Archive

July 2nd, 2016

Trump dares business to flee Republican Party

    Nominating a charlatan for president is the most obvious indication of the rot at the core of the Republican Party. No healthy institution would voluntarily elect Donald Trump to lead it.

    The speech Trump delivered in Pennsylvania on Tuesday, attacking globalization and trade, will provide more cause for panic among Republican elites. Yet Trump's ascendance has obscured, for a time, the equally big troubles that produced him.

    Balancing conflicting interests within a coalition is tough. Among Democrats, tension persists, for example, between unions and the party's supporters in global finance. Democrats have tried to mediate that conflict by, among other things, supporting free-trade agreements that include provisions specifically favored by labor. The party faces a similar struggle between labor and environmentalists, who have wildly divergent opinions about the benefits of, say, pipeline construction. Likewise, Democrats occasionally stick it to their wealthy supporters, raising their taxes. Other times, they retreat, as when they abandoned President Barack Obama's plan to tax 529 education plans.

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The startling leadership vacuum in post-Brexit Britain

    On June 21, David Cameron stood in front of the prime minister's residence at No. 10 Downing Street and made a last-ditch plea. "Brits don't quit," he said, urging voters, particularly older ones, to side with him and elect to remain in the European Union. "We get involved. We take a lead. We make a difference, we get things done."

    Just three days later, on that famed stoop, he would do exactly that: Quit. Hours after British voters shocked the world by voting to leave the E.U., the very man who said he would remain in the job if he lost, the very man who called for the referendum in the first place - a reckless and needless political tactic - resigned, right there, on the spot.

    It was a stunning moment that may have ultimately been inevitable for the prime minister, but did nothing to spur confidence in a country that has seen a gaping void open in its leadership. The world may be reeling from "Brexit's" grim economic fallout - the warnings of recession, the 30-year drop in the value of the pound, the global stock market declines -- but the leadership fallout from Britain's stunning vote is just as, if not more, ominous.

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The Miserable Catch 22 of Mental Illness

    I’m depressed.

    I’ve dealt with mental health issues for decades now. Nothing fancy or interesting like multiple personalities or hallucinations. Just run-of-the-mill boring ones — good old depression and anxiety, and maybe some undiagnosed PTSD to go with it.

    Mental illness has a stigma, but most sufferers are like me. Boring. Struggling. Outwardly pretty normal. Not a threat to society. Sometimes we even push our way through work, relationships, raising kids, or — in my case — graduate school.

    Lately, I’ve been splitting my time between hating myself and working on my thesis.

    It’s kind of odd to go back and forth between reading academic journal articles like a functional grown-up and curling up in the fetal position in bed like a child. If you saw me in public, you’d never know anything was wrong.

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Speak truth to black power, too

    Since I'm not a regular viewer of "Grey's Anatomy," I didn't know who the actor Jesse Williams was until his eloquent rants about the state of race in America popped up in viral internet videos.

    Now he's hit the big time. He's been widely hailed and covered for his "courage" and "speaking truth to power" in an eloquent speech he delivered after accepting the Humanitarian Award at the BET Awards on Sunday night.

    It's a stirring speech, a bracing indication of Williams' theatrical talents, multimedia commentaries and community activism.

    It was also a heartwarming speech. The Chicago-born Williams began with thanks to his parents, as cameras turned to his white mother and black father -- stirring symbols of a new era of racial harmony.

    He also paused to salute "black women in particular who have spent their lifetimes dedicated to nurturing everyone before themselves. We can and will do better for you." Big applause for that, deservedly so.

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Racists attacked me in London. The Brexit vote made things worse for people of color.

    I've lived in this country for 26 years. I was born to Indian parents in Ealing and raised in Hounslow, both multicultural West London areas, so my experiences with racism until now were limited to snide remarks and idiosyncrasies -- the usual schoolyard "race banter." My mother has lived here since she was 10, and she saw the type of racism they make movies on. My father came here in the '80s, when tensions had lessened, but were still very overt. I'd always considered myself fortunate, though I've witnessed a few accounts of pretty abrasive racism over the years in London, and I always felt it was my obligation to stand up and confront the perpetrator, having done so on every occasion.

    It's amazing how quickly someone can take that desire to stand up for what you believe in away from you.

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Pity poor Britannia

    It's enlightening to see that Brits can be just as dense as anyone else, especially for us old Anglophiles who venerate the dropped R, the broad A, the lift, the loo, the brolly, the banger, and that ridiculous game in which the pitcher throws a bad pitch and the batter swings a shovel at it and runs the wrong way. Because the Brits produced Shakespeare and Sir Winston and "Pomp and Circumstance" and "I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky, and all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by," we assumed they would do the right thing and then they go and cut off their nose to spite their face and vote to pull out of the European Union, a real shot in the foot. It's like watching the bishop drop the baby in the baptismal font.

    And will we be next? The Trumpster went around banging his dishpan, whooping it up for ignorance and superstition, and if he triumphs, then there goes Texas. Ted Cruz will restore the old Republic where citizenship can be restricted to the righteous and the cleanly and the Ten Commandments be enacted into law and stoning as a deterrent to heresy. And then goodbye, Kingdom of Vermont and Prince Bernie.

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Paul Ryan’s Hot New Idea: More Rank Corporate Giveaways

    Attention people, there’s big news out of Washington: Paul Ryan, the Republican speaker of the House, has announced that he has an idea!

    This is news because the GOP leadership hasn’t offered a new idea in years.

    Instead, they’ve simply been the party of no, opposing all proposals put forward by Democrats and nixing everything that big majorities of Americans want Congress to act on — like a jobs program to repair our collapsing infrastructure and a raise in the minimum wage to above the poverty level.

    So some were excited when Speaker Ryan called a major press conference to present his idea for fixing the economy.

    But, sheesh.

    It’s a rehash of the same old stale “idea” the GOP has for every issue: Eliminate government protections for consumers, workers, our environment, and so forth, so corporate profiteers can run roughshod over us. That’s the sole idea in the highly hyped, 57-page “economic agenda” that Ryan is peddling like a snake oil salesman.

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Justice Anthony Kennedy turns into a liberal

    Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy's vote to reaffirm the validity of affirmative action in higher education admissions and to give bite to abortion rights mark the endpoint of his near-complete transformation into a constitutional liberal.

    Last year's gay marriage decision, which Kennedy wrote, was his high water mark is a creative inventor of new constitutional rights. But Kennedy had expressed skepticism of affirmative action in the past. And while his vote in the 1992 Casey v. Planned Parenthood had blocked Roe v. Wade from being overturned, it weakened Roe's rights-oriented logic. For Kennedy to write the opinion that will become the new affirmative action precedent, and to join the opinion that makes cost-benefit analysis the new measure of whether state laws violate abortion-rights, suggests adherence to a liberal constitutional agenda.

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Blame Booze, Not Judge, In Stanford Sexual Assault Case

    Recently I received a mass email from a law professor in California soliciting money for an effort to have a local judge removed. Judge Aaron Persky had sentenced what the professor called "an elite athlete at Stanford University, to only six months in prison for three counts of sexual assault," offending left-thinking enemies of college sports everywhere.

    By the time professor Michele Dauber's indignant message arrived, the offending elitist, 19-year-old freshman Brock Turner -- who swam the 200- and 500-meter freestyle -- had been banished from the Stanford campus, given a lifetime ban from U.S. swimming events, required to register as a felony sex offender and sent to jail. Not exactly a walk in the park.

    Ah, but a fair-haired, blue-eyed boy: the ideal villain in the never-ending quest for the Perfect Campus Rape tale.

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You Break It, You Own It

    The British vote by a narrow majority to leave the European Union is not the end of the world — but it does show us how we can get there.

    A major European power, a longtime defender of liberal democracy, pluralism and free markets, falls under the sway of a few cynical politicians who see a chance to exploit public fears of immigration to advance their careers. They create a stark binary choice on an incredibly complex issue, of which few people understand the full scope — stay in or quit the EU.

    These politicians assume that the dog will never catch the car and they will have the best of all worlds — opposing something unpopular but not having to deal with the implications of the public actually voting to get rid of it. But they so dumb down the debate with lies, fear-mongering and misdirection, and with only a simple majority required to win, that the leave-the-EU crowd carries the day by a small margin. Presto: the dog catches the car. And, of course, it has no idea now what to do with this car. There is no plan. There is just barking.

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