Weighing the options of a possible invasion of North Korea (8/9/17)

On January 29, 2002, then-president George W. Bush used the term ‘axis of evil’ when he grouped together three countries: Iran, Iraq, and North Korea. This axis was used to describe three countries that, to the Bush administration, possessed a grave threat to the free world, either by seeking out weapons of mass destruction, sponsoring terrorism, or committing human rights violations.

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Flashback: Bush recaps early progress of the War on Terror and proclaims Iraq, Iran, and North Korea are part of an “axis of evil”. (Pic: The NYT)

For a while, Iran and Iraq dominated the headlines, and it seemed like North Korea, while dangerous, was not an imminent or a true threat.

However, in recent years, North Korea has become increasingly more bellicose and unstable, if that’s even possible. Recently, global alarm bells have been blaring as North Korea continues to make significant progress in launching or firing a long distance nuclear weapon. North Korea’s dictator, Kim Jong-Un, also continues to make threats to the United States, South Korea, Japan, and any other country that crosses its path.

“North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States,” U.S. President Donald Trump told the media at his golf club in New Jersey, where he is spending much of the month on a “working vacation.” “They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen.”

To the history buffs out there, this pronouncement by Trump sounds similar to a statement made by the 33rd President Harry Truman to the American public about Japan near the end of World War II.

Truman’s exact words were, “If they do not now accept our terms they may expect a rain of ruin from the air, the like of which has never been seen on this earth. Behind this air attack will follow sea and land forces in such numbers and power as they have not yet seen and with the fighting skill of which they are already well aware.”

While the scenarios are different, Trump’s message is ominously clear: the U.S. would take major action if the North Koreans continued to threaten its or its allies’ interests.

While it’s unclear exactly what Trump will do if the North Koreans continue to “mess around”, one thing is for certain, an attack, or a possible invasion, to topple the Kim regime, unprovoked, is not a good idea.

Unless North Korea initiates an attack on the United States, or a close ally, there’s just simply too much to lose if the United States gets bogged down in a big conflict with North Korea.

Here’s why the United States should, for now, not take military action against North Korea.

First, there’s the issue of China.

It is no secret that the U.S. is in the midst of a “Cold War 2” with Russia and China. A U.S. invasion of North Korea could unnecessarily provoke China, who, for better or worse, remains an ally of North Korea, mainly for economic reasons. China also has many reasons for not supporting an invasion of North Korea, one of them being the possibility of a North Korean immigration influx that could occur in China if thousands of North Koreans chose to flee their country. While the United States certainly doesn’t like the current scenario with North Korea, a far worse scenario might be starting a conflict with China.

Second, there’s the mass “human loss” that would occur if the U.S. invaded North Korea. Because North Korea will throw their entire country behind the war cause, the conflict, while winnable for the U.S., would be protracted and would likely result in millions of lives lost. No one wants that. Especially after the Iraq War, there is no stomach for a war, especially if North Korea hasn’t made the initial attack. Right now, North Korea is no worse than Iraq before 2003, which had made threats to the U.S., but had not carried them out. There’s just no reason to risk lives of millions when the North Koreans haven’t initiated an attack.

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When the U.S. toppled Saddam in 2003, it was a major victory, but looking back on it, we weren’t prepared for post-Saddam Iraq. And as more and more lives continued to be lost and war costs kept rising, we began to ask, “was the world better off before or after the war?” (Pic: The Federalist) 

Finally, there’s the issue of post-Kim North Korea itself, which in reality, is just too uncertain to solve. There would be humanitarian aid and reconstruction effort to rebuild not just  North Korea, but other parts of the world affected, which would be so massive, it would likely take decades to complete. The use of nuclear weapons in the conflict, which is highly likely, would like decimate millions, and the fallout would take years to clean up.

Also, as I touched on earlier, there’s the issue of a refugee crisis with millions of displaced North Koreans, largely poor and unskilled. Where would they go, and how would they adjust to their new lives, after having been brainwashed by the Kim regime?  There would also be issues involving what to do with North Korea itself. Do we reunify the Koreas, or do we keep North Korea as is, and if so, who would govern?  There are no easy answers.

As of right now, North Korea represents no bigger threat than the 2003 Iraq. The United States should avoid getting involved into another unnecessary armed conflict, even if it means keeping Kim Jong-Un in power. While the threat from North Korea seems untenable, the threat is still not close to where it needs to be for preparations for an invasion, or even a war, to begin.

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Is Kim more dangerous than Saddam was? (Pic: Fox News) 

 

 

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Dear George W. Bush, It’s America. We miss you. (7/26/17)

The turmoil of the current White House administration has Democrats so fed up with Donald Trump that they are even beginning to miss George W. Bush in office.

Yes, you read that correctly.

George W. Bush.

The man, who for the latter half of his second term, could have cured cancer and still had an approval rating of 18% among Democrats.

At the end of Bush’s presidency, most Democrats were calling him the worst president of the modern era, a pretty stinging insult, considering the modern era consists of presidents like Herbert Hoover and Jimmy Carter.

So, just what is it about “Dubbyah” that Democrats are starting to miss?

First of all, while detractors doubted Bush’s ability to handle political affairs, there was never any doubt over his morals, integrity, and fitness for office. He was an American patriot who took the job seriously, but never took himself too seriously.  He was constantly able to laugh at himself for his famous “Bushisms.” Bush even admitted the “brilliance” of some of his impersonators, such as Steve Bridges and Will Ferrell, and even brought up the former’s impersonation of him at the White House Correspondents Dinner. Bush never focused on the heated criticism, and remained undistracted and committed to the job of presidency.

This is in stark contrast to Donald Trump, who has infamously blasted Alec Baldwin for his impersonation of him on Saturday Night Live. Trump is also quite famous for the “war” he is waging against his “critics”, constantly denouncing news media outlets CNN, NBC and MSNBC for “fake news” and “unfair criticism”. To Democrats, Trump’s thin skin and constant overreaction to any criticism, real or perceived, makes him look unhinged.

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George Bush (left) and Steve Bridges (right) at the White House Correspondents Dinner in 2006. (Pic: New York Times)

Bush also never really caused any major political scandals throughout his presidency (there were minor things, but most weren’t linked directly to him). Unlike the present, the White House under Bush was never in a state of perpetual crisis.  The Trump administration is currently dealing with a major scandal, the Russian-collusion allegations, and he is only six months into his presidency. Other smaller scandals, such as Trump’s failure to produce his tax returns and his failure to fully divest his business interests, also loom large in the Trump administration.

But above all, what Democrats may miss the most is the respect George W. Bush had for the office of the presidency.

Despite being a Republican, Bush was willing to work across party lines to achieve things that he believed were in the best interest of the American people . He never criticized former presidents, and he certainly didn’t bash any Democratic politicians.

As Bush stated in a famous interview with then Fox News host Bill O’ Reilly, “the office of the president is much more important than the occupant.” In other words, Bush refrained from bashing or name-calling his political opponents because he felt that it would diminish the highest office of the land.

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 I get the feeling we won’t see Trump and Obama doing this anytime soon… (Pic: Yahoo News)

This is much different than the “Trump rhetoric” and Trumpism, which involve personally defending the office’s beholder, Trump, rather than the office itself.

Trump has constantly criticized politicians, both Republican and Democrat.  His constant attack on his predecessor, Barack Obama, is unprecedented.  He has disparaged John McCain, Ted Cruz and other Republicans who have disagreed with him.  In the past 48 hours, Trump has railed against Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who happened to be one of Trump’s earliest and most loyal supporters.  His personal attacks towards media figures, particularly women, have appalled almost everyone. Finally, his behaviour and attitude towards foreign leaders has hurt America’s status and reputation globally.

While Bush certainly wasn’t a favorite among Democrats, liberals, after witnessing all of the scandals and upheavals in the Trump administration, are starting to miss him.

And the funny thing is, it’s only been six months.  Six months.  Who knows?  After one year, Democrats might even start missing Richard Nixon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Could President Donald Trump win a Second Term? Yes. (7/25/17)

Due to the continuing scandals surrounding the current president, it may be hard for both Trump supporters and Trump haters to imagine that President Trump could be re-elected in 2020.

President Trump has relatively low approval ratings as of July 25. According to Gallup, Trump’s approval rating from July 21-  July 23 was 39.1%. While the mainstream media is quick to pounce on Trump’s low approval ratings, it’s worth noting that Bill Clinton, who is considered to have been a good president, had an approval rating of 41% about six months into his presidency. Similarly, after about a year in office, Ronald Reagan had an approval rating in the high 30s, yet he won re-election in 1984 and is also widely considered to have been a great modern president.

The point that I’m trying to make here is that it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish. 

While it may certainly be difficult to fathom President Trump achieving anything monumental at the moment, it’s worth remembering that he is only six months into his presidency. With more than three years remaining, he still has time to turn things around, even though it might, at the moment, seem like he can’t accomplish anything.

Much can happen in three years, which is why it is still very possible for President Trump to be reelected in 2020.  Say he is able to achieve major tax cut legislation, or pass a great infrastructure bill, or he is successful in defeating ISIS.  Maybe his trade policies will create or bring jobs back to America.  What if he can foster a better relationship with Russia? All these things could easily help Trump win re-election in 2020. Trump’s loyal base support will continue to support him, and his success in these other areas could  sway independents to vote for him again.  After all, voters who voted for Trump did so precisely for his policies on the economy and his tough stance against ISIS.

Trump’s fate also lies, in part, with the Democratic party.

For many, the modern Democratic party is now seen as the party for illegal immigrants and socialists. It’s main focus seems to be about political correctness – “using correct terms” and “making sure no one feels bad” rather than about the economy or foreign affairs. To put it bluntly, the party has become almost “un-American” to some, who feel that true American ideals, American interests, and mainly, the American people, are being left behind.  It is perceived by some that the party has moved increasingly left since Obama took office, and that it looks completely different from the party that Bill Clinton was the head of twenty-five years ago.

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As illustrated by the cartoon, for many, the failure to control illegal immigration and the pandering to illegal immigrants has become a symbol of the Democratic Party. (Pic: A.F. Branco, 2010)

If the Democratic party continues to become increasingly radical, and nominates a candidate like Elizabeth Warren, or even Bernie Sanders (if he runs again) then it would be impossible to say with certainty that Trump would lose in 2020. Even though the world is becoming increasingly liberal and more accepting, Americans still want a leader who will be tough and put America first.

While Democrats are relishing Trump’s current scandals and celebrating his failures, it’s worth noting that the Democrats faced the same situation last summer, when shocking scandals about Trump and misogyny were headline news. The Democrats were arrogant, and instead of proposing actual policies, they relied on the implosion of Trump and the Republican party, expecting that that alone would be sufficient to get Hillary Clinton elected.

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Mainstream media: “After (insert Trump scandal here)… there’s no way he could become president, right?” (Pic: Time) 

The Democrats failed to recognise the difference between approval ratings and favorability ratings, believing that as Trump became increasingly unlikable, the American people wouldn’t vote for him. They didn’t realize that many Americans might have still thought that he would do a good job, regardless of whether they thought he was a good or likeable person. They failed to consider this idea, even though Bill Clinton, the husband of the Democratic presidential nominee, was a prime example of a president who might have not been well liked, but was still considered to be doing a good job in office.

In short, the onus is now on the Democratic Party.  It must decide what and who it represents.  If it fails to change and rests simply on the presumed self destruction of  President Trump, it better be prepared for four more years of Donald Trump.

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Where will the country be, and what will it look like in four years? (Pic: The New Yorker) 

 

 

Trump clearly doesn’t see “honesty as the best policy” (7/16/17)

Why can’t the Trumps stop lying?

Just days after news came to light about a private meeting in June 2016 between Donald Trump Jr, senior members of the Trump cabinet and a “Russian government lawyer”, President Trump and his son Donald Trump Jr., have told the media differing stories of the meeting’s purpose.

On July 8, when news of the meeting was first published by The New York Times, Trump Jr. explained that the meeting was simply about “adoptions.” He failed to mention anything about opposition research on Hillary Clinton or agreeing to accept help from the Russian government in the 2016 election.

Fast-forward to a day later.

On July 9, more information about the meeting was revealed.  It turns out, the meeting was not about Russian adoption, as Don Jr. stated, but rather about obtaining damaging information on then-Presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. Documents and other information harmful to Clinton were promised to the Trump cabinet as a show of Russian government’s “support” for Donald Trump’s candidacy.

The emails about the Russian meeting can be read here.

Since these revelations have come to light, Trump Jr. has acknowledged that he went into the meeting planning to receive damaging information about Clinton.  However, he claimed that he did not receive such information, and that discussions shifted to Russian adoption and the Magnitsky Act. He insisted that “nothing” came out of the meeting.  He justified accepting the meeting on the ground  that information on Clinton was “honest political opposition research” and that he had the First-Amendment right to speak to the Russians.

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I guess they don’t teach you how to lie at UPenn. (Pic: Reuters)

 

If Trump Jr. honestly believed that the information he thought he was going to receive was opposition research, why didn’t he just come out and say that? Why did he lie or tell half truths about the meeting’s purpose?  Why did he fail to mention there were other Russian individuals present at that meeting.  Why do we still not know exactly who attended the meeting?  Why did he insist that he has told the public “everything”?  Clearly, he has not.  All the incessant lying only fuels the suspicion something nefarious or criminal occurred.

News of the secret meeting, the details of which seems to be constantly evolving, sparked outrage, and the meeting has now become a critical part of the ongoing investigation into Russia-Trump ties in the 2016 Election.

Even several Fox News commentators have spoken out and denounced Trump’s handling of the news of the meeting.

Charles Krauthammer, a respected and regular Fox News commentator, claimed that “evidence [of collusion] is now shown.”

“This is not hearsay, not fake news, not unsourced leaks,” Krauthammer writes.  “This is an email chain released by Donald Trump Jr. himself.”

While the investigation continues, burning questions are posed: why does Trump continue to lie? What is he hiding? Does he believe that as President, he has a certain authority or right to lie without consequence?

As the Trump presidency continues, hopefully we will get the necessary answers.

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             Just what are these two hiding?  (Pic: The New Yorker)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For England, Wimbledon has a special meaning this year (6/30/17)

On Monday, July 3, the Wimbledon Championships, once again, will kick off in London, England.

In the tennis world, Wimbledon is the most special tournament. And for good reason, too.

There’s the unpredictability of the grass which always causes shocking upsets.

There’s the appearance of English royalty, the sweetness of the traditional strawberries and cream, and the class and prestige of the All-England Club.

Yet this year, something is different.

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Kate Middleton applauds after watching a semi-final match at the 2016 Wimbledon Championships. (Pic: The Sun)

Manchester. London Bridge. Finsbury Park.

All of these places have been the subject of terrorist attacks, and all of the attacks have occurred with weeks of each other.

And while this isn’t the first time that a terrorist attack has occurred in England, it’s the first time in a while that England, one of the most powerful and influential nations in the world, has looked so vulnerable.

The worst news: it might not even be over.

The UK Terror threat level still remains at SEVERE, which means that security and armed forces are still on high alert.

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Citizens leaving the area with their hands up after the London Bridge Attack on June 3. (Photo: Reuters)

While England still continues to pick itself up after the deadly attacks, it’s worth noting that one of the attacks, the attack on a mosque in Finsbury Park, was not perpetrated by an Islamic extremist.  This attack highlights the difficulty in preventing terror attacks.  As more people who don’t necessarily fit the terrorist profile resort to hatred and violence, it is nearly impossible to identify potential terrorists.

And while we condemn the Islamic extremists for their repulsive actions, there is no reason to take out anger on the Islamic religion and people as a whole. We are no better than terrorists if we attack innocent people simply because of their religion.

As former President George Bush did after the 9/11 attacks, it would be wise for British PM Theresa May to make a statement about respect for Muslims as well.

These recent attacks certainly raise security concerns for the upcoming Wimbledon tournament.  However, it is important that the tournament serves as a symbol of inspiration, tradition and entertainment and does not contribute to the fear in England.

If anything can cheer up a nation’s spirit during a tough time, it is sports.

We saw it after 9/11 with George Bush and his famous Yankee Stadium Pitch. We saw it at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, at a time where there were many doubts over government corruption. And now, we will see it in England with the greatest tennis tournament.

This is what makes Wimbledon so special this year. It can serve as a symbol of hope for Britain. It can show the terrorists that no matter how much they attack us, we will not change our lives for them. It can bring the people of England together, even at such a anxious and dark time.

And while given Andy Murray’s current form, there might not be a winner from the UK this year, we know that he, other English players, and all the other athletes will be playing with a little bit more in their hearts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Donald Trump’s favorite target (6/28/17)

Hillary Clinton, The New York Times, MSNBC, CNN, and now Barack Obama.

What do the above have in common?

They have all been- and in many cases continue to be- targets of President Donald Trump.

However, recently, President Trump has launched attack after attack on former President Barack Obama, lambasting the former Commander-in-Chief’s presidential legacy and questioning Obama’s role in the Russian hacking of the 2016 presidential election.

Trump is also doing all he can to chip away Obama’s signature achievements in office, as he continues to push for his new healthcare bill to repeal and replace Obamacare. He also withdrew the United States from the Paris Agreement, a key climate change accord the United States joined under Obama. Trump has also dramatically changed the U.S. attitude and relationship with Iran and Cuba, two countries Obama tried to build a diplomatic relationship with.

And while Obama must surely be concerned with Trump’s actions, he has largely refrained from confronting and criticizing Trump at all, following through on his promise that he would stay out of the political sphere once he left office.

Still, Obama is being extremely honorable by not striking back at Trump.  Presidents generally refrain from criticizing subsequent administration. This is largely because of the symbolism of the office of Presidency; the office and title should always be more important than the the holder of the office, and criticism from previous office holders would only denigrate the position.

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The Obama-Trump relationship has never been… great. (Pic: Getty Images)

Recently, Trump has criticized Obama because it has been revealed that the Obama administration was aware of Russian meddling in the election as it was happening.   Trump and his aides argue that Obama didn’t take any action at all and that Obama is responsible for the Russian scandal by failing to act.

Trump’s claim isn’t entirely accurate. Obama did confront Putin directly and imposed more sanctions on Russia. The reason Obama didn’t push further was because he did not want to be perceived as interfering in the 2016 election in favor of Hillary Clinton.  Also, he was concerned that Putin would escalate Russian hacking.

From Trump’s viewpoint, he has now diverted the attention of the Russian scandal away from him and assigned blame to someone else — Obama.  At the very least, Trump has injected issues that make the investigation of the Russian scandal murkier.

Still, even if Trump succeeds in hurting Obama’s legacy and obfuscating the investigation into Russian hacking, he will likely face backlash from the American people who are still protesting his decisions on the healthcare bill, travel ban, immigration, and climate change.

Trump still has a ways to go before he can claim a solid victory.

 

 

 

Why can’t Donald Trump let go of the Election? (6/17/17)

It has been a very rough week for President Trump.  Very rough.

The same could be said about many weeks President Trump has been in office, but this week was especially bad.

There were reports late Wednesday night that Trump is under investigation for obstruction of justice for his actions in firing the former FBI Director James Comey.

Instead of simply letting the investigation proceed, President Trump’s comments and tweets about the investigation has become increasingly hostile and troubling  this week.

Trump seemed to confirm the report that he is under investigation for obstruction of justice.  Then, there were reports that Trump might actually be considering firing the Special Counsel and the Acting Attorney General.  He frustratingly tweeted out his fury with the investigation. 

Then, on late Thursday afternoon, Trump tweeted out, “Why is that Hillary Clintons family and Dems dealings with Russia are not looked at, but my non-dealings are?”

Soon after, Trump tweeted, “Crooked H destroyed phones w/ hammer, ‘bleached’ emails, & had husband meet w/AG days before she was cleared- & they talk about obstruction?”

Trump won the election so it makes little sense that he keeps dredging up Hillary Clinton.  He should not be childishly tweeting about the 2016 Election. The fact is, he, not Clinton, is President now.  While it’s not certain whether or not Trump understands just how serious an obstruction charge would be, one thing is for certain: Trump can’t seem to let go of the results of the 2016 Election.

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On November 9, 2016, Donald Trump won the election. That was over seven months ago. So why cant he seem to let it go? (Pic: CNBC)

It was the best day of his life.

Despite everything he had done in his life before; whether it was amassing over a billion dollar net worth or becoming an international TV celebrity, nothing beat his “upset” win in the 2016 Election.

For Trump, it was a big “screw you” to all the elites, former politicians, and those in the news media who mocked his candidacy and believed he wasn’t capable of winning. It was undoubtedly a huge slap in the face to Barack Obama and the Democratic Party, who believed they had the election “in the bag.” But most of all, it was a reminder to everyone, whether you voted for him or not, that he was right and everyone else who doubted him was wrong.

Most Americans have let go of the election and have accepted the election result. President Trump appears to be the only one that can’t seem to let it go.  He brings up his win every chance he gets.  He constantly talks about it at his rallies and television interviews.  Large, framed electoral maps were seen being brought into the White House, seemingly to serve as a constant and permanent reminder of the biggest win of his life.

And it was a HUGE success. It was the biggest upset in U.S. political history and, possibly, in the history of the modern world.

Yet, therein lies his potential downfall.

Trump was not prepared for the onslaught he would receive. For him, a new politician, he thought his job was essentially done after he won the election.

What Trump didn’t realize, however, is that with great power comes great responsibility, and that once he won the election, he would be scrutinized and criticized unlike ever before. He believed that because he had won and defied all odds that he should be held in higher esteem than Presidents before him.  He also believed that, with his win, he quashed, silenced and overcame all of the criticism about him as a person and his qualifications for the office of President.  He assumed that his refusal to reveal his tax returns would no longer be an issue.  He believed that questions relating to his divestment of business interests and his pro-Russia reset would be silenced by his win.   He thought these questions had been essentially resolved in his win in the election.

He couldn’t be more wrong.

Since the election, questions concerning Trump have multiplied.  Criticism of Trump has become even more pronounced.  Everyone is watching his every move and listening to (and reading) his every word. And no matter how much Trump brings up the election and tries to deflect blame on Hillary Clinton, the investigation isn’t going away.  If Trump has done nothing wrong, as he asserts, he should let the Special Counsel do his job and complete his investigation.  If Trump hasn’t committed a crime, he will ultimately be cleared.  He should stay out of the investigation and refrain from commenting on it.  He should actually govern, as he was elected by the American people to do.

By constantly tweeting and criticising the Special Counsel and the investigation, he is only making himself appear guilty and giving evidence supporting a potential obstruction of justice charge.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DC’s Wonder Woman much more than a movie, represents a growing political, cultural shift (6/11/17)

In its second weekend, Wonder Woman cruised to another #1 finish at the North American box office, bringing in an estimated $57.2 million dollars.

As of June 11, Wonder Woman grossed nearly $435 million dollars, as per Box Office Mojo and has received rave reviews from critics, with many critics calling it the best movie in the DCEU so far. Currently, it holds a 93% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and a rating of 8.2/10 on IMDB.

After seeing the movie a couple days ago, I firmly agree that Wonder Woman is the best DCEU movie so far. While that may not be saying much, considering how Man of Steel and Batman v Superman were utter flops and how atrocious Suicide Squad was, for us movie fans Wonder Woman was extremely refreshing to see, and also a good sign for upcoming DC movies in the future.

And while the movie has garnered some controversy in the Middle East, mainly because of Gal Gadot’s heritage and her having served in the Israeli military, Director Patty Jenkins should be extremely pleased with the movie.

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Wonder Woman’s impact is being felt culturally more than any movie in awhile. (Pic: Warner Bros)

Yet what makes Wonder Woman so very special, though, is its cultural impact.

When most people think superheroes, they think of Batman or Superman or even Spiderman.

And while these superheroes are undoubtedly some of the biggest cultural icons and symbols around the world, it’s worth noting that they are all men.

Never before had there been a real successful movie about a woman superhero or super villain. Everyone knows how much of a disaster Catwoman (2004) was. And while there have been major portrayals of some women superheroes in big movies, like Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow and Zoe Saldana as Gamora, most of the portrayals of women in superhero movies have been as love interests who constantly need to be saved.

Wonder Woman completely turned that conception on its head, with the titular character constantly saving several of her male adversaries, and even going up against one of the strongest male super villains in all of the DC Universe (no spoilers here). The movie showed that a female superhero can do just as much as male superheroes, and that she  didn’t need to be saved.

Growing up, boys dream of being heroes like Superman and Batman. Boys see these heroes in movies and books and try to emulate them. Before Wonder Woman, there were really no movies of women superheroes for little girls to emulate. But finally, Wonder Woman has given little girls everywhere a hero to emulate.

It’s what Wonder Woman represents that makes it so special. We see women getting more and more involved politically and becoming icons of power everyday. Wonder Women is a direct representation of that. She represents the growing political shift of the world today. Women, in positions of power, are here to stay.

It’s already become the most tweeted about movie of 2017. It’s inspired a movement for women and girls everywhere. Wonder Woman is so much more than a movie. It’s become a symbol of inspiration.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Off the court, Lebron James is greater than Michael Jordan (6/2/17)

While Lebron James may not have surpassed Michael Jordan as the greatest basketball on the basketball court (well, at least in my opinion), it is a different story, off the court.

Both Michael Jordan and Lebron James are icons of their time.

During the 90’s, Jordan was must see TV. His sneakers were top sellers (and are still to this day), he was an endorsement magnet for commercials and advertisements, and he was the greatest basketball player in the world.

However, ‘His Airness’ never used his platform to get involved in any political affairs or social issues, at least not until recently.

Lebron will be the first to admit that he wants to be like Mike. And to be fair, Lebron is a lot like Mike. He, too, has amassed enormous wealth and fame, and is also the greatest basketball player in the world (sorry, it’s not Russell Westbrook or James Harden).

Yet, while Lebron might not have had the career, at least so far, equal to that Michael Jordan had, it is undeniable that his impact on the black community, as well as his impact politically, is much greater than Jordan’s.

Michael Jordan declined to endorse Democrat Mayor Harvey Grant in his bid in the 1990 and 1996 election for Senate against known racist and bigoted Republican Jesse Holmes. Jordan famously stated, “Republicans buy sneakers too” implying that he didn’t want to lose valuable sneaker sales by potentially alienating Republicans.

Jordan took a lot of flack for his comment, particularly from the black community, with some African Americans feeling that he was more concerned with money than racial fairness and civil rights.

On the other hand, Lebron James has been much more active politically, endorsing Hillary Clinton in this past election, claiming that he wanted to build a better America for his kids. He even spoke at the Democratic National Convention.

James has also been involved heavily in civil rights activism, publicly supporting the Black Lives Matter protests, even wearing the famous “I Can’t Breathe” warmup shirt after the death of Eric Garner. At the ESPY Awards last summer, he and a few other fellow NBA players, spoke out on the need for political activism. He has also done much for his community of Akron in Ohio, donating millions of dollars to public services and helping impoverished children.

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Lebron speaking at one of his foundation events after proposing to build a new school in his hometown. (Pic: Ohio News)

So, why do I bring this up now?

Well, Lebron James has been in the news recently, and while it might be because of the devastating 113-91 loss to the Warriors in Game 1 of the NBA Finals on Thursday, it is also because Lebron James was recently the victim of a racist hate crime.

Earlier in the week, James’ Los Angeles home was vandalised with racist graffiti. The “n-word” had been spray-painted on the front gate of his home. James spoke about the incident in a press conference before the finals.

“No matter how much money you have, no matter how famous you are, no matter how many people admire you, being black in America is tough,” James stated.

Lebron also referenced the death of Emmett Till and spoke about how Till’s mom wanted to show the world about the true horrors of racism. He spoke about his concerns for his children and the world they are growing up in.

While I have been a little bit concerned about athletes taking political stances in the past, Lebron’s messages on race that he spoke about during the press conference are extremely important. Lebron not only showed that racism is still very much alive, but that even successful, famous people can be targets of racism.

That’s a big deal, because for a lot of us, it’s hard to imagine these super star celebrities as regular people. While many of us associate racism in America with the lower class, Lebron reminded us that all African-Americans, regardless of social class or celebrity, are still  fighting racism today.

Lebron’s statement, “Being black in America is tough” is powerful because it is so true. Even with the world appearing to be more and more accepting, racial hatred still exists and surfaces too often.  While America has certainly come a long way, it’s important to remember that we still have a long way to go.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Trump’s Changing Mind in the Middle East and about Islam (5/21/17)

“I think Islam.. hates us.”

“I watched when the WTC came tumbling down. And I watched in Jersey City, New Jersey, where thousands and thousands of people were cheering as that building was coming down.”

“Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.”

Extreme.

Perhaps that’s the word that best describes Trump’s language when talking about Islam during his Presidential election campaign.

Aggressive.

Certainly this is the word that best describes Trump’s policies towards Muslims and the Middle East. His travel ban sparked protests throughout the world. His choice to drop the “mother of all bombs” on Syria raised questions on his true intentions in the Middle East.

It was clear that Trump was steering towards a more “hostile” policy in the Middle East.

Yet, Sunday, a change of heart seemed to have occurred.

In the early evening in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, President Trump stood and delivered a powerful message of unity to the Middle Eastern world. Trump focused on the subject of terrorism, urging Arab leaders to work closely with the United States to eradicate terrorism.

“This is not a battle between different faiths, different sects, or different civilizations,” Trump said. “This is a battle between barbaric criminals who seek to obliterate human life, and decent people of all religions who seek to protect it.”

This, of course, seems like a complete turn-around for Trump, who claimed that there was a “great hatred over [in the Middle East]” against the United States.

Donald Trump.jpg

In a past article I have written on this blog, I raised questions about Trump’s goals in the Middle East.

 

I emphasized Trump’s need to tell Middle Eastern nations that the United States cares about Arab interests.  I felt he needed to show a positive attitude towards solving  problems in the Middle East, especially terrorism.

As someone who has felt very uneasy about some of Trump’s policies, I felt that Trump’s speech today was a step in the right direction, at least in terms of foreign policy in the Middle East.

Middle Eastern leaders are probably suspicious of Trump’s recent calls of unity, but still it is reassuring to know that Trump is looking to improve relations with Saudi Arabia and other Middle Eastern allies.

Trump’s speech was not all-unifying, though, as he had harsh words for Iran.  Trump pushed for neighboring nations to “isolate” Iran, who he claimed was responsible for “spreading destruction and chaos throughout the region.”

A policy of “isolating” Iran would mark the end of the United States’ recent goals to work together with Iran, most specifically the progress made during the Obama administration.

Still, following Trump’s extreme and harsh rhetoric towards the Middle East, it is good to see Trump making attempts to set a new course and work together with the leaders in the Persian Gulf region towards achieving mutual goals.