You're just going to have to trust me on this one because I have no way of proving it, but before I read this post on Donald Sterling from Tea Party icon / ex-Congressman Allen West (who managed the amazing feat of being too insane for Florida voters) I bet myself $5 that he would mention Benghazi. It was too easy to predict that this would end up being about Obama. Fish in a barrel. But I had faith that at his Allen West Best – smearing shit on himself while he swings from chandeliers at the John Birch Society headquarters – he could make this about Benghazi. Because if we know anything about the Tea Party, Benghazi Benghazi Benghazi Benghazi Card Check Fast and Furious Solyndra Benghazi.

I'm sick and cranky and I can't believe adult Americans elected this person to Congress. Let's just do this. Let's enjoy the perspective of someone who Tea Pertiers love because he's as insane as all the other halfwits they put on pedestals with the added benefit of making them feel not-racist because, hey, they like one black person now.

“Upon further review, the ruling on the field (court)…” These are the words stated by referees after they’ve gone to the reply booth (monitor) in order to clarify a controversial call. Often, the reason for the review is because of a coach’s challenge. Therefore, in the same light, let us review the case of LA Clippers owner, Donald Sterling.

Yes, let's take this to the "reply booth." It's clearly the kind of thing that will look different if we change our perspective. There's a ton of subtlety here and once we look at this in a more nuanced way we'll come to see that Donald Sterling had some interesting things to say about the kind of black people who smell.

There can be no debate that the words of Mr. Sterling were reprehensible and disgusting. But how and why did these words come to light now, when his points of view were apparently well-known for many years?

Pretty basic example of the R. Kelly Theorem. You can get away with a lot if you avoid cameras and microphones. Allen West knows this problem all too well, as his primary shortcoming as a politician was that cameras and microphones recorded his words. Eventually this allowed people to determine that he is insane. I can see why he feels empathy for Sterling.

It seems his “girlfriend,” Ms. Stiviano, decided to tape a private conversation between the two. Apparently, Ms. Stiviano had recently been sued by the estranged wife of Mr. Sterling, so there is some potential nefarious motive involved.

Sounds like a stand-up guy already. Sell it.

Furthermore, the taping of a conversation without consent of the other party is illegal under California statute. There is some question as to whether he knew he was being recorded. Let’s assume for the moment he didn’t.

Sterling should sue her in a California court for secretly recording him. I'm serious.

That should reverse all of the damage done. Really set things right. Now I'm not being serious.

The national outrage against Mr. Sterling has come from an act that could be illegal and inadmissible in a court of law. Nevertheless, the court of public opinion has tried and convicted Mr. Sterling of being a jerk.

Well, our court system does not currently adjudicate questions of whether someone is a jagoff. Maybe someday. It would require a constitutional amendment or at least a law against jagoffery. But Allen, are you arguing that we shouldn't pass judgment on someone unless it comes from legally admissible evidence? Cool! That's an interesting new standard. Let ACORN know.

But have we come to a point in America where being a jerk is grounds for confiscation of a private property? It was Englishman John Locke who first proposed that individual rights as granted under natural law were life, liberty, and property. It was Thomas Jefferson who in the American Declaration of Independence used that paradigm to propose our unalienable rights from our Creator being life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Sterling’s comments were repulsive, but they were stated in the privacy of his own home — at least he thought it was private.

OK this is an important point – it's not "property." It's not "his" team. It's a franchise. Do you know what a franchise is? Let's use a McDonald's franchise as an analogy. If you violate your franchise agreement – say, you decide not to clean your restrooms and you take the Big Mac off the menu in favor of McMuskrat Strips – the corporation takes away your franchise. You're operating it as though you own it, but your "ownership" is subject to the agreed upon conditions. Franchise agreements exist because the behavior of one franchisee affects all others. If someone patronizes your shitty restaurant and swears off McDonald's forever, that makes it harder for every other franchisee to make money not to mention the corporate office.

So if one NBA owner makes it harder for every other franchise to make money – say, by causing people to boycott games and generally diminishing the image of a league with a large black fan base – the NBA will protect its interests.

So where do we go from here?

You go to the library to learn what "franchise" means.

Have we come to the point that private conversations can be taped and released in the public domain in order to ruin the livelihood –pursuit of happiness — of private citizens?

Is this a serious question? OK let me ask one too: "Have we come to the point that a picture of a private citizen at a Klan rally can be released into the public domain to ruin someone's pursuit of happiness?"

Ms. Stiviano, or whomever, knew exactly what they wanted the end result to be as they released this tape to TMZ.

I bet she also knew exactly what she wanted the result to be when she added water to oatmeal and put it in the microwave. I am so bored with whatever "argument" West is making here that I am daydreaming a "House" script where it is actually lupus. They solve the case in like five minutes and the rest of the episode is just Cameron and 13 making out in the shower. I see some potential here.

Is this the “new normal?”

Yes. Everyone is carrying a recording device everywhere.

Is this a violation of our privacy rights?

No. You're very stupid.

Ok, so what types of conversations occur in the privacy of the NBA locker rooms, or the homes of the players? Yes, this is indeed a slippery slope as Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban asserted.

To paraphrase the right wing argument about Bush-era wiretapping, as long as you're not going on racist rants you shouldn't have anything to worry about!

Fox News host and commentator Greg Gutfeld applauded this moment because of the consensus outrage being displayed. But I believe this outrage misplaced, or more accurately, mis-prioritized. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said Sterling’s behavior was “dangerous to the NBA.”

But it isn't, right Allen?

Where is the cultural, public outrage over a behind closed door comment such as referring to the State of Israel as an “apartheid state?” Probably most of America doesn’t know who said it or even what “aparteid” means.

First of all, when a word has the red squiggle under it that means you misspelled it. Second, there is no outrage because this statement is A) true and B) absolutely not even a little bit slightly analogous to what Sterling said. I mean, I guess if you want to twist it and argue that they are similar you're doing the rest of us a favor by admitting that you have so little rhetorical ground on which to stand that you have to stoop to this ridiculous level to make your "just as bad" argument.

Or how about the outrage that should have come when our own president leaned over to then-Russian President Medvedev sayng, “Tell Putin that after my reelection I will have more flexibility” and of course Medvedev said, “I will tell Vladimir.” And now we know what that “flexibility” has allowed.

Aren’t those “private” chats reflective of behavior that is dangerous for the United States?

Yeah I can see how we got here from Donald Sterling.

Or how about the lies and deceit of President Obama on healthcare and of course Benghazi, which we now know a video had nothing to do with.


"And of course Benghazi." This is like satire, only better. Now do one about the cost of real estate in San Francisco and connect it to Benghazi. Difficulty Level 9. You can do it.

Has our culture devolved to the point that the private statements of an NBA owner draws more outrage than the lies and deceit of the President of the United States?

Well plenty of You People have been extremely outraged over that for years now. It's deceptive and inaccurate to pretend that no one cares. But it's correct to say that most of us don't care. The reason we don't care is that it's a big cauldron of horseshit that anyone with even the most basic understanding of the facts – that excludes the Teabaggers, so you're in the clear Allen! – realizes is a wingnut conspiracy theory that falls apart under the barest scrutiny.

Donald Sterling’s behavior is despicable, but so is that of President Barack Hussein Obama — and whose abhorrent behavior has more impact on our country?

One of those is objectively true. The other is Allen West's opinion. Being a very stupid and demonstrably unhinged person, Allen West's opinion carries as much weight as a dormouse.

The difference is that the media lead us along like sheep to the slaughter, turning us into reactionary, shallow thinking, low information voters along the way.

We know more about Sterling than Benghazi — or the IRS scandal.

YEAH THERE'S THAT "IRS SCANDAL" THAT WAS COMPLETELY DEBUNKED LIKE A YEAR AGO. The media did drop the ball – by reporting on it as a "scandal" in the first place without doing any research just to appeal to old hysterical white people, the cornerstone of the cable news audience.

Sterling is a jerk, an unlikeable fella, but is he guilty of a crime that demands his property be confiscated? Uh, no.

Are you on any meds, Allen? You can't seriously be this stupid. I am starting to feel racist trying to quantify just how unintelligent you are. This sounds like it was written by a middle school student, and not a particularly bright one. The "slow" kid who sits in the back, has a rat tail, and teaches the other nine year-olds how to swear.

We’re told however that Obama is a likable fella –regardless of the incessant lies, deceit and abject failures. What is happening to American culture and values?

I don’t like jerks, but I really don’t like jerks who are liars, do you?

Jerks and liars are pretty bad, but I prefer either to drooling morons.

You know what's odd about death? When you die, you don't realize you're dead so it can't upset you. It's everyone around you who has to struggle to deal with it.
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In that sense death and stupidity are very similar, Allen.


  • "You know what's odd about death? When you die, you don't realize you're dead so it can't upset you. It's everyone around you who has to struggle to deal with it. In that sense death and stupidity are very similar, Allen."

    Fucking eh well said.

    I lost all respect for the former congressman when he said he wouldn't have someone who was a muslim in his cabinet.

    50 years ago that would have been some white guy saying he wouldn't have a negro in his cabinet.

  • "This sounds like it was written by a middle school student, and not a particularly bright one."

    This pretty much describes any conservative or reactionary screed. When I go toe-to-toe with a liberal thinker, I have to be on my toes and keep my sources handy. When I'm sparring against conservatives, it's like punching an infant.

  • This pretty much describes any conservative or reactionary screed.

    And the books they write. I've only read a couple of Thomas Sowell's books, but he makes Malcolm Gladwell look like Thomas Piketty.

  • Well done! You wrote a post on two things I don't care about (NBA & Allen West) so well I read the whole thing anyway.

  • I was just transferred to Florida, and I have absolutely no trouble believing that this guy got elected.

  • c u n d gulag says:

    "Have we come to the point that private conversations can be taped and released in the public domain in order to ruin the livelihood –pursuit of happiness — of private citizens?"

    Well, if James O'Keefe read this West screed, he's probably in a dead faint right now, because his whole career is based on doing just that!!!

    Somebody throw a pail of water on him, to wake him up.
    But don't waterboard him with it!
    Nobody, not even scum like him, deserves that.

  • "When I'm sparring against conservatives, it's like punching an infant."

    You're giving them too much credit. I would, if given a choice between debating Terry Schaivo and a KKKonservative, I'd have to pick the one that can breathe unassisted.

  • c u n d gulag says:

    Oh, btw – great takedown, Ed!

    But I'd save these efforts for more difficult targets.
    Allen West is like a very stupid fish in a very small barrel.

  • Being forced to sell your property for (likely) over a *billion dollars* pursuant to an eforceable contract between private individuals—-> GOVERNMENT CONFISCATION OF PRIVATE PROPERTY IN VIOLATION OF THE FIFTH AMENDMENT

  • As a combat veteran I always cringe when his military background is used to lend credence to his intellectual vomit. Just goes to show that the military does not take resumes.

  • You know the difference between West and, say, Krauthammer? One of them knows some long words and has some idea of where to put them in a sentence. Everything's like a discussion with a toddler – "He made me do it!"; "Oh, yeah, well, he's mean!"; "I'm not screaming, _you're_ screaming!" Do none of these people have any self-respect at all?

  • negative 1 says:

    What gets me about this is that the de facto conservative argument is that it was a private conversation. I have never, ever, ever heard a conservative make the argument that looking at someone's facebook page for a job interview should not be allowed. I will guarantee any offending comments were not posted thinking that a person's employer was going to see them. Even folks who have the max privacy settings are threatened into forking over the passwords, yet nary a word from the same folks defending Sterling.

  • Just want to give my kudos. I love the FJM format and this is one of my favorite columns of late.

  • Number Three says:

    The right-wing's outpouring of sympathy for this abominable man is the last evidence anyone should need for the proposition that contemporary American politics is just identity politics all the way down. If African American NBA players are angry about something, then there are just elements (including some African Americans!) who reflexively determine that there's something wrong with that anger. It's not about privacy (as the comments show, no one cares about employees' privacy, etc.). It's not even so much about race (except to the extent that race is part of the identity context).

    It's Us v. Them, especially for the right. That's why all those other scandals are relevant — they're just additional examples of "Them" people — Obama, Clinton, the IRS.

    Speaking of the IRS, George Will's column on the IRS today was amazing! How many words on civil forfeiture can you write without focusing on its abuse by state and local law enforcement! The answer: enough to make your word quota on the WaPo op-ed page.

  • It's billionaire vs billionaire and who does the tea partiers side with? Why of course, it has to be the most offensive one.

  • They can't help it, can they?

    Do you think it ever occurred to them that it was possible NOT to leap to Sterling's defense? I mean, it's not like it was Paul Ryan or Chris Christie or Rand Paul who got caught saying these things. There was nothing (at least in the minds of the non-pathetically stupid) political about this story.

    They actually could have said nothing.

    But no. A white guy – a rich one to boot – is in danger of having something happen to him that he doesn't want to happen. And they just cannot let that be.

  • Do you suppose that Allen West spends his time traveling throughout the South, demanding not to be served at restaurants and retail establishments? Or that he pulls over police in Arizona, insisting that he be beaten and arrested on trumped-up charges? Does he demand that he be turned away from polling booths?

    Allen West seems to believe that if ruling bodies don't stop vicious, racist shit from happening, the problem will go away on its own. Allen West is therefore A. crazy, B. stupid, or C. a collaborator.

    Or D. Clarence Thomas.

  • So, I guess the right-wingers defending Sterling think that President Clinton shouldn't have been impeached, since we never would have learned about the blowie he got from Monica Lewinsky if Linda Tripp hadn't secretly and illegally recorded the intern bragging about it?

  • @ronzie9- I was gonna say the same thing.
    What I've read is that Sterling actually knew he was being taped- something about wanting to remember everything he'd said since he can't always remember anymore because he's old. And Sterling admitted to saying the things on the tape. So the "privacy" issue is out. He admitted to being a racists dirtbag- I mean, the dude got sued how many times for housing discrimination?
    I also have read from a few different sources that the players were going to walk off the courts and refuse to play- all the NBA players, doing a wildcat strike. Want to make it personal for the other owners? Start making sure they miss a payment or three.
    Sports leagues have already gone to court to preserve their right to make judgements about who can and who can't own a team in their league. The Phoenix Coyotes had an agreement in place a few years back to be sold to the Blackberry guy, until the league sued, saying that it had the right to determine who did and who didn't own teams. The court ruled in the league's favor, and so while Sterling can sue, he's gonna have a hard time overcoming that- any league can make decisions about who owns teams in their league, who the let into their club.
    And for those that feel "sorry" for Sterling? Get a goddamn grip. The dude is going to get upwards of a billion dollars for the Clippers- sure, he won't be a NBA owner anymore, but he'll still be a super-rich scumbag. His ego may be dented, but he'll still be able to count his billions in his mansion. I feel no sympathy.

  • @Michael

    I notice that when Allen West mentions his military record he leaves out how he was forced to resign rather than face courts martial.

  • Phoenician in a time of Romans says:

    @Waspuppet: But no. A white guy – a rich one to boot – is in danger of having something happen to him that he doesn't want to happen. And they just cannot let that be.

    But don't you understand? Rich white guys are the most oppressed minority in contemporary America! Why, only last week, a waiter was rude to one in a restaurant in a way that might be considered class resentment!

    Why do you hate the downtrodden RWGs?

  • So, an 80-year-old billionaire is a repugnant racist? I'm shocked. SHOCKED!

    Course, I'm at a disadvantage here because the NBA could fold and be replaced by 50 billion dollars worth of equally edifying cat videos and I wouldn't notice, but I'm not understanding why this non-story is getting wall-to-wall cable news coverage. This is more important than what's going on in Ukraine? Than Republican senators blocking debate on a minimum wage increase? Than Chris Christie's thuggery? Than that there have been half a dozen massive town-destroying fires caused by obsolete oil tank cars in the last six months?

    Makes me sad for my country.

  • Scott, you don't understand, obviously, how things work here. People don't want to hear about serious issues that affect real people. Or rather, the media doesn't want to talk about those serious issues. They'd rather focus on side boob. Which is what this Sterling nonsense is. It makes me sad, too.

    I am currently working on my occasional side job as a dresser for Warhorse which has rolled (trotted?) into town. One of my co-dressers is a blowhard right winger who loves to hold forth on everything, of course. Last night he was going on about JayZ wearing a t-shirt that said "I heart the KKK" at some basketball game. Blowhard kept saying that JayZ was racist for wearing this t-shirt. I nearly asked him what, exactly, was racist about that, but long experience has taught me not to engage with blowhard. It's going to be a long week…

  • There are some pretty great comments above, but you all have failed to ask the most important question relating to this post: where can we find some of the "McMuskrat Strips" Ed mentioned?

  • Forgive me but this whole thing seems to have devolved into the 9gag Joker meme:

    Get sued and fined for having discriminatory business practices that affect ordinary people, and they give you an award.
    Tell your girl friend she's not invite Magic Johnson to the cocktail party and everyone loses their freakin' minds!!

    Is that a fair summation or am I missing something here?

  • Probably should have left out the racist part when you wrote, "I'm start to feel racist trying to quantify just how unintelligent you are." Particularly since all your critiques have NOTHING to do with race, and yet you suddenly call attention to it as an insult. To point out how unintelligent he via saying it makes you racist implies that doing so would depend on pointing out his race. Not a good decision at the end of a great piece. I also sincerely hope this is a rhetorical slip rather than a reflection of your world view. I'd share this, but I can't condone this sentiment.

  • "Well, our court system does not currently adjudicate questions of whether someone is a jagoff."

    We need to reconvene Matt Taibbi's Supreme Court of Assholedom.

    "They solve the case in like five minutes and the rest of the episode is just Cameron and 13 making out in the shower."

    I like the way you think. But can we expand it into a two-parter?

    As a great man once said: "Where have you been all our life, boy? We been lookin’ for you in Hollywood. You’re a fuckin’ genius! Give him another check!"

  • "I'm sick and cranky and I can't believe adult Americans
    elected this person to Congress."
    This goes for me as well, & I am going to have it
    translated into Volapuk & sewn into an attractive
    wall hanging in needlepoint. Thanks for a wonderful
    addition to the FJM canon.

  • OMG, Ed – you might be sick and cranky, but this is F-ing hilarious.

    Possibly your best post ever.

    Also informative. I didn't now the franchise part.


  • You know what's odd about death? When you die, you don't realize you're dead so it can't upset you. It's everyone around you who has to struggle to deal with it. In that sense death and stupidity are very similar…

    Consider this stolen and ruthlessly plagiarized.

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