Archive

October 26th, 2016

Trump is a walking, talking violation of democratic virtue and dignity

    Democracy requires dignity to sustain itself.

    This shouldn't surprise. The ruling system that democracy replaced had been divinely chosen; the royals had God-given dignity, with all the trappings. For democrats to compete, they had to prove first that the electoral rabble could govern its passions and temper its prejudices, and next that their leaders would be chosen from the highest common denominator, not the lowest.

    Democratic dignity is mutual dignity. That requires mutual respect and something more. The dignity of democratic institutions must be safeguarded even when the dignity of individuals collapses. Richard Nixon can be discarded if necessary; the presidency must be saved.

    Since he began his campaign, Donald Trump has waged a sustained assault on democratic norms and democratic dignity. The first phase attacked individuals, Mexicans followed by Muslims. Trump targeted vulnerable minorities, as demagogues do, but he also belittled and taunted his Republican primary opponents, who felt compelled to adopt his schoolyard tactics in turn.

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Nasty women have much work to do

    "Such a nasty woman."

    - Donald Trump

 

    The nasty women gather on the heath just after midnight. It is Nasty Women's Sabbath, Election Eve, and they must make haste.

    Their sturdy he-goats and their broomsticks are parked with the valet. Beyond the circle, their familiar owls and toads and pussycats strut, boasting of being grabbed or not grabbed.

    A will-o'-the-wisp zigzags back and forth over the assemblage (it is bad with directions, like a nasty woman).

    They have much to do, and the hour is late.

    They must sabotage the career of an upwardly mobile young general named Macbeth.

    They must lure an old wizard into a cave and lock him there so that Camelot may fall.

    They must finish Ron and Harry's homework for them (again).

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Losing presidential candidates should concede

    If Donald Trump loses the election and doesn't concede, it won't violate the U.S. Constitution. But it would break a tradition of concession that dates back more than a century and has achieved quasi-constitutional status. And like most enduring political customs, its value goes beyond graciousness: It helps ensure the continuity of government and offers a legitimating assist to democracy itself.

    It's a matter of interpretation exactly when the practice of concession began. Thomas Jefferson drafted a letter of concession to John Adams even before the election of 1796 was complete, in which he said he expected to lose and warned Adams to be careful lest Alexander Hamilton cheat him of his "succession by a trick." In the end, Jefferson didn't send the letter, but instead gave it to James Madison, who passed on its contents indirectly to Adams.

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Life under siege: How to survive in Aleppo

    There weren't any bombs today, or the day before. That's good, because it means you can leave your apartment, see your friends, try to pretend life is normal. Still, you don't know when the attacks will resume or how much worse they'll be when they do.

    The war here has been going on for more than four years. Hundreds of thousands of people have fled, and thousands more are dead, including many of my friends. My wife and I are among about 250,000 people who are trapped here in the besieged eastern section of the city. If you want to stay alive in Aleppo, you have to find a way to keep yourself safe from explosions or starvation.

    Here's how.

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It's too bad the candidates didn't debate this

    The presidential debates gave the world a chance to watch Donald Trump bluff about his mistreatment of women and lie about mocking a person with disabilities. Nearly as theatrical was the sight of Hillary Clinton spinning convoluted explanations of why people shouldn't fret about her use of a private e-mail server while secretary of state.

    These and other familiar election-season spectacles may have revealed something about the candidates' character, but shed little light on how they'd approach governing. Missed substantive opportunities in all three presidential debates included:

 

    Taxes

    Obligatory cliches aside, Trump's tax proposals weren't debated seriously. They dwarf anything that Ronald Reagan or George W. Bush proposed and overwhelmingly would benefit the rich. And, contrary to Trump's debate-stage assertion, taxes on carried interest would be reduced, not increased, for most private equity and hedge fund executives.

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It probably wasn't Russia that attacked the Internet today. That's what's scary

    As users of Twitter and many other services probably know, large parts of the Internet weren't working Friday, thanks to a hacking attack on the Internet's infrastructure. NBC reported that a senior intelligence official has told the network that the hack "does not appear at this point to be any kind of state-sponsored or directed attack." It may be that new evidence emerges that leads the U.S. intelligence community to change its opinion and identify a major state as a responsible party. The scarier possibility is that it wasn't a state that did it.

 

    The attack targeted the domain name system

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How Duterte cast himself as an agent of change

    This is a column about high geopolitics: the United States, China, the Philippines, the fate of the American order in the Pacific. But the great forces that move history often have their origins at a much lower level. And some of them were visible last week on a cellphone in Manila.

    The phone belonged to an acquaintance, an intelligent and well-educated man in his 20s. As we were talking, he pulled it out to illustrate a point. "Look," he said, flicking through selfies taken at parties and restaurants. "Here's a picture of me with the son of Marcos. And here's me with Imelda." He flicked again. "And here I am with the son of Duterte." And again: "Here's me with the son of Aquino."

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Here's why Trump feels as if he won the debates

    Imagine if, on the day of a championship tennis match, one of the players showed up at the court with hockey sticks, skates, and face masks instead of rackets, balls and white shorts. And instead of recognizing the error and suiting up appropriately, what if that player went ahead and played the game anyway, ice skates and all?

    Such is the scenario that characterized this year's cycle of general election presidential debates. In their three joint appearances, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump appeared to be playing two separate, incompatible games. For Clinton the debates were an exercise in competitive political communication. This is terrain with which she is familiar, something she has a knack for. For Trump the debates were a form of reality television, in which the objective is to wipe out your opponent by any means necessary: insults, threats, hissy fits, facial contortions, physical intimidation.

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Globalization shouldn't be a dirty word

    "Globalization" - broadly defined as market-driven, cross-national flows of goods, services and investments - has become a dirty word. It is derided by U.S. presidential candidates, feared and rejected by the public, and evidently headed to the dustbin of policy ideals. This, despite its contributions in the past two decades to dramatically reducing poverty in developing countries and improving productivity and standards of living in the developed world. What can get globalization back on track?

    First, tell the truth about the successes and failures of globalization. The North American Free Trade Agreement was a success, both economically and strategically. In purely economic terms, it benefited Canada, Mexico and (modestly) the United States. It also solidified a democratic neighbor on the southern border. It was a success and should not be mischaracterized for cheap political gain.

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For Better Or For Worse

    Soon it will all be over and we will know what we can expect in our future. Never, ever have we had as much to be concerned about in a national election. We have one candidate who seems to be right out of the looney bin. An irrational hate has been created around the other. What a situation!

    Of course everything about mental illness is irrational which is what makes it so difficult to deal with. Actually the man in question has not been deemed mentally ill, leaving the politically incorrect term as looney. Or is it worse because mental illness is something out of one's control? This man seems completely in control of his utterances. In fact they appear designed to get the most attention with no basis for truth. Without doubt he is a narcissist beyond any we have ever seen aspiring to such high office.

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