The inflamed rhetoric of the Trump justification for bombing Syria

President Trump, outraged by the use of nerve gas on civilians, launched 59 cruise missiles at the airfield that Bashar al-Assad uses in Syria. Then he made a statement justifying the action. It’s a case study in Trumpspeak — does the pileup in intensifying adjectives and adverbs make a statement more persuasive, or more suspect? In my … Continued

Pepsi delivers a clueless apology for a clueless ad

Pepsi’s launched a poorly thought out, protest-themed commercial starring Kendall Jenner. Actual protesters protested the commercial, and Pepsi withdrew it. But Pepsi’s apology is as mild and clueless as its commercial — and demonstrates how advertisers had better steer clear of political minefields. The ad is set in a diverse street protest clearly based on Black Lives … Continued

Trump statement on Syria chemical weapons: blame but no solutions

Syrian ruler Bashar al-Assad apparently used nerve gas in the Syrian war, killing civilians. The situation there remains impossible. Trump’s blame-filled statement can’t change that. The six-year multilateral conflict in Syria features a murderous dictator backed by Russia, Islamic State terrorists, and “moderate” rebel factions backed by the U.S. — with civilians caught in the middle. It … Continued

Truth is not a feeling

“That’s fake news!” “No, you’re fake news.” With all the accusations of what’s fake flying about, is there any meaning to the idea of truth? It’s a remarkably subtle concept. But, contrary to what President Trump told TIME Magazine, truth is not a feeling. The topic of the TIME interview was truth and falsehood. Trump said a … Continued

40 years of mob psychology

One day, about 40 years ago, I found myself in a group of people doing something that scared the crap out of me. As I look around me now, I feel the same way I felt then. I went to college at Penn State, a burgeoning mass of 30,000 students sequestered in the heart of the mountains … Continued

The Paul Ryan PowerPoint presentation about healthcare is excellent

Republicans attempting to repeal Obamacare and replace it with the American Health Care Act are taking a pummeling. Everyone from the American Medical Association and the AARP to the Tea Party Patriots have come down against it. House Speaker Paul Ryan took to PowerPoint to explain and defend the law, and his presentation technique was quite … Continued

Democratic response from Steve Beshear shows no audacity, no hope

Steve Beshear, a Democrat and former governor of Kentucky, presented the Democratic response to Trump’s speech to Congress. Where Trump delivered platitudes mixed with policy in front of Congress, Beshear gave us platitudes mixed with whining (in a diner). It probably didn’t help that Beshear doesn’t know who he is. Here’s his confused opener: I’m … Continued