Archive

October 7th, 2016

Community policing can make us all safer

    Recent incidents in Charlotte, Tulsa and El Cajon, Calif., were just the latest in a long series of events that have left Americans feeling saddened, angry and confused about the meaning of justice in the United States. These high-profile traumas - which include the tragic officer-involved deaths of civilians and appalling, premeditated attacks on police officers - have laid bare the fault lines of mistrust that too often separate law enforcement and communities of color.

    As attorney general of the United States, one of my top priorities has been bridging the divides between police and citizens. I firmly believe that all of us - law enforcement officers, activists and ordinary citizens alike - have a role to play in closing those rifts and repairing the fabric of our society. The Justice Department has been tirelessly pursuing that goal in a number of ways. We dispatch mediators to assist with tense situations, provide local law enforcement agencies with training and technical assistance, and, when necessary, investigate allegations of unconstitutional policing. Our work to restore trust takes many forms, but it is all closely tied to the principles of community policing.

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Assange's message gets lost in the bluster

    There was a time when Julian Assange believed in redacting personal information that could hurt individuals before his WikiLeaks organization flooded the Internet with hacked or leaked documents.

    There was a time when he even was willing to meet with representatives of the U.S. government before he put out potentially damaging material from government files.

    But these days Assange, holed up for four years now in the Ecuadoran Embassy in London, fighting rape charges he denies, is more extreme. His original vision of "radical transparency" has morphed into something reckless.

    And that's unfortunate. Because much of his message is an important one: Secrecy promotes corruption. People deserve to know what their governments are doing.

    But with his abusive Twitter presence and his weird behavior, he's gone too far. Not long ago, WikiLeaks released vast troves of information that made public the medical records of individuals all around the world. Even the National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden has said publicly that a no-redaction policy is dangerous.

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Why biologists don't put too much stock in race

    Race is perhaps the worst idea ever to come out of science. Scientists were responsible for officially dividing human beings into Europeans, Africans, Asians and Native Americans and promoting these groups as sub-species or separate species altogether. That happened back in the 18th century, but the division lends the feel of scientific legitimacy to the prejudice that haunts the 21st.

    Racial tension proved a major point of contention in the first 2016 presidential debate, and yet just days before, scientists announced they'd used wide-ranging samples of DNA to add new detail to the consensus story that we all share a relatively recent common origin in Africa. While many human species and sub-species once roamed the planet, there's abundant evidence that beyond a small genetic contribution from Neanderthals and a couple of other sub-species, only one branch of humanity survived to the present day.

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Trump is a sexist pig, but he wouldn't be any worse for women than any other GOP president

    With only five weeks to election day, we may have reached the point at which there will be a new damaging revelation about Donald Trump nearly every day. Following up on the weekend's New York Times story about Trump's colorful tax history, today we get this story from Garance Burke of the Associated Press. Here are some excerpts:

    "In his years as a reality TV boss on "The Apprentice," Donald Trump repeatedly demeaned women with sexist language, according to show insiders who said he rated female contestants by the size of their breasts and talked about which ones he'd like to have sex with…

    "Eight former crew members recalled that he repeatedly made lewd comments about a camerawoman he said had a nice rear, comparing her beauty to that of his daughter, Ivanka.

    "During one season, Trump called for female contestants to wear shorter dresses that also showed more cleavage, according to contestant Gene Folkes. Several cast members said Trump had one female contestant twirl before him so he could ogle her figure …

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The men who would help Trump govern America

    Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, who debates Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine in the vice-presidential face-off on Tuesday night, is seemingly decent -- political in a thoroughly normal way. Such qualities make Pence the odd man out in Donald Trump's campaign. It's no wonder Trump had second thoughts about him: He doesn't fit.

    What sets Trump's campaign apart, beyond the slapdash nature of the enterprise, the baldness of the falsehoods and the ejection seat reserved for the latest campaign manager, is that he surrounds himself with men whose bad behavior complements his own.

    That's, of course, subjective criticism. But if you ascribe to certain nearly universal values, it's hard to avoid the conclusion.

    If the Trump campaign was not caroming daily, often hourly, between allegations of corruption and illegality and its own exertions on the frontiers of dark fantasy and sleaziness, then the presence of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie at the head of the Trump transition team would be a running scandal.

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Searching for truth in Trump's tax return

    Rudy Giuliani has tried to make it easy for anyone who might be perplexed about his friend Donald Trump's income tax maneuvers. All you need to know, Giuliani said Sunday on CNN, is that the tax code is complex and Trump is a "genius" for figuring out how to navigate it.

    Giuliani was trying to help viewers understand the New York Times's revelation that Trump may have used $916 million in business losses to legally lower his federal income taxes -- or avoid paying them at all from 1992 to 2010.

    "The man's a genius," Giuliani said. "He knows how to operate the tax code to the benefit of the people he's serving."

    "Operate the tax code" is a fun, Trumpy locution, but this has nothing to do with genius. If it did, Trump would have already released his returns in full so the public could have a transparent look at his brilliance.

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Hillary Clinton calls for 'smart and fair trade.' What is that?

    It's not for me to score last week's debate, but I will say this: I watched it with my 14- and 16-year-old kids, and I used the occasion to point out to them: "See, this is the difference between doing your homework and winging it. The road to success is paved with preparation." The fact that this just got me another in a long series of teenage eye-rolls does not negate its truth.

    The only part where Hillary Clinton was less convincing was on trade. Donald Trump has a clear, powerful and deeply misguided message. He aspires to take America back to the 1950s, when trade flows were a trickle. To achieve this nostalgic vision, he'll tear up trade agreements, kick our trading partners' butts (especially China's) in some unspecified way, build walls and raise tariffs. He threw in some incoherent (and incorrect) stuff on VAT taxes for good measure (border-adjusted "value added taxes" do not, as Trump suggests, give our trading partners an unfair advantage).

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Clinton's former prosecutor endorses her for president

    Twenty years ago Michael Chertoff was near the top of the Clintons' enemy list. He was the lead Republican counsel on the Senate Whitewater Committee, one of the first of many Congressional investigations into Hillary Clinton.

    Clinton later cast the only vote in the Senate against him when he was nominated in 2001 to head the Justice Department's criminal division. She was also the lone no vote against Chertoff in 2003 when he was nominated to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the third circuit.

    All of this though was before the Republican Party nominated Donald Trump as its presidential candidate. This has shaken the party of Reagan. Chertoff, a life long Republican, will now be voting for the Democrat in November.

    Over the weekend, Chertoff -- the former secretary of Homeland Security -- told me his decision came down to national security. "I realized we spent a huge amount of time in the '90s on issues that were much less important than what was brewing in terms of terrorism," he said. For Chertoff, Clinton "has good judgment and a strategic vision how to deal with the threats that face us."

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October 6th

Donald Trump: Terroristic Man-Toddler

    Donald Trump is a domestic terrorist; only his form of terror doesn’t boil down to blowing things up. He’s the 70-year-old toddler who knows nearly nothing, hurls insults, has simplistic solutions for complex problems and is quick to throw a tantrum. Also, in case you didn’t know it, this toddler is mean to girls and is a bit of a bigot.

    It isn’t so much that he is a strict disciple of radical ideology, but rather that he is devoid of fixed principles, willing to do anything and everything to gain fame, fortune and power. He has an endless, consuming need for perpetual affirmation. This is a bully who just wants to be liked, a man-boy nursing a nagging internal emptiness.

    He’s fickle and spoiled and rotten.

    So, when he loses at something, anything, he lashes out. When someone chastises him for bad behavior, he chafes. This is the kind of silver-spoon scion quick to yell at those he views as less privileged, and therefore less-than, “Do you know who I am?”

    We do now, sir.

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Trump's last tweet?

    Donald J. Trump has now driven home, in a way no apologist, enabler or timid analyst can plausibly deny, that he is far too nasty, immature and frighteningly undisciplined to be president.

    And thanks to Hillary Clinton for the assist: By using the first debate to bring up the case of a Miss Universe who, Trump decided, had put on too much weight, the Democratic nominee unleashed the ugly inner Donald -- the man whom the candidate and his handlers have been trying to hide.

    This should be a wakeup call to political analysts who have gone out of their way since Trump first announced his candidacy to pretend that he was the ingenious creator of a political special sauce who deserved our respect for "speaking his mind." No, Trump all along has been a clinically self-involved con man who never took the issues, the presidency or the future of our country seriously. Can there be any doubt that his campaign is a branding exercise gone, quite literally, mad?

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