SELMA ON OUR MINDS: Can’t process information at all!


Interlude—Deflated footballs meet Selma:
In the overall sweep of things, it doesn’t hugely matter if some footballs were under-inflated during that Patriots game.

As Tom Brady has flawlessly noted, it doesn’t rise to the level of a dispute about ISIS.

That said, you aren’t supposed to cheat in sports, and the NFL is our society’s biggest purveyor of sport on the professional level. In part for that reason, our journalists sprang into action last week, pretending to discuss the affair they agreed to call “Deflategate.”

Did the New England Patriots do something wrong? So far, we can’t tell you that.

We can tell you what our “journalists” have done. Once again, in a fairly remarkable way, they have demonstrated their Complete and Total Inability to Process Information in Any Way At All.

It’s not unlike the way we liberals have responded to the recent flaps about the feature film Selma. We’ll return to that topic tomorrow, starting with the heinous way director Clint Eastwood got “snubbed” in the Oscar race.

For today, why do we say that our “journalists” have demonstrated a Complete and Total Inability to Process Information in their discussions of the NFL flap? Consider William Rhoden’s column in today’s New York Times.

Rhoden is a veteran New York Times columnist. Near the start of this morning’s column, he demonstrates the Complete and Total Inability to which we’ve twice referred:
RHODEN (1/26/15): At issue are the game balls the Patriots provided for last Sunday’s A.F.C. championship game; 11 of the 12 balls, which by rule are inspected and verified by the referee before kickoff, were later mysteriously underinflated by about 2 pounds per square inch, according to an ESPN report on the N.F.L.’s investigation.
Rhoden’s presentation is technically accurate. There actually was “an ESPN report” of the sort he describes.

The report appeared last Wednesday, written by Chris Mortenson. This is the way it began:
MORTENSON (1/21/15): The NFL has found that 11 of the New England Patriots' 12 game balls were inflated significantly below the NFL's requirements, league sources involved and familiar with the investigation of Sunday's AFC Championship Game told ESPN.

The investigation found the footballs were inflated 2 pounds per square inch below what's required by NFL regulations during the Pats' 45-7 victory over the Indianapolis Colts, according to sources.

"We are not commenting at this time," said Greg Aiello, the NFL's senior vice president of communications.
That report has formed the basis for the way this incident has been discussed by the nation’s legion of “journalists.” It forms the basis for Rhoden’s account of the degree of under-inflation allegedly found in the dozen balls.

That said, do you notice anything about Mortenson’s report? We’ll try to spell it out so slowly that even our “journalists” will be able to follow:

Uh-oh! The inflation data Mortenson cited came from unnamed “sources!” On the record, the NFL was offering no official account of the (alleged) facts.

According to Mortenson, the official NFL spokesman was offering no data about the degree of inflation. And that situation still obtains today, though you’d never know it from reading the work of the nation's stampeding “journalists.”

Eleven footballs “were inflated 2 pounds per square inch below what's required by NFL regulations!” Our “journalists” have taken this somewhat murky statement to mean that the footballs were inflated to 10.5 pounds per square inch, not to 12.5 pounds per square inch, the minimum level permitted by NFL rules.

Is that a factual statement about the degree of under-inflation? Has the NFL even made that claim?

So far, no! So far, the NFL has made no claim about the degree of inflation. The NFL has issued no report about the degree to which it says the footballs were inflated.

It isn’t that we don’t know the facts. At this point, we don’t even know what is being alleged! But so what? For the past five days, our “journalists” have been repeating Mortenson’s somewhat murky claim, which came from anonymous “sources.”

What’s wrong with that group behavior? Duh! If you’ve been living on this planet over the past many years, you know that such initial, anonymous claims can often turn out to be wrong!

All too plainly, Rhoden and his many colleagues have been living off-planet. It has occurred to almost none of these people that they don’t have the most elementary facts about the degree of inflation—more precisely, that they don’t even have the most basic allegations!

When the NFL finally makes its report, what inflation levels will that report describe? Like Rhoden and his many colleagues, we have no way of knowing.

It’s possible that the NFL will report that eleven of the footballs were inflated to 10.5 pounds per square inch—“2 pounds per square inch below what's required by NFL regulations,” to quote Mortenson’s somewhat imprecise language.

The NFL may say that! But it’s possible that the alleged degree of under-inflation won’t rise to that level. To cite one possibility (out of many), it may turn out that the NFL reports that the various footballs were variously measured at roughly 11.5 pounds per square inch.

For reasons many folk can discern, that would be a significantly different story that the one our “journalists” have been reciting, based on a somewhat murky account from an anonymous source.

Let's be clear. We don’t know what the NFL will end up reporting. But neither do the dozens of “journalists” who have stampeded in the past week, repeating Mortenson’s account.

We do know this:

In matters of this type, initial reports will often turn out to be wrong. We also know that ESPN isn’t a hugely reliable org in matters of this type—in matters which aren’t directly sports-related.

In the past week, our “journalists” have stampeded off with their latest Group Story. Sadly, that is precisely the way we liberals have worked as we've pretended to discuss a pair of flaps concerning the feature film Selma.

Did Selma offer an accurate portrait of Lyndon Johnson? Did Selma get snubbed, for racial reasons, in last week’s Oscar nominations?

Alas! As we have discussed these questions, we have picked and chosen our facts in the dumbest possible ways. But increasingly, that’s the way we liberals behave.

We pick and choose and disappear facts in sadly embarrassing ways. And everything must be a racial offense. We seem to know no other plays!

We don’t think this is a good way for progressives to proceed—but plainly, it’s who we currently are.

At one time, we liberals laughed at the ditto-heads. Today, the ditto-heads, and the public dissemblers, increasingly seem to be us.

Tomorrow: Clint Eastwood, snubbed

Speaking even more slowly: Did someone on the Patriots cheat?

That’s certainly possible! At this point, we don’t know one way or the other.

What were the inflation levels of the footballs in question?

We’re eager to see the NFL’s official account. So far, no one even knows what the NFL will allege!

Despite this fact, a week-long stampede has occurred. A somewhat murky anonymous claim has endlessly been repeated as fact.

Within our modern American “press corps,” it seems it will ever be thus. This system has served us very poorly over the past forty years.


  1. All well and good, Bob, but aren't you from New England?

    1. He's also from California, and the Baltimore area. What's your point?

    2. It is usually the same as Bob's. Liberals suck.

    3. My point is that Worchester is particularly lovely this time of year.

    4. You have now made your point more clearly than Bob Somerby has in many a nor'easter.

    5. And there are a lot of them in New England. Hopefully they will thank Al Gore while they sit at home today.

    6. Non one likes jerks because they're liberals.

  2. Bob has a point. I was unaware that the only source of underinflation info was anonymous. However. "official" reports are often late, under-stated, or even spun for legal reasons.

    An example of the latter was the alleged George Bush Texas Air National Guard document. The eventual "official" report by a commission empaneled by CBS pointed out many glaring flaws in the document, but never quite said that the document was an obvious forgery. Yet, it was clear in first couple of days, from "unoffical" analysts, that the document was indeed an obvious forgery.

    Back to football, I for one have no trouble believing that the balls were significantely underinflated.

    1. It's also clear that the tale of George W. Bush's Texas Air National Guard service is one of disgraceful conduct on his part and that of his sponsors and protectors from beginning to end.

    2. Then why would Dan Rather (who made no secret of his loathing of the Bush family) resort to forged documents to tar Bush 43? Bush was actually in the ANG flying Delta Daggers while William Jefferson's subterfuge in dodging the Vietnam era draft is well documented. Why do liberals champion Clinton for dodging the draft, but castigate Bush 43 for being in the military but not serving in Vietnam?

    3. Bush didn't run against Clinton. He ran against two guys who did serve in Vietnam.

    4. That is supposed to explain the liberal double standard? The exact time when liberals did an about face regarding their 34+ year long hatred for Vietnam and the American soldiers, marines, naval personnel and pilots who fought there occurred when Gore, who spent five months as a reporter covering the activities of the 20th Engineer Brigade in Bien Hoa, South Vietnam, became the Democratic Party candidate for POTUS.

    5. The difference is that Clinton's draft dodging wasn't at odds with his position on the War. Bush, on the other hand, was a War supporter who managed to snag a safe spot in the Air National Guard with Daddy's connections, and he couldn't even fully commit to that.

    6. Gore snagged a safe assignment as a reporter in Vietnam due to his connections. He couldn't fully commit to that either. Go figure.

      Clinton ran against two WWII combat veterans. He won both times. It would appear serving with distinction in WWII was trumped by a weasel draft dodger by liberal voters. Did Clinton ever express any protests about Americans serving in WWII?

      If Clinton had the courage of his antiwar convictions why didn't he got to jail instead of writing at the time about being drafted, "my beliefs for one reason: to maintain my political viability within the system. .... " Another profile in courage.

    7. I realize you don't like draft dodgers, but Bush the Junior was something even more contemptible -- a chickenhawk. Thousands of American men and women are dead because of what he initiated. I could care less if Clinton didn't want to fight in Southeast Asia. He didn't want anybody else's children to fight over there, either. And good for him.

    8. For all I know, Bush may have been a draft dodger or a chicken hawk. That is a separate issue. But, the documents were obvious fakes, for several reasons that I recall
      -- no original copy available
      -- no witness validated the document
      --wrong format for TANG
      -- printed in a modern font, which happens to be the default font for Word.

    9. @majneb,

      All we know is that Clinton didn't want to be drafted as he states in his own words:

      "because I didn't see, in the end, how my going in the Army and maybe going to Vietnam would achieve anything except a feeling that I had punished myself and gotten what I deserved."

      If Clinton was such a staunch anti Vietnam War opponent why did he wish to join the Democratic Party whose Commander in Chiefs initiated American involvement in Southeast Asia?

      BTW: Obama has re-invaded Iraq after he pulled out all American forces. How liberals react to his Iraq War III has yet to be seen.

    10. Clinton didn't dodge the draft. He had a lottery number that was not called up.

    11. And the WPE was not only a chickenhawk, he was a chickenshit, using his daddy's influence to get him into the TANG so someone else got to go to war in his place while he protected Texas from an air attack from Oklahoma.

    12. John Travolta and Emma Thompson were snubbed for Oscar nominations for their roles in Primary Colors due to press jihads against the Clintons.

    13. This comment makes no sense at all. The movie was anti-Clinton. If the press were on a jihad against the Clintons, it would have called for their nominations, not suppressed them (snubbed them). This is what happens when someone comments about a movie he or she didn't see (charitably) or didn't understand.

    14. Primary Colors didn't even mention Clinton's draft dodging.

      And it is obvious you don't even read the blog in which you comment. "If the press were on a jihad against the Clintons" you write. IF?

      Good God and Double Gack!!

    15. @8:53,

      Clinton's number was indeed called up. That is why he wrote a letter to Col. Eugene Holmes (director of the University of Arkansas Reserve Officers' Training Corps program ) on December 3rd of 1969. because his number came up in the lottery on December 1st of 1969.

      "I believe that he purposely deceived me, using the possibility of joining the ROTC as a ploy to work with the draft board to delay his induction and get a new draft classification," Colonel Holmes

    16. @ deadrat,

      And Hillary voted for the Iraq War that the "chicken fill in the blank" POTUS had Congress declare. Her husband used connections to stay out of the drat, never mind Vietnam. Perhaps Hillary saw Bush 43 not much different from the guy she married as far as their desire to serve in combat.

      But liberals hate veterans who have distinguished themselves in combat. Look at Michael Moore, Senator Howard Dean, Clara Jeffery , benighted comments about "American Sniper" Chris Kyle. Had Bush 43 served three tours in Vietnam liberals would still be calling him the inane "WPE."

    17. You think Hillary Clinton is a liberal? Your idiocy is adorable.
      Just keep learning, cicero, and you'll soon be one of the smartest people in your fourth-grade class.

    18. @1:04,

      Hillary isn't a liberal? That would be news to POTUS Obama, her hubby, the Democratic Party, and conservatives. Are you so far gone that you are to the left of Liz Warren?

  3. News reporters also don't seem to understand the difference between pounds (a measure of weight) and psi, pounds pee square inch (a measures of air pressure). I've heard discussion of how they might have weighed the footballs.

    1. That's OK. Bob Somerby doesn't seem to understand the difference between "technically accurate" and "Complete and Total Inability to Process Information in Any Way At All."

  4. And people are still graffiti-tagging buildings in my home town with "Hands up, Don't Shoot." These stories that get spread so quickly by a lazy media with a focus on ratings instead of truth.

  5. None of the Colts complained about the below 12.5 psi in Pats footballs during or after the game.. What is revealing are the responses by former NFL players like Troy Aikman, Mark Brunell, Jerome Bettis, Brian Dawkins who couldn't wait to flat out call Brady/Bellichick liars. They do not even have the facts of what occurred as the NFL keeps revising their story and has not reported for a fact that the refs actually use a pressure gage to check inflation of footballs before games.

    1. Squeezing deflated balls was not a quarterback style Troy Aikman chose.

    2. It's interesting that their peers would have so little respect for the New England organization.

    3. Former and current players who did not jump on the cheating bandwagon include Boomer Esiason, Drew Bledsoe, and Jay Feely. For current players, they might want to channel their disrespect into beating the Pats on the field instead of coming up with alibis for why they keep losing to them.

    4. Where does Terry Bradshaw way in on all this? He is still Top Dawg in all football analysis in my mind and I never cared if he could spell.

  6. I will not comment on a third rate burglary.

  7. Are the writers supposed to keep the story to themselves until the NFL officially comments? What are they supposed to say except that this allegation is being investigated? -- and that's about all they -- the ones quoted here, anyway -- have been saying. And of what possible relevance for deciding whether the existence of an investigation should be reported is the fact that the source is anonymous?

    1. The sportswriters are supposed to be cognizant of liberals only having the race thing as a trick and avoid making the mistake film culturewriters made about Selma.

    2. You know the answer to this. They are supposed to investigate and ask enough questions to clarify the story so that they can report actual news, not rumors.

  8. We’ll only state this, an obvious point:

    As we noted this morning, we don’t know what happened here.

    But so what, we'll give it a couple of posts and see what develops.