Deflategate, GOP debates, Jeb’s spin, Hillary’s silence

    Today, a tidbit quartet. Let’s begin with Harry Reid.

    On the Senate floor yesterday, Reid put “Deflategate” in perspective: “The National Football League punished one of its most recognizable players (for) having tampered with game balls. I find it stunning that the National Football League is more concerned about how much air is in a football than with a racist franchise name that denigrates Native Americans across the country. The Redskins name is a racist name. So I wish the commissioner would act as swiftly and decisively in changing the name of the D.C. team as he did about not enough air in a football.”

    Bravo, Harry! “Deflategate” is the least of the NFL’s craven sins – paling in comparison to the bread-and-circus violence that puts one in three gladiators on the path to brain damage. And whether some jock had enough air in a ball is certainly less weighty than the Washington franchise’s 80-year racist slur.

    The U.S. Patent Office has canceled federal trademark protection, ruling last year that Redskins is “disparaging of Native Americans,” and that’s an understatement. Dictionaries since 1967 have described the word as offensive. Geoffrey Nunberg, a linguist at the University of California, has concluded, after deep research, that “the word is inevitably associated with contempt, derision, condescension, or sentimental paeans to the noble savage.”

    Tom Wheeler, the former head of the Federal Communications Commission, says the team nickname is “offensive and derogatory.” The director of the Smithsonian’s museum on Native American history says the word is “the equivalent of the N-word.” Conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer has written, “I woudn’t want to use a word that defines a people – living or dead, offended or not – is a most demeaning way.”

    Here’s the easiest test: If you met someone who had Native American roots, would you address that person as a “redskin?” Not a chance. Linburg, the linguist, points out: “If it’s a slur when you say it to an American Indian’s face, it’s a slur when you sing it with 80,000 other fans.”

    Naturally, the Washington team’s lawyers are contesting the federal trademark ruling, and team owner Dan Snyder says he’ll never change the name. After all, Snyder is hewing to the tradition of team founder George Preston Marshall, who coined the name and personally wrote the team’s fight song lyrics: “Scalp ‘um, swamp ‘um, we will take ‘um a big score.”

    But hey, we all know that Harry Reid vented in vain. Brain damage, domestic violence, and Redskins racism are NFL mainstays, and nothing stops a juggernaut. Even fans with enlightened sensibilities seem powerless to curb their addiction. So rest assured that if and when the Washington team starts winning again, the masses will say: How ’bout dem Redskins!

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    Two days ago, I suggested here that the GOP brass might soon need to decide who gets to participate in the presidential primary debates. For instance, with as many as 17 or 18 possible contestants, do you allow all the loons on stage, where they’ll take valuable air time from the relatively sane?

    And sure enough, here’s a new story: “As the national committee gathers in Arizona this week for its spring meeting, it will discuss how to determine the candidates who will make the cut for the first sanctioned debate, which is set for Aug. 6 in Cleveland and will air on Fox News. But there is already a robust discussion behind the scenes, with candidates who are lagging in early polls nudging the party to take an inclusive approach in the initial forums.

    “It is not entirely clear who will be in charge of devising or enforcing the debate criteria – that is, if there are criteria. One member of the national committee panel charged with overseeing the debates said its members had discussed ceding the decision entirely to Fox News.”

    Just as we would expect the party to do.

    ——-

    What a surprise: Jeb Bush is trying to mop up his verbal slop about the Iraq war. Now he’s insisting that he had misheard or misunderstood or misprocessed Megyn Kelly’s question about whether he would’ve invaded Iraq knowing what we know today about the dearth of WMDs.

    In the Fox interview that aired Monday night, he told Kelly that, yes, he still would’ve invaded – prompting derision even from conservative commentators like Laura Ingraham, who addressed Jeb on her radio show: “You can’t still think that going into Iraq, now, as a sane human being, was the right thing to do. If you do, there has to be something wrong with you.”

    Anyway, Jeb tried to walk it all back yesterday, by calling Sean Hannity (natch) to say, “I interpreted the question wrong, I guess.”

    And this guy is reputed to be the smart Bush bro.

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    The intramural Democratic strife over President Obama’s Pacific trade deal – Obama is fighting with labor-allied liberals – prompts me to wonder where Hillary Clinton stands on this issue. Does she think this deal is a good or bad idea? Will it help our economy or ship more jobs overseas? Does she stand with the president she served, or the liberal base?

    The press would surely ask her – if not for the fact that she has refused to talk to the press for the last three weeks. There’s no excuse for that. Period.

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    Follow me on Twitter, @dickpolman1, and on Facebook.

     

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