Archive

September 7th, 2016

Note to Republicans: Obstructionism backfired

    I met Tom Korologos in 1970. I was doing interviews for my dissertation on congressional staffs; he was the top staffer for Wallace Bennett, a veteran Republican senator from Utah. Tom not only granted me an interview but also gave me a ton of time and valuable insights. He knew and loved the Senate, knew and loved politics. He has had a remarkable career in Washington, serving several Republican presidents and also working as a top official with the provisional authority in Baghdad and as ambassador to Belgium. If you asked me to name veteran pols who understand how our government and politics work and should work, he would be high on the list.

    That makes my disappointment with him even more painful. Korologos, along with former Ronald Reagan national security adviser Richard V. Allen, wrote an op-ed for The Washington Post last week with advice for their fellow Republicans, headlined "Memo to GOP: Forget 2016. Start thinking 2018 and 2020." The op-ed conceded the presidential contest to Hillary Clinton - and proceeded to give advice on how to combat the incoming president and regain the party's mojo.

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What Is Happening To Our Democracy?

    There are many things happening in this great land of ours that I and many other citizens disagree with; however, we recognize that our great document was designed to allow such dissent. What I do have trouble with is some of the actions provided for in the name of law enforcement.

    All too often we pass laws in haste that end up in the category of unintended consequences. Nowhere is that more evident than in actions following the September 11,2001, attack on this nation. We are still suffering from the fear engendered by those planes commandeered to fly into buildings. Worse yet some of the most egregious actions taken in the days immediately following were actually renewed by Congress in ensuing years. Fear often generates action that more thoughtful consideration would not allow but years after it should be apparent that some of the restrictions most assuredly infringe on what we previously considered as Constitutional rights. Yes, some may be justified in these dangerous times but only with restrictions or protections.

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Stop touting the crazy hours you work. It helps no one.

    As Labor Day approaches, and a single day of rest from all the hours we Americans spend on the job is upon us, people can't seem to stop talking about the crazy hours they work.

    One of the most-read articles on the Wall Street Journal's web site last week was a piece about how 4 a.m. -- a time so ungodly there's even a TED Talk about how surreal it is -- has become the most productive hour for go-getters. Donald Trump has been endlessly knocking Hillary Clinton for sleeping (gasp!), calling out her lack of stamina as he brags about not needing much sleep and his former staffers say that vacations would "bore and perhaps scare" the GOP presidential nominee.

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Trump's Mexican hayride does not help his erratic campaign

    Donald Trump on Wednesday talked out of both sides of his mouth on immigration -- out of one side in Mexico City and the other in Phoenix.

    He jetted over the border to make nice with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto. Then he jetted back home and resumed his scheme for a "deportation task force" to oust millions of undocumented immigrants, predominantly Mexicans.

    Trump seized on his Mexican host's rather surprising invitation, no doubt in the hope that the visit might put some luster on his transparently nonexistent foreign policy, as well as soften his reputation for personal insult.

    The Republican presidential nominee temporarily shelved his insistence that our southern neighbor would pay for his much-ballyhooed wall on the U.S-Mexican border.

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Trump can't 'soften' bigotry

    Donald Trump's diatribe on immigration Wednesday night dispelled any conceivable doubt: He is a dangerous demagogue who rejects the values of openness and inclusion that made this country great. Rarely has an American politician given such an un-American speech.

    Foreigners who come here seeking a better life are the scapegoats he blames for problems real and imagined. Never mind that Trump's mother was an immigrant, or that two of his three wives came from overseas. Ronald Reagan saw this country as a shining city on a hill; Trump wants us to cower in fear behind a Berlin-style wall. Reagan invited millions of undocumented immigrants to stay and contribute to their adopted land; Trump wants to round them up, all 11 million, and ship them home.

    That's what he wants his loyal followers to believe, at least. Like any effective demagogue, Trump is fluent in doublespeak.

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The Immigrants Turned Away

    Give me your extreme-vetted, your ideologically certified, your elite. Send only the smartest, the best-connected, the richest to our shores. No losers, no freethinkers, and no ugly people, please.

    In the hate speech that Donald Trump gave on immigration in Phoenix on Wednesday night, he all but deported the Statue of Liberty, laying out one of the darkest visions of the U.S. experience that any major-party nominee has ever given. Despite the media misread by some who presented the speech as a pivot, it got rave reviews from neo-Nazi and Ku Klux Klan supporters, and prompted some of Trump’s few Latino advisers to resign in protest. “Excellent speech,” said David Duke, the former Klan leader.

    In Trump’s America, those working in the shadows are not the lawn cutters, Sheetrock hangers, fruit pickers or nannies we see in every community, but the criminal dregs. Under his rules, this country would have closed its doors long ago to those who made the United States the great experiment, unique to the world. He would have shut off the flow of people whose best and perhaps only asset at the time was desire for a better life.

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Putin just doesn't get American Politics

    President Vladimir Putin is watching the U.S. election campaign with a mixture of irony, disgust and imperfect understanding. Just as American presidents and senators are not well-versed in Russian politics, Putin, too, is no expert on foreign arenas. He regards the current U.S. political show just as any ordinary guy would -- even though the election outcome is extremely important to him.

    In an interview with Bloomberg Editor-in-Chief John Micklethwait, Putin's mocking misunderstanding of the U.S. electoral process was on full display. Asked whether Russia had anything to do with the recent hacks of the Democratic National Committee and the subsequent publication of stolen emails on Wikileaks, Putin added this to the expected denial:

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It's time to rethink the US approach to human rights in China

    When world leaders touch down in early September in the city of Hangzhou for this year's G-20 leaders' summit, which China will they see? The one of glossy skylines, enviable growth statistics, and perfectly choreographed diplomatic exchanges? Or the one in which China's prominent human and civil rights lawyers are detained, forcibly disappeared, and prosecuted on charges of subversion? The one in which civil society groups aiding survivors of domestic violence and sexual harassment are abruptly shut down?

    And will they see the ominous international trend emerging, of Chinese authorities and their agents abducting critics outside the mainland, then broadcasting some of their "confessions" on national television, while often denying their lawyers, family members, and - in the cases of those who hold other citizenship - even embassies access to them?

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Five myths about labor unions

    The first Labor Day celebration took place 134 years ago in New York City, at a time when organizing a union was not yet a protected right. At the time, labor unions were often viewed as criminal conspiracies, and a few years later, with the passage of the Sherman Antitrust Act, they were treated as anti-competitive trusts. It took years for labor to debunk these myths - indeed, some still think of labor unions in these terms - so this Labor Day it is worthwhile to look at a few misconceptions that currently surround labor.

 

Myth No. 1

    Unions are for the working class workers only.

    Labor seems to suffer from a branding problem - specifically, the notion that unions are for blue-collar workers in old-school jobs. As journalist Harold Meyerson wrote in the American Prospect, labor stands in the minds of many for "autoworkers and steelworkers, for the cutting-edge industries of 1935." Likewise, the AFL-CIO has bemoaned the "misperception that organized labor is predominantly a blue collar movement."

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By his own definition, Trump is bigoted against whites

    Hillary Clinton suggests that Donald Trump of Fifth Avenue is at heart a Klansman from Mississippi. Trump says Clinton is a "bigot."

    Really?

    Both of them have a bit of creepy racial stuff in their pasts: Clinton hailed the late senator Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., who once bore the risible title "Exalted Cyclops" of the Ku Klux Klan, as her "friend and mentor." Trump was obliged to settle a housing discrimination case and says woefully stupid things about wanting Jews rather than blacks handling his money. But the idea that either candidate is a racist in the way David Duke is a racist is absurd.

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