Archive

Media Swing And Miss On Clinton Claims

    In my view, God invented baseball to provide a sanctuary from the fallen world of politics. I believe I've missed two televised Red Sox games this year. To me, the seven-month major league season is the sporting equivalent of, say, "Downton Abbey" -- a complex, seemingly endless narrative filled with surprising events and unforgettable characters.

    My earliest specific baseball memory is racing into the bathroom where the old man was shaving to tell him that the Giants' Bobby Thompson had hit a miraculous ninth-inning home run to defeat the Brooklyn Dodgers in a one-game playoff. At first, Dad thought I'd imagined it. That was 1951, for those of you keeping score at home. However, there are older home movies of me imitating the Dodgers' Howie Schultz at age 3.

    It follows that baseball is both too important and too trivial to lie about. Even if your name is Hillary Clinton. But hold that thought.

    Some years ago, I overheard my wife explain to a bossy woman friend why she allowed me to watch ball games on TV.

    It went something like this:

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Louisiana's flood left Republicans at a loss

    The Republicans won't stop harping about President Barack Obama's handling of the Louisiana floods. Their media focus until this week was to talk exclusively about whether he would break into his August vacation and tour the damage. When he got there, of course, it was (for them) too little, too late.

    What has been noteworthy about this coverage is that it has criticized Obama without actually specifying anything - other than stagecraft - that the administration got wrong.

    This doesn't mean there might not be something to criticize. But doing so would require that the opposition party understood, and cared about, how government was supposed to work.

    Those Republicans in a position to make smart criticisms don't seem even to acknowledge that there's more to "presidenting" than photo-ops. This means the pressure for the government to do a good job isn't nearly as strong as it should be.

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What the new planet says about life in the universe

    The newly discovered planet Proxima b is about to change the focus of astronomy for decades to come -- and maybe longer, if it reveals signs of life. The planet, some 25 trillion miles away from our own, is like a twin to Earth, but one separated at birth and living a very different kind of life.

    The discovery, which was announced in the journal Nature, represents by far the closest habitable planet to Earth -- near enough that humans could take pictures of it, if not with today's telescopes, then with ones that will come online soon. If the planet is like Earth, these near-future telescopes could pick up hints of vegetation and sunlight glinting off the ocean.

    And Proxima b looks a lot like Earth. It's only a little bigger than our planet, according to scientists' calculations, and it sustains about the same average temperature. The star it orbits, Proxima Centauri, is the sun's closest neighbor. Significantly, astronomers believe the planet, like ours, is in the "habitable zone" of its star, which means liquid water could exist on its surface. And liquid water could mean life.

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What happens to the Clinton Foundation?

    Poor Bill Clinton. These days, he must be thinking: You can't win for losing. After leaving the White House, he didn't just fold his tent. He created one of the world's most powerful global organizations, raised hundreds of millions of dollars, and helped millions of people worldwide -- doing more good than any former president since Jimmy Carter, and maybe ever.

    Yet now he and his wife are under attack for their good works, accused by Donald Trump of "pay for play": using the Clinton Foundation as a way of extorting money from wealthy donors in return for government favors from the secretary of state.

    In classic Trumpian terms, the GOP nominee asserts: "It is impossible to figure out where the Clinton Foundation ends and the State Department begins. It is now abundantly clear that the Clintons set up a business to profit from public office." The only answer, according to Trump, is the appointment of a Ken Starr-like special prosecutor.

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Watch Trump build his campaign team (again)

    Eric Trump emailed Monday to encourage me to donate $25 to his father's presidential campaign, promising that I'd be added to a list of supporters that his Dad would review personally. The mass message also highlighted some priorities that Eric said he's learned from his father and that presumably are being put to use in the Trump campaign: research, fast action, hard work and building "a team with smarts and experience."

    I'm not so sure about that team-building part. For one thing, the team at Trump Tower has been changing a lot lately. Last Friday, Paul Manafort resigned as the campaign chairman, after Stephen Bannon and Kellyanne Conway stepped in as the campaign's new CEO and manager.

    Manafort himself had been brought aboard just two months earlier, forcing his predecessor, Corey Lewandowski, to depart for CNN. That came after an ugly spell of internecine battles. "It's a total cage fight in there now," is how one Trump operative described the Manafort-Lewandowski era to Politico.

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The latest Clinton email story just isn't a scandal

    There's a new round of "revelations" concerning Hillary Clinton's time at the State Department, and since it involves some people sending emails to other people, it gets wrapped up with that other story about Clinton. Are you ready for the shocking news, the scandalous details, the mind-blowing malfeasance? Well hold on to your hat, because here it is:

    When Hillary Clinton was secretary of State, many people wanted to speak with her.

    Astonishing, I know.

    Here's the truth: Every development in any story having to do with anything involving email and Hillary Clinton is going to get trumpeted on the front page as though it were scandalous, no matter what the substance of it actually is. I'll discuss some reasons why in a moment, but we could have no better evidence than the treatment of this particular story.

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Republicans could lose twice in Pennsylvania

    Republican Sen. Pat Toomey should be coasting to another term in Pennsylvania, which rarely throws out an incumbent. The state, which has a sizable population of older voters, likes its politicians familiar, its funnel cakes deep-fried and its coffee burnt. Only once in 40 years has a governor failed to win re-election.

    But this could be an out-of-character year. Toomey's Democratic challenger, Katie McGinty, is a first-time candidate in a swing state, yet polls show her consistently ahead of the Republican incumbent.

    What's pulling down Toomey is what's hampering Republicans in other swing states: Donald Trump. Nationwide, the Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton is polling about five points ahead of her Republican rival, but in places such as Pennsylvania the gap in her favor is nine points or more. Trump boasted that he would win the Keystone State if not for "cheating," even though Pennsylvania's voter ID law was overturned when proponents were unable to present one case of fraud to the court.

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No, Donald Trump, America Isn’t a Hellhole

    Donald Trump has taken a strange turn lately. OK, he has taken a lot of strange turns — that’s what happens when you nominate a short-attention-span candidate who knows nothing about policy and refuses to sit still for more than three minutes. But never mind what passes for Trumpian policy ideas. What’s odd is the shift in what the problem is supposed to be.

    When the Trump campaign started, it was, at least nominally, about economics. Foreigners are stealing your jobs, the candidate declared, both through unfair trade and by coming here as immigrants. And he would make America great again with punitive tariffs and mass deportations.

    But the story changed at the Republican convention. There was remarkably little economic discussion on display; there wasn’t even much economic demagogy. Instead, the focus was all on law and order, on saving the nation from what the candidate described as a terrifying crime wave.

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More blunt truths from Republicans, please

    One of the most encouraging signs in this often depressing election year is that more Republicans are stepping up to try save their party. Not only is Donald Trump the wrong choice for conservative Republicans, some are saying, but the reason Trump happened to the party in the first place is that the party has some serious problems.

    These Republicans don't just write Trump off as a fluke of a nominee -- one who is hugely unpopular and has little or no commitment to party issues. They accept that he's part of a pattern of embarrassing candidates such as recent Senate nominees Todd Akin in Missouri, Christine O'Donnell in Delaware and Sharron Angle in Nevada.

    Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake and Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse are among those who have faced up to the bigotry that Trump exploits and to the closed information loop that allows myths to flourish within the party. These and other voices hint at the possibility of a healthier Republican Party emerging from this debacle.

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EpiPens are my armor against disaster. They shouldn't be priced like a luxury.

    The last time I refilled my EpiPen, in November, I paid $365.63 out of pocket for two auto-injectors. I looked that number up Thursday morning after the news broke that Mylan, the company that makes EpiPens, is bowing to public pressure and will start offering discounts after years of hiking prices.

    EpiPens are just the latest in a series of drugs that have become cash cows for their distributors. The skyrocketing cost of the epinephrine injectors, which counteract a severe allergic attack, has been particularly grotesque for allergy sufferers like me. Mylan has sent a clear message: If those of us with allergies want to live expansive, adventurous lives, doing things that are normal for other people but risky for us, the company is prepared to test just how much we're willing to pay for that privilege.

    EpiPens have been constants in my life since I was diagnosed with a severe tree-nut allergy as a toddler. They've been rolling around the bottom of my primary school backpacks and tucked neatly into the purses I carry in adulthood.

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