Archive

February 24th, 2017

Neil Gorsuch sides with big business, big donors and big bosses

    One of the most important questions for analyzing a potential Supreme Court justice is how he or she understands economic and political power: Who should govern? How should power be distributed in a society? In the case of Neil Gorsuch, the federal appeals judge President Trump has nominated for the high court, the answers are troubling. Gorsuch's record on the bench reveals a man with a strong top-down streak, a preference for concentrated wealth and power. He has consistently been the friend of big business and monopolies at the expense of competition and open markets, and the friend of big donors at the expense of small donors. In disputes between the employee and employer, he sides with the boss.

    How judges interpret antitrust law is especially important in understanding their approach to the relationship between economic and political power. It tells you a lot about what they think counts as fair and free competition between citizens. It also teaches us whether they understand markets as institutions -- formed through rules and subject to public governance -- or instead as some mythic set of natural forces, beyond our control.

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Mr. President, don't break America's promise to 'dreamers'

    I was 7 when my family moved to Texas. I didn't have much say in the matter - my parents decided it would be the best place for me and my sisters to grow up, so we built our lives there.

    I went to school, made friends, studied hard and earned admission to the University of Houston. I worked my way through college and began my career in Texas, a place that had long since become my home.

    Those memories arise every time I meet students enrolled in the federal program called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. These young people were brought to the United States as children, carried along through no decision of their own. They have grown up American - studying and learning in our public schools, celebrating our national holidays, becoming a part of our communities. They've made a lifetime of friends and memories here. This is the only home most of them can remember.

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Milo Is the Mini-Donald

    If you halved Donald Trump’s age, changed his sexual orientation, gave him a British accent and fussed with his hair only a little, you’d end up with a creature much like Milo Yiannopoulos.

    He could be Trump’s lost gay child. In fact, Yiannopoulos, 33, has a habit of referring to Trump, 70, as “Daddy.”

    Trump the father and Yiannopoulos the son are both provocateurs who realize that in this day and age especially, the currency of celebrity isn’t demeaned by the outrageousness and offensiveness through which a person achieves it.

    Both are con men, wrapping themselves in higher causes, though their primary agendas are the advancement of themselves.

    Both believe that audience size equals value — and that having people listen to you is the same as having something worthwhile to say.

    I heard nothing worthwhile during Yiannopoulos’ news conference Tuesday afternoon, though I heard a whole lot of Trump in him, and I wondered — no, shuddered — at a kind of worldview that may well be in ascendance, thanks to its validation by our president.

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Meet the 5 Trump Administrations

    It should be clear by now that there are five different Trump administrations swirling before our eyes — Trump Entertainment, Trump Cleanup, Trump Crazy, Trump GOP and the Essential Trump — and no one can predict which will define this presidency, let alone make a success of it.

    Trump Entertainment shows up every day now in the form of an outrageous “alternative fact,” a pugnacious news conference, a tweet denouncing the news media as “the enemy of the American people” — or as a pep rally in Florida, unconnected to any particular legislative agenda and organized entirely for the purpose of giving the president an ego sugar high.

    The country, though, is getting addicted to Trump Entertainment. It is hard to avert your gaze from a president who will say anything about anything. It’s so unusual, like a flying elephant or a horse that can talk, that you can’t help but stare. But it’s such a waste of energy. I wonder if the Chinese are spending their days this way. I suspect they’ve added another high-speed rail line just since Trump’s election.

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I didn't think I'd ever leave the CIA. But because of Trump, I quit.

    Nearly 15 years ago, I informed my skeptical father that I was pursuing a job with the Central Intelligence Agency. Among his many concerns was that others would never believe I had resigned from the agency when I sought my next job. "Once CIA, always CIA," he said. But that didn't give me pause. This wouldn't be just my first real job, I thought then; it would be my career.

    That changed when I formally resigned last week. Despite working proudly for Republican and Democratic presidents, I reluctantly concluded that I cannot in good faith serve this administration as an intelligence professional.

    This was not a decision I made lightly. I sought out the CIA as a college student, convinced that it was the ideal place to serve my country and put an otherwise abstract international-relations degree to use. I wasn't disappointed.

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Five ways President Trump can avoid the next 'Swedish terror' gaffe

    With cries of "fake news" coming from all sides, schools are stepping up - teaching media literacy to help students distinguish rumor from fact, hoax from reality.

    As President Donald Trump's bizarre suggestion of a recent terrorist attack in Sweden proved last weekend, he needs a crash course.

    We're here to help.

    The Sweden episode was a perfect circle of misinformation, beginning with a report on Fox News on Friday, since challenged, about the dangers of immigration in Sweden. Trump apparently saw that and brought it straight into his campaign-style speech the next day in Florida, in exaggerated form:

    "We've got to keep our country safe. You look at what's happening in Germany, you look at what's happening last night in Sweden."

    When the reference caused an international ruckus, he capped it off, not by setting the record straight, but by a blame-shifting tweet that, as usual, fingered the media.

    America's longtime ally didn't take it well.

    "Sweden? Terror attack? What has he been smoking?" fumed former prime minister Carl Bildt.

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Jeff Sessions must recuse himself from the Flynn investigation

    The gravity of the issues raised by the events that led to national security adviser Michael Flynn's resignation cannot be overstated or ignored. Revelations about Flynn's contact with the Russians and reports indicating that he may have lied to the FBI about that contact may be only the tip of the iceberg. There's an overwhelming view in our intelligence community that Russia tried to influence our election.

    The American people, and indeed American democracy, require a thorough and independent investigation into what transpired and whether any criminal laws or constitutional precepts were violated. Such an investigation and any resulting prosecution would normally be carried out under the purview of the attorney general, as the nation's chief law-enforcement officer with oversight of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. But in this case, given his deep and long-standing ties to President Donald Trump and many of Trump's top advisers, Attorney General Jeff Sessions cannot lead such an investigation.

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Blessed are the winners. Big time.

    The Lord is my shepherd. OK? Totally. Big league. He is a tremendous shepherd. The best. No comparison. I know more than most people about herding sheep. And that's why I won the election in a landslide and it's why my company is doing very very well. Because He said, "I'm with you, Donald. You will never want."

    So we were on this green pasture by the still waters and He said, "Lie down." I said, "Lie down?" He said, "Lie down." And He made me lie down. Right there in the pasture. So I lie down. People are so surprised that I lie down -- "Oh, he's lying down." But He's my shepherd. Great shepherd. Not just good. Great. It was right there that I thought, "This is going to be a tremendous golf course. Terrific greens. Plenty of water. And it is. Everybody who plays it comes away saying, "That is the greatest course in the entire world." Everybody.

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Trump’s Russia Motives

    The mystery at the core of the Trump-Russia story is motive.

    President Donald Trump certainly seems to have a strange case of Russophilia. He has surrounded himself with aides who have Russian ties. Those aides were talking to Russian agents during the campaign, and some are now pushing a dubious peace deal in Ukraine. Trump recently went so far as to equate the United States and Vladimir Putin’s murderous regime.

    But why?

    It’s not a simple question. In their Russia-related inquiries, the FBI and the Senate Intelligence Committee will need to focus first on what happened — whether Trump’s team broke any laws and whether the president has lied about it. Yet the investigators, as well as the journalists doing such good work reporting this story, should also keep in mind the why of the matter. It will help explain the rest of the story.

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If it’s an ‘enemy,’ why must press serve as Trump’s chump?

    Questions to ask after one month of Trump:

    -- Is Stephen Colbert our new Edward R. Murrow?

    -- Is Stephen Miller a human or a hologram?

    -- The same for Kellyanne Conway: real or Memorex?

    -- If the media are, as Donald Trump says, enemies “of the American people,” why are members of the press genuflecting at his knee? Why are they indulging him at all?

    What would Ed Murrow say about Donald Trump? I promise you it would be curt.

    In 1953, the CBS icon initiated Sen. Joseph McCarthy’s fiery fall from eminence by assailing his “hysterical disregard for decency and human dignity.”

    Sixty-four years later, and on the same network, Stephen Colbert is taking on a president and his mouthpieces who show hysterical disregard for truth.

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