Welcome to another episode of random thoughts blogging - unfortunately, I think this will become more and more common for me the busier I get. But without further ado. . .
1) I Have No Idea Who I'm Supporting in Race for Mayor of San Diego
In the aftermath of Bob Filner resigning (and actually pleading guilty to felony assault charges!), we in San Diego have a new mayor's race. While there are a fair number of candidates, there are essentially four who matter (because of money and connections): David Alvarez, Nathan Fletcher, Kevin Faulconer, and Mike Aguirre. Alvarez and Faulconer are currently City Councilmembers, Fletcher is a former State Assemblymember, and Aguirre used to be City Attorney. Aguirre and Alvarez are long-time Democrats, Fletcher just flipped parties, and Faulconer is a Republican who doesn't want to be known as such.
Now picking who I don't like in this race is relatively easy. Even though I respect Aguirre deeply, and hope to one day make as much money as a Plaintiffs' lawyer as Aguirre did, his tenure as City Attorney was messy. Not all of the mess was Mike's doing, but a good chunk of it was because he's an abrasive guy. As for Faulconer, well, his career as a City Councilman was relatively undistinguished. His two major pieces of legislation, banning booze on the beach and ending some pensions for City employees, aren't exactly gems in my book. His beach booze ban originally had a huge loophole in it that the City Council had to go back and fix. And on the pension thing, he played second banana to Carl DeMaio and Jerry Sanders, so he didn't have a lot to do with it. Add to that the fact that Faulconer is a diehard Republican, and is desperately trying to hide that fact, and yeah, you can see why I'm not a big fan.
So that leaves me with Alvarez and Fletcher. Alvarez is backed by the San Diego Labor Council, the San Diego County Democratic Party, and a fair number of people I absolutely respect. He's somewhat soft-spoken, and a dyed in wool progressive. So if there is someone who will carry Filner's vision of San Diego forward (minus the disgusting sexual harassment, of course), Alvarez is the guy. But. . .Alvarez leaves me flat. Plus, he's younger than me by several years. Ugh. Me old.
Fletcher, on the other hand, doesn't leave anyone flat. Everyone is running independent expenditures against him, and he's peppy. He fits into the Cory Booker mold of saving people, or talking them off bridges and stuff. In short, he looks like a mayor. And that's why the Republican Party is pumping money into this race - Nathan Fletcher, if elected mayor, doesn't stop there. He becomes Senator Fletcher, Governor Fletcher, maybe even President. The guy is a star, no doubt. And the lynchpin of his future success will be what he does as San Diego's mayor.
But. . .Fletcher's been a Democrat for less than a year. Before that, he was a Republican, and worked for terrible people like Duke Cunningham (who wasn't just awful because he accepted bribes, but was generally an awful person). So, I don't know how deeply his progressivism goes. Fletcher is also younger than me, but not quite as much. Ugh. Me old.
2) Toronto's Mayor Is AWESOME!!!
In my lifetime there have been two mayors caught on camera smoking crack - Marion Berry and Rob Ford. Until recently, I couldn't think of a bigger downfall than Berry's, who explained his crack smoking with the following timeless phrase, "Bitch set me up!" But Rob Ford took the cake when he explained that while he did smoke crack, he did so when he was in a drunken stupor, so its all good. Never before has anyone explained away crack usage through alcoholism. I. . .it. . .amazing. Just AMAZING. We're definitely at the stage where people from Toronto are so used to being asked about their mayor that they simply say, "yes, I know, my mayor's a crackhead," to everyone they meet. I feel for you guys.
3) Ritchie Incognito and Jonathan Martin:
Like a fair number of sports fans, I've been following the saga of Ritchie Incognito and Jonathan Martin. Obviously, this is a complicated story and there are a fair number of things we don't know. We think we know that the Miami coaches told Incognito to "toughen" up Jonathan Martin, a youngish left tackle for the Miami Dolphins. We know that Incognito extorted $15,000 from Martin to pay for a trip to Las Vegas that Martin didn't go to. We know that Incognito left a series of voicemails that threatened violence against Martin and his family, that used the "n" word, and that the harassment continued beyond Martin's rookie year, and was so bad that Martin up and left the team. We also know that the Dolphins suspended Incognito from the team indefinitely. We also know that the Dolphins' players are rushing to Incognito's defense, not Martin's, and that Dolphins' GM believes Martin should have violently attacked Incognito in response to the harassment.
So, I have a couple of thoughts. If the Dolphins' GM really thinks that way, he's an idiot. If Martin physically attacked Incognito, does Jeff Ireland really think that Incognito would take it? Or maybe, the two THREE HUNDRED POUND LINEMAN MIGHT GET INTO A FIGHT IN THE MIDDLE OF A LOCKER ROOM? Other players would jump in to break up the fight, between the nice guy who snapped (Martin), and the overall psycho (Incognito). Think there might be injuries, maybe? What if Ryan Tannehill jumped in, and broke his throwing shoulder? Is that the outcome you are hoping for Jeff Ireland? You dipshit.
Second, I can understand why the team is backing Incognito over Martin - the culture of the team is for older, "tougher" players to harass younger players. Rookies have to pay for dinners and other things of older players. Incognito was fulfilling the role the team wanted him to play. Martin's failure was that he reacted responsibly, but outside the team's norms.
Thirdly, banning "hazing" in the NFL isn't going to solve a problem like this. All groups need rites of passage - things that new people must do before they are fully accepted into the group. And rookie hazing is part of that rite of passage. But the problem is that the ritual aspect of the rite has been stripped away, and all that is left is unfocused harassment of younger players because there are no norms that both the older player and the younger player can be expected to adhere to. And that's what leads to the abuses that you see here.
And there is no question that there were abuses. Despite Incognito's alleged "honorary black man" status, he verbally, and perhaps physically attacked Martin. His use of the "n" word wasn't meant as playful banter, it was meant as a threat. It was used the way that the "n" word was originally intended to mean - that Martin was less than human, and who can be killed at any time. Also keep in mind that Martin WAS NOT A ROOKIE. His time to be harassed was supposed to be over. So, in that context, I respect Martin for getting out of the situation, and shame on the Dolphins for letting it happen. If I were the owner, I'd fire the coaching staff and my GM over this embarrassment.