Archive

May 18th, 2016

Republicans could help elect Clinton

    Moderate Republicans will have the last word in this dramatic presidential election year. The GOP establishment and its favored candidates view these voters as illegitimate, which is why they lost the primary to Donald Trump. Now moderates are poised to play similarly decisive roles in the general election - by helping to elect Democrat Hillary Clinton - and in the battle for the party's future that will follow it.

    Moderates stand out starkly among the groups that make up the Republican base, for two reasons: They are disproportionately college graduates in a white, working-class party, and they are socially liberal. They have been alienated from a party that won't accept and move on from the revolution that has occurred in American social and sexual mores.

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Donald Trump's secret for avoiding hard questions

    The constant spotlight fixed on Donald Trump for the last year would have overwhelmed any other candidate, particularly one so evasive. But not him: Trump now campaigns as pro-life - but he was "very pro-choice" well into his 50s; he boasts that he'll defeat the Islamic State "very, very quickly," but won't specify how; he claims he's worth billions, but won't release his tax returns. He became the GOP's presidential nominee without revealing anything approaching a clear picture of his mind or his history. How'd he do it?

    He cracked campaign reporters' code. And if they don't want to get rolled again in the general election, journalists have to change tactics.

    Early in this campaign season, Sunday morning network news hosts granted Trump the special prerogative of phoning in for interviews, off camera, making it impossible to know, in real time, if he was consulting notes or advisers during interviews. And because of an early polling lead based in large measure on his near-universal name recognition, Trump was center-stage getting most of the air time during every GOP primary debate.

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The Art of the Double-Dealing Megalomaniac

    Savannah State University in Georgia will offer a three-credit course this summer, “The Trump Factor in American Politics.” The professor is Dr. Robert Smith, who says the students will read Trump’s policy statements and excerpts from Trump’s books, and then discuss his political philosophies.

    Many people may believe this is a terrible waste of any student’s mind and tuition payments. Some may even claim there are other courses that have higher value in the American educational system. For example, Rutgers offers “Politicizing Beyonce,” Skidmore College offers “The Sociology of Miley Cyrus,” the University of Missouri offers a class to better understand Kanye West and Jay Z, and hundreds of colleges have courses that look at the lives and views of strange people known as philosophers.

    To understand Donald Trump, who may be the greatest political philosopher in recorded history, is as critical to understanding America’s future as it is to understanding the motivations and philosophies of the creature from the black lagoon.

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May 16th

Crowdfunders make better decisions than venture capitalists

    There are fears that another Ice Age is about to hit Silicon Valley because of the implosion of its unicorns -- start-ups valued at more than one billion dollars. By one estimate there were 229 such companies in January of this year. Their valuations are dropping precipitously because they were overpriced and overhyped. The fear is that venture capital will dry up and hurt the innovation ecosystem.

    In previous eras, such a setback to venture capitalists would surely have had a chilling effect on the innovation ecosystem because startups were dependent on their funding. But in today's era of exponential technologies , there will hardly be a blip.

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Trump returns to the '90s for his anti-Clinton strategy

    Having turned the presidential campaign into a reality TV show, Donald Trump seems bent now on converting it into a fall-season soap opera.

    His resurrection of Bill Clinton's sex scandal of two decades ago as ammunition to bring down Hillary Clinton promises to take to a new low what already was shaping up as the nastiest presidential contest on record. Trump, ever a master at recognizing political and news media opportunities in a rival's vulnerability, has seized the old episode to combat his own misogynistic comments and behavior. Then he has trumped it by accusing Hillary of "playing the woman card."

    The strategy has a twofold objective. The most obvious is to neutralize the former president as an effective surrogate for his wife on the stump, where he still maintains considerable effectiveness as a political persuader.

    The second is to keep the Democratic frontrunner and presumptive nominee on the defensive by drawing new media attention and coverage to that personally humiliating episode, as she campaigns as the voice of womanhood's quest for equality and respect.

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The Only Certainty

    Like it or not, the only certainty is that one of them will get elected. I refer to this political campaign that has been going on for months and seemingly will never end. Actually, it will end or at least climax, in just over 5 months. Of course in this divided nation that will be little comfort to many.

    Too many prospective voters say their vote doesn't matter because the choices are all unbearable. That is an attitude that we dare not succumb to because it is inevitable that someone will become president of this nation. To be sure, it looks more and more likely each day that it will be either Hillary Clinton or the egomaniac few ever expected to get to this point. Strange things do happen in politics.

    Despite the odd utterances coming from this man's mouth, his lack of experience in governing, his contempt for women, his questionable finances and on and on he has captured the fancy of a group of citizens out there. He is telling the unthinking that he can wipe out all their problems and make them happy. How? Just because he says so. I would like to say that they deserve him but the rest of the nation most assuredly does not.

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The GOP's veil of unity

    Save us all the faux drama. We already know how this star-crossed courtship is going to end: House Speaker Paul Ryan will decide that Donald Trump isn't such an ogre after all, and they'll live unhappily ever after.

    Ryan will be unhappy, at least. Trump has stolen his party, and there's nothing Ryan can do in the short term to get it back.

    "I heard a lot of good things from our presumptive nominee," Ryan told reporters after his much-ballyhooed Thursday meeting with Trump. "I do believe we are now planting the seeds to get ourselves unified to bridge the gaps and differences."

    Translation: Ryan may still not be "there yet," in terms of a formal endorsement, but we should have no doubt about where he's headed.

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Trump, Peter Thiel and the end of politics

    Donald Trump signed up a couple of high-profile California delegates in recent days. One turned out to be a white nationalist. (The campaign said it was a mistake.) The other was billionaire tech investor and Facebook board member Peter Thiel. The "European-American" got most of the attention. But Thiel, a libertarian who seems to regard technology as a competing, and superior, system to politics, is the more compelling figure. In a 2009 essay, Thiel wrote, "I no longer believe that freedom and democracy are compatible."

    All aboard the Trump campaign's strange flight from politics as usual.

    "Politics as usual" has only a negative connotation. Gridlock, sleaze and dysfunction all fall under the rubric. A Social Security check that doesn't bounce, a lower interest rate on a student loan or access to health insurance may each be a result of politics, and each, in turn, may have become usual to someone. Strangely, none qualifies as "politics as usual."

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The GOP's maddening Trump conundrum

    "No modern precedent exists for the revival of a party so badly defeated, so intensely discredited, and so essentially split as the Republican Party is today."

    Thus wrote George Gilder and Bruce Chapman in "The Party that Lost its Head," after Barry Goldwater's landslide 1964 defeat. The costs of the debacle were very high: The GOP lost 36 House seats and its Senate contingent was reduced to a corporal's guard of 32.

    No one is likely to bring up the 1964 election when Donald Trump meets on Thursday with House Speaker Paul Ryan and other leading Washington Republicans. But behind all the talk we'll hear this week about principles, philosophy and temperament lies a profound fear that Trump's likely nomination could lead to GOP carnage all the way down the ballot.

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It's time we release the uncensored truth about the 9/11 attacks

    Nearly 15 years after the horrific events of 9/11, President Barack Obama must decide whether to release 28 pages of information withheld as classified from the publicly released report of the congressional inquiry into the terrorist attacks that killed thousands of Americans.

    On April 10, the CBS program "60 Minutes" aired a story about the missing 28 pages. I was one of several former public officials - including former House Intelligence Committee chairman and CIA director Porter Goss, R-Florida; Medal of Honor recipient and former senator Bob Kerrey, D-Nebraska; former Navy secretary John Lehman; and former ambassador and representative Tim Roemer, D-Indiana - who called on the White House to declassify and release the documents.

    Two days after that broadcast, I received a call from a White House staff member who told me that the president would make a decision about the 28 pages no later than June. While that official made no promises as to what Obama would do, I viewed the news as a step in the right direction.

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