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Updated: Sat, 03 Dec 2016 05:02:56 -0600

 



House Dems' New Boss Same as the Old Boss

2016-12-03T00:00:00Z

As liberals go, Julie Roginsky on Fox News is better than most. She is usually reasonable, sometimes persuasive and always appealing – exactly what a right-leaning outlet ought to seek in a left-leaning personality. This past week on “Outnumbered,” she was impressive during a segment on the House Democrats again selecting the hard-left Nancy Pelosi as their minority leader. The conservatives around her understandably emphasized Pelosi’s obvious distance from the median voter of an electorate that just chose Donald Trump for president. Instead of...As liberals go, Julie Roginsky on Fox News is better than most. She is usually reasonable, sometimes persuasive and always appealing – exactly what a right-leaning outlet ought to seek in a left-leaning personality. This past week on “Outnumbered,” she was impressive during a segment on the House Democrats again selecting the hard-left Nancy Pelosi as their minority leader. The conservatives around her understandably emphasized Pelosi’s obvious distance from the median voter of an electorate that just chose Donald Trump for president. Instead of dismissing them, or mounting a defense of Pelosi and the caucus that selected her, Roginsky began with a frank admission that she was going to “eat crow,” and then expressed frustration that her party was still trying to fight a culture war in a country of people more interested in economic growth and national security concerns. A couple of segments later, the panel turned to flag burning and what its consequences might or should be. One should note here that the sole reason this is a subject for national attention of late is a single tweet on the topic posted by President-elect Trump, suggesting that a year in jail or loss of citizenship might be appropriate for flag burners. The conservatives split on this question, some regarding the First Amendment as protecting the act, others approving of a penalty for it. Roginsky took another tack. She asked why Trump would tweet about this, asserting that it is a “settled issue” that was answered, apparently once and for all time, in the 1980s. This response is, among Democrats, far more common than her take on the tin ear act of retaining Pelosi in leadership. In fact, it follows something of a tradition on the left. Whenever that side secures a win, no matter how contentious or close-run the victory was, its apologists and their media chorus immediately assert that the outcome be cast in stone for perpetuity. Recall that the misnamed Affordable Care Act, the first large-scale entitlement program to ever be passed without broad bipartisan support and for which not a single Republican voted in either chamber of Congress, was asserted to be “settled law” even as multiple court cases calling that into question were working their way toward the Supreme Court. As a law, it was apparently quite unsettled, as it only passed constitutional review of that body by redefining the individual mandate as a tax, which its framers and proponents loudly and often insisted it manifestly was not. But regardless of context, the assertion that anything whatsoever is ever really settled law is absurd, a fact that so-called liberals should appreciate. It was once settled law that women could not vote. It was once settled law that senators were chosen by state legislatures. Perhaps more to the point, it was for some time settled law that alcohol consumption was permissible, then that it was not, and then that it was again. Even the most exalted of our laws, the Constitution, has been amended 17 times, not counting the original 10 prior to ratification. Laws at all levels can be changed, which is right and proper: In fact, it is hard to imagine, in absence of that fact, what the concept of “self-government” might mean. But that is not the real point one can glean from the facts above. The real point is this: As with many larger-than-life personalities, Donald Trump’s greatest strengths and weaknesses are flip sides of[...]



Global Alert: A 2016 Transition Recap for Readers Abroad

2016-12-02T00:00:00Z

The speculation surrounding Donald Trump’s Cabinet picks has become America’s latest reality TV show – a much-watched spectacle playing out on cable TV and in the lobby of Trump Tower as the president-elect parades his contenders before the public. It’s like a beauty pageant, or “The Bachelor,” leaving everyone to speculate who’ll receive the final rose. Adding to the drama is Team Trump. Advisers to the incoming president have taken to the cable airwaves and Twitter to offer their own opinions on whom the boss should...The speculation surrounding Donald Trump’s Cabinet picks has become America’s latest reality TV show – a much-watched spectacle playing out on cable TV and in the lobby of Trump Tower as the president-elect parades his contenders before the public. It’s like a beauty pageant, or “The Bachelor,” leaving everyone to speculate who’ll receive the final rose. Adding to the drama is Team Trump. Advisers to the incoming president have taken to the cable airwaves and Twitter to offer their own opinions on whom the boss should select. RealClearPolitics’ Caitlin Huey-Burns examined the spectacle surrounding the secretary of state pick, a position with added weight this year since the person holding the office will represent America to a world skeptical of the president it just elected. Suddenly, Mitt Romney is the great hope of Democrats, journalists, and foreign leaders who had little use for him when he tried in 2012 to deny President Obama a second term. “If Trump taps Romney,” wrote Frank Bruni in the New York Times, “he’ll be sending a powerful message to an anxious world that he’s not hostage to the darkest parts of his character.” Yet because of the many harsh things Romney said about Trump during the campaign, the former Massachusetts governor came in for a good deal of needling. After the job candidate went to a posh steak dinner with Trump, complete with chocolate cake for desert, John Cassidy of The New Yorker puckishly observed that Romney worked off the excess calories by energetically “groveling” before the president-elect.  “So, Romney wants to be secretary of state more than he hates Trump,” wrote Chris Cillizza of The Washington Post. “It’s that simple a calculation.” If any of this bothered Trump, he hid it well. Outwardly, at least, the man seemed to be enjoying the show.  “Donald Trump’s search for his secretary of state offers the drama, intrigue, and rigmarole of a reality television program,” wrote Huey-Burns. “Call it ‘America’s Next Top Diplomat.’ It’s a show the rest of the world is watching closely, as the winner will have the extraordinary task of representing a president who suggests he'll deviate from conventional American foreign policy and shuffle global alliances. The theatrics emphasize the challenge facing the next chief foreign affairs officer in what figures to be an unconventional and, at times, chaotic administration.” It’s fitting that a reality-TV star who won the highest office in the land through dramatic speeches and controversial tweets is setting up his government the same way. RCP’s Rebecca Berg and Huey-Burns dove into this unwieldly transition process, reporting that “Trump’s transition to the White House has been lively and unpredictable — marked by Twitter rants, strategic detours, and internal disputes spilling into public view. These hallmark quirks are now weightier in the context of the White House, however, with less than two months until the start of Trump’s presidency. If a transition process can suggest the flavor of the administration to come, many political professionals now predict a wildly unconventional White House at the highest levels, with a tinge of chaos.” Trump is known to closely watch cable news, caring about the opinions of the chatter[...]



Lessons From Pa.; Trump and Carrier; Dems Dig In; the Atomic Age

2016-12-02T00:00:00Z

Good morning. It’s Friday, December 2, 2016. If you woke up to find an email touting a new website devoted to opposing President-elect Trump, or saw television clips of The Donald campaigning in Cincinnati, or heard how Clinton aides sniped at Trump advisers and the media at a Harvard Institute of Politics conference last night…well, you might have briefly believed you were still asleep -- and having nightmare -- and that the ugly 2016 campaign will go on and on. Sorry, it’s all real, with apparently more to come. Here at RealClearPolitics, I suppose the Never...Good morning. It’s Friday, December 2, 2016. If you woke up to find an email touting a new website devoted to opposing President-elect Trump, or saw television clips of The Donald campaigning in Cincinnati, or heard how Clinton aides sniped at Trump advisers and the media at a Harvard Institute of Politics conference last night…well, you might have briefly believed you were still asleep -- and having nightmare -- and that the ugly 2016 campaign will go on and on. Sorry, it’s all real, with apparently more to come. Here at RealClearPolitics, I suppose the Never Ending Campaign is good for business. I just fear it’s bad for the republic. I’m put in mind of a North Carolina mother named Joy Woodhouse, who surprised C-SPAN host Steve Scully in mid-Decembers 2014. She called in to the channel to complain about her two sons, Brad and Dallas, who were at that moment bickering on-air about politics. One of the boys is a Democratic political activist, the other a Republican, and they were doing what Dems and GOPers too often do: Instead of having a civil conversation explaining their differences, they used party-approved talking points as shillelaghs to beat on each other. Mom called the show and told the boys to knock it off. Hearing them talk on television, she said, made her glad they’d gone to their respective in-laws’ houses for Thanksgiving. “I was hoping you’ll have some of this out of your system when you come here for Christmas,” she added. “I would really like a peaceful Christmas.” Two holiday seasons later, I feel Mrs. Woodhouse’s pain. On this date in U.S. history, a phone call took place that reminds us why the presidency carries such a momentous responsibility. Seventy-four years ago, Franklin D. Roosevelt’s de facto wartime science adviser received a cryptic call with a grave purpose: to inform FDR’s counselor that the nuclear age had dawned. I’ll have more on this episode in a moment. First, I’d point you to our front page, which aggregates columns and stories spanning the political spectrum. We also offer a complement of original material from our own reporters and contributors this morning, including the following: * * * What Dems and the GOP Learned in Pennsylvania. Emily Goodin has this postmortem on the Keystone State results, where rural voters had an unexpected sway. Trump Touts Carrier’s Holiday Gift to Workers. Alexis Simendinger reports on the “Christmas Carol”-esque rendering of the deal proffered by the president-elect yesterday in Indianapolis. Democrats Vow to Fight Trump Cabinet Picks. But with Republicans’ dominance in Congress, the odds of blocking the appointments are long, James Arkin writes. Trump’s Wall Street Picks Clash With Populist Campaign. Rebecca Berg has the story. Did Fake News Really Tip the Election? In RealClearFuture, Will Rinehart challenges the assertion that fabricated stories on social media exacerbated the already partisan political conversation. A NATO Agenda for the President-Elect. In RealClearDefense, Ian Brzezinski suggests a list of priorities that will require strong U.S. leadership to carry out. Reinvigorating Deterrence Education. Also in RCDefense, Adam Lowther and Carey Eichhorst spotlight the military’s new emphasis on training officers who can provide the preside[...]



Democrats Spoil for Fight on Trump Cabinet Picks

2016-12-02T00:00:00Z

If Senate Republicans stay united, they can confirm President-elect Donald Trump’s Cabinet nominees without any support from Democrats. But even if the minority party can’t block nominees, its members still plan to turn Trump’s Cabinet choices into a major fight early next year. The president-elect has nominated about half his Cabinet at this point – plus nominees for ambassador to the United Nations and CIA director – with a number of key positions, including secretary of state, still to be determined. But some of the earliest picks have...If Senate Republicans stay united, they can confirm President-elect Donald Trump’s Cabinet nominees without any support from Democrats. But even if the minority party can’t block nominees, its members still plan to turn Trump’s Cabinet choices into a major fight early next year. The president-elect has nominated about half his Cabinet at this point – plus nominees for ambassador to the United Nations and CIA director – with a number of key positions, including secretary of state, still to be determined. But some of the earliest picks have raised serious red flags for Democrats, who have vowed tough questioning and intense confirmation processes. In particular, Trump’s choices of Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions for attorney general, Steve Mnuchin for treasury secretary and Rep. Tom Price of Georgia for health and human services have drawn stiff criticism from Democrats. To be sure, some of Trump’s nominations should pass muster easily. The Senate swiftly confirmed six of President Obama nominations with Republicans’ support eight years ago and did the same with seven President Bush nominees. Both presidents also had nominees withdraw or face staunch opposition. It’s because of Democrats’ decision three years ago to invoke the so-called “nuclear option” to change Senate rules and eliminate the filibuster on most confirmations that Trump’s picks can sail through a Republican Congress without bipartisan support. Most Republicans have indicated they’re likely to support Trump’s nominations. But Democrats aren’t throwing in the towel. The goal is threefold: to convince moderate Republicans to buck their party, which could help Democrats block some nominees; to create a proxy war over policy proposals, including Trump’s hard-line immigration stance or congressional Republicans’ plans for changes to Medicare; and to drive a wedge between Trump, his nominees and congressional Republicans on some issues where they disagree. “There’s no presumption on my part that anyone nominated is going to make it through very, very quickly. They have to prove their mettle before the committee,” Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin, the second-ranking Democrat, said Thursday. “There are a lot of contradictions here between the people he’s named, their backgrounds, their philosophies, and what he said in the campaign. Expect to hear more." In particular, Democrats think they will find success in opposing Price. Price, a physician who has spent 12 years in Congress, has been a vocal advocate of repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act and has also supported significant changes to Medicare and Medicaid. He told reporters on Capitol Hill last month that he expected Medicare changes to come in the first six to eight months of the Trump administration. Though Speaker Paul Ryan and many congressional Republicans have long supported making changes to Medicare, Trump campaigned on preserving entitlement programs. “The question is, what is the nominee going to do: follow President-elect Trump or his own policies and the policies that have been passed repeatedly by the House to gut Medicare and Medicaid?” Michigan Sen. Debbie Stabenow said. “… So far, we’re seeing a lot of conflicts in those being proposed for appointments and what President-elect Trump[...]



What Dems and the GOP Learned in Pennsylvania

2016-12-02T00:00:00Z

The conventional wisdom to win Pennsylvania in a presidential election went like this: carry the four “collar” counties surrounding Philadelphia, run up the score among your base—and for the Democrats that means in the cities, particularly Philly—while adding a few key counties where your message resonates. Do all that and the state’s 20 electoral votes are yours. Donald Trump’s formula was much simpler. His victory showcased the new trend coming out of Election 2016: how rural voters asserted themselves in opposition to urban...The conventional wisdom to win Pennsylvania in a presidential election went like this: carry the four “collar” counties surrounding Philadelphia, run up the score among your base—and for the Democrats that means in the cities, particularly Philly—while adding a few key counties where your message resonates. Do all that and the state’s 20 electoral votes are yours. Donald Trump’s formula was much simpler. His victory showcased the new trend coming out of Election 2016: how rural voters asserted themselves in opposition to urban voters. “It was small-town rural America vs. urban America,” G. Terry Madonna, director of the Center for Politics and Public Affairs at Franklin & Marshall College, told RealClearPolitics. “It’s pretty much a consensus here that what we ended up with was a neglected white working-class base. It’s a question in all these states [of whether] we appreciated the degree of angst and concern that these voters had, that in a change environment favored Trump. And they were willing to look past his foibles.” It was a pattern that played out across the Rust Belt, notably in Michigan and Wisconsin, turning blue states red and handing the New York business mogul the White House. How to respond to this unexpectedly potent voting bloc is the challenge facing the Democratic Party as it attempts to regroup. Barack Obama won the White House without these voters, and he did it twice. Their rise this year took the party by surprise and became a factor in the attempt – albeit one that failed -- to oust Nancy Pelosi as leader of House Democrats. Experts attribute the rise of the rural voter to many factors, most of them having to do with a disenchantment with the way the country is being run: the feeling that they’re not getting their share of power and resources and that urban dwellers don’t understand the challenges they face. Mike McCabe, founder and president of the working-class advocacy group Blue Jean Nation, described the results in Wisconsin as a basic reaction to what people are feeling. "If people from communities like that make a trip to Madison to go to a [University of Wisconsin] Badger game or they go to Milwaukee to take in a Brewers game, they see all these new traffic circles and cloverleafs and these massive highway expansions, and they can't fill their own potholes," he said in an interview on Wisconsin public radio. In Wisconsin, which Trump won by less than one percentage point, 22 counties switched from Obama in 2012 to Trump; of those, 18 were rural. In Michigan, another state Trump won by less than a percentage point, the president-elect took 12 of the counties Obama won in 2012, including Macomb, a large, mostly white area outside of Detroit, which had been an important Democratic stronghold in recent elections. The dynamic was tighter in Pennsylvania, where Obama won 12 counties in 2012 and Clinton won 11 this year. But on Election Day, Trump won the state by fewer than 75,000 votes. And it was rural voters who put him over the top. Trump campaign officials who worked in the Keystone State said that was always the plan, to focus on rural areas instead of the traditional campaign strategy of courting the four counties surrounding Philadelphia. Their approach to the state: Look at it like the shape of an L – with Pitt[...]



Fake News and War Party Lies

2016-12-02T00:00:00Z

"I have in my possession a secret map, made in Germany by Hitler's government -- by the planners of the New World Order," FDR told the nation in his Navy Day radio address of Oct. 27, 1941. "It is a map of South America as Hitler proposes to reorganize it. The geographical experts of Berlin, however, have ruthlessly obliterated all the existing boundary lines ... bringing the whole continent under their domination," said Roosevelt. "This map makes clear the Nazi design not only against South America but against the United States as well." Our leader had..."I have in my possession a secret map, made in Germany by Hitler's government -- by the planners of the New World Order," FDR told the nation in his Navy Day radio address of Oct. 27, 1941. "It is a map of South America as Hitler proposes to reorganize it. The geographical experts of Berlin, however, have ruthlessly obliterated all the existing boundary lines ... bringing the whole continent under their domination," said Roosevelt. "This map makes clear the Nazi design not only against South America but against the United States as well." Our leader had another terrifying secret document, "made in Germany by Hitler's government. ... "It is a plan to abolish all existing religions -- Protestant, Catholic, Mohammedan, Hindu, Buddhist and Jewish alike. ... In the place of the churches of our civilization, there is to be set up an international Nazi Church... "In the place of the Bible, the words of 'Mein Kampf' will be imposed and enforced as Holy Writ. And in place of the cross of Christ will be put two symbols -- the swastika and the naked sword. ... A god of blood and iron will take the place of the God of love and mercy." The source of these astounding secret Nazi plans? They were forgeries by British agents in New York operating under William Stephenson, Churchill's "Man Called Intrepid," whose assignment was to do whatever necessary to bring the U.S. into Britain's war. FDR began his address by describing two German submarine attacks on U.S. destroyers Greer and Kearny, the later of which had been torpedoed with a loss of 11 American lives. Said FDR: "We have wished to avoid shooting. But the shooting has started. And history has recorded who fired the first shot." The truth: Greer and Kearny had been tracking German subs for British planes dropping depth charges. It was FDR who desperately wanted war with Germany, while, for all his crimes, Hitler desperately wanted to avoid war with the United States. Said Cong. Clare Boothe Luce, FDR "lied us into war because he did not have the political courage to lead us into it." By late 1941, most Americans still wanted to stay out of the war. They believed "lying British propaganda" about Belgian babies being tossed around on German bayonets had sucked us into World War I, from which the British Empire had benefited mightily. What brings these episodes to mind is the wave of indignation sweeping this capital over "fake news" allegedly created by Vladimir Putin's old KGB comrades, and regurgitated by U.S. individuals, websites and magazines that are anti-interventionist and anti-war. Ohio Sen. Rob Portman says the "propaganda and disinformation threat" against America is real, and we must "counter and combat it." Congress is working up a $160 million State Department program. Now, Americans should be on guard against "fake news" and foreign meddling in U.S. elections. Yet it is often our own allies, like the Brits, and our own leaders who mislead and lie us into unnecessary wars. And is not meddling in the internal affairs, including the elections, of regimes we do not like, pretty much the job description of the CIA and the National Endowment for Democracy? History suggests it is our own War Party that bears watching. Consider Operation Iraqi Freedom. Who misled, deceived, and lied about Saddam's weapons of mass destruction, the "fake news" that sucked us into one of our country's [...]



Fidel Castro: 60 Years of Fake News

2016-12-02T00:00:00Z

A panic is sweeping the land -- or at least something like it has unnerved CNN, Vox and other precincts of progressive sensibility. They are alarmed that millions of Americans are being misled by "fake news." As someone whose inbox has lately bulged with items about Hillary Clinton's impending demise due to a concealed, terminal illness; who has shaken her head at "breaking news" that Turkish coup plotters had gotten their hands on NATO nuclear weapons at Incirlik air base; and who has sighed at the endless iterations of stories like "47 Clinton friends who...A panic is sweeping the land -- or at least something like it has unnerved CNN, Vox and other precincts of progressive sensibility. They are alarmed that millions of Americans are being misled by "fake news." As someone whose inbox has lately bulged with items about Hillary Clinton's impending demise due to a concealed, terminal illness; who has shaken her head at "breaking news" that Turkish coup plotters had gotten their hands on NATO nuclear weapons at Incirlik air base; and who has sighed at the endless iterations of stories like "47 Clinton friends who mysteriously turned up dead," I don't deny that misinformation, disinformation, rumors and malicious gossip appear to have achieved new salience in the national conversation. I shun right-leaning publications and sites that traffic in this sort of drivel. You know there's a "but" coming, and here it is: The death of Fidel Castro reminds us that the respectable press, the "two-sources" press, the press that enforces standards and performs reality checks and practices "shoe leather" journalism and all that, has been peddling "fake news" about Cuba and Castro for 60 years. The mainstream press has been soft on Fidel Castro since he first grabbed a pistol and started granting interviews to credulous reporters in the Sierra Maestra. The joke that made the rounds in 1980s was that Castro could have been featured in one of those ads boasting "I got my job through The New York Times!" Starting in 1957, Times reporter Herbert Matthews visited with the rebel leader and published accounts of his selfless commitment to "his" people. "Power does not interest me," Castro told Matthews. "After victory I want to go back to my village and just be a lawyer again." The evidence of Castro's monstrousness was available more or less immediately after his victory. Fulgencio Batista's supporters were shot en masse -- some in a carnival atmosphere in front of stadiums of people making the "thumbs down" gesture. Former revolutionary allies were next to mount the scaffold for the modern equivalent of the guillotine. Independent newspapers were closed. Unions were forbidden to strike. Religious colleges were closed, and priests were forced into exile (they had plenty of company). Those who resisted the regime were arrested, denied medical care and sometimes tortured. Their families were harassed. Castro promised free elections within 18 months. That was 708 months ago. Cubans are still waiting. The New York Times and other liberal outlets entered a profound senescence where Cuba was concerned. Stories about neighborhood spies, beatings and jailings of the Ladies in White, shortages of all basic commodities (yes, even sugar and cigars), forced labor and the rest of the miseries that a despotic government can inflict were hard to find. You discovered them mostly in right-leaning journals, or in human-rights watchdog publications, or in memoirs such as Armando Valladares' wrenching account of 22 years in Castro's prisons, "Against All Hope" (one of the most harrowing prison memoirs of the 20th century). A sin of omission, you may say. Yes, but there was the other piece -- the diligent myth-tending. As Jay Nordlinger, National Review's indefatigable voice for the oppressed, has pointed out again and again, the myth of Cuba's wonderful, free, universal health care system (SET ITAL) [...]



Is Trump Ready for North Korea?

2016-12-02T00:00:00Z

WASHINGTON -- When Donald Trump first strides into the Oval Office as president, his perfect day is likely to be ruined by a file marked "North Korea." Trump's (first? only?) term in office may include either a messy confrontation with an unpredictable, highly combustible regime, or a rogue nation gaining the power to destroy large portions of Los Angeles with nuclear weapons. Or both.  Consider the viewpoint of North Korea's supreme leader Kim Jong-un -- which is not easy since the exercise, properly done, should include platform shoes, Dennis Rodman and a...WASHINGTON -- When Donald Trump first strides into the Oval Office as president, his perfect day is likely to be ruined by a file marked "North Korea." Trump's (first? only?) term in office may include either a messy confrontation with an unpredictable, highly combustible regime, or a rogue nation gaining the power to destroy large portions of Los Angeles with nuclear weapons. Or both.  Consider the viewpoint of North Korea's supreme leader Kim Jong-un -- which is not easy since the exercise, properly done, should include platform shoes, Dennis Rodman and a "pleasure squad" of teen virgins. Kim looks at South Korea and sees political chaos, as its president is overwhelmed by a corruption scandal. He looks at America and sees massive uncertainty, created by an untested leader who has promised to reconsider security arrangements with South Korea and Japan and may begin an attention-diverting trade war with China. America's new president will look at North Korea and see a sworn enemy from a bloody war that has never officially ended, sprinting toward the capability to mount nuclear weapons on long-range missiles. The regime is not in need of new technologies or facilities; it is adapting capabilities that it already possesses. Between 2009 and 2016, North Korea conducted 64 missile tests and nuclear detonations. By some estimates, it may have the ability to strike the West Coast in four years. Or less. President Trump will also see a regime of vast, bottomless cruelty, running gulags that contain more than 100,000 people subjected to violent punishment, rape, hard labor, malnutrition and execution. These ongoing crimes against humanity can be watched via satellite (the crematorium in Camp 25 recently got an upgrade).   The picture is bleak, but not completely bleak. South Korean President Park Geun-hye, in the midst of her crisis, has taken the unpopular but necessary step of strengthening military ties with Japan, including the pooling of intelligence. A landmark 2014 United Nations Commission of Inquiry report on North Korean human rights abuses has subjected the regime to increased scrutiny and criticism. But the Obama administration's policy of "strategic patience" has been hard to distinguish from paralysis in the face of bad choices. If the incoming president is searching for options to jumpstart American policy, he could do worse than a new report from the Human Freedom Initiative at the Bush Center [note: I'm on the Initiative's advisory council]. "Light Through Darkness" was authored by two Korea experts, Victor Cha and Robert Gallucci, who come from different party backgrounds. The authors make a strong case that leadership in confronting the problem can't be subcontracted to China. They set out a number of smart proposals such as targeting the North Korean regime's export of slave labor (that helps fund proliferation) and increasing information flows into the closed and isolated country. But Cha and Gallucci are most creative in the way they integrate a focus on security and a focus on human rights -- normally contending policy camps -- into a single approach. They argue that the threat of North Korea emerges from the nature of the regime itself and that human rights criticism can be a source of leverage. What matters more than incremental policy cho[...]



A Government of, by and for Corporate America

2016-12-02T00:00:00Z

WASHINGTON -- President-elect Donald Trump promised to punish U.S. companies that ship manufacturing jobs out of the country. Instead, judging from the way he has handled Carrier, he plans to reward them. Quite handsomely, in fact. As should be standard practice with Trump, pay attention to the substance, not the theater. United Technologies, the parent company of air-conditioner maker Carrier, has been threatening to move more than 2,000 jobs from Indiana to Mexico. Trump addressed this specifically during his campaign, vowing to hit the company with a punitive tariff. "If they're...WASHINGTON -- President-elect Donald Trump promised to punish U.S. companies that ship manufacturing jobs out of the country. Instead, judging from the way he has handled Carrier, he plans to reward them. Quite handsomely, in fact. As should be standard practice with Trump, pay attention to the substance, not the theater. United Technologies, the parent company of air-conditioner maker Carrier, has been threatening to move more than 2,000 jobs from Indiana to Mexico. Trump addressed this specifically during his campaign, vowing to hit the company with a punitive tariff. "If they're going to fire all their people, move their plant to Mexico, build air conditioners, and think they're going to sell those air conditioners to the United States -- there's going to be a tax," Trump said on "Meet the Press" in the summer. "It could be 25 percent, it could be 35 percent, it could be 15 percent, I haven't determined." As it turns out, how about zero percent? In fact, how about giving United Technologies state tax breaks worth about $7 million over the next decade, in exchange for moving only 1,300 jobs to Mexico? That's basically the deal offered by Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence, who happens to be governor of Indiana (and thus in a position to offer the tax relief). For the roughly 850 workers who thought they were losing their jobs to Mexico but now will keep them, this is great news. I am happy for them and their families, and I understand why they would feel grateful to Trump. But I don't understand why anyone else would consider this a good deal -- except, of course, the leadership team at United Technologies, which must have sore knuckles from all the fist-bumping. The company still gets to lay off most of the targeted Indiana workers and replace them with much cheaper Mexican labor. It gets partial compensation from the state government. And instead of worrying about a potential tariff, United Technologies can anticipate a major reduction in the federal corporate tax rate. That's something Trump promised on the campaign trail -- and also, reportedly, in a recent phone call with United Technologies CEO Greg Hayes. Writing in a Washington Post op-ed, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont put it this way: "Just a short few months ago, Trump was pledging to force United Technologies to 'pay a damn tax.' ... Instead of a damn tax, the company will be rewarded with a damn tax cut. Wow! How's that for standing up to corporate greed? How's that for punishing corporations that shut down in the United States and move abroad?" So imagine you're a CEO who wants to send, say, 5,000 manufacturing jobs overseas. Having learned from the Carrier example, you might begin by announcing that unfortunately you are forced to eliminate 10,000 jobs because of the crushing tax burden. Even if you really want to move the jobs to Vietnam or Kenya, just say you're looking at possible sites for a new plant in Mexico. That's sure to get Trump's attention. When Trump calls offering tax breaks or enterprise zone incentives or free rounds of golf in Scotland, whatever goodies he tosses in, hold out for a while -- then reluctantly, in the spirit of patriotism and Making America Great Again, announce you've agreed to cancel half of the 10,000 job cuts. You'd s[...]



Donald Trump and the Outstate Midwest Redraw the Partisan Lines

2016-12-02T00:00:00Z

Would any Republican besides Donald Trump have beaten Hillary Clinton and been elected the 45th president? It's an interesting question, not susceptible to a definitive answer but with consequences for politics going forward. Last fall, I shared the widespread view that Clinton was the only Democrat who could lose to Trump and Trump was the only Republican who could lose to Clinton. Given the fact that elections are a zero-sum game because one candidate must win, this view was more an expression of distaste rather than a prophecy. But it was based also on polling conducted during the...Would any Republican besides Donald Trump have beaten Hillary Clinton and been elected the 45th president? It's an interesting question, not susceptible to a definitive answer but with consequences for politics going forward. Last fall, I shared the widespread view that Clinton was the only Democrat who could lose to Trump and Trump was the only Republican who could lose to Clinton. Given the fact that elections are a zero-sum game because one candidate must win, this view was more an expression of distaste rather than a prophecy. But it was based also on polling conducted during the spring, before Trump eliminated his remaining Republican opponents in the Indiana primary May 3. National polls and some state polls showed Marco Rubio running stronger against Clinton than Trump, with John Kasich running even stronger and Ted Cruz a bit better. This seemed to make sense then. Trump had much higher negatives, especially among white college graduates, who had voted 56-42 percent for Mitt Romney in 2012. Without similar support, how could he hope to win? We have an answer to that question now. Springtime polls seemed to assume the electorate would look much like the one in 2012. The signs that Trump would run much better than Romney among non-college-educated whites weren't very clear, particularly when his controversial comments caused his overall numbers to sag. Going well into the fall, few polls showed the surge of votes that decided the election in what I have called the outstate Midwest -- the counties outside metropolitan areas with a million-plus people in Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio and (sort-of-Midwestern) Pennsylvania, states with 64 electoral votes that went to Barack Obama in 2012 and Trump in 2016. Those outstate areas trended the same way as Iowa, none of whose 99 counties is in a metro area with a million-plus people and whose six electoral votes went for Obama and for Trump. There, polls showed Trump opening up a significant lead over Clinton in mid-September. In Iowa and the outstates, Trump won percentages higher than George W. Bush did in 2004, while Clinton ran far behind Obama's 2012 showing -- 12 points behind in outstate Ohio, 11 points behind in Iowa and outstate Michigan, 9 points behind in outstate Wisconsin and 8 points behind in outstate Pennsylvania. These are all places with many non-college-educated whites and few blacks, Hispanics and Asians. Trump's stands on trade and immigration -- distinctly different from those of other Republicans -- were surely partly responsible for his outstate margins, and it seems unlikely another Republican nominee could have matched them. Two other factors were in play, factors that led to sharp Democratic gains in these same areas in the 1970s. One was honesty. The outstate Midwest recoiled against Richard Nixon's Republicans in the Watergate years, and this year, these voters had a similar reaction to Clinton's email lawbreaking and lies. That helped Trump, though it probably would have helped any other Republican nominee. The other factor was dovishness. The Upper Midwest has long been the most isolationist part of the country. In the 1970s, voters there reacted against Republicans' support of the Vietnam War. This year, they seem to have mo[...]



You Opposed Donald Trump, So Why Aren't You Freaking Out?

2016-12-02T00:00:00Z

Well, for starters, allowing liberals to determine my level of anxiety -- which would be full-blown, round-the-clock histrionics -- over what's nothing more than another election would be foolish. Until it's not. The era of Trump hasn't even started yet, and the entire establishment keeps using the term "era of Trump" as if things have actually changed. They haven't. If you're genuinely interesting in being an effective critic of the next president, acting like Adolf Hitler is pounding at your doorstep every time Trump tweets something might not be the most...Well, for starters, allowing liberals to determine my level of anxiety -- which would be full-blown, round-the-clock histrionics -- over what's nothing more than another election would be foolish. Until it's not. The era of Trump hasn't even started yet, and the entire establishment keeps using the term "era of Trump" as if things have actually changed. They haven't. If you're genuinely interesting in being an effective critic of the next president, acting like Adolf Hitler is pounding at your doorstep every time Trump tweets something might not be the most effective plan in the long run. Not to mention, the left has been such an astonishing hypocrite on so many issues related to Trump that it's a bit difficult to move forward without pointing it out. Joining activists who've spent years attacking the First, Second, Fourth, Fifth and Tenth Amendments -- and now the Electoral College -- in a newfound veneration Emoluments Clause is a bit much. Of course, Trump should be held accountable for his potential conflicts of interest, and one hopes conservatives who value good government will stand up when tangible evidence emerges that they exist. But the critics on the left aren't serious about the Constitution. They're serious about the Democratic Party. Who can take journalists seriously -- who've never once uttered a word of concern over the Democratic Party's crusade to empower government to ban political speech by overturning Citizens United -- when they lose it over a tweet about flag-burning? If it were up to them over the past eight years, Trump would now be imbued with far more power to achieve the things they fear -- unilaterally. There was more angst over the president-elect ditching a reporting pool to have a steak than there was over any of President Obama's numerous executive abuses. So when you hear people say democracy needs journalism "now more than ever," remember that they're admitting they weren't doing their job yesterday. We also needed journalism more than ever back then. Those who kept telling us that Hillary Clinton's corrupt foundation and blatant favor-trading with the world's most illiberal regimes were merely a conspiracy theory now act as if the republic will crumble if Trump's hotel hosts the same Bahraini princes that were buying access in the Obama administration. The same people who told us Clinton's emails were bull---- and a silly distraction are now horrified that former Gen. David Petraeus -- who, like Clinton, shouldn't be in any Cabinet, but who, unlike Clinton, actually paid a price for his mishandling of classified information -- is under consideration for a position in the new administration. Moreover, Trump hasn't really done anything out of the ordinary -- not yet. What's really upset Democrats, it seems to me, is that traditional conservative policy proposals -- the sorts of thing Republicans have campaigned on for years, and the policies that have helped them win over 1,000 local seats and governorships and two wave elections -- will probably be moving forward. The overwrought rhetoric used to describe the overturning of Obamacare or the reforming of entitlements -- "gutting," "privatizing" etc. -- would be precisely the same if we had President-elect John K[...]



The Bigotry of Liberal America

2016-12-02T00:00:00Z

Hillary Clinton did win the popular vote on Election Day. But that is not how presidential elections work in the United States. The founders were worried about direct democracy and the ability of candidates to ignore small states if direct democracy was used. The Electoral College serves a very important purpose. It prohibits candidates from just focusing on major metropolitan areas along the nation's coasts. Candidates must shape policies that appeal to a broad range of people, not just coastal liberals or southern conservatives. Just how badly did Hillary Clinton fail in that regard?...Hillary Clinton did win the popular vote on Election Day. But that is not how presidential elections work in the United States. The founders were worried about direct democracy and the ability of candidates to ignore small states if direct democracy was used. The Electoral College serves a very important purpose. It prohibits candidates from just focusing on major metropolitan areas along the nation's coasts. Candidates must shape policies that appeal to a broad range of people, not just coastal liberals or southern conservatives. Just how badly did Hillary Clinton fail in that regard? In a nation of 3,142 counties, parishes, and boroughs, Hillary Clinton won less than five hundred of them. The left's interpretation of that loss is to attack Trump voters as bigots, racists and homophobes. But increasingly we are seeing true bigotry on the left. They are, on a near daily basis, affirming so many people's votes for Donald Trump. Consider first the grief displayed by so many leftwing pundits over Fidel Castro's death. The man was responsible for the deaths of thousands of people. More than one woman a day was murdered in Cuba on Castro's orders since the Cuban revolution according to the Cuba Archive, a non-profit that documents the communist abuses in Cuba. But because Castro claimed to deliver free healthcare, glorious education, and hated America, the regressive left from Jesse Jackson to that lightweight idiot ministering in Canada praised the monster. Only a leftist would believe Cuba's propaganda about 99 percent literacy rates and glorious healthcare. In fact, Cuba's large black population is kept in the shadows and out of schools and government. Dissidents are tortured and murdered. But morons like Colin Kaepernick, a spoiled child of American privilege who has never lived under a totalitarian communist regime, willfully turn a blind eye to the human rights abuses in Cuba when, were he Cuban, might have his eyes ripped out for taking a knee during the Cuban national anthem. The political left is in a constant state of hysteria that Donald Trump will take away freedoms in this country. It is impossible to take people seriously who believe that while praising Castro, but hating America and loving those who hate America is a uniquely religious tenet of the left. Then consider the online website BuzzFeed. Kate Aurthur of the clickbait site wrote an article attacking Chip and Joanna Gaines. The couple has a highly popular television show called "Fixer Upper" on HGTV. But Kate Aurthur and Buzzfeed felt compelled to try to destroy the Gaines' careers because they are Bible believing Christians. The headline of Aurthur's piece tells you everything you need to know. "Chip and Joanna Gaines' Church Is Firmly Against Same-Sex Marriage," read the headline. The premise of the article is that the Gaines' pastor is in a video in which he treats homosexuality as a sin. It is something every Bible believing Christian in the entire world believes. But BuzzFeed demanded to know if Chip and Joanna Gaines agree with their pastor. BuzzFeed's Editor, Ben Smith, defended the article, claiming it really is not about the Gaines family, but about whether HGTV wil[...]



Exclusive: What If the Convicted "Serial Rapist Cop" Is Innocent?

2016-12-01T00:00:00Z

"To hell with Daniel Holtzclaw, and his tears." -- MTV News correspondent Jamil Smith "Drown in your tears, asshole." -- NYC playwright/actress Mara Wilson "Where is the widespread outrage? Where is the media coverage? Why don't we matter???!!?" -- actress Gabrielle Union Former Oklahoma City police officer Daniel Holtzclaw's emotional breakdown went viral one year ago this week in the worst way possible. He became a national punching bag when a jury convicted him on 18 of 36 counts of sexual assault-related crimes against eight black women. His..."To hell with Daniel Holtzclaw, and his tears." -- MTV News correspondent Jamil Smith "Drown in your tears, asshole." -- NYC playwright/actress Mara Wilson "Where is the widespread outrage? Where is the media coverage? Why don't we matter???!!?" -- actress Gabrielle Union Former Oklahoma City police officer Daniel Holtzclaw's emotional breakdown went viral one year ago this week in the worst way possible. He became a national punching bag when a jury convicted him on 18 of 36 counts of sexual assault-related crimes against eight black women. His sentence: 263 years. But what if he didn't do it -- any of it? To the casual observer, Holtzclaw's tears looked like the tears of a man sorry he got caught. But I am no longer a casual observer. For the past several months, I've reviewed extensive court records, accuser testimony, and discovery documents, video and audio. I visited the alleged crime scenes. I interviewed the two lead detectives who constructed the case against him, along with local community activists, a top DNA expert, Holtzclaw's family and friends, and Holtzclaw himself. The truth about the Holtzclaw case is that a monstrous miscarriage of justice has occurred in the courts of law and public opinion. Just raising the possibility of his innocence has caused an angry backlash. Last week, social justice activists forced a billboard company in Oklahoma City to yank an advertisement for my new investigative web-based TV series on the case for CRTV.com that simply asked: "What if he didn't do it?" Here's what the protesters don't what you to know. Prosecutors failed to present a single, corroborating witness or a single piece of direct forensic evidence proving Holtzclaw committed any of the 36 alleged assaults allegedly perpetrated at 17 different crime scenes. Holtzclaw never once asked for a lawyer during a two-hour interrogation by sex-crimes detectives -- which came just 12 hours after he allegedly forced a 57-year-old woman to perform oral sex on him during his last overnight shift on June 18, 2014. In fact, Holtzclaw was completely forthcoming and consistent in his description of the 15-minute traffic stop involving northeast OKC resident and star accuser Jannie Ligons. He readily agreed to take a lie detector test "anytime," voluntarily submitted to a buccal swab, handed over his uniform for DNA analysis, and signed a waiver allowing detectives to search his home, computers and phone. "I want everything" done, Holtzclaw told detectives -- even when they falsely claimed to have incriminating video that "doesn't look really good" and purportedly showed "a whole lot of action being performed." One surveillance video from a nearby commercial building did record Holtzclaw and Ligons's cars on the side of the road. But the video is too grainy and distant to confirm anything other than the fact that a traffic stop took place. The video showed several cars pass by during the 15-minute encounter. These are hardly the place and manner in which a serial predator would try to conceal his conduct from prying eyes. A sexual assault nurse examiner test on Ligons, who claimed Holtzclaw forced her to put his penis in his mouth "for about 10 seconds," came up e[...]



Trump Hails Carrier's Holiday Gift to Workers

2016-12-01T00:00:00Z

Donald Trump has a phone, a bully pulpit and a gift for fanciful storytelling that collided Thursday to create “the Indianapolis Christmas Carol.” Against a background of chilled air blowing through Carrier Co. and United Technologies Corp., the December narrative unfolded like this: An angel who long ago promised to save Carrier’s jobs from exiting to Mexico was watching the evening news last month and was reminded by a sound bite from a Carrier employee in Indianapolis that said angel had made that promise. The angel, just elected president of the United...Donald Trump has a phone, a bully pulpit and a gift for fanciful storytelling that collided Thursday to create “the Indianapolis Christmas Carol.” Against a background of chilled air blowing through Carrier Co. and United Technologies Corp., the December narrative unfolded like this: An angel who long ago promised to save Carrier’s jobs from exiting to Mexico was watching the evening news last month and was reminded by a sound bite from a Carrier employee in Indianapolis that said angel had made that promise. The angel, just elected president of the United States, was a tad sheepish because, though he had indeed vowed that Carrier wouldn’t leave Indiana, “it was a euphemism,” he explained Thursday, not really meant to be a literal pledge. Feeling pressured by the “handsome guy,” who on TV showed such deep Hoosier faith in Trump’s powers, the angel got busy with his phone and went to “the top.” He told executive Scrooges responsible for the 1,400 workers in question that their jobs were “really important” and “we have to do something.” Gradually persuaded, thanks to the angel’s promises --  and lucrative state and federal inducements, plus veiled references about unwelcome “consequences” -- Carrier and its conglomerate parent, United Technologies, decided to stay put at the Indianapolis plant while investing $16 million in making top-of-the-line furnaces there “over the next few years.” The angel hailed the corporate chiefs for their “flexibility.” The Hoosier Tiny Tims – 1,100 plant workers who may be employed as a result of the deal – “are going to have a great Christmas,” said the smiling angel with the ghostly hair. “We’re going to have a lot of phone calls made to companies when they say they’re thinking about leaving this country, because they’re not leaving this country,” the incoming president declared as he concluded his tale. “Leaving the country is going to be very, very difficult.” The event at Carrier’s HVAC plant was a public relations coup for the businessman-turned-politician who understood the power of symbolism and happy endings. Trump, for example, exulted Thursday over his own campaign victories in Indiana during primary and general election contests, while prodding everyone in the audience to feel like winners. United Technologies’ chairman, Greg Hayes, during brief remarks before Trump spoke, said the Indianapolis Carrier plant will focus on becoming a “center of excellence” for furnace manufacturing. He commended the president-elect and noted how enthused his $56 billion firm and its subsidiaries are about the benefits of anticipated corporate tax reform, and “a more thoughtful approach to regulation.” Left out of the storytelling: 1,300 company jobs will still move out of Indiana to Mexico, including about 600 Carrier positions and 700 United Technologies jobs located in Huntington, Ind., according to Fortune. Saved were about 800 ma[...]



Trump's Search for America's Next Top Diplomat

2016-12-01T00:00:00Z

Dining with a former enemy. Public, orchestrated infighting. The testing of loyalties. The potential for traps.  Donald Trump’s search for his secretary of state offers the drama, intrigue, and rigmarole of a reality television program. Call it “America’s Next Top Diplomat.” It’s a show the rest of the world is watching closely, as the winner will have the extraordinary task of representing a president who suggests he'll deviate from conventional American foreign policy and shuffle global alliances. The...Dining with a former enemy. Public, orchestrated infighting. The testing of loyalties. The potential for traps.  Donald Trump’s search for his secretary of state offers the drama, intrigue, and rigmarole of a reality television program. Call it “America’s Next Top Diplomat.” It’s a show the rest of the world is watching closely, as the winner will have the extraordinary task of representing a president who suggests he'll deviate from conventional American foreign policy and shuffle global alliances. The theatrics emphasize the challenge facing the next chief foreign affairs officer in what figures to be an unconventional and, at times, chaotic administration. This week, Trump auditioned Mitt Romney over dinner after the president-elect's own top advisers and allies excoriated the 2012 GOP nominee on air. Trump stirred additional controversy by taking to Twitter to vent about flag burning, all while questions loom over potential conflicts of interest regarding his business empire and the presidency.  Nobody should be allowed to burn the American flag - if they do, there must be consequences - perhaps loss of citizenship or year in jail! — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 29, 2016 While the secretary of state post is often viewed as the most coveted Cabinet position, Trump’s pick must accept the incoming president's worldview while also hoping, perhaps desperately, to wield some influence over it. Secretaries’ legacies are often defined by the presidents they serve. “How a secretary can bridge that gap between foreign service that is cautious and deliberate and incremental -- and a president who is disruptive and often unpredictable -- is going to be quite a challenge,” said Jon Alterman, senior vice president of the Center for Strategic and International Studies. The president-elect has narrowed his selection to four candidates, his transition team has said. Romney and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, a Trump devotee, are confirmed to be in the running. Other prospects may include retired four-star Gen. David Petraeus, Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker, and retired Marine Corps Gen. John Kelly. All have visited Trump Tower this week.  In a secretary of state, Trump is looking for “someone who both shares his worldview, someone who he has a good chemistry with, and someone who he thinks can do a very good job representing the country on the world stage,” said Stephen Miller, spokesman for the presidential transition team. Trump and Romney are “in the process of getting to know each other,” he added. Adding to the suspense, Trump does not intend to announce his selection before the weekend. Romney has been the most public figure in this process, but it is unclear whether Trump genuinely favors him for the post or simply relishes the opportunity to watch the man who once called him a phony kneel at his feet. The president-elect believes Romney look[...]



Trump Wins Michigan's 16 Electoral Votes, State Board Says

2016-11-28T00:00:00Z

LANSING, Mich. (AP) -- President-elect Donald Trump has won Michigan's 16 electoral votes. The Board of State Canvassers certified Trump's 10,704-vote victory on Monday, nearly three weeks after the election. The two-tenths of a percentage point margin out of nearly 4.8 million votes is the closest presidential race in Michigan in more than 75 years. Trump's win in Michigan gives the Republican 306 electoral votes to Democrat Hillary Clinton's 232. Trump is the first Republican presidential nominee to win Michigan since 1988. Green Party candidate Jill Stein is expected to...

LANSING, Mich. (AP) -- President-elect Donald Trump has won Michigan's 16 electoral votes.

The Board of State Canvassers certified Trump's 10,704-vote victory on Monday, nearly three weeks after the election. The two-tenths of a percentage point margin out of nearly 4.8 million votes is the closest presidential race in Michigan in more than 75 years.

Trump's win in Michigan gives the Republican 306 electoral votes to Democrat Hillary Clinton's 232.

Trump is the first Republican presidential nominee to win Michigan since 1988.

Green Party candidate Jill Stein is expected to ask for a recount. She has until Wednesday. Trump would have seven days to file objections to her request.

© 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.






Pardon Rosie; Constitutional Questions; Bad Science; Restoring Tolerance

2016-11-28T00:00:00Z

Good morning. It’s Monday, November 28, 2016. I hope you all had a good Thanksgiving weekend. Now it’s back to politics. Today is the birthday of the man who gave the most inspiring political speech of the 2010 election cycle. The pride of New Jersey’s Lawrence High School and the College of William and Mary wasn’t even a candidate for elective office, yet he spoke for millions of Americans who would like more maturity from their politicians (and cable commentators) that they typically get. All Jon Stewart did was call for a little civility and common...Good morning. It’s Monday, November 28, 2016. I hope you all had a good Thanksgiving weekend. Now it’s back to politics. Today is the birthday of the man who gave the most inspiring political speech of the 2010 election cycle. The pride of New Jersey’s Lawrence High School and the College of William and Mary wasn’t even a candidate for elective office, yet he spoke for millions of Americans who would like more maturity from their politicians (and cable commentators) that they typically get. All Jon Stewart did was call for a little civility and common sense in our political discourse. But he did so in a simple, yet brilliant, way. The lessons he tried to impart are even more relevant now than they were six years ago, as I’ll explain further in a moment. First, I’d point you to our front page, which aggregates columns and stories spanning the political spectrum. We also offer a nice complement of original material from our own reporters and contributors this morning, including the following: * * * Pardon Rosie O’Donnell! In a column, I offer the president-elect some advice about burying the hatchet and providing second chances. A Poor Guide for Trump’s High Court Choices. Peter Berkowitz weighs in on the views of a purported nonpartisan legal scholar. JASTA Misses the True State Sponsor of Terrorism. In RealClearDefense, Peter Huessy considers reasons to amend or repeal the law that eliminated sovereign immunity to lawsuits by American citizens. An Outsider’s Peek Inside the Pentagon War Machine. RCD editor David Craig reviews Rosa Brooks’ “How Everything Became War and the Military Became Everything.” The Worst Websites for Science in 2016. Ross Pomeroy compiled this list. * * * Jonathan Stuart Leibowitz entered the world on this day in 1962. No word on whether he cracked up New York delivery room nurses and doctors with spoofs of the news, but by January 1999, when he replaced Craig Kilborn as host of “The Daily Show,” he was going by Jon Stewart. That program helped launch the comedy-laced careers of Steve Carell and Stephen Colbert, and has won multiple Emmy Awards, but Stewart turned his gift for satire into something, well, more serious. In 2004, he and his staff released a best-selling mock-history textbook titled "America (The Book): A Citizen's Guide to Democracy Inaction." In 2010, in a “restore sanity” rally on the National Mall, Stewart ended the zany entertainment with a serious and surprisingly eloquent call for both tolerance and unity. “Look on the screen ... [which was showing traffic merging into the Holland Tunnel]. This is who we are,” he said. “These cars -- that’s a schoolteacher who probably thinks his taxes are too high. He’s going to work,” Stewart added. “There’s another car -- a woman with two small kids who can't really think about anything else right now. The lady’s in the NRA and she loves Oprah. There's another c[...]



Castro and the Kennedy Assassination

2016-11-28T00:00:00Z

It is now largely forgotten, or airbrushed from history, but Castro played a large role in the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy. In the discussions surrounding Castro’s death, it is worth recalling this far-reaching episode in U.S. history. On the morning after the assassination, The New York Times ran a banner headline across the front page: “KENNEDY IS KILLED BY SNIPER AS HE RIDES IN CAR IN DALLAS; JOHNSON SWORN IN ON PLANE.” In the middle column the editors ran a signed article by a reporter on the scene about Lee Harvey Oswald, the suspect...It is now largely forgotten, or airbrushed from history, but Castro played a large role in the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy. In the discussions surrounding Castro’s death, it is worth recalling this far-reaching episode in U.S. history. On the morning after the assassination, The New York Times ran a banner headline across the front page: “KENNEDY IS KILLED BY SNIPER AS HE RIDES IN CAR IN DALLAS; JOHNSON SWORN IN ON PLANE.” In the middle column the editors ran a signed article by a reporter on the scene about Lee Harvey Oswald, the suspect arrested for the crime. The headline read “Leftist Accused,” with the subtitle “Figure in Pro-Castro Group is Charged.” Oswald, according to the article, had defected to the Soviet Union in 1959 and returned to the Dallas area in 1962. Since returning to the United States, he had been active in a pro-Castro organization in New Orleans called Fair Play for Cuba. Several fellow employees placed Oswald on the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository where police found the rifle used in the assassination, while witnesses on the street reported seeing a gunman firing from an upper-floor window in that building. Oswald fled before police could seal off the building, but he was arrested 45 minutes after the assassination in another section of the city after a policeman was gunned down on the street. Witnesses to that crime directed police to a nearby movie theater where Oswald was arrested still carrying the pistol used to kill the policeman. Within hours local police identified the rifle used in the assassination as belonging to Oswald and ballistics tests confirmed that the bullets that killed President Kennedy were fired from his weapon. The hard evidence, as related by the reporter in Dallas, pointed strongly to Oswald as the assassin with his motives linked somehow to Castro, the Soviet Union, and the Cold War. These facts as they circulated from Dallas sent shock waves across the world, suggesting that Castro or perhaps Soviet leaders were behind the assassination of an American president. Indeed, a spokesman for the District Attorney’s office in Dallas soon asserted that President Kennedy had been assassinated as part of a communist conspiracy. It did not require much political sophistication to understand the explosive implications of this news. It was to be expected then that prominent public officials and journalists would look for ways to deflect attention away from Oswald’s possible ideological motives and toward other possible causes of the crime. In the same issue of the New York Times, adjacent to the report from Dallas, readers found an unusual opinion article penned by James Reston, the Washington bureau chief of the Times and at that time the dean of national political journalists. The article was titled, “Why America Weeps: Kennedy Victim of Violent Streak He Sought to Curb in Nation.” Reston wrote: America wept tonight, not alone for its dead young Pres[...]



A Poor Guide for Trump's High Court Choices

2016-11-28T00:00:00Z

To the chagrin of the vast majority of professors of constitutional law, President-elect Donald Trump has promised to appoint judges to the Supreme Court and throughout the federal judiciary who believe that the Constitution’s original meaning provides authoritative guidance in resolving cases and controversies. Trump said that his kind of judges would uphold the Second Amendment right of individuals to own firearms, and would overturn Roe v. Wade. That, he emphasized on CBS’s “60 Minutes,” would return the question of abortion to the...To the chagrin of the vast majority of professors of constitutional law, President-elect Donald Trump has promised to appoint judges to the Supreme Court and throughout the federal judiciary who believe that the Constitution’s original meaning provides authoritative guidance in resolving cases and controversies. Trump said that his kind of judges would uphold the Second Amendment right of individuals to own firearms, and would overturn Roe v. Wade. That, he emphasized on CBS’s “60 Minutes,” would return the question of abortion to the states—which, given public opinion data, would likely leave abortion legal in most of the country. Hillary Clinton hoped as president to pursue a markedly different course. In the third presidential debate, she had little to say about the Constitution. But she did signal agreement with President Obama that “empathy” is the leading judicial virtue, stating her plan to “appoint Supreme Court justices who understand the way the world really works, who have real-life experience.” Like Obama, Clinton assumes that the exercise of empathy from the bench yields progressive results. Her justices, she declared, would reverse Citizens United so that the government could lawfully regulate independent political spending by for-profit corporations, while also protecting voting rights, abortion, and same-sex marriage. To the delight of the vast majority of the nation’s law professors, Clinton indicated that she believes in a “living” Constitution—one that evolves to accommodate progressive policy preferences. Non-experts who are capable of stepping back from the partisan crossfire may wonder whether the divide over how to interpret the Constitution is quite as clear cut as politicians and law professors depict it. Can’t one respect the Constitution while applying its principles based on an accurate grasp of history and contemporary circumstances? If only we had authoritative voices that could rise above the fray; situate the Supreme Court within the complex governing structure created by the Constitution; elaborate principles of constitutional interpretation that distinguish the practice of judging from lawmaking and executive action; and keep abreast of society, politics, and the operation of law in the everyday world in order to address constitutional questions impartially. Akhil Reed Amar aspires to provide such a voice. A professor of law and political science at Yale, Amar is among the outstanding scholars of the Constitution of his generation. He is the co-author of a leading constitutional law casebook and has written several important volumes for the public on the American constitutional tradition. Amar is also a preeminent constitutional journalist. “The Constitution Today: Timeless Lessons for the Issues of Our Era” gathers his op-eds, columns, and essays spanning more than two decades and supplements them with engaging chapter introductions that pro[...]



Trump Aides Say Cuban Government Will Have to Change

2016-11-28T00:00:00Z

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Cuban government must move toward enacting greater freedoms for its people and giving Americans something in return if it wants to keep warmer U.S. relations initiated by President Barack Obama, top aides to President-elect Donald Trump said Sunday. The comments by Trump advisers Kellyanne Conway and Reince Priebus followed the death of former Cuban leader Fidel Castro. Castro's younger brother, 85-year-old Raul Castro, took control in 2006, and later negotiated with Obama to restore diplomatic relations. Priebus, Trump's incoming chief of staff, said Trump...WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Cuban government must move toward enacting greater freedoms for its people and giving Americans something in return if it wants to keep warmer U.S. relations initiated by President Barack Obama, top aides to President-elect Donald Trump said Sunday. The comments by Trump advisers Kellyanne Conway and Reince Priebus followed the death of former Cuban leader Fidel Castro. Castro's younger brother, 85-year-old Raul Castro, took control in 2006, and later negotiated with Obama to restore diplomatic relations. Priebus, Trump's incoming chief of staff, said Trump would "absolutely" reverse Obama's opening to Cuba unless there is "some movement" from the Cuban government. "Repression, open markets, freedom of religion, political prisoners - these things need to change in order to have open and free relationships, and that's what President-elect Trump believes, and that's where he's going to head, " Priebus told "Fox News Sunday." Conway made similar remarks and noted that any diplomatic deal will have to benefit American workers. "To the extent that President Trump can open up new conversations with Cuba, it would have to be a very different Cuba," she told ABC's "This Week." She added: "He wants to make sure that when the United States of America, when he's president, engages in any type of diplomatic relations or trade agreements ... that we as America are being protected and we as America are getting something in return." Conway said nothing on Cuba has been decided. But she noted that the U.S. is allowing commercial aircraft to do business with a repressive Cuban government and Cuban military. And she said the "first order of business" is to rally the international community around trying to free political prisoners. While Obama opened some U.S. investment and travel to Cuba through executive order, vast restrictions tied up in the trade embargo remain at the insistence of Republican lawmakers. Separate memorial services have been scheduled for Tuesday and later in the week in Cuba for Castro, and some world leaders and celebrities were expected to attend. As of Sunday, though, the White House had not said whether anyone from the U.S. government would attend. Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, whose parents were born in Cuba, says he is heartened by Trump's past hard-line rhetoric on Cuba. Rubio told CNN's "State of the Union" that the U.S. focus must be its own security and other interests and encouraging a Cuban democracy. "We should examine our policy toward Cuba through those lenses," he said. "And if there's a policy that helps that, it remains in place. And if it's a policy that doesn't, it's removed." During the campaign, Trump said he would reverse "concessions" to the Cuban government by Obama unless the Castro government meets his demands. On Saturday, while Obama offered condolences to Castro's family and said the U.S. extends "a hand of friendship to the Cuban people," Trump tweeted: "Fidel Castro [...]



Analysis: Much Uncertainty Ahead in U.S.-Cuba Relationship

2016-11-28T00:00:00Z

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Fidel Castro's passing removes what was long the single greatest psychological barrier to a warmer U.S.-Cuba relationship. But it also adds to the uncertainty ahead with the transition from an Obama to a Trump administration. "A brutal dictator" of a "totalitarian island," declared President-elect Donald Trump, underscoring the historical trauma still separating the countries. A more restrained President Barack Obama, carefully promoting and working to preserve his own attempt to rebuild those ties, said history would assess Castro's impact and...WASHINGTON (AP) -- Fidel Castro's passing removes what was long the single greatest psychological barrier to a warmer U.S.-Cuba relationship. But it also adds to the uncertainty ahead with the transition from an Obama to a Trump administration. "A brutal dictator" of a "totalitarian island," declared President-elect Donald Trump, underscoring the historical trauma still separating the countries. A more restrained President Barack Obama, carefully promoting and working to preserve his own attempt to rebuild those ties, said history would assess Castro's impact and that the Cuban people could reflect "with powerful emotions" about how their longtime leader influenced their country. In death as in life, Castro has divided opinion: a revolutionary who stood up to American aggression or a ruthless dictator whose movement trampled human rights and democratic aspirations. President Raul Castro, Fidel's younger brother, is 85. Their Communist Party shows no signs of opening up greater political space despite agreeing with the United States to re-establish embassies and facilitate greater trade and investment. As Obama leaves office in January, his decision to engage rather than pressure Havana in the hopes of forging new bonds could quickly unravel. Trump has hardly championed the effort and Republican leaders in Congress fiercely opposed Obama's calls to end the 55-year-old U.S. trade embargo of the island. "We know that this moment fills Cubans - in Cuba and in the United States - with powerful emotions, recalling the countless ways in which Fidel Castro altered the course of individual lives, families and of the Cuban nation," Obama said. He offered neither condemnation nor praise for Castro, who outlasted invasion and assassination plots, and presided over the Cuban missile crisis, which took the world to the brink of nuclear war. "History will record and judge the enormous impact of this singular figure on the people and world around him," Obama said, adding that U.S.-Cuban relations shouldn't be defined "by our differences but by the many things that we share as neighbors and friends." Trump didn't pass off his evaluation to the historians. "Today, the world marks the passing of a brutal dictator who oppressed his own people for nearly six decades," Trump said in a statement. "Fidel Castro's legacy is one of firing squads, theft, unimaginable suffering, poverty and the denial of fundamental human rights." Trump expressed hope that Castro's death would mark a "move away from the horrors" toward a future where Cubans live in freedom. But he said nothing about Obama's project to reset ties, and even hailed the election support he received from veterans of the failed 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion that was backed by the CIA. Such a statement probably will irritate Havana, coming after a two-year period of intense diplomatic discussions with Washington that have done more to improve relations between the countries than anything in the [...]



Will Washington Shout Down 'Voice' of Trump Voters?

2016-11-28T00:00:00Z

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Donald Trump thundered to Americans, "I am your voice," as he accepted the Republican presidential nomination this summer. As president, he'll find that Washington has a way of shouting back - even to the point of drowning him out. The seat of the federal government is teeming with interest groups, corporate lobbyists and big-money super PACs. They will have some different goals than Trump and wide swaths of his voters, particularly on matters of government ethics and trade deals. There's comparatively little in place to pressure lawmakers to follow...WASHINGTON (AP) -- Donald Trump thundered to Americans, "I am your voice," as he accepted the Republican presidential nomination this summer. As president, he'll find that Washington has a way of shouting back - even to the point of drowning him out. The seat of the federal government is teeming with interest groups, corporate lobbyists and big-money super PACs. They will have some different goals than Trump and wide swaths of his voters, particularly on matters of government ethics and trade deals. There's comparatively little in place to pressure lawmakers to follow Trump's lead. "This has always been the problem for conservatives," said Brent Bozell, a longtime activist who leads a social media effort called For America. "We'll get a person elected only to get the middle finger as soon as the person is sworn into office." To fight back, Trump and his allies are already taking steps to assemble a support system. Members of his team are considering whether to convert his campaign into a nonprofit group, following a trail blazed by President Barack Obama. A nonprofit group similar to Obama's Organizing for Action would not have to disclose its donors and could spend money in unlimited ways to urge supporters to pressure members of Congress and senators to back Trump's legislative efforts. Trump allies might also put together a well-funded super PAC that could loom as a threat to Republican lawmakers who break with him. In July, Trump said he could see himself spending $10 million to $20 million to defeat Republicans who'd spoken out against his nomination, though since his election, he's been setting up conciliatory meetings with some of them. There's no rule against Trump's adult children - even Trump himself - promoting outside groups that align with him, or even showing up at their events. Although elected officials including the president are restricted in how much money they can solicit, they can freely give out of their own pocket. "There's plenty of legal room for a president to be involved in outside groups when it comes to policy matters and the election of other people to office," said Paul S. Ryan, vice president of policy and litigation at Common Cause, a liberal-leaning government watchdog. "Especially when it's their own money." Several of Trump's closest aides, including campaign manager Kellyanne Conway and deputy campaign manager David Bossie, have experience leading outside groups. Brad Parscale, a senior Trump adviser who steered the campaign's data and digital operations, hinted in a recent Fox News interview that he is interested in that kind of work. "My goal is to be a megaphone for people, for businesses, for candidates," he said. Any Trump-blessed political group could inherit or lease a list of more than 12 million supporters built up over the course of the campaign. A signed agreement means the Republican National Committee also receives the campaign's supporter lis[...]



Trump to Fill More Vacancies; Recount Distraction Looms

2016-11-28T00:00:00Z

NEW YORK (AP) -- With his return to New York, President-elect Donald Trump faces a pressing need to set more of the foundation blocks of his presidency in place by filling vacancies for secretary of state and other top posts. Distraction looms, however, much of it created by the president-elect himself, whose extraordinary claims of widespread voter fraud during a 12-hour Twitter offensive on Sunday cast a shadow over the legitimacy of an election that he actually won. "I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally," Trump tweeted in the afternoon...NEW YORK (AP) -- With his return to New York, President-elect Donald Trump faces a pressing need to set more of the foundation blocks of his presidency in place by filling vacancies for secretary of state and other top posts. Distraction looms, however, much of it created by the president-elect himself, whose extraordinary claims of widespread voter fraud during a 12-hour Twitter offensive on Sunday cast a shadow over the legitimacy of an election that he actually won. "I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally," Trump tweeted in the afternoon before alleging in an evening tweet "serious voter fraud in Virginia, New Hampshire and California." Trump's transition team did not respond to questions seeking evidence of the claims. The charges come amid a recount of presidential votes in up to three battleground states, an effort joined by Hillary Clinton despite decidedly tamped-down expectations that the election's outcome will not change. Wisconsin election officials are expected to meet Monday to discuss a possible timeline for a recount of that state's presidential votes; recounts are possible in Pennsylvania and Michigan as well. There's been no evidence of widespread tampering or hacking that would change the results; indeed, Clinton's team said it had been looking for abnormalities and found nothing that would alter the results. Trump narrowly won Wisconsin and Pennsylvania and, as of Wednesday, held a lead of almost 11,000 votes in Michigan, with the results awaiting state certification Monday. All three would need to flip to Clinton to upend the Republican's victory, and Clinton's team says Trump has a larger edge in all three states than has ever been overcome in a presidential recount. Still, Trump and his lieutenants assailed the effort led by the Green Party's Jill Stein, calling it fraudulent, the work of "crybabies" and, in Trump's view, tweeted from Florida, "sad." Clinton leads the national popular vote by close to 2 million votes, but Trump won 290 electoral votes to Clinton's 232, not counting Michigan. Trump scheduled a series of meetings in New York on Monday with prospective administration hires, after spending Thanksgiving weekend at his Palm Beach, Florida, estate. But in an unusual public airing of internal machinations, Trump senior adviser Kellyanne Conway warned Sunday that the president-elect's supporters would feel "betrayed" if he tapped former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney as secretary of state. Romney, until recently a fierce Trump critic, was "nothing but awful" to him for a year, she said. The spectacle of close aides who speak frequently with Trump in private being so explicit about their views in public raised the possibility, at least, that Conway was acting at Trump's behest by suggesting the president-elect was being generous by considering his former political rival. Romney denou[...]