Archive

October 19th, 2016

Burning Down the House

    A wounded bear is a dangerous thing. Detested and defeated, Donald Trump is now in a tear-the-country-down rage. Day after day, he rips at the last remaining threads of decency holding this nation together. His opponent is the devil, he says — hate her with all your heart. Forget about the rule of law. Lock her up!

    He’s made America vile. He’s got angel-voiced children yelling “bitch” and flipping the bird at rallies. He’s got young athletes chanting “build a wall” at Latino kids on the other side. He’s made it OK to bully and fat-shame. He’s normalized perversion, bragging about how an aging man with his sense of entitlement can walk in on naked women.

    Here’s his lesson for young minds: If you’re rich and boorish enough, you can get away with anything. Get away with sexual assault. Get away with not paying taxes. Get away with never telling the truth. Get away flirting with treason. Get away with stiffing people who work for you, while you take yours. Get away with mocking the disabled, veterans and families of war heroes.

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The king is dead. Is Thailand's monarchy next?

    After two days of rumors about the health of Thailand's king, confirmation finally arrived in the form of a solemn statement issued by the royal palace Thursday evening. King Bhumibol Adulyadej, a unifying figure through seven politically tumultuous decades, died peacefully in the capital of Bangkok at the age of 88. According to the palace, the world's longest-reigning monarch died at 3:52 p.m. after years of declining health. The immediate cause of death was not clear.

    Despite reports that the king's health had worsened in recent days, the news has plunged Thailand into a period of deep mourning and uncertainty. For most Thais, King Bhumibol is the only monarch they have ever known, the one constant in a modern history marked by mass protests, military coups, and widening political fault lines. In some quarters, the king is revered with almost religious fervor; his beatific portrait is ubiquitous, staring down from the walls of homes, businesses, and government buildings across the country.

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The Clinton Agenda

    It ain’t over until the portly gentleman screams, but it is, as intelligence analysts say, highly likely that Hillary Clinton will win this election. Poll-based models put her chances at around 90 percent earlier this week — and that was before the campaign turned totally X-rated.

    But what will our first female president actually be able to accomplish? That depends on how big a victory she achieves.

    I’m not talking about the size of her “mandate,” which means nothing: If the Obama years are any indication, Republicans will oppose anything she proposes no matter how badly they lose. The question, instead, is what happens to Congress.

    Consider, first, the effects of a minimal victory: Clinton becomes president, but Republicans hold on to both houses of Congress.

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GOP can't defend or deny Donald Trump

    Even for Donald Trump, this was a new low. From a whole slew of previous comments, we knew he was a misogynist with zero respect for women. We just didn't realize what a lowlife he really was. Until release of the 2005 videotape of the man late-night host Seth Meyers now calls "the pervert on the bus."

    You run out of adjectives trying to react to Trump's bragging about forcefully kissing women, grabbing their genitals and getting away with it because he's a "star." It's sick, shocking, disgusting and degrading. And I haven't talked to one woman yet who doesn't believe that it's sexual assault -- for which any other CEO would be out of a job or in jail.

    Equally disgusting are the lame excuses put forth by Trump and his evil sidekick Rudy Giuliani. They dismiss it as only "locker room talk," uttered 11 years ago, and insist that Bill Clinton did far worse. No, no, and no. It wasn't just "talk," as four women told The New York Times. He actually groped them. Trump was bragging about what he had done to women, not what he wanted to. Eleven years ago, he was 59 years old, not 18. And, last time I checked, Bill Clinton was not on the ballot.

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Trump has defiled the American political process

    In his scorched-earth attempt to salvage something from his disastrous presidential campaign, Donald Trump is on a personal kamikaze mission aimed at blowing up the honorable practice of politics in this country.

    By inserting another package of insults, lies and venom into the second Trump-Clinton debate, he has brought public respect for the noble process of self-government to a new low.

    By dragging in alleged victims of Bill Clinton's sexual misconduct of two decades ago as diversionary props to deflect attention from his own sexual actions and utterances, Trump has assaulted the political system itself.

    No doubt unintentionally, he has sanctified first lady Michelle Obama's counsel to Hillary Clinton: "When they go low, you go high." So far, in the face of Trump's extreme provocations to join him in the gutter, the Democratic nominee has adhered to that wisdom.

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When Clinton errs, she should just say so

    Donald Trump doesn't admit making mistakes. Even when caught in a video bragging about groping women, he barely apologizes before changing the subject. More often, he doubles down on lies.

    Trump's flaws dwarf Hillary Clinton's in that and virtually every other way. But she's reluctant to admit mistakes, too.

    A revealing anecdote emerged from e-mails released by Wikileaks from the account of Clinton's campaign chairman, John Podesta. It involved Clinton's defense in a 2015 television interview of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, signed by President Bill Clinton over the opposition of gay-rights advocates.

    She'd contended that the bill was a defensive measure needed to stop gay-marriage opponents from passing a constitutional amendment. Gay-rights groups said she was wrong, and Senator Bernie Sanders pressed the issue during the Democratic primary campaign. Aides wanted her to acknowledge the error, but her speechwriter, Dan Schwerin, said that wasn't going to happen. "The question is whether she's going to agree to explicitly disavowing it," Schwerin wrote. "And I doubt it."

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October 18th

Facing new charges of groping, Donald Trump lashes out in self-pity and impotent rage

    At least four women have now stepped forward to claim that Donald Trump inappropriately groped or kissed them in unwanted fashion, and predictably enough, his response has been to lash out at the news media, claiming (once again) that it is deliberately trying to derail his candidacy. He is threatening to sue the New York Times for its story quoting two of the women, and his lawyers are charging the paper with recklessly providing those out to smear Trump with "a platform."

    It's almost as if Donald Trump thinks you are too stupid to remember that only a few days ago, he literally tried to provide a platform for Bill Clinton's accusers, when he attempted to parade them into his family box at Sunday's debate, in hopes of creating a great confrontation before an audience of tens of millions, only to see his plot thwarted by the debate organizers.

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Treat Russia like the international poison it is

    Russia's ambassador to Washington is disappointed. Despite great potential for cooperation, Sergei Kislyak told an audience Tuesday at Johns Hopkins University that the two countries are locked in "unfriendly discussions." Wouldn't the world be safer and more stable if these two powers got along?

    With apologies to Ambassador Kislyak, the answer to this question is no. Contrary to his protestations, Russia is not invested in protecting the world order. It is dedicated to undermining the organizations, agreements and laws that constitute it.

    We all know the most egregious incidents. The Russian air force has bombed hospitals and humanitarian convoys in Syria. Its army has occupied Georgian territory for eight years. Its hackers have pilfered e-mails from leading Democrats. Its "little green men" have annexed Crimea. Just last month, a Dutch commission of inquiry concluded that the Russian government provided separatists the missiles that shot down a civilian airliner flying over Ukraine in 2014.

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Privacy and democracy

    Of all the non-surprises in the much-hyped WikiLeaks release of hacked emails from the Hillary Clinton campaign, none was less revelatory than the predictable fact that she had preached the gospel of limited disclosure, behind closed doors.

    "If everybody's watching, you know, all of the backroom discussions and the deals, you know, then people get a little nervous, to say the least,"she told the National Multifamily Housing Council in 2013, apropos the legislative sausage factory. "So you need both a public and a private position."

    This was perfectly in character for the famously wary pol who declared, in 2003, that "I believe in a zone of privacy," then acted on that belief six years later, when she became secretary of state, by using a home-brew email server instead of the official system as the rules required - followed by a fumbling coverup.

    American moralism and election-year politics being what they are, her remark played as a confession of two-facedness - though it was mightily and, from Clinton's point of view, blessedly overshadowed by the awful caught-on-tape sexual transgression of Donald Trump.

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NRA buys deck chairs on Trump's Titanic

    According to the Center for Responsive Politics, the National Rifle Association this year has already broken its record for political spending, backing the Republican Party with more than $36 million. More than $21 million of that sum was devoted to attacking Hillary Clinton or supporting Donald Trump.

    "The blitz cements the NRA's status as a key cog in Republican electoral efforts," wrote the Trace, a nonprofit that reports on gun issues. "This cycle, it has paid out more than any other conservative group aside from three Super PACs formed to back GOP presidential candidates."

    Trump is not looking like a shrewd investment. Republican strategists fear he could take the Republican Senate majority down with him, and even, if he tries extra hard, blow up the Republican majority in the House.

    Clinton, meanwhile, is more overtly hostile to the NRA than any presidential candidate in history. She campaigns with mothers of victims of gun violence, aggressively champions universal background checks and advertises her willingness to "take on the gun lobby."

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