NFL

The Evolution of Language (Americopolitik Mix)

Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA)

Three paragraphs. Actually, the rest of Betsy Woodruff’s article for Slate would be hilarious as long as we account for the modifier, “morbidly”.

If there is one issue that will creep into everything that happens on Capitol Hill right now, it is immigration. Whether you’re interested in spending, national security, the next attorney general, or the 2016 presidential contest, immigration will be deeply involved. And where there’s talk of immigration, there’s talk of amnesty. When Republicans use that term—and, for the most part, only Republicans use it—the word is typically shorthand for “bad immigration policy.” Asking if a Republican supports amnesty is akin to asking if someone is beating his or her spouse; it’s a loaded term, and the correct answer is always no. For conservatives, amnesty is bad. Nobody likes amnesty.

But there’s a hitch: Some of the top legislators who frequently use the term can’t actually explain what amnesty is. I spent the past few days asking Republican senators what they meant when they referred to amnesty in terms of immigration policy. The answers I got were intriguing. That’s because while Republican congressional leaders are always eager to discuss their opposition to this vague, amorphous concept, many of them are downright befuddled when asked to explain what that concept looks like in real life. Their responses ranged from straightforward to nonsensical.

When I asked Sen. Johnny Isakson, a Georgia Republican, what specific immigration policies he was referring to when he used the term amnesty, he said, “I don’t understand the question.”

It is a vaudeville routine: What do you mean what do I mean?

Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) might win the prize, though: “I think trying to talk about specific definitions that happen in a framework where nothing is working to conclusion is just not a very good way to spend time.”

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That Certain Sinking Feeling

Detail of image by Alex Nabaum/The Washington Post.

As long as we’re wrecking your day, let us tack on the latest regarding the National Football League. Simone Sebastian and Ines Bebea bring the bad news:

It’s counterintuitive to the outside world: Women should leave their abusers, and their abusers should be punished. But the NFL is a unique universe with an overwhelmingly male workforce whose members are lionized in the press and in their communities; a we’re-all-in-this-together ethos; and incentives for the managers, coaches, and union reps to keep negative stories under wraps. Going to authorities, whether police or hospitals, means social exclusion and, more importantly, negative media attention that could end your husband’s career. Justice imperils their belonging and their livelihood.

National Football LeagueThe wives, whose husbands ended their playing careers in the 2000s, say they knew of no safe alternative — no liaison to players’ families, no counselor, and no procedure for reporting abuse. In fact, the league rarely communicates with wives at all, on issues serious or benign, even though a great number of them don’t work and are dependent on their husbands, they say. The NFL did not answer several requests for comment about league culture or how officials interact with players’ wives. Teri Patterson, deputy managing director and special counsel to the NFL Players Association, says her organization beefed up its communication with wives after she arrived in 2009. The NFLPA now holds meetings for players and their wives in 10 cities each year, plus up to five others at special events like the Super Bowl. (There are 32 teams in the league, meaning only one-third of them have access to the sessions each year.)

According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, just one-quarter of the 1.3 million American women assaulted by an intimate partner each year report the attacks to the police. But the two wives interviewed for this article claimed the rate of reporting among NFL wives and girlfriends is much lower. They say the league has built a tight-knit culture, similar to a fraternity, with entrenched hierarchies and a fierce sense of loyalty among members. “You get brainwashed. It’s so ingrained that you protect the player, you just stay quiet. You learn your role is to be the supportive NFL wife,” says one of them, the onetime wife of a Saints player who asked to speak anonymously because her now ex-husband is still associated with the league. Otherwise, she says, “You’d cost him his job.”

Once upon a time, a childhood spent awash in football culture offered treasured memories. But we are living in a time when people are looking past the glories and wondering at the cost. And, yes, this chauvinistic, insane victimization looms over the sport today. True, that stings, but we’re also really, really late to this particular contest. One wonders how many wife-beaters have the stones to to take a swing at their best male friend for similar annoyance. And most of us know from observation the answer is not many. What we might observe from casual cultural references to domestic and intimate violence is pretty straightforward: You don’t treat people that way. Just women.

Or is this just the wrong time for sarcasm?

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Seastian, Simone and Ines Bebea. “For battered NFL wives, a message from the cops and the league: Keep quiet”. The Washington Post. 17 October 2014.

Armchair Political Theatre

The House has hired a new lawyer to prosecute its lawsuit against President Obama after previous counsel bowed out, citing political pressure, the House Administration Committee confirmed on Friday (David M. Drucker, 19 September 2014)

The question does arise at some point whether anybody but the wonks and politigeeks are paying attention. And a notion does mutter and creep about insinuating all manner of analogy ‘twixt political talk radio and sports radio. But setting aside the elderly woman who once railed against local sports radio hosts because laughing at the idea of stock car racing—Go fast! Turn left!—was somehow akin to “what happened to the ‘Coloreds'”, there is a different sort of comparison. That is to say, one might have far more associates who listen to sports radio without ever calling in, but discuss various issues with enthusiasm and detail verging on the excruciating. They might not be calling in to compare NASCAR to the Civil Rights movement, but they will talk their favorite teams and leagues as if the soul of the world depends on whether or not this or that trade makes sense, or the subtleties of whether this power-hitting manager knows how to handle his pitchers.

Try it this way: Once you move beyond that majority portion of the audience who just, say, learned Roger Goodell’s name this month, or found that American pro sports leagues have ‘commissioners’, you might find some who are willing to give you an in-depth analysis of, for instance, how David Stern screwed Seattle twice, or what the NBA commissioner has to do with the politics of getting an NHL franchise in the Emerald City.

Imagine if people paid that kind of attention to public affairs. No slam dunks, merely metaphorical five-holes, and considerably less domestic violence; public affairs just aren’t sexy … well, unless there’s a sex scandal going on.

But to the armchair wonks, David M. Drucker’s lede for the Washington Examiner last Friday is hilarious:

The House has hired a new lawyer to prosecute its lawsuit against President Obama after previous counsel bowed out, citing political pressure, the House Administration Committee confirmed on Friday.

It is, to a degree, jaw-dropping news. Then again, the drooling astonishment is really more of a cumulative effect.

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