Archive

September 13th, 2016

Trump’s Ideology of Applause

    Americans are such sticklers. Such poops. Sure, some of Vladimir Putin’s political opponents wind up in jail, while some of the journalists he dislikes end up in the morgue. Yes, his government is apparently committing cybercrimes to meddle in our election. And there was that small matter of invading and annexing one of Russia’s neighbors.

    But look at his numbers! What’s a little blood on your hands when you’re polling like that?

    “He does have an 82 percent approval rating,” Donald Trump said during the special “commander in chief” forum last week. It’s worth dwelling on that sentence, because it’s the key to what drives and guides his presidential bid. It’s the giveaway.

    For Trump, the whole point of political office is adulation, and adulation is the entire proof of a person’s worth. Rectitude pales next to ratings. Ethics are a sorry substitute for applause. And the methods by which a crowd is fired up don’t matter, so long as he can bask in the clapping.

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Trump is good news for Russia

    "A New York Times report sheds new light on the close ties between Donald Trump's campaign chairman and Kremlin cronies in Ukraine and elsewhere" - the Atlantic, Aug. 15. "U.S. investigating potential covert Russian plan to disrupt November elections" - The Post, Sept. 6. "Wouldn't it be nice if we actually got along, as an example, with Russia?" - Donald Trump, July 27.

    Good grief.

    One of the year's most underreported stories is the Kremlin's covert efforts to influence our presidential election - a development with potentially far- reaching impact on our nation's security. That U.S. intelligence and law-enforcement agencies are reportedly investigating this broad Russian operation in the United States is reassuring. Voters heading to the polls, however, ought to be aware of the threat.

    To be sure, my view of the former U.S.S.R. and today's Russian Federation is rooted in both my military service and my work as a sworn federal law-enforcement officer with responsibility for the security of State Department personnel and sensitive information.

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The 'Mad Men' days are finally waning

    Gretchen Carlson got something out of the settlement of her sexual harassment case against Roger Ailes that most women who make a claim against a powerful man don't obtain. Not the money - although the $20 million to be paid to the former Fox News Channel host is indeed eye-popping. Most women who bring successful sexual harassment claims do eventually receive some compensation.

    Carlson is different in another way: She emerged with her honor and reputation intact. In my experience as a lawyer who has represented hundreds of sexual harassment victims, that is rare.

    In the real world of sexual harassment cases that take place outside the public glare that accompanied Carlson's claims, many women forgo making solid claims because they know they risk being depicted as liars or sluts. They worry about being branded troublemakers and suffering harm to their ability to be employed in the future.

    Indeed, when Donald Trump, questioned about Carlson's claim, said a few months ago that a woman who experiences workplace sexual harassment should consider finding another job, or even another career, he had - sadly - a point.

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Temperatures Rise, and We’re Cooked

    One of Donald Trump’s 100 wackiest ideas is that climate change is a hoax fabricated by China to harm the United States.

    “The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing uncompetitive,” Trump once tweeted.

    He later said, unconvincingly, that he had been kidding about China, but he has emphasized that he does not believe in climate change and would end serious efforts to prevent it.

    That obstinacy confronts a new wave of research showing that climate change is much more harmful than we had imagined.

    Until now, the focus has been on rising seas, more intense hurricanes, acidification of oceans, drought and crop failures. But new studies are finding that some of the most important effects will be directly on our bodies and minds.

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I'm the first Muslim in Congress. I believe America can beat Islamophobia.

    Fifteen years ago, the United States was attacked by terrorists claiming to act in the name of Islam. America's response? "United We Stand." Yet now it feels like Muslims face more hatred in 2016 than on Sept. 11, 2001.

    Back then, President George W. Bush, no liberal, visited a mosque in Washington, D.C., just days later to show solidarity with Muslims, saying, "The face of terror is not the true faith of Islam. That's not what Islam is all about. Islam is peace. These terrorists don't represent peace. They represent evil and war." People came together in gratitude for those who risked everything rescuing others during the attacks, including Mohammed Salman Hamdani, a 23-year-old first responder who died saving lives in the World Trade Center. He was Muslim. So am I.

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An open letter to Donald Trump

    Mr. Trump, with all due respect to you as the presidential nominee of the Republican Party, you cannot credibly serve as commander in chief if you embrace Russian President Vladimir Putin. The Russian leader has repeatedly shown himself to be an adversary of the United States. Putin, during his long tenure, has repeatedly pursued policies that undermine U.S. interests and those of our allies and partners. He has steadily but systematically moved Russia from a fledgling democratic state to an authoritarian one. He is the last foreign leader you should be praising.

    Abroad, Putin has interfered in the internal affairs of a host of nations on his periphery - through information operations, manipulation of elections and direct support, including providing weapons, to insurgent groups. Most significant, in the past decade, Putin has invaded two neighbors, Georgia and Ukraine - including annexing Crimea, the first major land grab in Europe since World War II. Putin's goal in doing this is to keep the nations of the former Soviet Union from linking their futures to that of Europe and the West. Do you back these actions?

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Why Trump's insurgency isn't like Goldwater's

    Half a century ago, a Republican rode his party's divisions to a presidential nomination by defying its establishment and empowering a populist base. Sen. Barry Goldwater dismayed Republican liberals who thought him extreme and some conservatives who foresaw his landslide defeat.

    Now Donald Trump is repeating history, minus the Republican liberals. Commentators have noted the parallels, some of them predicting that Trump will transform his party as Goldwater unexpectedly did in 1964 by mobilizing conservative forces that eventually produced the Reagan revolution.

    But there's a huge difference. Once nominated, Goldwater eventually commanded at least rhetorical support from Republican leaders. While a few regulars bailed out and many remained vexed, most went along because that's what you do.

    But not with Trump. Never has a candidate been rejected by such a diverse range of his own party's prominent figures. What's unprecedented is how many of them proclaim that he's not qualified for the job.

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Wells Fargo opened a couple million fake accounts

    Two basic principles of management, and regulation, and life, are:

    - You get what you measure.

    - The thing that you measure will get gamed.

    Really that's just one principle: You get what you measure, but only exactly what you measure. There's no guarantee that you'll get the more general good thing that you thought you were approximately measuring. If you want hard workers and measure hours worked, you'll get a lot of workers surfing the internet until midnight. If you want low banking bonuses and measure bonus-to-base-salary ratios, you'll get high base salaries. Measurement is sort of an evil genie: It grants your wishes, but it takes them just a bit too literally.

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September 12th

How the government could resist President Trump's orders

    If Donald Trump is elected, he's promised to move quickly - with head-spinning alacrity, in fact - to suspend Muslim immigration, or maybe even stop people from entering the United States "from any nation that has been compromised by terrorism." We'll withdraw from NATO unless all other members pay their fair share, either renegotiate or shred NAFTA, and begin "extreme vetting" of immigrants to make sure they aren't sneaking in any "hostile attitudes toward our country or its principles." Before you can say "Geneva Conventions," he'll order the waterboarding of suspected terrorists and approve interrogation techniques "a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding," too, even ordering the killing of the families of terrorism suspects. He might (or might not, or might) deport 11 million undocumented immigrants. But "on Day One," he insists, we will definitely "begin working on an impenetrable, physical, tall, powerful, beautiful, southern border wall."

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Trump, Clinton plan to stick to low road

    This should have been the week when both presidential candidates, the summer behind them, seized a back-to-school opportunity for a fresh start -- No. 2 pencils sharpened, pristine notebooks, a new backpack, a fresh chance to elevate the campaign to a level deserving of the office they aspire to. No such luck.

    All hopes for a new narrative were dashed when Donald Trump violated the vow all presidential candidates must take not to reveal anything about the classified intelligence briefings they get. It's never been dishonored, but at a joint "commander-in-chief forum" in New York on Sept. 7, Trump tried to leverage his access to score some cheap political points.

    His first briefing, he said, left him "shocked," because of the information it contained about an unspecified decision by President Barack Obama and his former secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, that had led to an unspecified "total disaster." His briefers, he said, were "not happy about" Obama's failure to "follow what our experts" advised.

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