GUEST WORDS--Donald Trump gave Xi Jinping endorsements; Xi gave him face. Trump heaped praise on Xi for being a strong leader; Xi said nothing in return. Trump announced US responsibility for the trade deficit; Xi did not contradict him.

Trump will claim that China has agreed to remove barriers to the American financial sector in the Chinese market; but Xi’s promises aren’t ironclad. 

Trump lamented that the US is “so far behind” China, while Xi simply noted that the Pacific has room for both countries. Trump said nothing about human rights in China, letting Xi believe it’s no longer an American priority. 

Trump called on China for the umpteenth time to strengthen sanctions on North Korea; Xi said nothing, and the Chinese press removed Trump’s comments. 

GUEST WORDS--Two things are clear about the recent spate of accusation of and confessions by men for sexual harassment and assault: First, they seem to know no ideological borders; liberal men seem no more or less likely to commit such offenses than conservative men are. Second, liberals and conservatives treat these offenses radically differently. But why?

We do not have perfectly analogous cases, of course. The major figures on the right recently accused of sexual assault or harassment include Roy Moore, the Republican nominee for Alabama's seat in the United States Senate, and President Donald Trump himself. The major figures on the left largely come from the entertainment sphere. These include producer Harvey Weinstein, actor Kevin Spacey, and comedian Louis C.K.

GUEST WORDS--Several small, cash-strapped California school districts are using a loophole in state law to boost their revenue by overseeing a raft of far-flung charter schools, according to a recent report published by the state auditor.

The result, the report says: dismal academic results for thousands of students and a lot of extra money for the districts, one of which increased its revenue more than 10-fold.

Charter schools usually can’t open in California until they find districts willing to track their performance. The agreements are supposed to be limited by geography, but a handful of districts have authorized charters located many miles outside their geographic boundaries—some as far as 50 miles away.

Those school districts say these arrangements are legal and necessary. The applying charter operators need buildings, and they have none to offer, so the charter schools must open elsewhere.

GUEST COLUMN--As Techdirt reported, Tesla chief Elon Musk has already put up a solar power generating facility at the Hospital del Niño in San Juan, with a Powerwall storage capacity so that the electricity will still be there at night. Musk believes that this model could replace Puerto Rico’s old, destroyed power plants. (Photo above: A peek at Tesla's solar power project in Puerto Rico.)

Musk is certainly correct that Puerto Rico is crazy not to go solar. First, a Caribbean island gets lots of sunshine. Second, islands are unwise to feed the global heating beast of climate change, since they will suffer most. I made this argument before hurricane season with regard to Sint Maarten at the Nation.

Third, islands have to import expensive fossil fuels for power plants. The US Energy Information Administration informs us that before the monster hurricane that has left most of the island without power,

GUEST WORDS--We are all fighting about which lives matter. The truth is: no lives matter.

At least no lives matter to those with the power to annihilate all lives. To them, we are all disposable. In my judgment, this makes us all slaves.

As odious as every aspect of slavery is (was?), the core power of slavers was the right to kill their slaves at will. That is the power those with their fingers on the nuclear button have over the rest of us. They are slave owners and we are slaves. We pay taxes, mostly against our will, to build the very weapons our slave owners will use to incinerate us.

To those in power, we are not merely “deplorables”, we are “disposables,” like a paper diaper full of baby excrement. The US Government plans to “save” 5000 or so government bureaucrats in the event of nuclear war, so they can carry out the “Continuation of Government” (COG) plan. The same US Government has washed its hands of civil defense. None, nada, not.

GUEST WORDS--The election of Donald Trump was a severe blow to rational thinking. We—and I include many traditional conservatives as well as liberals of all stripes—were so certain that the American people would not possibly elect so undignified, ill-informed, and prejudiced a person. When they did, we assumed Trump would be moderated, constrained, even reassembled by some of the same factors that affected previous strong-willed presidents: the professional bureaucracy, a politically attuned White House staff, pressures from Congress, the traditions of the office, the aspiration for reelection, the demands of the job. None of that has happened. 

So now, in the roughly one year since Trump’s election, we wrongly persist in our optimism that any or all of the following developments signal the end of this nightmare:

  • The polls, which consistently show Trump below 40 percent in popularity and below 50 percent in approval ratings.
  • Trump’s “reckless, outrageous, and undignified behavior” (Jeff Flake), which will lead to widespread defections from the Republican Party.
  • Trump’s failure to deliver on his legislative agenda.
  • The ongoing investigations of Trump and the Russians. (Yes, Paul Manafort and two others have been indicted, but Trump’s collusion and obstruction are a long way from being proven.)

GUEST WORDS--Jane Doe, the 17-year-old pregnant immigrant girl held hostage and harassed for six weeks by rabid anti-choice Trump officials in Texas acting out an obscene dystopian drama in which they would force her to give birth, has received an abortion - or in the words of Jane's Due Process, "Jane has gotten justice."

Before being awarded her Constitutional rights, she was held by the feds in a detention center for unaccompanied minors, forced to make four court appearances, had her privacy rights violated when officials told her abusive parents who had beaten her pregnant sister so badly she miscarried, subjected to unwanted religious counseling and viewings of her sonagram images, blocked from seeing her lawyers and court-appointed guardian, and made to face the doubled risk, pain and duration of a 2nd-trimester abortion procedure - all while "pro-life" cretins hoped to drag out the case long enough to make that procedure illegal, after which they could have her and her newborn baby deported. Because all life is sacred, right?

Thankfully, multiple courts - state, federal, panel of appeal judges and full appeals court - all stepped up to say Jane Doe was entitled to have an abortion and it's none of the government's business and  leave this poor girl alone. 

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