Archive

October 3rd, 2016

In debate, Trump's lack of nuclear knowledge was on display

    When nuclear weapons policy came up in Monday's presidential debate, Donald Trump showed once again that he doesn't have basic knowledge of the details and hasn't thought through how he would handle America's nuclear arsenal if elected. It's only the latest example of his refusal to study up on national security.

    Hillary Clinton first brought up the subject of nuclear weapons Monday as an argument that Trump doesn't have the temperament to be commander in chief. She referred to Trump's previous statements endorsing the idea that allies including Japan, South Korea and Saudi Arabia might get their own nuclear weapons.

    "He even said, well, you know, if there were nuclear war in East Asia, well, you know, that's fine, have a good time folks," she said.

    "Wrong." Trump responded. "Nuclear is the single greatest threat."

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I sold Trump $100,000 worth of pianos. Then he stiffed me.

    At Monday night's debate, Donald Trump was called out for stiffing the people who work for him. Trump has been accused of failing to pay hundreds of contractors. And so far, he hasn't seemed very sorry. When asked about failing to pay someone by Hillary Clinton this week, Trump replied, "Maybe he didn't do a good job and I was unsatisfied with his work."

    I take that attack personally. I'm one of the many small business owners who've been used by Trump, exploited and forced to suffer a loss because of his corporation's shady practices.

    My relationship with Trump began in 1989, when he asked me to supply several grand and upright pianos to his then-new Taj Mahal casino in Atlantic City. I'd been running a music store for more than 30 years at that point, selling instruments to local schools and residents. My business was very much a family affair (my grandsons still run the store). And I had a great relationship with my customers -- no one had ever failed to pay.

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October 2nd

What does it mean that Donald Trump lost the debate?

    What does it mean that Donald Trump lost Monday night's presidential debate?

    Sure, Trump had no real answer to Lester Holt's point that economic conditions are, in fact, improving. Or Holt's point that he carried on with his racist "birtherism" long after President Barack Obama released his birth certificate. Or Holt's point that he has no good reason to refuse to release his tax returns. Or Holt's point that he said he favored the Iraq War in 2002. Or Hillary Clinton's point that his fixation on trade agreements is myopic. Or Clinton's point that his tax plan would increase the very national debt he has been railing against. Or Clinton's point that experts predict his economic policies would throw the country into recession.

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How Donald Trump would worsen America's trade deficit

    Thirty-six hours after the first presidential debate of the general election season, the conventional wisdom has pretty much calcified: Donald Trump started out reasonably well but lacked the stamina to stay engaged in the debate as it wore on, leading to Hillary Clinton cleaning his clock. Both the New York Times' Jackie Calmes and The Washington Post's Jim Tankersley argue that Trump's protectionist rhetoric probably played well with voters. As Tankersley put it:

    "The first exchange of the first debate of the 2016 general election was Donald Trump's best moment of the night. The topic was jobs, and Trump's Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, had used it to distill her complicated economic plan into a tight two-minute bundle.

    "Trump spent almost his entire answer on a single issue, trade, to hammer home a simple theme: I'm for the working Americans who've been screwed by globalization; she's one of the politicians who let them get screwed."

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Five questions we need to answer before colonizing Mars

    For all the attention paid to billionaire Elon Musk's announcement this week that he hopes to get humans to Mars as early as 2024, the early news stories about his efforts focused mostly on the logistics of the effort, including funding, and the fact that the first pioneers to the red planet will probably die there. That's not to say that these are unimportant issues: There's no point to thinking about what life on Mars might be like if we can never actually get there or viably inhabit the planet.

    But if Musk envisions Mars and other planets as a potential escape hatch for humanity, it's worth thinking about what kind of society we might build as we spread out into the universe. And fiction like Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars trilogy and the "Expanse" series pose some important questions we all might want to consider.

 

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Debate round one goes to Clinton

    Near the end of Monday night's first presidential debate, Donald Trump, the self-proclaimed champion counter-puncher, led with his chin when asked by moderator Lester Holt of NBC News what he meant by saying rival Hillary Clinton did not have "a presidential look."

    "She doesn't have the look," Trump replied. "She doesn't have the stamina." But as the television split screen captured them standing side-by-side after 90 minutes of intensive verbal combat, Clinton seemed as alert and on her game as he did, despite the bout with pneumonia that had temporarily forced her off the campaign trail.

    She pounced on Trump's answer, converting it deftly to cast it in sexist terms. "He tried to switch from looks to stamina," she said, "but this is a man who has called women pigs, slobs and dogs." In one phrase, she kept Trump on the defensive as he had been most of the night.

    After the opening minutes, in which he presented a deferential and insult-free Donald, Clinton's relentless reminders of the more aggressive and intemperate Donald seemed increasingly to get under his thin skin.

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Clinton sends troops to battle of Pennsylvania

    For Hillary Clinton, Pennsylvania is a fail-safe state. If she wins there, Donald Trump's path to electoral victory becomes much harder. Her debate performance on Monday night brightened what Democrats believe were already good odds.

    That was evident on Tuesday when Vice President Joe Biden highlighted a get-out-the-vote rally at Drexel University in Philadelphia. He brought up the debate often, praising Clinton and flaying Trump to an enthusiastic crowd.

    Democrats have worried about how to motivate young voters, so they were relieved that some Drexel students said the debate made them more likely to vote for Clinton. Black voters also came on board, according to Dwight Evans, a veteran Democratic state legislator favored to win a Congressional seat in November in a mostly-black Philadelphia district.

    "When Trump demeans Barack Obama with the crazy birther issues and others it makes people mad," Evans said. The Republican nominee repeatedly criticized the Obama presidency at the debate, and refused to take responsibility for spreading the lie that Obama wasn't really born in the U.S.

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Cheer up. History will forget this dismal campaign.

    With its insults, lies, rancor and racism, this has been the most depressing election cycle of my lifetime. So it's worth reminding ourselves that there's plenty of good news for the U.S. of 2016, and that the good news probably far outweighs the bad.

    When historians look back on our era, the Hillary Clinton-Donald Trump campaign probably will be a modest footnote to broader and mostly uninterrupted positive trends. For instance, in a remarkably short time, America has gone from clunky, joke-worthy cell phones, to having most of its citizens connected to much of the world's information, and to most of the world's people, at a moment's notice. That is actually one of the greatest achievements of human history, even if we are far from realizing its full practical benefits.

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Americans actually don't hate trade agreements

    There has been a lot of heated debate in the news media and the election campaigns about international trade. In the first presidential debate, candidate Donald Trump relentlessly flogged the issue, declaring that trade had hollowed out American industry. On the left, antitrade sentiment continues to simmer, much of it focused on opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Meanwhile, the economics field is still dealing with the fallout from a recent paper by some top economists showing that trade with China in the 2000s hurt U.S. workers more than it helped.

    But amid all this uproar, the general public has remained remarkably calm and composed on the issue. A number of recent opinion polls show that the majority of Americans remain quietly optimistic about the benefits of trade. For example, a Gallup poll earlier this year found that more Americans view international trade as an opportunity than as a threat. Other recent polls, including one by NBC/WSJ, another by Washington Post/ABC and a third by Pew, find the same thing -- U.S. residents are still broadly positive about trade.

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Women of America, this is how much leading Republicans hate you

    The "war on women" started as a Democratic talking point intended to delegitimize Republican positions on abortion, rape and domestic violence. But over the past couple of days, we haven't even needed a policy debate or a slightly hyperbolic political slogan for a number of Republicans to do a truly impressive job of demonstrating just how much they personally hate women.

    First, Donald Trump created a pre-debate stir by suggesting that he would invite Gennifer Flowers, who claims she had an affair with Bill Clinton, to attend his first contest with Hillary Clinton. Trump's suggestion was a response to Clinton's decision to give tickets to Mark Cuban, the owner of the Dallas Mavericks and a businessman who has consistently questioned whether Trump's business successes and claims of charitable giving are real.

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