Archive

January 26th, 2016

National Review's Lowry: Debate establishment is 'terrified' of Donald Trump

    National Review Editor Rich Lowry and his colleagues had a feeling that their package of editorials under the banner "Against Trump" would cost them their partnership with CNN, Telemundo and Salem Communications for a pivotal late-February GOP debate in Houston. It did: Late last night, the Republican National Committee notified National Review Publisher Jack Fowler that it was out of the mix. "Small price to pay for speaking the truth about The Donald," wrote Fowler in a posting on the turn of events.

    There'll be no outrage from Lowry about the RNC's call. "We basically declared war on one of these candidates. I don't think it's entirely unreasonable" for the group to disqualify National Review from participating.

    That said, the episode did provide Lowry with a "window" into the forces that orchestrate the Republican Party's primary debates. And he suggests there's a great deal at stake. "They're all terrified of Donald Trump and worried that he won't show up or threaten not to show up," said Lowry in a chat with the Erik Wemple Blog.

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How Cruz loses friends and influences people

    There was a time, not so long ago, when Republican insiders believed there were really two races for their party's nomination. There were the establishment candidates (Chris Christie, Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio and John Kasich) and then there were the outsiders (Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and Ben Carson).

    The hope was that after an establishment candidate emerged, the party could get behind him and crush the outsiders. But with a week to go, that isn't going to happen before the Iowa caucuses. The January polls for Iowa show Trump has 27.9 percent, Cruz 26.4 and then a steep drop off to Rubio who comes in at 11 percent. The national average is about the same: Trump at 34.8, Cruz at 18.8 and Rubio at 11.6.

    So if it's between Cruz and Trump, who will the Republican establishment support? On the surface this seems obvious. Would Republicans really support a New York plutocrat who invited Hillary Clinton to his wedding over a Texas Republican who shut down the government to repeal the health care act?

    And yet many in the establishment are so opposed to Cruz that they say they could tolerate Trump.

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For the love of all that is holy, save small talk

    I recently read, with some alarm, a deceptively lovely piece by the writer Tim Boomer in the New York Times advocating against Small Talk. Small talk, he pointed out, went on and on and said nothing. Who cares what street a person lived on or what high school friend you might have in common? (Here, I do not disagree.) Why not ditch it, Boomer goes on to say, and start saying only things to each other that were "profound" and "beautiful"?

    Doesn't he realize he's playing with fire? Even if he only meant this to apply to the realm of dating, it is a dangerous precedent to set.

    Here are some conversation starters that he suggested: "Why did you fall in love with your wife?" "What's the most in love you've ever felt?" "What work are you passionate about?"

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Coming to Terms with Donald

    Americans of all races, creeds and political persuasions are united today in the realization that, good grief, Donald Trump actually could become the Republican presidential nominee.

    It hits different people different ways. Jeb Bush’s path toward acceptance was probably different from that of a civics teacher who has to explain it to his advanced placement seminar.

    I keep thinking about the time, years ago, when I worked for The Daily News and was summoned back from vacation because Donald was splitting with his first wife, Ivana. I swear to you, that was not my normal beat. But for the Trump divorce it was all hands on deck. The whole city was sort of nuts on the subject. (The cardinal expressed hope that the unhappy couple would pray for guidance.)

    Everyone assumed — correctly as it turned out — that Trump’s next stop would be Marla Maples, an actress who was made immortal when The New York Post emblazoned its front page with her alleged quote: “Best sex I’ve ever had.”

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BernieCare looks to Europe; Americans don't

    Bernie Sanders probably knows that his plan to give all Americans free health care is never going to become law. Yet he's doing the country a service: His proposal has re-ignited a national debate -- the third since the 1990s -- over why the U.S. can't be like Europe, Canada and the rest of the industrialized world and adopt universal health care.

    Sanders is no dummy. He calls his proposal "Medicare for All" because federal health insurance for the elderly is so popular that some of its beneficiaries don't realize it's a government program. Remember those picket signs that warned President Barack Obama to "keep government out of my Medicare?"

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Are you a drunken driver after you stop driving?

    I can't be the only one who thinks they should bring back the original "Law & Order." If NBC did, the show's first case should be one that went on trial this week in a local court in Mineola, New York. A man has been charged with homicide in the death of a police officer who was hit by an SUV.

    The twist is that, when the crash happened, the defendant was leaning against the guardrail. He had been driving home from a night of drinking, got involved in a minor accident and was pulled over. The policeman was hit by a different car while investigating the crash. Is the homicide charge justified? Ask Jack McCoy -- or really, if you want to be a hard-core "L&O" fan (and I am), ask Ben Stone.

    This case is begging to be ripped from the headlines by TV writers. In real life, the Nassau County district attorney filed charges against James Ryan in the death of police officer Joseph Olivieri. A New York state appeals court had already blessed the charges.

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Americans are bargaining away their innocence

    The presumption of innocence helps to combat prejudice and prejudging in the U.S. criminal justice system. But because plea bargains have supplanted trials in our criminal justice system, that presumption does not apply to most cases in the United States.

    Prejudice against the accused is quite common. Consider your own experience: If you see that a police car has pulled a driver over to the side of a highway, what do you make of the situation? Most people probably think to themselves, "Hmm, that driver was probably caught speeding." Similarly, if you heard that one of your neighbors had been arrested, you would likely say to yourself, "I wonder what crime he committed." It is a common reaction to presume that the authorities had a good reason to detain or arrest someone.

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Welcome to Flint: Don't drink the water!

    President Obama made a long-planned trip to Detroit this week to celebrate the resurgence of America's auto industry. But his visit was overshadowed by news that Detroit teachers had staged a "sick-out," forcing the closing of most of the Motor City's 100 public schools. Teachers were protesting the shocking condition of city schools -- buckled floors, leaking roofs, collapsing ceilings, broken-down furnaces, rodent infestations -- which force them to teach, and students to learn, in unsafe conditions.

    In many ways, complaints about unsafe public schools in Detroit echoed complaints about unsafe drinking water in nearby Flint. And there is a connection. Because, until he took over as emergency manager of Detroit's school system in January 2015, Darnell Earley was emergency manager of the city of Flint -- and the man responsible for poisoning Flint's water supply. Governor Rick Snyder appointed him to both jobs.

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Questions for Bernie Sanders' establishment guy

    Bernie Sanders has attracted liberal activists and young voters to his presidential campaign. Hillary Clinton dominates with elected Democratic politicians and party officials. A notable exception is Paul Kirk, who endorsed Sanders last week.

    Ryan was party chairman from 1985 to 1989 and the longtime chief political aide to Massachusetts Sen. Edward Kennedy. When Kennedy died in 2009, Kirk was appointed to his Senate seat and served for 4 1/2 months.

    Here are Kirk's comments from an interview this week, slightly condensed and lightly edited.

 

    Q: Why Bernie Sanders?

    A: Bernie Sanders deserves an endorsement because he's speaking to the fundamental values of the Democratic Party - economic, political and social justice and, not least, the renewal of a fair and truly representative democracy. I chose to endorse him because of what he's focusing on.

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Japan must let its zombie companies die in peace

    Imagine that you're a Japanese 26-year- old with big dreams. You graduated from Waseda University, an elite private school, with a degree in electrical engineering. You and your college buddies used to hang around your apartment, watching anime on your LCD television, which was made by Sharp Corp. -- the world's 10th-largest LCD TV manufacturer. Even then, you had ideas about how to improve the product.

    Now, after graduating and working for four years in the research division of an LCD manufacturer, you're sure that you have figured out how to make LCD panels more cheaply, at higher quality. You also believe that you could market these TVs more effectively to young people with cool, fun designs. Instead of giving the idea to the higher-ups in your giant corporation -- which, knowing Japan, might get you little more than a pat on the head -- you decide to leave your job and start a business with your college buddies. You just know that you can beat lumbering, struggling incumbents like Sharp.

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