Friday, May 26, 2017

Media, Careful about "Breaking News"

I appreciate the quality reporting of the New York Times and the Washington Post and others, including CNN and NBC/MsNBC, regarding Russian involvement in our 2016 elections and possible collusion by the Trump team. But their competition has bred, at times, overkill. Many have already mocked the abuse of the term "breaking news".
Days ago it was reported that the FBI was considering someone high up in the Trump Administration a "person of interest". That it was likely Jared Kushner seemed obvious. Who else? Bannon? Priebus? Spicer? No, no and no. And not Melania. Even Ivanka would have been a stretch. So tonight's (May 25, 2017) "blockbuster" news that it is Kushner is a non-blockbuster.
As well, Rachel Maddow, on MsNBC, did her usual repetitive storytelling by reiterating that financial entanglements may be as much a key aspect to a Trump-Russian relationship as collusion with respect to email hacking. That too is not breaking news. Trump's financial ties with Russians, and possibly Kushner's, are not a new topic. And again tonight Maddow reiterated that obstruction of justice is an important part of the story. Really? Obviously.
So, media, please be careful about bombarding us with repetitive news stories. You'll overwhelm us and cause us to withdraw, to your and our own detriment.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Madoff and Trump

I just watched HBO's Wizard of Lies last night about Bernie Madoff. It was depressing. At the conclusion, he asks the NYT reporter interviewing him in prison whether she thinks he's a sociopath. The movie ends on that note. Like there's any question of it?

And this morning I thought of Donald Trump and his patterns of lies, hypocrisy and deceit, and I use the plural for his patterns as well as his lies. By this point, after he flew to Mexico during the campaign and wimped out on confronting the Mexican President about paying for Trump's Wall, did anyone expect Trump to actually use the phrase "radical Islamic terrorism" in addressing the Saudis, which he frequently invoked previously and dissed Obama for refusing to use? And what about his condemnations of Obama for golfing? Or his criticism of Michelle Obama respecting her not wearing a headscarf when she visited Saudi Arabia? The list goes on and on, and these aren't necessarily Trump's most egregious lies, hypocrisy or deceit. The list is, indeed, endless, but that hardly lessens my ongoing feelings of disgust for Trump.

And, of course, I'm not even talking about Trump's promise to drain the swamp by hiring his Goldman Sachs crew, or his support of a Trumpcare bill that eviscerates medical care for those Trump promised to protect, that include many of his misguided supporters, or Trump's proposed tax "reform" that, together with his Trumpcare, constitutes incredible tax breaks for the richest Americans.

I'm even leaving aside questions of Trump's and/or his team's collusion with Russians or possible money laundering, as well as his firing of Comey to thwart the Russian investigation. We'll leave those issues, for the moment, to the Special Counsel and Congressional investigating committees.

In the HBO movie, Madoff tries to somewhat excuse his guilt and culpability by claiming that the investors whose money he stole had been greedy; that they bore some responsibility for investing with him. I don't believe any failures on the part of Madoff's investors lessen his guilt and culpability. But I do think they bore some responsibility for their actions or, more accurately, inactions in doing any due diligence in most instances. I draw a parallel to Trump's supporters here. I don't think their blindness, selfishness or ignorance excuses in the slightest Trump's culpability for his lies, hypocrisy and deceit. But I do think his supporters bear responsibility for their own behavior.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Sharing a Perspective with My Parents Now that I'm Old

When I was young, either a sophomore or junior in college and about 18 years old, I read Paul Goodman's Growing Up Absurd. I loved it and during my next visit home I told my parents about some of the things Goodman had written. Both of them, college professors, responded, each in his/her own way, by saying something like "what he is saying is really nothing new". At the time, I really could not accept their responses, thinking they were closing their eyes to new realities. But now that I am much older than they were at the time, I believe I better understand their perspective. For as I read so many commentaries about today's world, I think, this is not necessarily something entirely new. Those who think they are providing incredible insights may be quite mistaken. I am not saying plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose. But I am saying that there are a lot of similarities with the past as time passes. What did Freud say? The return of the repressed?