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The Concussion Crisis Reaches a New Level

[ 43 ] March 17, 2015 |



Despite being a rookie drafted in the third round, linebacker Chris Borland was an important part of the 49ers defense last season, even starting eight games. With Patrick Willis retiring and Justin Smith reportedly considering the same, the 49ers will rely on Borland even more heavily this season. Or, were going to. Outside the Lines is reporting that Borland, 24, has told the 49ers that he is retiring “because of concerns about the long-term effects of repetitive head trauma.”


Borland told Outside the Lines that he began considering retirement as far back as training camp, when he believes he suffered a concussion but played through it in order to try and make the team. After the season he says he met with former players as well as doctors, which only further solidified the decision. He plans on going back to school at Wisconsin—where he graduated with a degree in history—to work towards his new career, possibly in sports management.

Between this and the string of early retirements…it’s hard not to think that more and more players will start making similar decisions.

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Abolish the Tipped Minimum Wage

[ 39 ] March 16, 2015 |


Massachusetts is trying to do something about its tipped minimum wage. It raised it in a recent bill all the way to $3.75 an hour by 2017. To say the least that’s not good enough. A new bill has been introduced in the state legislature to eliminate the tipped minimum wage by 2022. That’s a positive step but still isn’t good enough. The tipped minimum wage should be abolished immediately. I’d sure like to see some statement from the Obama Administration about tipped minimum wages. Not sure what power it would have to eliminate these discrepancies without a bill passing Congress (which of course would never happen), but the tipped minimum wage needs to end.

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The Real Power of Fraternities

[ 48 ] March 16, 2015 |


Katie McDonough understands the real reason why fraternities are almost invincible on the university campus: their members make up the alumni network university presidents rely on for donations. In a university system ever more reliant on private donors for money and ever more willing to turn their institutions into nothing more than training schools for those donors, presidents, assuming they even care about the racist, sexist, and homophobic behavior of the Greek system on their campuses, are hamstrung in their ability to do anything about it. Go after the frats and the donors who are members of said frats close their pocketbooks.

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The Origins of Modern Christian Symbolism in the United States

[ 40 ] March 16, 2015 |


Kevin Kruse excerpts his new book on how corporations created the public symbols of modern Christianity as part of their mobilization against the New Deal. It’s a must read, as is no doubt his book:

Back in the 1930s, business leaders found themselves on the defensive. Their public prestige had plummeted with the Great Crash; their private businesses were under attack by Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal from above and labor from below. To regain the upper hand, corporate leaders fought back on all fronts. They waged a figurative war in statehouses and, occasionally, a literal one in the streets; their campaigns extended from courts of law to the court of public opinion. But nothing worked particularly well until they began an inspired public relations offensive that cast capitalism as the handmaiden of Christianity.

The two had been described as soul mates before, but in this campaign they were wedded in pointed opposition to the “creeping socialism” of the New Deal. The federal government had never really factored into Americans’ thinking about the relationship between faith and free enterprise, mostly because it had never loomed that large over business interests. But now it cast a long and ominous shadow.

Accordingly, throughout the 1930s and ’40s, corporate leaders marketed a new ideology that combined elements of Christianity with an anti-federal libertarianism. Powerful business lobbies like the United States Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers led the way, promoting this ideology’s appeal in conferences and P.R. campaigns. Generous funding came from prominent businessmen, from household names like Harvey Firestone, Conrad Hilton, E. F. Hutton, Fred Maytag and Henry R. Luce to lesser-known leaders at U.S. Steel, General Motors and DuPont.

In a shrewd decision, these executives made clergymen their spokesmen. As Sun Oil’s J. Howard Pew noted, polls proved that ministers could mold public opinion more than any other profession. And so these businessmen worked to recruit clergy through private meetings and public appeals. Many answered the call, but three deserve special attention.

From this alliance between preachers and capitalists comes most of the ideas that right-wing Christians today cite about why this is an overtly Christian nation and why socialism is a sin. It’s toxic and it’s powerful. Kruse pushing the timeline of this alliance back from the 50s into the 30s is really important in understanding its deep roots.

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Chip Kelly, SuperGenius: The Trolling Stage

[ 39 ] March 16, 2015 |

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Either Kelly has a great sense of humor or Eagles fans should be even more terrified that he’s been put in charge of personnel:

Chip Kelly’s first offseason at the controls has been full of twists and turns. The latest? The Eagles worked out quarterback Tim Tebow this morning, a league source confirmed.

Adam Schefter was first with the news.

Hmm. Well, in his only season as a regular in 2011 Tebow actually had a higher QBR that year than the injury-prone QB that Kelly just spent draft picks and more than $10 million in cap space to acquire,although neither could match the peerless Sanchize. So, really, Tebow does seem to be the kind of QB Kelly seems to be looking for — why not sign him?

Yes, yes, Bradford did improve all the way to merely “below average” in 2012 — a level Tebow will never get near — but I’m still not really convinced that “collect as many shitty overhyped failed 1st round QBs as possible” is going to be a path to victory no matter how good Kelly is with the xs and os.

…looks like Kelly is sticking with only two bad former first round picks for now.

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The Bailout of the Health Insurance Industry Continues

[ 34 ] March 16, 2015 |

DoctorAbove: Someone please stop such horrifying events

Why couldn’t Obama have just let private insurers wither away like they were totally going to?

More than 16 million Americans have gained insurance coverage as a result of President Barack Obama’s health care law, the administration said Monday as the White House prepares to commemorate the fifth anniversary of the law’s signing.

In releasing the latest estimates, Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell called it “the largest reduction in the uninsured in four decades.”

Hopefully the Supreme Court will intervene soon to help to stop our national nightmare!  When I hear the Solicitor General argue that the purpose of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was to provide more affordable and highly regulated insurance to as many people as possible rather than to make esoteric points about federalism I feel like I’m looking through the looking glass. This can’t possibly describe the thinking of the libertarian crackpots who drafted and voted for the law.

In addition, I hope the Supreme Court won’t be swayed by traitors like Matt Mead, who’s surely hiding Sylvia Burwell’s secret plan to get the Wyoming legislature to establish a state exchange.

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Abolish the Senate

[ 148 ] March 16, 2015 |

It’s difficult to see the down side.

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ACA Trooferism: The First Time as Farce, the Second Time as Farce

[ 26 ] March 16, 2015 |

still-of-kevin-costner-and-wayne-knight-in-jfk-(1991)-large-picture“If the federal government intervenes in the economy in any way, the Moops will overrun us all. Haven’t you seen that documentary about what they did to Rearden Steel?”

The satirical novel we’re all living in continues to be a little on-the-nose:

The latest legal argument attacking Obamacare is literally a joke.

In 2012, officials from seven states penned a letter that, at least on its face, appears to be a very long list of requests for information from the federal Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). In reality, however, the letter was a kind of prank that state officials played on HHS, according to one official who signed onto the letter. The letter, in other words, was not actually a request for information. It was an attempt to “spoof” a similar request that HHS made of the states.


That claim by Tanden prompted Michael Carvin, the attorney for the plaintiffs in King, to cite the states’ letter to HHS. That letter includes, among many other inquiries, a request that HHS identify the specific legal authority that permits it to “administer premium tax credits” in the federally-run exchanges that HHS is required to set up in states that elect not to operate their own exchange. Thus, if the letter is read as an earnest request for information, it seems to suggest that the state officials who signed it had doubts about whether these tax credits are authorized by law.

But here’s the problem: the letter wasn’t an earnest request for information. According to Tim Jost, a health policy expert and law professor at Washington and Lee University, the letter was a “joke.” The states, Jost explains, “got what they thought was an unreasonable demand from the feds and they sent back a letter that mirrored the request they got from the federal government.”

A state official who signed the letter, who spoke to ThinkProgress on condition of anonymity, confirmed Jost’s understanding.


If anything, Carvin’s attempt to bolster his case by unwittingly citing a practical joke is a microcosm for King v. Burwell as a whole. The central premise of Carvin’s argument is that a few words of the law can be read out of context in a way that sabotages much of the rest of the law. Once those words are read in their proper context — a context that includes a passage defining the word “Exchange” so that state-run and federally-run exchanges will be treated identically under the law — Carvin’s entire argument falls apart.

Oh, sure, you laugh now. But you haven’t seen how Carvin’s reply will make devastating use of the typographical arts! He has a letter that proves that President, Speaker of the House, Senate Majority Leader, Secretary of State, Prime Minister, and co-writer of “Blurred Lines” Jonathan Gruber told the states to say that their serious query was a joke!

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Monday Links

[ 188 ] March 16, 2015 |
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This Will be the Longest 18 Months Ever

[ 38 ] March 16, 2015 |

When I see that many people are pretending to take a ludicrous-on- -its-face story written by Ed Klein seriously…can we just have the election now please?

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Are Seattle Restaurants Closing in “Record Numbers”? (Spoiler: No.)

[ 98 ] March 15, 2015 |

Since the initial story about Seattle restaurant closings is making its way through the right wing blogs at the moment, prompting one wingnut outlet to declare that Seattle restaurants are closing “in record numbers,” let’s take a loot at the actual evidence provided in the story that launched the chain reaction. Before we begin let’s note despite long having one of the highest minimum wages in the country, while being located in one of only a handful of states with no ‘tip credit’ for wages, Seattle still manages to have the highest density of restaurants anywhere in the country, except for San Francisco and the greater New York City area.

What’s the evidence? The Seattle Magazine article that started this game of telephone identified four (4) restaurants that have closed or will close between February and May 2015. (A 5th restaurant is seeing its award winning chef resign to move to Spain; the alleged relevance here is unclear.) Included in these four restaurants is one that remains open at its original location, shifting its focus back to their original model, another is owned by one of Seattle’s most successful and celebrated restaurateurs, who continues to own five thriving establishments and is in the process of opening two new restaurants. The owner of the third closing restaurant  (easily the most over-hyped Indian restaurant openings I’ve ever seen), identifies the reason for closing as a poor fit between format and location, which seemed pretty obvious to me when they opened. The space the fourth restaurant occupies will be immediately replaced by another new restaurant.

What isn’t included is any analysis to suggest openings are failing to keep pace with closings. Given the short typical lifespan of a restaurant and the size of Seattle, we should expect annual openings and closings to be in the hundreds in a typical year. Identifying four closing restaurants over a four month period is evidence for the thesis in the same way finding a bunch of Democratic voters who don’t want to vote for Hillary Clinton is ‘evidence’ her campaign is in trouble. Indeed, the right wingers are hoping you don’t read the original article, which closes by refuting its own highly speculative thesis:

Despite these serious challenges, however, brave restaurateurs continue to open eateries in Seattle, which, remembering basic supply and demand, also naturally accounts for closures we’ve already seen and more that will come. Capitol Hill alone is carrying on an unprecedented dining boom, and in mid January, Capitol Hill Seattle announced that Nue, Chris Cvetkovich’s modernist global street food joint, was the neighborhood’s 100th food and drink opening in three years.

Other major Capitol Hill additions from the last few months include Stateside, (Eric Johnson’s long-awaited French-Vietnamese outpost), Tallulah’s (Linda Derschang’s [of Smith and Oddfellows] casual neighborhood café) and Serious Pie Pike (Tom Douglas’s third location of his pizza joint, now open in the new Starbucks Roastery). Moreover, just this week on the Hill, we’ve got news of Lisa Nakamura opening the Gnocchi Bar in the Packard Building on 12th Avenue (formerly the Capitol Hill D’Ambrosio Gelateria Artigianale) at the end of March.

Those keeping score at home will note that the article identifies more restaurants opening than closing.

I have no idea what impact, if any, Seattle’s minimum wage increase will have on total employment in the restaurant industry. It’s well worth watching, because knowing at what point more aggressive minimum wage increases have this kind of impact may be useful for shaping future policy. It’s also important because business owners and ideological opponents of the minimum wage will lie and obfuscate to create a false impression of negative impacts, whether they exist or not.

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Sunday Art Whine

[ 45 ] March 15, 2015 |

The problem with doing art in dribs and drabs is that by the time you actually finish the piece you may fall out of love with it. I started this with that new love/hot and bothered feeling…but because I have so little time to really sit down and focus on a project I find that–increasingly–I’ve just lost interest by the time the piece is wrapping up.

“Some Day”

I think this piece is cute, I guess, but really I kinda just feel like *fart noise* about it now. Maybe in time I’ll fall back in love.

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