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When everything is political

Tuesday I painted under the eaves. Painting, unlike most other tasks I’ve been doing, is a good activity for thinking. My random thoughts that day were circling around Nike having reignited the “take a knee” controversy, using Colin Kaepernick’s protest in the most cynically commercial way.

Now, Nike may see Big Bux in buying the face of the millionaire athlete who can now make money off that greatest of all contemporary triumphs — personal oppression. But the thing that’s always mystified me about the entire “take a knee” flapdoodle is why — on the first hour of the first day after NFL players started dropping — team owners didn’t say, “You have a right to protest. But nobody has any right to do so on their employer’s time. Stay on your feet. Protest in some other time and place. Or get benched.”

That should have been sufficient. A few words about “what our core audience thinks of this and how you might be affecting your own bottom line by alienating paying customers” wouldn’t have gone amiss. But it’s a simple fact that any mere mortal who insisted on using his employer’s paid time for a purpose unrelated to and even inimical to his employer’s purposes would have been canned. Why so many billionaires waffled and pandered is a mystery.

This isn’t about free speech or racism. This isn’t about respecting (or not) the American flag, which shouldn’t be mixed up on sports in the first place. This is about business.

But now everything is about the business of politics, which supersedes all other business concerns.

Ayn Rand was prophetic (once again) when she wrote in Atlas Shrugged about the “aristocracy of pull.”

Of course events unfolded differently than Rand could have seen them back in the 40s and 50s. She envisioned a small group of powerful industrialists existing mainly because of their skill with “pull.” And we have those of course (e.g. Elon Musk, not to mention every corporate head who lives or dies on the power of lobbyists).

But what she didn’t see — couldn’t see because nobody could have imagined it — was how everybody down to the most talentless nobody in a university classroom to the most cynical marketer-to-the-public would climb aboard the pull train. Yes, she saw how the culture of pull would empower a whole lot of whiners and screechingly self-righteous morons. But who could have foreseen how far both the whining and screeching would go, and how many beneficiaries there’d be? And how much benefit would accrue to the loudest yammerheads?

Oh, how it pays to be political. And oh, how it pays to be a “victim.” Because of course the two go hand in hand. Being “oppressed” is the surest way to gain influence and power over others in this brave new overgoverned world.


So now athletic shoes are political. And of course Hollywood’s so political that even devoted movie fans like me are considering ash-canning the whole business. And the media is political. And universities have become the black hole of politics. And social media is all-politics-all-the-time. And you can be cast into outer darkness by your friends if you watch the “wrong” YouTube channels or eat at the “wrong” restaurant chain. Because politics. Because somebody or another can claim “oppression” and therefore special rights — and therefore the power to control the thoughts, speech, and actions of everyone else.

It’s not only that business has become political, which Rand foresaw. It’s that every day life has become politicized — by somebody and always for somebody’s private benefit.

And that’s when you know you’ve got not only way too much politics, but you’ve got something worse. You’ve got control by pressure, pull, threat, and fear. You’ve got more of that odious and diseased progenitor of political control — government — than you can ever recover from.


Now back to work in the real world. With real materials. That obey saner laws.


  1. ~Qjay
    ~Qjay September 6, 2018 1:04 pm

    Ahem…. *Points to your bottle of water* let’s not have any more of that mess from last post!

    As for the politics… I’m just trying to stay out of it, there’s nothing to be gained by taunting the people involved.

  2. Comrade X
    Comrade X September 6, 2018 1:52 pm

    *Points to your bottle of water*


    No Google, NFL, Facebook, Nike’s, Dick’s nor Levi’s for me, I’s can’t change the way it is but I sure can control what I bring into my world. Maybe I am the only customer they lose today (but we all know there are a lot more than just 1) but tomorrow those of which they bow down to today will trample them just as the NAZI & Communist of the past has trample every one who ever tried to appeased them too, don’t ya know!

  3. Joel
    Joel September 6, 2018 3:25 pm

    I couldn’t get too worked up over the way the NFL owners acted at first, because they couldn’t predict how the audience would react and I’m told your average trust fund rich guy has been raised to be all oversensitive about white guilt. But when ticket sales and TV ratings plummeted, that’s when I expected them to suddenly rediscover the joys of money, conspire among each other for support, and send out their team managers to put the fear of unemployment in some dim-witted football players. Instead, as far as I can tell without actually paying attention, they continue to waffle. It is a puzzlement.

  4. bud
    bud September 7, 2018 6:05 am

    Not that I have a solution, but (IMNSHO) the reason everything has become political is that the goverment (fed, state, and the majority of local) have their collective noses so far up our butts that “we” have no choice.

  5. Claire
    Claire September 7, 2018 6:45 am

    Exactly. In a totalitarian state, everything has to be political as a matter of survival. The more parts of a society that become political, the closer you’re getting.

  6. Shel
    Shel September 8, 2018 7:43 am

    I’m wondering if the owners are afraid of their employees. One thing that could happen is for them to stage a one game strike.

  7. James
    James September 8, 2018 8:08 am

    The nexus of the glittery sportsball/entertainment/celebrity world with politics takes enough discussion that I don’t think I’ll start out on it in the context of a comment. Maybe I’ll let some hot air and foolishness vent over in the Cabal.

    One thing you mentioned at the outset was how certain kinds of work allow you to do them and get some thinking done at the same time. That is so true! Pushing a lawn mower is nearly perfect for contemplation. And I’ll have to admit that I secretly enjoy shoveling snow for the same reason. In a more recreational setting, doing a century ride puts you in the saddle of your road bike for six or so hours, and on long flat parts, you can get a little thinking done, too. Now, painting … I’m clumsy enough that I have to pretty much keep my mind on that.

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