Archive

August 7th, 2016

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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Donald Trump begins contemplating the unthinkable: He might lose

    Is it possible that Donald Trump has begun to contemplate his own political mortality? Is it possible that Trump, who had previously boasted to GOP primary audiences that he would beat Hillary Clinton "easily" -- has begun to contemplate the possibility that he might lose the presidential election?

    It is perhaps not a coincidence that Trump has suddenly stopped tweeting about polls (which are now showing Clinton taking a meaningful lead) at precisely the moment that he is escalating his efforts to cast doubt, in advance, on the legitimacy of the general election's outcome.

    Trump and his supporters have now said in a series of new public remarks that the outcome of the election is likely to be "rigged." Monday, on the campaign trail, Trump said: "I'm afraid the election's going to be rigged. I have to be honest."

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Democrats' chance to be the dynamic party

    Donald Trump has given the Democratic Party a chance to expand its base. In nominating him for president, the Republican Party has rejected the open society of Reaganite ideals in favor of strongman governance, winner-take-all identity politics and zero-sum economics. Longtime Republican voters, as well as many independents, are looking for a new home.

    Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are savvy enough to see the opportunity.

    Clinton's acceptance speech last week and her choice of Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia as her running mate combined traditional liberalism with an outreach message of common values and common sense ("A man you can bait with a tweet is not a man we can trust with nuclear weapons.") Rather than demonize Republicans, she invited their support.

    Appealing to broadly shared American ideals of liberty and self-rule, the convention's most philosophically resonant line came in the president's speech: "Our power doesn't come from some self-declared savior promising that he alone can restore order. We don't look to be ruled."

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After Brexit, Britain will miss its low-skilled immigrants

    Once Britain exits the European Union, about 590,000 people who live there now -- citizens of other EU countries -- will no longer be eligible to stay. Most likely, the majority of those who go will be relatively low-skilled workers. Bankers and software developers probably will find a way to remain, as they are in demand. The preference for high-skilled immigrants over low-skilled ones is not entirely rational, however, and its practical application may have unintended consequences.

    When people demand immigration curbs, they usually mean barriers against lower-skilled immigrants. That's a consensus in Western societies that transcends education and wealth levels, as well as ideological boundaries. Researchers found this consensus to hold in the U.S. as well as European countries.

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Will the GOP repudiate Trump's cruelty?

    Republican politicians face a choice. They can accept Hillary Clinton's invitation to abandon Donald Trump and prevent a redefinition of their party as a haven for bigotry. Or they can prop Trump up, try to maximize his vote -- and thereby tarnish themselves for a generation.

    If there were any doubts about Trump's disqualifying lack of simple decency and empathy, he resolved them in an interview on ABC News over the weekend with a characteristically cruel and self-centered attack on Khizr and Ghazala Khan, an American Muslim couple whose son, Army Capt. Humayun Khan, was killed in the line of duty in Iraq.

    With his wife by his side, Khizr Khan delivered what was the most devastating attack on Trump during the Democratic National Convention. Khan directly challenged Trump's strongman ignorance: "Let me ask you, have you even read the United States Constitution? I will gladly lend you my copy." And he said this of Trump: "You have sacrificed nothing and no one."

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