Getting up off the floor: which way forward for the Democrats? – posted 12/4/2016

December 4, 2016 Leave a comment

Probably like a lot of people, I did not see the presidential election result coming. I too was in denial. I just did not see the American people electing Donald Trump. Trump ran one of the worst presidential campaigns ever.

The shock has only somewhat worn off.

Make no mistake about it: this was an epic defeat and the consequences are likely to be grave. I expect Trump will set us back 50 years – not just 10. At this point, it is impossible to know how bad it will be.

I think those of us who opposed Trump need to do some serious soul-searching about what went wrong. How was it possible that this deeply flawed man won the presidency?

Instead of superficial excuses, we need to look deeply into the reasons for this debacle. The candidate picked by the Democratic Party was widely disliked. Even before the general election, her negatives were extraordinarily high.

It has to be asked: why did the Democratic Party establishment push forward such a widely disliked candidate, someone whose baggage had baggage? Whether the reasons for the dislike were fair or not, the reasons were there. Why did the Democratic Party ignore that?

I ascribe it to arrogance. The Democratic Party knew best. Except it did not. The Democratic Party proved to be utterly out of touch with the American people. And they were clueless about how out of touch they were. If you look at a map of the voting, it is shocking how little of rural America the Democrats won. Not to mention the battleground states.

While Clinton won primaries, the lack of enthusiasm for her candidacy was widely noted. Millennials overwhelmingly supported her rival, Bernie Sanders. Bernie captured the enthusiasm factor. As Clinton was the realpolitick candidate, party leaders rationalized how tepid and lukewarm her support was.

The Democrats promoted a status quo candidate in a change election. Where Trump said “make America great again” , Clinton’s response was “America is already great”. That was the wrong message this year. Saying America is great already translates into there is not much that needs to be done. For a party that is allegedly progressive, that is a disastrous message.

Trump had a better handle on the harm that has been done to American working people. Even though he is a demagogue and a sociopath, he spoke to needs. People liked that he appeared to buck elites and speak his mind. He emotionally connected better than her.

We live in an era defined by income inequality. Clinton was not a credible foe of income inequality. It was hard to know what she stood for. As Wikileaks showed, she believed in having a public and private position on difficult issues. She and her husband had amassed a fortune of over $130 million. These people were going to defend working people? Right.

Her campaign ran against Trump on the grounds of his unfitness, his lies, racism and misogyny. But she lacked clean hands too. I think Americans expect all politicians are liars. She could not credibly run on what she would do as president. She lacked message. Still, it was a mistake to focus more on Trump’s bad character than on what she intended to do as president.

I think her worst moment was the basket of deplorables comment. That smacked of elitism and class bias. She looked down her nose at people. Unbelieveable as it seems now, she never even campaigned in Wisconsin, a critical swing state. She erroneously and contemptuously thought working people had no choice but to vote for her.

American working people have been getting royally shafted for at least 35 years now. Is it any wonder that so many people end up dead early or addicted to opiates. Yet the Democratic response to this tragedy has been so weak.

I hold the Democratic party establishment responsible for the enormous loss sustained. They themselves said it was the most important election of our lifetime. They committed political malpractice. The patient died. It is not just at the presidential level either. Democrats have been losing in governorships and state races all over.

The Clinton wing needs to go. They managed to lose to the worst candidate in my lifetime. The damage is incalculable.

I have to say I was disappointed to hear that Nancy Pelosi won again as minority leader in the House. I have nothing against her but she was part of the team that pushed Clinton. Such a landmark defeat necessitates new leadership.

Give the Bernie Sanders-Elizabeth Warren wing of the Party a chance. They at least have a bold message and vision.

The same old does not cut it any more. Finding some Clinton centrist clone who relies on big money from corporate interests is a repetition compulsion. Liberalism of the rich devoted to the interests of the professional class has proven to be a failure. Democrats must not abandon working people as they have.

People who think Trump will shake things up are in for a big disappointment. He has surrounded himself with right wing extremists and crony billionaires. This is “draining the swamp”? What a laugh. We will see how hard Trump fights for working people. His track record is the opposite. He must be held accountable.

Republicans, Trump included, have a long history of supporting the 1% at the expense of the 99%. It is a matter of class interest. Trump can work the media and make symbolic gestures but he will not deliver. The Republicans remain a backward-looking party mired in climate change denial, opposition to voting rights, and softness toward white supremacists.

At least the Democrats remain on the right side of most critical issues. They now have to protect Medicare, Medicaid and other safety net programs from vouchering, privatizing, and block-granting schemes. God only knows how awful Trump will be on the environment. The same could be said about a laundry list of areas. The Democrats must resist.

Maybe losing the election can shake the Democrats out of their timidity. For so long they have been the play it safe party. I no longer think that is possible.

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Sharon Jones (1956-2016) – posted 11/29/2016

November 30, 2016 2 comments

In most respects, 2016 has proven to be a wretched year. I think of the John Oliver video “Fuck you 2016”. In the video some of the famous people who died this year are mentioned. Muhammed Ali, Prince, and David Bowie, among others.

One name that now needs to be added to the list is Sharon Jones. She died tragically on November 18. She was only 60.

As a fan, I am having a hard time accepting Sharon’s death. I always looked forward to her albums. She had a powerful way of singing and the lyrics to her songs connected. It seems way too early for her not to be here. She did not start her musical career with the Dap-Kings until she was 40. She only got her first Grammy nomination for “Give The People What They Want” in 2014.

In the 1980’s she had played in wedding bands. She worked for many years as a corrections guard at Riker’s Island and also as an armored car guard for Wells Fargo. She could never break in. She had been told repeatedly there was no market for soul music.

For those who are not familiar with her music, I would recommend her album “Miss Sharon Jones! O.S.T.” This album includes the music from a new documentary of the same name. Barbara Kopple, who has won two Academy Awards, produced and directed the documentary.

The documentary provides a window into Sharon’s last years. Sharon was battling stage two pancreatic cancer. At the same time, she and the Dap-Kings were having their greatest musical success. They had put out the knockout album “I Learned the Hard Way” in 2010. They were finally getting recognized after twenty years of playing together.

The movie shows a very down-to-earth view of Sharon’s medical battles. Going back to 2013, her eyes had turned yellow and she had been losing weight. She got the pancreatic cancer diagnosis which has to be one of the worst diagnoses someone can get. She fought back, desperately trying to regain her strength. After her surgery, she had six months of chemotherapy. The movie shows Sharon slowly regaining her strength and really struggling.

The band was depending on her and she knew it. Like other poor musicians, the Dap-Kings needed to perform. There was a world tour planned for 2014 and Sharon needed to be well enough to do the tour. The movie showed how everything took her longer to do. Watching the movie, you realize how the lyrics for some of the songs flow right out of Sharon’s life.

Her energy on stage was unsurpassed. That was part of the reason she has often been compared to James Brown. In the movie, she tells a nice story about how she met him in Italy. James said, “God bless you, daughter.” Sharon talked about the inspiration she derived from him.

One of her backup singers described Sharon’s voice as “like a train, you better get out of the way”.

The last song on Miss Sharon Jones!, “I’m Still Here”, is autobiographical.

“All the things I’ve been through just to
sing this song
All the people I’ve seen come and go as
I kept pushin on
I had to work as a prison guard telling
men to do what they were told
‘Cos some record label told me I was too
fat, too short, black and old
I had to direct the choir to let my voice
out
That was the only place I could sing and
be proud”

The music on the CD of “Miss Sharon Jones! O.S.T.” includes some of her great songs. I personally like “Tell Me”, “Longer and Stronger”, “100 Days, 100 Nights”, and “Stranger to my Happiness”. I have listened to the album a ridiculous amount and I still enjoy it. Both the movie and the album are well worth it.

According to an article in the Los Angeles Times, Sharon suffered a stroke as she watched the election returns. Gabriel Roth, one of her bandmates, said, in laughing fashion. “She told the people that were there that Trump gave her the stroke.” Roth said Sharon wanted to sing in her last days. The Dap-Kings were with her when she died.

Sharon complained bitterly that the music industry did not honor and recognize soul music. When you think about who wins awards, it is crazy that Sharon did not win a bunch of Grammys.

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The Black Panthers, Revisited and Reconsidered – posted 11/20/2016

November 20, 2016 Leave a comment

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Black Panther Party. Founded by two college students from Oakland, California, Huey Newton and Bobby Seale, the Panthers went on to become the most famous and controversial radical group that came out of the 1960’s.

I had heard a story on NPR and I had seen a couple news stories about this anniversary but nothing that I believe does the subject justice.

I think the Panthers were probably the most misunderstood 1960’s political group. Widely condemned, the Panthers had horrible press. Images of the Panthers invariably focused on shootouts with the police and on political trials where Panther leaders were defendants. Even though their ideology was expressly anti-racist, they were portrayed by much of the media as a black nationalist hate group.

There is another side to the Panther story that has been little told. That is the story of the Panther rank and file – not the leaders. The Stanford historian Clayborne Carson put it this way:

“The irony of the Black Panthers is that the image is one of a Black man and a gun. But the reality is that the majority of the rank and file at the end of the 60’s were women.”

The Panthers created a number of survival programs that spoke to unaddressed needs in the Black community. The best known of these programs was the Free Breakfast for Children program. Back in the day, Panther chapters across the country served about 20,000 meals a week. The program became the inspiration and blueprint for schools throughout the country to provide free breakfast and lunch.

The Panthers went to churches, small businesses, and grocery stores to seek out food and cash donations to support the program. It was a total volunteer effort. Additionally, some chapters of the Party sponsored grocery giveaways. Hunger and malnutrition remained community concerns.

With access to quality health care a major problem, the Panthers operated People’s Free Medical Clinics that provided basic health care. These neighborhood-based clinics had staffing from volunteer medical professionals. Among the services provided were screening for sickle cell anemia, well-baby exams, pediatric care and gynecological exams. Also, the clinics did first aid, and testing for high blood pressure, lead poisoning, tuberculosis and diabetes.

With so many in jail, the Panthers ran a free busing-to-prison program to enable family members to see their relatives who were incarcerated.

In Oakland California, which was a Panther stronghold, the Panthers started the Oakland Community School which had a powerful positive effect in the broader Oakland community. The school operated from 1973 until 1982 and in 1977 it received an award from the California state legislature for educational excellence.

We now know that the FBI and the FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover targeted the Panthers through a counterintelligence program known as COINTELPRO.  Hoover was on record saying the Panthers were the number one threat to national security. The FBI and local police did everything they could to destroy the Panthers. They used infiltration, dirty tricks, harassment via the legal system and illegal force. Even in the absence of evidence, they repeatedly raided the homes of Panther leaders in an effort to neutralize and put people behind bars. They forged correspondence, sent false anonymous letters, and worked to create tensions and hostility between factions in the black liberation movement.

Those with a pollyanna view might be surprised how far the FBI went. The law became an obstacle for the FBI. Through what amounted to psychological warfare, they successfully worked to create a sense of fear and paranoia among Panther members.

in the 1970’s, the Church Committee of Congress investigated COINTELPRO. Congress ultimately wrote a scathing denunciation of the FBI’s conduct which was completely contrary to constitutional rights and civil liberties.

In this connection, I have to mention the case of Fred Hampton, a charismatic Panther leader from Chicago. In one of the most disgraceful moments in FBI history, the Chicago police, with FBI assistance, engineered the assassination of Hampton and his fellow Panther leader Mark Clark. They were shot and killed in bed. Hampton was 21 years old at the time. A fuller account is presented in Jeffrey Haas’s book, The Assassination of Fred Hampton. The Hampton assassination is a case study for law enforcement in how it can go horribly wrong.

Any honest assessment of the Panthers must acknowledge the illegal and reprehensible conduct of the FBI and Hoover. At the same time, the Panthers also had a dark side. The best account I have seen is in Hugh Pearson’s little known book The Shadow of the Panther.

Pearson shows how the Panthers in the Bay Area degenerated into thuggery. The obsession with guns and violence was ultimately self-destructive. Huey Newton, who had initially been an inspirational leader, got lost in substance abuse.

The Panthers had many self-inflicted wounds. Pearson tells some shocking stories. He, with justification, concluded that the Panthers became more about defiant symbolism than about concrete achievements. It was not all repression that killed them. Like other radical groups of the era, the Panthers actively contributed to their own demise.

Like so many things about the 1960’s, fairness requires full disclosure. In my opinion, the positives about the Panthers have never been adequately recognized.

Admittedly, I do not write in a disinterested academic way. When I was a college student living in Hartford Connecticut, on Saturdays, I used to sell The Other Voice, an underground newspaper of that period. Over a period of time, I met and got to know some Panther members who were selling the Black Panther newspaper downtown. I never personally saw the alleged anti-white attitude of which Panthers were accused. The Panthers and I bonded over good places to sell papers on the street. We often talked politics. This was long before social media.

People who are serious about progressive change in the 21st century should study and learn from the experience of the Black Panthers. That learning should include both the positive and negative lessons. I do think the Panthers’ focus on guns scared away many people who might have otherwise been sympathetic. At the same time, the Panthers’ defiance, their speaking truth to power, attracted masses of young people. Many former members still talk about the purpose and meaning they derived from their commitment. The Panther ten-point platform still resonates.

The Panthers inspired a generation to stand up and fight racial oppression, poverty, and inequality at the local level. Long before Black Lives Matter, and in a much more hostile environment, the Panthers audaciously motivated and organized people to fight for their human rights. .

Neil deGrasse Tyson from election night… – posted 11/11/2016

November 11, 2016 2 comments

“No jokes tonight. Do not laugh and look away. Watch this, stay here. Burn this into memory. Wake up tomorrow: the fight will await you.

This is the end of nothing. This is the beginning of something new and solemn and so important. You must be a part of what comes next.

The future is never gone, never hopeless. No one has ever lived in the best possible world. There has always been a fight to fight.”

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Tom Hayden: An Exceptional Life – posted 11/6/2016 and published in the Concord Monitor 11/20/2016

November 6, 2016 1 comment

There are few people from the 1960’s generation whom I would describe as genuine generational giants. Tom Hayden is one person I would categorize that way. He died on October 23.

Surveying a life is like looking at a rorschach test. People can see what they want, including very different contradictory things. That is particularly true with Hayden who evolved through seemingly conflicting stages.

Hayden was probably most famous for being a 1960’s radical and for being Jane Fonda’s husband for a time. He challenged the system from both the outside and the inside. He struggled with the eternal activist question: how to be an effective social change maker and rebel.

Superficially you might think this was the simple story of the transformation of a street activist to a mainstream politician. Hayden became a California assemblyman and a state senator. But Hayden never lost his sense of outrage at injustice. He kept that until the end. He showed how one passionate committed man can dramatically affect a generation and the times he lived through.

Hayden’s activism started young. In the early 1960’s he worked on voter registration in the Deep South. He was beaten and arrested at a civil rights march in McComb, Mississippi. He also got arrested in Albany, Georgia. He was a Freedom Rider, one of a group of black and white students who set out to desegregate interstate bus travel in the southern states. He and the other students were chased and viciously attacked by murderous white supremacist mobs.

Freedom riding in the Deep South in 1962 was not for the faint of heart. The local police were allowing beatings to go on uninterrupted. The mobs beat Freedom Riders with baseball bats and iron pipes.

From prison, Hayden drafted the Port Huron Statement of 1962 which became, in effect, the agenda for a generation. The Port Huron Statement was a founding document of Students for a Democratic Society or SDS as it was called, the leading radical student organization of the 1960’s.

The Port Huron Statement began with these words:

“We are people of this generation, bred in at least modest comfort, housed now in universities, looking uncomfortably to the world we inherit.”

Expressing the voice of peaceful dissent, the Port Huron Statement argued for a far more participatory democracy. Looking back, it is hard not to be impressed by its idealism and sweep. Hayden attacked poverty, racism, the threat of nuclear war and the dangers of an apathetic citizenry. He also spoke against the depersonalization, loneliness, and alienation of modern life.

With the war in Vietnam expanding, opposition to the war soon took center stage in Hayden’s life. He became a well known opponent of the war through teach-ins, demonstrations and writing. The FBI and J. Edgar Hoover, the FBI Director, took notice. Later in his life there is a picture of Hayden with his 22,000 page FBI file.

Hayden spent years organizing against the Vietnam War. These efforts culminated in 1968 when President Nixon’s Justice Department prosecuted Hayden and others in the famous Chicago 7 trial. The trial came in the aftermath of violent clashes with the police at the 1968 Democratic National Convention where he was beaten, gassed and arrested twice.

After five years of trials and appeals, Hayden was acquitted of all charges.

In May 1971, Hayden was part of the audacious Mayday Tribe that organized a huge demonstration in Washington DC against the war in Vietnam. The idea was that if the government did not stop the war, demonstrators would try and stop the government. Many thousands of people descended on Washington. Demonstrators intended to nonviolently block key bridges and traffic circles. Over 13,500 people were arrested.

I remember a book Hayden wrote in the early 1970’s about the Vietnam War. The book was titled The Love of Possession is a Disease WithThem. The quote comes from Chief Sitting Bull of the Lakota Nation.

“The love of possessions is a disease with them. They take tithes from the poor and weak to support the rich who rule. They claim this mother of ours, the Earth, for their own and fence their neighbors away. If America had been twice the size it is, there still would not have been enough; the Indians would still have been dispossessed.”

Hayden compared the Vietnam War to the war against Native Americans. Anti-war consciousness challenged our national myths of conquest.

After the Vietnam War ended, Hayden moved in different directions. He and Fonda founded the Campaign for Economic Democracy which focused on running candidates for local office throughout California. Hayden served in the California state assembly from 1982-1992 and then in the state senate from 1992-2000.

Although this is little known and this part of his life is sometimes derided, Hayden was an effective politician. A reporter friend of Hayden’s, Bill Boyarsky, described his legislative accomplishments.

“He got millions of dollars for his district to improve the quality of Santa Monica Bay and rebuild the Santa Monica and Malibu piers. He helped delay University of California and Cal State University tuition increases. He led efforts that extended laws against sexual harassment. Also included in a long list of legislation was his Hayden Act, which extended the time shelters keep abandoned animals alive, giving volunteers more time to find them homes.”

Hayden’s life was hardly a linear, consistent progression. Although he had strong convictions, he did evolve in unexpected ways. In looking at online commentary since he died, I was struck by how many people seemed to see Hayden as some kind of sellout because he became a politician. I find that reaction juvenile. Consistency may not be such a virtue if it leads to deadends. Hayden reinvented himself politically and he had tangible accomplishments to show for it. I think such creative re-invention is a strength, not a weakness.

Hayden had the ability to look self-critically and to reassess. He did not stay stuck in the 1960’s. That capability often seems lacking among those who see maintaining ideological purity as more important than getting anything done.

I see Hayden’s biggest contribution as being a truth teller about Vietnam. To quote Hayden:

“Our national forgetting is basically pathological. Our systems – politics, media, culture – are totally out of balance because of our collective refusal to admit that the Vietnam War was wrong and that the peace movement was right.”

As a nation we have never faced that squarely. Since then, our delusions have led us to pursue other imperialist adventures.

Until the end of his life Hayden remained concerned that the legacy of the Vietnam peace movement was being forgotten. He actually has a book coming out in January 2017 about that forgetting.

For his actions, his courage and his writing, I would judge Tom Hayden an American hero. He will be missed.

Football 2016 and the Sidelining of Social Conscience – posted 10/23/2016

October 23, 2016 1 comment

So far this football season, there has been remarkably little coverage of the ongoing story of football brain injuries. I would have to say that the story has been backburnered.

Possibly that is because there has not been a new brain injury story featuring a former big star like Junior Seau or Frank Gifford. Or it might also be that the pending NFL concussion lawsuit settlement has sucked up all the oxygen.

It has certainly not been the greatest time for the NFL. TV ratings are down. Compared to last season, overall viewing has dropped 11%. Possibly football has reached a saturation point.

The domestic violence story of New York Giants kicker Josh Brown cannot help. Brown had abused his wife Molly over 20 times in the last few years. In a letter he had written his family in March 2014, he acknowledged the abuse.

“I became an abuser and hurt Molly physically, emotionally and verbally…I have physically, mentally, emotionally and mentally been a repulsive man. I viewed myself as God basically and she was my slave.”

The response of the Giants and the NFL has been less than inspiring. Brown got a one game suspension, no fine, and verbal support from his coach. It is not clear how much the Giants knew about Brown’s abuse of his wife but it appears they knew plenty. Brown’s arrests for domestic violence happened in May and July 2015. Still he was allowed to play the whole 2015 season. Then there was an incident at the 2016 Pro Bowl. NFL Security had to move Brown’s wife and kids to another hotel for protection. Yet the Giants rewarded Brown with a 2 year, $4 million contract

The situation prompted the highly respected Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Steve Smith Sr. to tweet:

“You know what if your ex-wife was my daughter yo ASS would be on IR…what a shame NFL acts like it cares.”

The NFL is now in damage control mode as there is a further investigation. I expect penalties will be upped as happened with Ray Rice but it is hard to imagine that domestic violence allegations or brain injuries will have much effect on the game’s popularity. For millions, these issues are flies, swatted away.

The League remains a relentless money machine.

This season, when Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton took four big hits to the head in his first game, there was criticism that the referees were failing to protect him but almost nothing came of that. Two players got fined for the hits. The League decided that the referees correctly followed the brain injury protocol. Newton stayed in the game. In early October, Newton did sustain a concussion in a game against the Falcons.

At the least, penalties for helmet to helmet hits should be strictly enforced. If there were heavy fines and suspensions for intentional helmet to helmet hits, that would have an effect. Coaches could delineate how that is an absolute no-no and players would likely be more careful because it would impact both their pocketbook and the game outcome. No player wants to be suspended.

The NFL had previously reported that concussions in 2015 had risen 32% over the previous year. The League identified 271 concussions in 2015. That number includes preseason, regular season games, as well as all practices. 234 concussions occurred during games and 37 in practice. This increase happened at a time when sensitivity to the harm of brain injury has allegedly heightened.

Of the concussions in 2015, 92 came from contact with another helmet, 29 from contact with the playing surface and 23 from contact with a shoulder.

It needs to be noted that these are the reported concussions. It is impossible to know how many concussions do not get reported. Serious players at all levels, high school, college and pro, want playing time and reporting concussions is a good way to be benched.

The saddest concussion story I have seen in the last two years is not a pro football story. It is the story of Kosta Karageorge, an Ohio State football player and wrestler. In June, the New York Times reporter Tim Rohan wrote a powerful piece about Karageorge’s concussion history which preceded his suicide.

Karageorge had gone missing before the Ohio State-Michigan football game. He was found dead in a dumpster with a gun in his right hand and dried blood dripping from his mouth. The coroner ruled the death was a suicide.

Karageorge had started contact sports at age 10 and weight lifting at 14. From an early age he obsessed about getting bigger. He gained over 100 pounds in high school, transforming himself into a bulked-up athlete. He grew to be 6 foot 6 inches tall and he weighed 285 pounds.

At the same time as he became a heavyweight athlete, he started developing small bald spots. His doctor diagnosed stress-related alopecia.

One of Karageorge’s first known concussions was an incident in high school when he accidentally headbutted an opponent. The Times article said that he sustained more blows to the head when he wrestled. He and other high school friends started a fight club modeled after the movie. They would fight bare knuckles until someone quit or was knocked out.

Karageorge hid his concussion symptoms from his parents and coaches because he felt that was most manly. He had headaches, vomiting and he had episodes where he broke down crying for no apparent reason. He told friends that he heard a buzzing noise in his head. He believed he was being followed. He was showing signs of mental instability before he died.

In college, he challenged his roommates to outweightlift him, to outeat him and to beat him in the video game Call of Duty. He used to surprise his roommates with wrestling moves, breaking furniture in the living room. Rohan wrote that Karageorge kept a running score of everyone’s Man Points. He earned the title “alpha male of the house”.

Karageorge had toxic notions of masculinity. His tattoos spoke volumes. Rohan wrote:

“On his back he had Atlas holding up the globe because, he said, he had the weight of the world on his shoulders. He had an image of Zeus, and of Hades next to his three-headed dog, Cerberus. Down the back of his arm, he had “Pain is temporary”. On the other: “Pride is forever”. On the inside of his lower lip he tattooed the word “Brutal”. ”

Karageorge did not play college football until his senior year. He sustained his last known concussion during football practice two months before he died. It had kept him out of practice for three weeks. His parents believed that he had sustained about 15 concussions in his life but they were not sure because Kosta did not share details.

About a year after he died, Kostageorge’s parents received a report from Dr. Ann McKee, a neuropathologist, who posthumously examined Kosta’s brain. She found traces of past microhemorrhaging in the prefrontal cortex. Dr. McKee stated that damage in that area usually leads to cognitive issues involving “impulsivity, dis-inhibition, poor judgment, and maybe even suicidal ideation”.

Dr. McKee found a single focus of Tau, the protein associated with chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). She diagnosed Stage 1 CTE. There are 4 stages on the scale. For those unfamiliar with the diagnosis of CTE, it is the degenerative brain disease which researchers have linked to many former football players. It is caused by repeated blows to the head.

At present, CTE can only be diagnosed after death,

On the last night of his life, Karageorge sent a steady stream of text messages to his girl friend. They had had an argument earlier in the evening and Kosta believed the relationship was over. He texted:

“I never felt this dark”

“man im broken my head isn’t right”

He texted his mother apologizing that he had been an embarrassment to the family and blaming the concussions for messing with his head.

Not surprisingly, CTE remains the biggest stumbling block in the NFL concussion lawsuit settlement. It is the signature injury of football but the settlement is a model of unfairness. In the settlement, those individuals with CTE who die after April 22, 2015 get no compensation. Those who died with the diagnosis of CTE before April 22, 2015 will receive up to $4 million.

You do not have to be a great prognosticator to know that CTE will become a health issue for thousands of football players after their playing days are finished. Where is the justice in this settlement? How can the door be slammed on the post-April 2015 CTE sufferers?

The case is not yet over though. While the Third Circuit Court of Appeals approved the settlement agreement, objectors to the settlement filed a petition asking the U.S. Supreme Court to take up the case and address deficiencies.

It is admittedly a long shot this will happen. Every year 7000 to 8000 petitions for a writ of certiorari are filed and the Court grants less than 80 of them. Four justices must agree to hear the case.

The Court is left in a tough spot. The settlement does significantly help some players who are absolutely deserving. At the same time, so many equally deserving are left out. Maybe it is adult to recognize unfairness in life but is this the best that can be done?

Whether it is brain injuries or domestic violence, football can do so much better. Football should not require the sidelining of conscience.

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My dog Shady – Fall pictures – posted 10/10/2016

October 10, 2016 2 comments
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