Archive

November 27th, 2016

In a Trump Era, Schumer Declares, Democrats Are ‘the Barrier’

    Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., wasn’t planning on being leader of the Senate minority — and by extension the Democratic opposition — as the Trump era dawns in the nation’s capital.

    “Do I regret what happened? Yes,” said Schumer, who was hoping to be President Hillary Clinton’s right hand as Senate majority leader before both he and Clinton came up short of their Election Day goals. “Late moments at night, do I think what could have been? Yes.”

    “But I am fully occupied with the job at hand,” Schumer said in an interview in his Senate office on Friday, just a few days after being formally chosen by his colleagues to succeed his mentor, Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., as leader of the Senate Democrats.

    That job, in Schumer’s view, is to serve as the bulwark against a unified Republican government led by his former campaign donor, President-elect Donald Trump; to use the power of the Senate minority to try to force compromise when possible; and to stand in the way of Republicans when necessary.

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From an improbable to first independent president

    Viewed through any conventional lens, President-elect Donald Trump's candidacy was improbable from start to finish. Today, two things about his victory seem to be in sharper focus: one, that Trump's victory might best be understood as the success of the country's first independent president, and second, that the Trump coalition may be even more uniquely his than President Barack Obama's has turned out to be.

    Think again about how he prevailed. There are a handful of major events during a general election that give the nominees a chance to showcase themselves, their judgment and their vision. One is the selection of a running mate. Another is the staging of the conventions. A third is performance in the debates. Hillary Clinton did better than Trump on all three tests, though Trump's team believes the debates did not fall so decisively in her favor.

    Then there are the other factors that go into producing a successful candidacy. These include resources, the operations and mechanics of campaigning, and the skill with which candidates avoid mistakes and deal with the unexpected setbacks.

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Don't fall into the infrastructure trap

    As the White House official responsible for overseeing implementation of President Barack Obama's massive infrastructure initiative, the 2009 Recovery Act, I've got a simple message for Democrats who are embracing President-elect Donald Trump's infrastructure plan: Don't do it. It's a trap. Backing Trump's plan is a mistake in policy and political judgment they will regret, as did their Democratic predecessors who voted for Ronald Reagan's tax cuts in 1981 and George W. Bush's cuts in 2001.

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Dancing in a Hurricane

    Britain’s vote to withdraw from the European Union followed by Donald Trump’s election in the U.S. constitute a single giant political event — one that makes 2016 a vintage year in history that will long be studied. Big political events have big causes. For the last three years I’ve been working on a book about what’s been happening beneath the surface — in the plumbing and wiring of the world — that’s roiling politics in so many places. My answer begins with a question: What the hell happened in and around 2007?

    2007? That’s such an innocuous year. But look again.

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Better post-election bubbles designed for people not satisfied with the results

    OK, you could live through the next four years. But if you have money and imagination, and are not afraid of robots, why not try one of these theme parks, cleverly designed for people not satisfied with the results of the election? We will deposit you there by helicopter and see to your every need. It is fine to live in a bubble if you pay for the privilege of living in that bubble and the security of that bubble is guaranteed by a sinister corporation.

    Pastworld: This magical world transports you to the American Past, where women and minorities DEFINITELY lack the rights that only might be jeopardized under a Donald Trump presidency. But, hey, you get to see passenger pigeons, and the uncertainty is gone.

    Trumpworld: This is our cheapest bubble package. You will still have to live through a Trump presidency, but none of the news stories you read about it will be correct.

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To resist a Trump presidency, ask, 'What would the abolitionists do?'

    In the days since the election, there have been many calls for anti-Trump forces to remain resolute in their resistance. "If the presidency of Donald Trump inspires anything, it should be a fierce spirit of opposition," Leon Wieseltier wrote last weekend in these pages. "The proper response is steely resolve to wage the fight of our lives," Jonathan Chait wrote in New York magazine.

    But what can anti-Trump liberals and progressives actually do? With his party in control of the White House and Congress, and with Trump about to tip the balance of the Supreme Court, it's easy to despair over how little leverage the Democrats seem to have. However, there's an episode of history that reveals reasons to hope.

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They interned my family - don't let them do it to Muslims

    There is dangerous talk these days by those who have the ear of some at the highest levels of government. Earlier this week, Carl Higbie, an outspoken Trump surrogate and co-chair of Great America PAC, gave an interview with Megyn Kelly of Fox News. They were discussing the notion of a national Muslim registry, a controversial part of the Trump administration's national security plans, when Higbie dropped a bombshell: "We did it during World War II with Japanese, which, you know, call it what you will," he said. Was he really citing the Japanese American internment, Kelly wanted to know, as grounds for treating Muslims the same way today? Higbie responded that he wasn't saying we should return to putting people in camps. But then he added, "There is precedent for it."

    Stop and consider these words. The internment was a dark chapter of American history, in which 120,000 people, including me and my family, lost our homes, our livelihoods, and our freedoms because we happened to look like the people who bombed Pearl Harbor. Higbie speaks of the internment in the abstract, as a "precedent" or a policy, ignoring the true human tragedy that occurred.

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The Other White People

    Since the election, the West Coast has been abuzz with talk of breaking away from Donald Trump’s America — a Calexit, or a linking of the nation’s most populous state with Oregon, Washington and British Columbia to form a Cascadia by the sea.

    It’s a fantasy, of course, fueled by Trump’s drubbing on the West Coast, where he got less than 10 percent of the vote in some cities. But it would also be a monumental mistake for the most prosperous and progressive part of the United States to even consider abandoning a country that could be dominated by the old Confederacy.

    A better idea is to reach out across a yawning class divide. People in the West could listen to their fellow Americans in the old industrial heartland. And people in struggling towns could learn something from the workable policies of the left coast. Difficult as that conversation may be, it could start with some white-on-white dialogue.

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The Democrats must learn from the GOP and rebuild

    The Republican Party is fractured by ideological divisions, led by an inexperienced and unpredictable president-elect, and quite possibly headed for a fratricidal civil war. The Democratic Party should be so lucky.

    There is much unpleasant reality for Democrats to deal with right now, starting with this: The GOP controls virtually everything. The two-party system is, at best, one and a half.

    Republicans won the presidency. They retained control of both houses of Congress. Soon, when Donald Trump appoints a replacement for the late Justice Antonin Scalia, they will re-establish a conservative majority on the Supreme Court. As far as the federal government is concerned, that's the whole trifecta.

    But there's much more: After making significant gains last week, Republicans control both legislative chambers in 32 states -- and hold the governorships in 33. Some of the nation's most diverse and populous states, including Texas and Florida, are living under one-party Republican rule.

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November 26th

Blame the SAT for Trump's anti-intellectual appeal

    In 1960, four labor economists with a grant from the Ford Foundation, peering into the future of what they called "industrialism," predicted that modern economies would be transformed by education:

    "Out of education come several results. Education is intended to reduce the scarcity of skilled persons and this after a time reduces the wage and salary differentials they receive; it also pulls people out of the least skilled and most disagreeable occupations and raises wage levels there."

    And, a few paragraphs further along in the economists' book, "Industrialism and Industrial Man":

    "Education brings in its wake a new economic equality and a consequent new equality of political outlook; the universal industrial mass. This in turn, along with many other developments, helps bring consensus to society."

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