Archive

Watch Trump build his campaign team (again)

    Eric Trump emailed Monday to encourage me to donate $25 to his father's presidential campaign, promising that I'd be added to a list of supporters that his Dad would review personally. The mass message also highlighted some priorities that Eric said he's learned from his father and that presumably are being put to use in the Trump campaign: research, fast action, hard work and building "a team with smarts and experience."

    I'm not so sure about that team-building part. For one thing, the team at Trump Tower has been changing a lot lately. Last Friday, Paul Manafort resigned as the campaign chairman, after Stephen Bannon and Kellyanne Conway stepped in as the campaign's new CEO and manager.

    Manafort himself had been brought aboard just two months earlier, forcing his predecessor, Corey Lewandowski, to depart for CNN. That came after an ugly spell of internecine battles. "It's a total cage fight in there now," is how one Trump operative described the Manafort-Lewandowski era to Politico.

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The latest Clinton email story just isn't a scandal

    There's a new round of "revelations" concerning Hillary Clinton's time at the State Department, and since it involves some people sending emails to other people, it gets wrapped up with that other story about Clinton. Are you ready for the shocking news, the scandalous details, the mind-blowing malfeasance? Well hold on to your hat, because here it is:

    When Hillary Clinton was secretary of State, many people wanted to speak with her.

    Astonishing, I know.

    Here's the truth: Every development in any story having to do with anything involving email and Hillary Clinton is going to get trumpeted on the front page as though it were scandalous, no matter what the substance of it actually is. I'll discuss some reasons why in a moment, but we could have no better evidence than the treatment of this particular story.

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Republicans could lose twice in Pennsylvania

    Republican Sen. Pat Toomey should be coasting to another term in Pennsylvania, which rarely throws out an incumbent. The state, which has a sizable population of older voters, likes its politicians familiar, its funnel cakes deep-fried and its coffee burnt. Only once in 40 years has a governor failed to win re-election.

    But this could be an out-of-character year. Toomey's Democratic challenger, Katie McGinty, is a first-time candidate in a swing state, yet polls show her consistently ahead of the Republican incumbent.

    What's pulling down Toomey is what's hampering Republicans in other swing states: Donald Trump. Nationwide, the Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton is polling about five points ahead of her Republican rival, but in places such as Pennsylvania the gap in her favor is nine points or more. Trump boasted that he would win the Keystone State if not for "cheating," even though Pennsylvania's voter ID law was overturned when proponents were unable to present one case of fraud to the court.

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No, Donald Trump, America Isn’t a Hellhole

    Donald Trump has taken a strange turn lately. OK, he has taken a lot of strange turns — that’s what happens when you nominate a short-attention-span candidate who knows nothing about policy and refuses to sit still for more than three minutes. But never mind what passes for Trumpian policy ideas. What’s odd is the shift in what the problem is supposed to be.

    When the Trump campaign started, it was, at least nominally, about economics. Foreigners are stealing your jobs, the candidate declared, both through unfair trade and by coming here as immigrants. And he would make America great again with punitive tariffs and mass deportations.

    But the story changed at the Republican convention. There was remarkably little economic discussion on display; there wasn’t even much economic demagogy. Instead, the focus was all on law and order, on saving the nation from what the candidate described as a terrifying crime wave.

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More blunt truths from Republicans, please

    One of the most encouraging signs in this often depressing election year is that more Republicans are stepping up to try save their party. Not only is Donald Trump the wrong choice for conservative Republicans, some are saying, but the reason Trump happened to the party in the first place is that the party has some serious problems.

    These Republicans don't just write Trump off as a fluke of a nominee -- one who is hugely unpopular and has little or no commitment to party issues. They accept that he's part of a pattern of embarrassing candidates such as recent Senate nominees Todd Akin in Missouri, Christine O'Donnell in Delaware and Sharron Angle in Nevada.

    Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake and Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse are among those who have faced up to the bigotry that Trump exploits and to the closed information loop that allows myths to flourish within the party. These and other voices hint at the possibility of a healthier Republican Party emerging from this debacle.

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EpiPens are my armor against disaster. They shouldn't be priced like a luxury.

    The last time I refilled my EpiPen, in November, I paid $365.63 out of pocket for two auto-injectors. I looked that number up Thursday morning after the news broke that Mylan, the company that makes EpiPens, is bowing to public pressure and will start offering discounts after years of hiking prices.

    EpiPens are just the latest in a series of drugs that have become cash cows for their distributors. The skyrocketing cost of the epinephrine injectors, which counteract a severe allergic attack, has been particularly grotesque for allergy sufferers like me. Mylan has sent a clear message: If those of us with allergies want to live expansive, adventurous lives, doing things that are normal for other people but risky for us, the company is prepared to test just how much we're willing to pay for that privilege.

    EpiPens have been constants in my life since I was diagnosed with a severe tree-nut allergy as a toddler. They've been rolling around the bottom of my primary school backpacks and tucked neatly into the purses I carry in adulthood.

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A short checklist for conspiracy theorists

    Unlike Wall Street, conspiracy theories are a perfect market, with supply and demand in perpetual equilibrium. This election year has seen soaring demand, with a robust supply organized (secretly, of course, by an anonymous, all-powerful, committee) to meet it.

    Hillary Clinton, it turns out, is mortally ill. That's the latest conspiracy theory to hit the presidential trail (unless I've fallen behind again). Like most conspiracy theories, it's a mix of fantasy, improbability and willful stupidity. And, like others, it will no doubt prove tenacious. If Clinton is elected president, some will swear the woman in the Oval Office is in fact an expertly rouged cadaver.

    Countering conspiracy theories is hard, since facts trade at a discount among the conspiracy minded. But for those tempted to jump to conspiracy-tinged conclusions, perhaps a checklist would be a useful precaution.

    1. Ask why. Then ask why again.

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A Fed tightening is good news for Clinton (really)

    Economic forecasters for decades have predicted, with uncanny accuracy, the outcome of presidential elections by taking the temperature of the economy. They consider indicators like inflation and unemployment, but gross domestic product growth is usually the most important one.

    Yale economist Ray Fair, the dean of such forecasters, in late July checked the variables in his model, which has picked the winner in all but two elections going back to 1916, and predicted a Donald Trump victory. According to Fair, Hillary Clinton can't win unless the economy is growing by at least 4 percent. It's now growing at an annual 1.2 percent pace. Among all the post-World War II recoveries, this one is dead last.

    Of course, this isn't like any previous election year, with Trump's views and behavior so far outside the mainstream that economic fundamentals might not matter. Other prognosticators whose models also point to a Trump win have been skeptical of their models' chances of success this year.

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We know how to fight Zika in Puerto Rico but we aren't giving women the tools to do it

    "She is just trying to do everything right for her baby," my colleague in Puerto Rico told me. At that point, it was too late for her sister to try to prevent an unintended pregnancy. She was already a couple of months along and now trying to figure out what she could do to prevent Zika infection. She felt trapped - homebound in an air-conditioned apartment with her partner, too worried about being exposed to mosquitoes to even go to her doctor appointments. She often thought about leaving the country for the mainland United States, which Puerto Rican citizens can do at any time if they have the financial means.

    My colleague was asking for my advice - as a friend, but more as a doctor. In June, when I was on the ground in Puerto Rico working with local providers at community health centers to help stop the spread of Zika, a virus that has become a public health emergency, there were 130 cases of Zika-positive pregnancies on the island. Since then, that number has shot up to about 900 and, today, there are probably many more. Unfortunately, I had little to share with her that day other than the typical lines: We don't know much, she should stay protected if she can with mosquito nets and condoms.

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August 30th

Trump just admitted his entire immigration posture is a big scam

    Donald Trump is currently running an ad in four swing states that graphically depicts the southern border as being overrun by dark hordes. It flatly states that in Hillary Clinton's America, the borders will be "open." And it promises a hyper-tough response from President Trump, which is illustrated with cops carefully scanning the border and images of helicopters patrolling for fleeing invaders.

    This represents the larger tale that Trump has been telling about immigration for the last year, one that is central to his whole candidacy: Unlike our current, feckless, "politically correct" leaders, who are not enforcing immigration laws and as a result allowing undocumented immigrants to snatch jobs from Americans, only Trump is tough, savvy at management, and "politically incorrect" enough to do what really must be done: Expel all undocumented immigrants as quickly as possible, to Make America Safe And Great Again.

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