Tirades

The women behind the Women's March on Washington; a Russian journalist's advice to the US media; and more.


  • The news that the Justice Department inspector general is going to investigate FBI director James Comey for how he handled the Hillary Clinton’s email controversy sent our Little Twitler into a early morning tirade today, Jonathan Weisman and Jennifer Steinhauer reports for The New York Times. The president-elect claimed that Clinton was “guilty as hell” and “should never been allowed to run.” (h/t on the nickname to George Takei)

  • Russian journalist Alexey Kovalev shares some lessons on Medium for the American press gleaned from more than a decade of covering Russian president Vladimir Putin, starting with “Welcome to the era of bullshit.”

  • Rep. Mike Pompeo, Trump’s choice to be CIA director, believes that politics is “a never-ending struggle…until the rapture,” reports Michelle Goldberg for Slate. A close ally of Muslim-hater Frank Gaffney, who is reportedly advising Trump on national security hires, Pompeo believes that “There are organizations and networks here in the United States tied to radical Islam in deep and fundamental ways. They’re not just in places like Libya and Syria and Iraq, but in places like Coldwater, Kansas, and small towns all throughout America.”

  • With the Senate starting the process of repealing the Affordable Care Act, tech culture journalist Xeni Jardin of BoingBoing explains what her battle with cancer was like back before it was passed, and it was legal to deny coverage to people if they had a pre-existing condition. In her case, her insurance company opened a fraud investigation of her claim because they believed her cancer was a pre-existing condition.

  • In just one 24-hour period earlier this week, Trump drove down the stock prices of pharmaceutical companies with an off-hand remark about bringing down drug prices, and then went out of his way to reward a campaign contributor, Linda Bean of the L.L. Bean family, with a tweet urging his 20 million followers to buy her products. As Francis Wilkinson writes for Bloomberg Ideas, these actions show why “his conflicts of interest never can, and never will, be reined in. Even if he sold his company and walked away, which he has made clear he won’t do, his lack of responsibility and discretion would produce additional conflicts. He has no qualms about openly disfavoring those who criticize him and rewarding those who flatter him.”

  • Affordable housing groups on the Lower East Side do not concur with New York City Mayor de Blasio’s declaration that Jared Kushner’s appointment to be a senior White House adviser will be good for New York City, reports Steve Wishing for the Village Voice. That’s because Kushner, a major real estate owner in the East Village, has “brought nothing but unaffordable, luxury housing” to the area, the groups declare.

  • Of the many ways that all hell can break loose in the coming weeks, put the destabilization of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict near the top of your list. Trump’s appointment of a far-right crony of his, his bankruptcy lawyer David Friedman, to be the U.S. Ambassador to Israel, and their promise to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, may be one trigger. Another could be Israel’s immediate annexation of additional territory in the West Bank beyond the land it calls “Greater Jerusalem,” an idea that has already been floated by a senior Israeli government minister, Naftali Bennett. Throwing more fuel onto this smoldering fire: a bill introduced by Republican Senators Ted Cruz and Lindsey Graham to cut all American funding of the entire United Nations system if Security Council Resolution 2334, which condemned Israel’s illegal settlement policies, is not repealed. As Mark Leon Goldberg points out for UN Dispatch, their legislation “includes UNICEF, the World Food Program, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, UN Peacekeeping, and World Health Organization, the International Atomic Energy Agency, among many others.”

  • Rudy Giuliani will be an unpaid adviser to President Trump on cyber-security, which could provide a windfall to his consulting firm and legal practice, Josh Dawsey and Isaac Arnsdorf report for Politico.

  • The chair of the House Oversight Committee, Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) is threatening to investigate the independent Office of Government Ethics for “blurring the line between public relations and official ethics guidance,” Steve Eder and Eric Lipton report for The New York Times. Richard Painter, a former ethics counsel in George W. Bush’s White House, commented, “They are strong-arming them. They are obviously very upset the Office of Government Ethics is leaning on Trump and not willing to jam through his nominees. It is political retaliation.”

  • Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone, who is not known for taking a sober approach to most topics, argues that either U.S. intelligence agencies have nothing truly serious proving Russia’s influence over incoming President-elect Trump, or it’s time for them to put it all out there. He writes:

    Meanwhile, Ynet in Israel is reporting that Israeli intelligence officials are deciding not to share intelligence with the incoming Trump administration. The report indicates they came to this conclusion after a recent meeting with American intelligence officials, who told them the Russians have “leverages of pressure” to use against Trump. This is an extraordinary story. If our intelligence community really believes this, then playtime is over. No more Clapper-style hedging or waffling. If Israel gets to hear why they think Trump is compromised, how is the American public not also so entitled? But if all they have are unverifiable rumors, they can’t do this, not even to Donald Trump. The only solution is an immediate unveiling of all the facts and an urgent public investigation.

     

  • The Indivisible Guide, a simple well-written online pamphlet by a group of congressional staffers that explains how progressive Democrats learn from the Tea Party how to organize locally and influence their Congress-critters, has spawned hundreds of local groups, now helpfully mapped here.

  • Here’s a relatively tame case of digital brownshirtism: Online trolls decided that Doris Troung, the homepage editor of The Washington Post, was the person who apparently took pictures of Rex Tillerson’s notes, and as she documents here, soon her email and voicemail was filling up with threatening messages.

  • Related: The Anti-Defamation League and the Natan Fund have set up an innovation prize aimed at catalyzing “the creation of grassroots approaches to counter the rise of hate online, to deter abuse, and to protect users from cyber harassment.” First prize is $35,000.

  • Vogue’s Julia Felsenthal does an in-depth profile of the women organizing the Women’s March on Washington.

  • In the final installment of her year-long reporting for the Rethinking Debates project, our civic engagement fellow Christine Cupaiuolo sits down with Michael McCurry, co-chair of the Commission on Presidential Debates, for an in-depth discussion on the pros and cons of crowdsourcing questions, the role of debate moderators, the threshold for inviting third-party candidates, and other issues.

  • And here’s her post-mortem on how this year’s presidential debates worked (or didn’t work) to improve civic engagement.

  • Privacy researchers have found a back door to the WhatsApp messaging service, Mannish Ganguly reports

    John Battelle, a wise veteran of Web 1.0, explains why the original version of Internet publishing worked, and why today’s model is so broken. Back then, he writes (IN CAPS and with profanity I will spare you), he knew “who the f… was reading me. I knew why. I knew who sent them to me, and I was grateful to those people/sites/platforms that sent me those readers. Now, I have no idea….despite all the whizzy bang-y social media we’ve invented these past then years, I have no idea who is reading me on a regular basis, not do I know who to thank for sending them to me.”

  • There’s more: “One by one, we lost what was Good about the early web, and ceded it all to the platforms. What held promise ten years ago — that the web would spawn an ecosystem of millions of robust, connected voices — was lost to an oligarchy of Facebook, Google, and to a lessor extend LinkedIn, Twitter, and Snapchat. But I deeply believe we can bring it back.”

  • Internet usage in the United States continues to trend upward, reports Aaron Smith of the Pew Research Center. 88 percent of Americans use the internet, with 77 percent owning a smartphone, 73 percent with broadband at home, and 69 percent using some form of social media.

  • The position of U.S. Chief Technology Officer, first created by the Obama administration, has been codified into law, Alex Howard of the Sunlight Foundation reports. It will now require Senate confirmation.

  • Our friend Jakub Gornicki, the long-time cofounder of the ePantwo Foundation of Poland, announces his new project: Outriders, a “new initiative focused on original report, providing global perspective through innovative storytelling.”

  • Eva Pereira previews next week’s Knight-Civic Hall Symposium on Tech, Politics and the Media, which will be happening at the New York Public Library on Wednesday. There will be a livestream, here.