Archive

June 22nd, 2016

Is the gun lobby finally cornered?

    A political crisis is usually preceded by an intellectual and moral crisis. Dominant ideas that once seemed to hang together lose their hold when they are exposed as contradictory and incoherent.

     Similarly, moral claims made on behalf of a worldview can, gradually or suddenly, come to be seen as empty. Demoralization comes before defeat.

    This is what happened in the Soviet Union. A corrupt and dictatorial system fell for many reasons, but its demise became inevitable when even those with an interest in mouthing the old slogans and defending the old ideology came to realize that almost everyone around them thought they were extolling bunk.

    But a crisis can also develop around particular issues in democratic countries. This is what's happening now to those who maintain an absolutist position in opposing all new measures to limit the use of firearms.

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Double jeopardy? Gay Muslims in America

    One day in the late 1950s on a golf course with actor-comedian Jack Benny, song-and-dance man Sammy Davis Jr. was asked what was his handicap. "Talk about handicap," said Davis, according to various sources. "I'm a one-eyed Negro Jew."

    Right. Beat that for a handicap.

    Davis was an African-American convert to Judaism who lost an eye in an auto accident. But Davis' refusal to let any obstacle block his way to stardom became an inspiration for the world.

    Times change. Davis' story came back to mind after the Sunday early-morning massacre at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida. Suddenly Muslim Imam (minister) Daayiee Abdullah became one of the most sought-after clergy in America.

    Abdullah, 62, is this country's first openly gay imam. Born Sidney Thompson to a black Baptist family in Detroit, the former public interest lawyer directs the Mecca Institute, an online learning and research center in Washington, D.C., for those seeking "more expansive and inclusive interpretations" of Islamic texts.

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Donald Trump gives Hillary Clinton her cause

    The political context around Hillary Clinton has changed. Until now, complaints about her have pervaded public commentary, usually with a predictable refrain. In a May podcast, former "Daily Show" host Jon Stewart couldn't find much good to say about the next leader of the Democratic Party.

    He imagined Hillary Clinton, he said, "to be a very bright woman without the courage of her convictions, because I'm not even sure what they are."

    It was hardly an original damnation. Clinton has long been perceived and portrayed as a cautious, calculating, programmed talking-points bot, a grind churning personal ambition into political power, a transactional politician who lacks the inspirational lift that Democrats admire in Franklin D. Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy and Barack Obama.

    In The Washington Post, Chris Cillizza said that Stewart had "perfectly diagnosed" the problem with Clinton's candidacy.

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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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Trump knows nothing about the successes of minority youths

    "Ignoramus," according to Merriam-Webster, was the name of a fictional 17th-century lawyer who regarded himself as rather shrewd when, in fact, he was quite foolish and ignorant. Enter Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee who denounced U.S. District Judge Gonzalo P. Curiel as too biased to oversee lawsuits involving Trump University because the judge was, as Trump referred to him, "a Mexican."

    Senior Judge Theodore R. Newman Jr. of the District of Columbia Court of Appeals, former chairman of the U.S. Fine Arts Commission Harry G. Robinson III, D.C. venture capitalist James L. Hudson, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, NBC4 news anchor Jim Vance, Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights President Wade Henderson, D.C. elder statesman Carl Anderson, former D.C. mayor Adrian Fenty, D.C. Council member Brandon Todd, BET founder Robert Johnson and more than 150,000 members of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, including this lifetime member and columnist, have another name for Curiel: We call him "Brother."

    Trump, no surprise, again was loud and wrong.

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Trump in the Dumps

    He won’t pivot. So I have to.

    Having seen Donald Trump as a braggadocious but benign celebrity in New York for decades, I did not regard him as the apotheosis of evil. He seemed more like a toon, a cocky huckster swanning around Gotham with a statuesque woman on his arm and skyscrapers stamped with his brand. I certainly never would have predicted that the Trump name would be uttered in the same breath as Hitler, Mussolini and scary menace, even on such pop culture staples as “The Bachelorette.”

    Trump jumped into the race with an eruption of bigotry, ranting about Mexican rapists and a Muslim ban. But privately, he assured people that these were merely opening bids in the negotiation; that he was really the same pragmatic New Yorker he had always been; that he would be a flexible, wheeling-and-dealing president, not a crazy nihilist like Ted Cruz or a mean racist like George Wallace. He yearned to be compared to Ronald Reagan, a former TV star who overcame a reputation for bellicosity and racial dog whistles to become the most beloved Republican president of modern times.

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The Republicans’ Big Hot Mess

    In normal times, a party’s leaders and comers grovel for roles in the convention and prime time on its stage.

    In the Year of Trump, Republicans are racing for the exits. It’s as if the Emerald City suddenly turned into Chernobyl. The list of luminaries who plan to skip Donald Trump’s coronation in Cleveland includes the 2012 nominee (Mitt Romney), the 2008 nominee (John McCain) and the two-term president who preceded them, George W. Bush. The Bushes en masse are taking a pass.

    Small wonder that one of Trump’s advisers recently suggested that the candidate not wait until the climactic hour to deliver his remarks but, in a break with precedent, speak every single night. Not just double Donald. No mere triple Trump. Four luscious scoops of him.

    It’s an idea where narcissism meets necessity. And it’s reason to take that trip to the Arctic Circle that you’ve long fantasized about. Make sure that you’re beyond the range of the internet, and think about staying through Nov. 8.

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How to cover Trump honestly and fairly: A style guide

    This Style Guide to Covering Trump Honestly and Fairly is too late for me, since I work at The Post, which has had its credentials revoked by the Trump campaign. But it may not be too late for you, other members of the media! Please read and implement!

 

The Pillars of Covering Trump:

    1. Donald Trump is never wrong.

    Donald Trump is infallible -- like the pope but with more raw sexual charisma. If Donald Trump appears to be wrong in a story, either because of a statement or an action, or some combination of the two, it should be rewritten so that he is not wrong. A good baseline for what is fair and honest coverage is that fair and honest coverage depicts Donald Trump as the shining, golden god he is, envied of men and beloved of women. Unfair, dishonest coverage does not depict Donald Trump this way.

 

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Would checks and balances stop Trump? Don't bet on it.

    Will the Republican Party that made Donald Trump its nominee protect us from Trump when he is president? Even as they call him a "textbook" racist and acknowledge his scant regard for the rule of law, Republican leaders assure voters that the U.S. system of checks and balances will contain their candidate's authoritarian impulses. Congress and the judicial system will keep Trump under control.

    History and recent events suggest that is a risky proposition. Inflamed popular passions and overreaching presidents have at times not been checked. Presidents have ignored Supreme Court rulings, and the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798 and 1918, Jim Crow, the mistreatment of German Americans during World War I and of U.S. citizens and noncitizens of Japanese descent during World War II, and the investigations of Sen. Joseph McCarthy all showed how a frightened, angry or simply bigoted majority could deprive individuals of their rights despite the Constitution's checks and balances. That those rights were eventually restored is no cause for satisfaction: The damage done was permanent.

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White House: Even Donald Trump won't want to tear up the Iran deal

    Despite Donald Trump's repeated claims that he will "dismantle" the Iran nuclear deal if he becomes president, a top White House aide expressed confidence on Thursday that the next commander-in-chief, including the presumptive Republican nominee, would preserve the deal in order to prevent a potential military conflict in the Middle East.

    "The way in which the Iran deal is structured creates enormous disincentives for an incoming president to tear it up," Ben Rhodes, the deputy national security adviser, told a crowd at the Atlantic Council in response to a question by Foreign Policy. "To decide that one of the very first things I'm going to do is precipitate a crisis in the Middle East that leads to potential nuclear proliferation or another war - it just doesn't seem like a very wise thing to do."

    The remarks come at a perilous moment for the nuclear deal struck by world powers last year that exchanges strict curbs on Iran's nuclear program for the lifting of punishing economic sanctions.

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