Ian Gordon

Ian Gordon

Copy Editor

When not wrangling copy for the MoJo crew, Ian writes about immigration, sports, and Latin America. His work has appeared in ESPN the Magazine, Wired, and Slate. Got a comment or a tip? Email him: igordon [at] motherjones [dot] com.

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Big Surprise: Kris Kobach Still Believes in Self-Deportation

| Mon Apr. 22, 2013 4:56 PM EDT

Remember how the Mitt Romney-espoused "self-deportation" rhetoric was supposed to end up in the dustbin of history following President Obama's huge margins among Latino voters back in November? Apparently no one told Kris Kobach.

The Kansas secretary of state and intellectual author of harsh laws in states like Arizona and Alabama was back at it again earlier today, this time at the Senate Judiciary Committee's hearings on the Gang of Eight's immigration bill. In response to questions from Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Kobach said that "self-deportation is not some radical idea. It is simply the idea that people may comply with the law by their own choice."

The poised Kobach has seemed undeterred by his party's shift away from the attrition-through-enforcement framework, telling the Kansas City Star in February, "It's not my voice—it's the voice of the American people." (Just a couple of days earlier, for example, Newt Gingrich had appeared on CNN's The Situation Room and said of self-deportation, "That is the most anti-human phrase you can imagine…I think it was very unfortunate and frankly helped cost us the election.")

But Durbin, a longtime immigrant advocate and one of the original cosponsors of the DREAM Act, was all too happy to remind Kobach of the GOP's lingering Latino (and Asian American) problem. "The voters had the last word on self-deportation on November 6th," he said. "So we're beyond that now. You can stick with that theory as long as you'd like."

If his testimony is any indication, Kobach won't be changing his tune anytime soon.

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Yes, Phil Jackson, You Did Know Gay NBA Players

| Fri Apr. 5, 2013 2:39 PM EDT
"Do you know any gay players?"

The NBA career of Hall of Famer Phil Jackson spanned six decades: He played 12 years and snagged two league titles for the New York Knicks before winning 11 more championships as the coach of stars like Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Kobe Bryant, and Shaquille O'Neal. But during all of his time in the league, he said in a Huffington Post Live interview earlier this week, he's "never run into" gay professional basketball players.

 

Maybe Jackson's Zen-ness got in the way of the 67-year-old's memory and common sense, so let's help him out:

  • In 2011, fellow Hall of Famer Charles Barkley said, "Every player has played with gay guys. Any professional athlete who gets on TV or radio and says he never played with a gay guy is a stone-freakin' idiot." So there's that.
  • John Amaechi, who came out in 2007 after he'd retired (and who's mentioned by Kurt Rambis in the above clip), played five seasons in the league in the 1990s and early aughts. He played in 12 games against Jackson's teams during his career.

More generally, the time when athletes and coaches can deny that there are gay players in pro locker rooms seems to be coming to end. Earlier today, Brendon Ayanbadejo, the former Baltimore Ravens linebacker whose gay-marriage advocacy was criticized by a Maryland state legislator (who in turn was famously blasted by Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe on Deadspin), told the Baltimore Sun today that "up to four" NFL players were considering coming out simultaneously sometime in the not-too-distant future:

"I think it will happen sooner than you think," Ayanbadejo said. "We're in talks with a handful of players who are considering it. There are up to four players being talked to right now and they're trying to be organized so they can come out on the same day together. It would make a major splash and take the pressure off one guy. It would be a monumental day if a handful or a few guys come out.

"Of course, there would be backlash. If they could share the backlash, it would be more positive. It's cool. It's exciting. We're in talks with a few guys who are considering it. The NFL and organizations are already being proactive and open if a player does it and if something negative happens. We'll see what happens."

The two most-recent big-name athletes to come out of the closet were both soccer players: Robbie Rogers, who played for the US national soccer team, made his announcement in February, while women's star Megan Rapinoe came out before last year's Olympics. And while no NFL, NBA, or Major League Baseball player has ever come out of the closet while still playing, that looks like it will change sooner than later. So if the Zen Master ends up taking a job in an NBA front office, maybe he'll finally run into an openly gay NBA player.

Hugo Chávez Dead at 58

| Tue Mar. 5, 2013 5:57 PM EST

Chávez, pictured here in August 2011, had his first cancer treatment in June of that year.

Hugo Chávez, the firebrand president of Venezuela who has battled cancer since 2011, died Tuesday in Caracas. He was 58 years old.

Vice President Nicolás Maduro announced Chávez's passing in a radio and television address, saying that the 14-year president died at 4:25 p.m. local time. Just hours earlier, Maduro had told the media that the socialist president was entering "his most difficult hours" due to a new, severe respiratory infection.

Chávez was last seen in public on December 10, when he traveled to Cuba two months after his latest reelection for his fourth cancer surgery in 18 months. Rumors about his health—indeed, whether he was still alive—persisted. His Twitter account, @chavezcandanga, sent a trio of tweets on February 18, after several months of silence. His last tweet read:

(Loosely translated: "I'm still holding on to Christ and trust in my doctors and nurses. Until victory forever!! We will live and we will triumph!!!")

A former paratrooper who spent two years in prison after a failed coup in 1992, Chávez took office in 1999, fought off a coup attempt in 2002 and a recall referendum in 2004, and was reelected three times, including in October, when he claimed himself healthy enough for another term. He gained fame for using Venezuela's vast oil revenues to fund his anti-poverty social programs—and for his fiery, anti-imperial rhetoric. He also rubbed plenty of people the wrong way—on both ends of the political spectrum—with his strongman tendencies, his rewriting of the country's constitution, and his alliances with the likes of Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Maduro will take power until an election takes place within 30 days. He is likely to face Henrique Capriles Radomski, the Miranda state governor whom Chávez beat just months ago.

UPDATE, March 5, 3:33 PT: The New Yorker's Jon Lee Anderson, who first profiled Chávez in 2001 and long had great access to him, just posted an obituary. Read it.

This story has been updated.

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