Donald Trump

9 Lessons from the Trump/NFL Anthem Wars

Let's start by allowing unwitting taxpayers to quit financing a lucrative entertainment industry.

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Please do not Google how much taxpayer money was spilled on this thing. ||| Minnesota Vikings
Minnesota Vikings

As the nation's attention and (not coincidentally!) the president's Twitter feed begin shifting away from the latest Culture War bauble and toward the plight of 3.4 million distressed American citizens on the island of Puerto Rico, there are some takeaways from this embarrassment worth pondering. Some of these points are counterintuitive; some are obvious mostly to libertarians; some are obvious to everyone yet worth reiterating if we're going to continue talking about this nonsense at all. So here goes:

1) The most offensive aspect about mixing politics and sports is the conscripted tax money and police power. President Donald Trump has serially suggested over the past several days that fans boycott the National Football League if some players continue not to stand during the playing of the national anthem. Leaving aside for a moment the propriety of a president acting as Boycotter in Chief, Trump surely is correct in observing that consumers of this entertainment product should feel free to agitate for a league policy change by opting out.

If only taxpayers had that chance.

Earlier this month, Reason's Eric Boehm wrote a salient piece headlined "Stop Subsidizing Football." Among Boehm's bill of particulars:

Gregg Easterbook, author of The King of Sports: Football's Impact on America and a longtime critic of taxpayer subsidies for the sport, says taxpayers have covered more than 70 percent of the total cost of NFL stadiums built in the past two decades….

Stadium construction costs are the most expensive, most egregious way that taxpayers are forced to subsidize football, but others have also come under scrutiny in recent years. One of the biggest backdoor subsidies for football—the special loophole in the federal tax code that allowed the National Football League, but not any of its smaller competitors, to avoid federal taxes—was eliminated in 2015. A U.S. Senate investigation in 2015 revealed that the Pentagon had paid $5.4 million to NFL teams for so-called "displays of patriotism" during games between 2011 and 2014.

Even on the rare occasion when they finance their own stadium construction, billionaire owners are allowed to issue tax-free municipal bonds, a perk not offered to most other industries. And having so much local-politico skin in the game greases the wheels all that much more for egregious, private-to-private eminent domain abuse.

It is immoral for government to dislodge private property owners and confiscate money from taxpayers so that rich men can get richer organizing a sport that scores of millions don't care one whit about. The more government puts its hands where it oughtn't, the more likely the resulting actions will offend your core values. Wanna really stick it to the NFL? Get the government out of its business.

2) Donald Trump made the conscious choice to revive a near-moribund social controversy for political advantage. Do you know how many players made any kind of protest gesture during the national anthem the weekend before Trump called them SOBs? Less than 10.

Solid tie game, tho ||| C-SPAN
C-SPAN

The conclusion here is inescapable. The president of the United States, while claiming to be appalled by scattered incidents of alleged anti-patriotism, voiced his displeasure (at a political rally) in such a way that guaranteed those incidents would multiply. He doesn't want this controversy to die down; he wants it to intensify, in a way that pits American vs. American.

Just look at the follow-up reporting. "He knows it'll get people stirred up and talking about it," a senior administration official reportedly told Politico. Another Trump adviser reportedly told CNN's Jim Acosta that the president is "winning the cultural war…just made millionaire sport athletes his new HRC." At a dinner with conservatives last night, according to multiple outlets, Trump (in a paraphrase by Politico's Josh Dawsey) said "that his NFL feud was going well and he wants to keep it going."

There is something fundamentally unseemly about a governmental chief executive deliberately whipping up us-vs.-them antipathy toward an entire bloc of his own constituents. Republicans (and others) were rightly outraged when New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo asserted three years ago that "extreme conservatives who are right-to-life, pro-assault-weapon, anti-gay" have "no place in the state of New York." Hillary Clinton was rightly excoriated for calling a whole chunk of Trump supporters an irredeemable "basket of deplorables." Even Barack Obama's bitter-clinger comments from 2008, which were made in a semi-private setting and with the patina of trying to understand a certain population, reeked of a kind of collectivist condescension that critics had cause to reject.

Trump's politics of Othering is, has been, and will always be central to his political project, from his birther freelancing to his Mexico-is-sending-us-rapists campaign kickoff to his assertion that District Judge Gonzalo Curiel's Mexican heritage was "an inherent conflict of interest" to his travel ban to his pardon of Sheriff Joe Arpaio, and so on. His campaign themes were patterned after the culture-war wedge-issuing of Richard Nixon. "The silent majority is back, and we're going to take our country back," the candidate declared in July 2015. His dark acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention was a virtual Nixonpalooza: "I have a message to every last person threatening the peace on our streets and the safety of our police," he thundered. "When I take the oath of office next year, I will restore law and order to our country. Believe me. Believe me….I am the law and order candidate."

The president's populist advisors welcome racially tinged culture war as advantageous political strategy. "I want them to talk about racism every day," Steve Bannon told The American Prospect just before leaving the White House. "If the left is focused on race and identity, and we go with economic nationalism, we can crush the Democrats."

The language Trump used in Alabama was telling. In a speech where he mused "Isn't it a little weird when a guy who lives on 5th Avenue in the most beautiful apartment you've ever seen comes to Alabama and Alabama loves that guy?" and said that if he'd lost the election he might have moved "to Alabama or Kentucky," the president railed against the anthem protesters' "total disrespect of our heritage, a total disrespect of everything that we stand for" and diagnosed the NFL's problems in this way: "But do you know what's hurting the game more than that? When people like yourselves turn on television and you see those people taking the knee when they're playing our great national anthem."

3) Almost every sentence containing the phrase "we must" in reference to strangers is a bad sentence, particularly coming from a president. For instance, this one:

No president, whether a vulgar former reality TV star or a preeningly ambitious former community organizer, gets to define patriotism, let alone issue imperatives on how love of country is to be ritualized. One of the strengths of American patriotism, not unlike one of the strengths of our military, is that it's voluntary, a choice tailor-made by the individuals who pursued that particular slice of happiness.

As long as private industry is not flouting the law and/or inflicting injury, a president has no real business wagging his finger at owners, employees, or even customers. Yet our populist pitchman can't stop barking unenforceable orders. "The issue of kneeling has nothing to do with race," Trump tweeted yesterday. "It is about respect for our Country, Flag and National Anthem. NFL must respect this!" Or not, turns out.

4) Freedom of political expression for athletes is directly proportional to their freedom of contract. Until the 1970s, professional athletes were contractually bound to the teams they played for. If the team and player could not agree on terms, the player had three choices: have his contract be automatically renewed on the team's terms, not play, or risk lifetime banishment by skipping to a competing league, if any exist. Two unsurprising results: The players earned a fraction of what they do now, and they mostly avoided political controversy like Babe Ruth avoided salads.

With economic power came a flowering of athletic expression, whether political or (perhaps even more radically) personal. As I put it in a Reason feature 12 years ago,

||| India Times
India Times

Muhammad Ali opposed Vietnam and the military draft years before it was cool, while encouraging a generation of kids to give themselves new names and manipulate the formerly all-powerful media. Three decades before metrosexual was a word, New York Jets quarterback Joe Namath shocked male football fans by parading around in mink coats, posing as an "Olivetti Girl" in a sexually charged typewriter ad, and filming commercials for pantyhose. Knuckleball pitcher Jim Bouton ripped the lid off of professional baseball's Ward Cleaver packaging with his pussy-and-pills 1970 memoir Ball Four; two years later Yankee pitchers Fritz Peterson and Mike Kekich became the most famous wife swappers in the country. Bill Walton convinced the notoriously square UCLA coach John Wooden that smoking dope and attending Grateful Dead shows could be every bit as crucial to the legendary motivator's "Pyramid of Success" as hard work and respecting your teammates (provided you could still shoot 21 for 22 in the NCAA finals). And just about every star of the time had to grapple on a daily basis, in full view of the newly national television audience, with America's combustible conflict between black and white.

In a single generation—between John Kennedy's assassination and the fall of Saigon—the archetype for the pro athlete was transformed from lantern-jawed Midwesterners like Mickey Mantle to pot-gobbling longhairs like Bill "Spaceman" Lee. Earthbound sidemen like Bob Cousy found their game passed over by skywalking soloists like Dr. J. The era of Johnny Unitas buzz-cuts and Jackie Robinson no-comments was replaced by athletes who looked, played, and spoke however they damn well pleased, injecting creativity and innovation on the field while puncturing mythologies and ditching racist baggage outside the stadium walls.

(Jackie Robinson, I would learn later, deserved more credit than I gave him then for courting unpopularity through speaking out in real time.)

Those on the margins of a professional sports league, such as gay former NBA backup center Jason Collins, openly gay star collegiate football player Michael Sam, and protest-generator Colin Kaepernick, risk unemployment by becoming sources of controversy. (Though in the cases of Collins and Sam, it seems clear that gayness will soon and thankfully be no longer anything like a controversial issue.) This is one of many reasons why Major League Baseball player Bruce Maxwell's anthem-kneel this weekend was especially noteworthy.

5) Trump is on the opposite side of the criminal justice reform cause that sparked all this stuff in the first place. This is the logical extension of #2 on this list, but it's worth reiterating that regardless of what one thinks about Kaepernick's questionable choice of attire, or even whether you think Black Lives Matter is an unfortunate organization and framing device, the original point of taking a knee was to protest improper and often lethal use of force by police officers who too often escape punishment. That problem is real, ongoing, and multifaceted, and President Trump is on the wrong side of it.

6) Fantasizing about ordering ungrateful "privileged" athletes around is one of the lower tendencies in American sports fandom. Part of Trump's theatrical genius is that he has consistently gotten into the shoes of his audience, acting out fantasies they wish they had the nerve/power to conduct in real life. On the campaign trail, he would often play-act the (completely invented) story of U.S. soldiers lining up and shooting Muslims with bullets dipped in pig's blood. And in Alabama last week, he again performed his most controversial passage:

Wouldn't you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, "Get that son of a bitch off the field right now, out, he's fired. He's fired!" You know, some owner is gonna do that. He's gonna say, "That guy that disrespects our flag, he's fired." And that owner, they don't know it. They don't know it. They're friends of mine, many of them. They don't know it. They'll be the most popular person, for a week. They'll be the most popular person in this country.

What makes this paragraph doubly telling is Trump blurting out his motivation—this stuff's popular. It's also gross.

Where's the chair? ||| Fox News
Fox News

Barstool fans from coast to coast have long fetishized the sports world's most successful authoritarians—college basketball tyrant Bobby Knight, Chicago Bears barker Mike Ditka, Buffalo Bills loudmouth Rex Ryan (Trump supporters all)—in part because these coaches push around athletes who are frequently perceived as ungrateful, disrespectful, and lazy. All kinds of skeevy class and race issues, as well as good old-fashioned envy, get mixed up in this tendency.

Trump's wording on this was a classic of the barstool form. "If a player wants the privilege of making millions of dollars in the NFL,or other leagues," he tweeted, "he or she should not be allowed to disrespect…. …our Great American Flag (or Country) and should stand for the National Anthem. If not, YOU'RE FIRED. Find something else to do!"

Professional sports leagues are meritocracies; you cannot inherit from daddy your space on an NFL roster. Also, football careers in particular tend to be nasty, brutish, and short, with long-lasting aftereffects that hobble the league's vets. But the idea that a small number of athletes have been gifted with and overcompensated for a game that millions would gladly play for free is ingrained in the DNA of American sports culture. And the older a fan gets, the more he or she is likely to bemoan the new generation's flouting of once-revered traditions.

It's a reactionary combination, which Trump is tapping into with reactionary politics.

7) Public patriotic rituals are already political, and should not be a one-way ratchet. This is the kind of tautology only jerkbag libertarians like to emphasize, but there's no such thing as a compulsory patriotic ritual devoid of political content. To the contrary.

As Eric Boehm mentioned, ritualized and militaristic patriotism has long been part of the explicit marketing efforts both of pro sports leagues and the Pentagon. The NFL, whose traditional jingoism has been matched perhaps only by NASCAR, only started requiring all players in all games to stand on the sidelines during the National Anthem in 2009. Baseball, for understandable reasons initially, started playing "God Bless America" during the seventh-inning stretch of the post-9/11 2001 World Series in New York, but then kept on playing it at every home Yankee game, as well as every Sunday game in the rest of the league. (Before that, the song was a sporadic and usually welcome replacement for "The Star-Spangled Banner" before the game.) If I told you how many times military jets have flown over my head just because I enjoy baseball, you probably wouldn't believe it.

Like all rituals, these public displays of patriotism can be at turns moving, comforting, numbing, and annoying. But if they only increase in frequency and duration over time, and if the U.S. president keeps on throwing words around like "must," they risk producing their own backlash, and not just from certain cheeky non-conformists.

8) Telling the president to get bent is a healthy democratic response. You may have seen a much-shared sermon from former NFL star Shannon Sharpe, who was eloquently and specifically critical of the "hypocrisy" of team owners and players suddenly unifying against Donald Trump only now, instead of protesting him and/or police brutality, back before it was cool. It's totally worth watching, and Sharpe has it totally backward.

Of course owners and players finally got motivated to kneel or link arms or otherwise cause a fuss only after the president of the United States personally insulted them. That's because the president of the United States personally insulted them! If any resident of 1600 Pennsylvania were to tell me what to do, I would start with a one-fingered salute and work my way from there. Such defensive disrespect in the face of presidential overreach is a sign of democratic pulse in our increasingly authoritarian age.

And finally, 9) Culture-war dissidents deserve a shout-out, too. I put out this poll after Trump's initial remarks…

…and was heartened to see not just a healthy numerical variance, but also a bunch of responses complaining that their own specific preference was not expressed in those choices. Which is only right and just. Americans are far more complicated than our biggest Culture Warriors demand.

Alejandro Villanueva ||| YouTube
YouTube

Consider the case of Steelers' offensive tackle Alejandro Villanueva, an Army Ranger and Bronze Star recipient who served three tours of duty in Afghanistan and became an overnight folk hero for breaking ranks with his locker-room-bound team and standing outside for the anthem Sunday. Just as one side of the Culture War was about to name him honorary captain, Villanueva gave a remarkable press conference complicating just about every narrative you might have of the man. Good on him. (And good on Marie Tillman, widow of slain former NFL player turned Afghanistan friendly-fire victim Pat Tillman, for calmly rebuffing the president's attempt to invoke her marvelously individualistic husband in this silly controversy.)

The recipe for getting politics out of sports is not by bashing athletes' politics or demanding that they behave in some particularly political (or apolitical) way. It's by getting government out of wherever it doesn't belong, be it the stadium construction business or the definitionally divisive act of drawing precise boundaries over acceptably patriotic behavior. No politician, or government, deserves that authority, let alone respect.

NEXT: Jeff Sessions Wades Into Debates Over Campus and NFL Speech

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  1. Re first alt text: I’m a rebel, so I googled, and it’s around $500 million.

    1. Do you know how many players made any kind of protest gesture during the national anthem the weekend before Trump called them SOBs? Less than 10.

      Trump trolled them.

      1. Troll Trace won’t have to look too far.

        1. I’m making over $7k a month working part time. I kept hearing other people tell me how much money they can make online so I decided to look into it. Well, it was all true and has totally changed my life.

          This is what I do… http://www.netcash10.com

  2. the protests were nearly dead, that’s true, but this small controversy is a microcosm for the culture war that has been brewing between sports fans and the sports Elites.

    – ESPN suspends and/or fires conservatives; conversely pumps up leftist commentators
    – Elites like LeBron take to the podium to shit all over their fans
    – The “CTE” narrative is designed to destroy football. Don’t doubt me.
    – The “football players are all rapists” narrative has been simmering below the surface for some time, erupting from time to time.

    There is a concerted effort at Leftist Entryism into sports, and the fans are sick of it. Trump, Populist Tribune that he is, is expressing that displeasure.

    1. To add: the grievance from the kneelers never made any sense, was not supported by statistics, and was an explicit attack on white people in this country. the people they were ostensibly kneeling for, such as St. Trayvon, Michael Brown, et. al., are the same people venerated on stage at last summer’s DNC Convention. If you want to blame anyone for this, blame the Marxists and their incessant need to fan the flames of “whites bad, everyone else good.”

      1. Congratulations on making an already unyieldingly boring topic even more meh-tastic.

        [Goes back to watching paint dry]

        That’s not a euphemism. I was literally watching a painting instructional on youtube.

        1. you’re so bored you felt compelled to tell us how bored you are.

          thanks, teenage girl.

          1. Sigh. If Trump took a dump on a baby’s head, you would be on here explaining to us why taking dumps on baby’s heads is an American duty.

            Come on, dude. You are arguing about whether some football players should kneel during a song. For fuck’s sake.

            1. “you would be on here explaining to us why taking dumps on baby’s heads is an American doody.

              Tee… heehee

      2. “whites bad, everyone else good.”

        That pretty much sums up Radley Balko’s twitter feed.

        1. no kidding. we knew he was a leftist in waiting but I didn’t expect him to make it that explicit that fast.

          but then when you leap at the chance to work for WaPo…

          1. Ha, I knew it. Not a new commenter.

      3. You basically started with an idea (I hate the left) and constructed a (terrible) truth table to move the goalposts to prove your point.
        Glen Beck is so 2009.

        1. what do you think my point was? because I’m refuting the assertion that this is Trump’s fault and this is some isolated squabble. it isn’t.

          1. Who said it was isolated? And I don’t see where Trump was blamed for the entire culture war, rather than his role in reviving and fanning the flames of this battle.

      4. To add, the purpose isn’t really to Hate Whitey. That’s more of a means.

        The goal is to divide and conquer the peasants. Divide them by identity politics.

        Let’s see:
        *Black* Lives Matter
        Always makes the biggest stink over the most obviously criminal blacks
        And then decides to make their stink by shitting on the national anthem, generalizing police brutality into America so Racist, Whitey so Racist

        How much more obvious can it be? This is not a strategy designed to unite America against police brutality, it’s a strategy aimed specifically dividing Black Americans from the rest of America.

        1. Led by that fucking Muslim nigger from Kenya!
          (/sarc)

    2. I think you’re really reaching with those last two bullet points, in so far as those are issues substantially related to the protests and the other points. Especially the last one, considering the people mad about the protests don’t care much for the players at the moment.

      Also, I really don’t get the butthurt about LeBron. I don’t give a shit what he has to say about politics, but that goes both ways – meaning I’m not going to get pissed off just because the guy decided to voice his opinion, regardless of whether or not I agree with it. The guy has a right to comment on things, and I don’t see why people should be shocked or outraged that celebrity entertainers they watch might have opinions they disagree with. Are conservative fans of the NBA and NFL really shocked that most players in leagues that are overwhelmingly black have different views on politics than they do? Is it really something to get pissed off about? I can’t help but see this outrage as essentially Conservative Political Correctness.

      1. “I can’t help but see this outrage as essentially Conservative Political Correctness”

        That’s exactly what it is. Since when did the national anthem = the military? And since when did our freedoms only come from the military’s efforts? If you buy either of these dubious conservative assertions, then obviously not standing during the anthem means you hate every American soldier ever.

    3. CTE isn’t a narrative, it’s a fatal brain disease. Football will die because it is too dangerous, not due to some liberal plot.

      1. Do you think it will die? Timetable?

      2. Football will die because it is too dangerous, not due to some liberal plot.

        So consenting adults should not be allowed to engage in risky behavior?

      3. Hope you like curling. With concussions in soccer, and baseball, and… pretty soon the only sport on TV will be curling. And maybe rhythmic gymnastics.

        1. Speaking as someone who has spent my fair share of time cheering and booing in front of the TV set, if the net effect of all this were to put an end to the cultural anesthesia of televised sports that would not be entirely a bad thing. I have stopped watching NFL football … which, after 54 years of being a Packers devotee was not all that easy, but I still enjoy rugby and footy and yes, when I’m insomniac and can find it curling isn’t half bad

      4. We have the anvil chorus of people who don’t want to wait for football to die but are eager for some form of sports euthanasia. Football is not going to die. There are ways it can be made safer (including John Madden’s suggestion that they take away the body armor which only tends to make the players feel invulnerable), and when the League and players think it’s worth it they’ll make the changes.

        But as I’ve said before, with things as they are each athlete gets to make a choice. If he thinks the risk of CTE is not worth the fame and the paycheck (not to mention the sheer joy of playing the sport) then he can find something else to do to put food on the table. The players have heard the statistics, seen the brain scans, watched “Concussion” … and if they still choose to play then that’s their choice. Maybe a bad choice, but it’s their choice and they should remain free to make it.

    4. After seeing progressive bullshit seep it’s way into every part of American culture, it’s good to see American culture hitting back. Progressivism is evil.

    5. CTE = Corporate Thug Entertainment;

      1. Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy

        1. Chronic Traumatic Entertainment.

  3. The president’s populist advisors welcome racially tinged culture war as advantageous political strategy. “I want them to talk about racism every day,” Steve Bannon told The American Prospect just before leaving the White House. “If the left is focused on race and identity, and we go with economic nationalism, we can crush the Democrats.”

    Jeepers.

    1. he’s right, and besides, the Left was going to do it anyway.

      the Left has become this country’s neo-Puritans. when people started fighting back against the implication they were racist, the Left invented Privilege Theory, which says you’re racist whether you like it or not and only absolution can save you, if that.

      That’s just Original Sin.

      you can’t have even a simple article about development in a city without some Leftist Puritan saying, “what about the poor? will they have housing? This is gentrification! Where’s my light rail???!” They take the fun out of everything, because the Personal is Political. Apparently THAT’s the real one-way ratchet.

      1. the Left has become this country’s neo-Puritans. when people started fighting back against the implication they were racist, the Left invented Privilege Theory, which says you’re racist whether you like it or not and only absolution can save you, if that.

        Makes one wonder what they want Trump to do. If ALL whites are racist, what good would it do any white person to say “The Nazis ALONE were bad in Charlottesville”? Why should I, as a white dude, give a shit what happens to other groups, since I apparently hate and despise them? It’s news to me, but whatever.

        They also champion “appropriation” bullshit, which just means that no society has anything that we should hope to learn.

        you can’t have even a simple article about development in a city without some Leftist Puritan saying, “what about the poor? will they have housing? This is gentrification! Where’s my light rail???!” They take the fun out of everything, because the Personal is Political. Apparently THAT’s the real one-way ratchet.

        The funniest part is that they are the ones gentrifying everything. Progs love minorities in theory, not in reality. They work hard to insure they don’t live near any minorities.

        1. Seattle suburbs are running political ads against expanding needle exchange sites to the suburbs. NIMBY.

        2. So what else is new? Abolitionists were great about ending slavery but none of them were known for wanting black people to move into their cities or neighborhoods.

      2. I find the desire for economic nationalism to be troublesome.

        1. You know who else was an economic nationalist?

        2. I find it far less troublesome than progressive control of America.

    2. He laid it out there for everyone to see, and yet, the left keeps playing into it. They can’t help themselves.

  4. Buffalo Bills loudmouth Rex Ryan

    FORMER BUFFALO BILLS LOUDMOUTH!!!!!!

    Please correct as soon as possible.

    1. would you say Matt put his foot in his mouth?

    2. He is ESPN’s loudmouth now.

      1. He has the least credible delivery of anyone they’ve ever put on, and that says something. Stunningly poor delivery.

  5. Villanueva gave a remarkable press conference complicating just about every narrative you might have of the man. Good on him.

    Not sure who finds it complicating that a man bitched at by his coach and most likely other players wanted to get back in their good graces.

    1. American hero to spineless pussy literally overnight!

      1. That was an unexpected bonus. Trump’s brilliant assault on the NFL is collaterally-damaging all sorts of American institutions.

      2. And the worst part? Villanueva just might be telling the truth

    2. It’s disgusting that they guilted and badgered (possibly threatened) a war veteran for paying proper respect during the national anthem. That team is trash, coached by garbage, and owned by shit.

      I hope they suffer greatly for this.

      1. I’m disgusted that people are crushed into self loathing by this crap.

        Much like I’m disgusted that the engineer who helped land a fucking space ship on a meteor ended up groveling for forgiveness for his “sexist” shirt in his self imposed struggle session.

        I’d be happier to believe he was doing it out of fear than true self loathing, but I doubt it.

  6. he archetype for the pro athlete was transformed from lantern-jawed Midwesterners like Mickey Mantle to pot-gobbling longhairs like Bill “Spaceman” Lee

    Almost certainly more interesting than the comments about this controversy: a George Kimball essay on the Yanks/Sox brawl that essentially ended Bill Lee’s career

    1. Fuck Graig Nettles. Dirty piece of shit should have been suspended for the rest of his career.

      Imagine a player today sneaking up behind one of the better players in MLB and performing a suplex bodyslam onto his pitching shoulder – dislocating and breaking the shoulder to the point where he never throws a fast-ball again. The commissioner would ban the asshole for years. The pitcher would sue him for years of lost wages.

    2. Wasn’t Mantle a heavy drinker?

      1. Who wasn’t back then?

      2. Yes. One of his best drinking buddies was Billy “You’re fired” Martin.

        Hey, come to think of it, Trump stole “you’re fired” from George Steinbrenner.

      3. “when mickey mantle’s coach told him to take a pitch, and he wasn’t too hungover to see the sign, he took the pitch”
        -Hank Hill

        1. Always great wisdom from Mr. Hill. In fact, he might be making a comeback…….

          http://ew.com/tv/2017/08/08/ki…..rn-to-fox/

      4. Mickey Mantle: “If I’d known I was going to live this long I would have taken better care of myself.” And so say us all

  7. Primary lesson:
    Realize that this is welcome distraction in Washington, As Usual.

    Obama used to do this stuff all the time. He would say something that would rile up talk radio hosts and FOX and the world would spend 2 weeks fighting about it on cable news.
    The only difference is that americans are now allowed to say truthful and insulting things about the president. Obama was protected from criticism because he was black.

    meanwhile, $20 Trillion in debt, never ending wars, FED policy failures, and untouched entitlements, and a massive bureaucratic-police state. Does anyone understand that this kind of stuff is the key strategy discussion at the white house every day for the last 12 years? .
    Nothing changes because american sheep do what they are told. Currently they are told to give a fuck about a song and standing vs kneeling.

    1. Step 1: Populism
      Step 2: Helicopter Rides
      Step 3: removing all of that stuff you talked about because the communists are gone

      1. explain please.

        1. people who believe in middle class American values are those who want less government. right now, most minority groups are wedges used by the Democrats to hack at the middle class using guilt.

          you need to either remove communist agitators or stop kowtowing to minority groups.

          do you really believe, for example, gay marriage was about equality and love? is BLM really about the almost nonexistent “rampage” of police officers killing black men? no. it’s about the advancement of communism.

          1. So we need to persecute or kill people for political opinions in order to save freedom and limited government?

            1. Probably. The progressives are in large enough numbers to be truly dangerous. they will never, ever stop. They are an existential threat to the constitution and keeping any semblance of our freedoms intact.

              That said, the question becomes; how much is your freedom worth to you? Will you stand up and protest? Will you take up arms if things get bad enough? The progs may force a civil war to save the republic. If you don’t think that’s realistic, look at how close to sing le payer we’ve gotten.

      2. Step 2: Helicopter Rides

        How funny you find this is a barometer of how dangerous the country is becoming.

        It always brings a smile to my face.

    2. i used to think the culture war was a useless distraction. now I see it’s the first step, not a silly diversion.

      who wants less government? look at the polls and put the pieces together.

      1. The vestiges of failed government are class warfare and nationalism.

        I believe we are here.

      2. look at the polls and put the pieces together.

        The same polls that said Hillary would win?

        1. I’m just trying to figure out how a wall, immigration executive orders and more military spending somehow = less government.

      3. who wants less government?

        There’s, like, maybe twelve of us.

    3. Obviously Obama was generally tongue-bathed by the CNNs, MSNBCs, etc. of the world, but are you seriously pretending like Fox, talk radio, and other conservative outlets refrained from insulting Obama for 8+ years?

      1. I think you know what I mean about the differences in free speech and criticism. Free speech was not allowed when criticizing Obama on most issues for fear of being called a racist and I’m pretty sure you know what I’m talking about. In fact, the pendulum has swung so far that the real inequality is the fact that white people are limited in their free speech more than anyone and it does not even need to be on racial lines. Either way, complaining about inequality is a pussy argument especially here where everyone has equal opportunity.

        1. How was free speech limited?

          I agree that many progressives were quick to issue kneejerk accusations of racism without justification in response to criticism of Obama. That didn’t stop Obama from getting a barrage of criticism from the right during his time in office. Partisans defend their leaders blindly and are quick to issue wild accusations, that isn’t limited to one side. How often were critics of Bush and/or the Iraq War accused of being unpatriotic and unamerican? How often were opponents of his counter-terrorism and surveillance policies accused of being pro-terrorist? How many times have Trump fans accused his critics of being anti-American cucks or SJWs? The only difference is that most of the MSM is pro-Democrat. But that doesn’t mean there was ever an absence of Obama criticism in mediums and outlets favorable towards the right.

          1. I agree. My point is that VALID criticism of Obama was withheld from the public discourse among Americans because he conditioned the world to be terrified of criticizing a black man. He used the sheep and media to do so and was quite obvious where you could no go. That is my only point. Of course conservatives reacted like children too but Obama had a special kind of protection. That’s all I’m saying.

            1. And I’m saying that I don’t think anti-Obama people really cared what Obama or the media said about that. When you say people “could not” do or say X or Y I think you’re exaggerating the power of these people. He got criticized plenty. The main context in which people may have withheld criticism is in social groups where most people were pro-Obama. I think that had more to do with the attitude of the left generally than Obama personally, and I don’t think that’s unique either. People are often reluctant to voice opinions that are unpopular in their social setting. They may withhold criticism of any liberal politician or idea out of fear they’ll be viewed as a backwards reactionary. Or on the other hand, people in conservative settings might withhold their opinion for fear of people judging them a godless commie. I don’t necessarily disagree with the jist of what you’re saying, I just think you’re being hyperbolic about the extent of it.

              1. Saturday night live is the easiest example. Satire is one of the most important things we can have in a free society. We had Obama who was every bit as corrupt as Clinton and everybody as much a cronyist puppet as bush. There was comedy gold there and he was untouched for 8 years. We all know SNL is leftist but I think there was abject fear of criticizing Obama for fear of being white producers and actors because of the atmosphere of indirect restricted free speech Obama unleashed on us.

                1. SNL usually went pretty easy on Hillary, who I think is an easier target than Obama because Obama had the “cool factor” and seemed more relatable and less transparently fake to most people than Hillary did. I think that’s a pretty weak example and has more to do with SNL becoming increasingly more biased towards Democrats than anything else.

                  1. But, Hillary was not the president.

                    SNL had 8 long years within which to skewer Obama and to argue that they did not fear allegations of racism, baseless or otherwise, is na?ve.

                    1. Do you think they were going to skewer Hillary? I think they would have made fun of her here or there, but taken an overall softball approach. I’m basing this all of their coverage of the election. Though to be fair, the presidential election sketches are about the only time I ever watch SNL, and I think that goes for most of the people I know as well.

                    2. My guess is you are right. They would have hit her, here and there, but not hard.

                2. It’s far worse than that. SNL isn’t just afraid to touch certain subjects anymore. They’re active boosters for people like the Clintons.

                3. They certainly left on the table some potentially great spoofs against Obama. It was clear they didn’t want to go there and that’s when I stopped watching for good (I watched the opening 15 minutes out of habit and never bothered to PVR to watch the Weekend Updates. As far as I’m concerned, Norm and Miller were the last great anchors. The two they got there made clear they will go after Trump; Obama not so much). Not only that, their tribute to Obama was creepy and cultish. It had NOTHING to do with comedy and everything to do with hero worship. Bacon’s ‘idol of the markets’ was on full display and Lorne Michaels can kiss my ass (him and the freedom medal) for such a dismal display of douchebaggery.

                  What’s the point if your comedy becomes partisan?

                4. Why did you capitalize Clinton and Obama but spelled Bush lower case? Mask slipping?

                  1. No mask at all; he refuses to capitalize Trump either.

            2. “VALID criticism of Obama was withheld from the public discourse among Americans because he conditioned the world to be terrified of criticizing a black man.”

              One of the clearest signs that our nation has achieved sexual equality is the fact that Hillary was so spectacularly unsuccessful trying to play the misogyny card. Then again, maybe it was just too hard to think of her as a woman in the first place.

      2. Hard to say “insulting” when any criticism at all was denounced as racist. Are you seriously pretending that Obama was ever subjected to media scrutiny the way any other American President has been? There was nothing more racist than the coddling that man received, and still receives. As W put it: “the soft racism of low expectations”

  8. The president’s populist advisors welcome racially tinged culture war as advantageous political strategy.

    Why should the left have a monopoly on this political weapon?

    1. Seriously.

      it is laughable to think that both sides are not lapping up this topic. This allows them to get away with their crimes behind the scenes.

      Obama was all about fomenting racial strife and ginning up racial riots. It was his primary achievement I think.

      After all, tell where there is inequality please. What rights do black people not have? What opportunities and achievements do they not have access to?
      besides the fact that once something becomes politicized it is almost always bullshit, this whole thing was a convenience for Obama’s failures to distract and trump is doing the same thing.

      1. Hear, hear on the “where is there inequality”.
        For my entire worklife, I have been told that I must step aside and let black applicants be given advantages that I never had. And that has not lessened, despite the amount of time it has been institutionalized in America.
        What black people complain most about is their mistreatment by law enforcement and others concerned about potential criminality.
        But, from where did this come? Nothing about a people being enslaved, or marginalized through Jim Crow laws, imbues them with a heightened concern, by others, that they will break the law. That has come about due to a propensity of that group to have actually committed crimes in a far greater proportion than their share of the population.
        If black people are mistreated, through heightened scrutiny, and sometimes worse, it is because of their actions, not some “legacy of slavery”.

        1. FACTS AND LOGIC ARE RACIST!

    2. Why should the left have a monopoly on this political weapon?

      The shit never really hit the fan because the Right has always *mistakenly* thought that refusing to fight back was somehow noble.

      One way cease fire is suicide
      One way rule of law is subjection
      One way civility is subservience

      The fundamental change in the Right is the realization that granting the Left the benefit of civilizational principles that *depend* on reciprocity for their function, while the Left *refuses* to grant that reciprocity does not uphold uphold those principles, but betrays them.

      Tit for tat is coming hard and fast.

      1. “Tit for tat is coming hard and fast.”

        I wish. Republicans are still playing by different rules. Witness John McCain’s “reasoning” that it is unseemly to use a strictly party-line vote to pass the repeal of a law that was crafted and passed on a strictly party-line basis.

        Democrats are cynical and evil. Republicans are cowardly and feckless. Libertarians are too wrapped up in the purity of their arguments to attract a usefully-large following. What’s left?

  9. Donald Trump made the conscious choice to revive a near-moribund social controversy for political advantage.

    Bullshit – it was your fellow “journalists” who couldn’t help taking the bait like a catfish after a chicken liver that stirred this shit up. I don’t follow twitter so I had no idea he said anything until 40,000 fucking media outlets puked out 40 million fucking stories on the issue for fucking 72 straight fucking hours – Pearl Harbor didn’t get this kind of attention. Stop feeding the fucking troll! Trump is a goddamn egomaniacal attention-whore who jerks off every time his name gets mentioned in the press and he doesn’t give a shit if it’s positive or negative attention. He just wants somebody, anybody, everybody to pay attention to him and if the only way he has to get attention is by taking a steaming dump in the punchbowl, that’s what he’ll do. Stop talking about whatever shit falls out of his fat face like it means something.

    1. it can’t be the media’s fault because Matt has a mortgage to pay dammit! what do you expect him to do, NOT fluff up the culture wars?

    2. Just to clarify, you are asking a political magazine to not report on the President of the United States of America?

      1. Poor ole Trump had no idea anyone would hear about what he said at the rally. It’s all the damn media!

      2. There are two possibilities.

        1. Trump made something out of something that was already a thing, or
        2. Trump made something out of nothing, with a tremendous assist from all the people who were willing to play along that it was a thing.

        1. A subset of 1 is that Trump took something that was a thing but was becoming increasingly irrelevant and less talked about, and stirred it up to generate controversy. I think it’s pathetic to blame the media for reporting on controversial comments made by the president. It was entirely predictable that people would hear about what he said, and by all signs that was his intention.

        2. Trump tapped into something. Real Americans are sick of progs taking more and more away from them. Now they’ve infected pro football. A lot of people have had enough, and want to hit back, and they should.

          1. shouldn’t you be engaging in the hillbilly circle-jerk at Bietard or the Federalist, Last of the Shitferbrains?

      3. No, just not on President Trump. The more he’s ignored, the better.

      4. Oh come off it. Does said political magazine report on every sentence that comes out of his mouth?

        There was nothing remarkable about his statement about the anthem. He was restating a very prevalent conservative opinion that was already widespread months before Trump was elected, and had nothing to do with him. If anything he’s late to the party.

        But the left (which includes the MSM and apparently the NFL), true to their tone-deaf and out-of-touch nature, saw this as an excellent opportunity to bash Trump. Anybody with half a lick of sense and who doesn’t life in a lefty echo chamber would have known it was not going to be a winner for them, but this is the Left we’re talking about. They had NO idea the sleeping giant they woke up.

        1. What is remarkable is that the antics, that were supposedly dying down, was increased, exponentially, because of his comments.
          Does that mean that the ones, who have jumped on the bandwagon, are “down with Kaepernick’s cause” or just wanting to show up Trump?

          1. Exactly. The only reason this has blown up so much is that they are now protesting Trump. One almost thinks that if he, instead of criticizing the kneelers, he had said something about Ray Rice or Jarvis Landry, a lot of these players would have gone home and beat the shit out of their wives and girlfriends just to show “solidarity.”

  10. This one is a real doozy with 59, count ’em, 59 hyperlinks. This might be a new personal best!

    1. Protip: read this comment in Rain Man’s voice for the full effect.

      1. Definit- definitely a lot of hy- HYperlinks.
        Two minutes to Wapner.

  11. Missed three important points:

    1. Every player on those fields signed a contract – you, know that written commitment that libertarians care so much about – to follow NFL rules in return for compensation. Those rules include a specific one about standing for national anthems.

    Goodell could have fined the players who pulled this crap a few years ago and it would have ended.

    2. The owners of the NFL are letting the employees destroy their brand and repel their customer base. If I owned a store, my employees’ 1st Amendment rights don’t include offending customers and destroying sales – not if they want to continue as my employees.

    3. Of course Trump hates the NFL, he lost his lawsuit against them 30 years ago. Now with a few Tweets, he just had his revenge. This is going to cost them hundreds of $ millions in revenue. Seriously, the league may never recover. Certainly not with the current management in charge. They are now at war with their most loyal customers. That’s not a winnable conflict.

    1. Those rules include a specific one about standing for national anthems.

      Absolutely not true – they can be fined for violating a clause of their contract that deals with their personal conduct if ownership feels it could adversely affect the team, but there is no language in their contract about whether they have to be on the field for the national anthem, or whether they have to stand for the national anthem.

      1. Sheesh, nothing about following THE RULES?

      2. pages A62-63 of the league rulebook:

        During the National Anthem, players on the field and bench area should stand at attention, face the flag, hold helmets in their left hand, and refrain from talking. The home team should ensure that the American flag is in good condition. It should be pointed out to players and coaches that we continue to be judged by the public in this area of respect for the flag and our country. Failure to be on the field by the start of the National Anthem may result in discipline, such as fines, suspensions, and/or the forfeiture of draft choice(s) for violations of the above, including first offenses.

        http://fox59.com/2017/09/25/do…..al-anthem/

          1. It’s true, and the NFL get money from DoD to have their players on the sidelines!

            I skimmed and found a MEME about it here and then decided to perpetuate the “story”

        1. Did you even read the article you linked to?

            1. “SHOULD” does not equal “MUST”

              1. I don’t know if you read the article, but the reason Crusty and I made those comments is because the article specifically points out that the quote he used is made up and does not appear in the NFL rule book.

                1. Roger that.

                2. It’s in the game manual, which is the equivalent of the rulebook for pre- and post-game activities.

                  1. From: http://operations.nfl.com/foot…..overnance/

                    “The NFL Football Operations “bible” is the Game Operations Manual ? nearly 200 pages of procedures and policy for regular season games alone.”

        2. I Can’t Even Think: You and your fellow cracker ass hillbilly crackers have been Ctrl-C Ctrl-V that same snippet into every comment thread about these protests at The Federalist.
          Shouldn’t you be downloading the Big Fat Idiot’s podcast and getting tomorrow’s talking points by now.

      3. That should be added. Progtard activists have no place in pro football.

    2. Do you have a copy of that contract with the language about national anthems?

      I’ve heard about morality clauses, but nothing related to contractual language expressly setting rules about the national anthem.

      1. Just speculating that there is a clause about following League rules which being redpectful during the anthem is apparently one. They fine players for wearing their socks the wrong way so that is not beyond the pale.

        1. so that is not beyond the pale.

          And yet there is no rule.

          1. Are you saying there is no league rule pertaining to the anthem, or playing rules lawyer that if it is not specifically in the contract then League rules are optional?

    3. “If I owned a store”

      But you don’t. So sharing your fantasies about exercising power over other people is pointless and kind of sad. See point #6 in the article

    4. 2. The owners of the NFL are letting the employees destroy their brand and repel their customer base.

      “conduct detrimental to the league”

      It’s unclear whether the owners will summon the will to save their billions.

      Social Justice is cancer. It consume the healthy tissue to feed itself.

      1. Football can survive without NFL

        A new league can be started

        Flagship waiving is a core part of the NFL brand, kneeling teams will get kicked out for destroying brand value. Or more exactly, they won’t be accepted in any new league as NFL collapse. NFL ha sa lot of expense (players salaries being one of the big lines) and will have trouble coping with greatly disminished revenue and audience.

      2. Football can survive without NFL

        A new league can be started

        Flagship waiving is a core part of the NFL brand, kneeling teams will get kicked out for destroying brand value. Or more exactly, they won’t be accepted in any new league as NFL collapse. NFL ha sa lot of expense (players salaries being one of the big lines) and will have trouble coping with greatly disminished revenue and audience.

  12. RE: 9 Lessons from the Trump/NFL Anthem Wars

    But if billionaires were to pay for stadiums, then they won’t be able to afford their third luxury home in Hawaii, pay for their tenth yacht and won’t have the finances for another sports car in the luxury car fleet.
    I don’t think I could sleep at night if that happened.

  13. It’s hopeless. It’s all hopeless.

    1. The leftist protesters in Italy before wwII used to throw rocks at people with suits on or in nice cars. So we have that to look forward to

      Can you imagine when the next president allows the purge on the successful?

  14. Clearly everyone is to blame.

    And I have “poll results” to prove it.

  15. I look at everything through corporate branding. The lowest common denominator as far as offending your customers is best. If allowing your brand to be associated with protesting is a net positive, good. If it’s not, then you should probably rethink your employee contractual arrangements.

    1. I agree. This whole thing is so stupid. If your employee base were all uneducated brainwashed leftists, wouldn’t you kneel with them? On the same note, Capernik affected the bottom line negatively in my opinion and that is why he was not signed. Business is business and Americans are retarded. Thus, kneeling for songs and much outrage. Next distraction please.
      People are still going to watch. I will when I click back to it after I figure this part of the game has passed.

      1. You underestimate the desire of teams to win. If Kaepernick would help a team win games he would be signed (See every talented headcase that goes from team to team because while he is a phenomenal athlete, he is a colossal fuck up when not earning his salary)

      2. At least give the man the respect of spelling his name right. It’s “Kaepernick”

        1. It’s timbo’s intermediate position. He spells “Kaepernick” incorrectly, but he’s willing to capitalize it (unlike Bush or Trump.)

  16. Perhaps the best long sports rant I’ve read!

  17. Industries like professional sports don’t have 2X the customers they need. They make good money in the NFL but can’t afford a quarter or a third of their fans to be tuning out. So many people I know are not watching football, and that’s all they did before. I obviously don’t run with a dynamic crew but I think this is reasonable anecdotal evidence.

    1. And it’s not just along racial lines. Last night had my wife at the ER and was chatting up a couple of security guards, one black and one Hispanic. They asked if I had watched MNF, and I said I had decided to tune it out because of all the political BS. The black guy said “yeah, I want to watch football, not politics” and the Hispanic guy nodded in agreement. OK, it’s a scintilla of a microcosm, but it’s a reality: when sports fans turn on a sports event they want sports not politics

  18. Quick! Someone remind me how protest-generator Colin Kaepernick, LeBron James, Mike Tomlin, and the owners and players of the NFL reacted with outrage when President Barack Obama claimed the power to execute summarily any American citizen that Obama secretly decided was an “imminent threat” who needed to die. Surely the President claiming the power to be judge, jury and executioner in secret was at least as offensive to them as the meaningless tweets of a man whom they all view as a halfwit! Surely they could not maintain their silence in the face of a direct threat to the one right that is even more valuable than the right of free speech’ namely, the right not to be deprived of life without due process of law. I’m almost certain that Kaepernick and James co-authored a scholarly law review article on the subject, didn’t they?

    1. Doesn’t this line of reasoning cut both ways? Have the conservatives outraged by football players taking a knee during the national anthem not ignored far more serious issues such as the ones you mention?

      1. Depends on the conservative. Some are, some aren’t. The ones who aren’t concerned are properly criticized, as you suggest.

        However, the athletes I named have a platform that you and I do not. They have been sanctimoniously talking about using their platform to improve society and oppose injustice. Just as they have the right to speak out, we have the right to question their choice of target. It is certainly fair to ask why those who proclaim that “lives matter,” and who rightly protest against the unjust taking of life, had nothing to say about a President who claimed the unrestricted authority to take anyone’s life whenever he so decides.

        1. Regarding the first paragraph, that number is pretty small, at least when it comes to people who are consistent about it regardless of whether or not a Democrat or Republican is president. I don’t think Average Joe Conservative who is pissed off about the protests was very consistently as passionate about serious violations of liberty from the right as well as the left. But you are right that they do exist.

          As for the second paragraph – again, that could easily be applied to all the conservative commentators up in arms about the protests who have ignored more serious issues. Also, while I do agree that it’s unfortunate that few people are consistent about these things, I acknowledge that it’s natural and normal for people to be more concerned about things that directly affect them or those close to them. And police misconduct is a much more personal, familiar issue for most young black men than War on Terror kill lists that have thus far been used on a few American citizens overseas (again, that’s not to suggest the latter is not a serious issue or that Obama did not deserve all the criticism he got and more over that).

          1. Even though their “cause” is likely bullshit, no one is begrudging them their right to protest. Certainly this is better that the BLM protests that so often take the form of burning police cars and looting liquor stores.

            But since these players are TRYING to show disrespect, it’s pathetic and disingenuous for them to act surprised that we DO feel disrespected. It’s the difference between someone innocently showing you his middle finger, and someone flipping you off; only one carries the deliberate, INTENTIONAL insult.

        2. 2, they have no platform. At least not during a game. they are nothing more than hired help working a job at game time. Which is what the fans expect. A good game with a little bit of pageantry thrown in.

          If these athletes want to do something positive, they should get involved in more philanthropic causes. Maybe get involved in the communities they believe are impacted by bad policing or whatever. Acting like unpatriotic whiners doesn’t help anyone worth helping.

    2. This is what I’ve been saying the whole time.

      Good on these athletes for protesting criminal justice abuses. I support it. Kneel, walk out, do whatever you think is best. There is a huge power imbalance in our criminal justice system and it needs to be corrected immediately.

      But it would not surprise me one bit if these are the same guys who cheerleaded for a president responsible for drone striking hundreds/thousands of innocents. And while our criminal justice system is fucked up, I’d rather be the guy who got profiled but was born in a country where the median earner ($31,099 as of 2016) placed me in the 95.7th percentile worldwide, than a guy who got bombed by a drone for no reason while living in such a state of poverty that most Americans wouldn’t believe exists.

      1. There has always been an imbalance in our — any country’s — criminal justice system, but it isn’t about race. It’s about economics. Crime tends to occur predominantly in poorer parts of the cities. That’s where the police concentrate, and that’s where the “war” takes place. Go to Kentucky and you’ll find the same dynamic, only the ones on the receiving end are white. In fact, the numbers on whites killed by police and blacks killed by police every year are routinely pretty similar. Police go in to enforce the law where enforcement is most needed, their presence is resented, violence tends to follow.

        The “police are slaughtering black people” narrative is false, plain and simple. Yes, police kill people every year. Most of the time, shooting is justified (however unpleasant). Sometimes it’s not. But don’t tell me about what a travesty occurred re Michael Brown or Freddie Grey when even Obama and Holder’s DOJ could not find any civil rights violations in their deaths.

        1. Not only is the original “cause” for these protests questionable (ie, BLM’s claims of an epidemic of racially-motivated police shootings, and the supposedly widespread racial “injustice” of America) but I have a hard time worrying about how our nation is supposedly “oppressing” sociopathic idiots who not only got free college educations, but now make millions of dollars a year playing a freaking GAME! (Are they hoping no one will notice that THEY are the “one percent”?)

          I have visited the stick hut of an old woman who ekes out her living by using her bare hands to shape cow shit into flat patties; when they’ve dried she sells them for 2 cents each. I’ve sat sat on the “furniture” she had crafted by scooping up mud from her “floor.” It’s hard to feel sorry for poor downtrodden Colin Kaepernick and his kneeling NFL buddies after that.

  19. Matt Welch just became the umpteenth political commentator that let Trump play him like a violin.

  20. South Park’s national anthem gag from last year is even more relevant today. People are curious about who’s doing what during the anthem and then tuning out of the games themselves. Personally I may start betting on the protests. That could be fun

  21. According to the democrat progressive marxists, as a white male, I have ZERO privilege, so I am not allowed to speak.

    I hope they do not take offense to my missive as I believe it contains no micro-aggressions.

    But if it does I plead for mercy from Central Committee !!!

    1. According to the democrat progressive marxists, as a white male, I have ZERO privilege, so I am not allowed to speak.

      According to the Republican conservative fascists, black males STILL have ZERO privileges, not even the constitutionally guaranteed Right of Free Speech (defended only fascists, white supremacists and other shameful factions of the alt-right, by our treasonous President)

      If nothing else, we now see so well that some conservatives have no respect for the Constitution they claim to revere, but only when it’s convenient to their agenda … just as they claim to revere the Holy Bible, also only when it’s convenient to their political agenda.

      So, it’s still true that Left – Right = Zero.,

      1. I must have missed some news. Can you please link to the story where the president has asked Congress to pass a law prohibiting NFL players from speaking, or even from kneeling during the national anthem?

        If not, your “Right of Free Speech” complaint is a bunch of irrelevant bull. Let me exercise my right to offer you a big bowl of STFU.

        1. I must have missed some news,

          No … what you missed — in boldface! — is my OBVIOUS ridicule of Rockabilly’s words, which I cited to emphasize the ridicule!
          Ready Fire Aim

          Let me exercise my right to offer you a big bowl of STFU.

          You also have the right to make a public ass of yourself, which you did.

          Look again. HE said HE is “not allowed to speak” … because of his wacko “democratic progressive Marxists” … so … ummm … you AGREE with me that he’s bat-shit crazy … then blame ME for YOUR ignorance.
          Because Trumpster tribalism.

          Anything else?

  22. Rob Tracinski has more, on how these protests mark the logical but depressing end of constant “Resistance” culture. http://vlt.tc/30nh But there’s something more deeply illogical about what Kaepernick and others have done within these moments: they are taking the opposite tack of nearly every successful American civil rights leader. The successful ones have not begun with an argument that America is bad, permanently stained by the blood of the original sin of slavery, conquest, and racism, but rather that America is a good and great thing, and this goodness and greatness is an experiment in self-government in which they want to be included.

    RELATED: The Politicization of Everything ? WSJ editorial. http://vlt.tc/30nu

    1. “The successful ones have not begun with an argument that America is bad, permanently stained by the blood of the original sin of slavery, conquest, and racism, but rather that America is a good and great thing, and this goodness and greatness is an experiment in self-government in which they want to be included.”

      Well, that did occur to me. I’ve always wanted to ask Kaepernick. ‘OK. America was founded on violence and a lie. Slavery was bad. If this is given… Now what? What is your point? What is it do you want exactly? You’ve run yourself into an intellectual (if not moral) cul-de-sac. How do you get out? Or do you want to stay in perpetual outrage mode?’

      Advice? Stop hanging out with pitiful losers with scant intellectual prowess like Linda Sansour and begin to read sources outside your box.

      Read dammit!

      And then read more! Braudel, Russell, Vico – more them, less Zinn.

      But first learn to read the play as QB and maybe you’d have a job instead of putzing along like a ball in a pinball machine.

      1. He’s simply not good enough to justify the shitshow you stir up by signing him. He doesn’t put any team over the top. The same way Jason Collins and Michael Sam were unfortunately fringe players, it would have been way more interesting to see things play out if we were dealing with a guy so good you would be a fool not to sign him. Instead…yeah it makes sense he has no job

        1. The thing they play on, though, is he’s definitely (despite shortcomings) top 64 and should have a job somewhere.

          1. No player “should” have a job. Fact #1 about pro sports: it’s a meritocracy. While I agree that Kaepernick is at least as good as, if not better than, some number of the retreads hacking around the NFL, nobody “should” hire him. Believe this: Nobody is going to surrender a true competitive advantage. If any team owner thought he could get the team into the playoffs he’d sign Kaepernick in a hot minute, regardless of his baggage.

        2. Michael Vick is a good counterexample.

      2. I’ve always wanted to ask Kaepernick. ‘OK. America was founded on violence and a lie. Slavery was bad. If this is given… Now what? What is your point?

        He could say that you’re a pathetic liar and witlessly brainwashed. But Alex Jones is beaming in pride, along with Steve Bannon and Sean Hannity You may even get a cookie!

    2. The successful ones have not begun with an argument that America is bad

      Neither have these. But your eagerness to be brainwashed is awesome to see.

  23. Don’t expect the political class to ever learn the right lessons from the latest controversy. Trump is looking for something akin to a “school uniforms” and “three strikes you’re out” issue for the upcoming 2020 campaign, just like his predecessor did back in the less strife prone, gay 90’s. Don’t expect any action to be taken on the debt or any other real looming crisis, but Trump may still win at political football because we overestimate his opponents and underestimate the public’s disgust with these soap operas. Whoop.

    1. “Trump may still win at political football because we overestimate his opponents and underestimate the public’s disgust with these soap operas.”

      Sad and cynical, but likely true.

  24. What’s a good way to get the public fired up against the sweet deals professional sports gets from spending tax money on their stadia, courts, fields, tracks?

    Shine a spotlight of unpatriotism on them. As can be seen by the backlash from fans, sports fans are a very partiotic bunch. If they perceive the players and teams as being ungrateful to America for the opportunities they have to play and get rich instead of work for a middling paycheck – it’s not going to go well for the professional players.

    So, not one more penny of government money for people to *play games* then turn around and charge insane prices for tickets to watch a bunch of people playing, and for parking and food and everything else they can gouge their customers for.

    They want to keep protesting? Fine. They’ll see their money spigot shut off.

    1. What’s a good way to get the public fired up against the sweet deals professional sports gets from spending tax money on their stadia, courts, fields, tracks?

      This issue is a pretty lame excuse for your rant on something that does not apply here, at all.

  25. I think this is a wonderful display of rights and the free market at work. The players are exercising their rights of freedom of speech, myself and millions of others are exercising their rights as fans to permanently tune out the NFL, and team owners will be exercising their rights as the boss to fire players or reduce their salaries, once advertising and attendance income takes a substantial hit. It will be interesting to see how this turns out.

    1. Hey, as long as CBS moves the new Star Trek to basic cable to make up the lost Sunday night revenue, it’ll all be worth it.

  26. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo asserted three years ago that “extreme conservatives who are right-to-life, pro-assault-weapon, anti-gay” have “no place in the state of New York.”

    No, it’s the anti-gun, SJW, big-brother liberal types in NYC that have no place in NY State. The overwhelming majority (landmass-wise) of NY State could do much better by kicking NYC out.

  27. What do our soldiers fight and die for? Our flag or the individual rights embedded in our Constitution?
    When will Trump start honoring his sworn oath to defend that Constitution?
    Why does our President create these diversions, every time he faces or suffers yet another failure? (two this week)
    And why does he lie so shamelessly — about everything, but here about the cause of the kneelings?
    Why do 70% of Americans see him as having further divided America — including 20% of his own supporters?

    And why are Free-Speech Protests defended for only Neo-Fascists, White Supremacists, and other shameful factions of the Alt-Right? … the same cretins who assaulted peaceful protesters in Charlottesville, as undeniably proven here?
    Since NONE of our military heroes have fought for them? Not ever.

    1. The only thing “undeniably proven” is that you are a moron.

      1. retiredfire|9.27.17 @ 7:42AM|#
        The only thing “undeniably proven” is that you are a moron.

        Anyone who clicks the link will also see undeniable proof that you’re a psycho … and suffering severe denial.

        (Boldface in defense of aggression by a cyber-bullying punk)

    2. “Undeniably proven”?

      When your “source” is something called “Unicorn Riot,” you’ve already lost the argument.

      1. When your “source” is something called “Unicorn Riot,” you’ve already lost the argument.

        P3ORION MAKES A TOTAL PUBLIC FOOL OF HIMSELF … AGAIN!
        Click the link (sneer)

  28. the original point of taking a knee was to protest improper and often lethal use of force by police officers who too often escape punishment.

    BS

    The point is to push the fear, hatred, and resentment of identity politics to divide and conquer the peasants.

    Push The Narrative: Whitey so Racist, America so Racist.

    They don’t give shit about police brutality per se. If you aren’t black and abused by cops, they don’t give a shit. Whitey’s life don’t matter. Black lives matter. America so Racist. Whitey is the Devil.

    1. “They don’t give shit about police brutality per se. If you aren’t black and abused by cops, they don’t give a shit.”

      BLACK LIVES MATTER!*
      *That is, as long as we’re talking about a black life taken by a white person, especially a policeman, and regardless of what the “black life” was doing at the time, criminal or not. As long as it’s a white (or “Hispanic white”) who has killed a black, nothing says “social justice” like stealing TVs and looting liquor stores, or at the very least, cutting class and disrupting your campus.

      But if it’s one of the 98% of young black lives that are taken by other black lives, then no, those don’t really matter to us; no political gain to be made there. The unborn black lives that make up a disproportionate amount of Planned Parenthood’s business? Nope, those don’t matter. Nor do the over 95% of interracial incidents where the black is the aggressor and a white the victim, nor of course any white life taken by another white. Those lives don’t matter to us either.

      1. Goober posts totally irrelevant … stuff … ignores the solid proof on what taking a knee means — WHICH IS THE TOPIC! duh
        .
        I provide a link. He provides babble. But all negro males are fantastic high jumpers and basketball players.
        For any other retards, one black guy shooting another in the ghettos is a fucking stupid justification for murder by a police officer. But blacks.

        Shame on you, too.

      2. We’ve created institutions to address crime, including black-on-black violence.

        We’re doing next to nothing to stop government agents from violating the rights of people, including killing them.

  29. Trump shows he has learned politics very quickly. Wrap yourself in American First, the Flag and the National Anthem. Who opposes the red, white and blue? Just a bunch of highly paid athletes? Not even sure what they are protesting? Police brutality? Trump? Racism from the past? The present? What are their goals?

    Now Trump was just the political opportunist same as most, and the athletes the clueless wealthy that don’t realize that their dedication to their profession earned them a coveted high paying job, the American dream of freedom hard work and success. Trump won from those that don’t care about free expression. The athletes are the big losers, they have a protest with no goals that anyone can identify, pushed away paying customers and if they don’t get fired likely they won’t get new contracts unless they are one of the premium talents.

    The best outcome would be if this creates a massive backlash to public funding of stadiums for a very well off industry that needs to pay their own way.

    1. “Patriotism is the last refuse of a scoundrel”

      As is the senseless linking of this with publicly subsidized stadiums, which only a tiny percentage of Americans would ever think of.. But political fanatics seize any excuse for a rant, to demonstrate …. something?

      In other words, linking this issue to stadiums is precisely the same opportunism as Trump wrapping himself in the flag!
      But opposing tribes.

  30. “to protest improper and often lethal use of force by police officers who too often escape punishment. That problem is real, ongoing, and multifaceted, and President Trump is on the wrong side of it.”
    The authors opinion — “that problem”.

    1. Far-right wackiness … under the fraudulent handle, LeftandRightareWrong!
      PROOF that Left – Right = Zero

  31. No one watching the World Cup or the Olympics will say “Boy, I sure am getting tired of seeing my nation’s anthem being played and our athletes honored at the podium. Tomorrow I’ll root for the Mongolian team instead because they don’t have many fans”. Patriotism and tribe mentality is actually unifies people to watch these sports. And there’s like 10 times more commercials than any action or patriotism.

    “We must honor the flag” is none too removed from “We must stand up to these hate groups”. It involves the president injecting to his subjective opinion and morality. According to the libertarian purism, the president should be doing neither. As long as the players involved are acting peacefully and within the law. But we don’t live in some “objectivist” Aynd Rand society.

    The issue being protested is serious. But a Denny’s waitress can’t take a knee to serve every customer or serve officers with a note that says “Stop shooting black people”. In real life there would be NOTHING unreasonable for customers to plead with the management to stop this sort of employee behavior, or threaten a boycott. But the NFL is a billion dollar business with celebrity athletes, so we have to treat them as if they were some cultural ambassadors o a great cause.

    Trying to extract some libertarian moment out of a pissing match is pointless. The NFL can already fine the living crap out of players for dancing too much and suspend players who aren’t convicted.

  32. Better subtitle: “An exhaustive list of every topic or story the slightest bit related to this controversy”.

    1. “The facts REALLY piss me off.”

  33. F*** the NFL, the athletes, the owners, the networks, the fans, football, the press, the pundits, BLM, the president, the cops, and Reason magazine. If I left anyone out, I didn’t mean to, and so I’ll apologize in advance. But keep your sperm off my flag.

  34. F*** the NFL, the athletes, the owners, the networks, the fans, football, the press, the pundits, BLM, the president, the cops, and Reason magazine. If I left anyone out, I didn’t mean to, and so I’ll apologize in advance. But keep your sperm off my flag.

    1. And up with the people, too!

  35. One thing I know for sure — these protests have revealed a lot of fauxbertarians as whiny-assed Con-Flakes.
    fuck me, if you don’t like players ”disrespecting” your stupid fucking war song and that gaudy piece of laundry, turn off the fucking TV and watch Murphy Brown you hillbilly queers.

  36. A one-sided article that ignores the culpability of Kaepernick & his followers. Since the author missed the reasons why Kaepernick and his followers are to blame, let me state them here.
    1. To protest against our country’s anthem & flag means that the freedoms it offers (free speech, free press, free elections) are not good enough, and we need a whole new form of government. This is a revolutionary position, & implies civil war and violence.
    2. The protestors are leftists that hate America & advocate socialist & totalitarian government. Kaepernick himself praised Fidel Castro, a ruthless communist dictator, and received deserved blowback from the Cuban community and the boos of Miami fans when Kaepernick played against the Dolphins.
    3. The charge of ingratitude toward America is completely justified. American professors on the left are rightly criticized for despising America and preferring socialism while drawing six figure salaries from American taxpayers. Football players make even more than these professors and learned from these left-wing professors to hate America. Unlike the professors, Kaepernick and his followers are largely ignorant of American history, the constitution, the history of ideas; & are merely parroting the ideas of their professors, making their gratitude toward America even more outrageous.
    4. It is completely inappropriate to make political protests at the workplace, and negatively impact the business you are working in.

    1. let me state them here.

      This is NOT Breitbart. Infowars, WND or Fox, troll.

      >To protest against our country’s anthem & flag means that the freedoms it offers are not good enough, and we need a whole new form of government.

      Bat-shit crazy. Nobody protested our anthem and flag. SHAME on you for placing SYMBOLS above the liberties they protects … and saying that EXERCISING a freedom means denying it.

      The protestors are leftists that hate America & advocate socialist & totalitarian government.

      Even f you were NOT a full of crap tribal bigot, rights are UNALIENABLE.

      American professors on the left are rightly criticized for despising America and preferring socialism while drawing six figure salaries from American taxpayers

      I KNEW you would cite TREASONOUS rightwing wackos

      It is completely inappropriate to make political protests at the workplace,

      Only FASCISTS deny EMPLOYER rights.

      Kaepernick himself praised Fidel Castro, a ruthless communist dictator,

      Even if you were not a brainwashed goober, rights are UNALIENABLE.

      and received deserved blowback from the Cuban community and the boos of Miami fans …

      Manipulated, like you. HOW DOES BEING BOOED DESTROY UNALIENABLE RIGHTS?

      YOU are as great a threat to liberty as the people you hate. Traitor

  37. That a President of the United States attacked Americans for exercising the rights his job exists to protect is both perverse and disgusting.

    He’s hands down the worst President in history.

    1. Thanks. I’ll be repeating your first paragraph everywhere.
      Without attribution. 🙂

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