Archive

October 23rd, 2016

The conspiracy to rig the election against Trump just got bigger

    On CNN last night, Melania Trump dismissed allegations that her husband made unwanted advances on numerous women as "lies" that were "organized" by "the opposition."

    "I know he respects women," Melania said. "But he's defending himself because they're lies." Melania also insisted that "this was all organized from the opposition," and argued that the infamous Access Hollywood sex tape was the result of Trump getting "egged on" by "boy talk."

    Putting aside how disconcerting it is that Trump was 59 years old when he got drawn into this "boy talk," Melania's suggestion that the "opposition" organized the parade of female accusers just took a big hit.

    People Magazine has now produced five additional people who say that one of Trump's most visible accusers told them of Trump's advance at the time. The accuser, Natasha Stoynoff, a writer for People, has claimed that in 2005, Trump pushed her against a wall and tried to kiss her. Trump denies this happened.

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Donald Trump, unshackled ... and increasingly unhinged

    When Donald Trump gloated that "the shackles have been taken off me," I immediately wondered, how was he shackled?

    Was that the shackled Trump, for example, who obsessively attacked Judge Gonzalo Curiel in May, Khizr Khan and his family in July and Alicia Machado in September?

    No, Trump actually was putting a defiant face on a stunning event in American political history: He, the Republican Party's nominee for president, was getting a cold shoulder from the party's highest ranking member in the House of Representatives, Speaker Paul Ryan.

    With less than a month to go until Election Day, Ryan announced that he was washing his hands of the monumental task of defending Trump. The break apparently followed the release of an embarrassing 2005 "Access Hollywood' video. In it, Trump happily boasts about doing what amounts to sexual assault.

    In fact, had there been some restraints on Trump, his whole campaign might actually give Democrat Hillary Clinton some competition again. Instead, Trump's "unshackled" state is looking increasingly unhinged.

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October 22nd

Clinton isn't Everywoman; she's a politician

    At the conclusion of last week's town hall debate, a participant asked the presidential candidates to "name one positive thing that you respect in one another." Hillary Clinton cited Donald Trump's children while Trump lauded Clinton's tenacity. Did those responses flip traditional gender roles -- praising the man for his child-rearing and the woman for her fighting spirit -- or reinforce them, with the woman highlighting family and the man focusing on toughness? You can spin it either way.

    When many people look at Clinton, they don't see a specific politician with a particular background and personality. They just see a woman. Many of these people are Clinton supporters. Many of them have jobs that reward finding gender grievances in every news story.

    "Trying to get [stuff] done while a man lurks disapprovingly behind you pretty much sums up womanhood," Emma Gray, the executive women's editor at the Huffington Post, with an image of Trump standing behind Clinton as she addressed a debate question. The war between the sexes is a writer's beat, and men are the Axis.

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Ryan needs Trump voters to go away after the election

    Last night, Tom Llamas of ABC News asked Donald Trump whether he thinks Paul Ryan wants him to win. "Well maybe not," Trump said, "because maybe he wants to run in four years, or maybe he doesn't know how to win."

    Putting aside whether Ryan appreciates the glorious winningness that is the Trump campaign at this moment, I wouldn't be surprised if Trump is right on his first point. It's entirely possible that Ryan would rather Trump lose, both because he doesn't particularly like him and because it would help the prospects for Ryan in 2020.

    But there's a broader question to ask: If Trump is heading for defeat, as it appears he is, how will that affect Ryan and other Republicans in Congress, not only in their positioning for 2020 but in what they do over the next four years?

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Public housing isn't wasted on the poor

    In the 1930s, when U.S. started to build public housing, it was focused in the inner cities, because that's where lots of poor people lived and worked. In recent decades, public housing is more about giving poor people vouchers, which allows them to move into the suburbs. As a result, poverty in the U.S. is no longer mainly an urban phenomenon.

    But some people label public housing . Is that true? Does building places for poor people to live actually hurt them by concentrating poverty and allowing social ills such as drugs and crime to proliferate?

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New Hampshire's Ayotte can't shake off Trump

    Few Republican candidates have been flummoxed more by Donald Trump's presence at the top of the ticket than Sen. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire.

    Running for a second term against Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan, Ayotte has the party's presidential nominee wrapped around her neck. Hassan, by contrast, has Michelle Obama, the country's most popular political figure, by her side. At a rally last week, Hassan introduced the first lady, who delivered one of the most powerful speeches of this election, excoriating Trump as a force for evil, whose candidacy, behavior and rhetoric had "shaken me to my core."

    Ayotte, a former attorney general, prosecutor and solid legislator has a core, but it's been shaken by wanting to win so much that she coddled Trump. All summer, the senator contorted herself into the twisted stance that she would support, but not endorse, him. Then, in a debate, she gave a rambling answer about whether Trump was a good role model, concluding "I think that certainly there are many role models that we have and I believe he can serve as president, and so absolutely I would do that."

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McCain vows to continue GOP's dysfunction

    We've heard hopeful claims lately that the Republican Party could be a normal, healthy, functional political party if it hadn't accidentally nominated Donald Trump. But Arizona Sen. John McCain has reminded us that this is not the case.

    McCain, speaking in support of Republican Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, said: "I promise you that we will be united against any Supreme Court nominee that Hillary Clinton, if she were president, would put up."

    The Arizona senator's office tried to afternoon, saying that he will vote for or against the individuals Clinton might nominate "based on their qualifications as he has done throughout his career." The "throughout his career" part ignores McCain's support of the current blockade against Barack Obama's attempt to fill the current Supreme Court vacancy, based on the Republicans' recently invented principle that presidents aren't allowed to put anyone on the court in election years.

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India's puzzling gender gap will restrict its growth

    Of an estimated 2.6 billion mobile-phone owners in low- and middle-income countries last year, 1.4 billion were men and 1.2 billion were women, according to a study conducted for the mobile industry trade group GSMA. Most of that mobile-phone gender gap was concentrated in just one country, India, where 114 million fewer women than men had phones.

    This leads to a bunch of other big digital disparities, as Eric Bellman and Aditi Malhotra reported in the Wall Street Journal last week:

    "In India around 30% of internet users are female, according to estimates by the Internet and Mobile Association of India. A government survey in 2014 found that only around 9% of females surveyed knew how to do an internet search or send email on a phone or computer, compared with more than 16% of males surveyed."

    The country has close to three men on Facebook for every woman, according to consultancy We Are Social. In most other parts of the world the ratio is about one to one.

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In obsessing about New York and San Francisco, we're ignoring the real rental crisis

    In September 2015, I hopped off a plane at LAX and made my way to an Airbnb on Los Angeles' Westside, ready to begin a new life as a UCLA graduate student.

    I had booked that room for a week and didn't expect I'd need it for much longer. I was armed with an extensive list of open apartments around the city, landlords' contact information, a couple of sublet agreements I'd already reviewed and the confidence of a New York City transplant. "I've found apartments in the most brutal market in the country," I thought to myself. "How bad can this be?"

    Five months and five apartments later, my interest in America's "housing crisis" was no longer academic.

    It's easy to read horror stories from New York and San Francisco -$6,000 a month for a 1BR, obscene fees paid to do-nothing brokers, apps that force apartment-hunters to outbid other tenants in real time - and assume that the housing crisis is something that can be avoided simply by not living in New York or San Francisco.

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Here's why Democrats helped raise money to reopen the GOP's firebombed N.Carolina office

    Early Sunday morning, unknown arsonists firebombed a Republican headquarters in Orange County, North Carolina, for undetermined reasons. By Sunday evening, Republican nominee Donald Trump had blamed the bombing on Democrats representing Hillary Clinton, and by 9 p.m. that night, more than 500 Democrats and independents had exceeded the $10,000 goal of the online campaign we had started to fund the reopening of the office within 45 minutes of setting it up. That the project took off so quickly says something hopeful in a season unused to such news.

    My name was on the GoFundMe account, but the project -- inspired by a tweet by Zeynep Tufekci, who suggested Democrats should lend an office to the Republicans -- was the work of a few friends who put it together. However, the effort truly belongs to the 520 people who contributed.

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