Archive

December 13th

The slippery slope to Trumpism

    Remember the "Mosque at Ground Zero"?

    With little fanfare this fall, the New York developer who had planned to build an Islamic community center north of the World Trade Center announced that he would instead use the site for a 70-story tower of luxury condos.

    Those who had rallied in opposition to a building because of its religious affiliation back in 2010 were exultant. "The importance of the defeat of the Ground Zero Mosque cannot be overstated," Pamela Geller, president of the American Freedom Defense Initiative wrote on the Breitbart website in September. "The Ground Zero Mosque became a watershed issue in our effort to raise awareness of and ultimately halt and roll back the advance of Islamic law and Islamic supremacism in America."

    "Islamic supremacism in America." Really?

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Republican Party decentralizing into chaos

    If you are a Republican, decentralization of power is a cornerstone of your party and political philosophy. After all, Republican demonization of Washington and the federal government stems in part from a belief that government is too large and power too centralized.

    "Only government that sends power back to the people can make America confident again," said House Speaker Paul Ryan in a speech at the Library of Congress last week.

    You hear the sameand more from Republican candidates for president on down to the grass roots. Yet conservatives are perpetually frustrated because both parties spent most of the past century expanding the federal government's responsibilities and capabilities, arguing that human need, national security and the growing complexity of modern society demanded it.

    If Republicans are looking for a model of genuine decentralization, however, they have an excellent example close to home. The GOP, after all, is increasingly decentralized itself.

    And, wow, what a mess.

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Party's over: Time for GOP to Dump Trump

    When Donald Trump announced he was running for president last June, the Huffington Post, unlike most of the media, didn't exactly go gaga over him. In fact, as a sign they weren't taking him seriously, HuffPo decided to post all Trump news on their Entertainment page.

    That changed this week, when Huffington Post moved Trump from the Entertainment page to the Political page. Smart move. Because Donald Trump's not funny anymore. He's no longer a joke. He's a serious candidate for president, he's leading in the polls, and he's perhaps the most divisive, dangerous, racist candidate in our history. Not even George Wallace came close.

    Trump's not alone, of course. He's standing on a platform of hatred -- against minorities, immigrants, women and gays -- which the Republican Party has been building for years. Even today, Jeb Bush and Ted Cruz want to allow only Christian refugees from Syria to enter the U.S. And 31 governors, mostly Republicans, have closed their borders to all Syrian refugees.

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Mothers continue trying to shame Congress into curbing gun violence

    You've posted on your Facebook feed after yet another mass shooting.

    You've had those eye-rolling rants with the other folks at the bus stop, where you all end up shaking your heads.

    You've done that app that shows how many gun deaths have occurred within a mile of

    your home. (Gasp).

    Now what? If recent history is any indication, most of us cool off, move on.

    Susan Gibbs is sick of that history, tired of America putting that red hot anger on the shelf until the next spasm of gun violence takes more lives.

    "And unfortunately, it's going to happen again," said the Arlington mother of two. "There will be a next one."

    So with a couple friends, Gibbs, 43, began cooking up a movement last week - Say It To Our Faces.

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It Has Happened Again!

    It has happened again and what do we do about it?  We go out and buy more guns.  At least that is what a substantial number of our citizens do following another mass killing in our nation.

    It was my hope that we could move on to a more pleasant subject in this holiday season, but no such luck.  My files are just too jammed with information regarding less dramatic incidents that occur day after day throughout the land.  This nation's love of guns just does not stop manifesting itself in the use of those weapons.  Mostly in our vision are the mass killings in public gatherings be they defined as several or hundreds, but that is only a fraction of the problem.  Some may include bombs but it is the gun, be it automatic, rifle, hand pistol or whatever, that so many Americans cherish.

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How Congress can stop its tax procrastination

    While Americans ready their holiday shopping lists, Congress is busy with its own holiday tradition -- preparing a grab bag of corporate giveaways known as "tax extenders." The gifts, which range from the useful to the absurd, have one flaw in common: They're about a year too late.

    With a bit of political will, Congress could get up to date and even save some money.

    There's ample room for debate about whether the government should offer tax breaks to encourage the development of wind and solar energy, or let businesses fully deduct the cost of new equipment. But it's undeniable that the bizarre process by which Congress grants such preferences undermines whatever benefits might be gained.

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Don't let financial advisers off the hook

    Ronald Reagan used to say that the surest way to live forever was to become a federal program. If that's right, the surest way to die is to be studied by Congress. In Washington, becoming the subject of legislative scrutiny virtually guarantees inaction, the disappearance of funding and political support, and ultimate demise.

    That's precisely why congressional Republicans are insisting on the need to "study" further an Obama administration proposal to make financial advisers more accountable. The proposal in question, put forward by the Department of Labor, would target the conflicts of interest that can arise when advisers attempt to steer their clients into high-fee, high-risk investments.

    The Labor Department is attempting to update the fiduciary standard, raising the bar for any advice given by brokers working with retirement investors. If instituted, financial advisers will have to place a client's interests above their own or those of their firm. That doesn't seem like too hard a standard to meet, but not all advisers deliver on it. And to this point, nothing in the law has made them do so.

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Democrats Could Pick Off Some Trump Supporters

    They support activist government. They're not socially conservative. They resent big money in politics. And if you administered a truth serum, they would probably say nice things about Obamacare.

    These are blue-collar supporters of Donald Trump. Democrats would do well to ask themselves, "Why aren't some of them ours?"

    I say "some" because a good chunk of Trump's fans consider the combo platter of liberal social policies incomplete without a side dish of racist ranting. Others are simply so hungry for tough talk that they'll avert their eyes from the nastiness on the plate.

    Hillary Clinton talks tough, too, minus the detritus of Trump's recycled fascism. Those who revere Trump for his theatricality will probably stay with Trump. But it shouldn't be impossible for Clinton to pick off some supporters of the man who's on record praising both her and single-payer health care.

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A soldier's perspective: Why this country has a moral responsibility to accept Syrian refugees

    Like all soldiers deployed to the Iraq War in 2006, I was trained to adhere to the laws of armed conflict. Soldiers must attempt to mitigate these consequences through "due care" for civilians, often by accepting more risk upon themselves: clearing an insurgent compound in a populated area, for instance, with a squad of soldiers instead of dropping a bomb.

    I think of these principles when I hear politicians debate how the U.S. military should respond to the crisis in Syria and whether this country should admit more refugees from that country. Many politicians are pushing for American troops to become more involved in the Syrian civil war while also rejecting that this country has any responsibility to accept Syrians fleeing the war.

    But if Americans are going to continue to support a military intervention in Syria, then we also must accept some risk in mitigating the consequences of war on innocent Syrian bystanders. Otherwise, based on the moral laws of armed conflict, we will be waging an unjust war.

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Why Are Hard Truths So Hard For Conservatives?

    Be afraid. Be very, very afraid.

    Along with watching cable news terrorism coverage 24/7, some people appear to think it's your patriotic duty to run around with your hair on fire. It's the American Way.

    Following the latest mass-shooting event in San Bernardino, California, President Obama gave a nationally televised address from the Oval Office. Because last week's killers were a husband-and-wife team of deranged Muslims instead of the stereotypical lone male demento, the White House sought to offer reassurance.

    As is his custom, Obama expressed calm determination.

    "The threat from terrorism is real, but we will overcome it," he vowed. "We will destroy ISIL and any other organization that tries to harm us. Our success won't depend on tough talk, or abandoning our values or giving into fear. That's what groups like ISIL are hoping for. Instead, we will prevail by being strong and smart, resilient and relentless."

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