Masha Gessen reveals how meaning and language are crucial

Masha Gessen has written a must-read essay in the New York Review of Books. Her thesis is that once politicians and pseudo-journalists have robbed words of their meaning, we damage our shared understanding of reality. And that’s happening right now. Gessen should know; she was a journalist in Russia in the Soviet era. As she … Continued

The loopholes in Trump lawyers’ tax letter about financial ties in Russia

Lawyers may be verbose, but they’re precise; what they write is supposed to be unambiguous. When reading a document from a lawyer, the ambiguity typically comes, not from what’s written, but from what’s left out. For example, let’s take a look at the letter that President Trump’s lawyers wrote suggesting that he’s got no financial ties … Continued

The Economist interview: Orwellian rambling from Donald Trump

The distinguished editors at The Economist interviewed President Trump. When I set out to analyze his statements, I felt as if I had wandered into a hall of mirrors. Donald Trump is a persuasive person who, one-on-one, has been able to make deals all over the world. He’s the master of communicating in tweets and campaign rallies. But … Continued

How our memories of Nixon are leading us astray

I was 15 years old in August of 1974, traveling in Germany with my family, when President Nixon resigned. It made a powerful impression on me. I think, because of our shared history of that time, we all feel we understand what might be coming for Trump. But we don’t. My father had gotten a summer … Continued

Trump fires at FBI director James Comey, shoots himself

Donald Trump fired FBI Director James Comey yesterday, ostensibly for incompetence. With the FBI investigating the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia, the justification is suspect. A ROAM analysis reveals how Trump’s letter firing Comey does the opposite of what Trump intended. Imagine you’re Trump. (Hard to do, I know.) You’re about to fire the director of the agency … Continued

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