March 6, 2017
The North Korea-Trump Nightmare (2017/04/21)
I'm unsure how younger Americans feel, who have not lived through this before, but I distinctly don't appreciate waking up every morning wondering if my country's leaders are mad enough or sufficiently belligerent and incompetent to precipitate a nuclear war or. short of that, simultaneous conventional wars on the top of ones we are already fighting without Constitutional authorization.
Neither do I appreciate having to wonder whether the President, Vice President, U.N. Ambassador, the Cabinet, and the U.S. military and military command are all on the same page, in the face of evidence that they decidedly are not. It is very disturbing that Captain Wrongway Peachfuzz seems in command of Trump's "armada" or that Trump himself is the orange-haired reincarnation of that Rocky & Bullwinkle Show Cold War cartoon character.
One did not have to agree with President Obama to rest assured that, at least, someone was in control who was appropriately cognizant of the risks in foreign policy and military action. Neither did one have to agree with President Bush to rest assured that someone (Vice President Cheney; Secretaries Rice, Rumsfeld, Powell) was in control who was appropriately cognizant of the risks in foreign policy and military action. If American citizens must worry, our allies must be worried. And that is even more worrisome.
Agree or not - and we can't know with whom or with what we are agreeing or not - this administration is failing in fundamental, dangerous respects.
Manhood in the Age of Trump (20170402)
Good column, though the usual focus on Hollywood misses the mark. You are a bit unfair to the male stars you cite, all of whom have made efforts to play less cliched macho roles. Just to mention two: Dwayne Johnson is at root a comedian, a thoroughly ironic muscleman; and Ryan Gosling is where he is today for an on-point performance in "Crazy, Stupid, Love" as a pick-up artist in full emotional meltdown in bed with a woman he can't just take as another conquest. Hollywood contributes but fairly cravenly serves a market for extreme gendered roles that preexists.
Your memories of high school, particularly physical education and athletics, are more on target. High school is the crucible in which the Man Box (and girls' adulation for its walls) is forged. There we take adolescents at their most sexually insecure and rigorously separate them for "education" specific to their physicality, while turning on the full power of peer on peer pressure. One doesn't have to be a gay man to remember that the P.E. locker room was the most humiliating and dangerous place to be "less than a manly man." High school football and high school dances are often apiece, organized and scheduled as a concerted effort to make "young men and young women."
This is where the current transgender bathroom issue is a very good thing, despite the grotesque cliches the transgendered typically take for the gender they are. It forces on schools a nut they cannot crack with the same old pernicious machinery.
House Republicans Unveil Plan to Replace Health Law (20170306)
The provision that creates a 30% barrier to reentry into the health insurance market virtually guarantees that, over time, with vicissitudes of employment and unexpected expenses, fewer and fewer people will have insurance and that those who do will be sicker and sicker. In other words, it legislates a death spiral in the individual market, at the same time that eliminating the requirement that large employers offer coverage to full-time employees forces more people on to it. It would be hard to devise anything more certain to reduce coverage and still call it a national health care plan. It will be interesting to see if major insurers remain silent or speak up against this planned rapid, destructive contraction of their industry.
First, Sex Ed. Then Death Ed. (20170219)
Before adding Death Ed. to Sex Ed., how about reviving Civics Ed., before we lose both and Science Ed. in the bargain.