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An Actual Playing Field Shouldn’t Be a Political One – The Wall Street Journal

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New York Yankee Gerrit Cole pitches on a mound marked with ‘BLM’ in Washington, July 23.



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Sports need politics the way the pope needs a bowling trophy. For a spectator, sports provide a relief from politics and much else in a world that is too much with us. Yet in our intensely political time, sports have been invaded by politics. Thus as the long-delayed baseball season begins, we see “BLM” stamped on pitcher’s mounds or behind home plate in some major-league ballparks. An old riddle asks the last two words of the national anthem: “Play ball!” But now, as the national anthem plays, ballplayers kneel to protest the injustice of a country they feel plagued by racism, and things get off no longer to a rousing but to a depressing start.

Athletes usually don’t have much to lose in bringing their politics with them to the game. Perhaps the first notable postwar intrusion of politics into sports came with the famous Black Power salute of Tommie Smith and John Carlos, two American sprinters, from the winners platforms at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City, which at the time offended many people.

In the current day LeBron James, the best player in the National Basketball Association, risks nothing, not even his lucrative endorsements, in regularly displaying his opinions on racial issues. In the National Football League, Colin Kaepernick suffered in 2016 for being the first athlete to take the knee during the national anthem. Many fans were angry. They felt that it was disrespectful to the country and that they didn’t pay the nearly extortionate prices charged for NFL tickets to be reminded that the world hadn’t attained perfect justice.

Jackie Robinson might have been the only athlete who was a true political hero. He bravely integrated baseball in 1947, while fans from the stands and opposing players from their dugouts taunted him with racial slurs. With almost superhuman restraint, Robinson played hard and well, opening Major League Baseball for all qualified black players.

“Today is Opening Day,” reads a tweet from the Tampa Bay Rays’ official Twitter account, “which means it’s a great day to arrest the killers of Breonna Taylor,” victim of a Louisville, Ky., police shooting in March. The team also announced a $100,000 annual donation to local organizations that “fight systemic racism.” The San Francisco Giants knelt during the anthem before their opening game, except pitcher Sam Coonrod, a devout Christian who kneels only to God. Expect more politics as baseball progresses and more still as basketball resumes and football gets under way. The full rosters of four NBA teams also took the knee in their opening games Thursday.

Yet the question isn’t whether there is racism in America, or whether it is rampant or even systemic, but whether it is likely to be reduced by bringing it up at sports events.

What made the great Southern civil-rights marches of the early 1960s so impressive—and effective—was the courage it took to participate in them. With police dogs howling and state troopers swinging billy clubs, in an atmosphere without the least sympathy for their cause, those who marched against racial injustice were no less than glorious, as most acts of physical courage on behalf of good causes are. Their doing so also stirred the consciences of people who hadn’t thought much about the blatant racial injustice of that day.

Are a group of multimillionaire athletes, among the most favored people in the nation, kneeling or walking out while “The Star-Spangled Banner” is sung likely to stir anyone, let alone change anyone’s mind? Can the exhibition of their virtue through televised protest possibly move those who come to games or watch them on television in the hope of forgetting their own and the nation’s troubles, if only for a few hours? In the end the effect of those athletes who insist upon bringing their politics onto the field may well be the reverse of what they hope it will be.

Mr. Epstein is author, most recently, of “Charm: The Elusive Enchantment.”

Wonder Land: After the pandemic and protests, opinion polls won’t reveal how the beaten-down American population will vote this year. Images: Getty Images Composite: Mark Kelly

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We need more liberty, less politics: Richard Boddie – OCRegister

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Back in 1990 when I was running to become the 1992 nominee for president as the Libertarian Party candidate, and again when I actually ran for the Senate in California against Dianne Feinstein and John Seymour in 1992, and then against “DiFi” again and Michael Huffington in 1994, reporters would often ask me, “How many Libertarians are there”?

My late friend and mentor David Bergland, the 1984 Libertarian Party presidential candidate, used to often tell reporters, “Most Americans are libertarians. They’re just in the process of discovering it.”

I pray that he might have been right, and I have reasons to believe so.

I believe that many Americans just want to be left alone to live their own lives freely, and that most abide by a live-and-let-live philosophy in their daily lives. It’s clear to me that we would probably all be better off if we stopped using the state, or so-called government, as the vehicle by which we try to impose our values on others. Voluntary anything beats mandatory anything every time.

But current political frameworks and debates don’t actually lend themselves to maximizing personal freedom, or even freedom from politics.

My initial political beliefs came from my home, as is most people’s experience. My dad, a Negro church pastor (this was in the early 1940s and that’s what we were called and also called ourselves when not using the term “colored”) was a Democrat, mainly because of FDR’s influence on the Black communities nationwide with his New Deal. Thus, I too was a Democrat. Rev. Boddie (pronounced “body”) strongly opposed war and questioned any and all United States military intervention worldwide. I also do to this day, most likely as a result of dad’s pacifist influence.

As an adult, after college and law school, I observed that the vast majority of Black folks in my city, Rochester, New York, were Democrats, likely for much the same reason as most people: you inherit political perspectives from those around you.

In those days in the minds of most people, politically, there were only Republicans, Democrats and Communists.

The concept of liberal, conservative, or even independent had yet to surface as political divisions in the minds of the citizenry. And surely there were no color-coded red, blue or purple shortcuts until recent times. And as for that recent innovation, it’s obvious that somebody definitely got the red and blue colorings backward. Who ever heard of a blue progressive or socialist, or a red Republican? Come on. But I ramble.

Unfortunately for our nation, the word “libertarian” and understanding thereof appears to be much too late in coming, just now breaking through to the masses. Instead and as a result, most of our politics are dominated by factions committed to using government to achieve what should be achieved voluntarily or as close to the individual as possible.

Libertarianism as a political approach is much closer to the intuition most people have of live and let live, for it is based on the common belief and understanding that this nation was predicated on respect for the individual first and foremost.

We would probably all be better off if we stopped using the government as the vehicle through which we seek to solve every problem, from the personal to the cultural to the economic.

This current divisive culture war and craziness that we are experiencing could ultimately be better handled by individuals and communities, often voluntarily, instead of being botched up and exacerbated by politicians at all levels.

I believe that we wouldn’t have our lives dominated by headlines about Trump or Biden or whomever if we didn’t trust in government to do so much that it shouldn’t be doing. Isn’t it obvious to you yet where the actual obvious problem is here?  As the late American businessman and libertarian activist Robert LeFevre put it, “Government is a disease masquerading as its own cure.”

The late co-founder of the Libertarian Party, David Nolan, established that there are five basic elements that one must believe in if she or he professes to be a libertarian: 1. You own yourself; 2. A belief in the right of self-defense; 3. Opposition to “criminal possession” laws; 4. Opposition to taxes on productivity; and 5. Support for a sound money system. That’s basically it.

Or more concisely, by yours truly:  “Do all you agree to do, and do not encroach on other people or other people’s property.” Or, “Don’t hurt other people and don’t take their stuff.” Or, “Thou shalt not aggress.” And this especially goes for people calling themselves government, too.

These days so many decent American voters are clamoring for a third party. It is quite understandable considering all the bipartisan angst. But, for some strange reason, perhaps due to the Libertarian Party’s principled and consistent positions and belief that “thou shalt not aggress” or “live and let live.” and absent the traditional cut-throat and too often blind political tactics, few are aware of or making the switch to the only political party that could fix the mess.

The LP has been in existence for almost 50 years now, it is in all 50 states and has been for years, and has run presidential and congressional candidates since its inception, as well as state and local candidates. It’s interesting to note that very few Americans have been allowed to even consider that political party choice. What’s up with that?

Whether you vote for the LP or not, whether you call yourself a libertarian or not, wouldn’t our lives all be better if we were less bombarded with politics? The only way to get there is to stop playing the usual games, stop sticking to the usual scripts and stop putting so much power in the hands of politicians and the state.

Richard Boddie is a member of the Southern California News Group’s editorial board.

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Ukraine president says Kyiv staying out of U.S. internal politics, elections – Reuters

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FILE PHOTO: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy gestures during an open-air news conference, one year after his inauguration, amid the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Kiev, Ukraine May 20, 2020. Sergey Dolzhenko/Pool via REUTERS

KYIV (Reuters) – Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on Saturday that it was a matter of Ukraine’s national security to stay out of U.S. internal politics, particularly its election.

“#Ukraine did not and will not allow itself to interfere in the elections and thus harm our trusting and sincere partnership with the #USA,” he wrote on Twitter late on Saturday.

Zelenskiy, 42, was a comic actor when he won a landslide election last year. But the first year of his presidency was overshadowed by Ukraine’s unwitting involvement in events that led to the impeachment of Republican U.S. President Donald Trump. Trump had unsuccessfully pressed Ukraine to launch an investigation into his Democratic rival in the 2020 presidential race, former Vice President Joe Biden.

“Never, under any circumstances, it’s acceptable to meddle in another country’s sovereign elections,” Zelenskiy wrote.

Zelenskiy appealed to Ukrainian politicians to avoid any actions that could be linked to U.S. elections, nor allow themselves to try to solve any of their personal, political or business problems that way.

“Ukraine’s reputation is worth much more than the reputation of any of our politicians,” the president said.

Earlier this week, Zelenskiy told Reuters that he hoped U.S. support for Ukraine would remain strong regardless of who wins the American election.

Reporting by Natalia Zinets; editing by Jonathan Oatis

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Week In Politics: Congress Fails To Come To Agreement On New Coronavirus Relief Bill – NPR

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As lawmakers fight over what to include in the next Coronavirus relief package, we look at the impact of delaying that aid. Also, do we know more about President Trump’s agenda for his second term?

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