Archive

August 11th, 2016

Lawyers can be zealous without becoming nasty

    The American Bar Association is considering adding a rule to its canon of ethics that would prohibit lawyers from discriminating in the course of their jobs. The proposal seems innocuous and probably overdue -- but it has encountered a surprising degree of opposition. So it seems reasonable to ask: Why is this even a thing? How can anyone in good conscience think that barring discrimination by lawyers is a bad idea?

    The answer is that the legal profession is the last bastion of unfettered, unapologetic nastiness, proudly flying the flag of zealous client representation. In some ways, that's good. The adversarial system calls for a degree of confrontation and aggression that would be inappropriate in almost any other professional context. Yet it should be possible to craft rules to carve out certain kinds of nastiness -- including discrimination on the basis of race, sex, sexual orientation, or other invidious motives.

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How to understand China's confession videos

    While Chinese media giants have made news by acquiring significant Hollywood assets over the past few months, the Chinese Communist Party has been busily producing its own video content, though the stiffness of the acting and repetitive dialogue would no doubt make any seasoned director shudder. From finance professionals forced to "apologize" for their attempts at accurate reporting on the country's economic slowdown to the chilling "confession" thislast week of human rights lawyer Wang Yu, the Communist Party is clearly trying to cover up the bitter truth of its brutal rule - and, at the same time, assuage its unease and fear - by broadcasting a series of preposterous confessions on state media platforms.

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Donald Trump doing his campaign no favors

    A task that no other Republican has been able to accomplish over the last year -- taking down Donald Trump -- finally appears to be underway. The Republican who is doing it is Trump himself.

    In the wake of a series of self-inflicted political wounds, post-convention opinion polls have registered a sharp drop in his support, breaking a virtual tie with Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. His slide has triggered speculation of a November landslide defeat and with it restoration of a Democratic Congress in January.

    Trump damaged his campaign by saying an American Muslim father at the Democratic National Convention had "no right" to take issue with his plan to ban further entry of Muslims, and to question his knowledge of the U.S. Constitution.

    House Speaker Paul Ryan, who has endorsed Trump, came to the father's defense, saying that his endorsement was not "a blank check" for the candidate to speak recklessly. Trump peevishly replied by saying he wasn't ready to endorse Ryan in his House re-election primary.

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Millennials: Less sex, more satisfaction

    Older generations always seem to fret about the sexual behavior and romantic lives of the younger crowd. In the 1920s, there was alarm when boys stopped visiting in the parlor and started driving girls around in what one newspaper called "a house of prostitution on wheels." This worry paled in comparison to the panic evoked by the rowdy sexual revolution that began in the late 1960s.

    In the 1980s, observers were rightly alarmed by the growing prevalence of early teen sex, AIDS and sexually transmitted diseases. In the first two decades of this century, anxiety shifted to the college hookup scene and the emergence of dating apps to facilitate casual sex.

    Recently, however, a new concern has surfaced, with the finding that young adults, those age 20 to 24, are now having less sex than Gen-Xers or baby boomers born in the 1960s did at the same age. Indeed, 15 percent of 20-to-24-year-olds today report having had no sexual partner since they turned 18. (This is more than double the percentage for those born the 1960s; only 6 percent of them reported being sexually inactive at that age.)

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Democrats see Trump sinking other Republicans

    In 1980, Democratic pollster Peter Hart warned Gaylord Nelson, Wisconsin's champion vote-getter as governor and senator, that he was going to lose. Hart saw a Republican wave coming. Ronald Reagan would defeat President Jimmy Carter and carry other GOP candidates to victory as well.

    The opposite of the wave effect in elections is the so-called Eisenhower jacket, a term coined by Democrats predicting that the immensely popular Ike wouldn't have the coat-tails to help other Republicans down the ballot.

    With three months to go in the 2016 race, there is a presumption among most Democrats and more than a few Republicans that Hillary Clinton is headed to a decisive victory. Democrats are talking about a possible wave, while Republicans see a no-coattails election, particularly since Clinton herself remains unpopular.

    Of course, the race could change. Trump could get his act together, or there could be a crisis or a Clinton contretemps.

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A college degree just might get you a side job

    A lot of Americans are doing work on the side these days. This isn't apparent in the monthly employment data, which showed only 4.6 percent of workers holding multiple jobs in June, down from more than 6 percent in the mid-1990s. But evidence has been emerging in dribs and drabs from other sources. Here's a new drib, courtesy of the Federal Reserve Board's "Report on the Economic Well-Being of U.S. Households in 2015," which came out in May but hasn't gotten a whole lot of attention:

    "Twenty-two percent of employed adults indicate that they are either working multiple jobs, doing informal work for pay in addition to their main job, or both."

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Mr. Trump goes to Pennsylvania Avenue

    In the fullness of time - no, make that within a matter of weeks - one of the world's most famous streets, our own "Grand Avenue" and "America's Main Street," will once again be stained by the presence of a mean-spirited man who smeared and bulldozed his way to the top.

    The avenue's first tyrant was J. Edgar Hoover, whose name is on the FBI building at 935 Pennsylvania Ave. NW. He soon will be joined by Donald Trump and his Trump International Hotel, slated to open Sept. 12 at 1100 Pennsylvania Ave. NW.

    Yes, win or lose on Election Day, the Republican presidential nominee will be enshrined in a national historic site, the Old Post Office building, on Pennsylvania Avenue between the White House and the Capitol. As with the GOP nomination, the building in the heart of our nation's capital now belongs to him.

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Hillary’s Summer of Love

    It’s looking more and more like Donald Trump is the best thing that ever happened to Hillary Clinton.

    He’s definitely the strangest.

    With his fits of pique, spasms of ignorance and flashes of demagogy, he has turned the GOP’s favorite boogeywoman into its summer crush. I haven’t seen a love story this unlikely since “Harold and Maude.”

    Dozens of prominent Republicans have come out and said that they’ll vote for her or consider it, including, just last week, the Silicon Valley titan Meg Whitman, the Jeb Bush confidante Sally Bradshaw, and Maria Comella, a former spokeswoman for two of Trump’s most pugnacious promoters, Chris Christie and Rudy Giuliani.

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Crazy About the Presidency

    It is Inauguration Day, Jan. 20, 2017.

    Donald Trump searches his drawer for a note from Barack Obama, something on heavy cream stationery with the White House insignia, maybe reiterating the Obama doctrine, “Don’t do stupid stuff.”

    But there is nothing there.

    That puts Trump in a huff. How dare Obama depart without leaving the customary handwritten good-luck missive?

    He grabs his phone and tweets: “SAD!! No note from my predecessor. No Class Obama.”

    The tweet doesn’t go through. Must be something about the White House secure communications, he thinks. He’ll figure it out later. Right now, he needs to savor the moment.

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Clinton’s Fibs vs. Trump’s Huge Lies

    One persistent narrative in U.S. politics is that Hillary Clinton is a slippery, compulsive liar while Donald Trump is a gutsy truth-teller.

    Overall, the latest CBS News poll finds the public similarly repulsed by each candidate: 34 percent of registered voters say Clinton is honest and trustworthy compared with 36 percent for Trump.

    Yet the idea that they are even in the same league is preposterous. If deception were a sport, Trump would be the Olympic gold medalist; Clinton would be an honorable mention at her local Y.

    Let’s investigate.

    One metric comes from independent fact-checking websites. As of Friday, PolitiFact had found 27 percent of Clinton’s statements that it had looked into were mostly false or worse, compared with 70 percent of Trump’s. It said 2 percent of Clinton’s statements it had reviewed were egregious “pants on fire” lies, compared with 19 percent of Trump’s. So Trump has nine times the share of flat-out lies as Clinton.

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