With the violence unleashed by Libyan strongman Moammar Qaddafi against citizens protesting his reign worsening significantly in the past few days, western powers have grown more critical in speaking out against the regime's tactics but have stopped short of calling for its outright ouster (as, in my opinion, they should). They've been much criticized for not taking a stronger stand, both in the Arab press and elsewhere. In my view this is fair criticism - we shouldn't cheer the concepts of democracy and human rights in the abstract and then fear ruffling a few authoritarian feathers when the time comes to stand up for them in practice.
But for all the accusations of timidity and hypocrisy being leveled at the U.S. and the E.U., they're still infinitely better than the other emerging superpower on the block, China. Witness the comments of Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu, urging Libyan authorities to "restore social stability and normalcy as soon as possible and spare no effort to protect the safety of Chinese people, organizations and assets in Libya." Apparently widespread brutality and oppression aren't a problem from the point of view of the Chinese, only a continuation of the kind of messiness that might imperil Chinese interests in the country. We shouldn't be surprised, given that in ordering his armed forces to open fire on unarmed protesters with heavy weaponry Qaddafi appears to be taking a page straight out of the Tiananmen Square popular uprising suppression playbook, but it always helps to be reminded that as imperfect as the U.S. is, and as checkered a past as it has as a foreign interloper in the Middle East, it's still vastly preferable to the other alternatives as far as potential global hegemons go. At least we make a pretense of caring about things like human rights rather than just our own narrow interests.
In the wake of former Chicago Bears safety Dave Duerson's suicide at age 50 comes word that Duerson himself was convinced he was suffering from premature cognitive degeneration as a result of his time playing football. Consider this along with the sad fates of other former players like Andre Waters and Mike Webster, and tell me again why the NFL should be playing eighteen brain-destroying regular season games instead of the current sixteen, as commissioner Roger Goodell and the owners want?
It's true that the NFL's current labor dispute is an argument between billionaires and millionaires, and that there's no reason for the average work-a-day fan to be particularly sympathetic to one side or the other. But I'm in agreement with Phil Sheridan that the owners are the bad guys here, for all the reasons he cites. They're a bunch of greedy, rent-seeking pigs who, having gotten obscenely rich partially by sucking off the government teat, are now upset that the agreement they've negotiated with their labor force won't allow them to get as even more obscenely rich as they'd like in the future. Goodell, the empty suit they've chosen as their spokesman, is a smarmy, glad-handing piece of shit, the embodiment of every negative stereotype about lawyers and politicians you've ever heard. He continues to insist that the league is really, deeply concerned about the safety of the players, and in particular their susceptibility to head injuries, while simultaneously loudly cheerleading the idea of an expanded regular season, a stance he claims was prompted by fans overwhelmingly clamoring for more regular season football even though there's little evidence that such demand actually exists. The eighteen game season is all about Benjamins and anybody with half a brain realizes it. For Goodell to insist that no, it's really a question of pleasing the fans,only makes his glaring hypocrisy on the issue of player safety harder to stomach.
Fuck you, Roger Goodell. And fuck you, Jerry Jones. And you, Jeff Lurie. And every other NFL owner as well. If you force a work stoppage by locking out the players, and come back with an eighteen game season, I am done with your league, as a paying customer and otherwise. My fondness for the game of football is not so great as to overcome my disgust at overweening greed, selfishness, and hypocrisy, nor my distaste for being unwillingly sold a product I have made clear I don't want, and while I have no illusions that one guy cutting off his streaming video package is going to make a difference in the financial calculations of your operation, it will allow me to retain my dignity as at least one person you can't take for a chump.
Just how many times did Bill Murray re-live the same day in Groundhog Day? Simon Gallagher of the blog Obsessed With Film has figured it out so you don't have to. Note that I think that the last paragraph of his post - the one that says this ought not to be taken too seriously - probably makes the most salient point in the whole thing.