Archive

August 9th, 2016

Will Donald Last All The Way To The Election?

    The question isn't so much if Donald Trump can win the election as whether or not he'll still be the GOP candidate come November. Nobody can predict what mad trajectory the Republican nominee's campaign might take. But given Trump's erratic, politically self-destructive behavior, it's reasonable to suspect he might get forced out or quit in a huff rather than face the ultimate indignity of losing to a girl.

    Just the other day, Rep. Richard Hanna of upstate New York, disavowed Trump and endorsed Hillary Clinton, the first Republican member of Congress to do so. Describing himself as "stunned by the callousness" of the candidate's remarks about Khizr and Ghazala Khan, the Gold Star parents whose son died fighting in Iraq, Hannah called Trump "a national embarrassment," and "unfit to serve."

    Hanna added that while he disagrees with Hillary Clinton on many issues, "she stands and has stood for causes bigger than herself for a lifetime. That matters." The implication, of course, is that Trump's only cause is himself and his grotesquely swollen ego.

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Why millennials having less sex is worrying

    Millennials are less sexually active as young adults than previous generations were. On the surface, that looks great: They appear to be less disposed toward risky behaviors, better at saying no to unwanted encounters, more motivated to study, work and make money, which could lead to more financially secure, happier families. Yet there could be an ugly side to this that could turn what looks like increased responsibility into a demographic threat.

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August 8th

Welcome to Donald Trump's America

    Donald Trump's conquest of the Republican party has sparked panic about what would happen to America if he wins the general election. These concerns change daily as Trump spouts an increasingly erratic and dangerous array of policy prescriptions. Will he pull the U.S. out of NATO and sanction a Russian-led invasion of Eastern Europe? Will he round up Muslims? Will he deport Mexicans? Will he tweet classified information? Will he paint the White House gold and build monuments of himself on the National Mall?

    But there is another troubling question that is less frequently asked, though it concerns the most likely outcome in November: What if Trump loses?

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Trump Reflects White Male Fragility

    Reports of Donald Trump’s demise are an exaggeration, to paraphrase and repurpose Mark Twain.

    Yes, he can’t stop shooting off his mouth and shooting himself in the foot, and there are reports that his messy campaign is nearing the point of mutiny.

    Yes, he knows nearly nothing about world affairs and that becomes ever more apparent every time he stumbles through an interview. Sir, Putin invaded Ukraine in 2014, the same year you filmed your last installment of your reality game show “The Celebrity Apprentice.”

    Yes, his continued feud with the family of a fallen Muslim soldier may be the most ill advised and foolhardy folly in recent political memory (Trump keeps racking these up.) This is the same man who received five draft deferments during the Vietnam War, one for “bone spurs in his heels” according to The New York Times. While throngs of his contemporaries were fighting — and dying — in battle, Trump was being featured on the front page of The Times after he and his father were sued by the Justice Department for anti-black bias in their rental properties.

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Trump Meets the CIA

    The government is arranging classified intelligence briefings for Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump to prepare them for the White House. This long-standing practice of briefing nominees is controversial this year: Sen. Harry Reid has urged the CIA to give Trump a “fake” briefing, while House Speaker Paul Ryan has said Clinton can’t handle classified material. But what would a Trump briefing look like, anyway?

    ———

    “Mr. Trump, I’m Gene Smith from the CIA.”

    “Smith, huh? Is that your code name? You know, I know a huge amount about the CIA, more than most CIA directors. A terrific, beautiful, very good organization.”

    “Actually, Smith is my real name. Anyway, let’s get started with China and our assessment that Xi is much more aggressive than Hu.”

    “She is more aggressive than who?”

    “Exactly.”

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Trump blusters shamelessly on, reminiscent of Joe McCarthy

    Some 62 years ago, as a young reporter I sat at the press table in the Senate Caucus Room during the historic Army-McCarthy hearings, watching defense lawyer Joseph Welch irately walk out, memorably expressing his contempt for Republican Sen. Joseph R. McCarthy.

    McCarthy had just wrongly accused a young Welch associate of belonging to "a communist front organization," seeking to smear him in the course of challenging the patriotism of an Army general. Welch declared of the vindictive Wisconsin senator: "Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?"

    His dramatic words and exit, which later in 1954 contributed to McCarthy's bipartisan censure by his Senate colleagues, had an electric reprise at last week's Democratic National Convention.

    A Muslim-American parent of a U.S. soldier killed in Afghanistan blew a loud whistle on Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. He accused him of never having read the American Constitution, in light of Trump's call for a temporary ban of Muslims and his various racist remarks.

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The secret behind Hillary Clinton's steely temperament

    For all our talk of policy, there's a key Presidential attribute that can't be sussed out of position papers or stump speeches: temperament. "A president's temperament is his most important quality," Slate's John Dickerson wrote in 2012. Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates agreed, telling MSNBC, "temperament is the most important quality a President needs to have."

    Donald Trump's deficient temperament is recognized as a big campaign liability (though he, of course, says he has "one of the best temperaments" of any candidate) . Still, it's an open question: Who in politics today - besides perhaps our preternaturally calm current president - has the temperament to meet the tumult? Who is centered, balanced, and grounded enough to think clearly and hold the space even in the face of confusion and chaos?

    For most people, Hillary Clinton doesn't jump to mind. After all, she's a highly scripted career politician with a penchant for controversial compromises and a seemingly unrivaled capacity to attract scandal.

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The Olympics need a permanent home

    Those of us who enjoy experiencing the "thrill of victory and the agony of defeat" of the Olympic Games could probably do without one particular emotion: the fear that the games, which begin Friday in Rio de Janeiro, will be an operational disaster. So far, the headlines do not inspire confidence. Armed robbers heisting a German TV crew's equipment. "Uninhabitable" residential facilities for athletes. Marathon swimmers being told not to open their mouths while competing in sewage-contaminated Guanabara Bay.

    The 2004 Olympics in Athens were preceded by similar worries right up until the day they began. In the end, those Games were a great success. So there's reason to hope the same will happen in Rio. Still, the ill-preparedness creates real risks. And those risks are part of a larger set of problems that have long dogged the modern Olympics and that derive from a single, avoidable source: the International Olympic Committee's insistence on picking a different city to host each Games.

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The Disney-fication of Our National Parks

    It’s summer vacation time and gasoline is quasi-cheap. So why not pile the family into the mini-van and pay a visit to the historic Budweiser Statue of Liberty, or motor out west in your Camry to Toyota’s Yellowstone National Park?

    That’s right, our thoroughly corporatized Congress mandated a new policy last year to let major corporations buy the naming rights of our visitor centers, hiking trails, educational programs, and other features in America’s national park system.

    For those of us who revere the natural beauty and serenity of America’s 411 national parks, monuments, and conservation areas, it’s going to be a real summer bummer to find corporate brand names and logos polluting these public sanctuaries at every turn of the trail.

    This auctioning-off of the people’s property for exclusive commercialization by private profiteers is already underway. Trying to put a smiley face on this desecration, a Park Service official babbled that the policy is “about aligning [corporate brands] with the values of authenticity.”

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Stop Indulging Trump

    John McCain, Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell and the rest of you: It’s time to stop suggesting that Donald Trump doesn’t represent you, because he does represent you. He’s your party’s nominee, with your endorsements. Until you withdraw those, he has your blessing. Your permission.

    And if you keep forgiving him and prioritizing your political survival over the country’s stability, he could wind up representing all of us.

    Tell me that doesn’t scare the bejesus out of you. Do it with a straight face.

    Sen. McCain, Rep. Ryan, he’s just given you fresh cause to bolt, saying in a Tuesday interview with The Washington Post that he doesn’t support either of you in your respective Republican primary contests.

    From the standpoint of tradition, this is shocking. From the standpoint of Trump, not so much. You’ve upbraided him (mildly). You’ve bruised his tender ego. So now he gets to stick out his tongue at you.

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