It took a while for Orange County, Calif., to count all the mail-in votes, but officials there did it. The result: Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) will be leaving Congress after 15 terms in the House. So as he leaves the stage, let’s spend a little bit of time saying goodbye to Rohrabacher, the soon-to-be ex-congressman from California’s 48th District. For Rohrabacher is, in his way, quite an important symbolic figure: He is the living, breathing embodiment of the moral corruption that has seeped into a part of the Republican Party foreign policy establishment — the part that long ago stopped caring about U.S. leadership of the democratic world. Continue reading “A not-so-fond farewell to Dana Rohrabacher, Putin’s best friend in Congress”
On the 11th day of the 11th month and at the 11th hour — the moment at which the armistice ending World War I was declared a century ago — the leaders of the nations that once murdered one another during that brutal conflict gathered in Paris. That was expected. The surprise was the degree to which a formal occasion so brilliantly exposed the relationships between former allies and former opponents today. Continue reading “A bittersweet commemoration exposes ominous rifts in our new world order”
The midterms are over, so expect President Trump to adjust accordingly: The “caravan” will now drop out of the news; the troops sent to the border will quietly pass their time drilling in the Texas sunshine. The conspiracy websites and QAnon groups that have been chattering about “the invasion” for weeks will shift their focus, because they aren’t needed anymore. It’s not an accident that Trump lost his temper precisely at the moment when Jim Acosta of CNN posed a direct question about the caravans. The president knows the story was a stunt, and he wants to move on. Continue reading “Trump campaigned to protect himself, not help Republicans”
In the two years that have passed since the 2016 election, we have learned a lot about malignant disinformation campaigns in Western democracies. Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III has indicted the Russian operatives who created fake identities and ran targeted advertising on Facebook. The ads themselves — supporting extreme anti-immigration groups and the phony “Army of Jesus” on the one hand, and fake “black lives matter” slogans on the other — have been made public. Reams of words have been written, studies have been made. We know how social media increases polarization, how fact-checking only reaches a narrow audience, how the lack of regulation enables false and opaque political advertisements, how algorithms favor angry and extreme views. Congress, Britain’s Parliament and the European Union have all held hearings to discuss the problem. Facebook and Twitter have taken down some Russian-origin accounts. Continue reading “We have learned a lot about online disinformation — and we are doing nothing”
Right now, the threat to ordinary Americans from homegrown terrorists, radicalized by racist and nativist conspiracies they read on the Internet, is significantly higher than the threat from Islamist terrorists, radicalized by jihadist conspiracies they read on the Internet. But as a nation, we aren’t going to admit it, and we aren’t going to stop it.
In Manila, the traffic is so bad that it isn’t worth driving anywhere during the day, because a couple of miles will take a couple of hours. In other parts of the Philippines, only a third of children ever finish primary school. Nevertheless, the loudest political debate in the Philippines, over the past two years, was not about public transportation or public education. Continue reading “Stop helping demagogues change the subject”
Sometimes works of art – books, plays, movies, songs – can change a culture. But sometimes, they epitomize how a culture has changed. Forty years ago, in October 1978, Cardinal Karol Wojtyla was named Pope John Paul II, galvanizing a wave of Catholic and secular activism in Poland that helped bring down a totalitarian regime. But now it’s October 2018. Record numbers of Poles are flocking to see a searing, painful film that condemns the Polish Catholic Church as corrupt and hypocritical. Continue reading “In Poland, another blow to the Catholic Church”
For the past several days, the Saudi Twittersphere has been awash with patriotism. Saudi accounts have tweeted, in Arabic, a “#message of love for Mohammed bin Salman” and encouraged one another to “#unfollow enemies of the nation.” The latter hashtag started trending at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, peaked at about 5 p.m., and by Wednesday had been mentioned 103,000 times.
Twelve years ago this month, Anna Politkovskaya, a journalist whose reporting came too close to the truth about Russia’s war in Chechnya, was gunned down in the elevator of her Moscow apartment block. One year ago this month, Daphne Caruana Galizia, a journalist whose reporting came too close to the truth about corruption in Malta, was murdered by a car bomb next to her house in Bidnija. Seven months ago, Jan Kuciak, a journalist whose reporting came to close to the truth about the mafia’s role in Slovak business, was murdered in his home outside Bratislava. Continue reading “This is why so many journalists are at risk today”
Now that the predictable result has been achieved, it’s worth taking a moment to think about the longer-term impact of the bizarre, emotional events of the past two weeks in Washington. Reasonable people can still disagree about what happened in a house in suburban Maryland in the summer of 1982; reasonable people can even disagree about whether now, more than three decades later, those events should matter. But reasonable people cannot disagree about the political orientation of Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh. In his testimony, he revealed himself to be an extreme partisan, a Republican Party activist and a man at least willing to bend the truth in public. Continue reading “It’s official: Americans are living under the rule of a minority”