The Fetishization of the American Businessman

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.

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You Don’t Like Hillary Clinton Because She’s A Woman

via ABCNews, Getty image

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.


via American New X

There’s even a chart! (via American New X)

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 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.


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How A Plot Hole in “Captain America: Civil War” Inadvertently Critiqued the UN

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.

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Being an idiot does not preclude you being a politician.

Earlier today, New York Democratic Rep. Anthony Weiner confessed that he did, in fact, tweet pictures of his underwear-clad bulge to a woman. He also confessed to more “inappropriate” (but seemingly consensual) internet exchanges with other women, though he never met any of these women, he didn’t know their names, he hasn’t had sex with anyone outside of his marriage, etc.

If I were his wife, I’d probably be pretty angry that my husband was tweeting such pictures to strangers on the internet and then lied about it, but as a U.S. citizen, I don’t care. I’ve blogged about this before, I just don’t want to know about any of this. Weiner is not my representative, but even if he were, I can’t see why this matters. I’m pretty sure that lewd tweeting doesn’t violate any part of the job description of being in Congress.

Our representatives and senators are all civil servants. Their job is to represent the views of their constituents when making laws. They might have their hands in the pockets of lobbyists and big business, and there may be way too much partisanship in politics for our government to actually function this way, but that’s what their job is – to represent the voters’ views on political issues.

They aren’t supposed to be moral figures, and even if they were, the American public has weird ideas about what constitutes a moral violation anyway. We sit back while they sling mud, lie for votes, take bribes, spend excessively, grow over-inflated egos and spew self-righteousness, but the only thing that ever stops them is “sex scandals.” (Case in point.) I have already seen blogs popping up about whether or not Rep. Weiner will be re-elected, if his career is over, etc.

Of course, this is also a media issue. Sex sells and “scandal” sells and so that’s what we are inundated with in the headlines, having to dig deeper to read stories about actual issues that affect us lowly citizens.

Yes, when you are in the public eye, it is dumb to tweet semi-naked pictures of yourself to strangers, but if we’re going to condemn public figures for their immorality, shouldn’t we also condemn them for greed? Or misanthropy? Or, dare I say, vanity?

Re-election campaign photo?

The Clinton Effect

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.”[1] 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.

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These Men Do Not Represent Me

I can’t take one more slimy, sleazy political figure getting caught with his pants around his ankles[1] and resigning from public office. I just can’t stomach this type of “breaking news” again. I’m not sure what irritates me the most:

  • that public servants are clearly abusing their false sense of power to get laid,
  • that there seems to be a contingent of the female population that is attracted to married politicians,
  • that these politicians only resign when they get caught,
  • that they try to fake remorse in their press conferences after the news breaks,
  • that their wives stay married to them,


  • that to get elected into (and retain) public office in this country you have to put forth the image of the happily married family man (or woman).

It’s probably the latter.

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A Plea to Sarah Palin

If you haven’t heard because you aren’t a news junkie like me, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin is in a feud with David Letterman about a joke he made on his show, about her daughter getting impregnated by Alex Rodriguez during the 7th inning stretch at a Yankees game.

Palin thinks that he should apologize to women and teenage girls everywhere for being disrespectful and disgusting, because the daughter that was with her at the Yankee game was only 14.  Why is this even news?

Dear Governor Palin,

Please fade away into obscurity where you belong.

First of all, David Letterman was obviously not advocating statutory rape.  It is indeed a fact that your older daughter did get pregnant at the age of 17, and that you may or may not have been aware that your daughter was sexually active.  And your daughter obviously was not one of those rare cases where high school sweethearts actually do fall in love as teenagers, get married young, have children young, and stay together for 50+ years.  The joke, Governor Palin, was more about your bad parenting than your children.

Secondly, it’s a little presumptuous on your part to think that anyone knows which of your brood you had with you at the Yankee game.  You’re a public servant, not a celebrity.  While it is unfortunate that anyone’s children are publicity fodder, you might not want to take your underage children to a very public place in New York City when you are in the city for work-related reasons.  If you want to take your kids to a major league baseball game as a family outing, you may want to think about going someplace closer to home.[1]

Finally, having public feuds really makes you look bad.  It makes you look like someone who is sad and desperate for attention, someone who is more concerned about their public persona than doing their job, which, by the way is an important one.  When the people of Alaska elected you as their governor, they probably did so under the impression that you would focus on issues and policy-making that affected them, the people of Alaska, and not that you would try to be the face of the GOP and leave yourself open to be the butt of jokes.

Thank you,

P.S.- Now, if you had gone to the NBA Finals instead, and Letterman made the joke about Kobe Bryant, this might be a different story entirely…

[1] Living in Alaska isn’t great for the professional sports fan.  And the Mariners, to whom you are closest, aren’t doing great this season, but they do play the Yankees during the season, as well as the Red Sox, and they are in the same division as the Rangers, so you could still see a good game with your children, be closer to home, and be away from paparazzi lenses.  Really, no one cares about the Mariners.