Monday, May 5, 2014

The Rand Paul Boom

The national political press constantly pumps up scenarios that have no chance of ever coming to fruition. I don't know if they are clueless, cynical or carried away by events. A little of all three I suspect.

The latest example of this phenomenon is the Rand Paul boom, as illustrated by today's New York Times story on the senator squiring Rupert Murdoch around the Kentucky Derby.  Paul, we are told, is the sort-of GOP frontrunner for 2016. His biggest drawback, the political press says, is his less-than-hawkish foreign policy views.

Poppycock. Rand Paul will never be president, and it's not because he questions the Bush-Cheney foreign policy. The oval office is out of reach because he does not believe in the section of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that bans discrimination in public accommodations. That means, if I run a business, I cannot refuse to service people based on their race, creed, national original, etc.

Paul's argument is that it was correct to ban discrimination by governments, but individuals should have the right to discriminate.  But for that right to be fully excercised, the state would have to intervene on the side of the discriminator. Specifically, police would have to arrest or threaten to arrest the person denied service if they refused to leave the business. So in the end, you would have state-sanctioned discrimination.

The moment Paul becomes a serious candidate, this video of his interview on this subject with Rachel Maddow will surface and it will all be over. In the meantime, tens, perhaps 100s of millions of dollars will be spent, and countless words will be written, all for nothing.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

NFL Blues

I just read "Slow to Get Up," a memoir by former NFL tight end Nate Jackson. It's a great book, a revealing look inside pro football from a player, per the book's subtitle, at "the bottom of the pile."

Jackson played six seasons on the Broncos, mostly on special teams and as a backup. His account of the constant pain and suffering endured by the typical NFL player is harrowing. Even as  a non-starter, the list of his injuries and ailments is cringe-worthy. But you can understand the high. Even marginal players like him partake of American's adulation of men who pound each other to jelly for our entertainment. The perks are sweet: VIP treatment at Las Vegas clubs, golf with Playboy bunnies, first class hotel rooms, cash to burn.

I was struck by the odd sense of isolation Jackson experiences in the most team-orientated of games. He's just an interchangeable part, a gypsy ready to move anywhere at a moment's notice. The friends he makes get traded and he never sees them again. He lives alone in a gigantic house. He writes of the affinity between strippers and football players because both live outside of normal society and are subject to impenetrable stereotypes.

The world he presents is in contrast to Vince Lombardi-Green-Bay-Packers ideal of my youth. Books about those teams emphasize the intense bonds formed between players and their coach. Today, it's all business.

The best thing I've read on pro football since North Dallas Forty.