Archive for Presidential Race

May
10

Character is destiny

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No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any Person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States. – Constitution of the United States, Article II, Section 1

Jon Stewart wonders what I’ve been wondering: Did the Founders err in merely specifying chronological age as a prerequisite for the presidency and overlook psychological age? We’re speaking of Donald Trump, of course. From Raw Story:

“Are you eligible to run if you’re a man-baby, or a baby-man?” Stewart asked David Axelrod during a live taping of Axelrod’s podcast in Chicago. “I don’t know if they’re referred to as man-baby Americans. He is a man-baby. He has the physical countenance of a man and a baby’s temperament and hands.”

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May
08

“It’s not that complicated”

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“Be confident in your heritage. Be confident in your blackness,” President Obama told student during his commencement address yesterday at Howard University. He reminded students at the historically black college, “One of the great changes that’s occurred in our country since I was your age is the realization there’s no one way to be black. Take it from somebody who’s seen both sides of debate about whether I’m black enough.”

It was an upbeat speech worth listening to in its entirety. Obama urged students foremost to engage politically as their parents and grandparents did. There are enough people working at disenfranchising the most vulnerable without students giving away their power by not voting (emphasis mine):

You have to go through life with more than just passion for change; you need a strategy. I’ll repeat that. I want you to have passion, but you have to have a strategy. Not just awareness, but action. Not just hashtags, but votes.

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May
04

Requiem for a movement?

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Donald Trump all but officially clinched the 2016 Republican nomination for president when Sen. Ted Cruz bowed out last night after a crushing loss in the Indiana primary. Bernie Sanders upset Hillary Clinton to keep his campaign alive, but because Democrats assign delegates proportionally, he gained little ground in the delegate chase.

Politico reports that Sen. Elizabeth Warren wasted no time in launching an assault on the presumptive Republican nominee, “hitting him with a blistering late-night tweetstorm in which she cast the presumptive Republican nominee as a racist with a dangerous authoritarian streak.” She defined the challenge ahead both for herself and the country:

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Apr
29

Weak tea

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It will take more than fear of Donald Trump for Democrats to win this fall. They need a message. This article from Harold Meyerson after monumental losses in 2014 summed it up:

What, besides raising the minimum wage, do the Democrats propose to do about the shift in income from wages to profits, from labor to capital, from the 99 percent to the 1 percent? How do they deliver for an embattled middle class in a globalized, de-unionized, far-from-full-employment economy, where workers have lost the power they once wielded to ensure a more equitable distribution of income and wealth? What Democrat, besides Elizabeth Warren, campaigned this year to diminish the sway of the banks? Who proposed policies that would give workers the power to win more stable employment and higher incomes, not just at the level of the minimum wage but across the economic spectrum?

Bernie Sanders has focused on the banks this year, but Democrats as a party have failed so far to send a message to families working without a net that their concerns and anxieties have been both heard and felt, and that Democrats have a plan to address them. They need to forcefully answer the “cares about people like me” question.

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Apr
22

Boaty McBoatface and our sinking democracy

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Last month I brought you the tale of the UK’s Natural Environment Research Council’s online poll for naming a new research vessel:

The NERC announced the online voting contest to name the nearly $300 million boat to be launched in 2019 recently, and the leading vote-getter so far is the simple but silly “Boaty McBoatface.”

Uri Friedman of the Atlantic considers the outcome and what it says about democracy:

The boat, which is really a ship, acquired new significance this week, when a British official suggested he wouldn’t respect the results of an online government poll in which more than 124,000 people voted to christen the country’s new $300-million research vessel “Boaty McBoatface.” The name received three times more votes than the runner-up entry. The people of the Internet had spoken emphatically, and they’d spoken like a five-year-old.

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Apr
19

The few, the proud, the “maintainers”

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After spending several post-college months riding trains around Europe, I took the train from New York to Washington, D.C. where I’d left my car with my sister. Compared to the silky ride of the Deutsche Bahn, this sucker was rocking, rumbling, and lurching all the way. Thought I was going to die.

The experience gave me a gut-level appreciation for well-maintained infrastructure and the unsung people who keep things working so smoothly one only notices when they don’t. “Hail the maintainers,” write Lee Vinsel and Andrew Russell for Aeon. “Innovation,” they believe, is overvalued:

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Apr
10

Boston Globe gives Trump a Bronx cheer

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This morning the Boston Globe offers a glimpse into President Donald Trump’s America with a mocked-up front page illustrating the kind of stories we could expect if Trump were elected president. Stocks plunge, trade wars loom, and “riots continue” over mass deportations.

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Apr
06

There is power in high hopes

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A rubber tree plantation in Phuket, Thailand.
[Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Last night during his speech in Laramire, Wyoming, Sen. Bernie Sanders brought up how real change happens in this country. It was an inspiring nod to #fightfor15, and worth reading if you missed it:

If we were here in this beautiful auditorium 5 years ago, not a long time from a historical perspective, [and] somebody would have jumped up and said, you know, I think a $7.25 federal minimum wage is a starvation wage and it has got to be raised to $15 an hour.

Now [if] somebody stood up 5 years ago and said that the person next to them would have said,

‘You’re nuts! Fifteen bucks an hour?! You want to more than double the minimum wage? You’re crazy! Maybe, maybe we get up to 8, 9 bucks an hour. But 15 bucks an hour? You’re dreaming too big.’

Sound familiar?

‘You are unrealistic. It can’t be done. Think smaller.’

But then, what happened is fast food workers, people working at McDonald’s, people working at Burger King, people working at Wendy’s, they went out on strike …

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Apr
03

“Frontiers of wrongness”

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Puzzling over how the next few months are going to shake out, it is easy to sympathize with Salon’s Andrew O’Hehir. He writes about a conference call this week in which strategist Tad Devine explained how the Bernie Sanders campaign means to whittle away at Hillary Clinton’s delegate lead:

One reason the thought-leaders of media groupthink listened so eagerly to Devine’s Gandalfian pronouncements is that we’ve been wrong about damn near everything in 2016 — wrong about Sanders, wrong about Trump, wrong about the enduring power of the “Republican establishment” and wrong about the stability of the two-party system. Who is to say we’re not wrong this time too? Who can imagine what new frontiers of wrongness lie ahead?

“Frontiers of wrongness” brought to mind the flat-earthers’ maps. Perhaps the most tantalizing aspect of their wrongness is the notion that beyond Antarctica lie uncharted lands still left to explore. Perhaps Donald Trump will build a resort/casino there? Perhaps North Carolina can send its unwanted gay and transgender people there?

Frank Bruni comments on both the wrongness and the shortsightedness of Republican’s anti-gay agenda, a provincial and retrograde attempt to stand athwart history as it bends towards equality and justice. Plus, sponsors are getting nervous about particpating in the RNC convention, what with the “brew of misogyny, racism and xenophobia stirred up by Trump.” Bruni writes:

THE party’s anti-gay efforts not only undermine its pro-business stance but also contradict conservatives’ exaltation of local decision making. The North Carolina law was drafted and passed expressly to undo and override an ordinance in the state’s most populous city, Charlotte, that extended L.G.B.T. protections against discrimination to transgender people who want to use bathrooms that correspond with their gender identity. The law went so far as to forbid any municipality from instituting its own anti-discrimination protections, lest they contradict the state’s.

Apparently conservatives love the concept of local control when the locality being given control tilts right, but they have a different view when it leans left. Rural sensibilities must be defended while cosmopolitan ones are dismissed.

And don’t miss the Trojan Horse provisions in that NC law that significantly indemnify discrimination by employers.

Charlie Pierce is in Madison, Wisconsin to cover the primary on Tuesday and has a few choice words on the wrongness of Gov. Scott Walker’s voter ID legislation. Bernie Sanders had more biting ones:

“It has never occurred to me and I think to most candidates that the way you try to win an election is to make it harder for people who might vote against you to participate in the election,” Sanders said. “That is political cowardice.”

The room erupted in cheers — including one man who yelled “Go get ‘em, Bernie!” — as he accused Walker and other Republican governors who support laws requiring a government-issued photo ID to vote of trying to deny people of color, poor people and the elderly their right to vote.

“If you don’t have the guts to participate in a free, open and fair election, get another job. Get outta politics,” Sanders said.

But getting back to O’Hehir’s frontiers of wrongness, where will Sanders supporters go this fall should he not win the Democratic nomination? Furthermore, where will Trump’s go if he wins the nomination and loses badly in the fall? Michael Bourne wonders:

For a generation, gun advocates have defended the right to bear arms as a check against tyranny, and for just as long liberals have dismissed this as a melodramatic talking point. But what if we take them at their word, and accept that it is possible we are witnessing the opening phase of a still-inchoate violent uprising by a broad class of Americans, who, ignored politically, bypassed economically, and dismissed socially, are beginning to take matters into their own hands?

What if, in other words, Donald Trump isn’t an aberration created by the miscalculations of a party elite, but the political expression of a much deeper, and more dangerous, frustration among a very large, well-armed segment of our population? What if Trump isn’t a proto-Mussolini, but rather a regrettably short finger in the dike holding back a flood of white violence and anger this country hasn’t seen since the long economic boom of the 1950s and ’60s helped put an end to the Jim Crow era?

What is most worrisome about the uncertainty ahead is the sense that on both the left and the right many people have convinced themselves that the republic is beyond repair. Decades of right-wing “voter fraud” propaganda have done their work, to where even the left believes, as Sen. Elizabeth Warren reminds us, “the game is rigged.” She may be speaking primarily (and accurately) about the economy, but the rigged meme is widespread, with even lefty activists quick to see conspiracies first and ask sober questions later.

There is a kind of Nero impulse afoot. Susan Sarandon’s comments captured the mood well. And if there are those on the left prepared to see the republic restored in cleansing fire, Bourne’s concerns about the right may be well-founded. The question is whether all the talk of revolution isn’t more Trumpian-style bluster. The thing about bringing down purifying fire is that innocent villagers tend to get sprayed with napalm.

(Cross-posted from Hullabaloo.)

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Apr
01

Fetching Blue Yonder

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Well:

From the Guardian’s live blog: April Fools’ Day 2016: the best jokes from around the world. Now that that we have that out of the way….

We have a rusting, 30 yr-old F-150 pickup. We call it Blue Yonder. It’s a real gas hog. Carburated V8. But it uses no gas sitting in the driveway, which it does mostly, so we keep it around for what you keep pickup trucks around for. Which means we use it for moving other people’s furniture now and then or for the occasional dump run.

The truck is in the shop this week because it won’t start. A week ago, another shop replaced the coil, started it up and returned it. $60 cheap. A few days later, it wouldn’t start again. We towed it to our regular shop. They did something with the distributor, said to pick it up tomorrow, then called the next morning to say, no, when they tried it again, it wouldn’t start again. Give us another day. We did. They say they’ve got it fixed now and I’ll pick it up this afternoon.

Here’s why I’m telling you. These are people who repair vehicles for a living. They do it every day. Have for years. Even then, sometimes it’s hard to diagnose what’s wrong and fix it right the first time. Meanwhile, Donald Trump is traveling the highways and byways telling enthusiastic throngs of working-class people that America is broken and only he can fix it. Except Trump has zero experience in government and demonstrates that every day. Yet his fans are ready to entrust their beloved country to him.

Would you entrust your F-150 to a real estate developer?

(Cross-posted from
Hullabaloo.)

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