scenario” amount makes it appear that more money is being saved than is the reality. And the reality is that people of questionable legal status prefer not to draw attention to themselves by seeking assistance from public aid services (Hell, the only time I tried to get “public assistance” in this state I was told I was “ineligible” because I was an “able-bodied single male”). Of course, such statistics come from the same people who would have you believe that there is a special exemption from paying sales, gas, cigarette and property taxes based on immigration status.


A current local story that seems to have some traction concerns the disappearance of a two-year-old toddler named Sky Metalwala. It seems that his mother, Julia Biryukova, “lost” him in Bellevue after abandoning him alone in a car that allegedly run out of gas. It turns out that Biryukova was trying to renege on a custody agreement between her and her former husband, Solomon Metalwala, that granted her custody rights and him visitation. Sounds reasonable to me—unless, of course you are talking about an unreasonable woman. Accusations of mental derangement, child endangerment, dreams of strangulation and mutual protection orders have curdled this strange story. Even the car was found to be not as “disabled” as the mother claimed. The toddler remains missing, apparently seen by no one the previous two weeks, with Biryukova being largely uncooperative. While the sympathy dial bends a few degrees in the father’s direction, as expected you will find opinions like the following, which I discovered on the Huffington Post:

“As missing toddler's mother was originally was from Russia, could it be possible she was a mail order bride that you see in many ads. If so, her husband's trying to teach her "his" ways may have been so controllin¬g that she felt nothing she did was good enough which caused her behavior. These men quite often pick these women so they can dominate them. Maybe nothing was good enough in his eyes. Basically, in the divorce papers, it was only he the court heard about how unfit she was. She may have been so far gone emotionall¬y by the time her psych evaulation (sic) was done the her diagnose may have been incorrect. As having had a husband like that I can relate to her and feel more attention needs to be done on the husband.”

Some people might remember the Tim Burton movie “Mars Attacks!” where the aliens’ heads exploded inside their transparent helmets with the sound of country singer Slim Whitman’s yodeling. That’s what this typical female-as-victim banter sounds like to me, with a touch of stereotypical racial assumptions. Biryukova wasn’t a “mail order” bride, but given the fact that she is a not unattractive blond who married a man that people of her “culture” would normally feel superior to, it is not beyond the realm of possibility that she was using him to gain permanent legal status in the country—which may be why she was unreasonable about who has “rights” to the U.S.-born children. Not helping the above mentioned case was the fact that Biryukova was also an “involuntary” inmate at a state mental hospital on at least one occasion; although an assessment indicated that she was a danger to herself and others, she was nonetheless released into the public domain. This begs the question of how she got into the country in the first place; not all Russians are poets and nuclear scientists.


Egads, another Times story that makes my head explode. A young white (and presumably eye-candy) female is working 16-hours a day at the mall—one eight-hour job, and two part-time positions. If she had a “full-time” job, she wouldn’t have to work so hard. Yeah, but what about the unemployed adults (or teenagers) who could have used those eight extra hours? That’s why unemployment rates are so much higher for the non-white female demographic. In this increasingly service-oriented economy, someone standing behind the counter who is “fetching” attracts customers, or so employers think. Me, the only thing I find “attractive” are low prices; show me a low price and I don’t care if the Creature from the Black Lagoon is behind the cash register.


Traffic Alert: Kent police have a new unmarked “cruiser”: a large white SUVish vehicle that has a deliberately drab, unremarkable appearance. I noted that it has a small strip of red and blue lights showing through a back window. I’m glad I don’t drive; police have to work harder to invent excuses to harass me when I’m just walking down the sidewalk.


On my day off (a Monday) I was in the Kent public library in the “quiet” study area. The place was soon inundated with kids with school district-issued laptop computers, making a racket playing video games, watching music videos and laughing at items on Facebook pages. Now, assuming that these kids are issued these laptops for educational purposes and not for fun and games, my suggestion would be to disable these machines from unauthorized internet access, instead using some kind of proprietary software that only works in school. At least this way, the laptops would be good only for activities, like, say, educational advancement and homework.


There were some interesting election results earlier this month. Washington voters approved initiative 1183, making it easier for bums, panhandlers and drunks to mingle outside the corner convenience store and generally be annoying pains-in-the-fundament. In Mississippi, voters rejected a law defining a fertilized egg as a “person,” but they did approve a law requiring a photo ID in order to vote; this is an example of using the illegal immigrant issue as a cover to disenfranchise black voters in the state. In Ohio, voters overturned Republican Gov. John Kasich and his legislative henchmen’s move to limit collective bargaining rights for state employees—which most likely passed because unlike Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s similar legislation, it did not leave out police and fire unions.

But for me, the election day story that was of greatest interest was one that didn’t receive much notice by CNN, or the Seattle Times at all: Arizona Republican state senator Russell Pearce was defeated in a recall election. Who is Russell Pearce? I’ve discussed him once or twice, this former county sheriff’s deputy whose chumminess with neo-Nazis like J.T. Ready helped explain his abnormal fixation on illegal immigrants, which many people took to be just an excuse to mask his racial attitudes about Latinos in general. Pearce was responsible for SB-1070, which required police officers to double as immigration agents; although that part of the law was blocked by a federal judge (although another federal judge allowed such a provision to stand in a similar Alabama law), Pearce had as many new “ideas” about what to do about the “Mexicans” that he made Tim Eyman look like only an occasional irritant. Boycotts by out-of-state businesses and organizations convinced local businessmen, however, that the whole thing was bad business for the state, and turned against him as did some of his Republican colleagues. People eventually tired of his brusque, arrogant manner, and one former supporter quoted in the New York Times said “I’m a sort of redneck conservative, but for me he just went way too far on immigration. I agree that we can’t have everyone from the third world coming here, but it began to feel like he hated these people, and I don’t. They go to our churches. I know some of them.” Despite outspending Republican challenger Jerry Lewis—who promised to be open to compromise on the issue of immigration—by a 3-1 margin, Pearce managed to ensure his defeat by angering voters by the unsubtle attempt to drain potential voters from Lewis by contriving to put the name of a Mexican immigrant who wasn’t even entitled to vote herself on the ballot.


Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire is now proposing a ½ cent increase in sales taxes, which is supposed to go mainly to education spending. That’s nice, except that it not only doesn’t promise much to close revenue gaps, it is also a regressive tax to begin with, affecting the low income bracket much harder than the wealthier classes. Of course, the state did try to pass a state income tax on the wealthiest residents—or rather a few wealthy residents like Bill Gates Sr. put one on the ballot, but other wealthy residents (like some of the people on the Seattle Times editorial board) manage to convince a lot of gullible residents that this tax would “trickle down.” Rep. John Fleming, Republican from Louisiana and millionaire businessman, put things in their proper perspective: "The amount that I have to reinvest in my business and feed my family is more like $600,000 of that $6.3 million (in gross revenue). So by the time I feed my family I have, maybe, $400,000 left over to invest in new locations, upgrade my locations, buy more equipment." This left many people unimpressed; after all, if Fleming actually was going to use that money for the purposes he claimed, he could write them off as tax breaks; note he didn’t mention hiring new workers, which is the reason why Republicans claim they oppose tax increases. Instead, he just came-off as someone with too much money on his hands.

Not every millionaire feels like he needs to be miserly with his money. Patriotic Millionaires for Fiscal Strength, some “grassroots” organization comprised of “right-thinking” millionaires and billionaires, wrote the following to the now defunct Super Committee on deficit reduction:

“We are writing to urge you to put our country ahead of politics.

For the fiscal health of our nation and the well-being of our fellow citizens, we ask that you increase taxes on incomes over $1,000,000.

We make this request as loyal citizens who now or in the past earned an income of $1,000,000 per year or more.

Our country faces a choice – we can pay our debts and build for the future, or we can shirk our financial responsibilities and cripple our nation’s potential.

Our country has been good to us. It provided a foundation through which we could succeed. Now, we want to do our part to keep that foundation strong so that others can succeed as we have.

Please do the right thing for our country. Raise our taxes.”

This is the kind of thing that makes Republicans' heads explode, but I don't see how THAT could possibly hurt the country.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The unacknowledged reality behind Alaska Airline's success

Seattle-based Alaska Air Group appears to be a well-run airline, if its recently reported $131 million in profits for the 3rd quarter, a new record, is any indication--although the Wall Street Journal did reveal that as much as 40 percent of this came from “fuel hedging," savings from a previous fuel supply contract rather than actual revenue. Nevertheless, Alaska is doing quite well—so well that they distributed $72 million in bonuses to its employees earlier this year, although obviously the biggest chunks went to executives. $44 million was distributed to 6,000 Alaska and Horizon Air employees in the Puget Sound area, an average of over $7,000 per employee (kind of amusing in regard to Horizon, since watching their rampers is like seeing a half-dozen Gullivers trying to stay out of each other’s way around those Lilliputian planes). This, according to a story I read, is in addition to $1,000 to $1,200 a month in bonus pay each employee “earned” for meeting on-time (90 percent) and customer satisfaction goals. CEO Bill Ayer proclaimed that "The outstanding efforts of our employees are at the heart of our success."Indeed, according to J.D. Power, Alaska ranked number one for the fourth consecutive year in customer satisfaction among U.S.-based airlines.

Now I have to prick this balloon. Note that I put the word “earned” in quotations. Alaska Airlines does not include its ramp (and presumably its airplane interior cleaning) personnel as company employees worthy of receiving bonuses. Or at least they must not because I don’t know anyone who works for Menzies Aviation who received that 9 percent of total yearly salary bonus. While Alaska customer service, flyboys, diva mechanics, glorified waitresses and the people responsible for the “controlled” chaos in Operations represent the facade of the company, the grunt work behind the scenes largely responsible for “on-time” performance and thus “customer satisfaction” goes largely unnoticed (except when something goes wrong) and even deliberately slighted by the airline, doubtless to assuage the tender feelings of union employees. Because of lingering animosity toward Menzies, due to the fact that it was this contractor that was chosen to replace fired union rampers in 2005, these employees are the “Invisible Man” in Alaska’s success—not to mention their labor is the primary reason those “real” Alaska employees are able to pocket thousands in bonuses and bonus pay. The contract Menzies has with Alaska apparently makes no provision for bonuses to be paid to Menzies employees.

Of course, Menzies has been the target of abuse since 2005, especially by the media. I remember exchanging several testy emails with the Seattle Times aviation reporter a few years ago, so I know that “fairness” and “objectivity” has nothing to do with its reporting. In 2005, Alaska employees were doing what they could to undermine Menzies employees, behind-the-scenes providing the media with photos and stories about their incompetence. At the time, Menzies was indeed literally hiring any bodies to quickly fill the ranks; one Alaska employee told me that many of these new hires were “thugs,” and I did read a story about gang graffiti that was found inside at least one baggage hold. But times change, and when I look at this nasty winter weather already upon us, one realizes that it takes people dedicated to their jobs to perform in such conditions. And there were a micron of people who pointed out that much of the reporting back then had the element of hypocrisy; back in 2006, a “curmudgeon” and “tech superfreak” named David Orriss wrote the following on his blog, the veracity of one or two of the statements subject to independent confirmation:

“The local (highly-union-biased) press has been up in arms about Menzies even if one of the workers so much as sneezes. Note that Menzies is a non-union shop. I personally think that the local media is participating – to some degree – in a smear campaign of non-union labor. For example, the local news mentioned that for 9 months out of 2004 to 2005 there were a HUGE increase in the number of safety problems at Alaska air. Up from 13 in 2004 to over 50 in 2005. What the news FAILED to mention was that during that 9 month period the UNION WORKERS were the ones committing the violations. Actually, they were kicking out panels and vandalizing the planes because they knew they were going to lose their contract. Talk about jackboot thugs…”

There was, of course, the famous incident where there was damage to an airplane, apparently caused by being struck by Menzies-operated equipment, and the plane was forced into an emergency landing when the dent became a hole in the fuselage. The person or persons involved in the accident were clearly guilty of gross negligence in not reporting the dent, but no one was hurt, and the news media put the expected pro-union spin on the story. More recently, the incident where one airplane’s wing tip struck another airplane’s horizontal stabilizer during pushback made headlines, although KIRO News at least admitted that Menzies had managed to keep itself “out of the news” since the 2005 incident. Although again negligence played a part, Alaska also admitted that it was an error to place two of the long Boeing 737 models in a tight spot where the planes are literally at right angles to each other.

But beyond these "black marks," there is that unfortunate little fact that Alaska has continued to receive high marks in on-time performance and customer satisfaction since Menzies has been on the job, and this contractor deserves a great deal more recognition than it is receiving from the airline. It wasn’t that long ago that Alaska’s reputation was in tatters. Memory may fade for some, but the 2000 crash of Alaska Flight 261, killing all 88 passengers in the waters off the coast of California, was real, and it was before Menzies. An investigation revealed that the jackscrew controlling the horizontal stabilizer had not been properly greased, causing stripping which allowed the nut that secured it to detach itself. A “loud noise” heard in the back of the plane apparently was caused when the horizontal stabilizer broke through the vertical stabilizer, causing the plane to lose pitch control and literally take a nose-dive into the Pacific Ocean; there is a YouTube video containing audio of pilots of other planes in the area observing in horror this crash. It was also reported that an Alaska dispatcher had attempted to talk the pilot out of diverting to the closer Los Angeles International Airport for an emergency landing; apparently it was more important to continue to its scheduled stopover in San Francisco, so as not to disrupt scheduling “flow.” A state investigation in California over allegations of falsified maintenance records, however, did not end in charges being filed against the airline.

Monday, November 21, 2011

The ghosts of a Thanksgiving Day past haunts the Packers

For football fans, this Thanksgiving Day should have historic implications. The 1962 Green Bay Packers is regarded by many as one of the top five greatest teams in NFL history. Eleven players—half of its starting line-up—would be future Hall of Famers. Going into its Thanksgiving Day match-up against the Lions in Detroit, on paper the Packers had thoroughly dominated the opposition in posting a 10-0 record. They out-gained their opponents by an average of 361 to 214 yards per game, but they were even more dominant on the scoreboard, out-scoring their opponents by a mind-boggling 309-74. An unbeaten season seemed certain.

But there were reasons to be concerned heading into that game against the Lions. In week four, although the Packers out-played the Lions, four turnovers forced the game to come down to a last minute field goal set-up by a Herb Adderley interception for a 9-7 win. In week nine against the Baltimore Colts, the Packers would have a season low in offensive yards while giving-up a season high in yards allowed; timely turnovers and a 103-yard kick-off return for a touchdown by Adderley proved to be the difference in a 17-13 victory. And Detroit was also having its best season in many years.

That Thanksgiving Day would be one of the most memorable in NFL history. The Lions would completely dismantle the mighty Packers. On the Packers first possession, a loss of three yards on a run play, a delay of game penalty and quarterback sack for a loss of 15 yards set the tone for the remainder of the game. Only on rare occasions was Bart Starr able to take a snap without a Detroit defender instantly in his face; he would go back to pass 29 times, and ten of those times he was sacked for 93 yards in losses. The Packers could muster only 122 yards of offense the entire game, spending almost as much time going backwards as forwards. By halftime Detroit led 23-0; the only thing that kept the game from getting completely out-of-hand for the Packers was that Detroit matched their turnover production (five). Two fourth quarter touchdowns—one a fumble recovery in the end zone by Willie Davis—made the final score of 26-14 seem “respectable,” but it couldn’t hide the fact that the Lions had laid a thorough beating on the Packers that day. Fortunately for the Packers, that defeat was the only tarnish on their season, ending with a 16-7 victory in the championship game against the New York Giants.

This Thanksgiving, the Packers enter their game in Detroit again with a 10-0 record, with most pundits regarding the defending Super Bowl champions as the best team in the NFL. However, there would seem to be a better chance that history repeat itself than it did in 1962. Although this year’s team is similarly an offensive juggernaut, its defense is far more suspect. The Packers have not so much dominated their opponents, but out-scored them. Lions quarterback Mathew Stafford, playing his first full season, seems difficult to stop when he’s on.

For me, being a long-time Packer fan, Thursday’s game isn’t just some blip on the schedule; a victory in Detroit will either bury the ghosts of that long ago Thanksgiving Day game, or resurrect them.

Race on the low road

Green Bay Packer receiver Jordy Nelson caused a minor commotion in the sports media world recently by claiming that being white helped him, because black defenders allegedly didn’t respect his ability. Because wide receiver in the NFL is stereotyped as black position, it is “assumed” that white wide receivers are not “athletic” or fast enough to play the position. Oh, but Jordy’s fooled them; he’s just as good as any black player. Ha-ha.

I’m old enough to remember a time when white wide receivers were considered superior “skill” position players than blacks. Although most of the top wide receivers in NFL history in terms of numbers are black, that does not correctly gauge the fact that until the 1970s, blacks were uncommon at the wide receiver position. Even today, white wide-outs like Wes Welker, Jason Witten and Dallas Clark are stereotyped as having “good hands,” and are more “smart” route runners than their black counterparts; no doubt that deep down in his psyche, Aaron Rodgers has a special “connection” with Nelson, which leads him to look toward him in a “critical” situation. If race is an “issue” here, it is more likely for much different reasons than the one that Nelson enunciated.


I was listening to ESPN analyst John Clayton a few days ago on a local radio station when the topic of New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez came up. Aren’t we glad that we (the Seahawks) didn’t draft him? Sanchez played well enough in his first two seasons to lead the Jets to a 4-2 playoff record, all games on the road and twice as many playoff wins as the next Jets quarterback on the list—Joe Namath with a grand total of two. But Sanchez has received little respect from the “experts” and fanboys. Clayton (who reminds me of the aliens in the movie “Mars Attacks!”) used the term “stupid” to describe Sanchez, and that was just enough to set me off. Sanchez’s production and winning percentage is no worse than fellow New York quarterback Eli Manning’s in his first three years; in fact, in Manning’s fourth season, when the Giants somehow won the Super Bowl, he completed only 56.1 percent of his passes, had a 73.9 rating and led the NFC in interceptions. Yet no one ever had anything negative to say about Manning, assuming that he had his brother Peyton’s “genes.”

Sanchez, apparently, doesn’t have the “genes.” Of course, that is how the lack of black quarterbacks in the NFL in the early days was explained. Latino quarterbacks don’t have a “track record” in the NFL, so commentators usually go on what they know, which is nothing. These days, anyone with a Spanish name used in conjunction with anything that doesn’t have something to do illegal immigration or drug violence is likely to raise suspicion, largely due to the hate-fueled political rhetoric toward “Mexicans” these days. Because of this, it is easier to use pejorative, deliberately demeaning terms without fear of being called a racist. Even after Clayton went down a laundry list of reasons that the team around Sanchez is inferior to the team of last year—including the fact that Plaxico Burress is really just an average receiver compared to the departed Braylon Edwards—he still could not help himself in degrading Sanchez. It turned my stomach.

The Jets have been a mostly lousy team since 1969, the last season it had a winning record with Joe Namath at quarterback—which frankly makes his current criticisms rather hypocritical and self-serving. But considerably more unpalatable is Mike Greenberg of ESPN’s “Mike and Mike in the Morning” tiresome Jets fanboy BS. Last year, after Sanchez led the Jets to several thrilling last minute comeback victories, including two in overtime, Greenberg feted him with his own “song.” Greenberg was of course “devastated” after the Jets defense failed to stop the Steelers on that late 3rd-and-eight in the AFC championship game; based on past history, Sanchez would surely have led the team for a winning score. This year, Greenberg was consumed with the idea that the Jets only needed to take the “next” step to the Super Bowl, and it all depended on Sanchez’s play. Being a Packer fan, I am well aware of the pitfalls of such fantasies; when it was said after the 2007 season the team was a “quarterback away” from the Super Bowl—meaning ditch Favre in favor of Rodgers; well, the team only went from 13-3 to 6-10 in Rodgers’ first year as a starter. This year, the Jets can’t run the ball if their lives depended on it, and the offensive line can’t block. If Sanchez makes a mistake, it’s because he must be “stupid,” according to commentators.

I’ve seen many a Brett Favre “pick-six.” According to Pro-Football Reference, he threw 33 in his career. But he isn’t alone; Dan Marino threw 30 with 2,000 fewer pass attempts, and Peyton Manning has “only” 17. With 26 interceptions returned for touchdowns, Joe Namath’s average of one per 150 pass attempts is “tops” in NFL history. I watched Sanchez’s pick-six against the Broncos later after the game, and that play is something we’ve seen happen a hundred or so times to other quarterbacks—like Manning, when Tracy Porter of the Saints “read” his pass in the Super Bowl. But oh no, Peyton’s not “stupid” or “incompetent” like Sanchez. Commentators didn’t even use those terms to describe JaMarcus Russell; oh sure, he was not mentally into the game or physically prepared, but he wasn’t “stupid.” No, you only relegate such terms to demographics who don’t have enough of a presence in the league to warrant governing one’s tongue. What the NFL needs is someone like Ozzie Guillen.

I was listening to the Jets-Broncos game on the national radio broadcast. It seems to me that not only is the national and local media criticism of Sanchez is getting into his head, it is effecting how his teammates look at him. These guys listen to all the criticism of Sanchez, and it’s easy to focus blame on him instead of looking at their own play. The offensive line stinks, and during the game when Sanchez underthrew a ball to Dustin Keller that Keller acted in disgust about, the color analyst pointed out that it was a “good” play because if Sanchez had waited a moment longer for Keller to turn around he would have been sacked deep in Jets territory. How often does this happen, and no one “notices?” Then there was the play preceding the interception; it was a either a bad pass by Sanchez or a bad route run by Burress, but whatever it was Burress openly “showed-up” Sanchez with a disgusted gesture. On the interception, Sanchez again threw to Burress; the announcers thought that Sanchez only threw the ball in his direction because he wanted to “make up” for the previous play so he could get on his “good” side. Is this how the Jets offense works, that Sanchez has to assuage players’ piques in order for them to “trust” him--because they believe the negative hyperbole about him too?

Fanatical fanboys like Greenberg need to blame someone for “his” team’s failure to win every game, and since Sanchez hasn’t “elevated” his game sufficiently to compensate for the Jets shortcomings, it is “proof” that he has hit a wall and cannot proceed further; Greenberg has even gone so far as to grovel to colleagues to confirm this belief he has, and some--like Chris Carter, who never played on a Super Bowl team--seem only too happy to oblige his blubbering. Although the “bust” label has not been affixed to him, commentators nevertheless feel free to call Sanchez a “mistake” by the Jets in believing he is “the answer” at quarterback. I don’t doubt that Sanchez was thrown into the fire too early, with only one full year of college play behind him, but this is no reason to denigrate and abuse him. He has never come across as narcissistic like many players, yet he’s an easy target for abuse. Why?

It wasn’t that long ago that Azteca TV sports reporter Ines Sainz was abused by Jets players and coaches. They surely knew she was there primarily to cover Sanchez for Spanish language television. Perhaps that episode told us more than some of us would like to admit.


I’m not a NASCAR fan by any stretch, but if I had to pick a driver to support, it would be Tony Stewart because this Indiana native seems to get under the skin of his Deep South competitors. So congratulations to Stewart for winning the NASCAR cup title. However, there is a reason why I’m not a fan of racing, and most of it was on display before the final race began. When First Lady Michelle Obama was introduced to the crowd as one of the “grand marshals” as well as to promote a military family support initiative, there was a smattering of boos to be heard. Perhaps these people would be within their “rights” to do so if the president was in her place, but it was the height of disrespect and unchivalrousness for these people to act this way. Even a left-leaning crowd would not have so contemptuous as to abuse Laura Bush in a similar fashion. Maybe for these people, it was “instinctive” to boo a black woman who didn’t “belong” in a setting that originated in the anti-government and law-breaking activities of white “good old boy” moonshiners.

Lest anyone think that racial politics and sports can’t co-mingle, take the reaction to the announcement came that some NBA players were volunteering to play in the “Obama Classic” basketball game. Admittedly it is a political fundraiser, but on sports websites like the Yardbarker, you get comments like this from “Doug”:
“how come every one is offended by the by the n word. its been used for many years in the sports industry.

“Doug” then gives some examples of how he views the make-up of certain sports organizations:

nba- negro basketball association
mlb- mexican-latino baseball
ncaa- negro colored athletic association
nfl. negro football leauge
nhl- national honkey league”

And from “Sue”:

“This is our country and our life at stake. The blacks have made it a racist issue by giving Obama 99 percent of their support because he is half black” and “A class war and to an extent a race war has been escalated under Obama’s leadership and instability is showing up dramatically in America.” Obviously by “our” she means “white.” In between, “Sue” engages in a diatribe that accuses Obama of being responsible for leaving the country in tatters—the country that George Bush left in such “great” shape.

And all of this over a basketball game.

Monday, November 14, 2011

The Seahawks and their fans seem to have conflicting ideas on how to address the quarterback of the future issue

The Seattle Seahawks’ “surprise” win over the Baltimore Ravens sure has people around here scratching their heads wondering what’s next. A team which just as easily could be 1-8 is suddenly giving the impression that they are capable of the damndest things on any given Sunday. Coming into this season, people were rightly confused about why the team didn’t sign Matt Hasselbeck for at least another year or two until they found their next “guy,” and instead jumped on Tarvaris Jackson, who nobody else in the league regarded as anything more than as a movie extra. But Jackson has played well enough to surpass a great many fans wildest expectations, and the Seahawks’ 3-6 record qualifies as a “success” story. Not that Jackson has been more than a bit player in this success; all of a sudden the Seahawks’ defense seems modestly competent, their offensive line is actually starting to block, and Marshawn Lynch—after being little more than a point on a graph since he was picked-up from the Buffalo Bills last year—has rushed for back-to-back 100+ yard games. The question is how much “improvement” can Seahawk fans—and the team itself—tolerate? Or better yet, how much more “good” T-Jack can they stand?

Despite what coach Pete Carroll thinks, most fans find it hard to wrap their minds around Jackson as the “answer” at quarterback, because as he showed in Minnesota with the same offensive coordinator and an elite running back, you never know what you are going to get from one week to the next. And people may not be aware of this, but he did nothing with Sydney Rice for two years before Brett Favre made Rice look like a Pro Bowl receiver, which Rice has no chance of being again as long as Jackson is the quarterback (no matter how often Jackson laser focuses on him while other receivers are wide open). But Jackson may play just well enough to play Seattle right out of that draft pick they (or fans) so crave for one of the “franchise” quarterbacks in next year’s draft. Obviously the coach and players want to win ball games, so it is a fair question to ask if Seattle’s management even has Andrew Luck, Landry Jones or Matt Barkley in its draft plans. The Seahawks have a terrible record drafting quarterbacks anyways; every quarterback they have drafted since 1977 has not had a productive career either with the team or elsewhere. It might surprise some people, but neither Jim Zorn (whose stats are not all that impressive either) and Dave Krieg were undrafted free agents, and of course Matt Hasselbeck came in a trade with Green Bay, a well they might try again to draw from. Obviously Charlie Whitehurst will be gone next year; they might draft one of the second tier quarterbacks to compete for second or third on the depth chart, and they might look for one of the free agents on the market, like, say, Matt Flynn.

Carroll does have a theory to take the team to the Super Bowl that might include Jackson as the starter, although it seems as if he has forgotten that his USC teams had quarterbacks who actually looked the part, at least on the college level. I suppose it is possible for third-tier quarterbacks to play well enough to win a Super Bowl, and perhaps “shock” the pundits by putting in an unexpectedly stellar performance on football’s biggest stage. Take for example Doug Williams in the 1987 strike season Super Bowl versus John Elway and the Denver Broncos. Williams—who completed less than fifty percent of his passes during his career—only played in five games that year, two as a starter in which he was 0-2. Jay Schroeder was the designated starter for the Washington Redskins, and went 8-2 before going down with a shoulder injury. Few pundits gave the Redskins much of a chance with Williams as quarterback in the playoffs. Against Chicago and Minnesota, he was an unimpressive 23-55 for 326 yards, but the Redskins’ defense was stout enough to snatch two victories from the jaws of defeat. Against the Broncos in the Super Bowl, the Redskins quickly fell behind 10-0 in the first quarter. But in the second quarter, the Redskins put together what is probably the most-mind blowing offensive explosion in one quarter in NFL history, scoring 35 points and laying waste to many a betting line. Williams threw for nearly as many yards in the first half as he did in the entire previous two games, and four touchdown passes. Almost as shocking was the performance of an unknown rookie running back named Timmy Smith. Smith would be out of the league by 1989, rushing for only 602 yards in a three-year career, but on that day he ran for 204 yards and two touchdowns.

So it is “possible,” given a certain number of stars aligning at just the exact right moment, for a team as the Seahawks are currently composed to win a Super Bowl. But the odds are against them unless they do obtain an “elite” quarterback, or develop a top-rated defense. Let’s take a look at the Super Bowl winning quarterbacks beginning in 2000:

2000 Kurt Warner
2001 Trent Dilfer
2002 Tom Brady
2003 Brad Johnson
2004 Brady
2005 Brady
2006 Ben Roethlisberger
2007 Peyton Manning
2008 Eli Manning
2009 Roethlisberger
2010 Drew Brees
2011 Aaron Rodgers

Out of that group, all but Dilfer and Johnson are or were considered “elite” quarterbacks at some point in their careers. But in 2001, the Baltimore Ravens had what is considered one of the top defensive units in NFL history, and against the New York Giants they forced five turnovers and allowed only 178 yards of total offense. In 2003, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers intercepted five Rich Gannon passes, returning three for touchdowns; it’s kind of hard to lose a game that way.


Speaking of teams with schizophrenic quarterback issues, how about Washington State? Jeff Tuel was supposed to have a “breakout” season, after “leading” the team to a 2-10 record last year; but an injury left him observing Marshall Lobbestael having his own “breakout” season. Tuel looked incompetent in his two starts this year; against Stanford, it would have made better sense (and fairer) to start Lobbestael, and if he was ineffective, then throw in Tuel. Tuel went on to look like the Tuel of last year in a blow-out loss to lowly Oregon State; on the other hand, Lobbestael certainly didn’t embarrass himself the following week against Oregon, like Tuel certainly would have. But even Lobbestael can’t handle “success” on a regular basis; last Saturday, Arizona State came in a double digit favorite on the road, and with Tuel already out, and Lobbestael ineffective early in the game, some freshman named Connor Halliday stepped in and blew the doors off ASU’s secondary, throwing for 494 yards in a 37-27 upset. Halliday’s numbers shouldn’t come as a complete shock, however; in mop-up duty against UNLV, he was 5 of 6 for 110 yards and 2 TDs.

Now coach Paul Wulff is confronted with the tricky problem of just what kind of judge of talent he is. He pretty much blew it with Tuel, and the three teams that Lobbestael could beat—Idaho State, UNLV and Colorado—combined have as many wins as ASU. He isn’t NFL material, so he can sit, and the team can prepare for next season by starting Halliday the rest of the year. I frankly don’t understand Wulff’s fascination with Tuel, who will be a senior next year; he was 2-10 as a starter last year and 0-2 this year. Perhaps unfortunately for Halliday, WSU still has a chance at a bowl game if they win their final two games, and one fears that Wulff isn’t going to embarrass the senior by insinuating that the team’s best chance to win is with the freshman.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

More thoughts on Penn State scandal

There is another facet of the Penn State story that I find fascinating: The degree to which a university is identified with a successful sports program. Some schools, like Stanford, have sports programs that even if successful are viewed as ancillary to the school’s academic reputation, while a school like Wisconsin is noted for both its academic and sports credentials. But when one thinks of Duke University, the first thing that pops into a non-alum’s head is the basketball program. Mention Ohio State, you think of the football program. The image of Penn State is inextricably tied to its football program; if someone says “I am an alum of Penn State,” they know that another person will be impressed not because of Penn State’s academics, but because it has a great football program. In the wake of the pedophile scandal (in which I again assert that heads should also roll in the law enforcement and judicial process that decided not to charge Sandusky with a crime in 1998, or investigate the “Second Mile” organization), there are those who are calling for a self-imposed “death penalty” in order to “clean house,” which would merely punish the innocent and set the football program back for decades, as happened to SMU. I say punishment the guilty and leave the rest with at least a smidgeon of dignity to their lives; the vast majority went to Penn State to receive an education, not to have the albatross of the football program hanging on their necks.


It is sometimes hard to assess if Mike McCreary--witness to one of the assaults by Jerry Sandusky--is more reviled for not doing enough or doing too much, and it is a measure of the hypocrisy I sense in some quarters concerning the Penn State scandal. If the powers-that-be at Penn State thought merely firing a coach and a few administrators would satiate the blood lust of the media for high profile targets, that fantasy was quickly dashed by potentially far more explosive allegations—that the Sandusky’s “Second Mile” youth program was little more than an involuntary, underage gigolo warehouse servicing a clientele with the kind of deviant carnal tastes that one might prefer remain hidden in dark spaces and hidden rooms. But it isn’t just the media that is taking “advantage” of the situation. I was listening to a local sports station that was supposedly contacted by the county sexual assault resource center, which, as one might suspect, is focused on female victims; it was noted that it was short of funding and needed "help." My first reaction was that it was exploiting these boys who were victims of Sandusky, and likely many others, for money.

The reason for my cynicism is that the media—both commercial and news—and activist organizations paint the picture of the perpetual female victim, citing selective “statistics” that deliberately obscure the rate of the victimization of boys. The Seattle Weekly, which occasionally goes against the grain, did so in a recent story entitled “Lost Boys,” which examined a study conducted in New York City that blew apart the activist, law enforcement and media-driven propaganda of millions of female child sex-slaves controlled by evil pimps in the country. Not only was there a “disappointingly” low number of child prostitutes, nearly half of the underage prostitutes were male, and only ten percent of all claimed to be working for a pimp. The Weekly story noted that this study has been greeted with a wave of disbelief, outrage and denial by the established female-centered victim crusaders. It only seems that when there is a bigger, “patriarchal” target to stain, like the Catholic Church or a big-time football program, that there is sudden concern about male victims of sexual abuse; note that when adult women sexually molest boys, the general idea amongst the public is that the victims are “lucky,” and the victimizers “punished” in accordance with that attitude. Where were the sexual assault activists when these boys needed them—too busy fundraising to pay for their own female-centered agendas? One may recall a local case, the O.K. Boys Ranch, where allegations of sexual and physical abuse were ignored for a decade by DSHS and CPA officials who were supposed to oversee the operation.

As an aside, I’ve often heard media reports about rape as a weapon of war in places like the Congo; what these media reports do not tell you, as reported last July in the UK newspaper The Guardian, is that as many as half of these rape victims are males, silent victims because of the deliberate humiliation and emasculation.

Media feeding frenzy ignores prior culpability of law enforcement in Penn State abuse case

I recently encountered a story on the Internet about this woman in Texas who killed her infant son, broke open his skull and ate part of his brain. It’s odd, but this happened a few years ago and I don’t remember ever hearing anything about this on CNN, let alone the local media. This kind of thing happens all the time in Texas, where mothers engage in drowning, hanging, stabbing and stoning to death their children at a remarkable rate. The latest incident was a Texas woman going all the way to Maine to kill her child, and dumping the unfortunate on the side of the road. To me, this qualifies as an “epidemic,” but for the most part it is relegated to the “believe it or not” section of news coverage. After all, these people are just ordinary folk, and who cares about what they do; some of them even get off for “reasons of insanity.”

On the other hand, what is going on in State College, Pennsylvania is a ratings “winner.” 85-year-old Penn State football coach Joe Paterno has been pounded mercilessly by the media by what he didn’t do to prevent his former defensive coordinator, Jerry Sandusky, from engaging in sodomy with young boys under his “care” at a youth organization known as “The Second Mile,” which allegedly provided support for “troubled” boys from “dysfunctional” homes. Paterno’s football program had never been tainted by any allegation of cheating or illegal activity in over forty years, but now Paterno’s life has come crashing down like the World Trade Center. He has been fired as coach, along with the president of the university. Although police say that he is not guilty of a crime technically by merely informing his superiors in regard to the one incident he had knowledge of, he “should have done more”—as is the belief of nearly everyone.

Paterno’s legacy will be forever stained by this episode. But to what extent should it be? And is he really the one, outside of Sandusky, who is most culpable?

I read the grand jury report, and there was no way I could feel anything but revulsion when I was finished. It was almost impossible to believe that a 60-year-old man could actually engage in such acts with 10-year-olds. And then I thought if I found this hard to wrap my mind around, how could Paterno, a conservative Catholic of Italian extraction, understand how someone he knew and worked with for decades could do such things? Even to be suspected of doing such things should be sufficiently mortifying to avoid engaging in them. Paterno stated that he had been “fooled” by Sandusky, which might suggest that he was in denial about what was going on; it wasn’t real. Not by anyone connected to him.

Let’s consider another angle to the story. I wonder if people remember Gary Ridgway. Yes, he was the Green River Killer. He was a suspect as early as 1984, even 1983, when he “officially” began his killing spree; I say officially because there were police reports even earlier from prostitutes who claimed that Ridgway had assaulted them. Dave Reichert was the lead detective on the case, but it was his colleagues who wanted to focus on Ridgway; Reichert did not seriously consider him suspect, choosing to go off on tangents. Ridgway was not arrested until 2001, after dozens of women were felled by his hand. Reichert was treated as a celebrity and a hero, and was even elected to Congress. Yet people choose not to remember that Ridgway could have been stopped years ago if Reichert had focused on him instead of his fantasies.

And so it is with the Sandusky case. There has been much talk about how Paterno and school officials did not contact police after the 2002 incident, which is the principle basis of Paterno’s troubles. The problem is that local police had knowledge of at least one prior complaint, and along with prosecutors did nothing. In 1998, “Victim 6” in the grand jury report said that after working out in a weight room and then wrestling, Sandusky suggested that they take a shower, in the course of which Sandusky “bear hugged” him. When the boy returned home, his mother was concerned about even the idea that Sandusky would be showering alone with her son, and called campus police. A Detective Ronald Schreffler testified that he and another detective were allowed to eavesdrop on two exchanges the mother had with Sandusky in her home. Sandusky admitted to showering with the boy, and when he tells her that he won’t promise not to do it again, she tells him she will not allow her son to be with him again. Sandusky tells her ''I understand. I was wrong. I wish I could get forgiveness. I know I won't get it from you. I wish I were dead.''

Was this sufficient to bring charges against Sandusky? It should have been, but that would not be the case. An investigator with the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare, Jerry Lauro, testified that he and Schreffler interviewed Sandusky, who admitted to showering with “Victim 6,” and acknowledging that what he did was wrong. Apparently he also said that he would not do this again, because the investigation was closed after the county district attorney, Ray Gricar, decided not to press charges against Sandusky. As we now know, Sandusky did not take advantage of his own “second chance,” and continued to abuse the boys in his “care.” We should also consider the fact that officials at “The Second Mile” were also informed of the allegations against Sandusky. They more than anyone else should have had some clue that something amiss was going on, but they also did nothing.

So local law enforcement was hardly the “innocent” party in all of this. They could have stopped it at least four years before Paterno presumably became aware of what was going on. Of course, this is also an assumption; Sandusky was still a coach at that time, and are we to believe Paterno did not know of the investigation? Perhaps police didn’t want to bother him with such a potentially explosive charge, especially if they were “unfounded.” But Sandusky resigned as coach in 1999, after Paterno had informed him that he would not allow Sandusky to succeed him as coach. Meaning what? That Paterno had some awareness that Sandusky had the potential to bring discredit on the program he had built? Perhaps, but that would also mean that we would have to question Paterno’s sincerity when he claims that he was fooled by Sandusky’s own denials.

Greg Norman (and others) need a history lesson in golf's racist past

There has been a lot of denials and claims of “political correctness” surrounding Steve Williams’ race-inflected comments at an “informal” caddie function aimed at the former employer who made him rich and “famous.” Attempting to explain the narcissism behind his credit-hogging fulsomeness after Adam Scott’s win at the Bridgestone Invitational last August, Williams let fly “My aim was to shove it right up that black arsehole.” No one laughed like they were supposed to. As one caddie quoted in The Daily Mail said, “Never have you been in a room and seen so many jaws drop at the same time. We knew he was an idiot but we didn’t know he was a racist idiot. I was standing next to a European Tour official who said, ‘Thank God he is not on our tour.’”

Tiger Woods—much like Barack Obama—has gone out of his way to diffuse race as an issue in their public lives. The problem is that other people have done that for him. Tour member Greg Owen has said that when he was paired with Woods in an event early in his PGA career, he was stunned by the amount of racial vitriol aimed at Woods from the gallery. This so-called “gentlemen’s” game was hardly lacking in ungentlemanly behavior by players, either. We still remember Fuzzy Zoeller’s “joke” about how Woods would select a meal of chicken and collard greens if he won the 1997 Masters. The Golf Channel’s Kelly Tilghman “joked” that Woods would have to be taken out in a back alley and “lynched” if younger players hoped to win. Former tennis star Martina Navratilova got into the act, once whining about how she as a white lesbian didn’t get as much “respect” as this black guy. Before Williams’ slur, some clown threw a hotdog at Woods while he was putting at the Frys.Com Open. The man actually claimed to “like” Woods.

Don’t people find it rather odd that these things only seem to happen to Tiger Woods, the only “black” man on tour? Isn’t it “odd” that people would deliberately call attention to his race in a negative manner? Just a little bit?

Greg Norman, meanwhile, defended Williams and declared that there was no racism in golf. This was frankly a naïve statement coming from a man who is a citizen of a country where the native inhabitants were routinely referred to by the “N-word” until it became unfashionable, and which until recently barred the immigration of non-whites. Refugees from Asian countries have been allowed into Australia on a case-by-case basis, but they have not been welcomed by everyone; one of Australian actor Russell Crowe’s early films was “Romper Stomper,” in which Crowe played the leader of a neo-Nazi gang that preyed on Southeast Asian immigrants. Why should golf, a game more than any was perceived as the preserve of whites, be any different?

It might surprise some people, but like the “negro” professional baseball leagues in the first half of the 20th Century, black golfers who were banned from playing in the whites-only PGA were forced to play in the “negro” golf tour, known as the United (or “Colored”) Golf Association. Black golfers like Charlie Sifford, Ted Rhodes and Bill Spiller were among the best in the country, but because of the PGA’s discriminatory bylaws, even PGA events that wanted to showcase a black golfer were prevented from doing so by PGA officials. Black golfers who played well enough in non-sanctioned events to be automatic qualifiers in PGA-sanctioned events were told that they could not participate because they did not have PGA tour cards, and because the PGA had a whites-only rule, it was virtually impossible for a black golfer to even play his way into a PGA event. Purses in the “colored” association were miniscule compared to the PGA, usually a $100 or less for the winner. It goes without saying that the racism in the sport then had long-term effects for the future, since it was impossible for a black golfer to make a living playing golf fulltime, and this contributed to the decrease in interest in golf among blacks relative to other sports.

Not that there wasn’t a fight. In 1948, Horton Smith, president of the PGA, and the Richmond Country Club was sued by three black golfers who qualified but were prevented from playing in the Richmond Open after performing well in the Los Angeles Open, which was a non-PGA sponsored event. The Taft-Hartley Act was invoked, which outlawed “closed shops” like the one the PGA was operating that banned non-whites from earning a living in that trade. With the likelihood of losing the case, the PGA “agreed” to stop discriminating against black golfers—with one “catch”: Sponsors of tournaments were allowed to invite who they wished. Given the racist atmosphere of the times, almost none of the sponsors “invited” black golfers.

Yet times were a’changing, and that change came courtesy the biggest name in black sports at the time: Joe Louis. Besides being a boxing great, Louis also happened to be an avid (if amateur) golfer, and in 1952 the sponsors of the San Diego Open decided that they needed a famous sports name to help promote the event, and invited Louis to lend his name to the field. Yet scarcely a week before the event, the PGA contacted the sponsors and informed them that Louis and the other black players they had invited could not participate. In today’s world this blatant discrimination against a popular sports hero would have caused an uproar, but it would not be until Walter Winchell, a well-known radio personality, jumped into the fray that Louis’s plight became the subject of national outrage: “Who the hell is Horton Smith? He must be another Hitler” Winchell railed. To head off the bad publicity, Smith allowed Louis to play based on his amateur status, but still refused to allow any other blacks to play because they were not PGA members—which they were continued to be unable to earn because of the white-only clause in the PGA bylaws.

Threatened with another lawsuit and bad publicity generated by Louis, the PGA finally decided that a “select” number of black golfers could play in the PGA events if they qualified, but only if they were “invited.” But some tournaments did begin to invite the top black golfers to play, and in the 1952 Phoenix Open Louis and seven other black players were invited and allowed to participate. Not that racism was “dead”: the black golfers were stilled forced into segregated facilities, and subjected to racial taunts from spectators and white golfers alike. And it was not until a threatened suit by the California attorney general against the PGA’s whites-only rule that in 1961 Charlie Sifford became the first black to be awarded a PGA membership. But while sports like baseball, football and basketball were quickly desegregated once the wall of discrimination was breached, it was not the same for golf; years of discrimination had taken their toll, and those players were first participated in the UGA were long past their prime. Golf continued to be viewed as an unfriendly, whites-only domain in spirit if not in name. The petty jealousies and bigotry that greeted Tiger Woods’ success on the golf course was a legacy of this “spirit,” and it is clear even today that some white players and fans have a hard time wrapping their minds around the idea that a black man can dominate a sport which remains in many ways a whites-only preserve.

Since the Williams story broke, Rex Hoggard of the Golf Channel wrote “In a well-crafted statement released on Tuesday Adam Scott declared ‘the matter closed,’ an admirable combination of naiveté and wishful thinking on the Australian’s part…All of which makes his decision to dig in against the mounting wall of political correctness even more telling.” What hearing those words bring to my mind is the old expression that those who forget history are doomed to repeat it.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

NFL notes and fun facts

Tarvaris Jackson, who never had a 300-yard passing game in 40+ starts with the Minnesota Vikings, already has two this season as a Seattle Seahawk. This doesn’t necessarily indicated improvement; it does suggest that unless your name is Brett Favre in a Vikings uniform, it is kind of hard to pass for 300 yards while Adrian Peterson is running for 100 yards at the same time. The Seahawks have an invisible running game, so obviously it’s not that difficult to throw for 300 yards on 40 pass attempts the way the rules are structured now (unless your name is Tim Tebow). It should be pointed out that those yards were used inefficiently, with the Seahawks scoring but 9 points during T-Jack’s tenure in last Sunday’s game against Cincinnati. Things could be worse, of course; on October 16, the St. Louis Rams wracked-up an NFL record 424 yards of offense while scoring 3 or fewer points in their 24-3 loss to Green Bay—coincidentally breaking the previous mark of 385 held by the 1978 version of the Packers in a loss to Philadelphia.

This all brings back other memories of yesteryear. I was too young to remember the Lombardi years, but I do remember the bad old days that followed. The Vikings were the division bullies back then, going to four Super Bowls during the 1970s—and losing all four. I remember one particular game, not the details but the excitement of a weakling Packer team actually putting up a stiff fight against the local bully. Until the last few minutes of the game, the Packers held the Vikings to 0 points; the problem was, they also scored exactly 0 points. It was exceptionally deflating when the Vikings eventually won the game on a late field goal, 3-0.

I had to do some research to find out the details of this game. It was even more difficult to understand how the Packers lost this game. They had more first downs 15-5, rushing yards 245-66, and even net passing yards 56-21 (yes, it was a different world back then). The Packers outgained the Vikings 301-87. Running back John Brockington gained 149 yards on 23 carries, on his way to leading the NFC in rushing as a rookie. Scott Hunter actually completed half of his passes—five of eight.

So what happened? The Packers managed 4 turnovers to the Vikings one, for one thing. Together with one missed field goal, these miscues managed to nullify drives to the Vikings’ 16, 21, 1, 10 and 8 yard lines. The Vikings, on the other hand, were practically immobile the entire game. Until, as Minnesota sports journalist Ben Welter remembered

“Late in the fourth quarter, with the game still scoreless, the Packers had the ball at the Minnesota 8, second and goal to go. Needing only a field goal against a team that had not scored a touchdown in two weeks, QB Scott Hunter got greedy…and called a pass play — and found the Vikings’ Charlie West in the end zone. West returned it to midfield, and Dave Osborn and Fred Cox did the rest.” The rest meaning that the Vikings gained 35 of their 87 yards on their game-winning drive, and Fred Cox kicked a 25-yard field goal, back when the goal posts were flush with the goal line.

Those were the days when it was trying to be a Packer fan. Although Packers somehow won their division the following year, that was the last time they would do so until Holmgren/Favre era.


I was watching a YouTube series of the first Monday Night Football telecast on September 21, 1970—before Frank Gifford, and when Don Meredith was trying to be taken as a serious commentator instead of the class clown. The Cleveland Browns defeated the New York Jets 31-21. Joe Namath threw for 298 yards on 18 0f 31 passes, one touchdown and three interceptions. I had to admit that Namath could throw that ball anywhere and look good doing it; the problem was that he really did throw it “anywhere.” That year he would play only four games (winning just one); against Baltimore in week five, Namath completed 34 of 62 for 397 yards and one touchdown. He also threw 6 interceptions. Namath had an injury-plagued career, and his season ended after a sack by Colts’ defensive tackle Billy Ray Smith, although it would not be determined that he had a broken wrist until the following day. Namath went on to miss most of the 1971 season with a knee injury. He would come back to lead the AFC in passing yards and touchdowns in 1972, but in 1973 he was out most of the year again with injuries, and in 1974 and 1975 his most notable accomplishment would be to lead the conference in interceptions. He would lead the Jets to the playoffs twice in his career. He would finish his playing days with a whimper on the Los Angeles Rams roster.

Namath remains one of the most well-known and popular players in the NFL, and he did gain a permanent place in football lore by “guaranteeing” that the Jets would win the Super Bowl III. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in his third year of eligibility. Here are his final regular season statistics, along with two other quarterbacks for comparison:

Starts W L T Att Comp Cmp Pct Yards TDs Ints QB Rating

Joe Namath 130 62 63 4 3762 1886 50.1 27,663 173 220 65.5

Ken Stabler 146 96 49 1 3793 2270 59.8 27,938 194 222 75.3

Phil Simms 159 95 64 0 4647 2576 55.4 33,462 199 157 78.5

Now, I’m certain that there are some football scholars who have a very good suspicion about why Stabler and Simms are on this list. Like Namath, they have Super Bowl rings. Unlike Namath, they are not in the Hall of Fame. In Simms case, it is perfectly “understandable”: unlike Namath, he had no “personality”—and still doesn’t, if you ask me. Stabler’s snub is somewhat less understandable, since he was popular among fans in a redneck sort of way, and he even had a catchy nickname: “The Snake”; nevertheless, there was something not quite “tidy” about the man, like several divorces and DUI convictions. Still, something is not quite right here. After an embarrassing performance in the 1969 AFL championship game against Kansas City, Namath never led the Jets to the playoffs again. Stabler led the Oakland Raiders to seven playoff appearances, while Simms led the New York Giants to five (or six, had he not been injured late in the 1990 season, when the Giants went on to beat the Buffalo Bills in the Super Bowl on Scott Norwood’s botched field goal attempt).

In baseball, there are a lot of players from yesteryear in the Hall of Fame for seemingly no reason justified on the stat sheets; it seems they became “legends” because sportswriters gave them catchy nicknames. If truth be known, “Broadway Joe” has less reason to be in the Hall than Stabler and Simms; the only reason Namath may legitimately belong in there is because he helped legitimatize the AFL in the eyes of the football world. On the field, Namath could throw a pretty pass and was fun to watch, but to say he was more deserving of the Hall than other Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks simply on the basis of certain “intangibles” is to bring great discredit to the selection process.


Pro-Football Reference (and Pro-Baseball and Pro-Basketball) is a seemingly endless font of information. You can find break downs of draft picks by position for each year, and their subsequent NFL statistics. Brett Favre was the third quarterback picked in the 1991 draft, in the second round behind Dan McGwire and Todd Marinovich. I found the following particularly interesting, because it shows you how rare a truly great quarterback comes along:

G Cmp Att Yrds TD Int Rat

Favre: 302 6300 10169 71838 508 336 86.0

Everyone else (12): 234 1588 2988 19165 89 116 66.8

McGwire, by the way, was picked by Seattle. The story goes that Seahawks coach Chuck Knox tried in vain to convince ownership to pick Favre, and was reportedly "livid" when ownership ignored him and selected McGwire instead.

Seahawks don't need to "suck for Luck" to find their quarterback for the future

The local sports media, not surprisingly is looking past the current Seattle Seahawks stock of quarterbacks forward to the 2012 draft. My question is why should the team limit its options so? What about Matt Flynn, who is being listed among the top free agent quarterbacks available in 2012? Sure, he has just one notable performance on his resume—last year’s near upset of the mighty New England Patriots—but so did Aaron Rodgers before he replaced Brett Favre. Russ Lande of Sporting News had this to say about Flynn last May:

“Bottom line: Flynn came into the NFL as a seventh-round pick in the 2008 draft and faced long odds considering the Packers drafted QB Brian Brohm in the second round that year. Flynn quickly leapfrogged Brohm and ended up becoming the backup QB to Aaron Rodgers. He is a fundamentally-sound player who has a quick release. Flynn shows poise, patience and good decision-making that NFL teams look for, and combined with his intermediate accuracy, he has many of the tools to be a productive starting QB in the NFL.

Overall, I believe Flynn has what it takes to develop into a quality starter. He’ll be most effective in offenses that emphasize a short passing attack. Teams must be willing to work around his lack of top arm strength.” Of course, he could mix in a 66-yard TD pass, like he did against the Patriots.

This past preseason, Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel wrote "Maybe the coaches have scored it differently, but from a sideline view, backup quarterback Matt Flynn has had a better camp than starter Aaron Rodgers. Flynn usually plays with the backups and often runs the scout team, which are factors that weigh against him. Yet practice after practice, he's fearless in the pocket, on target with his throws and always calm and collected. If scouts from other teams were allowed to attend practice, they would be making calls back home as fast as possible. Film of Flynn leading a long second-quarter drive later in the half against Cleveland has undoubtedly circulated among teams looking for a quarterback. It would be nice to see what Flynn could do playing behind the starters."

Yeah, I know John Clayton poo-pooed him, saying that he’s a back-up for a “reason.” Well, duh, because Aaron Rodgers is the starter and everyone is gaga over him (but I will give Rodgers his due—he was just three yards short against the Bears of setting an NFL record with seven consecutive 300-yard games). But Flynn proved that he can step into the fire against what was supposedly the elite team in the NFL last year on their home turf and come within botched clock management at the end from winning the game.

My bottom line is that the Seahawks are not going to get Andrew Luck, and Landry Jones and Matt Barkley can hardly be called “can’t miss.” GM John Schneider drafted Flynn when he was with Green Bay; it’s hard to believe that he isn’t strongly considering Flynn’s potential.

No peace for me with the Times lighting fires and scaring up the locals

Coincidentally, on the front page of Monday’s Seattle Times was yet another story among innumerable others on immigration, which is guaranteed to remind those so inclined to reboil their blood against “Mexicans.” The Times prints so many stories on immigration, and posts so many on its website, that you’d think the paper was the official organ of the ICE and various hate groups. The story, as many others are, was written by Lornet Turnbull, who apparently is tasked to do this because since although she is the designated authority on "minority" issues, at least on stories concerning Latinos she is “even-handed.” Not surprisingly, I am not of this opinion, and so are the committed xenophobes (the usual haunts of more than a few must be places like Stormfront) on the website’s comment pages, although obviously for much different reasons than mine. This particular story on the problems of farmers and orchard growers finding workers and the “solutions” to their plight might have sounded “fair” to some people, but I found it far, far short of being that.

If I was a reporter for the Times, I would first make an effort to provide historical context, and how events developed from there; why should these backwater plebes and their patrician puppet masters be allowed to be mired in their own ignorance?
For example: Why were there no quotas placed on immigrants from Latin America in the 1924 immigration law? Possibly because the U.S. had a “paternal” relationship with its southern neighbors, much as a parent/child relationship—and frequently feeling free to step in and “punish” wayward children? Is that because they provided a source of ready labor that could be used and discarded at will? Is it because at the time European (particularly Jewish) immigrants, unlike Latinos who suffered routine discrimination, were viewed as the real “threat” to “native” Americans and their “privileges?” Did the U.S. feel that it did not need an immigration policy in regard to Latinos , because it allowed the country to forcibly “repatriate” hundreds of thousands of Mexican-Americans during the 1930s, and “legitimize” the theft of their homes, businesses, property and financial resources—and even now allows Americans to deny this historical fact of their longstanding policy of discrimination?

I would also suggest that Americans put away their blinders and admit that since after the Second World War, returning veterans who as civilians had worked as migrant farm workers felt that because of their sacrifice, they were entitled to better; in the Oscar-winning film The Best Years of Our Lives, one such former migrant worker told banker Frederick March that he believed that he was “entitled” to a loan to buy his own land, and no doubt many returning veterans took advantage of a generous G.I. Bill and burgeoning industry to leave the fields. And why would they want to return to those fields? Edward R. Murrow’s “Harvest of Shame” showed that little had changed since the days of “Grapes of Wrath.” Someone had to fill the void. “Mexicans” had been doing so for decades in the West, yet their abuse was not acknowledged even by Murrow, and it wasn’t until Cesar Chavez began his farm workers labor movement (something the bigoted James Hoffa Jr. apparently has no knowledge of) and Robert F. Kennedy broke bread with him at the end of his hunger strike for improved conditions that anyone chose to take notice. In that respect I would also inquire of current farmers and orchid growers in the state of how they saw the available labor pool evolved over the decades, and thus their “bemusement” about the hypocrisy of the current anti-Latino labor sentiment. I would also talk to growers about the economic ignorance behind the claims made by anti-Latino immigrant fanatics. How much can they afford to pay workers without losing money and going out of business? What sense does it make to lose jobs here to foreign produce imports? Some people would say what does it matter if only a bunch of illegal immigrants are hurt; well, you also lose local consumers, and jobs peripheral to the industry. Or you might also notice that food prices have been rising dramatically in the past year; low-wage consumers already shying away from high-priced fresh produce will be joined by middle-class shoppers, and stores will simply not buy from local producers.

Turnbull isn’t interested in understanding how from time-to-time this country has singled out scapegoats for its problems from immigrant populations from the very moment it was founded—and some immigrant groups more than others. Instead, she goes on to absurdly search for anecdotal “evidence” that even one “real” American at least is willing to work in the fields at the going rate. Why absurd? Because he sold his failing business and decided he needed something to do; he’s got money in the bank and can leave any time he wants—he just wants to make a “political” point. There are other questions I would ask that she does not: For what reason other than anti-Latino prejudice would authorities rather choose to find “refugees” all over the globe to do the work that “real” Americans still don’t want to do? Why are not Mexicans seeking to escape drug violence not considered refugees—let alone poor subsistence farmers who have lost their livelihood because of the unfair protections that NAFTA allows for U.S. produce? Why are those suffering continuing repression in El Salvador and Guatemala, two decades removed from the mass murders bought and paid for by the Reagan administration, not entitled to refugee status? Along with the failed experiment of bringing in Jamaican guest workers, why are we importing “refugees” who will work for a season and disappear—and then continue to “import” more in order to fill next year’s labor shortfall? Why are you treating workers who have proved reliable so subhumanly? Why are immigration authorities not working with farmers and growers to identify their long-time workers and at least considering giving them at least guest worker status?

More questions: Why is the media (and the ICE) treating the existence of perhaps as many as 2 million illegal immigrants of Asian extraction as if they don’t exist? Why are Latinos carrying the burden of the nation’s hate? I’ve referenced a racist website that claims to keep “in real time” the number of illegal immigrants entering the country; it claims (the last time I checked) that there were 24 million illegal immigrants in the country, of which all but 600,000 were “Mexicans.” Racism and unreality reach their illogical terminus. I’ve already referenced reports that put the number of illegal immigrants of Asian extraction at 1.5 million in 2006; why shouldn’t those numbers have increased since then? An AP story in 2006 noted that most of these illegal immigrants have come not through overstayed visas, but by stowing away on foreign cargo ships, particularly those docking in Canada. The few who are caught are either given refugee status or simply allowed to disappear into the population. Why doesn’t Turnbull ask immigration officials why these illegal immigrants are allowed to roam free without a hint of hindrance? The answer, of course, is both political and cost: Asians are the favored minority, and it’s too much “hassle” to deport them anyways.

The list goes on: Why hasn’t Barack Obama given Teamsters president James Hoffa Jr. a call and told him to cool it on the anti-Latino rhetoric? It isn’t helping his re-election chances to alienate Latino voters. Hoffa recently referred to Mexican truck drivers in terms that can only be descriptions of a subhuman specie; Canadian drivers have been allowed to go anywhere they want since 1982, and under NAFTA Mexican trucks were supposed to be permitted to enter the country as well—albeit restricted only 50 miles inside the border. The Teamsters fought this tooth-and-nail, and despite the fact that the Obama administration only recently approved such onerous restrictions on Mexican truck drivers that it is next to impossible for Mexican drivers to receive the required credentials anyways, Hoffa has railed the presence of even one Mexican truck as the end of civilization as we know it. The hypocrisy of this country is simply mind-boggling, and fills me with nothing but contempt not just for the purveyors of hate talk, but the “silent” majority that allows to continue unimpeded. The U.S. has not ceased to be a “good” neighbor, but one that not only aids but abets the oppression of millions—and has had at least an “invisible” hand in the murder of tens of thousands of Mexicans in support of a so-called drug war since 2006. Instead of addressing failed anti-drug policies in this country, the U.S. would rather have Mexico save the U.S. from itself, and Mexico has paid the bloody price.

These and many other questions I would seek the answer to, but the Times (and the media in general) doesn’t want to answer them because it would reveal too much of American hypocrisy and racism, as well as the Times own racial agenda, given that it has no Latinos on its staff—or at least none who have a desire to “risk” their careers by speaking to anti-Latino prejudice. The same goes for national coverage of Latinos issues; outside of Geraldo Rivera—who went toe-to-toe with Bill O’Reilly on Fox News concerning the scapegoating of Latinos by the media and politicians, and publicly condemned Michelle Malkin and her hate propaganda—Latinos in the have kept a low, white man’s strumpet-like profile. The Associated Press’ so-called “Hispanic Affairs” reporter, Laura Wides-Munoz, is a white Cuban-American who writes as if her “expertise” goes no further than the white Cuban community in Miami where she lives, and this is symptomatic of the lack of seriousness that the national media takes in covering Latino concerns from the Latino perspective.

And yes, I do blame what happened to me on Monday at least in part to certain local media’s relentless efforts to “confirm” the belief in many people that they are dealing with “vermin” and “pests” who need to be “exterminated.”