Archive

June 17th, 2016

Trump loves attention but hates scrutiny

    As a kid, I had high hopes. "I don't want to be a millionaire," said my favorite T-shirt. "I just want to live like one." That's my impression of autocrat-in-progress Donald J. Trump. He doesn't want to be a fascist; he just wants to throw his weight around like one.

    This thought came to mind Monday after he added the Washington Post to a growing list of media whose credentials he has lifted. "Based on the incredibly inaccurate coverage and reporting of the record setting Trump campaign," Trump posted on his Facebook page, "we are hereby revoking the press credentials of the phony and dishonest Washington Post."

    What was so "phony and dishonest?" In a separate message, Trump cited an online Post headline that morning: "Donald Trump suggests President Obama was involved with Orlando shooting."

    The newspaper softened that headline about 90 minutes later to "Donald Trump seems to connect President Obama to Orlando shooting," but Trump lifted the Post's press passes and took credit for the headline change anyway.

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Trump sinks to a new level with remarks on Orlando

    Donald Trump, with characteristic and appalling opportunism, has pivoted the focus of the 2016 presidential campaign to the latest mass murder in an Orlando gay night club at the hand of another mentally deranged shooter.

    Lauding himself via Twitter for anticipating such an attack and reporting praise from his faithful, he typed the following: "Appreciate the congrats for being right on extremist Islamic terrorism." He added he didn't need to be praised, adding "because our leaders are weak, I said this was going to happen, and it is only going to get worse." Later he told CNN: "I've been a pretty good prognosticator as to what's going to be happening."

    Trump's blatant strategy to use the Orlando tragedy to attack President Obama's prosecution of the war against the Islamic State was an obvious effort to get back on the offensive. He had spent days defending himself against sharp criticism, particularly from within his own Republican Party, over racial references he made against a federal judge presiding over a civil fraud suit against his defunct Trump University.

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Trump proves he can't rise to the occasion

    The only reaction to Donald Trump's response on Monday to the slaughter at a gay nightclub in Orlando is: "Really, you couldn't help yourself, with all the country is going through."

    He couldn't. Even before he asked for a moment of silence for the 49 victims in Orlando, Trump was lighting into Hillary Clinton and "how bad a president" she would be. His authority on that is a former Secret Service agent, who "has seen her under pressure and in times of stress, has stated that she lacks the temperament and integrity to be president."

    A campaign is an imperfect vehicle for judging how a presidential candidate would lead the country. It's as likely to inflame as enlighten.

    The presumptive Republican nominee's reaction to Orlando, via Twitter on Sunday and in the speech Monday, gave a glimpse of how commander-in-chief Trump might behave in the face of a terrorist act. It wasn't encouraging.

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Trump is no loose cannon

    In the brief span since the nation awoke Sunday to news of the largest gun massacre in U.S. history, Donald Trump has tweeted that the killings are evidence of his own wisdom, and has called on President Barack Obama to resign for his failure to use the preferred Republican rhetoric -- "radical Islam" -- in describing the attack. Trump then went on news shows on Monday morning to insinuate that Obama is a fellow traveler of Islamic terrorists, essentially a mole inside the White House.

    The presumptive Republican nominee moves from offense to offense so rapidly that a new shock eclipses the first before it can be mentally processed. Tweets and oral speech are Trump's natural media. Many Republicans are still seeking rationales to help them overlook the threat carried by these casual messages. They hope that Trump will somehow prove more responsible, and less toxic, if he has a political party or a White House staff or some other mediating institution to constrain his worst impulses.

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The punk who would be president

    It is the most famous ducktail in America today, the hairdo of wayward youth of a bygone era, and it's astonishing to imagine it under the spotlight in Cleveland, being cheered by Republican dignitaries. The class hood, the bully and braggart, the guy revving his pink Chevy to make the pipes rumble, presiding over the student council. This is the C-minus guy who sat behind you in history and poked you with his pencil and smirked when you asked him to stop. That smirk is now on every front page in America. It is not what anybody -- left, right, or center -- looks for in a president. There's no philosophy here, just an attitude.

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Why I'm hopeful about the world's future

    Almost six decades have passed since I left my homeland, Tibet, and became a refugee. Thanks to the kindness of the government and people of India, we Tibetans found a second home where we could live in dignity and freedom, able to keep our language, culture and Buddhist traditions alive.

    My generation has witnessed so much violence - some historians estimate that more than 200 million people were killed in conflicts in the 20th century.

    Today, there is no end in sight to the horrific violence in the Middle East, which in the case of Syria has led to the greatest refugee crisis in a generation. Appalling terrorist attacks - as we were sadly reminded this weekend - have created deep-seated fear. While it would be easy to feel a sense of hopelessness and despair, it is all the more necessary in the early years of the 21st century to be realistic and optimistic.

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Stand With Gay Americans

    Some of June’s gay pride celebrations happened last weekend, but many are still ahead. The one in Louisville, Kentucky, is among them. There’s a parade scheduled for Friday.

    That’s your state, Mitch McConnell. You should go.

    If you’re not comfortable marching, mingle on the sidelines. If parades aren’t your thing, make an appearance at one of the other pride events in Kentucky in coming days.

    Just show up. And by doing so, show that the absence of “gay” or “LGBT” in your statements immediately following the Orlando massacre — and in the statements of so many other prominent Republicans — isn’t because you place us and our concerns behind some thick pane of glass with a Do Not Touch sign that stays up even when blood and tears pool beneath it.

    For more than 48 hours, Paul Ryan also seemed to avoid any mention of the kind of nightclub that the Orlando gunman chose and one of the reasons its revelers were marked for death.

    On Tuesday morning that silence finally ended, as Ryan told journalists in Washington that he wanted to “be clear.”

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Puerto Rico is really a colony, justices affirm

    Last week the Supreme Court insulted Puerto Rico by saying its people aren't sovereign. This week the court added injury to the insult, denying Puerto Rico access to federal bankruptcy laws that would have created a path to recovery for its struggling utilities.

    The decision on Monday passed the ball to Congress to change the law or arrange a bailout. At the same time, it underscored the outrageousness of Puerto Rico's distinct legal status as a quasi-colony: the Commonwealth will have to lobby a Congress in which its residents, U.S. citizens all, have no representation.

    The underlying legal situation always posed a high hurdle for Puerto Rico, which in 2014 passed a Recovery Act to enable municipalities and utilities associated with the Commonwealth to declare bankruptcy. A federal district court and then the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit both struck down the Puerto Rico law as invalid under the federal bankruptcy code.

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The Scope of the Orlando Carnage

    These locations are never random. These targets aren’t accidental. They’re the very vocabulary in which assailants like the Orlando gunman speak, and he chose a place where there’s drinking. And dancing. And where LGBT people congregate, feeling a sense of welcome, of belonging.

    That last detail is in the foreground of the deadliest mass shooting in American history — and rightly so.

    But let’s be clear: This was no more an attack just on LGBT people than the bloodshed at the offices of Charlie Hebdo in Paris was an attack solely on satirists.

    Both were attacks on freedom itself. Both took aim at societies that, at their best, integrate and celebrate diverse points of view, diverse systems of belief, diverse ways to love. And to speak of either massacre more narrowly than that is to miss the greater message, the more pervasive danger and the truest stakes.

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Lessons of Hiroshima and Orlando

    I want to talk today about the horrific human tragedy of Orlando. But first I want to talk about Hiroshima — or, more precisely, the profound speech that President Barack Obama gave there May 27 that got lost in all the campaign noise here.

    Hiroshima, Obama suggested, represents a world in which for the first time ever a country possessed the power to kill all of us — and if it had to be any country, I am glad it was America. But today, he said, we’re entering a world where small groups — maybe even soon a single super-empowered person — will be able to kill all of us; therefore we’d better start thinking about the moral implications of where technology is taking us.

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