The Weekly Tendown June 26-July2 2011

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Dear Internet:


Glenn Beck's show died this week.  On his last show, he misspelled the name of his own production company, "Mercury Radio Arts."

That makes it his least error filled show ever.

Here's Tendown 83.

1. The Movie I'm Making You Watch
If you have HBO, or otherwise are capable of accessing these types of materials, your homework this week is the documentary Hot Coffee.

You should watch the entire film; you'll develop a better understanding than you have today about how you've been systematically lied to about an epidemic of frivolous lawsuits, you'll better understand that when Obama expressed support for tort reform he was accommodating the plutocracy in the same way as his abandoning single payer health care.  My hope is that insight will perhaps lead to an avenue into the broader architecture of how much of our worldview that we accept uncritically should be reconsidered.

But all you absolutely have to watch are the first 20 minutes.  I've been telling people for almost two decades that what they "know" about the case of the woman who sued McDonalds because she spilled hot coffee on herself is wrong.  The way I have discussed it, over and over and over again, is "is there a way in which coffee could ever be too hot, is there a factual scenario you could imagine where McDonalds could have made this coffee or packaged this coffee in a negligent fashion, is there a way that it's more McDonalds at fault than the woman?"

There are worse images than that in the film.

If, for 20 years, you've heard "that woman who spilled coffee on herself and sued McDonalds" as a punchline, watch the first 20 minutes of Hot Coffee.  It will cause you to rethink the merits of that case; the entire documentary will hopefully cause you to rethink the merits of tort reform, and perhaps see it as reflective of decades of corporate propaganda that has gotten the United States where it is today.

2. The Book I Read, So You Don't Have To.

Last week was my week between quarters, meaning I only worked 6-7 hours every day as opposed to 12-13.  I was able to squeeze in a reading of Erwin Chemerinsky's look at the Roberts Court, and really the past decade of US Supreme Court rulings, as the culmination of a long rightward march of jurisprudence.  I'll talk about it, and some of the implications therein, probably a couple of times, as its easy for Supreme Court decisions to get lost in the wreckage of the last decade of right ring rule and Democratic appeasement.

Consider Ewing v. California and Lockyer v. Andrade (from '02)where the Supreme Court ruled (5-4 in both cases) that 8th Amendment prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment wasn't implicated when a mandatory three strikes and you're out life sentence was imposed on a defendant for shoplifting.

Consider public school funding - much of public school funding is done through property tax, which is what keeps kids from wealthier families in better funded schools.  There are school districts within the same state that spend half as much, per pupil, as other districts.

Does this violate the equal protection clause?  Remember the ruling in Bush v. Gore - why was the count stopped; it was stopped because Gore only requested that a few counties would be recounted, who was being deprived of their equal protection rights, said the Court, were the people in the counties who would not have their votes recounted.  Sure - one could say a more appropriate remedy would have been to send it back to the Florida state court for it to order that result, but let's leave that fight for another day and just consider where we stand.  A recount in one county but not all counties is a 14th Amendment violation - but a child educated in a school district which spends half the money on his education - perhaps all the way from K-12 - perhaps 13 years of being educated at half of the government dollars of another child in that state - that child has not been deprived of equal protection.  The voter who doesn't receive a recount - deprived.  The child who, for 13 years, has his state educate him for 50 cents of what it spends on another child in the same state, he's got no case.

That was the decision (5-4) back in '73 in San Antonio Independent School District v. Rodriguez. That impacts every child who is in an underfunded district, and disproportionately, that impacts minorities.  And that leads to this: in 2006, 28.4% of white Americans had college degrees; 18.5% of blacks had college degrees; 12.5% of Latinos had college degrees.

Judicial ability to desegregate public school districts was limited by Court decisions like Milliken v. Bradley in the 70s, and in 2007, the Court limited the ability of the school districts themselves to desegregate in Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School Dist, No. 1, the Court essentially said that when school districts attempt to desegregate - that use of race has the same constitutional significance as using race to discriminate.  Government's use of race to discriminate against racial minorities is viewed by the Court as indistinguishable from government's use of race to achieve diversity.  Following that line of thought would essentially make unconstitutional affirmative action.

So - a child in a school district who receives half of the money as a child receives in a neighboring school district isn't being discriminated against - but if a school district decides that to mix its largely black school with its largely white school - those are the students whose 14th amendment equal protection rights are being violated.

3. Bobby Bonilla is Doing Better Than You Are.

Bobby Bonilla got a check for 1.2 million dollars from the Mets this week.

And will get that same check, every year, for the next quarter-century.

He also gets a half million a year from the Orioles until 2015.  He also has a no-show job with Major League Baseball (because who is a better ambassador than Bobby Bonilla) for 200 grand a year.

Sometimes, you hear about Antoine Walker going broke.  But not every ex athlete is Antoine Walker.

4. Chris Hansen is Not Doing Better Than You

If you've made your living with hidden cameras, you can't really claim unfair surprise when the National Enquirer catches you cheating on your wife.

5. This Week in Michele Bachmann

I mentioned a few Tensdown ago that Michele Bachmann said that the Founding Fathers worked tirelessly to end slavery.  I've mentioned why she said this - it's a David Barton lie, just a bad 6th grade understanding of American history, but part of the right wing worldview that its really the 20th century advances in civil rights, in civil liberties, in expanding protection for workers, that has undermined the true justice espoused by the Founding Fathers, which they intuitively understood from their close, personal relationships with Jesus, the ultimate free market capitalist.

This week,  when given the chance to amend the record - Bachmann said nope, she was right, dontcha know,  just like Sarah Palin was right in claiming Paul Revere was really warning the British - Palin was right because our 6th President, John Quincy Adams, who was 8 years old when the Declaration of Independence was written, was opposed to slavery.

It is the first time I've ever heard JQA called a founding father (well, I mean, I teach American history, so I've heard Lincoln, FDR, and Reagan all called founding fathers, but I just mark those answers wrong and move on with my day, which is what we should do with Bachmann, if she weren't running for President of the United States) as its just on its face ridiculous.  But had you looked at Adams's wikipedia entry earlier in the week, you would have found it edited by Bachmann-ites to refer to him as a "founding father."

Oh - and Bachmann confused John Wayne for John Wayne Gacy.  And she thinks the minimum wage should be eliminated.

And her husband, who runs a "Christian counseling center" called gays barbarians who need to be disciplined.

6. Fill in the Blank
I finished the course I was contracted to create this week; part of the requirements was, during each lecture, I had to essentially do 3 mini quizzes interspersed throughout.  Here's  a quiz of some economic items this week.

1. Since 2009 ____________% of income growth went to corporate profits.

2. ________% went to wages.

3. The richest 1% currently make __________% of the country's income.

4. Pregnant women who miscarry face _________________

5. Republicans this week rejected the same deficit cutting proposal that___________ proposed in March.


1. 88

2. 1

3. 25

4.  murder charges

5.  Republicans

Hey, fill in the blank is fun.  When I change the name of the blog to Basically Gherkins, maybe Tendown becomes just fill in the blank.

7. This Week In Graps

CM Punk kicked off the revolution this week, here's why.  Hopefully they don't drop the ball.

I saw some 4 star matches - Tanahashi v. Goto from mid June in New Japan was 4 1/2; the long 4 way tag ROH had last weekend in their PPV was 4; the Wolves v. Kings of Wrestling from ROH in May was 4 1/4; Togo v. Ibushi from DDT in March was 4 1/4; Taniguchi v. Go from NOAH in May was 4 1/4 stars.

And I wrote the stories; my athlete of the month was here; the all time roster for the Detroit Lions is here; my choice for the full 34 man rosters for each MLB All Star squad is here. I'll go in and edit in the actual choices soon.  My latest chapter in the wrestling Counterfactual is here.

8. No good, this.

Here's Hillary Clinton about opposition to our illegal war in Libya.

But the bottom line is, whose side are you on? Are you on Qadhafi’s side or are you on the side of the aspirations of the Libyan people and the international coalition that has been created to support them? For the Obama Administration, the answer to that question is very easy.

'Cause those are the only choices according to the Administration.  If you oppose the war that means you must stand with Saddam Hussein.

Whoops.  Got the wrong war there.  I guess I just assumed Bush was still President.

9. He Should Have Listened to Bobby and Served the Fried Chicken
Soul Daddy closed its last restaurant this week.

10. Schadenfreude

It is hard to escape the confluence of circumstance that leads to rivals of 100 years, the Giants and Dodgers, to reach this juncture.  At the same moment when, for the first time since the move west, the Giants are World Champions - the Dodgers file for bankruptcy.  It would be like if the day Ali dies, Joe Frazier wins Powerball.

That's all for this time.  I'll see you next time, if there is a next time...

Your pal,


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