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

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

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

The true meaning of the generalities in the Trump speech to Congress

Donald Trump’s first speech to a joint session of Congress was typical of such addresses. It was unusual for Trump in that it was clear, well-structured, and got most of the facts right — but like the average State of the Union, it was a mixed bag of gritty legislative proposals and pabulum. Let’s take a look at … Continued

The self-serving Michael Flynn resignation letter is mostly fluff

Michael Flynn resigned yesterday as Donald Trump’s national security advisor. Media reports stated that he’d lied to Vice President Mike Pence about the content of his pre-inauguration conversations with the Russian Ambassador. Resignation letters should take responsibility, apologize, and say nothing further — but Flynn’s is strangely full of fluffy praise for Trump. Flynn’s letter is … Continued

Lessons from the appeals court’s ruling against Trump’s immigration order

A federal appeals court ruled against President Trump, refusing to allow Trump’s executive order concerning immigration and travel to go back into effect. It’s a complicated case, and a complicated ruling. Let’s look at the clearest parts of the ruling, and what’s good and bad about legal language. First, the context. Trump’s executive order 12 days ago … Continued