Archive

August 2nd, 2016

For a change, it’s the Democrats channeling Reagan

    Democrats have done a remarkable thing this week in Philadelphia: They framed this election as an epic struggle not just to continue the policies of President Obama but to renew the sunlit, optimistic Americanism of Ronald Reagan.

    In his valedictory speech Wednesday night, Obama quoted Reagan's description of the country as a "shining city on a hill" and contrasted it with Donald Trump's nightmare vision of "a divided crime scene." Obama also used famous words from another Republican president, Theodore Roosevelt, to praise Hillary Clinton as someone "who is actually in the arena, ... who strives valiantly, who errs, ... but who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement."

    When Clinton came onstage and the president embraced her in a bear hug, he was passing along not just his own legacy as a two-term Democratic president but that of the consequential Republican presidents who preceded him as well.

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Clinton's successors won't follow in her path

    The marriage worked. The Clintons fulfilled their long-ago promise of "two for the price of one." Measured by worldly accomplishment, the most dissected, confounding, maddening and surprisingly lasting union in the politics has prevailed, yielding one president and now poised to yield another. Huzzahs.

    But this model is the last of its kind. Hillary broke the glass ceiling Tuesday night by becoming the first woman to receive the presidential nomination from a major party. Still, aspiring politicians should not try this at home. No woman will again climb the political ladder on a husband's shoulders.

    Exhibit One is the, at best, mixed reaction to Bill's high-wire act to celebrate his wife at the Democratic National Convention on Tuesday by extolling his seduction of her. It worked with some but caused many others to cringe. Even for her ardent supporters, the Clintons' personal life is best kept out of sight and out of mind. For those on the fence, the marriage provides more reason to doubt her honesty, trustworthiness and her willingness to make trade-offs in the service of ambition.

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When will 'the Bernie or bust people … [stop] being ridiculous'?

    The ridiculousness of the man carrying the sign was only trumped by the ridiculousness of what that sign said: "Support Democracy Vote No On Hillary." Seriously, people?! Support democracy. Ignore this guy.

    Luckily, primary voters sent enough delegates to the Democratic National Convention to officially make Hillary Clinton on Tuesday the first woman nominated by a major political party to be president of the United States. This historic achievement for Clinton, her party and the nation must not go unheralded.

    But some of the most die-hard supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders, Vt., could not care less and are willing to withhold their votes in what could become a self-fulfilling electoral suicide pact. They have been a churlish and hectoring presence on the streets of Philadelphia and inside the Wells Fargo Center.

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Web People vs. Wall People

    Yes, we’re having a national election right now. Yes, there are two parties running. But no, they are not the two parties that you think. It’s not “Democrats” versus “Republicans.” This election is really between “Wall People” and “Web People.”

    The primary focus of Wall People is finding a president who will turn off the fan — the violent winds of change that are now buffeting every family — in their workplace, where machines are threatening white-collar and blue-collar jobs; in their neighborhoods, where so many more immigrants of different religions, races and cultures are moving in; and globally, where super-empowered angry people are now killing innocents with disturbing regularity. They want a wall to stop it all.

    Wall People’s desire to stop change may be unrealistic, but, in fairness, it’s not just about race and class. It is also about a yearning for community — about “home” in the deepest sense — a feeling that the things that anchor us in the world and provide meaning are being swept away, and so they are looking for someone to stop that erosion.

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Trump's news conference: more outrages and lies

    Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump -- I can't believe I wrote those words -- gave a news conference Wednesday. Shall we first count the outrages or the lies?

    I think we need to start at the top of the outrage column. Asked about the hacking of Democratic National Committee emails, which many experts believe was carried out by agents of the Russian government, Trump speculated that Russia might also have hacked into Hillary Clinton's private email server. Then he asked the Russians to release any deleted emails they might have found there.

    Trump looked directly into the television cameras and said, "Russia, if you're listening, I hope you're able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing. I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press."

    You read that right. The man one of our two major parties has nominated for president just encouraged cyberespionage by an adversarial foreign power against a former U.S. secretary of state.

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August 1st

How Donald Trump could start a war with Russia

    Donald Trump has expressed some radical thoughts about foreign policy -- including that the U.S., as a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, can choose whether or not to come to the aid of an ally under attack. To better understand how alarmingly wrong such thinking is, it's worth reading a new novel by a former high-ranking NATO official.

    The book -- called "War With Russia, 2017" -- describes a terrifying series of events. NATO members become embroiled in squabbles over funding and how to deal with Russia, leaving inadequate forces in the Baltic region. Emboldened by the perceived weakness, Russian President Vladimir Putin launches a surprise attack, taking Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia in a matter of days. By the time Western leaders find the resolve to fight back, they face entrenched Russian troops protected by sophisticated air defenses -- and by Putin's pledge to respond to any attack with tactical nuclear weapons. Outright nuclear war becomes a distinct possibility.

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Bill O'Reilly irretrievably loses it over White House slaves

    If James Murdoch and Lachlan Murdoch are looking for a moment in which to make a statement about their vision for Fox News, now is it. These two brothers -- sons of mogul Rupert Murdoch and two-thirds of the triumvirate at Fox News parent company 21st Century Fox -- are widely known to have resented the way that recently resigned Fox News chief Roger Ailes ran the network.

    Well, it's been a week since Ailes left, and his offensive style of broadcasting lives on. On Wednesday night, host Bill O'Reilly took to the network's airwaves to attempt a defense of his comments regarding first lady Michelle Obama's Monday night speech here at the Democratic National Convention. She said, in part, "I wake up every morning in a house that was built by slaves, and I watch my daughters - two beautiful, intelligent, black young women - playing with their dogs on the White House lawn."

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Donald Trump knows nothing about true sacrifice

    Donald Trump has asked why I did not speak at the Democratic convention. He said he would like to hear from me. Here is my answer to Donald Trump: Because without saying a thing, all the world, all America, felt my pain. I am a Gold Star mother. Whoever saw me felt me in their heart.

    Donald Trump said I had nothing to say. I do. My son Humayun Khan, an Army captain, died 12 years ago in Iraq. He loved America, where we moved when he was 2 years old. He had volunteered to help his country, signing up for the ROTC at the University of Virginia. This was before the attack of Sept. 11, 2001. He didn't have to do this, but he wanted to.

    When Humayun was sent to Iraq, my husband and I worried about his safety. I had already been through one war, in Pakistan in 1965, when I was just a high school student. So I was very scared. You can sacrifice yourself, but you cannot take it that your kids will do this.

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There’s No Such Thing as a ‘Free Market’

    The debates leading up to the election this year will no doubt invoke the “American value” of capitalism. But what, exactly, does that mean? And what should it mean?

    I’m no economist, but I took a few economics courses while earning an undergraduate business degree. Growing up in a capitalist society, I thought I understood the basic concepts underlying capitalism — free markets, competitive advantage, and so forth.

    Then I actually read The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, the founding work that described what we call capitalism in the first place. That was a game changer.

    We’re all probably familiar with Smith’s ideas at some level.

    The market regulates itself, as each of us operates based on our own self-interest. Businesses try to earn profits, and consumers try to meet their needs at the best prices. The market ensures that the demand of consumers is met with supply from business.

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The Democrats' well-deserved WikiLeaks blowback

    Over at the CIA and the National Security Agency headquarters, they must be really enjoying watching Democrats in Philadelphia squirm over WikiLeaks's exposure of tens of thousands of internal Democratic Party emails. There's a word for what is happening in the intelligence community:

    Blowback.

    Throughout the entirety of the Obama administration, nothing was done as WikiLeaks damaged our national security with its serial leaks of highly classified intelligence documents.

    When in 2010 WikiLeaks released more than 76,000 secret intelligence documents in 2010 - exposing "the identities of at least 100 Afghans who were informing on the Taliban, including the names of their villages, family members, the Taliban commanders on whom they were informing, and even GPS coordinates where they could be found," as I wrote in The Post - nothing was done.

    When in 2011 WikiLeaks released a trove of classified documents it dubbed the "Gitmo Files" in 2011 - including secret details about the CIA's enhanced interrogation program - nothing was done.

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