Archive

October 8th, 2016

Pence’s Ugly Assignment

    Donald Trump’s campaign for the presidency has been such a nonstop sequence of inane and insane moments that it’s hard to remember the outrages of a few weeks ago, let alone a few months back. So you may well have forgotten his introduction of Mike Pence as his running mate in July.

    I assure you that Pence hasn’t — because that was the harbinger. That was the clue. That was when and how he knew that he’d enlisted himself in an effort that was going to cause him significant heartache and boundless mortification.

    Trump took the stage in New York that day and digressed from the task at hand to sing one of those masturbatory arias — a Trump trademark — about his political success, his business genius and the unalloyed glory of all things Trump. This went on for nearly 30 minutes, while Pence waited … and waited … and waited in the wings.

    When he was finally summoned to the microphone, Trump didn’t stand beside or behind him but temporarily vanished. If the spotlight wasn’t going to be on Trump, what could possibly be the point of hanging around?

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October 7th

Trump's praise of Putin could cost him the election

    Donald Trump likes to mock Hillary Clinton for speaking to small crowds. So what was Trump doing last week giving a surprise speech to just 100 people in Chicago - a state he has zero chance of winning?

    Answer: damage control.

    Trump seems to finally realize that his bizarre embrace of Russian President Vladimir Putin, and questioning of the U.S. obligation to defend its NATO allies, has alienated a critical voting bloc he needs to win the White House - Americans of Eastern European descent. So last week, Trump took a break from criticizing a former Miss Universe to give a speech to the Polish American Congress - the nation's most prominent Polish American organization - where he lavished praise on Poland. The fact that Trump is reassuring Polish American leaders less than 40 days before a close election shows he is worried about losing this voting bloc - and with good reason.

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Only you can prevent a Trump presidency

    I know, I know, the point I'm about to make is painfully obvious. But it is not in any sense trivial: If you care who wins the election next month, get off the couch, go down to your polling place and vote.

    National polls taken since last week's debate show Hillary Clinton with a solid lead over Donald Trump; a Politico/Morning Consult poll released Monday morning, for example, put the gap at 6 points. New polls in swing states, including some that once looked favorable for Trump, also report that Clinton is now ahead. There is every reason to believe that most Americans favor the former U.S. senator and secretary of state over the bigoted, clownish real estate mogul who claims he's worth billions of dollars yet apparently avoids paying federal income taxes.

    If you're tempted to think this is in the bag, however, look around.

    In Colombia on Sunday, voters narrowly rejected a peace deal intended to end a war against leftist guerrillas that has raged for five decades and claimed tens of thousands of lives. Supporters of the agreement were shocked because respected polls had shown it would be approved easily.

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Note to young voters: Giuliani was once admired

    Rudy Giuliani once captivated Americans with his take-charge leadership after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. He was Time Magazine's man of the year.

    That's hard for most under-30 voters to grasp. The former New York City mayor has suffered one embarrassment after another ever since, and has become a staple of comedians' jokes.

    This was on display last weekend when, in his role as a leading surrogate for Donald Trump, he went on TV-interview shows to proclaim that the Republican presidential nominee was a "genius" for declaring $916 million in losses that he could use to legally avoid paying 18 years of federal income taxes.

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Let’s Get Putin’s Attention

    You may have missed this story, so I am repeating it as a public service:

    MOSCOW, Special to The New York Times, Oct. 1 — A previously unheard-of group called Hackers for a Free Russia released a treasure trove of financial records online today indicating that President Vladimir Putin owns some $30 billion in property, hotels and factories across Russia and Europe, all disguised by front organizations and accounting charades. 

    The documents, which appear to be authentic, include detailed financial records and emails between Putin’s Kremlin office and a number of his Russian cronies and Swiss banks. They constitute the largest hack ever of Putin. Russian censors are scrambling to shut down Twitter inside the country and keep the emails out of Russian-language media. 

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Let us see it, Mr. Trump

    Eighteen years? He paid no taxes?

    Are you sure this is standard practice?

    No wonder he won't release his returns.

    The bigger the losses, the more he earns.

    Airline, Trump U, and casinos

    All went belly-up but he knows

    Loss is gain. My projection:

    He'll make money from a lost election.

   

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Dispatches from a orange tweet storm

    Wait, wait. Did I hear what I just heard? Did you?

    Donald Trump paid no income taxes over an 18-year period?

    “That makes me smart,” says he. Not just smart. Brilliant.

    That makes me confused. If this were such a great virtue, you’d assume Trump would have shared his tax returns with us so we could bathe in his brilliance.

    Did I hear Trump say he can’t release his tax returns by law because they’re being audited? Yes, I heard that.

    Did I read an analysis in Forbes magazine unequivocally say that Trump’s claim is ridiculous? Yes, I did.

    Talk about ridiculous claims: Trump says that he knows more than anyone about how to game the tax system, making him best suited to “fix it.” Really? So, someone who’s dodged millions of dollars in tax liability is going to fix whatever it is that made his windfall possible?

    While we’re talking about being Trump smart:

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Community policing can make us all safer

    Recent incidents in Charlotte, Tulsa and El Cajon, Calif., were just the latest in a long series of events that have left Americans feeling saddened, angry and confused about the meaning of justice in the United States. These high-profile traumas - which include the tragic officer-involved deaths of civilians and appalling, premeditated attacks on police officers - have laid bare the fault lines of mistrust that too often separate law enforcement and communities of color.

    As attorney general of the United States, one of my top priorities has been bridging the divides between police and citizens. I firmly believe that all of us - law enforcement officers, activists and ordinary citizens alike - have a role to play in closing those rifts and repairing the fabric of our society. The Justice Department has been tirelessly pursuing that goal in a number of ways. We dispatch mediators to assist with tense situations, provide local law enforcement agencies with training and technical assistance, and, when necessary, investigate allegations of unconstitutional policing. Our work to restore trust takes many forms, but it is all closely tied to the principles of community policing.

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Assange's message gets lost in the bluster

    There was a time when Julian Assange believed in redacting personal information that could hurt individuals before his WikiLeaks organization flooded the Internet with hacked or leaked documents.

    There was a time when he even was willing to meet with representatives of the U.S. government before he put out potentially damaging material from government files.

    But these days Assange, holed up for four years now in the Ecuadoran Embassy in London, fighting rape charges he denies, is more extreme. His original vision of "radical transparency" has morphed into something reckless.

    And that's unfortunate. Because much of his message is an important one: Secrecy promotes corruption. People deserve to know what their governments are doing.

    But with his abusive Twitter presence and his weird behavior, he's gone too far. Not long ago, WikiLeaks released vast troves of information that made public the medical records of individuals all around the world. Even the National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden has said publicly that a no-redaction policy is dangerous.

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Why biologists don't put too much stock in race

    Race is perhaps the worst idea ever to come out of science. Scientists were responsible for officially dividing human beings into Europeans, Africans, Asians and Native Americans and promoting these groups as sub-species or separate species altogether. That happened back in the 18th century, but the division lends the feel of scientific legitimacy to the prejudice that haunts the 21st.

    Racial tension proved a major point of contention in the first 2016 presidential debate, and yet just days before, scientists announced they'd used wide-ranging samples of DNA to add new detail to the consensus story that we all share a relatively recent common origin in Africa. While many human species and sub-species once roamed the planet, there's abundant evidence that beyond a small genetic contribution from Neanderthals and a couple of other sub-species, only one branch of humanity survived to the present day.

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