Tuesday, September 12, 2017

NFL Week 1 + Votes in Germany, Kurdistan and Catalonia

The first week of the National Football League regular season wrapped up last night. I didn't see the Monday night games, but I watched all Sunday. My big takeaway is this -- In terms of a unifying story all we have in the United States is the promotion of consumption.

Who knows how long it has been that way? An argument can be made that once a majoritarian belief in "American Exceptionalism" (the Reagan version, the one concocted out of the ashes of the '60s cultural revolution) started to significantly erode with the invasion of Iraq, all we were left with were the myriad car, smartphone, bank, fast food, insurance company, et cetera commercials.

That's why the National Football League is so important. It is the only reliable conveyor belt left for corporate-managed consumption, for the mythology of consumption. The media environment is splintering, while surveillance increases, in the age of the smartphone, but broadcast television maintains a form of regency thanks to the popularity of the National Football League.


Some tricky votes are headed our way in the next few weeks. Not Germany's election on Sunday, September 24. Merkel is coasting to reelection. As noted in Millie Tran's "Need to Catch Up on the German Election? Here’s a Guide":
Jochen Bittner, political editor for the German weekly Die Zeit and a contributing Op-Ed writer for The Times, offered his take on why this election is not making as big a splash as its predecessors this year in Europe. He describes “mass resignation” among an electorate that has “accepted the fact that the country’s national politics are locked in place by a centrist consensus that gives them little choice at the ballot box.”
This of course is the goal of neoliberalism -- "mass resignation" -- the idea being that public policy and government should be left to corporate technocrats who will work tirelessly to redistribute wealth forever upward and automate the masses into obsolescence.

A day after the election in Germany comes the vote for Kurdish independence from Iraq. Tim Arango's "For Iraq’s Long-Suffering Kurds, Independence Beckons" is a sympathetic account of the referendum without any basic information on what is broadly accepted as a power play by president of the Iraqi Kurdistan Region, and longtime autocrat of the Kurdistan Democratic Party, Masoud Barzani. None of the neighboring countries support the independence vote, nor does, at least publicly, the Iraqi Kurds' main patron, the United States. But dismemberment of Iraq has been the U.S. goal, and the goal of Saudi Arabia, since the U.S. lost the war there under George W. Bush. The caliphate might be gone, but its raison d'ĂȘtre lives on with an independent Kurdistan.

Raphael Minder's "Catalonia Independence Bid Pushes Spain Toward Crisis" had not one sympathetic thing to say about the pro-independence movement centered in Barcelona, though there is every indication that it has as much popular support as anything happening in Erbil. The vote is scheduled for October 1, assuming Madrid doesn't somehow sabotage it.

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