Archive

March 1st, 2016

Five Big Questions After a GOP Debate That Targeted Trump

    Were Brakes Just Put on the Trump Juggernaut?

    Something profound happened on the stage in Houston on Thursday night. Both Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz stopped focusing on each other long enough to turn toward the person who is actually beating them and is favored to win the Republican nomination: Donald Trump.

    Cruz dismissed Trump as someone who’d discovered certain concerns — who’d discovered conservatism, really — only when he became a candidate. Cruz said that while he was working to combat the illegal immigration that so inflames Trump now, Trump was firing Dennis Rodman on “Celebrity Apprentice.”

    But Rubio turned in Trump’s direction with particular force. With ferociousness, in fact. He recited a meticulously memorized litany of Trump’s transgressions, especially those that contradict Trump’s words now: the illegal immigrants that Trump reportedly hired for his construction projects, the litigation against a college bearing his name, multiple bankruptcies associated with him.

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Fighting back against the invasion of the bedbugs

    A few days ago, I found myself standing naked in a friend's back yard, having just thrown away most of my personal possessions, wondering where my life went wrong.

    How, you may ask, did I arrive at such an amusing, pathetic state? The answer comes in one word that's sure to send a shiver down many spines: Bedbugs.

    On a recent trip to San Francisco, I stayed -- as I often do -- in an Airbnb rental. Unfortunately, this particular room happened to be infested with tiny little vampiric bugs that would emerge every night to feed upon my blood. I don't want to blame the poor Airbnb host -- I might have brought the bugs myself, from a hotel I stayed at for one night. Bedbugs, being difficult to detect, are also difficult to trace. But whatever the source, the result was disaster.

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Does one city's minimum-wage hike kill jobs in that state?

    In 1938, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the nation's first minimum-wage law. It set the wage at $0.25 an hour and covered only a fifth of the workforce. Speaking to the country the night before he signed the bill, Roosevelt told listeners to "not let any calamity-howling executive with an income of $1,000 a day" tell them "that a wage of $11 a week is going to have a disastrous effect on all American industry."

    Last August, almost 80 years later, the city council of Birmingham, Ala., voted 7 to 0 (with one abstention) to become the first city in the Deep South to enact a minimum wage above today's federal level of $7.25. The ordinance planned an increase to $8.50 per hour by July 2016, with a second increase to $10.10 set for July 2017.

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Democrats are the real conservatives of 2016

    As the contest between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders moves into its next phase -- primaries in South Carolina and other Southern states -- the question of who is the more "progressive" candidate still seems to preoccupy many Democrats.

    On the issues, it's beside the point. Clinton and Sanders broadly agree on most things, and when they differ, one or the other may end up further to the left: Sanders in his attacks on Wall Street and call for free college tuition, Clinton in her advocacy of stricter gun laws and pleas for more generous treatment of immigrants.

    But these mappings have lately obscured the more important, if sometimes oversimplified, distinction between the two candidates: their contrasting relation to the politics of the 1960s, in particular the Democrats' tumultuous nomination battle of 1968 that ended with riots on the streets of Chicago.

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Clinton insiders can relax, McAuliffe says

    Terry McAuliffe, a Clinton-family confidante and the governor of Virginia, has a message to his nervous allies in the Hillary Clinton camp: Calm down; the time for panic over Bernie Sanders's surprisingly strong challenge has passed.

    McAuliffe predicted that Clinton will sew up the Democratic nomination in a little over two weeks.

    "By March 15th, there's a real likelihood that we will be able to announce that Senator Sanders statistically cannot win," McAuliffe said in an interview on the "Charlie Rose Thet Week" PBS television program.

    This is predicated on the former secretary of State winning a big victory in South Carolina on Saturday and then sweeping most of 11 contests on March 1, when about 22 percent of the delegates will be chosen.

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Campaigns get good news that it's OK to lie

    Tired of campaign lies and the lying liars who tell them? You'll be sorry to hear that an Ohio law that prohibited false statements about a candidate for office was struck down this week by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit, some 25 years after it was upheld by the same court.

    The decision is probably correct in light of the Supreme Court's expansive new free-speech precedent. But it's worth pausing to note just how far the courts have gone in protecting falsehood.

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A modest plan to save the Supreme Court

    As the U.S. heads for a protracted impasse in the Senate over filling the seat of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, I have reached a reluctant, even tortured conclusion. It is time for everyone, liberals and conservatives, to drink a little bit of poison and support the selection of a new justice who sees the court's role in a far narrower way than anyone currently sitting, whether they're on the left or the right -- someone who will reintroduce a more limited style of decision-making.

    In effect, we need a court more inclined to retreat than advance into political disputes, as was the case in the late 1930's when Justice Owen Roberts, the swing vote at the time, adopted a more accommodating attitude to New Deal legislation. No matter how unpalatable and even unrealistic this idea might at first appear, it is the only logical way out of the increasingly pitched battles about who should sit on the bench. And for that reason, it is overwhelmingly likely to be the eventual outcome.

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Why black voters are in Clinton's corner

    With the Democratic primary in South Carolina upon us, the question isn't whether the presumed firewall of African American voters for Hillary Clinton will hold. I firmly believe that it will. The question is why. Yes, a lot of it has to do with fealty to President Obama. But it also has to do with what Clinton is saying to African Americans and how she says it.

    "Any discussion of the Democratic base must include the acknowledgment that that base is heavily Black," explains Steve Phillips in his insightful new book "Brown is the New White." Phillips argues that a "New American Majority" has formed within the voting-age population in the United States: "Progressive people of color now comprise 23 percent of all the eligible voters in America, and progressive Whites account for 28 percent of all eligible voters," he writes. "The New American Majority electoral equation requires securing the support of 81 percent of people of color and 39 percent of Whites."

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Twilight of the Apparatchiks

    Lack of self-awareness can be fatal. The haplessness of the Republican establishment in the face of Trumpism is a case in point.

    As many have noted, it’s remarkable how shocked — shocked! — that establishment has been at the success of Donald Trump’s racist, xenophobic campaign. Who knew that this kind of thing would appeal to the party’s base? Isn’t the GOP the party of Ronald Reagan, who sold conservatism with high-minded philosophical messages, like talking about a “strapping young buck” using food stamps to buy T-bone steaks?

    Seriously, Republican political strategy has been exploiting racial antagonism, getting working-class whites to despise government because it dares to help Those People, for almost half a century. So it’s amazing to see the party’s elite utterly astonished by the success of a candidate who is just saying outright what they have consistently tried to convey with dog whistles.

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Donald Trump's bigotry has inspired Muslim American voters like no candidate before

    Through the driving rain, past the flood watch, the stalled cars and the tornado warnings, they pushed onward Wednesday night to get to the mosque in Northern Virginia. They had a Super Tuesday mission, and time was running out.

    "Abstaining from voting is also a vote," read one of the talking points in their action plan.

    "If Muslims do not vote, openly Islamaphobic leaders do not pay a price," said another one.

    Even the kids who just finished Arabic class -- like the girl whose pink hijab matched her Hello Kitty backpack -- knew that something big was happening in Virginia next week, and the adults at the All Dulles Area Muslim Society, better known as ADAMS, were talking about it.

    "My dad said he don't know who he's voting for yet, but he said he's going to vote against Trump no matter what," one of the girls declared.

    Guess what, Donald Trump? Your bigotry has inspired Muslim American voters like no presidential candidate has done before.

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