Archive

August 7th, 2016

What about Trump's bromance with Putin's Russia?

    Several years ago, during a lengthy deposition taken as part of a lawsuit he filed against me, Donald Trump explained why he didn't want to provide details about a possible hotel deal that he said he and his son, Donald Jr., were orchestrating in Russia.

    "I wouldn't want you to go and tell anybody about it because it would possibly mess up the deal," he said. "And it's a big deal."

    The terms of the deal seemed sweet. Trump said he'd get a 20 percent to 25 percent ownership stake in the hotel, plus management fees, without having to plunk down a dime. "I was going to invest nothing," he said.

    Trump said that he didn't think Russia presented undue financial risks, and that he was committed to the country. "It's ridiculous that I wouldn't be investing in Russia," he said. "Russia is one of the hottest places in the world for investment."

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Trump's ignorance about sexual harassment

    Donald Trump says his daughter, were she a victim of sexual harassment, should "find another career or find another company." His son Eric Trump said that his sister Ivanka "is a strong, powerful woman" who would not "allow herself to be subjected to that" treatment.

    How nice for them. How nice for her. In the real world -- the one not inhabited by Trumps or others with trust funds and triplexes and bulging bank accounts -- women don't necessarily have the luxury of finding another career. They can't walk away from jobs and paychecks they need to make the rent or put food on the table.

    They can't necessarily take the risk of turning down the boss who puts the moves on them and hoping that the personnel department will step in to protect them. "By the way, you should take it up with Human Resources," Eric Trump told CBS' "This Morning."

    The real world is a less comfy place than Trump Tower.

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The doom loop of Donald Trump's foreign policy musings

    The past 24 hours have not been great for Donald Trump's efforts to present himself as the better candidate on foreign policy. There's his escalating war of words with the Khan family, which managed to trigger a denunciation from the nonpartisan Veterans of Foreign Wars. And there's Trump's attempt to explain his bizarre "This Week" comments regarding Russia and Ukraine, which is made more problematic by what he actually said when Russia invaded Ukraine in 2014.

    These have forced Trump's campaign to seek out congressional surrogates to defend him -- not that many have come forward to do so. Indeed, if Trump had a bad foreign policy day in the news pages, he had a catastrophic day among the commentariat.

    Conservative columnists Robert Kagan and Bret Stephens published columns questioning Trump's fitness for office/overall sanity. This is not what conservative columnists normally write about the GOP nominee for president. Trump has actually caused Fareed Zakaria to use profanity on CNN in describing Trump's actions, noting that "this is the mode of a b---t artist."

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Parents, get your kids out to vote. Or tell them the WiFi is no longer free.

    I feel strongly about this election, really strongly. But the truth is I always feel that way. My country doesn't ask much from me: jury duty, taxes and voting. The very least I can do to live in a free democracy is to jump into a voting booth for a couple minutes every few years.

    Apparently, our kids do not feel the same way. Kids, 18- to 24-year-olds, don't vote. They just don't. In the last presidential election, they voted at half the rate of their parents. And while I know there is a laundry list of reasons why they cannot take five minutes away from Snapchat to do their civic duty, to have a voice in their own future, I am not buying it.

    Yes, I'm angry.

    Our voting-age offspring need to be reminded, one more time, that past generations of young people their exact age were called on to die for our country; all they need to do is remember where their polling place is located.

    Not voting is not acceptable. It is not all right that they take a pass on carrying the torch of democracy into the next generation. Just not good enough.

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It's OK to hold police officers to higher standard

    Can police be held to a higher standard than civilians? The Ohio Supreme Court said no last week, in striking down a law that criminalizes sex between a police officer and a minor. The court's ruling, based on the principle of equal protection of the laws, probably goes too far. Law enforcement has special privileges, and can rationally be subjected to special burdens.

    The case involving police officer Matthew Mole is a bit disturbing. After an online courtship, Mole met a teenage male in the middle of the night at his home for a sexual encounter. Mole testified that he thought the teenager was 18; in fact, he was 14.

    Prosecutors charged the police officer with two crimes. One was Ohio's ordinary statutory rape charge. It says that anyone 18 or older may not have sex with someone ages 13 to 15 if he or she knows the person's age or recklessly disregards it.

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August 6th

Trump-Khan fight may not be good for Republicans. But it might be good for one Republican.

    Here we are again.

    After the Republican presidential nominee, Donald Trump, decided that a speech given by the father of fallen soldier Capt. Humayun Khan amounted to a "vicious" attack, and after Trump described the delivery of this speech as possible evidence of the oppression of Muslim women; after a surrogate claimed that Khan's father is an agent of the Muslim Brotherhood (an Islamist political and social movement); and after Trump claimed that the dispute was not about the Khans but "radical Islam," Trump got the equivalent of a tsk-tsk from many a Republican official.

    That's an unseemly attack on a Gold Star family, more than a few said. But my support for the Republican nominee - well, that's unwavering, they seemed to also say.

    This is a cycle, by now familiar. Very few Republicans stand to emerge entirely unscathed. But it's starting to look like at least one 2020 contender may emerge ahead: Sen. Ted Cruz , R-Texas.

    Here's how the Trump controversy cycle plays out.

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How presidential debates might die

    Donald Trump started whining about the presidential debates last weekend, perhaps setting the stage for skipping them. It should be a reminder that the tradition of televised presidential debates has always been something of a miracle -- one that didn't have to become established, and one that could end fairly easily.

    The first televised debates between U.S. presidential candidates took place in 1960, when Richard Nixon and John Kennedy faced each other four times. It wasn't until 1976 that the next general-election debates took place: President Gerald Ford debated Jimmy Carter three times. In 1980, President Carter debated Ronald Reagan only once. Since then, each election has had either two presidential debates or three.

    The conventional wisdom is that debates are opportunities for the candidate who is losing, and risky for the one who is winning. Challengers are seen as benefiting from being on stage and from appearing on equal terms with an incumbent president.

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How low will Republican leaders let Trump go?

    Silence is not enough.

    Republicans who refused to attend the convention last month got a lot of praise for not falling in line behind a dangerous demagogue. But after Donald Trump's attacks on the Muslim-American parents of a fallen soldier, merely passing on attending this coronation is insufficient. As are the statements criticizing the nominee flowing out of Washington. How can you condemn Trump for his inhuman reaction to the parents of an American hero but still endorse him to be president?

    There have been many example of Trump's unfitness for office, but his attacks on the parents of U.S. Army Capt. Humayun Khan, who was killed in action in Iraq in 2004, are a bridge beyond any other. He damned the soldier's father for speaking out at the Democratic National Convention and his bereaved mother for not speaking. Trump, who can't remember how he escaped the Vietnam draft, kept up the drumbeat through the weekend, and went so far as to say that being a real estate developer required sacrifices comparable to those made by Capt. Khan.

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How foreign governments spy using PowerPoint and Twitter

    News of the alleged Russian hack of the Democratic National Committee's computers has riveted the world. But for many, this kind of behavior is a daily reality.

    Take, for example, Syrian Nour Al-Ameer. A former vice president of the Syrian National Council, Al-Ameer was arrested and sent to infamous Adra prison in Damascus, where she was brutally tortured. Upon release, she became a refugee, fleeing to relative safety in Turkey.

    Or so she thought.

    Al-Ameer is a net-savvy activist, and so when she received a legitimate-looking email containing a PowerPoint attachment addressed to her and purporting to detail "Assad Crimes," she could easily have opened it. Instead, she shared it with us at the Citizen Lab, where we analyze

    the exercise of political power in cyberspace.

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How Clinton Could Knock Trump Out

    Maybe  I just missed it. But in all the testimonials at the Democratic convention about what Hillary Clinton has done for other people, I don’t recall anyone saying, “I started a business because of Hillary Clinton.” Or, “I hired someone because of Hillary Clinton.”

    We heard from first responders, veterans, grieving parents and victims of terrorism, rape and various forms of discrimination. There was just one group that was conspicuously absent: the people who drive our economy by inventing things or by borrowing money to start companies that actually employ people.

    Watching the convention, you would never know that what also makes America great is that generation after generation, people full of ideas risk their savings to start companies that provide work and paychecks. And only by generating more of these risk-takers will more people get hired for the good jobs Clinton promised.

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