Archive

June 24th, 2016

How to get fired by the Trump campaign

    What do you have to do to be fired from the Trump campaign?

    Word emerged on Monday that Donald Trump had parted ways with his famously contentious campaign manager Corey Lewandowski. "The Donald J. Trump Campaign for President, which has set a historic record in the Republican Primary having received almost 14 million votes, has today announced that Corey Lewandowski will no longer be working with the campaign," Trump spokesman Hope Hicks informed The New York Times.

    Given what Lewandowski himself has done -- on camera -- that has not merited his firing (remember when he aggressively grabbed Breitbart reporter Michelle Fields?) and the kind of things Trump himself says and does on a regular basis, it is hard to imagine a firing offense. The logical explanation seems to be that Trump is doing this to placate the GOP establishment and signal that he is ready to become presidential. But when was the last time Donald Trump did something logical?

    No, it must be a scandal. But what? A few possibilities:

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'Dump Trump' Republicans are getting a bit weird

    How desperate is the Republican Party? This desperate: Political strategists are concocting schemes to preserve their congressional majorities that they know would concede the presidential contest to Hillary Clinton.

    The idea is to give a way for endangered Republican senators like Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania to avoid being associated with Donald Trump or being disloyal to the party. To do that, Republicans would recruit respected party elders to run as independent presidential candidates in competitive states. Think of former Govs. Tom Ridge in Pennsylvania and Tommy Thompson in Wisconsin, and former Sens. John Sununu and Judd Gregg in New Hampshire.

    That would provide what the would-be strategists are calling "safe havens" that would relieve Republican candidates of the pressure to back Clinton or defend Trump. Or so the theory goes.

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The GOP’s Cynical Gay Ploy

    One of the most brazen — craven even — ploys by Republicans in the wake of the Orlando massacre has been to suggest, incredibly, that they would be better for the LGBT community than the Democrats.

    At a rally on Thursday, Donald Trump said “LGBT is starting to like Donald Trump very much lately, I will tell you, starting to like Donald Trump very, very much lately.” He mentioned that the Clinton Foundation had taken money from countries where “they kill gays,” and continued:

    “So you tell me who’s better for the gay community and who’s better for women than Donald Trump?”

    As Tierney Sneed of Talking Points Memo put it last week:

    “The same Republicans who have argued that gay couples should not be allowed to marry, that LGBT Americans don’t need federal anti-discrimination protections and that trans people should not use the bathroom that matches their identity are now claiming that they — not Democrats — are the party on the LGBT community’s side.”

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America's greatest shame

    In the wake of the latest example of this country's most egregious distinction -- its continuing acquiescence in mass gun violence -- a visibly fed-up President Obama made yet another grief-bearing visit last week, calling on the survivors of victims of the Orlando gay nightclub massacre.

    Perhaps to emphasize his sorrow, he was accompanied by Vice President Joe Biden, whose own life has been visited at least twice by family loss, and who wears his heart on his sleeve. They traveled separately to Orlando in keeping with the long-held policy that the president and his elected standby not risk both being lost in a plane crash or other tragedy.

    It was Biden to whom Obama turned for a solution after the 2012 Newtown, Connecticut, elementary school shooting rampage that claimed the lives of 20 little kids and six adults. Many Americans thought or hoped then it finally would so shock and outrage the public, and Congress, to take meaningful action against this national sickness.

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June 23rd

Understanding the anti-immigrant mindset

    As Britain decides whether to leave the European Union, it is clear that one issue created the greatest source of tension: immigration.

    British attitudes toward immigration have been changing for some time, and especially since the European Union expanded to include many of the former communist countries of Eastern Europe. According to the British Social Attitudes Survey, in 1995, 63 percent of the British public were in favor of reducing immigration. By 2008, this had risen to 78 percent, where it has stabilized.

    For a country built on a long history of inward migration -- from the Flemish textile workers of the 14th century through the Commonwealth workers of the 20th -- this change has been surprising and has been attributed to economic unease. But this may not be the case.

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When politicians light xenophobic fires, everybody gets burned

    One of more vexing questions about Thursday's Brexit vote is, "Why is it occurring?"

    If Prime Minister David Cameron is so convinced that Britain exiting the European Union would be such a tremendous existential mistake, why was he the one who called for the referendum three years ago? Even as recent polls may be slightly tilting toward favoring the Remainers, does this not stand as a huge political misstep, an own-goal kick in an already close game, an injection of unnecessary uncertainty into already complex economic and political relationship?

    There are compelling arguments on both sides, and yes, I'm operating with 20/20 hindsight. But in calling for this referendum as a political preservation strategy, Cameron, like many of our own conservatives, failed to assess a set of dangerous risks, most notably, the unleashing and legitimizing of deep anti-immigrant sentiments.

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Here's what we want

    As we head toward the Democratic National Convention, I often hear the question, "What does Bernie want?" Wrong question. The right question is what the 12 million Americans who voted for a political revolution want.

    And the answer is: They want real change in this country, they want it now and they are prepared to take on the political cowardice and powerful special interests which have prevented that change from happening.

    They understand that the United States is the richest country in the history of the world, and that new technology and innovation make us wealthier every day. What they don't understand is why the middle class continues to decline, 47 million of us live in poverty and many Americans are forced to work two or three jobs just to cobble together the income they need to survive.

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The Brits have no good options on Europe vote

    British voters face a momentous choice on Thursday, when they'll vote on whether to remain in the European Union. A decision to leave might badly hurt the economy, which relies on Europe for trade and investment -- but the repercussions would go wider than that.

    The larger European project would also be in danger. An enterprise that secured peace on the continent after World War II, moved hundreds of millions of people toward greater prosperity, and helped entrench liberal democracy in Eastern Europe after the Soviet collapse would be gravely damaged.

    The risks are huge -- yet recent polls show the Leave campaign is leading. Europe's governments are waking up to the fact that "Brexit" might actually happen.

    Britain faces an unsolvable dilemma. Its economic interests tell it to stay, especially since the U.K. has negotiated an advantageous status within the union: full access to Europe's integrated markets, but without the single European currency, which has proved so detrimental to the economies of many other EU members.

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Drop the 'Brexit' panic talk and protect global markets

    The doomsday narrative of British Prime Minister David Cameron, the Bank of England and their official friends around the world is setting a course for a self-fulfilling financial panic. They insist that the British economy will be permanently poorer and global markets will be roiled if the British public votes to leave the European Union in a referendum on Thursday.

    These claims are based on fuzzy analysis. More seriously, they are deeply irresponsible. Make no mistake, if markets do panic it will be because of the hysteria that the officials have built up. To redeem themselves, policymakers around the world must set up visible signposts now to dampen financial turbulence.

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Brexit referendum transcends the economy

    "It's the economy, stupid." Since Bill Clinton's campaign coined that phrase nearly a quarter century ago, it has become a kind of mantra for Western politicians. I've seen it translated into multiple languages, used by politicians of the right and the left, deployed on campaigns and put into the headlines of articles.

    It has also helped reinforce, across Europe and North America, a form of politics that might ironically be described as Marxist, since it mirrors Marx's belief that "base determines superstructure," that the economy molds everything else. In election after election, candidates have argued over who is best positioned to create more wealth and greater prosperity. British elections have been fought over tax percentage points, German elections over labor mobility. Each contest was made possible by the absence of more existential issues - wars, rebellions, breakdowns in law and order - and by the assumption that most voters agreed, more or less, on the nature of the state.

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