by John Walters
Accountability Is For Everybody
Last night on The Late Show, host Stephen Colbert found himself in a pickle. The man who has hammered Trump constantly, with good reason, now had to confront another rich, old, white man who had allegedly been a pu**y grabber. The problem is this man is the person who installed him in the seat he presently occupies, affording him the opportunity to succeed David Letterman (whom, yes, we will note, had an affair with a younger staffer once).
Colbert rose to the occasion.
Above, the clip….
2. 3-D Horror Show
Remember this scene from In The Line of Fire?
Well, 25 years later, it’s kind of come true. You can make your own guns using a 3-D printer and the government has yet to tackle the subject (we’ll admit, we’re with Malkovich on “Why did you kill that bird, asshole?”). It’s such a potentially horrific reality—no need for a background check, untraceable weapons, etc.—that both the Mad Libs and President Trump are united in their opposition to them.
I am looking into 3-D Plastic Guns being sold to the public. Already spoke to NRA, doesn’t seem to make much sense!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 31, 2018
Now, to be real here: Trump will oppose them because the NRA is going to oppose them because 3-D printer guns will make a YUUUUUGE dent in their profit margin. Stay tuned. We love where Trump types, “Already spoke to the NRA” as if they’re a federally funded group, a part of our government. They’re nothing more than a special interest group, you know, like the Sierra Club.
3. St. James School?
This will turn out to be the career-defining (and for a certain segment of the population, most dangerous) deed of LeBron James’ career. Yesterday in his hometown of Akron, funded principally by James’ foundation, the I Promise School opened its doors to 240 2nd-, 3rd- and 4th-graders.
IPS is a regular public, non-charter, non-private, non-voucher school. It fully complies with the Akron public school system. It’s just that LeBron James’ is funding it, and making sure that at-risk kids who don’t grow up to be 6’9″ will have a chance. Every student at IPS gets a bicycle, and there’s a pantry for their parents to buy food. Every student also gets a Chrome book on which to do homework and there’s a 7-week summer camp to keep them out of trouble.
This is truly something every athlete worth at least $50 million can easily handle and should do. Not only is LeBron James changing the lives of those children, but hopefully he is setting a standard that other rich and famous athletes and entertainers will follow. There is simply nothing more dangerous to the white status quo than the bottom-third of this country receiving a quality education. If that weren’t true, would a clown like Betsy DeVos be our Secretary of Education?
4. The Golden Bridge
If we were still doing “Where In The World” (perhaps we should), we’d ask you where this funky bridge is located. Turns out it’s in Vietnam.
The Golden Bridge near Da Nang is a 150-meter long footbridge that serves no real commuting purpose. It’s located 1,400 feet above sea level in the resort area of Ba Na Hills.
5. And Now A Few Words About The NFL, The Military and The GOP
Yesterday we had what we can truly call a civil and respectful debate with a mutual follow on Twitter, a man named Josh from Indiana. You can look it up for yourself if you’re so inclined.
The gist of it is that he’s against NFL players kneeling for the anthem, doesn’t think it’s too big of a sacrifice considering the money they earn, that a lot of us have to do things at work we don’t like doing because our bosses tell us to do them, and lastly, that the point of protests are about winning hearts and minds. We respect Josh’s stance on the topic but simply disagree.
On his final argument, the hearts and minds issue, we’ll point him to a quote cited by Stephen Colbert in the clip at the top of today’s post. It comes from President John F. Kennedy: “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible, make violent revolution inevitable.” That is, if you’re Cowboy owner Jerry Jones telling players that if they don’t stand for the anthem they’ll no longer be a Cowboy, then all you’re doing is asking for a nastier rebellion down the line. You’re not addressing your players VALID concerns, and that’s a problem.
Many of the same people who hate what some NFL players have been doing cite Martin Luther King, Jr., as an example of how disaffected African-Americans should protest. His protests were non-violent, they say. To which I ask, What’s so violent about kneeling?
But now let’s get to the real matter at hand: How and why the NFL (and MLB) strives so hard to equate patriotism to the military, and why Donald Trump and the GOP are in such lockstep with this idea. Because here is where the nefariousness enters, and where America has become a scary, fascist state.
Since 9/11/2001, a day in which not a country, but fewer people than currently comprise the New York Yankees roster attacked the United States (using our commercial airlines as weaponry), America has forgotten its soul (which was sort of the point of the attack, so well-done, Mohammed). In the days after the attack, we’re not particularly sure which date exactly, the New York Yankees, the most recognizable brand in pro sports, began the tradition of playing “God Bless America” during the 7th-inning stretch.
In late September and October of 2001, it was a meaningful and earnest gesture. A rallying cry. Now, 17 years later, it feels oppressive. Before every playing of “God Bless America” at Yankee Stadium, the Pinstripers trot out a military veteran and his family. That’s fine, but what about other people whose jobs serve society in indispensable ways? Why not trot out a teacher, a fireman, a policeman?
Why are baseball players wearing camo caps or jerseys on Memorial Day weekend? Why are flags suddenly the size of entire fields? And why is the president conflating kneeling for the national anthem, a gesture done to draw attention to the senseless violence committed against innocent black men (Did you catch the Trayvon Martin documentary on Paramount last night?), with disrespect to the military?
Let’s back up a moment here and give you some numbers. The United States is just 12.3% black. The NFL, however, is 70% African-American. The NBA is 74.4% African-American. The American penal system is 33% black (the largest single ethnicity incarcerated).
While the military is not overwhelmingly black, it should be noted that there are approximately as many black females in the military as white females. Blacks still make up the largest minority group in the military and, more fittingly for Trump/GOP/NFL owners, only 17% of military enlistees come from families that earn more than $80,000 a year. The military is not a place for the upper-middle class or wealth class.
(Related: Read this excellent story by Howard Bryant that talks about the Pro Sports Military Complex and read about Nick Francona, Indian manager Terry’s son, who dropped out of Penn to serve in the Marines in Afghanistan. Nick was later fired by the Mets for standing up to the exploitation of veterans in MLB.)
What does it all add up to? Our favorite pro spectator sports have a disproportionately high number of African-Americans. Our military, the world’s most potent fighting force ever assembled (everyone says so), is disproportionately made up of lower-income Americans. Remember, this is a volunteer Army/Navy/Air Force, etc., and we’re not technically at war with anyone. Haven’t been since 1945.
The men in power in this nation, almost all of whom are white, understand that this nation is able to push others around, in terms of international policy, because we wield the biggest stick on the planet. And the cornerstone of that stick, to mix metaphors, is our lower-class. So how do you maintain a situation in which the bottom half of the country continues to work against its own best interests. By creating a false narrative that the military is perhaps its most—nay, only, unless you are an uncommonly gifted athlete—attractive option to escape an adulthood of poverty.
How do you do that?
You do a few things: 1) You blow sunshine up their asses, you glorify the idea of being part of the military, 2) You continue to neglect public education so that lower-class families do not see that as an avenue of escape 3) You attack anyone who bothers to ask why the status quo as such is unpatriotic. For example, if someone wonders aloud why the United States spends more on defense than China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, India, France, United Kingdom, and Japan COMBINED….
….while its public schools and infrastructure are in disarray, the default mode is to attack that person as being unpatriotic and unsupportive of our veterans. Which is of course not the case at all. As I mentioned here once before, I visited a newsstand at Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport last December where the cashier (and I’m sure she was just doing what her manager ordered her to do) asked every one of us who bought an item if we wanted to donate to military families so that they could make overseas phone calls.
We’re the most overfunded military in the history of mankind and they’ve got civilians pan-handling for them?
Back to sports. Did you know that the NFL actually devotes staff to working with its owners on investment opportunities? Think about that. You round up 32 billionaires, some of the wealthiest and most influential men in America, and you get them to collectively share what insights they have on the economy (or perhaps their own businesses) with one another and you use that information to invest their money for them. And you thought they were just haggling over “What is a tackle?” in their Park Avenue headquarters.
And so you ask yourself, Why are billionaires so obsessed with having even more money? Because for them it’s no longer about having the biggest yacht or the fifth home or the wife who is 39 years younger than you are, which is to say less than half your ago (props to you, Bob Kraft), it’s about power. It’s about maintaining the status quo.
Throw that money into campaign contributions. Buy the politicians who will maintain the status quo. Keep glorifying the military and defense of our country (the last nation that actually launched a prolonged attack on these United States was the Confederacy, but that’s another story) at the expense of all other issues that this nation faces. Use pro sports as a conduit to this cause so that Joe Sports Fan equates patriotism with fandom and fandom with unquestioned support of our armed forces. So that the schmuck at Fenway equates “Yankees Suck” with “Muslims Suck” even though he’s far more likely to be gunned down by a white man with a societal problem.
And while this is all happening, while we’re honoring our veterans during the 7th-inning stretch (while never, not once, mentioning that 22 veterans per day commit suicide), the men in power let it be known that the very people who play these games for our entertainment, who serve in our armed forces to help make them great, better keep their mouths shut.
Because preserving the status quo begins and ends with keeping the disenfranchised uneducated. And the moment a player kneels in hopes to raise awareness to some injustice to this country, he will be struck down far worse than if he’s a member of ISIS. Because nothing is more dangerous to these owners, to this GOP, than if the mob gets wise to their game.
Johnny Manziel has a job in pro football. Colin Kaepernick does not. That’s how serious they are about this issue.
I know I’ve meandered here, and this is a one-time-through draft. The NFL and MLB, particularly, have been working in league with the military (and taking their ad dollars, which are your tax dollars) for years. It’s a corrupt system. The next time you see local taxpayers foot the bill for an NFL/MLB stadium, maybe this will help you understand why. Politicians reward owners who help bankroll their campaigns, and owners pay them back by promoting the military every chance they get. It helps the owners to have players who see no other opportunity for themselves and it helps politicians because military contracts are a huge favor to be able to hand out, which in turn helps them get reelected.
This isn’t about protecting the United States from foreign adversaries. This is about protecting the white power structure entrenched in these states from the enemy within: the lower and working and minority classes that vastly outnumber them, but from whose ranks they need to draw to fill their uniforms, both in the NFL and the military.
Woman From Tokyo
Few bands were more tailor-made for Seventies album-oriented FM rock stations than Deep Purple. This 1973 song was the band’s most successful, as was the album it appeared on, but by the end of the year the British group, in its original incarnation, had dissolved. They played their final show together, oddly enough, in Osaka, Japan.
6:30 p.m. TCM
Jimmy Cagney. Joan Blondell. You dirty rats. Dames. From 1931.