Archive

August 9th, 2016

Republicans burn down one last institution

    There used to be some exceptions to the Republican Party's war on American institutions.

    The party began aggressively attacking the news media and the academy in the era of Nixon-Agnew, undermining confidence in the validity of news reports and the integrity of journalists while condemning the pernicious ideological influence of university professors.

    Republicans added public schools to the enemies list as desegregation orders trickled through the nation in the 1960s and 1970s. The courts, the ultimate source of such orders, were cast as a radical den, home to judges who were delegitimized as "unelected," "liberal" and "activist." Racial conservatives resisted integrated schools while religious conservatives condemned public education as a godless swamp. More often than not, the religious and racial objections drew from the same well of resentment.

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Is Donald Trump mentally unstable?

    His critics have used a lot of adjectives to describe Donald Trump: outrageous, flamboyant, pompous, thin-skinned, erratic, egocentric and paranoid, for starters.

    But maybe it's time to use another word: "crazy." Not "crazy" as in wild and funny, but "crazy" as in mentally unstable. Given his bizarre behavior, it's a question more and more people are asking these days.

    One thing's for sure, we know Trump's a pathological liar. He lies with every breath. He lies so often about so many things he makes "Lyin' Ted" look like a truth-teller. Look at his contradictory statements about Vladimir Putin.

    Back in 2014, he bragged: "I was in Moscow recently and I spoke, indirectly and directly, with President Putin, who could not have been nicer." Last November, he claimed he "got to know Putin very well because we were both on '60 Minutes.'" But this week, he told reporters: "I never met Putin. I don't know who Putin is."

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Economist Mark Zandi: Donald Trump is the biggest threat to the recovery

    Mark Zandi is one of my favorite fellow economists. It's not just that he thinks about all the economy's moving parts; it's that he's able to discuss them with great clarity. We met for coffee the other day and spoke about current events.

    Jared Bernstein: No one can say when the next recession will hit, but what do see in the economic picture that we should be considering in this regard?

    Mark Zandi: Predicting recessions is indeed a dark art, but I think we are several years away from the next one. At the center of every recession is a serious imbalance in the economy and mirrored in the financial system. Think subprime mortgage and the Great Recession, or the technology bubble and the early 2000s recession. There are no such imbalances today. An overheating economy, characterized by accelerating inflation and rising interest rates is another precondition for recession. This doesn't describe today's economy.

    Q: So we shouldn't be worried about that measly 1.2 percent print on the last GDP report?

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Donald Trump sours on polls now that he's behind

    Donald Trump and polls have had a long and unusually good relationship. Throughout the Republican primary, polls showed Trump at or near the top of the field. He dutifully cited them - and cited them - as evidence that he was #winning, and that everyone who second-guessed his unorthodox campaign style was, in a word, dumb.

    It was Trump's ultimate defense. Every time another candidate or a party leader raised questions about his fitness for office or his conservative credentials, he could always point to polling that showed the Republican primary electorate siding with him. It served as his uber-example of how out of touch the party establishment was with its base; every time they predicted something he said or did would doom his campaign, his poll numbers went up. (See Muslim ban, build wall and make Mexico pay for it, etc.)

    Of late, though, the Trump-polls friendship has fallen on hard times. Very hard times.

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Republicans nominate dangerously insane person to lead America, then panic when he proves he's dangerously insane

    Republicans are in a full scale panic Wednesday because Donald Trump's candidacy appears to be in chaos. There is talk of an "intervention," inspired in part by Trump's continuing attacks on the Khan family. RNC chair Reince Priebus is described as "very frustrated" and "stressed," because he is "running out of excuses" to offer party bigwigs about Trump's political incompetence and indifference to basic political norms. Republicans are panicking because Trump is frittering away a chance to defeat Hillary Clinton amid "self inflicted mistakes" and "missed opportunities."

    In other words, if only Trump were not acting in such a crazy manner right now, he'd be on track to having a real shot to beat Clinton, and if Trump just gets a handle on his fleeting bout of bad behavior, he'll be right back in the position of having a good chance to win. An "intervention" just might set that right.

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America's nuclear arsenal can stand on two legs

    It's one of the delicious ironies of the Barack Obama presidency that a man who came into office with lofty talk on nuclear nonproliferation would oversee the biggest modernization of the U.S. arsenal since the Cold War. His administration kick-started a $1 trillion nuclear upgrade initiative that, among other things, will refurbish eight major weapons labs and prolong the lives of the Pentagon's most important tactical nuclear bomb and submarine-based warhead.

    For those of us who think there are more pressing issues than who gets to use what bathroom in North Carolina, this update is a legacy worth championing.

    However, it is possible to have too much of a necessary thing. Case in point is a new plan by the Air Force to spend $62 billion for research and development of new nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missiles to replace the aging Minuteman IIIs now in silos in the northern Great Plains.

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A Very Important Post about … cargo shorts

    The Cargo Shorts Wars have begun.

    They started with two bits of information. First, the simple fact that the past year annual sales of cargo shorts declined for the first time in a decade. Then there was Nicole Hong's Wall Street Journal story on the strife that cargo shorts -- yes, I said cargo shorts -- are causing in relationships:

    "Relationships around the country are being tested by cargo shorts, loosely cut shorts with large pockets sewn onto the sides. Men who love them say they're comfortable and practical for summer. Detractors say they've been out of style for years, deriding them as bulky, uncool and just flat-out ugly. . . .

    "Travis Haglin, who has worked in the retail industry for more than 15 years, including atRalph Lauren and J. Crew, said he has never felt comfortable wearing cargo shorts because they 'don't look cool enough.'

    " 'Men want to be like James Bond,' " Mr. Haglin said. 'Bond never wears cargo shorts.' "

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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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