Archive

February 17th, 2017

Husbands Are Deadlier Than Terrorists

    With the President Donald Trump Reality Show, it’s easy to be distracted by ANGRY ALL-CAPITAL TWEETS or Oval Office tantrums. But resist, and stay focused on matters of life and death.

    Consider two critical issues: refugees and guns. Trump is going berserk over the former, but wants to ease rules on the latter. So let’s look at the relative risks.

    In the four decades between 1975 and 2015, terrorists born in the seven nations in Trump’s travel ban killed zero people in the United States, according to the Cato Institute. Zero.

    In that same period, guns claimed 1.34 million lives in the United States, including murders, suicides and accidents. That’s about as many people as live in Boston and Seattle combined.

    It’s also roughly as many Americans as died in all the wars in U.S. history since the American Revolution, depending on the estimate used for Civil War dead.

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Lying took down Flynn, but it seems to be just fine on the Sunday talk shows

    Strange, isn't it, that it was a lie that supposedly caused Gen. Michael Flynn to be fired? His false assurances to Vice President Mike Pence about pre-election conversations with Russia were what evidently did him in as national security adviser.

    If lies were taken that seriously in the Trump administration, we might be living on the right side of the looking glass.

    But they aren't.

    And we aren't.

    Consider, for example, the way the consistently truth-challenged President Donald Trump applauded a top adviser last weekend after he went on national talk shows and told brash falsehoods.

    "Congratulations Stephen Miller - on representing me this morning on the various Sunday morning shows. Great job!" went the Trump tweet (bringing to mind the presidential praise after Hurricane Katrina to the hapless Federal Emergency Management Agency Director Michael Brown: "You're doing a heckuva job, Brownie").

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Are Democrats Falling Into Trump’s Trap?

    In one of many recent forums for the politicians vying to lead the Democratic National Committee — and, ideally, the party — out of the wilderness and into better times, the candidates were asked to distill the importance of fighting Donald Trump to 10 words or less.

    I heard clichés: “Power to the people.” I heard fancy words: “Anathema.”

    I heard answers over 15 and 20 and even 25 words.

    Only one of the seven candidates onstage at this particular event — which took place in Washington just two days before Trump’s inauguration — came in under the limit, with a reply that was more upbeat than downbeat and more assertive than reactive.

    “Freedom, fairness, families, future,” said Pete Buttigieg, mayor of South Bend, Indiana, using four words. “I got six left?”

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In a remarkable interview, Kellyanne Conway's spin about Mike Flynn crashes and burns

    Facts and reality: 1. Trump administration: 0.

    Michael Flynn resigned as Donald Trump's national security adviser late Monday, after The Post reported that the Justice Department had privately warned White House officials weeks ago that Flynn had badly mischaracterized his conversations with the Russian ambassador to the United States.

    Flynn had told Vice President Mike Pence that he never discussed sanctions against Russia with the ambassador, which the Obama administration instituted in response to charges of Russian meddling in the election. The FBI had established that this was false, and acting Attorney General Sally Yates warned senior White House officials in late January that this made Flynn vulnerable to Russian blackmail.

    Yet Flynn remained in his post for weeks after that. In a remarkable interview on NBC Tuesday morning, senior Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway tried to spin her way out of this basic set of facts, but could not do so, because the facts would not yield.

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Why does the United States still let 12-year-old girls get married?

    Michelle DeMello walked into the clerk's office in Colorado thinking for sure someone would save her.

    She was 16 and pregnant. Her Christian community in Green Mountain Falls was pressuring her family to marry her off to her 19-year-old boyfriend. She didn't think she had the right to say no to the marriage after the mess she felt she'd made. "I could be the example of the shining whore in town, or I could be what everybody wanted me to be at that moment and save my family a lot of honor," DeMello said. She assumed that the clerk would refuse to approve the marriage. The law wouldn't allow a minor to marry, right?

    Wrong, as DeMello, now 42, learned.

    While most states set 18 as the minimum marriage age, exceptions in every state allow children younger than 18 to marry, typically with parental consent or judicial approval. How much younger? Laws in 27 states do not specify an age below which a child cannot marry.

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A Trump staff shakeup won't solve his problem

    President Donald Trump, who prefers cable news to reading, should take a quick glance at a book by the late Walt Kelly. He's the cartoonist who invented Pogo and had him say, "We have met the enemy and he is us."

    As Trump deals with his first resignation of a top White House official and, according to multiple reports, considers a deeper staff shakeup following the rockiest start of any modern president, Pogo could teach him something important that he appears determined to ignore: The problem is the president.

    The chaotic lack of discipline, duplicity, ad hoc actions and ad hominem attacks that mark Trump's first weeks in office were hallmarks of his campaign. It worked then, but it's a lot harder to govern that way.

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US Muslims' defense: The Constitution

    Two weeks ago, Sarah Cochran awoke to an inbox full of panicked emails.

    The night before, Reuters had reported that President Donald Trump would soon sign an executive order blocking visas for citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries in the Middle East and Africa. The move, an expression of the "Muslim ban" that Trump touted during his campaign, marooned Muslims legally working or studying in the United States and threatens to divide families who have relatives in their home countries.

    Cochran is director of the Virginia chapter of Emerge USA, an organization founded in 2006 to help Muslims get involved in local politics across five states. It's one of many organizations that American Muslims created in the aftermath of 9/11 to protect and advocate for their embattled community. That very morning, she was already set to travel to Richmond to meet with state lawmakers to communicate the concerns of Muslim Virginians.

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Things might work out if Trump borrows from Abe

    I have occasionally been accused of metaphorically hugging Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, but so far I've never had the chance to do so in literal terms. Not so Donald Trump, who gave a brotherly hug to the Japanese leader at a meeting at the White House on Friday. But I hope that in addition to hugging the man, Trump embraces Abe's approach to governing. In the past four years, Abe has created a template for a responsible, positive modern nationalism.

    When Abe was elected at the end of September 2012, many on the Japanese left and in the foreign press denounced him as a dangerous right-wing nationalist. His grandfather, Nobusuke Kishi, served in the militarist Japanese government during World War II. He has worked to loosen the country's postwar restrictions on its military, and his appointees have included Nanjing Massacre denialists. For these reasons, the "Abe is Hitler" memes flew fast and furious in his administration's early days.

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Under Trump's plan, Mexico won't end up paying for the wall. You will.

    Last week, Donald Trump signed an executive order directing construction of the border wall between the United States and Mexico, one of his signature campaign promises. After President Trump restated his claim that Mexico would pay for the wall, President Enrique Peña Nieto of Mexico promptly canceled a planned meeting with Trump for the following week. The next day, White House press secretary Sean Spicer announced a plan that the wall would be funded through placing a 20 percent import tax on all imports from Mexico.

    What exactly is an import tax and who pays it?

    An import tax is a tax levied by the federal government on foreign goods shipped to the United States for sale in the United States. The tax is typically collected at customs upon entry. The importer pays the tax and passes some of that cost on to consumers by raising the sales price of the good.

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Ignorance Is Strength

    When I travel to Asia, I’m fairly often met at the airport by someone holding a sign reading “Mr. Paul.” Why? In much of Asia, names are given family first, personal second — at home, the prime minister of Japan is referred to as Abe Shinzo. And the mistake is completely forgivable when it’s made by a taxi driver picking up a professor.

    It’s not so forgivable, however, if the president of the United States makes the same mistake when welcoming the leader of one of our most important economic and security partners. But there it was: Donald Trump referring to Abe as, yes, Prime Minister Shinzo.

    Abe did not, as far as we know, respond by calling his host President Donald.

    Trivial? Well, it would be if it were an isolated instance. But it isn’t. What we’ve seen instead over the past three weeks is an awesome display of raw ignorance on every front. Worse, there’s no hint that either the White House or its allies in Congress see this as a problem. They appear to believe that expertise, or even basic familiarity with a subject, is for wimps; ignorance is strength.

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