Advice from the Supreme Supreme

John Roberts, Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court, has a kid at Cardigan Mountain School, a post boarding school in New Hampshire. Last month, Roberts have the Commencement Address at his son’s ‘graduation’ from this establishment. His speech is interesting — intriguing, even, because it’s hard to figure out if he’s being ironic or just cynical. Anyway, below is a representative sample. “Other commencement speakers”, he said,

will typically also wish you good luck and extend good wishes to you. I will not do that, and I’ll tell you why. From time to time in the years to come, I hope you will be treated unfairly, so that you will come to know the value of justice. I hope that you will suffer betrayal because that will teach you the importance of loyalty. Sorry to say, but I hope you will be lonely from time to time so that you don’t take friends for granted. I wish you bad luck, again, from time to time so that you will be conscious of the role of chance in life and understand that your success is not completely deserved and that the failure of others is not completely deserved either. And when you lose, as you will from time to time, I hope every now and then, your opponent will gloat over your failure. It is a way for you to understand the importance of sportsmanship. I hope you’ll be ignored so you know the importance of listening to others, and I hope you will have just enough pain to learn compassion. Whether I wish these things or not, they’re going to happen. And whether you benefit from them or not will depend upon your ability to see the message in your misfortunes.

Good advice? Maybe.

So why did Trump fawn on Putin in Hamburg?

Lovely column by Jack Shafer. Sample:

If the mark of a great diplomat is the ability to speak craziness with a straight face, Tillerson earned admittance to the Dips Hall of Fame. A “framework” for cybersecurity cooperation would be set up between the two countries, he promised. This would be like going into the fencing business with the guy who burgled your house. Sounding more like a therapist than the secretary of state, Tillerson said, “We’re unhappy. They’re unhappy,” and explained that salvaging this “really important relationship” meant blotting out the recent unpleasantness. (Take a shot of amnesia and call me in the morning.) Then Tillerson produced a laugh line that topped his previous ones. “The Russians have asked for proof and evidence” of the meddling, he said. Perhaps he should buy Putin a subscription to the Washington Post.

And remember, Tillerson was the smart one representing the United States in the room.

The meeting was a giant exercise in “Don’t Think About Russian Meddling,” restoking speculation on what Putin might have on Trump. Back in the U.S.A., heavy sobbing sounded in the corridors of the deep state, where hankies and terry cloths were filled with tears. The gnashing commenced Thursday when Trump gave one of his rambling, having-it-both-ways speeches in which he concluded that the Russians meddled in our election but also that “nobody really knows” whether they did and besides it could have been “others.” This conflicts with the findings by every tier in the U.S. intelligence establishment, which insists the Russians—and the Russians alone—did it.

The biggest puzzle, of course, is why Trump fawned on Putin at the G-20. In the old days, when he was just a property developer, it might have made sense for him to suck up to Vlad when he was staging a beauty ‘pageant’ in Moscow and looking for Russian cooperation in his business ventures. And, Shafer writes,

As many have noted, he has a natural affinity for strong men bound by nothing more than their own appetites. But the display in Hamburg defies reason. Instead of acting like the leader of the first world, Trump is acting like a job applicant, beveling his words so as not to offend Putin. The same goes for his secretary of state. As the G-20 talks slip into the rear-view mirror, Trump has positioned himself in Putin’s garden as a piece of statuary, perhaps a toad, locked into a perpetual smile in the direction of his master.

Image source

Links for 8/7/2017

Links for 8/7/2017

  1. Jonathan Penney: “Whose Speech Is Chilled by Surveillance?”. Answer: more people than most of us thought. And women and young people more than most. Intriguing and important research.
  2. New York Times:“As Elites Switch to Texting, Watchdogs Fear Loss of Transparency”. This is interesting, not just because some of those self-same elites want to switch off encryption for the rest of us, but also because it means that financial and other regulation — which depends on being able to subpoena records of corporate correspondence — may be undermined.
  3. Andrew Adonis: “I put up tuition fees. It’s now clear they have to be scrapped.”. Buyer’s remorse from the inventor of the idea.
  4. “Corporate Surveillance in everyday Life”. Useful insight into surveillance capitalism.
  5. Sue Halpern: “How He Used Facebook to Win”. ‘He’ being Trump, of course.