Don’t really know what a grand jury is? Here you go.

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The new grand jury is a sign that the investigations are ramping up—it shows that the Russian investigation has expanded beyond Flynn to several of Trump’s family members and current and former aides and will possibly continue for many more months. It also means that criminal charges are possible (and that Mueller has evidence of possible criminal activity). It is as yet unclear who the targets of the investigation are.

pub. 08/2017

Suggestions for progressives to counter the idea that supporting Trump is supporting the US

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“Leaks.” The “leak” frame is about national security leaks: truths that could harm national security is revealed to the public or enemies of the nation. Under the metaphor, “leaks” become truths that could harm the security of the President. Since national security leaks are crimes against the nation — unpatriotic and un-American, so under the metaphor, “leaks” threatening Presidential security become crimes against the nation that are unpatriotic and un-American, matters for the Justice Department and the FBI to look into and for the Justice Department to prosecute.

pub. 07/2017

A short history of Trump’s political ambitions and personality

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Trump has, in fact, been involved politics for over thirty years. But it has been crucial for Trump to position himself as a neophyte – initially, to gain an audience as he ran as a “political outsider” tapping into disillusionment with the two-party system; and now, to dodge prosecution, as he feigns ignorance to excuse his disregard for law.

pub. 07/2017

How the Netherlands became a corporate tax haven

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And that disparity is entirely unjustified, because far more untaxed American profit hides out in the Netherlands than in Bermuda. Since 2005, nearly half a trillion (!) dollars in American profit has been safely stored in the Netherlands by companies such as Nike, General Electric, Heinz, Caterpillar, Time Warner, Foot Locker – the list goes on and on. Half a trillion dollars: it’s an unfathomable amount of money, nearly twice the country’s entire budget.

pub. 06/2017

Psst–and to bring it back home:

If history is any guide, the US government will eventually swing legislation back in your company’s favor.

In 2005, for example, Congress passed a law that allowed American multinationals to bring home their foreign profits at a temporarily low rate of 5.25% – a mere one-sixth of the regular tax rate. Some $362 billion flowed back into the US as a result. A quarter of that – a whopping $90 billion – had been cached in the Netherlands.

The promise was that the law would create American jobs. But it didn’t, revealed an analysis conducted by the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service. Nonetheless, another profit repatriation tax break will probably take effect soon. Trump’s proposed tax plan includes a temporarily reduced rate of 10% on overseas earnings that are returned to American soil.

And so Trump, for all his MAGA rhetoric, reinforces American companies’ biggest lesson: earn your money in other countries and you’ll pay less tax.

A short meditation on US propaganda and politics in the 20th century

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“Democracy is never a thing done,” MacLeish said. “Democracy is always something that a nation must be doing.”…

…Critics called MacLeish naïve: winning a war requires deception. F.D.R., to some degree, agreed. In June, 1942, he replaced the Office of Facts and Figures with the Office of War Information.

pub. 06/2017

Published in the paper edition as “The Strategy of Truth”; audio version here.

What is the special counsel doing, anyway?

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Possible financial crimes

We know less about this prong than the other two. The Post reported last month that “in addition to possible coordination between the Kremlin and the Trump campaign to influence the 2016 presidential election, investigators are also looking broadly into possible financial crimes — but the people familiar with the matter, who were not authorized to speak publicly, did not specify who or what was being examined.”

pub. 06/2017