You don’t really think I know do you?  I believe no one knows, which makes it irksome for me to listen to most of the Republican presidential hopeful pack talk as if they they had the answer, some combination of more leadership and more decisiveness and more American troops.  Easy peasy.

In the process of pretending they have the answer these wannabees ignore the basic realities that make this situation such a dilemma.   More leadership in the fight against ISIS?  What if the Sunni states don’t want to be led in the direction we want them to go?  The Sunni dominated powers Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the gulf states and Turkey have different agendas than we do.   Their actions and inaction show they are more worried about Iran than ISIS.  Is that where we want to lead them?  Into a war against Iran?

If the shaky nuclear talks with Iran fall apart, maybe it will come down to that, but a full out Middle East war between Sunni and Shia could have catastrophic consequences, not something to rush into.   There is endless talk of the need for more “boots on the ground” to fight ISIS, but where do we get them.  The Sunni nations aren’t eager to provide them.

I think Saudi Arabia, for one, would rather keep their boots safe and sound at home until maybe they need them vs. Iran.   Related to that is this question:  How do we know the Saudi ground troops are any good? They haven’t done much fighting.  And maybe they aren’t eager to risk their lives for the Saudi royal family any more than the Iraqi troops are willing to fight for a corrupt and listless government in Baghdad.  Maybe the Saudi princes aren’t eager to test their mettle.

Let’s say the Saudi’s were willing to send their troops into Iraq to help fight ISIS, do you really think the Shia dominated Iraqi government would welcome them?  I don’t.  And it gets tricky because the Saudis would also be fighting fellow Sunni’s, not to mention the inconvenient truth that ISIS took root as Sunni revolutionaries in a Syria ruled by a Shia sect, and they were originally largely funded by many rich Sunnis in Saudi Arabia and the gulf states.  Many of those contributors may have regrets now, but not enough to be eager to fight ISIS at this time which would only make the Shia in Iraq stronger.

And while perhaps a few thousand more of our own troops in special capacities might help significantly, more than that would leave us holding the bag as nation builders once again  The bag as in Baghdad.

Hey, what about arming the Kurds more and turning them into a super force?  They have shown the grit and desire necessary to fight ISIS.  And even though they are predominantly Sunni (a fact never mentioned), their heart felt ethnicity as Kurds makes them uniquely independent in the region.

But of course, that would make it all the more likely for the Kurds to secede from Iraq, something they may well do at any rate since they have a functioning government in a dysfunctional state.  But is that what we want to promote?  How would that fit into the bigger picture?  Certainly Baghdad would resist that to the extent they could.

This is just the tip of the iceberg of crap we’re dealing with in that region.  Anyone whose answer to the Mid-East crisis fails to address these unpleasantries is not to be taken seriously.

To add to this spotty picture I suggest you read a recent column in the Washington Post by Fareed Zakaria, my go to guy of late because I value his ability to capture the gist of complex issues.   It is titled:  Iraq exists only as an idea, not a nation.   His main point is that Iraqis have lost whatever national sense Iraqi’s had years ago.   They will fight for their sects but not for what’s left of a national ideal.

Tom Brady and Deflategate: A Never Ending Story….

…because it contains numerous elements that make it endlessly debatable.

I was mistaken in my previous post about this event being blown out of proportion.   Its proportion fits the degree the NFL has become blown out of proportion, i. e. they have been super successful at marketing football as the biggest, best game in town.   And this is a society increasingly made surreal through ongoing overdoses in gaming – TV contests that dwindle “survivors” down to one,  sporting events galore, and an explosion in on-line gaming and violent video games that allow players to become heroes in their own minds.

In today’s parlance, the NFL has  developed a wonderful brand name for its game which makes anything that detracts from its positive image akin to a sin.    Radical terrorists have the prophet and the Koran that are sacred, the NFL has its shield insignia.  “Protect the shield” is their slogan.

Anything that diminishes the glowing image is bad for the NFL and must be punished.  We’ve seen a lot of tarnishing over the past several months, what with the spate of domestic violence cases involving players, not to mention drug related incidents or other evidence of un-Boy Scout behavior.  Recent attention to brain injuries suffered by the players also tarnishes.

Lacking the clear rules and punishments of a legal system, the NFL’s version of a king or high priest, commissioner Roger Goodell has devised arbitrary punishments on a case by case basis, each of which is hard to defend vis-a-vis each other……  How many game suspensions for “more likely than not” being aware of football air pressure tampering as compared to, say, knocking your wife out in an elevator on camera?  (the punishment was less prior to the public viewing of the camera shot)

Smashing one’s spouse in the face is a crime in society compared to which deflating a football a little pales in significance, but in a gaming world whatever casts doubt upon the integrity of the game, that is a bigger concern.  (What if it was revealed that the cast of Survivor were allowed hot showers and cold drinks between takes?)

Conflate this all and Tom Brady gets a stiff punishment not so much for what he more likely than not was aware of, but because he is the poster boy of the sport, the uber Boy Scout.  Hence the ultimate sinner if caught for some wrongdoing.  That along with his boss Robert Kraft being kind of a buddy to Roger Goodell, while the team has been penalized for breaking the rules on a previous occasion, spy gate in 2007, has prompted the commissioner to ere on the side of harshness rather than hand slaps so as to bolster the image of NFL integrity.

Fine for the commish, who wants to restore the league’s tarnished image, but Patriot’s owner Kraft doesn’t want the achievements of his QB and the organization itself tarnished by that punishment, so this thing is going to go on and on, probably through the courts at some point.

And if it gets to the courts, the standard of “more likely than not” seems paltry enough for Brady to outright win.

No matter how it sorts out, my guess is that the Patriots will be especially tough to play next year as they will be in crusade mode to prove they deserve their past achievements despite the accusations.  Super Bowl winners don’t repeat often, but crusade mode could help the Patriot’s chances a lot.


By the way……

In case I didn’t make it clear above, I think deflate gate became such an inflated topic because of a confluence of factors and events.   Lost in all of that is why it should be an issue at all.   Here are a couple of articles that help illuminate that aspect:

In this one, Andy Benoit makes the case there shouldn’t even be a ball inflation rule.  And this article features the opinions of former quarterbacks on the question of ball inflation, including Joe Theismann stating:  “I asked our equipment guy to pump one football up to 13 pounds per square inch and another to 11 psi,” Theismann told USA TODAY Sports. “I wanted to physically handle the footballs and see if I could tell a difference in them. And I couldn’t.”

“Blind Sided: How ISIS Shook the World” on CNN Tonight

If you looked for the TV show listed in the title in a previous post, you know it was preempted by the protests and riots in Baltimore.  It is rescheduled to air on CNN tonight at 9 EDT and PDT (other time zones must fend for yourselves).   However, I do notice in San Diego, it will be aired at 6 and 9, so check out your local listings.   If you have been wondering what the draw of ISIS in Syria is for thousands of budding jihadists, and what life is like in ISIS controlled territories this show looks promising.   Fareed Zakaria interviews former jihadists and reporters, such as a German news man who was allowed to visit ISIS held territories and live to tell about it.

ISIS is a scourge in the world and would love to do damage to us in particular, so you might want to understand from whence they came.   If an entire hour of ISIS is too much, why not tape it and watch in more digestible pieces later.

Tom Brady and Conflate Gate

Though some get very serious about what is normally called deflate gate, I think it a puff piece blown way out of proportion that will mean little over time compared with the achievements of the accused main culprit, quarterback Tom Brady.  On the other hand It is one of the few topics that I don’t find either mind boggling, depressing or just plain boring.   So over the next few days I’ll write more about it.  If you couldn’t care less about the topic, I’ll get to the point here:   The NFL doesn’t have guidelines for their punishments.  So, whatever punishment it inflicts is arbitrary;  hence, lawless.  The NFL has a king commissioner who arbitrarily decrees one punishment or another.  And then changes the punishment if something embarrassing comes to light later, such as a video of a player knocking out his wife in an elevator.

Why even have the rule about the inflation standard for game balls when each team is given its own new set of balls to play with and are allowed to make the balls more congenial to their QB’s in other ways, such as scuffing them.  For those so concerned about breaking the rules, even silly ones, how does one decide what is a just punishment for quarterback Tom Brady for “probably” knowing about a couple of  Patriot equipment managers deflating footballs to a level of his liking.  Does he deserve more or less or the same punishment as a player involved with domestic abuse?  With or without a vivid video to grab our attention.

I’ll write more about that in a few days.  Those not interested can just ignore my next post.