Archive for the 'Politics' Category

“You were used to having no one share the reward but now there was no one to share the work, either.”

Monday, March 13th, 2017

Washington Post Opinion: The day they disappeared. By Alexandra Petri.

“At first it seemed as if it might be heaven.

You could walk down the street and attend school free from the uncomfortable presence of a woman who had chosen distracting attire. There were no women in sweatpants or yoga pants or skirts of any length, with hair covered or with hair uncovered — or women, indeed, of any kind at all. Finally, you did not have to worry about feelings. The world was one big locker room.”

““This will be investigated, […] It will all come out. I will be proven right.””

Monday, March 6th, 2017

Washington Post: Inside Trump’s fury: The president rages at leaks, setbacks and accusations.

(The same article is also available at the Independent.)

“Then, a few hours after Trump had publicly defended his attorney general and said he should not recuse himself from the Russia probe, Sessions called a news conference to announce just that — amounting to a public rebuke of the president.

Back at the White House on Friday morning, Trump summoned his senior aides into the Oval Office, where he simmered with rage, according to several White House officials. He upbraided them over Sessions’s decision to recuse himself, believing that Sessions had succumbed to pressure from the media and other critics instead of fighting with the full defenses of the White House.

In a huff, Trump departed for Mar-a-Lago, taking with him from his inner circle only his daughter and Kushner, who is a White House senior adviser. His top two aides, Chief of Staff ­Reince Priebus and Bannon, stayed behind in Washington. “

“Mr. Trump’s mood was said to be volatile even before he departed for his weekend in Florida…”

Saturday, March 4th, 2017

The New York Times: Trump, Offering No Evidence, Says Obama Tapped His Phones. By Michael D. Shear and Michael S. Schmidt, March 4, 2017.

“It would have been difficult for federal agents, working within the law, to obtain a wiretap order to target Mr. Trump’s phone conversations. It would have meant that the Justice Department had gathered sufficient evidence to convince a federal judge that there was probable cause to believe Mr. Trump had committed a serious crime or was an agent of a foreign power, depending on whether it was a criminal investigation or a foreign intelligence one.

Former officials pointed to longstanding laws and procedures intended to ensure that presidents cannot wiretap a rival for political purposes.

“A cardinal rule of the Obama administration was that no White House official ever interfered with any independent investigation led by the Department of Justice,” said Kevin Lewis, a spokesman for Mr. Obama. “As part of that practice, neither President Obama nor any White House official ever ordered surveillance on any U.S. citizen.”

Mr. Trump asserted just the opposite in a series of five Twitter messages beginning just minutes before sunrise in Florida, where the president is spending the weekend.

[…]

Ben Rhodes, a former top national security aide to Mr. Obama, said in a Twitter message directed at Mr. Trump on Saturday that “no president can order a wiretap” and added, “Those restrictions were put in place to protect citizens from people like you.””

“You can take an existing trending topic, such as fake news, and then weaponise it.”

Wednesday, March 1st, 2017

Robert Mercer: the big data billionaire waging war on mainstream media. “With links to Donald Trump, Steve Bannon and Nigel Farage, the rightwing US computer scientist is at the heart of a multimillion-dollar propaganda network.” By Carole Cadwalladr, Sunday 26 February 2017.

“Many of the techniques were refined in Russia, he says, and then exported everywhere else. “You have these incredible propaganda tools developed in an authoritarian regime moving into a free market economy with a complete regulatory vacuum. What you get is a firestorm.”

This is the world we enter every day, on our laptops and our smartphones. It has become a battleground where the ambitions of nation states and ideologues are being fought – using us. We are the bounty: our social media feeds; our conversations; our hearts and minds. Our votes. Bots influence trending topics and trending topics have a powerful effect on algorithms, Woolley, explains, on Twitter, on Google, on Facebook. Know how to manipulate information structure and you can manipulate reality.

We’re not quite in the alternative reality where the actual news has become “FAKE news!!!” But we’re almost there. Out on Twitter, the new transnational battleground for the future, someone I follow tweets a quote by Marshall McLuhan, the great information theorist of the 60s. “World War III will be a guerrilla information war,” it says. “With no divisions between military and civilian participation.”

By that definition we’re already there.”

Link via MetaFilter.

“The D.N.C. hacks, many analysts believe, were just a skirmish in a larger war against Western institutions and alliances.”

Tuesday, February 28th, 2017

The New Yorker, March 6, 2017 Issue: Annals of Diplomacy: Trump, Putin, and the New Cold War. “What lay behind Russia’s interference in the 2016 election—and what lies ahead?” By Evan Osnos, David Remnick, and Joshua Yaffa.

“Strobe Talbott, the former Clinton adviser, said, “There is a very real danger not only that we are going to lose a second Cold War — or have a redo and lose — but that the loss will be largely because of a perverse pal-ship, the almost unfathomable respect that Trump has for Putin.” Talbott believes that Trump, by showing so little regard for the institutions established by the political West in the past seventy years, is putting the world in danger. Asked what the consequences of “losing” such a conflict would be, Talbott said, “The not quite apocalyptic answer is that it is going to take years and years and years to get back to where we—we the United States and we the champions of the liberal world order—were as recently as five years ago.” An even graver scenario, Talbott said, would be an “unravelling,” in which we revert to “a dog-eat-dog world with constant instability and conflict even if it doesn’t go nuclear. But, with the proliferation of nuclear powers, it is easy to see it going that way, too.”

Andrei Kozyrev, who served as foreign minister in the Yeltsin government, now lives in Washington, D.C. He left Russia as it became increasingly authoritarian; he now sees a disturbingly similar pattern in his adopted country. “I am very concerned,” he said. “My fear is that this is probably the first time in my memory that it seems we have the same kind of people on both sides—in the Kremlin and in the White House. The same people. It’s probably why they like each other. It’s not a matter of policy, but it’s that they feel that they are alike. They care less for democracy and values, and more for personal success, however that is defined.”

(Emphases mine.)