USA Today

Something About Arkansas

Rep. Tom Cotton (R-AR4) is running for the United States Senate in 2014.

Sometimes the hardest part is waiting for the other shoe to drop. Meanwhile, Jonathan Martin tries to explain the latest weirdness surrounding the U.S. Senate campaign of Rep. Tom Cotton (R-AR4).

A certain level of murkiness has become the rule when it comes to campaign finance in a post-Citizens United world. But even by this standard, a group called Right Solutions Partners LLC is remarkable for its opacity.

Representative Tom Cotton, the Arkansas Republican running for the Senate, disbursed over $131,000 to Right Solutions Partners in March for “fund-raising consulting” and an additional $161,000 to it in August for the same purpose. A smaller third disbursement brought the total to $322,963.

But here’s the catch: It’s not clear that such an entity actually exists. It has no presence on the Internet, it appears that no other campaign is paying it this year, and it has no office at the Washington address listed on the articles of organization filed with the city last year.

As scandals go, this isn’t much to work with. Barring some evidence of illegality, the sense of scandal will blow away on the first light breeze that starts to shape this up as just another Beltway maneuver. But lacking that puff from the winds of change, the apparent scandal here would have something to do with Rep. Cotton once again affirming his appearance of plain stupidity.

Then again, stupidity might be a (ha!) “Natural State” virtue; polling shows Cotton leads his race against incumbent Sen. Mark Pryor (D).

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Some Thoughts on a National Disgrace

Players for the Mexican and Jamaican women's teams present themselves before a nearly empty house at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C., prior to the CONCACAF group stagte fimale on 21 October 2014.  Final score: Mexico 3-1 Jamaica.  The Mexican team advances to face the U.S. Women's National Team in the 2014 CWC semifinals.

You know how we always hear about various pro sports teams struggling with their salary cap? And the persistent question of how much is too much, and whether any pro athlete is really worth that many millions of dollars a season?

SeattleReignFC-logo-bwHere’s a real salary cap for you: $30,000 per season.

For the record, that’s not a minimum salary. That’s a maximum salary for the National Women’s Soccer League.

While KUOW gives an August report from Arwen Nicks and Marcie Sillman a happy title, “Seattle Taking Notice Of Reigning Women’s Team”, it’s also a bit deceptive. Seattle took greater notice of S2, the new Sounders FC third-league team intended for their reserves to get playing time.

It should be noted that aside from playing their games at Starfire, the Seattle women’s professional soccer team is entirely unrelated to Sounders FC. Rather, they are Seattle Reign FC, a name apparently held over from the former ABL squad.

While SRFC is blessed with powerful talent, it is almost a prerequisite for any kind of success; unless a player is on a national team, her salary is capped at thirty thousand dollars per season, creating a situation in which the lucky players without a national team roster spot get to play in the championship game, go home, and either pay rent the next morning or move.

As any sports fan in general can tell you, this is no way to run a premiere league. Then again, considering the history of, say, English football clubs, we’ll have to see what the NWSL becomes over the course of the next century.

Meanwhile, this miserable state of things is accentuated by a soccer match that had nothing to do with SRFC or the U.S. Women’s National Team except for the fact that the winner will meet Hope Solo, Sydney Leroux, and Megan Rapinoe (all of SRFC) and their USWNT teammates in the semifinal round.

Not that you care, but I just saw Donna-Kay Henry of Jamaica score one of the best soccer goals I've seen in ages. (John G. White Jr., 21 October 2014)Mexico topped Jamaica in a CONCACAF contest at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C., earlier tonight. The final was 3-1, though Joseph White of Associated Press tweeted during the game, “Not that you care, but I just saw Donna-Kay Henry of Jamaica score one of the best soccer goals I’ve seen in ages.”

And, yeah, as goals go, it was a sweet one.

This was the end of CONCACAF group play; Mexico will meet the U.S. in the semis. And, true, the weather only made the game that much tougher, but White’s recap for USA Today should probably be praised for not making a point of the absolute embarrassment this game has caused should cause Americans.

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The Journalistic Effort to Draft Mitt

The media effort to draft Mitt Romney for a third presidential campaign continues, with Steve Holland of Reuters undertaking the latest effort to argue that the former Massachusetts governor will run because, well, we just can’t believe the words coming out of his mouth:

Romney associates say he is flattered by the attention and believes he would have done a better job if he had defeated the Democratic incumbent President Barack Obama in 2012 when he was the Republican nominee.

ReutersBut Romney typically insists in public that he is not going to run for a third time after losses in 2008 and 2012.

“I’m not running and I’m not planning on running. I’ve got nothing to add to that story,” he told supporters during a stop this week at Atlanta’s Varsity restaurant, where he had a hot dog and onion rings, according to the Marietta Daily Journal.

Still, friends and former aides say, he could seek the nomination if a series of events plays out in his favor, chiefly that no single powerhouse emerges from what is expected to be a crowded field of Republicans vying for the party’s nod.

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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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Sad: Wasted Opportunities

The headline, from Reuters:

    Top Republican sees bumpy Kagan court confirmation

And the lede:

Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan will face tough questions at a Senate confirmation hearing because she has never been a judge and has no record of judicial opinions, a top Republican senator said on Sunday.

As if this is news.

With judicial appointments in general, the question is no longer whether or not the opposition will obstruct, but, rather, how they go about doing it. To the administration’s favor in the coming confirmation fight for Elena Kagan is her one great merit throughout—she is very good at appeasing conservatives. (more…)