How Torture Really Works, and What It Really Is

After perfectly unambiguous campaign promises about bringing back “a hell of a lot more than waterboarding,” we see a leaked draft executive order bringing back enhanced interrogation techniques and re-opening black sites.  Since then, Press Secretary Spicer has since disavowed the document, but given that the Trump Administration has already made progress on the other centerpiece parts of it’s platform like the Muslim ban and the Mexico Wall, and given Trump’s praise of the practice to David Muir, I think it’s reasonable not to assume the issue of torture is going away.  So, let’s give it a go one more time: Continue reading “How Torture Really Works, and What It Really Is”


What We Mean When We Say Not Normal

Since Trump’s win on November 6th, I’ve seen a lot of stories casting Trump as an authoritarian, an autocrat, a fascist.  Most of what’s been written is intended for an audience that’s accepted the premise: what to do, how to take action.  Those of us who think this way remind each other to fight normalization with the phrase, ‘This is not normal.’  I can only imagine how that must sound to someone who doesn’t buy in.  ‘This is not normal’ makes sense to me, but isn’t terribly specific.  So, what exactly do we mean when we say it?  Given that quite a lot of people consider what’s taking place as perfectly normal, it’s a question worth answering.  I had trouble answering it.  As such, I can’t find a lot of fault with people who aren’t on board.

But if I had to choose one thing, it would be the press conference of the President Elect on the 11th of January.  This was my major not normal moment, and it came fairly late in the game.  Prior to this, I was unhappy with the results, but generally resigned to endure it.  After this, I was truly worried.  So, to you, my hypothetical citizen who thinks that they are watching a perfectly normal presidency unfold, I say the following: Continue reading “What We Mean When We Say Not Normal”

The Captain’s Maneuver

We’ve all seen or heard about Meryl Streep’s speech at the golden globes:

In it, she criticizes Trump for mocking a disabled reporter in late 2015.  Afterward, we got the usual accusations of Streep being an ‘out of touch hollywood liberal’ along with responses that Trump never actually mocked anyone.  More interesting is the response from PJ Media (and who knows how many other conservative outlets).  They chose to bring up President Obama’s comments comparing his own inadequate bowling skills to that of special olympians during a late night talk show in 2009.  This was to expose “liberals” as “having an immense double standard.”  Why is this important?  It isn’t, other than to demonstrate a common pattern.

Here’s what it looks like:   Continue reading “The Captain’s Maneuver”

How Not to Think About the News

A few weeks back, I started to see this graphic make the rounds on social media.  There are no sources or accompanying article that I could find, but it looks like someone’s earnest attempt to articulate their view of political media.  Whoever made it, I think they hit the nail on the head when it comes to how many of us think about political media.  We’ve got ‘bias’ from the left or right and more ‘journalistic value’ somewhere in the middle.  It may well be something somebody just threw together but, it rings true, right?  As such, it can show us how we think about politics and media.  We might not agree with the exact placement of each of the outlets, but the overall model in our heads probably looks something like this:

7xhauxf Continue reading “How Not to Think About the News”

The Style and Speed of Misinformation

This very special episode of ‘All In’ from MSNBC is a must watch; you don’t often get a record of the case voters make for themselves.  Among other things, there’s a near perfect example of the style and speed with which misinformation spreads.  Watch the first 3 minutes of the video, up until Chris starts talking to the young lady in the hijab and answer the following question:

Who is (was) Obama’s Chief Economic Advisor, and why might that be a problem? Continue reading “The Style and Speed of Misinformation”