Archive

August 30th, 2016

The beginning of the end of angry white males

    You can argue about when the contemporary era of white male reaction in American politics began. But surely March 8, 1970, four days after National Guardsmen opened fire on students at Kent State University, deserves a hearing.

    On that day, a student protest in Manhattan against the shootings in Ohio was met by a counteroffensive -- the "Hard Hat Riot." Dozens of construction workers organized, marched and clobbered the protesters, kicking them and beating them with hard hats in what the New York Times described as a "wild noontime melee."

    The construction workers were sick of hippies, sick of leftists, sick of privileged college kids complaining about the war and the draft and the country. Some rioters branched off to Pace University, near City Hall, where they beat up more kids after having been pelted with objects hurled from the school's roof. Less than three weeks later, President Richard Nixon welcomed a delegation of hard hats to the White House.

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The Affordable Care Act is not in crisis - but it could be better

    Over the final few months of the election, The Post will ask policy experts to weigh in on the critical questions our presidential candidates should be addressing - but often aren't. This week's question: Are the Affordable Care Act's insurance exchanges sustainable?

    Aetna's withdrawal from Affordable Care Act markets has sparked the latest round of dire predictions about the law's survival. Yet time and time again the ACA has proved durable, insuring 20 million Americans with improvements each year. This time will be no different.

    Contrary to popular perception, the "risk pool" - the balance of healthy and sick enrollees - has been stable. Indeed, it was broadened as total enrollment increased by 66 percent in 2015, and per enrollee costs declined 0.1 percent between 2014 and 2015 . While data is not yet available for 2016, and results vary by state, this indicates that the Affordable Care Act is not facing a crisis.

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Phony war on voter fraud looks even phonier

    When he talks about "rigged" elections and calls for voter-identification laws to prevent fraud, Donald Trump is squarely within the Republican mainstream. The party has made passing those laws one of its highest priorities in state after state.

    Yet as the evidence continues to show, the type of fraud that voter ID laws could prevent is basically non-existent.

    Now there's more documentation of this. News21, a nonpartisan investigative-journalism education project, studied cases from 2012 to 2016 in Texas, Georgia, Arizona, Kansas and Ohio -- all states where Republicans have complained about fraud. It found hundreds of allegations. But most turned out to be spurious. There were few prosecutions and a total of only 38 convictions.

    When fraud is found - yes, there is election fraud in the U.S. - it almost never involves in-person voter impersonation. As election-law expert Rick Hasen has noted, the weak point in the system is the potential for fraud in absentee ballots, a problem voter ID wouldn't prevent.

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Hillary Health Shocker!

    Although she has gone to extraordinary lengths to distract and deceive American voters, the truth is finally coming out: Hillary Clinton has an 11th toe.

    I don’t have the medical records. She refuses to release them. But just try to come up with some other explanation for why she’s so infrequently photographed in sandals or flip-flops; why she seldom appears barefoot in public; why, during debates, she keeps her legs, especially the lower halves, tucked carefully behind the lectern.

    She’s covering something up, and it’s that freakish, disqualifying digit.

    Have you watched her walk? Look closely. She wobbles a bit, or maybe it’s more of a teeter, combined with a lurch, and the likeliest cause is podiatric asymmetry. I consulted foot specialists. At least they referred to themselves that way online, and when I assured them that an interview with me could be their springboard to Sean Hannity, they opened up.

    “Does Hillary Clinton have a superfluous toe?” I asked one of them.

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August 26th

Sickening attacks on Clinton's health

    Donald Trump -- he who likes to fly home at night in the comfort of his own plane to sleep in the comfort of his own bed -- is at it again on the question of Hillary Clinton's stamina, or alleged lack thereof.

    "To defeat crime and radical Islamic terrorism in our country, to win trade in our country, you need tremendous physical and mental strength and stamina," he said in Wisconsin. "Hillary Clinton doesn't have that strength and stamina."

    And a day earlier, in case you missed it, "Importantly, she also lacks the mental and physical stamina to take on ISIS, and all the many adversaries we face."

    It's obvious what's going on here. The strength and stamina combo is a gender-age two-fer, a double whack at Clinton for the price of one. Strength, what men have, and women lack; stamina, with its intimations of go-all-night virility. Clinton, in this depiction, is both a weak girl and a dried-up old crone.

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Trump's sour Virginia cocktail

    Political arguments are rarely gentle or polite anymore, so it was a gift to see two Republicans who passionately disagree about what Donald Trump means for our nation hash out their differences with grace. Their exchange helps explain the mess Trump has made of his campaign.

    One clear indicator: Trump has handed Hillary Clinton a substantial lead in this former bulwark of conservatism. He is thus speeding along a process by which Virginia, a state that voted for Republicans in every election from 1968 to 2004, finds itself on the verge of becoming reliably Democratic in presidential contests.

    My window into the intra-Republican split came courtesy of a lunch here with Russ Potts, a genial moderate Republican legend who spent 16 years in Virginia's state Senate, and his friend and business protege Zach Franz. Potts, 77, is president of his own sports marketing company of which Franz, 33, serves as senior vice president. They have been through the business wars together, but have very different views of 2016.

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What exactly is it that we're all so polarized over?

    The political history of the U.S. from the late 1830s through the 1850s is one long tragedy. President after president struggled to hold together an increasingly polarized nation. None served more than one term, two died in office -- and by 1860 the country was falling apart.

    We hear a lot these days that we're in a new age of polarization, with measures of partisanship showing a divide greater than at any time since the Civil War. But there's a striking difference: It's pretty clear what the polarization of the 1830s through 1850s was about. Nowadays that's much harder to figure out.

    All this is on my mind because I've just spent several days driving up and down Interstate 95 listening to Lillian Cunningham's "Presidential" podcast. Cunningham is a reporter and editor at the Washington Post, and since the beginning of the year she has been offering up weekly 30- to 45-minute examinations of the presidents, in chronological order (she's currently on Harry Truman). I highly recommend them.

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Trump’s Hollow ‘Regrets’

    Donald Trump is the candidate who is so rigid in his perverted self-righteousness that he doesn’t “like to have to ask for forgiveness.” He says he has never even sought forgiveness from God, the divine author and inspiration of his favorite book, from which he struggled to name a favorite verse.

    But Trump actually expressed some “regret” last week, saying:

    “Sometimes, in the heat of debate and speaking on a multitude of issues, you don’t choose the right words or you say the wrong thing. I have done that. And believe it or not, I regret it. And I do regret it, particularly where it may have caused personal pain.”

    Precisely what does Trump regret?

    Does he regret his comments on Megyn Kelly and the issue of blood coming out of her “wherever”? Does he regret retweeting messages calling her a bimbo?

    Does he regret attacking a Gold Star family?

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The Water Next Time

    A disaster area is no place for political theater. The governor of flood-ravaged Louisiana asked President Barack Obama to postpone a personal visit while relief efforts were still underway. (Meanwhile, by all accounts, the substantive federal response has been infinitely superior to the Bush administration’s response to Katrina.) He made the same request to Donald Trump, declaring, reasonably, that while aid would be welcome, a visit for the sake of a photo op would not.

    Sure enough, the GOP candidate flew in, shook some hands, signed some autographs, and was filmed taking boxes of Play-Doh out of a truck. If he wrote a check, neither his campaign nor anyone else has mentioned it. Heckuva job, Donnie!

    But boorish, self-centered behavior is the least of it. By far the bigger issue is that even as Trump made a ham-handed (and cheapskate) effort to exploit Louisiana’s latest disaster for political gain, he continued to stake out a policy position that will make such disasters increasingly frequent.

    Let’s back up for a minute and talk about the real meaning of the Louisiana floods.

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The secret to Trump: He's really a Russian oligarch

    During the course of a long career, Paul Manafort, the ousted boss of the Donald Trump campaign, has helped oligarchs and crooks of all kinds come to power. He worked for Ferdinand Marcos and Jonas Savimbi; in Ukraine, he helped transform an ex-convict, Viktor Yanukovych, into a corrupt president who fired on demonstrators and eventually fled the country. Given all of that, recent reports that Yanukovych's party allotted Manafort $12 million in off-the-books cash should hardly have come as a surprise.

    Now he's been pushed aside by the differently sinister figure of Stephen Bannon. But before Manafort fades from view, it's worth looking at what his affiliation with Trump tells us about both of them. Quite a lot has already been written, including by me, on the multiple connections between Vladimir Putin's Russia and the Trump campaign. But the deeper point has not really been driven home: The real problem with Trump isn't that he is sympathetic to Russian oligarchs, it's that he is a Russian oligarch, albeit one who happens to be American.

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