Archive

May 7th, 2016

How Much Will Trump Get Away With?

    For argument's sake, let's say you ran into this Trump character in a bar. First off, he's boasting about how incredibly smart, rich and good-looking he is. He's a big, big winner. He's even got his own TV show, and you don't.

    Next he starts in on what a HUGE success he is with the ladies, partly because of his, ahem, prodigious masculine endowment. American Pharoah, the racehorse, has got nothing on The Donald.

    Trump says you wouldn't believe how many supposedly happily married wives he's debauched. Top women, trophy wives, not that flat-chested specimen with "the face of a dog" sitting with you.

    Next he tells you about his hot daughter, the one with the amazing body whom he'd probably date if his supermodel wife wasn't even hotter.

    OK, enough.

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May 6th

Why more high-school seniors need to be like Malia Obama and take a gap year

    Sunday's announcement from the White House that Malia Obama would take a gap year before starting at Harvard University in the fall of 2017 drew swift reactions on social media-a mix of support, ridicule for delaying adulthood, and some envy that the idea of taking a break before college is too often reserved for the wealthy.

    But more high-school students should be following Malia's lead and getting off the conveyor belt that leads them to follow the well-plotted and well-trod course to college simply because they don't know what else to do with their lives three months after they leave high school.

    If young adults are to succeed eventually in the job market, they need environments where they can explore for a while before they settle. The family home and high school, with their close supervision and regimented schedule, don't provide such space.

    The gap year provides such space to explore careers, work and earn money, and learn new skills.

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Why Trump and Clinton should name their entire Cabinets right now

    Now that Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas has announced Carly Fiorina as his vice presidential pick - an unusual move for a presidential candidate trailing in the polls and weeks out from his party's convention - speculation will inevitably follow about who front-runners Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump might select as running mates. Not only should they follow Cruz's lead, they should go a step further and, well before Election Day, publicly name the individuals they'd appoint as Cabinet members.

    That Cruz's approach isn't already the norm is a weakness in the way we choose our chief executive.

    The American public deserves to have at least a sense, before ballots are cast, of those who would hold the most powerful positions within the next administration. This is particularly true for the departments of State, Treasury, Defense and Justice, whose leaders are invested with authority over many of the core activities of the country - everything from negotiating treaties to overseeing federal criminal investigations at the highest level.

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Trump fills a vacuum left by the GOP

    The Donald Trump rampage -- still hard to believe, after nearly a year -- is a symptom of something deeper and more profound: the Republican Party's slide into complete incoherence.

    Rarely has a major party's establishment been so out of touch with its voting base. Rarely have so many experienced politicians (Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, Marco Rubio, Rick Perry et al.) been so thoroughly embarrassed, and so cruelly dispatched, by a political neophyte. Rarely have feelings been so raw that one leading Republican (John Boehner) would publicly describe another (Ted Cruz) as "Lucifer in the flesh."

    What does the GOP believe in? There was a time when anyone with a passing interest in politics could have answered that question. Today, who knows?

    This ideological disintegration has been years in the making. I believe one fundamental cause is that after winning the allegiance of millions of "Reagan Democrats" -- mostly white, blue-collar, Southern or rural -- the party stubbornly declined to take their economic interests into account.

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Trump and the Lord’s Work

    Like many others, I watched the video that President Barack Obama showed at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner on Saturday of him inviting former House Speaker John Boehner over to solicit his advice on what Obama should do post-presidency. It was remarkable to see the real Boehner and the real Obama acting like best buddies in the White House movie theater. Boehner even tells Obama that he finally got a “grand bargain” — only it was on a Chevy Tahoe, not the one they tried to negotiate on the economy.

    I watched that video with Chuck Todd, the host of “Meet the Press,” and he had the exact same reaction I had: “Where was that brotherly love when America needed it” for a real grand bargain?

    That scene plucked the deepest emotional chord in the country today: The nonstop fighting between our two political parties has left many Americans feeling like the children of two permanently divorcing parents. The country is starved to see its two major parties do big hard things together again. And getting a glimpse — even just a pretend one — of Obama and Boehner teaming up reminds you what’s been lost.

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Tips for Uber drivers? Not from me

    One of the best things about Uber is that when you arrive at your destination you can just wish the driver a good day and get out of the car. No fumbling with your wallet, no calculating tips, no waiting for the credit card to go through, no juggling a pen, no asking for a receipt. It's a seamless transaction. The company charges your credit card and emails you a receipt.

    For riders in California and Massachusetts, this simplicity may be coming to an end - but only if passengers let it.

    To settle a lawsuit claiming that it unlawfully categorized drivers as independent contractors rather than employees, Uber has agreed to pay up to $100 million and make some changes in its relationship with drivers. One change is that it will let them ask for tips. Unlike its competitor Lyft, however, Uber won't collect the money on their behalf by letting passengers charge their accounts. Drivers will have to get the tips in cash or through a separate credit card transaction.

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The unification of the GOP around Trump has begun

    As everyone knows, the GOP is a party at war with itself, riven by resentments and anger, destined to be divided all the way to November. Right? Well maybe not so much. The resentments and anger are still there, and it surely is an unhappy band of allies.

    But the unification of the Republican Party around Donald Trump has begun.

    If Trump wins Indiana as expected today, pretty much everyone will declare the primary campaign over, and the question of whether to unite around Trump or take a noble stand against him will become less abstract and more immediate for Republicans than it has been up until now. Neither path is an easy one, but for most people, whether elected officials, party insiders, or conservative commentators, it makes more sense to get behind Trump, even if you've been opposed to him until now.

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Delaying execution isn't cruel and unusual

    Justice Stephen Breyer is against the death penalty -- but not because it's morally wrong. He briefly reiterated his arguments Monday when dissenting from the court's refusal to hear a California death row inmate's case.

    First, he said the death penalty may be unconstitutional in California because it's applied arbitrarily and unreliably. Those are plausible and unremarkable arguments. They no doubt appeal to the technician in Breyer, who believes that government should do things pragmatically and correctly.

    But his third reason was most striking. Following a view he has held since the 1990s, Breyer argued that the death penalty is unconstitutional because it takes too long for condemned inmates to be put to death.

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Cruz’s Bitter End

    If you listened much to Ted Cruz over these last furious months, you heard him talk frequently about “the abyss,” as in what this country was teetering on the edge of. If you listened to him over these last furious hours, you heard him mention the “yawning cavern of insecurity” that motivates Donald Trump and other bullies.

    Cruz should take up spelunking. He’s obviously fascinated by unfathomable depths, and with his loss in Indiana on Tuesday, his candidacy for the presidency is finished, giving him a whole lot of extra time. A new hobby is definitely in order.

    As we bid Cruz adieu, we should give him his due: He took a mien spectacularly ill suited to the art of seducing voters about as far as it could go. He outlasted the likes of Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio. He outperformed Rick Santorum in 2012 and Mike Huckabee in 2008.

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Bobby Knight: Donald Trump's spirit animal

    Indiana is a test Tuesday for two men whose charm offensive has been light on "charm," heavy on "offensive": Donald Trump and Bobby Knight, a narcissistic bully whom Trump brought back to the state to campaign for him.

    If Trump wins the Hoosier State, the Republican presidential campaign is over; he'll be the nominee. Knight, the former Indiana basketball coach who was fired in 2000 after abusing students and players, would see it as a vindication, proof of his continuing popularity in Indiana.

    I couldn't stop thinking about Trump and Knight this weekend as I read John Feinstein's compelling book about college basketball, "The Legends Club."

    Feinstein, one of America's best and most prolific sports journalists, writes about the three coaches who dominated the crazed North Carolina scene in the 1980s: the University of North Carolina's Dean Smith, Duke's Mike Krzyzewski and North Carolina State's Jim Valvano.

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