The National Rifle Assn. just named someone convicted in connection with illegal gun sales to be its president.
That would be former Marine Lt. Col. Oliver North, a top national security adviser to President Reagan who played an instrumental role in the Iran-Contra affair that marred Reagan’s second term. For those with short memories, that was the secret deal to violate multiple federal laws by selling arms to Iran — yes, “Death to America” Iran — in exchange for help freeing U.S. hostages in Lebanon and for money to fund the Contra rebels in Nicaragua.
In a statement, NRA chief executive Wayne LaPierre said, “This is the most exciting news for our members since Charlton Heston became president of our association.” Unlike the popular “Ten Commandments” actor, however, North is a polarizing figure — even more polarizing than the NRA itself.
Which leading political figure uttered these words of wisdom Friday morning?
“You know what? Learn before you speak. It’s a lot easier.”
That would be President Trump, the least studious and fact-based president of our lifetime. He made the comment to reporters after contradicting yet again the narrative about Stormy Daniels put forward by his own team.
A new poll shows that a neo-Nazi candidate not only is the most popular GOP candidate on the ballot for U.S. Senate, but that he’s running second in the race, putting him in a position to face off with incumbent Dianne Feinstein in November.
Patrick Little of Albany had about 18% of the vote, compared to Feinstein’s 39%, according to the SurveyUSA poll released Tuesday. Take the results with a grain of salt — SurveyUSA did not reveal its methodology, other than to say it interviewed 1,100 adult Californians, less than half of whom were identified as likely voters, during the week of April 19.
Little is running as a Republican, and his ballot designation is “civil rights advocate.” His views are unabashedly anti-Semitic. On his website, he calls the Holocaust a “propaganda hoax” and says he would limit the number of Jewish people in government and judgeships.
It’s hard to come up with a scoop that could send supporters and opponents of President Trump into a frenzy more effectively than NBC News’ anonymously sourced report that the FBI wiretapped one of the president’s lawyers. (Update: NBC is now saying it wasn’t a wiretap, it was a pen register that logged the numbers dialed from the phones in question and the sources of incoming calls.)
For Trump backers, the possibility that Michael Cohen’s phones were monitored was another outrageous defilement of Trump’s attorney-client privilege — yet more proof (not that they needed any) that the Justice Department had gone rogue. According to NBC, the monitor was in place for a number of weeks before the feds obtained a search warrant and raided Cohen’s office, home and motel room.
Reacting to initial reports of a wiretap, former New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, a member of Trump’s newly reconstituted legal team, called on Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions to rein in the agents responsible for the Cohen investigation. That investigation began with a referral from special counsel Robert S. Mueller III but is being handled by federal prosecutors in New York.
The United Nations, 25 years ago, thought it was a good idea to put “World Press Freedom Day” on its international calendar, where today it shares designations with the likes of World Environment Day, International Literacy Day and World Suicide Prevention Day.
President Trump and his new legal advisor Rudolph W. Giuliani evidently concluded that it was better for Trump to admit to a baldfaced lie to the public than to implicate attorney Michael Cohen in a campaign finance violation.
In a Fox News Channel interview and on Twitter, respectively, Giuliani and Trump emphasized that no campaign funds were used to buy the silence of porn star Stormy Daniels a few weeks before the 2016 election. Instead, they said, Cohen was reimbursed, over time, from Trump’s pocket in the form of a monthly retainer Trump paid Cohen.
It should come as no surprise that the first African American U.S. president and first lady are beloved in some quarters. But when Michelle Obama dared to use one of the titles bestowed by her fan base — “Forever First Lady” — that was just too much for folks on the other side of the political spectrum.
Here’s a typical headline about her remarks Wednesday at a College Signing Day event at Philadelphia’s Temple University, from the right-leaning NTK Network website: “Michelle Obama Declares Herself America’s ‘Forever First Lady.’” That’s one of the less venomous takes, actually. Here’s another view:
Obama helped launch the National College Signing Day events in 2014 as a kind of counterpoint to the fuss made over high school athletes when they commit to a college sports program. Instead of celebrating gifted athletes, it celebrates ordinary high school students who commit to pursuing a degree.
No one had the slightest reason to believe that relations between Palestinians and Israelis were getting any better in recent days. The long-moribund peace process remains moribund. Tens of thousands of Palestinians in Gaza have been demonstrating against Israeli policies for several weeks; nearly 50 of them have been killed by Israeli soldiers. The United States is set to open an embassy in Jerusalem this month, which will undoubtedly spur more protests.
Just when you thought it couldn’t get more depressing comes the news that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, the 82-year-old successor to Yasser Arafat, gave a rambling speech Monday in which he said that the root cause of the Holocaust was not the racist ideology of the Nazis, but the Jews’ own behavior. In the speech, which Abbas described as a “history lesson” — he said that the “social function” of the Jews of Europe (specifically “usury and banking and such”) was what led to the animosity that fueled their extermination.
What cruel, ignorant, ahistorical comments. And how irresponsible for Abbas — a world leader of sorts — to spew such low-level, garden variety anti-Semitic canards. Of course, it’s not only reprehensible for Abbas to say such things, it’s also utterly counterproductive to his cause because it suggests to millions of people around the world that the struggle of the Palestinian people for an end to the occupation and a state of their own is not a legitimate cause, but a smokescreen for hatred and prejudice.
While analysts caution that it’s still too early to tell how the GOP tax cuts will affect U.S. businesses, it’s clear who the early beneficiaries are: shareholders.
Payments to shareholders, either directly as dividends or indirectly as stock buybacks, are hitting record levels, with Goldman Sachs projecting $1.2 trillion in dividends and buybacks by Fortune 500 companies in 2018. The rise is fueled by companies such as Apple, which announced Tuesday that it would devote an additional $100 billion to buybacks and boost dividends 16%.
The source of the money is likely to be Apple’s cache of overseas profits, which it (like many U.S. multinationals) has been stashing in foreign subsidiaries to avoid being hit with high U.S. tax rates if the profits were repatriated. That behavior was both rational and lamentable, because it discouraged U.S. companies from using the money their products and services earned around the world to hire more people, start new product lines and increase wages here.