Archive

June 29th, 2016

For the GOP, a pickle of a platform

    How do you write a platform for a party whose candidate's positions span the unfortunate gamut from nonexistent to offensive to flatly at odds with those of the party?

    Such is the thankless task consigned this year to Sen. John Barrasso. The Wyoming Republican is a Yale-trained orthopedist with a voracious appetite for history (he's currently immersed in a Ulysses S. Grant biography) and a political junkie's love of game and country (Barrasso hasn't missed an inauguration since his father, a Pennsylvania cement finisher, took him to John F. Kennedy's).

     Barrasso exhibits a wonk's inclination for policy specifics (he just hosted surgeon and writer Atul Gawande to speak to fellow senators on health care) that puts him more in the "sweat the details" spirit of Hillary Clinton than the details-shmetails approach of Donald Trump.

    Barrasso is, in short, the anti-Trump. Not in the sense of being opposed to the nominee -- he isn't, although, like most of his GOP Senate colleagues, he scarcely exudes enthusiasm for Trump.

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Can anyone save the Republican Party?

    Donald Trump's stranglehold on the Republican Party as it plunges headlong toward its national convention in mid-July imperils the party's very survival 162 years after its emergence from the withered skeleton of the Whig Party.

    The Grand Old Party was born in 1854 in the crucible of an approaching civil war between the Northern and Southern states over the right of secession from the Union and the institution of slavery. By comparison, the bone of contention now is trivial. It grows out of one egomaniacal outsider's decision to impose his ambition and will on a political party in which he previously showed only a modicum of interest.

    No great or imperative issue confronting the nation is at stake now, igniting the public's passions. Instead, there is a general mood of disaffection with the existing major parties' inability or unwillingness to engage in bipartisan compromise on a range of matters before the national legislature.

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Why China could dominate the 'internet of vehicles'

    A few weeks ago, Apple's Tim Cook was all smiles as he stepped into a sedan operated by Didi Chuxing. Apple had just invested $1 billion in the ridesharing company, and Cook was no doubt feeling satisfied. But he was probably feeling another emotion too: relief at getting a piece of China's "internet of vehicles" before it's too late.

    That phrase might be new, but the idea isn't. Automakers and tech companies have long dreamed of building internet-connected cars that can entertain passengers, coordinate with other vehicles, navigate themselves and, eventually, drive autonomously. Platforms such as Apple's CarPlay and Google's Android Auto are starting to make the concept a reality.

    But China is where the future of this technology will likely be charted. And in trying to compete there, foreign companies are facing a stark choice: Partner up or be left behind.

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Keep calm and - what the hell just happened?

    Dang it, Britain, we thought you had things under control.

    We were supposed to be the place where everything was on fire. You were supposed to keep calm and carry on. Were all of those posters a lie?

    Torching the place for literally no reason other than to send a message about voter anger, we thought, was our special prerogative. In the Jane Austen novel of international life, we were supposed to be Marianne, the one with all the feelings. You were supposed to be Elinor, the sensible one.

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British millennials like me are the real losers in the Brexit vote

    Today has been a day of bitterness, resentment and betrayal for British millennials like me. Overnight, my generation has lost the right to call ourselves Europeans, as well as the right to live, love and work in the 27 other countries of the European Union. Among the many divisions the referendum has revealed in the U.K., the chasm between generations is becoming the most pronounced. While the Leave campaign achieved a two-point victory in the referendum, 75 percent of voters between 18 and 24 wanted to remain.

    For all intents and purposes, the referendum result is just the latest in a series of attacks on my generation's future. First came the financial crisis, caused by poor decision-making on the part of baby boomers across the world. Soon after came austerity measures that disproportionately affected young people in favor of protecting British pensions. Now we are being forced from the European Union - against the wishes of the vast majority of young people - in an attack from a generation that will live to see very little of its consequences.

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Britain’s Brexit Leap in the Dark

    The British have given the world’s political, financial and business establishment a massive kick in the teeth by voting to leave the European Union, a historic decision that will plunge Britain into uncertainty for years to come and reverses the integration on which the Continent’s stability has been based.

    Warnings by President Barack Obama, Britain’s political leaders and the International Monetary Fund about the dire consequences of a British exit proved useless. If anything, they goaded a mood of defiant anger against these very elites.

    This resentment has its roots in many things but may be summed up as a revolt against global capitalism. To heck with the experts and political correctness was the predominant mood in the end. A majority of Britons had no time for the politicians that brought the world a disastrous war in Iraq, the 2008 financial meltdown, European austerity, stagnant working-class wages, high immigration and tax havens for the super-rich.

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Blood on Obama’s Hands

    Cristóbal, a 16-year-old Honduran refugee fleeing a drug gang that wants to kill him, has never heard of anyone named Barack Obama. Neither can he name the Mexican president, Enrique Peña Nieto.

    But Cristóbal, along with many others, could end up being murdered because of these two presidents he is unaware of. Obama and Peña Nieto have cooperated for two years to intercept desperate Central American refugees in southern Mexico, long before they can reach the U.S. border. These refugees are then typically deported to their home countries — which can be a death sentence.

    “If I’m sent back, they will kill me,” says Cristóbal, who is staying temporarily at a shelter for unaccompanied migrant kids in Mexico. He says he was forced to work for the gang as a cocaine courier beginning at age 14 — a gun was held to his head, and he was told he would be shot if he declined. He finally quit and fled after he witnessed gang members murder two of his friends. Now the gang is looking for him, he says, and it already sent a hit team to his home.

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14 Young Democrats to Watch

    One of the great myths of the 2016 presidential primaries was that Republicans had an uncommonly dazzling breadth and depth of young contenders.

    If that’s so, why is their presumptive nominee a 70-year-old, Donald Trump?

    A related canard was that the showdown between Hillary Clinton, 68, and Bernie Sanders, 74, underscored how little youthful energy the Democratic Party possessed.

    If that’s so, why was the following list so easy to pull together?

    I combed the party’s ranks, questioned some of its leaders and quickly assembled the names of dozens of promising, buzzed-about Democratic politicians no older than 45, a cutoff I chose because that’s the age of Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, the two young Republican comers who made credible runs at the White House this year.

    I’m showcasing these 14 because they in particular are generating a noteworthy degree of excitement, have intriguing backgrounds or are well positioned for more prominent roles. And because they caught my eye.

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June 28th

David Cameron Was a Historic and Disastrous Failure

    This is how a political life ends: with a crash, not a whimper. David Cameron's place in history is now assured. He is the man who took the United Kingdom out of the European Union. As we wait for the full impact of Thursday's referendum to be felt, he may be remembered as the prime minister who presided over the beginning of the end of the United Kingdom, too. Scottish independence, defeated as an idea just two years ago, is back on the table.

    Cameron's 10 years as leader of the Conservative party and six as prime minister now boil down to these solitary facts. Nothing else matters; nothing else will be remembered. Cameron gambled everything on one roll of the dice and lost it all.

    No prime minister in living memory has suffered a defeat of such cataclysmic proportions; none has been so thoroughly humiliated by his own electorate. Cameron lost control of his party and then his country. The consequences of that carelessness will be felt, in Britain and internationally, for years to come. Future political historians will ponder a melancholy question: what was the point of David Cameron? And their judgment is likely to be severe.

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Will sit-in make Congress stand up on gun control?

    The extremely rare sit-in by Democrats in the House chamber may have been, as Speaker Paul Ryan claimed, a "publicity stunt." But it was a righteous one that may improve the prospects for meaningful gun control.

    It won't happen immediately. Even after 49 innocent victims died in the Orlando massacre -- the worst such shooting in modern U.S. history -- Republicans remain adamantly opposed to any new legislation that might keep powerful weapons out of the hands of the next would-be mass murderer.

    If Republicans care more about maintaining their standing with the National Rifle Association than saving lives, that's their choice. But polls show majority support for sensible new gun control measures -- and members of Congress should at least have to go on record. Democrats are demanding that the House do its job: vote yes or no.

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