Bloomberg got it right: This campaign’s all about sanity

Page image via the Newseum.

Page image via the Newseum.

In retrospect, Michael Bloomberg’s speech on Wednesday may have been the most important of the Democratic National Convention. By explicitly framing the contest between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump as a clash between sanity and insanity, between competence and incompetence, the former New York City mayor provided a framework not only for Clinton’s acceptance speech but for the rest of the campaign.

“Let’s elect a sane, competent person with international experience,” the Republican-turned-independent said in his plodding manner. “The bottom line is: Trump is a risky, reckless, and radical choice, and we can’t afford to make that choice. Now, I know Hillary Clinton is not flawless. No candidate is. But she is the right choice and the responsible choice in this election.”

Read the rest at WGBHNews.org.

Ill-advised Hinckley decision undermines insanity defense

President Reagan moments before being shot by John Hinckley. Photo (cc) by Thomas Hawk.

President Reagan moments before being shot by John Hinckley. Photo (cc) by Thomas Hawk.

I’m not outraged that a federal judge has decided to release John Hinckley, who tried to assassinate President Ronald Reagan in 1981. But I don’t think it’s a good idea, either. Hinckley grievously wounded the president; say what you will about Reagan’s seemingly complete recovery, but there was plenty of evidence that he was never the same. Hinckley also injured Reagan’s press secretary, Jim Brady, leading to Brady’s premature death in 2014.

This isn’t a yes-or-not situation; Hinckley already enjoys considerable freedom, and he apparently has not abused it. He’ll still be under some supervision. Still, I don’t think the government should go any further for two reasons:

1. Federal judge Paul Friedman ruled that “the preponderance of the evidence” shows “that Mr. Hinckley will not be a danger to himself or to others.” This strikes me as a value judgment, and that Friedman had the discretion to rule otherwise on the grounds that anyone who did what Hinckley did will always be a danger to others.

2. Hinckley was found not guilty by reason of insanity. That outraged a lot of people who wanted to see him go to prison. In fact, it was the right thing to do, and it ought to happen more frequently. Unfortunately, granting freedom to someone as notorious as Hinckley will only make it more difficult for defense lawyers to make the already-difficult case that their clients should not be held criminally responsible.

Hinckley should be held in a safe, humane, and secure facility. He should not be freed.

More: Harvey Silverglate writes, “What you did not mention is that the release of Hinckley will embolden supporters of the death penalty.” Indeed it will.

Trump’s comments about Russia and Clinton were no joke

Defenders of Donald Trump are trying to claim he was joking when he said at a news conference this morning that he hoped Russia had hacked Hillary Clinton’s email server and that it would expose “the 30,000 emails that are missing.” For instance, here’s Newt Gingrich on Twitter:

Now, there are several pieces of evidence out there that show Trump wasn’t joking at all. But one should be enough. Here’s the Washington Post:

“They probably have them. I’d like to have them released. . . . It gives me no pause. If they have them, they have them,” Trump added later when asked if his comments were inappropriate. “If Russia or China or any other country has those emails, I mean, to be honest with you, I’d love to see them.”

That doesn’t sound like a joke to me.

So now we have a major-party presidential candidate—whose ties to Vladimir Putin are already under scrutiny (here is a good overview from the BBC)—inviting Russian intelligence to interfere in the presidential campaign more than it already has. He refuses to release his tax returns, which anti-Trump conservative George Will has pointed out could contain information about his dealings with Russia. And tonight he denied having met Putin, thus flatly contradicting previous statements. (He’s lying, but I don’t know which statement is the lie.)

House Speaker Paul Ryan should rescind his endorsement. Indiana Governor Mike Pence should resign from the ticket. Of course, neither will happen.

This is where we are at in the summer of 2016.

Michelle Obama’s magnificent convention speech

If Michelle Obama had gone on any longer, she risked being nominated for president. What a magnificent speech from a great First Lady.

Globe to vacationing subscribers: Just keep paying

The person who sent me this included a one-word message: “Chutzpah.”

Dear Subscriber,

We wanted to let you know about a change to our home delivery vacation suspension policy.

Effective August 1, we will be offering credits only for vacation holds of 22 days or longer. Rest assured that this will not affect your ability to temporarily suspend your delivery while you are away. We will still accommodate those requests for any length of time you wish.

Remember, as a subscriber you still have access to the Globe’s award-winning coverage even while you’re away: Log in to BostonGlobe.com anytime from your phone, tablet or laptop, or download the ePaper, an exact digital replica of the Boston Globe in print.

My favorite part is the reassurance that, yes, you can still suspend home delivery. Just as long as you understand that you’ll keep paying if you’re away for three weeks or less.

Peering into the post-Roger Ailes future of Fox News

Roger Ailes.

Roger Ailes in 2013. Photo via Wikimedia Commons.

Roger Ailes is out at Fox News. The media tycoon resigned on Thursday, just two weeks after former anchor Gretchen Carlson filed a law­suit alleging sexual harass­ment. Ailes, the founder and now former CEO of Fox News, had a long his­tory in Repub­lican pol­i­tics before building Fox News into a media pow­er­house. Here, Dan Kennedy, asso­ciate pro­fessor in the School of Jour­nalism and a nation­ally known media com­men­tator, talks about Ailes’ swift down­fall and what his depar­ture may mean for the future of journalism.

Mar­garet Sul­livan of The Wash­ington Post wrote, “Two weeks. That’s all it took from Gretchen Carlson’s filing a sexual harass­ment suit against Fox News chief Roger Ailes to the evi­dent demise of one of the most pow­erful fig­ures in Amer­ican media and pol­i­tics.” Are you sur­prised at the swift­ness of the inves­ti­ga­tion and Ailes’s ulti­mate resignation?

I’m sur­prised and I’m not sur­prised. We talked about this recently on WGBH-TV’s Beat the Press. At the time we were all in agree­ment that if no other women came for­ward, then Carlson’s claims were likely to fizzle into a he said/she said standoff. As it turned out, numerous other women emerged to level serious accu­sa­tions of sexual harass­ment against Ailes. Once that occurred, it was only a matter of time before he’d be shown the door.

Read the rest at news@Northeastern.

The Wikileaks DNC email dump is Putin’s latest gift to Trump

Trump's running mate. Official Kremlin photo (cc) 2014 via Global Panorama.

Trump’s running mate. Official Kremlin photo (cc) 2014 via Global Panorama.

The job of the party infrastructure is to win elections. Democratic and Republican party officials regularly recruit candidates and punish weaker contenders who refuse to get out of the way. So the Wikileaks revelation of emails showing that the Democratic National Committee talked about helping Hillary Clinton and hurting Bernie Sanders mean exactly nothing. One email suggested that Sanders be attacked on the grounds that he might be an atheist. That’s pretty vicious stuff, but it didn’t happen.

Top Democrats believed that they were more likely to lose in November with a 74-year-old socialist at the top of the ticket than with Hillary Clinton, however flawed she may be. You’re free to disagree, but that was their judgment, and it’s not insane.

Outraged Sanders supporters might also keep in mind that the Wikileaks email dump is almost certainly a favor to Donald Trump from the Russian government, even if Wikileaks wasn’t directly involved. What we’ve already learned about the Trump-Putin connection would have been enough to force a presidential candidate to step aside in past election cycles. Now no one seems to care.

Meanwhile, Trump is back to claiming that Ted Cruz’s father may have been involved in the assassination of John F. Kennedy.