Archive

December 21st

Clear path to victory remains elusive in Republican primary

    As the dust clears from the final Republican presidential debate before the holiday break, there's still no better indication of what the GOP establishment intends to do about Donald Trump's hijacking of the party.

    The celebrity billionaire, under heavy bombardment especially from the fading early-book favorite Jeb Bush, walked off the Las Vegas debate stage Tuesday night relatively unscathed. All his rivals, meanwhile, flailed about in their efforts to be the prime alternative to Trump in their prayerful hope that he will somehow be derailed.

    Bush did his best by hammering at Trump as "a chaos candidate" who would be "a chaos president" and not "the commander-in-chief we need to keep our country safe." Trump simply swatted him away, calling his candidacy "a total disaster" and dismissing him as "a very nice person" but "we need toughness."

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Why Muslims should be grateful for Trump

    Donald Trump has violated almost every rule of political and social decorum in recent months. His inflammatory rhetoric now resonates across the world, finding echoes among Hindu supremacists in India and far-right politicians in Europe. Trump and his vociferous supporters seem to be setting up rancorous conflicts within and between societies.

    In the process, however, Trump has made a little- acknowledged, and even vigorously denied, phenomenon seem incontrovertible: Islamophobia, the prejudice that blames an ancient religion for the crimes of some present-day murderers and fanatics, and makes a diverse population of 1.5 billion people look suspect in the eyes of the rest.

    This bigotry has flourished, largely unchecked, for some years now. It raised its grisly head in even proudly liberal New York during the controversy over the "Ground Zero Mosque" before running into some principled political opposition. The occasional resistance to it in the mainstream media -- such as Ben Affleck's exasperated response to Bill Maher, or Reza Aslan's brisk education of a befuddled Fox News presenter -- goes viral simply because it is so rare.

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Wheaton professor's suspension is about anti-Muslim bigotry, not theology

    A professor of political science at Wheaton College, Larycia Hawkins, was put on an administrative leave because of a theological claim.

    Appealing in part to arguments in my book "Allah: A Christian Response," Hawkins asserted that Muslims and Christians worship the same God. She did not insist that Christians and Muslims believe the same things about that one God. She did not state that Islam and Christianity are the same religion under a different name, or even that Islam is equally as true as Christianity. She did not deny that God was incarnate in Christ. Neither did she contest that the one God is the Holy Trinity. In fact, by having signed Wheaton's Statement of Faith, she affirmed her belief in God as the Trinity and Jesus Christ as God and man, fundamental Christian convictions which, among other things, distinguish Christian faith from Islam.

    There isn't any theological justification for Hawkins' forced administrative leave. Her suspension is not about theology and orthodoxy. It is about enmity toward Muslims. More precisely, her suspension reflects enmity toward Muslims, taking on a theological guise of concern for Christian orthodoxy.

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What Baltimore needs can't be found in a courtroom

    Without a public declaration of guilty or not guilty, without a resolution for a city in so much pain, how can Baltimore begin to heal?

    A small crowd of protesters pinballed around town on Wednesday night when they were served the unsatisfying outcome - a mistrial - in the first of six police officer trials in the death of Freddie Gray. The 25-year-old suffered a severe spinal injury in a police van in April and died a week later, touching off riots.

    After the jury could not reach a consensus on the charges, including involuntary manslaughter, against Officer William G. Porter, the protesters yelled outside the courthouse. Then they yelled some more at City Hall. To the Inner Harbor! Never mind. To the jail? Nothing to be done there. They seemed pretty aimless. Hungry for an outcome that even the verdict they want probably wouldn't provide.

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Russian arms in Syria keep U.S. grounded

    There is a new crisis for the international effort to destroy the Islamic State, created by the Kremlin. The United States has stopped flying manned air-support missions for rebels in a key part of northern Syria due to Russia's expansion of air defense systems there, and the Obama administration is scrambling to figure out what to do about it.

    Russia's military operations inside Syria have been expanding in recent weeks, and the latest Russian deployments, made without any advance notice to the United States, have disrupted the U.S.-led coalition's efforts to support Syrian rebel forces fighting against the Islamic State near the Turkey-Syria border, just west of the Euphrates River, several Obama administration and U.S. defense officials told us. This crucial part of the battlefield, known inside the military as Box 4, is where a number of groups have been fighting the Islamic State for control, until recently with overhead support from U.S. fighter jets.

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Only in America: Four years into life, poor kids are already an entire year behind

    Wealthy parents aren't just able to send their kids to top pre-schools - they can also purchase the latest learning technology and ensure their children experience as many museums, concerts and other cultural experiences as possible. Low-income parents, on the other hand, don't have that opportunity. Instead, they're often left to face the reality of sending their kids to schools without having had the chance to provide an edifying experience at home.

    That might sound foreboding if not hyperbolic, but it's a serious and widespread problem in the United States, where poor kids enter school already a year behind the kids of wealthier parents. That deficit is among the largest in the developed world, and it can be extraordinarily difficult to narrow later in life.

    This is one of the key takeaways from a new book about how United States is failing its children. The book, called "Too Many Children Left Behind," is written by Columbia University professor Jane Waldfogel, a long-time researcher of poverty and inequality. And it will force almost anyone to reflect on the impact of unchecked inequality on children.

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Is Cruz more dangerous than Trump?

    You know what they say: "Be careful what you wish for, because you just might get it." That's certainly turned out to be true in the Republican primary for president.

    For months, many Republicans and Democrats have been saying: "If only some other candidate could climb ahead of Donald Trump." Now it looks like somebody has climbed ahead of Donald Trump, at least in Iowa, and that person is Texas Senator Ted Cruz -- who, in many respects, is worse than Trump.

    A Harvard graduate, Cruz is both smarter than Trump, and much more dangerous. He not only looks like Sen. Joe McCarthy, he's just as ruthless. Where Trump swings wildly with a club, Cruz attacks artfully with a switchblade. No wonder he's the most unpopular member of the Senate. He's mean, vindictive, and, by far, the most extreme right-wing candidate in the race.

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Incorrect Language And More

    A recent headline boldly announced that Donald Trump's xenophobic comments of banning all Muslims from this nation disqualified him as President.  What do they mean? Let us shout loudly and clearly he was never qualified for President of this nation in the first place.  For emphasis let us repeat: He was NEVER QUALIFIED for PRESIDENT in "any way, shape, form or fashion."

    Speculation continues about his intent in running.  Did he really think he could get elected?  Is he as surprised as we are that he got this far?  Surely he doesn't believe all the garbage spilling out or his mouth.  Does he care at all about the nation or is it pure ego? 

    One writer has suggested that it was to prove to his father that he could accomplish on his own.  Some of us have had some of the same wonder regarding George W. Bush:  that he had to show the family he was as important as Brother JEB!, the family's anointed one.  Haven't we had enough of that? Don't we wish they would just see a psychiatrist?  All of them. 

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Four ways the US is already banning Muslims

    Donald Trump's proclamations about banning all Muslims from entering the United States - even if temporarily - have triggered welcome condemnation, as politicians have scrambled to remind us that such a ban would be contrary to American values. Yet those of us engaged with policies affecting U.S. Muslims between election cycles are dismayed, but not surprised, by Trump's idea. For the past 14 years, authorities have steadily and silently implemented variants of the proposed Muslim exclusion.

    In my four years working at the CLEAR project, I saw how our primarily U.S. Muslim clients encountered an array of policies and practices denying Muslims - citizens or residents - full access to the privileges of citizenship and permanent residency. A few examples:

 

    1. Delaying and denying Muslim immigrant petitions

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When Democracy Becomes Must-See TV

    To anybody who watches cable TV news, it's clear that the nation has embarked upon a great political experiment. Its object would be instantly clear to readers of Neil Postman's 1985 classic "Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business."

    To wit, is it even possible for a democratic country to govern itself when news becomes "infotainment," and infotainment, news?

    At any given moment, one of two TV "news" stories predominates to the exclusion of all other topics: Donald Trump and terrorism. CNN has covered almost nothing else since the tragedy in San Bernardino. Tune in any time, day or night, and it's either Trump, terror, or panels of talking heads discussing them.

    Meanwhile, the network has been running a countdown clock in the corner of the screen keeping viewers appraised of the weeks, days, hours, minutes and seconds leading to the Dec. 15 GOP debate -- as if it were a moon launch or, more appropriately, a pay-per-view professional wrestling match.

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