Learning from Japan: Guns, Kids and the Price of Freedom

Now, from the Wishful Thinking Department: In the wake of the Las Vegas massacre, a great Washington Post piece on the four-month process for getting a gun in Japan. It details the many steps designed to weed out loons and irresponsible louts from wielding lethal weapons. One upshot? “In 2015, there were more than 13,000 non-suicide gun deaths in the United States; in Japan, there was only one.”

Of course, it would be ludicrous to propose that process in the United States, given our vast political, historical and cultural differences. To cite just one, so many kids grow up with guns in America – though, then again, so many never get to grow up as they kill themselves or other kids along the way. Read more of this post

We’re Sitting Ducks: Learning from Europe About Electoral Integrity

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WORSE THAN WE’D THOUGHT

As reported in today’s New York Times, Putin’s 2016 election interference may have been even more pernicious than previously reported. Even short of intentionally causing miscounts, electronic shenanigans could have made it tougher for voters to vote, forcing many to turn away on Election Day. The problems in parts of North Carolina and other states might simply have been software glitches. But as the article emphasizes, the news emerges against a backdrop of troubling inattention by local, state and federal officials to the issue – and in fact, their resistance to addressing it at all. Read more of this post

Pardon Me

THE PRESIDENT AT WAR

My first take on the president’s pardon for Joe Arpaio was that it was unnecessary, even by his cellar-dwelling standards. Sure, it reflects Trump’s portrait of an America besieged by job-stealing criminals from south of the border, with the former sheriff as a bulwark of our defense. But Trump supporters who admire Arpaio’s bigotry already saw the president as their leader in the war to keep America white. So the pardon seemed to be a hateful but gratuitous slap at Hispanics and Trump’s opponents. Read more of this post

From Ford to Trump: Which Ship is Sinking?

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At a Norfolk, Virginia ceremony today, President Trump commissioned the new aircraft carrier, the USS Gerald R. Ford.

There are manifold ironies afoot here.

One ship sets sail as another conceivably sinks. Is that sinking ship the Trump presidency or our American democracy?

We have a naval vessel, honoring an honorable public servant, launched by someone who’s something less than that.

At the ceremony, Trump declares that the warship will cause America’s enemies to “shake with fear,” even as he confoundingly cozies up to arguably our main adversary, Vladimir Putin. Read more of this post

Pardon Me

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On some level, we all saw it coming. Courtesy of The Washington Post, today’s Trump scandal news is that the president’s attorneys are exploring pardons for his family, aides and even himself. What’s more, they’re looking for ways of discrediting Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russia’s disrupting our democracy.

A key passage from the story:

[Trump] has told aides he was especially disturbed after learning Mueller would be able to access several years of his tax returns… Read more of this post

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