politics

Quarantining extremist ideas

This is an interesting essay in The Guardian on the idea of quarantining extremist ideas. A non-trivial proportion of the population regards the media as having a responsibility to represent all idea with equal validity. So the appearance of extremist ideas in the press, even if they are treated negatively, results in more legitimacy than they are due. The authors in this essay make a case for quarantining these extreme ideas, refusing to cover them.

A letter to Jerry Brown

Dear Governor Brown, By now you are aware of Nicholas Kirstof’s piece^[Was Kevin Cooper Framed for Murder: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/05/17/opinion/sunday/kevin-cooper-california-death-row.html] in The New York Times in which he presents abundant evidence that investigators and prosecutors framed Kevin Cooper for the murder of four people in Chino. Advanced DNA testing could produce potentially exculpatory evidence. Or not. But the truth must be pursued. You have rejected calls to exercise the authority of your office to order such testing.

What was the purpose of that tweet?

The thriving New York Times just published a list of questions being posed by Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller, III. What I found particularly interesting was his question about Trump’s intent behind his tweet on May 12, 2017 in which he said: “James Comey better hope that there are no “tapes” of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!” The question being posed by Mr. Mueller is insightful because it will require Trump to admit to the office of the Special Counsel that he was deliberately attempting to intimidate a party to a Federal investigation.

New Yorker: Michael Cohen and the end stage of the Trump presidency

Brutal piece by Adam Davidson about the pivotal role that the takedown of Michael Cohen plays in the unraveling of this disastrous presidency. The narrative that will become widely understood is that Donald Trump did not sit atop a global empire. He was not an intuitive genius and tough guy who created billions of dollars of wealth through fearlessness. He had a small, sad operation, mostly run by his two oldest children and Michael Cohen, a lousy lawyer who barely keeps up the pretenses of lawyering and who now faces an avalanche of charges, from taxicab-backed bank fraud to money laundering and campaign-finance violations.

NYT: Tethered to a buffoon

A brutal piece on Trump from the New York Times. There are plenty of examples these days, from Moscow to Budapest, of how “democracies” can be manipulated to the point where they can yield only one result. This is Trump’s objective, and for it he needs a weakened Justice Department, a weakened press and an American public that will believe anything. He has had setbacks but is stubborn. Trump’s toolkit is familiar.

Stalin, Trump, and the cult of personality

Великий Сталин — знамя дружбы народов СССР! Great Stalin - banner of friendship of the peoples of the Soviet Union! After reading about U.S. President Donald Trump’s “Number 1 fan”, Gene Huber, I was struck by the similarities between the adoration of Trump and that of Soviet leader, Josef Stalin. Throughout his tenure as General Secretary of the Communist Part of the Soviet Union, a cult of personality developed around Stalin.

Not always what it seems

Спасибо любимому Сталину - за счастливое детство! “Спасибо любимому Сталину - за счастливое детство!" (Thank you dear Stalin for a happy childhood.)

Follow the intent.

With Trump the usual advice of “Follow the money.” doesn’t work because Congress refuses to force him to disclose his conflicts of interest. As enormous and material as those conflicts must be, I’m just going to focus on what I can see with my own eyes, the man’s apparent intent. In his public life, Donald Trump has never done anything that did not personally and directly benefit him. Most of us, as we go through life, assemble a collection of acts that are variously self-serving and other-serving.