Archive

  • Still Missing New Orleans

    (Photo: AP/Gerald Herbert)
    (Photo: AP/Gerald Herbert) A decade ago, Hurricane Katrina flooded this now-abandoned strip mall in New Orleans. T he first time I saw New Orleans, I entered an empty city. The streets were marked with chalky streaks of salt and toxins left behind by the waters that had filled them; the stench of rotten things filled the air. It was September 19, 2005, three weeks after Hurricane Katrina laid waste to New Orleans when the levees were breached by the sea and the canals, whose contents rushed into the roads and the yards and the living rooms of the city’s poorest residents. By the time I arrived, the only vehicles on the streets were the camouflage-painted Jeeps of the National Guard . After abetting mayhem with shoot-to-kill orders against the city’s most desperate citizens, many on the New Orleans police force simply fled the city. With colleagues from the labor union I worked for at the time, I visited the Greyhound bus depot, which was housing the inmates of the infamous Angola...
  • Republicans Find Their Next Anti-Choice Innovation

    (Photo: AP/Tony Dejak)
    (Photo: AP/Tony Dejak) A woman walks past an abortion clinic in Cleveland, Ohio. Republican Governor John Kasich has overseen some of the strictest anti-abortion measures in the U.S. I f you're looking for true Republican policy innovations, don't bother with tax policy or national security; the place where the GOP is really exercising its creativity is in coming up with new ways to restrict abortion rights. In the latest inspired move, Republican state legislators in Ohio have introduced a bill to make it illegal for a woman to terminate her pregnancy because she has discovered that the baby would have Down syndrome. The bill is expected to pass, and though he hasn't yet taken a position on it, it would be a shock if Governor John Kasich—who is both an opponent of abortion rights and currently in search of votes in the Republican presidential primary—didn't sign it. After it passes in Ohio (and even if by some strange turn of events it doesn't), look for identical bills to come up in...
  • The GOP Primary Is a Mess. Can Anyone Unite This Party?

    (Photo: AP/Andrew Harnik)
    (Photo: AP/Andrew Harnik) The Republican presidential candidates stand on stage before the first GOP primary debate in Cleveland on August 6. J eb Bush is starting to remind me of someone. Tall guy, former governor, worshipped his politician dad? That's right, I'm talking about Mitt Romney. It isn't just the part about their fathers, or the fact that like Romney, Bush is the representative of the "establishment" and doesn't get a lot of love from the Tea Party base, or even that he seems to share Romney's propensity for reinforcing his most glaring electoral weaknesses. (Jeb spent much of the last week explaining how the Iraq War was actually a tremendous success and we just need to bring back the Bush Doctrine, which is a great way to win over the many voters pining for a rerun of George W.'s term in office.) It's also that Bush's only path to his party's nomination may be to duplicate what Romney did successfully in 2012: use his money (and dogged persistence) to hang around while...
  • Republicans Slut-Shame Megyn Kelly, Reward Trump

    (Photo: AP/John Minchillo)
    (Photo: AP/John Minchillo) Fox News host and moderator Megyn Kelly, listens during the first Republican presidential debate on August 6. D onald Trump cherishes women. I know that because he told me so . (Well, not me specifically; rather, the media who followed him to Michigan where he gave a press conference ahead of a big speech yesterday.) The speech came in the wake of Trump’s apparent reference to the menstrual cycle of Fox News host Megyn Kelly, who dared to ask the real-estate magnate and reality-show actor, during last week’s Republican presidential debate, to defend the many disparaging remarks he has made about women, particularly about the appearance of women with whom he takes issue. “You’ve called women you don’t like fat pigs, dogs, slobs, and disgusting animals,” Kelly said to Trump as part of a question about whether his temperament was appropriate for the role of presidential nominee. “Only Rosie O’Donnell,” Trump replied. A day later, when Trump accused Kelly of...
  • The Party Strikes Back—Or Tries to, Anyway

    (Photo: AP/Andrew Harnik)
    (Photo: AP/Andrew Harnik) Donald Trump speaks during the Fox News Republican presidential debate in Cleveland on August 6, as Jeb Bush watches. " It amazes me that other networks seem to treat me so much better than @FoxNews," Donald Trump tweeted on Sunday. "I brought them the biggest ratings in history, & I get zip!" Trump may not quite understand why Fox might be tough on him, but it's for the same reason that the Republican Party's leaders, conservative activists, and his primary opponents are trying to find ways to undermine him. The idea of him winning the presidential nomination—or even just staying in the race for an extended period of time—is horrifying for them. And every couple of weeks, Trump does or says something outrageous and they say to themselves, "OK, now this time we've really got him." So when Trump mixed it up a little with Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly at the first debate last Thursday, then followed it up by seeming to imply that Kelly asked him tough...
  • No Time for Tone

    AP Photo/John Minchillo
    AP Photo/John Minchillo Republican presidential candidates from left, Chris Christie, Marco Rubio, Ben Carson, Scott Walker, Donald Trump, Jeb Bush, Mike Huckabee, Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, and John Kasich take the stage for the first Republican presidential debate at the Quicken Loans Arena Thursday, August 6, 2015, in Cleveland. W ell, now at least we know where the Republican candidates stand on the minimum wage, paid sick days, student debt, climate change, CEO pay, and four decades of American wage stagnation. Just kidding. Somehow, the Fox News questioners never quite got around to asking the candidates what they planned to do to help actual existing Americans cope with a profoundly rigged economy and a climate growing annoyingly inhospitable to living things. Then again, the candidates were asked what God would want them to do on their first day in office, other than repeal Obamacare and invade Iran, and they could have used the occasion to talk about minimum wages and heat waves,...
  • Why Jeb Bush's Pitch to the Koch Brothers Should Scare You

    (Photo: AP/John Raoux)
    (Photo: AP/John Raoux) Jeb Bush speaks at a small business town hall meeting in Longwood, Florida, on July 27. A t the Koch brothers’ big California confabulation last weekend, each of the invited candidates who submitted to questioning on the main stage by Politico ’s Mike Allen made pointed pitches to ideological proclivities of both the multi-billionaire brothers and their deep-pocketed fellow travelers. But the winner of the pitching contest may turn out to be the one least expected to win himself some Koch-love. When she wasn’t offering to “throw a punch” at Hillary Clinton, Carly Fiorina applauded the “patriotism” of Charles and David Koch, implying that their neo-libertarian ideology of self-enrichment was a boon to the nation. Marco Rubio, in a smooth performance that likely persuaded some of his electability, took aim at the Obama administration’s new EPA “clean energy” regulations, suggesting they would benefit “some billionaire somewhere who is a pro-environmental cap-and-...
  • Why the Koch Brothers Are Heroes In Their Own Minds

    AP Photo/Mark Lennihan
    AP Photo/Mark Lennihan David Koch, Executive Vice President of Koch Industries, Inc., attends The Economic Club of New York, Monday, December 10, 2012. W hen Charles E. Wilson appeared before a Senate committee in January 1953 as President Eisenhower's nominee to become Secretary of Defense, he was asked whether his large holdings of stock in General Motors, where he had been president and chief executive, might cause some conflict of interest. " I cannot conceive of one," he replied, "because for years I thought what was good for our country was good for General Motors and vice versa. The difference did not exist. Our company is too big. It goes with the welfare of the country." While Wilson is often misquoted as saying that what's good for GM is good for America, a quote often used as a symbol of corporate arrogance, his intent seemed at least somewhat more benign. But however you interpret it, Wilson was almost certainly sincere in believing that when you get right down to it, the...
  • Bernie Learns His Lesson -- But Have the Rest of Us?

    (Photo: Al Drago/CQ Roll Call via AP)
    (Photo: Al Drago/CQ Roll Call via AP) Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders waits to speak to federal contract workers during a rally on Capitol Hill on Wedneday, July 22. “ We want a nation where a young black man or woman can walk down the street without worrying about being falsely arrested, beaten, or killed,” Bernie Sanders told some 8,000 supporters in Dallas on July 19, the day after his contentious encounter with protesters from the Black Lives Matter movement at Netroots Nation. While Sanders, the socialist U.S. senator from Vermont who is running for the Democratic presidential nomination, appeared to have learned his lesson quickly, the same cannot necessarily be said for some of his most ardent followers, or for the progressive movement more broadly, where power rests primarily in the hands of white men. When Sanders announced his candidacy, I welcomed it—and I still do. Standing far to the left of likely nominee Hillary Clinton, Sanders’s presence in the race, coupled with...
  • Why Donald Trump Matters

    (Photo: AP/Charlie Neibergall)
    (Photo: AP/Charlie Neibergall) In Oskaloosa, Iowa, on Saturday, Trump said to his supporters, "I'm very good with contracts. Don't you want that?" T he political press is struggling over how exactly to report on Donald Trump. On one hand, we absolutely love covering him—Trump's intoxicating combination of boorishness, ignorance, tactlessness, and overconfidence, all wrapped up in a gold-plated package, is utterly irresistible as copy. On the other hand, we feel a little guilty about it, as though we know it's bad for us and bad for the public. Which is what produces the endless assurances that, despite his rather remarkable strength in the polls, you should rest assured that he is not going to be his party's nominee. You see that judgment made about other candidates all the time, but seldom repeated so often and almost never for someone who is leading in all the primary polls. And while it might be true, we've now moved beyond the point where we don't have to take Trump seriously. It'...

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