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i was in the cia. the agency shouldn’t be lobbying for gina haspel’s nomination.

i teach a graduate capstone course at american university’s school of international service. it’s on intelligence analysis, shaping the minds of students who might, one day, work to defend this country’s national security.it’s a point of pride every semester to discuss how important it is that intelligence professionals put aside their personal feelings when drafting reports for senior policymakers. intelligence professionals provide analysis on topics critical to the defense of the nation — and explicitly not policy advice. as one learns when one first joins the agency, part of the cia’s ethos is: “we provide information and analysis without institutional or political bias.”so it’s disappointing to see that concept being undermined by the agency itself. this past weeken...





trump’s bet on a north korea summit is looking riskier than ever

president trump and the governments of north korea and south korea are combining to create sky-high expectations for a diplomatic breakthrough on the north’s nuclear program. in the case of the koreans, that’s evidently the result of careful and clever tactics. in mr. trump’s case, it looks more like empty and self-aggrandizing bluster. the result is that the president’s bet on an unprecedented summit with the north korean leader is looking riskier than ever.south korean president moon jae-in and north korea’s kim jong un, who will stage their own summit on the inter-korean border on friday, share an interest in creating a sense of diplomatic momentum. mr. moon, a committed dove, was alarmed by mr. trump’s bellicose rhetoric toward north korea and by reports the white house was...





conservatives should be wary of big business

by john a. burtka ivby john a. burtka ivapril 25 at 7:44 pmjohn a. burtka iv is executive director of the american conservative magazine.among conservatives, the erosion of civil society is most often attributed to the heavy hand of the administrative state. while the welfare system, especially at the federal level, certainly deserves its fair share of the blame, a growing number of conservatives, including tucker carlson, patrick deneen, rusty reno, michael brendan dougherty and rod dreher, have also expressed concern about the side effects of economic globalization and the elite culture that shapes many corporations. in short, conservatives are coming to see that big business can also threaten our liberties and the flourishing of civil society.i am not insinuating that capitalism is bad ...





mick mulvaney personifies pay-to-play - the washington post

the depth of cynicism expressed by former south carolina congressman mick mulvaney is breathtaking. mr. mulvaney, now director of the office of management and budget, as well as interim head of the consumer financial protection bureau, told a group of bankers on tuesday that he had a specific litmus test for lobbyists who wanted to see him while he served in the house, from 2011 to 2017. the rule was: he would not meet those who did not make campaign contributions to him, and he might meet those who did. mr. mulvaney appears to feel no shame about it. mr. mulvaney told the american bankers association, according to the new york times: “we had a hierarchy in my office in congress. if you’re a lobbyist who never gave us money, i didn’t talk to you. if you’re a lobbyist who gave us m...





trump shouldn’t forget iran’s big achilles’ heel: its economy

zalmay khalilzad was the u.s. ambassador to the united nations from 2007 to 2009. the debate over the iranian nuclear deal has so far largely neglected a factor that potentially gives the united states leverage: the deteriorating economic and political situation in iran. the trump administration should integrate this factor into its strategy. iran’s currency, the rial, has lost 25 percent of its value against the dollar in the past several weeks. two weeks ago, tehran decided to set up an official exchange rate of 42,000 rials to the dollar, but that move is unlikely to succeed, given that the market prices the rial at 60,000 to the dollar, some 43 percent less. inflation is also very high.iranians are also struggling to contend with a severe credit crisis; several financial institutions...





trump’s bet on a north korea summit is looking riskier than ever

president trump and the governments of north korea and south korea are combining to create sky-high expectations for a diplomatic breakthrough on the north’s nuclear program. in the case of the koreans, that’s evidently the result of careful and clever tactics. in mr. trump’s case, it looks more like empty and self-aggrandizing bluster. the result is that the president’s bet on an unprecedented summit with the north korean leader is looking riskier than ever.south korean president moon jae-in and north korea’s kim jong un, who will stage their own summit on the inter-korean border on friday, share an interest in creating a sense of diplomatic momentum. mr. moon, a committed dove, was alarmed by mr. trump’s bellicose rhetoric toward north korea and by reports the white house was...





mick mulvaney personifies pay-to-play - the washington post

the depth of cynicism expressed by former south carolina congressman mick mulvaney is breathtaking. mr. mulvaney, now director of the office of management and budget, as well as interim head of the consumer financial protection bureau, told a group of bankers on tuesday that he had a specific litmus test for lobbyists who wanted to see him while he served in the house, from 2011 to 2017. the rule was: he would not meet those who did not make campaign contributions to him, and he might meet those who did. mr. mulvaney appears to feel no shame about it. mr. mulvaney told the american bankers association, according to the new york times: “we had a hierarchy in my office in congress. if you’re a lobbyist who never gave us money, i didn’t talk to you. if you’re a lobbyist who gave us m...





it’s time for these counties to reclaim their grisly history of lynching

the fights last year over confederate monuments, many of them still unresolved, suggested that plenty of places have not come fully to terms with the legacy of the civil war and slavery. so it may seem fanciful to imagine americans would easily forge a consensus on symbols of another excruciating chapter in the nation’s racial history: the horrific, decades-long epidemic of lynching that claimed the lives of more than 4,000 african americans.it’s time they do.a brand-new museum and memorial in alabama, dedicated to shining a floodlight on america’s history of subjugating and terrorizing black people, has thrown down a gauntlet to the more than 800 counties where lynchings took place. each of them is represented at the museum by a monument — a stylized steel slab, roughly the dimens...





the political center is fighting back

this can be a dispiriting time to follow u.s. politics — especially for someone of my classical liberal (a.k.a. conservative) views. president trump is the most unethical, unhinged and openly racist president in modern history, and yet he still maintains the support of roughly 40 percent of voters and 85 percent of republicans. gop leaders know how awful he is but are too cowardly to speak out. congressional candidates are actually echoing many of trump’s most offensive and authoritarian statements, from his calls to lock up hillary clinton to his attacks on special counsel robert s. mueller iii. it’s hard to know who is worse — trump himself or his many enablers. if there is any silver lining to this dark cloud hanging over our democracy, it is that trump’s outrageous behavior i...





conservatives should be wary of big business

by john a. burtka ivby john a. burtka ivapril 25 at 7:44 pmjohn a. burtka iv is executive director of the american conservative magazine.among conservatives, the erosion of civil society is most often attributed to the heavy hand of the administrative state. while the welfare system, especially at the federal level, certainly deserves its fair share of the blame, a growing number of conservatives, including tucker carlson, patrick deneen, rusty reno, michael brendan dougherty and rod dreher, have also expressed concern about the side effects of economic globalization and the elite culture that shapes many corporations. in short, conservatives are coming to see that big business can also threaten our liberties and the flourishing of civil society.i am not insinuating that capitalism is bad ...





kevin williamson: the punishment i favor for abortion

kevin d. williamson is a texas-based writer.as a libertarian, i fully accept the motto that what a woman chooses to do with her own body is her business. as someone who can count, i believe that abortion involves two bodies. that’s what makes it a difficult question. so what would it mean as a practical legal matter to outlaw abortion? that is a question i have been asked frequently since being fired by the atlantic over a four-year-old, six-word tweet and accompanying podcast in which i was alleged to have voiced an extremist view on the matter of criminalizing abortion — that it should be punished by hanging. that isn’t my view at all. but it leaves the question: what should be done? for some people, even to ask the question brings up dystopian images, from “the handmaid’s tale...





a showcase of the vilest and noblest manifestations of humanity

as the museum of human nature, a.k.a the u.s. holocaust memorial museum, marks its 25th anniversary, it continues to receive artifacts, such as a letter handwritten on a yellow scrap of paper. it was donated to the museum by frank grunwald, 85, who lives in indianapolis. he was the younger of two czechoslovakian boys who sit smiling on their mother’s lap in a photograph the museum has. it was taken before this jewish family was swept into the nazi murder machinery. frank, then 11 and known as misa, is alive because, unlike his brother john, then 16, frank did not limp. in july 1944, their father was segregated with male prisoners who were working in an auschwitz factory. the boys were with their mother in the czech family section of the camp when a nazi noticed john’s limp and selected...





the west virginia candidate who’s ‘trumpier than trump’

if the 2018 midterm election were a season of “the apprentice,” we would already have a front-runner to beat out everyone else: don blankenship, fresh out of prison, who stands a decent chance of becoming west virginia’s next republican nominee for the senate.among this year’s crop of red-state republican candidates, there are more than a few who seem as eager as the contestants on president trump’s old reality show to cast themselves as his clones. but when it comes to being an exemplar of the principles, or lack of them, that put trump where he is today, none quite matches the former coal baron once considered the most reviled person in west virginia. at a republican debate monday night in wheeling, blankenship boasted that he is “trumpier than trump, and . . . that’s a...





america is obsessed with the virtue of work. what about the virtue of rest?

americans love to contemplate — and legislatively promote, to whatever degree possible — the virtue of hard work. here in the united states, we already work more hours per year than our english-speaking counterparts in britain, canada and australia — not to mention those enviable denizens of european social democracies, who enjoy the kind of leisure time only our highest-paid workers can afford.so perhaps it’s not surprising that several new pro-work policy ideas are enjoying attention on the left and the right. on the right, work requirements for medicaid, food stamps and housing assistance represent the latest conservative effort to make sure americans work for any benefits they receive. meanwhile, on the left, the idea of a federal job guarantee has gained increasing attention, ...





trump shouldn’t forget iran’s big achilles’ heel: its economy

zalmay khalilzad was the u.s. ambassador to the united nations from 2007 to 2009. the debate over the iranian nuclear deal has so far largely neglected a factor that potentially gives the united states leverage: the deteriorating economic and political situation in iran. the trump administration should integrate this factor into its strategy. iran’s currency, the rial, has lost 25 percent of its value against the dollar in the past several weeks. two weeks ago, tehran decided to set up an official exchange rate of 42,000 rials to the dollar, but that move is unlikely to succeed, given that the market prices the rial at 60,000 to the dollar, some 43 percent less. inflation is also very high.iranians are also struggling to contend with a severe credit crisis; several financial institutions...





what makes the muslim ban a muslim ban? trump.

wednesday’s supreme court argument about the travel ban on certain majority-muslim nations probably wouldn’t have happened at all if the ban hadn’t been issued by president trump. “if it were just the text of the order alone,” neal katyal, the lawyer arguing against the travel ban, told the justices, “. . . we wouldn’t be here.” but the order was imposed by a man who falsely claimed that thousands of arabs cheered in new jersey when the world trade center collapsed; who demanded “a total and complete shutdown of muslims entering the united states”; who declared that “islam hates us”; who floated notions of closing mosques and cataloguing muslim americans; and who frequently has told an apocryphal tale of fighting muslims by dipping bullets in pigs’ blood. the ...





what all that gushing over melania trump really means

political chitchat repeats itself as reliably as history, so it was no surprise this week when online observers began, as they do every few months, to praise melania trump. the urge to cast trump as some sort of “resistance” hero shows how desperate we are to see our own opinions reflected in someone so close to the president. at the same time, it lays bare our longing for the sort of first lady we’ve always felt entitled to.the latest round of first lady fervor revolved around the administration’s inaugural state dinner, and it started with her hat. from there, the compliments multiplied. her gown was glorious, her menu high-minded and, in a video that went viral, her refusal to hold her husband’s hand a symbol of rebellion. at least, that’s what her admirers had to say abou...





the political center is fighting back

this can be a dispiriting time to follow u.s. politics — especially for someone of my classical liberal (a.k.a. conservative) views. president trump is the most unethical, unhinged and openly racist president in modern history, and yet he still maintains the support of roughly 40 percent of voters and 85 percent of republicans. gop leaders know how awful he is but are too cowardly to speak out. congressional candidates are actually echoing many of trump’s most offensive and authoritarian statements, from his calls to lock up hillary clinton to his attacks on special counsel robert s. mueller iii. it’s hard to know who is worse — trump himself or his many enablers? if there is any silver lining to this dark cloud hanging over our democracy, it is that trump’s outrageous behavior i...





macron treats congress to a full-scale takedown of trumpism

the early story line about president trump and french president emmanuel macron focused on their “bromance” and trump’s puerile claim to dominance when he brushed what he said was dandruff off macron’s suit.but on the last day of his state visit on wednesday, macron showed he will not be trifled with. he used a speech to a joint session of congress to engage in a full-scale takedown of trumpism, wrapped in a love letter to the united states and a call on americans to live up to the values embedded in our own history.macron, speaking forcefully in english, held nothing back. he warned against “the illusion of nationalism” and politicians who “play with fear and anger.” he brought home the nature of the menace by alluding to the u.s. president who led the war against fascism....





the #toddlerinchief thread is one year old today!

president trump jumps up in the cab of an 18-wheeler while meeting with truckers and ceos at the white house on march 23, 2017. (melina mara/the washington post)one year ago today, i tweeted the following:i tweeted that during the early months of the trump administration, and it is worth recalling that political moment. it would be hard to exaggerate the desperate craving many pundits possessed for donald trump to settle down into someone resembling a normal, grown-up president. occasional gestures at maturity, like his joint address to congress or play-acting like the commander in chief, were seized upon by commentators as examples of trump growing into the office. that first tweet contained a garden-variety quote from one of trump’s advisers characterizing him like a toddler. it see...