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Updated: Fri, 30 Sep 2016 13:02:08 -0500

 



Why Clinton Must Woo Weld

2016-09-30T00:00:00Z

William Weld, call your office. If the campaign of Hillary Clinton is in it to win, then someone has already left you a message offering you a position in her Cabinet, likely at an agency of your choosing. As Gary Johnson implodes in television interviews, unable to answer even the most rudimentary foreign policy question, the Libertarian ticket seems to be going up in smoke. Despite an assurance from the former New Mexico governor that he stopped smoking marijuana before launching his candidacy, a certain haze seems to be holding him back. If running mate Weld, who is the stronger candidate...William Weld, call your office. If the campaign of Hillary Clinton is in it to win, then someone has already left you a message offering you a position in her Cabinet, likely at an agency of your choosing. As Gary Johnson implodes in television interviews, unable to answer even the most rudimentary foreign policy question, the Libertarian ticket seems to be going up in smoke. Despite an assurance from the former New Mexico governor that he stopped smoking marijuana before launching his candidacy, a certain haze seems to be holding him back. If running mate Weld, who is the stronger candidate on the ticket, quits, the third-party campaign is likely to burn up altogether. Johnson’s quixotic bid may be the only thing standing between Clinton and the Oval Office. Polls show that a four-way race (which includes Green Party candidate Jill Stein) is one Clinton can easily lose. In two-way polls, she bests Donald Trump -- but voters will not get ballots listing only those two names. Should Johnson amass double-digit support, and factoring the support siphoned off by Stein, the two could throw the election to Trump. Perhaps this crossed Weld’s mind as he sat beside Johnson at the MSNBC “Hardball College Tour” town hall hosted by Chris Matthews Wednesday. Johnson couldn’t cough up the name of any world leader he admired, and sat dazed as Matthews bought him more time by naming continent after continent the wide range of leaders could hail from. Johnson, as if playing himself in a “Saturday Night Live” skit, blurted he was “having an Aleppo moment,” referring to the time recently when he couldn’t answer a question about the humanitarian crisis in Syria because he didn’t know what Aleppo was. Weld sat stoically, and looked as if he knew what was coming. At one point the former Massachusetts governor even offered up the name Shimon Peres, the former president of Israel who had just passed away, seemingly to fill the silence, but Matthews insisted the leader be living. Johnson struggled to find the name of “the former president of Mexico,” to which Matthews barked, “Which one?” Weld hurled lifelines, naming former presidents until Johnson settled on Vicente Fox. When it was Weld’s turn for the quiz he responded softly “Merkel,” pronouncing the chancellor of Germany’s name in a silky-smooth German accent. It’s hard to see Weld sticking around if Clinton can give him a better offer. The Johnson-Weld ticket once seemed a good idea -- both two-term Republican former governors who won in Democratic states and fiscal conservatives and social moderates who are more representative of a majority of voters. But it’s become more than a bit awkward. Weld was always the better salesman and Republicans openly pondered why he wasn’t at the top of the ticket, doubting Johnson’s heft from the beginning. Mitt Romney, for example, shopping for an alternative to Trump, wished aloud that Weld was heading the Libertarian ticket instead of Johnson. Carl Bernstein passed along a rumor a few weeks back that indeed Weld didn’t want to be a spoiler and would soon leave the ticket to endorse and campaign for Clinton in order to stop Trump. Weld and Clinton reportedly met as lawyers decades ago and share mutual friends, which Bernstein said could lead to pressure on him to leave the Libertarian ticket if Trump began to lead i[...]



Global Alert: A Campaign Recap for Readers Abroad

2016-09-30T00:00:00Z

Each week until Election Day, RealClearPolitics Executive Editor Carl M. Cannon and Managing Editor Emily Goodin draw from RCP reporting and other sources to offer a summary of new developments. Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump spent more meaningful time together this week than at any point since she attended The Donald’s third wedding. But this wasn’t a social affair—it was the first of three scheduled presidential debates. All week, political professionals in this capital city and around the country waited to see whether voters agreed with the assessment of...Each week until Election Day, RealClearPolitics Executive Editor Carl M. Cannon and Managing Editor Emily Goodin draw from RCP reporting and other sources to offer a summary of new developments. Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump spent more meaningful time together this week than at any point since she attended The Donald’s third wedding. But this wasn’t a social affair—it was the first of three scheduled presidential debates. All week, political professionals in this capital city and around the country waited to see whether voters agreed with the assessment of the pundits who pronounced Hillary the clear winner. But if one thing has been consistent in the wild 2016 presidential campaign, it’s that the opinion of the elites doesn’t always conform to the view in the grassroots. What would the polls show? Those post-debate polls began trickling in late in the week—and represented a bit of good news for Democrats. Rasmussen Reports, which previously had Trump ahead by five percentage points, released a survey  Thursday showing a one-point Clinton lead—a swing of six points.  Public Policy Polling (a Democratic firm), which had not polled immediately before the debate, released a survey showing Clinton leading by 44 percent to 40 percent. (RCP’s David Byler has more details here.) In addition, RealClearPolitics’ Rebecca Berg attended a focus group of undecided voters in Pennsylvania who watched the debate—and most of them agreed that Clinton gave a better accounting of herself than Trump did. The caveat to keep in mind is one that all political journalists have been dealing with in this election: namely, that 2016 is  unlike any other election season, and the only rule is that there are no rules. RCP is still waiting on the major news outlets to release their post-debate polls, which those could show Clinton up higher or down lower. Then there are the known unknowns, as former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld once quipped. What if more Democratic Party hacked emails are released? What if there is yet another scandal involving either Trump’s charitable giving or the Clinton Foundation? How will women and Latino voters react to Trump’s doubling down on his weight comments about former Miss Universe Alicia Machado. Clinton brought up the issue in the debate, noting Trump called her “Miss Piggy” and “Miss Housekeeping” and criticized the pageant winner for gaining weight after she won the crown. Just as he did after the Democratic National Convention, when he engaged in a spat with the Muslim family who’d lost a son serving in the U.S. Army in Iraq, Trump doubled down on his comments instead of retreating. “I saved her job, because I said [firing her was] going to be ruinous and I’ve done that with a number of the young ladies, where I save their job," he told “The O’Reilly Factor” on Tuesday. “And look what I get out of it. I get nothing." On another Fox News show, Trump said of Machado: “She gained a massive amount of weight. It was a real problem. We had a real problem." Machado has gone on a media campaign of her own, telling news outlets Trump contributed to her having an eating disorder and that he made her feel ashamed. Almost as though he sensed he hadn’t done as well as he’d hoped, in the waning moments of the debate Trump hinted that he[...]



Trump's Polling Benchmarks; Revisiting JASTA; the Millennial Vote; Berlin Airlift

2016-09-30T00:00:00Z

Good morning, it’s Friday, September 30, 2016. Today is the 67th anniversary of the official end of the Berlin Airlift. A too-little remembered episode in American and British military aviation history, the airlift was a Herculean undertaking with both humanitarian and realpolitik ramifications. It was ordered by President Truman, and carried out by a cadre of airmen, mechanics, and ground crews from two war-weary nations who were hurriedly mustered back into the service. I’ll have more on that story in a moment. First, I’ll point you to our front page, which...Good morning, it’s Friday, September 30, 2016. Today is the 67th anniversary of the official end of the Berlin Airlift. A too-little remembered episode in American and British military aviation history, the airlift was a Herculean undertaking with both humanitarian and realpolitik ramifications. It was ordered by President Truman, and carried out by a cadre of airmen, mechanics, and ground crews from two war-weary nations who were hurriedly mustered back into the service. I’ll have more on that story in a moment. First, I’ll point you to our front page, which aggregates columns and stories spanning the political spectrum. We also offer a complement of original material from our own reporters and contributors this morning, including the following: * * * Debate May Have Knocked Trump Off Comeback Track. David Byler updates the GOP nominee’s progress as measured by polling benchmarks needed to close the gap with Hillary Clinton. Top Republicans Open to Changing JASTA After Override. James Arkin reports on comments yesterday by Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell. Keepin’ It RealClear: The Millennial Vote. Rebecca Berg explores the latest campaign developments in RCP’s video roundup. “In the Arena” Podcast: Iowa. The audio complement to this week’s installment in our battleground series is here. A (Tepid) Defense of Trump on Iraq. In RealClearWorld, Kevin Sullivan writes that efforts to paint the nominee’s stance on the issue as an outright flip-flop are disingenuous. Donald Trump, Celebrity Nihilist? Also in RCW, Robert Zaretsky examines the roots of the term “nihilism” to see if it applies to Trump, as some observers have asserted. Must America Lead? In RealClearBooks, John Waters has this Q&A with former NATO secretary general Anders Fogh Rasmussen about his new book, “The Will to Lead.” Chronic Pain Is Everywhere. In RealClearHealth, Luke Hammerman interviews U.S. Pain Foundation President Paul Gileno on the needs of those with chronic pain amid the nation's opioid epidemic.  Vin Scully’s Gift to Us. In RealClearSports, Jordan D. Teti has this appreciation of the retiring play-by-play broadcaster. * * * No matter what your view of war -- and American public opinion in 1948-1949 ran the gamut from pacifist to Patton, as it does today -- this story is one of heroism and triumph, two words in the subtitle of "Daring Young Men," Richard Reeves’ superb 2010 book chronicling the airlift into Berlin. In June of 1948, with Germany and its largest city divided, Soviet leader Josef Stalin decided to starve West Berliners into capitulation. That half of the city was free. The other half had been cordoned off into the westernmost outpost of what we would come to know as the Iron Curtain. At starvation, though, Harry Truman drew a line. “Little Harry” launched this effort with his characteristic straight-forwardness. After being told by his military and diplomatic advisers that it was virtually impossible to remain in the city, Truman replied: “We stay in Berlin, period.” This was taken to be a direct order from the commander-in-chief, which it was, and it was dutifully carried out. Bunking in barns and muddy tents, the allied crews flew over Soviet-occupied East Germany day and night, dodging sporadic anti-aircraft fire, evading Russian fighter planes, an[...]



Will the Debate Knock Trump Off the Comeback Track?

2016-09-30T00:00:00Z

Is Donald Trump on track to win the presidency? Or can Hillary Clinton simply hold onto her lead in the polls and run out the clock? A month ago (when Clinton was ahead by about five points in the two-way RealClearPolitics average), I asked similar questions and used past presidential election polling to create benchmarks for a potential Trump comeback. The idea was to develop some simple, data-driven rules of thumb indicating how plausible a Trump comeback or win might be given his standing in the polls on a given date. The guidelines were fairly simple -- Clinton's lead in August was...Is Donald Trump on track to win the presidency? Or can Hillary Clinton simply hold onto her lead in the polls and run out the clock? A month ago (when Clinton was ahead by about five points in the two-way RealClearPolitics average), I asked similar questions and used past presidential election polling to create benchmarks for a potential Trump comeback. The idea was to develop some simple, data-driven rules of thumb indicating how plausible a Trump comeback or win might be given his standing in the polls on a given date. The guidelines were fairly simple -- Clinton's lead in August was not too big to overcome before Election Day; he would want to be within a few points by late September; and there isn't much time to move polls significantly in October. September is now nearly over, so it’s worth revisiting that data to assess how plausible a Trump comeback is given the current polling. That data indicates Trump had been hitting or exceeding his benchmarks for nearly a month, but Clinton’s strong debate performance  puts him at risk of barely making or even missing those to come. The data behind the benchmarks is summarized here: This graphic shows how much an average of polls on a given date differed from the final polling average heading into Election Day. The black line shows the trend -- essentially, that’s how much polls typically can move in a given interval before Election Day. More details on the data, how I accounted for conventions and how the trend line was calculated can be found here. For most of September, Trump has been exceeding his benchmarks. Clinton led him in the RCP averages for all of this month, but historical data suggested that her lead was small enough that the GOP nominee could still overtake her before Election Day. Heading into the debate, Clinton led by about two percentage points (the exact number changes if third parties are/aren’t included), which meant that Trump could realistically still catch up. But post-debate polling suggests the Democratic nominee may have improved her standing. Rasmussen Reports released a poll Thursday that showed Clinton ahead of Trump by one point. This is a significant improvement from Rasmussen’s poll last week, which had Trump leading by five. Public Policy Polling (a Democratic firm) also released a post-debate survey that put Clinton ahead of Trump by four points. PPP’s last survey showed her ahead by five, but it was conducted in late August. At that time, Clinton was leading Trump by about four points in the RCP poll averages rather than one or two. Additionally, many polls have shown that voters believe Clinton won the debate by a large margin, and debate wins do sometimes lead to bounces in the polls. If polling data continues to show such a bounce, it will likely keep Trump from exceeding his benchmarks and may even put him behind on them. If the debate ends up improving Clinton’s standing by about two points, then Trump will be at a four-point deficit. He would then just barely hit his late September/early October benchmark. If Clinton’s bounce is larger than two points, Trump will miss his benchmarks by a significant amount. He could still win despite missing the benchmarks, but he would have to make up ground more quickly than most of his predecessors have been able to do. A few caveats: Most of the major pollsters still h[...]



Womanhood Is an Election Issue--and That's Bad News for Trump

2016-09-30T00:00:00Z

WASHINGTON -- It is hopelessly retro, but perhaps unsurprising, that womanhood has become a prominent issue in the presidential race. This has to be bad for Donald Trump, a hall-of-shame sexist -- and good for Hillary Clinton, an actual woman. It was political idiocy for Trump to fall into Clinton's artfully laid trap at the debate Monday night when she mentioned how he treated the woman who won his Miss Universe pageant in 1996: "He called this woman 'Miss Piggy.' Then he called her 'Miss Housekeeping,' because she was Latina. Donald, she has a...WASHINGTON -- It is hopelessly retro, but perhaps unsurprising, that womanhood has become a prominent issue in the presidential race. This has to be bad for Donald Trump, a hall-of-shame sexist -- and good for Hillary Clinton, an actual woman. It was political idiocy for Trump to fall into Clinton's artfully laid trap at the debate Monday night when she mentioned how he treated the woman who won his Miss Universe pageant in 1996: "He called this woman 'Miss Piggy.' Then he called her 'Miss Housekeeping,' because she was Latina. Donald, she has a name." Clinton was referring to Alicia Machado, whom Trump threatened with taking away her title after she gained a few pounds. Trump seemed flustered and could only respond with a complete non sequitur -- a defense of the many ugly things he has said about comedian Rosie O'Donnell, maintaining that "I think everybody would agree that she deserves it and nobody feels sorry for her." I, for one, do not think O'Donnell, or any other woman, deserves being called "a slob" who is "disgusting" and has "a fat, ugly face," among other gross insults Trump has hurled over the years. But aside from congratulating himself for his restraint in not saying something "extremely rough to Hillary, to her family," Trump had no response to the question of his treatment of Machado. But the following morning on "Fox and Friends," Trump could not resist elaborating. He said of Machado that "she was the winner and, you know, she gained a massive amount of weight and it was a real problem ... not only that, her attitude." He called her "the worst we ever had. The worst. The absolute worst. She was impossible." Machado did go on a diet during her Miss Universe reign after gaining, she said, about 15 pounds. Trump went on Fox News again Wednesday and told Bill O'Reilly that by fat-shaming Machado, "I saved her job. ... And look what I get out of it. I get nothing." So who here is being piggy? The Clinton campaign had anticipated that raising the Machado incident would get a rise out of Trump. He helped focus a spotlight on one of the more unsavory facets of his personality: an ugly, unrepentant sexism that would have been inappropriate even in the "Mad Men" era -- and is light-years beyond the pale today. Trump's surrogates are not helping. Newt Gingrich offered the defense that "you're not supposed to gain 60 pounds during the year that you're Miss Universe." For Trump and Gingrich, both of whom have ample spare tires where their waists should be, to criticize anyone about his or her weight is ridiculous. Better to point fingers at each other rather than at Machado. The Clinton campaign is already running a powerful ad in which Trump's voice utters a string of sexist comments while the viewer sees images of young women. Trump's campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, is a pollster; she knows that most voters are women, and that women already favor Clinton by a wide margin. This terrain is potentially lethal to Trump's hopes, but no one has yet managed to zip his lip. Trump's threat to say something "extremely rough" was a reference to Bill Clinton's infidelities. For a man who has had three wives, and who cheated on the first two, this is a case of the pot calling the kettle black. The husband of the kettle, actually: I have a hard time believing that in this day and age, a man would actually try to blame a woman for her husband's indiscretions. But that app[...]



Trump Right on Trade Predators

2016-09-30T00:00:00Z

Is America still a serious nation? Consider. While U.S. elites were denouncing Donald Trump as unfit to serve for having compared Miss Universe 1996 to "Miss Piggy" of "The Muppets," the World Trade Organization was validating the principal plank of his platform. America's allies are cheating and robbing her blind on trade. According to the WTO, Britain, France, Spain, Germany and the EU pumped $22 billion in illegal subsidies into Airbus to swindle Boeing out of the sale of 375 commercial jets. Subsidies to the A320 caused lost sales of 271 Boeing 737s, writes...Is America still a serious nation? Consider. While U.S. elites were denouncing Donald Trump as unfit to serve for having compared Miss Universe 1996 to "Miss Piggy" of "The Muppets," the World Trade Organization was validating the principal plank of his platform. America's allies are cheating and robbing her blind on trade. According to the WTO, Britain, France, Spain, Germany and the EU pumped $22 billion in illegal subsidies into Airbus to swindle Boeing out of the sale of 375 commercial jets. Subsidies to the A320 caused lost sales of 271 Boeing 737s, writes journalist Alan Boyle. Subsidies for planes in the twin-aisle market cost the sale of 50 Boeing 767s, 777s and 787s. And subsidies to the A380 cost Boeing the sale of 54 747s. These represent crippling losses for Boeing, a crown jewel of U.S. manufacturing and a critical component of our national defense. Earlier, writes Boyle, the WTO ruled that, "without the subsidies, Airbus would not have existed ... and there would be no Airbus aircraft on the market." In "The Great Betrayal" in 1998, I noted that in its first 25 years the socialist cartel called Airbus Industrie "sold 770 planes to 102 airlines but did not make a penny of profit." Richard Evans of British Aerospace explained: "Airbus is going to attack the Americans, including Boeing, until they bleed and scream." And another executive said, "If Airbus has to give away planes, we will do it." When Europe's taxpayers objected to the $26 billion in subsidies Airbus had gotten by 1990, German aerospace coordinator Erich Riedl was dismissive, "We don't care about criticism from small-minded pencil-pushers." This is the voice of economic nationalism. Where is ours? After this latest WTO ruling validating Boeing's claims against Airbus, the Financial Times is babbling of the need for "free and fair" trade, warning against a trade war. But is "trade war" not a fair description of what our NATO allies have been doing to us by subsidizing the cartel that helped bring down Lockheed and McDonnell-Douglas and now seeks to bring down Boeing? Our companies built the planes that saved Europe in World War II and sheltered her in the Cold War. And Europe has been trying to kill those American companies. Yet even as Europeans collude and cheat to capture America's markets in passenger jets, Boeing itself, wrote Eamonn Fingleton in 2014, has been "consciously cooperating in its own demise." By Boeing's own figures, writes Fingleton, in the building of its 787 Dreamliner, the world's most advanced commercial jet, the "Japanese account for a stunning 35 percent of the 787's overall manufacture, and that may be an underestimate." "Much of the rest of the plane is also made abroad ... in Italy, Germany, South Korea, France, and the United Kingdom." The Dreamliner "flies on Mitsubishi wings. These are no ordinary wings: they constitute the first extensive use of carbon fiber in the wings of a full-size passenger plane. In the view of many experts, by outsourcing the wings Boeing has crossed a red line." Mitsubishi, recall, built the Zero, the premier fighter plane in the Pacific in the early years of World War II. In a related matter, the U.S. merchandise trade deficit in July and August approached $60 billion each month, heading for a trade deficit in goods in 2016 of another $700 billion. For an advanced economy like the United[...]



Why Didn't the FBI Give Hillary Clinton Immunity and Spare Us the Drama?

2016-09-30T00:00:00Z

Rather than striking immunity deals with virtually every person who had intimate knowledge of Hillary Clinton's illegal private server and emails, the Justice Department would have saved everyone some time by offering Clinton protection instead. FBI Director James Comey, who testified in front of two congressional committees this week, still maintains that he was unable to recommend that the DOJ charge Clinton with mishandling classified documents because of insufficient evidence proving "intent" -- although the actions themselves are irrefutably illegal. Well, how exactly did...Rather than striking immunity deals with virtually every person who had intimate knowledge of Hillary Clinton's illegal private server and emails, the Justice Department would have saved everyone some time by offering Clinton protection instead. FBI Director James Comey, who testified in front of two congressional committees this week, still maintains that he was unable to recommend that the DOJ charge Clinton with mishandling classified documents because of insufficient evidence proving "intent" -- although the actions themselves are irrefutably illegal. Well, how exactly did he anticipate gathering this proof, when the DOJ had proactively shielded the five people tasked with setting up the private system and then destroying it? Was he hoping to extract a confession directly from Clinton? Why would, for instance, a Clinton functionary like Cheryl Mills help prosecutors once she'd already secured safeguards against any criminal prosecution? While testifying in front of the House Judiciary Committee, Comey claimed that Mills was already "cooperative" and that the Justice Department had assured the FBI she had done nothing wrong. If she were accommodating and completely innocent, why would she seek -- and be given -- immunity? A lawyer for Mills and Heather Samuelson, another one of the five, had already admitted the deal was struck to protect her clients from potential prosecution arising from "classification" on their laptops. Apparently, the DOJ was more convinced of their innocence than their lawyer was. In the FBI's summary statement, Mills alleged that she didn't know about Clinton's email server until after the secretary of state's tenure was over. Emails since uncovered, however, show this to be untrue. Remember also that, President Obama claimed that he first learned about Clinton's illegal server through "news reports." If that's true, why did he email Clinton on her private server under a pseudonym? Comey admitted Wednesday that one of Clinton's lawyers -- "it might have been Cheryl Mills" -- told Paul Combetta, Clinton's IT specialist, to delete email files from Clinton's secret server only days after Congress ordered them to be preserved. And Comey assures us that none of this is obstruction of justice. Then, at another point, he told the committee that the DOJ agreed to give immunity because the FBI didn't feel like wrangling with lawyers for years. "The FBI judgment was we need to get to that laptop. We need to see what it is," he explained. "This investigation's been going on for a year." So I guess Mills was less than cooperative. Yes? And why is Comey, who doesn't "give a hoot about politics," concerned about timetables, rather than making the best case? If the laptop was important enough to hasten a deal that protected a potential witness from prosecution, why wasn't it important enough for the FBI to subpoena? If Mills' lawyer is worried about potential criminality, why take a plea bargain off the table? Is this how it works for everyone? It was rather amazing to hear Comey concede that the DOJ's immunity spree was "unusual." More unusual, perhaps, was that three of the people with those deals still ended up taking the Fifth, and another didn't even bother showing up when Congress called him. It's also unusual that a high-profile case featuring numerous immunity de[...]



What the Debate Tells About How Candidates Would Govern

2016-09-30T00:00:00Z

You've heard and read by now lots of spin and speculation about who won and where the polls are going to move after Monday's presidential debate. We'll know the answers to these questions soon. The more important question for the long run is how each of these candidates would govern. The debate provides no certain answers to that question, but it does offer some useful clues. Hillary Clinton started off with a laundry list of incremental economic programs -- none of which would promote economic growth. Some have already been legislated (equal pay for women, 1963), others are...You've heard and read by now lots of spin and speculation about who won and where the polls are going to move after Monday's presidential debate. We'll know the answers to these questions soon. The more important question for the long run is how each of these candidates would govern. The debate provides no certain answers to that question, but it does offer some useful clues. Hillary Clinton started off with a laundry list of incremental economic programs -- none of which would promote economic growth. Some have already been legislated (equal pay for women, 1963), others are tilted to the upscale (debt-free college). A possible exception: the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement, which she has renounced but which she might, as Donald Trump predicted, manage to find acceptable once elected. What about the "investments" she called for? Infrastructure spending employs a few high-skill workers and may, some day, provide facilities. Other "investments" usually turn out to be subsidies for Democratic-supporting public employee unions. Revive the economy by building solar panels? The government tried that with Solyndra and lost $535 million. Of course, Clinton's sharply higher individual tax rates and maintenance of the world's highest corporate tax would stifle growth to some greater or lesser extent. Her policies are based on pathetically weak economic theories: that the 2001-03 tax cuts caused the 2007 financial collapse; that "clean energy" will power every home cheaply and reliably; and that "trickle down" never works. This looks like stuff concocted to attract Bernie Sanders voters. And little of it is likely to be enacted if, as just about every expert predicts, Republicans maintain their majority in the House. A President Clinton could do more damage on other fronts. She wants federal "retraining" of local police and attributes racial disparities in law enforcement to "systemic racism" rather than to well-known racial disparities in criminal behavior. Encouraging grievances against police has already produced riots and increases in murder and violent crime. Central cities were ripped apart for decades after the 1960s. Clinton might set the process in motion again. On foreign policy Clinton endorses the Iran deal as a "lid" on its nuclear weapons program, rather than the roadway it is, and promises victory over ISIS in a year or so. Let's hope. But her main case here, one with some foundation, is the ignorance and possible recklessness of her opponent. From Donald Trump's debate performance emerge clues that she may be right. He returned repeatedly to his promises to tear up trade agreements and impose tariffs -- would Congress vote them? -- on imports. He continued to suggest he wouldn't defend allies if they don't spend more on defense. That's something every administration seeks, but it's Sisyphus' work, doomed to frustration -- because American leaders, at least till now, recognized that America benefits hugely from having free people and free markets around the world. Several times in the debate, when his business success or personal behavior was challenged, Trump was distracted into self-harming monologues. On the Iraq War, instead of discussing a dozen-year-old Sean Hannity interview, he could have simply said he opposed it before Clinton did. On[...]



Trump Threatens Clinton Over Lewinsky -- Really?

2016-09-30T00:00:00Z

Donald Trump, always the hero of his own tales, closed out the first presidential debate with a tribute to his own courtesy and high-mindedness: "I was going to say something extremely rough to Hillary, to her family," he said. "And I said to myself, I can't do it. I just can't do it. It's inappropriate, it's not nice. But she's spent hundreds of millions of dollars on negative ads on me." Later, the candidate's son, Eric Trump, offered that it required not just magnanimity for Trump to avoid mentioning the topic, but "a lot of...Donald Trump, always the hero of his own tales, closed out the first presidential debate with a tribute to his own courtesy and high-mindedness: "I was going to say something extremely rough to Hillary, to her family," he said. "And I said to myself, I can't do it. I just can't do it. It's inappropriate, it's not nice. But she's spent hundreds of millions of dollars on negative ads on me." Later, the candidate's son, Eric Trump, offered that it required not just magnanimity for Trump to avoid mentioning the topic, but "a lot of courage." The rhetorical term for what Trump is up to here is called paralipsis. It's raising something by claiming to abjure it. "I could mention your DUIs, but I'll refrain." Thanks. Once the campaign boiled down to two tabloid candidates, this pass was inevitable. I'm old enough to remember 2015, when many in both parties opposed the specter of another Bush or another Clinton precisely because of weariness with all that they represent. The voters decreed otherwise, so let's iron out a few wrinkles. Trump must presume that the Clinton sex scandals (and it must be those, and not the financial and other scandals he's referring to, because Chelsea Clinton's presence supposedly stayed his tongue) represent a vulnerability for Hillary Clinton. That's a large presumption. Most voters probably think of her as the victim of her husband's behavior. Her favorability ratings shot up during the Lewinsky scandal.    Does she deserve sympathy? Rep. Marsha Blackburn expressed what she perceived to be the Trump camp's view when she offered: "I find it so interesting that there continues to be this conversation about what he has said when you look at what she has done: Gennifer Flowers, Paula Jones, Monica Lewinsky. My goodness." Blackburn is a little confused. The party line on Trump's wild, cruel, and dangerous remarks on many subjects is to contrast what Trump has said with what Clinton has done. But in this case, what Clinton did was entirely verbal. She made comments about the women who accused her husband of sexual harassment and/or affairs. There are suggestions that she may have participated in behind-the-scenes efforts to discredit the women who revealed encounters with him. Her actual public comments were few, though she famously claimed that the Lewinsky story was part of a "vast right-wing conspiracy." It's not entirely clear that this is a slam-dunk against her. In the first place, people grew bored with the subject in 1998, so it's hard to imagine that it's some sort of silver bullet now. Second, while it's possible that she is a total cynic, using her marriage as a vehicle for her ambitions, it's also possible that it was more complicated than that -- that she actually loved him and chose to forgive him. Who knows? Perhaps her determination to discredit Bill's accusers had two motives: 1) to help his career, and 2) to delude herself as well. There may be shades of gray here. But whatever the peculiarities of her psychology and however nasty (not to say pathetic) her decision to go after Bill's women, there is certainly no doubt that as between Bill and Hillary, he was by far the more culpable. He disgraced himself, humiliated his wife and embarrassed his daughter. That he was beyond shame -- and carried the whole country with him in t[...]



When Faith and Politics Collide

2016-09-30T00:00:00Z

Just over a year ago I enrolled in seminary. I had two reasons for doing so. First, I have found myself spending more time than I ever imagined both writing and talking about cultural and faith issues. Second, I had been getting numerous requests for me to preach on Sundays. I turned them all down as I thought it not appropriate to preach without any formal theological training. Naturally, once I enrolled in seminary the invitations to preach ceased. During my journey through seminary I have had a harder and harder time reconciling my faith and politics. I think our faith should challenge us....Just over a year ago I enrolled in seminary. I had two reasons for doing so. First, I have found myself spending more time than I ever imagined both writing and talking about cultural and faith issues. Second, I had been getting numerous requests for me to preach on Sundays. I turned them all down as I thought it not appropriate to preach without any formal theological training. Naturally, once I enrolled in seminary the invitations to preach ceased. During my journey through seminary I have had a harder and harder time reconciling my faith and politics. I think our faith should challenge us. If our faith and politics align perfectly, we are most likely worshiping idols. All of this has been brought to a head this election season as I have been forced to reconsider my strong opposition to Donald Trump. Hillary Clinton would be an appalling president. She would ruin the Supreme Court for a generation. Churches will be increasingly marginalized in their ability to advocate their beliefs. Religious schools and Christian run small businesses would be harassed, if not shut down. The leviathan would be fed with ever-increasing amounts of tax dollars. Even worse, Republicans in Washington would not stand up to her because many of them privately like her. The disaster that would be a Clinton presidency compels looking again at Trump. Even if he is not perfect, surely he is better than Clinton. I have spent a lot of time considering this issue. But I am forced to conclude that Donald Trump is just as bad as Clinton for different reasons. While I think Hillary Clinton will do tremendous damage to the country as president, I think Trump's damage would be awful too, while he would do far more damage to the church in the United States than Clinton could ever do. The left, with a president Clinton, may besiege the church from all sides, but Trump would poison its witness from within. Consider just the basic fundamentals of Christianity. It is taken as a given that when a person proclaims Jesus as Lord that person is a Christian. Hillary Clinton has done that, but Donald Trump, given ample opportunity, has not. In fact, when asked who Jesus is, Trump told columnist Cal Thomas that Jesus is "somebody [he] can think about for security and confidence." As a Christian dedicated to advancing the Kingdom of God, it becomes mighty difficult to reconcile why one does not believe Clinton is a Christian when she has professed Jesus as both her Lord and her Savior, but one does believe Trump is a Christian without ever professing Jesus as his Lord and Savior. Additionally, 1 Corinthians 5:11-13 makes it explicitly clear that Christians should have absolutely nothing to do with any person who describes himself as a Christian but "is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler." With the exception of "drunkard," Trump fits each of those. He has repeatedly called himself a Christian, but has just as often said he has never, ever repented or asked God for forgiveness. It is Christianity 101 that a Christian must repent. Scripture is clear that because Trump calls himself a Christian but does not repent, as a Christian I should have nothing to do with him. Some people say the[...]



How the Bard Might View the 2016 Election

2016-09-30T00:00:00Z

WASHINGTON -- Having quoted Freddie Blassie of professional wrestling fame in a recent column critiquing Donald Trump's debate performance, and having still been accused of elitism, I consider all bets off. So let's consider William Shakespeare's view of the 2016 election. It is not quite (though almost) as absurd as it sounds. "A plague o' both your houses" from "Romeo and Juliet" seems to fit. And there is this from "Henry V": "The empty vessel makes the greatest sound." But there are lessons apart from the Shakespeare...WASHINGTON -- Having quoted Freddie Blassie of professional wrestling fame in a recent column critiquing Donald Trump's debate performance, and having still been accused of elitism, I consider all bets off. So let's consider William Shakespeare's view of the 2016 election. It is not quite (though almost) as absurd as it sounds. "A plague o' both your houses" from "Romeo and Juliet" seems to fit. And there is this from "Henry V": "The empty vessel makes the greatest sound." But there are lessons apart from the Shakespeare quote game. As anyone who took in some plays at a summer festival will tell you -- and a surprisingly egalitarian range of Americans, in a surprising variety of communities, actually did -- Shakespeare often employed political settings for his dramas. He was consistently drawn to questions about leadership -- examining the inner struggles of men (and, here's to you, Lady Macbeth, women) who seek power, and exploring how that thirst elevates or debases them. Abraham Lincoln was fascinated by "Macbeth," a play about political ambition, being quietly ferocious in his own. During the fight against apartheid in South Africa, the prisoners on Robben Island secured a volume of Shakespeare that they passed around, marking passages that particularly spoke to them. Nelson Mandela signed his name next to these lines from "Julius Caesar": "Cowards die many times before their deaths/The valiant never taste of death but once." And then there is this from Trump's book, "Think Like a Champion" (p. 49): "I'm not proposing that you spend years studying Shakespeare, but a topical knowledge of certain things will greatly enhance your capabilities for dealing in the major leagues with people who are well educated in a variety of subjects. Don't be left out!" Not wanting to be left out, this summer I saw a fine production of "Julius Caesar," a world of plots, betrayal, villainy and the emotional manipulation of the angry masses. Or, as we call it in Washington, campaign coverage. In the decisive first debate between Brutus and Marc Antony, Brutus employs careful arguments in the expectation that reason will prevail over passion. He is public spirited yet boring. He has an emotional range that reaches from A to B. You make the comparison. Marc Antony, in contrast, is emotive and deceptive. He moves in a cloud of chaos. He promises bread and circuses. He has considerable gaming assets in Pompeii and promises to build a wall across Gaul. You get the picture. For friends of the Roman republic, this confrontation does not end well. When the votes of the masses are (figuratively) counted, voting itself ceased to count. Shakespeare is arguing, according to Allan Bloom, that "the corruption of the people is the key to the mastery of Rome." This argument takes a darkly comic turn when the mob, thirsty for blood, is out looking for Cinna "the conspirator" but chances upon a different Cinna, this one "the poet." "It is no matter," says the crowd. "Tear him! Tear him!" Should we see ourselves in Rome's rabble? An extraordinary political argument is now on the table: that the old order is corrupt and inept and that we really need a man on horseback who will smash the establishment and serve the people. This type of populism has a certain app[...]



Iowa Is a Must-Win for Trump

2016-09-29T00:00:00Z

The fifth in a 10-part weekly series It’s Election Day in Iowa. Early voting officially begins Thursday in the Hawkeye State, a key battleground that President Obama won twice. This cycle, it could swing back toward Republicans with their unlikely, but nonetheless fitting, nominee. Last November, Donald Trump seemingly torpedoed his chances when he issued the knock heard ’round the political world: “How stupid are the people of Iowa?” he asked during a rally in Fort Dodge as his then-rival, Ben Carson, was surging in the first-in-the-nation caucus...The fifth in a 10-part weekly series It’s Election Day in Iowa. Early voting officially begins Thursday in the Hawkeye State, a key battleground that President Obama won twice. This cycle, it could swing back toward Republicans with their unlikely, but nonetheless fitting, nominee. Last November, Donald Trump seemingly torpedoed his chances when he issued the knock heard ’round the political world: “How stupid are the people of Iowa?” he asked during a rally in Fort Dodge as his then-rival, Ben Carson, was surging in the first-in-the-nation caucus state. The dig added to the litany of challenges facing the thrice-married businessman and reality-television star in the evangelical-heavy state. As the political world would soon learn, Trump’s missteps in Iowa, and elsewhere on the campaign trail, had little negative impact on his standing. (It was in the summer of 2015, speaking at the state’s Family Leadership Summit, that Trump criticized John McCain for having been a prisoner of war.) src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/285202604&color=ff5500&auto_play=true&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false" frameborder="no" width="100%" height="166" scrolling="no">Now, as this November approaches, Trump finds himself leading Hillary Clinton there by 4.8 percentage points, according to the RealClearPolitics polling average. Trump’s appeal in the caucuses -- he finished second, just four percentage points behind Ted Cruz, whose campaign was tailor-made for the primary electorate -- might have been perplexing at the time, given that Republican caucus-goers tend to be more conservative and religious. But the overall electorate could be ripe for the GOP nominee. According to census data, 92 percent of Iowans are white, and just 26 percent have a college degree -- demographics in line with Trump’s base of support. A recent Monmouth University poll found Trump’s lead fueled by independent voters in the state. The survey found the two candidates tied among voters with a college degree, and Trump leading by 13 points among those without. A Quinnipiac University survey found a gender gap favoring the real estate tycoon. Trump has a sizable lead among men, 52 percent to 26 percent, while Clinton leads more narrowly among women, 47 percent to 37 percent. Iowa is considered a purple state, but Democrats have carried it in six of the past seven presidential elections there. Al Gore won by less than a percentage point in 2000 and George W. Bush by a similar margin in 2004. Obama won in 2008 by nearly 10 points, but by five in 2012. Clinton, Trump Are All In on Ohio James Arkin & Caitlin Huey-Burns Trump Needs Florida in Order to Shine Alexis Simendinger & Carl M. Cannon Prized—and Changing—N.C. Is Up for Grabs Rebecca Berg Dual Strategy Is Key to Pennsylvania Win Emily Goodin Until 2015, Iowa had for decades been represented in the U.S. Senate by the progressive Tom Harkin and the conservative Chuck Grassley. That’s when Republican Joni Ernst, the first woman to represent Iowa in Con[...]



Top Republicans Open to Changing JASTA After Override

2016-09-29T00:00:00Z

The top two Republicans in Congress said they are open to altering legislation that allows lawsuits against foreign governments that sponsor terrorism — a stance expressed less than 24 hours after lawmakers voted to override President Obama’s veto of the measure. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Thursday there might be “unintended ramifications” from the legislation, and he and Speaker Paul Ryan both suggested an openness to re-examining or altering the legislation in the post-election congressional period. Obama criticized Congress for...The top two Republicans in Congress said they are open to altering legislation that allows lawsuits against foreign governments that sponsor terrorism — a stance expressed less than 24 hours after lawmakers voted to override President Obama’s veto of the measure. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Thursday there might be “unintended ramifications” from the legislation, and he and Speaker Paul Ryan both suggested an openness to re-examining or altering the legislation in the post-election congressional period. Obama criticized Congress for overriding his veto of the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act, or JASTA, the first time during his presidency that lawmakers have successfully taken such action. He argued that beyond complex foreign policy implications, the law could expose American citizens to retaliation abroad. Ryan said Thursday he shares those concerns, but Congress undid the veto anyway to give 9/11 victims the opportunity to sue Saudi Arabia over allegations its government was involved in the terror attacks. The speaker said he is open to finding changes later this year to assuage concerns about retaliation. “We want to make sure that the 9/11 victims and their families have their day in court,” Ryan said. “At the same time, I would like to think there may be some work to be done to protect our service members overseas from any kind of … legal ensnarements that could occur, any kind of retribution. “I'd like to think that there's a way we could fix [the law] so that our service members do not have legal problems overseas, while still protecting the rights of the 9/11 victims.” McConnell agreed that it could be “worth further discussing” changes to the legislation, but he laid the blame on Obama and the White House for not engaging lawmakers sooner on the long-term ramifications: “I told the president the other day that this was an example of an issue we should have talked about much earlier.” Sen. Chuck Schumer, a co-author of the legislation who is poised to become the Democratic leader in the next Congress, waved aside the need to revisit it after the election. A group of 28 senators sent him and fellow sponsor John Cornyn a letter outlining their desire to examine some changes, but Schumer pointed out Thursday that every one of them voted to override the president’s veto. “Obviously they figured it’s better to have the bill than not,” he said. “I’m willing to look at any proposal they make, but not any that hurts the families." Most members of Congress departed Washington Wednesday night after overriding the veto and passing an agreement to fund the government into the second week of December. They won’t return until after the election and it could be a jam-packed lame-duck session. Along with potential changes to JASTA, the two parties will have to devise a strategy to fund the government before the December deadline, and there is speculation that the lame duck could be a time for major legislative action, from the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement to criminal just[...]



Mays, 'the Catch,' and Handsome Fields of Green & Brown

2016-09-29T00:00:00Z

Major League Baseball’s postseason is around the corner. Although our heroes of the diamond can’t rescue us from this year’s callously contested presidential campaign, they can distract us -- even thrill us -- which is precisely what happened on this day in 1954, when a brown-eyed handsome man made a beautiful over-the-shoulder catch that set the tone of a stunning World Series. The Cleveland Indians had won 111 games while losing only 43 that year. They were not just the best regular-season team in 1954, they were one of the best of all time. The heart of this...Major League Baseball’s postseason is around the corner. Although our heroes of the diamond can’t rescue us from this year’s callously contested presidential campaign, they can distract us -- even thrill us -- which is precisely what happened on this day in 1954, when a brown-eyed handsome man made a beautiful over-the-shoulder catch that set the tone of a stunning World Series. The Cleveland Indians had won 111 games while losing only 43 that year. They were not just the best regular-season team in 1954, they were one of the best of all time. The heart of this squad was its pitching staff, which featured four future Hall of Famers, but like this year’s Chicago Cubs, the ’54 Indians were loaded everywhere. Second baseman Bobby Avila won the American League batting title. Third baseman Al Rosen had another All-Star season; Larry Doby led the American League in home runs and runs batted in while playing perhaps the best defensive centerfield in the league. The team was led by another legend, Al Lopez, who was in the process of parlaying what he’d learned during a solid 18-year playing career as a catcher into another 17 years managing the Indians and the Chicago White Sox. Known as the American League skipper whose teams interrupted the Yankees dynasty, Alfonso Ramon Lopez is also enshrined in Cooperstown. In addition, I’m happy to tell you, he’s the great-grandfather of Shelby Lopez, RealClearPolitics’ audience development manager and all-around utility woman. But let’s linger on Larry Doby for a moment. He was a proven star in the Negro League before the U.S. Navy needed his services in the Pacific in 1944-45. Signed by the Indians, he was the first black player in the American League, and the second to break the color barrier. Doby was also terrific in the clubhouse. Here is how Bob Feller, one of those four Indian Hall of Fame pitchers, described Larry Doby years later: “He was a great American, served the country during World War II, and he was a great ballplayer. He was kind of like Buzz Aldrin -- the second man on the moon, because he was the second African-American in the majors behind Jackie Robinson. He was just as good a ballplayer, an exciting player, and a very good teammate.” Doby starred in the 1948 World Series, which was won by the Indians, and at 30 years of age was in his prime on September 29, 1954, when he saw Willie Mays, his New York Giants’ counterpart, make the play we are still talking about. Actually, Doby had one of the best views in the stadium. He was standing on second base when it happened. The score was tied 2-2 in the top of the 8th inning in the old Polo Grounds. Doby led off the inning with a walk. Al Rosen singled him to second. Up to the plate strode the Indians’ big first baseman, Vic Wertz, who already had two hits in the game, including the first-inning triple that accounted for Cleveland’s two runs. With a crack of the bat that sounded like a rifle shot, Wertz sent a drive over Mays’ head. Knowing he had room in the Polo Grounds’ cavernous centerfield, Mays[...]



Veto Override; Battleground Iowa; New Debate Format? Willie Mays

2016-09-29T00:00:00Z

Good morning, it’s Thursday, September 29, 2016, a wet and dreary day in the nation’s capital. Yesterday’s Washington Nationals’ game against the Arizona Diamondbacks was called after five innings on account of rain. Today’s contest is scheduled to be a day game, but it doesn’t look promising. Major League Baseball’s postseason is around the corner, however, which implies brighter days ahead. Although our heroes of the diamond can’t rescue us from this year’s callously contested presidential campaign,...Good morning, it’s Thursday, September 29, 2016, a wet and dreary day in the nation’s capital. Yesterday’s Washington Nationals’ game against the Arizona Diamondbacks was called after five innings on account of rain. Today’s contest is scheduled to be a day game, but it doesn’t look promising. Major League Baseball’s postseason is around the corner, however, which implies brighter days ahead. Although our heroes of the diamond can’t rescue us from this year’s callously contested presidential campaign, they can distract us -- even thrill us -- which is precisely what happened on this day in 1954, when a brown-eyed handsome man made a beautiful over-the-shoulder catch that set the tone of a stunning World Series. I’ll have more on that play in a moment. First, as usual, I’ll point you to our front page, which aggregates columns and stories spanning the political spectrum. We also offer a complement of original material from our own reporters and contributors this morning, including the following: * * * Congress Gives Obama His First Veto Override. James Arkin reports on yesterday’s votes to undo President Obama’s veto of legislation that would allow 9/11 lawsuits against Saudi Arabia. Iowa Is a Must-Win for Trump. Caitlin Huey-Burns continues our weekly series on battleground states. What the Debates Again Need: Journalist Panels. Bill Whalen explains here. Politicians Leave Military in the Lurch. In RealClearDefense, Justin T. Johnson laments the lack of a budget as the fiscal year comes to an end. Time Is Running Out for Putin’s NATO Surrogates. Also in RCD, James D. Durso argues that both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump would send a strong message to officials in NATO countries who promote Russian interests. Consensus and Division on Religious Liberty. In RealClearReligion, Jeremy Fuzy examines the results of a new Pew Research Center study. No, We’re Not Going to Colonize Mars. RealClearFuture editor Rob Tracinski explains why Elon Musk’s proposal makes little sense. Comparable School Data Can Help. Education leaders in communities across the country need to methodically collect and compare information, Anne Wicks Humphrey writes in RealClearEducation. Top 10 MLB Regular Season Collapses. The San Francisco Giants’ struggles prompted this slide show from Samuel Chi and Brian Colella in RealClearSports.  * * * The Cleveland Indians team that won 111 games while losing only 43 was not just the best regular-season team in 1954, they were one of the best of all time. The heart of this squad was its pitching staff, which featured four future Hall of Famers, but like this year’s Chicago Cubs, the ’54 Indians were loaded everywhere. Second baseman Bobby Avila won the American League batting title. Third baseman Al Rosen had another All-Star season; Larry Doby led the American League in home runs and runs batted in while playing perhaps the best defensive centerfield in the league. Let’s linger on Larry Doby for a moment. He was a proven star in th[...]



Will the TPP Rise From the Dead?

2016-09-29T00:00:00Z

The question about the TPP — the Trans-Pacific Partnership, President Obama’s signature trade agreement — is whether it has already gone to the political morgue or whether it’s still in intensive care. Both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump oppose the agreement, while the president has urged ratification. With Obama’s term ending and his already-modest influence eroding by the day, the TPP seems dead. But it may still be in intensive care. In a speech to the Peterson Institute for International Economics, a Washington think tank, Rep. Kevin...The question about the TPP — the Trans-Pacific Partnership, President Obama’s signature trade agreement — is whether it has already gone to the political morgue or whether it’s still in intensive care. Both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump oppose the agreement, while the president has urged ratification. With Obama’s term ending and his already-modest influence eroding by the day, the TPP seems dead. But it may still be in intensive care. In a speech to the Peterson Institute for International Economics, a Washington think tank, Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Tex.), the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee whose jurisdiction includes trade agreements, said that the TPP could still be ratified in the lame-duck session after the election and before a new Congress takes office. Brady gave two main reasons to approve the TPP. The first is geopolitical: It would maintain and enhance U.S. influence in the Asia-Pacific region and act as a counterweight to China’s growing economic and political power. As Obama has often argued, the TPP would give the United States a major role in regulating global commerce in the 21st century. The trade agreement codifies rules on “intellectual property” (patents, copyrights), data flows and state-owned firms, among other things. Ratification of the TPP would fortify Asian confidence that the United States intends to remain a Pacific power. Rejection would sow doubts. The second reason is economic: Asia remains a fast-growing region. The TPP would eliminate most tariffs among the 12 member countries, aiding U.S. exporters in these markets. The advantage may be particularly important in services (tourism, consulting, finance and engineering), where U.S. firms are especially strong. In 2015, the United States had a $762 billion deficit in goods trade (machinery, steel, medical equipment) and a $262 billion surplus in services trade, leaving an overall deficit of $500 billion. According to the Peterson Institute, the 12 countries in the TPP accounted for about 36 percent of the world economy and 24 percent of global trade in 2014. The biggest countries ranked by their economies are the United States, Japan, Canada, Australia and Mexico. The other countries are Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam. Other countries — say, South Korea and Indonesia — might someday join, perhaps even China. Still, anti-trade sentiment is pervasive in the campaign. Why doesn’t Brady dismiss the TPP’s prospects as bleak? “People change once they get into office,” he says. Translation: The campaign’s anti-trade and anti-globalization rhetoric might recede before the realities of governing. Although Brady didn’t say so, one implication is that a victorious Clinton might put up only token opposition to the TPP, both because the case for approval is strong and because she might feel obligated to Obama for his political support. Even with this, getting a deal would be difficult. Brady indicated that there are some details to the TPP th[...]



You, Too, Could Vote for Donald Trump

2016-09-29T00:00:00Z

The political press corps has known Bob Stern as the straight-arrow president of Los Angeles' Center for Governmental Studies who helped Jerry Brown create the Fair Political Practices Commission in 1974. Since the center closed its L.A. offices in 2011, Stern seems to have developed a devious side -- or was it there all along? I ask, because in his "The November Election" course at UCLA extension, Stern managed to set up a scenario wherein a substantial majority -- he thinks two-thirds of the class of westside liberals, his wife, Joan, says three-quarters -- raised their hands...The political press corps has known Bob Stern as the straight-arrow president of Los Angeles' Center for Governmental Studies who helped Jerry Brown create the Fair Political Practices Commission in 1974. Since the center closed its L.A. offices in 2011, Stern seems to have developed a devious side -- or was it there all along? I ask, because in his "The November Election" course at UCLA extension, Stern managed to set up a scenario wherein a substantial majority -- he thinks two-thirds of the class of westside liberals, his wife, Joan, says three-quarters -- raised their hands when asked if they could vote for Donald Trump in November. How did Stern do it? Before he set up his scenario, Stern had asked the 125 political junkies in his class to raise their hands if they were going to vote for Trump, Hillary Clinton, Libertarian Gary Johnson or Green Party candidate Jill Stein. While a couple of students said they were undecided, no one raised a hand for Trump, Johnson or Stein. Everyone else supported Clinton -- no surprise in West L.A., where it is universally acknowledged that no thinking person would ever vote for The Donald. Stern laid out this hypothetical situation: What if Trump won the Democratic Party nomination? (It's not a far-fetched question. Trump was a registered Democrat from 2001 to 2009 and had donated more to Democratic campaign coffers than GOP committees before he flirted with running for president in 2012.) A Democratic Trump would have said all the objectionable things -- such as that Mexican immigrants often are criminals, drug dealers and rapists -- that Trump, the Republican, said during the GOP primary. Trump (D) likewise would have refused to release his tax returns. But Trump (D) differed from Trump (R) in one defining way -- he embraced the Democratic platform. Trump (D) also promised to make Merrick Garland his first nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court and Barack Obama his second. And, Obama announced he would accept Trump's nomination. With no Trump in the Stern's hypothetical GOP field, Republicans nominate Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who in 2013 spearheaded a doomed-to-fail tea party stunt to "defund Obamacare" by shutting down the federal government. In this matchup, at least Trump would be closer on the issues to L.A. liberals than Cruz. One last condition: Each member of the class would have to vote because he or she would be given the power to decide the actual outcome of the election. The exercise served as a kind of Stanford Prison Experiment for liberals. Stern tried out his experiment on friends and associates before he presented it to his class. Two professors now say they want to kill themselves. Friend and former Los Angeles Times City Editor Bill Boyarsky told Stern that rather than choose, he would go to the dean and ask to be released from the course. But "if a damned journalist kept pushing me and wouldn't get off the phone till I answered," he would vote for Cruz, a Harvard Law School graduate who at least has "been exposed to the precepts of our democracy." Unlike Boyarsky, [...]



The Next President Unbound

2016-09-29T00:00:00Z

Donald Trump's supporters see a potential Hillary Clinton victory in November as the end of any conservative chance to restore small government, constitutional protections, fiscal sanity and personal liberty. Clinton's progressives swear that a Trump victory would spell the implosion of America as they know it, alleging Trump parallels with every dictator from Josef Stalin to Adolf Hitler. Part of the frenzy over 2016 as a make-or-break election is because a closely divided Senate's future may hinge on the coattails of the presidential winner. An aging Supreme Court may also...Donald Trump's supporters see a potential Hillary Clinton victory in November as the end of any conservative chance to restore small government, constitutional protections, fiscal sanity and personal liberty. Clinton's progressives swear that a Trump victory would spell the implosion of America as they know it, alleging Trump parallels with every dictator from Josef Stalin to Adolf Hitler. Part of the frenzy over 2016 as a make-or-break election is because a closely divided Senate's future may hinge on the coattails of the presidential winner. An aging Supreme Court may also translate into perhaps three to four court picks for the next president. Yet such considerations only partly explain the current election frenzy. The model of the imperial Obama presidency is the greater fear. Over the last eight years, Obama has transformed the powers of presidency in a way not seen in decades. Congress talks grandly of "comprehensive immigration reform," but Obama, as he promised with his pen and phone, bypassed the House and Senate to virtually open the border with Mexico. He issued executive-order amnesties. And he allowed entire cities to be exempt from federal immigration law. The press said nothing about this extraordinary overreach of presidential power, mainly because these largely illegal means were used to achieve the progressive ends favored by many journalists. The Senate used to ratify treaties. In the past, a president could not unilaterally approve the Treaty of Versailles, enroll the United States in the League of Nations, fight in Vietnam or Iraq without congressional authorization, change existing laws by non-enforcement, or rewrite bankruptcy laws. Not now. Obama set a precedent that he did not need Senate ratification to make a landmark treaty with Iran on nuclear enrichment. He picked and chose which elements of the Affordable Care Act would be enforced -- predicated on his 2012 re-election efforts. Rebuffed by Congress, Obama is now slowly shutting down the Guantanamo Bay detention center by insidiously having inmates sent to other countries. Respective opponents of both Trump and Clinton should be worried. Either winner could follow the precedent of allowing any sanctuary city or state in the United States to be immune from any federal law found displeasing -- from the liberal Endangered Species Act and federal gun registration laws to conservative abortion restrictions. Could anyone complain if Trump's secretary of state were investigated by Trump's attorney general for lying about a private email server -- in the manner of Clinton being investigated by Loretta Lynch? Would anyone object should a President Trump agree to a treaty with Russian President Vladimir Putin in the same way Obama overrode Congress with the Iran deal? If a President Clinton decides to strike North Korea, would she really need congressional authorization, considering Obama's unauthorized Libyan bombing mission? What would Americans say if President Trump's IRS -- mirror-imaging Lois Lerner -- hounded the pr[...]



What the Debates Again Need: Journalist Panels

2016-09-29T00:00:00Z

Crystal ball predictions at this time of the year are for suckers, but the smart money says conservatives will again complain about media bias after the next presidential debate, which is Oct. 9 in St. Louis. That’s because the right has a history with one of the evening’s co-moderators, ABC’s Martha Raddatz. She moderated the 2012 vice presidential debate between Joe Biden and Paul Ryan. The complaint four years ago: Raddatz kept letting Biden butt into Ryan’s time. The other St. Louis moderator is CNN’s Anderson Cooper. He and Trump had an...Crystal ball predictions at this time of the year are for suckers, but the smart money says conservatives will again complain about media bias after the next presidential debate, which is Oct. 9 in St. Louis. That’s because the right has a history with one of the evening’s co-moderators, ABC’s Martha Raddatz. She moderated the 2012 vice presidential debate between Joe Biden and Paul Ryan. The complaint four years ago: Raddatz kept letting Biden butt into Ryan’s time. The other St. Louis moderator is CNN’s Anderson Cooper. He and Trump had an uneasy interview back in August over Trump’s assertion that Hillary Clinton was a “bigot.” Cooper was Clinton’s first call when she wanted to set the record straight on her bout with pneumonia (to his credit, he called her out for withholding the information until after her collapse). I’m not suggesting that Raddatz and Cooper are biased journalists. But we do have a problem with a debate system that makes it too easy for one side of the aisle to gripe about the process. Here are three changes to ponder: Do We Need a Moderator? NBC’s Lester Holt wasn’t much of a presence during the first half of Monday’s debate at Hofstra University. He’d ask a question, then let Clinton and Donald Trump have at it. The second half was a different story. Holt pressed Trump. He wasn’t as persistent with Clinton. Conservatives cried foul. We live in an age of unmanned drones and Google’s driverless cars. Do we really need a moderator chiming in during the middle of candidates’ exchanges? The suggestion: limit the moderator’s role to asking an opening question and keeping time (after Monday night, it’s obvious we’re going need a bell or a buzzer – maybe a Taser – in the next two debates). Otherwise, stay out of it. The end result could be chaos. Then again, absent the adult supervision, the candidates might feel more compelled to act, well, like adults. Alter Inclusion Eligibility? If conservatives feel picked upon, perhaps it would help if the moderator had an extra candidate to consider – not to mention a third debater asking those questions the moderator failed to bring up. At present, the Commission on Presidential Debates offers a slot to candidates who (a) appear on a sufficient number of ballots in enough states to reach 270 electoral votes and (b) have at least 15 percent of the vote in an average of five national polls. Why not change to latter criterion to, say 10 percent? It might not have worked for Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson – two days after cutoff for the first debate, the RCP polling average had him at 8.6 percent.  Still, like watching baseball teams scramble for a wild card slot, it would have been fun to see if Johnson could have made it to double digits. By the way, Ross Perot was at only 8 percent in the polls when he landed a ticket to the 1992 presidential debates (although at a[...]



What Trump Should Have Said About 'Birther' and Tax Returns

2016-09-29T00:00:00Z

Monday night's debate moderator, NBC's Lester Holt, asked Donald Trump why he "perpetuated a false claim that the nation's first black president was not a natural-born citizen." Hillary Clinton added that Trump "has a long record of engaging in racist behavior, and the birther lie was a very hurtful one." Trump defended himself by saying: "Sidney Blumenthal works for the campaign and (is a) close -- very close -- friend of Sec. Clinton. And her campaign manager, Patti Doyle ... during ... her campaign against President Obama, fought very hard. ... And...Monday night's debate moderator, NBC's Lester Holt, asked Donald Trump why he "perpetuated a false claim that the nation's first black president was not a natural-born citizen." Hillary Clinton added that Trump "has a long record of engaging in racist behavior, and the birther lie was a very hurtful one." Trump defended himself by saying: "Sidney Blumenthal works for the campaign and (is a) close -- very close -- friend of Sec. Clinton. And her campaign manager, Patti Doyle ... during ... her campaign against President Obama, fought very hard. ... And if you look at CNN this past week, Patti Solis Doyle was on Wolf Blitzer saying that this happened. Blumenthal sent McClatchy, (a) highly respected reporter at McClatchy, to Kenya to find out about it. They were pressing it very hard. She failed to get the birth certificate. When I got involved, I didn't fail. I got him to give the birth certificate. ... "I was the one that got (President Barack Obama) to produce the birth certificate. ... Sec. Clinton also fought it. I mean, you know -- now, everybody in mainstream is going to say, 'Oh, that's not true.' Look, it's true. You just have to take a look at CNN, the last week, the interview with your former campaign manager. And she was involved." So Trump's defense is that he and Blumenthal were on an amazing race to see who could get Obama to disclose his birth certificate? No, no, no. Trump should have said that James Asher, former McClatchy Washington Bureau Chief, tweeted -- just two weeks ago -- that Blumenthal "told me in person 'Obama (was) born in Kenya,'" and that Blumenthal "spread the Obama birther rumor to me in 2008, asking us to investigate." He should have also said that journalist John Heilemann, co-author of "Game Change: Obama and the Clintons, McCain and Palin, and the Race of a Lifetime," is not exactly a right-winger. Heilemann, in 2015 on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" show, said that it was Hillary Clinton's 2008 election team that started questioning Obama's birth certificate. Trump should have pushed back on the "racist" tag. When, where and how does questioning Obama's place of birth become "racist"? Questions were raised about whether then-presidential candidate Sen. John McCain was eligible because he was born in the Panama Canal Zone. Questions were raised about whether Barry Goldwater was eligible because he was born in Arizona when it was a territory, three years before it became a state. Were such questions "racist"? What about Democrats' skepticism about Obama? According to a 2014 online survey conducted by YouGov as part of the 2014 Cooperative Congressional Election Study, and published in a Washington Post blog, a majority of Democrats do not believe Obama is a Christian. Forty-five percent believe so, but 26 percent say they "don't know," 17 percent say he is "spiritual," 10 percent believe he is Muslim, and 2 percent think he is an atheist -- as does Obama defender Bill Maher. Are they religious "birthers"? Are they "racist"? Holt also ask[...]



Beyond the Presidency, Reasons to Go on Living

2016-09-29T00:00:00Z

Monday's presidential debate probably did not cheer up voters who see the election as a choice between diabetes and terminal cancer -- an awful affliction versus a fatal one. But at times like this, it is useful to remember that many things are beyond the control of the person occupying the Oval Office, some of which are welcome. The chief source of alarm today is that one of these two will have many opportunities to interfere with our lives, liberty and pursuit of happiness. But in many ways, citizens are gaining control rather than losing it. On Election Day, voters in four states will...Monday's presidential debate probably did not cheer up voters who see the election as a choice between diabetes and terminal cancer -- an awful affliction versus a fatal one. But at times like this, it is useful to remember that many things are beyond the control of the person occupying the Oval Office, some of which are welcome. The chief source of alarm today is that one of these two will have many opportunities to interfere with our lives, liberty and pursuit of happiness. But in many ways, citizens are gaining control rather than losing it. On Election Day, voters in four states will decide on medical use of marijuana. Better yet, five, including California, will decide whether to allow, um, nonmedical use. Four states and the District of Columbia have already legalized recreational cannabis. The trend is in keeping with a public that has decided adults should be free to decide for themselves whether to use pot to treat pain or illness or to get high. A Gallup Poll last year found that 58 percent of Americans support full legalization -- up from 36 percent a decade ago. None of this affects the federal ban, which will remain in place. But both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have indicated they would let states do as they please. Their acceptance of change is also on display with regard to same-sex marriage. The Supreme Court granted it constitutional protection in 2015, but Supreme Court rulings sometimes inflame rather than quell controversy. Not this time. At the beginning of Barack Obama's presidency, just 40 percent of Americans supported same-sex marriage -- Obama not among them. Today, 61 percent do. The next president will have to contend with a public that is weary of fighting costly wars that don't directly advance our national security. Clinton, whose record has been biased toward military action, got surprisingly little attention a few weeks ago when she steered conspicuously the other way. "We are not putting ground troops into Iraq ever again, and we're not putting ground troops into Syria," she declared. "We're going to defeat ISIS without committing American ground troops." During the debate, Trump faulted her for making public her plan to fight the Islamic State, but not for rejecting the use of ground forces. Though vague on his own plan, he stresses his (fictitious) claim that he opposed the Iraq War before it began, and he says, "I am going to have very few troops on the ground." Fiscal realities will the limit the ambitions of the next president. The profligacy of the past mandates frugality in the future. It will not be easy to find money for the new ventures the candidates have in mind. "By 2022, nearly every dollar of revenue the U.S. collects will have been committed before Congress even takes a vote, according to an analysis by Eugene Steuerle of the Urban Institute," The Wall Street Journal reported. "With more and more federal spending on autopilot, there is 'almost [...]



The Decline and Likely Fall of Donald Trump

2016-09-29T00:00:00Z

A recent essay in The Wall Street Journal described Donald Trump thusly: "Rather like the crazy boy-emperors after the fall of the Roman Republic, he may have problems with impulse control -- and an uncontrolled, ill-formed, perpetually fragmented mind." That this observation appeared under the headline "The Gathering Nuclear Storm" -- and was written by a conservative journalist, Mark Helprin -- should give us pause. The rubber bands Trump's advisers had wrapped around his brain to hold it together during the debate with Hillary Clinton apparently snapped after about...A recent essay in The Wall Street Journal described Donald Trump thusly: "Rather like the crazy boy-emperors after the fall of the Roman Republic, he may have problems with impulse control -- and an uncontrolled, ill-formed, perpetually fragmented mind." That this observation appeared under the headline "The Gathering Nuclear Storm" -- and was written by a conservative journalist, Mark Helprin -- should give us pause. The rubber bands Trump's advisers had wrapped around his brain to hold it together during the debate with Hillary Clinton apparently snapped after about the first half-hour. Freed from the restraints, Trump went on to rant against a former Miss Universe's weight gain and a female comedian "who's been very vicious" to him. Centuries hence, historians will pore over the debate manuscript and attempt to answer the question, "Who was Rosie O'Donnell?" They will try to explain the civilizational import of Sean Hannity, whose name Trump evoked seven times as a kind of defender. But let us move on to the "big stuff." National security. Trump had this to say at the debate: "But when you look at NATO -- I was asked on a major show, 'What do you think of NATO?' And you have to understand, I'm a businessperson. I did really well. But I have common sense. And I said, 'Well, I'll tell you. I haven't given lots of thought to NATO. But two things...'" Not having given lots of thought to NATO didn't deter the Republican nominee from talking out loud about ditching U.S. obligations under the 67-year-old North Atlantic Treaty Organization -- rattling our European allies and pleasing Russia's Vladimir Putin. Trump went on: "I said, and very strongly, NATO could be obsolete because -- and I was very strong on this, and it was actually covered very accurately in The New York Times, which is unusual for The New York Times, to be honest -- but I said, 'They do not focus on terror.' And I was very strong. And I said it numerous times." During a televised Republican primary debate last year, conservative talk show host Hugh Hewitt asked Trump, "What's your priority among our nuclear triad?" Trump tossed one of his incoherent word salads, showing he hadn't the foggiest idea what the triad was. Marco Rubio rushed to the audience's rescue: "The triad is our ability ... to conduct nuclear attacks using airplanes, using missiles launched from silos or from the ground and also from our nuclear subs." In March, Trump suggested letting Japan and South Korea possibly develop their own nuclear weapons, setting off fears in Asia of an out-of-control regional arms race. Trump has done considerable business with South Korea's Daewoo, it's been reported. Daewoo -- which fell into bankruptcy in 1999 amid a $43 billion accounting fraud -- is also involved with nuclear energy and could make a lot of money if South Korea developed its own nuclear weapons. Then there was Trump's extraordinary act of inviting a foreign adv[...]



Congress Gives Obama His First Veto Override

2016-09-28T00:00:00Z

The House and Senate voted overwhelmingly Wednesday to undo President Obama’s veto of legislation that would allow lawsuits against foreign governments that sponsor terrorism, giving the president his first veto override since he took office. The Senate vote was 97-1, with only Democratic Leader Harry Reid voting to sustain the veto. Sen. Tim Kaine, the Democrats’ vice presidential candidate, and Sen. Bernie Sanders were not present to cast votes. The House followed suit a short time later, voting 348-77 to override. The legislation, known as the Justice Against Sponsors...The House and Senate voted overwhelmingly Wednesday to undo President Obama’s veto of legislation that would allow lawsuits against foreign governments that sponsor terrorism, giving the president his first veto override since he took office. The Senate vote was 97-1, with only Democratic Leader Harry Reid voting to sustain the veto. Sen. Tim Kaine, the Democrats’ vice presidential candidate, and Sen. Bernie Sanders were not present to cast votes. The House followed suit a short time later, voting 348-77 to override. The legislation, known as the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act, or JASTA, was sponsored by New York Sen. Chuck Schumer, who’s poised to become the Democratic leader in the Senate next year, and Texas Sen. John Cornyn, the second-ranking Republican leader. The White House lobbied lawmakers and Capitol Hill staff members for weeks, arguing that while Obama supports 9/11 victims and their families – who are eager to sue Saudi Arabia for its alleged role in the terrorist attacks -- the legislation created risks more broadly for U.S. personnel and imperils international policies and protections around the world.   Obama, speaking at a CNN town hall on Wednesday, called the override "a mistake" because “if we eliminate this notion of sovereign immunity, then our men and women in uniform around the world could potentially start seeing ourselves subject to reciprocal laws." He said he understands why Congress passed the bill, noting that “all of us still carry the scars and trauma of 9/11." However, he continued, “the concern that I've had has nothing to do with Saudi Arabia per se or my sympathy for 9/11 families. It has to do with me not wanting a situation in which we're suddenly exposed to liabilities for all the work that we're doing all around the world." According to a press pool report from Air Force One Wednesday afternoon -- prior to the House taking action -- White House press secretary Josh Earnest called the override vote “the single most embarrassing thing the United States Senate has done possibly since 1983.” He said the lawmakers’ action was “an abdication of their basic responsibilities as elected representatives of the American people. Ultimately these senators are going to have to answer their own conscience and their constituents as they account for their actions today.” Schumer said after the vote that the upper chamber did not take the override “lightly, but it was important in this case that the families of the victims of 9/11 be allowed to pursue justice, even if that pursuit causes some diplomatic discomforts. “The White House and the executive branch is far more interested in diplomatic considerations. We’re more interested in the families and in justice,” he added. “I think our administration was jus[...]



Unheralded Democrat's Surge Threatens Republicans' Burr

2016-09-28T00:00:00Z

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -- Little-known former Democratic state legislator Deborah Ross is counting on public anger over the GOP political takeover of North Carolina to help her upset two-term U.S. Senator Richard Burr, a victory that could also help hand control of the U.S. Senate back to Democrats. Despite scant name recognition at the start of the election, Ross has pulled even with Burr in the polls in a state that is split almost evenly ideologically. The race is now pulling in millions of dollars in outside PAC money as the opponents attempt to flip the state or keep it in the GOP fold. So...RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -- Little-known former Democratic state legislator Deborah Ross is counting on public anger over the GOP political takeover of North Carolina to help her upset two-term U.S. Senator Richard Burr, a victory that could also help hand control of the U.S. Senate back to Democrats. Despite scant name recognition at the start of the election, Ross has pulled even with Burr in the polls in a state that is split almost evenly ideologically. The race is now pulling in millions of dollars in outside PAC money as the opponents attempt to flip the state or keep it in the GOP fold. So far, Ross' strategy of attacking Burr's record and criticizing state GOP policies such as the law limiting protections for LGBT people seems to be working with the traditional Democratic and moderate independent voters she is courting. "North Carolinians feel pretty let down by Republicans," said Ann Cox, 21, of Hillsborough, a student at the all-female Meredith College. She is a registered Democrat and part of the millennial voting block Ross needs to win to upset Burr. "I think we're seeing that what we have now isn't working and Deborah Ross represents what has worked in the past and what will work when she's elected," Cox said. One of the factors that could help Ross is if she is able to get any coattail votes from women voting for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. To the frustration of national Republicans, Burr is for the most part sticking to the laidback routine he followed during his past two Senate campaigns, waiting until Congress recesses in early October before he starts stumping in earnest. One exception: Earlier this week, both his campaign and the Senate Leadership Fund, a super PAC supporting Republican senate candidates, released attack ads accusing Ross of opposing the creation of the state's sex-offender registry when she was working for the American Civil Liberties Union. Ross blasted the ads as false. Ross is emerging as a sharp and canny campaigner, energetically traveling the state talking about jobs and needling the Senate intelligence committee chairman for absenteeism. Until recently, North Carolina was seen as a second-tier Senate race in an election season where Democrats need to net five seats to retake control of the Senate - or four if they hang onto the White House, since the vice president casts tie-breaking votes. But the Senate map has been shifting as Democrats all but cede Ohio and slow down spending in Florida. The AFL-CIO rates the Burr-Ross race among the top races it seeks to influence by getting union members to knock on doors, make phone calls and chat up Ross as a candidate during lunch breaks, said Liz Shuler, the labor federation's national secretary-treasurer. "We're going to be moving more people and money and investment here," Shuler said. "All eyes are on North C[...]



That 4-Letter Word: 'Plan'

2016-09-28T00:00:00Z

Well, who won? We might let that popular and logical query go for the moment. There are other aquatic specimens to fry in the context of Monday night's so-called debate: chief among them Hillary Clinton's try at addressing the leadership question she seems to be hanging out there like damp laundry Clinton asked her national audience a soggy and bedraggled rhetorical question: "Who can put into action the plans that will make your life better?" "Plans"? Make life "better" for me and thee? A great cry of horror ought to have arisen across the nation. It...Well, who won? We might let that popular and logical query go for the moment. There are other aquatic specimens to fry in the context of Monday night's so-called debate: chief among them Hillary Clinton's try at addressing the leadership question she seems to be hanging out there like damp laundry Clinton asked her national audience a soggy and bedraggled rhetorical question: "Who can put into action the plans that will make your life better?" "Plans"? Make life "better" for me and thee? A great cry of horror ought to have arisen across the nation. It didn't. You see, we're accustomed to this manner of framing the question of presidential duties. The president, or the latest aspirant to that dignity, has got a Plan for us. Once enacted, the Plan will make things unimaginably better, nicer, sweeter, kinder, more joyful, more full of sunshine and delight. "Plan": There's a four-letter word for you. Ugh! And double-ugh! We don't need, Lord help us, another Plan. We don't need politicians -- who lack moral credentials superior to those of grocery checkers or flugelhorn players -- prescribing for the varied conditions of 330 million Americans living, supposedly, in a land of varied opportunities and challenges. We're in the mess we're in now due in no small measure to government's super-nanny appetite for framing "plans." That's not what the government, most of the time, is supposed to do -- not in the vision of the framers. I said most of the time. A government without duties of some sort to the peace and freedom of the populace would be no government at all. The wind would blow through it, as through an open window. Americans by and large, nevertheless, long got by without the plenitude of plans our leaders see as essential to the good life -- health-promoting (Obamacare, anti-fossil fuel measures), income-providing (higher minimum wages) family-reinforcing (paid maternity leave), mind-opening (free college), comfort-reinforcing (taxpayer-funded mortgage programs). And so on. We're a bigger, more complex and more contentious society than the wilderness republic inhabited by Benjamin Franklin and James Madison. Naturally, we have a bigger government and more numerous programs of uplift and improvement. The resultant problem is two-fold. First, the attitude that Clinton takes for granted and revels in: the hunger of the people for more programs of uplift and improvement, and for the better tuning of existing programs. Yes, we the people of the United States take for granted -- take as our civic right -- those measures that move income around from earner to earner and establish regulations, increasingly harsh and formal in kind, for the living of life. "That's how life works!" we seem to affirm. Well, does it or doesn't it work that way? The second part of the old I've-got-a-plan conundrum: the taut ties of dependency linki[...]



Clinton Homes In on Trump's Debate Stumbles

2016-09-28T00:00:00Z

The day after a rehearsed and prepared presidential candidate matched wits with a decidedly improvisational opponent during their first televised debate, Hillary Clinton claimed to have won the night, while Donald Trump insisted he was on a path to win the White House. “One down. Two to go!” Clinton told a cheering audience in North Carolina on Tuesday. Meanwhile, Trump told supporters at a rally in Melbourne, Fla.: "Almost every single poll had us winning the debate against crooked Hillary Clinton — big league." As many have noted, the online polls...The day after a rehearsed and prepared presidential candidate matched wits with a decidedly improvisational opponent during their first televised debate, Hillary Clinton claimed to have won the night, while Donald Trump insisted he was on a path to win the White House. “One down. Two to go!” Clinton told a cheering audience in North Carolina on Tuesday. Meanwhile, Trump told supporters at a rally in Melbourne, Fla.: "Almost every single poll had us winning the debate against crooked Hillary Clinton — big league." As many have noted, the online polls Trump cited are unscientific. The Trump campaign later issued a news release touting the candidate's haul of post-debate donations. “As a result of Donald Trump’s huge debate win last night, we had a massive fundraising day bringing in more than $18 million. " But Clinton, speaking to a community college crowd in Raleigh, described Monday's 98-minute debate with an air of triumph. Her opponent’s statements, she said, chuckling, created “a lot of work for fact-checkers.” Whether it was Clinton or Trump who sailed out of the debate as measured by polls and surveys in key swing states won’t be known for the better part of a week. It is possible that both candidates pleased their admirers without moving the needle very much among voters who are undecided, say they are unlikely to vote, or are contemplating a third party alternative. But just as she intensively prepared for her face-off against Trump at Hofstra University, Clinton and her campaign followed a discernible strategy Tuesday: They endeavored to transform any new enthusiasm into voter registration and early voting, which has begun in some states. And they are eager to keep Trump on defense. In that, they got some help from their opponent. The post-debate messaging from Trump and his allies lacked a clear playbook or coordination. It was as uneven Tuesday as the Republican nominee’s debate performance Monday night. The GOP nominee sought to shake off his defensive and heavily fact-checked debate detours by trumpeting victory.  But Clinton’s team bore down on Trump’s stumbles, reversals and misstatements, unleashing a barrage of surrogates, emails, and social media messages, along with a photograph of a celebratory Clinton with Bill and Chelsea Clinton backstage after Monday night’s joust. The coordinated communications showcased a Democratic nominee who believes a majority of more than 81 million TV viewers — as measured by Nielsen in an initial record-setting batch of debate ratings — took a look at a Republican nominee who was thin-skinned, and thin when it came to knowledge and experience to be president.  During her North Carolina rally and in her team’s swiftly produc[...]



What Ever Happened to Peak Oil?

2016-09-28T00:00:00Z

The fourth in a weekly series of articles RCP is publishing through Election Day to explore policymakers’ decisions regarding this crucial sector of the economy In 1957, Tulsa celebrated Oklahoma’s golden anniversary of statehood by placing in a concrete vault under the county courthouse a host of mid-20th century artifacts, including a 16mm movie, a six-pack of Schlitz better, and a woman’s purse with bobby pins, lipstick, and a pack of cigarettes that retailed for 50 cents a pack. The beer was packed into the trunk of the time capsule’s centerpiece: a...The fourth in a weekly series of articles RCP is publishing through Election Day to explore policymakers’ decisions regarding this crucial sector of the economy In 1957, Tulsa celebrated Oklahoma’s golden anniversary of statehood by placing in a concrete vault under the county courthouse a host of mid-20th century artifacts, including a 16mm movie, a six-pack of Schlitz better, and a woman’s purse with bobby pins, lipstick, and a pack of cigarettes that retailed for 50 cents a pack. The beer was packed into the trunk of the time capsule’s centerpiece: a spanking new 1957 Plymouth Belvedere Sport Coupe. It was all to be unearthed in another 50 years, so the organizers included a commodity they figured might not be around in 2007: five quarts of motor oil and 10 gallons of gasoline. For more than two generations, schoolchildren were assured by their science teachers, elected officials, and the media that the world’s supply of oil—the great fuel of America’s car culture, not to mention U.S. economic prosperity—was finite and would soon be exhausted. This perception that we would run out of oil, and sooner rather than later, became more than a theory, one that went by the name “peak oil.” It became a kind of catechism. It was included in the prayer books of the environmental movement and incorporated into the legislative history and language of U.S. federal energy policy. It became an underlying basis for everything from Jimmy Carter’s admonition to turn down the nation’s thermostats, the enactment of 55-mile-per-hour speed limits, and federal mandates on gasoline standards for cars and trucks. Today, the question is how policymakers should one react when the conventional wisdom is proven so spectacularly wrong, as is the case here. It wasn’t that the peak-oil hypothesis defied common sense. And it wasn’t only environmental doomsayers making the claim. That gold-and-white Plymouth sports car was in a time capsule in the energy-friendly oil-patch city of Tulsa-by-God-Oklahoma. The closer one got to the oil industry, the more talk one heard of peak oil. The theory itself was promulgated and then popularized by M. King Hubbert, a Shell Oil Co. geologist who predicted in a 1956 scientific paper that U.S. oil production would peak in the early 1970s at 10 million barrels a day—and then begin a long inexorable decline. It came to be called “Hubbert’s peak” and eventually “peak oil.” When U.S. oil output did peak for a while in the early 1970s, this seemed confirmation of his theory. Americans stuck in long lines at the gas station during OPEC-induced shortages were in no mood to argue. Later, Hubbert extrapolated the theory globally[...]



Debate Aftermath; Shutdown Averted? "Peak Oil" Revisited; "Magellans of the Skies"

2016-09-28T00:00:00Z

Good morning, it’s Wednesday, September 28, 2016. Ninety-two years ago today, three small planes landed at Sand Point Airfield in Seattle after a 175-day trip around the world, the first circumnavigation of the globe by air. The aircraft were single-engine, open-cockpit pontoon biplanes with compasses but no radios. They were built for the federal government by a Santa Monica, Calif.-based producer of seaplanes named Donald W. Douglas. The planes were piloted by three U.S. Army lieutenants, Lowell H. Smith, Leigh Wade, and Erik H. Nelson, who had personally drawn up the...Good morning, it’s Wednesday, September 28, 2016. Ninety-two years ago today, three small planes landed at Sand Point Airfield in Seattle after a 175-day trip around the world, the first circumnavigation of the globe by air. The aircraft were single-engine, open-cockpit pontoon biplanes with compasses but no radios. They were built for the federal government by a Santa Monica, Calif.-based producer of seaplanes named Donald W. Douglas. The planes were piloted by three U.S. Army lieutenants, Lowell H. Smith, Leigh Wade, and Erik H. Nelson, who had personally drawn up the specifications for the aircraft. Each flier was accompanied by a mechanic of his choosing. Dubbed the “Magellans of the Skies,” four crews, not three, had departed from Sand Point on Lake Washington on April 6, 1924. Their planes were named after four American cities: Seattle, Boston, Chicago, and New Orleans. The original squadron leader was 41-year-old Army Maj. Frederick L. Martin, a Purdue University mechanical engineering graduate. Less than three weeks into trip, however, Martin’s plane crashed near Dutch Harbor in Alaska. The pilot and his mechanic, after a 10-day trek on foot, were rescued. The voyage in the sky continued without them, and on this date in 1924 Lowell Smith and the others were front-page news around the world. Upon landing, they were greeted at the airfield by a crowd of 5,000 and a 20-foot-high “Welcome” sign. From there they were spirited to Seattle’s Volunteer Park, where another 50,000 people attended a ceremony where a congratulatory cable from President Calvin Coolidge was read and laudatory speeches were given by various dignitaries. One of those orators, Maj. Gen. Charles G. Norton, was sent by President Coolidge himself, and it is the general’s remarks that I wish to linger on for a moment. First, as I do every morning, I’d point you to our front page, which aggregates columns and stories spanning the political spectrum. We also offer a complement of original material from our own reporters and contributors this morning, including the following: * * * Clinton Homes In on Trump’s Debate Stumbles.  The Democratic nominee wasted no time pointing out her opponent’s missteps, write Alexis Simendinger and Rebecca Berg. Flint Funding Deal May Avert Shutdown. James Arkin has the story. Whatever Happened to Peak Oil? Bill Murray and I continue RCP’s weekly energy series by examining a once deeply held article of faith -- that fossil fuels were destined to become scarce by now. If Trump Isn't Insulting Clinton, He's Not Winning. RealClearMarkets editor John Tamny observes that insults are what make Donald Trump entertaining, while policy talk [...]



Flint Funding Deal May Avert Shutdown

2016-09-28T00:00:00Z

An agreement reached late Tuesday between Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Speaker Paul Ryan could avert a potential government shutdown at week’s end, according to a Pelose aide. The deal would allow a vote on an amendment to the House version of a water resources bill and provide funding for the Flint, Mich., water crisis, thus removing a major impediment to another measure funding the government through Dec. 9. The amendment would authorize $170 million for Flint and is expected to pass the House Wednesday. While that is $50 million less than the Senate version, it would give...An agreement reached late Tuesday between Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Speaker Paul Ryan could avert a potential government shutdown at week’s end, according to a Pelose aide. The deal would allow a vote on an amendment to the House version of a water resources bill and provide funding for the Flint, Mich., water crisis, thus removing a major impediment to another measure funding the government through Dec. 9. The amendment would authorize $170 million for Flint and is expected to pass the House Wednesday. While that is $50 million less than the Senate version, it would give lawmakers the authorization to ensure funding for Flint is included in the final version of the water resources bill once the differences between the chambers are ironed out.  It was not immediately clear whether the agreement between Pelosi and Ryan was enough for Senate Democrats to end their filibuster of the continuing resolution and move government funding forward, but it likely takes their biggest objection, which had led to a failed vote Tuesday, off the table. Congress had moved a step closer to a shutdown Tuesday after the Senate failed to pass legislation ahead of a midnight Friday budget deadline. The measure, which would have funded the government through Dec. 9, failed by a vote of 55-45, 15 shy of the 60 votes needed for passage. Thirteen Republicans joined the vast majority of Democrats in blocking it. In what has become an annual September tradition on Capitol Hill, both sides dug in their heels and blamed the other party for obstruction as the days dwindle to find an alternative and avoid a shutdown. Most of the major issues that have blocked the continuing resolution have been resolved, including $1.1 billion in funding to combat the Zika virus that no longer restricts allocating money to Planned Parenthood, an impasse that caused Democrats to repeatedly filibuster the Zika funding earlier this year.   Still, Democrats refused to vote in favor of a CR that doesn’t include $220 million in relief money for Flint, Mich., to help deal with lead contamination in the city’s water supply. Republicans, frustrated by Democrats’ opposition, accused them of pushing the government toward a crisis because of election year politics. Democrats, however, argued that because the funding bill included $500 million in flood relief for Louisiana and other states, the money to assist Flint should be included as well. Democratic Leader Harry Reid accused Republicans of being willing to shut down the government to avoid aiding Flint. “We don’t need another manufactured crisis. All we want to do is help the people of Flint,” Reid said. “This shouldn’t [...]



Government Can't Do It

2016-09-28T00:00:00Z

After Monday’s debate, one thing remains crystal clear: Secretary Clinton believes that government can create the benefits of economic growth without any actual economic growth. Burdened by politically motivated policies that are incapable of producing genuine economic growth, what else could she believe? Working and middle class Americans are unquestionably suffering economically. Economic growth is and has been anemic since the recession ended. Gross Domestic Product, which measures the full value of the goods and services our economy produces, should be averaging an annual growth...After Monday’s debate, one thing remains crystal clear: Secretary Clinton believes that government can create the benefits of economic growth without any actual economic growth. Burdened by politically motivated policies that are incapable of producing genuine economic growth, what else could she believe? Working and middle class Americans are unquestionably suffering economically. Economic growth is and has been anemic since the recession ended. Gross Domestic Product, which measures the full value of the goods and services our economy produces, should be averaging an annual growth rate of 3% to 4%, particularly coming out of a deep recession. In fact, in 2010, the White House projected that GDP growth would “accelerate in 2011 to 3.8 percent” and “exceed 4 percent per year in 2012-2014.” But, GDP has averaged about 2% since the recession ended, producing the worst economic recovery since World War II. So far this year, the situation is even worse, with GDP is averaging about 1%. The Federal Reserve Board is projecting GDP growth going forward at a mere 2% annually. In fact, the economy is so weak that the Fed is afraid to raise interest rates even one quarter of one percent (0.25%). Despite all the hyperbole about the supposed economic recovery, this reticence speaks volumes as to the actual state of the economy. Whoever wins this election will be left with President Obama’s legacy of anemic economic growth that has widened the gap between the upper class and the working class, squeezing the middle class into near oblivion. So, to get GDP back on pace, we need to understand why economic growth has been so anemic. According to the US Commerce Department, one of the primary causes has been a decline in investment. Faced with the world’s highest corporate tax rate and looking to a future of 2% growth, businesses are understandably reluctant to invest. Trump’s solution is to incentivize business investment by lowering the corporate tax rate and encouraging businesses to invest their foreign earnings in the US. As Trump stated in the debate, “I’ll be reducing taxes tremendously, from 35 percent to 15 percent for companies, small and big businesses.” He would also reduce the growth destroying regulatory burdens American businesses must bear, keep our energy dollars and jobs in the US by an “all of the above” energy policy, and negotiate more equitable trade deals to reduce our massive trade deficits. If the idea is to increase business investment, drive economic growth and create jobs, this is a “tremendously” effective approach. Clinton, on the other hand, would raise taxe[...]



Hillary, Interrupted

2016-09-28T00:00:00Z

Whatever happened to "I Am Woman, Hear Me Roar"? Whither "Girl Power"? When did Rosie the Riveter's "We Can Do It!" give way to Hillary the Haranguer's "We Can't Handle It"? It's 2016, and the Democrats' feminist heroine running for commander in chief is whinnying about being -- wait for it -- interrupted. Quick! Prepare a complaint to the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women. Poor, fragile, defenseless Hillary Clinton is a victim of the international human rights crime of serial...Whatever happened to "I Am Woman, Hear Me Roar"? Whither "Girl Power"? When did Rosie the Riveter's "We Can Do It!" give way to Hillary the Haranguer's "We Can't Handle It"? It's 2016, and the Democrats' feminist heroine running for commander in chief is whinnying about being -- wait for it -- interrupted. Quick! Prepare a complaint to the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women. Poor, fragile, defenseless Hillary Clinton is a victim of the international human rights crime of serial conversational obstruction. Mainstream media outlets (also known as the Coalition of Liberal Narrative-Benders For Hillary) howled about the unconscionable injustice after Monday's first presidential debate. "Donald Trump Interrupted Hillary Clinton 51 Times at Debate," moaned US Weekly, which is owned by Clinton supporter and longtime Clinton donor Jann Wenner. "Donald Trump couldn't stop interrupting Hillary Clinton," complained The Huffington Post, founded by female Cambridge Union debating champ Arianna Huffington. Then there were the female writers for left-wing Vox who balked at Trump's 51 interruptions involving "petulant asides," "loud, insistent filibusters," and the "one-word, schoolboy-like 'Not'." Clinton supporters to Clinton: Slaaaay, Queen! Trump to Clinton: "Not." Oh, no. The oppressive "Not!" Queen slayed. The Vox gals (is "gals" a trigger?) cited research dating back to the moldy-oldy 1970s about the ravaging effect of workplace interruptus on wimmin. Playing Clinton's narrative amplifiers, they commiserated. "For most women in the workplace, the phenomenon is exhaustingly familiar." Still feeling verbally battered Tuesday morning, Clinton's old crony fixer and bagman, campaign chair John Podesta, told reporters that Trump's interruptions were "reminiscent of the way a lot of women feel about bullies in their lives." Female reporters Andrea Mitchell and Jennifer Epstein dutifully tweeted Podesta's dog whistle to feminists. Spare me, you shameless sacks of spin. Un-stage-managed debates usually involve spontaneous and contentious back and forth. Without the jibes and jeers and repartee and sighs and side-eyes, you're not debating. You're side-by-side monologuing with a Kabuki moderator keeping time and warming a seat. Seriously, what kind of role model for girls is a female presidential candidate who claims to be "ready to lead" -- yet whose campaign cries sexism whenever she's confronted with anything less than full and complete obeisance in the public square? Remember: Clinton similarly suffered from acute interruptophobia during campaign forums with daytime talk show diva Matt Lauer and primary opponent Bernie Sanders. Ironically, the Clinton campaign publicized a let[...]



The Debate I Heard

2016-09-28T00:00:00Z

Something's wrong with me. I watched Monday's presidential debate. But what I heard was different from what Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton seemed to say. When Clinton said, "I want us to invest in you," what I heard was, "I will spend your money better than you will." Also, I heard, "I will spend lots of your money!" When Trump said our economic problems are China's fault, what I heard was, "Blaming China wins me votes." When Clinton told Trump, "My father ... printed drapery fabrics," what I heard was,...Something's wrong with me. I watched Monday's presidential debate. But what I heard was different from what Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton seemed to say. When Clinton said, "I want us to invest in you," what I heard was, "I will spend your money better than you will." Also, I heard, "I will spend lots of your money!" When Trump said our economic problems are China's fault, what I heard was, "Blaming China wins me votes." When Clinton told Trump, "My father ... printed drapery fabrics," what I heard was, "Donald, you are a spoiled rich kid." When Trump replied, "My father gave me a very small loan," I heard Trump saying, "Anything less than $200 million is a pittance." (It's actually not clear what Trump received from his dad. Trump claims it was $1 million; others say $200 million. Anyway, is a million dollars a "small" loan"?) When Clinton said, "I'm going to have a special prosecutor ... to enforce the trade deals we have," I heard, "Kiss my ring and pay my foundation if you want your trade deal approved!" When Trump said President Obama has "doubled" our debt, I swear I heard Trump promise, "I'll triple it!" When Clinton said, "I think it's time that the wealthy and corporations paid their fair share," what I heard was, "Good thing Bill and I are 'broke,' because we're going to soak the rich like they've never been soaked before." When Clinton said Trump's taxes "must be something really important, even terrible, that he's trying to hide," what I heard was, "My emails, on the other hand, were just a minor mistake and nothing I'm trying to hide -- next question?" When Trump said, "I was the one that got (Obama) to produce the birth certificate, and I think I did a good job," what I heard was, "Since Hillary and her staff spread the lie first, I'm blameless." When Clinton said, "Barack Obama is a man of great dignity," I swear I heard her add quietly, "despite me smearing him in 2008." When Trump said, "I was just endorsed (by 200) admirals and generals," what I heard was, "I wish members of the military supported me the way they support Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson." When Clinton said, "Putin is playing a tough long game here," I swear I heard Hillary say, "I guess my 'reset' with Russia was a bad idea." When Clinton said she'll "do much more with our tech companies" to fight ISIS, what I heard was, "I'll force Facebook and Twitter to shut down parts of the internet." When Clinton said she'll "take out al-Qaida leadership," what I heard was, "I don't know exactly who they are, but I'll kill a bunch of military-age males." When Trump said, "I did not support the war in Iraq," what I heard was, " ... except when I did." When Clinton said,[...]



Shutdown Looms as Senate Funding Vote Fails

2016-09-27T00:00:00Z

Congress moved a step closer to a government shutdown on Tuesday after the Senate failed to pass legislation ahead of a midnight Friday deadline. The measure, which would have funded the government through December 9, failed by a vote of 55-45, 15 shy of the 60 votes needed for passage. Thirteen Republicans joined the vast majority of Democrats in blocking it. In what has become an annual September tradition on Capitol Hill, both sides dug in their heels and blamed the other party for obstruction as the days dwindle to find an alternative and avoid a shutdown. Most of the major issues that...Congress moved a step closer to a government shutdown on Tuesday after the Senate failed to pass legislation ahead of a midnight Friday deadline. The measure, which would have funded the government through December 9, failed by a vote of 55-45, 15 shy of the 60 votes needed for passage. Thirteen Republicans joined the vast majority of Democrats in blocking it. In what has become an annual September tradition on Capitol Hill, both sides dug in their heels and blamed the other party for obstruction as the days dwindle to find an alternative and avoid a shutdown. Most of the major issues that have blocked the continuing resolution have been resolved, including $1.1 billion in funding to combat the Zika virus that no longer restricts allocating money to Planned Parenthood, an impasse that caused Democrats to repeatedly filibuster the Zika funding earlier this year.   Still, Democrats refused to vote in favor of a CR that doesn’t include $220 million in relief money for Flint, Mich., to help deal with lead contamination in the city’s water supply. Republicans, frustrated by Democrats’ opposition, accused them of pushing the government toward a crisis because of election year politics. Democrats, however, argued that because the funding bill included $500 million in flood relief for Louisiana and other states, the money to assist Flint should be included as well. Democratic Leader Harry Reid accused Republicans of being willing to shut down the government to avoid aiding Flint. “We don’t need another manufactured crisis. All we want to do is help the people of Flint,” Reid said. “This shouldn’t be hard. We should be able to find a path forward to fund the government and help the people of Flint.” Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, however, accused Democrats of manufacturing a reason to vote against the funding bill. “Can it really be that Democratic leaders have embraced dysfunction so thoroughly that they’d tank a noncontroversial, 10-week funding bill over, well, what exactly?” the Republican lawmaker said on the Senate floor Tuesday morning. “Does anyone know? Do they even know? The rationale seems to change by the hour.” After Tuesday’s vote failed, it was unclear exactly what path could lead through the impasse ahead of Friday’s midnight deadline. Both sides insist they aren’t willing to shut down the government – while lobbing accusations that the other side is creating partisan gridlock. Republicans argued that Democrats’ push for Flint funding was a manuf[...]



Out of His Depth, Donald Trump Clings to Deception

2016-09-27T00:00:00Z

WASHINGTON -- There is a story from the history of professional wrestling in which a manager named Freddie Blassie comes to the edge of the ring and, while the referee is distracted, offers his cane to break over the head of the opposing wrestler. After the match an interviewer asked Blassie, "Where's that cane of yours?" He replied, "What cane? I didn't have no cane!"  During the last political year, life has imitated professional wrestling. Those expecting such antics from Donald Trump during the first presidential debate were not disappointed. When...WASHINGTON -- There is a story from the history of professional wrestling in which a manager named Freddie Blassie comes to the edge of the ring and, while the referee is distracted, offers his cane to break over the head of the opposing wrestler. After the match an interviewer asked Blassie, "Where's that cane of yours?" He replied, "What cane? I didn't have no cane!"  During the last political year, life has imitated professional wrestling. Those expecting such antics from Donald Trump during the first presidential debate were not disappointed. When confronted with his claim that global warming was a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese, Trump replied, "I did not [say it]." He did. When Trump's claim that he could not release his tax returns because of an IRS audit was exposed as false, he still insisted on it. When charged with saying that he could personally negotiate down the national debt, he said this was "wrong." The charge was right. When Trump's transparently deceptive claim to be an early opponent of the Iraq War was debunked, he doubled down in a babbling defense citing Sean Hannity as the ultimate arbiter.  It is not surprising that Trump inhabits his own factual universe, in which truth is determined by usefulness and lies become credible through repetition. What made the first presidential debate extraordinary -- really unprecedented -- was not the charges that Trump denied, but the ones he confirmed.  When Hillary Clinton claimed he didn't pay any federal income taxes, Trump said: "That makes me smart." When Clinton accused Trump of defrauding a contractor out of money he was owed, Trump responded: "Maybe he didn't do a good job and I was unsatisfied with his work." When Clinton criticized Trump for casual misogyny and for calling women "pigs," Trump brought up Rosie O'Donnell and said, "She deserves it." When Clinton recalled a Justice Department lawsuit suit against Trump for housing discrimination, he dismissed it as "just one of those things." When Clinton attacked Trump for coddling the Russians, Trump attempted to excuse them of hacking, shifting the blame toward obese computer geeks. When Clinton accused Trump of betraying American allies, Trump answered: "We defend Japan, we defend Germany, we defend South Korea, we defend Saudi Arabia, we defend countries. They do not pay us. But they should be paying us. ... We cannot protect countries all over the world, where they're not paying us what we need." Rather than affirming the importance of NATO, or reassuring our Pacific partners -- the easy and expected answer -- Trump reduced America's global role [...]



Let the People Roar: I Think Trump Won the Night

2016-09-27T00:00:00Z

We all have theories as to how Donald Trump got this far. Mine is that Trump has done well among white high school graduates because he acts the way people think they would act if they were billionaires. If Trump ever doubts himself, he never shows it. He calls people names because he knows he can get away with it. He acts as if having money takes away anguish -- that is, he acts quite differently than most rich people I know. If he didn't pay federal taxes, Trump told Hillary Clinton after she suggested he has not released his tax returns because he has something to hide, it's not...We all have theories as to how Donald Trump got this far. Mine is that Trump has done well among white high school graduates because he acts the way people think they would act if they were billionaires. If Trump ever doubts himself, he never shows it. He calls people names because he knows he can get away with it. He acts as if having money takes away anguish -- that is, he acts quite differently than most rich people I know. If he didn't pay federal taxes, Trump told Hillary Clinton after she suggested he has not released his tax returns because he has something to hide, it's not a problem. Why? Because if he had paid whatever she thinks he owed, Trump riposted, Washington would have "squandered" it. Trump clearly believes he would spend the money better -- say on a golf course, or a private plane or a casino. Trump slammed Clinton on trade, on Iran and the Islamic State. Clinton held her own and fought back by hitting Trump on temperament. She asked -- I think he is vulnerable here -- if Trump is as rich as he claims. Toward the end, Clinton got under Trump's skin by repeating his assessment of various women as "pigs, slobs and dogs." It was a savvy reminder to women that Trump judges them on one thing only -- their looks. But I believe Trump won because he knew how to tap into taxpayer dissatisfaction, and he did so talking in plain English. Washington funds too many things that voters don't want -- citizenship for undocumented immigrants even if they lie to the government, trade deals that kill American jobs, arms treaties with countries like Iran. When Trump says Washington wastes tax money, you just know that voters in swing states agree. The Donald closed the debate taunting the lady in the red pantsuit. We're practically even in the polls, Trump taunted, after you've spent a fortune on the campaign trail, and "I've spent practically nothing." Trump's bragging rights are simple: On the cheap and with a thin staff, he is holding his own with the Democratic Party's obscenely well-funded brain trust. Clinton should have fared better when she took pride in how hard she has worked to win the White House. But if she's even with Trump, what good is her eat-your-vegetables approach? It isn't right. Trump launched his career in politics with the birther lie and it hasn't hurt him. I've covered this phenomenon before in 1998 when Bill Clinton put America through the tawdry Monica Lewinsky soap opera because he chose to lie under oath. Voters rushed to his defense. I thought voters should turn away from a politician who led them d[...]



Clinton Delivers a Beat-Down

2016-09-27T00:00:00Z

NEW YORK -- Donald Trump just got roughed up, and badly, by a girl. On Monday night, at the first presidential debate, Hillary Clinton made her opponent look ignorant, unprepared, egotistical, childish, petulant, impatient and at times totally incoherent. How bad did it get? At one point, as Trump was groping blindly across the minefields of foreign policy, losing a foot here and a leg there, he announced, apropos of nothing, that "I think my strongest asset, maybe by far, is my temperament." Clinton smiled sweetly and exclaimed, "Whew, OK!" The audience at Hofstra...NEW YORK -- Donald Trump just got roughed up, and badly, by a girl. On Monday night, at the first presidential debate, Hillary Clinton made her opponent look ignorant, unprepared, egotistical, childish, petulant, impatient and at times totally incoherent. How bad did it get? At one point, as Trump was groping blindly across the minefields of foreign policy, losing a foot here and a leg there, he announced, apropos of nothing, that "I think my strongest asset, maybe by far, is my temperament." Clinton smiled sweetly and exclaimed, "Whew, OK!" The audience at Hofstra University, sternly instructed to remain silent throughout the debate, ignored the rules and burst into laughter. They were laughing at you, Donald, not with you. Clinton then patiently explained the importance of honoring international agreements, such as the NATO treaty, to a man who seemed not to grasp the concept of the nation's word being its bond. One hopes her reassurances were enough to coax allies in Berlin, Tokyo, Seoul and other capitals down from the ceiling. The 90-minute encounter, moderated by NBC's Lester Holt, was less a debate than a beat-down. Clinton obviously had put in many hours of preparation. Trump apparently decided to wing it -- and while this approach worked well during the Republican primaries, when nobody got much time to speak and pithy one-liners could win the day, it bombed in a one-on-one clash where there was no place to hide. Trump's biggest vulnerability is that he so rarely knows what he's talking about. Minutes before his hilarious temperament declaration, he had been boasting that his criticism of NATO a few months ago caused the alliance to begin focusing on terrorism. "I think we have to get NATO to go into the Middle East with us, in addition to surrounding nations," he said. Clinton coolly reminded him -- "informed him" would probably be more accurate -- of some pertinent facts. "You know, NATO as a military alliance has something called Article 5, and basically it says this: An attack on one is an attack on all," she said. "And you know the only time it's ever been invoked? After 9/11, when the 28 nations of NATO said that they would go to Afghanistan with us to fight terrorism, something that they still are doing by our side." That's pretty much the way the evening went, especially toward the end. Trump visibly ran out of gas, poor thing. His answers became increasingly scattered and elliptical. Pressed to defend his contention (long since disproved) that he was against the Iraq War, he complained repeatedly that "[...]



Is Charlotte Our Future?

2016-09-27T00:00:00Z

Celebrating the racial diversity of the Charlotte protesters last week, William Barber II, chairman of the North Carolina NAACP, proudly proclaimed, "This is what democracy looks like." Well, if Barber is right, so, too, was John Adams, who warned us that "democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide." Consider what the protesters, who, exults Barber, "show us a way forward to peace and justice," accomplished. In the first two nights of rioting, the mob injured a dozen cops,...Celebrating the racial diversity of the Charlotte protesters last week, William Barber II, chairman of the North Carolina NAACP, proudly proclaimed, "This is what democracy looks like." Well, if Barber is right, so, too, was John Adams, who warned us that "democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide." Consider what the protesters, who, exults Barber, "show us a way forward to peace and justice," accomplished. In the first two nights of rioting, the mob injured a dozen cops, beat white people, smashed and looted stores, blocked traffic, shut down interstate highways, got one person shot and killed, and forced the call-up of state troopers and National Guard to rescue an embattled Charlotte police force. This was mobocracy, a criminal takeover of Charlotte's downtown by misfits hurling racist and obscene insults and epithets not only at the cops but also at bystanders and reporters sent to cover their antics. We have seen Charlotte before. It was a rerun of Ferguson, Baltimore and Manhattan, after mobs in those cities concluded that innocent black men had been deliberately killed by "racist white cops." Yet, one week later, what do we know of the precipitating event in Charlotte? Keith Scott, 43-year-old African-American father of seven, was shot and killed not by a white cop, but by a black cop who shouted to him, along with others, almost 10 times -- "Drop the gun!" An ex-con whose convictions included assault with a deadly weapon, Scott was wearing an ankle holster and carrying a handgun. Charlotte Police Chief Kerr Putney, also black, after viewing video from a dash-cam and a body-cam of the officers involved, recommended against filing any charges. The chief concedes that he cannot, from the video footage, see a gun in Scott's hands at the time he was shot. But how is the legitimate investigation of the death of Keith Scott advanced by a mob? And if mass civil disobedience is what "democracy looks like" in 2016, why are we surprised that other nations look less and less to American democracy as their model? Moreover, if these repeated reversions of the enraged to street action become the new normal, what do they portend for the country? Blanket cable news coverage of the Ferguson riots split us along racial lines. But what purpose did they serve? Even Eric Holder's Justice Department concluded that officer Darren Wilson should not be charged in the shooting death of Michael Brown, who tried to grab his gu[...]



Bernie Clinton

2016-09-27T00:00:00Z

Someone might want to inform Hillary Clinton that greed and envy are two of the seven deadly sins. Her new revised tax plan would raise the estate tax to as high as 65 percent -- up from 40 percent, where it is today. She would also apply this hated death tax to as many as twice as many estates. It's one of her dumbest ideas yet -- and that is saying a lot. It won't raise any revenue to speak of. It's a bow-tied gift to estate-tax lawyers and accountants. Many studies have found that the cost to the economy of taxing a lifetime of savings more than outweighs any benefits. It...Someone might want to inform Hillary Clinton that greed and envy are two of the seven deadly sins. Her new revised tax plan would raise the estate tax to as high as 65 percent -- up from 40 percent, where it is today. She would also apply this hated death tax to as many as twice as many estates. It's one of her dumbest ideas yet -- and that is saying a lot. It won't raise any revenue to speak of. It's a bow-tied gift to estate-tax lawyers and accountants. Many studies have found that the cost to the economy of taxing a lifetime of savings more than outweighs any benefits. It actually could end up costing the Treasury money by reducing investment in family businesses, which are a major engine of growth for our economy. But Clinton wants to take us back to the 1970s. According to a Wall Street Journal analysis, the plan would impose a 50 percent rate to estates over $10 million a person, a 55 percent rate to estates over $50 million a person, and the top rate of 65 percent to estates exceeding $500 million in assets for a single person or $1 billion for a married couple. What Clinton doesn't get is this: Anyone who's smart enough to make half a billion dollars is smart enough to find a way to dodge this confiscatory tax. That's the whole history of the death tax: The very rich never pay it. So why this act of desperation from Clinton? The answer is fairly obvious. She's sinking in the polls. She's terrified of losing the Bernie Sanders voters by not being tough enough on the superrich. So she's adopted the Sanders tax policy. Sanders has said there's nothing wrong with taking more and more money from people in the top 0.3 percent of incomes. Clinton: Is a 70 or 80 percent income tax next? This might win over even more Sanders supporters. I'm not going to explain again the economic argument against the death tax. I'm going to make an ethical and moral argument. Who in her right mind thinks that it's appropriate in America for the government to take two-thirds of someone's lifetime earnings? A billionaire has already paid millions and millions of dollars in taxes over the course of his life. Why is the government the rightful owner of one's legacy -- the sweat and equity and 60-hour workweeks spent building a business -- and not that person's family members? The origins of the death tax come from the Communist Manifesto. This tax was touted by Karl Marx as one of the strategies to secure government ownership of assets. Think about it: With a 50 percent de[...]



Riot First, Ask Questions Later

2016-09-27T00:00:00Z

The Charlotte rioters didn’t know whether the controversial police shooting of Keith Scott was justified or not, and didn’t care. They worked their mayhem — trashing businesses and injuring cops, with one protester killed in the disorder — before anything meaningful could be ascertained about the case except that the cops said Scott had a gun and his family said he didn’t. Charlotte is the latest episode in the evidence-free Black Lives Matter movement that periodically erupts in violence after officer-involved shootings. The movement is...The Charlotte rioters didn’t know whether the controversial police shooting of Keith Scott was justified or not, and didn’t care. They worked their mayhem — trashing businesses and injuring cops, with one protester killed in the disorder — before anything meaningful could be ascertained about the case except that the cops said Scott had a gun and his family said he didn’t. Charlotte is the latest episode in the evidence-free Black Lives Matter movement that periodically erupts in violence after officer-involved shootings. The movement is beholden to a narrative of systematic police racism to which every case is made to conform, regardless of the facts or logic. It doesn’t matter if the police officer is an African-American with an unblemished record and numerous character witnesses. This describes Brentley Vinson, the officer who fatally shot Keith Scott. It doesn’t matter if the victim disobeys the police in a tense situation and acts in a potentially threatening manner. Despite cops with guns drawn yelling orders at him (and his wife shouting, “Don’t you do it”), Scott exited his vehicle and approached officers without raising his hands. It doesn’t matter if the allegedly unarmed victim turns out to have been armed. Everything points to Scott having had a gun, even though the family insists he had a book (the police didn’t find one at the scene). The police dashcam and body-camera video of the Scott shooting is inconclusive but broadly supportive of the police story. The quality is too grainy to show definitively that Scott held a gun in his hand, but what appears to be an ankle holster is visible on his leg. His movements and those of the officers around him are consistent with him brandishing a gun. The police recovered an ankle holster and a pistol at the scene. For the police to have planted the gun would require a vast conspiracy involving multiple officers, the top brass of the department and whoever faked lab results showing Scott’s fingerprints and DNA on the weapon. It doesn’t necessarily mean he did anything wrong in this instance, but Scott also has a long rap sheet including weapons offenses, lending additional credence to the idea that he had a gun. These facts didn’t penetrate the Black Lives Matter narrative of the Scott shooting. Such facts never do. The narrative is immune to complication or ambiguity, let alone contradiction. Ever[...]



Debate Analysis; Focus Group Verdict; EU To-Do List; Quick on the Draw

2016-09-27T00:00:00Z

Good morning, it’s Tuesday, September 27, 2016. Well, that was an uncomfortable spectacle. Only two more debates to go, three if you count Tim Kaine’s October 4 face-off with Mike Pence in Farmville, Virginia. One of the many issues that Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump sparred over last night are new FBI crime reports showing that the murder rate has spiked upward in this country. Some social critics are citing a so-called “Ferguson effect,” which supposedly means that police officers have become reluctant to aggressively patrol high-crime areas. To...Good morning, it’s Tuesday, September 27, 2016. Well, that was an uncomfortable spectacle. Only two more debates to go, three if you count Tim Kaine’s October 4 face-off with Mike Pence in Farmville, Virginia. One of the many issues that Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump sparred over last night are new FBI crime reports showing that the murder rate has spiked upward in this country. Some social critics are citing a so-called “Ferguson effect,” which supposedly means that police officers have become reluctant to aggressively patrol high-crime areas. To cops, it must seem like they get blamed coming and going. Crime goes down, they get criticized for their methods. Crime goes up, police are faulted for that, too. Heads, I win; tails, you lose. But the tradeoff between safe streets and heavy-handed law enforcement is not a new topic in this country, as the good townspeople of Hays, Kansas, learned way back in 1869 when they employed Wild Bill Hickok to keep the peace. Hickok’s approach to what Trump invariably calls “law and order” prompted a backlash, as it did in Baltimore only last year. I’ll explain in a moment. First, I’d point you to our front page, which aggregates columns and stories spanning the political spectrum. We also offer a complement of original material from our own reporters and contributors this morning, including coverage of last night’s debate at Hofstra University between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump: * * * Trump on Defense at First Debate. A well-prepared Hillary Clinton accused her opponent of racism, sexism, and of hiding his taxes, reports Caitlin Huey-Burns. Clinton Dominated Debate, Pa. Focus Group Says. Undecided voters described the Democratic nominee as knowledgeable and her rival as defensive, Rebecca Berg writes. Which Candidate Helped His or Her Cause Most? Charles Lipson offers his takeaways from last night’s face-off. Can Europe Keep Pace With Events? RealClearWorld editor Joel Weickgenant examines the EU’s daunting to-do list. Assessing the Nuclear Hair Trigger. In RealClearDefense, Peter Huessy considers a “60 Minutes” report that implied U.S. nuclear missiles are in danger of being mistakenly launched during the next crisis. Economy Reliant on Yellin Isn’t Worth Saving. RealClearMarkets editor John Tamny argues that the Fed chairwoman’s fiddling[...]



Trump on Defensive in First Debate

2016-09-27T00:00:00Z

HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. -- In the fight of the century, there were no knockouts or blowouts. The bright lights of a Hofstra University auditorium revealed little new about the man and woman vying to become commander-in-chief. Instead, American viewers, some of whom will start casting their votes this week, saw familiar faces: Donald Trump, the shoot-from-the-hip candidate promising change, and Hillary Clinton, the prepared politician. In the first half hour of the 90-minute forum, the Republican nominee outperformed the extraordinarily low expectations set for him in his first one-on-one debate. But... HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. -- In the fight of the century, there were no knockouts or blowouts. The bright lights of a Hofstra University auditorium revealed little new about the man and woman vying to become commander-in-chief. Instead, American viewers, some of whom will start casting their votes this week, saw familiar faces: Donald Trump, the shoot-from-the-hip candidate promising change, and Hillary Clinton, the prepared politician. In the first half hour of the 90-minute forum, the Republican nominee outperformed the extraordinarily low expectations set for him in his first one-on-one debate. But after putting Clinton on her heels over trade and the staid ways of Washington, Trump began to take his opponent’s bait. Over the course of the final hour, Trump was consistently on the defensive, so focused on dismissing charges of “birtherism,” his refusal to release his tax returns, and racism that he failed to land basic hits against Clinton or promote his own vision. If Trump’s goal was to speak to those already inclined to his message, and to show politics hasn’t changed him, he succeeded. His intentions to portray Clinton as a creature of an ineffective Washington were also clear.  And if Clinton aimed to drive home doubts about her opponent’s presidential temperament on a national stage, and get him off kilter, she and her campaign left satisfied. “You have to judge us -- who can shoulder the immense, awesome responsibilities of the presidency,” Clinton told voters at the outset of the debate. Polling over the next few days will reveal how voters, particularly those who haven’t made up their minds about whether or for whom they will cast their ballots, processed the debate. Immediate reactions from focus groups and spot polling showed Clinton the victor. With polls tightening nationally and in key battleground states before the debate, Clinton hopes her performance energized her base and attracted those inclined to third party candidates. “The race is not going to change overnight,” said David Plouffe, President Obama’s former campaign manager and a Clinton surrogate. “I think she definitely improved her ability to convert undecided voters, and I think she probably did create a lot of energy among her base, which is really important.” Clinton took a victory lap at a debate w[...]



Clinton Dominated Debate, Pa. Focus Group Says

2016-09-27T00:00:00Z

PHILADELPHIA — More than two dozen undecided Pennsylvania voters began watching the first debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump Monday feeling deeply dissatisfied with their choice, describing Trump as “scary” and an “egomaniac” and Clinton as “corrupt” and “disingenuous.” After 90 minutes, the participants were not necessarily won over by the candidates. But they overwhelmingly believed Clinton had seized the moment, coming off as “firm” and...PHILADELPHIA — More than two dozen undecided Pennsylvania voters began watching the first debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump Monday feeling deeply dissatisfied with their choice, describing Trump as “scary” and an “egomaniac” and Clinton as “corrupt” and “disingenuous.” After 90 minutes, the participants were not necessarily won over by the candidates. But they overwhelmingly believed Clinton had seized the moment, coming off as “firm” and “knowledgeable,” the more presidential of the two. Trump, they said, was “defensive” and “bombastic,” leaving “unanswered questions” while dilly-dallying on difficult topics.  “He went off message,” said one man. A woman echoed, “I was really hoping to see a different Donald Trump tonight.” Asked whether the outcome was more reflective of Clinton’s success or Trump’s failure, the participants agreed Trump had fallen short. “He took the bait,” said one woman, while others suggested he was ill prepared for the matchup.  The focus group, moderated by the pollster Frank Luntz, comprised 27 undecided voters from one of the key battleground states in this election, which recent polling has shown to be deadlocked between Clinton and Trump. (The RealClearPolitics average shows Clinton ahead by 1.8 percentage points.) The performance Monday left five participants strongly favoring Clinton who initially had not. Still, most of the group did not think this debate would mark a fatal blow to Trump’s candidacy, and most planned to watch future debates before making a final judgment. But enthusiasm is lagging for both nominees. Prior to the debate, the focus group participants bemoaned the choice before them, reflecting the high unfavorable ratings that have dogged Clinton and Trump nationally. “It’s like asking me to choose between a heart attack and a stroke,” said one woman.  One man said he has supported Republican candidates in every election since he was 18 years old, but expressed deep reservations about Trump. “If any Republican had been nominated other than Trump,” he said, “there’d be no question.” The debate, moderated by NBC News anchor Lester Holt at Hofstra University on Long Island, was seen as a prime opportunity for Trump to assuag[...]



Which Candidate Helped His or Her Cause Most?

2016-09-27T00:00:00Z

Most people--and virtually all of the media--treat debates like boxing matches. Who won? I don't think that's the most apt question unless one candidate has imploded. But to answer it, I would say Hillary Clinton won, though on points, not a knockout. Donald Trump was still standing when the final bell sounded. Since no one scored a knockout, the most important questions are, "What did each candidate need to accomplish?" and “Did either one succeed?” What Trump Needed to Accomplish The Republican nominee needed to show he has the temperament and...Most people--and virtually all of the media--treat debates like boxing matches. Who won? I don't think that's the most apt question unless one candidate has imploded. But to answer it, I would say Hillary Clinton won, though on points, not a knockout. Donald Trump was still standing when the final bell sounded. Since no one scored a knockout, the most important questions are, "What did each candidate need to accomplish?" and “Did either one succeed?” What Trump Needed to Accomplish The Republican nominee needed to show he has the temperament and judgment to be entrusted with the vast power of the presidency. That means he had to be calm and deliberate while still pushing his positions. Simply walking onto the debate stage is an important step in appearing "presidential." But he did nothing to advance his case on that temperament-and-judgment score during the debate itself. Instead, he behaved exactly as he did in the primaries, both in his answers and in his non-verbal reactions. That approach will reassure his base but do little to persuade undecided voters. Those are the ones who had questions in the first place. On the secondary issues, I thought Trump put forth most of his signature viewpoints, but he was both too aggressive personally toward Clinton and too passive in skipping over the former secretary of state’s major vulnerabilities (her emails, private server, and the Clinton Foundation). He brought up her "stamina," but that was a misfire. She had a great answer waiting. In any case, her stamina won’t be an election issue unless Trump uses her secrecy to fuel suspicion about some undisclosed illness. His most successful line of attack was to respond to each of her policy ideas by saying, "You've been in Washington forever. Why haven't you already done it?" That’s a great question, and it is one any “change” candidate has to pound home. On the law-and-order issue, Trump was actually quite effective. The political danger for him (and any candidate on the right) is that it can look punitive against whole communities--vulnerable minority communities. Trump was very explicit in saying those were precisely the communities he wanted most to protect. It is hard to know if that benign framing, plus his recent visits to black areas, will cut into Clinton's overwhelming lead in those communities, but[...]



Domestic Migration (Mostly) Explains a Generation of Partisan Changes

2016-09-27T00:00:00Z

Let's step back, as we approach the first presidential debate of the 2016 campaign, and look back to try to understand how voting patterns have changed over a generation, by comparing the 2012 presidential results with those of 1988 -- keeping in mind possible shifts since 2012 suggested by 2016 polling. My thesis is that changes in states' voting behavior can best be explained by surges of migration over the past generation -- not just immigration, a subject of obvious interest this campaign season, but even more of internal migration within the United States. The overall picture...Let's step back, as we approach the first presidential debate of the 2016 campaign, and look back to try to understand how voting patterns have changed over a generation, by comparing the 2012 presidential results with those of 1988 -- keeping in mind possible shifts since 2012 suggested by 2016 polling. My thesis is that changes in states' voting behavior can best be explained by surges of migration over the past generation -- not just immigration, a subject of obvious interest this campaign season, but even more of internal migration within the United States. The overall picture is one of Republican decline, from the 53 percent George H.W. Bush won in 1988 to Mitt Romney's 47 percent in 2012. But the decline was not uniform. In 14 states with 201 electoral votes the Republican percentage dropped by double digits. In 20 states with 161 electoral votes the Republican percentage increased or dropped by less than 3 percent. In 16 states and D.C. with 176 electoral votes it dropped by about the national average. (Comparing Democratic percentages produces almost identical results, since minor candidates got only 1 or 2 percent in those two elections.) The double-digit Republican drops in California, Illinois, New York, New Jersey and Connecticut are often attributed to high Hispanic and Asian immigration. But they're also the result of huge domestic out-migration of middle-class people due to high taxes and high-cost housing. From the 1940s to the 1970s California tilted Republican because of vast numbers of newcomers from the Midwest. Starting in the 1980s it became strongly Democratic not only because of vast influxes from Mexico but also because many of the offspring of Midwestern migrants moved out. More than 1 million descendants of Irish, Italian and Jewish immigrants from the three-state region around New York City and from metro Philadelphia have moved south along Interstate 95. That migration has left those metro areas, competitive in 1988, solidly Democratic. And those internal migrants have made Virginia and Florida, and to a lesser extent the Carolinas and Georgia, more Democratic. Virginia, solidly Republican in the 1980s, voted at the national average in the Obama elections and has tilted more Democratic this year. North Carolina, competitive in the last two elections, is so ag[...]



Aleppo Is the Lesson the World Always Seems to Forget

2016-09-27T00:00:00Z

In April of 1937, the war planes of Nazi Germany and fascist Italy chose a market day to bomb a Basque town, one of the first times a civilian population was deliberately targeted. Pablo Picasso, a native of Spain, quickly reacted by depicting the horror in his famous mural named for the town, "Guernica." It was finished by June. If he were alive today, he might want to paint one called "Aleppo." It should be mounted outside the White House. Aleppo is not some quaint market town. It is -- or was -- Syria's major city, an ancient trading center, a cosmopolitan stop for...In April of 1937, the war planes of Nazi Germany and fascist Italy chose a market day to bomb a Basque town, one of the first times a civilian population was deliberately targeted. Pablo Picasso, a native of Spain, quickly reacted by depicting the horror in his famous mural named for the town, "Guernica." It was finished by June. If he were alive today, he might want to paint one called "Aleppo." It should be mounted outside the White House. Aleppo is not some quaint market town. It is -- or was -- Syria's major city, an ancient trading center, a cosmopolitan stop for many a camel caravan. It is now being leveled by incessant bombings, the occasional use of chemical weapons, barrel bombs and, recently, bunker busters that entomb the wounded. Even ambulances and rescue workers have been targeted. Aleppo, like Guernica before it, is where the world is learning a lesson it seems always to forget. Barack Obama tells every interviewer he's anguished over Syria, but that is scant compensation to the victims and it has not moved the Russians or the Syrian government to halt their bombing. Secretary of State John Kerry, like some hapless suitor offering wilted flowers, has been appealing to Vladimir Putin's wholly imaginary better angels. Putin takes the flowers and then bombs some more. Unlike Obama, he knows what he wants. He wants to win. This is not Kerry's failure. It is Obama's. He takes overweening pride in being the anti-George W. Bush. Obama is the president who did not get us into any nonessential wars of the Iraq variety. The consequences for Syria have been dire -- perhaps 500,000 dead, 7 million internal refugees, with millions more coming at Europe like a tsunami of the desperate. European politics has been upended -- Germany's Angela Merkel is in trouble, Britain has bolted the European Union, and Hungary and Poland are embracing their shameful pasts -- but there is yet another casualty of this war, the once-universal perception that America would never abide the slaughter of innocents on this scale. Yet, we have. Obama has proclaimed doing nothing as doing something -- lives saved, a quagmire avoided. But doing nothing is not nothing. It is a policy of its own, in this case allowing the creation of a true axis of evil: a gleeful, high-kicking chorus line of Russia, Ira[...]



'Favors' to Blacks

2016-09-27T00:00:00Z

Back in the 1960s, as large numbers of black students were entering a certain Ivy League university for the first time, someone asked a chemistry professor -- off the record -- what his response to them was. He said, "I give them all A's and B's. To hell with them." Since many of those students were admitted with lower academic qualifications than other students, he knew that honest grades in a tough subject like chemistry could lead to lots of failing grades, and that in turn would lead to lots of time-wasting hassles -- not just from the students, but also from the...Back in the 1960s, as large numbers of black students were entering a certain Ivy League university for the first time, someone asked a chemistry professor -- off the record -- what his response to them was. He said, "I give them all A's and B's. To hell with them." Since many of those students were admitted with lower academic qualifications than other students, he knew that honest grades in a tough subject like chemistry could lead to lots of failing grades, and that in turn would lead to lots of time-wasting hassles -- not just from the students, but also from the administration. He was not about to waste time that he wanted to invest in his professional work in chemistry and the advancement of his own career. He also knew that his "favor" to black students in grading was going to do them more harm than good in the long run, because they wouldn't know what they were supposed to know. Such cynical calculations were seldom expressed in so many words. Nor are similar cynical calculations openly expressed today in politics. But many successful political careers have been built on giving blacks "favors" that look good on the surface but do lasting damage in the long run. One of these "favors" was the welfare state. A vastly expanded welfare state in the 1960s destroyed the black family, which had survived centuries of slavery and generations of racial oppression. In 1960, before this expansion of the welfare state, 22 percent of black children were raised with only one parent. By 1985, 67 percent of black children were raised with either one parent or no parent. A big "favor" the Obama administration is offering blacks today is exemption from school behavior rules that have led to a rate of disciplining of black male students that is greater than the rate of disciplining of other categories of students. Is it impossible that black males misbehave in school more often than Asian females? Or Jewish students? Or others? Is the only possible reason for the disparities in disciplining rates that the teachers and principals are discriminating against black males? Even when many of these teachers and principals in black neighborhoods are themselves black? But Washington politicians are on the case. It strengthens the political vision that blacks are besieged b[...]



Could California Lower Drug Prices for Us All?

2016-09-27T00:00:00Z

California may soon drive a hole through Washington's tolerance for -- and protection of -- price gouging on drugs. A measure on the November ballot, Proposition 61, would bar state agencies from paying more for prescription drugs than the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs does. Congress generally prohibits the U.S. government from negotiating prescription drug prices. The VA is an exception. Federal law ensures that it obtains a discount of at least 24 percent off a drug's list price. Other countries don't let drugmakers abuse their citizenry with rapacious pricing. But the...California may soon drive a hole through Washington's tolerance for -- and protection of -- price gouging on drugs. A measure on the November ballot, Proposition 61, would bar state agencies from paying more for prescription drugs than the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs does. Congress generally prohibits the U.S. government from negotiating prescription drug prices. The VA is an exception. Federal law ensures that it obtains a discount of at least 24 percent off a drug's list price. Other countries don't let drugmakers abuse their citizenry with rapacious pricing. But the U.S. Congress does the drug industry's bidding, defending business practices that bilk patients, taxpayers and anyone who buys health coverage. That's why Mylan got away with hiking the EpiPen price (for Americans) by 500 percent. It's how Turing Pharmaceuticals could raise the price of a drug used by AIDS patients by some 5,000 percent. California seems to be fighting back. As a buyer of drugs for about 4.5 million public workers, university employees and others, the state has market muscle. It can refuse to pay indecent price markups. (Prop 61 would not affect Californians on private plans.) The pharmaceutical industry has amassed $100 million to defeat the measure. Practiced in the art of extortionate pricing, drug companies know how to wield a threat: They could refuse to sell their products to the state of California, depriving millions of needed medications. But would that happen? I asked economist Uwe Reinhardt, the Princeton expert on health care. He thinks it unlikely. As long as drug companies can make a profit on an already developed drug, they're going to sell it. After all, they still make money on the drugs they sell to Canada and Europe at considerably lower prices. Other countries confront drug companies with take-it-or-leave-it propositions, and the companies relent. We Americans, Reinhardt says, "seem haunted by the theory that unless we allow drug companies to charge us whatever they wish for a pill, innovation will stop. And we fall for that story." If Prop 61 became a reality, other state governments would not sit back and continue paying prices well above those charged California. So we have to consider the other scena[...]



Clinton, Trump Battle Fiercely Over Taxes, Race, Terror

2016-09-26T00:00:00Z

HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. (AP) -- In a combative opening debate, Hillary Clinton emphatically denounced Donald Trump Monday night for keeping his personal tax returns and business dealings secret from voters and peddling a "racist lie" about President Barack Obama. Businessman Trump repeatedly cast Clinton as a "typical politician" as he sought to capitalize on Americans' frustration with Washington. Locked in an exceedingly close White House race, the presidential rivals tangled for 90-minutes over their vastly different visions for the nation's future. Clinton called for...HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. (AP) -- In a combative opening debate, Hillary Clinton emphatically denounced Donald Trump Monday night for keeping his personal tax returns and business dealings secret from voters and peddling a "racist lie" about President Barack Obama. Businessman Trump repeatedly cast Clinton as a "typical politician" as he sought to capitalize on Americans' frustration with Washington. Locked in an exceedingly close White House race, the presidential rivals tangled for 90-minutes over their vastly different visions for the nation's future. Clinton called for lowering taxes for the middle class, while Trump focused more on renegotiating trade deals that he said have caused companies to move jobs out of the U.S. The Republican backed the controversial "stop-and-frisk policing" tactic as a way to bring down crime, while the Democrat said the policy was unconstitutional and ineffective. The debate was confrontational from the start, with Trump frequently trying to interrupt Clinton and speaking over her answers. Clinton was more measured and restrained, but also needled the sometimes-thin-skinned Trump over his business record and wealth. "There's something he's hiding," she declared, scoffing at his repeated contentions that he won't release his tax returns because he is being audited. Tax experts have said an audit is no bar to making his records public. She said one reason he has refused is that he may well have paid nothing in federal taxes. He interrupted to say, "That makes me smart." Trump aggressively tried to turn the transparency questions around on Clinton, saying he would release his tax information when she produces more than 30,000 emails that were deleted from the personal internet server she used as secretary of state. Trump's criticism of Clinton turned personal in the debate's closing moments. He said, "She doesn't have the look, she doesn't have the stamina" to be president. He's made similar comments in previous events, sparking outrage from Clinton backers who accused him of leveling a sexist attack on the first woman nominated for president by a major U.S. political party. Clinton leapt at the opportunity to remind voters of Trump's numerous controversial comments about women, w[...]



Debate Previews; Trump's Path to 270; Dog-Whistle Words; 1960 Template

2016-09-26T00:00:00Z

Good morning, it’s Monday, September 26, 2016. Over the weekend, the world of sports lost two idols. Legendary golfer Arnold Palmer died Sunday evening at a Pittsburgh hospital. He was 87. A sadder death occurred hours earlier in the waters off Miami Beach where Marlins ace pitcher Jose Fernandez was found dead with two other friends after their boat crashed into a jetty. I say “sadder” because Fernandez was still a legend in the making. One of the brightest stars in baseball, he’d defected from Cuba as a teenager -- on his third try -- and survived a...Good morning, it’s Monday, September 26, 2016. Over the weekend, the world of sports lost two idols. Legendary golfer Arnold Palmer died Sunday evening at a Pittsburgh hospital. He was 87. A sadder death occurred hours earlier in the waters off Miami Beach where Marlins ace pitcher Jose Fernandez was found dead with two other friends after their boat crashed into a jetty. I say “sadder” because Fernandez was still a legend in the making. One of the brightest stars in baseball, he’d defected from Cuba as a teenager -- on his third try -- and survived a harrowing ocean crossing in which he saved his mother from drowning. He was only 24. In the world of politics, this is the day we’ve been waiting for. Tonight, at Hofstra University, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump take the stage in the first presidential debate of this contentious general election campaign. The date is certainly appropriate. Exactly 56 years ago, presidential nominees John F. Kennedy and Richard M. Nixon squared off in Chicago. It was the first televised presidential debate in history, the first of four between the two candidates that year, and one that would start a tradition in American politics. I’ll have more on that initial debate in a moment. First, I’d point you to our front page, which aggregates columns and stories spanning the political spectrum. We also offer a complement of original material from our own reporters and contributors this morning, including the following: * * * Trump-Clinton: An Event Like No Other. In a column, I preview tonight’s debate, which is being ballyhooed as a championship bout but may carry echoes of insult comedians facing off. What It’s Like to Debate Trump. Advisers to Jeb Bush and Carly Fiorina give the insiders’ view, which Rebecca Berg shares here. Keepin’ It RealClear: How Will the Candidates Perform? Rebecca provides this preview in RCP’s weekly video roundup. Trump Has Path to 270, But No Vehicle to Get There. Bill Scher finds plenty to fault in the nominee’s campaign infrastructure. The Dangers of Dog-Whistle Politics. Hana Callaghan warns that words can be explo[...]



The Art of Hillary Dealing With Trump

2016-09-26T00:00:00Z

Hillary Clinton is turning to the man who helped “create” Donald Trump in the hope of unlocking the secret of how to neutralise the billionaire populist in tomorrow night’s presidential debate. With the exception of his children and perhaps his wives, no one knows the Republican contender better than Tony Schwartz, who spent 18 months shadowing Trump while ghostwriting his 1987 blockbuster The Art of the Deal. The book defined Trump as the brash New York property mogul who was the epitome of American success. To the horror of Schwartz, who says that he penned...Hillary Clinton is turning to the man who helped “create” Donald Trump in the hope of unlocking the secret of how to neutralise the billionaire populist in tomorrow night’s presidential debate. With the exception of his children and perhaps his wives, no one knows the Republican contender better than Tony Schwartz, who spent 18 months shadowing Trump while ghostwriting his 1987 blockbuster The Art of the Deal. The book defined Trump as the brash New York property mogul who was the epitome of American success. To the horror of Schwartz, who says that he penned every word, Trump has since moulded himself into the persona he fashioned for him. After having been Trump’s Dr Frankenstein, Schwartz, a lifelong liberal who took on the writing project for the money, says he is now determined to atone by helping to slay the monster he unleashed. Schwartz told The Sunday Times he felt so “significantly guilty 30 years on” he had to intervene to help Clinton. He has been part of the Democratic Party nominee’s preparations for Monday, meeting campaign officials to discuss “Trump the man” and how to expose him. It is hard to exaggerate the importance of the 90-minute debate at Hofstra University on Long Island, New York, the first of three encounters between the two contenders. Clinton, 68, has spent nearly four decades in public life preparing for this moment. Trump, 70, is tantalisingly close to becoming the first US president never to have held elected office, or a senior government or military role. The RealClearPolitics average of national polls puts Clinton 3 percentage points ahead, but Trump has made headway in key battleground states and the latest LA Times/USC tracking poll gave him a 2-point advantage. Trump’s bellicose anti-immigration rhetoric and call to overturn the political system seem more in tune with the mood of voters than Clinton’s calculating caution. A survey conducted by Deep Root Analytics found two-thirds of registered voters were expecting to watch, which should translate into viewing figures of 81m to 94m. The previous most-watched political event was th[...]