Et Tu Brute?

“We are all accountable and responsible for player health and safety and the integrity of the game. We will not tolerate conduct or a culture that undermines those priorities,” said Goodell, whose league faces more than 20 concussion-related lawsuits brought by hundreds of former players. “No one is above the game or the rules that govern it.”

So by his own words no one who promotes a culture that undermines player safety, especially if they profit from it,  should be tolerated.  I’m curious Goodell do you consider these promotions?

Or this?

Oh, and what about this?

These are all officially sanctioned NFL videos, which Goodell’s organization along with all of the owners undoubtedly make millions from.  Player safety doesn’t seem to be front and center here, but hey I’m sure a technical video on proper equipment and tackling technique doesn’t sell nearly as well as Thunder and Destruction.  

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Raise the Roof…and the Discourse While You’re at It Please

Alright, this is a blanket post for all of the debt ceiling, GOP defenders in my social media circles/friends without the need to single out anyone.  As always there is no obligation to read and contrary opinions are welcomed.

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Just a Slob Like One of Us

I just don’t understand the American public.  We live in a society that sees better than 50% of its marriages end in divorce.  We have phenomenally popular television shows on air that follow “Teen Moms”, alcohol and sex fueled antics on the “Jersey Shore”, “Housewives” who think it is completely acceptable to screw people half their age while guzzling Merlot and fist fighting at public events, along with “Big Brother” shows that literally hit ratings highs when the cameras show the housemates doing the hunka-chunka, yet we are shocked and appalled when that reality t.v. hits the news. 

I get the shows and their allure.  Humans are basic and crass.  They crave sexual stimulation and entertainment that they don’t have to think too hard about.  I get the phenomenon.  What I dont’ get is the absolutely puritanical response that these same people have when one of their elected leaders engages in some of this same activity!  Do we somehow believe that we can pick one person out of the foaming, churning sea of human imperfection and impulsivity, and when we name him senator all of his flaws vanish?  Perhaps we think that the swearing-in process alters brain chemistry and societal norms?  Even better, maybe we don’t have to listen to God as long as that one guy we elect does? 

I imagine it is pretty clear given the media frenzy surrounding “Weiner’s Weiner” that this post is motivated by such, but honestly this applies across the board: Weiner, Clinton, Newt, Edwards, Sanford, et al.  These shlubs are just one of us.  Granted they are usually wealthy, Ivy League educated shlubs, but their vices and shortcomings are no different.  So again I ask, why do we all go bat-s-crazy when one of them sends a picture of his junk to someone?  I get why other politicians do.  They smell blood in the water, so they attack for advantage.  That’s pretty straight-forward, but they wouldn’t do this if we didn’t make it a bleeding offense. 

O.K. so this is starting to read like a “morals are for the weak” post, and that isn’t what I’m after at all.  What I’m really trying to get after here is who’s to blame.  We are to blame.  We can’t worship at the altar of Snookie and The Situation, live in an age of auto-erotic asphyxiation, and then turn our noses up at our elected officials for living in the same society.  There are no saints to look to in this life.  There is simply one’s self.  If you can’t be that saint for your family and loved ones, then Anthony Weiner sure as hell can’t either.

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Stuck on Stupid


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People are Entitled to Their Own Opinions…Not Their Own Facts

I received this chain email forward today, and I don’t usually respond to these.  However, this one seems to be really catching and drumming up the far right base, and possesses a stark and eye-rolling irony.  It is entitled Lee (as in Iacocca) is Back!  This particular snippet was originally released to promote Iacocca’s book and was directed at George W. Bush and the G.O.P.  It has now been adulterated to read as a manifesto against Obama.  It is the most fabulous type of irony that has extremist wingnuts copy and pasting a vitriolic screed designed to address their own like and kind in order to attack “this so called President”.  It of course adds some completely new points (which are fabricated entirely of course) into this “new and improved” version.  I took the liberty of throwing in a few bits of commentary in blue text.

Again these things are usually best ignored as most lunacy is, but feel free to throw your own commentary in with mine.

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Concession to a Conservative

Recently I’ve found myself engaged in the same discussion with several people, all of who’m I find intelligent and even-keeled.  I guess with tax day just done with haunting all of our mailboxes it was almost inevitable to discuss tax burden, social welfare programs and the like.  Now anyone who has read anything I’ve previously written knows that I’m pretty much somewhere left of Karl Marx when it comes to the virtue and necessity of social welfare programs, so this is most certainly not a reversal of my support for programs like W.I.C., Food Stamps, Medicaid for poor mothers and children, and the like.  It is however a concession to an oft over-billed yet true in basic nature conservative gripe.  That gripe being abuse of the system by those who avoid marriage on paper or shirk responsibility of action in order to receive the benefit of these programs.

Now this is not an attempt to go all birther, Donald Trump crazy here, so please don’t take this as a reversal of ideology.  The $100K welfare queen persona was and is fictitious propaganda utilized for political expediency by President Reagan and the G.O.P.  There are, however, some real gripes out there that I feel obligated to discuss.  For instance, take the Earned Income Credit…no really take it if you can get it, because it is a significant rebate.  If you qualify for it, good on ya!  I sincerely mean that for the most part, but what I don’t like is the fact that it is (in some cases) encouraging people to not get married in order to collect on the refund potential.  The bottom line is that if the father or mother of one’s children is living with the other parent and one of them makes more than 130% of the federal poverty level it is financially smart for them not to be married.  For if they were married, the lesser-salaried parent would no longer be eligible for the Earned Income Credit.

This is not a good precedent to set and support with our federal tax code.  I am not preaching or pushing a particular set of moral requirements, but promoting the involvement of two committed and monogamous parents is a positive thing!  Poverty stricken communities and locales already have a hard enough time securing parental involvement (sadly and mostly from fathers) that it makes absolutely no sense to incentivize staying single parents.  Now perhaps some families have two loving well-intentioned parents in the home and simply are not legally married.  Well that’s great!  I’m not imposing my idea of marriage (church and licensed etc…) on them, but I don’t think they should be eligible for a tax credit that many married couples are not.  Especially since the unmarried family may make considerably more money.  These are the kind of things that send the wrong message and make it harder to argue for additional social programs that can help the many families who are desperate for so many different types of aid.

The next issue really just piggybacks of the EIC gripe.  It is simply too easy for couples who are not married to exclude one or the other’s income in order to qualify for benefits like Medicaid, Food Stamps and W.I.C.  There is nothing that will turn off the support of working class families faster than watching another unmarried family of similar or superior means benefiting from communal tax dollars when they can not do the same.  I find that most reasonable conservatives I know do not truly begrudge assistance to poor and disadvantaged individuals, but they see a significant amount of abuse and it goes a long way to shaping their overall opinion of a social program.

My intention here is not to see Welfare rolls purged or demonize its recipients, far from it!  I simply think conservatives and many others have a legitimate complaint about abuse of the system and some of the bad behaviors which it incentivizes.  All that being said, let me speak to the person who would read this and nod their heads and say “yeah! we spend too much already! take care of yourself!” or some such nonsense.  Social welfare programs are a relatively small portion of spending comprising between 1.5% and 2.1% of federal spending annually depending on how inclusive one is of the term “welfare”.  Also, it has been noted in several studies that there is not a correlation of increased birthrate to women who receive welfare.  Finally, the majority of welfare recipients are elderly and/or disabled citizens.   A really good article discussing these issues and more can be found here:  http://www.fair.org/index.php?page=1302

I simply think that looking at abuses and perceptions along with unforeseen consequences of virtuous programs can only help to strengthen them.

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On Smoke, Fire and Lack Thereof

Three in four American parents (76%) are satisfied with the education their children receive in school, compared to 45% of the general public who are satisfied with the state of schools nationwide. These findings from Gallup’s annual Work and Education survey are almost identical to what Gallup found last year, and have not changed materially since 2003.

I’ve seen this statistic polled in many different places for quite a few years, and it always brings me to the fundamental question, What are we getting all worked up about then? I certainly understand that there are some abysmal schools and school systems all across America, and I doubt anyone would dispute that fact.  However, it seems counterintuitive that there is a Federal top-down push to revamp our Public Education System in the United States, if that many parents are happy with their child’s education.

If three out of four parents like what is going on with their child’s education, where is the disconnect? Could it possibly be that the frenzy that is whipped up by politicians and covered by the main stream media is imprinted in the id of society, and it is simply “the thing to say” when polled about the state of public education in the U.S.?  I mean it’s just one of things you know, like all of New Orleans is under sea level and other inaccurate but widely accepted “truths”.  Honestly think about it for a second.  From Oprah to documentaries to NBC’s Education Nation every major news outlet is telling us about the “Crisis in American Public Education”.  They throw out terms like dropout factories, international comparison’s, value-added compensation, high stakes test scores, and winning the future. How could you believe anything other than our education system is in dire straights?

During all of those shows, interviews and State of the Union Addresses, you never hear that those dropout factories provide almost no options for students other than a traditional classroom setting on a traditional college prep track.  No vocational options, no alternative schedules, no middle class neighborhoods and no community support.  They never mention that international comparisons do not factor into their statistics that many, if not most other countries, do not provide all children universal access to education the way we do.  They actually track the higher achieving students into their graduation programs while those who do not “make the mark” are tracked into other options which do not factor into international comparisons.  Not to mention that some countries do not provide special education services or access to low I.Q. students at all!

Further, they certainly don’t mention that linking teacher pay to test scores has little data driven research available, and the only definitive data emphatically states that it does not work.  They also neglect to mention that high stakes testing measurements also lack data in the affirmative and demonstrate significant data in the negative, that said tests constitute any valuable measurement of educational quality or student ability at all.  They skate by mountains of research and data which call into questions all of these vogue doomsdayisms and quick fixes

What upsets me the most is that they almost never look at the hundreds of thousands of teachers who show up to work everyday despite pay cuts, benefit cost increases, out-of-pocket classroom supply purchases, insults, abusive families, abusive students, and do their jobs while being mother/father and best friend to these kids.  Everyday teachers see students’ learn to read for the first time, take their grades from an F to a D+ or C-, but this is somehow unacceptable because they don’t move from complete illiteracy to Rhode’s Scholar in one semester or one school year.  Because that teacher isn’t able to completely annihilate generations of social and fiscal inequity and overcome abject poverty, pervasive violence, and decades of anger and violence in a single year, that teacher somehow is not effective. The media and politicians also always fail to note and mention that no other country  has met or is capable of meeting the goals that we have set up as measures of “success”.

Next time you hear someone you know, a T.V. personality, or news anchor talk about the looming American Public Education Crisis, stop and ask yourself, “Have they talked to those three out of four parents?”

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