Archive

September 18th, 2016

Donald Trump is the symptom of our PTSD

    How did we get here?

    It is September 2016 and Donald Trump is one of two people who have a chance of being the next leader of the most powerful nation in the history of the world. Something in excess of four out of 10 Americans who are likely to vote support him and, according to a recent poll, his voters are more enthusiastic and engaged than those supporting his opponent, Hillary Clinton.

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Why taco trucks won't be taking over U.S. streets

    Marco Gutierrez, founder of Latinos for Trump, warned darkly this month that Hispanic immigration would lead to "taco trucks on every corner." Yet, in fact, the factors that led to an explosion of taco trucks are reversing.

    A recently published study by the Pew Research Center showed that the growth of the Hispanic population in the U.S. is slowing drastically. Since 2010, it has slowed to a 2.4 percent annual rate, down from 2.8 percent from 2007 to 2014, 4.4 percent between 2000 and 2007, and a high of 5.8 percent in the 1990s. The overall U.S. population growth rate is a little less than 1 percent.

    The decline appears even more stark if you dig into the numbers. Net immigration from Mexico has been negative since the recession, and Hispanic population growth is increasingly due to U.S.-born babies. And the birthrates of Hispanic mothers are collapsing. Data from the Centers for Disease Control show that between 1990 and 2014, births per 1,000 for Hispanic women age 15-44 have fallen from 107.7 to 72.1.

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September 17th

How is Hillary Clinton still alive?

    Let us suppose, for a moment, that everything we have ever heard about Hillary Clinton's health is true.

    She has had multiple strokes. Also, she has multiple sclerosis.

    She depends upon a stool.

    She has Parkinson's. And HIV.

    She might or might not have asthma.

    She has one year left to live.

    There are at least two so-called Hillary Clintons. One is a body double. Both wear adult diapers, which accounts for the shape of their garments, but they are not very subtle about it, so that many YouTube users were able to notice and comment.

    She is constantly suffering from seizures, blackouts, falls and collapses.

    She has unspecified heart trouble.

    She has lupus.

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West Virginia cop fired for not killing a man with an unloaded gun

    We've tracked countless cases here where cops were able to keep their jobs after killing unarmed people, killing people after responding to the wrong house, killing people and then lying about it ... the list goes on.

    Give the Weirton, West Virginia, police chief some credit. He's come up with a new spin on the the same problem. He just fired a cop for not killing someone.

    From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

    "After responding to a report of a domestic incident on May 6 in Weirton, W.Va., then-Weirton police officer Stephen Mader found himself confronting an armed man.

    "Immediately, the training he had undergone as a Marine to look at "the whole person" in deciding if someone was a terrorist, as well as his situational police academy training, kicked in and he did not shoot.

    "'I saw then he had a gun, but it was not pointed at me,' Mr. Mader recalled, noting the silver handgun was in the man's right hand, hanging at his side and pointed at the ground.

Voters already know what they need to know

    We have a strong if mistaken assumption that voters should be experts on political candidates, at least when it comes to those running for president. How does this assumption affect the reaction to Hillary Clinton's health issue, for example, or to new revelations about Donald Trump's business practices? Or, for that matter, to our understanding of the policies the candidates articulate?

    Let's start with the policy part.

    When it comes to their positions, candidates generally give detailed information, freely available on their web sites (Donald Trump is a partial exception, but even he sometimes talks about his plans if he's elected). So, as David Weigel of The Washington Post correctly points out, the people mainly responsible for voter ignorance are … the voters themselves.

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Trump's tax returns could offer key answers to Russia questions

    Why does Donald Trump say such nice things about Vladimir Putin and Russia? What is Trump hiding in the tax returns he refuses to release? And are those two questions related?

    Voters should demand answers. Until we get them, we can only speculate about Trump's weird admiration for a strongman who presides over a system of autocratic cronyism, flouts international law with his territorial ambitions, works against U.S. interests in hotspots around the globe, and apparently might have even deployed computer hackers to meddle in our election.

    There may be nothing nefarious here; perhaps Trump just admires Putin's swaggering style. But there are reasons to wonder whether Trump's warm-and-fuzzy feelings are prompted by financial motives.

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The well-meaning start of an American eggpocalypse

    Every major grocery and fast-food chain in the U.S. has pledged to stop selling or using eggs from caged chickens. So that's all taken care of -- a great victory for animal-rights campaigners, and presumably chickens. Yay!

    Well, maybe not all taken care of. This is from the trade publication Egg Industry:

    "Many of the cage-free egg purchase pledges have implementation dates around 2025, which was thought to be the minimum amount of time required for the industry to convert from more than 90 percent cage-housed hens to being predominantly cage free. Unfortunately, many of the retail store purchase pledges don't contain intermediate benchmarks, and they have provisions for availability and affordability of eggs. Couple this with many consumers' reluctance to pay the premium for cage-free eggs, and we have the current confusion in the marketplace where surplus cage-free eggs are being sold to breakers at substantial losses for egg producers."

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The top 10 'Star Trek' episodes ever

    This month marks 50 years since "Star Trek" first hit the airwaves as a television show. I've been devoted to the franchise, so as someone who holds strong opinions about the show and about pop culture lists, it seems appropriate to rank the 10 best "Trek" episodes ever aired on television.

    And just to make things more interesting and controversial, I've chosen from the entire non-animated pool of "Trek" episodes: "Star Trek" (TOS), "Star Trek: The Next Generation" (TNG), "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine" (DS9), "Star Trek: Voyager" and "Star Trek: Enterprise."

    Spoiler alert: Nothing from the last two shows listed made the top 10. And I'll confess at the outset a likely bias toward episodes that focused on interplanetary statecraft, as it were.

    In ascending order of greatness: 

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'Star Trek' was a chronicle of human nature

    It's not often that after a half-century, a television show sparks a national celebration (including a set of commemorative stamps from the U.S. Postal Service). What accounts for "Star Trek's" enduring appeal?

    The answer lies in its portrayal of experiences and societies that, by virtue of their radical differences from our own, allow us to see the most familiar things in a new light. That's what the best science fiction does. It offers a topsy-turvy world, or a twisted version of reality, which uncovers neglected truths (about, say, what really matters in human life), or which shows the contingency of how things are (and how with a small turn, a nation's politics could go horribly wrong).

    With that point in mind, here's an account of three iconic Star Trek episodes -- ones you'd show someone who wants to know what the fuss is about.

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'Star Trek' was silly. That's why we loved it.

    Despite all of last week's hoopla, true "Star Trek" wonks know that the 50th anniversary of the premiere actually falls this week. In the parlance of the era, what aired on Sept. 8, 1966, was called a preview -- an appetizer to increase the audience for the actual premiere, which, in the case of "Star Trek," came the following Thursday. (Thus "The Man Trap" was the preview; the premiere was "Charlie X.")

    Serious Trekkers care about things like that.

    When "Star Trek" first beamed down, I was a schoolboy in Washington, D.C. Two years later, I joined the legion of teenagers who wrote "Dear NBC" letters to protest the network's plans to cancel the show we had come to love. The program was cheesy. It was preachy. Now and then it was downright silly. But mostly it was grandly optimistic fun, and we were proud to have played a role in its rescue.

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