Archive

September 12th, 2016

The glass ceiling isn't shattered yet

    There are many better reasons to oppose Donald Trump than his rampant sexism. But the brazenness of Trump's recent comments, and the not-so-subtle piling on by the Republican National Committee, demand some attention. The remarks are worth noting not only because of what they tell us about Trump & Co., but also because they illustrate some of the gender-based challenges that Hillary Clinton confronts as she seeks to become the nation's first female president, and that she would continue to face in office.

    At NBC's Commander-in-Chief Forum on Wednesday night, Trump was asked about his 2013 tweet on sexual assaults in the military: "What did these geniuses expect when they put men & women together?"

    There is only one possible answer when questioned about this tweet: "That was dumb, and I retract it."

    It will not surprise you that this was not Trump's response. "It is a correct tweet," he told Matt Lauer.

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The Conscience of the Contrarian Voter

    I met Gary Johnson, the somewhat-surging Libertarian Party candidate for president, years ago in one of those beautiful Western settings full of mostly awful people at the time — that is, lobbyists and various sycophants who attach themselves to any gathering of power.

    He was then the Republican governor of New Mexico, a rare politician with a glib sense of humor, rolling his eyes as his fellow Western politicians sucked up to bolo-tied suits from the oil industry. We talked mostly about marathons and mountains; he’s run the 26-mile race in less than three hours, and climbed the apex of the planet, Mount Everest, as well.

    I liked him instantly. And as I’ve followed him since then, my regard for Johnson has grown. Now that he’s running for president, and polling at 15 percent or better in at least 15 states, would I ever vote for him?

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Sexism: Let’s Deconstruct Donald

    Are Donald Trump’s attacks on Hillary Clinton sexist? To be fair, Trump is a guy who makes insulting personal remarks about everyone he disagrees with, regardless of gender. Let’s not jump to conclusions. This deserves a serious breakdown.

 

— Yelling

     Trump frequently complains that Clinton yells too much. “That’s why I turned her off last night ... I just couldn’t stand it. I got such a headache,” he told a rally this year. “But I won’t say it, because I’m not allowed to say it, right?” He added that he had “great respect for women, believe me.”

    Rule No. 1: When grading a candidate’s level of sexism, add one point for every time he says that what he just said is not politically correct. Add two if he interjects that he has great respect for women.

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O Say Can You See the First Amendment?

    Before a football game against the Green Bay Packers two weeks ago, Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco 49ers quarterback, refused to stand for the pre-game patriotic ceremony that is wound around the singing of the “Star Spangled Banner.”

    Kaepernick later said he was “not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” and said his stance, a quiet form of civil disobedience, was to him “bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.” Several professional athletes had previously protested what they saw as police brutality directed against Blacks; about 70 percent of NFL players are Black. However, Kaepernick’s actions received far more attention because he was the quarterback to a Super Bowl championship team and the 49er–Packers game was televised to a national audience.

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I got arrested for putting my feet up on the subway. I was lucky I was white.

    In a holding cell below New York City's Chinatown one night last year, I spent four hours curled in a ball, balancing on a narrow wooden bench. I was trying to avoid the freezing cinderblock walls and the cold cement floor, splattered with cigarette butts and rotten food. The NYPD had taken my shoes, in case I tried to hang myself with my laces.

    An hour earlier, I was quietly riding the A train home from a folk-music show in Brooklyn. My earbuds were plugged in, my feet propped on the seat in front of me. Sometime around 2:30 in the morning, the train paused at the Canal Street station. A uniformed and armed New York police officer popped her head through the door and beckoned me off the subway car. Within a few minutes, I was handcuffed, ID'd and marched upstairs by two police officers.

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Five myths about smartphones

    Americans are estimated to check their smartphones a collective 8 billion times per day, and Nielsen says we spend an average of one hour and 39 minutes on our smartphones each day - up 60 percent from last year. But while many of us consider our smartphones to be an essential part of our lives, there are many misconceptions about how we use them and how they affect us.

 

    Myth No. 1

    Smartphones give people cancer.

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Can Hillary Clinton count on the Latino turnout she needs?

    One of the big questions about the 2016 campaign is this: Will voter groups in the vaunted Obama coalition turn out at levels this fall that rival their turnout in 2012?

    Key to this question is the enthusiasm level among Latinos. They are increasingly important to Democrats in national elections, because they are growing as a share of the electorate, even as Republicans appear paralyzed from doing anything to strike a more welcoming posture towards them and have nominated someone who insults Mexican immigrants for sport and vows mass deportations and a great wall keeping the hordes out.

    Yet some new polling released this week by Latino Decisions offers some mixed news for Democrats on this front.

    On the one hand, the poll finds that Hillary Clinton is beating Donald Trump by 70-17 among registered Latino voters nationally. That's better than Barack Obama was faring among Latinos at the same point in 2012, when Latino Decisions polling found him beating Mitt Romney by 64-21. In the end Obama beat Romney by 71-27 among Latinos in the election itself, so while Clinton is roughly at the same number among Latinos right now, Trump is doing substantially worse than Romney fared.

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The ‘Big Liar’ Technique

    Long ago, you-know-who suggested that propagandists should apply the “big lie” technique: make their falsehoods so huge, so egregious, that they would be widely accepted because nobody would believe they were lying on that grand a scale. And the technique has worked well for despots and would-be despots ever since.

    But Donald Trump has come up with something new, which we can call the “big liar” technique. Taken one at a time, his lies are medium-size — not trivial, but mostly not rising to the level of blood libel. But the lies are constant, coming in a steady torrent, and are never acknowledged, simply repeated. He evidently believes that this strategy will keep the news media flummoxed, unable to believe, or at least say openly, that the candidate of a major party lies that much.

    And Wednesday night’s “Commander in Chief” televised forum suggested that he may be right.

    Obligatory disclaimer: No, I’m not saying that Trump is another Hitler. More like Mussolini. But I digress.

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Tell us about that immigrant scourge, Mr. Builder

    He was in a pinch, on a deadline, and short on cash. So the employer hired undocumented workers.

    Working day and night, they demolished a building that the employer ultimately would replace with a structure that would make him a lot of money.

    When the workers complained about pay and dangerous conditions, the employer threatened to have them deported.

    That employer: Donald Trump.

    Reporting on this (how many of his supporters know this?), Time magazine quotes Trump’s own associate as saying the Polish nationals doing the groundwork that preceded Trump Tower in 1980 were paid “starvation wages.”

    Illegal immigration is a scourge, unless it makes you money.

    Listening to profiteers like Trump painting those horror stories about illegal immigration, it sounds to me like those high-profile sorts who, strumming Bibles to denounce homosexuals, later are found to be batting on both sides of the plate.

    Hypocrites.

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September 11th

Having trouble hiring? Try offering higher pay

    Pop quiz time. Which of the following explains the inability of employers to fill open positions:

    -- A lack of qualified workers?

    -- Low pay?

    -- Welfare state/transfer payments that make work unappealing?

    I'll try to answer that based on my own (admittedly anecdotal and limited) experience.

    A few years ago, I was trying to fill an opening in our New York office. I offered what I thought was a competitive salary for a junior position, including good benefits. No one seemed to fit the bill.

    I mentioned this to a friend who had a lot more hiring experience. I showed him all the details: Fast growing company, exciting work environment, lots of perks (window office, unlimited coffee). When it came to pay, he laughed at me. "You are trying to hire someone in a high paying industry in the most competitive and expensive city in the country for that job," he said. "Try raising your offer."

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