Author: By James Downie

The Santa Fe High School shooting and the devaluing of life

[embedded content] After Friday’s shooting at Santa Fe High School in Texas that left 10 people dead, Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (R) blamed the violence in part on schools having “too many entrances and too many exits.” Not content to sit out the rest of the debate after that, Patrick instead went on ABC’s “This Week” Sunday morning and crystallized why the right will go to ridiculous lengths to avoid talking about gun control. Host George Stephanopoulos opened the interview by asking Patrick to comment on the statistic that more students have been killed by gun violence than...

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Giuliani stumbles into another fiasco

[embedded content] “He”ll get his facts straight,” President Trump said Friday of his new personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani. “I say, You know what? Learn before you speak. It’s a lot easier.” Yet there Giuliani was Sunday morning, speaking on ABC News’s “This Week” with host George Stephanopolous. The result was a fiasco. The former New York City mayor and current wrecking ball got off to a flying start: Asked whether the president has met adult-film actress Stormy Daniels, Giuliani disputed this easily provable fact: “You know, I’m not really involved in the — in the Daniels thing. So I...

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The deeper inequality highlighted by the Trump tax story

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. (Mark Wallheiser/Getty Images) Given how many years of tax returns Donald Trump has refused to release, there was always a strong possibility that some return would leak. And so it proved on Saturday night, when the New York Times published a story based on three pages of his 1995 tax returns, sent by an anonymous source to the Times. The short version: In 1995, Trump declared a $916 million loss, a deduction “so substantial” that he may have be able to avoid income taxes for 18 years. The Times scoop will no doubt hurt Trump politically. But the larger problem the Trump tax story reminds us of is that there are two tax systems in this country: one for the super-wealthy and one for the rest of us. When Bill Clinton began his presidency, the 400 highest-earning taxpayers paid 27 percent of their income in federal taxes. By the time President Obama began his second term, that rate had fallen to 17 percent. A person making $75,000, meanwhile, has an average tax rate of 19.7 percent. Perhaps the best-known feature of tax law abetting this is the carried interest loophole, which allows billionaires to pay a far lower tax rate on investment income than on salary and wage income. Some inequities are not quirks, but features: There is no cap on the mortgage interest...

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New Post-ABC poll: Trump’s June has been an utter disaster in every way

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks in New York, Wednesday, June 22, 2016. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer) When last month’s Washington Post-ABC News poll showed Donald Trump leading Hillary Clinton 46 percent to 44 percent among registered voters, it was the third poll in a week to show the presumptive GOP nominee in a surprising lead. Many Democrats began to worry (or at least worry more openly) about the Clinton campaign. Now they can breathe a little easier: The June Post-ABC poll, out Sunday morning, shows Clinton leading 51 percent to 39 percent, a 14 point swing. Just about everything that could have gone right for Clinton in the past month has gone right. It’s bad enough for the Trump campaign that he remains unable to improve his image: 70 percent of Americans are anxious about the prospect of a Trump administration, unchanged from six months ago. 64 percent call Trump “not qualified” for the presidency, up six points from May. That may have something to do with the fact that 68 percent of voters agree that Trump’s attack on Judge Gonzalo Curiel’s Mexican-American background was racist. (Even 69 percent of Republicans felt the comments were “inappropriate.”) Perhaps it was the fact that only 28 percent of voters felt Trump did a better job than Clinton of responding to the Orlando shooting, and now a majority trust her more to...

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Terrorism, refugees and migration – an interview with Germany’s interior minister

German Labor Minister Andrea Nahles, left, and German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere, attend a news conference in Berlin on May 25. (Bernd von Jutrczenka/DPA via Associated Press) Thomas de Maizière, the German minister of the interior, is one of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s closest advisers, having served continuously in her cabinet since she took office in 2005.  A former chief of staff to the chancellor and defense minister, de Maizière is now in his second, even more challenging, stint as interior minister. In that post, the 62-year-old lawyer deals with Germany’s efforts to counter terrorism and with the handling of the migrant crisis that has undermined Merkel’s once-astronomical popularity rating and called into question her prospects for a fourth term in elections in 2017. De Maizière visited Washington last week for meetings with Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch, FBI director James B. Comey and other administration officials, signing a memorandum of understanding on sharing data on suspected terrorists and discussing shared concerns about radicalization of homegrown terrorists. De Maizière sat down with me at the offices of the German Marshall Fund shortly before returning home. What follows are lightly edited excerpts of that conversation: Marcus: Is the issue and challenge of homegrown terrorism similar between the United States and Germany, or are they different? De Maizière: I think it’s similar. If you see the backgrounds of the...

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