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Offline Surly1

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Michael Cohen’s Stunning Testimony About Trump
« Reply #105 on: February 27, 2019, 07:56:54 AM »
Michael Cohen’s Stunning Testimony About Trump
New claims from the president’s former fixer help fill in essential gaps in the Russia investigation.


DAVID A. GRAHAM
Michael Cohen arrives to testify on Capitol Hill on February 26.JONATHAN ERNST / REUTERS

In written testimony ahead of a hearing conducted by the House Oversight Committee on Wednesday, President Donald Trump’s former fixer Michael Cohen will deliver a series of bombshells that could transform the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Cohen’s testimony, at less than 4,000 words, doesn’t change the fundamental picture so much as fill in essential gaps. Cohen will say that Trump was informed of conversations with WikiLeaks about releasing emails related to Hillary Clinton—something the president has denied. Cohen will present a copy of a check reimbursing him for hush money, dated August 2017. While Cohen has already implicated Trump in a violation of campaign-finance law in court pleadings, that check places the crime during Trump’s presidency. Cohen will allege that he lied to Congress at Trump’s direction, though by his own account the direction was implicit. Finally, Cohen will claim that Trump was aware of a meeting at Trump Tower between campaign officials, including his son and son-in-law, and Russians in June 2016.

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And those are only the most legally consequential claims. Cohen will also say that Trump has made flagrantly racist comments about black people. He will provide documentation backing up reporting in the press that Trump used money from his charitable foundation to purchase an oil painting of himself. Of all the news, the thing that might personally enrage Trump the most is that Cohen plans to produce documents showing that Trump’s net worth a few years ago was much smaller than he said publicly—a topic that infuriates the president.

Read: Michael Cohen’s claim about the Trump Tower meeting is huge—if true

“He is a racist. He is a conman. He is a cheat,” Cohen says in the testimony.

Yet Cohen will cheer Trump’s defenders and disappoint his critics about the ultimate subject, the Russia investigation, saying: “Questions have been raised about whether I know of direct evidence that Mr. Trump or his campaign colluded with Russia. I do not. I want to be clear. But, I have my suspicions.”

Even if only some parts of Cohen’s testimony are credible and substantiated, they would meaningfully advance the Russia story and other allegations surrounding Trump. The most readily proved will likely be the hush money, since Cohen has already offered legally binding statements, as part of a guilty plea, that explain the scheme. While Cohen’s description of the arrangement to pay two women who alleged that they’d had sexual affairs with Trump was already public, what is new is Cohen’s claim that Trump reimbursed him after taking office. In April 2018, just months after Cohen says he received the check, Trump denied any knowledge of payments. More recently, the president has claimed they were a personal transaction and unrelated to politics, and thus did not violate the law.

Cohen’s claim about Julian Assange could also be highly consequential. While Trump has said he didn’t know anything about email dumps, Special Counsel Robert Mueller has already produced a detailed indictment alleging a scheme in which former Trump aide Roger Stone reached out to WikiLeaks to inquire about coming releases of emails, which Mueller and the U.S. government say were obtained by Russia and given to WikiLeaks. (Stone denies this.) While Mueller says Stone was in contact with the Trump campaign, no public evidence has directly shown that Trump was aware of the scheme. Cohen does. He writes:

In July 2016, days before the Democratic convention, I was in Mr. Trump’s office when his secretary announced that Roger Stone was on the phone. Mr. Trump put Mr. Stone on the speakerphone. Mr. Stone told Mr. Trump that he had just gotten off the phone with Julian Assange and that Mr. Assange told Mr. Stone that, within a couple of days, there would be a massive dump of emails that would damage Hillary Clinton’s campaign. Mr. Trump responded by stating to the effect of “wouldn’t that be great.”

But Cohen’s claim is based entirely on what he heard. So, too, is his claim that Trump was aware of the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting. In that incident, Donald Trump Jr. was informed that the Kremlin was backing his father’s campaign. He agreed to a meeting where he expected to receive dirt on Clinton from Russians. He, his brother-in-law Jared Kushner, and then–Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort all attended. All parties say no dirt was exchanged. When the meeting was revealed by The New York Times in the summer of 2017, Trump dictated a misleading statement about the meeting, but he has said that this was the first time he’d heard of it.

Months ago, news reports said Cohen would claim that Trump was aware of the meeting. His testimony offers a vague description—too vague to really assess:

I remember being in the room with Mr. Trump, probably in early June 2016, when something peculiar happened. Don Jr. came into the room and walked behind his father’s desk—which in itself was unusual. People didn’t just walk behind Mr. Trump’s desk to talk to him. I recalled Don Jr. leaning over to his father and speaking in a low voice, which I could clearly hear, and saying: “The meeting is all set.” I remember Mr. Trump saying, “Ok good … let me know.”

Cohen’s explanation of his lies to Congress may not satisfy all listeners, either. A blockbuster BuzzFeed report in January said Cohen had told investigators that Trump instructed him to lie. In his testimony, Cohen says that Trump did coerce him into lying, but that he was too savvy an operator to do so in explicit terms.

“Before going further, I want to apologize to each of you and to Congress as a whole,” Cohen writes. “The last time I appeared before Congress, I came to protect Mr. Trump. Today, I’m here to tell the truth about Mr. Trump.”

But as Cohen acknowledges, “Mr. Trump did not directly tell me to lie to Congress. That’s not how he operates.”

Cohen says that in conversations during the campaign, while he was negotiating in Russia on Trump’s behalf, Trump would ask him for updates yet would also “look me in the eye and tell me there’s no business in Russia and then go out and lie to the American people by saying the same thing. In his way, he was telling me to lie.”

As a longtime Trump lieutenant, working for him for a decade at the Trump Organization, Cohen also offers an unusual look into Trump’s private life. He says that Trump asked whether any country run by a black person was not a “shithole” and said that blacks were “too stupid” to vote for him. More broadly, Cohen sums up Trump’s character: “He is capable of behaving kindly, but he is not kind. He is capable of committing acts of generosity, but he is not generous. He is capable of being loyal, but he is fundamentally disloyal.”

Yet as Cohen himself notes, his testimony will be suspect from the start. He has pleaded guilty to lying to Congress and to bank fraud and tax evasion. The White House has repeatedly said Cohen is not to be believed, most recently in a statement ahead of this week’s testimony. The president called him a “rat,” a Mafia-inflected term that, intentionally or not, seems to confirm that Cohen knows something damaging about him.

Jeffrey Goldberg: Trump’s Mafia mind-set

Trump’s allies have also attacked Cohen. In an astonishing tweet, since deleted, Representative Matt Gaetz of Florida said on Tuesday, “Hey @MichaelCohen212—Do your wife & father-in-law know about your girlfriends? Maybe tonight would be a good time for that chat. I wonder if she’ll remain faithful when you’re in prison. She’s about to learn a lot.” Gaetz was quickly accused of witness tampering. Cohen’s testimony had already been postponed after he complained that Trump was threatening him on Twitter.

Trump weighed in again early Wednesday morning from Vietnam, where he is set to meet with Kim Jong Un of North Korea. The president tweeted: “Michael Cohen was one of many lawyers who represented me (unfortunately). He had other clients also. He was just disbarred by the State Supreme Court for lying & fraud. He did bad things unrelated to Trump. He is lying in order to reduce his prison time.”

Cohen attempts to get out in front of the doubts in his testimony, which he’ll deliver under oath. “I recognize that some of you may doubt and attack me on my credibility,” he writes. “It is for this reason that I have incorporated into this opening statement documents that are irrefutable, and demonstrate that the information you will hear is accurate and truthful.”

In addition to his public testimony Wednesday, Cohen offered closed-door testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday and will also speak behind closed doors to the House Intelligence Committee on Thursday. And he has reportedly given 70 hours of interviews to Special Counsel Robert Mueller. The Capitol Hill appearances are among Cohen’s last big public moments as a free man: On May 6, he is due to report to prison to serve three years for his crimes.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to letters@theatlantic.com.

"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound

Offline RE

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Re: Michael Cohen’s Stunning Testimony About Trump
« Reply #106 on: February 27, 2019, 08:48:10 AM »
Should be interesting to see how Rush and Sean spin it.

RE
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Offline Surly1

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Re: Michael Cohen’s Stunning Testimony About Trump
« Reply #107 on: February 27, 2019, 09:13:16 AM »
Should be interesting to see how Rush and Sean spin it.

RE

This is easy to predict. Fish in a barrel time. They'll post clips from Jim Fucking Jordan and Mark Meadows, intercut with clips where Cohen admitting he was a liar. Wash, rinse, repeat. "Hearing is a scandal, this committee brought to a low point, etc. etc." Plus the ds have set aside the "rules," which only matter when Rs are in charge.

Hoping karma arrives for those fuckers early and with both barrels.
"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound

Offline Eddie

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Re: Michael Cohen’s Stunning Testimony About Trump
« Reply #108 on: February 27, 2019, 09:26:47 AM »
Should be interesting to see how Rush and Sean spin it.

RE

This is easy to predict. Fish in a barrel time. They'll post clips from Jim Fucking Jordan and Mark Meadows, intercut with clips where Cohen admitting he was a liar. Wash, rinse, repeat. "Hearing is a scandal, this committee brought to a low point, etc. etc." Plus the ds have set aside the "rules," which only matter when Rs are in charge.

Hoping karma arrives for those fuckers early and with both barrels.

Trump will survive this just fine. Maybe not, though, if Stone flips .It won't be enough that he used the N word and lied about being a billionaire.
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Offline Surly1

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Republicans Committed the Classic Cross-Examination Blunder
« Reply #109 on: February 28, 2019, 01:20:11 AM »
Casting about for articles for the DDD and found this, and wanted to add it to the thread.
I had the day off yesterday because my wife had cataract surgery. Got home in time to watch as much of this as I could stand. This writer, a lawyer, makes some important points that track what I saw yesterday. The Rs seemed interesting in little aside from delegitimizing Cohen, and getting their clip played on Hannity of Fox & friends. The Ds lobbed batting practice fastballs and did little to advance the case against Trump. Although from Cohen's testimony  it sounds like SDNY certainly is.

Republicans Committed the Classic Cross-Examination Blunder
Trump’s supporters in Congress did not successfully destroy Michael Cohen’s credibility.


KEVIN LAMARQUE / REUTERS

Everyone involved in the House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing on Wednesday needed a good lawyer.

Michael Cohen, the convicted felon, disbarred lawyer, and former fixer to Donald Trump, needed a trial lawyer to rein in his mugging for the camera, his tendency to take cheap shots at his detractors, and to remind him of the limits of his own credibility. He needed a stern counselor to elbow him in the ribs, tell him not to bait the politicians even if they deserved it, and to hiss at him stop quibbling over what lobbying for Khazakh banks means, stop it this instant.

Read: The day Trump lost control over the conversation

House Democrats needed a good trial lawyer too, to teach them how to handle a morally bankrupt cooperating witness. As a former prosecutor, I know that your tone has to be stern and your questioning methodical. You have to convey to your audience that although the witness is nobody to admire he can still offer useful information. If you’re friendly, the jury just thinks you’ve fallen for a con artist. The Democrats treated Cohen like a minor celebrity, perhaps a YouTube star. A trial lawyer would not have simply draw out Cohen’s incriminating information about Trump, but used Cohen to emphasize the corroborating evidence from the Special Counsel investigation that backs many of his accusations. This was an opportunity to build the outline of a case against Trump. Democrats didn’t. Instead they triumphantly repeated Cohen’s more salacious accusations, speechified, and uncritically embraced Cohen’s I-am-a-sinner-seeking-redemption narrative. They didn’t hurt his credibility, but they utterly squandered the chance to support it.

House Republicans needed a trial lawyer—or even a moderately bright junior-high mock-trial participant—to tell them how to do anything. Cross-examination is hard. It’s not just barking at the witness. It takes meticulous planning and patience. Republicans could have marshaled Cohen’s many sins of the past to undermine his statements today. Instead they returned repeatedly to lies and misdeeds he’d already admitted, wallowed in silly trivialities like the “Women for Cohen” Twitter account, and yelled. The effect was to make an unsympathetic man modestly more sympathetic. Republicans committed the classic cross-examination blunder: They gave the witness the opportunity to further explain his harmful direct testimony. They provided Cohen with one slow pitch up the middle after another, letting him repeat the cooperating witness’s go-to explanation like a mantra: I did these bad things so often and so long because that’s what it took to work for your guy. I have seldom seen a cross-examination go worse.

If the hearing’s participants needed trial lawyers, its absent subject needs them even more. Whether the danger is looming impeachment hearings or the Special Counsel’s investigation, the president of the United States is in the soup.

Read: 9 striking moments from Michael Cohen’s testimony

Cohen put Donald Trump squarely at the middle of the harebrained scheme to hide hush-money payments to Stormy Daniels. He corroborated that tale with checks from Trump and from the Trump organization. The odd and haphazard way Trump reimbursed Cohen helps make the case that Trump knew the entire ruse breached campaign finance laws—if not clearly enough for a federal jury, at least enough for a House Committee on Impeachment. Cohen offered enough specific examples of Trump Organization financial skulduggery to launch a thousand subpoenas. He confirmed that Trump’s lawyers knew about, and even edited, Cohen’s prior false statements to Congress, suggesting a possible conspiracy to obstruct justice and lie to Congress. He also claimed that Trump talked to Roger Stone about Wikileaks in advance of the release of hacked DNC emails. That’s not itself illegal or “collusion”—it’s not against the law to receive dirt, even eagerly—but it probably contradicts the statements Trump has given under oath to the Special Counsel, leading to more danger for the president. Finally, Cohen confirmed that the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York is still investigating Trump for unspecified crimes. Nothing good has come out of the Southern District for this administration.

Team Trump should be worried. Republicans did not successfully destroy Cohen’s credibility. Cohen, while characteristically squirrelly on some subjects, did not exude his customary arrogance.In fact, he probably gained credibility by limiting his accusations—he passed up numerous opportunities to make expansive claims about collusion or salacious ones about sex tapes, focusing instead on relatively narrow allegations. Democrats didn’t help him, but they signaled that they were willing to conduct further investigations based on his word.

Time after time, Trump and his underlings and supporters have stumbled when they’ve missed the difference between court and culture. Stone learned last week that U.S. District Court is not like Instagram. Paul Manafort, Rick Gates, Michael Flynn, George Papadopoulos and Cohen have learned that the easy lies offered thoughtlessly in the media scrum can lead to jail time when uttered to FBI agents. Today Republicans had the opportunity to learn—though if they actually learned who can say—that theatrical committee hearing tactics are ineffective against a witness trained to withstand cross-examination. Will the president of the United States ever learn that a federal criminal investigation is not a reality show?

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to letters@theatlantic.com.

« Last Edit: February 28, 2019, 06:19:40 AM by Surly1 »
"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound

Offline Surly1

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America's Cult of Ignorance
« Reply #110 on: March 14, 2019, 03:59:42 AM »
America's Cult of Ignorance
More people are better educated than ever before, and knowledge is easier to come by. So why do we so often scorn those who plainly know more than we do?




There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there always has been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that 'my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.'”

—Isaac Asimov

In the early ’90s, a small group of “AIDS denialists,” including a University of California professor named Peter Duesberg, argued against virtually the entire medical establishment’s consensus that the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) was the cause of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. Science thrives on such counterintuitive challenges, but there was no evidence for Duesberg’s beliefs, which turned out to be baseless. Once researchers found HIV, doctors and public health officials were able to save countless lives through measures aimed at preventing its transmission.

The Duesberg business might have ended as just another quirky theory defeated by research. The history of science is littered with such dead ends. In this case, however, a discredited idea nonetheless managed to capture the attention of a national leader, with deadly results. Thabo Mbeki, then the president of South Africa, seized on the idea that AIDS was caused not by a virus but by other factors, such as malnourishment and poor health, and so he rejected offers of drugs and other forms of assistance to combat HIV infection in South Africa. By the mid-2000s, his government relented, but not before Mbeki’s fixation on AIDS denialism ended up costing, by the estimates of doctors at the Harvard School of Public Health, well over three hundred thousand lives and the births of some thirty-five thousand HIV-positive children whose infections could have been avoided. Mbeki, to this day, thinks he was on to something.

Many Americans might scoff at this kind of ignorance, but they shouldn’t be too confident in their own abilities. In 2014, the Washington Post polled Americans about whether the United States should engage in military intervention in the wake of the 2014 Russian invasion of Ukraine. The United States and Russia are former Cold War adversaries, each armed with hundreds of long-range nuclear weapons. A military conflict in the center of Europe, right on the Russian border, carries a risk of igniting World War III, with potentially catastrophic consequences. And yet only one in six Americans—and fewer than one in four college graduates—could identify Ukraine on a map. Ukraine is the largest country entirely in Europe, but the median respondent was still off by about 1,800 miles.

Map tests are easy to fail. Far more unsettling is that this lack of knowledge did not stop respondents from expressing fairly pointed views about the matter. Actually, this is an understatement: the public not only expressed strong views, but respondents actually showed enthusiasm for military intervention in Ukraine in direct proportion to their lack of knowledge about Ukraine. Put another way, people who thought Ukraine was located in Latin America or Australia were the most enthusiastic about the use of U.S. military force.

These are dangerous times. Never have so many people had so much access to so much knowledge and yet have been so resistant to learning anything. In the United States and other developed nations, otherwise intelligent people denigrate intellectual achievement and reject the advice of experts. Not only do increasing numbers of lay people lack basic knowledge, they reject fundamental rules of evidence and refuse to learn how to make a logical argument. In doing so, they risk throwing away centuries of accumulated knowledge and undermining the practices and habits that allow us to develop new knowledge.

This is more than a natural skepticism toward experts. I fear we are witnessing the death of the ideal of expertise itself, a Google-fueled, Wikipedia-based, blog-sodden collapse of any division between professionals and laypeople, students and teachers, knowers and wonderers—in other words, between those of any achievement in an area and those with none at all.

Attacks on established knowledge and the subsequent rash of poor information in the general public are sometimes amusing. Sometimes they’re even hilarious. Late-night comedians have made a cottage industry of asking people questions that reveal their ignorance about their own strongly held ideas, their attachment to fads, and their unwillingness to admit their own cluelessness about current events. It’s mostly harmless when people emphatically say, for example, that they’re avoiding gluten and then have to admit that they have no idea what gluten is. And let’s face it: watching people confidently improvise opinions about ludicrous scenarios like whether “Margaret Thatcher’s absence at Coachella is beneficial in terms of North Korea’s decision to launch a nuclear weapon” never gets old.

When life and death are involved, however, it’s a lot less funny. The antics of clownish anti-vaccine crusaders like actors Jim Carrey and Jenny McCarthy undeniably make for great television or for a fun afternoon of reading on Twitter. But when they and other uninformed celebrities and public figures seize on myths and misinformation about the dangers of vaccines, millions of people could once again be in serious danger from preventable afflictions like measles and whooping cough.

The growth of this kind of stubborn ignorance in the midst of the Information Age cannot be explained away as merely the result of rank ignorance. Many of the people who campaign against established knowledge are otherwise adept and successful in their daily lives. In some ways, it is all worse than ignorance: it is unfounded arrogance, the outrage of an increasingly narcissistic culture that cannot endure even the slightest hint of inequality of any kind.

By the “death of expertise,” I do not mean the death of actual expert abilities, the knowledge of specific things that sets some people apart from others in various areas. There will always be doctors and diplomats, lawyers and engineers, and many other specialists in various fields. On a day-to-day basis, the world cannot function without them. If we break a bone or get arrested, we call a doctor or a lawyer. When we travel, we take it for granted that the pilot knows how airplanes work. If we run into trouble overseas, we call a consular official who we assume will know what to do.

This, however, is a reliance on experts as technicians. It is not a dialogue between experts and the larger community, but the use of established knowledge as an off-the-shelf convenience as needed and only so far as desired. Stitch this cut in my leg, but don’t lecture me about my diet. (More than two-thirds of Americans are overweight.) Help me beat this tax problem, but don’t remind me that I should have a will. (Roughly half of Americans with children haven’t bothered to write one.) Keep my country safe, but don’t confuse me with the costs and calculations of national security. (Most U.S. citizens do not have even a remote idea of how much the United States spends on its armed forces.)

All of these choices, from a nutritious diet to national defense, require a conversation between citizens and experts. Increasingly, it seems, citizens don’t want to have that conversation. For their part, they’d rather believe they’ve gained enough information to make those decisions on their own, insofar as they care about making any of those decisions at all.

On the other hand, many experts, and particularly those in the academy, have abandoned their duty to engage with the public. They have retreated into jargon and irrelevance, preferring to interact with each other only. Meanwhile, the people holding the middle ground to whom we often refer as “public intellectuals”—I’d like to think I’m one of them—are becoming as frustrated and polarized as the rest of society.

The death of expertise is not just a rejection of existing knowledge. It is fundamentally a rejection of science and dispassionate rationality, which are the foundations of modern civilization. It is a sign, as the art critic Robert Hughes once described late 20th century America, of “a polity obsessed with therapies and filled with distrust of formal politics,” chronically “skeptical of authority” and “prey to superstition.” We have come full circle from a premodern age, in which folk wisdom filled unavoidable gaps in human knowledge, through a period of rapid development based heavily on specialization and expertise, and now to a postindustrial, information-oriented world where all citizens believe themselves to be experts on everything.

Any assertion of expertise from an actual expert, meanwhile, produces an explosion of anger from certain quarters of the American public, who immediately complain that such claims are nothing more than fallacious “appeals to authority,” sure signs of dreadful “elitism,” and an obvious effort to use credentials to stifle the dialogue required by a “real” democracy. Americans now believe that having equal rights in a political system also means that each person’s opinion about anything must be accepted as equal to anyone else’s. This is the credo of a fair number of people despite being obvious nonsense. It is a flat assertion of actual equality that is always illogical, sometimes funny, and often dangerous. This book, then, is about expertise.

The immediate response from most people when confronted with the death of expertise is to blame the Internet. Professionals, especially, tend to point to the Internet as the culprit when faced with clients and customers who think they know better. As we’ll see, that’s not entirely wrong, but it is also too simple an explanation. Attacks on established knowledge have a long pedigree, and the Internet is only the most recent tool in a recurring problem that in the past misused television, radio, the printing press, and other innovations the same way.

So why all the fuss? What exactly has changed so dramatically for me to have written this book and for you to be reading it? Is this really the “death of expertise,” or is this nothing more than the usual complaints from intellectuals that no one listens to them despite their self-anointed status as the smartest people in the room? Maybe it’s nothing more than the anxiety about the masses that arises among professionals after each cycle of social or technological change. Or maybe it’s just a typical expression of the outraged vanity of overeducated, elitist professors like me.

Indeed, maybe the death of expertise is a sign of progress. Educated professionals, after all, no longer have a stranglehold on knowledge. The secrets of life are no longer hidden in giant marble mausoleums, the great libraries of the world whose halls are intimidating even to the relatively few people who can visit them. Under such conditions in the past, there was less stress between experts and lay people, but only because citizens were simply unable to challenge experts in any substantive way. Moreover, there were few public venues in which to mount such challenges in the era before mass communications.

Participation in political, intellectual, and scientific life until the early 20th century was far more circumscribed, with debates about science, philosophy, and public policy all conducted by a small circle of educated males with pen and ink. Those were not exactly the

Good Old Days, and they weren’t that long ago. The time when most people didn’t finish high school, when very few went to college, and when only a tiny fraction of the population entered professions is still within living memory of many Americans.

Social changes only in the past half century finally broke down old barriers of race, class, and sex not only between Americans in general but also between uneducated citizens and elite experts in particular. A wider circle of debate meant more knowledge but more social friction. Universal education, the greater empowerment of women and minorities, the growth of a middle class, and increased social mobility all threw a minority of experts and the majority of citizens into direct contact, after nearly two centuries in which they rarely had to interact with each other.

And yet the result has not been a greater respect for knowledge, but the growth of an irrational conviction among Americans that everyone is as smart as everyone else. This is the opposite of education, which should aim to make people, no matter how smart or accomplished they are, learners for the rest of their lives. Rather, we now live in a society where the acquisition of even a little learning is the endpoint, rather than the beginning, of education. And this is a dangerous thing.

Excerpt from The Death of Expertise. Oxford University Press, 2017. Copyright © 2017. Reprinted with permission.

Tom Nichols is the author ofThe Death of Expertise: The Campaign Against Established Knowledge and Why It Matters. He is professor of National Security Affairs at the U.S. Naval War College, an adjunct professor at the Harvard Extension School, and a former aide in the U.S. Senate. He is also the author of several works on foreign policy and international security affairs, includingThe Sacred Cause, No Use: Nuclear Weapons and U.S. National Security, Eve of Destruction: The Coming Age of Preventive War, and The Russian Presidency.

He is also a five-time undefeated Jeopardy! champion, and as one of the all-time top players of the game, he was invited back to play in the 2005 Ultimate Tournament of Champions. Nichols’s website is tomnichols.net and he can be found on Twitter at @RadioFreeTom.

"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound

Offline K-Dog

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Re: Who They Are...
« Reply #111 on: March 14, 2019, 08:06:54 AM »
If tom Tom Nichols is so 'smart' how come he doesn't know squat about resource depletion?
Under ideal conditions of temperature and pressure the organism will grow without limit.

Offline Surly1

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Re: Who They Are...
« Reply #112 on: March 14, 2019, 10:08:21 AM »
If tom Tom Nichols is so 'smart' how come he doesn't know squat about resource depletion?

What does resource depletion have to do with the point of the article?
"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound

Offline K-Dog

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Re: Who They Are...
« Reply #113 on: March 14, 2019, 09:15:46 PM »
If tom Tom Nichols is so 'smart' how come he doesn't know squat about resource depletion?

What does resource depletion have to do with the point of the article?

Quote
He is also a five-time undefeated Jeopardy! champion, and as one of the all-time top players of the game, he was invited back to play in the 2005 Ultimate Tournament of Champions. Nichols’s website is tomnichols.net and he can be found on Twitter at @RadioFreeTom.

I suggest reading the article conventionally and then scan it backwards to see the authors elitist bias.  Forwards it is clear and logical, backwards you see the emotion behind it all. 

Fools led by fools is not a trip I want to make and this man thinks he is superior.  That is the most dangerous kind of man there is.  The smart fool.

The point has to do with hubris and the bigger picture.  A little knowledge can be a dangerous thing and this man has tons and tons of little knowledge.  Virtuosos of facts often can't see or make larger connections but he'll be sure to say otherwise given the chance.  I can say that with certainty.  How? lets review his credentials a bit more.   

Professor of National Security Affairs at the U.S. Naval War College, an adjunct professor at the Harvard Extension School, and a former aide in the U.S. Senate.

Hot Doggie Dabbiddy Poo Doo!

The man drips elitism and wants knowledge held by small circles of people.  No way can that mindset see a bigger picture.  Being quick on the draw does not make one an expert on everything and he's a Quix-Draw down to the last fill-up.  Forest and trees and he knows everything about trees.  Since he does the forest gets taken away from the rest of us.

I bet he would like to blame the poor foreign policy of American leaders on the ignorance of the American people.



Smack in the middle:

Quote
Or maybe it’s just a typical expression of the outraged vanity of overeducated, elitist professors like me.

He said it himself.

A characteristic of the smart fool is that since they think they are smarter than most (and usually they are) they are domineering loud and lack grace.  Their airs of status prevent appropriate intimidation as an response so a sick feedback cycle is born where they get their way be they right or be they wrong.

And that is enough to piss a true centurion off.
« Last Edit: March 14, 2019, 09:31:29 PM by K-Dog »
Under ideal conditions of temperature and pressure the organism will grow without limit.

Offline Surly1

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Re: Who They Are...
« Reply #114 on: March 15, 2019, 07:55:15 AM »
KD,

I guess I am unable to fathom your ire at this article.

For one, I am guilty of being a literal thinker and reading articles from start to finish, to follow a line of argument. I gather that you think Mr. Nichols is a bit too full of himself and precious. That may be so, and I have no stake in arguing otherwise. He wrote a book and has an opinion, from which the article is excerpted. I thought it was reasonably anodyne as these things go, and expressed a self evident truth: that we live in an age where "my ignorance" is as good as "your expertise."

How else to explain the prevalence of those advocating a flat earth "all around the globe;" the dismissal of herd immunity and conviction that thimerosol causes autism among the anti-vaxxers; the re-emergence of a barely submerged racism given leave by the White-Nationalist-in-chief; the reversion to tribalism of various sorts, made gruesome and graphic this morning in New Zealand; the crackpot assertion made from time to time that the UNITED STATES is a corporation, the “courts” are a form of banking, and that the FSoA is NOT a legal government-- tell that to your jailer; that stories sourced by reporters with multiple sources, and vetted by editors and fact-checkers before publication somehow become "fake news" if they disagree with the perceived wisdom; and that you can believe anything you read on the internet, including this post.

The belief that "Knowledge is power" is an axiom that is a holdover from bourgeois philosophy, derived from the 19th century European workers movement. And an echo, perhaps, of the intellectual Big Bang of the Enlightenment. Knowledge was once seen as something sacred. Until the current moment, men have always striven to accumulate and transmit knowledge, and societies are often represented by the kind of knowledge at their disposal. Ironic, isn't it, that at a time of a knowledge explosion, and the democratization of information among the widest possible audience, that the very notion of expertise should come under attack.

Now we stand on the cusp of the Internet of Things, where your refrigerator will order milk from the supermarket when running low, or the  “intelligent house”, which regulates its own heating and ventilation. Alexa can already address your lights and certain of your enabled appliances. We already know what algorithms are capable of doing. At a time when external control, of one's individual choices is more subject to external mediation than ever, a significant number of our fellow citizens want to do nothing more than change the subject.

The fact is that Technology and its spread through society generates tensions and divisions in our cultural structures. Knowledge has not been spread effectively, and this prevents us from progressing towards the society of thoughtful individuals into a society of grievance.

Apparently Nichols spreads around the blame for America’s "angry narcissism," and a lot of it falls on universities.

Competition for students has turned a lot of schools into client-servicing organizations. We got a snootful of the lengths high-income parents will go to assure the success of their next generation of otherwise-unemployables by jiggering the rules, which are only meant to apply to the "little people."   These days students are catered to as "customers." Friends of mine who have spent decades teaching in some of America's best universities can speak to the power and effectiveness of course-end student evaluations. Bad reviews can cost you classes and eventually, your gig.

Also, often students fail to learn a certain amount of humility about the level of their own intelligence. Grades are artificially high, because the faculty and the administration treat them like valued clients; they don’t really go through the challenge and the discomfort that are properly part of a college education. College isn’t supposed to be comfortable. It’s much fun and a great time of  life, but it should also be a place where you rethink the things you learned in childhood. It certainly was thus for me, and I suspect more of the posters on this forum who spent the time in college. College is not meant to be a constant reaffirmation of your personality or your worth, or a continuous set of opportunities for selfies.

Also, since we're all knowledge workers and don't make anything anymore, everybody needs to go to college. Now college has supplanted high school as a mess experience, and now includes remedial English and math. These are the things colleges have had to do to keep the doors open. Another conduit scheme, and unsupportable in the fullness of time.

Homo Americanus is deeply science-averse which stems from a generalized distrust of "elites," defined as someone who knows more than me, or at least acts like it. A common anti-elitism has a long running if not distinguished pedigree. (Richard Hofstadter published Anti-Intellectualism in American Life" over 50  years ago, and its history extends at least back to the 1840s, if not earlier.) Left and right just define elites differently. On one side, it’s Big Pharma, big business; for Trump supporters it’s pointy-headed Ivy Leaguers. They have no problem with a billionaire-stuffed cabinet because the elite to them are cultural voices. What really defines elite in America now is no longer the raw indicator of money, but rather an educated class versus an uneducated class.

The winners in the 21st century will be people who can master information rather than labor. I find that the deep aversion to intellectual "elitism" is setting up the next generation to get ready to report to their masters in China.
"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound

Offline K-Dog

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Re: Who They Are...
« Reply #115 on: March 15, 2019, 08:51:43 AM »
My ire:



There it is.
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Offline Surly1

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Re: Who They Are...
« Reply #116 on: March 15, 2019, 09:10:28 AM »
My ire:



There it is.

OK.

Power always corrupts.
They became what they beheld.
Some animals are more equal than others.

These are what I recall of the lessons of Animal Farm. But again, I don't see them in the excerpt from Tom Nichols' little screed.

I must be missing something.

here is what raises my ire:

"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound

Offline K-Dog

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Re: Who They Are...
« Reply #117 on: March 15, 2019, 09:58:58 AM »
KD,

I guess I am unable to fathom your ire at this article.

For one, I am guilty of being a literal thinker and reading articles from start to finish, to follow a line of argument. I gather that you think Mr. Nichols is a bit too full of himself and precious. That may be so, and I have no stake in arguing otherwise. He wrote a book and has an opinion, from which the article is excerpted. I thought it was reasonably anodyne as these things go, and expressed a self evident truth: that we live in an age where "my ignorance" is as good as "your expertise."

How else to explain the prevalence of those advocating a flat earth "all around the globe;" the dismissal of herd immunity and conviction that thimerosol causes autism among the anti-vaxxers; the re-emergence of a barely submerged racism given leave by the White-Nationalist-in-chief; the reversion to tribalism of various sorts, made gruesome and graphic this morning in New Zealand; the crackpot assertion made from time to time that the UNITED STATES is a corporation, the “courts” are a form of banking, and that the FSoA is NOT a legal government-- tell that to your jailer; that stories sourced by reporters with multiple sources, and vetted by editors and fact-checkers before publication somehow become "fake news" if they disagree with the perceived wisdom; and that you can believe anything you read on the internet, including this post.

The belief that "Knowledge is power" is an axiom that is a holdover from bourgeois philosophy, derived from the 19th century European workers movement. And an echo, perhaps, of the intellectual Big Bang of the Enlightenment. Knowledge was once seen as something sacred. Until the current moment, men have always striven to accumulate and transmit knowledge, and societies are often represented by the kind of knowledge at their disposal. Ironic, isn't it, that at a time of a knowledge explosion, and the democratization of information among the widest possible audience, that the very notion of expertise should come under attack.

Now we stand on the cusp of the Internet of Things, where your refrigerator will order milk from the supermarket when running low, or the  “intelligent house”, which regulates its own heating and ventilation. Alexa can already address your lights and certain of your enabled appliances. We already know what algorithms are capable of doing. At a time when external control, of one's individual choices is more subject to external mediation than ever, a significant number of our fellow citizens want to do nothing more than change the subject.

The fact is that Technology and its spread through society generates tensions and divisions in our cultural structures. Knowledge has not been spread effectively, and this prevents us from progressing towards the society of thoughtful individuals into a society of grievance.

Apparently Nichols spreads around the blame for America’s "angry narcissism," and a lot of it falls on universities.

Competition for students has turned a lot of schools into client-servicing organizations. We got a snootful of the lengths high-income parents will go to assure the success of their next generation of otherwise-unemployables by jiggering the rules, which are only meant to apply to the "little people."   These days students are catered to as "customers." Friends of mine who have spent decades teaching in some of America's best universities can speak to the power and effectiveness of course-end student evaluations. Bad reviews can cost you classes and eventually, your gig.

Also, often students fail to learn a certain amount of humility about the level of their own intelligence. Grades are artificially high, because the faculty and the administration treat them like valued clients; they don’t really go through the challenge and the discomfort that are properly part of a college education. College isn’t supposed to be comfortable. It’s much fun and a great time of  life, but it should also be a place where you rethink the things you learned in childhood. It certainly was thus for me, and I suspect more of the posters on this forum who spent the time in college. College is not meant to be a constant reaffirmation of your personality or your worth, or a continuous set of opportunities for selfies.

Also, since we're all knowledge workers and don't make anything anymore, everybody needs to go to college. Now college has supplanted high school as a mess experience, and now includes remedial English and math. These are the things colleges have had to do to keep the doors open. Another conduit scheme, and unsupportable in the fullness of time.

Homo Americanus is deeply science-averse which stems from a generalized distrust of "elites," defined as someone who knows more than me, or at least acts like it. A common anti-elitism has a long running if not distinguished pedigree. (Richard Hofstadter published Anti-Intellectualism in American Life" over 50  years ago, and its history extends at least back to the 1840s, if not earlier.) Left and right just define elites differently. On one side, it’s Big Pharma, big business; for Trump supporters it’s pointy-headed Ivy Leaguers. They have no problem with a billionaire-stuffed cabinet because the elite to them are cultural voices. What really defines elite in America now is no longer the raw indicator of money, but rather an educated class versus an uneducated class.

The winners in the 21st century will be people who can master information rather than labor. I find that the deep aversion to intellectual "elitism" is setting up the next generation to get ready to report to their masters in China.

Most of my days are spent in boredom.  Homo Americanus pisses me off too.  But what pisses me off more is the rampant finger pointing at everyone else by everyone else.  Part of the rampant finger pointing is done by our media which loves to blame all our problems on Joe Six Pack.  Stupid Joe.  If Joe weren't so stupid we'd be in the singularity by now.

Just because you can win at Jeopardy does not mean you are not a tool.  It is also not proof of generalized abilities.  But it is proof of being a good tape recorder and claiming you are better than everyone else if you put it in your article bio.

Did we miss this part?

Professor of National Security Affairs at the U.S. Naval War College, an adjunct professor at the Harvard Extension School, and a former aide in the U.S. Senate.

My personal history with these people colors my attitude.  I admit it.  They don't want me on the net.  They also don't want you on the net.  You just haven't had the pleasure of finding out yet.

I could be wrong about Tom.  I'd have to meet him in person.  He could be a real outlier and my ire is subtle, so don't make too much of it.  I'm splitting hairs sort of; though there are fundamental issues. 

The thought that the most capable and educated class has historically been the elites is a very scary thing.  They have not done too well.  I'm thinking Tom just wants more of the same but I could be wrong.  Perhaps he has a secret plan to reward meritocracy I don't know about but since the most capable and educated class has historically been the elites our elite status quo can easily embrace education as salvation any time they want.  They own education and all the time it takes to educate.  Tom could just be a sycophant singing their tune.

What we have learned:

K-Dog does not give two fucks if you can beat other people at Jeopardy and it pisses him off so much he growls if you think it is a big accomplishment.



Note:

If enough elites used their copious free time wisely we'd really be in trouble.  It is good they fuck off as much as they do.

« Last Edit: March 15, 2019, 10:03:11 AM by K-Dog »
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Offline Surly1

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Re: Who They Are...
« Reply #118 on: March 15, 2019, 11:56:04 AM »
Thanks, KD.

Quote
Just because you can win at Jeopardy does not mean you are not a tool.  It is also not proof of generalized abilities.  But it is proof of being a good tape recorder and claiming you are better than everyone else if you put it in your article bio.

Did we miss this part?

Professor of National Security Affairs at the U.S. Naval War College, an adjunct professor at the Harvard Extension School, and a former aide in the U.S. Senate.

My personal history with these people colors my attitude.  I admit it.  They don't want me on the net.  They also don't want you on the net.  You just haven't had the pleasure of finding out yet.

Now I understand. At least a little better. Thanks for the clarification.

Based on past OPs, you have earned the right to have a case of the ass for these people.
"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound

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FBI Received Reports That Border Militia Was Training to Assassinate Dems
« Reply #119 on: April 23, 2019, 05:10:30 AM »
FBI Received Reports That Border Militia Was Training to Assassinate Prominent Democrats

Larry Hopkins, the leader of an extremist militia group known as the United Constitutional Patriots was arrested by the FBI last weekend after videos emerged of the group rounding up and detaining migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border in New Mexico.

According to the New York Times, the FBI first became aware of Hopkins activities in 2017, when they received reports that his group was “training to assassinate George Soros, Hillary Clinton, and Barack Obama because of these individuals’ support of Antifa,” according to newly unsealed court documents.

“My client told me that is not true,” Hopkins lawyer Kelly O’Connell said of the assassination claims.

Hopkins, it turns out, is not just a militia leader, but a career criminal and conspiracy theorist. The Times runs down some of Hopkins long list of offenses, which includes felony possession of a loaded firearm in 1996, impersonating a police officer in 2006, and failure to pay child support in 2009.

“Hopkins stated that he worked for the federal government directly under George Bush,” Officer Jack Daniel of Klamath County, OR wrote in a report when he encountered Hopkins in 2006. At the time, Hopkins was showing guns to teenagers in a gas station parking lot, wearing a uniform that made him look like a police officer and a badge that said “Special Agent.”

“Mr. Hopkins, the report said, claimed variously to be investigating a meth lab, hunting fugitives and undertaking unspecified ‘operations’ in Afghanistan,” the Times writes.

When the FBI arrested Hopkins last weekend, it was on charges of possession of firearms and ammunition as a felon. But the agency first learned of his stash of guns over a year and a half ago.

From the Times:

In an affidavit, David S. Gabriel, an F.B.I. special agent, said the bureau was made aware of the activities of Mr. Hopkins after receiving reports in October 2017 of “alleged militia extremist activity” in northwestern New Mexico.

Mr. Gabriel said that the following month, two F.B.I. agents went to a trailer park in Flora Vista, N.M., where Mr. Hopkins was living at the time. With Mr. Hopkins’s consent, the agents entered the home and saw about 10 firearms in plain view, in what Mr. Hopkins referred to as his office.

Mr. Hopkins, who has also used the name Johnny Horton Jr., told the agents that the guns belonged to Fay Sanders Murphy, whom he described to agents as his common-law wife, according to the affidavit. The agents collected at least nine firearms from the home as evidence, including a 12-gauge shotgun and various handguns.
It’s not clear why the FBI agents didn’t arrest Hopkins at the time, but instead waited till last week, when videos of his militia’s actions surfaced online.

O’Connell says Hopkins plans to plead not guilty to the charges of possessing firearms, and questioned why he was arrested at this time, suggesting that pressure from New Mexico Democrats might be a factor. O’Connell himself was a conservative talk show host until 2017.

“I’m not a militia specialist,” O’Connell told the Times. “They believe they are helping to enforce the laws of America on immigration.”

The UCP plans to remain in their encampment along the border in Sunland Park, NM, despite their leader’s arrest.

“We’re not leaving,” UCP spokesman Jim Benvie told the Times.

But rail transportation company Union Pacific says the group has trespassed on their land.

“They have trespassed on our property to access this camp,” a Union Pacific spokesman, Tim McMahan, told the Times. “While we cannot make them move their camp, we have asked them to not trespass on our property.”
"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound