Archive for the 'Current Events' Category

Discussion of the Pence Rule

For those of you who don’t know, Mike Pence, the VPOTUS, supposedly has a rule where he doesn’t eat alone with a woman who is not his wife. To discuss this topic in this thread, I’m going to respond to tweets about this subject. To start off, I’m going to respond to a tweet expressing vindication of the Pence Rule: Continue reading ‘Discussion of the Pence Rule’

Frontline: Putin’s Revenge, Part 1 and 2

PBS’s Frontline has a documentary on Putin and the Russian interference in the 2016 election. I don’t part 2 has come out yet, but I’m interested in discussing this, if you guys watch it.
On the website, there are also separate interviews with several experts and former government officials as well. Here’s the link.

Examining the Uranium One Story

Don’t know anything about the Uranium One story? Here are some links: Continue reading ‘Examining the Uranium One Story’

Will Massive Tax Cuts Lead to a Business Boom That Will Replace Lost Government Revenue?

This is a key principle for Republicans. Cut taxes and the economic activity will increase, if not explode. What about the loss of government revenue from these tax cuts? Don’t worry, conservatives say, the economic boom that results from the tax cuts will be so large that it will cover most, if not all of the lost revenue from taxes. My understanding is that this idea has little merit, and there’s an interesting story from NPR’s Planet Money podcast that reinforces this. The podcast is about the Governor Brownback’s attempt to implement tax cuts based on this principle in Kansas.

Short answer: it didn’t work. Indeed, The Atlantic has an article with Kansas Republicans warning that the GOP tax plan for the federal government, based on a similar principle, won’t work either.

Here are two interesting things I got out of the article. Continue reading ‘Will Massive Tax Cuts Lead to a Business Boom That Will Replace Lost Government Revenue?’

Gun Violence

Thread to post articles on gun violence and gun control, as well a place to discuss the topic.

I Used to Think Gun Control Was the Answer My Research Told Me Otherwise is a somewhat surprising op-ed from a former writer from FiveThirtyEight. Continue reading ‘Gun Violence’

World War II in Colour (2009) (TV)

This is a streaming TV documentary series on World War II, with, as the title suggested, colorized video and images from WWII. The colorization is not what drew me to this. Instead, I’m watching this just to get an overview of WWII. This thread will be a repository for my notes and thoughts on what I’m learning. As a general point, I’m watching the series through with the present in mind, particularly in Europe. Also, my notes are based on memory, so take them with a grain of salt, as I may not have remembered all the details accurately. Continue reading ‘World War II in Colour (2009) (TV)’

Journal in the Trump Era

My Trump regime threads are mostly repositories for articles, tweets, etc., which I’ve tried to organize by categories (e.g., Russia scandal, corruption, etc.). I’m starting this thread to post responses I have for certain events, articles, etc. I could start separate threads, but I’ve been overwhelming the site with political posts, and I don’t want to do that. I’m hoping that I can post most of my thoughts and comments in this one thread, and that should not flood the site with politics.

For my first post, I want to comment on this remark: Continue reading ‘Journal in the Trump Era’

A Novel and Radical Way to Deal with the Russian Threat

Confession: I really don’t know if my suggestion is actually novel or radical. Someone may have suggested. Then again, I don’t really know if the idea has any merit at all, so maybe no knowledgeable person actually suggested this. With that said, I want to throw out an idea first came to mind while reading Kissinger’s Diplomacy, specifically the section about Gorbachev. I don’t remember specifics now, but I’ll explain my general impressions and the way that relates to the idea I’m throwing out for consideration. Continue reading ‘A Novel and Radical Way to Deal with the Russian Threat’

How Streaming Video and Traditional Movies Can Lead to New Art Forms

I came across this Atlantic piece about Christopher Nolan’s recent criticisms of Netflix. Nolan believe that the Netflix’s policies are hurting, even killing, the movie theater business. Specifically, he mentions the policy of allowing internet access to films on the same day Netflix releases those films in the theater. Why not release the films in the theaters for a short period of time, and then stream them online? he asks. After all, Amazon does this, and they have had success. This seems like a reasonable point, and it got me to think, not only about ways online streaming services can actually boost the viability of movie theaters, but also of the new cinematic forms that could result if these two media formed the right, symbiotic relationship. Here are some ideas off the top of my head: Continue reading ‘How Streaming Video and Traditional Movies Can Lead to New Art Forms’

New York Times’s Interview of Donald Trump (7/19/2017)

The New York Times published excerpts from an interview they had with Trump yesterday. I’m not sure if you guys read the New York Times, or if you have read this interview, but if you haven’t, I think this interview is worth reading. (Actually, Trump has given a series of these interviews, and they’re all worth reading.) I say that for a couple of reasons: 1) they give a lot of insight into Trump, especially how he thinks; 2) if you’re concerned about liberal bias, I think bias is less of a factor in interviews, because Trump’s words, which he controls, is the substance of these interviews. (To be fair, the times has printed excerpts, so bias can play a factor there, and it’s something to keep in mind. Still, readers get a largely unfiltered view of Trump in these interviews.)

In this post, I want to jot down some of my thoughts and reactions. (For what it’s worth, I’d recommend reading the interview before you read my comments or anyone else’s.) Continue reading ‘New York Times’s Interview of Donald Trump (7/19/2017)’

Meeting Between Donald Trump Jr., Kushner, Manafort and Russian Lawyer, Natalia Velnitskaya

More news today about meeting between Trump Jr., Kushner, Manafort and Natalia Veselnitskaya, Russian lawyer (who has ties to the Kremlin). I had two shout posts on this. The first here and the second one here

Today, the New York Times has a story regarding more specifics about the content of the Donald Trump Jr.’s emails. Here’s an excerpt (emphasis added):

The June 3, 2016, email sent to Donald Trump Jr. could hardly have been more explicit: One of his father’s former Russian business partners had been contacted by a senior Russian government official and was offering to provide the Trump campaign with dirt on Hillary Clinton.

The documents “would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia and would be very useful to your father,” read the email, written by a trusted intermediary, who added, “This is obviously very high level and sensitive information but is part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.”

If the future president’s eldest son was surprised or disturbed by the provenance of the promised material — or the notion that it was part of a continuing effort by the Russian government to aid his father’s campaign — he gave no indication.

He replied within minutes: “If it’s what you say I love it especially later in the summer.”

As others have mentioned, these emails seem damning. Whether Goldstone and Veselnitskaya are connected to the Russian government or not, Trump Jr.–and Manafort and Kushner–knew the people they were meeting claimed to have ties to the Russian government. That’s damning by itself.

Now, Trump Jr. also released the entire emails. (I understand the New York Times was planning to do this, but they sought Trump Jr. for comment. Trump Jr.’s team asked for more time, and went ahead and published the emails.)

Why would he do that? I have some theories explaining why Trump Jr. talked so openly about this, including publishing the emails. Continue reading ‘Meeting Between Donald Trump Jr., Kushner, Manafort and Russian Lawyer, Natalia Velnitskaya’

Am I Off Base to Question the President’s Mental Well Being?

Trump tweeted twice today about discussion a joint cyber security unit with Putin (an idea that seems crazy to me), and several hours later tweeted again about it.

The first Here’s the first tweet (and I included part of the subsequent tweet because it completed the sentence):

Putin & I discussed forming an impenetrable Cyber Security unit so that election hacking, & many other negative things, will be guarded…..and safe.

Here’s the second tweet later on in the evening:

The fact that President Putin and I discussed a Cyber Security unit doesn’t mean I think it can happen. It can’t-but a ceasefire can,& did!

It should be noted that in between the two tweets there were negative reactions to the first tweet. For example, Republican Senator Ben Sasse: Continue reading ‘Am I Off Base to Question the President’s Mental Well Being?’

Should the U.S. Make a Deal with Russia to Fight ISIS?

This seems like the one of the main arguments the Trump administration will make to justify Trump’s conciliatory stance towards Russia–e.g., removing sanctions, returning Russian compounds on U.S. soil (not to mention Trump’s fawning approach to Putin, avoiding saying anything bad about him). So far, based on what I’ve read, this position seems rather dubious. U.S.-Russian Cooperation on ISIS: Do We Want Our Face Ripped Off Again? is from The Cipher Brief written by John Sipher, Director of Client Services at CrossLead, Inc. (He retired in 2014 after a 28-year career in the Central Intelligence Agency’s National Clandestine Service.), makes the common arguments I’ve read against this notion: Continue reading ‘Should the U.S. Make a Deal with Russia to Fight ISIS?’

Could This Be a Viable Economic Model for Journalism?

Civil: Self-Sustaining Journalism is a Medium piece about a new way of doing and sustaining journalism. Honestly, I’m fuzzy on the way the concept will work, particularly the “cryptoeconomic” aspects. If anyone has a clearer idea about what they’re getting at, let me know.

If Russia Has Been Trying to Interfere in Our Elections Before, What Makes 2016 So Different?

That’s sort of the question, Senator Lankford asked a three person panel in a Senate Intelligence hearing a few months ago. Actually, he asked why the Russians interfered to such a large degree, in the present moment, in 2016. Here’s the video:

Clint Watts attempts to answer the question, but he actually seems to answer a different question–namely, why was the Russian interference so successful. (His answer is worth listening to.) Senator Lankford asks his question again. Here’s a breakdown of Watts’s answer (starting at the 2:30 mark; but it’s worth listening to his entire message), which I think is important: Continue reading ‘If Russia Has Been Trying to Interfere in Our Elections Before, What Makes 2016 So Different?’

James Comey’s Testimony to Congress

I’m guessing this might receive a lot of attention, so I’m creating a separate thread for this (which I will like to this tread). To start, here’s Comey’s opening statement, annotated by The Atlantic Monthly. Next, this National Review article by Dan McLauhglin basically describes my reaction to Comey’s opening statement. The last paragraph does a fairly decent job of summing up the statement:

The narrative the Democrats desperately want is that Trump is under FBI investigation for criminal activity that invalidates the 2016 election, and has committed impeachable offenses. The facts they actually have are a lot less sexy: a president who wouldn’t respect the FBI’s independence and couldn’t understand why the FBI Director couldn’t publicly exonerate him when he wasn’t under investigation. But those facts are ugly enough in what they say about Trump’s ability to run a government that inspires confidence in the impartial administration of justice.

Actually, that first sentence does not describe my position. Continue reading ‘James Comey’s Testimony to Congress’

A National Ombudsman

Concept: Form a group of journalists, a mix of conservatives and liberals, to serve on a panel that would review news stories and even political issues to identify areas of consensus on the key facts as well as identifying arguments or positions that are either legitimate or not. Above their politics, the members would be committed to Enlightenment principles and standards of journalism–and they would use these to analyzing the news and political events.

As an example, this panel could look at the ties between Russia and Trump campaign. They could identify the key facts, details about the case that are speculative, and they could analyze the various arguments and positions made by the Trump administration as well as those who oppose Trump.

I realize what I’m describing doesn’t really fit the description of an ombudsman, but I like the national ombudsman as a name for this. I do think this panel could also serve as traditional ombudsman role–namely, citizens could complain about certain reporting, and the panel could evaluate the reporting and then weigh in.


The purpose of the panel is to provide a basic and common understanding of important news and issues facing the nation–a way to specifically counteract the formation of individual information bubbles. The latter divides the nation and makes democracy far more difficult, if not impossible. The panel, by being ideologically diverse, and intellectually fair and rigorous, can help provide a way to help people get outside their personal bubbles.

Additional Feature:

The National Ombudsman could set up a website to publish their results with the a discussion section. The discussion section woudln’t be open to anyone. Instead, local newspapers could set up citizen’s editorial boards and they could choose some of these individuals to participate on these online discussions. Part of the idea is to find thoughtful and civil individuals, as well as weed out trolls, foreign or domestic.

Trump Regime (5)

Trump Presidency (1)
Trump Presidency (2)
Trump Regime (3)
Trump Regime (4)
Administrative Personnel Profiles

Here’s the fifth thread.

A Short Video on What Putin Wants in the U.S.

Here’s a two minute video explaining how Putin benefits from Donald Trump’s time in office:

Basically, Putin wants to weaken the American system of government, disrupt, if not tear apart, its society, to support his narrative that Western democracy isn’t very good or desirable, that authoritarianism is actually a superior system. I believe the U.S. and the West are now in a battle of these two competing narratives. There are reasons to believe that those in the West should take this battle very seriously–i.e., it’s a battle that can be lost. In this thread, I will explain reasons for this as well as other implications, particularly for critics of Western democracies. Continue reading ‘A Short Video on What Putin Wants in the U.S.’

How to Respond to Attempts to Undermine Our Democracy

Time magazine has good article on the way Russians are using social media and the internet to way a cyberpropaganda war. This sums up the situation well in my view:

Marrying a hundred years of expertise in influence operations to the new world of social media, Russia may finally have gained the ability it long sought but never fully achieved in the Cold War: to alter the course of events in the U.S. by manipulating public opinion. The vast openness and anonymity of social media has cleared a dangerous new route for antidemocratic forces. “Using these technologies, it is possible to undermine democratic government, and it’s becoming easier every day,” says Rand Waltzman of the Rand Corp., who ran a major Pentagon research program to understand the propaganda threats posed by social media technology.

Basically, the internet/social media is Disneyland for the Russians. Continue reading ‘How to Respond to Attempts to Undermine Our Democracy’