Archive for the ‘government’ Category

The Head of the Office of Government Ethics Resigns

July 13, 2017

The Head of the Office of Government Ethics Resigns
Walter Shaub, head of the U.S. Office of Government Ethics, the federal agency charged with overseeing the executive branch ethics program and preventing conflicts of interest, resigned last week. President Trump has no ethics, so there really wasn’t much for Mr. Shaub to do.

(more…)

An Algorithm Could End Gerrymandering

June 26, 2017

We know gerrymandering is a problem. The Supreme Court has long recognized the potential for abuse in legislative redistricting. But what is an objective measure to rule of fairness? Wendy Tam Cho of the University of Illinois proposes a “Computational Method for Identifying Extreme Redistricting Plans.” You can read Professor Cho’s complete paper here.

What’s your state’s redistricting law? Find out here.

Related:

“Why the Supreme Court’s decision to review Wisconsin’s gerrymandering is such a big deal,” Christopher Ingraham, Washington Post

“Gerrymandering Case Echoes in Inkblot-Like Districts Across the U.S.,” Michael Cooper, New York Times

“Where Gerrymandering Is Containing City Power,” Brentin Mock, CityLab

_____________

Short link: http://wp.me/p6sb6-pyi

Comments are welcome if they are on-topic, substantive, concise, and not boring or obscene. Comments may be edited for clarity and length.

Add to: Facebook | Digg | Del.icio.us | Stumbleupon | Reddit | Blinklist | Twitter | Technorati | Yahoo Buzz | Newsvine

Gerrymandering: Jagged Lines of Partisan Power

June 20, 2017

Dr. Christina Greer of Fordham University explains “Gerrymandering.” Animation by Smart Bubble Society.

Related:

“Why the Supreme Court’s decision to review Wisconsin’s gerrymandering is such a big deal,” Christopher Ingraham, Washington Post

“Gerrymandering Case Echoes in Inkblot-Like Districts Across the U.S.,” Michael Cooper, New York Times

“Where Gerrymandering Is Containing City Power,” Brentin Mock, CityLab

_____________

Short link: http://wp.me/p6sb6-pym

Comments are welcome if they are on-topic, substantive, concise, and not boring or obscene. Comments may be edited for clarity and length.

Add to: Facebook | Digg | Del.icio.us | Stumbleupon | Reddit | Blinklist | Twitter | Technorati | Yahoo Buzz | Newsvine

Credibility: Comey Versus Trump

June 12, 2017

On June 8th, former FBI Director James Comey testified under oath before the Senate Intelligence Committee that President Trump asked him to end the FBI investigation of former White House advisor Michael Flynn’s Russian contacts.

Senator Martin Heinrich ( D – NM): “A lot of this comes down to who should we believe. Do you want to say anything as to why we should believe you?”

James Comey: “I think people should look at the whole body of my testimony because, as I used to say to juries when I talked about a witness, you can’t cherry-pick it. You can’t say ‘I like these things he said, but on this, he’s a dirty, rotten liar’. You can’t say, ‘I like these things he said but on this, he’s a [rot]ten liar’. You have to take it together.”

“… in looking at any witness, you look at consistency, track record, demeanor, record over time, that sort of thing.”

President Trump refuted Mr. Comey’s charges that he sought to impede the Flynn investigation, and offered to testify under oath about the matter. The last time Donald Trump offered sworn testimony, in 2007, he was forced to admit to lying 30 times.

Video clip: Fred Astaire and Jane Powell in Royal Wedding (1951). Music by Burton Lane, with lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner

________________________

Short link: http://wp.me/p6sb6-q24

Comments are welcome if they are on-topic, substantive, concise, and not boring or obscene. Comments may be edited for clarity and length.

Add to: Facebook | Digg | Del.icio.us | Stumbleupon | Reddit | Blinklist | Twitter | Technorati | Yahoo Buzz | Newsvine

Comey Filed a Memo of Trump’s Obstruction Request

May 17, 2017

Comey Filed a Memo of Trump's Obstruction Request

“President Trump asked the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, to shut down the federal investigation into Mr. Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn, in an Oval Office meeting in February, according to a memo Mr. Comey wrote shortly after the meeting.

‘I hope you can let this go,’ the president told Mr. Comey, according to the memo.

The existence of Mr. Trump’s request is the clearest evidence that the president has tried to directly influence the Justice Department and F.B.I. investigation into links between Mr. Trump’s associates and Russia.

Mr. Comey wrote the memo detailing his conversation with the president immediately after the meeting, which took place the day after Mr. Flynn resigned, according to two people who read the memo. The memo was part of a paper trail Mr. Comey created documenting what he perceived as the president’s improper efforts to influence a continuing investigation. An F.B.I. agent’s contemporaneous notes are widely held up in court as credible evidence of conversations.

— “Comey Memo Says Trump Asked Him to End Flynn Investigation,” Michael S. Schmidt, New York Times

More:

“Notes made by former FBI director Comey say Trump pressured him to end Flynn probe,” Devlin Barrett, Ellen Nakashima and Matt Zapotosky, Washington Post

“U.S. lawmakers want to see Comey memo on Trump meeting,” Bill Trott and Peter Cooney, Reuters

“Chaffetz demands Comey-Trump memos in letter to FBI,” Heather Caygle, Politico

“Senate Intel Committee Wants Comey Memos And Testimony,” Allegra Kirkland, TPM Livewire

“Law professor: ‘If the allegations are true, Trump has committed a serious federal crime,’” Dylan Matthews, Vox

“Another Bomb Drops: Initial Thoughts on Trump Asking Comey to Kill the Flynn Investigation,” Helen Klein Murillo, Jack Goldsmith, Susan Hennessey, et al., Lawfare

“Is Trump guilty of obstruction of justice? That depends …,” William Yeomans, The Hill

“What Is Obstruction of Justice? An Often-Murky Crime, Explained,” Charlie Savage, New York Times

“Legal analysts: Trump might have obstructed justice, if Comey’s allegation is true,” Matt Zapotosky, Washington Post

“A Short History of Presidential Obstruction of Justice,” Jon Schwarz, The Intercept

“Donald Trump has committed the exact offense that forced Richard Nixon to resign,”
Updated by Dylan Matthews, Vox

“Comey’s Memo Is the Smoking Gun of Donald Trump’s Watergate,” Jonathan Chait, New York Magazine

“GOP Rep. Justin Amash on Comey memo: if true, there are grounds for impeachment,” Tara Golshan, Vox

“‘I think we’re in impeachment territory,’ says David Gergen, former aide to Nixon and Clinton,” Derek Hawkins, Washington Post

“Is the Comey Memo the Beginning of the End for Trump?” David Remnick, The New Yorker

_________

Short link: http://wp.me/p6sb6-pRw

Image by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

Comments are welcome if they are on-topic, substantive, concise, and not boring or obscene. Comments may be edited for clarity and length.

Add to: Facebook | Digg | Del.icio.us | Stumbleupon | Reddit | Blinklist | Twitter | Technorati | Yahoo Buzz | Newsvine

Telephone. Telegraph. Tell Trump.

May 15, 2017

Telephone. Telegraph. Tell Trump.
President Donald Trump met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Russian Ambassador (and friend of the Trump Campaign) Sergey Kislyak at the White House last week and managed to reveal classified information to them. The Washington Post, with a better sense of discretion, didn’t print particulars, but it seems the loose presidential lips burned a source of Syrian conflict intelligence on ISIS.

More:

“Trump revealed highly classified information to Russian foreign minister and ambassador,” Greg Miller and Greg Jaffe, Washington Post

“Republicans Display a Mix of Defense and Alarm on Trump Allegations,” Clare Foran, The Atlantic

UPDATE:

After sending National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster into the fray to issue a sort-of denial of the Trump leak, the president himself admitted he’d done it and said, essentially, “Yeah, so what?” Mr. Trump is saying he did it because he can. Many in the U.S. are asking (a few months too late) if he is too incompetent to be president, and the foreign leaders he will meet with this week must ask themselves if the U.S. president can be trusted with sensitive information.

Further reports on the Leaker-in-Chief:

(more…)

El Caudillo Trump Demands Loyalty

May 12, 2017

El Caudillo Trump Demands Loyalty
President Donald Trump invited FBI Director James Comey to dinner in January and asked for his loyalty. Mr. Comey, a career law enforcement official, promised him honesty. Honesty clearly has no place in a Trump administration, so Comey was sacked, then threatened.

As former FBI agent Clint Watts, a fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute, observes,  “Trump’s loyalty pledge tactic comes straight from the worst aspects of authoritarians and mob bosses who see their rule above the rule of law.”

More:

“Trump Asked Comey for Loyalty a Day After He Was Warned About Flynn: Report,”  Margaret Hartmann, New York Magazine

“Trump said he was thinking of Russia controversy when he decided to fire Comey,” Devlin Barrett and Philip Rucker, Washington Post

“Trump Threatens Fired FBI Director Comey With ‘Tapes,'” John T. Bennett, Roll Call

“The Threat in President Trump’s Interview with Lester Holt,” Amy Davidson, The New Yorker

____________________________

Short link: http://wp.me/p6sb6-pQa

Image by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

Comments are welcome if they are on-topic, substantive, concise, and not obscene. Comments may be edited for clarity and length.

Add to: Facebook | Digg | Del.icio.us | Stumbleupon | Reddit | Blinklist | Twitter | Technorati | Yahoo Buzz | Newsvine

FBI Executive Search

May 11, 2017

FBI Executive Search

After praising FBI Director James Comey since October and expressing confidence in him for the last 100 days, on Tuesday President Trump fired him. The pretext concerned Mr. Comey’s handling of the Clinton email investigation, but the firing came soon after the Director’s congressional testimony about the FBI’s investigation into links between the Trump campaign and Russian operatives.

President Trump, the subject of those FBI investigations, will now pick the next FBI Director. Former Trump campaign advisor Jeff Sessions, now Attorney General, who pledged to recuse himself from any investigations of Trump campaign links to Russia, will help pick the FBI chief heading those investigations. What could be more ethical?

(more…)

Never Fear, Jared’s Here

April 3, 2017

President Trump, has appointed son-in-law Jared Kushner to run his new Office of American Innovation. And what could be more innovative than giving your daughter’s husband a job? The goal of this new biz exec “SWAT team” is to run the federal government “like a great American company.” Would that be like the four companies Donald Trump bankrupted, or the one that landed Jared Kushner’s daddy in prison?

Trump in-law Kushner may have little time to spearhead SWAT raids. He’ll be talking to the Senate Intelligence Committee about his meeting with Sergey Gorkov, head of the Russian state development bank Vnesheconombank (VEB), sanctioned by the U.S.in 2014 after Russia seized the Ukraine. The meeting was in December, while Mr. Kushner still ran the family business, the multibillion-dollar Kushner Companies. He still owns some Kushner Company assets.

The Intelligence Committee inquiry isn’t a fishing expedition. Last year a New York VEB employee, Evgeny Buryakov, admitted he was actually a Russian SVR spy. Mr. Buryakov is serving two and a half years in a US prison.

More:

“America’s government can’t be run like a business. That’s a feature, not a bug.” Jeff Spross, The Week

____________________________

Short link: http://wp.me/p6sb6-pqC

Comments are welcome if they are on-topic, substantive, concise, and not obscene. Comments may be edited for clarity and length.

Add to: Facebook | Digg | Del.icio.us | Stumbleupon | Reddit | Blinklist | Twitter | Technorati | Yahoo Buzz | Newsvine

Dissembler-in-Chief

March 1, 2017

To general amazement, President Donald J. Trump addressed a joint session of Congress in a normal tone of voice last night. To no one’s surprise, however, he continued to base his dubious policies on alternative facts.

More:

“Fact-checking President Trump’s address to Congress,” Glenn Kessler and Michelle Ye Hee Lee, Washington Post

“When you fact-check Donald Trump’s latest speech, you find that even the technically true parts aren’t really true,” Holly Baxter, The Independent

“Fact Check: Trump’s First Address to Congress,” New York Times

“Fact-checking Donald Trump’s first presidential address to Congress,” Alan Yuhas, The Guardian

“Fact-checkers had a field day with President Trump’s address to Congress,” Peter Weber, The Week

_____________
Short link: http://wp.me/p6sb6-pfG
Comments are welcome if they are on-topic, substantive, concise, and not boring or obscene. Comments may be edited for clarity and length.

Add to: Facebook | Digg | Del.icio.us | Stumbleupon | Reddit | Blinklist | Twitter | Technorati | Yahoo Buzz | Newsvine