Of Course It Was Rigged!

I don’t know a lot about football. That might disqualify me from commenting on the two games that determined the Superbowl contenders.

Contrarily, that might give me a bit of perspective not shared by fans.

When I heard about the bad calls made during the Saints game, I couldn’t help but think the game was rigged. Why would the NFL do that? How about ratings? The underdog Saints, who come from a relatively small red state, along with the Kansas City Chiefs – ditto – would not please our New York/LA masters. In their world, these are Deplorables and no one in the massive coastal cities would want to view them. That means fewer sponsors and $$.

Today there is validation to that theory in the American Thinker story by Peter Skurkiss titled “Did the NFL tinker with the Rams-Saints game?”

All the sport’s world knows by now about the game-deciding pass interference that wasn’t called against the Rams in the fading minutes of regulation time in the NFC Championship game. Come Monday, everyone admits, including a ‘contrite’ NFL, that the refs blew the call. But the League’s apology won’t send New Orleans to the Super Bowl.

The question arises: Did the refs really blow the call? To an impartial observer, there were many bad calls throughout the Saints-Rams game. Strangely, most seemed to go against New Orleans. Shouldn’t incompetence balance out? To some, this smells fishy. What possible motive would the NFL have in tilting the scales towards Los Angeles?


In the two championships games on Sunday, there was a chance the New Orleans Saints and Kansas City Chiefs would prevail. This would then lead to two small market teams playing in the NFL’s yearly extravaganza event — the Super Bowl. From the League’s perspective, this would be every bad news. Far better for ratings if the massive LA market was instead involved. This is especially true since the NFL has been struggling with sagging ratings all season long.

It is also in the NFL’s interest to pump up the Rams. In recent years, LA has not been happy hunting grounds for pro football. Both the Rams and Raiders failed there. The Rams are now back for a second try with hopes that a new multi-billion-dollar stadium in 2020 will make a difference.

It is bottom line imperative for the NFL that the Rams succeed in L.A.

I’m sure this is all just wild conjecture. Inferences are just inferences, right? And Roger Goodell is a good man of honor and integrity — he’d never do something underhanded for mere ratings, would he?

No matter. The NFL has diminished itself. The question of the integrity of the game is more in doubt than ever. There is too much game-deciding subjectivity involved. And this can only get far worse as legalized sports betting is allowed in more and more states. Whether or not refs (or players) are on the take won’t matter to many. Just the possibility will poison the game for them, and they’ll stop watching. Look at what gambling did to boxing.

Does the NFL conspiracy theory hold water? Answer: Much more water than does the Trump-Russia collusion theory, and look at the legs that story has so far.

He infers that politics is involved, too, which it is. California – the way Progressives want the country to go – must be viewed as a winner, even though the state is flailing and its citizens leaving.

Then again, politics and money go hand in hand, particularly now. The NFL has already shown it doesn’t care about its fans. Look at how many have been lost over taking a knee. Why would they care about flyover country fans? They don’t.

They hope fans will once again swallow their will. Isn’t that, after all, what are DC Deep State masters do, too?

Deplorables and the Gilets Jaunes

The protests by everyday French people – calling themselves the gilets jaunes – has been widely ignored by our media. They are too busy worrying about potential thought crimes in the minds of young Catholic MAGA supporting boys.

This weekend, for example, French women joined the march. They were protesting abortion. That’s something the liberal media just can’t report. After all, it’s only knuckle dragging flyover country religious bigots who do that.

They never try to explain the issues behind the gilets jaunes. At first it was a high gas tax, but after that, not much explanation has been revealed.

This article explains a lot. It’s not just a Make America Great Again movement in our country; it’s a worldwide effort.

It is from Christophe Guilluy via Spiked-Online.com. It appeared at ZeroHedge under the headline: “The ‘Gilets Jaunes’ Are Unstoppable: ‘Now, The Elites Are Afraid'”

The gilets jaunes (yellow vest) movement has rattled the French establishment. For several months, crowds ranging from tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands have been taking to the streets every weekend across the whole of France. They have had enormous success, extracting major concessions from the government. They continue to march.

Back in 2014, geographer Christopher Guilluy’s study of la France périphérique (peripheral France) caused a media sensation. It drew attention to the economic, cultural and political exclusion of the working classes, most of whom now live outside the major cities. It highlighted the conditions that would later give rise to the yellow-vest phenomenon. Guilluy has developed on these themes in his recent books, No Society and The Twilight of the Elite: Prosperity, the Periphery and the Future of France. spiked caught up with Guilluy to get his view on the causes and consequences of the yellow-vest movement.

spiked: What exactly do you mean by ‘peripheral France’?

Christophe Guilluy: ‘Peripheral France’ is about the geographic distribution of the working classes across France. Fifteen years ago, I noticed that the majority of working-class people actually live very far away from the major globalised cities – far from Paris, Lyon and Toulouse, and also very far from London and New York.

Technically, our globalised economic model performs well. It produces a lot of wealth. But it doesn’t need the majority of the population to function. It has no real need for the manual workers, labourers and even small-business owners outside of the big cities. Paris creates enough wealth for the whole of France, and London does the same in Britain. But you cannot build a society around this. The gilets jaunes is a revolt of the working classes who live in these places.

They tend to be people in work, but who don’t earn very much, between 1000€ and 2000€ per month. Some of them are very poor if they are unemployed. Others were once middle-class. What they all have in common is that they live in areas where there is hardly any work left. They know that even if they have a job today, they could lose it tomorrow and they won’t find anything else.

spiked: What is the role of culture in the yellow-vest movement?

Guilluy: Not only does peripheral France fare badly in the modern economy, it is also culturally misunderstood by the elite. The yellow-vest movement is a truly 21st-century movement in that it is cultural as well as political. Cultural validation is extremely important in our era.

One illustration of this cultural divide is that most modern, progressive social movements and protests are quickly endorsed by celebrities, actors, the media and the intellectuals. But none of them approve of the gilets jaunes. Their emergence has caused a kind of psychological shock to the cultural establishment. It is exactly the same shock that the British elites experienced with the Brexit vote and that they are still experiencing now, three years later.

The Brexit vote had a lot to do with culture, too, I think. It was more than just the question of leaving the EU. Many voters wanted to remind the political class that they exist. That’s what French people are using the gilets jaunes for – to say we exist. We are seeing the same phenomenon in populist revolts across the world.

spiked: How have the working-classes come to be excluded?

Guilluy: All the growth and dynamism is in the major cities, but people cannot just move there. The cities are inaccessible, particularly thanks to mounting housing costs. The big cities today are like medieval citadels. It is like we are going back to the city-states of the Middle Ages. Funnily enough, Paris is going to start charging people for entry, just like the excise duties you used to have to pay to enter a town in the Middle Ages.

The cities themselves have become very unequal, too. The Parisian economy needs executives and qualified professionals. It also needs workers, predominantly immigrants, for the construction industry and catering et cetera. Business relies on this very specific demographic mix. The problem is that ‘the people’ outside of this still exist. In fact, ‘Peripheral France’ actually encompasses the majority of French people.

spiked: What role has the liberal metropolitan elite played in this?

Guilluy: We have a new bourgeoisie, but because they are very cool and progressive, it creates the impression that there is no class conflict anymore. It is really difficult to oppose the hipsters when they say they care about the poor and about minorities.

But actually, they are very much complicit in relegating the working classes to the sidelines. Not only do they benefit enormously from the globalised economy, but they have also produced a dominant cultural discourse which ostracises working-class people. Think of the ‘deplorables’ evoked by Hillary Clinton. There is a similar view of the working class in France and Britain. They are looked upon as if they are some kind of Amazonian tribe. The problem for the elites is that it is a very big tribe.

The middle-class reaction to the yellow vests has been telling. Immediately, the protesters were denounced as xenophobes, anti-Semites and homophobes. The elites present themselves as anti-fascist and anti-racist but this is merely a way of defending their class interests. It is the only argument they can muster to defend their status, but it is not working anymore.

Now the elites are afraid. For the first time, there is a movement which cannot be controlled through the normal political mechanisms. The gilets jaunes didn’t emerge from the trade unions or the political parties. It cannot be stopped. There is no ‘off’ button. Either the intelligentsia will be forced to properly acknowledge the existence of these people, or they will have to opt for a kind of soft totalitarianism.

A lot has been made of the fact that the yellow vests’ demands vary a great deal. But above all, it’s a demand for democracy. Fundamentally, they are democrats – they want to be taken seriously and they want to be integrated into the economic order.

spiked: How can we begin to address these demands?

Guilluy: First of all, the bourgeoisie needs a cultural revolution, particularly in universities and in the media. They need to stop insulting the working class, to stop thinking of all the gilets jaunes as imbeciles.

Cultural respect is fundamental: there will be no economic or political integration until there is cultural integration. Then, of course, we need to think differently about the economy. That means dispensing with neoliberal dogma. We need to think beyond Paris, London and New York.

It all sounds familiar, doesn’t it? The elites find themselves in a corner and they are lashing out at middle America and middle France. They push back by name calling, but increasingly it’s not working.

The same foes are there, too: the media, universities, bureaucracy, business companies that need immigrants.

Who will win?

Bombshell Yawn

Yesterday when I got wind of the story that had all of liberal media lit – that Trump told Michael Cohen to lie – it didn’t disturb me one whit. It had a whiff of hype and hysteria that we have come to expect from them.

It was only worth a yawn. Why? If Trump stubs his toe it’s an impeachable offense to these people. Their hatred has overriden common sense. They are so used to manipulating the news that they don’t realize facts anymore.

The story just didn’t make sense. Cohen has been swinging from one side to the other. He is obviously an opportunist who only cares about his own skin. This was someone to listen to? No.

Breitbart has outlined their reasons for raising an eyebrow when the story broke. Nick Nolte writes:

Here are nine reasons to be skeptical of this report:

1. BuzzFeed’s Lead Reporter Is a Proven Liar

The lead reporter on the story is Jason Leopold, someone no less than Columbia Journalism Review declared a “serial fabulist.”

Hey, way to hire, Ben Smith!

2. BuzzFeed’s Lead Reporter Has Published Fake Bombshell Scoops Before

In 2006, Leopold shook the world with the news that Karl Rove — get this — “told President Bush and Chief of Staff Joshua Bolten, as well as a few other high level administration officials” he would be indicted for leaking Valerie Plame’s name to the media.

Leopold assured his readers that multiple sources “confirmed Rove’s indictment is imminent. These individuals requested anonymity saying they were not authorized to speak publicly about Rove’s situation.”

Of course, Rove was never indicted, nor was he responsible for the leak.

3. BuzzFeed’s Lead Reporter Had His Own Memoir Cancelled

Columbia Journalism Review:

Fast forward to March 2005, when Leopold’s memoir, Off the Record, was set to be released. In the book, according to Howard Kurtz, Leopold says that he details his own “lying, cheating and backstabbing,” and comes clean about how he got fired from the Los Angeles Times and quit Dow Jones just before they fired him because, as he said, it “Seems I got all of the facts wrong” on a story about Enron.

Rowman & Littlefield, the book’s publisher, cancelled production just before it went to press after one of the book’s sources threatened to sue. That source, Steven Maviglio, who was a spokesman for California Governor Gray Davis, said that Leopold “just got it completely wrong” when recounting how he allegedly told Leopold that he “might have broken the law by investing in energy companies using inside information.”

4. We Are Supposed to Believe Michael Cohen

Lost in all the hype over this story is the fact that the source of the allegation against Trump can only be Michael Cohen, who has already pled guilty and will be going to prison for, among other things, lying.

5. Why Would Trump Ask Cohen to Lie When Don Jr. Told the Truth?

Thanks to the media’s previous bombshell report on this very same subject, a report that proved — like all the others — to be fake news, when the president’s own son, Donald Trump Jr., testified before congress on this Russia deal, he told the truth, he told congress that this particular Russia deal stayed alive (in some nebulous form) until June of 2016.

But now we’re supposed to believe that, even though his own son told the truth, Trump still instructed Cohen to lie — to testify the Russian deal died six months earlier, in January of 2016.

Why would Trump accept all the legal and political risks of instructing his attorney to lie when his son told the truth?

This just doesn’t make sense.

In fact, the best way to get caught in a lie is to offer up competing stories.

6. Buzzfeed Reporter Admits He’s Seen No ‘Evidence Supporting Our Report’

The second reporter on the Buzzfeed story (the one who is not Stephen Glass 2.0) told the far-left CNN Friday that neither he nor Leopold have “personally” seen any evidence to back up their “bombshell” that is really fer real closing the walls in on Trump this time.

“Have you seen any of that corroborating evidence.”

“No, not personally.”

Okay, then.

UPDATE: Stop the presses! That Leopold guy is calling his reporting partner a liar. He told MSNBC he has seen documents.

Nothing juices my confidence in reporting like reporters who cannot keep their story straight.

7. Why Would Buzzfeed’s Sources Not Show Them ‘Corroborating Evidence?’

So BuzzFeed’s two deep state law enforcement sources allege there is evidence proving Trump suborned perjury — texts, emails, documents, transcripts with other witnesses within the Trump organization — but Buzzfeed’s sources didn’t bother to back up this wild claim by showing these reporters any of this?

All this proof in the form of emails and texts and no one bothers to– oh, wait…

8. Uhm, Trump Doesn’t Use Email or Texts

Trump is famous for refusing to use texts and emails. So how can the smoking guns be texts and emails?

See how none of this makes sense…

A guy who has spent his life avoiding putting anything down in writing would break that rule to obstruct justice, to commit a felony?

Other than texts and emails from Trump himself, whose texts or emails would corroborate such a thing?

9. This Is the 657th Bombshell Certain to Get Trump Impeached

Not this shit again.

From my count, this is the gabillionth time a left-wing news outlet went ahead and ran an unverified anti-Trump bombshell based on deep state sources… And let’s not forget that all the ones that came before were either eventually exposed as fake news or Nothingburgers sold as something else.

What’s more, even though the rest of the media have yet to independently corroborate the BuzzFeed report, they are still running amok with it. We now live in a media world where the guy who moderates Meet The Press is so excited he decided to light himself on fire this morning: “NBC News has not yet confirmed the Buzzfeed report. But if true — and if Mueller does have the receipts — why is this news significant?”

“If true.”

“Has not yet confirmed.”

Here’s an idea…

How about if you wake me when you have a smoking gun that is not clenched in the fist of a bitter deep stater who refuses to show that smoking gun to a “serial fabulist” working for a partisan racket like Buzzfeed?

In the meantime, ZZZZzzzzzz *snort* zzzzzzz….

Then again, the story could be true.

The media needs to go back and consider the story of the boy who cried wolf. It didn’t end so well for him.

They just don’t need to bother anymore. We Deplorables in the foxholes have gotten used to the incoming. We simply shrug anymore and go on about our business.

Every time they do this the media loses credibility and Trump gains it. He’s gone well beyond a Teflon presidency. And it’s all been applied by the media. By the time they’re finished they’ll end up canonizing him.

Is CA Demise Near?

The Flyer thinks so, or at least reporter Chris Davis does who wrote this:

On Gannett, The Commercial Appeal, and Digital First
Dead Pools & Death Stars

“I am most afraid of our important, consequential work getting upended because our business model is further disrupted.”

– Commercial Appeal managing editor Mark Russell in an interview published by Poynter.org, 1-13-2019.

“In April, The Post published the editorial headlined ‘As vultures circle, The Denver Post must be saved,’ calling on Alden Global Capital to sell the newspaper after it cut 30 more positions in the newsroom, leaving it at a fraction of its size just a few years ago. Then in May, three top figures at the Denver Post, including its former owner, resigned amid budget and staff cuts.”

– From an AP report about Alden-backed Digital First Media’s move to acquire The Commercial Appeal’s parent company, Gannett Co. Published 1-14-2019.

If MNG/Digital First Media successfully acquires The Commercial Appeal’s parent company, Gannett Co., it’s time to start a dead pool. Only, instead of celebrity deaths, we’ll bet on daily newspapers. Also, I’m calling first dibs: The Commercial Appeal, 2021 — RIP.

After news broke that Digital First media was making moves to acquire Gannett, many local media watchers wondered if there was any juice left to squeeze from Memphis’ already greatly diminished daily newspaper. It’s a fair question, but only a tiny piece of the bigger picture. Whether or not the CA can withstand another round of screw-tightening, the market’s certainly interested in finding out. Gannett stock rose 21 percent following the announcement and, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal, this makes it harder for Gannett to, “justify turning its back on the offer,” or go forward with plans to expand its own digital footprint by purchasing Gizmodo Media (Previously Gawker Media).

Frankly, if not for Digital First’s reputation as “The Death Star of newspaper chains,” the company’s reasons for making an offer and encouraging Gannett to pursue other offers, might sound downright noble.
From the WSJ:

In the letter, Digital First accused [Gannett’s] management of poor stewardship and of damaging the company’s financial position by making several “aspirational digital deals” that haven’t paid off. It demanded that Gannett put all digital acquisitions on hold and hire bankers to review strategic alternatives.

That sounds like the Gannett we all know. But to extend the Star Wars metaphor, this isn’t Han Solo swooping in with his blaster to save the day. To borrow from Will Bunch at Philly.com:

“The dirty little secret is that DFM learned — at least for now — that it can sell longtime readers an inferior (or, to use the technical term, crappier) newspaper and only 10 percent of reach each year will cancel. Do the math, though, and it’s clear that much of America outside the biggest cities will become news deserts by the early 2020s, after Smith and his fellow hedge-funders have sucked out every last drop.”

Is Bunch being alarmist? He’s certainly not the only media watcher to sense a disturbance in the force. I caught a similar chill and the market’s positive response to the Digital First news instantly called to mind a line in James T. Hamilton’s 2003 book All The News That’s Fit to Sell. When applied to the information business, economics really earns its reputation as “the dismal science.”

Hamilton’s book is aging well. It delves into how markets shape media bias with attention paid to how little the value of well-informed communities has to do with the value of commodified media product. It more or less describes and defines the kinds of changes we’ve all observed in local media markets. It’s what happens when the public’s interest shapes public interest and profit drives all.

What happened to Alderaan can happen here.

The Digital First news took me back to that happy moment in 2018 when The Daily Memphian, a new startup, siphoned away much of the CA’s top talent, effectively cloning the ailing Gannett property in a locally owned but digital-only environment. Most media consumers cheered, but I went full Cassandra on social media and any excitement generated by the prospect of a new information startup was dampened by the sense that we’d now crossed some kind of risk threshold. Every media startup’s a dicey proposition; now the Gannett-damaged CA had been cut in half — its talent gutted by a digital twin with good intentions. The idea of having no daily non-broadcast news source in Memphis within the next decade had to be seriously entertained.

In spite of recent and well-justified optimism, I once again submit my modest observation: The sky is falling. Maybe not for everybody and maybe not right now. But someday and soon and as reported elsewhere, there are no good guys in this deal. But if Digital First takes Gannett there won’t be a Commercial Appeal in 2022.

Write it down.

Another Take on SCOTUS Case

The Daily Memphian reported this on the SCOTUS arguments concerning Midtown’s Kimbrough Liquors:

ennessee’s liquor lobby squared off against mom-and-pop liquor store operators from Midtown Memphis and a national chain Wednesday in arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court.

The Tennessee Wine and Spirits Retailers Association argued Tennessee is well within its rights to require store operators to be longtime Tennessee residents, while lawyers for Total Wine & Spirits and Kimbrough Fine Wine & Spirits argued the rule is blatantly unconstitutional.

Justices alluded to the case possibly having broader, perhaps Amazonian implications, as Total Wine’s lawyer argued the Tennessee law should be struck down as pure economic protectionism.

“The sole purpose of this statute was, as my friend here who represents the retailers association proves beyond any question, what this is designed to do is be exclusively protectionist,” said Carter Phillips, representing Total Wine, a national retailer, and Kimbrough owners Doug and Mary Ketchum. Phillips argued the law runs counter to Commerce Clause protections against state laws suppressing interstate commerce.

But attorneys for the retailers association and the state of Illinois argued store owners hadn’t proven a case that the Commerce Clause trumps a state’s right to regulate the liquor industry under the 21st Amendment, which repealed Prohibition.

“The statute here, Your Honor, goes to the question of who can sell to whom and on what terms,” said Illinois solicitor general David L. Franklin. “That’s always been at the heartland of what the 21st Amendment was meant to protect, the state’s ability to structure the intrastate sale of its product.”

Michael Bindas, senior counsel for the Institute for Justice, which represents the Ketchums, said later, “We’re very confident that the Supreme Court is going to hold that Tennessee’s discriminatory residency requirements are unconstitutional.”

“As Justice (Elena) Kagan pointed out, if you accept that the state can pass these kinds of laws to protect in-state interests, then the sky’s the limit, the state can do whatever it wants. I don’t think the court is willing to accept that argument,” Bindas said.

Mary Ketchum agreed. “Oh yeah, we won. I hate to be so … but I’m pretty sure. Doug and I both agreed, we’re not lawyers, but we agreed we’d be really surprised if they kept any kind of residency requirement at all.”

Phillips, the store owners’ lawyer, made a point of lack of participation in the case by Tennessee’s attorney general. The case revolves around the state law’s residency requirement for retail liquor store licenses. Tennessee officials didn’t file a brief in the case.

The law says a person must live in Tennessee two years to initially receive a liquor store license and 10 years to renew the license. Because a license is good for one year, it effectively means a person must live in Tennessee nine years to own and operate a liquor store on a continuing basis.

The Ketchums moved from Utah in 2016 to buy the 80-year-old Kimbrough store at 1483 Union, but found themselves at the center of a legal controversy over the residency rule. They got their license, as did Total Wine for a Knoxville superstore, after a federal court in Nashville ruled the residency rule unconstitutional.

The association, representing more than 500 independent store owners, has led appeals of the lower court rulings.

The stakes are high for the Ketchums. They could lose their store, purchased with their life savings, if the ruling goes against them. Bindas said it could be a couple of months before the Supreme Court rules.

“We’re mostly just happy that a majority of this is all done,” Mary Ketchum said. “Right now, it’s in the justices’ hands and they get to decide what they want to do. We can just let it go and try to move on.”

The Ketchums traveled to Washington with their daughter, Stacie, who has cerebral palsy, and whose health challenges motivated their decision to move to Memphis from Salt Lake City and buy a business.

Observers have said the case could lead to further expansion for Total Wine, which operates megastores in multiple states, and entry into the market by companies such as Amazon.

The oral arguments at times led to laughter in the high court chamber, such as when Justice Samuel Alito commented, when questioning the association’s attorney, “Suppose if it was … a grandparents requirement. So you can’t — you can’t get a liquor license in Tennessee unless your grandparents were Tennessee residents. That would not create a dormant Commerce Clause problem?”

Shay Dvoretzky, representing Total Wine, said it wouldn’t be an interstate commerce problem because the 21st Amendment enshrined the states’ pre-Prohibition powers to regulate liquor, “which included the power to discriminate against out-of-state interests.”

Justice Stephen Breyer said suppose Tennessee had a law that “any liquor store has to use paint made in Tennessee, asphalt made in Tennessee for the parking lot, neon — you know, I can go on?”

Justices questioned the liquor stores’ lawyer about where the challenges of state liquor regulations would end.

“Isn’t the next business model just to try and operate as the Amazon of liquor?” asked Justice Neil Gorsuch.

Phillips said, “No, Amazon wants to operate … as the Amazon of liquor or may at some point. No, my client operates on a more brick-and-mortar business model that says we’re perfectly comfortable operating within the sphere of regulation that the state imposes on in-state operator(s). And all we are seeking to have is not to be discriminated against.”

Dvoretzky said residency rules help states better police the industry. “It facilitates investigation and enforcement of the law because somebody who’s been there for a while is more likely to have substantial assets that can be enforced — that can be seized, and is less likely to flee at the first sign of trouble,” he argued.

Phillips said Total Wine “would regard ourselves as an in-state retailer within the meaning of that. We have satisfied every condition necessary to … operate in state, with a presence in state of a very large facility that can be examined, can be determined to be in compliance, can satisfy every single one of the state’s vast requirements.”

SCOTUS Hears Midtown Case

The case of Kimbrough liquor owners who are fighting the Tennessee law requiring 10 years’ residency, was in front of the court today.

Here’s what happened, via Amy Howe at SCOTUSblog:

Argument analysis: Justices weigh text and history of 21st Amendment in challenge to state residency requirement for liquor licenses

Ratified in 1933, the 21st Amendment ended Prohibition – which (fun fact!) was established by the 18th Amendment, ratified 100 years ago today. It also gave states broad power to regulate alcoholic beverages. At today’s oral argument in Tennessee Wine and Spirits Retailers Association v. Blair, the justices considered exactly how expansive that regulatory power is. In particular, does the 21st Amendment allow Tennessee to impose a two-year residency requirement for anyone who wants a retail license to sell alcohol there, or is the state’s power instead limited by a doctrine known as the dormant commerce clause, which bars states from discriminating against interstate commerce? The Supreme Court’s answer could have a significant impact on where Americans buy their alcohol and what kinds are available to them, but after an hour of oral argument it was hard to see exactly where the justices were headed in the case.

The dispute pits Tennessee Wine and Spirits Retailers Association, a trade association that has taken the lead in defending the Tennessee law, against both Total Wine, the national mega-chain with nearly 200 stores in 23 states, and Doug and Mary Ketchum, who moved to Tennessee to buy a liquor store after doctors told them that the weather in their home state of Utah was bad for their disabled daughter. When Total Wine and the Ketchums applied for licenses to run retail stores in Nashville and Memphis, respectively, the Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission was poised to approve their applications, until the retailers – citing the residency requirement – threatened to sue the state.

The retailers’ threat prompted the TABC to go to federal court, seeking a ruling on whether the residency requirement is constitutional. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit struck down the requirement, and the justices agreed last year to hear the case.

At this morning’s oral argument, there was general agreement that, if Total Wine and the Ketchums wanted to sell something else – for example, milk or paint – Tennessee’s residency requirement would be unconstitutional, because it violates the dormant commerce clause by discriminating against out-of-state residents. The question before the court, then, was whether the 21st Amendment “saves” laws like Tennessee’s.

Representing the retailers defending the residency requirement, attorney Shay Dvoretzky told the justices that it does. The 21st Amendment, Dvoretzky argued, was intended to give back the powers that the states had had before Prohibition under two federal laws – the Wilson Act and the Webb-Kenyon Act – that gave them “near complete” power to regulate the distribution of liquor. States can do almost anything, Dvoretzky stressed, as long as they treat in-state and out-of-state products the same, which the residency requirement does.

This expansive power, Dvoretzky made clear in responding to a question from Justice Sonia Sotomayor, means that laws like Tennessee’s residency requirement do not violate the Constitution even if they are intended to protect in-state retailers from competition. There is no “economic protectionism” exception to the 21st Amendment, Dvoretzky emphasized.

Dvoretzky later repeated this idea in response to a question from Justice Samuel Alito, who asked him whether the state could impose a requirement that the grandparents of an applicant for a liquor license have lived in Tennessee. Dvoretzky responded that such a requirement “would not create a dormant Commerce Clause problem.” Before Prohibition, Dvoretzky said, the states’ powers included the power to discriminate against out-of-state interests.

Justice Brett Kavanaugh was skeptical. The problem I’m having, Kavanaugh said to Dvoretzky, is that nothing in the text of the 21st Amendment – which bars the “transportation or importation” of liquor into a state in violation of that state’s laws – gives the states complete authority over the distribution of liquor. All that the 21st Amendment was intended to do, Kavanaugh suggested, was let states remain “dry” if they opted to do so; it wasn’t intended to allow states to pass laws that discriminate against out-of-state interests.

Arguing as a “friend of the court” supporting the retailers, Illinois Solicitor General David Franklin represented 34 states and the District of Columbia. Franklin told the justices that the twin questions of who can sell alcohol and on what terms have always been at the heart of the 21st Amendment.
Justice Elena Kagan appeared unconvinced that states have complete latitude to regulate those questions, observing that Tennessee’s residency requirement seems to be an outlier. “Is there anything in your argument,” she asked Franklin, “that would give us a way to say that” these kinds of extreme examples are “clearly protectionist” and must be struck down, even if more reasonable residency requirements might survive?

Franklin pushed back, responding that although Tennessee’s residency requirements could potentially violate other parts of the Constitution, they do not violate the dormant commerce clause. That prompted Kagan to ask whether a better option for the court would be for it to rule that the dormant commerce clause does apply to the residency requirement, at which point the state could come back and demonstrate that it has “real health and safety concerns” that justify the laws.

Franklin resisted, telling Kagan that such an approach would “still embroil the courts in the kind of line drawing that the 21st Amendment was designed to relieve them of” and would “be at odds with the broad regulatory discretion” that the 21st Amendment gives the states. The argument that Total Wine and the Ketchums are making, Franklin emphasized, would strip all meaning from the 21st Amendment by treating alcohol the same as any other commodity. “But it’s not,” Franklin concluded.

Appearing on behalf of Total Wine and the Ketchums, lawyer Carter Phillips reiterated Kavanaugh’s suggestion (later echoed by Alito) that the 21st Amendment does not give states broad authority to regulate alcohol but instead was intended to allow states that had decided to remain “dry” to stop the importation of alcohol from other states.
Justice Stephen Breyer countered that the Supreme Court’s earlier cases had already recognized that the 21st Amendment gives states “virtually complete control” over how they want to structure their liquor-distribution systems. What’s more, Breyer added, most states have long had some sort of residency requirement. “The history favors the other side,” Breyer told Phillips, even if it doesn’t necessarily make sense.

Kagan and Justice Neil Gorsuch fretted aloud about the prospect that a ruling for Total Wine and the Ketchums would open the doors to new challenges – for example, to other state laws regulating the sale and distribution of liquor. If we rule for you, Gorsuch told Phillips, the next case will argue that the current system discriminates against out-of-state residents by requiring retailers to have a physical presence in the state. Isn’t the next business model, Gorsuch continued, just to operate as the Amazon of liquor?

Phillips demurred, noting that Total Wine is a brick-and-mortar retailer. In any event, he responded, if such cases come to fruition, the states can make different arguments about why liquor retailers need to have an in-state presence. But in this case, he emphasized, Tennessee has never tried to explain why its residency requirements are necessary.

This is a hard case to handicap: Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was absent, Chief Justice John Roberts said very little, and Justice Clarence Thomas did not say anything at all. Throw in the fact that Tennessee has made only a half-hearted attempt to defend the residency requirements, and it becomes even more difficult to predict exactly what the justices are likely to do. A decision in the case is expected by summer.

The Sweet Taste of Power

I didn’t know there was an 11th commandment brought down by Moses. “Thou shalt not consume sugary drinks” was not on my list. But, according to today’s CA editorial, all sweet drinks should have a “sin tax.”
Sin? Forgive me Father, I have sipped a Coke?

But watch out Southerners! She doesn’t just mean Cokes. Sweet tea and Koolaid made the list, too.

“Tennessee is second only to Mississippi in soda consumption,” the editorial writer says. “An excise tax on sugar sweetened beverages is needed to reduce sugar consumption in children and reduce the continuing rise of obesity in Tennessee’s children.”

What’s the natural conclusion to this? Should the purveyors be arrested and jailed like heroin and opioid suppliers? If it’s that bad, you might decide that.

Quick! Someone go get the Dinstuhls and Gibson donut people. Obviously they are doing evil work by providing irresistible treats.

The writer goes on to speak of diabetes, obesity and – you guessed it – let’s put the government in control of our health care and therefore monitor what we eat. It’s the progressive dream.

She ignores that targeting sugar soda makes it very glamorous in a way that it isn’t in daily life. Kids will want it even more when it is forbidden, just like they did the red hot cheetohs that schools embargoed.

Has this woman not heard of what happened with the soda tax imposed in Philadelphia? Consumers there were forced to pay outrageous sums for a single drink and $10 plus for a six pack. Surely that’s unfair, even to her.

It didn’t work either, as none of these self righteous, imposed attitudes do. Here in the Mid South, how easy would it be to go to Arkansas, Mississippi or another county to avoid the tax? Then you get in a Prohibition situation where you’re encouraging mob type trafficking and crime.

This person believes that “an excise tax on sugar sweetened beverages is not the total solution to childhood obesity, but it is an important first step to ensuring a healthy future for Tennessee.”

It’s not a total solution, it’s not even a solution.

Seems that everything the government takes over – especially when they wrest it from parental control – makes it much worse.
So would this.

Dem Candidate Comes With Guru

Dems are lining up to run against President Trump. They think they have a shot at taking him down in 2020.

OK, well so far we have a useless guy in Julian Castro (Can you imagine the vote Castro signs?). Then there is the terminally angry Fauxahontas, Elizabeth Warren, and the aged walking mishap, Joe Biden (he hasn’t officially declared yet, but indications are that he will) plus anti-Catholic bigot Kamala Harris who told everyone that her ancestral country, India, is the oldest democracy (since 1947!). Joining them is an attractive young woman congressman from Hawaii, Tulsi Gabbard.

On paper, she might seem worthy. She’s a war veteran, seems amiable and hasn’t embarrassed herself – yet.
The only problem for them is that Gabbard is involved in a cult, lead by a guru. A fellow cult member describes it at medium.com:

The group I was involved in is called The Science of Identity Foundation, and it was started by a man called Chris Butler, who has variously been known as Siddhaswarupananda, Srila Prabhupada or Jagad Guru. His “philosophy” is a mishmash of Buddism, Vaishnava Hinduism and Christianity. There’s around 1,000 or so followers across Australia, New Zealand, Philippines and the US. Chris Butler himself was born in Hawaii and from what I’ve been able to glean from my research, was a college drop out who started a small group in the mid 60’s. When the Hare Krishna movement started gaining traction in Hawaii during this time, he found it difficult to find new followers and instead of competing with the Hare Krishna movement, decided to take his current followers, along with a $20,000 donation, and join the Hare Krishna’s instead.
During his tenure with the Hare Krishna movement, he struggled often with the leadership of the group (AC Bhaktivedante Swami who was his initiating spiritual master), and was repeatedly reprimanded by Bhaktivedante for publishing booklets expounding Chris’s own philisophical views. This was heavily frowned upon, and when he refused to curtail his actions, he was sent away to a small temple in New Zealand. It was during this time that he met a fellow Hare Krishna by the initiated name of Tusta Krishna Swami. They became close friends and when the relationship between Butler and AC Bhaktivedante Swami further fractured in the late 1970’s he and Tusta founded their own small group, bought a farm in Australia and all of his new followers left New Zealand for Australia around 1980–1981. My parents were amongst them.
I remember very clearly the plane ride to Australia, the mix of excitement and fear.

I also remember Chris Butler held this larger than life presence in my childhood. Everything I did I had to think about how it benefitted him. He was my parents spiritual master and they looked to him for guidance on everything, from what to eat, to how to raise their children, and they did it all without question. When I talk to people about the lack of questioning, they find that aspect odd. It is odd, but to put it into perspective, I was raised to believe Chris Butler was God’s voice on earth, and if you questioned him or offended him in any way, you were effectively offending God, and because we believed in reincarnation, that meant that you would be reborn as the lowest life form imaginable and then have to spend eons working your way back into God’s good graces. So questioning the leader was spiritual suicide, which was seen as worse than death. So no one questioned. Chris Butler also would ridicule the intelligence of anyone he didn’t like, belittling anyone he felt was questioning his authority even slightly. He demanded the utmost dedication and loyalty from his followers and if he didn’t get it, the punishments were swift and severe. I remember hearing stories of people who were told they weren’t allowed to eat because they didn’t make food to his liking, who were not allowed to sleep because there was a light making a buzzing noise in the house, and the follower didn’t have the foresight to fix the issue ahead of time.

Literally everything we did had to go through Chris. If you wanted to work outside of the group, you had to ask his permission. No-one could get married without his consent. From the late 80’s all of us kids were removed from public schools because he didn’t want them influencing our minds away from our service to him. So from that point we were home schooled, until there were schools established in the Philippines. After that all the children were sent to the boarding schools there for intensive schooling. From the small pieces of information that made it out of the schools to me, a lot of the kids were traumatised by the environment, as it was almost prison like. Classes were on hygiene and cooking and all the ways that they would need to serve Chris Butler best. It’s only speculation, but I am certain that this was because places like the US and Australia had standards of education that the home schools has to meet, and they just weren’t. They could avoid scrutiny by having the kids in boarding schools in the Philippines. I can’t even imagine how dreadful it was for my friends who got sent there. I was lucky to avoid it. I didn’t avoid the lack of schooling though, and by the time I officially left the Science of Identity Foundation in 1997, just before I turned 20, I had only received up to a 5th grade education.

From a young child I remember one of the main features of my life was the lectures that were sent to us via tape for us to listen to. Basically these were 1 hour long sessions of Chris talking about his beliefs – how evil and out of control gay people were, how women were inferior and sub human and should be controlled by their husbands, how messed up and evil the outside world was, and how his relationship with God was so special, only he could lead you back to Godhead (Heaven) and that he had so much control over his existence on earth, he could choose the moment of his death. We worshipped him, loved him even. Another part of his teachings was that all life is an illusion, and because of that all relationships were an illusion. We were encouraged to not invest in any relationships other than with him, so we were in effect isolated from our parents who did their best to not love us as per his recommendation, and instead looked at him like a surrogate father/messiah figure. He was this imposing force in our life that we weren’t supposed to offend, which is frankly terrifying when you’re a small child. I remember having many nightmares and a condition called sleep paralysis which can be brought on in times of great stress. My sister developed stress induced epilepsy during the time when we were supposed to be taken out of school. For my parents part, they did try to keep us in school for as long as they could, but when Chris heard parents were resisting him, his directive was clear – get them out or else. Every time my parents would try to take us to school, my sister would become hysterical and then she started having seizures. That was the power he had over us.

I really wanted to paint this picture of my childhood, because Tulsi Gabbard grew up in the same group that I did. She was subjected to the same environment I was. She’s still surrounded by this group and calls Chris Butler her guru. This is why the increased interest and her rise to power concerns me so greatly. I want to be very clear, I have no issue with Tulsi, as far as I am concerned, she’s as much a victim as I am, more so because she was groomed from an early age specifically for the path she is now on. What I am concerned about is the control I know Chris Butler has over her, the influence he has over her ability to make decisions, decisions that could become law and impact a whole lot of people. I know what an abusive, misogynistics, homophobic, germophobic, narcissistic nightmare Chris Butler is. And I know what kind of relationship he has with Tulsi…

Not only would she lose support for the position she holds, but she would lose her family, all of her friends, and this messiah/father figure if she opposed Chris Butler. She would be outcast from the only existence she has ever known. That’s a hugely powerful reason to continue to please Chris Butler without question.

I truly feel for Tulsi. Hers is not an enviable position. I know because I spoke out about Chris Butler a few years ago, and my family cut off all contact from me. This has happened to every other person I know of who got out. I hope one day Tulsi does reject Chris and finds her own voice. She has done amazing things and it makes me sad to think that another victim who was been abused and manipulated her whole life isn’t able to have the career she’s worked so hard for, free and clear of Chris’ toxic influence. Maybe one day she will, but while he is her guru, his influence over her makes her dangerous and unreliable, because Chris is dangerous and unpredictable.

Will you hear any of this from the media? Just like they did with Obama, they will hide any dubious connections she has. Question them and you become a racist or phobe of some kind.

Let’s hope her candidacy self destructs early.