Cops Behaving Badly

Seattle Cops Making Baaaaaank

There's a lot of money in teargassing civilians.

The Seattle City Council approved on Monday what are ideally the first steps in a major financial overhaul of the police department. It's not the straight-up “defunding" that activists want, but it's a start. The budget plan will remove about 100 police officers from the force — 32 will probably receive layoff notices but the remaining reductions will occur through attrition.

The department's SWAT team will see cuts, and the council will redirect funds from the Navigation team, which clears out homeless camps, to community programs that can help the homeless more constructively than just shouting, “Don't be homeless!"

There's also discussion of moving the 911 call center and parking enforcement out of police jurisdiction, as well as creating a public-safety department that could handle certain tasks without shooting anyone.

The City Council is considering deeper cuts that would eventually reduce the police budget by 50 percent next year — far more than the measly 20 percent cut that Chief Carmen Best and Mayor Jenny Durkan had proposed. But some council members worry about moving too fast. They've probably seen the Seattle PD's Twitter feed that's filled with photos of moderate property damage. Without the police, our capitalist society might collapse ... oh, and don't forget all the rapes. That would also be bad, but seriously, people would just go wild breaking Nordstrom windows.

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Ben Sasse Is Willing To Sacrifice Your Kids For College Football. Why Aren’t You?

You a commie or something?

The Broadway League announced in June that the New York theaters would be closed through the end of the year at least. It's also uncertain when movie theaters will fully reopen. For some reason, though, Republicans assumed their favorite fall pastime, college football, would remain unscathed by the nation's piss-poor COVID-19 response.

The United States needs a lot of things right now, including a comprehensive coronavirus testing strategy and 160,000 Americans to no longer be dead. We could also use a new president and fewer Republicans in Congress. We don't need college football. This isn't just a coastal elite dismissal of something “real Americans" enjoy. We don't need theater or movies, either. We want them. We'd desperately like to have them again. They are an important part of our lives, but the people who complain the most about our current lack of a “normal life" have done nothing to alleviate the situation. They've arguably made it worse, refusing to wear masks or social distance. Actions have consequences. Conservatives might think this unpleasant fact only applies to the poor, but they're wrong. And now they have no college football.

The Big Ten presidents voted Sunday to cancel the 2020 college football season because they aren't sociopaths and have a sneaking suspicion that the coronavirus exists. A formal announcement is expected Tuesday, although no “final decisions have been made."

Sports Illustrated obtained a draft of a letter Republican Senator Ben Sasse plans to send urging the Big Ten to reconsider. It's a doozy.

SASSE: We should not cancel the college football season.

Life is about tradeoffs.

This is already not the most inspiring version of the St. Crispin's Day speech. Sasse isn't risking his life or health. He's suggesting other people do so — mostly young Black kids.

SASSE: There are no guarantees that college football will be completely safe — that's absolutely true; it's always true.

Yes, college football players were also at risk for traumatic brain injury even when there wasn't a pandemic.

SASSE: But the structure and discipline of football programs is very likely safer than what the lived experience of 18-to-22-year-olds will be if there isn't a season.

It's almost impossible to interpret this in a way that isn't grossly racist. The implication is that these mostly Black kids are “safer" in a controlled environment run by white men. They are somehow less safe either at home where they aren't recklessly exposed to COVID-19 or on the college campuses that are still open.

SASSE: As a former college president, I know many of you actually agree — because I've heard multiple presidents say it when the cameras aren't rolling.

Well, duh, it's no surprise that college presidents who are mostly white men might privately say callous and racist shit. College presidents aren't medical experts, either. Dr. Anthony Fauci has clearly articulated the risks football poses during a pandemic that's not even close to contained.

From NBC Sports:

FAUCI: This is a respiratory virus, so it's going to be spread by shedding virus. The problem with virus shedding is that if I have it in my nasal pharynx, and it sheds and I wipe my hand against my nose—now it's on my hand. You see, then I touch my chest or my thigh, then it's on my chest or my thigh for at least a few hours. Sweat as such won't transmit it. But if people are in such close contact as football players are on every single play, then that's the perfect set up for spreading. I would think that if there is an infected football player on the field—a middle linebacker, a tackle, whoever it is it—as soon as they hit the next guy, the chances are that they will be shedding virus all over that person.

Even with the best testing regimen, we'd have to trust that college football teams would bench — that's the term, right? — their best players if they tested positive before a big game. When a US senator is already publicly referring to “tradeoffs," such trust seems misplaced.

This is all about money. College football generates billions in revenue, none of which student athletes see for themselves. And although college athletes are required to have health insurance, the NCAA doesn't mandate that colleges pay for students' policies. COVID-19 is arguably a greater known risk than even “normal" physical injuries on the field, but it's not clear that coronavirus-related treatment would quality as an athletic-related injury. (First rule of Fight With Your Insurance Club is not to count on your insurance covering any “gray areas.")

Many young people who've “recovered" from COVID-19 suffered longterm, potentially permanent, health issues. Beyond the risk to athletes' lives, rushing them on the field now could jeopardize their academic and professional futures. The chances of going pro are already small but shredded lungs and blood clots won't help. Sasse doesn't even suggest guaranteeing scholarships for students who risk their lives for the college football.

SASSE: Here's the reality: Many of you think that football is safer than no football ...

What idiot thinks that? Football was never safer than no football, even without COVID-19.

SASSE: ... but you also know that you will be blamed if there is football, whereas you can duck any blame if you cancel football.

Yes, college presidents will be blamed if they let student athletes get sick and die. No one's “ducking blame" by approaching the spread of an infectious disease with an abundance of caution. Is this asshole really going to try to spin a “let the chips fall where they may" approach as bold, decisive leadership?

SASSE: This a moment for leadership.

Guess so. Fuck you, Senator.

SASSE: These young men need a season. Please don't cancel college football.

What these young men need are elected leaders who care whether they live or die. Cancelling college football until we've contained COVID-19 is the responsible, humane choice, so naturally, we'll have to fight Republicans on this one, as well.

[Detroit Free Press / NBC Sports]

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You’ve Been Pouring Your Coffee Wrong All This Time. We’ll Show You The Right Way! Tabs, Tues., Aug. 11, 2020

These are the Tabs of your lives.

Michigan Wolverines head coach Jim Harbaugh thinks that the college football show must go on — COVID-19 be damned. He should agree to let his players cough on him after each game. (ESPN)

Republicans Jim Jordan, Ben Sasse, and of course Donald Trump all think unpaid (mostly) minority student athletes should risk their lives for America’s favorite fall entertainment. (Politico)

COVID-19 is continuing to surge in Georgia. There were 22,591 confirmed cases in the past week. However, that’s not stopping Atlanta suburb, Peachtree Corners. It’s holding summer concerts! Imagine dying because you saw the 1980s cover band, Electric Avenue. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Seattle performing artist Dimitri Woods thinks this specific moment of racial reckoning “feels different.” (Seattle Times)

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson wants to send kids back to school, but he understands that might mean closing pubs and restaurants. Despite the hair, it’s almost like he’s a functioning adult. (The New York Times)

Fewer people are flying now because of the pandemic, but those who do are packing heat. The rate of passengers trying to carry weapons through security tripled in July compared to the same month last year. (LA Times)

The president is actively sabotaging the post office so he can cheat his way to re-election, but the true victim in all this is Nikki Haley’s nephew, who didn’t promptly receive his birthday popcorn delivery. Haley called the manager on the Popcorn Factory in front of her tens of dozens of Twitter followers (OK, 663,000).

Trump and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi haven’t spoken in 10 months. Soon Pelosi will pass Melania Trump’s record. (CNN)

Mortal enemies Jared Kushner and Chris Christie are helping Trump prepare for his debates with Joe Biden. (Salon)

A California judge has ordered Uber and Lyft to stop classifying their drivers as “independent contractors,” as if we we were all getting rides from Boba Fett, and treat them instead like actual employees with benefits. (NPR)

Oregon Governor Kate Brown is not the highest paid state employee. She’s not even the highest paid state employee with the last name “Brown.” (The Oregonian)

Liberty University has named a new acting president now that Jerry Falwell Jr. has taken a leave of absence to acquire new pants. (The Washington Post)

My home state of South Carolina just surpassed 100,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases, and there are almost 2,000 confirmed deaths. Georgia, where I went to college, has passed 200,000 confirmed cases and more than 4,000 deaths. It's sad and maddening when you consider the starkly different approaches the governors took in Washington and Oregon, where cases and deaths are significantly lower. "Only" 360 people have died from the coronavirus in Oregon, yet that's the state where Trump sends in federal troops. (The Greenville News)

Antonio Banderas announced that he’s tested positive for the coronavirus. He turned 60 Monday and spent his birthday in quarantine. Bummer. He said he plans to spend this time alone reading, writing and "making plans to begin to give meaning to my 60th year to which I arrive full of enthusiasm.” You wish you were that chill. (AP)

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2020 Congressional Elections

Let's Keep This 'Jesus Doesn't Like​ Obamacare Because Poor Folks Are Lazy' Guy Out Of US Senate

It's doctor vs doctor.

In last week's primary election, Kansas voters said no thank you yet again to the state's former secretary of state Kris Kobach, that vile rightwing snake who gained national infamy for his twin loves, beating up on immigrants and vote suppression. After getting spanked in the 2018 governor's race by Democrat Laura Kelly — that's Kansas Governor Laura Kelly (D) now — you'd think Kobach might have learned his lesson. But nah, Kobach ran for the US Senate seat being vacated by retiring Sen. Pat Roberts (R), only to lose the 11-candidate primary Tuesday to two-term congressman and obstetrician Roger Marshall.

It's just so much fun to review just what a complete losing loser Kris Kobach is. Remember that time his defense of his signature voter suppression law was so inept that a federal judge not only threw out the law, she also found Kobach in contempt of court and ordered him to take remedial classes on federal trial procedure? But today, we will instead look to November, and the Senate race between Marshall and his Democratic opponent, Kansas state Sen. Barbara Bollier — an MD herself, retired from anesthesiology — who appears to have a pretty fair shot at actually getting elected to the Senate from red, red Kansas.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, it's pronounced "Bowl-yay," though news anchors seem to insist on adding an "i" between the two syllables the candidate uses herself. Here's her first campaign ad for reference. We kind of love that stylized DNA logo.

A Voice of Reason

The ad is from last October, so the metaphor of poisonous partisanship spreading like an ugly infection from Washington DC is purely coincidental.

As for Kris Kobach, he'll no doubt keep showing up on Fox News, and may well end up with a nice, well-paid job with some rightwing think tank pushing to end immigration and/or keep minorities from voting.

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