Archive

April 5th, 2016

'Trump Republican' is a seriously damaged brand

    Donald Trump is taking a troubled brand -- the Republican Party -- and making it worse.

    In last week's Bloomberg Politics national survey, 60 percent of Americans said they had an unfavorable view of Republicans, the highest level in seven years. Since 2009, when this survey began, a plurality of the public has regarded the party with disfavor, but over the past several months the gap has widened. Only 33 percent rate Republicans favorably now.

    There is a consensus among many Republican strategists, pollsters and politicians that Trump, with his exclusionary politics, harsh oratory and fondness for personal insult, has hurt the party's image.

    "This absolutely is hurting our brand," says former Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine. "The question is how we unravel going forward. I fear the effects could be long-lasting. It's tragic."

    Some blame the Trump phenomenon on cable and broadcast television networks, saying they have abandoned their standards of newsworthiness to attract the big audiences he commands.

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Just Wondering

    It is fair to wonder if all those men so eager to protect women in their healthcare are as eager to help in other matters.  Do they do their share of the household responsibility?  Do they change the diapers of those babies they are so eager to have born?

    They certainly don't appear to be that eager about seeing that women get equal pay for comparable work.  It they were so concerned about fairness (as concerns women as they are for the "unborn") would not they be equally concerned that it is near mid-April before women's paychecks reach what men in comparable positions make by December 31 of the previous year?

    Nor has there been a rush for legislation requiring release of  information that would allow all to know of the discrepancy in pay.  Think Lilly Ledbetter who only found out how she had been cheated for years when some one slipped her an anonymous note.

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Is it time to set up checkpoints outside airports?

    The terrorist attack on Belgium last week caused some European security officials to reconsider strategies for protecting air travelers, including the idea that perhaps the checkpoint perimeter should be moved further out to airport entrances or beyond.

    It's a discussion that should happen here too.

    The idea that many countries are risking disaster by not setting up checkpoints at the entrances or even on the outskirts of an airport came from Pini Schiff, the former security chief at Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion International Airport and now the chief executive of the Israel Security Association, an organization that provides security for companies and government offices.

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Indiana's new abortion law won't save babies. It will only make my patients suffer.

    Even after years of education, training and experience as an obstetrician/gynecologist, I am never prepared to deliver the news that a pregnancy is abnormal. There is no good way to tell a pregnant woman - a woman who may already be wearing maternity clothes, thinking about names and decorating the nursery - that we have identified a fetal anomaly that can lead to significant, lifelong disability or even her baby's death.

    In such situations, physicians have two responsibilities. First, we must always be supportive of the mother or family who has suddenly been confronted with the loss of an imagined ideal pregnancy and child. And second, we help them understand that they have options, one of which is the termination of the pregnancy.

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Five myths about bicycling

    Each year, 100 million Americans jump on a bicycle at least once, especially when the weather gets warm. Some of these pedalers are recreational riders; others rely on their bikes for transportation to and from work. In the past few years, cities have rushed to accommodate such travelers: Scores of bike lanes and bike-share programs have popped up. But there are still a lot of misconceptions about getting around on two wheels. As the number of cyclists rises, it's important to keep in mind some truths about who they are, how they behave and what impact they have on the space around us.

    1. Mandating helmet use is the best way to keep riders safe.

    There's no doubt about it: Helmets save lives. Studies show they reduce the risk of cyclist head injury by 85 percent. Recently, bike advocates such as Greg Kaplan have argued that riding without a helmet should be illegal. "Wearing a helmet while riding a bike is analogous to wearing a seatbelt while driving," he wrote in Bicycling magazine.

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Docs vs. Glocks: If you own a gun, tell your kid's doctor

    'Do you have guns in the home?" It's a standard question pediatricians ask patients and their parents, an entry into a conversation about storage and safety.

    "Of course not - we don't believe in that," answered one mother who came to our practice with her 7-year-old.

    Her son looked up from his iPad and grinned. "But Bobby's dad has a really cool gun! Bobby showed it to me last week."

    "What do you mean?" his mother asked. "A toy gun?"

    "No, a real one!" he boasted, before returning to his game. His mother sat in wide-eyed silence.

    When a Florida pediatrician asked the same question - "Do you have guns in the home?" - during a checkup in 2010, the reply from a mother of three was sharp: None of your business. She objected to the query as "very invasive," complaining to her local newspaper, "Whether I have a gun has nothing to do with the health of my child."

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Unseemly campaign uncorks a geyser of anti-Obama hate

    The most popular license in America now?

    A license to hate.

    And one of the most popular targets is President Obama.

    It's no secret that America's first family has received an unprecedented number of threats over the past seven years.

    But the fever pitch of hate and bile directed toward the president and his family have taken an even sharper tone thanks to the primordial swamp that is the current presidential campaign.

    It's impossible to utter a single word about the White House, the first family or the president without a blast from the fire hose of haterade.

    I can see it in my email inbox.

    A column about the White House Easter Egg Roll?

    "Go back to Kenya," a reader (one of scores who said such things) spat in response.

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The Felons Among Us

    The United States today is home to two huge but essentially invisible populations. Each of them is widely stigmatized and largely composed of people living in the shadows. The government does not know who they are, where they are or how well they are doing.

    The first of these invisible tribes - illegal immigrants - at least has attracted more than passing comment in politics. By contrast, America's second invisible caste is almost never mentioned. Yet this group is far larger than the unauthorized immigrant population, and it is made up almost entirely of U.S. citizens.

    I refer to our vast underground army of released felons - adult men and women convicted of serious criminal offenses for which they have been punished with prison time or probation, and who now form part of the general population. So hidden from public sight is this vast army, indeed, that many Americans are unaware of its existence.

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Political prisoners are not props

    I am writing this letter from jail in Baku, Azerbaijan, where I'm serving a 7½-year sentence for a crime I never committed.

    I am a journalist and my only "crime" was to investigate high-level corruption within the government and family of Azeri President Ilham Aliyev. Aliyev inherited power from his father in 2003 and changed the constitution in 2009 so he could stay in power indefinitely. He has been called an enemy of the press by international watchdogs, while abusing other fundamental freedoms and violating people's right to truth and decency.

    Aliyev is in Washington this week to attend the Nuclear Security Summit that began Thursday. To get an invitation to this event from President Obama, he had to pardon several political prisoners. Although they have been released from jail, they remain confined within the country, barred from leaving, and justice has not been restored.

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Learning From Obama

    Like many political junkies, I’ve been spending far too much time looking at polls and trying to understand their implications. Can Donald Trump really win his party’s nomination? (Yes.) Can Bernie Sanders? (No.) But the primaries aren’t the only things being polled; we’re still getting updates on President Barack Obama’s overall approval. And something striking has happened on that front.

    At the end of 2015 Obama was still underwater, with significantly more Americans disapproving than approving. Since then, however, his approval has risen sharply while disapproval has plunged. He’s still only in modestly positive territory, but the net movement in polling averages has been about 11 percentage points, which is a lot.

    What’s going on?

    Well, one answer is that voters have lately been given a taste of what really bad leaders look like. But I’d like to think that the public is also starting to realize just how successful the Obama administration has been in addressing America’s problems. And there are lessons from that success for those willing to learn.

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