Best columns: The U.S.
An untold story of corruption
Donald Trump has gotten plenty of negative media coverage, said Paul Waldman, but it’s been focused “mostly on the crazy things he says on any given day.” His antics have obscured the mind-boggling amount of “corruption, double-dealing, and fraud” associated with Trump’s businesses and his charitable foundation. While Hillary Clinton has been taking a daily beating over the Clinton Foundation, it was quietly reported last week that the Donald J. Trump Foundation made an illegal, $25,000 political contribution to Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi. After she cashed the check, Bondi decided not to pursue allegations that Trump University had defrauded its Floridian students. That should be “enormous news.” But it wasn’t. Neither was a story revealing that Trump’s modeling agency used underpaid foreign women to work illegally in the U.S. Another stunner: A new Washington Post investigation found that the Trump Foundation doesn’t operate as a typical charity at all, and that Trump solicits donations from third parties that he then pretends to make from his own pocket. He even used foundation funds to buy a $20,000 painting—of himself. Trump gets lots of criticism for what he says, but he “is still being let off the hook” for what he’s done.
Johnson’s Aleppo ignorance
Los Angeles Times
“Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson is a charming person with interesting ideas, and he’s unfit for the presidency,” said Melissa Warnke. The former New Mexico governor made his inadequacy abundantly clear on Morning Joe last week when he responded to a question by asking, “What is Aleppo?” The answer, as any credible candidate would know, is that Aleppo is Syria’s largest city—a hellscape that has become an international symbol of the civil war that has killed 500,000 people and sent millions of refugees flooding into Europe. Johnson’s subsequent apology—“I’m incredibly frustrated with myself. I have to get smarter”—showed refreshing humility, especially compared with Donald Trump’s arrogant bravado and Hillary Clinton’s calculated dodging. But Johnson’s “oops” moment suggests he’s a guy who hasn’t thought that deeply about anything, including the vulnerabilities of the libertarian philosophy he espouses. His radical tax plan would eliminate both the income and corporate tax altogether, replacing them with a consumption tax. Economists say it would massively shift the tax burden from the rich downward, to which Johnson shrugs and replies, “Well, we may have a difference of opinion.” Johnson is a nice guy, but he provides “no viable escape hatch” from the choice between Trump and Clinton.
Why voting isn’t for everyone
The Boston Globe
“You don’t vote?” Nothing wrong with that, said Jeff Jacoby. Tens of millions of Americans don’t cast ballots in our national elections, and they generally have a good reason for abstaining. Voting is like owning a gun or attending a church or pledging loyalty to a candidate or party; the Constitution guarantees that you have a right to do these things, but it also guarantees your right “not to do these things.” Personally, “I like the communal spirit of voting” and see it as an act of faith in democracy. I also give a lot of time and thought to candidates and policy. But lots of Americans find politics and government repugnant, and don’t follow news coverage of campaigns. Whatever the reason, they’re uninformed. So “why hector them to vote?” This is not a partisan issue. In his latest book, former NBA superstar Kareem Abdul-Jabbar—now a liberal commentator—says that when we pressure low-information voters to cast ballots, “we’re diluting the democratic process, by bringing out those who are easily manipulated.” Right he is. “Even if do-gooders, busybodies, and community organizers” insist that everyone should vote, “staying away from the polls is a legitimate option. ”