Archive

August 3rd, 2016

Trump Jr. says Obama plagiarized his quote, but the line goes back to Obama, Bush and before

    The Donald Trump campaign is still apparently sore about being caught plagiarizing last week. And now they have a great retort - better even than that "My Little Pony" defense:

    They might have plagiarized an Obama speech last week, you see, but now an Obama is plagiarizing them!

    President Barack Obama said at one point in his speech on Wednesday night, "That is not the America I know." And Donald Trump Jr. used that exact same line just a week prior - albeit with a contraction: "We will not accept the current state of our country because it's too hard to change. That's not the America I know."

    Case closed. It's plagiarism. The media's double standard at work, yet again.

    Except that, by this standard, Obama didn't plagiarize the line from Trump Jr. until Trump Jr. had already plagiarized it from him. Obama, after all, has said this phrase on several occasions. And that wasn't even its first bout of plagiarizing; none other than George W. Bush used it before Obama.

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August 2nd

Donald Trump gets a well-deserved beat-down from Michael Bloomberg

    As is his wont, Michael Bloomberg didn't mince words. The billionaire former New York City mayor used his speech before the Democratic National Convention to build Hillary Clinton up as much as to tear Donald Trump down:

    "The bottom line is: Trump is a risky, reckless, and radical choice. And we can't afford to make that choice!

    "Now, I know Hillary Clinton is not flawless; no candidate is. But she is the right choice - and the responsible choice - in this election. No matter what you may think about her politics or her record, Hillary Clinton understands that this is not reality television; this is reality. She understands the job of president. It involves finding solutions, not pointing fingers, and offering hope, not stoking fear."

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The post-Cold War secretaries of state, ranked

    Tuesday night, just as I was about to watch Bill Clinton's speech, Reason editor Matt Welch asked me something over Twitter: "Rank the post-Cold War secs of state real quick please thanks."

    This is a more difficult exercise than you would think for a number of reasons. One can certainly evaluate the foreign policy record of each secretary of state while in office. The problem is that this record is not only, or even primarily, a function of the secretary of state. That would be like seeing Mike Trout strike out against Aroldis Chapman and concluding that Trout was no good.

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The independent's case for Hillary Clinton

    The following is an adaptation of the address delivered to the Democratic National Convention on July 27, 2016:

    When the Founding Fathers arrived in Philadelphia to forge a new nation, they didn't come as Democrats or Republicans, or to nominate a presidential candidate. They came as patriots who feared party politics.

    I know how they felt.

    I've been a Democrat. I've been a Republican. And I eventually became an independent, because I don't believe either party has a monopoly on good ideas or strong leadership. When I enter the voting booth, I look at the candidate, not the party label. I have supported elected officials from both sides of the aisle.

    Probably not many people here can say that. But I know there are many Americans who can. And now, they are carefully weighing their choices.

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The Democrats become the party of values

    At their convention last week, the Donald Trump Republicans left gaping holes in their case for their ticket. On the third night of the Democrats' convention in Philadelphia, speaker after speaker drove through those huge gaps, leaving a path for President Barack Obama to flatten the opposition at the end.

    These words and arguments may have inspired and electrified the crowd in Philadelphia, but we don't know how all of it will play with swing voters. We always have to wait for the polls to find out. But if elections were decided based on logical arguments -- and we know they are not -- then the referee would have stopped this battle somewhere in maybe the first 15 minutes of Obama's speech.

    After yet another afternoon of liberal oratory, the prime-time speakers zeroed in on Trump's weaknesses. Before Obama, vice-presidential nominee Tim Kaine and Vice President Joe Biden roughed up the Republican nominee. Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg (who is the founder and majority owner of Bloomberg LP, the parent of Bloomberg News) and a retired Navy rear admiral, John Hutson, reached out to audiences beyond typical Democrats.

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Our political pros say Obama gave Clinton a lift

    Two of America's smartest political strategists are analyzing the Democratic National Convention this week for Bloomberg View, giving their perspectives on how the proceedings are coming across to millions of viewers and voters. They are Vin Weber, a Republican lobbyist, consultant and former Minnesota congressman who has advised presidential contenders Bob Dole, George W. Bush, John McCain, Mitt Romney and, this year, Jeb Bush; and John Sasso, a longtime Democratic adviser who was the leading strategist for the presidential campaigns of Michael Dukakis in 1988 and John Kerry in 2004.

    The Democratic strategist said President Barack Obama gave an important boost to Hillary Clinton on Wednesday night; his Republican counterpart thought the president helped her with Democratic-leaning voters and not much else.

    "It was such an affirmation and positive view of the country and what we can do when we work together,"' said John Sasso, the Democrat. "It was in stark contrast to Donald Trump's dark view last week."

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Let felons and prisoners vote

    This week, Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) vowed to sign individual orders restoring the voting rights of more than 200,000 convicted felons living in the state. His pledge followed the Virginia Supreme Court's ruling that the mass clemency McAuliffe issued in April overstepped his power under the commonwealth's constitution. Republicans complained bitterly - think of all those Democratic votes from the many African Americans who stand to benefit! - and promised to scrutinize every order for errors.

    But the GOP has it wrong. Not only is McAuliffe doing the right thing, but also he should push further. Prisoners, too, should be allowed to vote, no matter their crimes. While only Vermont and Mainegrant prisoners the vote, felon disenfranchisement fundamentally undermines the democratic rationale of our criminal laws. We cannot hold citizens to account for violating our laws while denying them a say over those laws.

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Obama's promise of continuity we can believe in

    Barack Obama's mission on behalf of Hillary Clinton on Wednesday night was personal and political. He testified to her virtues as a would-be president in a way only a current president could. He insisted that the administration both of them helped fashion pulled the country from the economic abyss. And he sought to safeguard his legacy by ensuring his time in the White House would not be seen by history as having culminated in the election of Donald Trump.

    And so he went to work, combining rational argument with evangelical exhortation in the classic Obama fashion and making clear that he saw only one logical choice this fall.

    "And no matter how daunting the odds, no matter how much people try to knock her down, she never, ever quits," he declared. "That's the Hillary I know. That's the Hillary I've come to admire. And that's why I can say with confidence there has never been a man or a woman -- not me, not Bill, nobody -- more qualified than Hillary Clinton to serve as president of the United States of America."

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Hey, Hillary. Can we talk?

    There is no equivalence -- none -- between the campaigns of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton when it comes to mistreatment of and contempt for the media. The Trump campaign's latest outrage on this score involved the hassling of a Washington Post reporter, Jose A. DelReal, at a rally for vice presidential nominee Mike Pence. DelReal was denied a media credential -- Trump last month barred The Post from being admitted to his events -- and then was prevented from entering as a member of the public with his laptop and cellphone, even though other attendees were permitted phones. When DelReal stashed his electronics in his car, he again sought admittance, only to be patted down and denied entrance by a security person who announced, "I don't want you here. You have to go." That this is unacceptable goes without saying. Pence, who imagines he has a future in politics after the Trump campaign, needs to make certain this type of incident does not recur.

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Hey, Hillary, try showing us your lighter side

    When Hillary Clinton takes center stage Thursday night as the 34th presidential nominee of the Democratic Party, she won't have to demonstrate her competence and can't do much about her trust gap. But there is a way she could help make her case: by showing a little humor.

    Clinton will try to lay out a vision and convince voters that even a political veteran like her can be an agent of change. That's standard stuff. Less predictable would be a few lighter moments, maybe even some self-deprecation, to redraw the familiar wonkish caricature.

    Friends say she has a good sense of humor that she rarely shows in public. I've watched her during her years in the U.S. Senate and as secretary of state and have followed her presidential bids in 2008 and 2016, but I've never covered her regularly and don't know her well. I have been present at several small dinners where she displayed a lighter touch.

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