Konspiracy Korner: Standing for the National Anthem
Bennett himself being a special case


In 2016, "America Sucks"* turned out to be a loser politically.  Big league.  As a completely separate issue, it's a false statement.  Compare the USA to the Sudan, or to Indonesia, or to anyplace, and you've got a rather larger line in than line out.

America has problems, huge, huge problems.  Relative to most or all other countries, America isn't a place where we should be ashamed of our flag, in my opinion.


The party in power is praying, literally praying, that the party out of power will double and triple down on the concept that America Sucks.  They believe that if the party out of power triples down on the idea that America was never great for anybody who wasn't a white guy -- while they talk about economic populism -- that they will govern for the next two generations.

Maybe the party in power is wrong about that.  But one thing is for sure: they hope for as many of these America Sucks firefights as they can possibly get.  That is why Trump double-underlined the issue this weekend.  That is exactly where he wants the debate.


Last winter, MTV ran a little video "2017 Resolutions for White Guys."  Did you see it?  It had a bunch of college kids nicely saying things like, "Try to understand that America was never Great :: finger air quotes :: for anybody who wasn't a white guy.  They pulled their ad after two days, with a YouTube thumbs-up thumbs-down ratio of about 187 to 31,000.  Seriously, on YouTube.  The ratio was really something like that.  Don't underestimate the current against America-bashing.

Not that I'm jingoistic.  I am not.  This is supposed to be analysis, admittedly from a center-right camera angle.


Of course, it is very possible in theory for a black man to kneel during the Anthem, and to mean absolutely nothing by it except "Please reconsider the way white cops treat black men."  Personally I suspect that this is exactly what Michael Bennett is trying to say.  I highly doubt that it was what Colin Kaepernick's girlfriend was saying, but I don't doubt Bennett's good intentions.

I even suspect that "awareness" of this issue will be raised, in part due to this squabble.  I hope and pray, literally pray, that more police will become more aware that we do NOT accept bullying and particularly we don't accept police bullying as a last cubbyhole of protected racism in the USA.  PLEASE let that be the result here.

The Vegas arrest of Michael Bennett was shameful, obviously.  Not many things can make my blood boil.  But as a gun owner, I'm honestly very scared of the image of a loaded gun being pointed at a person's head for ANY reason.  Guns can go off accidentally!  Much less for a policeman to do that to a compliant, face-down suspect.  In 200 years, George Jetson will be showing images like this as an example of how twisted our society was.

The word "traumatized" gets thrown around a lot.  I don't object to it here!  For me, Michael Bennett gets something of a pass.  For me.  His protest came after that incident and apparently in response to it.  How many other athletes went through something similar, or had a loved one in that situation?  If you support kneeling, for me this is the argument with the most traction.

Still, if I'm Michael Bennett and some wacko cop does that to me, I find some other way to protest.  American soldiers have had guns pointed at them too ......


But they say there is a difference between acting for TV, and acting on stage.  Small gestures, nuance, comes across on TV.  Stage actors must make much larger gestures to be appreciated in the balcony.  And it is only the broadest visual strokes that will be remembered in this squabble.

On a subliminal level, I worry that our hindbrains will (eventually) reduce this American Flag squabble to:

  • One side likes the USA.
  • The other side does not like the USA.

Oversimplification?  Sure.  Our hindbrains oversimplify.


I don't know whether Colin Kaepernick was making a crass bid to be celebrated for his political leadership, or how principled he was, or what.  I do wonder whether NFL players are going to sacrifice real money for their "ideals."  A 1970's Steeler came out on the subject and said, "This kind of stuff would have been ended real quick by Jack Lambert and Mean Joe Greene.  You come out of that tunnel, it's about more than you at that point."  To the extent an athlete really believes in what he is doing, will sacrifice personally, it's easy to admire him.  You have to wonder whether that was where Kaepernick was coming from.

Bill James weighed in.  Twitter, a couple weeks ago.  The reporters were yelling about what an outrage it is that Kaepernick isn't playing somewhere, and James rolled his eyes with "Oh yeah.  Every team needs a self-righteous jackass quarterback.  AT LEAST one."

With Tim Tebow, nobody had a real big problem seeing the issue with a sideshow backup QB.


Do NFL players have the right to kneel, or to curse the flag even, or to burn little tiny flags, in uniform on the sidelines?  I guess Mojician could address that.  From a workplace standpoint, I assume that the Starbucks barista does not have the right to hand me a Black Lives Matter pamphlet with my coffee; Starbucks can control its employees' statements during work hours, for obvious reasons.

I also remember when John Rocker made statements about immigrants when NOT in uniform, and most sports reporters wanted him "fired" or punished for it.  Now we get pro sports employees alienating (say, 30%) of paying customers while IN uniform, and most sports reporters want them celebrated for it.


Counter-protest is important in a democracy.  No, important isn't the right word; vital is the right word.  Any institution, especially the U.S. government, in the absence of criticism will become a vehicle to serve itself.  Police brutality, unfairness, and racism must be opposed in diamond-hard terms.

When it becomes confusing to tell (1) a protest against police brutality against (2) a statement that America Sucks, my own opinion is that it's worth clarifying.  Maybe the athletes have tried to clarify; if so, they didn't succeed.  If they'd succeeded in clarifying that, Donald Trump wouldn't be gleefully jumping in to exploit the situation.


Major League Baseball has been mostly free from this squabble.  Tuesday, the Mercury News quoted the best managers in baseball on the subject.  A.J. Hinch did a good job of stating his own view in positive, sensitive terms:


“Our players, our staff, we’re socially aware of what’s going on. Obviously, sports brings a lot of things to the forefront of people. I’m proud to be an American. I’m proud to have the rights we have. I know who’s fought for those rights and I know they’re very meaningful to everybody in our clubhouse and around our sport. The other issues are all very personal for everybody, and I wish everybody would respect the right that we can all have the same rights but yet disagree and work towards a common goal and a better world. The No. 1 thing for me is we’ve got a lot to do. I’ve seen that through Hurricane Harvey here, and I’ve seen a city galvanized and come together and all the work we’ve done and all the work citizens of Houston have done to help one another. It’s happened in Puerto Rico, it’s happened in South Florida, Dominican. There’s ways to make the world better, and I think we focus on that, we’ll be better for it.”


If you, respected Denizen, appreciate the actions of Michael Bennett, please do feel very welcome to make your case.  Some political issues have only one realistic side; this one, I think, has two.




*I almost never use the word "sucks."  To me, it is suggestive and vulgar, and probably not a word you'd be proud of your Dad saying in front of his toddlers.  In this case it clarifies the issue powerfully, so we made an exception.  Hope we didn't offend, in view of our own request that we keep the prose as genteel as possible.  Thanks!




That said, my understanding is that he ran from the police. At that point, being held down at gunpoint while they figure out what to do with you is a response that makes sense to me, not one outside the realm of expected responses. I can't speak to his discomfort with a knee in his back or a gun held on his head, but the first time I heard about Bennett's actions before thie video started, my perspective shifted solidly to "Come on, man, admit you had a part in this scenario."

I respect the pro-kneelers and their message, even though I'm not 100% convinced their perspective on its necessity is correct. I am solidly on the side of "they have a right to do this." I also think it's a dumb way to exercise said right, simply because of the existence millions who can't stare at the flag without hearing "the flag still stands for freedom, and they can't take that away" in a country twang, and remember blood spilled in the name of the freedom that flag has come to represent.

Protests are a valuable tool when exercised correctly. But perhaps they are a double-edged sword, too. Who has the slightest tinge of respect for Westboro Baptist Church - THEIR HORRIBLE MESSAGE COMPLETELY ASIDE - for protesting dead solider's funerals and the like? In the interest of actually furthering this conversation on racial justice, perhaps it would be wise to shift the timing of these protests to something which large parts of the general public DON'T think reflects on respect for the nation which - let's be honest - is allowing this discussion to proceed openly despite how distasteful some find its means. Either that, or - in exchange for the notoriety of protesting the flag - accept that you are alienating a large percentage of the population you might wish to persuade.

Seattle Sports Outsider's picture

"America sucks" is what the protests have been labeled as by the right end of the political spectrum. 

In Kaepernick's words:

"I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color," Kaepernick told NFL Media in an exclusive interview after the game. "To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder."

This is in the context of the many episodes of black people being killed by police officers. Cost him his career. And he backed it up with a $1m donation.


These NFL protests started as a specific protest against the treatment of black people in America, particularly by the police. 


The political/media right has made it into an "America sucks" vs "America is great" patriotic thing. Clearly they think framing it this way is a winning play for them. Unfortunately, it obfuscates the original issue of protest. 


For once, I agree with Jesse Ventura's take (on Kaepernick). Imagine that.

M'sFan4Lyfe's picture

I'll try to be brief with my $0.02...

- The first question, and the least interesting one, is "Do NFL owners have legal standing to reprimand or fire players who kneeled?" Answer: likely yes. To Doc's point about the BLM cup at Starbucks.

- Were we to get to the point in this country where athletes are forced to stand for the anthem, students in classrooms are, people everywhere are, that's fascism, not patriotism. 

- Protests are NOT intended to make you feel warm and fuzzy inside. They aren't MEANT to be popular. And the "America sucks!" straw man aside (sorry Doc, I haven't seen a single person say that), this particular protest is meant to make visible an uncomfortable truth for white Americans: we continue to live with a privilege that isn't fully extended to African Americans, and they demand action. Systemic racism and injustice still exists. Police brutality, towards African Americans in particular, still exists. Why SHOULDN'T we be protesting that in the most visible way possible?

- Kneeling is inherently an act of humility.

- What the flag represents has been conflated with a military-only mentality with regards to patriotism. The full breadth of patriotism includes honoring scool teachers, nurses, social workers and everyone else who helps America live up to its ideals. The essence of America is fighting for a country where all men and women are created equal, whether you are white, black, Christian, Muslim, recent immigrant or Mayflower descendant. 

- As we continue this conversation forward, I wonder if any of the commenters are African Americans or minorities? If we are all white males, we should be cognizant of that imbalance in a discussion about race.




Etc..  I'm honestly not sure where 'white' appears on my personal hierarchy of identity.  I'm quite sure it doesn't appear in the top ten.  I'm also quite sure that for people who make race an issue, their ethnicity/heritage ranks significantly higher than my own does.  I think that's what Morgan Freeman is talking about in that famous video clip where, essentially, he says we should just stop talking about race and that will by the single biggest thing we can do to combat racism.  Stop making it a top tier issue for people and it won't be a top tier issue.

And I'm aware of the arguments that suggest the fact that I don't put my ethnicity highly on my self-identity chart is somehow suggestive of supreme privilege.  That's a non-starter with me; I've been down that line of argument a few times and never does it lead anywhere compelling.  I'd invite attempts to provide a more compelling case than I've yet encountered, but it *seems to me* that the whole 'privilege' issue is one that is badly misunderstood by most people who invoke it (am not accusing you of doing so, just relaying my own experience in general), and that even when it is well understood it is ascribed impact that it simply does not appear to have.

FBI crime statistics from the past years/decade+ have consistently shown that, when LEO's (Law Enforcement Officers) engage suspects involved in violent crime, being black is actually an advantage in the rate stats if a suspect wants to survive the encounter with the police (police are disproportionately more likely to shoot-and-kill a non-black suspect than they are to shoot a black suspect).  The real issue highlighted by the FBI/DOJ statistics is that some subsets of our society are vastly more predisposed to engage in violent crime generally.  LEO interaction with criminal suspects isn't the problem; the problem is the crime rate among certain subsets of society, which exposes those subsets to disproportionately greater levels of both crime and punishment. 

And I don't think Jeff's 'America Sucks' comment was a straw man at all, nor do I think he was suggesting that there are hordes of people picketing, blockading freeways, shouting into bullhorns, etc.. who are actively, consciously thinking 'America Sucks!'  But dissatisfaction with the status quo is an essential component of any legitimate progressive (small 'p') mindset.  A legit progressive *HAS* to think, in some fashion, that their society is sorely lacking in sufficient degree to warrant major disruption of the system in an effort to remedy the perceived issues.  So a dyed-in-the-wool progressive will absolutely think 'My Country Sucks (in this particular way)' because, if he/she didn't, he/she would be a conservative who is interested in preserving, protecting, and promulgating the practices and ideas that got his/her society where it is today.

Seattle Sports Outsider's picture



Isn't it a bit strange that this country has whipped up a more passionately outraged response to some NFL players protesting during the national anthem at their football games than the actual harm inflicted that is being protested against? Even if you are not black, the fact that our fellow citizens  feel so strongly about this issue should let us know the issue needs attention and a solution. These are fellow citizens of the USA of whom many who feel deathly afraid of a police encounter. Shouldn't we be looking to fix this as a nation? 

Think about this instance:



Why are people more upset about a protest during a national anthem than fellow citizens being shot by police? The structure in place that continues to allow this to happen should be upsetting to all citizens.


What is seen once that light penetrates every nook and cranny of said issue...well, that's largely out of EVERYONE's control, no?  That's the nature of truth-seeking or inquisition of any kind: to discover rather than to prove.  Advocacy is about pushing a single position; truth-seeking is about going where the evidence leads you.

And one major nail in the tire of the BLM/AntiFa protestors is that the crime statistics simply do not bear out their narrative.  As I said above, when it comes to being shot-and-killed by a LEO, being black is actually an advantage compared to being brown, white, yellow, etc..  That factoid would not have come to light if not for the BLM/AntiFa spotlight, but it also runs diametrically opposite the Far Left narrative that black people are disproportionately targeted for punishment by the various agents of our criminal justice system.  That does not appear to be the case, given the mountains of publicly-available data.

What does appear to be the case (given my admittedly amateurish reading of the data) is that poverty is one of the most, if not the absolute most, closely-related factors in determining the relationshop a group of people will have with crime and punishment compared to other groups of people within a given society.  It's not about being black, or white, or purple with pink polka dots; it's about having opportunities to escape the crushing grip of poverty.  For a variety of reasons, America's urban black community has a major problem in this regard.  That particular facet of the conversation absolutely does earn my outrage and unbridled fury; why would our leaders abandon one in twenty, or one in fifteen of our fellow citizens to such an existence when it is obviously within our ability to do better?  Serious question.

If we want to improve the crime situation in the black community, we have to help every community earn its way out of poverty the old-fashioned way: with hard work, with copious rewards for intelligent risk-taking, and with fundamental commitment to the individual economic practices that made America the shining city on the hill.

Oh, and the reason we're upset at the anthem protests is simple: they occur during our increasingly precious free time, which we sprint toward each day, each week, each year precisely because we want to escape, even for a moment or two, the harsh reality of the world around us.  Now the people--the entertainers--who we've gladly paid to entertain us and give that brief moment of respite from the woes of the world want to force the realities of the world back into our faces during that tiny slice of time we've set aside to be purely entertained.  We're rightly upset at having forged a contract with these entertainers to entertain us, only to have them insist on shoving political protests into the experience.  Some people will find no harm in such packaging of entertainment and politics, and for those people this will all seem overblown.  But for many (most?) of the NFL's fan base, it wore thin late last season.  Now it's burned a hole in the bottom of the oil pan.


When we escape into watching the big game, it's one of the few instances where fans of a particular team (and in the specific case of the anthem) are united together despite our differences.  It's a snapshot moment in time where things are as they ought to be.

For anyone with an ounce of introspective, we know that the execution of the ideals set forth by the founders is not perfect (as the founders themselves were not).  But the ideals contained in the founding are perfect.  And we should be united about those - not be made to take a side and be divided while celebrating those ideals.


I must say that, as a left-of-center thinker, I find the Straw Man Argument problem to be easily the most unpleasant feature of the political discourse on this blog. Which is not to say the discourse is bad! It's wonderful relative to the rest of the internet (and world  at large), and I thoroughly enjoy it. But I must say that repeatedly having to say something to the effect of "I don't think anyone is saying that, except for negligible fringe elements" is kind of wearing on me. I know Doc is a very open thinker, as are you, and it is for exactly that reason that I find it frustrating when the underlying vibe of the conversations in this forum is always "wow, how could those misguided liberals really take that stance?" The answer is, for the most part they're not. The right-wing echo chamber would like the conservative base to think we're taking those stances, because a base that believes that its opponents have idiotic views is a base that is highly motivated to fight. And don't get me wrong, I'm sure my views are equally colored by the left-wing echo chamber: we're all stuck in echo chambers these days, to some extent. So many things that I hear about conservative politics sound utterly ludicrous that I have to remind myself that for everyone who actually believes Alex Jones when he talks about the government turning the freaking frogs gay, there’s a host of intelligent, thoughtful people like you guys who surely have far more rational reasons for their political affiliations.

On this particular issue, I think the America Sucks vs America is Great narrative is bogus, and was an intentional pivot by Donald Trump away from the truth. No one is arguing that America is bad, relative to other countries. You would have to be an idiot to argue that! Possibly with the exception of a few European nations and maybe Canada, there is no better place to live in the world than the US, and everyone here knows that. HOWEVER. America being wonderful and America being imperfect are far from mutually exclusive propositions! In fact, I think anyone who argues that our country has no flaws would be an idiot as well. It just doesn't make any sense. SO. Given that there are flaws, such as the disproportionate risk of death that unarmed, non-criminal members of minorities face when interacting with police officers, it is only reasonable for political activists to highlight those flaws via protest. Not just constitutional, because no one in their right mind would argue that it's not constitutional. And this isn't a question of whether the owners could fire the players for this: that's another Trumpian misdirect, like when Aaron Rodgers does a head fake and Jeremy Lane goes flying into the bleachers. Of course they can fire those players, and of course none of them will for economic, social, and strategic reasons that are self-evident. And of course they'll subtly punish players like Kaepernick, who were already on the talent margins and aren't worth alienating a segment of your fanbase for. They did the same to Tim Tebow, and it was just as unfair and unavoidable then as it is now. All of that seems like a moot point, and not really an argument worth having.

The final Straw Man, and the one that has infuriated me since the first faint glimmer of political thought entered my mind, is the argument that any suggestion that America is flawed is in some way equivalent a middle-finger to the military. It's not. There is literally zero connection, and anyone who gets riled up based on this line of reasoning deserves the negative emotions they are feeling. They have brought it on themselves through pathetic, faulty logic. What they think of as patriotism isn't, it's just ugly nationalism, and there is a huge difference. They're the reason I can't stand to leave my house on the 4th of July. They're the reason I find myself tempted to say thing like "I hate America," even though that's not true. I love America, flaws and all. But I detest people who are so eager to demonize their opponents that they ignore logic when it interferes with their "us against them" mentality. All they do is muddy the waters of the national discourse, and prevent an honest discussion about the merits of the ideas presented by protestors such as Kaep. Quite simply, they're bad for our country. *end tirade, which just to be clear was not directed at or inspired by anyone on this site*

So Doc, Jonez, and anyone else on the other end of the political spectrum from myself, let me make you an offer. I will do my best to set aside the biases that make me inclined to believe the worst about the Right, if you all will do the same for the Left. That doesn't mean we can't ask things like, "does your side of the aisle really believe that? Why?", which I believe was the wholesome genesis of Doc's article. What it does mean is that when people respond with "no, that's a straw man argument that none of us believe," we trust each other on that. And maybe, given enough time, we learn to expect the best from each other, instead of suspect the worst. Does that sound good to everyone?


is not a terrible place to start when self-identifying for the purposes of clarity.  I've taken the test over there twice and I'm basically a centrist with right leanings and pretty solid commitment to the libertarian end of the Liberty<--->Authority axis.  Basically I'm a dyed-in-the-wool Classical Liberal, who just wants to do what works best for the most people.  Here's my first *literalist* version of the test (meaning I took their written words literally, rather than attempting to glean what I thought they meant to ask with each question).

And here's my second attempt, when I tried to interpret what I *thought* they meant to ask with some of the more poorly-worded questions:

I think of myself as a *slightly* right of center centrist, politically, though I'd be curious to hear your interpretation of the above outcomes.  I've found this type of 'introduction' to lubricate a lot of otherwise friction-filled conversations on sensitive subjects.  That's my opening response.

Secondly, I'm gonna say that I co-sign at least 80% of your expressed sentiment above across the board.  And most of the stuff I don't co-sign just yet is probably just a matter of requiring clarification.  Honest, spirited (but respectful) debate is the key to advancing human understanding on both the micro and macro level.  There are posts on here from respected commenters that stray over the 'respectful' line, but the community does a good job of self-policing (or at least it does a better job of it than anywhere else I've seen!) so I don't think a moment of 'hey now, let's make sure we're drawing between the lines here' is inappropriate.


Three cheers.  Extremely well said.  


in support of the 'social justice' crowd on this one, and it is already costing them big-time.  Advertising revenues are drying up like never before, and every analysis I've read links the slide directly to the anthem protests.

I actually *understand* the owners and coaches coming out in support of the players on this one.  It makes perfect sense; you don't want to alienate the guys whose blood, sweat and tears forge your company's future.  You have to have their backs, no question, but the League Office and NFLPA knew exactly what the risks were here, and that they have *also* come out in support of the anthem protests is what is causing the real damage.  They needed to be more concerned with their bottom line, and it doesn't take a genius to figure out that the NFL viewing public isn't going to take too kindly to 'America Sucks' or any variation thereof.

Still, I do happen to think they've got the right to protest.  I also think the public has the right to pressure their local ownership groups into freezing guys like Kaepernick out of the league, or at least knocking several million off his salary.  That's the way free will works: you can do what you want, and I can do what I want.  You want to ask me for $200/year for the privilege of watching you throw a ball around?  I'll probably sign up for some of that year-in, year-out.  But if you then want to demand that I swallow your counterculture and political protest along with the price tag, I'm going to start looking around for other things to spend my money on.

The players stepped in it big-time here.


Football has the most one sided contracts and the weakest union.  There is an artificial salary cap of $167 million per team to be divided between 70 odd players.  There is the three year shelf life of your average player, to be followed by debilitating brain and joint damage for the rest of his life.  In football, there is no such thing as a $200 million dollar man.  Marshawn Lynch, a generational hall of fame talent, has earned $50 million in ten years of play.  Compare that with Trout or Floyd Mayweather money.  No, compare that with Carlos Silva's guaranteed four year contract. 

Here's what I think: the NFL only cares about money.  The league will let the players do whatever they want, as long as they keep playing for cheap, and the customers keep paying fat.  If the players were treated less like meat, and were given fair contracts, there would be more of an expectation that they toe the company line.  Baseball players don't kneel for the anthem because they don't want to be docked $50,000 to $120,000 for a day on the restricted list or risk anything that voids the player's exorbitant contract.  Look at the ire that was directed toward Madison Baumgarner for crashing a motorcycle.  If you want players to take their contracts seriously, then you should give them serious contracts.

I also think that race has a lot to do with it.  the NFL has mostly black players in a tulmultuous time.  If large groups of poor urban black people are protesting, and that is the majority of the NFL talent base, then some of that protest is going to spill into the sport.  

Legally, the NFL could crush the players like a pop can for kneeling during the anthem.  I think that the league already crushes the players like pop cans, and will let them do what they please, as long as that please does not involve paying them.  

Regarding Kaepernick (sp?), I think that he is at a disadvantage to play the rarest position in football.  I think you have a better chance of being an astronaut than an NFL quarterback.  If you ever do pull such a job, don't quit it when you don't have a better job lined up.  It makes you look like you have some baggage, and there are only one or two QB openings per year, with dozens of very hungry applicants hoping for the opportunity. 


First, MLB has a roster of 25 players.  Football is 53.  So right there, even if payrolls were identical (and NFL *slightly* edges MLB in overall salary outlay) you'd still have NFL players making, on average, just a little over half of what MLBers make.  There's no apples-to-apples comparison here (unless you're talking crab apples to Fujis...).

Second, NFL careers are 3+ years for a guy who's made a starting squad.  That's INSANE roster churn, and it paints a clear picture of how little an NFL team *can* commit to any single player.  If you lock a guy like Lynch in for ten years at fair annual market rates, and he's out in two with a ruptured spinal disc, you're TOAST under a hard salary cap system like the NFL employs.  So they have to go year-to-year, and do the best they can to secure the services of those precious few durable players whose quality is high enough to warrant full-time deployment.

I'm not saying the NFL's player salary system is ideal.  I think it's far from ideal, and I think NFL is the PERFECT place to implement something revolutionary like a 'win shares' payroll structure.  The teams are already on the hook for the league salary cap anyway, basically, so why not just divide up the earnings based on who actually did what?  It gets tricky assigning value to places like O-line, but I'm sure a few dedicated stat nerds could crunch out a reasonable representation of what the NFL has historically paid to the big guys up front and allot them a similar piece of the salary pie.  Under such a system, it wouldn't matter who was a first year rook or who was a ten year vet; you'd get paid based on what you produced, and nobody would have more than a league minimum guarantee.

But until the NFL goes to something incorporating a 'win shares' or other incentive-based pay structure (or until the players start miraculously having six or eight year average careers), it seems to me that the NFLPA has done about as good of a job as it can.  Their sport is a meat grinder; comparing it to baseball or basketball is folly.


Two points I'd like to respond to:

1) I think the 'hindbrains' have already taken over.  This has moved (for the clear majority) to an "America--are you with us or against us?" argument.

And I heard someone on the radio today suggest that Trump either wants to or already has made this a personal referendum--with him or not?  Whatever.

2) My main point of disagreement is this: in 2016, I believe there is NO ONE on earth who did more with the "America Sucks" line of argument than the guy now in the Oval Office.  Day after day...rally after rally...issue after issue...all we heard was what a disaster our country had become.  And at its core, that was the argument that put him over the top.  

It worked for him and it continues to be the one message the GOP can agree on.  Obamacare is flawed, granted.  And if you simply buy that it's a disaster, then you're willing to propose an alternative that no one has seen...and demand that your party vote for it no matter what.  Since America Sucks, anything has to be better, right?

I don't see that changing any time soon.

And personally, I think John McCain is a hero.  Now more than ever.  


quote from 2008, diderot?

"For the first time in my adult life, I am really proud of my country because it feels like hope is finally making a comeback,"

I don't point this out to equivocate as such.  I've simply noticed the finger-pointing across the aisle generally only happens when The Other Guy wins the Big Election.  Otherwise, people seem happy to give Their Guy the benefit of the doubt as to 'what he/she REALLY meant when he/she said <controversial quote>'.  As far as I can tell, there is plenty of laudable sentiment in Mrs. Obama's 2008 quote, just like I think there's plenty of laudable sentiment in 'Make America Great Again.'  Here's the key difference:

A conservative (small 'c') will harken back to Days Of Yore when attempting to define How Things Should Be.  As such, a conservative (again, small 'c') will generally want to 'get back to basics' or 'return to our roots' on issues.  So 'Make America Great Again' is essentially nothing but conservatism boiled down to sentiment rather than a well-elucidated idea.

A progressive (small 'p'), on the other hand, will invariably be dissatisfied with How Things Have Been and will seek to supplant the status quo in pursuit of building a world that fits their view of How Things Should Be.  So 'For the first time in my adult life, I am really proud of my country...' is a natural progressive rallying cry, and is perfectly understandable to someone who recognizes the fundamental, psychological differences between a conservative and a progressive (small 'c' and 'p,' respectively).

It is also, therefore, easily understood why a progressive would recoil from a conservative slogan or declaration based on conservative impulse, and it is equally easy to see why a conservative would be repulsed by a progressive rallying cry.

I don't think one side or the other engages more or less hindbrain.  It seems to me we all do it about equally often, and with equally counterproductive outcomes.

And personally, even before Trump drive-by labeled McCain as 'a war hero because he was captured...I like people who weren't captured!', I never cared for the guy.  Though to someone sitting opposite me on the political spectrum, I can easily see how he would be viewed as a hero.  I kind of felt like that about Lieberman and Zell Miller back in the early 2000's, before I started looking at things from the 30,000 foot view--and from multiple points of latitude.


Fully agree that conservatives are most comfortable looking to the past, and progressives to the future. It's almost axiomatic. And I think equally important is the progressive's (general) view that the good old days weren't as good as you think they were.  Obviously that's a gross generality...but I don't thank that makes it generally untrue.

But I deliberately did not cite MAGA because that is, in a sense, forward looking in nature.  (Trump a pregressive?  LOL)

What I did underscore was his non-stop assessment of so many parts of america as a 'total disaster'.  He was the king of America Sucks.  And as a matter of fact, still is.  Now that he prdictably can't get one thing done...and is making the country worse...all he can do is fall back on his attacks on Hillary and Obama.  In his mind, they created the total disaster that he can't fix.  (Again, to your point about looking backwards.)

Granted, he has shown the bipartisanship to now include McConnell and Ryan and McCain in his cast of villians.  Apparently they, too, are obstacles to the Greatness that only he can see and deliver.  


of Trump's core message during the election campaign.  He wasn't, to my mind, saying America sucks; he was saying America's leadership sucks, and he's got a consistent 35 year track record of saying so.  That's a big, big difference--and ultimately, it's that very difference which drives the engine of a democratically elected governments.

I also fundamentally disagree with your assignment of 'blame' in Trump's (or his supporters') eyes.  Hillary and Obama are Establishment Personalities to the nth degree, no?  Trump has railed against the Establishment for 35+ years, no?  Why would he not elect to fire early and often at two such high-profile figures?  It seems like you're trying to make the evidence fit a given perspective on this one.

As to your final paragraph, a muted eye roll is all you'll get from me on that front--and, again, I didn't vote for Trump.


No, he ran first against a president who huniliated hin at a Washington dinner...firing back by claiming that President wasn't an American.

Then against the 'rapists' from Mexico.

Then against BLM, who he said helped instigate police killings.  (Interesting spin on reality, no?)  

Then against the Wall Street class for whom he is now proposing yet another massive and bogus 'trickle down' tax cut.

Then against anyone who dared to speak out at one of his rallies, who he urged his supporters to physically harm.

And now against leaders of his own party (as if there was anything other than a "Trump party" in his mind).

He is a demogogue of the worst stripe.  He hates what America stands for.  

I would advise anyone to read Timothy Snyder's On Tyranny and not see him for what he is.  

Finally, I certainly take you at your word that you didn't vote for him.  But more to the point, how do you think he's doing?


than I would like to have seen, but that's been the case with Presidents for my entire adult life so I'm not sure there's any difference there (yet) between him and Dubya or Barry.

I also think he's kicking over all kinds of ant hills that desperately need kicking over.  He's a crass guy, no question, and he's hardly the template for future statesmen of the highest levels in the world's most prosperous nation.  I approve of his contrarian stances on many (most? not sure; I don't pay that close of attention to the daily grind of politics these days) of the hot button issues the Center-Left media flips out over.

He ain't perfect, that much is for sure.  He's no Ronald Reagan, and he's no Bill Clinton.

But your seemingly absolute conviction regarding who and what he is, and what his positions Truly Are regarding these polarizing subjects seems to be an overextension.  Many people on the Far Right said precisely the same things about Obama shortly after he was inaugurated, and continued saying those things throughout his presidency.  The certainty I encounter on both ends of the right-left tribal spectrum is alarming and, frankly, frightening to me whenever it rears its head as it seems to have done in the comment I am now replying to.  It is in accepting the possibility that we are wrong about our assertions that we maintain enough open-mindedness to constantly improve our understanding of the world around us.  There's a great quote about it that I've got up on the wall of my house's common room:

To be uncertain is to be uncomfortable; to be certain is to be ridiculous.

-Chinese Proverb-

I'll admit that early on in Barack Obama's presidency, I was taken in by *some* of the anti-Obama arguments (and, honestly, some of them were never adequately refuted by the pro- crowd--not that I think that gives them any more or less credibility, mind you, but it does permit them to linger in my hindbrain, which is unfortunate).  But it didn't take too many years for me to realize it was all a magic act aimed at implementing the oldest group conflict strategy of all-time: divide and conquer.

When we legitimately think that The Other is nothing but a bunch of <derogatory terms which generally suggest inferiority> then we lose the ability to recognize our own blind spots and biases.  I don't see evidence to support your more damning assertions of Trump listed above, but I do understand that there is serious emotional charge to this particular topic for obvious and relatable reasons.

Another great line that I think sums up the prism through which the poles view Trump is this: His supporters take him seriously, but not literally; his detractors take him literally, but not seriously.  That one nicely brings many of these divisive facets into focus, I think.


headed out of town for a fee days, and won't be able to moderate (not that we usually need much), so will close comments for that time.

should be a few articles up tonight.  Thanky kindly :- )