Let's Fix This Country
new regime

Trump Transition Plays Fast and Loose with Laws, Tradition

"Trump will violate the U.S. Constitution on Inauguration Day", says Harvard prof

The Trump transition is showing little regard for law, as it pushes forward cabinet appointees who have not submitted required documents, as it brushes aside the anti-nepotism statute to give son-in-law a White House Post, and as Trump retains international assets which could lead to foreign policy conflicts. A rundown:

appointee mosh pit

That the Republican-controlled Senate tried to cram nine hearings of cabinet appointees into three days was certainly a deliberate strategy to not just hinder Democrats who want a shot at the President-elect's controversial choices, but to keep the public from seeing the questioning most of them faced. Only one hearing at a time would get television coverage, so we might not learn how labor secretary appointee Andy Puzder would explain why working men and women whose interests he will represent should be denied an increase in the minimum wage, say, or how Scott Pruitt can justify his appointment to run the Environmental Protection Agency he has sued from his perch as attorney general of Oklahoma.

Senators sit on more than one committee, so overlapping hearings would mean a number of them had to attend one and miss the…

foreign policy

Israel Ambushed and Betrayed, Or Was It Overdue Comeuppance?

"A shameful anti-Israel ambush", erupted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in response to the U.S. abstention at the United Nations that
let resolution 2334 against West Bank settlements pass by a 14-0 vote . "Friends don’t take friends to the Security Council", he added.

Ambush it certainly was not, and his Israel has been no friend to America's efforts toward a two state solution. The Obama administration has been condemning for years every new announcement of Israel's settlement building as a key impediment to there ever being an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel. Says Martin Indyk of the Brookings Institution and ambassador to Israel under Clinton, "The administration has been escalating its rhetoric in opposition to West Bank settlement for more than a year. Israel doesn't seem to be listening".

Settlements are not the only reason for the testy relationship between Obama and Netanyahu. The latter presumably does not like being told what Israel can and cannot do, and must cater to the right wing coalition that keeps him in…

work

Overtime Pay at Last, But Judge Yanks It Away

President Obama had announced his plan almost three years ago, as we recounted then. He would update a long-neglected labor law to equitably improve the lives of an estimated 4 million American workers. It almost happened.

The 1938 Fair Labor Standards Act sets a wage threshold under which employees are paid an hourly rate and are owed extra pay for overtime work. Above that threshold, they are considered administrative or managers to be paid a fixed salary no matter their hours. Clearly, the intent of the law is to prevent exploitation of low-paid workers.

Trouble is, no adjustment whatever…

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cyberwar

Putin Would Like You to Forget About Russia’s Election Hacks

Russian leader wipes the slate clean for a reset with Trump

It was an adroit public relations ploy by Vladimir Putin, his decision to do nothing in retaliation against President Obama's expulsion of 35 diplomats and a list of other penalties — and to even invite American diplomats' kids to the Kremlin to celebrate the New Year and Russian Orthodox Christmas. Angry Obama, peace
loving Putin, if you choose to be fooled. The move was also to dim the memory Russia's serious act of aggression against the United States, its cyber hacks into the American electoral process, attacks aimed only at Democrats, putting a bear claw on the scale to weight it in Trump's favor.

But we'd rather not forgot Russia's actions. They are just the beginning, now that Putin has discovered how easily it was to tamper with American democracy. Let's review how this happened.

whodunit

All 18 government intelligence groups ultimately concluded that it was the Russians who breached the Democratic National Committee and the Clinton campaign computer systems and gave WikiLeaks thousands of emails to release.

But the damage could have been averted were it not for a stunning tale of ineptitude between the FBI and the DNC told in a remarkable piece of… Read More »

Columnist George F. Will, Ex-Republican, Goes After Jeff Sessions

By guest columnist Al Rodbell

George Will gave up his long time registration in the Republican party when it chose their nominee for the Presidency, and unlike many others who protested this at the time, he has not backed down an inch. This is in contrast to the Bush family who all sent Trump their congratulations, and most egregiously Mitt Romney who fawned over him, along with so many other former “neverTrump” Republicans. This has freed Will from any party ideology or concern about how he appears to a target audience of its… Read More »

the media

Stopping the Presses

Advertising and people's habits abandon print media

The mainstream press is in a fix. Year after year, as advertisers follow readers to the Internet, the life-support of advertising linage has dropped. In the third quarter alone, print ads declined 15% for Gannett, the largest newspaper publisher (its flagship is USA Today), 17% at McClatchy (The Miami Herald and The Sacramento Bee among others), 19% at The New York Times and 21% at The Wall Street Journal, which is cutting staff and has already eliminated sections as economy measures. Meanwhile, digital ad revenue for newspapers has barely grown, taking four years to increase from $3 billion to only $3.5 billion between 2010 and 2014.

We are rapidly losing the ranks of trained journalists as newsrooms shrink, a… Read More »

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