A new feature

Each week I will give my own rewards and punishments based on the performances of teams and individuals this NFL season. The categories will be Best Game, Worst Game, Best Team Performance, Worst Team Performance, Offensive Hero, Offensive Zero, Defensive Hero and Defensive Zero.

I’ll start now with Week 1.

Best Game:

I thought about Jets 27, Cowboys 24, but I give the nod to the Thursday Night opener: Packers 42, Saints 34. Not because of the point explosion. But because each team made plays at some points in the game from each part of the team. The QBs were sharp, neither one threw a pick. The Packers goal line defense came up big twice. Darren Sproles proved to be a valuable pickup for the Saints. There was only one turnover, and that was early.

Worst Game:

There really weren’t any horrible games, but if I have to pick one, I’d go with 49ers 33, Seahawks 17. San Francisco in the 2nd quarter penetrated Seattle territory 3 times and only came away with field goals. Some of those field goals came after a turnover gave them a short field. Early in the 4th Quarter they finally made a field goal after two false penalties backed them up 10 yards. And that was after they were stopped at the 1. Seattle’s special teams broke down in the 4th Quarter, allowing Ted Ginn to score a kickoff return and then just moments later on a punt.

Best Team Performance:

Baltimore Ravens. They were solid in all phases of the game. Ray Rice was a beast. Flacco played decently. The defense was dominant, stopping the Steelers twice in the red zone with Ed Reed interceptions. They even surprised the Steelers for a two-point conversion by Sam Koch, the punter who also holds for placekicks. To use an oft-repeated cliche, the Ravens made a statement.

Worst Team Performance:

With the 35-7 drubbing at the hands of the Ravens, it’s tempting to give this to the Steelers. But I’m giving it this week to the Kansas City Chiefs, who looked like they were still in the lockout in their 41-7 beatdown at the hands of the Buffalo Bills. The Bills who had all of 4 wins last year and didn’t have a lot of people picking them as a darkhorse. And it happened at Arrowhead Stadium. The pounding was so bad many Chiefs fans headed for the exits late in the 3rd Quarter. They sleepwalked on both sides of the ball.

Offensive Hero:

Aaron Rodgers – Packers quarterback. Fresh off of his Super Bowl MVP performance, Rodgers completed 27 of 35 passes for 312 yards and 3 TDs. Drew Brees had 107 more passing yards and like Rodgers had 3 TDs and no picks, but Rodgers set the tone.

Offensive Zero:

Donovan McNabb. In his Vikings debut, he was 7 of 15 for 39 yards. He had a TD pass, but that was set up by a long run from Adrian Peterson. His first pass was tipped and picked off, a play that set up San Diego’s first touchdown. He had the lowest passer rating for Week 1 at 47.9.

Defensive Hero:

Ed Reed. The Ravens safety twice ended Steeler drives with interceptions in the red zone, showing what he does best – play centerfield. He, as much as anybody, never allowed Pittsburgh to get back in the game.

Defensive Zero:

There were a lot of offensive fireworks, so this one is hard. I’m giving this weeks punishment to a whole team: the Cleveland Browns defense. Leading 17-13 late in the 4th Quarter, the Browns were caught asleep at the wheel – still huddled up, when the Bengals snapped the ball and Bruce Gradkowski – the Bengals backup QB, hit rookie A.J. Green for a 41-yard TD. Then, needing a stop, the defense got blown off the line of scrimmage, allowing Cedric Benson to scamper 40 yards for a TD to put the game away. A complete meltdown by the Browns defense at the most critical moments.

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Is there any low to which some people will not stoop?

Cheering the possible deaths of people because they don’t have health insurance. This clip speaks for itself.

Herman Cain can bite me

Republican politicians have several times used the September 11 World Trade Center attacks as a political weapon. This particular ad, though, by Herman Cain, takes the cake. He uses video footage of the tragedy and cobbles them together in a short snuff film in the form of a political ad.

Cain has virtually no shot to win, but he is guilty of perpetuating a really bad meme. Another example of turning a horrible, unspeakable crime and tragedy into a brand name. Another example of 9/11 (TM).

This a few years later remains the most prescient thing said about how 9/11 has been used:

Alan Grayson really disappointed me the other day, and so did many progressives

In his short stint as a Congressman from Florida’s 8th Congressional District, Grayson was one of my favorites. Particularly when he gave his speech on the House floor about the apparent Republican plan for health care reform, which he described as “Don’t get sick. And if you do get sick, die quickly”. The speech ruffled a lot of Republican feathers, but I thought then he told it exactly like it was.

That was commonplace for Alan Grayson, to make sharp, cutting, no-holds-barred criticisms of right-wing politicians and their stances. He has a “shock jock” quality to him that is enjoyable. Shock jocks often push the envelope but sometimes they go over the line and need to be reeled back in. The other day Grayson did just that.

He did so by posting a diary in Daily Kos titled “I Told Newt He Looks Fat”. He went into detail about his alleged exchange with the former Speaker of the House in that diary. He said

So Gingrich came to the Floor of the House a year ago. I went nowhere near him. I just don’t like the smell of sulfur. But another member, whom I like very much, told me that she wanted to introduce me. I said, “no, that’s OK, thanks anyway. I really don’t know what to say to him.” But she insisted.

She introduced me to Newt.

I said to him, “you look like you’ve gained a lot of weight.”

Newt stared at me.

I said, “I remember you being much slimmer back in the 1990’s. When you were relevant.”

Newt scowled at me, and walked away. Good comeback, Newt. By the way, Newt Gingrich scowls just the way you would expect Newt Gingrich to scowl.

Come on, Alan! Please!! And shame on the 269 folks who “tipped” the diary (meaning they clicked ‘recommend’ in the “tip jar” – you probably have to read Daily Kos a few times to understand). The diary, and many of the comments, show how grossly hypocritical all of us can be. There’s a little of it in all of us, but when it’s that brazen, it should be pointed out.

Over a year ago talk show host Laura Ingraham delivered a cheap shot towards Meghan McCain, mocking her weight. Many of us roundly condemned the comments, and rightfully so. I have little doubt that many of the folks who did so are the same ones who participated in the revelry about Grayson’s comments. Not all of us did, though. Those of us who expressed our dismay, however, were greeted with calls to “lighten up” or “we don’t need you to be our moral police”.

STOP!! JUST STOP!!!

I like it when fellow progressives use strong, maybe even harsh language, about the things politicians do. I said the things politicians do. Their own personal demons, such as their weight, should be off limits. All kinds of people struggle in many untold ways – physical, emotional and psychological, with their weight. It has nothing to do with what a politician does, with the policies they propose and the actions they take. It doesn’t matter that Newt Gingrich has done a lot of despicable things and has himself been judgmental towards many people, including his sister Candace. Two wrongs don’t make a right. To imply that it does is to commit the tu quoque fallacy.

I had just one thing to say on Daily Kos about this sorry diary:

“Lighten up” is the siren song of the irresponsible.

We don’t need to lighten up. Grayson and the rest of you who rec’d this need to stop making fun of someone for his weight. Remember when Laura Ingraham took potshots at Megan McCain for her weight? So many of us were all over Ingrahahm for it, and rightfully so.

Mr. Grayson you are good at what you do but this is uncalled for.

Come on, fellow progressives. We’re better than that.

Small measure requires employers to inform employees of union rights

The National Labor relations board this past week handed down a regulation requiring all employers to post literature on their bulletin boards informing employees of their rights to form labor unions and to collectively bargain, according to a Bloomberg article.

As AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka pointed out:

Just as employers are required to notify their employees of their rights around health and safety, wages and discrimination on the job, this rule gives clear information to employees about their rights under this fundamental labor law so that workers are better equipped to exercise and enforce them

Peter Colavito, Director of governmental Relations at the Service Employees International Union declared that

The NLRB rule simply brings the National Labor Relations Act in line with other workplace laws that require employers to post a notice in the workplace of their employees’ rights

Of course, there is plenty of hand-wringing and teeth-gnashing in reaction to the newly announced regulation. Peter Schaumber, the former NLRB Chairman appointed by George W Bush, stated “it’s arbitrary, it’s capricious . . . It just shows how activist they’re prepared to be”.

Another source of the consternation over this “job-killing” measure is none other than Andrew Breitbart’s Big Government website. Titled “Obama’ Job-Killing NLRB Strikes Again! All Employers Must Post Union Notices”, the article blasted the ruling, stating

Barack Obama’s union appointees at the National Labor Relations Board are continuing their assault on America’s job creators with yet another attempt at doing union bosses’ bidding by skirting Congress to require all employers covered by the National Labor Relations Act to post union notices in the workplace to advise employees of their ability to unionize their company.

If you want a good laugh, or a chance to facepalm, take a look at the comments below the article. Then, redstate.com linked to it in what looked like breathlessly repeating the article.

What exactly are opponents of this measure afraid of? Please explain what is so dangerous about a simple regulation stating that employers must post rules reminding or informing employees of their right to form a union and collectively bargain at the workplace. Would you prefer that employees not be informed of their right to unionize? If you are against this, do you also advocate striking down the regulations mandating employers post literature on billboards in company commons about employees’ rights regarding the minimum wage, discrimination, family leave, or sexual harassment?

I suspect that you don’t have a good, sound argument against this new regulation, and have nothing to fall back on other than your classic trigger phrases – “job killing”, “burdensome regulation”, “Democrats doing the bidding of union bosses”. You could make your efforts simpler by just screeching “Socialism! Communism! Big, nanny-state government! RAW! RAW! RAW! RAW! RAW!”

Workers banding together to protect their own interests at the workplace is a fundamental right. It’s called freedom of association, or, as described in the Constitution “the right of the people to peacefully assemble”. Business executives band together to advocate for their interests and have their own lobbyists in Congress too. They form their own unions just like middle and working class folks do. One of those organizations is called the US Chamber of Commerce. But somehow it’s a grave danger to America’s economic health and an egregious assault on liberty for those without six or more zeroes at the end of their salary number to try to do likewise.

Bertrand Russell was known most for his arguments against religious dogma, but he had this to say about the capitalist system:

Advocates of capitalism are very apt to appeal to the sacred principles of liberty, which are embodied in one maxim: The fortunate must not be restrained in the exercise of tyranny over the unfortunate

Linda Harvey solves the “gay problem” with one simple declaration

There’s no such thing as a gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered person. No, really.

http://www.rightwingwatch.org/content/harvey-theres-no-proof-lgbt-people-exist

What inspired her to enlighten us with this? The GLSEN Sports Project, which is

Changing the Game: The GLSEN Sports Project is an education and advocacy initiative focused on addressing LGBT issues in K-12 school-based athletic and physical education programs. The Sport Project’s mission is to assist K-12 schools in creating and maintaining an athletic and physical education climate that is based on the core principles of respect, safety and equal access for all students, teachers and coaches regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression and integrating these efforts into overall school plans to ensure a safe, respectful school climate and culture.

We just can’t have this, especially since there really are no LGBT people.

There’s one big fact that’s not backed up. There is no proof that there’s ever anything like a gay, lesbian or bisexual or transgendered child, or teen or human. One of the other things you’re gonna see as I mentioned is a big campaign GLSEN’s gonna roll out this year calling for ‘respect,’ respect! Not just for people, but for homosexual lifestyle. The PR campaign to hold up gay as a good thing: the lifestyle, not the person, because there are no such humans.

This is the same Linda Harvey, of Mission America who had this to say last year in the wake of a gay suicide rash:

One wonders if any of these kids ever heard a clearly articulated warning against homosexuality. Or were they faced with a continuous onslaught of pro-homosexual diversity lessons, novels and events like the “Day of Silence”? Were they surrounded with liberal teachers as role models and the bad example of a homosexual school club? What part did any of this play in the sad belief that homosexuality was an inevitable destiny, instead of a wayward yet changeable sexual inclination? Under almost continuous pressure to accept a lie – confusion and then despair may be the predictable result.

On top of all this, then, in some young lives come the bullies. They are a part of life, especially for boys. But for the young person with same-sex attractions, this is the final straw where they feel totally trapped, with internal feelings they have been carefully taught “cannot be changed” on the one hand, and harsh peer rejection on the other. Yes, it looks hopeless indeed.

Mission America is another one of the garden variety far-right Christian “ministries” designed to inculcate fear in people about homosexuality, Muslims, other non-Christian expressions of faith, particularly witchcraft and neopaganism, “feminist theology“, and “compromised Christianity” (meaning non-fundamentalist Christianity)

You cannot make this stuff up. Much thanks to Chrislove for reporting this on Daily Kos.  Now we’re enlightened. She knows more than anybody about the fictitiousness of being non-heterosexual. If only we would all listen to her. Who else has denied the very existence of LGBT people? Back about 15 years ago I was about as far right and homophobic as you could get, but even I accepted that such folks are real.

If you say life isn’t fair, please stop acting like it is.

Or maybe stop cherry-picking when to use it. There probably isn’t a single person alive who has not at one point stated that a particular situation or outcome was unfair. But often many of us fall into the trap of thinking that everyone more or less gets what they deserve and deserves whatever they get.

NO THEY DONT!!!

This attitude has much to do with our current economic mess, particularly with it being almost impossible to enact real reforms that would bring out a more just, equitable society. People may not often say so, but their actions and words by proxy suggest that many feel that the rich are deserving of their riches, they got rich because of their hard work and talent. As for those who aren’t so well off, that’s simply a reflection of defective character. They must be lazy or lack the drive and initiative successful people have.

Luck has no place in this worldview. Sometimes you’ll hear people say “people create their own luck” or “luck is when preparation meets opportunity”. While there are plenty of instances where people miss opportunities for success and at the same time there are many who are opportunistic, to declare a universal, or near-universal truth that your results are what you had coming to you is just sick. A current reflection of this, which is hardly said verbatim but which is reflected in attitudes is “I’ve got mine. Screw you!! (If you don’t have yours it’s your own damned fault)”

This type of thinking is what is known as the just world fallacy. I will acknowledge here that you won’t hear many folks claim that a baby born with a birth defect that condemns him to a short, miserable life is deserving of that fate. Or that all of those who died in a plane crash had it coming to them. However there are many instances where bad things happen to people and you hear a few claiming that the victims must have done something to contribute to it. Sometimes after asserting that they’ll assert, in one form or another “ergo, they deserved it”.

Rape victims “wore clothes that were way too suggestive” or “shouldn’t have parked their car where they did” or “shouldn’t have gone out alone”. Mugging victims “shouldn’t have brought themselves into that bad part of town”. While people could plausibly do things to reduce their chances of becoming the next crime statistic, our society is built around the idea that you have the right to travel about in public without being violated. It follows from that assumption that walking down a dark alley does not make you deserving of being mugged or raped. Leaving the house with your doors unlocked is not smart and highly risky, and I would shake my head nowadays at anyone who does leave their home or car unlocked, but nobody has the right to help themselves to your TV and stereo equipment and to ransack your house while they’re at it.

People often employ the “just world fallacy” when it comes to peoples’ economic status. If one is laid off from a job, it must be because they were underperforming and were on a list of those to be surplussed. So-and-so who was laid off and hasn’t found work can only be unemployed because there’s something wrong with that person. She isn’t doing everything she can to find a job. He makes himself unattractive to prospective employers.

BULLSHIT!

My own employer (who I will not reveal here) recently laid off about a dozen low-level supervisors strictly based on salary. Performance mattered not. Who is to say that they “deserved” that? Those who made the most were told their services weren’t needed any longer. Verifiable, documented statistics show that on average in the United States there are five job seekers for any given job opening. Now tell me that anyone can find employment if they just look hard enough.  A strict definition of karma is a form of the “just world” hypothesis.

This fallacious way of thinking has a great deal to do with a complete lack of empathy among some in our midst. They shore up their lack of empathy by, in some cases, saying that people who run into misfortune aren’t victims at all.

This fallacy even rears its ugly head in religion quite often. The most obvious example, other than maybe karma, is in the “prosperity Gospel” teaching prevalent in some strains of Christianity. If you do x or y, God will make you healthy, wealthy and happy. If you aren’t healthy, wealthy and happy then that’s a clear sign of you not being right with God. There’s still an element of the “just world fallacy” even among those who don’t subscribe to the “prosperity Gospel”. One of the central and oft-repeated tenets of Christianity is that any of the harshness we experience in life is due to man’s “fallen nature” – that Adam and Eve disobeying God’s command not to eat the fruit from the forbidden tree caused those two not just to “fall from grace” caused the whole world and all of humanity forever to be cursed and to be identified as “sinful”. Add to that, many Christians will tell you that man’s behavior proves that claim.

There are many other logical problems with that Christian teaching, many of them based on question-begging assumptions which can be the subject of another blog entry, but for now, the focus here is how it becomes the creed of abusers, often internalized by those they abuse.  “I didn’t want to hit you, honey, but you made me”.