Archive

November 28th, 2016

Trump: Making America White Again

    This may well be the beginning of the end: the early moments of a historical pivot point, when the slide of the republic into something untoward and unrecognizable still feels like a small collection of poor judgments and reversible decisions, rather than the forward edge of an enormous menace inching its way forward and grinding up that which we held dear and foolishly thought, as lovers do, would ever endure.

    So many of President-elect Donald Trump’s decisions herald a tomorrow that is bleak for anyone who held hope that he could be a different, better man than the one who campaigned (I was not among that cohort), or those who simply assumed that the gravity of the office he is to assume would ground him.

    Hard-line Trumpism isn’t softening; it’s being cemented.

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Trump needs to earn mandate from wary public

    The tens of thousands of nonviolent protesters taking to the streets against Donald Trump are exercising their constitutional rights. But they are wrong to declare that Trump is not their president: He won legitimately and, support him or not, he will be president of all Americans.

    That's not sufficient for his chief cheerleaders. Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, Trump's designated White House chief of staff, asserted that the president-elect won a "historic landslide" and Kellyanne Conway, his campaign manager, claimed he won a "mandate" from the voters.

    Trump did win the Electoral College, making his elevation to the presidency beyond dispute.

    That's it. David Wasserman, analyst at the Cook Political Report, estimates Hillary Clinton will win the popular vote by more than 2 million, four times the margin achieved in 2000 by Al Gore, who also lost the Electoral College.

    In the history of U.S. presidential elections, no president-elect has ever lost the popular vote by as much as Trump. This is not the stuff of a mandate.

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Trump is not becoming any more presidential

    Less than two weeks into the reality that Donald Trump will be our next president, the situation feels more ominous than on election night.

    "At the right time, I will be so presidential you will be so bored," Trump assured us back in April, when the notion seemed fanciful. "I know when to be presidential."

    Does he? On three dimensions -- temperament, competence and ideology -- Trump's conduct since the election has offered more basis for worry than for relief.

    That Trump's temperament is a problem is underscored by exit polls showing that 63 percent of voters do not think he has the temperament to be president -- including 26 percent of Trump voters.

     In the immediate aftermath of the election, it was possible to argue the temperament case either way. There was Presidential Trump, proclaiming that he would be "president for all Americans." He dropped the talk about locking up "Crooked Hillary" in favor of praising her service to the country.

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Time to ditch the Electoral College?

    For the second time in the last four presidential elections, the candidate who won the popular vote has been denied the Oval Office for failing achieve an Electoral College majority. Hillary Clinton lost in this fashion earlier this month, as Al Gore did in 2000.

    A mild outcry was heard when Gore won half a million popular votes more than George W. Bush, but nothing came of it. Gore swallowed his disappointment and even eventually made a joke of it, saying in introducing himself: "I used to be the next president of the United States."

    Now, in the wake of Clinton's Electoral College loss to Donald Trump, the prospect of an utter political outsider with no governing or foreign policy experience taking charge has inspired a petition to free up electors to ignore their state's preference and become "faithless." A few have done so in the past.

    Under this scheme, some electors would switch their votes from Trump to Clinton, denying him the electoral majority of 270 and giving her the 40 or so electoral votes she lacked on Election Day. But not even the fear and loathing of Trump will pull it off.

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Let's bring back earmarks, please

    For a minute last week, House Republicans almost did something very smart.

    A proposal was offered to bring back earmarks - the pork-barrel spending added to bills that allows individual members a little goody here and there for their districts. Speaker Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis., put the kibosh on the plan even though it enjoyed significant support within the room, according to The Washington Post's Mike DeBonis. The measure isn't totally dead yet - a task force will look into it, and a floor vote on a revised proposal could happen next year.

    Earmarks have been banned since Republicans retook the House majority in 2010. Then-Speaker John A. Boehner (Ohio) was a lifelong opponent of earmarking and pushed the prohibition as an example to voters that the GOP was serious about cleaning up Washington. (Republicans had taken a major hit earlier in the decade because of the earmarking scandal of Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham of California.)

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How to cool voter anger? Pay attention to them

    "Why," a reader recent asked after president-elect Donald Trump's stunning upset victory, "don't you liberal mainstream media columnists get over it and write something positive to unify the country?"

    Why, I wondered, must it be left up to liberals to repair the divisions ripped open by conservatives like Trump?

    Maybe Trump supporters have a right to gloat after putting their guy over the top after almost every major poll indicated that he probably was going to lose.

    But two questions still keep tongues wagging: Why are they so angry, and what can be done about it?

    A newly released study of 2,411 voters by the University of Maryland's Program for Public Consultation, confirms one thing that others have found: Trump benefited heavily from a widespread belief that the federal government ignores ordinary people.

    Although this perception crosses party lines, pollsters heard it from Republicans more than Democrats -- and from Trump's voters most of all.

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Build He Won’t

    Steve Bannon, Donald Trump’s chief strategist, is a white supremacist and purveyor of fake news. But the other day, in an interview with, um, The Hollywood Reporter, he sounded for a minute like a progressive economist. “I’m the guy pushing a trillion-dollar infrastructure plan,” he declared. “With negative interest rates throughout the world, it’s the greatest opportunity to rebuild everything.”

    So is public investment an area in which progressives and the incoming Trump administration can find common ground? Some people, including Bernie Sanders, seem to think so.

    But remember that we’re dealing with a president-elect whose business career is one long trail of broken promises and outright scams — someone who just paid $25 million to settle fraud charges against his “university.” Given that history, you always have to ask whether he’s offering something real or simply engaged in another con job. In fact, you should probably assume that it’s a scam until proven otherwise.

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Why is Steve Bannon given a pass when Jeremiah Wright was kicked to the curb for less?

    As enraging as it is that President-elect Donald Trump ran a racist and xenophobic presidential campaign, it is even more galling that he is elevating the man who unabashedly took white supremacy out of the shadows to a senior position in the White House.

    When he was the executive chairman of Breitbart News, Stephen Bannon served as the alt-right's sherpa from far-right fringe to mainstream. And he did so using Trump's coattails, first by championing the candidate on Breitbart and then serving as Trump's campaign chief executive. What passed for news on that website was nothing but breathtaking racist, xenophobic and anti-Semitic garbage. That Bannon and his influence will be just steps from the Oval Office as chief White House strategist and senior counselor is beyond outrageous, especially in light of what happened with the Rev. Jeremiah Wright. Surely, you remember him.

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November 27th

Trump may be setting a record for broken promises

    All presidents break campaign promises, some more than others. President George H.W. Bush broke his "read my lips, no new taxes" vow, which contributed to his reelection loss in 1992. President Barack Obama kept most of his campaign pledges, with the exception of not closing the Guantanamo Bay prison, despite repeatedly saying he would.

    But 10 days after winning the presidency, Donald Trump may be changing the rules on broken or scaled-back campaign promises. When he said everything is negotiable, he apparently meant it. Here's a list of promises Trump made during the campaign and backtracked on so far:

    Affordable Care Act

    Then: Trump repeatedly called for repealing and replacing Obamacare, starting on Day One in office.

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The Democrats’ Real Turnout Problem

    Barack Obama’s two victories created the impression of a strong wind at the back of the Democratic Party. Its constituencies — the young, the nonwhite, the college educated — were not only growing but were also voting in increasing numbers. The age-old issue of voter turnout finally seemed to be helping the political left.

    The longer view is starting to look quite different, however. None of the other three most recent Democratic presidential nominees — Hillary Clinton, John Kerry and Al Gore — inspired great turnout. George W. Bush, as you may recall, was widely considered to have won the political ground game. In off-year elections, Democratic turnout is even spottier, which helps explain the Republican dominance of Congress, governor’s mansions and state legislatures.

    Since Donald Trump’s shocking victory, much of the political diagnosis has focused on white working-class swing voters, and for good reason. Across the industrial Midwest, white voters who had supported Obama and previous Democrats abandoned the party for Trump.

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