You Have Agency

From time to time, I hear words or concepts you don't hear often suddenly pop up from seemingly unrelated sources.

One of those words recently: agency.

If you look up the word agency in a standard dictionary, you're likely to see it defined in legal terms. Wikipedia actually has a better definition of it as it applies to people, calling it "the capacity of individuals to act independently and to make their own free choices." 

(Yes, I know, you aren't supposed to use Wikipedia as a source. But I can do that. I have agency.)

The first time I heard this word recently, it popped up on a podcast by Michael Hyatt, who is a former book publisher and current leadership guru who was talking about accountability. If you aren't achieving your goals, what can YOU do better? To paraphrase him: don't blame your circumstances; realize that you have agency.

The second time it came up was 3 days ago in a New York Times editorial by Daphne Merkin regarding the #MeToo movement. She was talking about how some people say one thing publicly about the movement, but have misgivings in private. She worried aloud that the movement creates a culture of victimization, and asked, "What happened to women's agency?"

This is not the time, nor am I (as a straight white male) the person, to get into critiques of the #MeToo movement. 

But I do believe that now is a good time to remind people that they do, in fact, have agency. I think this is an important topic, because I firmly believe that one of the things that sets high-achievers apart from others is their realization of their own agency. 

I know many people who aren't happy in their jobs. You have agency. Take charge of your future and go out and find yourself something better. 

I know many people who aren't happy with their current relationships. You have agency. Find a way to repair them, or find a way to move on from them, and live your life happily. 

I know many people who aren't happy with today's politics or the current administration. We have agency. We can vote, we can stand for what's right, but more importantly, we can choose to help those we say we want to help regardless of whether laws reflect such. 

Bottom line: we all have agency. Let's not forget that as we push ahead towards our goals for making 2018 a better year.

Jason Griffin a political junkie who is often wrong but insists on writing about politics anyway. Follow further into the depths of political addiction by following on Facebook or Twitter. The monkey on your back thanks you.

The Final Word & Week Ahead: January 7, 2018

Happy New Year!

Well, 2018 certainly started with a bang, politically, thanks to a new tell-all book regarding the Trump administration. Meanwhile, for many of us, the new year means new resolutions and goals.

Below are some of the stories that mattered this week, along with a look ahead.

Fire and Fury

Michael Wolff’s book Fire and Fury: Inside The Trump White House, sent the Trump administration into a tailspin. The two key takeaways discussed before the book’s release:

  1. Steve Bannon’s comments that a meeting between the Trump campaign and Russian operatives was “treasonous,” that they’ll crack Donald Jr. “like an egg” on national TV, and that the investigation centers around money laundering

  2. The overall narrative that the president is not fit to lead

Where this goes: Bannon’s comments regarding the Russian investigation lend credibility to the allegations of Russian interference and potential wrongdoing. But, as I noted on my blog earlier this week, perhaps they make no difference in the long run. More importantly, the president himself has become unglued over the book.

  1. His lawsuit to try to stop the publishing of the book is unprecedented. God bless my Trump supporting friends, but for those who scoffed at liberal hysterics over the idea of an authoritarian Trump, let me as this: When is the last time a president tried to stop a book?

  2. The president took to Twitter Saturday morning to refer to himself as “a very stable genius,” giving, I’m assuming, very few people additional confidence in his mental health.

Further reading: you can read more on my blog about my initial Bannon thoughts, as well as what Rush Limbaugh had to say about push to halt the book’s publishing.

Update: Bannon is now apologizing. Really??? Yes, really. 

Finally, if there's one thing you should read from the past week about Wolff's book, it comes from Drew Magary at GQ. (Yes, that GQ magazine.) He writes about how Michael Wolff did what every other White House reporter was too cowardly to do: burn bridges and access to get the story. Read it here.

Hillary Clinton

Meanwhile, the Feds are now investigating the Clinton Foundation. CNN says that the FBI and federal prosecutors are looking into corruption charges, specifically that the Clinton Foundation promised access to Hillary Clinton while she was Secretary of State.

There’s been criticism of this move. Trump demanded an investigation and got one, and Democrats have expressed outrage at the idea of a sitting president launching an investigation into a political enemy.

Why this matters: The results of the investigation, and Democrat and Republican reaction to it, will have a big impact with voters as it progresses. Which side will wind up looking like the bigger hypocrites? Republicans going after Clinton but defending Trump, or Democrats going after Trump but defending Clinton?

JG Thoughts: I would caution Democrats here. True, a president should not go after a political enemy as punishment. BUT… if a crime was committed, do Hillary and Bill get a pass just because Hillary lost? Who knows… maybe she and Trump can get indicted together.

Mitt Romney

There is speculation that Mitt Romney might make a run for Senate. Utah Senator Orrin hatch will retire and not seek re-election. Romney changed his Twitter location from Massachusetts to Utah, further fueling this speculation (and revealing, apparently, that real people get paid real money to watch these sorts of things).

Why it matters: Mitt Romney, a Republican, didn’t support Donald Trump, and hasn’t been afraid to go after him. As the Republican nominee for president in 2012, people still pay attention to him, and a Senator Romney would put a strong Republican Trump critic in the senate. Some has said he has a chance to fill a void that might be left by an ailing John McCain.

Media & Entertainment

David Letterman returns with an all-new talk show on Netflix. The new series debuts on January 12th, and his first guest will be former president Barack Obama. The name of the new show: “My Next Guest Needs No Introduction.”

This says a lot about today’s media. It would seem Letterman could do this type of show anywhere. What broadcast network or cable channel wouldn’t want to have him. Instead, he’ll join the ranks of Jerry Seinfeld as another one of TV’s biggest stars doing their next project on a medium that is only available via the Internet.

Life & Culture

Pope Francis caught the media's attention heading into the new year. For people who do what I do, Francis had some advice: He called media sensationalism and disinformation a “serious sin,” and urged journalists to provide, as The Guardian reports, “precise, complete and correct information and not to provide one-sided reports.”

He also had some words of wisdom that everyone of all religious stripes (or not) can apply to 2018. In a homily at a vespers service on New Year’s Eve, he expressed gratitude for “all those persons who, every day, contribute with small but previous gestures to the common good, who seek to do their duty as well as possible.”

Advice to heed: Be grateful for what you have, and whatever your goals for 2018, try to be someone who helps.

Moving Forward

Hope you have a wonderful week and that you are able to keep focusing on your goals for the year ahead.


Jason Griffin a political junkie who is often wrong but insists on writing about politics anyway. Follow further into the depths of political addiction by following on Facebook or Twitter. The monkey on your back thanks you.

Trump Tries To Stop Michael Wolff Book: Here's What Rush Limbaugh Had To Say

I have just one question for my Trump-supporting friends who scoffed at liberal hysterics over the idea of an authoritarian Trump: When is the last time you remember a president trying to halt publication of a book? Apparently, I'm not the only one who thinks this is a bad idea. Even Rush Limbaugh, not known for going against the grain of the president, had something to say about it. 

Read More

Bannon Pours Gas On A Fire

It was my sincerest hope to have my first blog post of 2018 be something inspirational. I was going to write about goals, better media, and even include inspirational words from the Pope. Ah, but the flesh is weak. Thoughts on Bannon's claims about Trump & Russia, including a quote about Breitbart many might have missed.

Read More