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Archive of Articles in the "American Society" Category

My Snap Reactions To The Fourth Debate

[ Posted Wednesday, October 16th, 2019 – 00:37 UTC ]

As usual, what follows are my snap reactions to the fourth Democratic presidential debate, held earlier on CNN. But this time I'm opting for a somewhat simpler format. I'm only giving personal reactions to five of the 12 candidates (which does include the three frontrunners). Then I'm going to give some reactions grouped loosely together, under categories such as "good argument / good delivery" or "amusing moments." We'll have to see whether this is a time-saver or not, in the end.

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What To Look For In The Fourth Democratic Debate

[ Posted Monday, October 14th, 2019 – 16:40 UTC ]

Tomorrow night the top Democratic candidates will debate each other, for the fourth time in the 2020 primary race. The number of candidates on the stage has grown from the third debate (up from 10 last time around to tomorrow night's even dozen) as a result of the Democratic National Committee laying down exactly the same entry criteria for both events. Since there was more time to qualify, more people managed to make it onto the stage for the fourth debate than the third. From this point on, though, the D.N.C. seems likely to reset the criteria individually for each debate, so this is probably the last time the field will expand rather than shrink. Also, the decision was made to put all 12 on stage together tomorrow night rather than breaking them up into two debates of six candidates each, held on two successive nights. What this means is that each candidate will not have very much time to speak tomorrow night.

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Friday Talking Points -- As The Clown Car Empties

[ Posted Friday, October 11th, 2019 – 17:22 UTC ]

The amusing thing about a circus clown car is, of course, that just when you think that itty-bitty car couldn't possibly vomit forth any more clowns... a few more climb out. That's what this week's news of the arrest of two "clients" of Rudy Giuliani (Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman) as they were attempting to flee the country certainly felt like.

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Pelosi Should Force Republicans To Vote On Presidential Ethics Bills

[ Posted Wednesday, October 9th, 2019 – 16:57 UTC ]

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is sure getting a lot of advice from the punditocracy right now. Mostly, over the last few days, this has focused on the question of whether she should or should not hold an impeachment inquiry vote on the House floor. I'm going to ignore that issue today (perhaps to be revisited in a later column) because I feel there are other strategy ideas worth exploring, as the Democrats chart their course through the choppy waters of impeachment.

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Xi, Who Pays The Piper, Calls The Tune

[ Posted Tuesday, October 8th, 2019 – 17:10 UTC ]

I don't think I've ever used this column to comment on the world of basketball, but there's always a first time for everything. The National Basketball Association is currently struggling with a conflict between free speech and making piles of money in China. It is a struggle that many American corporations have faced before, and it boils down to one basic fact: if you want China's money, then you have to play by their rules, period. Chairman Xi is paying the piper, so he gets to call the tune. The concept is clear, and nobody's forcing any company to do business with China, but if any American company does want to tap into their billion-person market, then they've got to follow the Chinese rules for doing business there. And most of those rules are antithetical to democratic norms, which makes perfect sense because China is an authoritarian state.

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Friday Talking Points -- Quid, Meet Quo

[ Posted Friday, October 4th, 2019 – 16:30 UTC ]

The impeachment whirlwind shows no signs of slowing down, and in fact each day brings more and more evidence that President Donald Trump is using American foreign policy as his own personal opposition research to undermine his Democratic political opponents. Which, of course, is an eminently impeachable offense.

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Pelosi Has Luxury Of Setting Impeachment Timetable

[ Posted Thursday, October 3rd, 2019 – 17:02 UTC ]

House Democrats are soon going to face a stark choice. Either they wait for the court system to slowly grind its way up to the Supreme Court, and then hope that John Roberts values his legacy enough to rule in their favor; or they can just move past judicial delays altogether and draft articles of impeachment sooner rather than later. So far it seems they're more inclined to pursue the latter strategy, but it is still too early in the process to state that definitively. A court ruling limiting Trump's excessive executive privilege claims would be a valuable thing in its own right, but the question is going to be: is it worth the inevitable wait?

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Friday Talking Points -- Collusion, Collusion, Collusion!

[ Posted Friday, September 27th, 2019 – 17:22 UTC ]

This has been an extraordinary week, in a presidency chock-full of extraordinary weeks. Call it extra-extraordinary, we suppose. The country went from hearing vague things about Trump stonewalling a congressional committee to full-on impeachment in a matter of hours, it seemed. Or days, at the longest. We went from zero to impeachment in record time, giving Trump a new superlative to brag about: fastest scandal ever.

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The Fastest Scandal Ever

[ Posted Thursday, September 26th, 2019 – 17:00 UTC ]

We all know how much President Donald Trump loves superlatives, most especially when they are used in reference to himself or his presidency. This week added yet another one of these superlatives, since Trump is now at the center of the fastest-progressing political scandal ever. Think about it: a mere two weeks ago, nobody knew anything about it; and now we've seen the public release of a president-to-president phone call's semi-transcript, the public release of the whistleblower's slightly-redacted complaint, testimony on the scandal before both houses of Congress, and the start of impeachment proceedings. To say the past week has been a whirlwind doesn't even begin to accurately describe the blinding pace of the growing scandal.

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'No Quid Pro Quo' Is The New 'No Collusion'

[ Posted Wednesday, September 25th, 2019 – 17:28 UTC ]

One of Donald Trump's presidential heroes is Andrew Jackson. Jackson rose to the presidency in 1828 after his first attempt failed. The centerpiece of his second campaign was to shine a bright light on the "Corrupt Bargain" in the House of Representatives, which named John Quincy Adams president in 1824 even though he had fewer Electoral College votes than Jackson (it was a four-candidate race and none of them got an outright Electoral College majority, which threw the election's decision into the House). I was reminded today of a central quote from Jackson's second campaign where he spoke about what had happened in the 1824 election, because it seems downright appropriate when discussing our current president: "There was cheating, and corruption, and bribery too." At this point, that seems to accurately sum up Trump's 2020 campaign as well.

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