US Opinion and Commentary

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Democrats Standing United?

Posted July 26th, 2016 at 4:51 pm (UTC-5)
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From the opening gavel through most of the evening, the old Will Rogers trope “I am not a member of any organized political party. I am a Democrat” appeared to hold true for the first day of the Democratic National Convention.

Bernie Sanders supporters rained boos upon any speaker who uttered the name Hillary Clinton. They also jeered keynote speaker Elizabeth Warren as a traitor to the progressive cause. Not until first lady Michelle Obama delivered a speech that drew near unanimous acclaim did it appear that there would be any semblance of unity.

Sanders closed Monday evening’s session with a strong endorsement of Clinton, taking most of the air out of the Bernie of Bust movement.

Tuesday’s roll call of states to vote on her historic nomination may be the last chance for Sanders supporters to protest Clinton’s rise to head the Democratic Party. After she wins the nomination, it’s all about Hillary.

Her husband ,former President Bill Clinton takes the stage Tuesday night as well as House Minority leader Nancy Pelosi, both focused on giving the first woman major party presidential nominee a post-convention boost.

Accepting Trump’s Acceptance Speech

Posted July 23rd, 2016 at 11:11 am (UTC-5)
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Donald Trump used his acceptance speech to reinforce the themes that catapulted him to the Republican presidential nomination. Anyone who hoped to see a softer, more introspective side of Trump were disappointed.

Speaking for more than an hour, Trump seized on the themes that dominate the much of the news cycle: law and order, safety and terrorism. He reinforced his vision of securing America’s borders with a wall between the U.S. and Mexico. And he tried to tie these problems to policies pursued by his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton.

Trump had an enthusiastic audience inside the arena at the Republican National Convention. But with divisions still apparent within the Republican Party over the nomination battle, Trump’s message was aimed at the large number of undecided voters who disapprove of both major candidates.

Trump’s Unconventional Convention

Posted July 21st, 2016 at 5:24 pm (UTC-5)
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Perhaps it’s by design that the 2016 Republican National Convention would not — could not — follow the cookie-cutter design of conventions of the recent past. After all, 17 candidates were at one time running for the party’s presidential nomination. And the most unconventional candidate of any — Donald Trump — came out on top.

Trump’s flair for grandeur, unpredictability and frank talk combined with fissures within the Republican party over the bitter primary election raised expectations for a raucous convention.

There has been little disappointment.

From Monday night’s controversy over Melania Trump’s speech to Tuesday’s mock trial of Hillary Clinton to Wednesday’s booing of Ted Cruz for refusing to endorse Donald Trump, this week’s conclave has met those expectations.

Trump now has to summon all of his natural charisma and impresario instincts to deliver an acceptance speech that can bring Republicans together and convince a large swath of undecided voters that he can be their next president of the United States.

RNC Notebook: The GOP Unifies…But Around Who?

Posted July 21st, 2016 at 1:54 pm (UTC-5)
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Are Republicans more unified around Donald Trump or against Hillary Clinton?

Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Slam of Donald Trump

Posted July 12th, 2016 at 10:50 am (UTC-5)
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Like all the justices, Ginsburg is expected to render decisions in line with her judicial ideology, that is, her understanding of how the Constitution should be interpreted. This matter of interpretive style is as much a political judgment as a legal one. But electoral politics have long been off-limits for sitting judges, including justices.

How Foreigners Really Regard U.S. Power

Posted July 5th, 2016 at 10:55 am (UTC-5)
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Americans in general have mistaken beliefs about how foreigners view the United States. The misbeliefs stem in large part from circumstances and experiences of the entire American nation….a couple of other factors that are infused with partisan politics account for most of the mistaken beliefs among Americans.

Trump & Clinton: Holiday on the Hustings

Posted July 1st, 2016 at 3:02 pm (UTC-5)
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Heading into the 4th of July weekend, the U.S. presidential race is still relatively close. The Real Clear Politics average of political polls puts Hillary Clinton 4.8 percentage points ahead of Donald Trump.

While it’s still too early to put much stock in polls, it’s notable that a Fox News poll shows a majority of Republicans would prefer someone other than Trump as their party’s nominee.

Trump spent the week blasting the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, taking on the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, usually a reliable backer of Republican policies. He also said his former Republican presidential rivals should “never be allowed to run for public office again” because they are breaking a pledge to back the party’s nominee. Ted Cruz, John Kasich and Jeb Bush have yet to endorse Trump.

Clinton spent the week fending off two issues that claw at her credibility. Wednesday’s report from a special House of Representative committee investigating the terrorist attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya and a meeting between Bill Clinton and Attorney General Loretta Lynch as an FBI investigation into Hillary Clinton’s email server is still pending.

With party conventions scheduled for the last two weeks of July, Trump and Clinton are vetting possible running mates and trying to turn around what are still the highest disapproval ratings for any presidential candidate.

Now, What Does Brexit Mean for U.S.?

Posted June 24th, 2016 at 4:06 pm (UTC-5)
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Uncertainty.
That is what we are left with following Britain’s vote Thursday to leave the European Union.
Financial markets hate uncertainty. So, the precipitous drop in stock markets worldwide should not come as a surprise. Yet it is staggering to see the vote’s outcome resulting in two trillion dollars of lost equity. So far.
Britain voted for the uncertainty of change. The status quo was not working for them. Similar political sentiments are echoed in the United States, personified by the success, so far, of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.
The change Britain voted for will likely bring on other change. Expect Scotland and Northern Ireland to look for ways to stay in the E.U., which may mean leaving the United Kingdom.
Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations, questions whether voters understood the consequences. That sentiment seems to be borne out in the British blogosphere, where Google Trends says there was a 250-percent spike in searches for “What happens if we leave the EU?”
Result: uncertain.

Bernie Sanders: Here’s What We Want

Posted June 23rd, 2016 at 10:16 am (UTC-5)
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“What does Bernie want?” Wrong question. The right question is what the 12 million Americans who voted for a political revolution want….They want real change in this country, they want it now and are prepared to take on the political cowardice and powerful special interests which have prevented that change from happening.

Trump & Clinton: It’s on, to November

Posted June 22nd, 2016 at 3:11 pm (UTC-5)
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“Hillary Clinton may be the most corrupt person ever to seek the presidency.”
“Trump would throw us back into recession.”
Those quotes from the presumptive presidential nominees came 24 hours apart.
As the fact-checkers busily scour the words from Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton for accuracy, the political pundits are parsing their words to determine which way the winds blow.
The polls show Clinton with her widest lead since mid-May while the latest campaign financial filings show Trump well behind in the fund-raising race.
And it’s only June.

Orlando: The LGBT Debate

Posted June 20th, 2016 at 2:29 pm (UTC-5)
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Omar Mateen said he “did the shootings” in Orlando during a 911 phone call just after the initial gunfire took place.
Mateen identified himself as an Islamic soldier and demanded the U.S. “stop bombing Syria and Iraq” according to partial transcripts of three calls Mateen placed to the emergency hotline.
While experts and pundits parse the transcripts and argue over the need to release them in their entirety to determine whether or not Mateen was radicalized on his own or directed by Islamic State or other group, there is strong evidence that homosexuals were Mateen’s target.
For America’s LGBT community, it’s not the first, nor will it be the last time.

Madmen and the Politics of Islamophobia

Posted June 13th, 2016 at 2:32 pm (UTC-5)
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By Barbara Slavin The worst mass shooting in U.S. history – at a gay bar in Orlando, Fla. – brings to mind another slaughter of innocents by a madman claiming allegiance to an ideology: the 1977 killing of 77 people, most of them children at a holiday resort, by Norwegian Anders Behring Breivik. Like Omar […]

Trump, the Judge and the Campaign

Posted June 9th, 2016 at 12:32 pm (UTC-5)
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By the time House Speaker Paul Ryan finally backed Donald Trump on June 2, the polls showed Trump and Hillary Clinton in a virtual tie. Clinton was still fending off a Democratic primary challenge from Bernie Sanders while Trump was slowly uniting a fractured Republican Party once his final challengers dropped out in early May.
How things changed in just one week.
Trump has been pilloried by opponents and supporters for what has been called racist comments about a judge presiding over a lawsuit involving Trump University. Trump has said the judge, Gonzalo Curiel, could not be impartial because of “his Mexican heritage.”
Five days after his endorsement, Ryan had to distance himself from Trump’s comments, saying it is the “textbook definition of racist.” But Ryan has not withdrawn his endorsement of Trump.
Trump has tried to defuse the controversy, saying the comments were “misconstrued”, but several Republicans are calling on him to apologize and retract his comments. Democrats will continue their attacks on Trump as a racist.
Will Trump’s head start on unifying his party wither under the weight of the candidate’s own words?

The Great Race

Posted June 8th, 2016 at 3:28 pm (UTC-5)
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She made it.
Finally.
Hillary Clinton has gone from First Lady to U.S. Senator to Secretary of State to, now, Democratic Party’s nominee for president.
It sets up a historic presidential election in November: the first woman nominated by a major political party versus a businessman, the first nominee since 1952 who has not held public office.
Both Clinton and Donald Trump have work to do to unite their respective parties behind their candidacies. Clinton’s Democratic primary opponent, Bernie Sanders, has yet to concede, although he has sounded more conciliatory.
Trump has more work to do, thanks to his comments about a federal judge of Mexican descent who is presiding over a lawsuit involving Trump University — comments that have been called racist by foes and supporters alike. One Republican senator seeking re-election retracted his endorsement of Trump. Pressure will build for others to do the same.
Election Day is five months away. By then, history may take a back seat to histrionics.

The Unraveling of Donald Trump

Posted June 7th, 2016 at 2:52 pm (UTC-5)
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By Barbara Slavin Maybe Donald Trump is a closet Hillary Clinton supporter. That’s one possible explanation for why the presumptive Republican presidential nominee has kept digging himself into a giant political hole even as Clinton on Monday clinched the 2,383 delegates required for the Democratic nomination. Like an animal that keeps gnawing at a wound, […]