Archive

September 2nd, 2016

Clinton's image remains clouded by press conference phobia

    My Webster's Dictionary defines "phobia" as "any persistent irrational and excessive fear of some particular thing or situation." That seems to fit Hillary Clinton's attitude toward the commonplace press conference, the traditional exchange between politicians and the news media.

    She hasn't held one since last Dec. 15, a span of 254 days and counting. What, one might reasonably ask, is she afraid of?

    Her presidential campaign manager, a courteous young fellow named Robby Mook, was politely questioned about the matter the other day by a former George W. Bush communications aide with some experience in running press conferences, Nicole Wallace, on MSNBC.

    She couched the question in the guise of a helpful suggestion, taking note of the criticism of Hillary as excessively secretive and private. "You have a perception problem on the question of honesty and trustworthiness," the professional flack noted. "Why wouldn't you put her out there to answer questions that she could certainly handle...?"

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September 1st

The Dumbed Down Democracy

    Are you smarter than an immigrant? Can you name, say, all three branches of government or a single Supreme Court justice? Most Americans, those born here, those about to make the most momentous decision in civic life this November, cannot. And most cannot pass the simple test aced by 90 percent of new citizens.

    Well, then: Who controlled the Senate during the 2014 election, when control of the upper chamber was at stake? If you answered Dunno at the time, you were with a majority of Americans in the clueless category.

    But surely now, when election news saturation is thicker than the humidity around Lady Liberty’s lip, we’ve become a bit more clue-full. I give you Texas. A recent survey of Donald Trump supporters there found that 40 percent of them believe that ACORN will steal the upcoming election.

    ACORN? News flash: That community-organizing group has been out of existence for six years. ACORN is gone, disbanded, dead. It can no more steal an election than Donald Trump can pole vault over his Mexican wall.

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A city of 50 million? China wants three of them

    By any measure, Shanghai is one of the world's biggest cities. It's home to more than 24 million people. Its subway system is the longest ever built, extending to its rural limits. Crowds are so thick that burly "shovers" get paid to help pack the trains. Now the local government is saying enough is enough: Documents released this week reveal that Shanghai intends to admit a mere 800,000 new residents over the next 24 years, on its way to becoming an "excellent global city."

    A population cap on one of China's most dynamic locales may seem impractical. But the government is actually thinking bigger: The plan envisions Shanghai as the high-end hub at the center of a massive "city cluster" comprising 30 urban areas -- with a staggering total population of 50 million.

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The Misery of the Mini-Trumps

    In his race against Marco Rubio to become the Republican nominee for one of Florida’s two seats in the Senate, the rich, brash homebuilder Carlos Beruff could not be welding himself more tightly to Donald Trump.

    A recent television ad of his attacked Rubio for not being as tough as Trump. He affirmed and then one-upped Trump’s past call for a ban on Muslim immigrants, suggesting a prohibition against anyone from the Middle East except Israel.

    His tweets are Trumpian, including this proclamation: “I won’t read a bunch of political crap off a teleprompter.” The Miami New Times crowned him “the Cuban-American Donald Trump.” “Little Trump of Florida,” said the publication Roll Call.

    So how’s that working out for Beruff?

    Not so well.

    Polls put him anywhere from 30 to 60 points behind Rubio in the primary, which takes place Tuesday. He trailed by double-digit margins even before Trump wanly and dutifully signaled support for Rubio earlier this month.

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The Alt-Right Is All Wrong

    Hillary didn’t hang her head and cry, after she shot a man in Reno just to watch him die.

    She went outside with a big smile and sampled chocolate truffles served on silver and gold trays by a local sweets shop.

    After getting steadily bolder at rallies about puncturing her former friend Donald Trump, Clinton channeled Johnny Cash’s song and delivered a coup de grâce so devastating that commentators predicted it will be known simply as the Reno speech. A senior citizen in the crowd raised his fist as he passed the press pen at Truckee Meadows Community College and used a vulgarism to brag that Clinton had kicked Trump in a highly sensitive place.

    “Of course there’s always been a paranoid fringe in our politics, steeped in racial resentment,” Clinton said. “But it’s never had the nominee of a major party stoking it, encouraging it, and giving it a national megaphone. Until now.”

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Meditating on Trump's dark soul

    A week's worth of daily meditation readings in the publication "Forward Day by Day" put me in a different frame of mind as I approached this column. "If you remove the yoke from among you, the pointing of the finger, the speaking of evil . . . then your light shall rise in the darkness and your gloom be like the noonday" was one of the scripture passages. "Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment" was another.

    Stop running around "looking for and finding fault with everything, playing referee, throwing flags, calling strikes, putting people into penalty boxes," cautioned a meditation.

    "Judging with right judgment," read another, "might also mean looking for things that are right in others as we dig below the surface to understand where they are coming from - sometimes it's a place deserving of applause, not criticism."

    It was with that mind-set that I approached the keyboard.

    And then I thought of Donald Trump.

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Donald Trump tries to leverage a high-profile slaying into a campaign appeal

    The death of Nykea Aldridge on Friday afternoon is a death of the sort that's become sadly familiar in Chicago this summer. A young mother fatally shot on the street - this time accidentally, after hundreds of others that were intentional. What made Aldridge's death unusual is that she had a famous relative, Chicago Bulls guard Dwyane Wade.

    Wade tweeted about his cousin's death, in a call to address the gun violence that has plagued the city.

    Wade's hashtag, #EnoughIsEnough, was a slogan used at the start of ESPN's annual awards show this year by Wade and other basketball stars to try to draw attention to the problem of gun violence. "The end of gun violence in places like Chicago, Dallas, not to mention Orlando, has to stop," Wade said during the program. "Enough. Enough is enough."

    Wade wasn't the only one to tweet about Aldridge's death. So did Donald Trump, on Saturday morning.

    Trump's message was different.

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Bringing a chicken to the immigration fight

    Cockfighting, although practiced around the world, is banned in all 50 states. But is someone who breaks the ban committing a crime of moral turpitude? A federal appeals court has said no, declining to deport an immigrant convicted of facilitating a cockfight. In a line that may outrage animal-rights activists, the court said that a crime of moral turpitude must involve harm to third parties, not just directly to the chickens.

    The outcome is correct for the immigrant, but not precisely for the reason the court gave. In a society that condones the factory-farm killing of billions of animals, it would be the height of hypocrisy to deport someone for killing just one rooster pursuant to an unfamiliar cultural practice.

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Trump's hot air balloon is ripping

    Donald Trump's supporters can pretend otherwise, but deep down they must know the truth: Trump has been playing them for fools all along.

    All that bluster about creating a "deportation force" to round up 11 million undocumented immigrants and kick them out of the country? Forget about it. Trump is now "softening" that ridiculous pledge, which he could never have carried out, into a new policy in which "we work with them."

    Hmmm. Work with them how?

    All we know of the details, so far, is what Trump said Wednesday at a town hall hosted by Sean Hannity of Fox News: "Now, everybody agrees we get the bad ones out. But when I go through and I meet thousands and thousands of people on this subject, and I've had very strong people come up to me, really great, great people come up to me, and they've said, 'Mr. Trump, I love you, but to take a person who's been here for 15 or 20 years and throw them and their family out, it's so tough, Mr. Trump.' I mean, I have it all the time. It's a very, very hard thing."

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Trump's 2,000-mile mistake on immigration

    Even Donald Trump recognizes that he has an immigration problem. No, I'm not talking about his wife, Melania, whose promised news conference detailing her sketchy immigration history has, almost three weeks after Trump announced it, still failed to materialize. I'm talking about the pronouncements -- mass deportations, the famous Mexican-financed border wall -- that have been the centerpiece of Trump's presidential campaign.

    With November's election fast approaching, it seems Trump is having second thoughts. Given this particular candidacy, it's equally plausible that Trump is having first thoughts. There is no evidence that he has ever seriously considered any issue, including immigration. His purpose throughout the Republican primary was to convey hostility to Hispanic immigrants, and to validate the hostility of his crowds. Accusing Mexicans of crimes and promising deportations and a wall to keep them out accomplished his goal. Were his pronouncements actual policies that Trump intended to carry out? I don't know. Maybe.

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