Dear Newsbusters and the MRC

It isn’t news because they are terrorists, you fucking simpletons. Yesterday, my cat scratched himself then shit in a box. The media didn’t report that, either.

The NFL and Concussions

A cautionary tale in the NY Times:

The rate of diagnosed clinical depression among retired National Football League players is strongly correlated with the number of concussions they sustained, according to a study to be published today.

The study was conducted by the University of North Carolina’s Center for the Study of Retired Athletes and based on a general health survey of 2,552 retired N.F.L. players. It corroborates other findings regarding brain trauma and later-life depression in other subsets of the general population, but runs counter to longtime assertions by the N.F.L. that concussions in football have no long-term effects.

As the most comprehensive study of football players to date, the paper will add to the escalating debate over the effects of and proper approach to football-related concussions.

As a diehard Steelers fan, the first thing I thought of when I read this was the sad, sad tale of Mike Webster, one of the greatest centers in the history of the game (if not the greatest). The author also reaffirmed that it is reasonable to hate Bill Belichick, the whiniest, most obnoxious piece of excrement in the NFL this side of Al Davis and Bill Romanowski:

In January, a neuropathologist claimed that repeated concussions likely contributed to the November suicide of the former Philadelphia Eagles player Andre Waters. Three weeks later, the former New England Patriots linebacker Ted Johnson not only revealed that his significant depression and cognitive decline had been linked by a neurologist to on-field concussions, but also claimed that his most damaging concussion had been sustained after his coach, Bill Belichick, coerced him into practicing against the advice of team doctors.

It is safe to say that I feel the same way about Belichick doing this to his players as my UGA graduate mother feels about one of footballs other greatest villains and serial abusers of players, Bear Bryant.

Why Do These Soldiers Hate America?

We are in deep trouble if the soliders are in league with the terrorists, which is what it seems:

Spc. David Williams, 22, of Boston, Mass., had two note cards in his pocket Wednesday afternoon as he waited for Sen. Joseph Lieberman. Williams serves in the 82nd Airborne Division from Fort Bragg, N.C., the first of the five “surge” brigades to arrive in Iraq, and he was chosen to join the Independent from Connecticut for lunch at a U.S. field base in Baghdad.

The night before, 30 other soldiers crowded around him with questions for the senator.

He wrote them all down. At the top of his note card was the question he got from nearly every one of his fellow soldiers:

“When are we going to get out of here?”


“We’re not making any progress,” Hedin said, as he recalled a comrade who was shot by a sniper last week. “It just seems like we drive around and wait to get shot at.”

But as he waited two chairs down from where Lieberman would sit, Hedin said he’d never voice his true feelings to the senator.

“I think I’d be a private if I did,” he joked. “It’s just more troops, more targets.”

In the past two months, the unit has lost two men. In May alone, at least 120 U.S. troops died in Iraq, the bloodiest month in 2007 and the highest number since the battles of Fallujah in 2004.

Spc. Kevin Krasco, 20, of Medford, Mass., and Spc. Kevin Adams, 20, of Moosup, Conn., chimed in with their dismay before turning the conversation to baseball.

“It’s like everything else in this war,” Adams said, referring to Baghdad. “It hasn’t changed.”


As Lieberman walked out, he said that congressionally mandated withdrawal would be a “victory for al-Qaida and a victory for Iran.”

“They’re not Pollyannaish about this,” he said referring to the young soldiers he ate lunch with. “They know it’s not going to be solved in a day or a month.”

It isn’t clear whether Williams mentioned the last line on his note card, the one that had a star next to it.

“We don’t feel like we’re making any progress,” it said.

If you ask the soldiers, this is the most maddening thing- the visits from blowhards like Lieberman who come in, “listen” to the troops, and then go out and say whatever they planned to say, regardless what they have “learned” in their heavily guarded photo-op tours of the region. The problem for these soldiers is they just don’t understand that when they signed the contract for service, they pledged that they would die for their country. Lieberman and the other ‘stay the course’ fools just want to hold them to their word.

Shorter Sam Brownback

One of Sam Brownback’s speechwriters wrote an op-ed piece in the NY Times which serves as a message to several varying constituencies. The message is as follows:

To the flat earth religious right nuts:

“I would visit the the creationism museum, but it is probably best if I hold off until after I am elected.”

To middle America:

“Sure, I’m religious, but I am not crazy.”

To the scientific community:

“I will flat out make up anything in order to get elected, and when elected, Monica goodling clones will be appointed to NASA and the FDA.”

We Have Alarmingly Stupid People Running Federal Agencies

In a weird sort of progress, NASA administrator Michael Griffin* acknowledges that global warming is real. But being a Bush appointee it goes without saying that Griffin cannot possibly say something reasonable without slipping in the crazy somewhere.

In an interview with NPR’s Steve Inskeep that will air in Thursday’s edition of NPR News’ Morning Edition, Administrator Griffin explains: “I guess I would ask which human beings – where and when – are to be accorded the privilege of deciding that this particular climate that we have right here today, right now is the best climate for all other human beings. I think that’s a rather arrogant position for people to take.”

I mostly let the global warming issue go these days since, IMO anyway, the key thresholds have already come and gone so there is little point getting worked up about it now. Still, even a jaded cynic like me has to stop and stare at self-justifying stupidity like this. Griffin’s personal odyssey from doubt directly to despair reflects a too-convnient attitude that I see in rightwingers practically every day. One moment they deny anything to do with global warming, the next they think that puny little people like us could never hope to influence such a terribly huge problem. Or, this is a new one, it might even be morally wrong to fix the problem that we created. So many rightwingers seem to magically pass from denial directly to despair without getting anywhere near the idea that we should try to tackle the climate problem before it wrecks us. This transition from denial to inertia suits perfectly the Exxon-Mobil interests that fund America’s rightwing.

Giving Griffin the benefit of the doubt, here is an answer to his complaint. You don’t have to know each individual who will win and lose from changing climate to know that human civilization in aggregate grew in and depends on a several thousand year period of historic climate stability. Our global population has surged towards seven billion because food growers can plan their harvest five, ten and twenty years in the future. Water rights in marginal lands use regional averages that have held true for hundreds of years. Humans living near water (somewhere near 50% of the global population) count on the coastlines staying where they are next year and the year after that. The word civilization keeps growing in meaning as technology advances and far-flung regions grow entirely interdependent on one another for survival.

Hardly an exception from global interdependence, Americans may be the worse off than anybody. Think of how many products you have used that came entirely from inside America. Do you know where the raw materials were produced? Do you know where your shoes were assembled? The simple fact is that Americans could not possibly afford shoes, cars or coke for blast furnaces produced entirely in America. Our raw manufacturing sector is dead. We outsource both labor costs and evironmental degradation to poorer countries that make our stuff for us and then sell it back to us on the cheap. Coincidentally many of these same countries stand on the front lines with respect to climate. When components of the global system break down everything will start to crawl.

We need to find a solution for global change because every element of our current system is heavily mortgaged on stability. Naturally instead of either proposing to mitigate change with sensible carbon policies or suggesting a national Apollo Program to handle the disruption that change will cause we get despondent, inertia-bound leaders like Michael Griffin who must rationalize away his ideological allergy to dealing with problems that he can no longer deny.


(*) No idea whether he’s related to ousted US Attorney and vote purger Tim Griffin, although I suppose I would have heard about it by now.

Pennsylvania – Irrelevant And Proud Of It

I see that every large state except mine has moved its primary up to Feb. 5, National Primary Day. This whole idea of selecting a presidential nominee is so unfamiliar to our state that, assuming that confused Pennsylvanians even grasp the idea of voting on a day other than an early Tuesday in November, we might put out a butterfly ballot and nominate Kucinich. I say leave the crushing burden of choice to the suckers in New York, Florida, California and New Jersey.

Funny Thing About Rudy Giuliani

Everybody talks about Rudy learning the lessons of 9/11, but few have seen fit to ask him what exactly those lessons are. Those who know Rudy Giuliani could tell you that the answer looks a lot like a brutal police state with zero barrier between public and private, led by a snazzily-dressed Italian with a thing for military aggression and personality cults. If that sounds familiar yes, we have seen this movie before.

Libertarians are freaking out, and they should.