September 22, 2017

TGIF 9/22/17

Random thoughts as we cross off another Friday on the calendar:

Is it a thing now, for people to drive cars that are clearly so low on blinker fluid that their turn signals simply cannot signal their turns? (Asking for a friend.)

Now, on to more weighty subjects: Arizona Senator John McCain must truly be channeling his dear friend Ted Kennedy again. McCain and Kennedy were tied together in politics, and now in health -McCain's brain tumor is the same kind that Kennedy had.

Late this afternoon, McCain went on record as a no vote on the "last, best chance" for Republicans to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. I can't help thinking that he's remembering the passion with which Ted Kennedy fought to bring health insurance to millions of Americans, even as he fought his own diagnosis, and that he can't imagine being responsible for taking health insurance away from millions of Americans.  Kudos to you, Senator McCain. Hopefully a couple of other Republican senators will follow in your footsteps and do the same.

News broke yesterday that the brain of Aaron Hernandez, the former New England Patriot who was convicted of murder and then took his own life in jail at the age of 27, was suffering from chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE. Based an examination of his brain tissue, he was at stage three of the disease (stage four is the max); his was the "most severe case they had ever seen for someone his age" according to attorney Jose Baez, who is suing the Pats and the NFL on behalf of Hernandez' daughter. This suit is outside the class action suit in which the NFL is paying a billion dollars to retired players from whom the league allegedly hid the risk of CTE. The league has promised a vigorous defense; the Pats have not yet responded.

Also, speaking of the NFL, Colin Kaepernick is still unemployed. There was an interesting discussion on WBUR's On Point radio show today (you can listen to the podcast here). Kaepernick is a better quarterback than many of the 28 starters and their backups - it's foolish, some say, to pretend that he's not qualified to play.

One thing is different now than it was in the past. Today, NFL players are not afraid to speak out in support of Kaep and are not afraid to show their own activist streaks. And some are even comfortable continuing to protest this season, after Kaep paved the way for them. There's more courage around speaking out, albeit silently, about injustice and discrimination and racism, which ARE a fact of life in America whether we're willing to admit it or not.

It's quite a bit different than it was a year ago, when Myke Tavarres was an unsigned rookie looking to make the team for the Philadelphia Eagles. As I noted in my post at that time, Tavarres announced his decision to participate in a protest, saying this:
In this situation, I've really got nothing to lose. I'm a rookie free agent, haven't signed any major contract, so there's not a lot of money on the line, I don't have any big endorsement deals on the line. Really what's at stake is my pride and what kind of man would I be and what kind of African-American would I be if I didn't stand my ground on this issue we have today?
Until his agent sat him down and read him the riot act, and Tavarres apologized for being a distraction.
I want to make change in this world but sitting down during the national anthem just isn't the best way to do it. With that being said, I do plan on finding a better way. 
He ended up being cut by the Eagles in 2016, and by the Saskatchewan Rough Riders of the CFL earlier this year.

Meanwhile, Kaep's jersey continues to be a best seller, even though he's not even in the league anymore. And I continue to be pretty darn sure that people are not standing in their living rooms during the national anthem.


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