Archive

June 20th, 2016

Trump offers Republicans the kiss of death

    Donald Trump's demagogic performance in the days after the Orlando mass shooting has prompted more awkward silence and equivocations from Republicans on Capitol Hill.

    The Washington Post:

    "But most Republicans on Capitol Hill tried to distance themselves from Trump's comments following the terrorist attack on a gay nightclub in Orlando that killed at least 49 people. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) refused to respond to questions about Trump at his weekly news conference.

    "House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (Wis.) denounced Trump for trying to rally support for his anti-Muslim policies, while others castigated Trump for the accusations he has lobbed at Obama."

    McConnell and many, though far from all, of his co-partisans deserve every bit of their discomfort, of course. Having shamefully partnered with birthers, bigots and cranks -- Trump included -- in an effort to chase Barack Obama from the White House, they now find themselves unable to call off the increasingly wild dogs.

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Trump hands a key to the millennial vote to Clinton

    Hillary Clinton may have found the answer to her persistent problems with millennials: Donald J. Trump.

    Clinton, in this week's Bloomberg Politics national survey, enjoys a lead of 3 to 1 among likely voters aged 18 to 29, and more than a 3-to-2 advantage among 30- to 39-year-olds. These millennials still aren't wild about the presumptive Democratic nominee. Her favorable ratings are far below Barack Obama's. But Trump's negatives are stunning: Among 18- to 29-year-olds, 83 percent have an unfavorable view of him.

    In 2012, voters under 40, who made up more than a third of the electorate, provided the winning margin for Obama. Trump in this poll, conducted by Ann Selzer, does considerably worse than the 2012 Republican candidate, Mitt Romney, with these voters.

    Unless Trump can close this gap significantly, it'll be close to impossible to make up for it with votes from older Americans.

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Repeal Islam's scarlet-letter sex laws

    The massacre of partygoers at Pulse, a gay club in Orlando, took me back to the late summer of 2005, when an African American woman, wearing a tight headscarf over her staff uniform, stormed out of the kitchen and into a conference room at an Atlanta Holiday Inn, shouting: "You're all going to burn in hell!"

    I froze. Around me were about 50 brave souls from Al-Fatiha, a gay American Muslim organization, many of them young men secretly at the organization's annual conference while their parents attended a meeting of the conservative Islamic Society of North America. That weekend, I prayed shoulder to shoulder with them - a gay man leading us in prayer, a transgender Muslim beside me.

    I'm a straight Muslim feminist, but, like my friends at Al-Fatiha, I'm a criminal, too, in the view of many Islamic clerics today. My crime under conservative sharia law: giving birth to a baby boy 13 years ago while single.

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How the EU pushed Britain to leave

    So Britain might actually do it. With a week to go before the referendum on June 23, recent polls say the campaign to quit the European Union is ahead. The government and its allies in the Stay campaign are alarmed.

    Why is this happening?

    The excellence of the Leave campaign certainly isn't the reason. Advocates of Brexit made a weak case, unable to say what leaving the EU would mean for the country's future trade arrangements or which parts of EU law would be re-adopted and which discarded. It wasn't because these issues can't be debated in advance -- they can -- but because Leave advocates are divided among themselves on what leaving the EU ought to mean.

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Why Donald Trump's media dominance is actually hurting him

    Journalists have begun a debate amongst themselves and with their audiences about the best way to cover Donald Trump, and there's an assumption running through that debate that I want to challenge. Many seem to believe that the kind of unvarnished coverage Trump has received, particularly on cable news, is a great and undeserved favor the media have done him.

    But is that really true? Might it be that the most compelling case against Donald Trump is Donald Trump himself?

    Let's start with this. It's fair to say that in the last couple of days, Trump's reaction to the Orlando massacre got lots of media attention, and President Obama's reaction to Trump's reaction got even more. Hillary Clinton's reaction got relatively less attention. But a new CBS poll released today showed that when people were asked whether they approved of how the three responded, the differences were striking. If we take the net approval (percentage approving minus percentage disapproving), Obama came out at plus 10 (44-34), Clinton was at plus 2 (36-34), and Trump was at minus 26 (25-51).

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June 19th

How Trump gets away with a policy-free campaign

    It was quite possibly the understatement of the year. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, in a Bloomberg Politics podcast last week, said Donald Trump "doesn't know a lot about the issues."

    Trump isn't a blank slate, exactly. He wants to ban Muslims from entering the U.S., deport 11 million undocumented immigrants and build a wall to keep Mexicans out. He wants less open trade. And while he opposes gun control, he'd ban gun sales to anyone on a terrorism watch list.

    But Trump's thinking on a host of other issues -- the details on taxes, federal budgets, deficits and debt, income inequality, the cost of child care, charter versus public schools, housing, student debt and many other things supposedly on voters' minds this year -- isn't clear.

    Does it matter? Where is it written that a presidential nominee has to have a passel of policy proposals to get elected? Nowhere, say several presidential historians.

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Unless Hawaii is your idea of hell, ignore the NRA's hysteria over regulation

    Speaking in 2013, a few weeks after children were slaughtered in their classrooms in Newtown, Connecticut, and just after President Barack Obama's second inauguration, National Rifle Association leader Wayne LaPierre laid out the frightening challenge that Obama's presidency posed to gun owners.

    "He wants to put every private, personal transaction under the thumb of the federal government, and he wants to keep all those names in a massive federal registry," LaPierre said. "There are only two reasons for that federal list of gun owners -- to tax them or take them."

    Just seven months away from the end of his second term, Obama still has not proposed, much less implemented, a federal gun registry. But LaPierre is in the gun business, not the honesty business. A diabolical slippery slope that begins with criminal background checks and snowballs from there into gun registration, confiscation and, finally, totalitarian tyranny is one of LaPierre's favorite tropes. And in honor of the election calendar, the dangerous peaks of Mount Obama are rapidly transforming into the slippery slopes of Mount Hillary.

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Trump's new favorite slogan was invented for Nazi sympathizers

    Donald Trump greeted Twitter on Flag Day with two words in all caps: "AMERICA FIRST!"

    He has made this slogan a theme for his campaign, and he has begun using it to contrast himself with President Obama, whose criticism of Trump's rhetoric on Tuesday was answered with a Trump statement promising, "When I am president, it will always be America first."

    He wasn't quite promising "America über alles," but it comes close. "America First" was the motto of Nazi-friendly Americans in the 1930s, and Trump has more than just a catchphrase in common with them.

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The Trump effect: Cable news viewership and profits surge in 2015

    Back in 2012, Jack Shafer, then a media critic with Reuters, wrote, "The cable news audience has peaked." Thanks to the Internet and other factors, wrote Shafer, audience for the main cable outlets -- CNN, Fox News, MSNBC -- had started dipping. "Bill O'Reilly? Peaked. Chris Matthews? Peaked. Anderson Cooper? Peaked. Democratic Party outrage over what Fox News said about the president? Peaked."

    If ever there a phenomenon that would shatter Shafer's predictions, it was Donald Trump's presidential campaign -- the one-man ratings machine that boosted audiences for a string of Republican presidential debates on cable TV outlets last year, not to mention an untold number of interviews, both on the phone and in person.

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I watched my dad work, and I learned about life

    Much of what I know about my father as a man, I got from observing him at work. In our house, Father's Day was special, not because it was a day for our father but because it was a day for all fathers: a red-letter-day for his menswear store when business picked up (second only to Christmas,) when mother was called to work the cash register and I, even as a young boy, was called to man the broom, the stockroom and the tailor shop. The store, located in Canton, Ohio, was called Mr. Ted's and was tucked into a strip mall that was in walking distance of cornfields and catered to those who made their living with their hands. The store was named not for me but for my father. That we shared names was itself a breach of faith - my grandfather, a rabbi, could not have approved.