Archive

March 29th, 2016

Millennials embrace 'socialism'

    The latest, greatest aphrodisiac on college campuses across the nation is . . . socialism? According to Fox News pollster Frank Luntz, asked recently about the sudden revival of the political ideology: "If you are a young person and you tell someone of the opposite sex that you are a socialist, you are much more likely to get some action at the end of the evening." Though pundits may disapprove, it seems that socialism is cool. Apparently, a whiff of Marxism can get you hookups and more.

    It's been about six years since I graduated, but I'm fairly confident that this is a bit overblown. Yet socialism does seem to have become the political orientation du jour among voters of a certain (read: young) age. As its popularity has grown, the response from older, purportedly wiser politicos has been fascinating - first mainly dismissiveness, then confusion and now, as Bernie Sanders's campaign improbably persists, genuine alarm.

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Father will rest near child slain at Virginia Tech

    Their graves will be side by side in the historic Virginia cemetery where so many members of their family are buried.

    Erin Peterson, just 18, gunned down in her French class at Virginia Tech almost nine years ago.

    And now, her father, Grafton Peterson, 57, who died last week of a heart attack. Might as well have been heartbreak.

    Grafton never got over Erin's death, and neither did his wife, Celeste. Erin was "their compass," Celeste said recently as she prepared to bury her husband next to her daughter at Rock Hill Cemetery in rural Loudoun County on Saturday.

    Grafton had been through a lot, suffering in private decades ago after Carla, his daughter from another relationship, died of cancer when she was 8. But his second devastation was much more public: He will be remembered as the father who refused to settle with Virginia Tech and the state after Erin was killed on April 16, 2007, by fellow student Seung Hui Cho in one of the deadliest mass shootings in U.S. history.

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With tweets on Heidi Cruz, Trump sinks to new depths

    "I think the retweet speaks for itself," said Donald Trump's senior policy adviser, Stephen Miller, about the candidate's posting of an unflattering photo of Heidi Cruz, juxtaposed against his own supermodel spouse.

    "No need to 'spill the beans,'" the caption read. "The images are worth a thousand words."

    Speaks for itself? What does it say? My wife's hotter than yours? This, folks, is where campaign 2016 has descended. As Fox News' increasingly invaluable Megyn Kelly tersely tweeted: "Seriously?"

    It's going to take me a little longer than that to unpack the latest in Trump's menacing brand of misogyny.

    Two points to begin. First, the flat assertion that candidates' spouses are off-limits goes too far. If they say or do things that are questionable, those activities are reasonable for an opponent to raise.

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Why Bernie Sanders had to run as a Democrat

    During a recent town hall in Columbus, Ohio, Sen. Bernie Sanders said the unthinkable. At least, you would have thought he did, judging by the response of several Democratic operatives. Sanders was deemed "extremely disgraceful" by Donna Brazile, vice chair of the Democratic National Committee, and "a political calculating fraud" by Brad Woodhouse, a former DNC communications director.

    What was his crime? The old-fashioned Rooseveltian New Dealer had answered a question about why he is running as a Democrat instead of as an independent with typical candor: "In terms of media coverage, you had to run within the Democratic Party," he observed, adding that he couldn't raise money outside the major two-party process.

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Crazy About Money

    In this year of Trump, the land is loud with the wails of political commentators, rending their garments and crying out, “How can this be happening?” But a few brave souls are willing to whisper the awful truth: Many voters support Donald Trump because they actually agree with his ideas.

    This is not, however, a column about Trump. It is, instead, about Sen. Ted Cruz, who has emerged as the favored candidate of the GOP elite now that less disagreeable alternatives have imploded.

    In a way, that’s quite a remarkable development. For Cruz has staked out positions on crucial issues that are, not to put too fine a point on it, crazy. How can elite Republicans back him?

    The answer is the same for Cruz and the elite as it is for Trump and the base: Leading Republicans support Cruz, not despite his policy positions, but because of them. They may not like his style, but they agree with his substance.

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March 27th

The case for Trump over Clinton is a loser

    Donald Trump says he'll be a dynamite general election candidate, winning reliably Democratic states like New York and Pennsylvania and capturing unprecedented "crossover" votes from Democrats and independents. Many other Republicans say he'd be a disaster.

    Who's right? As of now, the pessimists. Trump, the best surveys suggest, would be one of the weakest Republican nominees in modern history, one that an otherwise challenged Hillary Clinton could clobber.

    In recent polls by Bloomberg Politics, The Wall Street Journal/NBC News and the New York Times/CBS News, she holds double-digit leads over Trump in a general election match-up. In the Bloomberg poll released on Wednesday, she beats him 54 percent to 36 percent.

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Jeb Bush, pathetic nice guy, pledges fealty to Cruz

    Not sufficiently humiliated by his collapse as the early Republican presidential frontrunner, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush has endorsed Texas Sen. Ted Cruz in an attempt to deny the nomination to Donald Trump.

    In doing so, Bush has further diminished his onetime stature as the darling of the dying Grand Old Party establishment once represented by his father, President George H.W. Bush, and his brother, President George W. Bush.

    Previously, Jeb Bush had preserved some stature among the old-timers by conspicuously offering himself as the initial Trump giant-killer. In his frontal assault on Trump as a fraudulent Republican and a brutal demagogue bent on destroying the party brand and reputation, he unfortunately became its sacrificial lamb at the polls.

    Now, in throwing his support to Cruz, he has splashed cold water on the third surviving GOP candidate, Gov. John Kasich of Ohio, the longest of long shots, who remains in the race after scoring only a single primary victory in his home state.

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Are these the words of a president?

    Donald Trump's ignorance of government policy, both foreign and domestic, is breathtaking. The Republican Party is likely to nominate for president a man who appears to know next to nothing about the issues that would confront him in the job.

     Such a sweeping condemnation may sound unfair. I wouldn't be surprised if Trump were already busy tweeting that I'm a "dummy" or something. But if you read the transcript of Trump's hourlong meeting with the editorial board of The Washington Post, which took place earlier this week, I don't see how you can come to any other conclusion.

     I should note that I'm not a member of the board and therefore did not attend. But the Post published a full transcript (http://wapo.st/1RmDd9O), and it is one of the most chilling documents I've read in a long time.

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There's a better way to secure our airports

    The departure hall bombing at Brussels airport has triggered debate over whether to move the security cordon at Europe's airports to the terminal doors and beyond. Most travelers, I suspect, will have the same gut response: What, more lines?

    That's also the reaction of some aviation security experts, who believe that in the 15 years since 9/11, we have lost the balance between security, cost and convenience -- often, they suspect, to little effect.

    "I would really hope we do not introduce additional screening points in response to this," said Philip Baum, editor of Aviation Security International Magazine and author of a book published this month, on the history of aviation hijacks and bombings. Not only are there more effective ways to provide security, says Baum, but "it's taking away the pleasure of flight and travel."

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The most terrifying part of my drug addiction? That my law firm would find out.

    The morning before I got sober, my breakfast consisted of nearly a bottle of red wine and a few thick lines of cocaine. I got dressed, checked my teeth for lipstick and my nose for stray coke, put my laptop in its case and picked up the paper on the way out to work at my law firm. I felt sick, afraid and completely alone. I know now that I was wrong about the alone part.

    A newly released study conducted by the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation and the American Bar Association Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs reports an alarming statistic: Up to 21 percent of licensed, employed lawyers qualify as problem drinkers; for lawyers under age 30, it's 31.9 percent. By comparison, only 6.8 percent of all Americans have a drinking problem. In addition to questions related to alcohol, participants were asked about their use of licit and illicit drugs, including sedatives, marijuana, stimulants and opioids: Seventy-four percent of those who used stimulants took them weekly.

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