Archive for the 'Current Events' Category

Rant: The GOP and Conservative Media Are Worse Than Trump

As bad as Trump is for the country, there are two groups that I hold more responsible for what is going on now. Those two groups are the Congressional Republicans and conservative media that are basically supporting Trump. I want to start with a quote from a New York Magazine: article by Jonathan Chait (emphasis added) Continue reading ‘Rant: The GOP and Conservative Media Are Worse Than Trump’

My Defense of James Comey’s October Surprise

Josh Marshall, from Talking Points Memo, has an article, on how we should understand James Comey, the former FBI director. However, Marshall seems to focus the most on why he believes Comey sent his letter to Congress last October, regarding Hillary Clinton’s emails–which basically constituted an “October Surprise,” that almost certainly hurt Clinton’s chances. Most of the reasons put Comey in a negative light–e.g., Comey wanted to protect his reputation as fair and impartial and that Comey had a real problem with Clinton setting up a private server. To be fair, Marshall also does acknowledge that Comey might have sent the letter because he assume, with justification, that more partisan FBI agents from the New York office would probably have leaked the information, if Comey didn’t–and that may be more damaging. Still, Marshall’s verdict on Comey’s decision comes down on the negative side:

One last dimension of this is that Comey was almost certainly assumed that Clinton would win. So it wasn’t just Republican attacks in the abstract. It was the very specific scenario of the Republican Congress finding out soon after Clinton’s election that Comey had ‘sat on’ possible new evidence against Clinton little more than a week before the election.

That must have been a difficult bind for Comey. But it shouldn’t have been a hard decision. Faced with choosing between what I think was unquestionably the correct and ethical decision and the one which would ward off challenges to his reputation and secondarily the FBI’s reputation, he chose the latter. Given the gravity and predictable consequences of the decision, his choice was and remains unconscionable. Whether he saw the choice in these terms or was so beholden to the myth of his own rectitude he saw it differently, I do not know.

In the article, Marshall overlooks one key issue, an issue that I think could largely justify Comey’s decision. That’s what I hope to describe in this post. Continue reading ‘My Defense of James Comey’s October Surprise’

Problems Relating to Government Apply to the Press

I wrote a post about why good work often isn’t valued in government, pointing to the nature of the consequences that occur as a result of performance, both individually and organizationally. What happens if the individual or organizations performs well or poorly? What types of behaviors get a strong response–negative or positive; and which behaviors don’t get much of a response at all? The answers to these questions will tell you a lot about the performance of the government agency and the individuals within it, especially over a long period of time. Moreover, if individuals want reform an agency, the consequences must also be in line with specific changes being made. To give a broad example, suppose the work of an agency is met with a great deal of indifference; that is, whether the agency performs well or not, the agency faces the same consequence–namely, virtually no consequence. An attempt to make big changes to improve the agency will be incredibly difficult, and almost certain to fail (assuming the objective is changes that aren’t temporary). No compelling incentives exists, which would leave a lot of disincentives to improve. Change is hard and uncomfortable without a compelling reason to change, change–meaningful and lasting change— won’t happen.

What I’m saying doesn’t just apply to government, but any organization. If you want to understand the performance of an organization and the behavior of the people in it, study the response to performance. Once you understand the response, you will understand the performance and behaviors in the organization. I want to apply this approach to the U.S. press, focusing on this video critique of CNN from Vox: Continue reading ‘Problems Relating to Government Apply to the Press’

Foreign Policy in the Trump Administration

What I have below is a compilation of various articles and quotes about foreign policy issues/stories that may have relavance during the Trump administration. (I probably should have started the thread a while ago, but I didn’t. I’m starting it now because I want to address the Syrian situation, involving the recent use of chemical weapons.

Before I do that, here are the articles, quotes, and comments about different foreign policy issues: Continue reading ‘Foreign Policy in the Trump Administration’

Can Comedians Teach Journalists How to Cover Trump?

The following Vox video at least implies as much:

The video makes some really good points. Initially, I enjoyed a lot of the video, but I started thinking less and less of it as I thought about it more. In this post, I’m going to address the problems I had with the piece. Continue reading ‘Can Comedians Teach Journalists How to Cover Trump?’

How Should Journalists Cover a President Who Doesn’t Care About Telling the Truth?

In response to this tweet:

Here’s Professor Jay Rosen’s tweet: Continue reading ‘How Should Journalists Cover a President Who Doesn’t Care About Telling the Truth?’

How I Use Twitter as a News Filter

From the past several months, I’ve been spending more time consuming (national) news than I’ve ever did in my life. In this thread, I’m going to describe the process I’ve developed to gather information. Continue reading ‘How I Use Twitter as a News Filter’

Trump Regime (4)

Trump Presidency (1)
Trump Presidency (2)
Trump Regime (3)

Administrative Personnel Profiles

The Press is Failing the American Public

When future generations look back on this time period, I believe they will be critical of the press coverage of Trump. “Why were they overlooking the dangers? Why weren’t they ringing the alarm bells?” I’ll try to share some of my thoughts on this in this thread. Continue reading ‘The Press is Failing the American Public’

This Time, Robots May Really Replace a Lot of Human Workers–What Should We Do About This?

This essay–A Warning From Bill Gates, Stephen Hawking, and Elon Musk
–includes several interesting short video clips of the specific jobs robots will do, displacing human workers. There are three proposals to deal with this displacement: Continue reading ‘This Time, Robots May Really Replace a Lot of Human Workers–What Should We Do About This?’

Sorry About All the Trump Posts

Guys, I realize that I’m posting a lot about Trump, and I’m feeling a little bad about that. I think it’s becoming too excessive, and yet, I want to both express my thoughts about this topic, as well as create a repository for articles and other information.

I have an idea to reduce the number of posts–or at least reduce pushing up Trump-related threads to the top of the list. Here’s the idea I have: Continue reading ‘Sorry About All the Trump Posts’

Thoughts on the Government Leaks That Have Been Going On

Rebellion Brews but But American ‘Deep State” is a Myth is an article by John Schindler, a former NSA analyst. I don’t take Schindler’s word as gospel (really, I don’t take any journalist’s world as gospel), but Schindler is credible to me. Having said that, some of his tweets, chiding Trump for insulting the Intelligence Community (IC) have unsettled me a bit. These tweets are warnings that suggests if Trump insults the IC, the IC would get their revenge. In the article above, Schindler not only attempts to debunk the notion of a Deep State rebelling against Trump, but also ostensibly defend the leaks. He doesn’t do that great of a job, in my view, as I think can be seen in this section: Continue reading ‘Thoughts on the Government Leaks That Have Been Going On’

Ode to the Free Press

The press has problems. There’s ideological bias, that can lead to distortions and misleading reporting. There is commercial pressures and a lack of resources that can lead to hurt the quality of journalism even more. Despite these flaws, I still think the press is very important, and does have the capacity to report facts to hold the President accountable. If there’s one thing good about the Trump regime, it’s that I’ve gained a much deeper appreciation for our system of government and democratic institution, and the free press is close to the top of that list.

Here’s a thread that collects some video, quotes and anything else that serves as a paean to the press. The first video clip is my favorite:

Continue reading ‘Ode to the Free Press’

Trump Administration Personnel Profiles

This is a thread on the personnel in the Trump administration. I’m going to organize this thread a little differently. I’m going to try and use one post (comment) per staff, which I will update with articles and comments over time. In effect, the post/comment will be like a page for the person in question. I’m doing this for several reasons: 1) this makes finding information about an individual a lot easier; 2) it will limit the number of times the entire thread is bumped to the top.

The format of thread isn’t really structured for discussion, but if any of you want to post a comment please feel free to do so.

Trump Regime (3)

45th President (1)
Trump Presidency (2) Continue reading ‘Trump Regime (3)’

Americans Protesting Trump

Here’s a thread to collect anecdotes and images about public protests or demonstrations opposing President Trump. I find these images really inspiring.

Here’s the first one I’m posting, which comes from St. Louis:

IQ2US Debate: Should Donald Trump Be Given a Chance?

For:
Clive Crook, writer for Bloomberg. (It should be noted that Crook is not very supportive of Trump’s policies, and his actions so far.)
Gayle Trotter, columnist, political analyst, lawyer

Against:
David Frum, The Atlantic co-editor, former George W. Bush speechwriter.
Michael Waldman, President, Brennan Center for Justic, and former speechwriter for Bill Clinton. (He’s the only liberal on the panel.)

This is a long debate, centered around whether Donald Trump should be given a chance. I just wanted to jot down some of my thoughts and comments: Continue reading ‘IQ2US Debate: Should Donald Trump Be Given a Chance?’

How to Culture Jam an Autocrat–a Thread on Autocracy

How to Culture Jam a Populist in Four Easy Steps is an article written by a Venezuelan who lived through the Chavez regime. (There’a also a WaPo version.) Drawing on his experience, the author, Andres Miguel Rondon, gives some advice about how Americans should deal with Trump.

In the interest of absorbing and digesting the article, I’m going to summarize it first, while adding comments and observations. Continue reading ‘How to Culture Jam an Autocrat–a Thread on Autocracy’

Is President Trump Making Us Safer or Less Safe?

This thread is a repository of articles and comments about whether President Trump is making the country safer or not.

Recently, he signed an executive order (EO), banning individuals from seven countries in the Middle East and Africa. Notably, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan were not on the list. Also, individuals with green cards from these countries were not allowed back into the country.

I’m finding a lot of negative articles, but if you guys see ones that argue that Trump is making the country safer, please let me know.

The following is a list of articles that I have opposing the recent EO: Continue reading ‘Is President Trump Making Us Safer or Less Safe?’

The Trump Presidency (2)

The Trump Presidency (1)