Monday, December 21, 2009


About a month ago, reports emerged about NBA games being fixed. Former referee Tom Donaghy, speaking on 60 Minutes, described in detail the manner in which he could predict the outcome of NBA games for his own gambling purposes. You can view the interviews here and here. In his book, "Blowing The Whistle," which ended up not being published, Donaghy said the following about famed NBA coach Dick Bavetta:
That very first time Jack and I bet on an NBA game, Dick [Bavetta] was on the court. The team we picked lost the game, but it covered the large point spread and that’s how we won the money. Because of the matchup that night, I had some notion of who might win the game, but that’s not why I was confident enough to pull the trigger and pick the other team. The real reason I picked the losing team was that I was just about certain they would cover the spread, no matter how badly they played. That is where Dick Bavetta comes into the picture.

From my earliest involvement with Bavetta, I learned that he likes to keep games close, and that when a team gets down by double-digit points, he helps the players save face. He accomplishes this act of mercy by quietly, and frequently, blowing the whistle on the team that’s having the better night. Team fouls suddenly become one-sided between the contestants, and the score begins to tighten up. That’s the way Dick Bavetta referees a game — and everyone in the league knew it.


Studying under Dick Bavetta for 13 years was like pursuing a graduate degree in advanced game manipulation. He knew how to marshal the tempo and tone of a game better than any referee in the league, by far. He also knew how to take subtle — and not so subtle — cues from the NBA front office and extend a playoff series or, worse yet, change the complexion of that series.
As a long time NBA fan, frankly I wasn't surprised by these revelations. I saw far too many games where it was clear the one team received an inordinate number of fouls in situations where it was also clear the both teams were doing things worthy of fouls. The things related above about Bavetta were also not difficult to see without knowing the facts above. Often a game would cruise along, sans fouls, until some point near the end of the game, when things would mysteriously grind to a near halt. The revelations that all of this was conscious on the part of the referees for various reasons shocked me, but didn't surprise me.

In a parallel realm, but with far more dire consequences, it should be increasingly clear to even casual observers that we Americans are Officially Fucked. Quite frankly, I've been too depressed to even write anything recently. The effort seems hopeless on so many levels. As we've watched the healthcare "debate" in DC, it should be obvious to anyone with a modicum of consciousness that the game is fixed. We saw, as an example, 30 Democratic Senators vote against an amendment to the healthcare bill that would have allowed Americans to purchase prescription drugs imported from Canada and elsewhere. We were told, point blank, that this happened due to White House pressure to make sure the agreement Obama made with Big Pharma didn't fall apart.

So our Senators voted against our interests. Meanwhile, they've created a legislative Frankenstein healthcare bill that won't go into force for four or more years. 2014. W.T.F......

Then last night I saw this piece on 60 Minutes:

Watch CBS News Videos Online

The population of Wilmington is about 12,000; the 60 Minutes report says they lost 10,000 jobs. 10,000. One can assume that the job losses, largely the result of DHL's decision to abandon its US market in 2008, affected a much larger population than Wilmington; but basically this move by DHL eliminated almost all the jobs in this small midwestern town.

As I watched this piece, I felt ill. As I am currently unemployed, it struck me as to how close such an eventuality is for me, and millions of other Americans. Fortunately my girlfriend is able to support us for now. Obviously, though, nothing is guaranteed. I live in the Detroit area, where the unemployment rate in the city proper approaches 50%. And none of this takes into account the mammoth psychological toll this places upon me and others. This year marks the first Christmas in my adult life I've been unemployed. I am simply not used to this. None of us are.

Are we all lemmings? Is the fact that our individual and collective interests are being sold out, piece by piece, by our own elected officials, something we are unable or unwilling to do anything about? Is the obvious fact that our own government is under the control of corporate interests, lobbyists hired by giant companies willing to pay or do anything to advance their own interests, something we all simply choose to ignore?

I've argued with friends about the conspiratorial nature of all this. I think that corporations are purposefully working to bring about the demise of the middle class in this country. And my opinion is shared now by even former U.S. Senators:
Who is against jobs in the United States? The big banks, Wall Street, the Council on Foreign Relations, the Business Roundtable, the United States Chamber of Commerce, the National Retail Federation, Corporate America, the President of the United States, Congress of the United States.
Stop for a moment and reflect on this statement. A former U.S. Senator claims that the President of the United States, Barack H. Obama, who I campaigned for, who campaigned on a promise of "change we can believe in", is against jobs. He then presents evidence of this fact. Very much like former NBA referee Donaghy, he points out what has been obvious for a long time to anyone wishing to see it.

Corporations bray about the fact the good management all gets down to a matter of results. Fine. If we look at the results of their management of company after company, particularly in the case of for-profit, publicly held, multinational corporations, is it difficult to see the results? When corporations move their factories from this country to elsewhere, with the result being entire towns, counties, states falling into massive unemployment with little hope of jobs returning at any time soon, while their stock price goes through the roof, what rational person can deny that this result isn't purposeful? When we see the stock price of insurance companies reach a 50-year high after the Senate announces its healthcare plan, do we really need any help to see who benefits from all this?

As I observe all this, it appears increasingly clear - which I hope is merely my fear - that no substantive change will take place here through civil means. The fix appears to be in. While the details of the conclusion of the game may be left somewhat to chance, like the NBA games alluded to above, the conclusion, the outcome, has already be decided. Can we muster any collective strength as our national hour of darkness increases to do anything that will right our ship? Or is our democratic experiment already over, and those of us who thought otherwise are fools? Are we all such lemmings, or will any consciousness on these vital areas awaken us to the point where we can wrest our destiny from the corporate overlords and leave a world for our children that is in some way better than the world we received?

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