Archive

April 30th, 2016

Sanders's next crusade may be for attention

    His hour upon the nation's biggest political stage is almost up. The Democratic nomination is receding from his reach. And a 74-year-old doesn't have a lot of presidential runs in his future. So it's time for Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders to take stock: What does he want?

    Yes, yes, everyone knows -- a revolution. But Sanders is not Lenin and this isn't Russia circa 1917. So what does he really want? He has surprised us all, himself surely included, with the depth and breadth of his support in the Democratic primary. As a result, he has valuable leverage, afforded by millions of votes, and a trove of digital addresses, afforded by his supporters' passion.

    Sanders has a few months left to take full advantage of those assets. For himself, he'll want a prime-time slot for a convention speech and a serious role as a surrogate on the campaign trail. For his followers, he'll no doubt have the opportunity to insert some pet peeves into a Democratic platform, for whatever that's worth.

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Presidential Frontrunners Close In

    Donald Trump's sweep of five Northeastern primaries and Hillary Clinton's victories in four of the five have moved the 2016 presidential election process to the brink of decision in both parties, and a prospective Trump-Clinton faceoff in November.

    Trump's pickup of 109 convention delegates was a particular blow to his closest Republican challenger, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who finished an embarrassing third behind Ohio Gov. John Kasich in four states -- Connecticut, Rhode Island, Delaware and Maryland.

    The results raised Trump's total to 954, only 283 delegates short of the majority 1,237 required for the Republican nomination, calling into question Cruz's earlier declaration that Trump would fall short on the first ballot, necessitating an open convention in Cleveland in July.

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No, Donald Trump, beating Hillary Clinton will not be easy for you

    Following a five-primary sweep Tuesday night, Donald Trump repeatedly insisted that he would beat Hillary Clinton "so easily," because she is a crooked politician and a flawed candidate whom people do not like. It is undoubtedly true that Clinton is beatable. By her own admission, she is "not a natural politician." But that does not mean that Trump can beat her, let alone easily.

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Mrs. Christie's face makes an eloquent case against Trump's appeal to women

    It should be a new rule of the campaign that Donald Trump is allowed to give speeches only with a member of the Christie family standing behind him and making faces. (One will do, but both are preferable.)

    First, Chris Christie hung, albatross-like, around Trump's neck as he spoke in Palm Beach, Fla.

    And on Tuesday night, Mary Pat Christie's facial expression behind Donald Trump, as he expressed why he would do well with women and Hillary Clinton would not, was beyond words.

    This is different from her husband's wordless cry. That was something the likes of which we had not seen before.

    This, by contrast, is intensely familiar.

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How Not To Pursue The American Dream

    Call me unpatriotic, but whenever I hear people prating about the "American Dream," it sets my teeth on edge. The thing about dreams, see, is that they're imaginary. A figment of your imagination.

    So you have a dream. Good for you.

    I had a dream, too. When I was 12. I was going to be a major league pitcher. Over the ensuing years, however, it became gradually apparent that the fastball that wowed them in Little League might not carry me to World Series stardom.

    To me, that's one of the big lessons of sports: realism. How good you are, how good you're not. How to deal with it.

    It's when people bring unfettered illusions into the economic and political realm, however, that the trouble starts. One such example is a provocative essay in the May issue of The Atlantic by Neal Gabler.

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Gov. McAuliffe's move on felon rights upends 2017 races

    Gov. Terry McAuliffe's (D) unexpected decision to give a blanket, automatic restoration of voting rights to ex-felons - the order covers those convicted of all crimes, non-violent to the most heinous - has upended the 2017 contests for governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general.

    The state's pundits have been calling McAuliffe's surprise decision -- he never hinted at this while campaigning -- a politically motivated effort to help longtime friend Hillary Clinton, the presumptive Democratic nominee for president. This is based on their belief that African Americans will benefit the most, and skin color determines voting choices today. This belittles all involved.

    Given the 2016 national polls, Clinton doesn't need McAuliffe's help in Virginia. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is trailing badly in the Old Dominion.

    However, regarding 2017, McAuliffe's assertion of possessing such sweeping constitutional power defies the positions of his predecessors.

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Democrats fought for establishment candidates. But was the cost too high?

    The Democratic establishment, led by President Obama, came out on top Tuesday, delivering a string of blows to progressive challengers who party leaders decided were not their best candidates to help claim the Senate this fall.

    The fallout from these victories remains to be seen. The sheer amount of money poured into Senate primaries in Pennsylvania and Maryland -- close to $30 million in Democrat-on-Democrat spending -- along with the vitriol of the intraparty attacks begs the question about how unified Democrats will be in November.

    "I think people will come back on board, but it's going to take some work," Sen. Jon Tester (Montana), chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, said in an interview Tuesday afternoon.

    The establishment triumph demonstrates that Democrats have not drifted anywhere close to the upside-down world of Republican primaries, in which incumbents often run away from party leaders to protect their ideological right flank.

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Democrats fought for establishment candidates. But was the cost too high?

    The Democratic establishment, led by President Obama, came out on top Tuesday, delivering a string of blows to progressive challengers who party leaders decided were not their best candidates to help claim the Senate this fall.

    The fallout from these victories remains to be seen. The sheer amount of money poured into Senate primaries in Pennsylvania and Maryland -- close to $30 million in Democrat-on-Democrat spending -- along with the vitriol of the intraparty attacks begs the question about how unified Democrats will be in November.

    "I think people will come back on board, but it's going to take some work," Sen. Jon Tester (Montana), chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, said in an interview Tuesday afternoon.

    The establishment triumph demonstrates that Democrats have not drifted anywhere close to the upside-down world of Republican primaries, in which incumbents often run away from party leaders to protect their ideological right flank.

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Dangerous new uses for government eavesdropping

    The U.S. government claims the right to eavesdrop at will on your email when you're writing to someone who lives abroad. Now it wants to be able to use those emails to convict you of a crime.

    That's what's happening to Aws Mohammed Younis al-Jayab -- and he's not the only one. The legal basis is the 2008 Amendment Act to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which says the government may monitor communications from within the U.S. to foreigners abroad, or vice versa, without first obtaining a warrant to authorize the surveillance.

    No court has yet reviewed the law's constitutionality because until 2013 the government didn't tell anyone that it had been doing this. The Supreme Court ruled in 2013 that no one had legal standing to challenge the law based merely on the speculation that it might be applied to them.

    Jayab is different. The government can charge him with a crime only by using evidence gathered from his intercepted emails. So it's put him on notice that it intends to rely on material collected without a warrant per the FISA. That gives Jawab standing to challenge the law.

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Crime Can Pay if It’s Big Enough

    Wow, $5 billion.

    That’s the stunning amount Goldman Sachs has agreed to pay to settle federal criminal charges over its shameful financial scams, which helped wreck America’s economy in 2008. That’s a lot of gold, even for Goldman.

    Yet the Wall Street powerhouse says it’s “pleased” to swallow this sour slug of medicine. Is that because its executives are contrite? Oh, come on — banksters don’t do contrite.

    Rather, they’re pleased with the settlement. Thanks to backroom dealing with friendly prosecutors, it’s riddled with loopholes that may eliminate nearly $2 billion from the publicized punishment.

    For example, the deal calls for the felonious bank to put a quarter-billion dollars into an affordable housing program. But generous federal negotiators put incentives and credits in the fine print that will let Goldman escape with paying out less than a third of that.

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