Archive

March 9th, 2016

The wage growth conundrum in the jobs report

    For all the positives in the latest U.S. jobs report, employees and the Federal Reserve didn't get one thing they've been looking for: higher wages. Therein lies a central conundrum of this economic expansion.

    The February employment report suggests that the economy weathered January's stock-market turmoil in decent shape. Nonfarm employers added an estimated 242,000 jobs, and the unemployment rate held steady at a low 4.9 percent. The demand for workers, though, didn't translate into better pay. The average hourly wage actually dropped 3 cents to $25.35. That left it up just 2.2 percent from a year earlier, well short of the pace that prevailed before the recession.

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The military wouldn't save us from President Trump's illegal orders

    Donald Trump promises that if Americans send him to the White House, he'll bring back waterboarding - and techniques that are "a hell of a lot worse." Why? Because "torture works," he claims, and even "if it doesn't work, they deserve it anyway." That's not Trump's only bright idea for U.S. counterterrorism policy. He'd also "bomb the hell out of ISIS," and he favors targeting the spouses and children of Islamic State fighters, too, since "with the terrorists, you have to take out their families." That kind of rhetoric from the Republican front-runner has rightly alarmed the foreign policy establishment, prompting an open letter this past week from an array of Republican advisers opposing Trump.

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The Beast Is Us

    You heard the word “scary” used a lot this week, that and much more. Not from the usual scolds. Or Democrats. The loudest alarms came from desperate, panicked Republicans, warning of the man who is destroying the Party of Lincoln before our eyes.

    “The man is evil,” said Stuart Stevens, a chief strategist for Mitt Romney in 2012. Romney himself called Donald Trump a fraud on Thursday.

    But as much as these “too little, too late” wake-up calls are appreciated, it’s time to place the blame for the elevation of a tyrant as the presumptive Republican presidential nominee where it belongs — with the people. Yes, you. Donald Trump’s supporters know exactly what he stands for: hatred of immigrants, racial superiority, a sneering disregard of the basic civility that binds a society. Educated and poorly educated alike, men and women — they know what they’re getting from him.

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Five Big Questions After a Vulgar Republican Debate

    Does the size of Donald Trump’s penis matter?

    I’m not being cheeky. I’m not being shocking. I’m noting something that we cannot lose track of, should not shrug our shoulders about and must not gloss over: Trump has succeeded at nothing as fully as he has at infusing the presidential race with a vulgarity that’s absolutely breathtaking.

    He has done so well at dragging his rivals so far down into the sewer with him that portions of what we watched Thursday night were a fetid farce. We actually witnessed an interchange — in the first 10 minutes, no less — about how well endowed (or not) he is.

    It’s worth stopping for a second, letting that sink in and wondering what it says about our country and political process right now.

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Clinton takes aim at another government watchdog

    The Hillary Clinton campaign has gone on the attack against the government official who conducts oversight of the State Department she used to run, accusing him of partisanship and misconduct without any direct evidence. That strategy could backfire by politicizing the role of the government's inspectors general and undermining needed State Department reforms.

    This is not the first time Team Clinton has accused a federal inspector general of trying to foil her presidential ambitions. In January, the campaign publicly accused the inspector general of the intelligence community of acting in concert with two Republican senators to leak details of now-classified information found on her private email server. This week, the Clinton campaign set its sights on Steve Linick, who has served as the State Department's inspector general since 2013.

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Clash of Republican Con Artists

    So Republicans are going to nominate a candidate who talks complete nonsense on domestic policy; who believes that foreign policy can be conducted via bullying and belligerence; who cynically exploits racial and ethnic hatred for political gain.

    But that was always going to happen, however the primary season turned out. The only news is that the candidate in question is probably going to be Donald Trump. Establishment Republicans denounce Trump as a fraud, which he is. But is he more fraudulent than the establishment trying to stop him? Not really.

    Actually, when you look at the people making those denunciations, you have to wonder: Can they really be that lacking in self-awareness?

    Donald Trump is a “con artist,” says Marco Rubio — who has promised to enact giant tax cuts, undertake a huge military buildup and balance the budget without any cuts in benefits to Americans over 55.

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Canada won't fly for fleeing Trump

    So Canada, eh?

    That's Plan B, apparently, as Super Tuesday primary results came in this week and Americans were forced to consider the real possibility of President Trump.

    I mean, two words on the Canada plan: Justin Trudeau.

    And if he isn't an adorable enough reason to go north, how about the new prime minister's 50-percent female cabinet? "Because it's 2015," he explained, when asked why he made the revolutionary decision to opt for actual gender parity, rather than window dressing, when he picked his top advisers.

    "Move to Canada" searches on Google spiked more than 1,000 percent this week.

    The Canadian Embassy's website crashed after returns came in from Super Tuesday.

    Realtors in lovely Cape Breton Island - after a local radio personality created the website "Cape Breton if Donald Trump Wins" - received calls from Americans interested in home prices.

    The Mayflower moving company saw a surge in traffic on the "Moving to Canada" section of its website, company spokeswoman Melissa Sullivan said.

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March 8th

Trump's dance with bigotry

    Donald Trump plays on racial fears and animosities in an ugly, deliberate and dangerous way. This dance with bigotry goes far beyond his temporary amnesia about David Duke and the Ku Klux Klan.

    Trump speaks as if he considers whiteness the norm and sees people of color as somehow alien and suspect. He is the only major American political figure in many decades to display such an antediluvian worldview so openly. Trump doesn't tweet dog whistles, he blasts foghorns.

    He brags about getting along famously with "the blacks" and "the Hispanics." How long has it been since anyone in public life used such casually exclusionary language? There are about 40 million African-Americans and more than 55 million Hispanic-Americans, all of them reduced, by Trump's use of the definite article, to sidekick status -- the "good" ones being, I suppose, a bunch of Sammy Davis Jrs. and Ricky Ricardos.

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Where was Mitt Romney's courage nine months ago?

    In just 20 minutes, Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican presidential nominee, eviscerated Donald Trump, the front-runner for the 2016 nod. The brief against Trump wasn't just the series of one-liners Romney leaked Thursday morning. The searing indictment against the billionaire businessman was based on substance. Pity the statesmanship and truth-telling come nine months too late to potentially stop Trump's march to the GOP nomination.

    Right out of the gate, Romney hit Trump on his economic plans.

    "If Donald Trump's plans were ever implemented, the country would sink into a prolonged recession.

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What's the best path to peace in Libya?

    Believe it or not, the conflict in Libya didn't end with "Benghazi."

    U.N. negotiators have been working to bring the warring factions in the Libyan civil war to the negotiating table. They hope to end the fighting, form a national unity government and provide a clear alternative to the Islamic State. One proposal would establish a temporary government - the Libyan Government of National Accord - in which competing factions would share power.

    But not all power-sharing agreements are created equal. In particular, not all types of power-sharing agreements are equally effective at keeping the peace after a civil war.

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