The idea of putting a statue of Christopher Hitchens in a British park is enough to make me choke on my shawarma. At least someone is standing up to what would be the 21st century’s least defensible public monument.
Author Page for Erik Loomis
I’m a bit outraged by Paul Anderson’s piece arguing essentially that NFL players have the right to play after they’ve had a concussion. Anderson argues that our national concussion outrage should focus on college football–and he’s right about that. During last week’s Arizona-USC game, Arizona QB Matt Scott was leading his team down the field for a go-ahead touchdown. Near the end of the drive, Scott scrambled and took a knee to the head. He immediately puked on the field and was clearly concussed. Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez left Scott in the game to complete the drive. This was an egregious violation of player safety. College football is absolutely terrible on this issue.
But Anderson’s piece also basically feels like an apology for the NFL. He rightly notes that the lawsuits currently under litigation are about old players and the old NFL and that in today’s NFL, everyone knows the risk of concussions. Since those players are getting paid, the have the right to work after concussed. But from my perspective, this feels an awful lot like employers in other high risk workplaces abnegating responsibility for their actions by invoking labor’s “freedom to work.” Sure that coal mine is egregiously unsafe, but I’m not forcing the worker to go down in the hole! Now there is some difference of course between the two situations–NFL players are highly paid and coal miners aren’t. But most NFL players are looking at a very short career and within NFL culture, any sign of not putting your body through extreme hell is considered soft and a good way to find yourself unemployed.
Moreover, and this seems so obvious as to not need saying, when you have just suffered a concussion, you are not in the right mindset to make a rational decision about continuing to play. Yet Anderson portrays concussed players as rational actors who will make the best decision for themselves. That’s totally absurd. He argues that they can apply for workers’ compensation if they are permanently hurt, but anyone who has gone through that system can tell you it’s neither easy nor does it fully compensate your pay.
Anderson is supposed to be some of sort concussion expert, but to me he’s sounding an awful lot like a libertarian who is happy to put workers at risk in favor of larger principles of “free will” for which he personally will never face the consequences.
Excellent story about a reporter in Williamson County, Texas (deep red suburbs north of Austin) trying to vote with a utility bill as an ID. Mind you, Texas doesn’t require photo ID for voting since its law is being challenged in the courts. But precinct workers are demanding it. This reminds me of the old Jim Crow era literacy tests, where local election workers got to decide who voted and who didn’t. A white person who is going to vote for the powers that be and is illiterate–go right ahead! A black college professor–not literate! America’s decentralized election system creates and exacerbates power inequalities through allowing for intensive intimidation of voters. In states with voter ID laws, you have older Republicans making decisions over who can vote in Republican dominated counties. I don’t see any way these laws lead to greater democracy. Which is exactly the point.
No evening is complete without a track from the album Senator Sam Ervin put out after the Watergate hearings.
Why has television surpassed film as the most important form of motion picture media? Maybe because shows like Mad Men tell interesting stories while the 14th sequel to a superhero movie might sell tickets in China but is culturally irrelevant over the long-term. And while I don’t doubt that TV being free after subscription and pirating are issues, the real problem for Hollywood is that they don’t tell interesting stories anymore, preferring to rely on CGI and tricks to get 15 year old boys to spend money, while adults can watch Mad Men or Girls or The Wire or whatever.
But hey, I’m sure having Seth MacFarlane host the Oscars will make a huge difference and put film back on top. Clearly Hollywood studio executives have identified the problem correctly…..
The threat Nate Silver’s mathematical models offer to traditional punditry, with its emphasis on the horse race and the personalities and the media ratings, is quite real. How do we know? So many pundits hate Silver with the heat of a thousand suns.
And these are political pundits we are talking about here, people. Political pundits have absolutely no accountability to anyone. The idea that Silver could be discredited if he is wrong next week is hilarious coming from, say, David Brooks.
..[SL] If you don’t want to reward Politico’s trolling with your hard-earned links, Elle Reeve has a good roundup of more people who think Silver is a fraud because everyone knows that if a coin comes up heads twice in a row this proves that math is invalid.
My contempt for Tom Friedman is without limit. But he nails this column like Luther and a church door. At least until the point where he brings up Michael Bloomberg. But I’m going to focus on this part, which is actually good.
In my world, you don’t get to call yourself “pro-life” and be against common-sense gun control — like banning public access to the kind of semiautomatic assault rifle, designed for warfare, that was used recently in a Colorado theater. You don’t get to call yourself “pro-life” and want to shut down the Environmental Protection Agency, which ensures clean air and clean water, prevents childhood asthma, preserves biodiversity and combats climate change that could disrupt every life on the planet. You don’t get to call yourself “pro-life” and oppose programs like Head Start that provide basic education, health and nutrition for the most disadvantaged children. You can call yourself a “pro-conception-to-birth, indifferent-to-life conservative.” I will never refer to someone who pickets Planned Parenthood but lobbies against common-sense gun laws as “pro-life.”
“Pro-life” can mean only one thing: “respect for the sanctity of life.” And there is no way that respect for the sanctity life can mean we are obligated to protect every fertilized egg in a woman’s ovary, no matter how that egg got fertilized, but we are not obligated to protect every living person from being shot with a concealed automatic weapon. I have no respect for someone who relies on voodoo science to declare that a woman’s body can distinguish a “legitimate” rape, but then declares — when 99 percent of all climate scientists conclude that climate change poses a danger to the sanctity of all life on the planet — that global warming is just a hoax.
I actually have a certain amount of intellectual respect (although I completely disagree with the point) for the fetus as life position. I can see the point in theory. But of course it is always about controlling women’s bodies and punishing them for sex. It’s not “pro-life” at all.
As I’ve said repeatedly through this election cycle, big national elections are not the primary vehicle for change in this country, nor should they be the singular focus of progressives. It’s my contention that the real change in electoral politics happens on the local level. Like conservatives who began organizing in their cities and counties in the late 1950s and early 1960s and then took over the Republican Party, progressives need to do the same for the Democratic Party. Avoid vanity third party campaigns and instead turn local elections into organizing campaigns for social change.
Thus, I read this Elise Foley piece with great interest. Last year in Phoenix, undocumented Americans who wanted to make change within the political system decided to dedicate themselves to help a Latino firefighter named Danny Valenzuela run for City Council. Calling themselves “Team Awesome,” they organized the district for a year and got him elected. Latino turnout rose 486% from the previous election.
This is how to do it.
The Arizona Democratic Party is trying to build upon this today to elect Richard Carmona to the Senate. Not surprisingly, that and the growing Latino power of Arizona is the real point of the article. But I think the more interesting question is the relationship between organizing and progressive politics on the local level.
Those undocumented Americans who organized to elect Valenzuela to the City Council have created more positive change than the entirety of third party presidential runs since World War II.
I was sure that Mark Judge had the stupidest sports column of the year wrapped up for his Bryce Harper, Conservative Hero piece. But the Howler clearly wants to up the ante. And thus we have Matt Lewis arguing that conservatives should root for Detroit over San Francisco in the World Series. That conservatives hate San Francisco is no surprise. The glory of this is in why Detroit is really a good conservative city:
Detroit has real people who work hard for their money and cherish their jobs. Detroit loves hockey. Detroit loves to buy American. Detroiters like their boats and their beers. You do not ask to see the wine list in the bars around Comerica Park. Pabst Blue Ribbon, please. Tall boys.
Awesome. Conservatives are happy to let GM and Chrysler go bankrupt, but they have no shame in talking about how Detroit is where real Americans live. Conservatives want to outsource every American job to China, but they love American-buying Detroit residents. And tall boys, well hell, we all know that’s a metaphor for Detroit residents having large penises.
This is also great:
After all, the Auto union member and the hippie/feminist/gay rights activist (take your pick) would kill one another — if they ever met.
Oh right. You mean the last UAW members who you conservatives have tried to destroy? Does that include, say, the friends of Michael Moore? Do they want to beat up feminists and hippies? Or is Lewis stereotyping unions? I’m sure he’s a big fan of Walter Reuther and the social/racial justice programs of the UAW in its heyday so I’m sure we all know the answer…..
In the end, the Bryce Harper piece is actually worse than this. But this is pretty bad.
OK, it actually is funny. But scary.
If there’s one thing we can say about the Saudi government, it’s that their commitment to subtlety is unmatched except by the Russians.
At least when Mexico decided to build that monstrosity of a church with the conveyor belt to see the original Virgin of Guadalupe image, they didn’t tear down the original cathedral. Ugh.
…..In other historic preservation news, the Times has done a really admirable job lobbying to save this Frank Lloyd Wright house in Phoenix from destruction. I mean, who knew there was anything worthwhile to see in that giant scab upon the desert?