Monday, September 18, 2017

Don't Protest Shame Me Bro

Ramblings Post #340
I am, in case this is your first time reading, a Dallas Cowboy fan. Long time fan. Die Hard. When the Cowboys lose don't talk to me the next day  type of fan (see Broncos game). Let Dez score a TD or Zeke break a big run and suddenly "We going to the Superbowl" type of fan. And I realize that the NFL is flawed. I am fully cognizant. Rich old guys own the teams, young black people play. Completely aware. But I grew up in the South. I grew up when one of the most popular shows on TV featured a car with a confederate battle flag on top. I grew up in a town where they had a moment to fallen to the fallen southern soldiers in the town square. And because I was raised bathed in an almost casual racism, I don't see quite the way many others do. It's doesn't mean I'm not mad, it just means I've learned to endure differently. And that's okay. 

Apparently if I'm not completely and totally outraged enough to sit-in, stand-in, go on a hunger strike, chew rocks and march on Washington because (fill in the racial issue of your choice), them I'm a collaborating appeasing self hating respectability politics believing motherfucker and I'm not woke or really down for the struggle. What. The. Fuck. Ever. Because what I am is a grown ass man and I'm of the opinion that if your answer to every injury is burn it all down then I think you're not REALLY listening to what's being said. So, let's clear this up. Am I upset about police brutality and do I want to end the policies where police officers are not being punished for overstepping their authority or committing crimes? Yes, of course I am. Do I think Colin Kaepernick not only had a right to protest, that he did it in a way that was highly visible but not especially disruptive? Yes, it was a brilliant concept. Am I also watching pro football this season? You goddamned right I am. Because while Colin Kaepernick is a stalwart man of purpose and vision who believes in standing up for what he believes in, his protest was to bring attention to his issue. At no point did he say he wasn't willing to play. 

Now, does Kaepernick deserve a shot in the NFL? Considering his QB rating last season, around 90, and the current ratings of some of the starting QBs playing in the league, around 70 or below, then the logic says yes, he should have gotten a shot. Considering the play so far, some GM SHOULD be digging through their trash can right now looking for his number.  

But then, this is football. And if you know how football works, it's not simply how the numbers stack up because if it was there is no way to explain how all those castoffs and rejects end up doing all that winning up in Foxboro. Football judgement is murky, a custom combination of those numbers, a GM or coaches gut feelings, some arcane magic, blind luck and a unwavering belief that a players primary interest in football and football only. Not to diminish Kaepernick's stance, but we're talking about a league that dinged an high potential player who expressed a desire to pursue his opportunity to be a Rhodes scholar in the off season. Kaepernick is a very upfront social activist. Asking a team to hire a player deeply concerned about a social issue that they can't exploit AND who angers a great deal of their most loyal customer base is asking a lot.  

But however, just a a few games into the new season, some of these teams are going to have to make a decision even Kaepernick doesn't have to make: Principle or winning. I don't know how to explain this to a non-fan. Winning fixes a lot. Winners get a great deal of leeway. There are dyed-in-the-wool-name-their-child-Robert-E-Lee-fill-in-their-last-name racists in the south who punch the local sheriff in the mouth if he even thought about arresting the local black star athlete who ensures that his team WINS GAMES for anything less than...well, that's a pretty wide slot right there. Hell, murder is not even a lock if a championship is on the line. But you have TO WIN. And although Kaepernick statistically is a better quarterback than more than few guys who have jobs at this point in the season, unless he's guaranteed to put W's on the board, thereby mitigating they social backlash from their socially unaware season ticket holders (and there are apparently a lot of them) it becomes a tricky question for the Owner and GM. Bring in a better QB (Kap), piss off the fan base and hope he wins games, Or stick to their asinine principle, continue to lose and lose the fan base anyway?    

Money is a powerful thing. But it has no conscience. And no memory. 

I'm of the opinion that a few more games in or the someone else gets hurt and somebody will be desperate enough to have to re-prioritize (see Bengals). The slump in TV ratings and the empty stadiums will only speed things along, provided that the league can package their capitulation properly. And then the rubber meets the road and Kap better win, or then we've got a whole new problem. Would we be just as outraged he couldn't find a job...if he was subpar? Now there is an interesting question. 

I'm not against protesting. And I damn sure don't think Kaepernick should have stuck to sports, after all nobody is telling J.J. Watt to stick to sports. (By the way, Watt is admirable for using his platform to help out hurricane victims - Just like Kap is trying to help his people. Kap started something there.) But protest fatigue is a very real thing. It's hard not to get overwhelmed when it seems like a never ending onslaught. This one, this particular protest, is just not for me. But, let's be clear, here. Should we protest when we as a people are injured by institutional racism and those whose ingrained biases distort their vision of our reality? Hell yes. Every single infraction? Bruh, there isn't that much time. 

Barkeep. I'll not need my protesting libations today. But keep them handy.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Realities in Government : A Critique

This is a political post. 

One of the problems with government running as a business is the business at it's core it is supposed to be designed to maximize and react quickly to changes in it's operational theater. By contrast professional government exists as a kind of national insurance policy - financial, medical, military - required in it's purpose to maintain reserves so that it can mitigate misfortune and disaster and is designed to change slowly. Lost in the shuffle of response, rescue and rebuild is the reality that just before Hurricane Harvey struck, the Republican led Congress was about to gut $900 million dollars out of the budget of country's national disaster response organization - FEMA - using that always prudent (at least to them) kind of thinking that "well, the money is just sitting there," and putting it towards The Wall, the new administration's idea of how border security is supposed to look. It's as though  to them the term "natural disaster" only appeared in CGI heavy movies full of split second escapes made by crazy directors. Then, Hurricane Harvey made that unexpected shift and devastated the city of Houston. And last weekend Irma made Disneyworld close for like the fifth time, ever. 

And our glorious Republican leaders have responded to this massive disruption of life, stability and loss of property, suggesting a tax cut?

Well color me surprised.

But then these are people who swore that government was so wasteful, but seemed determined to treat it like a unlimited charge card and free advertising platform while attempting to destroy so much of it we have no choice but to try something else. It's like the captain of the Titanic purposely ramming the iceberg because using lifeboats will prove who the real men are. This is who is running the country now.

I have long been of the opinion that business and government are fundamentally different, have diverging purposes, and the techniques of success in one cannot be applied wholesale to the other. And very soon we it will become evident to everyone but the most fervent of believers that the reduction in government oversight on a massive scale and the reduction of taxes, instead of a creating a capitalistic libertarian utopia, is almost certain to birth a national version of what happened in Kentucky, Wisconsin and Oklahoma. The less government/less taxes mantra has left a trail of busted budgets, reduction in basic services, and living for some a lot more harsh than even their grandparents remember from the Great Depression. And now we're going to try it on a national scale. My question is what would be enough for them to admit they made an error in judgement? How do you jibe a 50+ billion dollar increase in outflows (military spending) with a reduction in inflows (taxes)? Not one of the current ruling party seems to remember that the Great America they want to get back to, where rampant oppression for everyone not them was a common as kudzu, happened during the absolute highest levels of taxation ever. I'm not even going to get into the political realities of rights and changes in the social atmosphere since then.

And once the hard reality hits that these same people have redrawn the voting districts so that the scoundrels can't even be voted out? Even when they've turned on themselves. We won't even be a representative Republic anymore, much less a democracy. I mean, does anyone else find it interesting that the party in power is working harder to make sure people can't vote than it is to get folks to actually want to vote for them. Just me? Okay, just me.

In it's purest form, running a business is like managing a sports team. Management of the enterprise is a constantly shifting combination of practical experience and gut feeling resulting in a odd mix of proven entities and hoped for future production assets where additions and terminations are regular occurrences and expected by all participants.  Government has to run more like a family - in that a great of those things necessary for continued existence are fixed over time, additions are usually limited, depleted assets must be maintained because that's what you do. Moreover, it does and should takes a great deal of soul searching and agonizing before to committing to drastic action because the consequences cannot be avoided. We are America the family. Not America the sports team.