AP Photo
Sydney Seau, during inductions at the Pro Football Hall of Fame last Saturday; her late father, Junior, during his time with the New England Patriots.

How Did I Miss That? Super Seau; Tea Party Gladiators

Steve Russell

Junior Seau is the first Native Pacific Islander in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Before his suicide, Seau asked that his daughter, Sydney, give his acceptance speech. The Hall of Fame refused to let Sydney Seau speak, so The New York Times published a video of what wasn’t said.

After players raised hell, the Hall of Fame compromised by conducting a short “interview” with Sydney Seau that allowed a few words about her dad:

He is the first Polynesian and Samoan to make it into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and that is an accomplishment in itself. He is proof that even a young boy from Oceanside can make his dreams a reality. Although he is the first to make it into the Hall, I know for a fact that he won't be the last.

When Junior Seau shot himself in the chest at age 43, rumor was that he chose the method to preserve his brain for study. The family followed his wishes. His brain was “blinded”—sent for examination to several authorities who did not know the origin of the tissue or the stakes in the results. All agreed that Seau was suffering from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative disease caused by repeated blows to the head.

CTE symptoms include dementia, memory loss, headaches—and depression. The family sued the NFL, becoming part of the traumatic brain injury scandal that has been nip and tuck with the domestic violence scandal and the NFL team named by racial slur for harm to the NFL’s reputation.

This might explain silencing Sydney Seau, but a look at her speech reveals the NFL had nothing to fear. Suppressing her voice just made them look deaf.

Native people, after complaining all these years about the Washington team, always knew the NFL was deaf. Women, after years of being assaulted and insulted by football heroes, recently came to realize the NFL is deaf. Sydney Seau is a beautiful, articulate Native woman and the deafness is their loss. R.I.P. Junior Seau, Hall of Famer.

The British tabloid Daily Express, citing unnamed “defence sources,” reported that a British Special Air Service (SAS) unit used a .50 caliber sniper rifle with noise suppression to disrupt an ISIS execution.

Tipped off by an Arab informer, an SAS team operating within Syria came upon “trials” of Shi’a Muslims in front of a captive audience. There were headless bodies on display. A blindfolded man and a boy were brought forward and made to kneel. A drone strike had been the plan but there was no time and there were too many civilians.

According to the report, the British SAS sniper landed a head shot on the executioner from over half a mile away and then did the same with two armed guards who were controlling the crowd. The involuntary witnesses untied the victims, who were last seen headed for the Turkish border.

I’m skeptical of self-serving and anonymous reports, but the marksmanship is possible. “If it ain’t true,” my cousin Ray Sixkiller admonished, “it ought to be.”

On the home front, the Jackson Clarion-Ledger reported that Muhammad Dakhalla and Jaelyn Young, both former students at Mississippi State University, were arrested at the Golden Triangle Regional Airport on a criminal complaint of conspiracy to render aid to a foreign terrorist organization. They were flying to Turkey, where they planned to cross the border into Syria and join ISIS.

“Stranger than fiction,” quoth Cousin Ray.

The Detroit News published a report even stranger. Republicans Todd Courser and Cindy Gamrat, who describe themselves as Tea Party “gladiators,” took their legislative seats from establishment Republicans.

Courser proposed a bill to require all marriages to be solemnized by a religious leader in an effort to stop gay marriage. Gamrat’s stated political priority is to establish in law that life begins at conception. Both subscribe to a fundamentalist stripe of Christianity that mixes religion with public policy but apparently not with private conduct. Married, although not to each other, Courser and Gamrat were having an affair.

This kind of hypocrisy is common. Three of the aggressive Christians who trail bossed Bill Clinton’s impeachment were later shown to have been fooling around. Adultery is not weird.

It gets weird when Courser, concerned that the affair was about to become public, asked an aide to help him achieve what he called a “controlled burn” by sending an anonymous and bogus email to Republican leaders statewide claiming that he, Courser, had been caught in a sex act with a male prostitute.

The aide, who recorded the conversation, was subsequently fired. Courser explained his public relations theory, “In a controlled burn, you do a little bit of truth mixed in with a lot of lies.”

“Sounds to me,” Cousin Ray snarked, “like politics as usual.”

In a case of politics unusual, Nevada Republican state assemblywoman Michelle Fiore was quoted in an Associated Press story about the Northern Virginia battle flag, incorrectly called “the Confederate flag.” In defense of displaying the flag, she said you can’t “pick and choose what parts of our history you want to remember” and compared South Carolina’s removal of the flag to avoiding discussion of concentration camps and genocide.

She’s right, but you can pick and choose what part of your history you want to honor.

Christian Taylor, a 19-year-old college football player, was vandalizing cars at a dealership in Arlington, Texas. That’s very bad conduct but does not carry the death penalty.

Two police officers, trainer and trainee, challenged him inside the dealership and told him to get on the ground. He didn’t.

The trainee fired his service revolver at the unarmed stupid teenager while the trainer fired his Taser. Christian Taylor died for being a vandal or being stupid or both. I await the toxicology report, since it’s hard to believe he was sober.

I presume the trainee officer was sober. He has been fired.

Freedom Partners, the deep pockets behind the deep-pocketed Charles and David Koch, meets twice a year in some suitable lap of luxury---this month at the St. Regis Monarch Beach in California. For a change of pace, some reporters were allowed in provided they agreed not to report who was there. “Reporters who agreed not to report who was there?” Cousin Ray was shocked, as my grandkids would say, “for reals.”

North of the border, an independent candidate for Parliament gets attention in two ways. First, you almost never see a candidate express concern about indigenous rights. It was of course too much to ask that he offer solutions, but at least he recognizes the First Nations exist. Second, he is running the only political ad that can match the entertainment value of Carly Fiorina’s “Demon Sheep.”

Wyatt Scott smokes the Demon Sheep. For U.S. politicians who want to run in the tall grass with big dogs like Scott, he hired his creative team off Craigslist. “Sometimes,” Cousin Ray shook his head ruefully, “I think we’d be better off it we got our representatives off Craigslist.”

While we’re talking about political ads, I see Harry and Louise are back. Those ordinary people having rather stiff marital conversations turned public opinion on Hillary Clinton’s health reform proposal from in favor to against in five months. It was a breathtaking exercise in big money persuasion by the Health Insurance Association of America.

Harry and Louise proved, at least for complicated issues, truth does not matter. Ditto obvious conflicts of interest.

The same advertising trope is being deployed against a Department of Labor proposal to impose a “fiduciary duty” on stockbrokers who manage retirement accounts. This means the brokers would have to put their clients’ interests above their own interest in, for example, getting kickbacks from steering clients to certain investments.

Who could be against that? Everybody who profits from the current situation. “Americans to Protect Family Security” have the modern Harry and Louise claiming that the new rule would keep ordinary people from getting the best advice.

“Give it up, Steve.” Cousin Ray was flashing “time out” with his hands. “The people about to get screwed don’t care. It’s all inside baseball played on big money Astroturf.”

Following his less than exciting performance in the first GOP Primary debate, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker endorsed corporate welfare with his pen, signing a bill to provide $250 million in taxpayer funding to build a new stadium for the Milwaukee Bucks

“That’s not all he endorsed,” Cousin Ray remarked in his most snarky tone.

“Say what?”

Ray laid it on me that Jon Hammes, one of the Bucks owners, is the finance chair of Walker’s presidential campaign. The New York Times reported that a corporation registered to a relative of Hammes donated $150,000 to a super PAC for Walker.

When Vladimir Putin steers public money to private parties who have given him money, we call it “crony capitalism.”

“Yeah,” Cousin Ray pounced, “does Walker think his name is Clinton?”


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