I was going to write a birthday post, but most days I feel like I have profoundly screwed up my life, and I have to deal with the overwhelming sense of dread that comes with thinking about how I’ll never get a do-over. So… I wrote this instead.
2018 is bleak. I don’t really like playing the “better” or “worse” game, because human beings have done (and continue to do) some pretty atrocious things. In certain regards, our current time might be “worse” than the world I was born into 35 years ago today, but, then, Ronald Reagan was president when I was born, so worse is truly a relative term.
Your judgment of good or bad, better or worse, depends on what you value. When you’re trying to evaluate the state of the world, you’ll probably run into internal inconsistencies and conflicts about said values, especially if you do the work of asking yourself if your actions support your values.
But to be pleased with living in the US in 2018, then it seems like you would have to value the following:
That said, we had this coming.
“ESPN is about sports. ESPN is not a political organization.” — ESPN president John Skipper
This has led to me seeing variations of the phrase “politics has no place in sports” plastered all over social media.
If only this were true.
In 2005, the United States Congress held hearings about doping in baseball. Top players testified. Jose Canseco famously admitted to using steroids in the past. Mark McGwire, feeling as though he’d be vilified either way, famously said “I’m not here to talk about the past.”
In 1972 at the Munich Olympics, 11 Israeli athletes and a German police officer were killed by a secular Palestinian terrorist group. They were aided by German neo-Nazis.
In 2015, a movie titled Concussion was made based on a 2009 GQ exposeabout the NFL trying to suppress a forensic pathologist’s research on brain degeneration due to chronic trauma that football players sustain.
In 1991, the Baseball Hall of Fame voted Pete Rose to be permanently ineligible for induction, after he agreed in 1989 to a permanent ineligibility from baseball due to betting on games while he was a player and manager of the Cincinnati Reds. Rose is the all-time MLB leader in hits, games played, at-bats, and singles.
In 2017, TV deals kick in for the Big Ten conference from which athletic departments will reportedly get payouts of $43 million in 2017–2018. Most schools the U.S. don’t profit from athletics and siphon off money from academic budgets to keep pace. College athletes, even at schools that doprofit, are not paid for their work.
If your response to neo-Nazi rallies or domestic terror attacks is to say something like “love conquers hate” or “hate never wins,” please pause and challenge yourself to dig a little deeper into what those words means.
If you criticize people who praise Nazi-punching or antifa or black bloc for defensive acts of violence and say things like “violence is never the answer” or “hate is hate,” please stop and consider more nuance.
And if you are a white person and have the nerve to point out to black people that Martin Luther King Jr. promoted nonviolence, for the love of God, please just stop.
These seemingly well-meaning slogans don’t address the severity and prevalence of everything that falls under “hate” and “violence.”
2017/8/17: An updated version of this piece appears on medium.com.
Donald Trump clearly doesn’t care about governing or know anything about governing. He has never given any indication that he did. Vague statements in his campaign didn’t magically turn into knowledge after the election.
Donald Trump wanted to be president in order to protect and promote his business and the Trump brand. He probably also wanted the power, but we have no way of confirming the latter other than his insistence that he won the election in a landslide [read: he didn’t] and his language befitting of a demagogue. We do have evidence, however, of his financial stakes.
Trump has refused to separate his business interests from his presidency, refusing to put his assets in a blind trust, instead handing over management to his two oldest sons. After the election, the Trump Organization doubled the initiation fee for its Mar-a-Lago resort — which Trump has since called “the Winter White House” — to $200,000. Trump Hotels’ CEO also said, after the election, that they planned to triple the number of Trump Hotels in the country. And that’s just in the U.S. According to the Washington Post, “at least 111 Trump companies have done business in 18 countries and territories across South America, Asia, and the Middle East.”
This is dangerous to the American people. The President of the United States is supposed to represent national interests and not, say, what he stands to profit from a casino or a luxury condo in Turkey. It’s not a coincidence that the Muslim-majority countries on Trump’s first attempt at an anti-immigration executive order were countries in which he has no business investments. The stated purpose of the order was to prevent terrorists from entering the country, even though no terrorist attacks have been committed on U.S. soil by people from any of the banned countries. It’s not hard to connect the dots.
You can find a laundry list of Trump’s business conflicts of interest here. It’s long. And it’s not subtle. My personal favorite is the Chinese trademark dispute that had been going on more than a decade and was magically settled in the Trump Organization’s favor after he became president.
I love this photo. (via ABCNews, Getty image)
For weeks, I’ve been trying to write something about the latent sexism that I hear in nearly every negative claim made about Hillary Clinton. The problem is that I don’t have a knockout argument, and I fear this is the case because sexism is so deeply ingrained in us we can’t see it. We subconsciously don’t want to believe that women can be good leaders.
But I have to try, because I don’t see enough people talking about this (though if you search you can find some op-eds).
As a disclaimer, I’m not arguing that you should vote for Hillary Clinton, I’m trying to show you that institutional sexism is affecting your perception of her.
I read an article yesterday, which explained very clearly (with data and facts!) that Hillary Clinton is generally honest. She is one of the most honest politicians that PolitiFact.com tracks. I think this author’s assessment was probably right, that people fixate on her few untrue assertions: “It seems that people want Clinton to be a liar, and really don’t care that Trump actually is one.”
Using her email scandal against her is beating a dead horse at this point. Her biggest opponent in the primaries was sick of her damn emails back in October of last year. The director of the FBI said it would be unreasonable to press charges. If you’ve ever worked for the government and/or had a government phone, you might think this scandal is ridiculous for the same reasons I do. (I suspect that Clinton wasn’t trying to hide information, but, rather, trying to use her phone[s] in a way that was actually convenient and efficient–the government’s protocols are not.)
Not to mention, in an era of Wikileaks and Panama Papers and an OPM data breach that compromised personal information of an estimated 21.5 million people, do you really believe that cybersecurity is possible? Really? And what do you think was in these classified emails? Do tell, because I love a conspiracy theory.
But as far as I can tell, this is the reason why a lot of people don’t trust Clinton.
Disclaimer: There are spoilers of Captain America: Civil War in what follows. I also realize I’m being a huge nerd about this, and it is necessary to suspend belief to watch superhero movies. Also, I’m a philosopher, not a political scientist, so my understanding of U.N. procedures is rudimentary.
The fictional UN session in Vienna gone awry.
It was curious to me that in Captain America: Civil War the writers decided to use an existing organization–the United Nations–instead of continuing to use fictional groups like the World Security Council, S.H.I.E.L.D., etc.
As I understand it, the purpose of the UN is to do things like mediate and maintain world peace, promote human rights, and protect the environment. So, ideally they are in the business of promoting humanitarianism.
The UN isn’t the world police, and there’s no such thing as a world army. The UN Security Council can use armed coalition forces to maintain peace and security, but those forces are voluntarily provided by nation-states (and the UN can’t force a nation to send troops). The UN also has an International Court of Justice, but it only looks at cases brought about by nation-states against other nation-states (and it doesn’t even really have jurisdiction over them).
So, to have a UN panel that would determine when a group of superheroes would–what? be used as a “peacekeepers”?–is dubious to begin with.
I feel like I should say something about this.
You’ve all seen the video of Hillary Clinton telling a student in Kinshasa, Congo that she doesn’t know what former President Bill Clinton’s view is on a Chinese loan offer to the government of Congo. (See the video on Mark Riley’s site.)
People are criticizing Secretary of State Clinton for snapping, not being poised, even for having a “meltdown.” People are also defending Secretary Clinton by claiming that she was jet-lagged, tired from traveling, etc.
Neither of these responses is very helpful.
First of all, so what if her tone was a little rude by uber-sensitive American standards? Claiming that she was tired might be understandable, but it trivializes the real issue.
Second of all, ignore the fact that the question was translated incorrectly and the student was actually asking about President Obama and that it was sorted out later, because Secretary Clinton didn’t know that at the time. She didn’t say this exactly, but she’s right: Former President Clinton’s view on this issue is completely irrelevant. She is the Secretary of State. She represents our nation on these matters. To ask her for the opinion of the President (or a former President) is to not recognize her as a diplomat.