Archive

June 12th, 2016

Our Immigration Policies Are Ridiculous

    I recently stayed with a friend who lives just a few miles from the Mexican border — and from the start of the Pacific Crest Trail.

    Since I was there anyway, I thought, what the heck? I might as well hike a bit of it.

    I’d walked less than a quarter mile from the wall at the border — yes, there’s already a wall along much of the border — when Border Patrol stopped me.

    “Out taking nature photography, Miss?” the man asked. “That your Toyota?”

    The next time I went out, I returned to find Border Patrol parked behind me, inspecting my car.

    The last time I was on the trail, at about nine miles from the border, I could see the highway for a brief section of my hike. I watched a white and green Border Patrol vehicle pass. Then another.

    A monument for those who have died attempting to cross the US-Mexican border. Tijuana-San Diego border. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

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Mitch McConnell just made a devastating admission about Trump - and the GOP

    Mitch McConnell is getting a lot of attention this morning for his startlingly candid admission, in a new Bloomberg Politics podcast, that Donald Trump "doesn't know a lot about the issues" and has not displayed the requisite "seriousness of purpose" for the presidency. And it certainly is clarifying to have the top Senate Republican admit this about the party's standard bearer.

    But McConnell's quotes are actually more illuminating for what they tell us about today's GOP, and about the true nature of the decision by many Republicans to support Trump in spite of his bigotry, pathologically abusive tendencies, and temperament that's dangerously unfit for the job. Here's what McConnell said:

    "He needs someone highly experienced and very knowledgeable because it's pretty obvious he doesn't know a lot about the issues," McConnell said. "You see that in the debates in which he's participated. It's why I have argued to him publicly and privately that he ought to use a script more often - there is nothing wrong with having prepared texts."…

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A horrible day for Orlando, gay pride and US history

    One year after celebrating the most joyous pride month in U.S. history with the Supreme Court ruling that legalized same-sex marriage in this country, the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community and the nation as a whole are now in mourning. As of this writing, at least 50 people are dead and 53 were injured when a madman unleashed hell inside a gay nightclub in the wee hours of Sunday, June 12.

    This is by far the worst mass shooting in American history.

    Law enforcement officials identified the shooter as Omar Mateen, a 29-year-old American citizen who lives in Port St. Lucie, Fla. He was killed in a shootout with police inside the Pulse nightclub. In explaining a possible motive, Mateen's father told media that his son became "very angry" after seeing two men kiss in downtown Miami a few months ago. Authorities are calling this an act of terrorism.

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No Matter How You Do The Math, Sanders Loses

    OK, so the fix is in. In one sense, it's too bad the Associated Press and the TV networks called the Democratic race for Hillary Clinton before New Jersey, California and four smaller states voted on June 7. Judging by my email and Facebook feed, this has enflamed the Bernie-cult's belief that it's been cheated by the "establishment."

    Whatever the results, they've been rendered illegitimate in some eyes by the news media's premature call. Never mind that news organizations feel a professional duty to report the facts as quickly as they are ascertained. Not much imagination is required to grasp the mischief that could result from their doing it any other way.

    Never mind, too, that anybody who can do the electoral arithmetic knows that Hillary Clinton has been the inevitable Democratic nominee since April, when she prevailed in New York and Pennsylvania by 16 and 12 points, respectively. There simply weren't enough populous states left for Sanders to catch up -- unless he could win California by an impossible 60 points.

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Most people just want to find a regular job

    There's been a shift in the U.S. economy over the past decade toward more work being done by independent contractors, on-call workers and others in what the government calls "alternative work arrangements." Economists Lawrence Katz and Alan Krueger documented that earlier this year, showing that these "gig economy" workers went from 10.1 percent of the workforce in 2005 to an estimated 15.8 percent in 2015.

    But there is also a long-established cyclical pattern in which people leave self-employment and contracting gigs for full-time work as the job market improves, and this economic expansion is proving to be no exception.

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I'm Mexican-American, and I was a judge. What Trump is doing is appalling.

    The people of the United States are increasingly diverse in our religious, ethnic and racial backgrounds. While we still struggle with discrimination, we have learned to live respecting one another.

    This respect has taken many decades to achieve, yet it can be fragile, particularly when political leaders challenge it. Our common progress has been jarred by Donald Trump's demeaning of U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel based on his ethnicity. Trump has responded to disappointment in the courtroom with bitter vitriol on the campaign trail: He says his plan to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border poses an inherent conflict of interest for the judge. Trump branded Curiel a "hater" and "very hostile" and noted that he was "Mexican." And he called Curiel to recuse himself from an ongoing class-action lawsuit over Trump's failed Trump University, after the judge issued several rulings against Trump in the litigation. (On Tuesday, Trump said his remarks were "misconstrued," though he did not apologize.)

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How the class-action system works (and doesn't)

    Class-action lawsuits are necessary as a way to police corporations -- but there's always a chance that they'll be settled in an effort to keep a company's dirty laundry from being aired.

    In a decision Tuesday that polices the policing mechanism, an appeals court reversed an order to permanently seal the records of a particularly embarrassing class action brought against Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. The decision was correct -- and also a warning to lawyers against exploiting a range of pitfalls in the legal system.

    The case arose from a classic abuse of power by Michigan's largest health insurer. At the time of the events that formed the basis of the class-action suit, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan had more than a 60% market share of commercial healthcare in the state.

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Hillary Clinton's victory speech, translated

    (Clinton climbs to the mizzenmast and emits an hour-long sigh of relief.)

    FINALLY.

    FINALLY.

    Wow, America.

    Can you believe that, this whole time, I was a woman? I barely noticed it, frankly. It turns out that this might have been a historic candidacy, this whole time! I know, right?

    But this campaign is not about the fact that I am a woman, although I am. Or the fact that there LITERALLY HAVE BEEN ZERO FEMALE PRESIDENTS BEFORE, so, if elected, I would be the first lady president, a historic milestone that has never happened. Although that, too, is true. (Not the first lady. I have already been that, and that was something different.) I don't want to stress this too much, but HISTORY IS HAPPENING IN BROOKLYN, AND WE JUST HAPPEN TO BE IN THE GREATEST COUNTRY IN THE WORLD, and you can get a free magnet that says HISTORY MADE on it and also coincidentally has my face.

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First female nominee? Yawn.

    A female presidential candidate has clinched a major-party nomination for the first time in U.S. history. No one seems to care - at least not many people in my millennial generation. Not even women, although they should.

    Maybe my cohort is caught up in the moment of Donald Trump: Millennial liberals may think it's more vital to ward off an age of authoritarianism than to usher in a new era for feminism. Certainly, we've been distracted by Bernie Sanders: For idealistic young voters, a rabble-rousing revolutionary feels more alluring than a political pragmatist, even one with two X chromosomes.

    College campuses buzz these days with talk of "intersectionality," the notion that different forms of discrimination interact and overlap. So to many voters of my generation, being a woman alone might not seem like enough, if you're also white, straight, rich and, by the way, a Clinton.

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Did the media overstep by crowning Clinton the nominee?

    The chorus of criticism over the media's coronation of Hillary Clinton as the presumptive Democratic nominee Monday night was ferocious in some corners and measured in others. But at its core the issue was: How dare they?

    Glenn Greenwald, never one to pull punches, described it on the Intercept as elitist and undemocratic. Michael Tracey, a columnist for Vice, tweeted: "The nomination was declared clinched based on unverifiable info that reporters obtained from operatives whose identities were concealed."

    And Bill Mitchell of Poynter.org, the journalism-education center, had warned earlier: "Clinton's current overwhelming support among superdelegates ... should not be used to support declarations like Clinton clinching, crossing the threshold or any other lingo suggesting it's all over."

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