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

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

Winners of the 2016 Bullshitty Awards

2016 was a shitty year for most of us . . . but a great year for bullshit. Thanks to your votes, I can now announce the winners of the 2016 Bullshitty Awards. Here’s the live video. Winners listed below. Most disingenuous apology Nominees Cheryl Boone Isaacs, President, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences … Continued

The courage of nonpartisan analysis — an interview with Len Burman

We need nonpartisan institutions, dedicated to objective analysis. That’s what the Washington, D.C.-based Tax Policy Center does — they score and analyze tax proposals so we can figure out what they’ll mean for taxpayers. But it’s increasingly difficult for nonpartisan organizations to get heard. Unbiased analysis is a passion of mine. It’s also a passion of the respected … Continued

Fareed Zakaria says that Donald Trump is a bullshitter. Is he?

CNN host Fareed Zakaria took the feud between CNN and Donald Trump to a new level yesterday, describing Trump as a “bullshit artist.” I’ve reviewed the literature on bullshit, including my own past analysis, and I agree. Trump’s bullshit passes (or perhaps, fails) the sniff test. Here’s the clip: What is bullshit? I’ve tried to be … Continued

Private email is an oxymoron: lessons from the DNC scandal

I once had a cool, but ethically questionable business idea. I asked my boss if I should go ahead with it. “Ask yourself this,” he suggested. “How would you feel if everyone, including your mom, knew what you were doing? Then decide.” I decided not go ahead. That’s the same question the Democratic National Committee staff … Continued

Today, statements from US and European leaders on Brexit

My heart goes out to the people of the UK in the wake of the Brexit vote. They face the uncertain task of navigating a post-European future with, very soon, a new prime minister to succeed David Cameron. Turmoil and suffering are inevitable. But of course, here in America, we think only of ourselves (America … Continued

What is Bernie Sanders really saying?

Hillary Clinton has enough delegates to win the Democratic nomination, but Bernie Sanders won’t go away. Does he think he can win? Nah. But the spotlight — and the negotiating leverage that comes with it — are too much fun to give up. As Hillary Clinton and Democratic leaders see it, it’s time for Sanders to go away … Continued