Archive

July 22nd, 2016

Trump-Pence marriage is off to a rocky start

    Cleveland -- The marriage of Donald Trump and Indiana Gov. Mike Pence is not off to a great start.

    Donald Trump introduced Pence as his running mate as if it were a painful duty, in a series of long digressions about himself that he had to keep dragging back on track, perhaps hoping that if he talked about himself long enough the situation might resolve itself. (Admittedly, this is Donald Trump's approach to everything.) Looking at Mike Pence during his first interview side by side with Donald Trump, you had the sense that he had not yet realized that he would have to tell Donald Trump a different story every night in order to keep his head.

    It would be a lie to say that they had anything like a natural, easy chemistry together. They have the easy, natural rapport of Lando Calrissian and Darth Vader just when the deal has started to turn. Donald Trump and Mike Pence sitting next to each other doing an interview is like that episode of "Law & Order: SVU" where the stepfather is a suspect and Olivia Benson can't get him out of the interview.

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Who is David Clarke Jr.? And why are so many Republicans excited about this Democrat?

    There are two broad schools of thought on political critics, or rather two that can be described here using largely polite terms.

    The first comes by way of the American founding father Benjamin Franklin: "Critics are our friends, they show us our faults." The second is exemplified by the thoughts of Plutarch, the Greek historian and essayist: "It is a thing of no great difficulty to raise objections against another man's oration, it is a very easy matter; but to produce a better in its place is a work extremely troublesome." And it's into one of these two boxes that the words of David Clarke Jr., Sheriff of Milwaukee County, Wisconsin, will fall for many Republican National Convention viewers tonight.

    Technically a Democrat, Clarke took the stage during prime time hours. Why? Well, it probably has about as much to do with who Clarke is as it does what Clarke will say.

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U.S.-Turkey tension over cleric explodes after coup

    Turkey's president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has accused a Muslim cleric in Pennsylvania's Pocono Mountains of plotting last weekend's attempted military coup, and some Turkish officials accuse the U.S. of playing a role.

    The cleric, Fethullah Gulen, denies he was involved, and the State Department denies the U.S. was. Even so, the failed coup and subsequent accusations turn a minor irritant in U.S.-Turkey relations into a crisis.

    Erdogan has been pressing the Obama administration for more than two years to extradite Gulen to face prosecution in Turkey and curb his supporters' political influence and network of private schools. Last year, Erdogan hired Robert Amsterdam, a well-known attorney, to make the case in public against Gulen's network.

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Turkey's judicial purge threatens the rule of law

    In the wake of Friday's coup attempt, Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan can hardly be blamed for purging the military. But firing 2,745 judges without any investigation or demonstrated connection to the coup is another matter. The action threatens the rule of law in Turkey. And the way it was done signals some of the methods Erdogan can be expected to use in the weeks and months ahead.

    Turkey is a constitutional democracy. If it sounds strange to you that the head of state could just fire judicial officials, your legal instincts are correct. Erdogan lacks that constitutional power -- and technically, he didn't exercise it.

    The firing of the judges, which was reported on Saturday, just hours after the coup was put down, was the work of an entity called the High Council of Judges and Prosecutors. (The Turkish acronym is HSYK). The council is the entity with the constitutional responsibility for supervising and disciplining members of the legal system in Turkey.

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'Open carry's' theater of the absurd

    “For they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind.” – Hosea 8-7.

    Recent events remind me of the only lasting memory remaining from having poked my head inside a long-ago gun show at the Astrodome:

    Metal detectors were at the entrance

    Yes, even a gathering of gun nuts didn’t want nuts with guns joining the day’s congregation.

    I use that example to illustrate why people who denounce gun control need to define their terms. After all, stationing metal detectors outside of a gun show clearly is gun control.

    But what about our freedoms?

    Welcome this week to a national nightmare.

    The Trump convention? That’s not exactly what I had in mind.  Ah, but coincidentally, what I have in mind is in fact happening in Cleveland, in one of several states, Ohio, that has embraced the insanity of open-carry.

    We are seeing heavily armed individuals roaming the convention grounds, people with no badge and no business lugging around killing machines.

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Making mug shots public is a cost of democracy

    A federal appeals court has ruled that the public has no right to see arrestees' mug shots, reversing a ruling that has been in place for 20 years. The case pits the individual's interest in privacy against the public's interest in getting all the information it can about an arrest, which is the quintessential public government act. My heart says the court got it right. But my head says that in a functioning democracy, government actions need to be open to scrutiny, even at the cost of permanent embarrassment to some of the government's targets.

    The case was decided by all the members of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit, sitting to reconsider their own precedent. In 1996, the court interpreted the Freedom of Information Act to require disclosure of booking photos. The ruling applied to all federal arrests in Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee, the court's jurisdiction. Because FOIA is a law that affects the federal government only, the court's ruling didn't apply to local or state police.

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In coup's aftermath, new rifts between US and Turkey

    The Obama administration has spent years feuding with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, but the White House quickly condemned this weekend's coup attempt and made clear that it believed Erdogan - whatever his faults - was the legitimate leader of his country and needed to be returned to power as quickly as possible.

    That may not be enough to prevent the failed coup from emerging as the latest strain in Washington's chilly relationship with one of its closest regional allies.

    The United States has long wanted Erdogan to do more to fight the Islamic State and moderate his increasingly authoritarian tendencies, but the coup attempt seems likely to push Erdogan in the opposite direction. Turkish officials, for their part, have blamed the coup on Fethullah Gulen, a 75-year-old cleric living in exile in Pennsylvania, and hinted that Washington was somehow complicit in the attempted putsch, charges the White House has angrily denied.

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How the defeated coup in Turkey could weaken democracy there

    What is worse than an ever-more-authoritarian regime that constantly aims to crush a robust civil society? The answe emerged bluntly in Turkey on Friday night: to have your army pointing its guns at you. To have your army bombing the parliament building. To have a military takeover.

    Turkey has experienced its share of coups d'etat since the 1960s, and the nation knows very well the atrocities that follow such an intervention and the damage they cause to democratic structure. But we have never seen anything like this past week's coup attempt: It bore none of the hallmarks of previous military attempts to seize power.

    There is a saying in Turkey: "to wake up to the noise of an army tank," referring to a midnight military takeover. This latest attempt, though, began on a Friday during rush hour, with jets flying low in Ankara and gendarmerie closing down the Bosporus Bridge in Istanbul. It did not seem to be planned thoroughly from the start, as communication continued to flow through social media and broadcast television.

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Hispanics loathe Donald Trump. Like, a lot. But enough to vote?

    At a panel of communications professionals from all over the world at the Open Society Foundations last week, I advised the gathered to keep an eye out for polls from Hispanic media outlets. Doing this would give them a more accurate view of where this vital voting bloc stands in the contest between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. Little did I know Univision Noticias would release a survey that has nothing but bad news for the Republican Party and the man it is set to nominate in Cleveland this week.

    According to the poll of 1,000 registered Hispanic voters, if the election were held today only 19 percent would vote for the Big Apple billionaire. His unfavorable rating is a stunning 77 percent. And a whopping 73 percent "believe that Donald Trump is racist."

    No one should be surprised by these findings.

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July 21st

Why Mike Pence said 'yes' to Donald Trump

    Why Mike Pence said 'yes' to Donald Trump. 760 words, by Chris Cillizza (Post).

    As I watched Donald Trump "introduce" Mike Pence - and by that I mean talk about himself for 30 minutes - I just kept thinking: Why did the Indiana governor agree to this?

    After all, it's not possible Pence didn't know what he was getting into. By this point, Trump is a known commodity in GOP circles. You know what you are getting.

    So, why then? Why put yourself so close to someone who has shown little regard for the party he will lead in a matter of days and even less regard for any politician not named "Donald Trump"?

    Here's what I came up with:

    1. Pence wanted out of Indiana.

    Pence returned to his home state to run for governor in 2012 with a clear eye on it being a more effective launching pad for his national ambitions than a congressional seat - even one in which Pence was part of the GOP leadership.

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