Archive

October 18th, 2016

It's come to this: 2016 is the Rape Election

    It would be nice if this hellscape of an election managed to raise thoughtful discussions on one or two issues of national concern, but instead it appears that it has come down to a single-question personality test. Not, "Which candidate would you rather have a beer with?" but, "Which candidate, or candidate's husband, would you be most afraid to ride alone in an elevator with?"

    The procession of women this week who accused Donald Trump of forcibly touching and kissing them - one woman said he accosted her on a plane 30 years ago; another said he pinned her against a wall in 2005 while his pregnant wife was upstairs - was unnerving. In a bonkers way, it was also perhaps inevitable for a campaign that kicked off with Trump accusing Mexican immigrants of being rapists, and then devolved into a scary race in which women's votes became a symbolic fight for their own personal safety. The ballot as a can of pepper spray.

    Or, as the writer Amanda Hess was compelled to tweet as the curtain rose on the second presidential debate, "Never imagined the election of the first female president would come down to a fight over who's the real rapist, but here we are."

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Islamic State has good reasons to retreat in Iraq

    There's no need to believe the Russian propaganda that says the U.S. agreed to let 9,000 Islamic State fighters flee Mosul to go fight President Bashar al-Assad in Syria. But the story "reported" Wednesday by Russia Today (on the basis of a single anonymous source) does capture a strategic truth in the run-up to the attack on the Islamic State-controlled city: The fighters have good reason to flee -- and the Iraqis and the U.S. have good reason to let them.

    The battle to retake Mosul has been a long time coming. Islamic State occupied the city in June 2014, without encountering much in the way of Iraqi military resistance. Mosul was the biggest and most important city to fall into the hands of the self-proclaimed caliphate. Before Islamic State arrived, it had a population of roughly 2 million, making it Iraq's third most populous city. (Since then, at least half have fled or been expelled or killed, including essentially all the ethnic and religious minorities such as Kurds, Turkmen, Assyrian Christians and Yazidis.)

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In two searing speeches, the 2016 presidential race is crystallized

    Two speeches. Two Americas. A pair of apocalyptic arguments and one call to burn down the house. That's the summation from just two remarkable hours Thursday that crystallized the final month of Campaign 2016.

    In back-to-back appearances, in what might be the two most compelling hours of the entire election, Michelle Obama in New Hampshire and Donald Trump in Florida delivered the fiercest, most provocative and hardest-hitting speeches of an election cycle that has been without precedent in hot rhetoric.

    The presidential campaign has been building toward all this. Day after day after day, the rhetoric has intensified, the charges and countercharges have escalated, the issues have been reduced to asterisks and the gulf between the Trump and Clinton coalitions has widened. Sunday's debate in St. Louis foreshadowed what was to come. Now there will be no turning back.

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Don't fear Trump's lawsuits. He'll lose.

    Awash in allegations that he sexually assaulted several women, Donald Trump is reaching into his old playbook and threatening to sue the media for reporting the claims, which he says are false.

    Although a number of outlets, including the , People and an NBC affiliate posted stories Wednesday night about Trump's allegedly forcing himself on women, it was a New York Times piece that apparently rankled Trump the most.

    That story, "Two Women Say Donald Trump Touched Them Inappropriately," offered detailed allegations from a pair of women who said they had troubling encounters with the Republican presidential nominee.

    When interviewed for the story, Trump told a reporter for the Times, Megan Twohey, that she was "a disgusting human being." Late Wednesday night he upped the ante. His lawyer, Marc Kasowitz, sent a letter to the Times, putting the newspaper on notice that Trump intended to sue.

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Clinton is wrong. You shouldn't have to work to have a place in America.

    It is only because of audience member Ken Bone's question about the effect that energy policy would have on employment at power plants that the presidential candidates addressed jobs at all during their debate Sunday night. But the night's biggest statement about work didn't come in response to Bone.

    It came instead as Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton answered a question about Islamophobia. She said, "My vision of America is an America where everyone has a place, if you are willing to work hard, do your part and you contribute to the community. That's what America is."

    The idea that work is a key component to social citizenship has been prominent in the American mind for centuries, so it is not surprising to see Clinton advance it. But labor force participation is in long-term decline, and according to Oxford University researchers Carl Benedikt Frey and Michael A. Osborne, automation could make nearly half of U.S. workers redundant within the next two decades.

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At long last!

    At long last several GOP leaders have withdrawn their support of their party's presidential nominee. Let us hope these withdrawals last longer than some of the earlier statements that they would never support this creep; however, the attitude quickly changed once he became the nominee. Some of them refused to state his name saying only they would support the party nominee, as if his being the nominee made it OK.

    Even now the Speaker of the House may have refused to campaign for him but still refuses to make a simple statement that he will not vote for him. After earlier joining the chorus of supporting the nominee Senator John McCain has once again found his moral voice to recognize that this man is not fit to be President of this great nation. There is nothing truly new about what the candidate said that left no doubt of his immoral proclivities. It simply reinforced what was already plainly apparent about the man's character. It would seem that in the world of these supporters the "boys will be boys" attitude is alive (and un-well) so long as it is their man instead of Bill Clinton.

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Why we shouldn't forgive the Republicans who sold their souls

    Of the remarkable things we have learned this election year, the most significant is that the current Republican Party is unfit to lead the country. It has failed the greatest test a political leader or party can face, and failed spectacularly.

    It has abandoned its principles out of a combination of cowardice and opportunism. It has worked to place in the White House the most dangerous threat to U.S. democracy since the Civil War. And perhaps just as revealing, it has in the process engineered its own suicide. Not only has the party refused to save the country, but also it has proved too helpless, too incompetent and too craven even to save itself.

    These are the people we're supposed to put in charge of the House and Senate for another two years? Whom we're then supposed to rally behind in the battle for the White House in 2020? No. Not this group. We know too much. We know all we need to know.

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October 17th

Learning to live without freedom

    "A sub . . . what?" I asked. My doctor described my ailment during a visit to her in early August.

    "It's called a subacute thyroiditis. Means your thyroid is infected and that's why you have fever. We think it is viral. But seeing how many people are showing up with this lately, I can only imagine it has something to do with what is happening in the country."

    Great. On top of ruining my television career, inhibiting my journalism and cannibalizing all my mental space, Turkey's repression was now destroying my body too.

    As if a full-blown insurgency in the Kurdish areas and a string of Islamic State bombings in Istanbul this year were not enough, we survived a horrifying military coup on the night of July 15 -- complete with with low-flying F16's, sonic bombs, gunfire and incessant calls from minarets to resist the uprising echoing in our small apartment on the Bosphorus.

    A few weeks and many sleepless nights after the failed coup, I was a complete wreck. Anxious. Sleepless. I suffered from fever and aches.

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What Donald Trump Is Right About

    Astonishingly, Donald Trump is right about something!

    After recently being caught on a 2005 tape gloating about sexual assaults, Trump issued an unapologetic apology in which he focused on the “big difference” between words and actions. And he has a point.

    But there’s abundant evidence that Trump has indulged in not just scurrilous rhetoric, but also in heinous actions. Several more women have stepped forward to offer on-the-record accounts of having been aggressively groped or kissed by Trump against their will, right after he met them.

    I also find entirely credible the allegations of Jill Harth, a former business partner of Trump’s, that he assaulted her in 1992 and 1993. Equally credible is the assertion by a former Miss Utah that Trump inappropriately kissed beauty contestants on the lips.

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What a court got wrong about dreadlocks and race

    Is it unlawful race discrimination for a company to ban dreadlocks in the workplace? In a decision that has become a topic of debate among law professors, a federal appeals court said no last month. The case is so important because the court defined race as biology, emphasizing "immutable characteristics" as the subject of anti-discrimination law. But for more than 75 years, scholars have understood that race is as much or more a matter of culture than it is about biological reality. The decision in EEOC v. Catastrophic Management Solutions is therefore built on quicksand -- and it's a mistake to embrace it, even if on some level the result might seem like common sense.

    In 2010, Chastity Jones applied to work as a customer service representative for Catastrophic Management Solutions. The job would not have involved any in-person contact with customers; she would be sitting at a computer in a call center.

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