Archive

January 28th, 2017

Brenda Barnes’ Wisdom, and Our Anti-Parent Workplace

    Brenda Barnes became a national figure 20 years ago when she quit her job as a top PepsiCo executive to become a full-time parent. Some people celebrated her decision, and others criticized it. But everyone seemed to agree that she was doing it for her children.

    Her children, however, initially had a different reaction.

    Because the family no longer needed to live near New York, Brenda and her husband decided to return with their three children — then ages 7, 8 and 10 — to the Chicago suburbs, where Brenda had grown up.

    When I asked Erin Barnes, the middle child, this weekend how she and her brothers had reacted to the news that their mom would be around a lot more, Erin laughed and said, “I think we were all just mad we were leaving Connecticut for Chicago.”

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Anti-Trump protests are welcome, but just a start

    Those of us who see the election of Donald Trump as a calamity for American democracy could take heart, the day after his poorly attended inauguration, in some of the biggest demonstrations in recent years. More than a million people, largely women, filled the streets and squares of Washington, D.C., New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and many other cities around the world in a stunning explosion of political energy. A range of personalities, from Madonna to John Kerry (who was perhaps remembering his own days as a long-haired countercultural hero) joined the protests, whose scale and intensity took the organizers themselves by surprise.

    It would be easy to dismiss this extraordinary mass spurning of Trump as, "Too late!" (Trump himself made the easy point that a similar outpouring in November might have changed the outcome of the election.) However low his approval ratings, an ego-driven unilateralist is now ensconced as president for four years -- proverbially a very long time in politics and certainly long enough to ruin a country, perhaps even the world at large. It is easier still to mock Madonna, the original Material Girl, who called for "sacrifice" and "revolution" at the march in Washington.

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The leaks coming out of the Trump White House cast the boss as a clueless child

    All White Houses leak. Sometimes the leaks are big, sometimes small. But there are always people willing to talk to reporters about the "real" story or about why the chief executive made a mistake in regards some decision he made.

    That said, I've never seen so much leaking so quickly - and with such disdain for the president - as I have in the first six days of Donald Trump's presidency.

    Two recent examples:

    1. This from The New York Times Thursday on Trump's impulsiveness:

    "Mr. Trump's advisers say that his frenzied if admittedly impulsive approach appeals to voters because it shows that he is a man of action. Those complaining about his fixation with fictional voter fraud or crowd counts at his inauguration, in their view, are simply seeking ways to undercut his legitimacy.

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The Daily 202: Is President Trump surrendering America's moral high ground?

    Not even a week into Donald Trump's presidency, some liberal internationalists find themselves privately pining for George W. Bush.

    Despite acts of brutality that were perpetrated on his watch, Bush always insisted publicly that the United States did not torture. He understood that copping to the enhanced interrogation techniques he had secretly approved could undercut our moral standing on the world stage, provide terrorists a potent recruiting tool and give our enemies an excuse to torture Americans.

    Trump doesn't think like that. "I have spoken as recently as 24 hours ago with people at the highest level of intelligence," the new president told ABC News in an interview that aired Wednesday night, "and I asked them the question, 'Does it work? Does torture work?' and the answer was, 'Yes, absolutely.' "

    Explaining why he wants to reconsider the use of waterboarding, Trump added: "We're not playing on an even field. . . . As far as I'm concerned, we have to fight fire with fire."

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Donald Trump just forfeited in his first fight with China

    Donald Trump meant what he said about trade.

    When he isn't getting attention for telling demonstrable falsehoods about the size of his inauguration crowd, Trump has been busy filling his administration with people who want to get tough on China, threatening to put tariffs on companies that outsource jobs, and, as he did on Monday, pulling the United States out of big trade deals. Indeed, he officially killed the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and is expected to announce that he wants to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement as well.

    How much does this matter? Well, when it comes to the TPP, maybe not as much as you might think for an agreement that would have created a single market for most of the Pacific rim other than China. At least not in economic terms.

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Don't like what a woman is saying? Call her ugly.

    After millions of women descended on downtowns around the world to march in support of women's rights Saturday, several conservative lawmakers took to social media for commentary. Did they critique the marchers' message? Nope. Question the efficacy of protests? Not that either. What they did was make fat jokes.

    "Just think about this," Judge Bailey Moseley, a state judge in East Texas, wrote on Facebook. "After just one day in office, Trump managed to achieve something that no one else has been able to do: he got a million fat women out walking."

    Indiana State Sen. Jack Sandlin, R, posted a similar sentiment on Facebook, sharing a meme that featured a photo of marchers in pink hats under the words "In one day, Trump got more fat women out walking than Michelle Obama did in 8 years." Sandlin claims he's "[n]ot sure how that ended up on my Facebook wall." According to the Indianapolis Star, "[s]creenshots show Sandlin's account sharing the message directly from another Facebook page, not another account sharing to Sandlin's Facebook page."

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1600 Pennsylvania Avenue: Palace of Lies

    Every day, tourists from across the country and around the globe flock to the White House, where they stand before our national shrine in awe for what it represents: democracy, freedom, equality. But no more.

    Today, sadly, it represents something else: a fact-free zone where nobody tells the truth. Under Donald Trump, the White House has become a Palace of Lies -- and he's only been there one week.

    Can't we all agree on this? It's not the job of the president to tell lies. And it's not the job of the White House press secretary to repeat and defend those lies. Apparently, nobody's informed Donald Trump or Sean Spicer of that. In these early days of the administration, we've seen nothing but a cascade of lies from both the president and the press secretary.

    It started the day after his inauguration when Trump, the ultimate size-ist, refused to accept the fact that fewer people turned out for his inauguration than for Barack Obama's in 2009. That was more than his so-easily bruised ego could bear.

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The Trump administration's credibility problem

    Nearly a week after President Trump's inaugural speech, what lingers is not its eloquence or poetry -- there was little of either -- but rather its dismal view of where this country stands now and Trump's conceit, as he put it at the Republican convention, that "only I can fix it."

    His recitation of the disintegration of the nation's manufacturing base in the Rust Belt and elsewhere -- "rusted out factories scattered like tombstones across the landscape" -- can't be denied. But Trump ignored today's near-record low unemployment rate of 4.7 percent and the 11.3 million new jobs created over the last eight years.

    He offered his brutal assessment in the presence not only of departing President Obama but also of Republican President George W. Bush and Democratic President Bill Clinton. Also present were leading legislators of both parties -- integral parts of the Washington establishment he so sweepingly excoriated and pledged to decimate but whom he now will need to advance his own agenda.

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The Daily 202: Overlooked stories from Trump's first 100 hours.

    Donald Trump is quadrupling down on his lie that millions of ballots were illegally cast in the November election. Wednesday morning he ensured that the mainstream media will spend another day focused on this issue by calling for an investigation:

    "I will be asking for a major investigation into VOTER FRAUD, including those registered to vote in two states, those who are illegal and.... even, those registered to vote who are dead (and many for a long time). Depending on results, we will strengthen up voting procedures!"

    That the president of the United States is challenging, with no credible evidence, the integrity of an election he won is extraordinarily reckless.

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South Dakota lawmakers are showing us that populism is a lie

    The working-class sincerity of President Trump and his band of Rust Belt revolutionaries will be decided over the coming months. In the meantime, there is a test case for ruling elites and 21st century populists alike here in South Dakota.

    Once the bastion of prairie-style Democrats such as George McGovern and Tom Daschle, this state is now as red as a lazy August sunset. South Dakotans backed Trump by 30 points in November. But they also passed a wide-ranging anti-corruption measure intended to limit the influence of campaign cash and interloping lobbyists.

    The establishment is disturbed.

    Now the South Dakota legislature has convened, intent on overturning the voter-approved law, officially known as Initiated Measure 22. They're so concerned they want to invoke an "emergency clause" that would allow whatever is passed to go into effect immediately.

    The emergency for South Dakota lawmakers is that voters just expressed deep concern about their ethics. Lawmakers suggest the measure that passed is unworkable, that voters didn't know what they were doing. The response? Wipe it out.

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