The Jeffersonian

Citizens cannot trust news organizations if those organizations collaborate with government. You cannot collaborate in the production of propaganda without adopting the norms of the institutions that produce it. We know those institutions – institutions of government – are not trustworthy. Their record of deceit, secrecy, illegality, and destructive self-protection is long and well documented. Sycophantic journalists and editors, who ought to be independent and who ought to know better, have become subordinate proxies in a propaganda machine. I am not talking about individual journalists. I am talking about the profession of journalism, and about the profession’s public treatment of government’s activities.

Large media organizations, the ones that have access to sources of information inside government, are no longer fit to extract or elucidate true information about government’s projects or behavior. That’s especially true for projects and behavior officials want to keep secret. Consequently, these organizations are unsuited to investigate…

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The Jeffersonian

“It’s not a fun moment to be a Republican member of Congress. You might be toiling to pass a terrific bill or amendment, and all we reporters want to ask you about is whatever Donald Trump said yesterday.” ~ Mike DeBonis

And how. Think of Paul Ryan, most prominent congressional Republican of all. After The Donald snatched the nomination from the #NeverTrump faction of the Republican party, reporters badgered Ryan: “Do you plan to endorse Trump? When will you endorse Trump? Why haven’t you endorsed Trump yet? What do you think about Trump?”

“Vote for me, you suckers.”

Well, Ryan should have kept his mouth shut. Shortly after the badgering began to fade away, he endorsed Trump.

What questions do reporters present to him now, after the usual slew of Trumpisms that cascade out of the nominee’s brain every day? They badger him with, “You’ve said Trump’s remarks are racist, and…

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The Jeffersonian

knight_1-112212.jpg A destroyed apartment building at the site of one of the Moscow bombings, September 9, 1999.

Of all the unanswered questions, the greatest concern what Russians call their 9/11. A supposedly Chechen-inspired terrorist bombing campaign in September 1999 killed nearly 300 apartment dwellers in Moscow and other cities and led directly to Mr. Putin’s political rise. In the free-wheeling Russian press of the day, respected journalists from Russia’s Moskovskaya Pravda, Italy’s La Stampa and Sweden’s Svenska Dagbladet reported that such a terror wave was coming—and that it would be sponsored by the Russian state.

In the middle of the bombing campaign, Gennadiy Seleznyov, speaker of the Russian Duma, took to the rostrum on Sept. 13, 1999, to announce that an apartment building in Volgodonsk had been bombed the previous night—but the Volgodonsk bombing would not take place until three days later.

The campaign came to an abrupt halt after three…

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Conversations with Dio

Let me tell you ’bout a man named Jack Kennedy. He was a handsome feller, most smart and humorous and serious all at t’ same time. He had all those qualities that help you become pres’dent of the United States – beautiful wife, too. Shur ’nuff, he did become pres’dent, by a whisker in th’ election of 1960. He whipped that sonofabitch Nixon, he did – whipped him by a margin ’bout as wide as my pinkie finger here. Dick Nixon wan’t so happy ’bout that. He din’t know that three years later, sump’m would happen would make him pres’dent after all. What that sump’m was is the story I want to tell you ’bout.

Y’see, Jack Kennedy was ‘sassinated by his own people in ’63. That’s right, his own people turned on ‘im and said, “Man, we got to fire you.” Only way to fire a pres’dent is to…

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The Jeffersonian

Did you hear what happened this weekend in New York City? Policemen who came to honor Rafael Ramos at his funeral intentionally dishonored the city’s mayor as he eulogized Ramos. They turned their backs to him as he spoke at Ramos’ funeral. What did the mayor do to provoke such a sign of disrespect? He said that the people who protested Eric Garner’s killing had a legitimate grievance! He indicated sympathy with the #BlackLivesMatter campaign.

Though the apparently automatic, hyper-protective response of police unions and their allies to recent protests mark out any kind of criticism for yet more opprobrium, police ought to rethink this united we stand crouch. It serves them ill. They have carried it too far, for too long, with arguments and actions that contradict their own professions of service. Their responses to the protests serve only themselves, and that appears more obvious with each new gesture.


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The Jeffersonian

In all the analysis and discussion of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s torture report, we are missing a key question. Rather, we can easily think about a key question incorrectly. The question is simple: why did we torture prisoners? The answer is equally simple: to obtain information that would keep our country safe. That launches us into discussions about whether these so-called enhanced interrogation techniques yielded information that actually helped our national security apparatus.

That line of reasoning misses the point for two reasons. First, torture is a crime no matter what reason you give for engaging in it. International and domestic laws about torture do not include a self-defense provision. Torturers are criminals, period. More significantly, given the way bureaucracies work, people who authorize or order torture are criminals.

These criminals currently serve in our government. They are rewarded, honored, and promoted for their service. Others have retired from government…

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The Jeffersonian

The arguments I’m hearing about the Ferguson case are just fantastical. Michael Brown was a big man. He robbed a convenience store. The evidence about what happened on August 9 is contradictory. What distractions!

You don’t gun down an unarmed person in the middle of the street shortly after telling the person to walk on the sidewalk. You just don’t.

Yes, once the case enters the legal system, it’s relevant that the law protects police officers when they use lethal force. Rules of evidence come into play. Definitions of manslaughter do as well. Michael Brown’s death does not have to get tangled in our complicated legal system, however. To argue this case on legal grounds does not address the legitimate grievance that lies at the bottom of this resistance movement: police officers mistreat black people, black men in particular.

Stay focused on what counts here. Everyone wants to argue whether the…

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