Archive

April 20th, 2016

What Clinton and Sanders owe progressives

    Compared with the ferocious fractiousness of the Republican campaign, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are operating by rules inspired by St. Francis of Assisi, the gentle animal-loving holy man whom Pat Buchanan once derided as "the pacifist with the pigeons."

    But with the GOP setting a very high standard for political brutality, that's not saying much.

    Any doubt that Clinton and Sanders are fed up with each other was put to rest in last Thursday's debate. In big block type, the New York Daily News proclaimed them "Brooklyn Brawlers." They went at each other as if there would be no tomorrow after New York votes. That's pretty much true.

     You sensed from Sanders' aggressiveness that he knows he's on the edge of effective elimination. If he does win on Tuesday, he'd throw the Democratic race into turmoil and make Clinton's path to the nomination much rockier. A Clinton victory in New York, which polls suggest is more likely, would all but seal the deal for her.

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Hillary Is Not Sorry

    It’s hard not to feel sorry for Hillary Clinton. She is hearing ghostly footsteps.

    She’s having her inevitability challenged a second time by a moralizing senator with few accomplishments who chides her on her bad judgment on Iraq and special-interest money, breezily rakes in millions in small donations online, draws tens of thousands to rock-star rallies and gets more votes from young women.

    But at least last time, it was a dazzling newcomer who also offered the chance to break a barrier. This time, Hillary is trying to fend off a choleric 74-year-old democratic socialist.

    Some close to the campaign say that those ghostly footsteps have made Hillary restive. The déjà vu has exasperated Bill Clinton, who griped to an audience in New York on Friday that young supporters of Bernie Sanders get excited because it sounds good to say, “Just shoot every third person on Wall Street and everything will be fine.”

    At the Brooklyn debate, there was acrimony, cacophony, sanctimony and, naturally, baloney.

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Animal Cruelty or the Price of Dinner?

    This month a man in Orlando, Florida, dangled a dog by the scruff of its neck over a second-floor balcony, threatening to drop it 12 feet to the ground.

    Onlookers intervened and tried to rescue the dog. Someone posted a video of the dangling dog on Facebook, and the clip went viral. Galvanized by public outrage, the police combed the area and Tuesday announced that a 23-year-old man named Ransom May II had been arrested on a charge of cruelty to animals. The arrest made news nationwide.

    Meanwhile, in the United States this year, almost 9 billion chickens will be dangled upside down on conveyor belts and slaughtered; when the process doesn’t work properly, the birds are scalded alive.

    Hmm. So scaring one dog stirs more reaction than far worse treatment of billions of chickens.

    Look, I don’t believe in reincarnation. But if I’m wrong, let’s hope you and I are fated to come back as puppies and not as chickens.

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Trump Family Values

    Donald Trump gazed upon his infant daughter, Tiffany, and wondered about the kind of future she’d inherit, the sort of person she’d grow up to be.

    Would her world be a safe one? Would she find happiness?

    At least I’m assuming that he asked himself those questions. I know that he asked this one: Would she have large breasts?

    He did that on television, in 1994, when he appeared on “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” and was quizzed about how Tiffany resembled him and how she took after her mother, Marla Maples, who sat next to him.

    “She’s got Marla’s legs,” he said, in a video clip shown recently on “The Daily Show.” Then he moved his hands toward his chest, cupped them and added: “We don’t know whether or not she’s got this part yet, but time will tell.”

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The End of Catholic Guilt

    Comedian George Carlin used to say that he was a Roman Catholic “until I reached the age of reason.” For Carlin, that happened sometime in the eighth grade, when all his probing questions about faith were answered with, “well, it’s a mystery.” Of course, as a lifelong contrarian, Carlin also wondered if it was OK for a vegetarian to eat animal crackers.

    I thought of him while reading the latest institution-shifting document from Pope Francis, “Amoris Laetitia” — the Joy of Love. The title sets the tone for the continuation of a quiet revolution. Note that it’s not called the Job of Love, the Duty of Love or the Unbearable Burden of Love. Instead, the pope implies that there’s considerable fun to be had in human relationships. You can even find in its 256 pages a mention of the “erotic dimension” of love and “the stirring of desire.” Yes, sex. The pope approves of it, in many forms.

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How to clean up a cover-up culture

    Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel's reaction to a new report by a police accountability task force that he appointed displayed a keen grasp of the obvious.

    "The question isn't, 'Do we have racism?' " he said. "We do. The question is, 'What are you going to do about it?' "

    What to do about racism in the Chicago Police Department is a far from new question. Nor is it one to ask Chicago alone, as we have seen in the controversial deaths of black men in police encounters in Cleveland, New York City, Baltimore and Ferguson, Mo., among others.

    Emanuel created the task force, led by prosecutors and other experts, in December after the city released a video -- after more than a year of fighting FOIA requests -- that directly contradicted official police accounts of the death of black teenager Laquan McDonald.

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Clinton, Sanders trade blows at the brawl in Brooklyn

    The gloves were off the other night in the latest debate between Democratic candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. The verbal slugfest confirmed not only their personal dislike, but also their basic disagreement on how each proposes to govern if elected in November.

    Amid glares and charges of radicalism vs. incrementalism, Clinton accused Sanders of trying to launch a real political revolution. He responded by saying she offered the old piecemeal approach to change, especially in health care reform and foreign policy, by generally defending President Obama.

    Sanders continued his assault on her as a well-financed tool of Wall Street. She doubled down on him as soft on the gun industry and the National Rifle Association, as Tuesday's New York primary approached with its prize of 247 convention delegates that could be decisive.

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Nothing new about Sanders complaint that primary process 'distorts reality

    Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont recently said his party's presidential primary process "distorts reality." Specifically, Sanders criticized the timing of the Democrats' primary schedule, which front-loads a considerable number of Southern state primary contests. In Sanders's view, this schedule's problem lies in the fact that states unlikely to vote Democratic in the general election have provided a series of early successes for his rival Hillary Clinton.

    Sanders's criticism raises a question: If a political party is not really competitive in a state, why would that party give that state a role in selecting its presidential nominee? A little history tells us why.

    Sanders is not the first politician to complain about the influence of "non-competitive states" in the presidential-nomination process. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, when the Republican Party was almost entirely shut out of the then-Democratic "Solid South," leaders from the Northeast frequently complained about Southern representation at the GOP national conventions.

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April 19th

I'm an environmental reporter from Flint. Even I ignored the water crisis story.

    I shouldn't have missed the story of lead-contaminated water in Flint, Mich.

    Not because I'm an environmental reporter, but because my mom told me what was happening there and I didn't listen.

    I tell people's stories for a living. Our team at the Center for Public Integrity spent most of 2015 looking for examples of environmental discrimination - communities of color that sat next to sewage plants, pesticide-covered fields or noxious landfills. Places where people went to meeting after meeting begging someone for help. Our project detailed the Environmental Protection Agency's limp enforcement of one mechanism to address discrimination: Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Before I worked on it, I didn't realize how easy it is to ignore those fighting to be heard.

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States boycotting states is not the answer

    Last month, President Obama returned from Cuba, where he took another step toward normalizing relations with the island nation. In his speech to the Cuban people, the president made the case that engagement is a more powerful agent of change than isolation, even where strong disagreements remain. With his visit, the president continued to chip away at the more-than-50-year U.S. trade embargo against Cuba.

    Two days later, Ed Lee, the mayor of San Francisco, laid the foundation for a new embargo. He announced that San Francisco's city workers are banned indefinitely from traveling to North Carolina unless doing so is essential to public health and safety. The embargo is intended to protest North Carolina's new law prohibiting the state's local governments from enacting antidiscrimination rules that protect gay and transgender people and limiting transgender people to bathrooms that match the gender on their birth certificate. Since then, more cities and states, including the District of Columbia, have announced similar travel bans. Others will likely follow.

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