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Monday Night Owls: 'College football in a pandemic reveals our capacity for Trumpism'

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA - JANUARY 13: U.S. President Donald Trump stands for the national anthem prior to the College Football Playoff National Championship game between the Clemson Tigers and the LSU Tigers at Mercedes Benz Superdome on January 13, 2020 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Fake prez faking the National Anthem in January.

Night Owls, a themed open thread, appears at Daily Kos seven days a week


At The Baffler, Nathan Kalman-Lamb, Derek Silva, and Johanna Mellis write—The Red Zone.

YOU MAY HAVE NOTICED that the United States has been rightly captivated in recent weeks by a hideous and drawn out medical spectacle that began with a judicial announcement on the First Lawn of the nation and has since super-spread through the capitol thanks to the willful negligence of some of the country’s most powerful people. The subsequent infection of dozens of White House and Capitol Hill officials, not to mention the potentially tragic collateral damage inflicted upon a range of staff and workers, has dominated the news cycle and enraged the country such that between it and his belligerent debate performance, the President’s polling numbers took a plunge. In some of the most heavy-handed synecdoche imaginable, seven months of catastrophic public health policy were laid bare in a few days of grotesque political theatre.

Meanwhile, on Saturdays, that same American public has sure as hell been enjoying the return of college football, particularly since the start of the SEC schedule. Here’s the thing, though: college football is bad. Like, really bad. It’s not bad in the sense that all labor under capitalism is bad—the neoliberal hellscape most of us are subjected to in our daily lives. No, it’s that other special kind of bad we might call Trumpist. College football is all the ugliest facets of U.S. society: unapologetic racism, violence, raw exploitation, and endless harm all so that powerful people and institutions can make a buck. It’s no wonder that Trump literally shouted out his complicity in restarting the Big Ten season during the Presidential Debate.

When we see those traits manifest in the White House, so many of us find it intolerable. Yet, when it plays out on America’s campus gridirons, the truth is that most people don’t seem to give a fuck. Indeed, even the righteous disgust expressed by so many this summer over the dangers of college football during a pandemic has been supplanted by an attitude of indifference; the harm has been normalized as banal. This is, doubtless, in no small part because we have already collectively decided it is acceptable to sacrifice largely Black unpaid athletic workers on the football field to fund our universities and, as an Ohio State professor and graduate student put it, “help get us through these uncharacteristically difficult times of great isolation, division and uncertainty.”But it’s time to snap out of it and face up to the fact that everything wrong with America is manifest in college sports. The events that have occurred—and are occurring—in college football are in fact every bit as egregious as the spectacle in the nation’s capital. And they deserve the same level of scrutiny and outrage. [...]

QUOTATION

“The biggest liar in the world is They Say.” ~~Douglas Mallet
 

TWEET OF THE DAY

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BLAST FROM THE PAST

At Daily Kos on this date in 2012—Festering economic boil Phil Gramm says Obama is winning because poor people have it too good:

See there? The reason so so many people are voting for Barack Obama in this election is that they're not hungry enough. In the wake of the Great Recession. When the first sub-eight-percent unemployment numbers have come in in for-freaking-ever, itself a dismally modest improvement that proved so shocking to conservatives that they have all but convinced themselves that it must be a government plot. Why, if we let those 18.5 million people starve, they'd be much more pissed off—and then they'd go out and vote for Mitt Romney!

This is, mind you, the exact philosophy behind Romney's infamous "47 percent" comments: those damn poor people all have it too good, what with social programs designed to allow them to not die in the streets, and of course people like that aren't going to vote for the good, responsible Republicans who want to bring back "dying on the streets" as this century's hot new thing. It does not dawn on Phil Gramm, who is a remarkable idiot by any standards, that the increases in food stamps and other government assistance are the obvious and expected results of a prolonged and utterly devastating economic downturn—no, it must be because we are just being too damn generous these days. This is the world according to Phil Gramm. He then goes on to complain that Obama hasn't fixed all the various things Phil Gramm and his fellow financial wizards have screwed up in the last decade, so clearly it's time to pass the reins to Mitt Romney so Phil Gramm and his fellow financial wizards can get back to screwing it up worse.

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