Monday, April 15, 2019

The NFL Has A Franchise Tag Problem....

And it's Le'veon Bell's fault.

For two straight seasons, the Pittsburgh Steelers put a franchise tag on the best running back in football. One could argue about Bell being the best, but when he plays with the Steelers:

He averages 128.9 yards per game
He's a premier pass blocker
He's a No. 2 Receiver
And the Steelers are undefeated when he carries the ball 25 times or more.

He's that good.  So, when the Steelers and Bell couldn't negotiate a long term contract acceptable to Bell, the Steelers put a franchise tag on him.  An Exclusive Franchise Tag.  

Le'Veon Bell was drafted in the second round in 2013.  Rookie contracts are 4 years long.  Bell has never played under a contract outside of his rookie contract, as both years that was possible he ended up tagged.  

There are three different types of Franchise Tags in the NFL.

Exclusive: 1 year, player is paid the average of the top 5 salaries at his position or 120% of his previous salary, whichever is higher.  For Bell, that was 14.5 million dollars. Player may not negotiate with with any other team.

Non-Exclusive - same terms as an Exclusive, but the player can negotiate with other teams, the team with the tag can match the offer, and if the player chooses to go to another team, the tagging team gets two compensatory picks.

Transition - Pretty much a Non-Exclusive, but it's the average of the top 10 salaries, and you lose the compensatory picks.

Pittsburgh knew what they had in Le'veon Bell, and the first year he played under that tag.  When negotiations on a long term deal failed the second time, they gave him a second tag, a second exclusive tag.  And then Bell did what no player has dared to do.  He sat.  For the entire season.  He literally gave away 14.5 million dollars to make a point.

Maybe Bell is just greedy.  I don't know.  (Although greed would say he would take his 14.5 mill, and then force them to tag him again.  That third tag?  It's worth the average of the top 5 quarterback salaries...north of 25 million dollars.)  That money eats into the salary cap.  He knew he was going to get to walk at the end of the season if Pittsburgh failed to meet his contract demands.  So greed seems less likely to me. More, it seems, Bell was fighting against the idea that he couldn't negotiate his contract with someone willing to pay him what he felt he deserved.  

Running backs, for the most part, have a short shelf life in the NFL.  They get beat up pretty bad.  These long term deals serve to give them financial security from concussions, torn ligaments and broken bones.  Just look at Todd Gurley.  He has arthritis in his knee, and he got a 20 million dollar signing bonus and 45 million dollars guaranteed.   That contract extension is his bread and butter, even if the Rams end up regretting it. (Note:  he got that extension BEFORE the diagnosis of arthritis in his knee.)

The Exclusive Franchise tag is one of the worst things the NFLPA could have agreed to.  Imagine if you get offered a job somewhere, doing exactly what you are doing now, and making way more money.  And your boss could just rewrite your contract to say "Nope... you can't go.  You're tagged."  They don't have to declare that they plan to do this when they sign you to a contract.  They can just do it. This isn't a non-compete clause.  You sign those when you take a job.  This is just a flat out anvil hanging over the head of every really good player in the NFL.  And since a team can only give one a season, you have no idea when or if it might be you.

Bell open a huge can of worms for the NFL and its owners when he chose to throw away 14.5 million dollars and refused to play football.  No one had done it before.  But since?  Well just ask Seattle's Frank Clark, who is currently refusing to attend camps and play until he gets his long term deal.  Yeah, Seattle tagged him.  And Clark won't be the only playing follow the leader.  Bell proved you can stick it to the man, so to speak.  Others will be all too willing to play that same game until 2020.  

2020 marks the end of the collective bargaining agreement between the NFL and the players.  The Exclusive Franchise tag will be chopped.  It's not cost effective anymore.  It was a crap move on the part of the NFL owners to even want it.  The NFL makes more money than any other sport.  It's players play less time than any other sport (Tom Brady not included).  The Exclusive Franchise tag takes away their ability to negotiate for the best deal they can get.  Imagine if you had to work that way.

Both the Non-Exclusive and Transition versions could stay put.  They both still allow the player the power to determine his future.  But what Pittsburgh did to Bell?  Well, I would have sat my butt down for the season too.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Hoax-A-Rama (and it's implications)

Four young men who play Lacrosse at a prestigious university are accused of raping an exotic dancer.  They are white, they come from wealthy backgrounds, they are self-entitled male sports stars. They must have done it.  The media completely trashes them.  Fast forward.... the prosecutor in the case is disbarred, and it turns out, they didn't do it.  They didn't even do anything resembling the accusation.  Crickets.

University of Virginia.  An entire frat more or less is accused of holding rape parties.  Big cover story in Rolling Stone Magazine.  Media piles on relentlessly.  Turns out the party in question never took place.  The person accused of rape never existed.  The whole story is a complete and total fabrication.  A independent investigation of Rolling Stone and it's writer come to the conclusion that no semblance of due diligence in reporting was even attempted.  Crickets.

Brett Kavanaugh.  Accused of a violent rape when he was a teenager.  Accuser doesn't remember when, doesn't remember where, can't remember exactly who was there and who wasn't.  Her only supposed witness has no recollection.  No one named has any recollection.  Kavanaugh is pilloried in the press and by certain members of government.  Crickets.

A teenage boy wearing a MAGA hat appears in a 2 minute video with a smirk on his face.  No context is given besides the word of one Native American man.  This man claims this boy and his friends were harassing a group of African American people, yelling "Build the Wall", and that when he (the Native American) went to "diffuse" the situation he was blocked from being allowed to pass.  The media piles on.  Stars and big names pile on.  One of them even says that a school shooting at this boy's high school would be acceptable.  Fast forward... two full hours of video are released by the African American group in question.  It shows the African Americans needlessly harassing the boys.  Calling them names, telling them to go back to Europe, and other things I won't even write here.  The boys, being teenage boys, yell some school cheers and maybe act a little over the top to drown out the hate being directed at them.  The Native American man marches up to the boy in the video and bangs a drum, inches from his face.  A wider angle shows there was plenty of room for this man to walk around the kids and he chose not to.  Boy gets lawyer and lawyer takes on several people in defamation lawsuits.  Crickets.

Jussie Smollett accuses 2 white men in red hats and yelling about this being MAGA country of attacking him.  Kicking him, beating him, throwing a chemical substance on him and putting a rope around his neck.  The also yelled racial and homophobic slurs at him.  Jussie is an actor on the show Empire.  Despite the host of other stories that have turned out to be hoaxes (many of them not listed here), the outrage parade starts again.  Politicians, Hollywood stars, bloggers, news media, jump on this story and perpetuate the idea that this is normal.  That this is now what happens in Donald Trump's America.  Breaking news yesterday... the Chicago Police Department investigates, arrests, and then releases two black men. It is possible that Mr. Smollett paid these two Nigerian Extras on Empire to attack him.  They actually had the red hats and the bottle with bleach.  The PD knows where the rope and hats were purchase.  These aren't white men, they are black men.  They were found via video camera footage.  They know the victim and interacted with him on the set. They are not Donald Trump supporters.  One of them turned over his phone, which may show he was in contact with Mr. Smollett.  Crickets.

Why did I put crickets after every incident?  Because not a single one of these bandwagon jumpers has apologized after spending weeks accusing a person, group of people, or half the country of being the worst kind of people.  Each one of these hoaxes, and many more not listed here, targeted a specific group of people.  Wealthy white privileged male athletes.  Testosterone filled men child fraternity students.  Conservative white judges who just might serve on the Supreme Court.  Young mostly white male catholic students.  White male Donald Trump supporters.  

Almost all of these stories were believed right out of the gate.  Not because there was overwhelming evidence.  In most of these cases there was a severe lack of evidence, or what evidence there was pointed to something far different than the story being told.  Why is it that so many people are willing to believe things that have almost no basis in fact?  

Here is where Amy makes people angry, because I am going to tell you what is the common thread in all of these stories (and once again, the many  more like it that I haven't bothered to rehash).  White men.  Every single one of these stores involves white men.  America has been turned on it's head.  

Sixty years ago, and even less than that, the stories would have been black men, and would have been believed simply because they were black men.  That's racism, by any definition.  So now, let me make you increasingly angry by pointing out the elephant in the room that no one is talking about.  These stories are believed because they involve white men.   In every facet of our life we are told white men are the devil incarnate.  They are the reason for all of society's issues.  It's pushed on us in major media stories, in television shows, in movies, in books.  Nothing comes without a political agenda anymore.  And yes, it's a political agenda, because for the last 10 years, it's everywhere, and it's been a common theme in political campaigns.  There are more racist white men now then there were 60 years ago.

How many times have you been told, or you have told someone yourself, that all white people are racist?  That it's almost a biological process.  White people are born racist.  At least in this country they are. All men are capable of rape.  We need to teach men not to rape.  (I don't want to write forever, but I could take that extrapolation down a rabbit hole with every human being on the planet.)  If you are a white person, and especially a white man, you have a target on your back solely because of your skin color and gender.  

That my friends is the definition of racism and sexism. To believe, in your heart, from a 2 minute video clip, or a story in a magazine, or because some self-righteous prosecutor trying to win re-election tells you so, that this happened because these so-called perpetrators are white men.  It's a white man.  White man are privileged, they have had no major hardships, they think they are better than everyone, so of course, they must have done this awful thing.  That's bias.  That's racism (white) and sexism (men).  It's wrong. It was wrong when it was done to black men, simply because they were black men, and it's wrong to do it white men, simply because they are white men.  Two wrongs don't make a right.  Morality doesn't work on the same principles as math.  

We can never fix the injustices that took place in our history.  You can't.  It's there.  It was bad.  It should be remembered in the hopes that we never repeat those mistakes again.  Instead, a large group of people in this country wish to act as if nothing has been done to move America forward, to progress past the days of slavery and Jim Crow.  You can be absolved or your biological white racism if you just attack white people and white men.  It makes you feel good in your warm gooey places to pile on.  It makes you feel better.  It's wrong.  

God have mercy.... for we know not what we do.... or do we?

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

No, Trump's America Does NOT Resemble the Handmaid's Tale

     One of my favorite bloggers, Professor Glenn Reynolds, often posts links to his blog site (h/t: Instanpundit) while mentioning that "All they have to do is not be crazy".   The idea being, that in a midterm election, where the President's party controls the Executive and Legislative branches, all the opposition has to do in order to win is, well, not be crazy.  The link that follows usually includes a high level of crazy.  From Russian Collusion to complete unfounded accusations of treason, crazy is the norm from the opposition.  Which brings me to the reason for this post.

   My lovely daughter posted a video where several people attempted to equate Margaret Atwood's famous dystopian novel with President Donald Trump's America.  Dear Daughter asked for my opinion.  It's hard to even begin to address this absurdity, never mind in a comment on Facebook.  So, here I sit, at 0014 hours, composing a blog.

   If you have never read the Handmaid's Tale, I highly recommend it.  Especially if you are one of those people who loves dystopian fiction.  This book was one of the first, long before the Hunger Games, Divergent, or any of the others.  It takes place in the fictional Republic of Gilead, and the Republic of Gilead is one of the worst places I've seen in the world of dystopia.  It completely distorts Biblical Truth into something akin to Modern Islamic Nations who practice Sharia Law.  Any Christian who bothers to actually read their Bible knows that the practices in this fictional republic have absolutely no connection to the Bible, beyond the word handmaid.  In order to explain how bastardize this is, I have to point my few readers to the most well known handmaid, Hagar.

   Hagar doesn't get huge billing in the Bible, but she is an intricate part of a very important story, mainly, the birth of the Nation of Israel.  Hagar was the handmaid of Abram's (Abraham) wife, Sarai (Sarah). Essentially she was a slave.  Think deep south, pre-civil war era, the slave who took care of the lady of the house.  God promised Abram a great nation from his children, but neither of these founding members of Israel were spring chickens.  Sarai didn't really believe that at their advancing age she and Abram would conceive a child.  So she essentially gave Hagar to Abram to conceive this child that God promised them.  To make a long story short, it was a terrible idea.  Take a look a the geo-political mess that is the Middle East.  That's how terrible of an idea it was.  Bad things happen when sinful men decide to enact God's plans their own way instead of God's way.  However, it's this history from the Bible that provides the backdrop (not really, but go with it) for the Handmaid's tale.  

   I'm not going to give you the whole book or show.  Go read the book.  There is a huge back story as to how these crazy men and women (and to be sure, if you read the book or watch the show, women had a BIG PART in creating Gilead), managed to get a bunch of people to buy into their insanity.  However, to compare this level of insanity to the United States of America under Trump is in itself insanity.

   First of all, the automatic assumption is that if Evangelical Christians had their way, this is what they would do to women.  Except it's not.  The Bible is full of flawed people who made big mistakes. Abraham, Jacob, Moses, David, Solomon, the list goes on.  The only perfect Person who has ever walked this earth is Jesus.  However, sexual immorality is one of those sins the Bible hammers on.  It's bad, really bad.  So at no point could any Christian reading his Bible condone the idea of forcing women to have sex with men (RAPE) just so they can get pregnant and have children.  (Oops...spoiler alert.)   You'd have to throw out 99% of the Bible to get to THAT conclusion.  

   The second assumption is that the government refusing to force people to  pay for your birth control, not funding organizations that kill 300,000 unborn babies a year, and not agreeing that abortion at any time for any reason is perfectly okay and not murder, is somehow on par with the Republic of Gilead.  Again, you'd have to read the book to understand how insane this is.  
   Gilead is not only paying 77 cents on the dollar to women (neither is the US, but that's a discussion for another time), or refusing to give women abortions (although I imagine abortion isn't legal), or refusing to pay for birth control (probably also illegal in Gilead). In Gilead handmaid's are SLAVES, who are are repeatedly raped in order to produce children.  In Gilead, by law, men are forced to rape women and commit adultery.  In Gilead, the wives of these men are forced to participate in this abomination by actually cradling the handmaid while she's being raped.  

   Do you get it yet?  The level of INSANITY that is involved when people compare America under Trump to the Handmaid's Tale?

   There are places in this world where rape is treated as a crime committed by women, but those places are not the United States.  There are places where women are required to wear long dresses and ridiculous head coverings or suffer legal ramifications, but those places are not the United States.  There are places where being gay is a death sentence, but those places are NOT the United States.  And the President of the United States has never advocated for these things.  No one in Congress is advocating for these things.  No one in the Senate is advocating for these things.  No one on the Supreme Court is writing opinions granting the Constitutional right to do these things.  It's not happening.  

   It's a level of crazy that cannot be described in words.  All they had to do was NOT be crazy, and they'd have a rousing midterm election victory.  Heck, they might still have one.  But when the people in the opposition praise Ted Kennedy (who drove a woman into a lake and left her to die) for empowering women, and then accuse the President of being the next leader of a fictional country in a fictional book that bears no resemblance to reality, it's crazy.  It's unhinged.  It's certifiably insane.  

   To recap, at no point does the Bible promote the ideas espoused in the Handmaid's Tale, although I am sure there are people out there who could twist it to fit that craziness.  Those people won't be in charge of anything any time soon.  The United States of America does not have any resemblance to the fictional Republic of Gilead.  The Handmaid's Tale is a not a parallel to Donald Trump's America.  

   You don't have to like him, you don't have to agree with what he's doing.  You don't even have to stop inventing garbage like this to smear him (hey, check out that first amendment thingy!!!!).  However, you also don't get to be angry when I mention that maybe you should make an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible.  Please.  Right now.  Call the emergency line.  I'm worried about you.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

That's not how this works....

That's not how any of this works.

No, I'm not going to talk about the electoral college.  If you can't look at a map of the by county results of the 2016 election and figure out why the electoral college matters, I really can't help you. 

I didn't vote for Hillary Clinton.  I also didn't vote for Donald Trump.  So, as the person with absolutely no horse in this race, I think it's time to tell you what I see. It won't do any good, because you are either too busy contemplating suicide while listening to Radiohead, or too busy dancing on the graves of your enemies, to actually listen.  But I'm going to say it anyway.

To begin with, if you supported and voted for Donald Trump, enjoy your win.  That's your right.  You can even be excited, because the other side was more than excited four years ago, and eight years ago.  However, now that the campaign is over, try to be a little better than the other side.  As much as you want to say "He won, get over it", remember how you felt when they said that to you.  Yes, I know they said it, but again, try to be a little better.  I know you aren't all racist, sexist, xenophobic, homophobic, backwoods, redneck idiots.  The vast majority of you aren't those things.  Don't act like it.  It's not helping.  Take a minute to look at your conservative brothers and sisters who did not feel comfortable voting for Trump and understand them.  They had valid reasons.  You will need them in two years, so if you trash them now, it's not going to work out.  Have a tiny bit of sympathy for the left.  The puppy rooms and play doh factories and coloring books are silly, yeah, but remember, we felt like it was the end of the world once too.  We are all still here.  Remind them of that, give the a little bit of hope that it's really not all over.  You can do all this and still be really excited that your guy won.

Moving on to all the offended, triggered, unhappy people in need of the puppy rooms, play doh and coloring books, take a deep breath.  The world is not ending, this is not the end of America, and I promise you, your gay, black, latino and muslim friends are NOT going to get put in jail, beat up, or have their rights taken from them.  I'm not trying to be condescending, but you seem to have very little idea how our government works, and even more so, that the President has limited power.  I know President Obama was fond of his phone and his pen, but as your are about to see, things done that way, don't stay that way.  Constitutionally, the President doesn't get to make new laws or alter old ones, without the input of Congress.  And, while the House and the Senate are both Republican, that can change in a very short period of time.   You need to stop saying that hate won.  Most of the people who cast a vote for Donald Trump don't hate.  That's not what this was about.  As a matter of fact, the ideas and opinions on the right are far more nuanced than you give anyone credit for.  I realize that you've spent a lot of time listening to people tell you that the right is evil and racist, but the truth is, they aren't.  They want good jobs, because they understand that so many of the jobs created in the last 8 years were part-time, low paying, low skill jobs.  They understand that an influx of illegal immigrants (as opposed to the legal kind) drain our economy of jobs and money for benefits to those people.  All of whom, no matter how you parse words, broke the law by coming here.  They realize that taxing corporations at the highest rate in the developed world doesn't encourage businesses to keep their businesses ...well, here.  They realize that the vast majority of Washington, both right and left, is beholden to lobbyists and corporations, and isn't looking out for the little guy.  Donald Trump said some really awful things (and as such, never earned my vote), but they overlooked that, the same way you overlooked Hillary calling them a basket of deplorables and irredeemable.  But, it wasn't just Hillary.  So many of you called them the same names.  The news media called them the same names.  I hate to tell you this, but if you poke a bear, sometimes they do things you don't really like.  After eight years of being told any disagreement with President Obama was shrouded in racist hate, a lot of people got tired of their opinions being dismissed with so little thought. 

Dissent IS the highest form of Patriotism.  It was when Bush was President, and it is while Obama is President, and it will still be when Trump is President.  Dissent, differing opinions and viewpoints, and the ability to express them and debate them are fundamental to the continuing prosperity of our country.  Calling people racists, sexists, xenophobes, is NOT dissent.  It's mean, and petty, and isn't going to convince people to even look at your side of things.  Nor do any of those words appropriately describe what people really think.  They are buzz words.  They may make you feel better, but as you are now seeing, eventually they come back to bite you in the butt.

One more tiny thing.  When President Obama was elected eight years ago, and again four years ago, a lot of people were scared.  They were scared that we would see more terrorism.  They were scared that our influence in the world would diminish, and that it would leave ourselves and our allies more vulnerable.  They were scared it would damage our economy.  They were scared it would screw up their healthcare.  Yes, they were scared it would affect their ability to purchase a gun with which to defend themselves and their families.   They were scared that they might be forced to do things that violated their deeply held beliefs, and because of that they may lose their life savings, their businesses and their freedom.  They were scared the IRS would target them because they weren't expressing the right ideas.  They were scared, and you laughed at them, and told them to get over it.  I am trying my best to convince them, that whether or not they believe your fears are unfounded, they are real.  And we all have a duty to assuage those fears the best we can.  When people say "it's going to be okay", that's what they are doing.  Don't poo poo it. They are trying, in some way, to say "hey, I was scared too, and guess what, I'm still here.  You will be too."

I didn't vote for Donald or Hillary.  I understand both sides of this.  And my best advice is to take a deep breath, and go on with the business of living your life. Oh, and give the guy a chance.  If he screws up, scream and yell and make your voice heard.  But at least give the guy a chance.  You never know what might happen.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Sad Little King of a Sad Little Hill

   Sometimes a good thing can come out of that box we call a TV.  There is a Grey's Anatomy quote for every situation.  And every political season the wisdom of Firefly appears to become more appropriate.

  I have ceased commenting on any story that has anything to do with Donald Trump.  His supporters are rabid.  Seriously.  If you mention any of the many things that speak to his character, his lack of actual policy plans, or his repeated claims to "Make American Great Again", well, stand back and watch them twist themselves into pretzels.  They either attempt to explain it away (this is amusing), or they simply call you a Hillary Clinton supporter.  Mostly it's just the second one, because it's really hard to explain away the multiple affairs he bragged about, or his insane ramblings about conspiracy theories, or well, pretty much anything Donald says.

  Remember back in 1992 and 1996 when the moral character of our President counted and conservatives let you know it every chance they got?  Well, like most of Barack Obama's promises, it appears  for some conservatives that moral character has an expiration date.  Moral character now means absolutely nothing, because well...Donald Trump.

  There is a crazy crowd on the right, and it's just as crazy as the one on the left, who kept swearing to us that President Obama never said we could keep our plan if we liked it.  (He did, over 30 times.)  This crazy crowd on the right will say or do anything to defend their guy, even if he is a serial philanderer with little regard for women, or people with disabilities or Mexicans.  It's funny watching them try to convince themselves and others that he never said what he said, or that he said what he never said. 

  Since he became the presumptive nominee he has waffled on pretty much every one of his major promises, you know, the ones that convinced the utterly gullible that a man who was a Democrat 3 seconds ago was actually a Conservative Republican.  The Trump supporters swear that he was saying that all along, and they are fine with it.  If I didn't have a busy life, I'd love to go back and pull their comments from six months ago.  However, I have a busy life, and really what good would it do anyway?  Donald was right.  He could mow down people in the middle of Times Square and these people would still support him.  To admit that they got hoodwinked would damage their calm.

  Some of them are still swearing they can win without the 30% of us who refuse to vote for a Democrat in Republican clothes, but mostly they just tell us they will hold us personally responsible if their man doesn't win.  Feel free, I will be happy to say that I kept a megalomaniac fascist blowhard with illusions of grandeur out of the Oval Office.  I will sleep soundly knowing that I didn't vote for either Democrat.  I will be holding them personally responsible for electing Hillary Clinton.  After all, they were the ones who got caught up his rhetoric, you know that absolute nastiness that he paraded as "non-pc".  They were the ones who voted for him, even though there was a large group of people telling them "um, no, we won't vote for this guy." 

  We are not the establishment. (Hint:  your guy got rich off the establishment.  He's a beneficiary of the establishment.  Um, he IS the establishment.)  We are simply people who refuse to cross a line in the name of "party unity" or "stopping the Hillary Express", or "But...he's gonna build a yuuuuggggeeee wall!".

  For years we've voted for the lesser of two evils, but there is no lesser version this time.  Both of the presumptive candidates are awful choices who are entirely unfit and unqualified to be the leader of the free world.  Or the leader of the formerly free world.  We lead from behind now, or something.

  Donald Trump is a sad little king of a sad little hill, with a bunch of sad little followers who have sold out all the things they swear they believe in because they are angry, and they followed the cult of celebrity.  And now they are spewing venom because we refuse to play along. 

Tough Crap.  You wanted this, now live with the consequences.


Wednesday, December 16, 2015

My Take on the Candidates...So Far

After several debates, and no matter the amount of pain it may cause me personally (yes, I do have a candidate I like, but I don't do endorsements in the primary elections), I'm going to give my take on the current field of Presidential Candidates.  I will put their most recent polling numbers after their names.  If I cause you pain, because I've picked on your favorite candidate, please rest assured, I've also picked on mine.  Truth is far more important than defending one's personal choice at any cost.  Every single candidiate has flaws, and life will go a lot easier if we recognize them, rather than blindly defending any and all actions, because when "He's my guy" or "She's my girl".   So without further unnecessary bloviating (okay, maybe it's all unnecessary, but freedom of speech and all that jazz), here we go.

Donald Trump (38%) I have never seen him as a serious candidate, and I don't really care what his poll numbers say.  I still believe that his stance on immigration is the only reason he has the numbers he has, and the only reason he has so many conservatives backing him, despite the fact that just a short 18 months ago, he wasn't really a conservative.   He's going to build a wall, we get it.  I'm all for the wall, I just don't think Mexico is going to pay for it, and I still question the feasibility of kicking out 16 million people.  Outside of immigration?  He looks like someone who has some serious knowledge gaps.  He knows nothing about our nucleear arsenal and where it fits into national defense, he's talking about banning certain people from using the internet (who decides which people? And what right do they have to decide it?), his stance on eminent domain is terrible, and I'm really tired of hearing how rich he is.  I liked the analogy I heard last night.  He looks less presidential and more like he is trying to do an impression of Jim Carey circa Ace Ventura: Pet Detective.

Ted Cruz (15%)  I realize a lot of Christians like Ted Cruz, because, well, he's a Chrisitan.  Announcing his candidacy at Liberty University was a political move, sure, but a genius political move.  He knows where his bread is buttered.  There's just been something about him.  My husband and I have been trying to pinpoint it since the first debate, and what I saw of him last night, it's still lurking there, rubbing me the wrong way.   He comes off like a politician, slick, and sometimes a little smarmy.  My husband thinks he sounds like a televangelist.    His foreign policy occasionally rubs me the wrong way.  He seems almost semi-isolationist, trying to stay in the middle on issues like ISIS.  (No boots on the ground, we can do it from the air.)  He was  for legalizing illegals (2013) before he was against it (2015).   That was an outright lie he told last night in the debate.  I get the feeling he's taking whatever positions he can to try to siphon off support from other candidates, and I'm starting to wonder what his real views are.

Marco Rubio (12%) Marco has a couple of problems.  His immigration issues come up first, and they are big ones.  He was a sponsor of a bill that offered a path to citizenship for a bunch of people who broke the law to come here.  I think if you want to be a citizen, it starts with going through the proper channels to get here.  I also question his stance on the NSA program.  While I believe we need to do what we can to stop terrorist attacks, I don't believe that means we need to violate constituational protections to do it.  People who are not citizens of the US are not necessarily subject to the same constitutional freedoms as those who are.  You just can't have and retain the phone call records of an American citizen without a warrant.    Patrick Henry said it best.... "Give me liberty, or give me death".  I'm not giving up my freedom for safety.   I don't want Marco's NSA spying on me anymore than I want Barack's NSA spying on me.

Ben Carson (12%) I just don't think Ben is ready to be President.  I'm also not sure he has the ability to fight the way people have to fight to be President.  He's soft spoken, maybe too laid-back.  I know he stepped on the toes of the pro-lifers when he said that both sides of the abortion debate need to tone down their rhetoric, and I think that really had a negative impact on his poll numbers.  He needs more energy.  He tends to put people to sleep.

Jeb Bush (5%)  No more Bushes.  I'm almost positive we fought a war to get out from under the crown and the royalty, and between the Clintons and the Bushes, it seems like now we have dynasties and royalty.  Two was enough.  That whole family doesn't need to run for President to prove a point.  On top of that, a candidate needs to have both a good foreign and domestic policy.  Jeb Bush supports open borders, even if he won't admit it.  Jeb Bush lobbies for Common Core, which is No Child Left Behind on Steroids.  He's a big government Republican.  Just no more.

Chris Christie (4%)  I like Chris.  Too many people can not get the picture out of their heads of him hugging the President a few short days  before the 2012 election.  The media destroyed him during Bridge-gate, and it doesn't matter that there is no evidence he had anything to do with it.  Christie also doesn't play nice with the media, and while some of us really enjoy that, I'm not sure how negatively that reflects on him during a general election.  I think he will have trouble in the south.  It's very hard for northeastern politicians to make a big splash in the southern states. 

John Kasich (2%)  Most of the country still has no idea who this guy is.  Who is John Kasich?   He spends too much time at Republican Debates spouting Democrat talking points.  Not a good way to win this primary.  He's a major hawk on foreign policy, and a major progressive on domestic policy.  Neither one of those is going to play well.  Sorry dude, but when no one knows who you are, you should maybe slide off the stage.

Rand Paul (2%)  Domestic policy rocks, foreign policy is so atrocious, it disqualifies him from being President.  Donald Trump doesnt know much, but at least he pretends to want to make some changes in our policies over seas.  Rand Paul wouldn't lead from behind, he wouldn't lead at all when it comes to foreign matters.  I said about Jeb Bush that a candidate needs a good domestic and foreign policy.  It's still true down here. 

Carly Fiorina (1%)  She made a splash in the beginning, but we are getting tired of hearing about breast cancer and her HP experience.  It's not enough.  She lacks the knowledge to hold this job.  I like her, but liking someone only extends so far.

That's it.  No one else even deserves a mention, because they don't even rate a full percentage point in the national polls.  That's it.  I'm not doing the Democrats, because they all believe the same things.  Really.  They do.  Free stuff, higher taxes on the rich, open immigration policy.  The only difference is in their gender and age, and unless something big happens, it's going to be Clinton. 

There's my take.  You don't have to like it, but at least do yourself the service of not blindly following or defending any candidate.  Seek the real truth.    I just realized I had nothing positive to say.  My guess is we all know the positives, because we've staked our claim to a candidate already.  Positives?  Almost every candidate up there, with the excpetion of Rand Paul, recognizes our need for a strong defense, and most of them are willing to call our enemies by name.  Most of them, with a few exceptions, believe we need to strengthen our border.  Most of them realize that we need to cut spending, because we are broke.  It's the negative that makes the decisions people.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Head Games

   I love football.  I am almost positive that I started another post like that a couple of years ago.  I am also pretty sure that this will be the third post I have written about football.  As many of my posts on this blog are political in nature, those of you who read this should have come to the conclusion that, well, I love football.  Sixteen guaranteed games a year (a few more if your team is any good), and in this house, we pretty much count the days from the end of one season to the beginning of the next.   After the Flyers and Sixers have disappointed us again, and after the first few months of baseball have us convinced that the Phillies are once again going to tank, we start actively counting down the days until mini-camp, training camp, pre-season, and then... FOOTBALL!!!!  Three of the members of this household play fantasy football.  Almost every game that is televised is broadcast in our house.  We love football.

  The very nature of the game of football is violent.  It's useless to pretend otherwise.  You can't possible sit down and watch four quarters of football and not see at least one player get hurt.  It's usually more than one, although, thankfully, they aren't always taken of the field in a cart or an ambulance.  But honestly, in the course of a game whose entire goal is to get the ball past the goal line, and the other team's goal is to make sure that not only does that not happen, but that they have to get you down on the field for the play to be called dead?  Yes, violence IS the game of football.  So far this year, in the many games I've watched, I've seen a broken collarbone, a shoulder injury, two torn ACL's and numerous likely concussions.  All of this is so that I can set you up to understand that in a game, where the very rules demand a certain level of violence, there are bound to be injuries, and some of those injuries can and will be life changing.  If you want to deny that fact, it's probably best if you stop reading this blog right now.

  In rare instances, a player ends up paralzyed, or worse, but those are very rare occurances.  It's slightly less rare that a player is taken out with what ends up being a career ending injury.  Even still, with medical advances, those injuries occur less often than they used to.  There are a fair share of season ending injuries, the kind the player can come back from, but sometimes he's never really the same.  However, the vast majority of injuries are the four to eight week injuries.  The minor broken bones, the strained muscles, the concussions.  It's the last one that only takes a player out for a few weeks, and yet, might end up belonging in the first category.  The life-changing, and in some cases, life-taking, injuries.

   Just a few years back, the NFL was dragged through the mud in the media, and then hauled before a Congressional committee over the long term effects of head injuries, specifically concussions.  The majority of the research was done by Boston University, but a neuropathologist in Pittsburgh, Dr. Bennett Omalu, was the first to diagnose Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy in former NFL Player, Mike Webster.   The researchers in Boston, over the space of several years, saw more cases.  When research commissioned by the NFL was discovered to have come to some of the same conclusions, well, the NFL was in hot water.  Commissioner Roger Goodell began to institute changes to the game, penalties us football lovers have become more than acquainted with:  Helmet to Helmet, Hit on a Defenseless Receiver, Leading with the Head.  All penalties that could have fines levied if the NFL thinks the hit was brutal enough.  To many people it seemed like the NFL got into the act late in the game.  Shocking deaths of NFL players like Junior Seau made it clear that there was a problem, and that problem was directly related to the violence of the sport.  But....if you take out all the violence is it even football anymore?  And honestly, while American Football is one of the most profitable sports, and the sport with the largest US television audience, is it the only sport that should have been hauled before Congress (don't they have better things to do????) and had the comissioner grilled about head injuries?  What about hockey?  Lacrosse?  Rugby?  Soccer?  Gymanstics?  How many lesser known sports have the same possibility?

   Flyers Captain, Keith Primeau, had his hockey career ended by head injuries.  The head trainer of the Flyers told him after his fourth concussion that they would never let him back on the ice.  He is still dealing with the effects. 

   US Gold-Medal Soccer team player, Cindy Parlow, retired from soccer, also because of injuries she sustained during the game.  Seems bouncing the ball off your head might not be the best idea.

  Even though I haven't looked up the cases and players, I can guarantee you that Rugby and Lacrosse probably have more than a few of these cases, and gymanstics is a sport that is brutal on all parts of the body, and trust me, gymnasts fall on their heads.  Even they will tell you that.

  Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, CTE, is a traumatic brain injury, and unitl recently was thought to be confined to the sport of boxing.  It's caused by repeated Minor Traumatic Brain Injuries (MTBIs).  Not sure how you can consider any brain injury minor, but it's the difference betweeen headaches and blurry vision, and in a hospital bed hooked up to tubes and wires.  When your head gets hit hard enough, it causes your brain to move around inside your skull, and it does that very quickly.  Over time, these injuries cause breakages in the microtubules that run between different parts of the brain, allowing it to communicate.  The worse the injuries, the more times they occur, tau proteins become defective and no longer stabilize the microtubules.  Communication breaks down and you see things like memory loss, loss of focus, and behavioral instability.
Among the worst cases you see suicide, like Andre Waters (Eagles) and Junior Seau (Chargers).   The last count I looked at, out of the 79 brains that Boston University's CTE study had looked at, 78 had the markers for CTE.  That's pretty damning evidence of a problem.

   Some of the NFL's problem is related to what appears to be their intention to not seriously investigate, and possibly cover up, the connections between head injuries sustained in football and CTE.  Had they been more proactive, there is a real possibility they wouldn't have been skewered to the extent they were, and I believe rightly deserved.  The truth is, if more mothers were aware of this, how many of them would sign that release form for high school football?  If kids stop playing high school football, where would college talent come from?  Without college talent, what happens to the NFL's ready made talent pool?

   Now, as far as I know, almost all the, if not all of the brains sectioned and studied by BU came from players who died before their time, sometimes via suicide.   My feeling is, until they start sectioning and studying the brains of players who have not suffered an unusual or early death, we are still in the dark as to how prevalent the problem is.  An NFL Roster has 53 players (not including the practice squad which is an additional 10 players).  Which means one NFL team during a single season contains 2/3 of the players whose brains have been examined over the last several years.  Those aren't sufficient numbers to get any idea of the scope of the disease.  It is possible that the majority of players don't end up suffering from CTE, and that opens a whole new can of worms as to why some people are susceptible to it, and others aren't.  It will take more than a decade to compile the amount of information needed to figure out the prevalance and whether there is a genetic pre-dispositition.  And I do believe the NFL has taken steps to protect the players as best as they can in a sport where punishing hits aren't just a part of the game, they are practically the rules of the game.  I am in no way clamoring for football to cease.  I think we would lose something that is as American as apple pie and baseball.  I simply think we need to be aware of the dangers.

We need to be aware, because this year, all across the country,  parents won't simply sign releases for high school football.  They will also sign them for pee-wee and middle school football.  And if you think that long-term damage in NFL players is tragic, imagine what can happen to children, taking and delivering the brutal hits of football,  with brains that have not even fully developed.  Imagine those child hockey players getting their heads shoved into the boards, or those child soccer players constantly pounding their heads into a ball.  If you knew your child could suffer long term damage from the sport they play, damage that could lead them to commit suicide at the age of 17 or 21, would you be so willing to sign that release? 

When a player chooses to enter college on a scholarship or the NFL draft, they are at an age where they are capable of understanding the risks of the sport they play.  If they are willing to pay that price, that is entirely up to them.  Eight year olds have no idea, and as parents, our goal is to protect our children.  So before you sign the release, read this again, read more about it from other places, and make an informed decision.  Football, soccer, hockey and many other sports carry an inherent risk.  It's your job to decide if the risk is worth it.