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Александр Гамильтон
22 февраля, 19:56

America’s Monopolies Are Holding Back the Economy

Consolidated corporate power is keeping many products’ prices high and quality low. Why aren’t more politicians opposing it?

Выбор редакции
14 февраля, 06:09

Steve Mnuchin sworn in as treasury secretary

Steve Mnuchin on Feb. 13 was sworn in as treasury secretary by Vice President Pence. Mnuchin said after being sworn in that it was “a great honor to follow in the footsteps of Alexander Hamilton and so many great treasury secretaries.”

13 февраля, 20:00

Answering Your Questions on Trump and the Rust Belt

(Editor’s note: Alana Semuels joined the TAD discussion group of Atlantic readers for an “Ask Me Anything,” and a…

13 февраля, 18:32

Is Trump Really Facing Historic Opposition To His Cabinet Nominees?

President Donald Trump tweeted "It is a disgrace that my full Cabinet is still not in place, the longest such delay in the history of our country." But is that really the case? To determine this, I compare votes opposing cabinet nominees to what President Obama and other recent chief executives faced, as well as how long it took each president to get their cabinet in place. When I was a college student, I got a chance to attend a lecture by, and later meet, Judge Robert Bork, Ronald Reagan's nominee for the Supreme Court who was defeated for confirmation in the late 1980s. It got me thinking about presidents and whether their nominees are confirmed by the Senate. Anthony Zurcher with the BBC looks at just this issue. First, on the subject of "no" votes, Obama's cabinet nominees faced more than 400 "No" votes. By comparison Trump has faced only about 100 "No" votes for his nominees. He's still got some more cabinet officers to go before the Senate, but his most controversial ones (Sessions and DeVos) have already had their votes. Others have sailed through. Unless there is a major set of scandals, he is unlikely to break Obama's record for historic cabinet opposition. For the record, George W. Bush had more than 150 votes against his nominees, followed by Reagan (about 125) and Nixon (about 110). Bush, who also lost the popular vote en route to the presidency and faced a 50-50 Senate, had his cabinet picked within weeks. Bill Clinton and George H. W. Bush had their cabinet read by mid-March, but Barack Obama didn't have his cabinet fully confirmed until the end of April, according to that BBC report. As of the writing of this column, it is mid-February, so Trump has a long way to go to catch up with obstruction to Obama's Cabinet. And that doesn't even count the cabinet replacements, who had to wait months during the Obama Administration for a vote. And for obstruction, ask Judge Merrick Garland what it's like to wait a year, and not even get a hearing, much less a vote. I bet that doesn't happen to Neil Gorsuch. The Wall Street Journal also generally agrees with the BBC report, finding that Trump's cabinet picks are on pace with Reagan's and Clinton's waiting period. I'm sure you are thinking this is nothing like the good old days of the Founding Fathers, when cabinet nominations just sailed through Congress. Think again. Writing in the Harvard Law Review, Henry Paul Monaghan describes how President George Washington's second Chief Justice nominee was not only a member of the original Constitution Convention, but an Associate Supreme Court Justice and acting Chief Justice, seeking a full-time appointment. But he was defeated because he didn't like the Jay Treaty. "Indeed, in the first 105 years of American constitutional history, almost one-fourth of the nominees (20 out of 81) failed to win confirmation; others were confirmed only after intense controversy," Monaghan wrote. We tend to forget that this was the era of Burr-Hamilton duels, the bitter 1800 election, and the Jefferson-Adams silent treatment days. As conservative Washington Times columnist Bruce Fein, a Reaganite, wrote "Alexander Hamilton described the Senate confirmation power as 'an excellent check upon a spirit of favoritism in the President' and explained that it would deter 'the appointment of unfit characters from State prejudice, from family connection, from personal attachment, or from a view to popularity." That seems to be the route that the Senate is going, whether led by Republicans or Democrats. John A. Tures is a professor of political science at LaGrange College in LaGrange, Ga. He can be reached at [email protected] -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

09 февраля, 20:33

How Alexander Hamilton Can Help Reverse The Mess In the Workplace

Learn from the men who still inspire us two centuries later.

09 февраля, 19:52

Not Even Andrew Jackson Went as Far as Trump in Attacking the Courts

The former president was critical of Chief Justice John Marshall’s rulings. But it was on constitutional, rather than political or personal, grounds.

07 февраля, 19:48

Trump’s War On The Courts, The Press And The States

With congressional Republicans in the majority in Congress and unwilling to cross Donald Trump, the job of containing Trump’s incipient tyranny falls to three centers of independent power: the nation’s courts, its press, and a few state governments. Which is why Trump is escalating attacks on all three. The judiciary After federal Judge James Robart – an appointee of George W. Bush – stayed Trump’s travel ban last Friday, Trump leveled a personal attack on the judge. “The opinion of this so-called judge, which essentially takes law-enforcement away from our country, is ridiculous and will be overturned!” Trump tweeted Saturday morning. This was followed by another, late Sunday night: “Just cannot believe a judge would put our country in such peril. If something happens blame him and court system.” For a President to personally attack a federal judge who disagrees with him is a dangerous overstepping of presidential power. As Alexander Hamilton famously wrote in the Federalist No. 78, the judiciary is the “least dangerous” branch of government because it has “no influence over either the sword or the purse.” It depends for its power and legitimacy on congress and the president.   Mike Pence tried to defend Trump, saying “the president of the United States has every right to criticize the other two branches of government. And we have a long tradition of that in this country.” Wrong. While other presidents have publicly disagreed with court decisions, none before Trump has gone after individual judges with personal invective. None has tried to intimidate individual judges. None has questioned the legitimacy of the courts. Trump is on the warpath against Robart because he defied Trump.  The press Speaking to the U.S. Central Command on Monday, Trump veered off his prepared remarks to make a remarkable claim: The media was intentionally covering up reports of terrorist attacks. “You’ve seen what happened in Paris, and Nice,” Trump told the assembled military officers. “It’s gotten to a point where it’s not even being reported. And in many cases the very, very dishonest press doesn’t want to report it. They have their reasons, and you understand that.” Trump thereby elevated his advisor Kellyanne Conway’s “Bowling Green massacre” justification for his travel ban – a massacre that she claimed the press had failed to cover, but which in fact never occurred – to a higher and vaster level of conspiracy.  What could be the press’s reason for covering up terrorist attacks, in Trump’s mind? What is it that Trump assumed the military officers “understood?” The only possible inference is Trump believes that the press – like Judge Robart – seeks to imperil our nation, because it doesn’t cow tow to Donald Trump.  The states State governments pose a third line of defense against Trump. Several state attorneys general have taken Trump’s travel ban to court, and one particularly large Democratic state – California – has defied him on immigration and the environment. So Trump is directed his ire against these states as well. In a televised interview Sunday, Trump threatened to take federal dollars away from California. “We give tremendous amounts of money to California … California in many ways is out of control …. We may have to [defund California]. Certainly that would be a weapon,” he told Fox News’s Bill O’Reilly, A weapon for what? What could Trump have been talking about? The federal government doesn’t give tremendous amounts of money to California, at least not net dollars. In fact, Californians send more tax dollars to the federal government each year than the state gets back from the federal government. Fiscally, California isn’t “out of control.” Since 2013, the state has operated with a budget surplus. That’s more than can be said for the federal government. Or for Trump’s own business, for that matter. Trump’s real beef is California is independent of him. It has defied Trump with its high environmental standards and “sanctuary” cities. Even worse, from his standpoint, its citizens voted against him in the 2016 election by 2 to 1, for a total of over 4 million votes. He can’t seem to get this out of his mind.  Trump has repeatedly suggested that millions of those votes were fraudulent. Last week, Trump spokesman Sean Spicer identified California as one of the “bigger states” that merit a federal probe into election fraud, adding, “That’s where I think we’re gonna look.” But Trump has no evidence of voter fraud in California, or any other state for that matter. For Trump, evidence is irrelevant. California needs to be taught a lesson – just as do Judge Robart and other members of the federal judiciary who defy him, just as do journalists and media outlets that criticize him. And what is that lesson? That they dare not cross Trump. The judiciary, the press, and California are major centers of resistance to Trump, because they are independent of him. So he’s escalating his attacks on them.  Trump doesn’t want any resistance. He wants total control.  Orginally published at robertreich.org. -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

07 февраля, 01:38

7 Cable TV Segments America Wishes Trump Could Watch

Can the media can go from being the president's punching bag to his policy adviser?

03 февраля, 02:42

Did someone just say "Industrial Policy?"

Let's take a breath and step back from our circus-like introduction to the Trump era. A few weeks ago, we were trying to decode voters' messages in the US and UK. Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, and millions of voters said we have lost trust in the way we've managed globalization. Brexit and the US presidential campaigns broke the spell we had been under during 20 years of neoliberal free trade orthodoxy. Even before the election, growing public opposition had worn away support for TPP, the 12-country trade deal. TPP failed because our free trade approach to globalization is exhausted. Decades of neoliberal market fundamentalism had conditioned us to accept millions of lost jobs, reduced bargaining power for workers, deindustrialization, stagnant wages, and unchecked climate change. We are ready for a new approach that would balance trade and share the gains from globalization. Labor, environment, and other civil society groups have specific goals - deal with inequality, climate change, access to medicine, food security, internet freedom, and other non-economic issues at home and abroad. Donald Trump openly endorses industrial policy. To me, "industrial policy" means intervening in markets to prevent or correct market failures. For decades, it was the policy that could not be named in Washington DC. Industrial policy is the conceptual opposite of neoliberal free market - free trade orthodoxy. Industrial policies can be good or bad. Good ones can serve legitimate national interests and bad ones cause grief - just like good or bad policies for health care, banking, infrastructure, and education. Good industrial policies can help us manage globalization better. China, Japan, Korea, Germany and other countries have very effective well-designed industrial policies that serve their national interests. Japan, Korea and other countries made extraordinary progress from third-world to first-world status using industrial policies. America industrialized under Alexander Hamilton's industrial policies. The New Deal was a collection of industrial policies. Buy American is an industrial policy that makes perfect sense to workers and voters. California buys steel to build the Bay Bridge. Why would we buy unfairly subsidized steel from China and accept the headaches from bad welds and cost overruns? Dean Baker describes a great way to lower prescription costs. We could fund and manage clinical trials as a public program. In addition, we could retain more public control over how new drug patents are commercialized. This industrial policy would bring drugs to the market based on public health criteria, rather than profit. Taxpayers pay directly for prescriptions through Medicare, Medicaid, and the Veterans Administration. We could be pay ourselves back in lower drug costs, and focus on medical outcomes, not marketing goals. Publicly funded R&D is an industrial policy. We should modify current practice, to retain greater control of licensing for publicly-owned patents. We can specify a nominal licensing fee when a patent is commercialized in the US, and a higher fee if production goes offshore. Large companies can entice states into bidding wars for a new facility. Instead of bidding wars, states could establish economic development funds. Washington State and California have billion-dollar initiatives targeted at biotech. Washington's fund solicits bids from all companies for a portion of the development fund. Each bid is scored according to measures of public good, such as the number of family-wage jobs with benefits, or investment in plant and equipment. We could also require a commitment (subject to clawbacks) to maintain employment for a minimum period of time. This industrial policy reverses the power relationship between states and companies. Now, states have a scarce resource - access to the fund - and companies bid against each other for the scarce public resource. Companies should state in their annual tax filings how many workers they employ in the US and how many in other countries. We can create a global institution for labor and environment. Investors and global companies already have 3 global financial institutions - the World Trade Organization, International Monetary Fund, and World Bank. Civil society needs its own global institution with powers and authority comparable to the WTO, IMF, and World Bank. The Sierra Club proposed a border adjustment mechanism for future trade deals. Countries have made environmental commitments under previous trade deals. If they meet those obligations, products from their country can have access to our markets with low tariffs. Countries who fail to meet their obligations will see a border adjustment on all their products. This gives them a market incentive to meet their commitments. That idea can be generalized. Countries have also made commitments about improving labor rights, and controlling human trafficking. A similar border adjustment can apply when countries fall short of their commitments for labor rights and human trafficking. The same mechanism can enforce commitments to investors, such as currency manipulation, unfair subsidies, and unjust expropriation of property. The Export-Import Bank is a remnant of the New Deal. The Export-Import Bank guarantees loans for exports. This is an industrial policy because of a requirement for 85% domestic content. The product must be made, mostly, in the US. Many states subsidize residential solar panels, electric vehicles or wind generators, with special preferences for locally produced materials. This is an obvious industrial strategy - one of many required to control climate change. These and many other industrial policies would be in direct conflict with neoliberal free trade orthodoxy. It makes no sense to allow free trade orthodoxy to block policies that express our values as a country. Effective well-designed industrial policies should drive our trade policy, not the other way around. Said differently, we cannot tweak TPP. We need to rethink our approach to globalization. Design criteria for our industrial policies should include balanced trade, keeping capital investment flows roughly in balance, and most importantly balancing public interests with investor interests. Effective industrial policies drive upward spirals in our domestic manufacturing capacity, employment in family-wage jobs, labor rights, human rights, and environmental protections at home and abroad. We can choose policies that share the gains of globalization more broadly. Public policies are necessary to address the two biggest market failures in human history - inequality and climate change. We can pursue our legitimate national interests, raise standards around the world, and build a sustainable global system that works for everyone. -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

01 февраля, 21:19

Protesters Are Using 'Hamilton' Lyrics To Defend Immigrants Across The Country

After President Donald Trump signed an executive order halting visas from seven Muslim-majority nations and indefinitely blocking entry for Syrian refugees, thousands took to the streets (and airports) to voice their disapproval. Average citizens organizing to resist the decrees of those in power — when you think about it, that doesn’t sound so dissimilar from the situation Alexander Hamilton and co. faced during the Revolutionary War, a story canonized in recent pop culture thanks to Lin-Manuel Miranda and his musical “Hamilton.” Don’t forget that Broadway has always been political, long before “Hamilton” made headlines when its actors chose to address Mike Pence as the then-vice-president-elect took in a show. More recently, actresses playing the Schuyler sisters in Chicago’s “Hamilton” production spoke at the Jan. 21 Women’s March. For his part, Miranda has been sharing protest signs with his lyrics along with articles about how the new administration could affect scientists and researchers. (His wife, Vanessa Nadal, is a scientist.) Let’s not forget what Miranda said to those who suggested moving to Canada in the wake of November’s election results: F*ck that. I love this country, and there's more work to do than ever. (No offense Canada) https://t.co/u9aHY1Zho4— Lin-Manuel Miranda (@Lin_Manuel) November 9, 2016 If the connection between the revolutionary feeling in Miranda’s catchy lyrics and the sentiment undulating throughout America’s present day is unclear, we’ll let these signs from recent protests do the talking. While signage isn’t the most important part of a protest — issues are — clever wording just could catch the eye of a once-silent “Hamilton” fan and help her rise up. Now that’s what we call not throwing away your shot. London has showed up. pic.twitter.com/13nFc1Cu1l— Riz Ahmed (@rizmc) January 30, 2017 @Lin_Manuel #Hamilton protest sign in San Francisco! So many kids sang the lyrics when they saw it! #NoBanNoWall #WomensMarch pic.twitter.com/ypQPMvTnwy— Michelle (@Emmieinthecity) February 1, 2017 Wonder if @Lin_Manuel knew how great #Hamilton lyrics would be for protest signs! #copley #Bostonprotest #ImmigrantsWelcome pic.twitter.com/pGuFt5Lz0Y— Amy Cortright (@littleamers) January 30, 2017 @TheAnisaSubedar @Lin_Manuel it is! this was my sign✨ pic.twitter.com/w0tar0VSlm— Delaney on Broadway (@bwaygirl24601) February 1, 2017 I made a Hamilton themed sign for the London protest tomorrow against the #MuslimBan and May's complicity. pic.twitter.com/VjSFYPWIc4— Elspeth (@ElspethOakley) January 29, 2017 @rizmc @elliquinn @Lin_Manuel @KNAAN I had the same idea! Great minds think alike. pic.twitter.com/D1zLj5JUDI— jess banks (@ProfBanks) February 1, 2017 @TheAnisaSubedar @Lin_Manuel this was mine on Monday in Columbus Ohio! pic.twitter.com/AoL3P2a0CX— Leah Hall (@leahhall27) February 1, 2017 @TheAnisaSubedar @Lin_Manuel my attempt at a sign! pic.twitter.com/FEnuesgmAT— Heidi Street (@HeidiScribbles) February 1, 2017 @ellavanilla2015 @TheAnisaSubedar @Lin_Manuel pic.twitter.com/9hskpCRWa6— Lynn Manuell (@lynnmanuell) February 1, 2017 @Lin_Manuel that was my protest sign pic.twitter.com/G69PEOnPRg— bruh me again (@vlagden) January 31, 2017 Many political kids at today's LAX protest. You gotta love this Hamilton kid. #NoBamNoWall pic.twitter.com/INAzIrSjgH— Lisa Bloom (@LisaBloom) January 30, 2017 @Lin_Manuel there's #Hamilton singing at protests. It's become a global anthem. pic.twitter.com/szP2IyNTTA— Anisa Subedar (@TheAnisaSubedar) February 1, 2017 function onPlayerReadyVidible(e){'undefined'!=typeof HPTrack&&HPTrack.Vid.Vidible_track(e)}!function(e,i){if(e.vdb_Player){if('object'==typeof commercial_video){var a='',o='m.fwsitesection='+commercial_video.site_and_category;if(a+=o,commercial_video['package']){var c='&m.fwkeyvalues=sponsorship%3D'+commercial_video['package'];a+=c}e.setAttribute('vdb_params',a)}i(e.vdb_Player)}else{var t=arguments.callee;setTimeout(function(){t(e,i)},0)}}(document.getElementById('vidible_1'),onPlayerReadyVidible); -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

27 января, 19:38

The New Religion: Destructive Escalation

If everyone is thinking alike, then somebody isn't thinking. General George S. Patton Whether with President Trump, certain celebrity speakers at the Women's March or disagreements with family or friends -- each of us must decide how we respond to differences that offend us: Do we continue this game or change it? Louder shouts, more offensive language, more aggressive tactics are part of the current game that magnifies the conflict and escalates the arms race. It is a game this country knows: duels killing the likes of Alexander Hamilton, bloody civil war, deadly gang-wars in Chicago, political gridlock. Differences grow into dysfunction, then destructive conflict by herding everyone into a forced-choice of "us" and "them." Destructive Escalation This game has a name, Destructive Escalation and it is a psychological process that moves opposing parties down a path of growing conflict and carnage. It has been oft studied, the steps are widely known and highly predictable (Cait Malek): 1. Retaliate: Escalation begins when one party believes the other party has deliberately provoked them. They then retaliate, setting off an ever-increasing cycle of blame and aggression. 2. Stereotype: Each side begins to stereotype the other side as all the same -- bad. Whether the sides are divided by race, region, ideology, theology, gender -- indiscriminate discrimination rules. 3. Disassociate: Each side then cuts off communication with its adversaries and associates only with their own, leading to increased misunderstanding and distrust. 4. Polarize: Within the group, members become more homogeneous as moderate voices are silenced, punished and often expelled. Leaders compete for power by making more vicious claims about the opposition. Media coverage rewards the most extreme voices. 5. Violate: The last stage is escalation to physical or emotional violence as the parties completely de-humanize each other, legitimizing elimination of the "other" -- literally or figuratively. Retaliate, stereotype, disassociate, polarize, violate. This slope begins gradually but becomes steep and slippery. We quickly move from discounting opposing viewpoints to impugning their motives and intentions as 24-karat evil, implying ours are 24-karat good. To quote former President George W. Bush after the Dallas police shooting: "Too often, we judge other groups by their worst examples, while judging ourselves by our best intentions." Escalation predictably produces destruction as large as war or as small as breaking ties with loved ones. A friend recently lamented that one of her colleagues was breaking-up with a number of her close friends and neighbors after the election -- literally terminating relationships. It is this fervent, narrow righteousness that some abhor about certain religions, yet revival is also alive in the secular church of "zealous righteous." Differences: The Seed of Growth One of our greatest relational gifts to each other is that we think differently. Frequently in marriage we choose an "other" that is different. My wise friend, Mike Murray says: creation does not come from an egg and an egg -- it comes from two very different things -- an egg and a sperm -- with different DNA. Gene pools that are too homogeneous lead to inbreeding and defects. Our differences are life-giving. Nothing carries more developmental potential than squarely facing strong differences. Today's leaders, hungry for growth and innovation, are encouraged to listen more, seek out different viewpoints (often unflattering) from customers, employees, shareholders. Certainly, not every variant is valid or morally equivalent but differences are our lifeline to growth and transformation. If we did not have differences, we would need to invent them. Unfortunately, in today's world of instant information, we often use knowledge as a weapon and shield to protect us from and de-legitimize oppositional differences. Opposition as Teacher The right question is: What does my opposition have to teach me? Three thoughts for changing the game: 1. Recognize: your opposition bears gifts you can get nowhere else. It all starts with recognizing the role of opposition in our own development. Nothing challenges us like dealing with "those people" who question us, push our buttons, attempt to defeat us. Nothing helps us dig deeper, try harder, or find in ourselves resources we did not know we possessed, like adversity and challenge. To paraphrase Brene Brown: "you're hard-wired for struggle." In family, faith, athletics, business -- the moments of greatest trial are also often our best teachers, leading to the greatest breakthroughs. It is why developing athletic teams often benefit from playing top teams early in the season -- they discover here-to-fore unrecognized development needs. The trick is to look for the "gift" inherent in oppositional challenge -- and often nowhere else -- that switches the paradigm from fear and fatigue to hope and expectancy. 2. Diversify your relationship portfolio. In investing, diversified portfolios are recommended to avoid the risk of asset concentration. Concentrated relational portfolios (only hanging-out with those "like-us") are no different. If you were surprised by Trump's Presidential victory, the size of the Women's March, or the rise of Black Lives Matter, it probably means your relational portfolios and the media you absorb have limited or even blinded you. It is time to intentionally diversify your relationship portfolio. Rather than reinforcing our own views and attempting to convert others, how about we invest more to understand those different from us -- first understand, then be understood. Many of us are stuck in "convenient" diversity -- diversity of demography but sameness of belief. How about diversity of belief? Robert Putnam warns us that with diversity come challenging side effects; often sub-groups fracture, participate less and are less engaged. Similar to investing, the goal is to optimize the gain from a balanced relational portfolio of both difference and sameness. 3. Understand: often your most passionate disagreements are rooted in your deepest wounds. The big question is how do I tolerate "those people" whose ideas seem dangerous or unjust? It starts with understanding your own passion. What is it about your beliefs that stirs-up emotions? Often we find underneath our passion are old wounds. Maybe we or someone we love was bullied or treated with contempt. Think about and name those old wounds foundational to your fear or loathing of certain groups or beliefs. Next seek to understand the wounds of those you disdain. Chances are they too were bullied or injured. Notice how often successful athletes cite past "injustices" as a source of their passion. Understanding others' wounds can change the game. De-legitimized differences and destructive escalation produces losers. It is time to change the game. -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

27 января, 14:45

Hamilton: first cast members revealed for West End production

Initial names announced ahead of London opening of the record-breaking Broadway musical – but no word on the lead roleThe first cast members have been announced for the West End production of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s runaway Broadway hit Hamilton, which opens in London in November.Casting for the title role of the musical, about one of the US’s founding fathers, has yet to be revealed, but Rachelle Ann Go, who is about to make her Broadway debut reprising her West End role in Miss Saigon, will play Alexander Hamilton’s wife, Eliza. Rachel John plays Eliza’s sister, Angelica Schuyler. Giles Terera, who starred in the West End productions of Avenue Q and The Book of Mormon, will play the vice-president Aaron Burr. Continue reading...

26 января, 21:40

'Even a Shining City on a Hill Needs Walls': Senator Tom Cotton

A Republican hawk acclimates to the Trump presidency—and threatens to reconsider the One China policy.

26 января, 18:12

In Trump Era, Democrats And Republicans Switch Sides On States' Rights

function onPlayerReadyVidible(e){'undefined'!=typeof HPTrack&&HPTrack.Vid.Vidible_track(e)}!function(e,i){if(e.vdb_Player){if('object'==typeof commercial_video){var a='',o='m.fwsitesection='+commercial_video.site_and_category;if(a+=o,commercial_video['package']){var c='&m.fwkeyvalues=sponsorship%3D'+commercial_video['package'];a+=c}e.setAttribute('vdb_params',a)}i(e.vdb_Player)}else{var t=arguments.callee;setTimeout(function(){t(e,i)},0)}}(document.getElementById('vidible_1'),onPlayerReadyVidible); SAN FRANCISCO ― Five years ago, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, now President Donald Trump’s nominee for administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, sat in the front row as the U.S. Supreme Court debated the contentious Affordable Care Act. He was part of a coalition of Republican attorneys general fighting President Barack Obama’s health law - better known as Obamacare - based on a core party principle: that states’ rights trump federal powers, and that programs like Obamacare represent a radical overreach by the federal government. Now, as Trump looks to undo Obama’s legacy and begin constructing his own, Pruitt and other administration Republicans are showing little interest in protecting states’ rights. Instead, they are embracing sweeping new environmental, healthcare and immigration policies that are to be imposed on all states. At the same time Democrats, who over the last half-century have zealously defended sacrosanct federal laws - such as the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that tackled segregation - against arguments that states should be allowed to chart their own way, are now making plans to employ some of those very states’ rights positions to fend off Trump administration policies they disagree with. “If (EPA nominee Pruitt) is going to argue states can go their own way, then certainly we should be allowed to make the exact same argument,” Hawaii Attorney General Douglas Chin, a Democrat who opposes Pruitt’s nomination, told Reuters. Pruitt’s office did not return repeated requests for comment. SPRAWLING FLIP-FLOP The two parties’ switching of sides is evident across a range of issues, including so-called sanctuary cities, the environment and healthcare. Sanctuary cities - an unofficial description of places where local law enforcement refuses to report undocumented immigrants to federal authorities - could be an early test, as Trump moves to beef up federal immigration policies. Trump threatened to cut federal funds for such cities on Wednesday, as part of an executive order clamping down on immigration.. Lawyers planning to challenge that action told Reuters they will base part of their legal argument on one successful approach Pruitt and his fellow attorneys general took against Obamacare in the Supreme Court in 2012. In that case, the court held that federal authorities could not take away a state’s Medicaid funding for refusing to expand the program. Although they won that part of the case, Pruitt and his group failed to stop the national rollout of Obamacare. function onPlayerReadyVidible(e){'undefined'!=typeof HPTrack&&HPTrack.Vid.Vidible_track(e)}!function(e,i){if(e.vdb_Player){if('object'==typeof commercial_video){var a='',o='m.fwsitesection='+commercial_video.site_and_category;if(a+=o,commercial_video['package']){var c='&m.fwkeyvalues=sponsorship%3D'+commercial_video['package'];a+=c}e.setAttribute('vdb_params',a)}i(e.vdb_Player)}else{var t=arguments.callee;setTimeout(function(){t(e,i)},0)}}(document.getElementById('vidible_2'),onPlayerReadyVidible); Immigration advocates hope the logic employed by the Supreme Court in that case will protect sanctuary cities against threatened funding cuts. However, Ken Cuccinelli, the former Republican attorney general of Virginia who launched the legal challenge to Obamacare, told Reuters he doubts courts will apply that ruling to protect sanctuary cities.  Still, Cuccinelli said the new political dynamic will expose Republican politicians who ran for office on a states’ rights platform because it fit their policy agenda, rather than because they were true believers. “We may find out (which) folks were doing it for legal reasons and purely political reasons,” he said. Another early battle highlighting the reversal of positions on states’ versus federal rights is likely to be the environment. California, as its governor made clear in a speech on Tuesday, will fight any attempts to rein in the state’s sweeping environmental laws, which go far beyond federal mandates. During his confirmation hearings, Pruitt, on the other hand, refused to commit to keeping a decades-old federal waiver that allows California to set stricter emissions standards. type=type=RelatedArticlesblockTitle=Related coverage + articlesList=588936f3e4b061cf898cbfc6,58891a63e4b061d64fa20c67 The debate over how power should be shared between states and the federal government goes back to the founding of the United States, when Federalists led by John Adams and Alexander Hamilton argued for a strong central government, while Thomas Jefferson’s Democratic-Republican Party saw states’ rights as a necessary check against tyranny. Jefferson’s faction eventually morphed into the Democratic Party, which backed states’ rights to allow slavery leading up to the Civil War of 1861-1865. The Democrats moved toward greater reliance on federal powers in the 20th century, as they fought battles over civil rights and regulating industry. Since then, the two parties have been fairly consistent in their stances, though on some issues they have occasionally swapped positions. Tension between states’ rights and federal power played out time and again during Obama’s presidency, with states’ rights supporters achieving a mixed record. Republican-led states challenged Obama’s Clean Power Plan as an example of federal overreach, in a case that is continuing. Republican state attorneys general, including Pruitt, successfully blocked an Obama executive order allowing work permits for millions of undocumented immigrants, known as Expanded DACA. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit ultimately struck down the expanded DACA policy, and an evenly divided U.S. Supreme Court let that ruling stand last year. Harold Koh, a Yale Law School professor and a former adviser to Trump’s presidential challenger Hillary Clinton, said that even though he disagreed with the court’s reasoning in that case, it could now be used to at least slow down new Trump executive orders on immigration and beyond. “The argument against DACA could come back to haunt them,” Koh said. Embracing states’ rights could also end up haunting progressive groups during the next Democratic administration, whenever that might be, said Julia Wilson, chief executive of legal aid organization OneJustice. “That is exactly what’s under conversation right now in the community,” she said. -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

24 января, 09:34

“Маарив”: почему Барак Обама был великим президентом США?

Автор газаеты “Маарив” Ури Савир не сомневается в том, что в период пребывания у власти  Дональда Трампа мир будет скучать по его предшественнику, Бараку Обаму, который является полной противоположностью нового президента США.

24 января, 01:11

Has Politics Been Criminalized?

American politics has always been a full-contact sport. But it has crossed a line in recent years. It is now less like sport and more like war. I know, of course, that even in the late 18th century there were high-pitched political battles. In fact, in 1804, the most dramatic of these resulted in the death of Alexander Hamilton in a gun duel with his political enemy, Aaron Burr, right across the Hudson river in Weehawken. Despite our lax gun control laws, we no longer have gun duels to settle political battles. Instead, however, we have weaponized law enforcement and unleashed ambitious investigators and prosecutors to take down our elected leaders. This has been evident both in our recent presidential election as well as in New York's city and state government. Think about it: wasn't the FBI director James Comey a key factor in the demise of Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign? Didn't Trump and his hyped up rally audiences constantly chant: "Lock her up!"? We usually read about non-democratic and authoritarian governments that lock up political opponents. How did we sink so low into "Banana Republic" territory? Even in New York, a relatively progressive state, we are witnessing potential prosecutorial overreach. For the past few months, everyone on the inside of New York City politics has been buzzing about the potential indictment of Mayor DeBlasio and/or a number of his key aides. Many people in recent days have told me that the results of two grand juries that were empaneled for investigations of the administration's political activities is imminent. Although I am skeptical that any of this will be fatal to the mayor's re-election chances, there is still a dark cloud hanging over him and a few potential competitors are anxiously awaiting the U.S. and District Attorney's decision. In our scandal-scarred state government in Albany, we have recently witnessed the indictments and convictions of two of the three most powerful elected leaders in the state -- Speaker Sheldon Silver and Majority Leader Dean Skelos. This came after a dozen convictions of legislators in the past decade in addition to the recent indictment of a close aide to the Governor. Does power corrupt, as the old saying goes, or have we criminalized politics to the point where every elected leader should wear a wire and be considered a prime suspect for some malfeasance? There's no easy way to answer this. Yes, absolute power corrupts absolutely as we saw in the case of the 20-year reign of Sheldon Silver. Yes, large campaign donations to elected leaders can lead to favoritism and quid pro quos that certainly cross a line too frequently. But. Houston, we have a big problem when Hillary Clinton's ill-advised use of a private server for privacy reasons results in calls for prosecution and jail time. When the mayor of New York City can't engage in partisan politics to aide Democratic candidates for the State Senate without being accused of campaign finance fraud. Don't get me wrong -- we need vigilance to keep politicians straight and bold prosecutors to pursue justice when they're not. But we have reached a tipping point when almost every political action results in an investigation. When prosecutors leak to the press the empaneling of grand juries to investigate elected leaders. We are living in strange and dangerous times politically. It is high time we call off the political wars and weaponized investigations and let government focus on improving society and building for the future. Let's call a political ceasefire. Tom Allon is the president of City & State. Questions or comments: [email protected] -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

23 января, 09:03

Трампа убьют, свергнут в ходе переворота или просто подвергнут импичменту? Сорос против Трампа. Началось. Против Трампа собрали «розовый майдан». Что дальше? (комментарий Алекс Зес)

Избранный президент вступает в должность, а Вашингтон может говорить только о том, как плохо все это закончится. «Самые опасные враги республиканского правительства, — писал Александр Гамильтон, — появляются в основном из-за стремления иностранных государств получить неподобающий вес и влияние в наших советах. Как они могут лучше всего потворствовать этому, если не путем создания собственных креатур в высшем органе власти Союза?» Гамильтон со своим опубликованным в 1788 году предостережением об «интригах и коррупции» каким-то сверхъестественным образом напоминает нам о сегодняшнем Вашингтоне, где враги Трампа воображают, будто он российский агент влияния, которого Кремль подкупил или шантажирует. Новый глава государства действует целиком и полностью в режиме Никсона, воюя со средствами массовой информации, с разведывательным сообществом, с истэблишментом и с «прогнившей системой», хотя свое место за столом в Овальном кабинете он занимает впервые. Скандал — если это так называть — уже чем-то напоминает Уотергейт. Можно ли себе представить, что Трампа, как и Никсона, со временем принудят покинуть свой пост? Задавать такой вопрос в момент инаугурации нового президента, казалось бы, нелепо. Тем не менее, сенатский комитет по разведке уже объявил о проведении слушаний о «связях между Россией и людьми, занимавшимися политическими кампаниями». Республиканский председатель этого комитета сделал заявление, отметив, что расследование будет «двухпартийным», и что при необходимости «людей для дачи показаний будут вызывать повесткой». А «комитет будет следить за информацией, к чему бы она ни привела». Если сотрудники Трампа или его друзья действительно встречались с российскими представителями для координации хакерских атак в процессе президентских выборов в США, то для этого есть специальное слово: измена. Это самое важное из всех «особо тяжких преступлений и правонарушений», о которых говорится в конституции как об основании для импичмента. Но люди Трампа отрицают, что такие встречи имели место. И даже если они были, то что там обсуждалось? А если были обсуждения, вызывающие тревогу у сенатского комитета, то знал ли о них Трамп? Что знал президент, и когда он это узнал?

22 января, 13:33

Текст: Трампа убьют, свергнут или просто подвергнут импичменту? ( Пол Вуд )

© РИА Новости, Виталий Подвицкий Избранный президент вступает в должность, а Вашингтон может говорить только о том, как плохо все это закончится. «Самые опасные враги республиканского правительства, — писал Александр Гамильтон, — появляются в основном из-за стремления иностранных государств получить неподобающий вес и влияние в наших советах. Как они могут лучше всего потворствовать этому, если не путем создания собственных креатур в высшем органе власти Союза?» Гамильтон со своим опубликованным в 1788 году предостережением об «интригах и коррупции» каким-то сверхъестественным образом напоминает нам о сегодняшнем Вашингтоне, где враги Трампа вообра...

22 января, 09:25

Убьют ли Трампа?

Избранный президент вступает в должность, а Вашингтон может говорить только о том, как плохо все это закончится.

19 января, 18:22

How To Rig An Election In Your Favor

New From Trump University Cross-posted with TomDispatch.com Donald Trump was right. The election was rigged. What Trump got wrong (and, boy, does he get things wrong) is that the rigging worked in his favor. The manipulations took three monumental forms: Russian cyber-sabotage; FBI meddling; and systematic Republican efforts, especially in swing states, to prevent minority citizens from casting votes. The cumulative effect was more than sufficient to shift the outcome in Trump’s favor and put the least qualified major-party candidate in the history of the republic into the White House. Trumpist internet trolls and Trump himself dismiss such concerns as sour grapes, but for anyone who takes seriously the importance of operating a democracy these assaults on the nation’s core political process constitute threats to the country’s very being. Let’s look at each of these areas of electoral interference in detail. Gone Phishing: The Drone of Info Warfare Suppose one morning you receive an email from your Internet service provider telling you a security breach has put your data at risk. You are instructed to reset your password immediately. In keeping with the urgency of the situation, the email that delivers the warning provides a link to the page where your new password can be entered. Anxiously you do as instructed, hoping you’ve acted soon enough to prevent a disaster. Congratulations: you have successfully reset your password. Unfortunately, you have also provided it to the hackers who sent the original, entirely bogus warning about a breach of security. This kind of ploy is called phishing. It’s exactly how the email account of John Podesta, Hillary Clinton’s campaign chair, was penetrated. His assistants fell for the ruse. Alternatively, a phisher might send dozens of intriguing offers to employees of a certain organization over the course of weeks. Each message provides a link for more information, and as soon as someone in a moment of boredom or confusion clicks on it, presto change-o, the hacker is inside that person’s computer, free to worm through the network to which it’s connected. This is how hackers got into the computers of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and downloaded not just emails but strategic planning documents and other confidential information. At this point no one aside from Trump die-hards and maybe Trump himself -- he has said so many contradictory things on the subject, it’s difficult to tell what he actually believes -- denies that the hackers were Russian and acted under some kind of official instruction, even possibly from the highest levels of Kremlin authority, including Russian President Vladimir Putin. Moreover, it’s clear that the harvest of stolen material was used to help Trump and hurt Clinton. This is the unambiguous conclusion of a National Intelligence Community report released on January 6th and representing the shared conclusions of the CIA, the FBI, and the National Security Agency, which stated: “Russia’s goals were to undermine public faith in the U.S. democratic process, denigrate Secretary Clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency. We further assess Putin and the Russian Government developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump. We have high confidence in these judgments.” None of the meddling was as blatantly subversive as taking electronic control of voting machines and altering vote counts. Nor did the Russian hackers disable vote-tallying computers, as they did in Ukraine in 2014, but they achieved the next best thing. In our information-drenched world, the drumbeat of background noise can be as powerful as what one hears in the foreground. The Russians and their allies, in part through WikiLeaks, parceled out the juiciest tidbits from the stolen material over the course of the summer and fall, and the news media ate it up. The Democratic dirty laundry they aired showed that Debbie Wasserman Schultz, chair of the DNC, favored Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders. In the ensuing flap, Wasserman Schultz resigned and the public was left with the message that the DNC was both untrustworthy and in disarray -- and indeed, following the chair’s departure, the disarray couldn’t have been more real. When other emails were released in which Podesta and various colleagues second-guessed Mrs. Clinton’s decisions, the message that lingered in the public mind was that even her closest associates had doubts about her, never mind that candid, water-cooler criticism is normal in any undertaking. The Russians did more than merely steal computer information. They also planted false news stories, both with state sanction (according to the national intelligence report), and without it. One of the upshots of the faux-news business is that, amid intense click-bait competition for advertisers, only sites and articles pandering to the far right make money. Disseminating made-up stories favorable to Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders returned nothing to the bottom line of the freelance hackers operating in what has become one of the Russian-speaking world’s newest cottage industries. Evidently a suspension of critical thinking -- or its complete absence -- is easier to exploit among those disposed to hate liberals and love Trump. That this kind of gullibility is more than just politically dangerous became clear in December when Edgar Welch of Salisbury, North Carolina, stormed into Comet Ping Pong, a pizza joint on Connecticut Avenue in Washington, D.C., filled mainly with parents and children. Welch was carrying a handgun and an assault rifle, which he fired. He later explained that he intended to “self-investigate” reports that had been ricocheting around the Internet asserting that Hillary Clinton and John Podesta operated a child trafficking ring out of that restaurant. Fortunately, no one was hurt. The hoax that fooled the benighted Edgar Welch first appeared on the Internet in late October, shortly before the election. Via Twitter, Reddit, Facebook and other platforms, users subsequently clicked it onward several million times. Among the enthusiastic retweeters of this sort of claptrap (if not the specific Comet Ping Pong story) was retired Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, whom Trump has named his national security adviser, a position for a modicum of probity, if not honesty, used to be a requirement. (Flynn’s son did, however, promote the Comet story on social media.) In the echo chamber of the Internet, the drone of half-truths and lies blurs the edges of the real. Eventually, it imparts a kind of lazy, unevaluated validity to memes of all kinds: Hillary is a crook, immigrants are criminals, Muslims are terrorists. In such a world, Trump’s chronic mendacity becomes unremarkable. This is political branding, advertising, and product definition in the twenty-first century. It’s part of what the spinmeisters call "seizing the narrative," and the more you seize it for your side, the harder it becomes for your opponents to make their case. Truth is beside the point. Russian faux-news stories, purloined emails, and “exfiltrated” documents dogged the Democratic campaign. They were like gnats that packed a painful bite, buzzing continually wherever Clinton went. They distracted the media and the public from Trump’s much more substantial sins and reinforced the memes that he and his proxies chanted at every opportunity. They built toward a death by a thousand cuts. That was the background. Then, into the foreground stepped FBI Director James Comey. Out of Line On October 28th, only 11 days before Election Day, with early voting already underway in many states, Comey delivered a letter to Congressional leaders stating that, “in connection with an unrelated case, the FBI has learned of the existence of emails that appear to be pertinent to the investigation” of Hillary Clinton’s private email server. They were, devastatingly enough, on a computer that scandal-ridden former Congressman Anthony Weiner had shared with his wife and Clinton aide Huma Abedin. At the time, Comey did not have a warrant to inspect those emails or any idea what the emails specifically contained. He released his letter in violation of longstanding Justice Department procedures and contrary to direct advice from Attorney General Loretta Lynch. The most sympathetic thing that might be said about Comey’s rogue gambit was that he felt a muddle-headed sense of obligation to keep the public and, more particularly, Republican members of Congress informed about developments in an investigation that he had declared resolved nearly four months earlier. A darker interpretation is that he dropped his bomb intending to help the Trump campaign, which, if true, would constitute a violation of the Hatch Act and entitle him to an extended stay in a facility populated by people he used to prosecute. We may never know his motives in full, but it is rumored that he will offer some kind of statement after the inauguration. Motives aside, Comey’s letter detonated across the late-stage election landscape. Predictably the media went into overdrive, as did Trump. With his usual bombast he proclaimed that “this is bigger than Watergate,” and the spinning went on from there. Clinton’s polling numbers nosedived. On November 5th, Comey issued a follow-up letter in which he conceded that, um, well, the trove of emails added absolutely nothing new to the previously dormant investigation. This 11th hour admission did little to mend the damage already inflicted on Clinton and may, in fact, only have deepened the injury by keeping the item in the news and underscoring the suspicions many voters felt toward her. Nate Silver, at FiveThirtyEight, suggested that the flap may have cost Clinton a three-point swing among the electorate and calculated that, after the Comey bombshell hit, the probability of her winning the presidency plunged by 16%.  He also suggested that Comey’s letter may have influenced down-ballot races, especially in the all-important struggle for control of the Senate. Bloomberg reported even more dramatic numbers, finding that Clinton’s 12-point lead eroded to a single percentage point, making the race essentially a dead heat. Digging deeply into the “Comey Effect,” Sean McElwee and his colleagues at Vox found that it correlated with sharp downturns for Clinton in both national and state polling, probably accounting for a surge toward Trump that was particularly pronounced among “late-deciders” -- people who made up their minds only when they were at the brink of going to the polls. Moreover, the surge was likely shaped by an astonishing “peak” in the negative news coverage of Clinton, centering on her emails.  In the last week of the campaign, 37% of all coverage of Clinton was “scandal”-related, far higher than had been the case for months. These are powerful statistics. Three percentage points in an election in which nearly 129 million ballots were cast for the top two candidates amounted to 3.87 million votes. Add them to the 2.86 million by which Clinton beat Trump in the popular vote, and you have a victory margin more than a million and a half votes larger than that by which Obama beat Romney in 2012. You also have a big win in the Electoral College. People would have been talking about a landslide. As things turned out, Trump’s victory in the Electoral College was determined by fewer than a combined 100,000 votes in the swing states of Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin. You can massage the numbers many different ways, but if Comey’s letter accounted for only 2% of Trump’s votes in those states, then without the letter Clinton would have won all three of them -- and the presidency. Elections are always contingent: weird stuff happens. In 1960, Richard Nixon hit his knee on a car door moments before the first-ever televised presidential debate. He’d just had surgery on the knee to combat a staph infection, and the pain from the swelling bump undermined his performance. It’s an old story: for want of a nail, a shoe is lost, for want of a shoe, a horse, and the rest is history. But the intervention of a high government official on a completely politicized hot-button issue at the apex of a presidential campaign is unprecedented in American history. It exceeds by orders of magnitude the contingencies of elections past. Voter Suppression In the last year or two did you receive a postcard from election authorities asking you to confirm your present address? I did. Those postcards originate from Operation Crosscheck, a brainchild of Kris Kobach, the Republican secretary of state in Kansas, in which 27 states collaborated to uncover the identities of citizens registered to vote in multiple states.  That’s a common enough occurrence since people rarely bother to cancel old registrations when they move from one state to another. Sounds benign, right? Not so. As Greg Palast detailed in Rolling Stone last August, this purge of voter rolls was methodologically inept and had the effect of disproportionately disenfranchising minority voters. The crosschecking frequently matched only first and last names, ignoring middle names and suffixes like junior or senior. As a result, common surnames -- Jones, Washington, Garcia, and the like -- generated huge numbers of matches. The intent of the program was to prevent double voting, a form of voter fraud that the right has frequently decried as widespread, but for which no one has found substantial evidence. (As the New York Times reported in the wake of election 2016, no significant evidence of voter fraud of any sort was found.)  This fake issue has, however, been used as a smokescreen for implementing voting restrictions that inhibit poor people, students, and minorities, who usually vote Democratic, from exercising their franchise. Poor people, as Palast points out, are “overrepresented in 85 of 100 of the most common last names. If your name is Washington, there's an 89% chance you're African-American. If your last name is Hernandez, there's a 94% chance you're Hispanic. If your name is Kim, there's a 95% chance you're Asian.” Crosscheck sent 7.2 million matches to the 28 originally participating states. (Oregon dropped out when its officials realized the extent of Crosscheck’s flaws.) Nearly all of them with Republican secretaries of state then handled matters as they saw fit, eliminating an estimated 1.1 million voters from their rolls. Virginia, for instance, dropped more than 41,000 registrations as “inactive” shortly before the election. In many cases, state authorities sent voters cryptic, small-print postcards like the one I received. Undoubtedly, many students and poor voters, who move frequently from apartment to apartment, never even got their postcards, and when they failed to respond, their voter registrations were canceled. In Michigan, which Donald Trump won by 10,704 votes, Crosscheck provided a purge list of 449,922 names. How many of these people were prevented from voting? How many voted but had their ballots disallowed? No one knows for sure, but the situation cries out for sustained and aggressive investigation. At least 14 states compounded the problems of Operation Crosscheck by creating new, additional obstacles for voters, including eliminating early voting on weekends, reducing polling place hours, and mandating the use of photo IDs. In Wisconsin, a new voter ID law was sold to the public with promises that the state’s motor vehicles department would issue appropriate IDs to non-drivers within six business days of application. In actual fact, the process often took six to eight weeks. Even an order from a federal court (that found as many as 300,000 voters may have been affected) failed to speed up the turgid Wisconsin bureaucracy. In the November election, voter turnout in Wisconsin, which Trump won by 22,748 votes, was the lowest in 20 years. It fell 13% in Milwaukee, where most of the state’s black voters live. Part of the problem was undoubtedly the unpopularity of the major candidates, but voter suppression seems to have played a significant role, too. As Ari Berman of the Nation points out, the active discouragement of poor and minority citizens from voting -- not just in Wisconsin, but in Virginia, North Carolina, and many other states -- was undoubtedly the most underreported story of 2016. Alas, Poor Hamilton The last kind of man whom Alexander Hamilton and James Madison, as architects of the new American republic, saw as a fit head of state was someone modeled on the character of a medieval prince: narcissistic, volatile, cruel, deceitful, and as vulnerable to manipulation by flattery as by insult. But Hamilton and Madison were hardly naïve. They fully understood that no democracy could be completely immune from such men. In fact, they expected that the House of Representatives, in particular, would ultimately open its doors to a fair share of lunatics, demagogues, and nincompoops. History has more than validated this view. Hamilton and Madison, however, believed that the presidency of the new United States had to be protected from unqualified men at all costs, and so they came up with a plan. They invented the Electoral College. Writing in the Federalist 68 in March 1788, Hamilton extolled their creation and explained, “The process of election affords a moral certainty, that the office of President will never fall to the lot of any man who is not in an eminent degree endowed with the requisite qualifications. Talents for low intrigue, and the little arts of popularity, may alone suffice to elevate a man to the first honors in a single State; but it will require other talents, and a different kind of merit, to establish him in the esteem and confidence of the whole Union, or of so considerable a portion of it as would be necessary to make him a successful candidate for the distinguished office of President of the United States.” The inauguration of Donald J. Trump looms. If the old saying about “rolling over in one’s grave” has any substance, Hamilton and Madison should be spinning like turbines. In truth, our electoral process is broken. Key protections provided by the Voting Rights Act of 1965 were gutted in 2013 by a Supreme Court more blatantly political than any in living memory. Right-wingers in North Carolina thereupon ginned up a suite of voting restrictions that, in the words of a federal judge, targeted black Democratic voters “with almost surgical precision.” The judge struck down the most egregious provisions of that law, but repressive efforts in North Carolina, Wisconsin, and other Crosscheck states will continue to be advanced, as opportunity permits. The vital task is to deny the opportunity. Meanwhile, James Comey has shown that a lone, rogue public official can interject himself into the most sensitive of national moments in a way that not even his roguish predecessor J. Edgar Hoover would have countenanced. And Vladimir Putin has evidently found the cheapest of methods, using electrons instead of sanctions or guns, to undermine the political institutions of his adversaries and befuddle their people. The extent to which Trump campaign functionaries maintained links, if any, with Russian operatives remains unknown.  On January 11th, a 35-page document consisting of memoranda on Trump’s Russian connections, compiled by a researcher hired by his opposition, became public.  That document contains allegations ranging from the salacious to the treasonous.  Although none of them has been verified, the leaked release of the memoranda has intensified public pressure on Trump to offer a full accounting of his relationship with Russian business interests and the Putin regime.  Irrespective of whether these lines of inquiry produce information of substance, the fact remains that a foreign, hostile power used subterfuge to interfere with the domestic electoral politics of the United States. On that last count, many an Iranian, Guatemalan, or citizen of any of scores of countries might justifiably say that turnabout is fair play, for the United States has a long and well-documented history of meddling in other countries’ elections. The consequences of a breakdown of democracy in the United States, however, are costly for the entire world. Missiles and nuclear codes are at stake. So, too, is the ever-narrowing window for meaningful global action on climate change, not to mention the clout of the world’s largest economy and most powerful military. All of these things, by hook and by crook, have now been entrusted to a man very like a medieval prince. William deBuys’s most recent book, The Last Unicorn: A Search for One of Earth’s Rarest Creatures, was listed by the Christian Science Monitor among the 10 best nonfiction books of 2015.  He is a TomDispatch regular. Follow TomDispatch on Twitter and join us on Facebook. Check out the newest Dispatch Book, John Feffer's dystopian novel Splinterlands, as well as Nick Turse’s Next Time They’ll Come to Count the Dead, and Tom Engelhardt's latest book, Shadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and a Global Security State in a Single-Superpower World. -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.