Archive

More blunt truths from Republicans, please

    One of the most encouraging signs in this often depressing election year is that more Republicans are stepping up to try save their party. Not only is Donald Trump the wrong choice for conservative Republicans, some are saying, but the reason Trump happened to the party in the first place is that the party has some serious problems.

    These Republicans don't just write Trump off as a fluke of a nominee -- one who is hugely unpopular and has little or no commitment to party issues. They accept that he's part of a pattern of embarrassing candidates such as recent Senate nominees Todd Akin in Missouri, Christine O'Donnell in Delaware and Sharron Angle in Nevada.

    Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake and Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse are among those who have faced up to the bigotry that Trump exploits and to the closed information loop that allows myths to flourish within the party. These and other voices hint at the possibility of a healthier Republican Party emerging from this debacle.

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EpiPens are my armor against disaster. They shouldn't be priced like a luxury.

    The last time I refilled my EpiPen, in November, I paid $365.63 out of pocket for two auto-injectors. I looked that number up Thursday morning after the news broke that Mylan, the company that makes EpiPens, is bowing to public pressure and will start offering discounts after years of hiking prices.

    EpiPens are just the latest in a series of drugs that have become cash cows for their distributors. The skyrocketing cost of the epinephrine injectors, which counteract a severe allergic attack, has been particularly grotesque for allergy sufferers like me. Mylan has sent a clear message: If those of us with allergies want to live expansive, adventurous lives, doing things that are normal for other people but risky for us, the company is prepared to test just how much we're willing to pay for that privilege.

    EpiPens have been constants in my life since I was diagnosed with a severe tree-nut allergy as a toddler. They've been rolling around the bottom of my primary school backpacks and tucked neatly into the purses I carry in adulthood.

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A short checklist for conspiracy theorists

    Unlike Wall Street, conspiracy theories are a perfect market, with supply and demand in perpetual equilibrium. This election year has seen soaring demand, with a robust supply organized (secretly, of course, by an anonymous, all-powerful, committee) to meet it.

    Hillary Clinton, it turns out, is mortally ill. That's the latest conspiracy theory to hit the presidential trail (unless I've fallen behind again). Like most conspiracy theories, it's a mix of fantasy, improbability and willful stupidity. And, like others, it will no doubt prove tenacious. If Clinton is elected president, some will swear the woman in the Oval Office is in fact an expertly rouged cadaver.

    Countering conspiracy theories is hard, since facts trade at a discount among the conspiracy minded. But for those tempted to jump to conspiracy-tinged conclusions, perhaps a checklist would be a useful precaution.

    1. Ask why. Then ask why again.

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A Fed tightening is good news for Clinton (really)

    Economic forecasters for decades have predicted, with uncanny accuracy, the outcome of presidential elections by taking the temperature of the economy. They consider indicators like inflation and unemployment, but gross domestic product growth is usually the most important one.

    Yale economist Ray Fair, the dean of such forecasters, in late July checked the variables in his model, which has picked the winner in all but two elections going back to 1916, and predicted a Donald Trump victory. According to Fair, Hillary Clinton can't win unless the economy is growing by at least 4 percent. It's now growing at an annual 1.2 percent pace. Among all the post-World War II recoveries, this one is dead last.

    Of course, this isn't like any previous election year, with Trump's views and behavior so far outside the mainstream that economic fundamentals might not matter. Other prognosticators whose models also point to a Trump win have been skeptical of their models' chances of success this year.

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We know how to fight Zika in Puerto Rico but we aren't giving women the tools to do it

    "She is just trying to do everything right for her baby," my colleague in Puerto Rico told me. At that point, it was too late for her sister to try to prevent an unintended pregnancy. She was already a couple of months along and now trying to figure out what she could do to prevent Zika infection. She felt trapped - homebound in an air-conditioned apartment with her partner, too worried about being exposed to mosquitoes to even go to her doctor appointments. She often thought about leaving the country for the mainland United States, which Puerto Rican citizens can do at any time if they have the financial means.

    My colleague was asking for my advice - as a friend, but more as a doctor. In June, when I was on the ground in Puerto Rico working with local providers at community health centers to help stop the spread of Zika, a virus that has become a public health emergency, there were 130 cases of Zika-positive pregnancies on the island. Since then, that number has shot up to about 900 and, today, there are probably many more. Unfortunately, I had little to share with her that day other than the typical lines: We don't know much, she should stay protected if she can with mosquito nets and condoms.

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August 30th

Trump just admitted his entire immigration posture is a big scam

    Donald Trump is currently running an ad in four swing states that graphically depicts the southern border as being overrun by dark hordes. It flatly states that in Hillary Clinton's America, the borders will be "open." And it promises a hyper-tough response from President Trump, which is illustrated with cops carefully scanning the border and images of helicopters patrolling for fleeing invaders.

    This represents the larger tale that Trump has been telling about immigration for the last year, one that is central to his whole candidacy: Unlike our current, feckless, "politically correct" leaders, who are not enforcing immigration laws and as a result allowing undocumented immigrants to snatch jobs from Americans, only Trump is tough, savvy at management, and "politically incorrect" enough to do what really must be done: Expel all undocumented immigrants as quickly as possible, to Make America Safe And Great Again.

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How panics about pictures of naked women shaped the Web as we know it

    On Aug. 6, 1991, Tim Berners-Lee posted to a newsgroup with the subject heading "WorldWideWeb: Summary," describing his new invention in the most prosaic of terms. "To follow a link, a reader clicks with a mouse," he wrote. "To search and index, a reader gives keywords."

    The Web browser that accompanied this launch was text-only. Two years later, Mosaic became the first browser to display images inline - that is, right next to the text, rather than having to be downloaded in a separate window.

    Berners-Lee was displeased. Now, he said, people were going to start posting pictures of naked women.

    He wasn't wrong.

    The World Wide Web turned 25 this month. For most of the years since it came online, its destiny and evolution have been inextricably intertwined with nude photos. The sexualized female body has, from the beginning, been the catalyst for attempts to regulate what's on the Web, ultimately shaping what the Internet looks like today.

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Federal Marijuana Laws Reek of Hy-Pot-Crisy

    For a few brief months, it looked like America might take a step closer to sanity. And then came the news: the Obama administration will not loosen federal restrictions on marijuana after all.

    Before delving into the issue of marijuana, consider its two fellow “gateway drugs:” alcohol and tobacco. Aside from the potential benefits from drinking a glass of red wine, neither one is good for you.

    Alcohol can be incredibly harmful, either via acute alcohol poisoning or via chronic destruction to your life and liver. Cigarettes are always bad for you.

    All three—alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana—supposedly entice users to take a timid step into the world of drug use and then find themselves plunged all the way in with “harder” drugs like heroin, cocaine, or meth.

    And while illegal drugs like meth and heroin can ruin your life or kill you, so can legal ones like alcohol. Just ask any recovering alcoholic.

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Donald Trump, shifting tone, still tone deaf

    As Donald Trump expressed "regret" for saying "the wrong thing" sometimes in his campaign, I thought he was going to break into song:

    "Regrets, I've had a few/ But then again, too few to mention...."

    Yes, that line from Frank Sinatra's "My Way" (actually Paul Anka's rewrite of a French song) reflects the wealthy developer-turned-Republican presidential candidate's attitude in Charlotte, N.C., in his first speech since rebooting his failing campaign's leadership.

    Regrets? He's had a few, Trump tells us. But apparently they are too few to mention, since he didn't bother to mention any of them.

    Or more likely, listing his offenses against various groups and individuals -- varying from a Gold Star family to Fox News' Megyn Kelly -- would "take too much time," as he says of all "political correctness."

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Debt Collectors Get Away With Daylight Robbery

    I thought Donnie Trump and his fellow Republicans were big law ‘n order politicians. So, why are they trying to scrap the sheriff and unleash thousands of robbers to run wild across America?

    The sheriff they want to nix is the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

    The thieves they’re out to help are corporate debt collectors who pay pennies on the dollar for huge databases of overdue bills, then hound the borrowers to pay up.

    Debt collectors profit from weak regulations that let them bully, harass, and run roughshod over tens of thousands of consumers every year—including people who’ve already paid off their debt or never even incurred it.

    Every year, debt collection firms routinely abuse the law and overload our courts by filing hundreds of thousands of lawsuits against debtors.

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