Archive

March 14th, 2016

An issue that links Sanders and Trump: Trade

    Pollsters had a heap of explaining to do after Sen. Bernie Sanders defeated former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Michigan's Democratic primary, beating odds that pollsters had put at 99-to-one.

    Polls had Clinton leading Sanders by anywhere from 5 percent to 37 percent in the final week. He won by 50 percent to 48 percent.

    Poll aggregator Nate Silver's site FiveThirtyEight.com said, "By most measures, it's the biggest polling miss in a primary in modern political history."

    What went wrong? The possibilities tell us a lot about the unique nature of this presidential campaign cycle.

    They include an underestimation of youth turnout, a failure to call enough cellphones as well as landlines, an underestimation of how many independents would vote and a failure to poll after Sunday, missing the impact of the Clinton-Sanders debate in Flint.

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Only the voters can stop Trump now

    We the people are going to have to save ourselves from Donald Trump, because politicians don't seem up to the task.

    For the big-haired billionaire it was another week, another romp. In winning three of the four states up for grabs Tuesday, Trump demonstrated once again the weaknesses of his rivals. Ted Cruz, whose core support is among staunch conservatives and evangelical Christians, should have won Mississippi. John Kasich, the sitting governor of Ohio, should have won next-door Michigan. And Marco Rubio ... well, he should have competed somewhere.

    Cruz did manage to win Idaho, somewhat bolstering his claim to be the only plausible anti-Trump candidate left in the field. But Trump has now won primaries in the Northeast, the South, the West and the Midwest. Exit polling showed he had strength among both conservative and moderate voters. If he were not so dangerously unsuitable for the presidency, at this point he'd be called the presumptive Republican nominee.

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Marco Rubio's Worst Week in Washington

    There were 147 delegates at stake in the four states -- Michigan, Mississippi, Hawaii and Idaho -- that cast votes in the Republican presidential race on Tuesday. Marco Rubio won one. No, not one state. One delegate or, put another way, .6 percent of all of the available delegates.

    Not good. Especially considering that Rubio was hoping this week would position him as a real contender to knock off Donald Trump in Florida's winner-take-all primary on March 15. Now Rubio is looking to his home state's vote next Tuesday less as a chance to position himself for the race to come against Trump then as a sort of swan song for his presidential campaign.

    And, unfortunately for Rubio, polling suggests that he's an underdog in the state that launched his political career.

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How Trump could attack Clinton

    Donald Trump's lips were moving again Tuesday night - and you know what that means. For what seemed like forever, but was really about an hour, the Republican front-runner treated America to another primary-night victory speech that was self-absorbed, belligerent and, well, sporadically factual.

    Among his more obvious whoppers was this boast: "If I get to go against Hillary, polls are showing that I beat her. And some of the polls have me beating her very easily." No: Only two reputable national polls this year, one taken for USA Today and one for Fox News, have shown Trump leading Clinton, both times within the margin of error. She's up by more than six points in the RealClearPolitics average.

    Still, those numbers should be cold comfort to Democrats eyeing a matchup between Clinton and Trump, and not simply because they don't capture what people would think when confronted with an actual choice between the two, rather than a hypothetical one.

    The real imponderable is what would happen if Trump trained his verbal guns on the former secretary of state, and her alone, and fired them like this:

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Five myths about the Ku Klux Klan

    Donald Trump's recent refusal to disavow Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke has reignited debates over the KKK's role in national politics. It's not surprising. The Klan's long history has been marked by spectacular rises and falls, from its terrorist origins in the aftermath of the Civil War to its massive revival as a nativist movement in the 1920s and its refashioning as a brutal anti-civil-rights vigilante squad in the 1960s. Today, Klan outfits continue to recruit small and marginal memberships. While the KKK's white hoods, flowing robes and fiery crosses remain resonant symbols of racial terror and white supremacy, misconceptions abound.

    Here are five of the most pervasive myths about the Ku Klux Klan.

 

    1. The KKK is too weak to pose a real threat today.

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Computer wins at go; humans are disappointed

    Put away your worries about how all the major presidential contenders have abandoned a bipartisan consensus on trade, or whether any serious financial instrument will ever again earn serious interest. In Seoul, a genuine tragedy for the human race is taking place.

    AlphaGo is winning. The computer, developed by artificial intelligence researchers at Google, has won the first two games in its five-game match with Lee Se-dol, the world's best player of the game Go. The chances of a comeback are tiny.

    It wasn't supposed to be like this. Sure, the best computers have been crushing world chess champions for over a decade. But Go -- Go was supposed to be unsolvable. Or at least not solvable so soon. AlphaGo might have beaten the European champ last fall, but he was ranked something like 229th in the world. No big deal.

    Go was safe, we thought, because Go was different. It's not just calculation. It's intuition. It's an aesthetic. It's a feeling for structure. It's a calm appreciation of space and shape and direction. In short, it's art.

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After 2016, will the political parties ever look the same?

    Even if Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump don't win the presidency, their candidacies have roiled the waters of American party politics. Within the GOP, those white voters who began migrating from the Democrats 50 years ago have become restive. On the Democrats' side, young voters are repudiating the "third way" politics favored by party elites. Are these fleeting disturbances, or do they suggest that some dramatic change is in store for U.S. political parties?

    To answer that question, it helps to look backward. In 1932, GOP ineptitude in the face of the Great Depression turned a solidly Republican majority into a Democratic one. After World War II, political scientists developed a theory of realignment to explain the shift. A succession of writers has attempted to refine and adapt that theory to analyze the development of American politics. It's a useful way to understand the current eruptions.

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Trade and Tribulation

    Why did Bernie Sanders win a narrow victory in Michigan, when polls showed Hillary Clinton with a huge lead? Nobody really knows, but there’s a lot of speculation that Sanders may have gained traction by hammering on the evils of trade agreements. Meanwhile, Donald Trump, while directing most of his fire against immigrants, has also been bashing the supposedly unfair trading practices of China and other nations.

    So, has the protectionist moment finally arrived? Maybe, maybe not: There are other possible explanations for Michigan, and free-traders have repeatedly cried wolf about protectionist waves that never materialized. Still, this time could be different. And if protectionism really is becoming an important political force, how should reasonable people — economists and others — respond?

    To make sense of the debate over trade, there are three things you need to know.

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The Miami debate was Clinton's personal nightmare

    Please make these debates stop. I'm not having fun any more. Please let me out of this deep well. And stop giving me lotion. I don't want any more lotion. I just want to go one night without watching a dang debate. Here is my recap of the last one. Won't that suffice?

    If not, here is the Wednesday night Univision/Washington Post debate summarized for those of you who were not unexpectedly trapped when helping a seemingly friendly stranger move a large unwieldy piece of furniture into a van and forced to watch these debates FOREVER PLEASE HAVE MERCY SEND SNACKS AT LEAST.

    Clinton: Thank you for having me. I've been looking forward to this debate.

    Maria Elena Salinas: Secretary Clinton, why don't people trust you?

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Looks like wild time in Cleveland

    They've tried everything to stop him. They've run ads calling him a closet Democrat. They've attacked his brands of vodka, neckties and magazines. They've accused him of hiring foreign nationals. They've exposed the massive fraud he allegedly wrought on students of his online university. They rolled out Mitt Romney and Carly Fiorina to denounce him.

    There's only one thing wrong with that strategy: The Donald keeps winning primaries and racking up delegates. Now, as a last resort, his enemies within the GOP establishment have decided to exercise the nuclear option in order to block Donald Trump from becoming the Republican Party nominee. Suddenly, especially after his wins this week in Michigan, Mississippi and Hawaii, it's what everybody's talking about: a "brokered convention."

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