Category Archives: DC Politics

Politics and Sports, Peas in a Pod

Pearl River     It’s totally over now.  No way of pretending that sports and politics are not welded at the hip, peas in the same pod anymore.  Of course, this has been true forever, but the cultural and corporate presumption, when it served the interests of power, were to pretend they were separate and totally different.  This allowed sports business to protect a mass consumer and viewer base on one hand, while keeping their thumb on the scale for the interests of owners, which invariably skewed to self-interested entitlement and often archly conservative views.

Think Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, New York Knicks Dolan, or virtually everyone involved with the New England Patriots, if you lost any facilities during the pandemic.  It’s over now because race and union contracts allow players to not only speak their minds, but have the protection to do so.  Professional players are no longer vassals of the owners, sponsors, and networks, so racism in sports where African-American players are a majority like professional basketball and football has erased the rightward political line dictated by the owners.

During the cultural and political wars of the 60s whether civil rights or Vietnam, sports figures were dependable poster boys for the wrong side.  For every Muhammad Ali or Bill Walton, there were thousands of high school, college, and professional coaches pushing the players to keep their mouths shut and their opinions to themselves “for the good of the team.”  Find the lowest common denominator and hold onto it as long as possible.

President Trump is big in the mix here.  He wants to presume that the fan base and his base are the same.  He will never learn and listen, but it is important that this time as he tries to stir up his kneeling controversy, he is encountering aggressive and immediate pushback.  Drew Brees, vaunted New Orleans Saints quarterback, spit out the crow he was eating and had to slap back at Trump trying to use his insensitive and idiotic remark that missed the point about the kneeling protest.  For a change, the spineless lapdog of the billionaire NFL owners, Roger Goodell, also had to admit that he had not been listening and concede that players had the right to protest and that the NFL supported it.  Since Trump is all about inflaming racial division, it is actually important that Brees and Goodell hit his hands with a ruler and told him to finally pay attention in class.

Steph Curry, Lebron James, and a bunch of other big names are clear that police brutality and racism is simply off limits and doesn’t allow silence.  The NFL despite all of the owners’ fulminations, was not able to discipline any players, despite Trump calling for their firing, after their union filed a grievance over the threat.  Stephen Jackson, a former NBA player, has been huge in standing up for his Houston friend, George Floyd, killed by police in Minneapolis.

No matter how powerful the SEC teams are, the days when the politics and culture of sports and the NFL are that of “good ol’ boys” from the South are gone.  It’s been over in the NBA for a while, and now as Drew Brees learned, it’s way over in the NFL.

Sports is not real life, but it’s important in moving the culture. For sports to start pushing politics on race, war, and police brutality so that peoples’ interest is more important than the opinion of power and privilege is actually a big thing.

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We’re So Sorry About Louisiana’s Senator John Neely Kennedy

New Orleans      Those of us who live in Louisiana or care about the role of the state and its people in public affairs are just as sorry as we can be every time our junior Senator John Kennedy tries to take the stage with cameras running to provide the sordid sideshow commentary about the impeachment, the President, or almost anything else.  When Ronald Reagan or Sony Bono were elected to federal offices, it was clear voters, right or wrong, were pulling the lever for entertainers who had become politicians.  Somehow Louisianans who voted for Kennedy, right or wrong, thought they were voting for a seasoned politician to represent the state’s interest in Washington and now discover we’ve humiliated ourselves as he’s decided to act as some kind of cross between country bumpkin, horse’s butt, and total dufus.

He thinks he’s a quipster and comedian of some sort tossing out one-liners here and there appropriate for nothing.  We knew this was coming when he said he would rather drink weed killer than support Obamacare, and he didn’t stop even when many roared, “Please!”  As the Bayou Brief reviewed his act,

It’s part of a carefully, albeit mysteriously, calculated image to portray a well-educated professional politician as a cracker barrel philosopher; a character straight out of the long-running teevee show, “Hee-Haw.” In short, our senator and former state treasurer thinks he’s Grandpa Jones only without the banjo and the droopy mustache:.

Stephanie Grace, a columnist for the local paper in New Orleans in a rarity, stepped out of her comfort zone recently and zinged Kennedy for trying to act the “class clown,” and worse for being a dupe or a shill for the President’s widely discredited Russian coverup fantasy that Ukraine rather than the Kremlin was behind all of the 2016 monkey-business and election interference.  As Grace writes,

…he is a shape-shifter, a worldly scion of Vanderbilt University, the University of Virginia School of Law and the University of Oxford who adopts an aw-shucks demeanor on television, and a former moderate Democrat who put his finger to the wind and tacked hard to the right.

Worse, with impeachment soon heading for the US Senate, who is going hold the hook that pulls Kennedy and his act off the stage so serious business can be conducted?

We’ve been there and done that before, but Huey Long was an original, and that was last century.  He was also a brilliant politician with his finger on the pulse of peoples’ pain and aspirations.  Those were different times.  There’s no going back.

In 2019, there’s no traction in being a cornpone, country hick in a state like Louisiana trying to move forward rather than backward.  Lil’ Abner’s Dogpatch is hardly making it in Arkansas, and only Dolly Parton can be the impresario of Dollywood, but if John Neely Kennedy wants to audition for a part in some atavistic Louisiana hayride role, he should get on with it, rather than practicing that shtick in Congress. The people of Louisiana and America, frankly, deserve better than a comedy act when it comes to dealing with the current tragedy of our government.

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