Archive

January 27th, 2016

Ted Cruz embraces the death penalty, even though he should know better

    This New York Times piece on Sen. Ted Cruz's time as a Supreme Court clerk has been getting a lot of attention this week. A number of Cruz's former colleagues, including some who clerked for conservative justices, told the paper that they were at times disturbed by Cruz's obsession with the death penalty.

    In interviews with nearly two dozen of Mr. Cruz's former colleagues on the court, many of the clerks working in the chambers of liberal justices, but also several from conservative chambers, depicted Mr. Cruz as "obsessed" with capital punishment. Some thought his recounting of the crimes - "dime store novel" was how one described his style - seemed more appropriate for a prosecutor persuading a jury than for a law clerk addressing the country's nine foremost judges . . .

    Cruz also clerked for the conservative federal appearls court judge J. Michael Luttig.

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Republicans are heading for another Goldwater-style debacle

    Just over a half-century ago, a sharp-tongued conservative seized the Republican Party and led it to one of its worst presidential election defeats in history: the landslide loss of nominee Barry Goldwater to President Lyndon Johnson in 1964.

    The victim proved to be a hapless candidate, but he was much loved among the faithful, millions of whom clung to the notion to the end that he would win the White House. The affection for Goldwater endured thereafter, embraced by the California political newcomer Ronald Reagan, who was elected governor of California two years later and eventually won the Oval Office in 1980.

    Two rather improbable conservatives are doing a fair Barry Goldwater imitation this election year. Donald Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz are coming to the fore of the Grand Old Party as apostles of the true right-wing gospel, with plenty of tough talk thrown in.

    Suddenly, the Republican establishment of center-right politics that reigned from the Goldwater defeat through the presidencies of Nixon, Ford, Reagan and two Bush administrations is being cast aside for a pair of outsiders.

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January 26th

The planet's most powerful city, dusted

    As we've proved before, we're not good at snow. And on Wednesday night, we proved it again in utterly humiliating fashion, morphing from a powerful city of powerful people to a demolition-derby, wagon-training cold mess.

    A one-inch snowtastrophe involving at least 1,000 accidents, eight-hour commutes and cars abandoned on freeways by desperate, disgusted commuters. Some people hadn't even made it home by dawn Thursday.

    Our commander in chief was equally powerless in the face of the fluff, as it took his lights-and-sirens motorcade nearly two hours to make the usually 30-minute commute from Joint Base Andrews to the White House.

    It was a nearly perfect deja vu of a light snow in 2011 that generated epic Twitter travelogues of misery. Only difference this time? It was more fun to Snapchat the whole calamity.

    Didn't we learn a thing back then? Apparently not.

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Palin takes the GOP campaign to new lows

    I love poetic justice. This wild and wacky Republican presidential campaign deserved Sarah Palin, and now it's got her.

    Palin's endorsement of front-runner Donald Trump at an Iowa rally this week was a master class in surrealist poetry. Geniuses of the Dada movement would have been humbled by her deconstruction of the language and her obliteration of the bourgeois concept we call logic.

    The GOP candidates have been competing to see who can spew the most nonsense, but they'll never top Palin. Not when she offers gems such as this: "Believe me on this. And the proof of this? Look what's happening today. Our own GOP machine, the establishment, they who would assemble the political landscape, they're attacking their own front-runner. ... They are so busted, the way that this thing works."

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National Review's Lowry: Debate establishment is 'terrified' of Donald Trump

    National Review Editor Rich Lowry and his colleagues had a feeling that their package of editorials under the banner "Against Trump" would cost them their partnership with CNN, Telemundo and Salem Communications for a pivotal late-February GOP debate in Houston. It did: Late last night, the Republican National Committee notified National Review Publisher Jack Fowler that it was out of the mix. "Small price to pay for speaking the truth about The Donald," wrote Fowler in a posting on the turn of events.

    There'll be no outrage from Lowry about the RNC's call. "We basically declared war on one of these candidates. I don't think it's entirely unreasonable" for the group to disqualify National Review from participating.

    That said, the episode did provide Lowry with a "window" into the forces that orchestrate the Republican Party's primary debates. And he suggests there's a great deal at stake. "They're all terrified of Donald Trump and worried that he won't show up or threaten not to show up," said Lowry in a chat with the Erik Wemple Blog.

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How Cruz loses friends and influences people

    There was a time, not so long ago, when Republican insiders believed there were really two races for their party's nomination. There were the establishment candidates (Chris Christie, Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio and John Kasich) and then there were the outsiders (Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and Ben Carson).

    The hope was that after an establishment candidate emerged, the party could get behind him and crush the outsiders. But with a week to go, that isn't going to happen before the Iowa caucuses. The January polls for Iowa show Trump has 27.9 percent, Cruz 26.4 and then a steep drop off to Rubio who comes in at 11 percent. The national average is about the same: Trump at 34.8, Cruz at 18.8 and Rubio at 11.6.

    So if it's between Cruz and Trump, who will the Republican establishment support? On the surface this seems obvious. Would Republicans really support a New York plutocrat who invited Hillary Clinton to his wedding over a Texas Republican who shut down the government to repeal the health care act?

    And yet many in the establishment are so opposed to Cruz that they say they could tolerate Trump.

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For the love of all that is holy, save small talk

    I recently read, with some alarm, a deceptively lovely piece by the writer Tim Boomer in the New York Times advocating against Small Talk. Small talk, he pointed out, went on and on and said nothing. Who cares what street a person lived on or what high school friend you might have in common? (Here, I do not disagree.) Why not ditch it, Boomer goes on to say, and start saying only things to each other that were "profound" and "beautiful"?

    Doesn't he realize he's playing with fire? Even if he only meant this to apply to the realm of dating, it is a dangerous precedent to set.

    Here are some conversation starters that he suggested: "Why did you fall in love with your wife?" "What's the most in love you've ever felt?" "What work are you passionate about?"

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Coming to Terms with Donald

    Americans of all races, creeds and political persuasions are united today in the realization that, good grief, Donald Trump actually could become the Republican presidential nominee.

    It hits different people different ways. Jeb Bush’s path toward acceptance was probably different from that of a civics teacher who has to explain it to his advanced placement seminar.

    I keep thinking about the time, years ago, when I worked for The Daily News and was summoned back from vacation because Donald was splitting with his first wife, Ivana. I swear to you, that was not my normal beat. But for the Trump divorce it was all hands on deck. The whole city was sort of nuts on the subject. (The cardinal expressed hope that the unhappy couple would pray for guidance.)

    Everyone assumed — correctly as it turned out — that Trump’s next stop would be Marla Maples, an actress who was made immortal when The New York Post emblazoned its front page with her alleged quote: “Best sex I’ve ever had.”

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BernieCare looks to Europe; Americans don't

    Bernie Sanders probably knows that his plan to give all Americans free health care is never going to become law. Yet he's doing the country a service: His proposal has re-ignited a national debate -- the third since the 1990s -- over why the U.S. can't be like Europe, Canada and the rest of the industrialized world and adopt universal health care.

    Sanders is no dummy. He calls his proposal "Medicare for All" because federal health insurance for the elderly is so popular that some of its beneficiaries don't realize it's a government program. Remember those picket signs that warned President Barack Obama to "keep government out of my Medicare?"

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Are you a drunken driver after you stop driving?

    I can't be the only one who thinks they should bring back the original "Law & Order." If NBC did, the show's first case should be one that went on trial this week in a local court in Mineola, New York. A man has been charged with homicide in the death of a police officer who was hit by an SUV.

    The twist is that, when the crash happened, the defendant was leaning against the guardrail. He had been driving home from a night of drinking, got involved in a minor accident and was pulled over. The policeman was hit by a different car while investigating the crash. Is the homicide charge justified? Ask Jack McCoy -- or really, if you want to be a hard-core "L&O" fan (and I am), ask Ben Stone.

    This case is begging to be ripped from the headlines by TV writers. In real life, the Nassau County district attorney filed charges against James Ryan in the death of police officer Joseph Olivieri. A New York state appeals court had already blessed the charges.

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