Archive for the ‘politics’ Category

Battle of the Sexes Movie

It was great going with members of the Capital Tennis Association to see the movie Battle of the Sexes this Saturday evening. As a gay lesbian and bi group of tennis people, CTA members had multiple interests in the movie’s topics. We knew the people, could enjoy the sport and identify with the character’s same-sex interest. Many of the actors playing small roles, including Sarah Silverman and Alan Cumming, gave the movie extra gay cache. Thanks to the social director and others in the group’s leadership for organizing the two showings.

Only a few of us were old enough to have experienced the tennis match between Bobby Riggs and Billie Jean King when it originally occurred. Most of us recall the spectacle and our thrill over King’s victory, but I also recall the intensity of the Women’s Liberation movement and the backlash it faced from a wide-range of males in the U.S. at the time. King’s victory proved very important to the movement. The movie captures that spirit of the tennis match very well. It shows the way the professionals played the game in that era, with much serve and volley tactics, and illuminates just how much slower it seems the serves and ground strokes were, partially because of the wooden racquets and other equipment disadvantages.

The story is less successful in showing the strength of male chauvinism that existed at the time. We see the feeling embodied in Jack Kramer, who also represents the elitism of tennis that King battles against. However, he does not spout any of the highly vitriolic language and anger that came out of many male chauvinists. Intriguingly, Kramer was a key figure in the establishment of the “Open-era” of tennis which did democratize the sport to a significant degree.

Since it is a movie, it will need to combine events and things to fit into the short time span. Battle of the Sexes melds the founding of the Virginia Slims Tournament with the start of the Women’s Tennis Association which actually happened three years apart. It makes a point of showing that Kramer kicked the women who joined the WTA out of the U.S. Lawn Tennis Association. This supposedly denied the nine women of the WTA access to the Grand Slam Tournaments (Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and U.S. Open). Such an action would have been a huge loss to the women and the sport yet the movie does not discuss it again. King and the others played in those Grand Slams so the denial seems to have not occurred.

At the conclusion, the movie provides a few lines of epilogue to show what happened to the characters afterwards. My husband and I stood agape as the closing did not mention Marilyn Barnett and her famous palimony suit against Billie Jean King in 1981. We mentioned this to the other group members and none of them had heard of the case and how much it cost Billie Jean King in endorsements. Palimony had roots in the famous Lee Marvin and Michelle Triola Marvin in 1977. Other cases include

  • Rock musician Peter Frampton was sued by Penelope J. “Penny” McCall in 1976. McCall asked for half of Frampton’s earnings during the five years that they were together. According to McCall, she gave up her job as a rock promoter and devoted herself full-time to Frampton, right at the time that he achieved superstar status. A New York judge ruled that Frampton and McCall never intended to marry each other and “never held themselves out to the public as husband and wife” and dismissed her complaint on the grounds that to act otherwise would condone adultery. The case set precedent in New York state.[8][9]
  • Tennis player Billie Jean King was sued by Marilyn Barnett in 1981.
  • Tennis player Martina Navratilova was sued by Judy Nelson in 1991.
  • In 1996, Van Cliburn was sued by former partner Thomas Zaremba for a share of his income and assets following a 17-year relationship ending in 1994. Zaremba’s palimony case was dismissed for lack of written agreement, along with claims for emotional distress and that Cliburn subjected him to the fear of AIDS through Cliburn’s alleged unprotected liaisons with third parties.[10][11]
  • In 2004, comedian Bill Maher was sued for US$9 million by his ex-girlfriend, Nancy “Coco” Johnson.[12][13][14] On May 2, 2005, a California Superior Court judge dismissed the case.[15][16][15]

The other omission was the relationship between King and Riggs after the match. After the Battle of the Sexes the two became friends and remained close until his death in 1995. King said she spoke to Riggs the day before he died, and they said “I love you” to each other.

For additional information see or see which cites Selena Roberts’ 2005 book, A Necessary Spectacle: Billie Jean King, Bobby Riggs, and the Tennis Match That Leveled the Game.

 

 

 

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Lobos: Mexican Gray Wolves

Mar 27

Because #LoboWeek: A Brief Look at the Plight of the Mexican Gray Wolf

This week 19 years ago, 11 captive-born Mexican gray wolves (aka lobos) were released into the wilds of New Mexico and Arizona for the first time since they were very nearly eradicated in the early 1970s.  In 1976, three years after the passage of the Endangered Species Act (ESA), the lobo was listed as an endangered species.  From just seven individuals, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) began a captive breeding program to save the species from extinction.  On March 29, 1998, the first individuals were reintroduced in the Blue Range Recovery Area in New Mexico and Arizona.  After more than 30 years of absence, the rarest subspecies of gray wolf returned home to the mountains of the southwest.

To commemorate this close call, ESC and many other organizations around the world are celebrating #LoboWeek by raising awareness and mobilizing activists just like you to help!

Tweet: This week is #LoboWeek! Learn more about Mexican gray wolves and take action to help save them: http://bit.ly/2n9HlCe via @endangered

Despite all this celebrating and 20 years of recovery efforts, the Mexican gray wolf is still critically endangered.  The good news is according to FWS’s latest count, there are 113 lobos in the wild, which is an increase from previous years.  The bad news is that 14 wolves were found dead- some illegally poached– in 2016, making last year the record holder for the most lobo deaths since their reintroduction in 1998.

 

More Bad News for the Lobo:

Genetic Diversity

Every lobo that exists in the wild is a descendant of the seven wolf survivors that started the captive breeding program in the late 1970s.  This means that all the wild wolves are closely related and genetic diversity is very low.  Consequently, their ability to adapt to changing conditions is extremely limited.  Reports of unusually small litters and genetic abnormalities have resulted from the inbreeding.  Until more wolves are released into the wild, these problems will continue, which leads us to our next problem.  New Mexico secured an injunction last year, giving them the power to stop FWS from reintroducing anymore Mexican wolves into the wild.  FWS is in the process of appealing that decision.  Defenders of Wildlife, Center for Biological Diversity, WildEarth Guardians, and New Mexico Wilderness Alliance have all filed to intervene in the case.

S. 368

Last month, Senator Jeff Flake (AZ-R) introduced S. 368 , a piece of legislation that could drive the Mexican gray wolf to extinction.  The bill would authorize states, the livestock industry, and other special interest groups to dictate the terms of the Mexican gray wolf recovery plan, rather than scientists. It would set an arbitrary cap on the number of wolves in the wild and require removal (probably lethal removal) of all wolves over that number. It would ban wolves from areas scientists have identified as necessary to their recovery, like the Grand Canyon ecoregion and the San Juan Mountains. Worst of all, this bill would remove the Mexican wolf from the endangered species list once the terms of the politicized recovery plan have been achieved, even though they would still be biologically imperiled. This bill undermines the ESA by skipping the mandated delisting process required by Section 4 of the Act.

Social Intolerance

The Mexican gray wolf is victim to the same intolerance and scapegoating that other wolf species, as well as other carnivores, are subjected to.  In reality, wolves  are responsible for just a fraction of a percent (.2%) of livestock loss–less than that caused by illness, weather, or even dogs there’s no evidence they kill more  deer than needed to survive; and there is no statistical proof that they are a danger to humans.  All this fear rhetoric overshadows the awesome benefits of having wolves in our ecosystems.  Here are some examples: wolves keep prey populations healthy and even reduce diseases in hoofed mammals, like Chronic Wasting Disease.  They reduce overgrazing from deer and elk, which leads to decreased soil erosion and a stable environment.  They provide food and habitat for hundreds of other creatures, earning them the honorary title of keystones species.  And not to mention that tourism directly related to wolves near Yellowstone National Park contributes $35.5 million to local economies yearly.  Despite these and other benefits, social intolerance still persists and that contributes to a lack of political will.

So, that’s the bad news.  The good news is that it’s Lobo Week and YOU are reading this blog and educating yourself on the rarest and most biologically unique subspecies of gray wolf in the world.  Right now, there are around 113 lobos in the wild that need your help!  Celebrate Lobo Week with me by sharing their story!

Want more ways to help?

  1. Share this blog with your friends and family.  Education is one of the most powerful catalysts.  And how can someone help if they don’t know there’s a problem?
  2. Educate yourself! Learn more about lobos from Lobos of the Southwest, Earthjustice, Defenders of Wildlife, and Wolf Conservation Center.
  3. Join the movement by using the hashtag #LoboWeek on tweets and other Mexican gray wolf related posts this week.  You can find photos, graphics, and badges on the Wolf Conservation Center’s site.
  4. Do you happen to live in Arizona? If so, you are one of Senator Flake’s constituents.  Call him and say that S. 368 is bogus!
  5. Be an ally for wolves by joining ESC’s Species Guardians! You’ll be given the information, resources, and support you need to be a leader for wolves in your state!
  6. Tell your community that it’s Lobo Week by writing a letter to the editor and submitting it to your local paper.  Make sure to include why wolves are important to you.

Passionate folks like you and me are the only thing standing between the lobo and extinction.  Make Lobo Week 2017 count.  Join the movement and get involved!

NHL Forward Thinking Forward

 

Brad Marchand of the Boston Bruins faced an interesting choice after receiving a tweet with a homophobic slur in it. Pete Blackburn explains what the Bruins’ left winger did.usatsi_9743954-vadapt-767-high-0

Towards the beginning of his NHL career, Brad Marchand quickly developed a reputation as being a nuisance on the ice. He established himself as an effective pest and agitator, but also was labeled as “dirty” after a few controversial hits and incidents.

In his arsenal of tactics, Marchand has been known to low-bridge, sucker punch and slew foot opponents. His trash talk game is also tremendous and relentless.

While those aspects of his game haven’t completely been eradicated, in the past few years the Bruins winger has become more recognized for his elite two-way skill. He has developed into a leader for the Boston club and, this past fall, scored the clinching goal at the World Cup of Hockey while playing on Canada’s top line alongside Sidney Crosby.

Marchand, 28, credits that growth to being older and more mature, saying his “priorities have changed” over the years. But it’s not just his on-ice play that has become more admirable.

Recently, Marchand has become somewhat of a champion for people in the LGBT community. In December, the winger was attacked on a Twitter with a homophobic slur. In a since-deleted tweet, Marchand responded to the hate by publicly shaming the person who sent the vitriolic remarks his way, saying “this derogatory statement is offensive to so many people around the world, [you’re] the kind of kid parents are ashamed of.” The response prompted the user to delete his account.

Marchand was applauded for standing up for the gay community and taking a proactive approach to silencing the hate, and ESPN’s Joe McDonald recently spoke to Marchand about the exchange.

“I want to stand up for what I believe in, and I don’t think it’s right when people say things or bash people because of their sexual orientation,” said Marchand, via ESPN. “I have friends who are in gay relationships, and I don’t think it’s right for people to be against that. Everyone is allowed to find love whatever way that is, so I felt like that was a time to say something, especially nowadays. We’re in 2017, and things are a lot different than they were 100 years ago. We’re all evolving to be equal, and that’s the way things should be.”

When asked whether or not an openly gay player would be accepted in an NHL locker room, Marchand delivered a strong vote of confidence in favor of equality.

“Guys would accept that, no question,” Marchand assured. “We’re a team in the [dressing] room and a family. It doesn’t matter what different beliefs guys have, or where they come from, or whatever the case may be. Guys would accept it. Again, in the room we’re a family. That’s the way it is on a hockey team, and that’s the way it will always be.”

There has yet to be an openly gay player in the league, though Marchand says it’s “bound to happen at some point, and when it does, it will be accepted.” The NHL has had a large number of players endorse the You Can Play campaign, which is dedicated to eradicating homophobia from sports, so it certainly appears that Marchand isn’t the only star who feels this way.

NBC, Olympics and Gays

NBC Sports Has A Gay Problem

What the what?

08/10/2016 02:09 pm ET

Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

This article by Cyd Zeigler originally appeared on Outsports.

It’s been apparent for years.

When Australian diver Matthew Mitcham won gold in the 10-meter platform in Beijing, stopping a Chinese sweep of diving gold on the final dive of the sport’s final event, NBC Sports, the perennial broadcaster in the United States of the Olympic Games, failed to mention Mitcham’s partner in the stands despite highlighting the partners of other straight athletes. Even worse, the network failed to mention that Mitcham was the only publicly out gay-male athlete at the Games.

When called on it, NBC first argued that the network doesn’t discuss sexual orientation (despite the historic nature of Mitcham’s win) then offered a terse two-sentence “apology.

Eight years later, nothing has changed at NBC. The network failed to identify Dustin Lance Black in the audience of the men’s synchro diving finals as bronze-medalist Tom Daley’s fiancé. Not boyfriend, not long-time friend… fiancé. And an Oscar-winning fiancé at that (read: public interest). They are, arguably, the “it” couple of the gay community, yet NBC didn’t mention a word.

When NBC broadcast the match of Brazilian volleyball player Larissa França, they followed her to the stands where she embraced her wife. NBC commentator Chris Marlowe’s colorful commentary?

“That is her husband. She married Lili in 2013 and Larissa is celebrating with her pals.”

Her husband. You can’t write this shit. Yet NBC released no public apology, relying on a one-line statement from Marlowe.

At the U.S. Olympic diving trials, diver Jordan Windle was accompanied by his two dads.

“They wouldn’t say ‘Jordan’s dads’ during the finals of Olympic Trials,” Jerry Windle said. “They just said ‘parents.’ Then they wouldn’t show both Andre and I together like they showed other parents.”

Two years ago in Sochi, all of the NBC networks combined offered less than two hours of coverage of LGBT issues, including the new anti-gay law that had been implemented in Russia, during the 18 days of the Winter Olympics. There were mentions of the plight of Russian LGBT people during primetime coverage by NBC Sports, but according to HRC it diminished over time and was mostly pushed away from NBC Sports and onto MSNBC. According to HRC, during two of the Winter Olympic days ― 14 and 17 ― there was no coverage of the issue on any of NBC’s networks.

To be clear, this all goes well beyond the Olympics.

For the last few years NBC Sports has employed an avowed proud homophobe, Tony Dungy, as one of its lead NFL commentators. Dungy has raised money to oppose equality for gay people, has said he “disagrees” with Jason Collins being gay and, in a fit of hypocrisy, said he would not want openly gay NFL player Michael Sam on his team.

Of course the network also employs openly gay commentator Johnny Weir. It’s the one possible on-air feather in the network’s cap. Though Weir’s dress and manner leave some reducing him to the role of clown, it’s a role he welcomes and plays well while also offering some great figure skating commentary. His antics (while I appreciate them) leave many gay people wishing for less.

Still, it’s impossible to make the case that NBC Sports is sensitive to LGBT issues. While NBC has started NBC Out and has a robust NBC-Universal LGBT employee network, that is desperately lost on the coverage NBC provides sports.

While Dungy’s continued employment on NBC Sports’ cornerstone program is a slap in the face of the entire LGBT community, the subpar job the network has demonstrated covering LGBT athletes and issues at the Olympics over the years is downright inexcusable.

There are plenty of opportunities for NBC to recover. Ten days of LGBTI athletes competing and winning lie ahead. Will the network acknowledge their presence? Simply demonstrate the common courtesy to these athletes they show their straight counterparts?

Frankly, I doubt it. Their failure to properly address the Mitcham snub eight years ago, followed by transgression after transgression, shows very clearly that NBC Sports couldn’t care less about gay athletes or gay fans. Maybe ESPN can get in the running to broadcast future Olympics.

For more from OutSports, check out these stories:

Seattle Mariners tell lesbian couple to stop ‘being affectionate’

The first Olympic marriage proposal in Rio is between a rugby player and her girlfriend

Male Olympic gymnasts want to compete shirtless

Also on HuffPost

29 Truly Remarkable Olympic Photos

Best Part of the Debates

After the debate itself, the most intriguing thing is not to see what the pundits think about the Political Campaign Televised debate, but to read what commentators think about the pundits take on the debates. Most of the 26 commentators to the New York Times insisted that the pundits in their view of Hillary Clinton winning last night’s debate got it wrong.

The cynical and exhausted viewpoint is below but it was in the minority:

NYChap

Chappaqua 12 minutes ago

Does it matter? Hillary Clinton was slated to be the Democrats choice in 2016 ever since she screwed up in 2008 and lost to Obama. Hillary will be the Democrats presidency nominee come “Hell or High Water” regardless of what happens as a result of the FBI investigation. I think that is very obvious to all who have been paying attention over the years. The GOP is giving her the election and she is going to sit back and enjoy the ride. What a shame we can’t get our best people into politics. However, I understand why we can’t. Who would want to get into this circus as the main event and get ripped to shreds in public by a bunch of cut throat people who lie for a living.

Most people not only argued that Sanders performed better they expressed how acutely aware they are of the media’s pro-Clinton bias:

Gibson

new york 12 minutes ago

While it was not a runaway success for Bernie, anyone saying that Hillary had the edge must have been watching a different debate. In the first 10 minutes, she struggled to answer a question about holding government officials responsible for Flint, while Bernie was direct in his promise to trim away anyone responsible. Later, she resisted questions about her actions and opinions during Bill’s term, suggesting that words and actions from 20 years ago hold no bearing on the future, that it is foolish to look to the past when looking to the future. And she dodged the (admittedly difficult) question about race and refused to release Wall Street transcripts “unless everybody does,” which is a ridiculous argument. Given how on-point Mr. Cooper and Mr. Lemon were as moderators, I’m surprised they did not push her on this response.

Yes, Bernie was a little angrier than usual, and I agree he came off as disrespectful to Hillary by raising his voice when she tried cutting him off. More annoying still was his tendency to trail off from questions to his more regular stump speech lines about health care and tuition (though this only happened 2 or 3 times). All in all though, my takeaway was that Hillary’s answers were vague and full of platitudes, at worse deflective. I can’t think of an instance where she unequivocally promised any one thing to the audience, even when they asked her too (like the Flint mother demanding action in the first 100 days).

Stop spinning, NYT.

Leon

Earth 15 minutes ago

There seems to be a big disconnect between the pundits in the media and the general public. If you read the NYT or listen to CNN, Hillary “was given the edge” in the debate.
However in a TIME poll taken right after the debate that is still open of more that 58,000 viewers 87 % of them saw Sanders as the winner and only 13 % thought that Mrs. Clinton had performed better.
I find this very interesting.

Panthiest

Texas 15 minutes ago

When Hillary said she’d release her speech to Wall Street “when other people release theirs,” it made me sad to think that she might be the person I will end up voting for in November. While I trust her to support civil and equal rights, she has become entrenched with the 1%.

E. Rodriguez

New York, NY 15 minutes ago

So we’re going to leave out how Hillary was booed when she responded that she was going to keep her speech transcripts secret, that she was absolutely flustered on how to respond when it came to her support of TPP, NAFTA, and other disastrous trade bills. Her lack of enthusiasm for clean energy and acceptance of the woefully inadequate ACA.

These were all things that held her back in the debate, and it’s funny how the pundits conveniently leave out all of Hillary’s mistake but seem to think Sanders had a worse performance.

  • Dave is a trusted commenter Cleveland 17 minutes ago
    “Hillary Clinton Is Given the Edge”

    Passive voice, right in the headline, to dodge responsibility for what is clearly the newsroom’s opinion. Choose a different list of commentators and pundits that you decide matter, or look at the Twitter numbers and online polls, and you could have just as easily written the story “Bernie Sanders Is Given the Edge”.

    And, as some other commenters have pointed out, trying to announce who “won” a political debate is just plain silly when nobody actually knows what the voters thought, and that’s the only opinion that actually matters. But apparently this exercise matters more than what caucusgoers in Maine did, based on the placement and size of the stories.

     

    Carolyn Saint Augustine, Florida 17 minutes ago
    Well, obviously, if it’s the New York Times, it’s going to cherry pick in favor of Clinton, although this piece is milder in its favor. But then, if we had all listened to the media and the pundits instead of our hearts and minds, Bernie Sanders wouldn’t be such a serious contender for the presidency. So, we’ll just keep plugging along despite the lopsided reporting, and support Sanders with our small donations all from average Americans, and enjoy the enormous progress we have made – and continue to make – toward a true democracy and a better nation.

    Reply 16Recommend
    moviebuff Los Angeles 17 minutes ago
    Sanders was more compelling and convincing on the environment, foreign policy, taxes, banking regulation, infrastructure, education, health care, campaign finance reform, fracking, the Flint water crisis and destructive trade agreements. So yeah, of course the Times would say Hillary had the edge.

    Reply 20Recommend
    david root edgartown, ma 18 minutes ago
    Mr. Priebus, Did you watch the Republican debate? I would rather jump off a
    cliff than support one of those candidates. Regards.

    Reply 18Recommend
    Lilburne East Coast 44 minutes ago
    I love Bernie Sanders but he needs to stop waving his finger in the air the whole time Hillary Clinton is responding to a question.

    It seems rude and it is rude.

    Reply 45Recommend
    Rainflowers Nashville 15 minutes ago
    And Hillary, bless her heart, needs to stop shouting and smirking.

    Reply 5Recommend

    ArtUSA New York 15 minutes ago
    I agree 100%. He’s done this in every debate and it’s distracting and intrusive.

    Reply 2Recommend
    SEE ALL REPLIES
    Boonskis Grand Rapids, MI 44 minutes ago
    The stories on “who won the debate” are extremely disingenuous and treat readers as though all they are interested is in performance and not issues. I strongly support Sanders on the issues (climate change, race relationships) and to me the facts speak for themselves. How all the papers are getting that Clinton “did better”, when her answers on these issues are simply “status quo” instead of moving forward, is – to my mind – simply one more reflection of how the media are a little too tight with big business and the status quo. Be honest and give voters the credit they are due: the person who won is the one who is closest to your views on the issues.

    Reply 75Recommend

    serban is a trusted commenter Miller Place 3 minutes ago
    Hillary represents the status quo just as much as Obama represents the status quo. Both are realists that understand that the US is not fertile ground for radical change, there are too many conflicting interests and it is not possible to impose a vision if large segments of the population are opposed to it. Incremental change is possible, radical change without breaking the threads that keep the country together is not. Cruz is the most dangerous candidate because his vision will tear the country apart. Trump is dangerous because he has no clue on how to govern, his only goal is to have his name flashed across the sky. Sanders vision is more appealing as it is at least one that promises a just society, however, it is one that cannot be fulfilled without a mass movement behind it. That movement simply does not exist at this time, enthusiastic young people and progressive democrats are not sufficient. No question that there are people in the US that are hurting and pessimistic about their future, but they are not flocking to him, rather they are going for Trump who is offering scapegoats to blame for their situation. Until those disaffected Americans are brought behind a candidate like Sanders his vision will remain a distant mirage.

    Reply Recommend
    Fred Jones Toronto, Canada 44 minutes ago
    Is it really surprising that folks, who are members of the corrupt elite against whom Bernie crusades, would prefer Hillary, who is one of them after all.

    As a non-member of the US kleptocracy I thought Bernie cleaned the floor with her.

    Reply 73Recommend
    gregory Dutchess County 44 minutes ago
    Hearing the Democratic candidates talk about programs and history and funding and race and so forth was a big change from hearing the Republican candidates call each other names and spout ideological slogans and never mention concrete examples of the problems people face of how they would address them. Building “the wall” and putting our tax returns on a 3×5 card don’t qualify as serious ideas in my book.

    Reply 41Recommend
    Susan Tillinghast Portland Or 45 minutes ago
    These debates have become meaningless. They are about as relevant as waiting to see which candidate wins at tactic toe. Hillary is a master at these things. She is not a master at cleaning up American politics.

    Reply 21Recommend
    linda5 New England 17 minutes ago
    Sanders supporters insisted that Sanders needed more debates so he could show he is , get his name out, etc.
    Now they want no more debates because Sanders comes across as your testy, out-of-touch uncle

    Reply 4Recommend

     

     

Red Speedo: Class Athletics

Studio Theater in Washington, DC is showing, Red Speedo, a play that sparked thoughts of David Mamet’s best works. Like Mamet, the play looks at people from the lower rungs of American society who are trying to reach the American Dream. They have limited talents and few assets and need to maximize their chances at success in the one shot that they have.

The title character has that shot in the swimming pool. He is attempting to qualify as an Olympic swimmer and he knows the limits of his talents. He has chosen to take a path of performance enhancing drugs that raises questions about his morals and his talents. What will his brother, who has been his sponsor, and representative think about his choices and what will he do? More significantly, he has a coach who is struggling to keep the swim club financially afloat. Will he discover this indiscretion? The lead’s love interest also has an intriguing back history and perspective to be taken into account as well.

We’ve had many of these athletes who has crossed this line, beginning with the Oakland A’s Bash Brothers to San Francisco Giants Barry Bonds. Most notably were cultural icons, like cyclist and philanthropist Lance Armstrong and Alex Rodriguez of the New York Yankees. All deny the activity, worse they fight their accusers to the point of ruining them financially and their reputations, all while knowing that they did take the drugs.

What’s more compelling about the job that playwright Lucas Hnath and director Lila Neugebauer have done is that they have shown how the thinking of the athlete works to justify the taking of the drugs. They have shown how others surrounding the athlete come to terms with tacitly and knowingly accepting this behavior.

The set was sharp, you could smell chlorine when you walked up the staircase. The performances by Frank Boyd, Harry Winter, and Laura C. Harris were strong. Of particularly note was Thomas Jay Ryan, as the older brother.

What made this play powerful was the inclusion of today’s class system in the U.S. Though warped, the older brother’s disquisition on the need to be rich in the US was worth the price of admission.

Sex, Politics and Sports

Busboys and Poets in the District featured a discussion with Dave Zirin, sports editor of The Nation, magazine and the first open trans NCAA athlete last night.  Kye Allums played basketball at George Washington University.

alums

In November 2010, he announced his trans status. A very animated speaker, Allums said he took the step because other players on the team would not come out about their relationships. He had enough of that so he decided to make it easier on the other players by starting the coming out process.

Zirin and Allums discussed LGBTQ issues in sports and Zirin’s newest book, Game Over: How Politics Has Turned the Sports World Upside Down. Zirin has written about politics and sport team owners, noting the tax breaks and subsidies that they receive for new stadiums from the public treasuries. He has also documented the political stances many of team owners have taken, ranging from George Steinbrenner and his contribution excesses to the Christian conservative values of the owners of the Colorado Rockies of Major League Baseball and the Orlando Magic of the NBA.

Last night, Zirin offered a good summary of the connections between masculinity, heterosexuality and being proficient in sports. Starting with Muscular Christianity and eugenics in the late 19th century, through the arguments against lesbians coming out in college basketball, American culture has promoted the social good of the supposed connections between gender norms, sexual norms, and playing, or in women’s case, not playing sports.

Parade Magazine and ts What Do People Earn: What People Think?

Parade Magazine every once in awhile shows all the readers of its Sunday magazine how much a variety of Americans earn in the US. You can deduce from that information, which Americans have the best chance of having the wealth in the country: owning stocks and bonds, real estate, etc.

But, surprise, most people in the U.S. don’t know how much wealth others have.  This chart is from a paper called “Building a Better America One Wealth Quintile at a Time” by Dan Ariely and Michael I. Norton. The first line shows the actual distribution of wealth in the US. The tops 20% hold over 85% of the land, assets, etc. Yet, folks perceptions are way off. Find your estimated income and then look at the chart to see how close your income group comes to knowing how the money is spread in the US.

Best of all, look at how the various income groups and voters think that the income ought to be distributed in the US. It is so different from the way it is, that the disconnect is not funny but pathetic.

post_full_1285695177Realvs.ImaginedWealthDistributionintheU

What Recovery?

Have the last few years since the Recession in 2007-2009 gotten better for you? Hear all the television news reports crowing about the growth in jobs, and unemployment dropping below 8%?

Well, here’s news, 99% of Americans lost 0.4 percent of their income since the Recovery. The top 1% have gained over 11% in their income over the same period.

See:

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/16/business/economy/income-gains-after-recession-went-mostly-to-top-1.html?_r=0

Compassion for Others?

With all the talk in Washington and in Wall Street about the need to cut Medicare, Medicare and Social Security, one has to wonder where is the concern fora nyone other than theirselves? The economic gains made during the last few years have gone disproportionately to these same people who want to cut the government’s benefits to others. The wealthiest 1% of Americans gained 125% of the growth. Which means the rest of the 99% got only 75% of that growth.

This is bad policy in an American economy that gets 70% of its growth from consumer spending. How do you spend when you’re unemployed, underemployed, or getting less even if you have a significant job! But ultimately, the key question to ask the one percent is: Where is the concern for others in general?

As many people know, the old days, (the 1950s through 1970s) when the company provided a pension for an employee are long gone. That was a big portion of the retirement nest egg and it was taken away from employees by companies that wanted to maximize profits so that their stock prices would go up. The stockholders would get wealthier on the back of the companies retired employees.

Columnist Harold Meyerson illuminates this point in the editorial below:

To the let’s-cut-entitlements crowd, what’s wrong with America is that seniors are living too high off the hog. With the cost of medical care still rising (though not as fast as it used to), the government is shelling out many more dollars per geezer (DPG) than it is per youngster (DPY). The solution, we’re told, is to bring down DPG so we can boost DPY.

We do indeed need to boost DPY. And we need to rein in medical costs by shifting away from the fee-for-service model of billing and paying. But as for changing the way we calculate cost-of-living adjustments for seniors to keep us from overpaying them — an idea beloved of Bowles, Simpson, Republicans and, apparently, the White House — this may not be such a hot idea, for one simple reason: An increasing number of seniors can’t afford to retire.

Nearly one in five Americans age 65 and over — 18.5 percent — were working in 2012, and that percentage has been rising steadily for nearly 30 years. In 1985, only 10.8 percent of Americans 65 and older were still on the job, and in 1995, that figure was 12.1 percent.

Both good news and bad news have contributed to this increase. The good news is that more seniors both can and want to work than in years past, as health care and medical science have extended their capabilities, and as the share of Americans in desk jobs has increased while the number on the factory floor has shrunk. A 2011 survey by the Society of Actuaries reported that 55 percent of working seniors said they had stayed employed because they wanted to stay active and involved. But the same survey showed that 51 percent were working because they needed the money.

What advocates for reducing Social Security adjustments fail to consider is that corporate America’s shift away from defined-benefit pensions to defined-contribution 401(k) plans — or to no retirement plans at all — has diminished seniors’ non-Social Security income and made the very idea of retirement a far more risky prospect. Today, more than half of U.S. workers have no workplace retirement plan. Of those who do, just 35 percent still have defined-benefit pensions. In 1975, 88 percent of workers with workplace retirement plans had defined-benefit pensions.

The shift from traditional pensions to 401(k)s is one of the main reasons most seniors aren’t able to set aside enough income to guarantee a secure retirement. A 2010 survey by the Federal Reserve found that the median amount saved through 401(k)s by households approaching retirement was $100,000 — not nearly enough to support those households through retirement years, as seniors’ life expectancy increases. And as most Americans’ wages continue to stagnate or decline, their ability to direct more of their income to 401(k)s diminishes even more.

With the eclipse of the defined-benefit pension, Social Security assumes an even greater role in the well-being of American seniors. But advocates of entitlement cuts don’t even discuss the waning of other forms of retirement security: Listening to Alan Simpson, you’d never know that America’s elderly aren’t getting the monthly pension checks their parents got.

And it’s not as if those employers are suffering. Just as U.S. businesses have been able to raise the share of corporate profits to a half-century high by reducing the share of their workers’ wages to a half-century low, so, too, their ability to reduce pension payments has contributed not just to their profits but also to the $1.7 trillion in cash on which they are currently sitting.

So here’s a modest plan to enable seniors to retire when they wish, rather than having to work into their 70s and even beyond: Require employers to put a small percentage of their revenue, and a small percentage of their workers’ wages, into a private, portable, defined-benefit pension plan. To offset the increased costs, transfer the costs of paying for workers’ health care from employers and employees to the government, and pay for the increased costs to the government with the kind of value-added tax that most European nations levy. (The tax burden is higher in Europe, but because the level of benefits is higher as well, the tax has wide public support.)

The odds of such a plan being enacted today, of course, are nil. (Then again, the odds of any bill getting through Congress these days are close to nil.) But until we compensate for, or reverse, the abdication of corporate America from any major role in providing its workers with retirement security, we should lay off monkeying with Social Security to reduce the program’s future payments. As for all those cash-drenched chief executives who proclaim that we must cut entitlements, how about they make up the difference by restoring the pensions their companies slashed?