Ezra Klein: Oval Office Circus Proves Donald Trump ‘Doesn’t Want The Wall’ | The Last Word | MSNBC

Trump’s argument with Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer over the wall shows he has no interest in policy, he just wants to “have fights with Democrats … on camera,” says Ezra Klein. John Heilemann and Kimberly Atkins join Lawrence.

Comment:

If Trump wanted the wall, he wouldn’t have televised the meeting.  The difference in funding is relatively small, but Trump offered nothing to trade.  If he really wanted the wall, he would have offered citizenship for the Dreamers, which could have been popular for both sides.

In the closed door session, Trump said Mexico will pay for the wall one way or the other.  He said the new Nafta will allow the government to collect money.

A reconsideration of tactics is in order.

  • They could create a proposal on 1 piece of paper, deliver it and walk out

 

Why Online Politics Gets So Extreme So Fast | The Ezra Klein Show

During the 2016 campaign, Zeynep Tufekci was watching videos of Donald Trump rallies on YouTube. But then, she writes, she “noticed something peculiar. YouTube started to recommend and ‘autoplay’ videos for me that featured white supremacist rants, Holocaust denials and other disturbing content.”

And it wasn’t just Trump videos. Watching Hillary Clinton rallies got her “arguments about the existence of secret government agencies and allegations that the United States government was behind the attacks of Sept. 11.” Nor was it just politics. “Videos about vegetarianism led to videos about veganism. Videos about jogging led to videos about running ultramarathons.”

Tufekci is a New York Times columnist and a professor at the University of North Carolina. She’s also one of the clearest thinkers around on how digital platforms work, how their algorithms understand and shape our preferences, and what the consequences are for society. So as we learn that Facebook is detecting new efforts at electoral manipulation and as we watch online politics become ever more bitter and divisive, I wanted to talk with Tufekci about how digital platforms have become engines of radicalization, and what we can do about it.

 

In an oral culture, memory is prized.

In a social media culture, attention-getting is prized.  The Kardashians do this.  Trump is an ex-reality television star, because that is what he excelled at.  She thinks this won’t work well because it will be misunderstood.  You don’t have control over where it goes.

What is this media training us to do?  It is rewarding attention-grabbing with political power and money.   Politicians try to get attention without letting it take over.

The space is so crowded, so competitive.

What really wins when thousands of things are competing?  (28:50 min)

Things that outrage or excite core identities.  Really funny, mean, or shocking.

We are taught to believe that competition is always better.  The more we train people to win this war, it is easy to see how so much falls along identity lines, funny, mean, shocking.

Every company knows the power of the default.

The most effective forms of censorship involve messing with trust and attention.

Is censorship the right word?  People are asking this of Facebook and Google.

What to do with Alex Jones and what to call him?

3 degrees of Alex Jones: you can start anywhere on Facebook? and Alex Jones will be recommended.

With InfoWars they are targeting people for violent incitement.  Claiming that the Sandy Hooks parents kids are actors and they pretended a shooting occurred so that the government can take your guns away.

They are not governments; they are gatekeepers.

Ted Cruz has allied himself with someone who said his father helped kill JFK.

We need forms of due process

How to disagree better

Everyone knows the difference between anger and contempt.

Anger can lead to reconciliation

Twitter is a contempt machine

45 min: Blogosphere Fisking: Attacking others, but expecting them to read and respond.

Martin Luther King used confrontation with the expectation that change was possible.

Competition means trying to win the game. Contempt means trying to shut it down.

We don’t actually have conversations with people who are different.

(53 min)

The Ezra Klein Show: How the Republican Party created Donald Trump

Mitch McConnell promised bipartisanship in his speech about healthcare and delivered the exact opposite.  The speech had very little “truth content”.  (38 min)

The Koch brothers announced that they had 360 million dollars to spend on the next election if the Republicans passed healthcare and tax cuts.  (48 min)

Tucker Carlson condemned the right wing media ~6 years ago and said the right needs its own institutions comparable to the New York Times.  He started the Daily Caller which now makes money putting up bikini pictures, and then plays a host on Fox News that does nothing to challenge his audience, preferring to embarrass guests and make its visitors feel good. (1 hr 25 min)

Ezra: I think many of the criticism of the mainstream media are right.  It has a cosmopolitan bias.

Tucker Carlson is all about business model.  Dinesh D’hsousa is doing well because the Ann Coulter principle — the more extreme you are, the better you do.  Authors always check their Amazon ratings.

Many Conservatives don’t consume mainstream media.

The media knew that the John Podesta leaks were coming from the Russians, but the business is comptetitive and people were concerned about appearing biased.  (1 hr 38 min)

 

Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein have studied American politics for more than three decades. They are the town’s go-to experts on the workings of Congress. In 2012, they rocked Washington when they published It’s Even Worse Than It Looks, a book that marshaled their considerable authority to argue that the dysfunction poisoning American government was the result of “asymmetric polarization,” notably a Republican Party that “has become an insurgent outlier in American politics — ideologically extreme; contemptuous of the inherited social and economic policy regime; scornful of compromise; unmoved by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition.”

This was a controversial diagnosis then. After Trump, it’s closer to the conventional wisdom.

E.J. Dionne is a columnist at the Washington Post, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, and the author of the classic book Why Americans Hate Politics. He’s one of the sharpest political observers alive.

And now, like a Canadian indie-rock supergroup, the three of them have come together to write One Nation After Trump, a dive into how the Republican Party created Trump, how Trump won, and what comes next.

As Dionne says in this interview, the American system was “not supposed to produce a president like this,” and so a lot of our conversation is about how the guardrails failed and whether they can be rebuilt. Mann, Ornstein, and Dionne may be political sages, but they’re also a lot of fun, and they have a lot of fun together. You’ll hear that in this conversation.

Books:

Franklin D. Roosevelt and the New Deal by William Leuchtenburg

Strength to Love by Martin Luther King, Jr.

The First Congress by Fergus Bordewich

Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

Democracy for Realists by Christopher Achen and Larry Bartels

Ezra Klein: Ta-Nehisi Coates is not here to comfort you

“It’s important to remember the inconsequence of one’s talent and hard work and the incredible and unmatched sway of luck and fate,” writes Ta-Nehisi Coates in his new book, We Were Eight Years in Power.

Coates’s view of his career flows from his view of human events: contingent, unguided, and devoid of higher morality or cosmic justice. He is not here to comfort you. He is not here to comfort himself. “Nothing in the record of human history argues for a divine morality, and a great deal argues against it,” he writes. “What we know is that good people very often suffer terribly, while the perpetrators of horrific evil backstroke through all the pleasures of the world.”

It’s this worldview that makes conversations with Coates so bracing. His philosophy leaves room for chaos, for disorder, for things to go terribly wrong and stay that way. In this discussion, I asked him what would make him hopeful, what it would mean for America to live up to its ideals.  Closing the 20-to-1 white-black wealth gap, he replied. But what would that take, he asked? “Maybe something so large that you find yourself in a country that’s not even America anymore.”

Maybe, he mused, it’s something that he couldn’t even support. “It’s very easy for me to see myself being contemporary with processes that might make for an equal world, more equality, and maybe the complete abolition of race as a construct, and being horrified by the process, maybe even attacking the process. I think these things don’t tend to happen peacefully.”

This is a discussion about race, about luck, about history, about politics, but above all, about how the stories we tell ourselves are often designed to carry comfort rather than truth.

“For me, my part in this struggle, my part to make a better world, is not simply to have people pick up my work and say, ‘Well, all the facts seem correct. I think this is right,’ and, then move on with their lives,” says Coates. “My job is to bring across the emotion, to make them feel a certain way, to haunt them, to make it hard to sleep.”