Wednesday, May 21, 2014


By Charles Snow  

On November 5, 2011, Penn State University was rocked by the news that Jerry Sandusky, a former assistant on the staff of legendary football coach Joe Paterno, was being charged with 48 counts of child sexual abuse. Two days later, Penn State’s Athletic Director, Tim Curley, and Vice President of Business Operations, Gary Schultz, were charged with various crimes related to the Sandusky case. Almost a year after those charges were leveled, Penn State’s President, Graham Spanier, was indicted on various charges involving the Sandusky case (additional charges were filed against Curley and Schultz at the same time). Sandusky was convicted on 45 of the 48 charges against him and is now serving a long prison term. The three Penn State officials are still awaiting trial.


By Ronald Fox

Although many people believe the recently revised PED policy established for major league baseball, which includes stiffer penalties and more frequent testing, have effectively terminated the PED problem in baseball (the NFL,NBA, and NHL policies are much weaker, significantly not including blood testing, which is necessary to detect human growth hormones), I think this is wishful thinking. The use of PEDs must be understood as a product of a cheating culture that has crept into professional sports. The incidence of PED use may have slowed in baseball, but I suspect this may be only a temporary lull. Until the value system that sustains cheating in professional sports is changed, the problem will not go away.



With the recent release of the 2014 Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, it was easy to predict that bonehead deniers would see a need to reaffirm their denial credentials.  Sure enough, they emerged from under their rocks.  This month's bonehead absurdity candidates put their gross ignorance on display in offering the following comments about climate change.

1.  This whopper comes from conservative pundit Charles Krauthammer:

“What we're ultimately talking about here is human sin, through the production of carbon. It's the oldest superstition around. It was in the Old Testament. It's in the rain dance of the Native Americans. If you sin, the skies will not cooperate. This is quite superstitious and I'm waiting for science that doesn't declare itself definitive but is otherwise convincing."

2.  Despite the IPCC Report, which concluded that there is increased certainty that human behavior is causing ice caps to melt, sea ice to collapse, water supplies to be stressed, heat waves and heavy rains to intensify, and coral reefs to die,  and its follow-up report, the National Climate Assessment, which concluded that climate change has already widely affected the U.S. and the worst is yet to come, Republican Party office holders and most of their conservative constituents remain in denial about the reality and growing peril of global warming.

Phronesis has decided to select the GOP as an organization candidate for the May Bonehead Absurdity award.   The following quotes are representative of absurd Republican ignorance, many of them coming from politicians with presidential ambitions:
  • Ted Cruz (R-Tx):  "The last 15 years, there has been no recorded warming."
  • Bobby Jindal (R-La):  Global warming is a "left-wing environmental theory."
  • Rick Santorum (R-Pa):  Calls climate change "a beautifully concocted scheme."
  • Ran Paul (R-Ky):  Says "The earth's 4-5 billion years old . . . and you're going to say we had four hurricanes and so that proves a theory?"
  • Mario Rubio (R-Fl):  "I do not believe human activity is causing these dramatic changes to our climate the way these scientists are portraying it. . . and I do not believe that the laws they propose we pass will do anything about it, except destroy our economy."
  • Dana Rohrabacker (R-Ca):  "Global warming is a total fraud."
And, perhaps, the topper:
  • Joe Barton (R-Tx):  Noah's . . . great flood is an example of climate change, and that certainly wasn't because mankind had overdeveloped hydrocarbon energy."

3.  Here's another climate change idiocy, this one from Wheel of Fortune host Pat Sajak, who on May 19 said:

“I now believe global warming alarmists are unpatriotic racists knowingly misleading for their own ends."

And the winner is . . . . .

Thursday, May 8, 2014


I think this insightful response from Jim Dubbs to my essay on Wondering What's Going On In Ukraine deserves to be circulated to subscribers.

It seems to me the seeds of the crisis involving Ukraine were planted by the policy of Bush I and Clinton to voraciously expand NATO membership to countries formerly in the Warsaw Pact.  Since these countries along Russia's borders formed what was historically a "cordon sanitaire" (Iron Curtain to Churchill fans), or sphere of interest at a minimum, for the Soviet state, this US policy could hardly be seen a nothing less than a provocation to Putin  -- a push for US hegemony.  (Bad enough, especially in a geopolitical sense, that Czech Republic, Slovakia, Romania, Hungary, Poland, Bulgaria, Albania and the Baltic countries joined NATO -- after all they had at one time or another be independent states -- but Ukraine, lordy, it was where ancient Rus began.)  

This provocation had to be tolerated by a weakened Russia in what was gleefully but fleetingly called the unipolar world.  That description of the world doesn't quite work anymore for the US, given the quagmires of Afghanistan and Iran, upheaval in the Middle East, the rapid rise of China.  Sort of like DeGaulle for France after WWII, Putin has rekindled a Russian nationalism that must be satisfied.  And he knows that NATO doesn't have the capacity to resist, at least militarily.  And as for economic sanctions, what can he fear if the head of Exxon-Mobile still comes a'courtin?

Come to think of it, while Lenin may have indulged in a bit of hyperbole when he said that the capitalist will sell us the ropes to hang them, he was on to something.


Tuesday, May 6, 2014


By Ronald Fox

Are you like me wondering what’s really going on in Ukraine? Russian president, Vladimer Putin, is steadfast in claiming that the CIA was behind the unrest that brought down Viktor Yanukovych and replaced him with a government favorable to the West and is still calling the shots of the Kiev government. The Obama administration has been unequivocal in denying Putin’s claim and blaming him for the unfolding crisis. The mainstream American media has wholeheartedly accepted the Washington version; the media in Moscow, not surprisingly, has sided with Putin's position. 
Which claim is correct? I can’t answer this question. What I can say is that I have little trust in the jingoistic coverage that has dominated mainstream media in the U.S, or what President Obama and Secretary of State, John Kerry, are telling us. I also have no reason to believe Putin’s account. So like any critical thinking person, I am left confused as to what’s going on.