Let's Fix This Country

The Syrians Are Coming! And Americans Quake With Fear

The home of the brave no more

We are fond of reciting the words inscribed at the Statue of Liberty that say, "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free", and we regularly brag that we are a nation of immigrants. But the attitudes of so many today betray us as hypocrites.

The nightmare war in Syria has taken the lives of almost a half-million people.
Assad's and Putin's forces drop barrel bombs on the populace, turning the cities to rubble easily mistaken for Berlin in 1945. Some 6 million people have been displaced. Of those, 4.8 million have fled the country according to the United Nations, creating the largest flood of refugees since the end of World War II.

Yet here in the home of the brave, our politicians — mostly Republican it needs to be said — cringe in fear of terrorism and propose as a solution to the refugee crisis that America batten the hatches and block all Syrians from entering. No less than leader of the House, Speaker Paul Ryan, has said in the face of urgency:

"When we know that ISIL is already telling us that they are trying to infiltrate the refugee population, don’t you think that common sense dictates we should take a pause and get this right?"

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell goes further. Why admit refugees? "What we need is a strategy obviously to give the refugees an opportunity to…

the election

Why Donald Trump Is Dangerous

Once president, his weapons go far beyond Twitter

The days-long assault on former Miss Universe Alicia Machado that peaked from 3:20am to 5:00am one morning underscored to what lengths Donald Trump will go for vengeance. It amplified concerns for how that character trait is
likely to burst forth when transported to the affairs of the Oval Office. Bill Maher reminded viewers of "Hillary's ad from 2008, 'Who do you want answering the White House phone at 3:00am?' How about someone who's not already enraged in a hissy fit?".

At the same time, Trump is at pains to persuade us that "my strongest asset, maybe by far, is my temperament. I have a winning temperament".

Most feared is the intemperate Mr. Trump having access to nuclear weapons, which Sen. Tim Kaine brought up in the vice presidential debate when he alluded to Ronald Reagan's dread of

“…someday some fool or some maniac or some accident triggering the kind of war that is the end of the line for all of us."

It is not an outlandish conjecture. Trump seems to view nuclear weapons as little different than other weapons; he seems not to grasp Reagan's understanding that they threaten the annihilation of civilization. To Chris Wallace on Fox News,…


Government Squeeze Shutters For-Profit Colleges Years Late

Some 35,000 students at 137 campuses had nowhere to go this semester when the Obama administration said federal loans could not be used to pay for classes
at the big ITT chain of for-profit colleges. But the students will someday look back to realize that they've been spared paying back a loan spent on a worthless education.

ITT is dependent on those student loans or other government programs for 80% of its funding. Loss of that revenue source forced the company immediately to close its doors nationwide (with a single exception in Massachusetts). ITT denounced the Education Department’s decision, resorting to calling it “unconstitutional” — a misfire because no law requires the government to qualify all schools no matter their performance record. The government relies on accrediting agencies that appraise that performance and ITT’s independent accreditor had concluded in April that the colleges would be unlikely to meet standards.

That was only one reason for the administration's chokehold. ITT's deceptive…

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Should Snowden Be Pardoned?

With Obama's clock ticking, the debate heats up

Hero or traitor? Should Edward Snowden be honored for exposing a government that for a decade had been secretly collecting privileged data from all Americans, or should he be imprisoned for revealing to the world the spying our
government conducts around the globe in the cause of national security?

With three months left in President Obama's term, the Internet abounds in e-mail that asks you to join petitions to Obama to add Snowden to the list of persons a departing president traditionally exonerates as a final act of office. The ACLU, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have banded together to run at least one full-page ad in The New York Times asking for contributions at pardonsnowden.org. There's even a movie: It's no coincidence that Oliver Stone chose this moment to release "Snowden" (in theaters, but he'd have had a bigger audience on television). As if to undercut it, the House intelligence committee released a summary of its report on the Snowden affair the day before the movie's release.

shifting views

Snowden wants to come home. And the administration would apparently like to put an end to the problem. The counsel to national intelligence chief James… Read More »

Only Trump could destroy Republican Conservatism

By guest columnist Al Rodbell

Over the last few weeks, while sitting for dozens of hours of interviews on television and newspapers, only one by The Washington Post provided the full audio recording of an hour long conversation that almost magically put the candidate at ease to be more candid than he has ever been. With his defenses down, listening to it confirms the limits of his knowledge of statecraft, but also something he does not allow to be seen, which is his freedom from the constraints of either of the two parties' ideology.

The mixture of inexperienced showman and potential president is truly disconcerting, and he acknowledges that absent his realty show persona, he would not be the presumptive candidate of his party.

It was a tell-all interview, including how he would have occupied the oil fields of Iraq with a permanent U.S. military-guarded Guantanamo-like enclave never before described. We all know that the era of colonialism ended a while ago, but Trump being unsteeped of this history, is comfortable advocating its return, which given the instability of the world, just may in a modified form be something to investigate.

His statement in March that women should be punished for having an abortion is only incoherent if we don't think about the assumptions that would criminalize the doctor, but not the woman. This is a reversion to woman as dependent, not deemed to be an adult with full rights, which also implies not burdened by responsibilities.

The pro-life myth is not benign or even coherent. It is based on a concept of patriarchy, where a women who for her own reasons, perhaps economic, or a fetus who will suffer from disabilities, chooses not to give birth. Actually, far from conservative theory,… Read More »

the culture

What Kaepernick’s Protest Says About Phony Patriotism

It's encouraging that Colin Kaepernick's refusing to stand during the playing of the national anthem at a pre-season game has found many who salute his action, in opposition to the automatic outrage of those who believe singing the
anthem, pledging allegiance, stickering their vehicles with yellow ribbons and flying the flag on holidays are what constitute patriotism.

His protest, objecting against a country "that oppresses black people and people of color", was an outsized act of courage by the San Francisco 49ers quarterback for having done so before a stadium of spectators, probably leading to season-long hostility from "fans", and possibly a hefty fine and/or suspension by the NFL for… Read More »

the culture

Those Who Think the System Is Rigged Say, Just Look at CEO Pay

The anger of the less-educated white males that Donald Trump has mined like a coal seam and brought to the surface is attributed mostly to
Clockwise from top left: Cook,
Ellison,Zaslav, Schwarzman

jobs lost to immigrants or shipped overseas. But it also results from years of public disgust over income inequality made so apparent by the multi-million dollar paychecks of corporate chieftains reported in the media. Those paychecks and the lavish bonuses paid to Wall Street "fat cats" are an in-the-face reminder that the system is rigged.

They see Tim Cook in 2011, in just his first year as Apple's CEO, handed $376 million in stock and options. In 2012 Larry Ellison of… Read More »

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