Archive for the 'Government' Category

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.

“But This Time It’s Different”

Someone observed (and I can’t remember who now) that Presidents who were governors from small states often have a very rocky transition. I vaguely remember the troubles Bill Clinton had initially, and I drew some conclusions from that. For one thing, Continue reading ‘“But This Time It’s Different”’

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’

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?’

Developing a Journalistic Liberal-Democratic Manifesto for a Post-Truth World

I understand that “post-truth” is Oxford dictionary’s word of the year. Here’s their definition:

‘relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief’

Recently, on the Diane Rehm Show Scottie Nell Hughes, a “journalist” and Trump supporter, went so far as claiming that “There’s no such thing, unfortunately, anymore of facts.” Whether she meant this literally or not, I get the sense that she, and a growing number of individuals, are starting to adopt a very relativistic stance with regard to political discourse. That is, when we talk about problems and political solutions, having some meaningful consensus about key facts and positions that are persuasive versus positions that are baseless, is not really possible–because all positions are primarily subjective and overwhelmed by personal and political bias.

This is a very dangerous idea, although it may not seem that way because the idea is fairly abstract; it’s effects aren’t easily seen, understood, or felt. Indeed, the effects may take a while to affect individuals. Nevertheless, I contend that this is a very dangerous idea. (Do you guys agree with this?) Continue reading ‘Developing a Journalistic Liberal-Democratic Manifesto for a Post-Truth World’

What Must Be Done After the Election

I came across a tweetstorm by Noah Smith, a Bloomberg writer, and sparked some ideas that I wanted to address (emphasis added):

1/In the wake of the 2012 election, there was an internal debate about how the GOP should deal with a diversifying electorate.
2/One faction said the GOP should aggressively court Hispanics and compromise on immigration.
3/The other factor said the GOP should try to Continue reading ‘What Must Be Done After the Election’

How Trump Could Govern Like a Tyrant if He Becomes President

There are many things to comment on the debate last night,but I want to focus on one, something that I really didn’t stand out for me when I first heard it. I’m talking about Trump’s promise that he would attempt to throw Hillary Clinton in jail, if he’s elected. I looked at some tweets afterward, and I noticed many people responding strongly to this remark. Here is one from Ari Fleicher, former White House press secretary under George W. Bush:

Upon reading these tweets, I could, on some level, see how this was a bad thing, but, honestly, I didn’t react or fully understand the alarm that some were raising. (I asked my father about this, and he reacted in a similar fashion.) Why is this such a significant thing, if it is? Continue reading ‘How Trump Could Govern Like a Tyrant if He Becomes President’

Thoughts on Why the Press May Be Covering Clinton’s Scandals Unfairly

Several prominent journalists and public thinkers have been critical of the New York Times and Associated Press for the way they have covered the Clinton Foundation’s connection with Hilary Clinton while she was Secretary of State (SoS). (Actually, they’re critical of how various publications have investigated potential scandals by the both Bill and Hilllary Clinton.) Many of these critics (Matthew Iglesias, Norm Ornstein, James Fallows, et. al.) believe some publications are spending an inordinate time investigating and reporting on potential stories that don’t warrant this; and in the process, these publications create the impression that Hilary Clinton has done something really bad. So, the issue is 1) the amount of scrutiny and coverage; and 2) the lack of any egregious wrong-doing by Clinton.

Honestly, I’m not 100% sure if these critics are correct. I do think they are, but I can’t be sure if this is my bias at work. I’ll definitely try to keep this in mind, but I want to proceed by offering a possible explanation for why certain publications (like the Times) is treating Clinton this way.

First, here are two possible reasons some publications like the NY Times favor viewing Clinton as suspect and corrupt, even if the evidence doesn’t really support this: Continue reading ‘Thoughts on Why the Press May Be Covering Clinton’s Scandals Unfairly’

The Social Needs of the Social Media and How This Relates to the Rise of Donald Trump

I’ve been spending more time on the Atlantic website, including participating in the comments section. There are some ideas I wanted to get off my chest based on this experience (and, really, I may have had these ideas before, but my recent experience has just underscored them.).To start off, I want to list some of the differences between online and offline communication and social interactions, including some observations about both: Continue reading ‘The Social Needs of the Social Media and How This Relates to the Rise of Donald Trump’

A Discussion About the Complex Relationship Between Abrahamic Religions and Secular Government

Can Muslims embrace and live comfortably in Western democracies? Or does Islam make this impossible? The recent terrorist attacks, inspired or committed by ISIS, has lead to discussions I’ve heard and been a part of, discussions that have often been too simplistic in my view. I believe this is a highly complicated issue–an issue where separating religion from other factors (economic, cultural, political, etc.) can be difficult, if not impossible. I use Abrahamic religions in the title because my discussion will feature Christianity and Judaism as well. (I’m not sure what I’m saying applies to Buddhism, Hinduism or Far East Religions like Shintoism.) There’s a danger to this approach as I may mistakenly see similarities which don’t exist, or ignore differences that do. I will try to keep this mind while I write (and hopefully readers will correct me when I make such mistakes).

Tension Between Passionate Believers and Liberal Democracy Continue reading ‘A Discussion About the Complex Relationship Between Abrahamic Religions and Secular Government’

Hawai’i Business Magazine Leadership Roundtable: Merging Visions

I recently read a Hawaii Business Magazine leadership roundtable transcript that touched on Millenials in the workplace as well as finding a way to create a vision for Hawai’i. Several themes came up that I want to bring up for discussion. Continue reading ‘Hawai’i Business Magazine Leadership Roundtable: Merging Visions’

Your Personal Voting History

Do you remember which Presidential candidates you voted for? How do you feel today about your votes then?

Here’s mine.

1988: Bush-Dukakis. I voted for Bush, mostly because I thought he was more presidential, and because I really liked Reagan. Although I’m now disappointed in the way he went about bringing our economic recovery (trickle-down still sounds like it should work on paper; I’m disappointed that it doesn’t seem to have turned out that way except for the short-term apparent overall upturn). I still think he was a critical, singular piece of ending the Cold War, and I kind of saw my vote for Bush as an approval of this huge, huge thing. The Wall came down during Bush’s presidency, and we had the Gulf War, which at the time I approved of. I’m not so much a fan today.

1992: Bush-Clinton. Clinton was a turnoff for me. I voted for Bush because I thought we were in okay shape and because I just didn’t see the Clinton appeal. I didn’t care about Clinton’s dalliances; I just didn’t think his supposed plan was very convincing. If I had today’s knowledge then, I would have voted for Clinton, but based on what I knew, I feel mostly sympathetic toward young me on this choice. Continue reading ‘Your Personal Voting History’

Could Facebook Prevent Donald Trump From Becoming President?

How Facebook Could Tilt the 2016 Election is a disturbing article. It explains how Facebook could influence the election to cause Donald Trump to lose (without anyone really being able to prove they were doing this). I really don’t want to see Trump in the White House, but if the article is correct this is really troubling. (In general, I’m getting more disturbed and creeped out by online companies like FB and google.)

Notes on Christopher Lasch’s “Journalism, Publicity and the Lost Art of Argument”

I enjoy reading Jay Rosen’s thoughts at his site, Pressthink, and I recently one of the articles I’ve heard him mention, Christopher Lasch’s “Journalism, Publicity and the Lost Art of Argument” (written in 1987 for the Gannett Center Journal. This thread will contain raw notes on the article (which can be found online, so if anyone wants to read it and comment, that would be great!).

The article is about the function of the press in a democracy–specifically the role of the American press in the 19th century and the way that role changed in the 20th–some of this surprised, which I’ll go into in this thread.

But before I do that I want to start off with a quote (a paraphrase of ideas from John Dewey and William James) that I think is appropriate as it describes my approach to many of the posts I start here (especially ones about books or articles):

It is only by subjecting our preferences and projects to the test of debate that we come to understand what we know and what we still need to learn. Until we have to defend our opinions in public, they remain opinions in (Walter) Lippmann’s pejorative sense–half-formed convictions based on random impressions and unexamined assumptions.It is the act of articulating and defending our views that lifts them out of the category of “opinions,” gives them shape and definition, and makes it possible for others to recognize them as a description of their own experience as well. In short, we come to know our own minds only by explaining ourselves to others.

(Emphasis added) Continue reading ‘Notes on Christopher Lasch’s “Journalism, Publicity and the Lost Art of Argument”’

Pay for Success–an Interesting Approach to Providing Government Services

I thought I wrote about pay for pay for success before, but I couldn’t find any thread on it. Anyway, it’s an interesting way to get private funding for government services (mostly social services, I think).

How it Works Continue reading ‘Pay for Success–an Interesting Approach to Providing Government Services’

What If Government Employees Spent Monies As If It Were Their Own?


Here’s an idea to help increase the efficient and effective use of money in government, or, alternatively, a plan to cut government waste.


At the agency level, government resources are often misused or wasted. One reason involves budgeting processes and bureaucratic rules that are meant to give lawmakers control over monies, while also preventing waste, fraud and abuse (ironically). However, giving more control to lawmakers means less control by agency employees. As a result, government employees often don’t use funds with the type of vigor, thoughtfulness and creativity that they would if they had more control. Additionally, more disincentives rather than incentives to use money efficiently exist. For example, government agencies are usually required to return any unspent monies at the end of the fiscal year to the general government fund. They can’t keep any savings to use for a future time. Not only that, but there is a common belief that if one doesn’t spend all of one’s budget, one risks budget cuts, as unspent monies sends a signal that monies aren’t needed. The result is that agencies will spend all their monies, whether they really need to or not. There are stories of warehouses of purchased supplies and materials that go unused year after year. This is one of the reasons this occurs. In my view, a significant degree of waste and ineffective use of resources will always occur unless the situation I describe above changes. The following proposal seeks to do just that. Continue reading ‘What If Government Employees Spent Monies As If It Were Their Own?’

2016 U.S. Presidential Election–a Repository of Information

This thread will serve a repository for links, information and possibly discussion on the candidates for U.S. president.

By the way, if you guys are interested, here’s a suggestion. We all can recommend good links here and at some point read them all to discuss. This would at least allow us to discuss the issue based on a common set of information. Just a thought. Continue reading ‘2016 U.S. Presidential Election–a Repository of Information’

A Conceptual Dichotomy That Could Explain the Political Disagreements Between Mitchell and Me

Mitchell and I have had political disagreements over the years on a variety of topics. There are certain recurring patterns with regard to these disagreements. I’m specifically thinking about the sort of principles and ideals behind the positions we take. In this thread, I’m going to suggest a conceptual dichotomy that will highlight these different principles.

I have several reasons for doing this. First of all, I’m hoping the framework will help both of us gain a deeper and better understanding of the reasons we differ on these topics. Second, a part of me feels that we may actually discover that our differences aren’t as big as we thought–or that our differences were based more on misunderstanding. Even if this doesn’t turn out to be the case, I think we can have a deeper and better understanding of the reasons we differ. Finally, an examination and discussion about this framework may actually be a more fruitful approach. I do think it could improve out discussions about specific topics and issues from here on out. That’s my hope, anyway.

OK, let’s start with a description of the framework. Continue reading ‘A Conceptual Dichotomy That Could Explain the Political Disagreements Between Mitchell and Me’

A Movie Idea To Help Improve the Quality of the Presidential Debates

I haven’t watched the recent debates between the throng of Republican presidential candidate, but I have no desire to as it looks like a circus sideshow. I guess that’s partly what made me enjoy some of the headlines from the New Yorker’s satirical Borowitz Report–“Pscyhologist Urge People with Low Self-Esteem to Watch the G.O.P. Debate,” “Fox Names Top Tep Narcissists in America,” or the one that might have struck a chord with me the most, “Nation Worried that the Rest of the World Will See the Debate.” While these made me laugh, I actually feel dismay about these debates, political reporting and public discourse in general.

So I had an idea. Continue reading ‘A Movie Idea To Help Improve the Quality of the Presidential Debates’