On Michelle Wolf’s Comedy Routine at the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner

Outside of the context of the extremely high profile of the event and its attendees, I might’ve found Michelle Wolf’s roasts hilarious. But I think they’re troublesome for this reason: We need a more reasonable discourse. Being cruel to the “other side” accomplishes substantially nothing besides producing additional rancor and further entrenching both sides against each other.

Many of the arguments I’ve seen today defending Ms. Wolf are examples of the “whataboutism” that Trump’s detractors accuse his supporters of using in their arguments. “But they called Obama [this], why can’t Ms. Wolf say [that]? But they called Hillary [that], why can’t Ms. Wolf say [this]?” Its usage plagues both sides.

As citizens, we need to be better than this. There are better ways to oppose Trump’s administration than to compete in a proverbial race to the bottom.

Given the setting, I think her humor crossed a line into being cruel. Challenging the Trump administration’s attempts at subterfuge is important; however, the means Ms. Wolf employed seem to have had a deleterious effect. The discussion today is more about whether or not she made fun of Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ appearance than discussing how her comedy broached the fact that Ms. Sanders lies to the American public on a regular basis.

The Trump administration will now become more guarded and defensive because of Ms. Wolf’s words. Effective use of humor should lower adversaries’ defenses, not make them more acute. Ms. Wolf’s humor was ineffective, at best, and cruel, at worst.

A Kleptocrat with a Predilection for Protectionism

Donald Trump’s foolish predilection for protectionist/isolationist policies has been my main substantive complaint of him, other than my complaints that he’s an unabashed kleptocrat and all-around despicable human being.

A certain amount of domestic steel and aluminum production is necessary for national security interests. That production can be subsidized without negatively impacting broader aspects of the economy.

These tariffs, however, will have a deleterious effect on our economy. Things like cars and buildings will cost more to produce and build, which will needlessly increase their prices. Manufacturers will also move to outsource production to avoid the more expensive tariff-laden steel and aluminum.

Trump will surely place an “America First” spin on this decision, but in implementing these tariffs he is actually placing America’s economy last.

There is No Collusion

I don’t see any evidence of collusion among Major League Baseball team owners this offseason. The industry collectively understands more about players’ values today than ever before, thanks to data and advanced analytics. The free agent market is slow because several of the top free agents have not yet been signed, which impacts the market for the lesser free agents.

Player agents, especially Scott Boras, are overvaluing their free agent clients and giving bad advice to wait for unrealistic offers that will never come. Here’s a comparison that may reveal Boras’ unrealistic expectations for two of his top free agent clients, Eric Hosmer and J.D. Martinez:

Career wins above replacement (WAR) per 162 games:

  • Eric Hosmer: 2.2 — Reportedly balking at a 7-year, $147 million offer from the Royals, a $21 million average annual value (AAV)
  • JD Martinez: 2.9 — Reportedly balking at a 5-year, $125 million offer from the Red Sox, a $25 million AAV
  • Lorenzo Cain: 6.0 — Accepted a 5-year contract at $80 million from the Brewers, a $16 million AAV

Also, if we exclude the defensive component of WAR, here are their career offensive wins above replacement (oWAR) per 162 games:

  • Eric Hosmer: 2.5
  • JD Martinez: 3.6
  • Lorenzo Cain: 3.6

It’s worth noting that Cain is three years older than Hosmer and one year older than Martinez. Cain, however, was a late bloomer compared to Hosmer, so he does have less “mileage”, although that’s usually less relevant in baseball.

Net Neutrality

Net neutrality benefits innovation and the greater good by limiting the ways in which Internet service providers (ISPs) can take advantage of their power over the Internet, an increasingly important utility. The Internet has become even more crucial since the FCC reclassified broadband access as a telecommunications service in 2015, thus effectively enforcing the principle of net neutrality.

The Trump Administration has made it a priority to rollback regulations, ostensibly, to allow market forces to nurture innovation and competition. The FCC’s repeal of net neutrality, however, will instead stifle real innovation while allowing ISPs to merely innovate ways to divide and re-package bandwidth in ever more profitable ways.

Regulations are meant to protect the pubic from market conditions that heavily favor one entity or industry so that the greater good is served. The regulation that enforces net neutrality accomplished that goal. The FCC’s decision to repeal it is misguided and will have deleterious economic effects until net neutrality is restored.

National Monument Fail

Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante were designated national monuments because the landscapes and cultural significance of those regions are unique in America. A monument is defined as “an outstanding, enduring, and memorable example of something.” That’s exactly what those regions are. They are outstanding, enduring, and memorable examples of the unique American Southwest landscape that Native Americans called home long before Europeans arrived.

Donald Trump, who has ostensibly never set foot on a non-urban landscape in his life, and the corrupt Republican Utah politicians who listen to oil and gas companies more than their constituents (or, apparently, Utah’s healthy tourism industry, which would benefit greatly from these areas remaining national monuments) are forcing their myopic, foolhardy ambitions upon us by announcing and supporting, respectively, the intention to reduce the sizes of those national monuments.

Trump’s intention to shrink those national monuments is misguided and emblematic of his steadfast determination to undermine the carefully considered decisions of prior administrations, seemingly more out of spite than any carefully considered reasoning on his part. His remarks1 made it clear that he either didn’t know that hunting and cattle grazing are, in fact, allowed in Bears Ears2, or he did know and he lied to make it appear that he fixed something (that didn’t need fixing) to obscure the fact that this gesture is actually about opening these areas for commercial mineral exploration.

Hopefully, legal action will successfully prevent this latest travesty perpetrated by the Trump administration from becoming reality.

Footnotes

  1. “Families will hike and hunt on land they have known for generations … .  Cattle will graze along the open range.” Source: “Remarks by President Trump on Antiquities Act Designations,” Whitehouse.gov, published December 4, 2017, https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2017/12/04/remarks-president-trump-antiquities-act-designations.
  2. “Bears Ears National Monument: Questions & Answers,” U.S. Forest Service, accessed December 4, 2017, https://www.fs.fed.us/sites/default/files/bear-ears-fact-sheet.pdf. In case the previously referenced Bears Ears document is deleted from the U.S. Forest Service’s website, you can access a copy of the document here: https://theanalitica.files.wordpress.com/2017/12/bear-ears-fact-sheet.pdf.

Sexual Misconduct Slippery Slope

Not to diminish true claims at all, but we’re on the slippery slope where someone can claim they were sexually harassed/assaulted by another to ruin the accused’s career and reputation. No proof is necessary—the claim is usually enough. 

As noted in Jon Krakauer’s book, Missoula, false sexual assault claims are rare, so it’s probably worth being on that slippery slope so that deviants can be exposed; however, it’s still a dangerous precedent when the accused has no recourse whatsoever.

%d bloggers like this: