The Expression on Sanders’ Face

I watched Hillary Clinton give the biggest speech of her life tonight, on the final day of the Democratic Convention.   I am stunned that all the talent in Ms. Clinton’s campaign staff could not persuade her to give even a moderately good speech.  It was dull, predictable, and unbelievable.  In a year in which voters seem to crave a politics that feels fresh and authentic and daring, she sounded like one of those bombastic, old-school politicians glibly promising everything on the platform knowing full well that the whole point is to get elected and then do whatever you want.

Occasionally, the cameras showed us Bernie Sanders’ face.  I was fascinated by it.  I have no idea what he was thinking but I know what I would have been thinking.  I would have been thinking, “she has co-opted my movement and she’s not going to enact any of those policies I managed to wrangle into the platform”.  Philadelphia was already infested with the big donors and special interest groups, bankers, pharmaceutical executives, lobbyists, that Bernie was fighting against.  He had that look: the system won again.  It is rigged.

Some of the lobbyists were already at the Clintons’ side, sitting in their exclusive box at the– get this– Wells Fargo Center.

She is not going to do any of the things Bernie Sanders campaigned for.   She is going to start another war or escalate the endless wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.  She’s going to step into the quagmire that awaits her in Syria.  She’s not going to be able to pass the free tuition legislation even if she did really believe in it.  She’s going to make marginal improvements in some social programs in exchange for the usual sell-out of tax bites, exemptions, military increases, education programs that cost nothing and accomplish nothing, and symbolic gestures.

If Obama found Congress hard to work with, I don’t imagine Clinton will find it any more cooperative.  She may have an advantage though.  It is conceivable that Trump will lose so badly and take so many Republicans down with him that she may have more of a mandate, and more cooperation from a Democratic majority than Obama has had in the last two years.  And Clinton has demonstrated a greater ability to negotiate with Republicans than Obama has.  She might be able to peel off a few votes here and there.

And she will likely be able to appoint two or maybe three new Supreme Court Justices.  And perhaps she’ll follow the Republican template and appoint them young, and thereby influence the direction of the court for decades.

She will be immeasurably better than the alternative but still, that sad expression on Sanders’ face, is the look of recognition: the system is rigged.

[whohit]The Election is Rigged[/whohit]


I’ve never cared much for the braying exuberance with which most athletes now celebrate their goals or hits or victories.  I didn’t like Bautista’s bat flip.  I don’t like football (real football) players acting like they just raised someone from the dead every time they score a goal.  Why?  Simple: humility is a good thing.   You are not that great.  You performed an exceptional athletic feat: that’s all.  It’s just a physical ability.  It gives pleasure to your fans but not to the fans of the other 30 teams.  You achieved the ability to perform this feat by focusing all of your energy and passion into an extremely limited range of physical activity thereby depriving you of the opportunity to develop your mind, or your other physical skills.  It is not that great.

In American cities, in the South especially, football heroes– even at the high school level– are treated like gods.  They get the best seats in the local restaurants and never have to wait in line.  They get all the love.  They are treated like Disney Princesses: entitled, privileged, spoiled.  They are Disney Princesses.

I get arguments about this.  The bat flip was wonderful.  It was so much fun. Why shouldn’t he celebrate a great moment in sports?

Well, let’s turn it around.  How about if someone reads and understands a difficult book on economics?  How would you feel if he jumped up and down and screamed and shook his fist and yelled, “I know how capital accumulates!  I’m smarter than you!”?  You would despise him for his arrogance.   How about if he ridiculed one of your favorite movies, like “Shawshank Redemption”, as mediocre, unimaginative, and uninteresting, and recommended, instead “The White Ribbon”?  You asshole!  What if he looked at you with a slight sneer and said, “Really?  Neil Diamond?  You like Neil Diamond?”

Imagine.  In those Southern American cities: here’s a student with an A average: he gets the best table.  He gets the girls.  Strange people recognize him and slap him on the back.  You’ve made us all proud: you are smart.  You are a Princess.

You athletes will just have to wait your turn.







“I would have to be crazy not to see the pattern here.” Egyptian official greatly annoyed by the fact that no evidence backs up his assertion that Flight 804 was brought down by a terrorist attack.

Let’s see: a cow started giving sour milk.  A man had strange dreams that caused disturbing night-time emissions.  The moon looked funny.   A baby died.  I would have to be crazy not to see the pattern here: witchcraft!

A man starts shooting people in Munich.  Another terror attack by a jihadist infiltrating the waves of immigrants from the Middle East!  Keep them out!   Except that it appears to be just another disturbed man with a gun.

Every year, many police are killed in the line of duty.  But in the past month, the news treats every shooting as if it is retaliation for all the black people that have died at the hands of the police in the last few years.

But people of colour do not get to drive around in branded vehicles and in uniforms and they don’t get to pick random white people walking around their neighborhoods and point guns at them and shoot them and escape conviction because an impressionable jury thinks there was a chance the white person looked like he was reaching for a gun instead of his id.



Ortiz’s Fantastical Year

It’s a shame, but I just don’t believe in David Ortiz’s 2016 stats.

He has 24 home runs, batting .326, with a .665 slugging percentage, half-way through the season.   He is 40 years old, 6′ 3″, 230 pounds.

Do you really think it’s possible?  Here:

Williams had one of the best final seasons in MLB history. He hit .316 with a .451 on-base percentage and .645 slugging percentage, with 72 RBIs to go along with those 29 home runs.

What magical thing is he doing that nobody in the history of baseball, or athletics,– except Barry Bonds, who cheated, of course– has ever done? Have a near career-best year at the age of 40, when almost everyone declines steadily from 28 on? The real shame of it is that if he really is as amazing as his numbers appear to be, people like me will never have the opportunity to really appreciate it. It would be awesome to behold, if we could really believe in it.

It’s the same with the Olympics: in those really, really annoying CBC radio ads, the announcer goes crazy– “a new!! world!!!  record!!! in the 200 meters!!!” Who cares? We know exactly why there have been so many new world records in the last few decades.  Why are you all excited?  Are you stupid or what?

Ortiz’s defensiveness in full flower.

It is striking to me how often, in his statements on the issue, he angrily insists not that he would never cheat, but that he has never been caught. They test me all the time and I have never been caught. Why would you think I cheat when I have never been caught? Surely you don’t think I could get away with it nowadays? And that one time I was caught, it was an accident.

There is not a trace of sadness, which I would expect, from an honest athlete who realizes that he can never entirely escape suspicion about his greatest accomplishments because other players have been caught– indisputably– cheating.  This is the paradox of modern sports.  Have a mediocre performance and you’re mediocre.  Have an extraordinary performance and you must have cheated.  Give a really, really amazing performance, and obviously, you cheated.

He also takes on those who accuse him of showboating and egotism– which is, essentially, what people mean by the criticism of batters who admire their home runs–  by arguing that he’s having fun, he used to be poor, now he’s rich, so what’s wrong with having fun– which has nothing to do with the issue.  I don’t care how many people do it– even if they are on my home team– I find it repellent when players admire their own home runs.  It’s like laughing at your own joke, or watching yourself in the mirror at a party to see how good you look, or arranging for yourself to receive honors and tributes as a politician, or making your predecessor a saint.  You’re not that great.  Really, you’re not.  It’s unfortunate that we live in a culture that can’t help but wet themselves over every little athletic achievement, but that doesn’t change the fact that, really, you’re not all that great.

There are handful of players who are great and have great performances.  Their achievements are diminished when assholes like you start strutting around the base paths as if you are godlike.

Ortiz’s stats for his 40th year are really, really amazing.  And they are unbelievable.   And I am the saddest about the fact that if they were real, I have missed out on the pleasure of watching a truly extraordinary performance.

[whohit]Ortiz’s Magical Year[/whohit]

President Trump

There will not be a President Trump.

An over-all majority of Republican primary voters have nominated a buffoon.  That doesn’t mean a majority of all American voting-age citizens would vote for one, even if the competition is an unappealing dishonest failed former Secretary of State.

Clinton may not warm the hearts of American voters but she will strike most reasonable people as reasonably competent, and a lot of ill-informed or foolish voters will lick their fingers and figure out which direction the wind is blowing and vote for the least scary candidate.  When you add those numbers to the minorities who will vote for Clinton in very high numbers– they actually like her!– the idea of Trump assembling a coalition that can win states with a majority of electoral votes is almost impossible to imagine.  Sure, Trump will win Texas and Missouri and Tennessee and Kentucky and South Carolina and probably Indiana, and bunch of other solidly red states.   But Clinton will win California and New York and Illinois and Iowa and other solidly blue states.  And of the states in between, Trump will have to win a huge majority of them to take the electoral college, while Clinton only has to win a few.

President Clinton.  It’s really not that scary a prospect.  The goal of both Clintons has always been power itself– not money or personal advantage or ethnic dominance or fear.  Just power.  And not power in the raw sense, of power for powers’ sake: I think they probably really do like governing and enacting policies and having some success with them and dodging accountability for the failures.  Why not?  It’s fun and gratifying.  But, sure, they love power.

The advantage of this is that they will do what it takes to stay in power even if that involves occasionally making good choices, like raising the minimum wage and reducing college tuition for needy students, or bad choices like “ending welfare as we know it” or invading Iraq.

I refuse to believe that most American voters, watching the buffoon debate the competent but ethically challenged Clinton, will choose a man who doesn’t even understand how treaties work, and only barely understands the difference between policy and legislation, or the judiciary and Congress.

As several commentators have already pointed out, Obama is going to look like your ex when you begin to realize the mistake you made in splitting up.


[whohit]There will Not be a President Trump[/whohit]

Free Enterprise for You Losers

Congress has introduced a bill which will remove certain provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act from application to minor league ball players.  Are you kidding me?

You might ask yourself, if you are a patriotic, law-abiding, constitution-loving American citizen, why is the government rigging the system in favor of the owners of baseball teams?

If you haven’t stopped laughing yet, let’s put the words out there: because they asked them to.  And it has nothing whatsoever to do with donations or lobbyists or anything of the sort.  No, the “Save America’s Pastimes Act”– I am not making this up! — is all about preserving part of our national character, and providing fun for the whole family.

Of course it’s a sop to owners!  Of course the purpose is to increase profits for owners and reduce earnings for players!  Of course it’s an expansion of the rights and privileges of the ownership class at the expense of labour.

And why shouldn’t the government step in to ensure that gullible young men who honestly believe they will win the lottery some day and play in the major leagues (90 % of them won’t) can be exploited by billionaire team owners who already get taxpayer subsidized stadiums from equally gullible tax-payers?  Why shouldn’t they have a hand in the exploitation of young athletes who would do anything for a chance at a professional career?

The moral objection to taking taxpayers money for personal gain only applies to poor people mainly because they lack the vocabulary.  Instead of saying, I need some money to feed my kids and pay my rent because I’m broke and I don’t have a job, you must learn to say, “I wish to invest in the future of our nation and lay the groundwork for a thriving culture of aspiration so that our young people can fulfill their dreams.”

And here is $10,000 for your re-election campaign.  And we’ll call it the “Save America’s Pastimes Act”.

If one of your representatives supported this bill, I hope you vote against him in the next election, if only for this reason: the astounding cynicism of the title of the bill.

[whohit]Free Enterprise for Losers[/whohit]

And Stared Intensely into her Eyes

This is the content of a real case of “sexual harassment” at an American University.  The “victim” of this egregious behavior is waiting for the professor, Wentworth, to be punished.  Here it is:

Hemenway tried to minimize contact with Wentworth after a meeting on 17 February 2015 that she said was particularly upsetting. According to the complaint, the professor repeatedly called her “honey” and “honey bear” and put his hands on hers while complimenting her and staring intensely into her eyes.  [The Guardian 2016-05-27]

The professor also told her that he would never start a relationship with her because she was a student of his.   Young girls, you know, are too…. what?  I don’t know.  Too something to be allowed to choose to have a relationship with an older male.

It is not the law in most jurisdictions.  The law thinks young women can be trusted to exercise their own responsible judgement in these matters.  These young feminist activists do not trust these women.

Anyway, he said, once she graduated, he might be interested in seeing her.  He told her she was attractive.  He complained that some other students had accused him of harassment. Yes, there are other complaints against this professor.  One wonders if they are of a similar nature.  He said I was pretty.  He said he liked me.  He said I was attractive.

Hemenway has succeeded in rousing an outcry: he must be punished.

Here’s an outcry:  is it hard to say, “you’re behaviour is inappropriate and I don’t like it”.  And if he continues: “if you don’t stop I will file a complaint with the University Administration”.  I gather from the gist of the reporting on this issue that Ms. Hemenway felt that she should not have to say anything.  She reports no instances of her telling the professor to bug off.  Would old-school feminists like to admit that she was too weak and helpless and unable to actually rouse a personality in that situation?

Professor Wentworth, apparently, should have known that she felt weak and helpless and utterly incapable of functioning as a student when confronted with such terrifying behaviour. I would be curious to hear Ms. Hemenway’s answer to the question: if women are the equal of men, why are you so weak when confronted with such ridiculously inept and tediously inappropriate behaviors?  You really can’t stand up to it?  You really don’t have enough courage or intelligence to put a stop to it?  Your emotional being is so limp and incapable that you can’t find the words?  How on earth will you ever get along in the world?  How will you ever make tough decisions in the future?

If you are working for some business and negotiating a contract with someone and the person you are negotiating with changes the terms while you are not looking, will you just sign it?  If you are organizing a sporting event and a disqualified runner insists you let him race, will you say nothing and register him and then complain bitterly that he oppressed you?  If you were clerking in an apparel outlet and someone took two outfits into a change room and came out with one, would you say nothing?

Do you see yourself as having potential?  Do you feel that you would be a good employee for a successful company and able to make consequential decisions that affect people’s lives?  Would you ever be able to stand up for someone else, let along yourself, in a similar situation?  Can you envision a future in which you get your way not by being a victim and demanding that other people step in your behalf  and destroy someone’s career because you were horrified by the idea that he liked you, but by standing up for yourself?

Did you pose for that picture in the Guardian, with that expression that appears to be intended to evoke pity?  Do you really want to be pitied?  Do you want to be known for elaborating on just how weak and vulnerable and helpless you are?

[whohit]And Stared Intensely Into Her Eyes[/whohit]