You know….

…when people tell me “all of the politicians are shysters and hucksters”, I tend to ask who voted them into office.
One of the challenges being that electorates, for reasons that are not clear to me, are prepared, at least some of the time, to embrace candidates who are really more deserving of ridicule than serious attention, and who are certainly not worth anybody’s vote.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I bring you an excellent example of one such candidate.

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Colin Kaepernick’s collusion grievance against the NFL

The decision by Colin Kaepernick to file a collusion grievance against the NFL moves his situation into a new zone.
On paper, the odds are stacked against the grievance succeeding. Collusion, like conspiracy, is extremely difficult to prove, unless “smoking gun evidence” is uncovered that points clearly to a concerted collaborative effort among multiple parties. Since the NFL (officially) is 32 independent teams only collaborating within the limits allowed by its anti-trust exception, the chances that compelling evidence exists are not good. Unless email traffic saying “do not sign Kaepermick” is uncovered, the grievance ultimately becomes an argument based on perception, not evidence.
If this is indeed the case, the filing of the grievance has to be seen more as a PR move than as a legal move. Kaepermick may be hoping to embarrass the NFL into signing him. Or he could have determined that he is never going to get an NFL playing job again, and does not care, in which case a “scorched earth” legal offensive makes sense for him.
One interesting question will be the extent to which the NFLPA will support the grievance. Their attitude towards it may ultimately be the main determinant of how it is resolved. If the NFLPA aggressively supports the grievance, then the NFL may be inclined to settle it rather than risk an ugly public battle.
What is also unclear is how the grievance could or should be settled. What should have already happened (but has not) is for Kaepernick to be signed by a team that desperately needs a quarterback. However, there has been no sign of any team seriously considering signing him, despite several injuries to quarterbacks, the latest being Aaron Rogers suffering a broken collarbone today, which may put him out of action for the rest of the season. The Packers have no experienced backup quarterback, and Kaepernick was born in Wisconsin.
UPDATE – As this article from ProFootballTalk explains, the impact of Colin Kaepernick’s complaint goes far beyond simply addressing his own predicament. If the owners of the NFL can be proven to have engaged in collusion, that is one of the grounds for terminating the current Collective Bargaining Agreement between the NFL and the NFLPA. So a successful complaint by Kaepernick could lead to the dissolution of the current CBA, which currently has over 3 years to run, forcing the NFL and the owners to negotiate a new CBA with the players.

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The deaths of US military personnel in Niger

While there is a political point-scoring cum pissing contest going on over whether the President should have explicitly commemorated the deaths of 4 US servicemen in Niger, a more significant underlying question has yet to be answered, as pointed out here by Jim Wright:

It is possible that the reluctance of the administration to publicly commemorate the deaths of the service members is because, officially, their mission did not exist, and they should not officially have been anywhere near the country. Which would not exactly be a new development in the modern era. The USA has been engaging in covert actions in dozens of countries. Some of those covert operations may never be revealed, they will stay officially non-existent.
All of this is part of the Faustian bargain that Congress and the Senate struck with the Presidency starting in the Cold War, where they abdicated oversight of overseas military command to the POTUS. This gave them the best of both worlds. if the overseas involvement was seen to be successful, they would praise the military, wrap themselves in the flag, and move closer to the POTUS at press conferences and photo-ops. If the operation was seen as unsuccessful they would be able to accuse the POTUS of “military misadventure” and walk away from the outcome.

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The creation of fake life stories and personas online…for real people

Thanks to the proliferation of non-moderated social media, and the sobering events of the last 15 months in the UK and The USA, we are all aware by now that major social media platforms can be gamed via the creation of false profiles, used as trolls and bots.
Many of those fake profiles use the pictures (and sometimes the bios) of real people, usually copied from their online presence.
However, a more pernicious kind of falsification, described in this story, is when a person’s real life is partly or wholly re-written or distorted to fit an alternative narrative.
This example of a combat veteran who lost a leg in war is sobering. He has become a poster child actor in the entire Kneel for the Anthem controversy without his knowledge or agreement.

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Just how ignorant of world history do you have to be…

…to believe that a sensible country should mandate participation in patriotic displays?
Jim Wright, as usual, summarizes it quite neatly:

Note also that the tweet from the POTUS contains the usual authoritarian, shrill insistent device of shouting by using all caps. Once again, I am reading somebody either trying to convince themselves they are right, or engaging in verbal bullying. The POTUS can go piss up a rope.

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