Monday, April 27, 2015

The 2015 NFL Draft

Only a couple of days to go until the NFL Draft.

The NFL and the need for SOMETHING to talk about in the spring has managed to get this thing into one of the bigger sports soap operas around.

Every year now mock drafts and analysis by "experts" whip things up into a frenzy. Last year it was the saga of Johnny Football. This year it's a tale of two quarterbacks.

The two quarterbacks are Jameis Winston from Florida St. and Marcus Mariota from Oregon.

Winston is physically everything you want in a QB. He's 6'4", 230 lbs and has a BIG arm. He's got a National Championship under his belt and comes from a school which runs a pro style offense. Draft 2015 compares him to Eli Manning which, given the two Super Bowl rings Eli has, ain't a bad comparison.

That's the good news.

On the other side of the coin, like Eli, he's known for forcing the ball into impossibly tight windows leading to a lot of interceptions and he's not really very mobile so he's not going to be able to scramble around and extend the play.

That's the bad news.

The ugly news is Winston has a penchant for getting into trouble off the field. It's unclear whether he's actually a problem or just has a knack for attracting trouble. Either way this isn't what you want to hear when you're shopping for a franchise quarterback.

Mariota is 6'4" and 220 lbs, and can throw and run. Draft 2015 compares him to Colin Kaepernick which, given Kaepernick's inconsistency last year, could be good or bad.

Coming from a spread offense Mariota could have some issues fitting into a pro style offense right away unless he ends up in Philadelphia with Chip Kelly who is in the process of changing the NFL offensive culture. Mariota played for Kelly at Oregon so that would be a match made in heaven for the Eagles and a potential nightmare for the rest of the NFC East.

Off the field he's just about perfect. No problems, no troubles and he even helps little old ladies across the street.

The consensus of opinion is that Tampa Bay, with the 1st pick, is going to take Winston. Tennessee has the 2nd pick and has been shopping around for a trade.

Teams that have been mentioned, besides the Eagles, are the Chargers, Jets and Browns.

I don't see the Browns giving up on Manziel just yet so I don't think they're going to pay the Titan's price. I don't see the Jets ponying up either. The Chargers and the Eagles maybe.

The Chargers would probably offer Phillip Rivers plus draft choices and the Eagles Sam Bradford or Mark Sanchez and draft choices. Rivers would be the better deal than Bradford or Sanchez but I'm betting Chip Kelly of the Eagles is willing to offer more in the way of draft picks.

If they don't make a deal, the Titans should take Mariota themselves and keep working the trade angle. Either way, Mariota is the 2nd pick.

The Jaguars have the 3rd pick and will probably take a defensive player. Either DE Leonard Williams of USC or Dante Fowler Jr. of Florida. My be would be Leonard Williams.

The Raiders have the 4th pick and I'm betting they'll look for a WR to give Derek Carr an additional weapon. That could be either Amari Cooper from Alabama or Kevin White from West Virginia.

The Redskins have the 5th pick and will probably take whichever defensive standout the Jaguars didn't take.

The Giants have the 9th pick and it will depend upon who's still on the board. Way to much could happen to make any predictions.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Washington Post/ABC Poll on Gay Marriage

Just a few days before the Supreme Court is set to hear arguments on gay marriage a new poll is showing record support.

Overall, do you support or oppose allowing gays and lesbians to marry legally?

All Respondents
Support: 61%  Oppose: 35%

By Education
HS or Less - Support: 54% Oppose: 41%
Some College - Support: 62% Oppose: 35%
College Graduate - Support 73% Oppose 25%
Post Grad - Support 74% Oppose 24%

By Household Income
Less than $50k - Support 60% Oppose 36%
$50k - $100k - Support 61% Oppose 35%
Greater than $100k - Support 76% Oppose 21%

By Region
Northeast - Support 68% Oppose 28%
Midwest - Support 57% Oppose 40%
South - Support 57% Oppose 39%
West - Support 65% Oppose 30%

By Age
18-39 - Support 74% Oppose 24%
40-64 - Support 56% Oppose 39%
65+ - Support 46% Oppose 49%

By Ideology
Liberal - Support 83% Oppose 16%
Moderate - Support 69% Oppose 26%
Conservative - Support 39% Oppose 56%

I'm going to say that the Support numbers sound a bit high but there is a margin of error in the 3.5% range. I'm especially surprised by the numbers from the South. Even so these numbers make it clear to anyone in touch with reality that this is a done deal as far as the American public is concerned.

The best thing the SCOTUS can do is put the final nails in the coffin as quickly as possible. The screaming, yelling and gnashing of teeth isn't going to go away immediately but, like integration, when it becomes obvious that all the fear mongering was just a load of total crap, hopefully things will settle down.

Pitchforks and Torches

The delusion of the far right is utterly fascinating. I don't understand where they get their ideas from.

PFAW reports that according to Scott Lively, who has been known to fling an anti-LGBT diatribe or two, the only way yo stop gay marriage is via an "angry mob" that will take to "the streets, pitchforks and torches held aloft, ready to tear down Frankenstein's castle with their bare hands if need be."

Lively appears to believe that "the only way to deter the elites is with the threat of the mob."

The "elites?" You mean intelligent. rational people as opposed to the ignorant, superstitious scum that support your position?

Yo, Scott, the majority of the American population support gay marriage and even among those that don't very few appear willing to go out of their way to prevent its legalization. Certainly they're not going to get all "storm the Bastille" about it.

The simple fact is that with gay marriage a reality in so many places with no ill affects even the dumbest of the non-evangelical Christian types now recognizes your fear and hate mongering rhetoric for the load of complete crap that it is.

Evangelical Christians are pretty much beyond hope as long as they stay Evangelical Christians but even they're not about to get violent over this issue.

There aren't enough people that are that upset about it Scott. So go in the corner and STFU already.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The NFL Schedule

Speaking of the NFL schedule, greed really sucks. These night games are killing me.

Four of the first six Giants games are at night. They start out Sunday night in Dallas; two weeks later there's a Thursday night game against the Redskins at home; two weeks after that there's a Sunday night game against the 49ers at home and the following week a Monday night game against the Eagles in Philadelphia.

So, do you think the NFC East is a big draw?

Then there's one more Monday night game in Miami in mid December.

Of course five of the last six games are so called "flexible schedule" so they can be changed if the game turns out to be "important." Included are games against the Redskins, Panthers, Jets and Eagles.

If the Giants have a decent year I'd bet at least one of these games gets moved to a night game. If they have a decent year. If they don't pick up some offensive line and linebacking help in the draft I wouldn't count on it though.

Tim Tebow is Back!!!

Tim Terrific has returned!

Which goes to show you that he's at least more reliable than Jesus.

No, seriously, Tim has signed with the Philadelphia Eagles. So he joins Sam Bradford, Mark Sanchez, Matt Barkley and rumors about the imminent arrival of Marcus Mariota in Chip Kelly's stable of quarterbacks.

So what the hell is going on?

I think Chip Kelly has a vision of an offense but it's not a one quarterback can do everything sort of scheme. Kelly must be working on a "Quarterback Situational Offense" or QSO.

He needs lots of quarterbacks because he needs to plug in the right kind of guy in the right situation.

Hey. obviously I'm kidding except for the part about Kelly having a vision. He's knows what he wants to do and he's going about assembling the team he thinks can do it.

Whether Tebow becomes a part of that vision is yet to be determined. I think it would be fun having him back.

The NFL schedules came out yesterday and the Eagles and Giants meet once again in the finale at the Meadowlands. Here's hoping that game is a meaningful one.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Just when you thought...

Just when you thought Republicans couldn't get any crazier they prove you wrong.

Let's start with Minnesota loony tunes lady Michelle Bachmann. According to Ms. Bachmann the END TIMES have arrived!

Rapture and fire and death, oh my!

And of course it's all Obama's fault. He's brought it on thanks to his support for Gay Marriage and "his" nuclear negotiations with Iran. I put "his" in quotes because, lest we forget, the Russians, the Chinese, the British and the French are also involved. The last I looked these countries didn't take orders from the US president.

Supposedly we've "reached the midnight hour" and Jesus Christ will be returning any day now. *YAWN* Right, any day now. Would you like to place a small wager on that?

Elsewhere in la-la land, Rick Santorum claims that religious liberty is under assault from the secular theocracy created by Obama. Wow, I tell you, this boy has been busy. Look at all the stuff he's managed to accomplish despite constant resistance from the Republicans.

According to Santorum, military chaplains are being dismissed for refusing to accept this secular orthodoxy.

I'm aware of one chaplain who was dismissed, in the words of the Navy, for "failure … to comfort and counsel in a manner that was respectful.”

According to the Chief of Navy Chaplains “At commissioning, we each agreed to serve in this pluralistic environment and to treat each person with dignity, respect, and compassion, irrespective of differences in religious beliefs.”

This chaplain apparently admitted that he wanted to only preach the Bible despite what effect that might have on non-Christians. In other words, he wasn't living up to his oath so he was dismissed when he refused to change his ways.

So, as usual, when one looks into these stories of Christian persecution, it's not at all what it's claimed to be. I'm not sure if Conservative Christians are incapable of understanding reality or incapable of telling the truth.

By the way Rick, "Secular Theocracy" is an oxymoron. You know, like "Honest Christian" and "Trustworthy Republican."

Then there's Republican Representative Steve King of Iowa who claims that people need to pray “that God raises up a president whom he will use to restore the soul of America” after the country has been “deconstructed from the White House” by “a man who is taking on the pillars of American exceptionalism with…a procedural jackhammer.”

I told you the man has been busy. I didn't even know that he could use a jackhammer.

The problem of course is what King calls the "soul of America" is a fictional time in the dim past when everyone else in the world was starving and "Merica" was run by true white Christians who feared God, everyone went to church every Sunday, gays stayed in the closet and TRUE AMERICANS kept Commies, Liberals and darkies in their place.

Then there came the 1960s with its civil rights marches and anti-war freaks and everything started to go to hell. That's why God sent his prophet Ronald Reagan. Then them damn Clintons and Obama ruined it all.

You'll excuse me but personally I have no use for King's mythical vision.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Hillary Announces

To absolutely no one's surprise Hillary Clinton has announced that she is running for president.

I'm still a bit pissed at Hillary for never admitting that voting to authorize the war in Iraq was a mistake. I've always suspected her of being about as close to  Hawk as a Democrat can get.

I also seem to remember that the last time around we didn't see eye to eye on opposition to the Death Penalty or support for Gay Marriage but eight years is a long time.

I suppose I should keep a running Democratic Party list like I have a Republican Party list.

#1 - Hillary Clinton* - I still haven't forgiven her for not owning up to the fact that the Iraq War was a big mistake but she's got all the right ducks lined up on the economy. Besides, what choice do I have?

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

The Religious Freedom Argument

This is the current favorite argument of the religious right in the battle against gay marriage.

Let's dissect this a bit.

First of all the argument isn't about gay marriage per se but rather some of the implications resulting from making gay marriage legal.

The argument actually focuses on the question of who can refuse service to who and for what reasons.

Clearly a vendor or store owner can refuse service for specific actions. This is the "no shoes, no shirt, no service" argument and the reason why a Jewish store owner can refuse service to a Neo-Nazi. It's not unknown for store owners or restaurants to eject rude or rowdy customers. As a society we accept this sort of thing. As a matter of fact we actually applaud it.

At the other extreme we do not condone refusing to serve blacks at a lunch counter simply because they're black. As a society we have decreed that you cannot refuse service to someone because you don't like who they are. This includes race, religion and national origin.

In some states it also includes gender orientation and gender identity. In other words just like you cannot discriminate against someone simply because they are black, you also cannot discriminate against someone simply because they are homosexual or transgender.

Fifteen states prohibit discrimination based upon gender orientation and gender identity. An additional six states prohibit discrimination based upon gender orientation only. Ten other states have partial protection based upon gender orientation.

The other nineteen states have no specific discrimination protection for homosexuals or transgender people.

So, what does this have to do with gay marriage?

The question becomes is gay marriage a specific action or simply a part of who someone is.

Some Christians believe that gay marriage is immoral and that providing any sort of support for a gay wedding, flowers, a cake, photographs, is essentially condoning an action which violates their religious beliefs. Clearly they consider it a specific action.

But then the problem becomes why limit the objection to gay weddings? Gays who aren't married also most likely engage in specific actions some Christians would consider to be against their religion. So does that mean by extension someone can refuse service to someone simply because they're gay?

Do you see the conflict here?

Let's ignore that for a moment and focus on gay marriages. Can someone who considers a gay marriage immoral refuse to supply services for a gay wedding? In the states that prohibit discrimination based upon gender identify the answer is apparently no you cannot.

The two most well known cases of store owners getting into trouble because they refused service to a gay couple were in Oregon and New Mexico which are two of the fifteen states that prohibit discrimination based upon gender orientation and gender identity.

As for the states with no prohibition in place, I assume one can discriminate with impunity UNLESS there is some other law or constitutional provision that might apply. That would probably take a court case to determine.

Gay marriage becoming legal everywhere isn't going to change this much other than the simple fact that if gay marriage wasn't legal then no one would be asking anyone to supply services for a gay wedding.

Personally I would be willing to allow store owners to refuse services for gay weddings if they're willing to post a clear sign to that effect. If you're sure you're right then this shouldn't bother you at all and it would prevent the awkwardness of a gay couple trying to get services and then being refused.

Let's see how this one goes over shall we? Of course this might lose you other customers as well but why should anyone care about that when their eternal salvation is at stake?

Monday, April 13, 2015

The Republican 2016 Field

I can hardly keep up.

Marco Rubio has announced his candidacy and I keep forgetting about Bobby Jindel (perhaps because he's so forgettable).

I think I need to also differentiate between those that have officially announced their candidacy and those that are simply acting like they're running. So here's my new and improved list. * = I believe he has "officially" announced his candidacy.

#1 - Jeb Bush - Florida survived him as governor and he couldn't possibly be as bad as brother Dubya. But the man needs to learn that he's not Hispanic as he claimed once.

#2 - Chris Christie - Anything to get him out of New Jersey. Besides, Christie would at least be entertaining as hell. If it weren't for his idiotic deal with Exxon-Mobil, I might even list him as #1.

#3 - Marco Rubio* - I don't agree with Rubio on a lot but he doesn't strike me as completely crazy like a few of the others in this field.

#4 - Ted Cruz* - Cruz is hopeless but most of the others are even worse!

#5 - Rand Paul* - Like his dad, not only does Paul not have any solutions, he doesn't even understand the questions. This is a man that wants to eliminate Meals on Wheels because seniors that can't afford food should depend upon charity.

#6 - Scott Walker - Talk about scrapping the bottom of the barrel.

#7 - Bobby Jindel - Undoubtedly the worst of the people that might actually be considered qualified. Look what a great job he did in Louisiana. Why would anyone vote for this turkey?

#8 - Mike Huckabee - Mike has gone seriously down hill in the last eight years or so. He's dropped in my list because after thinking about who might be at least qualified to be president from this list, I can't honestly say I consider Huckabee, despite his stint as governor of Arkansas, to be qualified.

#9 - Rick Santorum - Yes, incredible as it may sound, there's someone even worse than Walker and Jindel. He's worse because I don't even consider this ass wipe qualified for the job.

#10 - Ben Carson - This man is utterly delusional. I seriously believe that he has mental problems. I hope he gets regular brain scans just in case there's something growing up there.

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

The Restraining Order

Let's talk a little more about this idea of a "Restraining Order" to prevent the SCOTUS or other federal courts from ruling on gay marriage.

The basis for the idea comes from Article III, Section 2, Clause 2 of the US Constitution which states:

"In all the other Cases before mentioned, the supreme Court shall have appellate Jurisdiction, both as to Law and Fact, with such Exceptions, and under such Regulations as the Congress shall make."

So the idea is that congress could make rulings on marriage, including rulings on gay marriage, an exception.

The problem with that idea, and Ted Cruz should damn well know this, is that congress cannot limit the essential functions of the court including the function of the court to protect constitutional rights.

So, while congress might be able to restrict the court's jurisdiction on the non-constitutional aspects of marriage, gay rights/marriage IS a constitutional rights issue so restricting the courts appellate jurisdiction on it would be unconstitutional.

Rand Paul Throws His Hat in the Ring.

Rand Paul has announced that he's seeking the Republican presidential nomination. This is Mr. I can be Everything to Everyone. I have to believe that it's only a matter of time before he ends up skewering himself because of this.

I didn't include Paul in my Republican candidate list from last time so allow me to update it.  I think I'll slide Paul in right after Cruz but before Huckabee.

#1 - Jeb Bush - Florida survived him as governor and he couldn't possibly be as bad as brother Dubya.
#2 - Chris Christie - Anything to get him out of New Jersey. Besides, Christie would at least be entertaining as hell.
#3 - Ted Cruz - Cruz is hopeless but everyone else is even worse!
#4 - Rand Paul - Like his dad, not only does Paul not have any solutions, he doesn't even understand the questions.
#5 - Mike Huckabee - Mike has gone seriously down hill in the last eight years or so.
#6 - Scott Walker - Talk about scrapping the bottom of the barrel.
#7 - Rick Santorum - Yes, incredible as it may sound, there's someone even worse than Walker.
#8 - Ben Carson - This man is utterly delusional. I seriously believe that he has mental problems.

Other than brother Jeb or Christie it's utterly terrifying that one of these people could win the nomination of a major political party in this country. It's even more terrifying that Ted Cruz is #3!

Gay Marriage and Civil War

Right Wing Watch is reporting that James Dobson, in a recent ant-gay conference call, warned that a Supreme Court decision  in favor of gay marriage could lead to civil war.

It could also lead to a rainfall of peppermint drops and is about as likely.

Dobson said that the gay rights issue has reached an unprecedented “level of intensity.” Jimmy baby, did you sleep through the civil rights and Vietnam eras?

The only reason the gays rights issue has reached any degree of intensity is the fear mongering by those using it as a cash cow.

The fact of the matter is there aren't enough people that give that much of a shit about the whole thing.

Those that do are more concerned about the dire predictions being tossed around by unscrupulous or clueless pundits. If people would stop and THINK for a second they would realize that none of these things have happened in the countries and states where gay rights, including gay marriage, currently exist.

Of course asking conservatives to "think" is invariably a losing proposition. I don't think they're capable of thinking for themselves.

Then we have Janet Porter who thinks getting Congress to issue a "restraining order" to stop the SCOTUS and other federal courts from ruling on gay marriage is a good idea. Ted Cruz has proposed something similar.

Aside from the fact that this is undoubtedly unconstitutional, it would be political suicide.

Both Dobson and Porter, like many extremists, are delusional. They're so wound up it their own extremism that they can't see that almost no one else shares their craziness.

I sincerely hope the SCOTUS rules in favor of gay marriage. I'm not naive enough to think the issue will go away entirely but, when nothing bad happens, it will at least limit the ability of idiots like these two to threaten the end of civilizations because two gays are allowed to enter into the civil legal contract called marriage.

Saturday, April 04, 2015

Religious Freedom Restoration Acts

The idea behind the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) was to restrict government from interfering with religious freedom. The key section states  “Government shall not substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability."

The law allows an exception if two conditions are met.

(1) The burden must be necessary for the "furtherance of a compelling government interest."

(2)  The rule must be the least restrictive way in which to further the government interest.

In the Hobby Lobby case the SCOTUS found that (a) the closely held for profit corporation Hobby Lobby qualified as a "person;" (b) the contraception mandate of the ACA substantially burdened the "person's" exercise of religion and (c) the contraception mandate was not the least restrictive way to further the government interest.

In 1997 in City of Boerne v. Flores the federal RFRA was found unconstitutional with respect to the states but continued to be enforced for the federal government.

This decision led to 19 states issuing similar RFRA laws at the state level protecting religion from state and local government.

Fast forward now to Indiana and its version of the RFRA. If the federal government and 19 states already had such laws what was the big deal?

The big deal was that the Indiana law was different in two important ways.

The first difference was in Section 7 where the law defines a "person" as just about any conceivable entity including "a partnership, a limited liability company, a corporation, a company, a firm, a society, a joint stock company, or an unincorporated association."

The second difference is while other RFRAs talk about obtaining appropriate relief against the government, the Indiana RFRA expands that to saying that a "person" "may assert the violation or impending violation as a claim or defense in a judicial or administrative proceeding, regardless of whether the state or any other governmental entity is a party to the proceeding."

So despite what all the right wing media has been saying this version of an RFRA goes way beyond protecting against government overreach. It is clearly crafted to allow businesses to refuse service to people they don't like based upon religion.

I don't know why this is a surprise to Governor Pence considering that the executive director of a rabidly anti-gay hate group helped draft the bill and was standing behind him when he signed it.

At any rate, despite waffling by Governor Pence, the Indiana legislature, undoubtedly feeling the heat, amended the bill to prohibit using it as a basis for discrimination.

Then there is the case of Memories Pizza in Walkerton Indiana who said flat out they would refuse to provide pizzas for a gay wedding (who has pizza at a wedding?) based upon the law.

The backlash caused them to close shop and supposedly go into hiding. But in the meantime over $500,000 has been raised in their support on so they'll be laughing all the way to the bank.

I don't know if this is a case of someone really stupid getting really lucky or one of the greatest cons in recent memory.