Posts Tagged ‘The Washington Post’

Washington Post reporters chronicle a chaotic White House in ‘A Very Stable Genius’

June 30, 2020

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
June 30, 2020

Multiple books have been written about Donald Trump’s presidency by insiders or former insiders, or by journalists with access to such people. John Bolton’s recent publication, The Room Where It Happened, is but the latest example.

But no matter the author, or the author’s ideology, the fundamental story remains the same: The president is lazy, vainglorious, utterly unprepared for his office and both unwilling and unable to acquire the knowledge or temperament needed to execute it faithfully. It’s the exact message that news reports have been conveying since the moment of Trump’s inauguration.

This very familiar theme was only reinforced by the January release A Very Stable Genius, which I recently read. Washington Post reporters Philip Rucker and Carol Leonnig describe a chaotic White House in which public servants were forced to compete with ambitious self-centered sycophants to catch the president’s ear. Trump showed little regard for truth and displayed an astonishing ignorance of basic facts about history, the government and international affairs. He frequently upbraided underlings in meetings and often sulked openly when they refused to cater to his every wish, no matter how inappropriate or even illegal.

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Recent Readings for May 9, 2019

May 9, 2019

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
May 9, 2019

Author’s note: One of the articles linked below involves a porn star; the article is not particularly explicit, but I wanted to give warning. Also, two of the articles below contain upsetting details about violent crimes. MEM

Gosh, I haven’t done one of these in nearly two and a half years. Let’s see what’s been running through my mind lately!

• “The Sunday school children: The little-known tragedy of the Sri Lankan Easter attacks.” Rebecca Wright, Sam Kiley and King Ratnam of CNN take a detailed look at one of the bombings in the terrorist assaults that killed about 250 Christians and tourists last month. Be aware that this story is filled with a number of heartbreaking details.

• “Student slated to attend Western Michigan University beheaded in Saudi Arabia.” This was one of a series of government executions, the particulars of which should shock the conscience of every American. Alas, it’s hard to imagine that our freedom-loving pro-life president giving this matter more than 30 seconds of thought. As I tweeted: “The details presented here are shocking, and comprise a not-so-gentle reminder that this nation produced 15 of the 19 hijackers on Sept. 11, 2001.”

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A publisher finds her mettle during a fight over government secrets in Spielberg’s new historical drama, ‘The Post’

February 1, 2018

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Feb. 1, 2018

Steven Spielberg’s dozens of features are too numerous and diverse to categorize neatly. But if some hypothetical archivist were forced to sort the prolific director’s output into two boxes, she or he could do worse than to choose the labels “commercial movies” and “prestige movies.” Jaws (1975), the prototypical blockbuster, would belong in the first box; so would Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) and the other Indiana Jones movies (the 1984 prequel and 1989 and 2008 sequels), E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982), Jurassic Park (1993) and its 1997 follow-up, Minority Report and Catch Me if You Can (both 2002), War of the Worlds (2005) and other works, including the imminent Ready Player One and an upcoming Indiana Jones adventure.

Spielberg’s 2017 feature, The Post, belongs squarely with his prestige movies. It’s in good company, rubbing elbows with Empire of the Sun (1987), Schindler’s List (1993)Amistad (1997), Munich (2005 again), Lincoln (2011) and Bridge of Spies (2015). Other than the director’s very first prestige picture, The Color Purple (1985), which was adapted from Alice Walker’s phenomenal 1982 novel, all of these highbrow movies are based on true stories.

The Post reunites the director with Tom Hanks. The star of Bridge of Spies plays against Meryl Streep as the editor and publisher, respectively, of The Washington Post. Today, the newspaper is an iconic American journalism institution, and Ben Bradlee and Katharine “Kay” Graham are legendary figures. But when we meet the lead characters, in 1971, they have yet to secure their legacies.

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Candidate Donald: A brief status report on the GOP presidential candidate

June 17, 2016

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
June 17, 2016

Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, is struggling — and his difficulties could harm his party’s electoral chances.

Recently, Trump issued several scathing attacks on Gonzalo Curiel, the federal judge overseeing civil fraud lawsuits against the defunct Trump Entrepreneur Initiative Trump “University.”  Trump’s sharp words earned him reprimands from several Republican allies. U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk, who’s facing a difficult re-election battle in Illinois, withdrew his endorsement of Trump, saying, “I cannot support him because of what he said about the judge. That was too racist and bigoted for me.” U.S. Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska, a frequent Trump critic despite their shared party affiliation, tweeted that “[s]aying someone can’t do a specific job because of his or her race is the literal definition of ‘racism.’”

After Sunday morning’s tragic gun massacre in Orlando, the New York businessman suggested that President Obama is some kind of Islamic terrorist sympathizer, if not an outright mole, and reupped his recommendation that Muslims be banned from entering the nation. Politico had a good roundup of Republicans’ dismayed responses to Trump’s swagger. “I do not think a Muslim ban is in our country’s interest. I do not think it is reflective of our principles, not just as a party but as a country,” Speaker of the House Paul Ryan said.

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On politicians and (possible) pyramid schemes

April 7, 2016

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
April 7, 2016

I referred on Tuesday to a post by Jezebel’s Erin Gloria Ryan that asked “Do Any of the Republicans Running for President Actually Want to Win?” I happen to disagree with some of Ryan’s takes. For instance, I think that U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) very badly wants to be president — although I also believe that he’s keenly aware of the fact that his fervently courting evangelical audiences and throwing red meat to them will eventually redound to his benefit, whether or not he’s ever elected to another office.

Ryan wrote that “this entire election makes a lot more sense if you think of it like a political sequel for The Producers.” She continued:

Mel Brooks’s 1967 farce-musical tells the story of a pair of down-on-their-luck men who realize that they can make more money producing a musical that’s a flop than they can producing one that succeeds. Money raised by backers, reason Max Bialystock and Leo Bloom (as played by Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder), will make them rich, and if the show closes after only a night, they get to keep all of the money themselves rather than paying investors their share of profits. To maximize its offensiveness, they hire a Nazi to write it, the worst director on Broadway to direct it, and an [sic] semi-lucid man to star in it. Much to their horror, Springtime for Hitler is a smash hit.

Politicians left, right and center have long been associated with all manner of grift, but the link seems to be especially deep when it comes to conservative politicos. Back in the fall of 2012, the left-leaning historian Rick Perlstein, author of books about presidents Nixon and Reagan, argued that “the reflex of lying [is] now sutured into the modern conservative movement’s DNA” and asserted that “conservative leaders treat their constituents like suckers.”

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Man on the run: Contemplating the intent and the future of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign

April 5, 2016

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
April 5, 2016

Eight days ago, a hitherto obscure public relations expert and New York University adjunct professor named Stephanie Cegielski generated a great deal of attention when she wrote an open letter explaining why she would no longer support Donald Trump’s run for president. The most notable thing about the letter was its author — specifically, the fact that Cegielski had worked for several months for the Make America Great Again political organization, an unofficial adjunct to Trump’s campaign.

The next few days went poorly for Trump: He suggested breaching the Geneva Conventions, which prohibit torture, among other things; said he was for punishing women who illegally obtain abortions before changing his position on the matter several times; continued an aggressive defense of his campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, even after Florida police charged him with manhandling a female reporter then associated with a conservative “news” outlet; and gave the latest in a string of interviews in which he seemed arrogant and disjointed. (Asked by The Washington Post’s Robert Costa what strategy he had for converting former Republican rivals into allies, Trump said, “I think that’s overrated, what you’re saying, about bringing them into the fold. At the same time, I think I would be successful with many of them. I don’t know that I’ll be successful with Jeb Bush.”)

Now several pundits are questioning whether Trump is sabotaging his own campaign, consciously or otherwise, because he doesn’t really want to be president. By way of example, today, we had Michael Brendan Dougherty writing for The Week; on Monday, there was Robert Becker writing for Salon and three editors writing for The Huffington Post; on Friday, Sean Illing in Salon and John Fund in the National Review. On Saturday, A Prairie Home Companion ran a “Guy Noir, Private Eye” skit in which a faux Donald Trump orders his staff to find a way for him to wreck his lead in the nomination campaign. On Sunday, Chris Wallace began an interview by asking Trump, “Are you in the process of blowing your campaign for president?”

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Is the conservative #BENGHAZI!!! scandal narrative ill-served by the facts of the Benghazi attacks? A brief investigation

November 22, 2014

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Nov. 22, 2014

This afternoon, I conducted a quick review of four websites — two of them mainstream news organizations, two of them avowedly conservative news organizations — and their coverage of the latest news relating to the Sept. 11, 2012, terrorist attacks against American outposts in Benghazi, Libya.

Let’s start with the mainstream coverage.

At The Washington Post, a story titled “House panel finds no intelligence failure in Benghazi attacks” was featured in prominent real estate — the top-left corner of the home page. Greg Miller’s article, posted Friday, Nov. 21, at 8:53 p.m., begins:

An investigation by the Republican-led House Intelligence Committee has concluded that the CIA and U.S. military responded appropriately to the attacks on U.S. facilities in Benghazi, Libya, in 2012, dismissing allegations that the Obama administration blocked rescue attempts during the assault or sought to mislead the public afterward.

After a two-year probe that involved the review of thousands of pages of classified documents, the panel determined that the attack could not be blamed on an intelligence failure, and that CIA security operatives “ably and bravely assisted” State Department officials who were overwhelmed at a nearby but separate diplomatic compound.

The committee also found “no evidence that there was either a stand down order or a denial of available air support,” rejecting claims that have fed persistent conspiracy theories that the U.S. military was prevented from rescuing U.S. personnel from a night-time assault that killed U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.

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Conservatives vs. Obamacare: Looking at (and debunking) part of the case against the ACA

September 7, 2013

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Sept. 7, 2013

The conservative crusade against the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act continues apace.

Let’s be clear, to borrow a phrase from the president: There are a number of reasons why the health care reform law is so loathed on the right. To cite just one factor: It passed Congress in 2010 without a single Republican vote.

And yes, this is a big and complicated law that tackles a huge swathe of our society and economy. There’s a chance that the so-called Obamacare legislation will work brilliantly. There’s a chance that Obamacare will fail spectacularly. My hunch is that the law will work, but in the manner that many large projects work — that is, imperfectly.

Glenn Kessler, the main Fact Checker columnist for The Washington Post, had a post Tuesday morning examining three particular claims made by U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) in a television ad inveighing against Obamacare.

Here’s how Cruz starts off the spot: “There’s bipartisan agreement that Obamacare isn’t working. Democratic Senator Max Baucus, the lead author of Obamacare, says it’s a huge train wreck.”  Read the rest of this entry »

‘Mr. President, tear down this law’: Considering conservatives’ hostility toward Obamacare

August 22, 2013

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Aug. 22, 2013

With key deadlines for implementing President Obama’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act approaching — except for when the president himself puts them off, that is — a subgenre of conservative punditry has arisen. The theme that unites this new category of opinionating is that its authors all call for Republicans to unite around a replacement set of health care reforms.

It’s long been clear that Americans on the right dislike, if not outright despise, the Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. Obamacare. Their opposition is ironic for at least two reasons. One is that the conservative Heritage Foundation devised the individual mandate to purchase health insurance that is at the heart of the plan.

The other is that Obamacare is predicated, through that very same individual mandate, upon expanding the customer base of health insurance companies. In other words, the Affordable Care Act is simply not a single-payer system, in which the government assures every citizen a minimal level of health care. And Obamacare really isn’t much of a step toward socialized medicine, which significantly increase government control or regulation of the people and institutions that actually dispense health care.

Back in June, Ramesh Ponnuru published a lengthy essay on the National Review’s website that took conservatives to task for

increasingly embracing [this] theory about Obamacare: It’s going to collapse of its own weight, and its failure could yield a sharp right turn in the 2014 and 2016 elections. That theory is probably wrong, and dangerously so. To be rid of Obamacare, Republicans will have to do more than just wait for it to go away — and more than they have done so far.

Recent public remarks by Obama reinforced Ponnuru’s criticism that GOPers need to get more specific about enacting a replacement for Obamacare. Read the rest of this entry »

One Wondrous Sentence: Mitt Romney

December 3, 2012

This one wondrous sentence from a feature story on how Mitt Romney is adjusting to life after his unsuccessful presidential campaign captures precisely why so many people, this individual included, considered Romney to be an empty suit:

The son of Detroit — who boasted of the Cadillacs he owned as a sign of support for the U.S. auto industry during the campaign — was spotted driving a new black Audi Q7, a luxury sport-utility vehicle manufactured in Slovakia.

Source: Philip Rucker, “A detached Romney tends wounds in seclusion after failed White House bid,” The Washington Post, Dec. 1, 2012. (Link is for story’s second page.)

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