Just when you thought that Turkey could not get more frightening under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Islamic parties, you get a story like this one. Turkish lawmakers were debating Erdogan’s effort to adopt an Islamic constitution and further increase his authoritarian powers. A member of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) sought to quote Oscar Wilde when members of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) objected that they had no idea who Wilde is and thought he was quoting from the Oscar movie awards. When the meaning was made clear, these Erdogan drones objected that it was a reference from a Western source. Of course, as Wilde noted, “Education is an admirable thing, but it is well to remember from time to time that nothing that is worth knowing can be taught.”
We have been following the increasing lines at security checkpoints in our airports due to budget cuts and TSA incompetence while airlines pile on extra charges for passengers while reducing both room and comfort to the level of cattle cars. As passengers are treated with level more regard than cattle by TSA and the airlines, the airlines themselves are racking up huge profits. Indeed, the most recent report shows that U.S. airlines had a combined $25.6 billion in net earnings last year. Yet, the airlines successfully lobbied to kill a bill in Congress that would have required such things as the publication of leg room on seats.
We have previously discussed the increasing appearance of graffiti in our national and state parks. As is well known on his blog, hiking is my passion and there is nothing more crushing than to see juvenile carvings and writings on trees and rocks in parks. One of the most disturbing are the carvings in the iconic and ancient rock formations at the Arches National Park in Utah. Some disgraceful individuals decided to deface the rock face that millions have enjoyed for decades. That damage is now viewed as likely irreparable.
You have likely been reading about the scandalous situation at our airports where TSA security points have created chokepoints due to a lack of planning and staffing in the latest failure of this agency. Thousands of passengers are missing their flights due to massive lines and the airports are now suggesting that people come THREE HOURS in advance. The reason is obvious incompetence in failing to plan for rising numbers of passengers and to properly staff security checkpoints. Yet, no one is being held accountable. The public is just again left paying billions to the government, which cannot meet the most basic obligations to the public. We no longer expect competence from our government.
I have previously written about the peculiar position of being counsel for Hillary Clinton when your client, her advisers, and allies mock the massive federal investigation that continues into her reckless use of an unsecured personal server for her official communications as Secretary of State. As counsel you usually strive to show investigators that your client understands the gravity of such violations and accepts responsibility for serious mistakes of judgment or action on her part. The Clintons however have been yielding to a political rather than a legal narrative in mocking the investigation — something that truly must mystify those FBI agents working the case. In the latest such example, former president Bill Clinton used a speech in Kokomo, Indiana to dismiss the FBI investigation is nothing more than “a game.”
Below is my column in USA Today on the prosecution of three state and local officials in the Flint, Michigan water scandal. Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette has promised more (and higher ranking) defendants in the coming weeks. However, as discussed in this column, these cases are not as straightforward as the pictures of bottles of Flint water juxtaposed against clean water. While there are strong elements to some of the charges, the prosecution is not nearly as easily or obvious as has been suggested in the media, in my view.
If you thought Donald Trump was raising eyebrows in a presidential election with his support for torture and killing the families of terrorists, he appears perfectly moderate in comparison to Philippine presidential frontrunner Rodrigo Duterte. Duterte likes to comment on his genitals and recently attracted international criticism for a disgusting joke about his desire to rape a female minister who was savagely killed in 1989. Now he is being quoted as saying that he would pardon himself for mass murder if elected and hand out thousands of pardons to government officials accused of such crimes.