Yesterday I found myself in the uncomfortable position of having to explain to a Baby Boomer — a man nearly twice my age who was spending his retirement whiling away his hours with a whiskey in one hand and a mystery novel in the other — why his understanding of the Vietnam War was totally wrong.
It was in the context of our Afghanistan withdrawal, of course.
And of course, as everyone else had done, my Uncle Sam was comparing our messy exit from Kabul in August to the fall of Saigon during the Vietnam War.
The comparison, I told…
Well well well and my my my, how the time has flown for us here in the Military-Industrial Complex… so much time, in fact, that now, with the end of whatever semblance of democracy still existed in Afghanistan, we have come full circle, and the same Taliban explainers we handed out in September 2001 have been dusted off for a whole new generation.
Most Americans didn’t know the Taliban then.
Most don’t know them now.
What they do know is that a global war has gone on and on, that Americans have deployed overseas and returned different or not at…
Once I knew a guy, let’s call him Chuck, who did oversight for the military.
This meant that Chuck worked for the government at the same time he was investigating the government.
Chuck was doing basically what a journalist does, only he had access to far more resources than an individual journalist usually has. The massive coffers of the Pentagon gave his office the luxury of paying him to investigate its own secrets.
Once, Chuck told me a story about having his staff go out and collect as much public information as they could about a new weapons system, gathering…
The headline for the article jumped out at me right away.
It was shocking, upsetting:
I Cut Out Her Heart and Stomped on It
But it wasn’t a headline on Slate or Medium, nor was it blended with less sensationalist headlines on a mainstream news website like CNN, Fox News, or the like.
In fact, it was a headline from the September 8, 1963, edition of the National Enquirer, a tabloid sold at newsstands and drug stores in the Manhattan area.
Generoso Pope, Jr., the owner of the tabloid, had noticed the way people gathered at the scene of gory…
In the early 2000s, congruent with the rise of the Internet, I began to notice a similar phenomenon at either end of the political spectrum in America.
The phenomenon, even more pronounced today, involved an essential critique of “the mainstream media” for failing to cover stories appropriately.
Although today the debate has devolved into an argument over the factual details of many stories, in the early 2000s the argument centered mostly on the editorial choices being made — about what the mainstream media covered and what they didn’t, about the perspective or angle taken by the reporters, about the overall…
Many people have by now seen a grid similar to the one above, a grid that ranks many of the best-known media publishers by reliability and political skew.
Typically, the grid shows that as the political skew of the publisher increases, the reliability and usefulness of the information decreases.
But this picture of the media is woefully incomplete.
In our capitalist society, news is not two-dimensional but three-dimensional.
The two-dimensional grid we see is just the surface.
This is where the free or mostly free content exists.
But as we proceed into the third dimension, the picture gets significantly more…
When I was poor and still living in a group house, one of my housemates, a journalist named Kevin, came through the front door in the middle of the afternoon carrying a cardboard box.
“Jack!” he moaned. “I got fired!”
At the time, Kevin was writing for what’s known as a trade publication, a special magazine geared toward professionals in a particular industry — estate attorneys, research chemists, logistics managers and the like.
Because of the narrow focus of trade publications, their articles usually target professionals in that specific field but are not relevant enough for a general publication like…
Maybe I’m wasting my time saying this.
Maybe everyone already knows.
The truth is that I haven’t bothered reading much of anything about QAnon or its permutations.
From my perspective, very little analysis is needed to understand this phenomenon.
It’s been happening for years, this growing migration of the radical right away from fact-based reality and into the world of myth.
I was there for the very first “Q drop.”
Back in 2017, I took note — along with many others — of a new voice on the controversial 4Chan message board.
Like a cryptic storyteller, a bard half-hidden by…
Even casual students of history know about the 1933 fire in the German Reichstag and how Adolf Hitler, then the Chancellor of Germany, used the fire as a pretext to suspend civil rights and arrest his political opponents.
Although the fire was not the only step in the process of Gleichschaltung (co-ordination) — the process by which the Nazi party brought Germany under totalitarian control — it was among the most pivotal.
What most people don’t realize about the fire, however, is that Hitler had already tried and failed to take over Germany ten years earlier.
In November 1923, Hitler…
Dear Speaker Pelosi and Minority Leader Schumer:
After several months of negotiations, you are still at odds with Republicans over a second coronavirus stimulus package to follow up the $2.2 trillion CARES Act approved in March.
Under your leadership, the U.S. House of Representatives has already passed a $3 trillion stimulus package to follow up CARES. This happened way back in May. Nevertheless, the Republican-controlled Senate ignored this legislation, declaring it “dead on arrival,” and waited until late in the summer before attempting to negotiate a totally different stimulus package with you.
Perhaps the Republicans thought that waiting until the…