Archive

March 9th, 2016

Chickens, Home to Roost

    Here’s why the Trump campaign is wicked fun:

    I watched Donald Trump in New York for decades, as a bachelor swanning, a party fixture mingling, a master of bling and bluster.

    I went with him on his art-filled plane in 1999 as he dipped his toe in the presidential pool and saw him shyly approach his first political rope line, even as he bragged that other candidates didn’t draw as many cameras or have a supermodel by their side.

    So I can assure you of two things. No one is more shocked at how far, how fast, Trump has come than Trump.

    Watching him morph into a pol in real time and wriggle away from the junior-varsity GOP chuckleheads trying to tackle him is hypnotic. He’s like the blond alien in the 1995 movie “Species,” who mutates from ova to adult in months, regenerating and reconfiguring at warp speed to escape the establishment, kill everyone in sight and eliminate the human race.

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What Trump voters are afraid of

    This is shaping up to be a seminal year in American politics. What was unthinkable six months ago is emerging as a strong possibility today: Donald Trump may be on his way to becoming the Republican nominee for president of the United States.

    His ascension is causing the party establishment - congressional leaders, high-toned conservative commentators and deep-pocketed right-wing money moguls - to go, as Sen. Lindsey O. Graham, R-South Carolina, put it: "bat-expletive crazy." Except he didn't say "expletive."

    Their meltdown, however, is secondary to Trump's elevation to GOP front-runner and likely party standard-bearer in November.

    But for goodness' sake, please note that it is not Trump who is placing the crown on his own head.

    Republican voters in New Hampshire, South Carolina, Nevada, Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Massachusetts, Tennessee, Virginia and Vermont, and those in primaries and caucuses yet to come, are making Trump the heart of the "party of Lincoln."

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Why tackling bans are a wrongheaded solution

    Last weekend, Liverpool played Manchester City in an English soccer cup final. About 18 minutes into the game two Liverpool players banged heads going for the same ball. About six minutes later one of them, Mamadou Sakho, fell over like a drunken baby giraffe when defending his goalmouth, and was immediately led off the pitch by the Liverpool doctor. The player was furious, hurling a water bottle away in anger and then sitting in the stands hidden beneath a jacket, apparently in tears. Arguably, the defender's exit cost his team (and mine) the game and lost them the trophy. But it was still the correct thing to do.

    The debate about how to curb head injuries in sport, particularly in American football and rugby, is important. But the conclusion that seems to be gaining popularity in those two sports -- protect players by banning as much as tackling as is possible -- feels misguided at best and downright dangerous at worst.

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An illegal abortion killed my grandmother

    The assistant district attorney pressed the police officer for details. Did he ask my grandmother Maria Consolazio whether she knew she was going to die?

    "I did," Officer Arthur O'Neill answered. "She said she didn't know."

    Reuben Wilson, the assistant D.A., further questioned: Had he asked her if she had any hope of recovery? O'Neill did - she didn't know.

    This testimony in State of New York v. Regina Michele was heard in the New York City 6th District Court of Brooklyn on Nov. 10, 1921. Michele, accused of providing an abortion, denied knowing or ever seeing my grandmother. The case was dismissed.

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Trump turns out to be a politician, and not a good one

    For the most part, U.S. presidential campaigns are long slogs punctuated by short gaffes. Think of Rick Perry's "oops," Mitt Romney's "47 percent" or Howard Dean's scream. Like the MVP who misses the game-deciding foul shot in the championship, one mistake can erase a season of disciplined campaigning in an instant.

    Then there's Donald Trump. These rules of political gravity do not apply to him. From insulting Sen. John McCain for getting captured in Vietnam to flubbing Jake Tapper's question about the Ku Klux Klan, Trump's 2016 campaign has been an extended gaffe.

    At Thursday night's Republican debate, Trump gave us plenty of head-scratchers. He said for example that the wives of 9/11 hijackers were whisked out of the country before 9/11. This was in response to a question about his earlier remark that he would not only go after terrorists as commander-in-chief, but that he would also target their families.

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The wage growth conundrum in the jobs report

    For all the positives in the latest U.S. jobs report, employees and the Federal Reserve didn't get one thing they've been looking for: higher wages. Therein lies a central conundrum of this economic expansion.

    The February employment report suggests that the economy weathered January's stock-market turmoil in decent shape. Nonfarm employers added an estimated 242,000 jobs, and the unemployment rate held steady at a low 4.9 percent. The demand for workers, though, didn't translate into better pay. The average hourly wage actually dropped 3 cents to $25.35. That left it up just 2.2 percent from a year earlier, well short of the pace that prevailed before the recession.

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The military wouldn't save us from President Trump's illegal orders

    Donald Trump promises that if Americans send him to the White House, he'll bring back waterboarding - and techniques that are "a hell of a lot worse." Why? Because "torture works," he claims, and even "if it doesn't work, they deserve it anyway." That's not Trump's only bright idea for U.S. counterterrorism policy. He'd also "bomb the hell out of ISIS," and he favors targeting the spouses and children of Islamic State fighters, too, since "with the terrorists, you have to take out their families." That kind of rhetoric from the Republican front-runner has rightly alarmed the foreign policy establishment, prompting an open letter this past week from an array of Republican advisers opposing Trump.

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The Beast Is Us

    You heard the word “scary” used a lot this week, that and much more. Not from the usual scolds. Or Democrats. The loudest alarms came from desperate, panicked Republicans, warning of the man who is destroying the Party of Lincoln before our eyes.

    “The man is evil,” said Stuart Stevens, a chief strategist for Mitt Romney in 2012. Romney himself called Donald Trump a fraud on Thursday.

    But as much as these “too little, too late” wake-up calls are appreciated, it’s time to place the blame for the elevation of a tyrant as the presumptive Republican presidential nominee where it belongs — with the people. Yes, you. Donald Trump’s supporters know exactly what he stands for: hatred of immigrants, racial superiority, a sneering disregard of the basic civility that binds a society. Educated and poorly educated alike, men and women — they know what they’re getting from him.

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Five Big Questions After a Vulgar Republican Debate

    Does the size of Donald Trump’s penis matter?

    I’m not being cheeky. I’m not being shocking. I’m noting something that we cannot lose track of, should not shrug our shoulders about and must not gloss over: Trump has succeeded at nothing as fully as he has at infusing the presidential race with a vulgarity that’s absolutely breathtaking.

    He has done so well at dragging his rivals so far down into the sewer with him that portions of what we watched Thursday night were a fetid farce. We actually witnessed an interchange — in the first 10 minutes, no less — about how well endowed (or not) he is.

    It’s worth stopping for a second, letting that sink in and wondering what it says about our country and political process right now.

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Clinton takes aim at another government watchdog

    The Hillary Clinton campaign has gone on the attack against the government official who conducts oversight of the State Department she used to run, accusing him of partisanship and misconduct without any direct evidence. That strategy could backfire by politicizing the role of the government's inspectors general and undermining needed State Department reforms.

    This is not the first time Team Clinton has accused a federal inspector general of trying to foil her presidential ambitions. In January, the campaign publicly accused the inspector general of the intelligence community of acting in concert with two Republican senators to leak details of now-classified information found on her private email server. This week, the Clinton campaign set its sights on Steve Linick, who has served as the State Department's inspector general since 2013.

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