Archive

October 30th, 2016

Remembering Tom Hayden, radical reformer and public servant

    The death at 76 of Tom Hayden has taken from the scene an influential student radical of the 1960s who pivoted to orthodox politics as an influential California state senator, where he carried on his dedication to anti-war and other liberal principles.

    I first encountered Hayden in Newark, N.J., when he was a community organizer in a poor black section of the city. He was fresh out of the University of Michigan and an early leader of Students for a Democratic Society, SDS.

    Hayden was the chief drafter of its Port Huron Statement in 1962, which declared it represented a "generation bred in at least modest comfort, housed now in universities, looking uncomfortably to the world we inherit."

    At its founding convention on the shores of Lake Huron, SDS called for creation of "a democracy of individual participation" in which each person would "share in those social decisions determining the quality and direction of his life."

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Magical thinking won't stop climate change

    World leaders have started to generate some real optimism with their efforts to address global climate change. What's troubling, though, is how far we remain from getting carbon emissions under control -- and how much wishful thinking is still required to believe we can do so.

    The Paris agreement on climate change has garnered the national signatories needed to go into force on Nov. 4. Some economists see it as a promising framework for cooperation among many different countries, especially if those not pulling their weight suffer penalties such as trade sanctions. There's even talk of aiming for the more ambitious goal of keeping global temperatures within 1.5 degrees Celsius or less of their pre-industrial level, as opposed to the currently agreed 2 percent. Meanwhile, another major international deal has been reached to phase out greenhouse gases used in refrigeration systems, and solar energy technology continues its rapid advance.

    For all the progress, though, the gap between what needs to happen and what is happening remains large. Worse, it's growing.

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Farmers have tech on their side but weeds have evolution

    Some 12,000 years ago, with the invention of farming, humans started a war against weeds -- and the weeds are still a step ahead. As farmers advanced from using hard labor to protect their crops to using chemicals and genetic engineering, the weeds survived thanks to the oldest weapon known to living things: evolution. Now, while scientists work on new technology to ward off the weedy menace, some worry they're speeding up the development of heartier, more herbicide-resistant foes.

    Weeds may seem benign compared to crop-eating insects, but they pose a major threat to agriculture. They compete for scarce resources with crops, sucking water and nutrients out of the soil they share. Ton for ton, farmers use more weed killers than any other kind of pesticide. Without weed control, some crop yields would be cut in half.

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Did Joe Biden get a pass on talking about fighting Donald Trump?

    Maybe it was inevitable that 2016 would come to this: With two weeks to go in the presidential campaign, the Republican nominee and the Democratic vice president are talking openly about getting into a fight.

    Four days after Vice President Joe Biden first raised that hypothetical when talking about Donald Trump's comments about women, Trump responded in kind Tuesday night in Tallahassee, Florida.

    "Did you see where Biden wants to take me to the back of the barn? Me. He wants it. I'd love that. I'd love that," Trump said. "You know, he's Mr. Tough Guy. You know when he's Mr. Tough Guy? When he's standing behind a microphone by himself. That's when he's - he wants to bring me to the back of the barn. Oh! Some things in life you could really love doing. ...

    Trump added: "And by the way, if I said that, they'd say, 'He's violent. How could he have done that?' "

    And here's the thing: On that last part, Trump completely has a point.

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Clinton depends on high Hispanic turnout

    How Hispanics vote in November -- and in what numbers -- is a key to the presidential election and to the future of both political parties. Donald Trump's courtship of the American electorate, after all, began with an attack on Mexicans. His provocations didn't end there.

    If Hispanics, who historically have of voting, fail to turn out, or support Hillary Clinton less enthusiastically than they did Barack Obama, Trump's offenses will appear to have been forgiven, on the way, ultimately, to being forgotten. If Clinton wins Hispanics in a landslide, however, she will almost certainly be president, and Republicans will be facing a daunting obstacle, potentially for years to come.

    According to the , the number of eligible Hispanic voters will be about 40 percent higher in 2016 than it was in 2008. About 11 million Hispanics voted in 2012, when Hispanic turnout was slightly below 50 percent, which was close to normal. About 27 million will be eligible to vote in November, with the growth mostly coming not from immigration but from Hispanic citizens entering adulthood -- at a rate of 800,000 annually.

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Black Lives Matter activist: Why I'm voting for Hillary Clinton

    I've been thinking lately about Shirley Chisholm's legacy and her words: "Freedom is an endless horizon, and there are many roads that lead to it." As Chisholm understood, we engage in imperfect systems sometimes, to make them more perfect. And our engagement in democracy comes in many forms - we engage in democracy in protests, in board meetings, in classrooms and, importantly, at the ballot.

    I am not naive enough to believe that voting is the only way to bring about transformational change, just as I know that protest alone is not the sole solution to the challenges we face.

    I voted my entire life, and I was still tear-gassed in the streets of St. Louis and Baltimore. I voted my entire life, and those votes did not convict the killers of Sandra Bland, Freddie Gray or Michael Brown.

    But elections do have consequences.

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October 29th

Yes, the election is rigged, against immigrants who should be able to vote

    Agustin Gomez has waited. The Las Vegas resident says he has held a green card for 17 years. But this March, frustrated by Donald Trump's immigration rhetoric, the 40-year-old cook felt inspired to finally become a U.S. citizen so he could vote for Hillary Clinton. "She's better for the country," Gomez said. "The other Trump guy, he's bad about Mexican people. There's too much discrimination by him. That's why I want to vote."

    Last week, after months of waiting, Gomez finally heard back from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services about the scheduled date for his naturalization interview. The rub: the appointment is on Nov. 8, the day he hoped to cast his ballot for Clinton.

    "Maybe next election I can vote," he said, with just a hint of regret.

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What fuels the Clinton scandal machine

    We know one thing for sure about the wave of Clinton-related scandals over the years: People will go to any lengths to spot them and use them as fresh "proof" that Hillary and Bill Clinton are corrupt.

    Take, for example, a Wall Street Journal article that alleged … well, it's not entirely clear what it alleged. It tries to make something of a set of facts. One, Hillary and Bill Clinton have been close to Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe. Two, McAuliffe recruited Dr. Jill McCabe to run for a Virginia State Senate seat in 2015 and was responsible for raising most of the money for her campaign. Three, McCabe's husband was a senior FBI official, who, after the campaign, was promoted to deputy director and wound up involved in the investigation of Clinton's emails.

    What does that add up to? "Nothing" would be the pretty obvious answer.

    The implication seems to be that Dr. McCabe was given something by the Clintons' ally to secure better treatment for Hillary Clinton from Andrew McCabe.

    Only three things are wrong with that theory.

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Obama embarks on a political comeuppance tour

    The Republican Party's sad journey to Trump via Sarah Palin and the Tea Party was more than a spectator sport for President Barack Obama. For more than seven years Obama endured indignities, slanders, obstruction and a seemingly bottomless appetite for partisan hackery as Republicans came morally, ideologically and organizationally unglued.

    Often Obama held his tongue, occasionally to shield a potentially useful rival from the ire of partisans. After resigning his post, former House Speaker John Boehner told an audience in Florida that he couldn't afford to play golf with the president when he was in office because rabid GOP House members objected to displays of comity with the enemy.

    Obama's not holding his tongue anymore.

    In recent days he has lashed Republican cowardice and clownishness in blunt displays of contempt. With Hillary Clinton seemingly in command of the presidential race, Obama is turning his attention to lower contests, seeking to reverse the Democrats' catastrophic loss of seats during his presidency. There is method to his taunting. But there also seems to be a good bit of glee.

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How angry does Donald Trump make me? Angry enough to steal 40 Trump signs.

    I committed a crime this month, along with two of my friends. I'm not the lawbreaking type. In fact, as a 52-year-old mom, my life is pretty predictable and boring. But this election, a particular candidate's boasts about women pushed me over the edge.

    In the suburban, upper-middle-class part of Maine where I live, Republicans and Democrats live together mostly in harmony. In every election cycle, there's some tension. But the 2016 presidential campaign has been different. Tensions in my town are running at a fevered pitch.

    Which is how three middle-aged moms came to be running down the road, tearing up the Donald Trump signs along our version of Main Street. We'd been talking about the infamous Billy Bush tape and the women who have since come forward to share their own stories of abuse. We were angry. Getting Trump's name off our median strip seemed like the best way to express our rage.

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