Archive

May 1st, 2016

How to play the 'woman card'

    "Frankly, if Hillary Clinton were a man, I don't think she'd get 5 percent of the vote. The only thing she's got going is the woman's card," Trump said Tuesday night, after winning 5 primaries.

    Ah yes, the woman's card.

    I have been carrying one of these for years, proudly.

    It is great. It entitles you to a sizable discount on your earnings everywhere you go (average 21 percent, but can be anywhere from 9 percent to 37 percent, depending on what study you're reading and what edition of the Woman Card you have.) If you shop with the Woman Card at the grocery, you will get to pay 11 percent more for all the same products as men, but now they are pink.

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Want to know what it's really like to have a child with autism?

    My husband and I are at our local garden store, running errands on a typical Saturday, when Mae, our 8-year-old, becomes agitated. She quickly goes from bunny-hopping down the Azalea aisle -- smile on her face, dimples on display -- to growing fidgety and vaguely cranky to screaming and hitting herself. The sound is horrifying. Heads turn toward us.

    Mae is wearing a bathing suit under her leggings, not because we plan to go to the pool but because she still wears diapers and recently developed a habit of removing them -- spandex and complicated straps slow her down. In this moment, she's got rock-star hair: What's usually a neat black pageboy is sticking up four inches, thanks to the way she compulsively rotates her head back and forth in bed as she falls asleep. Her beautiful long eyelashes now are plastered together with inconsolable tears -- trying to intervene only ever makes it worse.

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Trump's authentic phoniness

    The chances of Donald Trump becoming the Republican nominee for president have gone from impossible to probable, while Hillary Clinton's chances of being the Democrat have moved from likely to virtually certain. So, barring more surprises, it's probably going to be Hillary vs. The Donald in the fall.

    There is no mystery about Clinton. Those who support her as well as those who oppose her have little trouble explaining why. Trump is another matter. No one I know would even consider voting for Trump. So who are all these millions who support him? Why, they are working-class white men, we are told, who feel betrayed by the failure of both parties to deal with stagnant incomes, growing debts and shrinking possibilities for their retirements and their childrens' futures.

    It's a plausible theory. And it may help to explain Bernie Sanders. But no one has ever associated Trump with these blue-collar issues. How has he become the tribune of the people in this election? Is he just the one who got there first?

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Trump is making up for lost ground

    The good news for Donald Trump continued Tuesday night. He's closer to the nomination. But he's not there yet.

    Trump was long expected to win in the primaries in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Connecticut, Delaware and Rhode Island, so pulling off that sweep wasn't anything special. But across all five states, Trump's margins were large, well over 50 percent everywhere. He'll wind up with more delegates than he was projected to get; Nate Silver, at the political website FiveThirtyEight, says Trump "basically made up all the ground he lost in WI and CO."

    It's also encouraging for him. Trump right now leads the polls in Indiana and California, the two key states remaining. Until last week in New York, however, Trump usually underperformed his early polling numbers; once the full campaign showed in each state, his opponents generally took most or all of the undecided vote, and sometimes some of his. But that's not what happened in New York, or (overall) in the five states Tuesday night. Perhaps it's only a regional effect, but it's at least a bit of evidence that Trump may do as well or better than he's currently polling.

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Trump Deals the Woman Card

    And it came to pass, barely seconds after he became the near-inevitable Republican presidential nominee, that Donald Trump began a gender war.

    “Frankly, if Hillary Clinton were a man, I don’t think she’d get 5 percent of the vote. The only thing she’s got going is the women’s card,” Trump said in the aftermath of his five-state primary sweep Tuesday. “And the beautiful thing is, women don’t like her.”

    Observers felt they discerned a distinct eye roll on the part of Chris Christie’s wife, Mary Pat, who was standing onstage behind the triumphant Trump. Her husband maintained his now-traditional demeanor of a partially brainwashed cult member.

    People, why in the world do you think Trump went there?

    A) He analyzed Clinton’s entire public career and decided her weakest point was the possibility of being the first female president.

    B) He felt his unimpeachable record on feminist issues gave him the gravitas to bring the matter up early.

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Trump's blowout forces his rivals to double down

    The Ted Cruz-John Kasich alliance failed on Tuesday night as Donald Trump rolled up huge victories in five Northeastern states. The two anti-Trump candidates have only one real option left: to double down on the troubled strategy.

    With Kasich out of the way in Indiana next week, Cruz faces a must-win showdown against Trump. If the billionaire takes that state, it may be close to impossible to stop him from winning the Republican presidential nomination. If Cruz prevails, however, his camp and Kasich's already are discussing a plan for dividing up the final huge primaries on June 7.

    Trump's pathway to the 1,237 delegates necessary to capture the nomination became easier with big victories on Tuesday. He won more than 100 delegates, putting him less than 300 shy of the magic number.

    On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton continued her seemingly inevitable march to the nomination, winning four of five contests: Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware and Connecticut. But Sen. Bernie Sanders, her only rival, won Rhode Island and insists that he will keep competing at least through the final June primaries.

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April 30th

Trump 2.0? Don't bet on it

    Oh, so now Donald Trump cares about whom he offends?

    The New York billionaire's Republican presidential candidacy is in for a makeover. In fact, his new campaign adviser Paul Manafort told a meeting of Republican National Committee leaders in Hollywood, Fla., that the Donald's pivot to a more cool and cuddly candidate already has begun.

    "You'll start to see more depth of the person, the real person," said Manafort, according to a recording obtained by the Associated Press in the closed-door meeting. "You'll see a real different way."

    "The negatives will come down," Manafort said. "The image is going to change."

    Is he -- and Trump -- for real? The announced transformation conveniently comes at a time when Trump is trying to woo a constituency he underestimated, if he expected it at all: Republican convention delegates who do the actual nominating of the party's presidential candidate.

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The only man who can stop Trump

    Donald Trump has decided that sexism in the quest for victory is no vice.

    Trump's supporters have regularly asked why his long string of primary successes has not led his Republican opponents to accept him as "the presumptive nominee," the phrase he used about himself Tuesday night. The candidate helpfully answered the question by showing that there is nothing normal about his campaign for the presidency.

    A candidate on the verge of taking it all is usually gracious about his foes inside the party and conscious of the need to broaden his appeal beyond it. But graciousness is not a Trumpian concept.

    On his most glorious night so far, he again showed Republicans why choosing him would produce an avalanche of Democratic votes from American women -- and from many men who respect women more than Trump seems to.

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The Good Food Movement Needs Science, Too

    Perhaps you’ve heard some organic food advocates say, “We should just roll back the clock and farm the way we used to” — before modern science gave us factory farms and genetically modified ingredients.

    Others disagree, saying that we’d all starve if we didn’t use science and technology in farming.

    It’s a big debate. But maybe the turning of a clock isn’t the right metaphor.

    Instead, I thought recently of an old Chinese saying: “Draw snake, add legs.” It refers to when someone gets so carried away in doing something that they carry it too far, ruining it by adding extra, useless things.

    A study of how our food system developed over the last century appears to be a clear case of drawing a snake and adding legs.

    My master’s thesis is on chickens. I’ve dug into historical documents going back to the late 1800s to learn how Americans raised chickens over time. It’s not a pretty picture.

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The fault line between parties and voters

    Donald Trump claims the Republican presidential primary system is "corrupt" and "rigged" against him. If anything, the opposite is true: The party's rules have largely operated in Trump's favor. Witness the fact that, going into Tuesday's primaries, Trump had won just 38 percent of the popular vote but 47 percent of the delegates awarded so far.

    Still, Trump's griping seems to have resonated even beyond his own supporters. The dispute highlights the friction between the parties' institutional interests in self-preservation and voters' convictions that they run the show. This inherent tension tends to be submerged in less contentious election years, when those competing imperatives can both be accommodated.

    Trump has "discovered what a lot of Americans have discovered, which is that the nomination of a president is not a public process," the Brookings Institution's Elaine Kamarck told me. "It's a party process that the parties in modern times have allowed the public to participate in."

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