So You Think There Is A Conspiracy…

Mob storming U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021 (image courtesy of The Guardian).

Today saw thousands of the president’s supporters violently storm the U.S. Capitol Building, vandalizing and looting the building. They did this after the president appeared at their rally and urged them to march on the Capitol to protest the election being “stolen” from him. Clearly, a lot of people believe these election fraud lies. If you believe there was a conspiracy to steal the election from the president, here are the things that you must believe.

  1.  That there is evidence to support the allegations of election fraud, something which EVERY court to consider the issue has found to be false.  EVERY judge who has ruled on one of the administration’s 60+ lawsuits, including many judges appointed by this president, has found there to be no actual evidence of election fraud.  In fact, the administration’s lawyers often did not even allege fraud in the cases they filed because they knew they could not prove it.  Besides the trial court judges, every appellate court and the Supreme Court, again containing many judges appointed by this president, also ruled against the president’s spurious election fraud claims.  So in your conspiracy belief, all judges, including Republican-appointed judges, must be in on it.
  2. That the people conducting the initial counts and recounts in each of the swing states were cheating to favor Biden.  This would include the elections in states being run by Republicans like Arizona and Georgia.  The Republican election director in Georgia has made a point-by-point denunciation of the election fraud claims in his state.  So in your conspiracy belief, Republican state officials must be in on it.
  3. That the FBI/Justice Department investigation of the election was whitewashed to favor Biden.  William Barr, this administration’s own Attorney General, publicly declared that his department’s investigation found no widespread voter fraud.  Barr has been one of this president’s most willing supporters, but even he could not ignore the lack of evidence of fraud.  So in your conspiracy belief, the administration’s own attorney general must be in on it.
  4. That the administration’s own Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency ignored evidence of election fraud.  This agency took extraordinary measures to make sure the 2020 election was secure.  Afterwards it declared that these efforts had resulted in the most secure election in this nation’s history.  Because this contradicted the administration’s election fraud claims, the head of this agency was fired.  So in your conspiracy belief, the administration’s own election security experts must be in on it.
  5. That top Republican officials in Congress who have accepted the results of this election are looking to rid the party of this president.  Mitch McConnell, the Senate Majority Leader, has publicly stated that Biden won the election.  Mitt Romney, Utah Senator and former Republican candidate for president, has accepted the results of this election.  Numerous other Republican members of Congress have stated that the people have spoken and congratulated Biden.  So in your conspiracy belief, many Republican members of Congress must be in on it.
  6. That every living, former Secretary of Defense, including Republicans like Dick Cheney, Mark Esper, Donald Rumsfeld, William Cohen, Chuck Hagel, and Robert Gates, all declaring that the election is over wanted to get rid of this president.  This group of people all ran the Defense Department, effectively running this country’s military.  So in your conspiracy belief, every living person who previously headed the Department of Defense, Republicans who ran the military are in on it.
  7. That Mike Pence’s refusal to deny electors from disputed states while certifying the vote today was intended to begin distancing himself from this president.  Even before today’s Congressional count of electors, Pence released a statement stating that he would follow the Constitution and accept the certified electoral vote of each state.  This came despite several recent demands from the president that the Pence do what is necessary to throw the electoral vote to him.  So in your conspiracy belief, Vice President Pence must be in on it.

What is more likely?  That all these Republican judges, state officials, Congress members, Attorney General, election security chief, former Defense Department chiefs, and Vice President were all part of a conspiracy to ensure that Biden won the election or that maybe, just maybe, Biden actually won the election?  That was a rhetorical question in case you were actually considering which was more likely.

So why do so many nonetheless believe in such a spurious conspiracy theory?  In a word, racism.  Don’t believe me?  This happened today in the U.S. Capitol.

Man carrying confederate flag in U.S. Capitol Building after domestic terrorists stormed and occupied the building on January 6, 2021 (image courtesy of Slate Magazine)

Think about all the racist hypocrisy that has occurred over the last four years.  Black Lives Matters protestors march and the president and his supporters attack them as violent agitators even though, by and large, violence at their rallies was caused by white instigators.  Meanwhile, white supremacists caused violence and mayhem in Charlottesville, Virginia and the president says there were very fine people on both sides.  During the presidential debates, the president was asked to denounce white supremacists like the Proud Boys.  Instead he told them to “stand back and stand by.”

Think about Kyle Rittenhouse.  During the Kenosha, Wisconsin protests over another cop killing of a black man, the 17-year-old Rittenhouse traveled from Illinois to Wisconsin, with a semi-automatic rifle that he was too young to legally own, to “protect” Kenosha businesses from marchers protesting in the wake of Jacob Blake’s death.  He ended up killing two people and injuring a third.  The president’s supporters have praised Rittenhouse’s actions and raised millions of dollars for his legal defense.  Let me take a page from the movie, “A Time To Kill.”  Imagine if you will that African-American supporters of Biden showed up today armed and ready to protect the U.S. Capitol from the violent mobs and killed several people marching upon the Capitol?  Would you feel the same about these hypothetical black shooters as you do about Rittenhouse?  Would you raise money for the legal defense of these hypothetical black shooters because they were defending property from violent protestors?

Think about how the president responded during Black Lives Matters protests in Portland, Oregon.  Don’t remember?  Here’s the tweet:

President’s tweet about Portland protestors.

That tweet was in response to vandalism of Portland’s federal building during the protests.  Today, the president, after earlier urging people to march on the Capitol, tepidly told the mob who stormed the building to go home because peace was needed.  He also called the violent mob “very special” people.  The president made no threats to prosecute these people who vandalized and damaged the Capitol.  The only difference between the people who may have damaged a federal building in Portland and the people who may have damaged a federal building in Washington, D.C. is the color of the skin of many of them.

The president has a long history of racism.  This dates back to the U.S. Dept. of Justice suing Trump in the 1970’s for housing discrimination that was settled by Trump having to take specific actions to show they would accept black applicants for rentals.  This racism continued through Trump seeking the execution of the Central Park Five, African-American and Hispanic youths accused of a rape, and continuing to insist upon their guilt even after they were completely exonerated.  During his campaign and presidency, the president has called Mexicans “rapists and murderers,” African countries “shithole countries,” and people seeking to immigrate into the U.S. to escape oppression in their countries “animals.”  White supremacists openly support the president and he refuses to denounce them.

If you support this president, do you do so in spite of this racism or because of this racism?  I don’t speak for all liberals, but if a liberal politician made such such openly racist statements, that would be a deal-breaker for me.  I don’t care how much I supported such a politician’s policies.  If they were racist, I could not support them.  All people, regardless of political affiliation, should feel the same.  So if you think you support this president and his conspiracy theories despite of his clear racism, perhaps it is not in spite of, but because of his racism.

Sacramento Republic Roster for 2021 (Updated)

Sacramento Republic GM Todd Dunivant and Head Coach Mark Briggs made their first roster moves this week in preparation for the 2021 season. Their 2020 campaign was cruelly ended when they were punched out of the USL Championship playoff quarter-final by eventual finalists, Phoenix Rising.

With the club’s entry into Major League Soccer pushed back to the 2023 season, management seems to be looking for youth in hopes of developing players for MLS duty. We will be updating this page through the off-season as changes happen.

January 2021 Update:

  • Goalkeeper Tomas Gomez joins the club from Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC. The 27-year-old Mexican native has five seasons of experience.
  • Irish youth international defender, Dan Casey, joins from Irish League runners-up Bohemians.
  • Matt Glaeser was hired as an assistant coach for 2021, after a season with the MLS Real Salt Lake organization. He previously worked with Head Coach Mark Briggs in Wilmington.
  • 24-year-old attacking midfielder Tucker Bone joins Republic FC following a season with Reno 1868 FC. He attended Jesuit High School in Carmichael and played for local area youth clubs, Placer United and Sacramento United.
  • Defensive midfielder Luis Felipe joins Republic FC following three seasons with the San Jose Earthquakes. He also has played for Reno 1868 FC and the Fort Lauderdale Strikers of the NASL.

December 17th 2020 Update:

  • The club’s leading goalscorer in 2020, Polish attacking midfielder Dariusz Formella signed a new contract for 2021.
  • After a season with San Antonio, defender Mitch Taintor has returned to Sacramento.
  • Forward Kharlton Belmar has signed a new contract for 2021.

December 10th 2020 Update:

  • Finnish veteran midfielder Petteri Pennanen signed with the Republic, pending Federation and visa approval. Pennanen was voted “Midfielder of the Year” in 2018 and 2019 by his fellow Finnish league players.
  • New Jersey native Markhus ‘Duke’ Lacroix joined the club from USL Eastern Conference side Charlotte Independence. The defender had previously played for Reno 1868 FC.
  • Jamaican international midfielder Maalique Foster signed a contract with Sacramento after a season in the Israeli Premier League.

November 30th 2020 Update:

  • Sacramento native and Academy product Rafael Jauregui signed a professional contract

November 17th 2020 Update:

  • Young Player of the Year Finalist Hayden Sargis and fellow Republic FC Academy product Mario Penagos as well as club captain Cameron Iwasa are already under multiyear contracts.
  • Contract extensions have been exercised on Rafael Diaz, Shannon Gomez, Jordan McCrary, Jaime Villarreal, and Andrew Wheeler-Omiunu.
  • Contract negotiations continue with Kharlton Belmar and Dariusz Formella.
  • Contract extensions were not offered to Ashkanov Apollon, Villyan Bijev, Adam Grinwis, Rodrigo Lopez and Drew Skundrich.
  • Contracts with Juan Barahona and Matt Mahoney will expire at the end of the league year.
  • On loan players Brady Scott and Frank Lopez will return to their respective clubs.
  • Sam Werner and Tomas Hilliard-Arce have retired from professional soccer.

Here’s what the roster now looks like:

No. Position Player
18Goalkeeper Rafael Díaz (DOM)
27GoalkeeperTomás Gómez (MEX)
49Goalkeeper Diego Ramos (USA) Academy Player
2 Defender Shannon Gomez (TTO)
3 Defender Hayden Sargis (USA)
4Defender Mitch Taintor (USA)
5DefenderDan Casey (IRL)
14DefenderMarkhus “Duke” Lacroix (USA)
15Defender Juan Barahona (SLV)
21Defender Dekel Keinan (ISR)
30Defender Jordan McCrary (USA)
7MidfielderTucker Bone (USA)
8Midfielder Petteri “Pete” Pennanen (FIN)
10 Midfielder Dariusz Formella (POL)
22Midfielder Julian Chavez (USA) Academy Contract
23Midfielder Mario Penagos (USA)
24Midfielder Jaime Villarreal (USA)
28Midfielder Andrew Wheeler-Omiunu (USA)
34Midfielder Rafael Jauregui (USA)
96Midfielder Luis Felipe (USA)
99MidfielderMaalique Foster (JAM)
7Forward Frank Lopez (CUB)
9 Forward Kharlton Benmar (USA)
31 Forward Cameron Iwasa (USA) [CAPTAIN]

BOLD = Signed for 2021 season
“Academy Contract” = Retains NCAA Amateur Status

Just Say It: Ferrari Cheated

The Scuderia Ferrari are packing up after a horrendous Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps and heading dejectedly to Monza – with the prospect of as bad or worse performance next week. The official media coverage keeps talking about the mysterious downturn of performance by the team since last year. But it really is no mystery at all, they’re just not allowed to tell the truth, Ferrari were cheating.

“Bending the rules” is nothing new in Formula One and many teams have been found guilty of taking advantage of grey areas or loopholes in the rule book, like Mercedes’ DAS system. Some have flat out cheated, like BAR’s second fuel tank in 2005.

2018: Second Wind

But now let’s go back to early 2018 when things with the team from Maranello started looking a little shady. The scarlet car was very fast but errors by the team and the drivers, as well as some unreliability cost them the World Championship. For some of the teams, the SF71H was just a little too fast down the straights, getting almost a second wind on long straights when their rivals acceleration began to retard.

Mercedes and Renault, in particular, questioned whether Ferrari were staying within the permitted battery output on the hybrid power units or the fuel flow limits on the internal combustion engine. The FIA insisted that everything was legal with the dual-battery system employed by Ferrari, but bowed to pressure and installed a secondary energy flow monitoring sensor on the power unit mid-season. Strangely, the rival team’s GPS data didn’t detect that “second wind” acceleration anymore.

2019: More Speed

When preseason testing kicked off in Barcelona the teams using the Ferrari power unit showed great straight line speed – a pure engine power advantage. Though they were finishing the races behind Mercedes and at times Red Bull-Honda, Renault started to openly question the Italian engine’s performance by mid-year.

When the F1 circus reformed after the summer hiatus, the Scuderia reeled off three wins and six pole positions in a row. The little Haas-Ferrari team even claimed the fastest lap in Singapore. Once again the rival teams questioned whether both the battery output limit and the internal combustion fuel flow limit where being exceeded by Ferrari. Red Bull-Honda queried the FIA in Belgium as to the Ferrari engine’s legality.

Before the United States Grand Prix in early November the FIA issued a technical directive regarding the fuel flow sensor on power units. Suddenly the Ferrari-engined cars were way down the list in the speed traps…

Before the season ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, the FIA announced it had seized an example of the Ferrari power unit for further analysis, following the finding of a fuel discrepancy on Charles Leclerc’s car. The other teams beamed in anticipation.

2020: The Deal

At the conclusion of the last day of preseason testing in February the FIA announced a settlement with Ferrari regarding its 2019 power unit. It also invoked Article IV (ii) of its Judicial and Disciplinary Rules allowing it to make a confidential agreement.

“…after thorough technical investigations, it has concluded its analysis of the operation of the Scuderia Ferrari Formula 1 Power Unit and reached a settlement with the team. The specifics of the agreement will remain between the parties.”

Translation: We caught them cheating but we aren’t going to tell you what they did.

The seven teams not using Ferrari power units threatened legal action in an effort to have the details released. Then the F1 world was upended by COVID-19 and the issued faded away from public view, as mere survival of teams – and the sport itself – became paramount.

When the season finally got underway at the Red Bull Ring in July, Charles Leclerc qualified 7th – over a second off the pace of Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas – and Sebastien Vettel didn’t make it out of Q2. Quite the difference from 2019 when Ferrari took 9 pole positions, 6 fastest race laps and 3 wins. Leclerc would take advantage of rivals misfortunes and the ensuing safety cars to finish third, which thanks to a Lewis Hamilton time penalty promoted him to second. It may prove to be the high point of his season thus far.

The Payoff

Since Liberty Media purchased Formula One it has wanted to even the playing field to improve The Show. Give the little teams more money and rein in the spending of the Big Three (Ferrari, Mercedes and Red Bull).

F1’s controlling document, The Concorde Agreement, gave huge “historical payments” and some veto power to Ferrari, simply for being the oldest team in the sport – courtesy of Bernie Ecclestone’s wheeling and dealing – but it expired December 2020.

It makes a lot of sense that Liberty took advantage of this “confidential agreement” to put pressure on Ferrari to accept the new rules in exchange for discretion, which the Italian team agreed to August 18th 2020.

The new agreement covers the 2021 to 2025 seasons and comes into force January 1st 2021. Don’t expect Ferrari to win a race before then.