A new day in journalism with Refined Right

It’s with much pride to all of us involved that Refined Right premieres today.

About us:

Refined Right was created with a very specific vision in mind: to bring people together under the banner of class and intelligent discussion. While we do cover politics and news, among other things, we are not a political publication. Each of our staff and our contributors holds their own views, as we hope to cover a wide spectrum. Right or left is not what matters: what matters is the ideal of open discussion, journalistic integrity, and respect.

We are more than a news organization. Rather, we are a lifestyle publication. Our goal is to provide quality long-form journalism on topics ranging from news and style, to technology and entertainment. We hope to offer our readers a wide range of views on a wide range of issues, in a very particular fashion. Quality, professional, classy, and intelligent. Refined.

In our premiere issue, we feature a peek at abandoned history as revealed by urban exploration, an interview with a rather colorful Texas Supreme Court justice (who’s rickroll I shamelessly retweeted), and a return of “The Chalkening”, this time to the doorsteps of Twitter for their alleged bias against conservatives, libertarians, and even liberals and leftists who might run afoul of the company’s notoriously opaque ways and reasons it punishes users.

I won’t be alone in thanking the entire team involved for this opportunity. It’s already been a hell of a ride as someone who’s politics have become significantly more complicated over the past few years. I won’t trouble you with the details here, except to say that by now you could call me a small-L “Dave Rubin” classical liberal and I wouldn’t object.

Whever I may be politically, I appreciate operating in a writing environment where intellectual diversity matters too.

This day is bittersweet for me personally but hopefully the beginning of something great, while memoralizing my father who passed a year ago today who’s memory I don’t intend to be a mere footnote but for a lack of better words except simply to say, thanks for everything Dad.

Nothing I say can possibly express that strongly enough.

Here is my first with Refined right on the University of Houston student VP who was sanctioned for saying #AllLivesMater in a social media post after three police officers were murdered in Baton Rouge, La.:

I hope you enjoy it, or at the very least find it thought provoking, and whatever contributions mine might be I hope you enjoy the kind of journalism we have to offer at Refined Right.

Dont forget to follow us on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram for updates!

Respectfully,

Jacob M. Santillan

Refined Right Contributor

University of Houston Student Sanctioned for “#AllLivesMatter” Post

Republished from Refined Right

The University of Houston Student Government Association announced sanctions against SGA Vice President Rohini Sethi for saying “#AllLivesMatter” in a recent social media firestorm which engulfed the 42,000 student campus, sparking calls for her resignation.

Among the sanctions are requirements that Sethi serve a 50-day suspension from all official SGA duties without pay, mandatory attendance at a diversity training workshop, and mandatory attendance at three U of H cultural events per month, December excluded.

The sanctions also require her to draft a “letter of reflection” which “demonstrates an understanding of her responsibility as a public figure”, and give a public presentation about “the knowledge she has gained about cultural issues facing our society” at the upcoming Sep. 28 SGA Senate meeting.

The sanctions stem from a Jul. 7 Facebook post Sethi shared in which she said “Forget #BlackLivesMatter; more like #AllLivesMatter” the day three police officers were murdered in Baton Rouge, LA.

Sethi deleted the post but student newspaper The Daily Cougar published a screenshot:

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Sethi’s Facebook post in question, later deleted

Sethi apologized but was sanctioned nonetheless.

“Since her original post, I have not felt that she has understood or respected how her actions have affected the people around her, as well as the reputation of SGA and the university,” SGA President Shane Smith said in a Jul. 29 statement announcing Sethi’s sanctions. 

“I believe that many of the actions she took only further escalated the situation and were not in the best interests of the organization.”

During a Jul. 27 SGA meeting which lasted almost four hours, Smith was granted special emergency one-time powers to sanction Sethi.

The University of Houston appears to have distanced itself from SGA’s actions.

“The University of Houston has become aware that the Student Government Association (SGA) has suspended its vice president, Ms. Rohini Sethi, from participating in SGA activities,” the University of Houston said in an Aug. 1 statement

“Actions by SGA, a registered student organization subject to its own governance, are not University actions and do not affect the academic standing of a student at the University of Houston. The University of Houston continues to stand firm in support of free speech and does not discipline students for exercising their Constitutional rights.”

Sethi’s sanctions for expressing a political opinion come at a time in which concerns continue to grow about the state of free speech rights on college campuses.

“I view Rohini’s suspension and all her sanctions as abhorrent,” said Matthew Wiltshire, former SGA Supreme Court Associate Justice until he resigned in protest over what he says is the organization’s refusal to support Sethi’s free speech rights.

“They are precisely the type of thought policing that produce a chilling effect on the minds of young people. SGA made it clear that, in their view, anyone who disagrees with them should sit silently by or be attacked for expressing a contrary opinion” 

“I think it says that SGA doesn’t know how to run its own meetings and the fact that they need to make up a power they can’t grant in order to get what they want shows how far they are stretching,” Wiltshire said of the extraordinary powers granted to SGA President Smith to sanction Sethi. 

“Free speech is a principle of our society–not merely a law. By trying to grant the President dictatorial powers they have effectively said that free expression is a nuisance they need to deal with rather than a principle they should uphold.”

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education is a nonpartisan organization the self-stated mission of which is “to defend and sustain individual rights at America’s colleges and universities” such as free speech rights.

FIRE points out that while student-run organizations at universities generally enjoy broad latitude in how they operate, student governments at public universities like that at U of H must make viewpoint-neutral decisions:

But is the Student Government Association a regular student organization, as the University of Houston suggests? Or are student governments at public universities more like governmental actors?

The answer lies in the powers wielded by the student government. When a student government at a public institution administers mandatory fees collected from students to support student groups, it is “intertwined with the state in collecting, budgeting, and allocating funds to create a forum for speech,” and thus “acts under the color of state law.” Amidon v. Student Ass’n of the State Univ. of N.Y. at Albany, 399 F. Supp. 2d 136, 145 (N.D.N.Y. 2005), aff’d, 508 F.3d 94 (2d Cir. 2007). The student government must therefore make its decisions in a viewpoint-neutral manner. If a student government entrusted with this power disburses or withholds mandatory student activity fees based on a student group’s viewpoint, the public institution must intervene.

In a joint statement released Aug. 5 Smith and Sethi announced her sanctions would be dropped. 

In place, Sethi has agreed to take an unpaid leave of absence until the Aug. 22 start of the school year and will voluntarily follow through with the other sanctions previously placed on her.

But by punishing Sethi for speech protected by the First Amendment, the SGA may have violated not only Sethi’s First Amendment rights, but by extension Section 2.01 of its own constitution which states:

As a component of University of Houston, a public educational institution of the State of Texas, the Student Government Association shall take no action abridging the rights, immunities and privileges granted to students under the Constitution of the United States of America, the Constitution of the State of Texas, U.S. federal law or under the laws of the State of Texas. Nothing in this Constitution shall be construed to deny or abridge these rights, immunities and privilege

While Sethi could have caused a stink over her sanctions by racing to any media outlet who would hear her story, she initially appeared to have accepted them.

”UH SGA has made its decision. I disagree with the sanctions taken against me by my SGA because I believe I have done a great deal to better understand the controversy I caused,” Sethi said in a separate Facebook post.

“I have also apologized for my words because no student should feel as though I do not have their best interests at heart. Even so, I will abide by the sanctions for as long as they are in place.”

IRS investigates alleged Clinton Foundation corruption, Clinton walks into possible Trump trap

Internal Revenue Service has referred House Republicans’ allegations against the Clinton Foundation, reports The Daily Caller:

IRS Commissioner John Koskinen referred congressional charges of corrupt Clinton Foundation “pay-to-play” activities to his tax agency’s exempt operations office for investigation, The Daily Caller News Foundation has learned.

The request to investigate the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation on charges of “public corruption” was made in a July 15 letter by 64 House Republicans to the IRS, FBI and Federal Trade Commission (FTC). They charged the foundation is “lawless.”

Wherever on the political axis you rest, It’s easy to be hopeful that the least empathetic, least trustwory, and least honest candidate might finally see justice for her crimes.

Keep in mind though just because you want someone to be guilty doesn’t mean they are.

But in the interest of fairness (then again, what’s fair these days lol, right?) FBI director James Comey let her skate on something she was factually guilty of, and Clinton just hired someone who rigged the primaries in her favor, so why expect any different outcome should anything of substance be similarly revealed?

For all we know this may be the first in a long line of investigations into allegations of corruption and misconduct levied against high-level government officials which are brushed aside for political expediency, and done so in such a way not merely whispered about, but done as openly a brazenly as Debbie Wasserman-Schultz joining the Clinton the day she resigned.

Hair-on-fire panic-mongering about Trump aside, after what’s been revealed by the DNC leak, why even bother voting in a Democratic primary since we know for a fact that the DNC rigs elections? By extension, why even bother voting Democrat at all?

It’s now completely fair now to ask what general elections are they rigging and whether voter ID laws really are a good thing since the Dems have been caught rigging their own.

Those passionate about civic engagement presumably believe the last thing we need as a country is a growth in cynicism. After all we’ve learned so far, what room is there for good faith?

Clinton may have also walked into a trap today the way her campaign responded to the following by Donald Trump today at a Florida press conference:

I will tell you this, Russia; if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing…I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.

Clinton policy adviser Jake Sullivan wasted no time responding:

This is of course in part all derived from the DNC email leak for which the Dems blame Russia, as though a quick distraction will in any way exculpate them for how they rigged the primaries against Sanders and his supporters.

Some understandably reacted with horror at the apparent suggestion that Russia compromise national security for the sake of anyone’s political gain.

Trump VP pick Mike Pence of course attempted to clarify those remarks:

STATEMENT FROM GOVERNOR MIKE PENCE

“The FBI will get to the bottom of who is behind the hacking. If it is Russia and they are interfering in our elections, I can assure you both parties and the United States government will ensure there are serious consequences. That said, the Democrats singularly focusing on who might be behind it and not addressing the basic fact that they’ve been exposed as a party who not only rigs the government, but rigs elections while literally accepting cash for federal appointments is outrageous. The American people now have absolute and further proof of the corruption that exists around Hillary Clinton. It should disqualify her from office, if the media did their job.”

– Governor Mike Pence, Vice Presidential Candidate

Here’s the part that’s particularly interesting about the Clinton response however:

This has gone from being a matter of curiosity, and a matter of politics, to being a national security issue. (emphasis added)

Conservative and Libertarian media outlets both seized on this not-quite-but-maybe subtle or accidental admission that Clinton’s missing emails are a matter of national security, and not exactly the “nothing” we were all told it was by Clinton operatives and surrogates for months.

For this to have any legs at all, the 33,000 emails would also have to somehow resurface, and short of accessing the equipment from those emails were wiped – or a hacker who may already possesses them then releases them – I don’t see that happening soon.

I’m not sure anything will come of it for the same reasons I don’t think the IRS investigation will amount to much.

#DNCLeak sunlight shined on DNC/Clinton corruption makes any notion of unity a farce

My friend, host of KPFT’s Politics Done Right, and Bernie Sanders delegate Egberto Willies, asks “Will Tim Kaine & Wikileaks break down burgeoning unity at DNC?

After what we’ve learned as a result of the DNC Leak such a question is not only entirely fair, talk of any kind of unity is a complete farce.

So far we’ve learned:

The DNC knew the Clinton campaign had a “paid troll factory” to attack Sanders online:

DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz wanted MSNBC to squash sympathetic coverage of Sanders:

The DNC wanted staffers to covertly spread anti-Sanders articles:

The DNC wanted to “expose” Sanders as an atheist:

…to which the DNC CEO said “AMEN“:

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The DNC also helped create an anti Sanders narrative:

This isn’t meant to be exhaustive, but it goes on and on, with more presumably to come as the DNC convention progresses.

The RNC convention was supposed to be the shit-show of the season, but now the DNC convention starts with news of the DNC chair’s resignation and the possibility of Sanders supporters in open revolt on the convention floor.

Can do you blame them? The candidate Clinton supporter Sam Harris called “preternaturally inauthentic” for example, made a VP pick seemingly aimed more at drawing #NeverTrump Republicans than at exciting the Democrats’ progressive base, a move Trump already exploits.

Willies writes:

The selection of Tim Kaine as the vice presidential candidate shows not only a disregard for the progressive wing of the Democratic Party. It shows a tone-deafness to the current political climate. It gives the Trump campaign a potent real-time narrative of disregard. After all, Tim Kaine just recently spoke out in favor of the Trans-Pacific Partnership and signed on to new bank deregulation.

This open disregard the DNC shows for progressives isn’t just a narrative for an opportunistic politician to craft and exploit – it’s now an established fact.

Schultz may have resigned as a result of this, but the interim chair, CNN and ABC contributor Donna Brazile, is also implicated in the DNC’s campaign to sabotage Sanders:

In her statement, the Clinton campaign says they’re bringing Schultz onto the campaign so she can continue to do what many suspected was her real job, this time openly:

With all of this in mind and just to stay within one issue, remember those who are hostile to the Trans-Pacific Partnership since the Democrats now have to convince those people:

  1. A presidential candidate who among a plethora of other issues has also flip-flopped on the TPP and will certainly support it if elected.
  2. A VP candidate who spoke highly of it, just hours before being named
  3. A party which implicitly endorses it
  4. And a sitting president who’s trying to ram it through

If you oppose the TPP and don’t see where this is going, there may be no help for you.

Willies again:

So what is a Bernie Sanders supporter to do? How does a Sanders supporter actively campaign for the head of a ticket that is severely flawed to many who believe in real progressive values, when they are codified by poor personnel picks? It will be difficult indeed.

I no longer consider myself a “progressive” as my politics have grown more complicated over the past few years.

I’m not a Democrat either, broadly speaking, nor even am I any longer a Sanders supporter, especially because of his continued support for Clinton through all this.

But I liked and agreed with him enough to vote for him in the Texas primary (the only measure of which I’m aware of and consent to being considered to be a Democrat), so I can only answer this as a former Sanders supporter who still aligns with progressives when I agree, conservatives and libertarians when I don’t, and with the memories of convictions I once held which now carry the pain of what I imagine a amputated limb feels like after surgery.

Some people, myself included, laugh at this debacle and wallow in the schadenfreude which accompanies watching powerful figures, aloof from the daily concerns of people they lie to and exploit for donations and votes, exposed for wrongdoing.

But there’s also something infuriating on a human level, “tribe” or “team” notwithstanding, to watch this unfold.

However you feel about the Democratic Party, I don’t particularly enjoy watching it shit all over people who have been saying for months that something about the primary process wasn’t right and then watch those people just take it when they were proven right all along.

That’s why I found myself struck by the first sentence of Willies’ blog post:

Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Establishment gave the progressive wing of the party the finger and sadly we may just have to take it, for now

…Why?

I may not be a progressive now, but I remain one just enough to be irritated at the very notion of this.

I get that it makes sense if you think Cheeto Jesus is LiterallyHitler.

What if, for all his numerous flaws, you don’t?

What if nearly half of Sanders supporters apparently though as much before the DNC leak?

There’s a saying which George W. Bush famously fucked up, that says “fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me”

When will progressives stop letting the DNC fool them?

Again, I consider Egberto a friend, but any talk of unity after this is a complete farce, and if Sanders supporters don’t walk now it sends the signal that DNC bosses can undermine them like this with total, absolute impunity and they will never stop doing it.

 

 

Male escorts made ‘crazy money’ at the RNC last week – that should start to worry the left

Apparently it’s a time of feast instead of famine for gay escorts in Cleveland as the New York Post reports that “Male escorts are making crazy money at the RNC“.

I’ve seen people share this story all day last Thursday, I assume laughing at the idea of some douchebag preacher’s son getting caught blowing another dude in an airport men’s room.

I’ve laughed at that myself whenever people who get caught masturbating with one hand while pointing with the other.

But liberals and leftists share this in a way which I think they’re missing something huge  (yuuuuuuuge!) going on. 

I’ve written previously on why his opponents and critics should take care not to dissmiss Donald Trump too quickly, but I don’t respond to him with the same hair-on-fire panic-mongering as others.

For all his flaws (and there are many), I simply don’t think he’s LiterallyHitler™ and more than a year into this, people are still sleeping on Trump. 

After a year of all of this, I actually see why he appeals to people in part because of Orlando.

We’re not too far removed from the night Omar Mateen killed 49 people and wounded 53 others in a terrorist attack at the Pulse night club.

On June 12, 2016 America would see the deadliest incident of violence against LGBT folks to date at the hands of an jihadist.

What was the response of the left? Bury their heads in the sand

Professor Gad Saad covers some of the more ludicrous “ostrich logic” of the left that emerges every time someone shrieks “Allah Akbar!” before they blow themselves up in an airport, or hacks to death an atheist blogger with a machete

I find even myself considering Trump after the initial reaction to Orlando was more or less bash Christians, blame the NRA, and insist yet one more time, in one way or another, that religion has nothing to do with this.

Amazingly, Al-Qaeda cautioned its operatives to select straight, white targets because the mainstream media keeps screwing up the message they’re trying to send which is “yes, we are in fact engaged in a clash of civilizations”.

These willfull and deliberate obfuscations and misdirections executed for the sake of political correctness forced me to seriously consider voting for Cheeto Jesus.

You might laugh, but keep in mind Paypal co-founder Peter Thiel gave his own RNC speech Thursday night:

Peter Thiel at the RNC is kind of a big deal and that an openly, proudly gay man gave such an address – in primetime – to the Republican National Convention is indicative of a monumental change that the left doesn’t understand, appreciate, or even recognize that is even happening, party platform notwithstanding.

Some understand this while predictably smearing any gay person who holds any views other than the loony, whacked-out identity politics prescribed for them by the types who write for Salon or EverydayFeminism.

But gay men in particular have been thrown off the progressive stack and are now fair game for attack by the left for their race, gender, and sexuality.

Add to the left’s willingness to denigrate gay men for accidents of birth, the willingness to provide aid, comfort, and cover to those who openly, repeatedly call for their deaths, it’s not difficult to work out why they might start to feel like the left has largely abandoned them, their usefulness having expired post-Obergefell.

After Orlando and the rainbow-striped Gadsden flags which flew afterward, a gay-conservative alliance isn’t as crazy or laughable as people think…

Are you #ReadyForHillary? If you still #FeelTheBern, check out these leaked DNC emails first

If you’re a Bernie Sanders supporter (I was, but put that to bed after the New York primary), chances are you feel the primary may have been a rigged game.

You might even feel that there was some kind of collusion between the Hillary Clinton campaign and top DNC brass.

Lucky for you Wikileaks released by their count, 19,252 emails from the Democratic National Committee which may have confirmed your suspicions and then some:

The emails leaked and published yield interesting discoveries:

At a time at which the DNC brass worry about party unity, this is either the best or worst time for this to happen, depending on where you lie on the Sanders-DNC/Clinton conflict.

Nonetheless, if you’re a Sanders supporter it’s a perfect time to look at what their party has been up to while feigning neutrality during the primary and ask yourself, “Does this party even deserve my vote?”

Fortunately for you, Wikileaks was also kind enough to share where you can voice your thoughts with like-minded people:

#FreeMilo: I’m not a conservative but Twitter is wrong to purge Milo Yiannopoulos

Twitter permanently suspended Breitbart editor and all-around conservative provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos after criticizing the ‘Ghostbusters’ remake and star Leslie Jones amidst accusations that he directed abusive comments to her online.

In a statement via email, the social media company told Yiannopoulos he’s been suspended for “participating in or inciting targeted abuse of individuals,” and that due to “repeated warnings” his account will not be restored.

Twitter does in fact prohibit such conduct but whether Yiannopoulos actually violated it in his exchange with Jones is questionable at best.

Questionable is certainly the operative word from the beginning, especially in light of Jones’ own history of targeted abuse with which Twitter seems to have no problem.

Some suggest Jones had set out to stir up drama on Twitter, taunting critics for hours before Yiannopoulos even mentioned her, possibly to boost PR for the controversial remake.

Critics of Milo mention the fact that Twitter is a privately owned company and can suspend whomever it likes.

That’s true enough, but four years separates us from when Twitter was the “free speech wing of the free speech party” to Twitter as a platform which now sports an Orwellianly-named “Trust and Safety Council” and has now evidently decided to go to war with conservative and libertarian users while seemingly letting off the hook extremist figures with which the left sympathizes, courtesy of notoriously opaque and arbitrary execution of policy and procedure.

The double standards have not gone unnoticed:

Not just conservatives object to this

There’s a reason I’ve sourced Breitbart extensively – I used to hate it.

I won’t unpack them in this article, but for a number of reasons I feel compelled these days to defend people with whom I still disagree on a lot of issues, but to whom I would never have even given the time of day just two years ago.

Amazing what a single video, article, or blog post can change.

I’ve never looked back, and I’ve never had as much fun intellectually as I’ve had talking to people with which I still disagree on occasion.

Again, I’m still not a conservative, but progressive media types have long since alienated me to the point where I’ve been forced to reevaluate everything I’ve ever believed in, and Milo is single-handedly responsible for bringing me into the fold as a Breitbart reader.

I started following Milo in late 2014 when he sat at “just” 40,000 followers. By the time he was booted for good, so it seems this time, he was more than 380,000 followers.

Needless to say this man’s influence and meaning to many cannot be underestimated.

Even those who may not be sympathetic to Milo caution Twitter on banning him, even as they miss the point by all but flatly accusing him of something he simply isn’t guilty of.

Only the beginning?

It’s not nice to say, more or less, “your movie is mediocre and we all get hate mail so grow a spine and grow up.”

It’s easy enough for people who don’t like him anyway to smear Milo as responsible for any abuse Jones received.

But whether you, I, or anyone else likes him, Milo dances fabulously on the lip of the Overton window, boldly expressing concerns (some of which which I think are perfectly reasonable) for which many people are scared – or forced – into silence over the danger of being smeared as bigots.

With him shut out, so will Twitter soon shut out everyone who doesn’t have the “correct” political viewpoint, whatever their demographic makeup might be.

If past is prelude, heaven help those non-white/male/straight/cis individuals who don’t subscribe to the opinions prescribed for them by the Regressive Left.

I defend Milo in the hopes of forestalling the day the Overton window is slammed shut entirely by the #RegressiveLeft, and I or anyone else I like or care about are made to disappear (whether it be from social media and the internet or into a gulag) for opinions we express which are tame by comparison.

Twitter may have ostensibly banned Milo over his brief tangle with Jones “as a last straw”, but I’m sure most of us who are sympathetic to what he’s done in the past couple of years understand that isn’t what this is about – they’ve wanted to get rid of him for a long time and this was simply an excuse.

I don’t know if one set point can be identified as either a beginning or end in a war for human liberty.

But this is still part of such a war, one which for now stays mostly online in this case.

It’s also a war between people on one side, we for whom words have no power which we don’t grant vs. the Regressive Left which equates words with physical violence and wants the state to criminally penalize those who express ideas and opinions they don’t agree with and who deliberately mischaracterizes, smears, and defames as “hate speech”.

I don’t know that Twitter banning Milo for good will do anything for them, nor any other Twitter users who would like to see conservatives, libertarians, or even anti-authoritarian, sympathetic liberals such as myself purged from the site.

I do however suggest anyone who celebrates this to look up the “Streisand Effect” and understand that this is just a beginning.

 

A week in review: July 17th, 2016

It was a hell of a week last week, wasn’t it? I’m trying to find the quote, but I vaguely remember reading something about how sometimes decades happen in a week.

This week ending July 17th felt like one of those weeks.

In no particular order:

Sanders endorses Clinton

Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders buried the hatchet Tuesday, as the 74-year-old self-avowed democratic socialist from Vermont endorsed the living, breathing incarnation of everything he and his followers claimed to have devoted their lives to fighting.

Needless to say, some of his fans were less than pleased:

Hillary Clinton has to be a dream candidate for Republicans considering the sheer magnitude of baggage the Clinton family carries.

I imagine Sanders could have won the primary contest easily, but apparently didn’t have the spine nor stomach to mount and see through the kind of campaign needed to take out a supremely, astonishing dirty candidate.

I’ll admit I voted for him in the 1 Mar. primaries here in Texas, and save for that I’m also not a Democrat.

Hillary isn’t an option for me so I still don’t know exactly what I’m doing this November.

I’m almost certainly not alone:

Trump picks Indiana Governor Mike Pence as VP candidate

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Presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump says Indiana Governor Mike Pence as his Vice Presidential pick.

Some immediately made hay over the logo revealed:

 

 

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The widely-ridiculed logo didn’t last long:

ABC News ran what I feel is a decent enough rundown on Mike Pence and the New York Times published a comparison between Trump and Pence on the issues some might find helpful.

Pence is the kind of Republican I’ve opposed in the past and still very much do, the kind of Republicans who, very much like Democrats in their own right, want to extend the reach of the state further into every corner of your life, whether it be into your bedroom or your game room.

Pence’s most well known act as governor was perhaps to sign into law Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Also known as Senate Bill 101, Indiana’s RFRA, among other things, would have allowed businesses to refuse services to LGBT people and put Indiana on a possible collision course with the NCAA, which is headquartered in Indianapolis.

Even Republican mayors balked at it, and Pence walked it back almost immediately, the reaction to which highlighted potential rifts between the business community and religious/social conservatives in the Republican party.

 

Terrorist kills 84 in Bastille Day attack

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The French tourist destination of Nice, France Thursday saw it’s share of terrorism when a truck plowed into a crowd of Bastile Day reveellers, killing 84 and wounding another 200.

The assailant was later identified as 31-year-old Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel, a French citizen born in Tunisia who was shot to death by police.

Several people have been detained or arrested by French authorities in connection with the attack.

At a memorial event for the victims of the Bastille Day attack, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls was not greeted warmly when he told members of the French public that they must “learn to live with terrorism”.

This was the deadliest attack since the Bataclan massacre in Paris, the more gruesome details of which may have been covered up by the French government.

 

3 Officers dead in Baton Rouge ambush

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A Missouri man shot and killed three police officers in an ambush in Baton Rouge Sunday amidst heightened tensions over five officers killed in another ambush-style attack in Dallas just ten days prior.

The Baton Rogue assailant, identified as 29-year-old Gavin Long of Kansas City, reportedly acted alone though his attack still underscores the emotionally charged atmosphere across the nation surrounding the officer-involved shooting deaths of Alton Sterling in Baton Rogue and the shooting by police of Philando Castile in Minnesota.

Monday July 18th, 2016

All of the above is in addition to the coup attempt staged by elements of the Turkish military, after which the U.S. and E.U. urged President Recep Tayyip Erdogan not to go completely apeshit but he already is anyway.

I’m going to try to do this every week by Sunday if possible, even when decades seem to happen in a single week and even when this is what the world feels like at times:

 

LTtG: Von Miller signs mega-deal, Tom Brady drops ‘Deflategate’ suspension fight

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The last time I followed sports with any proximity was during the Houston Rockets championship runs in ’94 and ’95 seasons. 

It’s an interest I decided to pick back up at the tail end of the Houston Texans’ 2012 season.

That year the Texans would finish the regular season 12-4, beating the Cincinnati Bengals in the wild card in the second playoff appearance in franchise history. 

The Texans 2012 season came to an end when they lost to the New England Patriots in the divisional round. 

The 2013 season would be a 2-14 baptism of fire for a newly minted Texans fan.

That was not a fun year…

I was hooked all the same and Late To The Game is, if anything, a way for me to occasionally broadcast my own ignorance about sports and learn something new about something new(ish) to me which I’ve grown to love.

Additional Note: I’d intended to publish this yesterday. The events in Turkey pushed that back a bit. 

Broncos, Miller sign $114.5M mega-deal

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports the Denver Broncos and linebacker Von Miller have agreed to a six-year, $114.5 million deal:

The deal also includes $70 million guaranteed, and was agreed just in time for the Friday, July 15th deadline for long-term deals.

It’s the largest contract for a defensive player in NFL history (at least today), exceeding J.J. Watt’s six-year/$100 million/$30.9 million guaranteed then-record deal he signed with the Houston Texans in 2014, as well as Ndamuking Suh’s six-year/$114 million/$60 million then-record guaranteed contract he signed last offseason with the Miami Dolphins.

Miller refused to play under the franchise tag, calling it “a league-wide problem“. The franchise tag which would have held him with the Broncos for the 2016 season to the tune of $14 million.

Needless to say the Super Bowl 50 MVP is glad to get the deal done:

Patriots QB Tom Brady throws in the towel

After the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals refused to reconsider his case in the “Deflategate” controversy, New England Patriots’ quarterback Tom Brady says his fight against the four-game suspension levied against him by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is over:

The controversy started 18 months ago after the Patriots handed the Indianapolis Colts a crushing 45-7 defeat in the 2015 AFC Championship Game.

Brady stands accused of allegedly playing a role in tampering with footballs in the Jan. 18, 2015 playoff game which were found to be under inflated.

For a brief moment, there was a glimmer of hope for some that Brady would take his Deflategate case to the U.S. Supreme Court. Indeed, The NFLPA says in a statement it might continue the fight the case without Brady:

After careful consideration and discussion with Tom Brady, the NFLPA will not be seeking a stay of the four game suspension with the 2nd Circuit. This decision was made in the interest of certainty and planning for Tom prior to the New England Patriots season. We will continue to review all of our options and we reserve our rights to petition for cert to the Supreme Court.

USA Today Sports writer Nate Scott gave his take on why Deflategate is the stupidest sports scandal in history and I definitely can’t say he’s anywhere near wrong:

When sports fans a hundred years from now read up on this, they won’t believe it was real. They’ll think the entire American sports world pulled a prank on the people of the future. “There was an 18-month saga over whether or not some footballs had a little less air in them than other footballs in a blowout game?”

Yes, people of the future. That’s what happened. We spent a year and a half of our lives as a sporting nation debating the PSI of footballs. A story that we should have spent an afternoon on.

I imagine Deflategate will remain strong competition for such a title for a long, long time.

I’m not particularly hawkish when it comes to player conduct. This is in part because NFL players are arrested less often than the general population, and because I enjoy the peace of mind that comes with being a fan of a squeaky clean team, relatively speaking (yes, I’m aware of Jalen Strong’s arrest), which features a star player who is often teased for being a huge boy scout:

However you feel about the Patriots, Brady, Goodell, the league office, or Deflategate, there’s something wrong with how Goodell metes out punishment, considering recent history.

Goodell, for example, whiffed on Ray Rice’s act of domestic violence, originally suspending the former Baltimore Ravens running back only two games for knocking out his then-finance, revising that only when the tape came out.

There are probably people who still float questions today as to whether the league office and Goodell knew about the tape before it was released by TMZ, thus leading to the inference some drew that the public scrutiny affected their decision making process rather than learning then-new information about the case.

On the other end of the spectrum, Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon still can’t play because he likes cannabis, a lot apparently, something at least half of Americans don’t think should be illegal in the first place, and many more think should be available, at least medicinally.

I’m neither a Patriots nor a Tom Brady fan, but as ridiculous as this has been, as long as this has dragged out and high drama as this has become, to the point that it could potentially set precedence in U.S. labor law, part of me wanted Brady to win on general principle, particularly considering what other players have had the hammer dropped on them for.

I won’t complain too loudly though; presuming Jimmy Garoppolo isn’t the next…well…Tom Brady, I’ll take what I hope is an easier win in Week 3.

Thanks all the same for 544 days of stupid:

SCOTUS Strikes Down Texas Abortion Clinic Law

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Texas’ notorious law which threatened to close most of the state’s abortion clinics is no more.

The U.S. Supreme Court, in a five-to-three decision, struck down Texas’ House Bill 2, signed into law by then-governor Rick Perry in 2013, which imposed a number of new regulations on facilities which provide abortion procedures.

Of the most contentious provisions, HB2 two required abortion clinics to acquire admitting privileges to local hospitals within 30 miles.

It also required clinics to comply with standards already in place for ambulatory surgical centers.

Proponents of HB2 say the measures were necessary to improve the standards of care, health, and safety for women seeking an abortion.

Opponents argued HB2 made unreasonable and prohibitively expensive demands of abortion clinics, which they say present an undue burden.

The Supreme Court agreed with HB2 opponents and issued its ruling against it Monday.

“We are extremely pleased with the Supreme Court’s decision,”said Texas ACLU Executive Director Terri Burke in a statement issued Monday.

“State legislatures around the country have passed hundreds of anti-abortion measures since 1973 and Texas lawmakers have been responsible for more than 18 of those. They’ve forced women to undergo unnecessary ultrasounds, face mandatory delays and make extra, unnecessary visits to medical clinics that in many cases were hundreds of miles away.”

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton criticized Monday’s ruling. “Hb2 was an effort to improve minimum safety standards and ensure capable care for texas women. It’s exceedingly unfortunate that the court has taken the ability to protect women’s health out of the hands of texas citizens and their duly-elected representatives,” said Paxton in a statement.

HB2 threatened to shut down of almost all clinics in the state which provide abortion services.

Monday’s decision draws on a 1992 abortion rights ruling which says states cannot impose what the court calls an “undue burden” on a woman’s right to procure an abortion.