U.S. Politics

South Korea’s Park Ousted

South Korea Rally Against President Park Continues

Chung Sung-Jun—Getty Images


Friday’s historic, unanimous verdict by the eight-judge panel means that Park Geun-hye becomes South Korea’s first democratically elected leader to be ousted early from office since democracy came to the country in the late 1980s

U.S. Politics

What a Mix-Up

Warren Beatty, center, shows the card reading Best Film Moonlight after mistakingly reading La La Land initially at the 89th Oscars, on Feb. 26, 2017 in Hollywood, Calif.

Mark Ralston—AFP/Getty Images


The Oscars ended with one of the biggest shocks in its history: The producers of La La Land accepted their statues for the prize of Best Picture, only to be told that the honor was in fact supposed to go to Moonlight

U.S. Politics

7 Key Lessons From the Final Presidential Debate



Some thoughts about the third Presidential debate:

1. Donald Trump is unfit for the presidency because he doesn’t believe in the will of the American people. Every news outlet said that his refusal to accept the results of the election was the headline tonight—and a very dangerous moment in American history—and I think there needs to be unanimity on this. The man is a demagogue playing to the worst paranoid fears of a minority of the electorate blinded by anger. Both Trump’s daughter Ivanka and his running mate, Mike Pence, publicly disagree with him. Leave aside all the other trash and nonsense and lies that he has promulgated during the campaign, this statement alone disqualifies him. Given the lives lost and the sacrifices made to build this democracy over 240 years, the man is an utter disgrace.

2. Hillary Clinton had a pretty good night and her best moment was her response to Trump’s refusal to accept the election results. She repeated a litany of things Trump had said were “rigged,” including the Emmy that his TV show didn’t win. She was smart, sharp and funny—but a bit too harsh for my taste and a bit too contentious, engaging too often in cross-talk gutter-fighting. That’s Trump’s game, Clinton, not yours. But her performance overall had the effect of solidifying her base as well as her non-base of Bernie supporters—note the shout-out to the LGBT community—proving, as always, well-versed on policy and, for the most part, unflappable (with the exception mentioned above).

3. Trump had his best performance, too, but it wasn’t very good. No specifics (he has none). A plethora of baloney and lies (up to his eyeballs in bull-pucky). But he did reassure his base on issues like Supreme Court and immigration and taxes. (It remains amazing to me that Republicans are still peddling the idea that lower taxes will close deficits while ignoring the overactive regulatory state that is, indeed, smothering small businesses).

4. Trump’s ignorance, and his willingness to tell lies off it, is bottomless. He was totally wrong about Mosul—the leadership of ISIS was never there (they’re in Raqqa, in Syria). Iran won’t take over, although there will be a battle for control between the Arab Sunnis and the Kurds. Iran isn’t taking over Iraq, period—the last time it tried to do so, in the 1980s, it took more than a million casualties. Persians and Arabs hate each other, always have. It would have been nice if Clinton had parried, “We’re not going into Mosul to find the leaders of ISIS. We’re going in to liberate 2 million people who hate living under the tyranny of ISIS.” But we pundits are so much smarter than the candidates after the battle is over. …Although I must say that Mosul is yet another example of a basic truth, as the liberation of Anbar province was ten years ago: Muslims hate living under these reactionary religious fanatics. That is great news for the world.

5. If it weren’t for Trump’s denunciation of American democracy, the headline of the debate would be his weird inability to credit the 17 US intelligence agencies that believe the Russians are behind the hacking of Democratic Party emails. His reticence truly is a mystery, a dangerous one. Is Trump colluding with Putin? The more his strange behavior continues, the more thinkable the unthinkable becomes. It should also be pointed out that Trump had more good things to say about Putin and Assad—they’re tough, they’re playing us for suckers—than he did about any American politician, dead or alive, including Ronald Reagan.

6. I’m still not inspired by Clinton. She’s selling the same old Democratic stuff, old wine in old bottles. Some of it works, some of it has been proven defective. None of it matters, given the enormity of Trump’s outrages. But it would be nice to say: Wow! That’s an interesting new idea.

7. Chris Wallace won the debate, as Fox anchors have staged the best, most substantive debates all year. One quibble: Obama’s stimulus package did not “cause” the slow growth that followed. The stimulus was an immediate blood transfusion that prevented the collapse of the economy and another Great Depression. It was a brilliant success.

So that’s it for debates this year. I can’t say I’m sorry they’re over. Trump has been poison to our system. No good has or can come from his candidacy. Happily, we don’t have to see him again until election night when he concedes, or refuses to do so. What an embarrassment he is. How sad for our country.

Joe Klein

U.S. Politics

Trump: ‘I Am Here to Listen’

Donald Trump

Evan Vucci—AP


Donald Trump said he wanted to help rebuild Detroit and told members of a black church that “there are many wrongs that should be made right” as the GOP presidential nominee tried to woo African-Americans two months before the election


Obama, Xi Jinping Take Big Step on Climate Change

The United States and China they are formally joining the Paris Agreement to combat climate change, significantly increasing the likelihood that the accord will take effect this year. It’s the latest in an unlikely partnership between the two countries on climate change

5.6 Magnitude Earthquake Shakes Midwest

An earthquake has rattled a swath of the Great Plains from Nebraska to North Texas. The United States Geological Survey said that a 5.6 magnitude earthquake happened in north-central Oklahoma. It also tweeted that aftershocks may occur

U.S. Politics

Trump Staff Under Scrutiny


U.S. Politics

How Trolls Are Ruining the Internet

Troll Culture of Hate Time Magazine Cover

TIME – Joel Stein

They’re turning the web into a cesspool of aggression and violence. What watching them is doing to the rest of us may be even worse

This story is not a good idea. Not for society and certainly not for me. Because what trolls feed on is attention. And this little bit–these several thousand words–is like leaving bears a pan of baklava.

It would be smarter to be cautious, because the Internet’s personality has changed. Once it was a geek with lofty ideals about the free flow of information. Now, if you need help improving your upload speeds the web is eager to help with technical details, but if you tell it you’re struggling with depression it will try to goad you into killing yourself. Psychologists call this the online disinhibition effect, in which factors like anonymity, invisibility, a lack of authority and not communicating in real time strip away the mores society spent millennia building. And it’s seeping from our smartphones into every aspect of our lives.

The people who relish this online freedom are called trolls, a term that originally came from a fishing method online thieves use to find victims. It quickly morphed to refer to the monsters who hide in darkness and threaten people. Internet trolls have a manifesto of sorts, which states they are doing it for the “lulz,” or laughs. What trolls do for the lulz ranges from clever pranks to harassment to violent threats. There’s also doxxing–publishing personal data, such as Social Security numbers and bank accounts–and swatting, calling in an emergency to a victim’s house so the SWAT team busts in. When victims do not experience lulz, trolls tell them they have no sense of humor. Trolls are turning social media and comment boards into a giant locker room in a teen movie, with towel-snapping racial epithets and misogyny.

They’ve been steadily upping their game. In 2011, trolls descended onFacebook memorial pages of recently deceased users to mock their deaths. In 2012, after feminist Anita Sarkeesian started a Kickstarter campaign to fund a series of YouTube videos chronicling misogyny in video games, she received bomb threats at speaking engagements, doxxing threats, rape threats and an unwanted starring role in a video game called Beat Up Anita Sarkeesian. In June of this year, Jonathan Weisman, the deputy Washington editor of the New York Times, quit Twitter, on which he had nearly 35,000 followers, after a barrage of anti-Semitic messages. At the end of July, feminist writer Jessica Valenti said she was leaving social media after receiving a rape threat against her daughter, who is 5 years old.


A Pew Research Center survey published two years ago found that 70% of 18-to-24-year-olds who use the Internet had experienced harassment, and 26% of women that age said they’d been stalked online. This is exactly what trolls want. A 2014 study published in the psychology journal Personality and Individual Differences found that the approximately 5% of Internet users who self-identified as trolls scored extremely high in the dark tetrad of personality traits: narcissism, psychopathy, Machiavellianism and, especially, sadism.

But maybe that’s just people who call themselves trolls. And maybe they do only a small percentage of the actual trolling. “Trolls are portrayed as aberrational and antithetical to how normal people converse with each other. And that could not be further from the truth,” says Whitney Phillips, a literature professor at Mercer University and the author of This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things: Mapping the Relationship Between Online Trolling and Mainstream Culture. “These are mostly normal people who do things that seem fun at the time that have huge implications. You want to say this is the bad guys, but it’s a problem of us.”


U.S. Politics

Why President Obama Is Going After Donald Trump

TIME – Aug. 5, 2016

Zeke J Miller

This post is a few days past it’s original date and some events have already occurred. (ks)

Mocks the GOP nominee [TIME]

Many Questions and Few Answers About How Melania Trump Immigrated to the U.S.
She denies wrongdoing, but doesn’t explain discrepancies [Washington Post]

Will Politics Take Off the Month of August?
Don’t bet on it [TIME]

The World’s Olympians Have Little Love For Donald Trump
Insults and fears among the world’s athletes [TIME]

Sound Off

“If Mr. Trump is up 10-15 points on Election Day and ends up losing, then he can raise some questions.” — Obama rejecting claims by Donald Trump that the election would be rigged against him

“They have been told these are classified briefings. And if they want to be President, they got to start acting like President, and that means being able to receive these briefings and not spread them around.” – Obama on whether he has any reservations about the presidential nominees sharing classified intelligence from their national security briefings

Bits and Bites

Beyoncé, Jay Z, Kendrick Lamar slated for Obama’s birthday bash [New York Post]

Clinton pauses ads in Virginia in sign of confidence [Politico]

Introducing the Donald Trump-Mike Pence divergence tracker[Washington Post]

President Obama Denies $400 Million Payment to Iran Was a Ransom[TIME]

Did Paul Ryan just predict that Clinton will win in a landslide?[Washington Post]

Trump admits he didn’t see nonexistent Iran money video [Politico]

U.S. Politics

‘We’ll Fix It Together’

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and vice presidential candidate Tim Kaine wave on stage at the Democratic National Convention on Thursday, July 28, 2016 in Philadelphia.

Natalie Keyssar for TIME


Hillary Clinton formally accepted the party’s nomination for President, speaking at the final night of the the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. She used the prime time opportunity to encourage unity and contrast herself with rival Donald Trump

U.S. Politics


Via my inbox…

Watch the Best Moments of the Presidential Debate

The top 10 Republican candidates faced off in their first debate of the crowded primary campaign

Jon Stewart Bids Farewell to The Daily Show With a Small Treat for Himself

It was Jon Stewart’s goodbye party. But he was the one who came with presents for everyone, TIME’s James Poniewozik writes

Top Senate Democrat Reject’s Obama’s Iran Deal

Chuck Schumer, the next-in-line party leader, said he is breaking with President Obama and will oppose the Iran nuclear deal

Donald Trump Takes Center Stage, Gives No Ground in Debate

When Donald Turmp met his rivals for the Republicans’ presidential nominee during their first debate, it was all bluster and bravado

Theater Shooter May Have Wanted to Set Off Explosive
Suicide Car Bomb Kills 8 in Afghanistan
Massive Waste Spill Turns River in Colorado Orange
24 Will Come Back—but Without Jack Bauer
Child Contracts the Plague After Trip to Yosemite National Park
Suez Canal Extension Unveiled in Egypt
Schools Start Too Early, Federal Officials Say
Top-Grossing Films Still Mostly White, Straight and Male

Online, a digital trove of JFK material

Tour guide Dorothy Kennedy looked over a display at JFK Library

In honor of the 50th anniversary of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy’s assassination, Rachel Maddow spoke of the following links on her show last night.  As promised, she posted them on her blog and I’m re-posting them here.

The Rachel Maddow Blog

For you to peruse and process at your own pace, here are some of the JFK archival materials Rachel referenced this evening on the air, including the exceptionally rare footage unearthed from the NBC archives by Hardball producers earlier this week (above).

In the video below, conductor Erich Leinsdorf breaks the news of Kennedy’s assassination to the audience of the regular Friday afternoon Boston Symphony Orchestra concert at Symphony Hall.

And here is Time Magazine’s interview with William Shisler, the Boston Symphony Orchestra librarian and one of the only remaining witnesses to the event.

Parts 1 and 2 of Lady Bird Johnson’s Audio Diary for November 22, 1963.

…and the transcript with her handwritten notes. (pdf)

The LBJ phone call with Sen. Richard Russell, November 29, 1963, in which the president pushes Russell to participate in the special commission to investigate Kennedy’s assassination. (mp3)

The newly digitized Warren Report (77.45MB pdf)