Archive

October 23rd, 2016

When Fans Throw Post-Election Dung, How Will Trump Respond?

    So now the big crybaby says he's losing because his opponent is crooked and the referees are blind. It's straight out of the WWE "Wrestlemania" playbook. As I've said before, it's not for nothing that Donald J. Trump was inducted into the professional wrestling Hall of Fame.

    It's all there: the boasting, the strutting, the racialized taunts, and the simulated mayhem naive observers sometimes mistake for real. But it's all make-believe, and deep down nearly all WWE fans know it. I expect most Trump supporters do, too. Having failed miserably in his televised debates with Hillary Clinton -- if he hadn't been so outclassed, it'd be tempting to say he choked -- Trump now claims that the entire U.S. political system is corrupt.

    "The election is being rigged by corrupt people pushing completely false allegations and outright lies in an effort to elect her president," the GOP candidate whined. "We can't let them get away with this, folks ... Remember this, it's a rigged election ... It's a rigged election ... It's a rigged election."

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We don't need more housing projects

    The current system of low-income housing assistance is fertile ground for reform. The majority of housing assistance recipients are served by project-based programs whose cost is enormously excessive for the housing provided. But one major change would allow us to serve many more poor households without increasing public spending.

    To serve the interests of taxpayers who want to help low-income families, Congress should shift the budget for low-income housing assistance away from supporting housing projects and toward helping tenants pay their rent. It should also eliminate subsidies for the construction of new housing projects. Phasing out housing projects to shore up the housing voucher program would ultimately free up the resources to provide housing assistance to millions of additional people .

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Progressives aren't a threat to American Catholicism. Donald Trump is.

    "A good Catholic," Pope Francis says, "meddles in politics, offering the best of himself, so that those who govern can govern." It seems like a straightforward proposition put forth by the universal leader of the Catholic Church, a sentiment that has been communicated in some way or another by his recent predecessors.

    But this past week, meddling in politics has become a "scandal" for some of my fellow Catholics, who've tried to spin a 2011 private email conversation between friends into something far more nefarious. In the alleged stolen email threads, John Podesta - who now chairs Hillary Clinton's campaign - and some of his progressive colleagues have a candid conversation about the internal workings of the Catholic Church.

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Trump doesn't hate all media - he just has terrible taste

    "Consider the source" is a good rule in life, and even more so in the realm of news.

    In recent days, Donald Trump stood in front of riled-up crowds and argued that both candidates should undergo drug tests before the final presidential debate Wednesday. Why? Because Hillary Clinton, he claimed, is taking performance-enhancing substances.

    "I don't know what's going on with her, but at the beginning of her last debate, she was all pumped up at the beginning, and at the end it was like take me down," he said. "She could barely reach her car."

    He provided no evidence for any of this. In fact, he seemed to be purposely mixing up Clinton's debate performance with her recent bout with pneumonia. (In a much-viewed video, her knees buckled as she departed early from a 9/11 commemoration in New York.)

    But here's how Roger Stone, Trump's ally and longtime dirty-trickster, described Clinton's second debate behavior, in a recent interview with Alex Jones, the syndicated radio host and proprietor of InfoWars, a website that thrives on far-right conspiracy theories:

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Maybe Trump won't be Clinton's biggest problem

    If Hillary Clinton wins the presidency, she'll take office in 13 weeks. The left wing of the Democratic Party isn't waiting.

    Led by Sens. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, the progressives are pressuring Clinton on policies and personnel. Sanders wants commitments to support planks in the Democratic platform like a national $15-an-hour minimum wage and expanded government subsidies for college tuition. Warren wants to influence personnel decisions to keep Wall Street and big business from dominating key posts.

    "Hillary Clinton is sincere in a number of areas," Sanders said in September in an interview that appears in the Oct. 17 issue of the New Republic. "In other areas I think she is gonna have to be pushed, and that's fine. That's called the democratic process."

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There's a reason populists tend to lose elections

    In a democracy, the "people" are the supreme arbiters, and their wisdom speaks through the electoral process. Such is the assumption on which the modern world has been built since God and monarchs began to fade from the scene. Lately, however, the wisdom of the people has felt a bit off-key. In one country after another, from the Philippines to the U.S., Hungary to India, the people have chosen to boost demagogues, not to mention serial gropers.

    Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte's faith in extrajudicial murder may have actually helped boost his approval ratings to nearly 90 percent. The brazen homophobia, Islamophobia and anti-Semitism of Poland's ruling Law and Justice Party hasn't dented its popularity in the slightest. In recent weeks, xenophobic sentiments have been amplified in Britain, the world's oldest democracy, by a government borrowing from the playbook of the far-right U.K. Independence Party (UKIP).

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Increasingly desperate Trump swings recklessly

    Viewers of tonight's final presidential debate should brace for an even more destructive Donald Trump performance, as he carries his desperate scorched-earth strategy to its logical conclusion: disparaging the whole political process he fears will reject him.

    His campaign is now clearly in the hands of advisers who are encouraging what Trump welcomes as his "unshackling." He appears poised to carry his charge of "a rigged system" to the third debate, despite the fact that its moderator, Chris Wallace, comes from the Republican nominee's favorite media outlet, Fox News.

    Ironically, Wallace, as the host of Fox News' popular Sunday morning political talk show, has been generally free of the glaring partisanship of most of his network. His Fox News colleague Sean Hannity, for instance, has been an undisguised Trump cheerleader.

    Wallace, a veteran newscaster for ABC and NBC news outlets before joining Fox News, has maintained more than a modicum of adherence to his employer's much-mocked slogan of "Fair and Balanced."

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The housing crunch is our fault. We can fix it.

    The Washington Post asks policy experts: What strategies should the next president pursue to make housing more affordable?

    Housing prices are rapidly rising in many urban areas. Prices in the San Francisco Bay Area are higher today - even after adjusting for inflation - than they were at the height of the 2006 bubble.

    Yet this is not a nationwide problem. Prices in many other areas remain quite reasonable. Houston and Dallas/Fort Worth are the nation's fastest-growing urban areas, yet they remain affordable (which is one reason they are growing so fast).

    The difference is that the urban areas with high housing prices have almost all tried to contain urban "sprawl" by limiting the amount of land around the cities that can be developed, using policies such as urban-growth boundaries, urban-service boundaries or concurrency requirements that limit new growth until infrastructure is totally financed. Anyone who understands supply and demand knows that limiting supply in the face of rising demand leads to higher prices.

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Donald Trump, unshackled ... and increasingly unhinged

    When Donald Trump gloated that "the shackles have been taken off me," I immediately wondered, how was he shackled?

    Was that the shackled Trump, for example, who obsessively attacked Judge Gonzalo Curiel in May, Khizr Khan and his family in July and Alicia Machado in September?

    No, Trump actually was putting a defiant face on a stunning event in American political history: He, the Republican Party's nominee for president, was getting a cold shoulder from the party's highest ranking member in the House of Representatives, Speaker Paul Ryan.

    With less than a month to go until Election Day, Ryan announced that he was washing his hands of the monumental task of defending Trump. The break apparently followed the release of an embarrassing 2005 "Access Hollywood' video. In it, Trump happily boasts about doing what amounts to sexual assault.

    In fact, had there been some restraints on Trump, his whole campaign might actually give Democrat Hillary Clinton some competition again. Instead, Trump's "unshackled" state is looking increasingly unhinged.

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The conspiracy to rig the election against Trump just got bigger

    On CNN last night, Melania Trump dismissed allegations that her husband made unwanted advances on numerous women as "lies" that were "organized" by "the opposition."

    "I know he respects women," Melania said. "But he's defending himself because they're lies." Melania also insisted that "this was all organized from the opposition," and argued that the infamous Access Hollywood sex tape was the result of Trump getting "egged on" by "boy talk."

    Putting aside how disconcerting it is that Trump was 59 years old when he got drawn into this "boy talk," Melania's suggestion that the "opposition" organized the parade of female accusers just took a big hit.

    People Magazine has now produced five additional people who say that one of Trump's most visible accusers told them of Trump's advance at the time. The accuser, Natasha Stoynoff, a writer for People, has claimed that in 2005, Trump pushed her against a wall and tried to kiss her. Trump denies this happened.

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