Archive

October 28th, 2016

Seven score and 13 years later, Trump, at Gettysburg, impersonates Lincoln

    Can she get anything done? That's the question now that nearly every poll shows Hillary Clinton winning the presidency and the Republicans holding on to the House, albeit with a weaker hand.

    Even if the Democrats take control of the Senate -- a strong possibility though not a certainty -- House Republicans could block Clinton's agenda of taxing the wealthy to finance new spending plans; liberalizing immigration, and tightening gun controls.

    A Democratic Senate would quickly confirm her choices for judges, including filling the long-vacant Supreme Court seat for which President Barack Obama nominated Merrick Garland in March. She would also have slight leverage on some routine spending bills. She could follow Obama's lead and use executive actions to expand gun control limits, for example, or stop corporations from moving their tax headquarters abroad. Accomplishing much more is wishful thinking.

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How Clinton and Ryan could find common ground

    Can she get anything done? That's the question now that nearly every poll shows Hillary Clinton winning the presidency and the Republicans holding on to the House, albeit with a weaker hand.

    Even if the Democrats take control of the Senate -- a strong possibility though not a certainty -- House Republicans could block Clinton's agenda of taxing the wealthy to finance new spending plans; liberalizing immigration, and tightening gun controls.

    A Democratic Senate would quickly confirm her choices for judges, including filling the long-vacant Supreme Court seat for which President Barack Obama nominated Merrick Garland in March. She would also have slight leverage on some routine spending bills. She could follow Obama's lead and use executive actions to expand gun control limits, for example, or stop corporations from moving their tax headquarters abroad. Accomplishing much more is wishful thinking.

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Google and Facebook contribute zero economic value. That's a big problem for trade.

    How much value do free online services contribute to the U.S. economy? Ask any user of Google, Facebook, YouTube or Twitter, and the answer would most likely be, "A lot." But according to every statistic created by the U.S. government, the answer is actually zero.

    That's because key benchmarks including gross domestic product (GDP) historically ignore everything without a price. Because consumers do not pay for many information services, these "building blocks of the digital economy," as Harvard Business School economist Shane Greenstein wrote in a 2013 paper, simply aren't measured by standard economic tools. Greenstein refers to the vast difference between actual and measured value as our "digital dark matter."

    Ignoring free goods may not have mattered much in the past, but today a growing range of crucial software and digital services are simply not being counted. Well, so what? Consumers and investors obviously place high values on these services and the companies that offer them. Google is valued at more than $500 billion, and last year reported revenue of $75 billion.

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Believe Rubio at your own risk

    Indignant emails roll out of Marco Rubio's Senate office in waves, as if the past year hadn't happened at all.

    President Barack Obama is soft on Cuba, they complain. Obama is soft on Iran. Obama should be tougher on Venezuela.

    This is Rubio the defender of human rights, Rubio the internationalist, Rubio the brave advocate for U.S. leadership and engagement in a dangerous, dictatorial world.

    And Rubio the endorser of Donald Trump? Nowhere to be found in these pronouncements. Unimaginable, in fact, in these pronouncements.

    Every down-ballot Republican candidate who has endorsed Trump for president, which is almost every down-ballot Republican candidate, will have to explain the stance to his or her children and grandchildren.

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What Donald Trump shares with Al Sharpton

    One of my favorite tunes in the super-hit musical "Hamilton" is a little ditty sung by King George III. He raises a very appropriate question for his former colonies today: What comes next?

    What comes next?

    You've been freed.

    Do you know how hard it is to lead?

    That question has come to many minds ever since King George's day, every time a new regime takes the reins of power and its lofty campaign promises run into the harsh realities of taxes, budgets and tough decisions. "We campaign in poetry," as the late New York Gov. Mario Cuomo famously proclaimed. "We govern in prose."

    That question -- What comes next? -- also came to mind as I asked one of the most quotable black conservatives I know, Robert L. Woodson, founder and president of the Washington-based National Center for Neighborhood Enterprise, what he thinks of Republican nominee Donald Trump's campaign.

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Trump's repulsive response to his female accusers rings of defamation

    Even as the country recoils, justifiably, from the prospect of Donald Trump threatening not to respect the election results, let us not lose sight of the mounting evidence of Trump's mistreatment of women -- and his offensive debate dismissal of their claims.

    At the second debate, Trump claimed that his taped boasting about grabbing women without consent was just that -- all talk, no action. In the 10 days before the third debate, nine women came forward to dispute that assertion.

    So moderator Chris Wallace posed the key question: "Why would so many different women from so many different circumstances over so many different years ... all make up these stories?"

    Trump's response was a characteristically repulsive stew of dishonesty, outright lies, conspiracy theorizing and blame-shifting.

     Dishonesty: "Those stories have been largely debunked," he said. Wrong. Actually, additional corroboration has emerged.

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On Nov. 9, let's forget Donald Trump happened

    With Donald Trump's chances of winning the White House narrowing, it's not too soon to ask: If Hillary Clinton wins the presidency in November, what attitude should Democrats and Republicans alike take toward Trump voters?

    It will be tempting to excoriate or patronize them, or to woo them to your cause. But all of these approaches would be mistaken. A much better strategy -- for both parties -- is to engage in selective memory, and to treat Trump voters as though the whole sorry episode of his candidacy never occurred.

    That may seem counterintuitive, especially because there's no doubt that Trump's candidacy shows the system needs fixing. But it's based on the solid intuition that Trump voters, many of them alienated already from mainstream party politics, will only be further alienated by anything that associates them with a candidate whose brand was victory and who delivered defeat.

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It’s Trump’s Party

    The presidential campaign is entering its final weeks, and unless the polls are completely off, Donald Trump has very little chance of winning — only 7 percent, according to the Times’ Upshot model. Meanwhile, the candidate continues to say disgusting things, and analysts are asking whether down-ballot Republicans will finally repudiate their party’s nominee.

    The answer should be, who cares? Everyone who endorsed Trump in the past owns him now; it’s far too late to get a refund. And voters should realize that voting for any Trump endorser is, in effect, a vote for Trumpism, whatever happens at the top of the ticket.

    First of all, nobody who was paying attention can honestly claim to have learned anything new about Trump in the last few weeks. It was obvious from the beginning that he was a “con artist” — so declared Marco Rubio, who has nonetheless endorsed his candidacy. His racism and sexism were apparent from the beginning of his campaign; his vindictiveness and lack of self-discipline were on full display in his tirades against Judge Gonzalo Curiel and Khizr Khan.

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October 27th

How fascist is Donald Trump? There's a formula for that

    "Donald Trump is a fascist" sounds more like a campaign slogan than an analysis of his political program. But it's true that the GOP nominee doesn't fit into America's conventional party categories, and thoughtful people - Robert Kagan and Jeffrey Tucker, among others - have hurled the f-word at him.

    Fascism was born in Italy during World War I and came to power with the ex-journalist and war veteran Benito Mussolini in 1922. Since the 1950s, dozens of top historians and political scientists have put fascism, especially the Italian and German versions, under the microscope. They've come up with a pretty solid agreement on what it is, both as a political ideology and as a political movement, factoring in all the (sometimes contradictory) things its progenitors said as they ascended to power. As a political ideology, fascism has eight main traits. As a political movement, it has three more. So: Just how fascist is Trump? On the fascist meter, we can award him from zero to four "Benitos."

    First, the ideological features:

 

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My mom, an immigrant, is vetted every day

    I doubt my mother would pass the "extreme vetting" process Donald Trump has in mind for refugees seeking a new life in the United States. After 26 years in this country, she still speaks with a heavy accent, misplaces tenses, mumbles. She doesn't know the Pledge of Allegiance. Her job as a night security guard requires staying awake and making sure the doors stay locked, the perfect position for an immigrant like her.

    Before coming to America, Mom was a psychiatrist, working in a busy clinic in the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv. The city's population was more than a million, but after 30 years as a doctor, she couldn't run an errand without bumping into a former patient or grateful family member. It used to annoy me as a child, and I'd tug on her arm, impatient to move on. Once we came to the United States, that was no longer a problem.

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