One President. One joke of a world leader.
There is something happening. Something that people really don’t want to face up to. An ugly truth that we must confront.
The fact is that the United States has elected someone who truly does not care about the rule of law. This is something about Trump that became clear during the primary season, and it is the one thing that really sets him apart from other Republicans. Trump doesn’t even pretend to care about civic virtues. He has never extolled the values of democracy, freedom, law, and the Constitution in general. He has never said anything good about these important American principles because he does not care about them.
And that’s incredibly unusual in American politics. Even the politicians whose ideas I strongly disagree with—such as Ted Cruz or Rand Paul—genuinely care about law and the Constitution. They are fundamental American ideals to refer to. Sure, they can be used as the basis for controversial policies and political strategies, but the simple fact remains that they were present. Think back to Mitt Romney, who was mocked for his pastoral homilies to the virtues of American goodness, and about the blessing that was our law and Constitution. It was funny, but it underscored the fact that Romney at least cared about the rule of law as an idea. Even George Bush cared about it—the White House Counsel’s office would write memos describing that torture was legal. Even though many Americans saw this as appalling, the Bush administration at least acknowledge the importance of the law. If they wanted to do something immoral or controversial, they had to at least justify it in the context of the law. Because the law, the Constitution, and our civic norms are foundational American principles.
Trump is a complete aberration here, and an incredibly dangerous one.
He has waged a war on the free press and media, accusing any unfavorable reporting as “fake news.” He has refused to resolve his countless conflicts of interest. He has issued wide-reaching executive orders that undermine American values. He has brought along with him the neo-nazi Steve Bannon to infiltrate the White House as well. And both have no respect for the office, this nation, or any of its principles.
Law is not something that just happens; It cannot simply run on its own. A legal system can only exist if the people in charge of it actually care about it. Historically, Democracy has successfully fostered a process wherein the people in charge of its institutions have respect for the rule of law. They are bound by it at both an institutional level, but morally as well. However, this doesn’t work if you elect people who simply don’t care. If the people in charge of the police, the military, or the other organs of state power simply do not care about the rule of law, then the rule of law no longer matters. There is nothing a judge or a legislature can do. Many Americans don’t seem to recognize the magnitude of the extraordinary danger that now stares them in the face.
The wolves are in the house. We have had a process set up for centuries that aimed to keep the wolves out. But we let them in. And now we must get them out.
President Andrew Jackson was criticized for his “Kitchen Cabinet,” a group of advisors and friends separate from the official cabinet that he turned to for policy advice and decisions. Jackson was heavily criticized for his kitchen cabinet, and it was a large factor in Martin Van Buren defeating him in the next election.
In a similar vein, President-elect Donald Trump has similar problems surrounding his administration. Trump has a “Laundry List,” a lengthy list of all the controversies, scandals, non-sensical statements, and questionably legal actions and positions that he has taken. Normally, this magnitude of issues would be enough to completely destroy a president’s credibility. However, Trump has somehow avoided this, possibly due to the sheer volume of controversies. Nonetheless, maintaining a list such as this is important in ensuring that these issues are not forgotten or overlooked.
I found this list originally created by Reddit user /u/MaximumEffort433 as a comment on a post about Trump’s ignoring the Government Ethics Office and requests to divest his assets. (Original Comment). I took that original list and have added to it and updated it as Trump continues to make news.
I was considering putting advertising on the page in order to bring in a bit of revenue, but my initial reaction was that it could be a conflict of interest to make money off of this page, which is clearly serving a public need. However, based on the leadership and example of the President-Elect, I guess conflicts of interest just aren’t important anymore…
Per our President-Elect, there is no good way to catch hackers. He tweeted this statement in response to FBI and CIA allegations that Russian intelligence agencies influenced the US presidential election.
Unless you catch “hackers” in the act, it is very hard to determine who was doing the hacking. Why wasn’t this brought up before election?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 12, 2016
He’s right though, just a simple search on The Google for images of hackers shows us just how difficult it is to conceal hacking activities:
I’m glad we have someone so competent and qualified to serve as leader of the free world.
In the wake of the 2016 Presidential election, there has been a lot of discussion on the issue of “fake news,” and the notion of “media literacy.” I agree that these are absolutely important issues to be addressing, but I think that if we’re going to really tackle them head-on, we can’t discount the value of an education in Media Studies.
Written for my Intro to Media Studies course this term at the University of Oregon.
In the aftermath of any presidential election, popular discourse frequently centers upon the election and its results. In both scholarly and non-scholarly environments, people are eager to discuss their thoughts on the election’s outcomes, speculate about its implications, and consider what led up to it. This was no different for the 2016 election of Donald Trump as the 45th president of the United States. And while many topics have been brought up in the weeks following the election, there was a single topic that has come to dominate discussion circles around the nation—the issue of “fake news.” Across the political spectrum, fake news is a hot issue that many people have opinions on, some even considering it chiefly responsible for Trump’s election. Given its close relation to not just politics, but to media in general as well, fake news is an issue that effects nearly everyone.
Coming Spring 1895 to Theaters Near You
In the past, I’ve written a short little post for each movie that I watch. The purpose of this is twofold: one, to make use of the things I’m studying in school and develop my ability to think about and talk about movies, but secondly (and more importantly, perhaps), to have a record of the films I’ve seen. That way I’ll have no shortage of material to discuss when I’m ever at a cocktail party and need to sound smart. Anyway, maybe I’ll get back into writing these, or maybe I’ll just do a few, then lose steam and forget to do it for a while again… neat.
Spotlight || Tom McCarthy || 2016
Spotlight follows the Boston Globe’s investigative journalism team as it uncovers and reports upon the Catholic Church’s allegations of child abuse and the ensuing coverup. While this subject matter (child sexual abuse)is inherently controversial as a hot-button issue, this film truly shines in its portrayal of what I would call the “human side” of traditional journalism. The individual reporters struggle with the difficult topic that they are diving into, and often have difficulty separating their personal lives from their work. In an age where traditional print journalism is rapidly deteriorating, Spotlight serves as a reminder of the important public service that it provides, and the people responsible for making it happen. There was nothing groundbreaking about the film’s cinematography, sound design, or other production aspects; however, its writing and characterization provide an appropriate level of dramatization that present a true story in an entertaining and compelling way.
School is a thing, so I guess that’s why it’s been a while. Busy being a student or something… (whatever that’s about)
Anyway, I’ll probably post some of the shit I’ve been working on. Mainly so that years from now I can look back on all the things I thought I was being edgy and thoughtful on back in my naïve college years.
The following was written for my Honors College colloquia course about US Consumer Culture. The assignment was to choose an everyday object, study it closely, describe it in detail, and discuss its relation to consumer culture.
I have chosen to examine an object that most of us are acutely familiar with, yet likely pay little attention to whatsoever. It would be a safe bet that most people carry this with them everywhere they go, and often without thinking of it—the item is shoved into a pocket or backpack, where its carried until needed. This simple item that I am considering is the pair of headphones that goes with us nearly everywhere that we go.
Specifically, I am looking at my set of white Apple brand wired headphones that were included in the box when I bought my iPhone. Technically, the official product name is Apple EarPods® but they are frequently referred to as simply “headphones.” Their actual design is very simple and contains few separate components. The headphones are a small cable that is wrapped in a small rubber coating. There is a standard 3.5mm jack on one end, and the other end is split to two separate earpieces. These plastic earpieces are advertised as being designed to fit every ear shape, though there is only one standardized design for the headphones. There is also a small control piece along one earpiece’s wire, which contains control buttons and a microphone. The entire product is a uniform white color. The design of a set of headphones is something that most of us know already and are acutely aware of. Therefore, it is initially strange to write out the specific design features, and pay close attention to minute details. However, for someone unfamiliar with the idea of headphones, these things would not be as intuitive.
For someone who these headphones are a foreign thing, even explaining their purpose might prove to be a difficult task. In a general sense, their function is to transmit an audio signal from some source and play it back directly into a listener’s ears. Because the 3.5mm jack is an industry standard, these headphones can be used with a wide variety of devices, such as computers, MP3 players, cassette players, and more in order to listen to different forms of media. However, the real purpose of this item is a little more specific than that—not only does it provide a person with the ability to listen to radio, TV shows, music, and more, but it also makes it so that only one person is able to listen to those things. The purpose of headphones is one of exclusion, and preventing others from hearing and listening to the same things as someone else. Only one person per device is allowed to take part in the media experience.
Culturally, this has many implications. One possible takeaway from this pair of headphones is the incredible degree of sameness that they represent. Everything about the product is incredibly standardized. From the length of the wire, to the shade of white used—everything about my pair of EarPods will be exactly the same as someone else’s pair. This is a product that can be found globally, and every individual set of headphones will be exactly the same. According to critical theorists Max Horkheimer and Theodor Adorno, this sense of sameness is a product of modern-day mass media. Industries mass produce the same products over and over again, leading to the creation of a hegemony, or normalized culture that is accepted as a status quo. Specifically, society has come to accept that individuals listen to their own music, and do so using headphones. In that sense, this product is indicative of a hegemony that we live in and have grown to accept. It has become so ordinary to us, that we no longer question it; in fact, it is such an ingrained part of society that we become uncomfortable when anything challenges the hegemony and threatens to destabilize what we have accepted as the norm. The recent outrage over Apple’s iPhone 7, which contained no headphone jack, and release of new EarPods that use a proprietary Lightning connector instead is just one example of the uneasiness and anxiety that arises from a destabilized hegemony. In this manner, even though the product itself is quite simple—a set of headphones—it can still carry great cultural significance.