Late Night Sports Open Thread

fifa bribes are illegal tank mcnamara

(Tank McNamara via

Okay, okay, late to the party and nobody cares anyway, but these commentaries amused me. Spencer Hall, at SBNation, on the most unbelievable movie script ever made:

… This Swiss guy is named Sepp Blatter. He somewhat stereotypically got his start at a watch company, and then turned his sights to running a corrupt sports nonprofit named FIFA that sold a giant soccer tournament that only happens once every four years, but involves the entire world…

The tournament (and a few others sponsored by the soccer organization) are popular enough to suck in money from everyone and everything imaginable: shoe companies, airlines, sports beverages empires, possibly evil giant Russian gas conglomerates, and television networks small and large. The Swiss guy made it all fantastically profitable at little cost to the soccer organization, often by getting host countries to build and run most everything for them. He made money.

The Swiss guy made a lot of money. He made a million dollars a year by his own accounts, though that number is believed to be much, much higher in reality. He made enough money to fund a feature-length movie about this organization, and to pay Tim Roth to play the corrupt Swiss guy despite bearing no resemblance to him whatsoever. He paid out bribes to maintain power, exacted bribes from those sports companies and countries desperate to host that huge tournament, and used all that solidarity and momentum to win elections, build bigger tournaments, and construct other things like a giant scary meeting room that looks exactly like the war room in Dr. Strangelove

It goes on really well until someone gets very, very mad.

Correction: It goes well until a former United States President gets mad about one of those giant tournaments. The Swiss guy gives the giant tournament to a tiny desert nation named Qatar, which despite being tiny, infernally hot, not a traditional soccer power in any sense of the word, and covered in sand, is otherwise perfect for a giant tournament… One of those countries not in the running was the United States, and when the former American President hears this he reportedly breaks a mirrorRead more

So Sue Me, Orange Julius

The GOP response to President Obama’s immigration announcement last night?  Filing that House GOP lawsuit against the administration over Obamacare.

Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) announced the filing on Friday, lambasting Obama for having “chosen to ignore the will of the American people and re-write federal law on his own.”

For the first time in American history, the House voted on July 30 to endorse a lawsuit against a sitting president. It left room to target various aspects of Obamacare implementation. A copy of the filing was not immediately available, but Boehner’s office said it would target Obama’s unilateral delay of the employer mandate and alleged illegal transfers of funds to insurance companies.

Republicans have had a tough time finding a lawyer to handle the litigation. Two top firms were hired by the House, and subsequently backed out. The GOP ended up hiring Jonathan Turley, a George Washington University law professor who has been critical of Obama’s use of executive power, to work on the case.

Please proceed, gentlemen.  It’s a lose-lose and you know it, as the case will get laughed out of court and will never satisfy the red meat cravings of INPEECH OBUMMER Teabaggers.

And Turley? Yeah.  Remember how he was MSNBC’s legal go-to guy for Olbermann, Maddow, and Larry O’Donnell?

Good times, good times.


Wednesday Evening Open Thread: Automatic Voter Registration?

So, Chris Matthhews has a new Hero Politician to send a tingle up his leg — let the butch pantsuit jokes begin! But I’m more interested in the exchange at the 7:45 mark:

Amanpour: Should there be mandatory voting, in the United States of America?

HRC: No, but there should be automatic registration. I think, when a young person [audience applause] — when a young person turns eighteen, that young person should be registered to vote. And I deplore the efforts by some to restrict that right…

Matthews immediately cuts away from the tape to tweak (former RNC chair) Michael Steele, who is forced to say, on camera, “I have always been an advocate — the more participants — [Matthews interrupts to demand his opinion of automatic registration] — I have to take, viscerally, I don’t have have a negative response to that, I think anything we can do to encourage a young person to be an engaged and committed citizen to the country, through voting — absolutely, I think it’s something that’s worth, um, ahh, putting out there, and further exploration, if that’s what we want to do. I agree with her, that my party needs to get off this perception — if not in fact — the noise about cutting back, about creating this, these hills and these valleys, and these difficult — ” [Matthews: “Thirty-six states, led by Republican legislators, are trying to redu- to make it harder to vote!”] (Then Joan Walsh starts talking about North Carolina, where there used to pre-registration for high school seniors.)

Seems to me, whether or not Clinton decides to run again in 2016, she has considerable cred with the poll-responding public as the Sensible Citizen Spokesperson. If she can use that cred to hammer the idea that voting is something which every citizen should do (get regular dental checkups, don’t litter, make sure to register and vote in every election), well, there will be plenty of sneering from the media about nanny-state finger-wagging, but she can still reset the conversation from the self-serving Repub jabber about voting as a (heavily restricted) privilege to its proper standing as a public responsibility

Apart from discussing the duties of citizenship, what’s on the agenda for the evening?

Open Thread: The BenghazAIEEE! Pitch

Before ‘pitch’ meant ‘to sell a story’, it was proverbially a substance that stuck to and befouled anything — or anyone — it touched. Back in a time where one’s reputation was a commodity as precious and fragile as a maiden’s virginity, my grandmothers warned me to avoid any contact with schoolmates reputed to be of dubious character, because “pitch sticks”.

To those who fling it as well as those at whom it is flung, perhaps. A couple of weeks ago, at the height of the 60 Minutes unraveling, Gawker announced that “Lara Logan’s Husband Was a Propagandist for the U.S. Military”:

Everyone wants to know: Why did CBS correspondent Lara Logan trust Dylan Davies, the now-discredited security contractor, and the story he told 60 Minutes about the 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya? It’s truly mystifying—unless, that is, you know about her last significant lapse in professional judgement involving a security contractor.

Many people know that in 2008 Logan married Joseph W. Burkett, a defense contractor she met while stationed in Baghdad to cover the Iraq War for CBS News. Logan and Burkett were both married to other people when they became involved, and the story of their war-zone love affair—complete with reports of a brawl between Burkett and CNN’s Michael Ware, another rival for Logan’s affections—lit up the tabloids at the time.

What most people don’t know, however, is the nature of Burkett’s work in Iraq. He was an employee of the Lincoln Group, a now-shuttered “strategic communications and public relations firm” hired by the Department of Defense in 2005 to plant positive stories written by American soldiers in Baghdad newspapers during the Iraq War…

CBS News never saw fit to disclose that one of its star war correspondents became romantically involved with a man who was paid by the U.S. government to manipulate civilian public opinion about the disastrous war in Iraq. Nor has Burkett’s background ever been reported in much detail…

The story has now percolated upwards in the Very Serious Media ecosystem to the point where Newsweek, wrapped in the rags of its old-media credibility, has decided to just-raise-questions about “Lara Logan’s Mystery Man” — not her discredited on-air ‘source’, but her spouse:

… [O]thers who claim to have known Burkett in Baghdad paint a starkly different portrait of the former enlisted man… According to a source intimately familiar with his family, Burkett routinely implied, without foundation, that he was a key player in classified operations in Iraq.

“He’s what we call a puffer – he puffs himself up,” said the source, on condition of anonymity. He alluded to top-secret work, but he didn’t make as much money as a truck driver over there. He had some kind of miniscule position… he was kind of an errand person or something like that.”…

Shades of Mr. Valerie Plame, Scooter!

The State Department and CIA have conducted extensive internal investigations that, to unbiased observers, persuasively debunk charges of an orchestrated cover-up of the events in Benghazi…

So — what was the point of this semi-demi-hemi-quasi ratfvcking? Whose reputation was supposed to be permanently fouled here? Logan? Seems like an offseason waste of a potentially valuable ‘resource’. CBS? The Twenty-Sever-Percenters didn’t trust the ‘lamestream media’ even before Libya. President Obama? Again, awful lot of effort when the putative audience doesn’t need it and his defenders, quite correctly, won’t believe it. Hillary Clinton? Ditto, squared. Darrell Issa? That guy has gleefully wallowed in so much pitch he’s waterproof. Grandstanding Lindsey Graham?…

Let a million Katrinas bloom

I thought we’d already had three or four Obama Katrinas by now.

While I was in Paris this summer, I visited the Conciergerie, where nobles waited for the guillotine. It would be irresponsible not to speculate about sending most of our Beltway media elites there.

We don’t make a party out of loving

Impeachmentum is building! It’s not just Tom Coburn’s remarks in Muskogee, OK, it’s CNN talking about it for hours this morning (I was stuck watching the tube at the auto shop), with Candy Crowley reminding us that Republican Senators have very serious issues with blah blah blah..and this in the Kaplan Amazon Post today, from the well-respected Ed Rogers:

The talk about impeachment just isn’t as crazy as it used to be. It’s a distraction politically, but it’s not meritless and it won’t go away.

Well, allow me to retort.

Long Read: “NSA: They Know Much More Than You Think”

In the New York Review of Books, James Bamford (who’s been on this beat for some time) has a nice succinct history of our government’s Orwellian tactics:

… Looking back, the NSA and its predecessors have been gaining secret, illegal access to the communications of Americans for nearly a century. On July 1, 1920, a slim balding man in his early thirties moved into a four-story townhouse at 141 East 37th Street in Manhattan. This was the birth of the Black Chamber, the NSA’s earliest predecessor, and it would be hidden in the nondescript brownstone. But its chief, Herbert O. Yardley, had a problem. To gather intelligence for Woodrow Wilson’s government, he needed access to the telegrams entering, leaving, and passing through the country, but because of an early version of the Radio Communications Act, such access was illegal. With the shake of a hand, however, Yardley convinced Newcomb Carlton, the president of Western Union, to grant the Black Chamber secret access on a daily basis to the private messages passing over his wires—the Internet of the day.

For much of the next century, the solution would be the same: the NSA and its predecessors would enter into secret illegal agreements with the telecom companies to gain access to communications. Eventually codenamed Project Shamrock, the program finally came to a crashing halt in 1975 when a Senate committee that was investigating intelligence agency abuses discovered it. Senator Frank Church, the committee chairman, labeled the NSA program “probably the largest governmental interception program affecting Americans ever undertaken.”

As a result of the decades of illegal surveillance by the NSA, in 1978 the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) was signed into law and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) came into existence. Its purpose was, for the first time, to require the NSA to get judicial approval for eavesdropping on Americans. Although the court seldom turned down a request for a warrant, or an order as it’s called, it nevertheless served as a reasonable safeguard, protecting the American public from an agency with a troubling past and a tendency to push the bounds of spying unless checked.

For a quarter of a century, the rules were followed and the NSA stayed out of trouble, but following the September 11 attacks, the Bush administration decided to illegally bypass the court and began its program of warrantless wiretapping….

At the same time, rather than calling for prosecution of the telecom officials for their role in illegally cooperating in the eavesdropping program, or at least a clear public accounting, Congress simply granted them immunity not only from prosecution but also from civil suits. Thus, for nearly a century, telecom companies have been allowed to violate the privacy of millions of Americans with impunity…. Read more