Archive

June 12th, 2016

Did the media overstep by crowning Clinton the nominee?

    The chorus of criticism over the media's coronation of Hillary Clinton as the presumptive Democratic nominee Monday night was ferocious in some corners and measured in others. But at its core the issue was: How dare they?

    Glenn Greenwald, never one to pull punches, described it on the Intercept as elitist and undemocratic. Michael Tracey, a columnist for Vice, tweeted: "The nomination was declared clinched based on unverifiable info that reporters obtained from operatives whose identities were concealed."

    And Bill Mitchell of Poynter.org, the journalism-education center, had warned earlier: "Clinton's current overwhelming support among superdelegates ... should not be used to support declarations like Clinton clinching, crossing the threshold or any other lingo suggesting it's all over."

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California's warning to Trump-led Republicans

    Is Donald Trump damaging the Republican Party or destroying it? The answer depends on whether the GOP will be able to evolve into a multi-racial majority party after Trump's campaign is finished. Given the scope of his personal foibles -- bigotry, sexism, policy ignorance, political incompetence, habitual dishonesty, etc., etc., etc. -- the question perhaps seems academic right now.

    Yet if you happen to be a different Republican politician, one who'd like to be president someday, or to hold office in a state with an emerging nonwhite majority, it might concern you. If Trump's effect proves fatal, after all, those nice things might not happen for you in this lifetime.

    Bloggers Keith Humphrey and Kevin Drum both looked recently to California for clues about the GOP's fate. In 1994, Gov. Pete Wilson, R, supported the state's Proposition 187, which sought to restrict access by undocumented immigrants to public services, including non-emergency health care and public education.

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As Clinton makes history, remember the women whose talents America wasted

    Tuesday morning, after the Associated Press had called the Democratic nomination for Hillary Clinton, and before the round of primaries that put her over the top with pledged delegates Tuesday night, I sent out a call for readers favorite fictional female presidents, now that this particular fantasy is a step closer to becoming an American reality.

    The results only served to illustrate how shallow our dreams of female leadership have tended to run. People overwhelmingly cited Laura Roslin (Mary McDonnell), the secretary of education who becomes president when humanity comes under devastating attack in the science fiction series "Battlestar Galactica," with a few votes for Geena Davis, who played a vice president who also ascends to the top job when the president dies, albeit under entirely normal circumstances, in "Commander in Chief."

    And as I waited for election results to roll in across the country on Tuesday, I found myself thinking less of fictional women who have led their societies and more about talented women of both history and invention who were destined to rise only as high as, and in tandem with, their husbands.

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What parents can learn from the Stanford sexual assault case

    I have two young boys. My husband and I are trying to raise them to be good, kind people. I bet Brock Turner's parents thought they were doing - had done - the same.

    But reading Turner's father's letter asking the judge who sentenced his son to six months for sexual assault for leniency, it makes one wonder: We're raising our kids, but are our eyes wide open? What are we raising them for?

    We're not parenting for empathy, according to Michele Borba, author of the new book "UnSelfie: Why Empathetic Kids Succeed in Our All-About-Me World."

    "We need to push the pause button and say 'What kind of kid do I really want to raise?' " Borba says. "It's over very quickly, there's no rewind button."

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June 11th

Hey, Trump -- Justice Frankfurter was 'ethnic' too

    Donald Trump's claim that a Mexican-American judge would be biased against him has put the topic of judicial ethnicity front and center. So it's worth pausing to consider the most important - and controversial - discussion of the significance of a judge's ethnic or religious background in the history of Supreme Court opinions.

    That would be this declaration by Justice Felix Frankfurter in 1943:

    "As judges, we are neither Jew nor Gentile, neither Catholic nor agnostic. We owe equal attachment to the Constitution, and are equally bound by our judicial obligations whether we derive our citizenship from the earliest or the latest immigrants to these shores."

    Before you get excited about using Frankfurter's oratory as a rebuttal to Trump, consider this: He prefaced the statement with a profession of his Jewishness that his colleagues tried to suppress. And he did all this in a dissent that argued that Jehovah's Witnesses shouldn't be exempt from pledging allegiance to the flag.

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What Hillary Imagines

    Hillary Clinton. First woman presidential nominee.

    OK, of a major political party. We’re not going into the minor-party exceptions since that would require a lengthy discussion of Victoria Woodhull in 1872. Under normal circumstances, Woodhull would certainly be worth talking about, given the faith healing and the brokerage firm and the obscenity trial. But this is Hillary’s moment.

    “It’s really emotional,” Clinton said in a speech this week. Clinton brings up the first-woman thing a lot, and the idea of showing little girls that they can be “anything you want to be. Even President of the United States.” For many young women, that’s actually old news, since Hillary the potential president has been around most of their lives. Back when she was first elected to the Senate in 2000, the coverage was so omnipresent that my niece Anna, who was around 3, asked my sister whether it was possible for a man to be a senator.

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The Republican Party can get even worse

    Republicans are about to nominate a national leader who is spectacularly ill-suited either to heal the party's divisions or to expand its pinched demographic reach. With slippery reins in hand, Donald Trump -- not Paul Ryan or Mitch McConnell or anyone named Bush -- is driving the team. No one knows for sure where it's headed.

    In a fascinating interview with Joshua Green of Bloomberg Businessweek, Trump revealed that he has at least thought about a destination.

    "Five, 10 years from now -- different party," Trump said. "You're going to have a worker's party. A party of people that haven't had a real wage increase in 18 years, that are angry."

    Trump obviously knows his people. Does he know his party?

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The questions GOP leaders must answer

    Republican leaders, having fallen in behind Donald Trump, may hope that they can move beyond daily questions about their presumptive nominee. In fact, their endorsements should guarantee that the questions have only begun.

    Speaker Ryan, you have decided to support Trump because you believe he will support your legislative agenda. Do you also agree that anyone with a Hispanic surname should be disqualified from presiding over any cases having to do with the nominee or his businesses?

    Think back eight years to the firestorm ignited by revelations that Barack Obama's pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, had said in a sermon, "God damn America." Obama, then an Illinois senator running for president, was hounded by reporters to repudiate the comment.

    Today, it is the candidate who is making the incendiary comments. Don't voters in Ohio, Arizona and elsewhere have a right to know whether their leaders agree or disagree with the views of the man they have endorsed?

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The liberation of Iraq began 25 years ago, not in 2003

    One of the few foreign-policy priorities on which Republicans and Democrats can agree these days is the importance of aiding Kurds in and around Iraq. The White House is working openly with Syrian Kurds whose political roots go back to Kurdish separatists in Turkey. Members of both parties support legislation to directly arm the Kurdistan Regional Government in Iraq. Even presidential contender Donald Trump has spared a kind word for them.

    The U.S. relationship with Kurds hasn't always been so warm. In 1975, the CIA cut off covert aid to the Iraqi Kurds at the request of the shah of Iran, leaving them to be slaughtered by Iraqi forces. President Ronald Reagan turned a blind eye in 1988 when Saddam Hussein attacked Kurdish villages with nerve gas. President George H.W. Bush was slow to respond when Saddam attacked the Kurds again in 1991 after a U.S.-led coalition drove invading Iraqis out of Kuwait.

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The Federal Reserve risks helping Donald Trump

    Given Donald Trump's rather inconsistent and worrying statements about his plans for the Federal Reserve, it would be ironic if the central bank provided the impetus that carries him over the finish line in this November's presidential election. But there is a small chance that might happen.

    The Fed is poised to raise interest rates again, after raising them in December for the first time in more than nine years. Janet Yellen, the Fed chair, said last month that if the economy continues to do reasonably well, the central bank will hike interest rates this summer or fall. Some non-hawkish Fed governors have echoed her statement. Markets seem to believe that the Fed is now serious about this.

    Why might this help Trump's presidential bid? Because rate increases have the capacity to hurt the economy. When Paul Volcker, Fed chairman at the time, raised rates sharply in the early 1980s to wring inflation out of the economy, two sharp recessions followed.

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