Archive

August 11th, 2016

Millennials: Less sex, more satisfaction

    Older generations always seem to fret about the sexual behavior and romantic lives of the younger crowd. In the 1920s, there was alarm when boys stopped visiting in the parlor and started driving girls around in what one newspaper called "a house of prostitution on wheels." This worry paled in comparison to the panic evoked by the rowdy sexual revolution that began in the late 1960s.

    In the 1980s, observers were rightly alarmed by the growing prevalence of early teen sex, AIDS and sexually transmitted diseases. In the first two decades of this century, anxiety shifted to the college hookup scene and the emergence of dating apps to facilitate casual sex.

    Recently, however, a new concern has surfaced, with the finding that young adults, those age 20 to 24, are now having less sex than Gen-Xers or baby boomers born in the 1960s did at the same age. Indeed, 15 percent of 20-to-24-year-olds today report having had no sexual partner since they turned 18. (This is more than double the percentage for those born the 1960s; only 6 percent of them reported being sexually inactive at that age.)

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Democrats see Trump sinking other Republicans

    In 1980, Democratic pollster Peter Hart warned Gaylord Nelson, Wisconsin's champion vote-getter as governor and senator, that he was going to lose. Hart saw a Republican wave coming. Ronald Reagan would defeat President Jimmy Carter and carry other GOP candidates to victory as well.

    The opposite of the wave effect in elections is the so-called Eisenhower jacket, a term coined by Democrats predicting that the immensely popular Ike wouldn't have the coat-tails to help other Republicans down the ballot.

    With three months to go in the 2016 race, there is a presumption among most Democrats and more than a few Republicans that Hillary Clinton is headed to a decisive victory. Democrats are talking about a possible wave, while Republicans see a no-coattails election, particularly since Clinton herself remains unpopular.

    Of course, the race could change. Trump could get his act together, or there could be a crisis or a Clinton contretemps.

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A college degree just might get you a side job

    A lot of Americans are doing work on the side these days. This isn't apparent in the monthly employment data, which showed only 4.6 percent of workers holding multiple jobs in June, down from more than 6 percent in the mid-1990s. But evidence has been emerging in dribs and drabs from other sources. Here's a new drib, courtesy of the Federal Reserve Board's "Report on the Economic Well-Being of U.S. Households in 2015," which came out in May but hasn't gotten a whole lot of attention:

    "Twenty-two percent of employed adults indicate that they are either working multiple jobs, doing informal work for pay in addition to their main job, or both."

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Mr. Trump goes to Pennsylvania Avenue

    In the fullness of time - no, make that within a matter of weeks - one of the world's most famous streets, our own "Grand Avenue" and "America's Main Street," will once again be stained by the presence of a mean-spirited man who smeared and bulldozed his way to the top.

    The avenue's first tyrant was J. Edgar Hoover, whose name is on the FBI building at 935 Pennsylvania Ave. NW. He soon will be joined by Donald Trump and his Trump International Hotel, slated to open Sept. 12 at 1100 Pennsylvania Ave. NW.

    Yes, win or lose on Election Day, the Republican presidential nominee will be enshrined in a national historic site, the Old Post Office building, on Pennsylvania Avenue between the White House and the Capitol. As with the GOP nomination, the building in the heart of our nation's capital now belongs to him.

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Hillary’s Summer of Love

    It’s looking more and more like Donald Trump is the best thing that ever happened to Hillary Clinton.

    He’s definitely the strangest.

    With his fits of pique, spasms of ignorance and flashes of demagogy, he has turned the GOP’s favorite boogeywoman into its summer crush. I haven’t seen a love story this unlikely since “Harold and Maude.”

    Dozens of prominent Republicans have come out and said that they’ll vote for her or consider it, including, just last week, the Silicon Valley titan Meg Whitman, the Jeb Bush confidante Sally Bradshaw, and Maria Comella, a former spokeswoman for two of Trump’s most pugnacious promoters, Chris Christie and Rudy Giuliani.

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Crazy About the Presidency

    It is Inauguration Day, Jan. 20, 2017.

    Donald Trump searches his drawer for a note from Barack Obama, something on heavy cream stationery with the White House insignia, maybe reiterating the Obama doctrine, “Don’t do stupid stuff.”

    But there is nothing there.

    That puts Trump in a huff. How dare Obama depart without leaving the customary handwritten good-luck missive?

    He grabs his phone and tweets: “SAD!! No note from my predecessor. No Class Obama.”

    The tweet doesn’t go through. Must be something about the White House secure communications, he thinks. He’ll figure it out later. Right now, he needs to savor the moment.

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Clinton’s Fibs vs. Trump’s Huge Lies

    One persistent narrative in U.S. politics is that Hillary Clinton is a slippery, compulsive liar while Donald Trump is a gutsy truth-teller.

    Overall, the latest CBS News poll finds the public similarly repulsed by each candidate: 34 percent of registered voters say Clinton is honest and trustworthy compared with 36 percent for Trump.

    Yet the idea that they are even in the same league is preposterous. If deception were a sport, Trump would be the Olympic gold medalist; Clinton would be an honorable mention at her local Y.

    Let’s investigate.

    One metric comes from independent fact-checking websites. As of Friday, PolitiFact had found 27 percent of Clinton’s statements that it had looked into were mostly false or worse, compared with 70 percent of Trump’s. It said 2 percent of Clinton’s statements it had reviewed were egregious “pants on fire” lies, compared with 19 percent of Trump’s. So Trump has nine times the share of flat-out lies as Clinton.

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Why you should thank Trump

    Political life in the West, it is safe to say, has not witnessed a figure such as Donald Trump for decades. His attacks on the parents of Army Captain Humayun Khan, who died on duty in Iraq in 2004, is the latest jaw-dropping episode from his presidential campaign. But as he lurches toward what one hopes will be ignominious defeat in November, we must also acknowledge two positive contributions he has made, however inadvertently, to public life.

    For one, with his merciless denunciations of Muslims, he established Islamophobia as an incontrovertible and toxic presence in our societies. Strange as it may seem today, many public figures strenuously denied that anti-Muslim prejudice had exploded following the attacks of 9/11. The writer Sam Harris wasn't alone in proclaiming that "there is no such thing as Islamophobia." Much crude prejudice and aggressive ignorance were aired under the rubric of "criticizing" and "reforming" Islam.

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When a flag crosses the line into harassment

    Is it racial harassment in the workplace to display the yellow "Don't tread on me" flag? The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission says that it could be, depending on the context. The commission acknowledged that the Gadsden flag, which dates to the American Revolution, did not have racist origins. But it called for a careful investigation to see whether recent uses of the flag have been sufficiently "racially tinged" that it could count as harassment.

    A strong argument can be mounted that this EEOC decision is a threat to the First Amendment -- and that's exactly the argument made by UCLA law professor Eugene Volokh on his blog, the Volokh Conspiracy, in reporting on the commission decision. But on closer examination, I think the commission got this one right. When it comes to the meaning of symbols, social context is everything. Even symbols that have no direct historical connection to racism can change meaning over time. And if we're going to have laws against workplace harassment, we have to prohibit all harassing behavior -- including harassment that's overtly political.

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Trump thought he could win through sheer media dominance. In reality, it's killing him.

    Friday morning brings a truly rare sighting: Donald Trump admitting error. Sort of, anyway. He tweeted this:

    - - -

    The plane I saw on television was the hostage plane in Geneva, Switzerland, not the plane carrying $400 million in cash going to Iran!

    - - -

    In effect, Trump admitted that a claim he had been making for days -- including at a blustery rally yesterday -- was pure invention. He'd said he had witnessed video of the $400 million cash transfer made by the United States to Iran, even though no such video existed. Now he's admitting the video he saw was actually of the prisoner swap.

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