Saturday October 22, 2016
August 24th, 2016
The U.S. Federal Reserve appears to be paying more attention to how its policies affect black Americans. This is a wise move, because blacks stand to gain a lot more than others from the Fed's efforts to support economic growth.
The minutes of the Fed's July policy-making meeting noted that officials had discussed unemployment rates and other measures of labor utilization for specific groups, including black Americans. It's a subject worthy of attention: The black unemployment rate has been about 1.9 times the overall rate for more than 40 years. While the unemployment rate isn't always exactly 1.9 times the overall rate, what matters is that the ratio between the two is much more constant than the difference. This means that -- even though the reasons for the long-term unemployment multiple are almost certainly beyond the reach of monetary policy -- the Fed's choices can have a very different effect on black Americans than on the economy as a whole.
Sports fans boo for many reasons. Brazilians, maybe more than most. Jeers, catcalls and heckling have been staples of the Rio de Janeiro Olympics, and the habit has stirred a storm of comment and consternation.
The barrage from the bleachers has brought a Russian swimmer to tears, unnerved a French pole vaulter and targeted a Vietnamese marksman (booing at a shooting match?). Thomas Bach, the International Olympics Committee president, has made his disapproval public, saying, "This is unacceptable."
That may be so, and the boors from Brazil deserve a dressing down. But now a quartet of U.S. Olympians may have won the competition for most galling behavior.
As we celebrate the 25th anniversary of the World Wide Web, it gets more and more difficult to imagine life without it - or without cat videos. And although our world certainly has been transformed by the web's capabilities, its history includes some persistent myths and comically naive predictions.
Myth No. 1
We know who invented the web and the Internet, and when.
Ask Google who invented the web and the Internet, and it will give you an answer. But the concept of "invention" does not map well to the actual histories of these technologies, which arose from collaborations among large numbers of people and whose development features very few moments that were obvious transformations.
It's rare that a single op-ed piece can encapsulate a political party in crisis. But Richard J. Cross III, a longtime Republican operative, has achieved that feat accidentally.
Cross is the latest member of the GOP to join the ranks of the Never Trump movement. His arguments in a Wednesday piece for the Baltimore Sun are familiar: He doesn't like Donald Trump's call to ban Muslims from entering the U.S. He thinks his party's nominee does not embody the hopeful conservative ethos of Ronald Reagan and Dwight Eisenhower. He may just have to vote for Hillary Clinton. You've read all this before.
What makes Cross's op-ed so astounding is that he is the author of a prime-time speech less than a month ago that faulted Clinton for the murders in Benghazi, Libya. The speech was delivered at the Republican National Convention by Pat Smith, mother of Sean Smith, one of the four Americans who perished there in 2012. The speech included the unforgettable line: "I personally blame Hillary Clinton for the death of my son."
The Question: How should the next president address wealth inequality?
Over the final few months of the election, The Post will be asking policy experts to weigh in on the critical questions our presidential candidates should be addressing - but often aren't. This week, we're discussing tax policy solutions for wealth inequality.
Whether the next president should try to reduce economic inequality is beyond question. Both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have run on fixing a system they characterize as "rigged" against those on the wrong side of the inequality divide - as did, of course, Bernie Sanders, whose campaign was built on reversing historically high levels of income and wealth inequality.
As the world watches the U.S. presidential election with bewilderment and unease, America's allies in Asia are particularly concerned about the possibility of U.S. disengagement from the region. In Japan and South Korea - America's most important allies in the Asia-Pacific - the rise of Donald Trump, along with inward- looking rhetoric from others across the U.S. political spectrum, has been seen as an indication of a broader shift in public sentiment. Tokyo and Seoul fear that many Americans believe that withdrawal from international alliances and institutions can, to use Trump's formulation, "make America great again."
Isolationism and protectionism took a firm hold on U.S. politics during the primaries. In his foreign policy speeches, Trump declared that "America First" would be the overriding theme of his administration, and the Asia-Pacific doesn't appear to register in his worldview at all. But a U.S. withdrawal or fundamentally reduced U.S. military presence in Asia would not only undermine regional security; it would also ultimately weaken the United States at home and abroad.
More than 2 1/2 years have gone by since the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, went fully into effect. Most of the news about health reform since then has been good, defying the dire predictions of right-wing doomsayers. But this week has brought some genuine bad news: The giant insurer Aetna announced that it would be pulling out of many of the “exchanges,” the special insurance markets the law established.
This doesn’t mean that the reform is about to collapse. But some real problems are cropping up. They’re problems that would be relatively easy to fix in a normal political system, one in which parties can compromise to make government work. But they won’t get resolved if we elect a clueless president (although he’d turn to terrific people, the best people, for advice, believe me. Not.). And they’ll be difficult to resolve even with a knowledgeable, competent president if she faces scorched-earth opposition from a hostile Congress.
This past week marked the 96th anniversary of women winning the vote. Please note that the word was winning, not given. It was a long difficult struggle. In the words of Carrie Chapman Catt, an early suffragist and founder of the League of Women Voters: " It took George Washington 6 years to rectify man's grievances by war, but it took 72 yeas to establish women's rights by law."
Almost a century later we are on the cusp of electing our first woman President. Faced with one of the oddest, nastiest elections in memory--or is it our entire history?--we dare not celebrate yet. Little did those women, and supporting men, think we would be waiting this long for a woman President.
Shaken by the fact that he's losing, Donald Trump has fled into the parallel universe of the extreme right -- and apparently plans to stay there for the remainder of the campaign. Let's see if the rest of the Republican Party is dumb enough to follow him.
Trump has reportedly been feeling "boxed in" and "controlled" by the few people around him who actually know something about politics. Advice from these professionals to tone it down must be responsible for his slide in the polls, he seems to believe. So he has hired as chief executive of his campaign a man named Stephen Bannon, who will not only let Trump be Trump, but encourage him to be even Trumpier.
Before it ever really got started, the makeover of Donald Trump from amateur political outsider to a controlled and controllable presidential candidate has now been ditched -- by the Republican nominee himself.
His Gotta Be Me declaration on Wisconsin television signaled the predicable end to the effort by veteran operative Paul Manafort to "pivot" the crude and free-swinging winner of the 2016 Republican primaries away from the style with which he rolled over a bunch of weak sisters. "I am who I am," Trump said, and "I don't want to change."
Such a pivot never was in the cards or in the makeup this self-delusional egomaniacal bullyboy. He has now surrounded himself with even more enablers pushing the notion that what got Trump to third base this year will bring him the rest of the way home on Nov. 8.
But to cover the remaining 90 feet to home plate, Trump now needs much more than bombast and boisterous campaign rallies, drawn by his wildly irresponsible stoking of public anger at Washington.