Archive

August 7th, 2016

Donald Trump's big favor to Hillary Clinton

    It is not enough to succeed, Gore Vidal once said; others must fail. As presidential nominee Hillary Clinton enjoys a bump in her polls after the Democratic National Convention, she's getting a boost from her Republican opponent Donald Trump's epic fails.

    First, there was his ugly and self-destructive denigration of Khizr and Ghazala Khan, the parents of a fallen American military hero. Their son, Capt. Humayun Khan, who was awarded the Bronze Star and Purple Heart, sacrificed his life to save the lives of his fellow soldiers from a car bomb in Iraq.

    Yet, as his father Khizr Khan said, standing with his wife before the Democratic National Convention on its final night, "if it was up to Donald Trump, he never would have been in America."

    The most bracing moment came when the grieving father offered to lend his own pocket Constitution to Trump, invited him to visit Arlington National Cemetery and declared in a halting but clear voice, "You have sacrificed nothing and no one."

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Democrats' mantras remain the same as in 1916

    If we go back a century to look at the Democratic Party platform of 1916, what is striking is not so much the differences but the similarities to that of 2016.

    In 1916, the G.O.P. nominated Charles Evans Hughes, chief justice of the Supreme Court, to face incumbent Woodrow Wilson. The nation was uneasy. Manufacturing was booming, but the U.S. was still mostly an agricultural nation, and uncertainty sparked by the Panic of 1907 had not yet subsided. The public was fearful of a potential war with Germany and skirmishing with Mexico along the southern border.

    Times may have changed, but the party platforms of 1916 and 2016 show that large chunks of ideology turn out to be the same.

    The 1916 Democratic platform was sunny and upbeat, as the incumbent's platform always is. Nobody runs for re-election by pointing to misery and despair. And so the Democrats started out by pointing proudly to Wilson's achievements: "We challenge comparison of our record, our keeping of pledges and our constructive legislation, with those of any party of any time."

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Courts are finally pointing out the racism behind voter ID laws

    Last week, a federal appeals court struck down North Carolina's omnibus voter suppression law -- a law so jam-packed with voting restrictions targeted at poor, minority communities that its moniker was the "monster law."

    The decision was handed down alongside a spate of other federal decisions in the past two weeks blocking voter restrictions and voter ID requirements in Wisconsin, Texas, North Dakota and Kansas. Some of these laws had been rushed through and passed after the U.S. Supreme Court's devastating 2013 blow to the Voting Rights Act, which for 50 years had protected voters from discriminatory laws like poll taxes, literacy tests and the like.

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Could Trump actually drop out of the race? And what would happen if he did?

    Establishment Republicans tried everything they could think of to stop Donald Trump from becoming their party's nominee. They poured $100 million into Jeb Bush's campaign. They aired ads saying he wasn't a true conservative. They penned special issues of conservative magazines making the case against him. They created a hashtag. Nothing worked.

    Now it's August, Trump is officially the Republican nominee for president (certified at a uniquely unhelpful convention), and somehow the idea that someone, anyone other than Trump might represent the GOP in November refuses to die. And after an unusually bad week even for him, people are asking: Is it possible that Trump could actually pull out of the race? And what would happen if he did?

    The idea seems ludicrous, it's true. Of course, it also seems ludicrous that a presidential candidate would get into a week-long fracas with the family of a soldier who died in Iraq. So let's take it seriously, at least for a moment.

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What living through Thailand's coups taught me about defeating Trump

    We've been exposed to a demagogue for an entire election season. How can we avoid falling numb to his corrupt politics?

    Activists in Bangkok have an answer.

    Two years ago, generals staged a coup in Thailand. This isn't unusual; the country has suffered a dozen coups in more than 80 years. My family and I lived through two. Each time, the response looked the same. Enraged citizens would march through downtown Bangkok, then gradually retreat back to their personal lives when schools and businesses reopened. Given the country's exposure to authoritarianism, military rule had become the new normal.

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What about Trump's bromance with Putin's Russia?

    Several years ago, during a lengthy deposition taken as part of a lawsuit he filed against me, Donald Trump explained why he didn't want to provide details about a possible hotel deal that he said he and his son, Donald Jr., were orchestrating in Russia.

    "I wouldn't want you to go and tell anybody about it because it would possibly mess up the deal," he said. "And it's a big deal."

    The terms of the deal seemed sweet. Trump said he'd get a 20 percent to 25 percent ownership stake in the hotel, plus management fees, without having to plunk down a dime. "I was going to invest nothing," he said.

    Trump said that he didn't think Russia presented undue financial risks, and that he was committed to the country. "It's ridiculous that I wouldn't be investing in Russia," he said. "Russia is one of the hottest places in the world for investment."

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Trump's ignorance about sexual harassment

    Donald Trump says his daughter, were she a victim of sexual harassment, should "find another career or find another company." His son Eric Trump said that his sister Ivanka "is a strong, powerful woman" who would not "allow herself to be subjected to that" treatment.

    How nice for them. How nice for her. In the real world -- the one not inhabited by Trumps or others with trust funds and triplexes and bulging bank accounts -- women don't necessarily have the luxury of finding another career. They can't walk away from jobs and paychecks they need to make the rent or put food on the table.

    They can't necessarily take the risk of turning down the boss who puts the moves on them and hoping that the personnel department will step in to protect them. "By the way, you should take it up with Human Resources," Eric Trump told CBS' "This Morning."

    The real world is a less comfy place than Trump Tower.

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The doom loop of Donald Trump's foreign policy musings

    The past 24 hours have not been great for Donald Trump's efforts to present himself as the better candidate on foreign policy. There's his escalating war of words with the Khan family, which managed to trigger a denunciation from the nonpartisan Veterans of Foreign Wars. And there's Trump's attempt to explain his bizarre "This Week" comments regarding Russia and Ukraine, which is made more problematic by what he actually said when Russia invaded Ukraine in 2014.

    These have forced Trump's campaign to seek out congressional surrogates to defend him -- not that many have come forward to do so. Indeed, if Trump had a bad foreign policy day in the news pages, he had a catastrophic day among the commentariat.

    Conservative columnists Robert Kagan and Bret Stephens published columns questioning Trump's fitness for office/overall sanity. This is not what conservative columnists normally write about the GOP nominee for president. Trump has actually caused Fareed Zakaria to use profanity on CNN in describing Trump's actions, noting that "this is the mode of a b---t artist."

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Parents, get your kids out to vote. Or tell them the WiFi is no longer free.

    I feel strongly about this election, really strongly. But the truth is I always feel that way. My country doesn't ask much from me: jury duty, taxes and voting. The very least I can do to live in a free democracy is to jump into a voting booth for a couple minutes every few years.

    Apparently, our kids do not feel the same way. Kids, 18- to 24-year-olds, don't vote. They just don't. In the last presidential election, they voted at half the rate of their parents. And while I know there is a laundry list of reasons why they cannot take five minutes away from Snapchat to do their civic duty, to have a voice in their own future, I am not buying it.

    Yes, I'm angry.

    Our voting-age offspring need to be reminded, one more time, that past generations of young people their exact age were called on to die for our country; all they need to do is remember where their polling place is located.

    Not voting is not acceptable. It is not all right that they take a pass on carrying the torch of democracy into the next generation. Just not good enough.

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It's OK to hold police officers to higher standard

    Can police be held to a higher standard than civilians? The Ohio Supreme Court said no last week, in striking down a law that criminalizes sex between a police officer and a minor. The court's ruling, based on the principle of equal protection of the laws, probably goes too far. Law enforcement has special privileges, and can rationally be subjected to special burdens.

    The case involving police officer Matthew Mole is a bit disturbing. After an online courtship, Mole met a teenage male in the middle of the night at his home for a sexual encounter. Mole testified that he thought the teenager was 18; in fact, he was 14.

    Prosecutors charged the police officer with two crimes. One was Ohio's ordinary statutory rape charge. It says that anyone 18 or older may not have sex with someone ages 13 to 15 if he or she knows the person's age or recklessly disregards it.

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