Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Fixing California's Initiative System

My home state of California has always tried to be on the forefront of law and politics, to be as progressive as possible. California was one of the first community property states (implemented to encourage more women to move to California), one of the first to reform its procedures for lawsuits (the Field Code, for you legal scholars), and one of the first to allow the citizenry to vote on legislation that created and drafted by other citizenry - the initiative system.

And from that system, there's been some good things like medicinal marijuana, and real clunkers like Prop. 8, which made same-sex marriage unconstitutional, and the latest disaster - an initiative that would allow Californians to shoot and kill gays on the spot. But on the more pedestrian level, the initiative system allows the corporations to pull a lot of crap. For instance, in San Diego, when the City of San Diego refused to allow a Wal-Mart to be built in an area, Wal-Mart threatened to force the City into an expensive special election by placing its hand-written initiative on the ballot. Currently, there's a petition out there that would reverse an earlier, 7-2 decision by the City of San Diego to build a residential/commercial development, put forward by the developer's competition in the area.

Part of what drives the problems in the initiative voting process is the fact that voter turnout varies - general elections of Presidents get high turnout (50% or more of registered voters), primaries have a lower turnout (around 20-40%), and special elections have even lower turnouts (some as low as 10%). But an initiative passed in any election, regardless of the votes it receives, becomes law. What's more, the legislature can't overturn the initiative, but instead has to work around it. Little wonder the whole process is broken.

So, I have a few ideas on how to fix what could be a good system.

1) QUORUM CALLS: In any legislative body, anywhere, before the body can vote on any piece of legislation, the body has to count the number of members present to determine if there is enough people to vote. If there is enough people, there's a quorum, and the vote progresses, if not, the vote stalls. But as I stated above, once an initiative makes it on the ballot, it gets voted on, regardless of turnout, and if it passes, it becomes law. 

So, here's how I would fix that. If the People of the State of California are sitting as a legislative body, then like any other legislative body, there has to be a quorum of votes before any initiative can pass. This would be counted on election day (obviously), and I would humbly suggest that the quorum for initiatives be 50% of registered voters.  So, for an initiative to pass in this system, not only would the initiative have to get the majority of people who vote to vote for the initiative, but when counting the total votes (everyone who votes for and against the initiative), at least half of registered voters must have voted on the initiative one way or the other.

If there was such a requirement, think about how this would work - virtually every special election initiative would be lose because of turnout. That threat by Wal-Mart, or for One Paseo would also go nowhere. And that's important because special elections cost extra money that cities and counties may not have. What's more, there would be a focus on getting people to vote for the ballot initiative either way. 

2) VARY THE THRESHOLDS: One other annoying feature of the initiative system is that it allows voters the alter the California Constitution by a simple majority. And in the case of Prop. 8, this meant taking away some fundamental rights (the right to marry) from a whole lot of people by a majority vote. This is also stupid. If the State Legislature wants to amend the California Constitution, it requires a 2/3rds vote. The voters of the State of California should be held to the same standard. So, I would would require that any constitutional amendment must 1) meet the quorum requirement from above; and 2) get at least a 2/3rds vote. By the way, we already do this in the case of tax increases. Why should fundamental rights be any different.

And ultimately, this requirement would encourage more initiatives to be passed as statutes, not as amendments - which is a fantastic thing because even well-meaning initiatives are poorly written or poorly thought out. But if an initiative is a statute, rather than an amendment, it can be modified, corrected, or even overturned by the State Legislature and Governor. And given that the California State Legislature is a functioning legislature (unlike, say, Congress), the ability to modify statutes is significant.

While my suggestions may be idiotic for a variety of reasons, something has to be done to fix the initiative system.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

So You Wanna Beat Hillary Clinton, Huh?

In 2008 and 2012, my favorite posts to write were my "Rate the Contenda" blog posts, where I would make snarky and/or intelligent observations about candidates, such as when I said that Romney is naturally an asshole, but tries to hide it by being robotic (I still stand by the opinion), and I could write that blog post for the 2016 elections. Iowa, after all, is nine months away.

But let's face it, the 2016 election is going to be Hillary Clinton against some Republican dude. And if recent polls are to be believed, she's going to crush said Republican dude. And I will dance in glee over said election. 

With that said, if the GOP really wants to win in 2016, I am offering a few points, and hopefully, Secretary Clinton's people will read this and understand where her weak points are. So, without further ado, here is my first edition of, 


Let's begin:

1) Drop the Clinton Scandal Mongering: Hillary Clinton is sort of the opposite of George W. Bush - where Dubya got away with torture, lying the American people into war, having his VP shoot a dude in the face, imprisoning thousands of innocent people, more torture, trying to convince people that voting Democratic was treason, having his VP threaten to cancel elections, letting New Orleans drown, allowed corruption to take hold of the rebuilding process in New Orleans, and ignoring the CIA's repeated warnings about Osama bin Laden - Hillary gets shit on for a week about her emails. People are still steamed about it. The point being, that for whatever reason, every single bullshit thing thrown Hillary's way will stick. 

So, why not ride out the whole Clinton scandal of the week? Because like George H.W. Bush, Bob Dole, De Lazio, and a myriad of other fools, relying on scandals guarantees you 40% of the vote. Votes that you had to begin with as the dude running against HRC. Since 1992, who was the only guy to beat the Clintons? Barack Obama, and he ignored the bullshit scandal mongering.

2) Forget the Center - you know how Nixon said that during the primary you should run to the right, and then in the general you should run hard to your left? Yeah, that ain't gonna happen. Hillary Clinton is, like her husband, a Centrist. And yes, I capitalized Centrist on purpose. I don't mean that Clinton triangulates and ignores her values to be a centrist, I mean she's a to the core Centrist. Her most basic instincts will always pull her to the center. The one time she drifted leftward, you assholes hammered her down (the healthcare bill in 1993). Since then, she and Bill are hardcore moderates. And yes, that's a thing.

3) HRC's Biggest Weakness is Her Left Flank: I know you think that Clinton is the most liberal person ever, but that's because she's a woman, and so she must be a liberal. But as noted above, HRC is a Centrist to her core. As such, the Left of the Democratic Party like her, but we don't love her. We love Elizabeth Warren and Al Gore, we like Hillary. And that's where her weakness is - her left flank. If you, Republican dude, were to run to Hillary's left on some issue - legalization of pot, prison reform, open government, to name a few examples - it would resonate with a lot of voters. Remember Bush won in 2000 because Ralph Nader exploited the general discontent of the Democratic left with the Clintons.

4) Never, Ever, Ever, EVER Say ANYTHING EVEN REMOTELY MISOGYNISTIC: Yes, there are a lot of women who don't like Hillary Clinton personally, and if you play your cards right, you might get most of those women to vote for you. But God help you, if you make this race about misogyny, all of those women (even the ones who hate Hillary) will vote for her, and you will lose. Right now, she's the best chance women have to elect a President in the near future, and they don't want to fuck that up, especially to elect a misogynistic douchebag.

5) Corollary to No. 4: If You Pick A Woman as VP, She Better Hold Her Weight: I can see the thought process of picking a woman as VP - you get a mild buzz, and you defuse a bit of HRC's swagger. Its not an awful idea. 50 years of anti-choice policies won't help you, but if you can keep women from voting for Hillary en masse, you might have a shot. If you go this route, DO NOT PICK A DITZ. This woman will be poked, prodded, and tested. If she isn't up to snuff, you will look like a misogynistic douchebag and will lose badly.

With all that said, good luck to you. You're gonna need it. Honestly, I think the only way Hillary Clinton loses this race is if she fucks it up badly. Really badly. 

Also, for the peeps of the Notorious HRC (and you're not reading this vulgar blog, but whatever) - seriously, watch your boss' left flank. Its vulnerable. Come out in favor of something lefty, like marijuana legalization or something. Otherwise, you could get Nadered. 

Monday, March 16, 2015

Sometimes, Even Conservatives Are Right (Or They Should Be)

Since last summer, we've seen a rash of police violence that many of us on the Left are troubled, if not outraged by. It seems that some police departments are practically at war with the African American communities they are supposed to serve. The recent report by the Department of Justice on the Ferguson Police Department is absolutely damning - the City of Ferguson has used its police force to gin up traffic fines and increase overall revenue for the City, and engaged in a policy of targeting African Americans, using excessive force, and then hiding behind their position of law enforcement to prevent any repercussions.

Beyond me being appalled, the one thing that gets me is that, by and large, the issues raised in the Ferguson PD story, or in Tamir Rice killing, is the seemingly lack of conservative outrage. If ever there was a reason for conservatives to be outraged, its what happened in Ferguson. The Ferguson Police Department was tasked with shaking down Ferguson residents for money. Court fines and fees represented a huge portion of the City of Ferguson's annual revenue. In many cases, the DOJ's report instructs that the reason for the fines and fees were simply bullshit.

In the Tamir Rice killing, a 12 year old boy was killed in the park by Cleveland PD because it was reported that he had a gun (it actually was a toy that shot plastic pellets). The Police didn't know that because, per the video evidence, they pulled up to the boy in a squad car, got out, and immediately started shooting. Now here's the sad kicker - OHIO IS AN OPEN CARRY STATE. Even if he had a gun on him (which he didn't), for all the Cleveland PD knew, he could have been legally permitted to carry such a weapon openly. In other words, as far as the Cleveland PD knew, the boy (remember, Tamir Rice was 12) HAD NOT COMMITTED ANY CRIME.

In each incident or incidents, its been us lefties protesting and raising a ruckus. But I have to wonder, where is the conservative outrage? In Ferguson, citizens are being shaken down for money. In Cleveland, a 12 year old was killed while allegedly exercising his Second Amendment rights.  The NRA should be all over the asses of the Cleveland PD. Ted Cruz, Rand Paul and Jeb Bush should be fighting over cameras to put out their statements before one another. Fox News should have sent Hannity out to Ferguson to lose his shit on national television. These incidents are, after all, the result of government overreach and tyranny.

But no.

That's because the victims of the Ferguson shakedown scheme and Tamir Rice are African American, and the perpetuators are all white. And if the most recent polling data shows us, African Americans are almost exclusively Democrats (with less than 10% of African Americans voting for the GOP). Latino and Asian Americans have been following suit for decades.

Now, keep in mind that I'm not saying that all conservatives are racists (though that is definitely a perception that many non-white voters have), but I am saying that race is screwing up our politics. There should be a national outcry from both the Left and the Right over Ferguson, the over reliance on flashbang grenades by police, by the deaths of unarmed young men and boys, and a combined dialogue. Conservatives should be on the air denouncing the liberal nanny state and government tyranny, because here, THEY ARE ACTUALLY RIGHT. This is a winning issue for y'all. But no.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

A Few Thoughts on the Chargers Stadium Situation

Wow, I've been completely remiss with my blogging. I do have a few excuses (as many of you who know me know), but honestly, there are probably a hundred different blog posts in my head, and too little time to write. So eventually, I'm going to write about the 2016 Presidential Race, thoughts on being a new parent, and the Padres incredibly awesome off-season, but now, let's talk about the Chargers stadium.

First, I should mention my prejudices in writing this: I am a huge, huge, Chargers fan. I read Bolts from the Blue religiously, follow around 5-10 people on Twitter who write about the Chargers, and live-tweet their games constantly. It should also be noted that I worked for Prop. C, which was the local referendum that built Petco Park (where the Padres play). 

I should also give some background for you non-San Diegans/non-football fans: the San Diego Chargers moved from Los Angeles to San Diego in 1961. Shortly after they did so, San Diego built Jack Murphy Stadium, which was a dual-use (football/baseball) stadium. They played at Jack Murphy for 30-ish years until, in 1995 (shortly after the Chargers were slaughtered in the Super Bowl), the City and the Chargers agreed to expand Jack Murphy Stadium, and the City agreed to guarantee a certain amount of ticket sales. While that was going on, the City completely screwed up the San Diego employee pension fund (perhaps fraudulently), and for around ten years, the City's finances were completely fucked. So fucked that the New York Times referred to San Diego as "the Enron by the Sea."

Luckily, San Diego's city governance has improved significantly since then. Jerry Sanders, Bob Filner, and Todd Gloria all did well in managing the finances. Unfortunately, Jerry Sanders and Todd Gloria were both caretakers - Sanders, by choice, and Gloria by his interim status. Bob Filner, meanwhile, sexually harassed basically every woman he came into contact with. So, in other words, since Jack Murphy Stadium was expanded (and renamed Qualcomm Stadium), the City has either been a total mess or run by someone who decided to take a caretaker role.

In the meantime, for a variety of reasons, the teams that were originally in Los Angeles - the Rams and Raiders - moved. And so the second largest media market is just sitting there, empty. Qualcomm Stadium has been slowly becoming more and more outdated, and the Chargers have been pushing for a new stadium for fourteen years.

But, with the election of Kevin Falconer, a politician who shares the same political party as the Spanos family (who own the Chargers), and who probably received money from them, as Mayor, it appeared that there would be a deal to build a new stadium. But yesterday and today, the Chargers and the Mayor's office went back and forth attacking each other in passive aggressive ways. So, what's going on?

Its really pretty simple - the Chargers want to move to Los Angeles, but don't want to take the PR hit. In the meantime, the City doesn't want to pay the $800 million it would take to build a new stadium, but Falconer also doesn't want to take the PR hit. After all, Falconer got elected, in part, because people assumed he would be able to build a stadium.

But, how can I say that the Chargers want to leave? Because I remember when the Padres put Prop. C on the ballot in 1998. Like I said, I worked on that campaign. The Padres came up with a plan to build Petco, worked with City officials to come up with the very best plan possible, and then spent a year answering every question from every person in the City. When that was done, they put up their own money to place the Proposition on the ballot, hired the best political consultants they could, and then worked their ass off getting the Proposition passed. Again, I worked on that campaign. We walked to every registered voter in the City. Twice.

The Chargers haven't done any of that. Nor has Falconer. And no one is holding public meetings trying to iron out a deal. Why would the Chargers? If the City fails to build a stadium, they get to move to LA, the second largest media market in the country. That's not a consolation prize, people.

For San Diego, the numbers are awful. Why spend $800 million plus for a building that's used 20 days a year for its dedicated purpose? We now know enough about sports economics to know that the benefits of a new stadium don't apply to football, and barely apply to baseball (but absolutely apply to the NBA). 

That said, I'm surprised that Falconer and the Chargers can't cut a deal. Falconer needs a new stadium deal because it will validate his mayorship, and cement his status as a pro-business/getting things done mayor. A new stadium gives him a good shot at reelection. But with the recent fireworks, it seems pretty clear the Chargers are gonzo.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Return of the Kinda, Sorta, But Not Really Prodigal Son

While its not news to me, the word is getting around about Steve Rivera running for Chair of the San Diego County Democratic Party against Francine Busby, who is the current Chair of the Party.  Now, whatever the merits of the various arguments for and against each candidate, the one thing that caught my attention from the article was Francine Busby's statement that Steve Rivera hasn't done anything. And that's a bit odd to me because, if anything, Steve running for Chair is pretty much the culmination of years of dedication to the Party.

Before I get too far into this, I should note that I know Steve personally for. . .a long time.  I'm not going to tell you for how long, but let's just say that I suddenly feel very old. Ugh.  Steve was one of the very first people I met when I first got into politics, and I consider him a friend. So, feel free to take my remarks with a huge grain of salt.  At the same time, I don't believe I've ever met Francine Busby - I was transitioning away from politics and more into law right around the time she started running for office. So, I don't have any opinion of Busby either way.

But as I said, I do know Steve. And in every respect, he's running for the position he should have held YEARS ago. Steve Rivera has been a former Vice Chair of the San Diego County Democratic Party, the former Publications Director of the San Diego County Democratic Party, former Vice President of the California Young Democrats (I believe), former President of the San Diego County Young Democrats, Former Regional Director for both the California Young Democrats and the California Democratic Party, and probably been involved with the Democratic Party at every level for a long time. Again, I'm not going to say how long because it makes me feel old. So, so, old.

Anyway, with all that experience, there were more than a few instances where someone in the Party would wonder when Steve would finally run for Chair. And when asked, Steve would beg off for one reason or another. So with Steve FINALLY (and seriously, Steve, F-I-N-A-L-L-Y) running for Chair, it feels for me like the prodigal son is coming home. Which, of course, is absolutely ridiculous because Steve's been around the whole time gaining more and more experience.

It is that experience that makes Steve such a great choice for Chair. Steve has served at literally every level of the Democratic Party*, and knows what each level can bring to the table, and what each level needs to succeed.  The best Party Chairs are facilitators, working behind the scenes to formulate strategy, and also making the occasional statement to the media. Steve can do that as well, if not better, than anyone. So, I'm pretty ecstatic that he's running (FINALLY).

And right now, the San Diego County Democratic Party needs someone like Steve because RIGHT NOW we have an opportunity for big things. With Toni Adkins being the Speaker of the Assembly, and Lorena Gonzalez being everything that I thought she'd be, San Diego has pull right now in Sacramento. I don't mean we're okay, I mean we have the kind of pull in Sacramento that San Diego has never had before, and probably won't have again in a long, long time.

A good Chair of the Party will take advantage of that as much as possible, and Steve definitely will be a great Chair.  So, if I were a voter on the Central Committee (which I'm not), I would look at Steve's candidacy as not a statement on Francine Busby's failures as Chair, but as an opportunity to get someone GREAT in the position during this short window of opportunity. For me, its a no-brainer. Steve Rivera for Chair of the San Diego County Democratic Party.

*For those of you who aren't familiar with the structure of the Party, it goes kind of like this:

Club Level - Clubs are just that, groups of people who are politically minded, but not necessarily highly involved. Some clubs are geographically centered (Ex. La Mesa - Foothills Democratic Club), some are centered around a constituency (San Diego County Young Democrats), and some are centered around a certain policy (Democrats for Equality).

Committee Level - The leadership of the clubs (or the more active club members) can join committees for specific regions set up by Assembly District. Members of an AD are also members of the California Democratic Party.

Central Committee - This is the main governing body of the County Party. These are technically elected officials, as each Assembly District selects 6 people to serve on the Central Committee (last thing on the ballot).

Executive Committee - These are the officers of the County Party selected by the members of the Central Committee.

California Democratic Party - this is the overarching organization of all Democratic Clubs, Committees, and Central Committees.

Democratic National Committee - This is the National Party. They elect Presidents and whatnot.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Ugh. . .A Post About Police and Violence

Ever since this summer and the events in Ferguson, I've been thinking about the police and the violent world we find ourselves. In fact, if you are an American, you've had to think about these issues because they've dominated our news feeds for the past six months or so.  But with the birth of my daughter coming soon, I've been left wondering about the world she's being born into, and where I want the world to be when she's an adult.

And then on Saturday, a deranged gunman with a history of violence and mental illness* shot and killed two New York City Police Officers. He did so claiming that he was avenging the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner - two African American men killed by White police officers. The two police officers he killed, by the way, were not White, one was Latino, the other was Asian. In response, Rudy Giuliani and others blamed Progressives like me for this lunatic's actions. In response to them, I'd like to say a few things:

The Killing of Officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos is Absolutely Tragic and Awful: Before anything really can be said, the deaths of these two men, who only sought to serve and protect the people of New York City, is absolutely terrible. Honestly, there aren't words for how bad this is. Officer Ramos just got married a few months ago. Neither of these two men deserved to die like this, and their deaths were pointless and horrific. Because the shooter (who I won't name because fuck that guy) took his own life, the families of the fallen will not get justice. Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck. Unfortunately, I'm getting used to this feeling - its the same feeling I had after Newtown, the Gifford's shooting, and half a dozen other mass shootings.  

Police Officers Can Be, and Usually Are, a Force for Good: I hate getting ticketed as much as the next guy, but police officers are there to keep everyone safe, and they generally do a fantastic job of it. Crime rates in this country are down to pretty much the lowest point ever (except for the South Side of Chicago, for some reason). What's more, police officers are often the first level of government interaction with people. I've had police officers refer cases to me when I worked for the Fair Housing Council of San Diego, and sat on the San Diego Hate Crimes Taskforce with several members of law enforcement. 99% of the police officers I've known throughout my life have been good people.

But, with that said:

Police Officers Have Way Too Much Latitude In the Use of Violence: Over the past summer, we've seen the police shoot and kill several unarmed African American men and boys, and the circumstances for each killing is awful and tragic. But its not the deaths of these men and boys that's the problem - these deaths represent a tiny fraction of the confrontations Police Officers have with the general public every single day - but how those deaths are handled by the justice system that's bad.

Let's take the example of the Michael Brown shooting in Ferguson. Michael Brown and Officer Darren Wilson have a confrontation where Michael Brown is shot and killed by Darren Wilson. This death is a tragedy - Michael Brown was 19 years old and set to go to college in the fall.  Without knowing the circumstances Michael Brown's death, what I do know is that in response to his death, the Ferguson Police Department left Michael Brown's body out to rot for several hours, that they immediately had Darren Wilson go into hiding, and the first public statement by the Ferguson Police Department attacked Michael Brown (for stealing some cheap cigars). Then, the District Attorney, rather than investigating the incident and determining whether or not to indict Darren Wilson, submitted evidence to a Grand Jury, including evidence the District Attorney knew was false (and thus, suborning perjury), and gave the Grand Jury the wrong legal standard for the indictment. In other words, he bent over backwards to make sure Darren Wilson would not be indicted.

My point is, I don't know whether or not Darren Wilson was justified in shooting Michael Brown and killing him. But its pretty clear from the actions of his fellow officers and the District Attorney that it didn't matter one way or another. He was never going to be charged with a crime. And this is just one of many examples of police officers using violence in questionable circumstances and prosecutors letting them do so. There are no effective checks on the power of police officers to kill or maim citizens.  And that's scary since we give police officers the right to kill and/or maim, and provide them with the instrumentalities to do so.

Look, police officers will, on occasion, have to kill people. That's why police officers are provided handguns, bullet proof vests, shotguns, and firearms. That's why we pay taxes to not just provide these instrumentalities of killing, but also provide police officers with training on when and how to kill people. It is an awful, but necessary, part of the job.  The key is what is done after the shooting - who investigates the shooting, who determines whether to prosecute, how the officer is treated - and that is still unsettled.

Going back to our Michael Brown example, had the Ferguson Police Department immediately stated that (1) the death of Michael Brown was a horrible tragedy; (2) that Officer Darren Wilson was involved in the shooting and has been put on administrative leave (with pay) pending the outcome of the investigation; and (3) that the investigation will be lead by a Special Prosecutor to avoid the appearance of a conflict (as the St. Louis DA's father, a police officer, was shot and killed in the line of duty) - had the system appeared to be working impartially - there would have been few, if any, protests. That wasn't Michael Brown's fault, that wasn't Darren Wilson's fault, that was the fault of the Ferguson Police Department and the St. Louis DA.

And that's my point - we have to give police officers latitude to perform their duties and to protect their lives, but doing so can't mean giving police the right to kill or maim at will.

Progressives Like Bill de Blasio, Al Sharpton, and Jesse Jackson Had Nothing to Do With the Murders of Officers Ramos and Liu: Now here, I do have to admit that I'm being a bit hypocritical here - in the aftermath of the shooting of Gabby Giffords, I blamed conservatives for the act of a deranged man. But that said, at no time did de Blasio, Sharpton, Jackson, President Obama, or anyone else use violent rhetoric against police officers. They didn't put the faces of Officers Liu and Ramos on a website and put targets over their pictures, nor did they suggest that protesters find a "2nd Amendment solution" to police violence. Instead, they asked questions raised by the protesters were already raising.

No, the deaths of Officers Ramos and Liu came as a result of a deranged man who instead of committing suicide, killed his girlfriend and then went hunting for the police. Was he drawn to do this by the rhetoric of the protesters? Maybe. Maybe he wanted to commit suicide by cop. But ultimately, he chose to commit these crimes himself, despite constant calls for nonviolence and restraint from people like de Blasio and Obama. He chose to kill Officers Ramos and Liu.

Anyway, this is a horrible subject and I hope to write about more joyful topics (and write more often) next year.

*By the way, the fact that the shooter had a mental illness doesn't mean he naturally violent. There are lots of people who suffer from mental illness who aren't violent.

Monday, September 8, 2014

On Ray Rice. . .

Over the summer, an interesting video appeared, showing Baltimore Raven running back Ray Rice dragging his now wife from an elevator in Atlantic City, New Jersey.  The reason he was dragging her from the elevator is because she was completely unconscious. Because, it was believed, he knocked her out.

In the intervening weeks after the incident, Ray Rice married the woman he knocked unconscious, and she apologized for her role in the incident, stating that she "provoked" the violent attack.  After what was alleged to be a thorough investigation, the NFL suspended Ray Rice for two games (out of the sixteen that are normally played).  In the meantime, several NFL players were suspended for an entire season (all sixteen games) for using marijuana.  The whole thing left a bad taste in everyone's mouth, and as sports fans, we tried to move on.

Then TMZ released the following video, shot from INSIDE THE ELEVATOR.

Whereas before we could only see the aftermath, we now can see the incident in its entirety.  There are a couple of things that gets me about the video:

1) It appears what started as an argument escalated to violence when Ray Rice stands too close to his wife in the elevator, and she pushes him away with her elbow. If Ray Rice steps away from his wife, who's clearly agitated at this point, the incident is over. Instead, he slaps her, she attacks in retaliation, and he punches her.

2) Rice's reaction to knocking his wife completely unconscious (for several minutes, mind you) is chilling. Let's say you are having a fight with your significant other, and during said fight, you accidentally or purposefully (or instinctively) caused your significant other to be knocked out. How would you react? Most likely, you'd be concerned for your significant other, and call 911 to seek medical attention. This is especially true if, as here, your significant other hit her head on the elevator handrail.

Ray Rice's reaction not to immediately seek medical attention, but rather, was to calmly DRAG HIS WIFE FROM THE ELEVATOR. Seriously.

3) Up until the release of this video, everyone was pretty much on board with the idea that Ray Rice was "defending himself" from his wife. And in fact, the Ravens got Mrs. Rice to "apologize" for her part in the altercation. 

I'm going to let that sink in for a moment. . .waiting. . .waiting. . .Yes, that's right, she felt the need to APOLOGIZE FOR BEING KNOCKED OUT AND DRAGGED FROM AN ELEVATOR.  Of course, the poor woman was so concussed that she probably wouldn't remember the details of that night.

4) Both the NFL and the Atlantic City DA should be ashamed of themselves. Either they saw this video and agreed to let Ray Rice walk with a slap on the wrist, or they didn't see the video (IT HAPPENED IN A CASINO, OF COURSE THERE WAS VIDEO), and decided they didn't need to see it. Ugh.

With the DA, I guess I could make some excuses - juries are fickle, the complaining witness was going to be uncooperative (and probably had no memory of the incident), etc. For the NFL, this is nothing short of a PR disaster. Let's compare - Ray Rice was suspended for two games for violently attacking his fiancee (now wife), then dragging her unconscious body across the floor. Josh Gordon, of the Cleveland Browns, was suspended an entire season for smoking weed. Gotta love the drug war. Oh, and Von Miller, a player for the Denver Broncos, was suspended four games (twice Rice's punishment) for smoking weed even though SMOKING WEED IS LEGAL IN COLORADO.  Gotta love the war on drugs.

Anyway, I'm glad that to see that Rice was cut by the Ravens and then suspended indefinitely by the NFL. It should have happened a lot sooner.