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How Did I Miss That? Jameis's Balls Aren't Flat; Bin Laden Tale

I wasn’t going to say anything about it. The idea that one of the locker room peons just decided to deflate footballs for Tom Brady is about as likely as political peons in New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s office just deciding to cause a terrible traffic jam to punish a small town mayor for not endorsing Christie.

At the very least, people who work for an organization or an elected official know the ambient values in their shop, and the person at the top is responsible for those values. The ball deflators and the bridge closers, at the very least, did what they did to curry favor with the boss because they had reason to believe cheating would please the boss.

If it’s so simple, why did I comment on it? I could not resist repeating some of the headlines in the tabloid field day: “Brady: My Balls are Perfect.” “Ballsh#t!” My personal favorite is “Great Balls of Liar!” Even Sports Illustrated took notice of the sport the headline writers were having at the expense of Tom Brady and the Patriots. I can’t wait for Richard Sherman’s comment.

Then we learned that the guardians of professional football morality in the NFL have decided to suspend Tom Brady twice as long for deflating footballs as they suspended Ray Rice for knocking his girlfriend out with his fist. “Now I see how the NFL could make Jameis Winston the first draft pick,” my cousin Ray Sixkiller remarked. “He never deflated any footballs.”

Schooling us in federal priorities, the day after the fatal Amtrak derailment, a House committee cut about a fifth of Amtrak’s funding on a party line vote. My Republican Cousin Ray was not happy when I asked him to guess which party voted for the cuts. “I suppose you are going to say,” he complained, “that budget cuts had more to do with it than entering a 50 mph curve at over 100 mph?” Well, yes, when previous budget cuts are what kept Amtrak from implementing Positive Train Control, the computerized system that would have slowed the train. PTC has been mandated by Congress but not funded.

Schooling us in Texas priorities, The Wall Street Journal reported Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller has embarked on a crusade to restore deep fryers to Texas schools. “It’s not about French fries, it’s about freedom,” Miller opined. Cousin Ray was unavailable for comment because he was trying to reach Miller by phone to sew up the concession to sell fry bread to Texas kids.

“It’s not about condoms and birth control pills,” I taunted my Republican cousin. “It’s about freedom here in the state with the third-highest teen pregnancy rate in the country.

Looking to the past to argue about future priorities, Jeb Bush told Megyn Kelly on Fox News that, knowing what we know now, he would have authorized the second invasion of Iraq. He quickly claimed that Hillary Clinton thinks the same. Bush later walked it back, claiming he misunderstood a very clear question. He did not walk back misrepresenting Clinton’s position. She has apologized for the vote she termed “a mistake.”

Assuming Jeb Bush did misunderstand that Kelly’s question related to now rather than 2003, it was still breathtaking when he named George W. Bush as one of his closest advisors on Middle East policy.

The same Bush who ridiculed Bill Clinton for trying to broker a deal between Israel and the Palestinians before realizing he needed to do the same? The same Bush who installed a viceroy in Baghdad who did not know the difference between Sunni and Shi’a and who considered a person’s position on abortion a more important qualification for Iraq duty than speaking Arabic?

Gail Collins, writing in The New York Times, showed once more that the Times is above the term you hear in this column, “clown car.” Just barely.

If the version of Jeb Bush we’ve been seeing lately is the one we’re going to be stuck with, then one of the other Republican contenders is going to win. Maybe the guy who thinks Obamacare is the worst thing since slavery. Or the guy who once linked vaccines to children with mental disorders. The guy who used to peddle a “Diabetes Solution Kit.” The guy with the bridge traffic jam!

The priorities of fundamentalist Islam need no introduction, and ISIS is claiming credit for the amateurish attack on the Mohammad-drawing contest in Garland, Texas. The GOP Insider Brief sent its usual e-mail blast with a provocative title claiming ISIS “names five targets.” The link goes to a story that says nothing of the kind. 

ISIS reiterated that they have marked Pamela Geller, who has been baiting radical Islamists with broad-brush attacks on all of Islam, for death. ISIS claimed to have 71 “trained soldiers” in the U.S. and they named five states, not five targets.

Two of the states where ISIS claimed to have “trained soldiers” have substantial Indian communities, California and Michigan. The other three lucky states are Virginia, Maryland, and Illinois. Illinois and Virginia contain well known if small Indian communities and there are lots of Indians in Chicago. Maryland has at least one tribe seeking federal recognition.

ISIS denied that the two gunmen in Garland were “untrained,” claiming that they tanked the mission on purpose to make the point that ISIS “soldiers” are willing to die. If the two “soldiers” with assault rifles and wearing body armor could be killed by one cop with his sidearm, it would appear that the cop was better trained than the “soldiers.”

Fox News contrived to have Pamela Geller face off with Anjem Choudary, who Fox claimed is a “Muslim cleric.” Nonsense. He’s a lawyer, not an imam. Anyway, Choudary and Geller are in complete agreement that there’s a clash of civilizations that did not get resolved in the Crusades and will not be resolved until the other side converts or dies.

On a less deadly but still shocking issue, the Texas House just passed HB 324, requiring a peace officer to get a search warrant before conducting a body cavity search during a traffic stop. Cousin Ray was skeptical that this was a problem and he reminded me of Gov. Greg Abbott calling out the Texas State Guard to foil an expected invasion by the feds, ISIS, and Wal-Mart. But Ray was wrong. It’s a problem

The New York Times report on the Baltimore Police Department in the wake of criminal charges over the death of a man in police custody quoted the head of the police union complaining about “overcharging.” That refers to what people outside the system call “throwing the book.”

The heavy end of the charges is to encourage a plea bargain down to something the prosecutor probably could have proved or perhaps could not have proved. Dropping the heaviest charge creates an irresistible deal.

The light end runs up the cost of defense and, in the short term, keeps the victim, er, defendant in jail longer because each charge carries separate bail.

I remark on this because, in over 35 years of contact with the criminal justice system in every capacity from defendant to judge, this is the first time I ever heard a cop complain about overcharging. Time will tell whether the complaint is correct. I predict the head of the police union may be hypocritical, but he’s also correct.

Seymour Hersh, a reporter with a track record of embarrassing the U.S. government, detonated a bombshell in the London Review of Books, claiming that President Obama double crossed a couple of highly placed Pakistani generals who in fact knew about the raid that resulted in the killing of Osama bin Laden

Other lies Hersh alleged are that bin Laden’s body was not buried at sea and that no trove of Al Qaeda documents was recovered. Bin Laden never even had a computer in Abbottabad. In an interview on MSNBC, Hersh claimed that it was never true that bin Laden was still controlling Al Qaeda because, he said, “Al Qaeda was defunct.”

If the meat of Hersh’s report turns out to be true, he will have destroyed both Democratic and Republican talking points, since the Republicans have claimed Al Qaeda was a much bigger threat than the Obama administration would admit.

Hersh also makes liars of the skipper of the ship that claimed to have disposed of bin Laden’s body, the CIA Director, and the members of Seal Team Six that have talked so far. Oh, and he says not only did our dear friends, the Saudis, know where bin Laden was, they were paying his upkeep.

There’s enough egg for plenty of faces in this reporting, but Sy Hersh cannot be ignored because he made his bones reporting the My Lai Massacre in terms that could have been an after action report from the Seventh Cavalry before Greasy Grass:

Among the dead were a hundred and eighty-two women, seventeen of them pregnant. A hundred and seventy-three children were executed, including fifty-six infants. Sixty older men died.

Hersh caused a stink, but his reporting turned out to be accurate and he won a Pulitzer Prize. He recently published in The New Yorker on his return to My Lai, bringing back a quote from the Vietnamese director of the My Lai Museum that could have been any leader from the Great Sioux Nation or the Arapaho or, particularly, the Cheyenne: “We forgive, but we do not forget.”