Let's Fix This Country
surveillance

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 four months left in President Obama's term, the Internet suddenly 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…

the election

Trump’s Tax Plan Is for the Wealthy 1%. Why Don’t His Followers Care?

Its biggest beneficiary is Donald Trump and his clan

Donald Trump has hit upon a powerful campaign strategy no one else thought of. In his inconsistencies, his contradictory pronouncements, his saying one
If we double the debt, we can just print money, like some countries.

thing one moment and denying it the next, people can fasten on whatever strikes a chord in them and discard the rest. "That's the real Donald Trump", they seem to say when they hear something that resonates in their life. "He doesn't really mean the other thing he said".

How else to explain their voting for a candidate who last fall said, "Our wages are too high", that they need to be lowered to compete with other countries, and then denied that he said it. And doesn't he intend to use tariffs to eliminate competition anyway?

And why else would his followers pay no attention to a tax plan that would raise the lowest tax rate rate of 10% to 12%? That's a 20% increase that his lowest-income adherents certainly can't afford.

And why cheer a candidate who said said in a Bloomberg interview a year ago , “I want to lower taxes for people that are making a lot of money that need…

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 jobs lost to immigrants or shipped overseas. But it also results from years of public disgust
Clockwise from top left: Cook, Ellison, Zaslav,
Schwarzman

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 Oracle was almost modest in comparison, taking top honors as highest paid with $96 million. He repeated in 2013 with $78.4 million (that's $37,692 an hour). David Zaslav of Discovery Communications received total compensation worth $156 million 2014. Blackstone Group co-founder and CEO Stephen Schwarzman collected $799.2 million in 2015, up from about $689.3 million in 2014. It didn't matter that the firm's stock was battered last year.

And by the way, Cook just got another $135 million in stock.

Currently in the news, 93-year-old Sumner Redstone and his daughter finally wrested control of Viacom Inc. from CEO Philippe Daumon after…

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education

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… Read More »

All in a Day’s Work With Donald Trump

It was the day after the bombing in New York and New Jersey, and the ultimate shoot-out in New Jersey that within 24 hours nabbed and wounded the assumed perpetrator, a naturalized American citizen from an Afghan family.

We all know there will be continued terrorist attacks in the U.S. but Donald Trump believes he is the only clairvoyant. On "Fox and Friends":

"I was criticized for calling it correctly. What I said was exactly correct. I should be a newscaster because I called it before the news. But what I said was exactly correct. Everybody said, 'While he was right he called it too soon'. OK. Give me a break."

He can't believe that we are pampering this "suspect", taking him to hospital for treatment of wounds "by some of the best doctors in the world".

The police and FBI just did an outstanding job but Trump seems unaware of what law enforcement in this country does.

"Well it's a mess. It's a shame. Were going to have to be rally tough. I think this is going to happen more and more all over the country...because we've been weak. Our country's been weak. We're letting people in by the thousands, and tens of thousands. I've been saying, you've got to stop it".

It's all Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton's fault.

"She and Obama gave us this. It disqualifies her from being a qualified presidential candidate. If you choose Donald Trump, these problems are going to go away, believe me."

So...he is saying Obama and Clinton allowed entry of Rahami into the country 21 years ago at age 7, six years before 9/11, and they should have known that the… 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 »

foreign policy

Changing Presidents: Will China Move Against Us?

"We move inexorably toward our nation's moment of maximum vulnerability, when our democracy's leadership changes hands
January 20th. It is a moment when our adversaries may probe for weakness and will be tempted to test us."

This quotes from fairly deep in our earlier piece on Donald Trump's world outlook and the concern that, as we make the transition to a new and inchoate administration, Vladimir Putin might find our moment of… Read More »

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