This week, we asked readers of the Politics & Politics Daily to share their favorite characters from political movies and TV. Here are some of our favorite responses:
Neel Lahiri’s pick was Selina Meyer from the TV show Veep, a character “who epitomizes the kind of farcical, utterly vain, and insatiably power-hungry [politician] that the electorate despises.”
From reader Christina Kopp:
My favorite political figure on TV is Laura Roslin, President of the Twelve Colonies in the reboot of Battlestar Galactica. When faced with the annihilation of the human race, she doesn’t give up and doesn’t give in. Ah, only on TV!
Terry Nugent picked Bill McKay from the film The Candidate, “an elegant chronicle of the withering effect of electioneering on ethics.” (Speaking of Bill, another reader analyzed him and his ethical evolution as part of our “Political Theater” series earlier this year.)
Kennedy Avery suggested Josh Lyman, the Deputy Chief of Staff to President Bartlet in The West Wing:
I like how Josh is brash, compassionate, and humorous all at once. Plus, when it comes to his work and policy positions, he is unapologetic and determined.
Joan Conroy also had a West Wing-themed response:
The first one who came to mind was Toby Ziegler, played by Richard Schiff. As the sad, often morose, but brilliant liberal speech writer he refused to compromise his ideals. Nor was he seduced by power and money, as far too many are in the current political climate.
And Deb Bell wrote:
My favorite character is Chauncey Gardner, from the 1979 film Being There. It’s the story of a mentally challenged gardener whose simple-minded utterances and complete ignorance of government, diplomacy, and the outside world as a whole are mistaken for wisdom and bold thought, propelling him toward political superstardom.
This week, we asked our Politics & Policy Daily readers to share their plans for 2017. Dozens of readers sent in their goals for the new year, and many resolved to become more politically engaged. Here are a handful of our favorite responses:
From Tom Lucas, 42, manager of a reinsurance brokerage firm:
My resolution in 2017 is to take less information at face value and to delve deeper into topics before I form an opinion. I think this will give me a broader perspective on issues and allow me to understand both sides of a debate.
Joanne Allard, 58, from Tucson:
I’ve recently decided to try and make eye contact with and pass along a cheerful well-wish to people I ordinarily ignore. I’m talking “hellos,” “good afternoons,” “lovely weathers,” etc., with an emphasis on projecting genuine interest. I just got to thinking one day that I tend to avoid contact with people who look as though they’d staunchly disagree with my politics, and it occurred to me that maybe I could help make next year a better one by trying to connect in a positive way.
From Maura Lynch Rubley, 37, high school teacher of government and law:
I have two resolutions for 2017. The first is to find more ways participate in preserving the great American experiment of democracy. The second is to spend more time with my students talking about the importance of reading a variety of reliable news sources, and avoiding both fake news and echo chambers.
Patty Ware, 55, retired from a career in social services:
Normally, I don't make resolutions for the New Year. This year, I will work hard to stick with two:
1) Pay attention to local, state, and national policies and make my voice heard. As an introvert, I’m uncomfortable putting myself out there, but resolve to speak up (in person, via letters, phone calls, public meetings) on important issues.
2) Thank people. I plan to send one handwritten thank-you note/card per week all year. There are numerous things in my life, community, and world to be grateful for. This will force me to notice them and to actually let a person(s) know that what they said or did or didn’t do truly mattered. Gratitude is more important than ever.
From Mary Adolphson, 66, retired:
I resolve to become more active in a local non-profit organization that, in addition to other issues, advocates for just and humane treatment of individuals without legal status in this country.
From reader Anna Bird:
Truthfully, I started early. A few weeks ago I realized I needed to do something about my anger so I made my resolutions. Every time Trump sends out a mean or crazy tweet, I need to do something nice for someone … He is keeping me busy! I open doors for people. I give a compliment to a stranger. I smile at old people who look like they need a friendly smile….That’s my way to win against him in 2017 and keep a smile on my face: Show kindness to others.
Richard Brenner, president of a publishing company, writes:
I resolve to listen to myself, to be conscious of my breathing, to reclaim and maintain my balance, to use my being as my tuning fork, and to learn, again, to be still and aware and to meld calmly and gently with the universe; and to not allow the acrimonious strum and drang of noxious politics and hateful tweets to corrupt my consciousness or dictate the rhythms of my life.
And from Don Brocha, 65, retired from software engineering:
My New Year’s resolution is a simple one to say, harder to put into practice: I’m going to ignore what Trump says, pay close attention to what he does, and enjoy my family, friends and community no matter what trickles down.
President Obama told The New York Times that reading books like The Three-Body Problem and The Underground Railroad helped him “slow down and get perspective” during his eight years in the White House.
This week, we asked our Politics & Policy Daily readers to share which books inform their daily lives and help keep things in perspective. Here are some of our favorite responses.
The story of how French citizens faced so much difficulty during the Nazi occupation is relevant today when we talk about ISIS and how they took over cities in the Middle East. I’m sure many of those citizens didn’t want to take in the soldiers but were forced to do it in order to protect their families. We are so far removed from this kind of suffering that it can be difficult to imagine, and understanding it more makes me appreciate how small our problems in America are by comparison.
I found that after I read it, I filtered everything I saw on the news or on Facebook through the insights I had received from reading this book. I joined my local chapters of the NAACP and SURJ (Showing Up for Racial Justice). The name of SURJ is somewhat counter to what Coates says about race being an artificial construct of oppression which originated as a child of racism rather than the other way around, as most people believe. But SURJ is a resource for positive activism in a city that is predominantly populated by people who are known as “white.”
Coates’s book—coupled with Dee Brown’s Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, about our tragically cruel treatment of this country’s Native population—are two books that will continue to inform my life by requiring me to always question the American dream, its shameful history, and the need to wake up from it, as Coates says. From these two books, I have learned to question constantly the assumptions we make about our country and our world and the roles we expect ourselves and others to play in them.
Paul Poletes also holds special appreciation for BTWAM:
Although I now live in a diverse neighborhood in Fairfax, VA, I grew up in South Dakota in the 1970s and 1980s. I can (literally) count on one hand the number of non-white kids I went to school with. Coates’s childhood in an all-black part of Baltimore—a neighborhood where everyone lived in fear of both street gangs and the cops—had about as much in common with my childhood as kids growing up in Karachi or Moscow. As a child my friends and I had almost nothing to fear—especially not the police, whom we saw as kindly, well-meaning protectors. Sioux Falls was probably more diverse in the 1980s than Coates’s childhood neighborhood, but barely (my neighborhood, on the other hand, wasn’t—it was all white). Only after I moved to Minneapolis for college did I meet people really different from me—one of my college roommates was black, while another was Muslim.
I’ve thought a lot about Between the The World and Mesince November 8, especially when I hear the ubiquitous talk of liberal elites living in their coastal and big city bubbles. Between the World and Me reminds me that everyone lives in their own bubble—urban, poor, rural, gay, Vietnamese, black, evangelical, Jewish, white, rich, Lutheran, Baptist, etc. How many bubbles do I live in now? I have no idea, but at least I’m better able to understand everyone else’s bubbles too.
On Monday, President Trump issued a proclamation declaring January 20—the day of his inauguration—“National Day of Patriotic Devotion.” In 2009, Barack Obama declared his own inauguration to be a “Day of Renewal and Reconciliation.”
So we asked our Politics & Policy Daily readers what they would call their Inauguration Day if they were elected president. We got dozens of thoughtful—and hilarious—responses. Here are some of our favorites:
“A Day of Grateful Living,” suggested by Seth Langston
“Day of Reflection, Compassion, and Service,” suggested by Sue R.
“A Day of Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and, Finally, Acceptance,” suggested by Tucker Perry
“National Day of Pinot Noir, French Bread, and Salami,” suggested by Dan
“Just Another Wonderful Day of Opportunity,” suggested by Michael O’Meara. He adds:
Responsibly using the powers granted to each person by the U.S. Constitution, we can take pride in our efforts to make incremental improvements each and every day; thus, making every day just another day of wonderful day.
P.S. The declaration would be followed by a recording of the song, “What a Wonderful World,” sung by Louis Armstrong.
“Day to Start Walking Our Talk,” suggested by Rozella Stewart
“National Dance in the Streets With Men in Kilts Day,” suggested by Victoria Medaglia. She adds:
And I would do so well before the fact so the boys could all kilt themselves out. I speak from experience when I say there’s nothing sexier than the swing of a kilt in full waltz or reel.
“National Honor-the-Facts Day,” suggested by Steve Ross
“A Day of Gratitude to The Middle Class,” suggested by Joanne Allard. She adds:
[I would] use it to promote understanding of how fragile an institution it is, yet how profound are its benefits. The slogan might be, ‘What lifts my brothers and sisters, lifts me as well.’
“National Day of Glass-Ceiling Smashing,” suggested by Sierra Chandler
“Day of Thanks That the Donald Is No Longer President,” suggested by Bob Morrison
From Michele Gildner:
My inauguration day would be called “Inauguration Day” because it’s not my day so much as it’s the United States’ day. And for me to declare the day this or that, simply because I like a theme or slogan, or I think it might help me make my mark on the office, feels rather unseemly, especially in this unseemly time. Pathetic even.
“I’m President and You’re Not Day,” suggested by Bob Hails
Several readers went with “National Ice Cream for Everybody Day.” From Katherine Hix:
I wouldn’t have any parties or bands or parades; I would give free ice cream to whoever showed up, and it would not be soft-serve chocolate and vanilla. It would be heavy-duty high-test ice cream in lots of flavors. Fun!
“Day of Integrity and Kindness,” suggested by Kathleen Ward
“The Day Ending Inaugural Proclamations,” suggested by Ken Bate
And Bert Woodall would call his Inauguration Day simply “Martha.”
On Monday, February 20, we’ll celebrate Presidents’ Day. So this week, we asked our Politics & Policy Daily readers: What U.S. president do you admire most—and why? We received dozens of thoughtful responses, but here are a few of our favorites.
For Dolores Oliver, the answer is George H. W. Bush. She admires his ability to “work beyond ideological barriers”:
First, Bush was willing to resist pressure to aggressively brag about the fall of the Soviet Union. This approach reminded me of Lincoln’s commitment to welcoming back the South after the Civil War. He worked hard to respond with humility and support to bring the former Soviet satellite countries into the international community and eventually Russia too. Had the West come out with a prideful, bellicose attitude, perhaps we would be far worse off in our relationship with Russia than we are currently.
Secondly, he was willing to stand firm against great pressure within his party against the American with Disabilities Act (ADA). Instead, he recognized the need to give individuals with disabilities the opportunity to function independently, thus empowering many who otherwise would be homebound.
Third, he was willing to stand firm against tyranny when Saddam Hussain invaded Kuwait. He worked carefully and wisely to merge together a coalition of more than thirty countries to remove Iraqi forces and liberate Kuwait in under four months.
Lastly, he was willing again, against great pressure, to acknowledge the need to increase taxes—which would eventually lose him a second term.
On a similar note, Mary Shannahan chose President Jimmy Carter because he “walks his talk”:
I admire him because of his integrity while in office. Since his term ended, he’s facilitated peace on a global level and supervised integrity, or lack of it, in elections throughout the world. Here in the States he’s active with Habitat for Humanity. His principles are guided by his faith.
From Jennifer Poulakidas: “LBJ, for sure”:
What President Johnson was able to accomplish during his tenure is undeniably amazing and advanced our country in many very significant ways. AND, he was able to get a majority of the Congress to join him! The Civil Rights Acts, the Voting Rights Act, the first ESEA and HEA bills, the Immigration Act of 1965, the establishment of Head Start, Medicare, Medicaid and Work Study, creation of the National Endowments of Humanities and the Arts—the list could continue.
Paul E. Doherty suggested President Harry Truman, who he calls a real “man’s man.” Why?
He probably made more difficult decisions than any other president, and right or wrong, he made them in the best interest of our country. He truly meant it with the sign on his desk in the Oval Office that said “The Buck Stops Here!” After leaving the White House he went back to Independence, Missouri, to live the rest of his life with his family. Truly a great American!
Reader Cindy Simpson would have some questions for FDR:
If he were in office today, he’d probably be impeached: Did he know about Pearl Harbor? If so, when, and if not, why? And what about those affairs—for both him and his wife?
But I admire Franklin D. Roosevelt. I believe he led this country through a very difficult time—he helped to get people relief and employment during and after the Great Depression; established social security, the SEC, and the FDIC; and navigated the U.S. entry into WWII (though of course, it wasn’t all good).
For college student Zubair Merchant, it’s a tossup between two young presidents, John F. Kennedy and Barack Obama:
Both men had a passion and honor in office that I think is characteristically unique to them. It also helps that they were young and inspirational presidents and that I am in college.
I think that 50 percent of the presidency is policy and 50 percent is rhetoric. On the policy side you can debate that JFK didn’t have time to do much, yet Obama (I believe) moved this country forward in a way that we haven’t seen in a long time (he’s the liberal Reagan, but cooler). On the rhetoric front, they are, in my view, the most inspirational presidents in history, and their youth carried a message that is unparalleled.
Finally, Christopher Wilson didn’t support Barack Obama during his candidacy, but says he still admires him the most—“without question”:
When someone is observed with such scrutiny and vigilance, they cannot escape their faults. President Obama had his. The pivot of his leadership was changing an opinion of what had been a strong conviction—not for the purpose of politics and remembrance—but because he knew it was the right thing to do! Specifically, having held strong opposing views of [same-sex marriage], President Obama made a remarkable turnaround and went full throttle in securing rights and becoming a quiet champion for the community—this in spite of his own personal beliefs. That’s rarely seen in politics, and applaudable.
Lastly, he gave the face of the president its most human touch. His humor, casual style, personal interests, candor and confidence were his beauty. I, like many others were able to connect with and see him for who he was ... a great father, husband, brother, uncle, son, friend and human being.
Thanks for your comments, and stay tuned for next week’s Question of the Week contest.
On Tuesday, President Trump outlined his plans to increase defense spending and invest in America’s infrastructure. This week, we asked Politics & Policy Daily readers where they would allocate extra funds if they were in charge of the country’s budget. Here are some of our favorite responses.
The vast majority of respondents, including Stella Porto here, would invest more in education:
If I controlled the federal budget, I would strengthen basic public education. Provide more access to pre-school education. Make college more affordable. Expand community colleges. Develop re-training programs for those who jobs have been eliminated by automation or other economic trends.
Everything in the country depends on the level of education of its people—absolutely everything, from preventing illness, choosing a better lifestyle, to raising kids responsibly, to choosing elected officials, to fighting for important causes, etc. Citizenship depends on education. Access to good education is at the root of equality.
Chuck Barnes, a retired university faculty member and geologist, suggested funding a year or two of universal service for high school graduates:
I don’t mean military service, although that could be one option. Other options would include a wide range of work and/or training to help create a wide range of social service, training, physical work, military service, etc. This would accomplish two interrelated goals: 1) recognizing that we are such a great nation and that 1-2 years of service are a debt that should be paid for the privilege of being an American; and 2) helping young people from disparate worlds to interact in positive ways, while growing up and maturing.
Donna Hoffman, a former English and drama teacher, thinks America should invest in a new kind of education:
I would take that fictional extra money and put it into the National Endowment for the Arts and change from our current, terrible system of education to the Montessori System used in Europe and in private school systems around the U.S. Yes, our education system needs an overhaul, but it needs to be done by Europeans not Americans who are so enmeshed in what we’re doing now that they cannot see the forest for the trees.
Susan Berkow said she wouldn’t increase military spending because it “is already big enough” but she would spend more on support for veterans.
Connie Hellyer said investing in advancing reproductive rights for women around the world would be a “three-fer” because access to contraception “improves women’s health and ability to enter the labor force,” “improves children’s health,” and “relieves pressure on the environment.”
John Friedin would use the extra money to conduct “scores of scientifically run experiments with guaranteed basic income for all.” More on basic income here.
Jerry Purmal would focus on eliminating student debt:
In order to reduce the time over which each student’s debt lingers, those EXTRA funds would be applied to pay the annual interest on student debt, thus permitting the student’s obligatory loan payments—following graduation and gainful employment—to be entirely credited to reduction of each student’s principal sums interest-free.
Finally, in a time of “alternative facts” and “fake news,” Ken Prahl was thinking about how to learn from some of the lessons of 2016:
I’d use the funds to set up adult-education classes on critical thinking, what it is, and how to perform it—also explaining how history can be described using different narratives and giving examples of different narratives tied to various ideologies.
On Wednesday, a Northern Virginia school district shut down for the day after a number of staff members asked for the day off to participate in “A Day Without a Woman,” a protest to highlight the contributions of women to society. A few weeks ago, a number of restaurants and fast-food chains closed down for “A Day Without Immigrants” to spotlight immigrant contributions in the United States.
So this week, we asked Politics & Policy Daily readers to fill in the blank with a group of people that deserves to be commemorated: A Day Without ______. Our first entry comes from Leslie, who recommends holding “A Day Without Daycare” in order to show:
(1) how important daycare services are to productivity
(2) how parents’ need for daycare is critical (so that they can work)
(3) how much families rely on unpaid daycare help from relatives and friends
Similarly, Brooke proposes a “Day Without Caregivers”—of any kind:
Schools would have no after-care and closed daycares would mean many workers would stay home. By doing our own care work, we would all appreciate how much work it is, how lovely it is to be present for each other, and how hard it is to be present for each other.
Once, when I lived in Bangladesh, a friend’s father was hospitalized. We took turns cooking for him (and the rest of the family) because the hospital did not provide food, maintaining his shadow “chart” so that we had a record of everything that happened to him, and sitting with him so that he always knew someone by his side. In a day without caregivers, we would honor caregivers and the relationships of care that are part of individual and social health.
Sally would agree:
The purpose of the commemoration is to highlight a group which is historically underappreciated, substantially underpaid for their labor, and taken for granted, yet would be sorely missed all around the country. Caregivers—for frail and disabled folks—fit. Now that baby boomers are reaching the stage of needing caregivers, we need to shine a light on how necessary they are for the people they serve and their families. The hard part about this choice is that caregivers can’t simply vanish for a day without endangering people’s lives.
Another reader proposes “A Day Without Cooks” to help recognize their importance in society and in families, adding “In China, there is an idiom: ‘The God of the people is food.’” Emily suggests “A Day Without Working Parents,” and Lynn can’t pick just one group of people; she wants to honor garbage collectors, janitors, teachers, and nurses.
Andrew wonders how Americans would fare for 24 hours without petroleum products:
This would be especially shocking for those on the left and in Congress who like to make the domestic oil and gas industry their perpetual whipping boy—modern healthcare, manufacturing, cheap/safe food, sanitation, all manner of things depend on plastics and petrochemicals. A similar argument could be made for the financial services industry—both are backbone industries upon which the economy runs, so their success (and their compensation) is a testament to how critical and integral to our daily lives and quality of life they are.
White males, police officers, doctors and nurses, (even) politicians.
I don’t seriously propose this, but rather point out that we all play a part in society and the economy, and the whole premise of the “day without” is to draw attention to the contributions of certain groups of people. Like a multi-legged stool, if you remove one of the legs, things get a little wobbly. I’m more of an advocate for everyone doing their jobs, doing them well, and letting your accomplishments speak for themselves.
Chris thinks a good group to commemorate might be older, retired Americans who serve as volunteers in museums, hospitals, and schools:
Many people believe retired Americans are just living it up and collecting their social security and Medicare. We are doing some of that; we’ve earned it. But, we’re also contributing every day in many many ways.
Catherine figures a day without her fellow Millennials might be enlightening: “I think that might indicate to our elder detractors how hard and how much we work in our current economy.” Avid question-responder Howard thinks “A Day Without the Mainstream Media” would help put things in perspective:
Without them, we’d be relegated to the likes of Breitbart, Alex Jones’s Infowars, Daily Caller, The Blaze, American Pravda (aka Fox “News” Channel) and their counterparts on the nutty left (although there aren’t nearly as many).
Finally, Joseph Luchok simply hopes for “a day without Twitter.”
This week, in honor of March Madness, we asked Politics & Policy Daily readers: If you had to pick a lawmaker to coach your team and take it to the Final Four, who would you pick—and why?
Eileen is one of several readers who thought of Arizona Senator John McCain:
His military service and his ability to survive as a POW held by the Vietcong are a tribute to his character. Equally impressive is his courage as a Republican to speak out when he sees something is wrong. He did this recently in asking President Trump to show evidence of wiretapping by former President Obama or to stop talking about it.
But after some consideration, Eileen decided she’d rather have Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders as her team’s coach:
His energy, enthusiasm, clear thinking, and ability to decipher complex issues and explain them in simple terms is more than impressive. He is a role model for all people, no matter their race, nationality, or religion. He gets my vote for the above reasons. He is my go-to guy. If there is a job to be done, he can be counted on to do it.
For reader Adela, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren is the obvious choice:
Can’t you just see her on the court cheering on her players? She’d be a dynamo! And she’d defend her team like a mother tigress. No ref would dare to argue with her if she knew she was right. She would, no doubt, get ejected from many games because she’d be warned, but, nevertheless, she’d persist!
Another suggestion for Warren—plus some notable support staff—comes from Barbara:
Warren is feisty, and would have high expectations of her team players as well as her assistant coaches. Everyone would know they needed to play their best game, both on the court and off. As a player, you would know Coach Warren would be fair and have your back. You would know not to cross her or be dishonest with her lest you incur her “come-to-Jesus” and get benched.
Her players and assistant coaches (Hillary Clinton, teaching community-building skills by listening and bringing together players, parents, community, and fans; Tammy Baldwin, teaching loyalty and team building skills; Michelle Obama, teaching healthy-eating and exercise-training skills; Barack Obama, team adviser) would be dedicated to helping each player be their best as a student athlete, in their coursework, and as a global citizen.
Tricia picks 84-year-old Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg to take her NCAA team to the final four. Here’s why:
She’s tougher than nails, smarter than a whip, she does her homework, and she perseveres to the end. She’d have a few tricks up her sleeve and our team would be the winner against unimaginable odds. It would be my—and her—thrill of a lifetime.
Dirk of Holland, Michigan, chooses a congressman from his home state to bring his team to victory—Republican Representative Bill Huizenga:
He’s got the spine, imagination, and drive to get ’er done. He’s also Dutch-American, which means he’s hard-headed, a great coach to those alongside him, and knows his people well.
Kennedy recommends South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, “because Lindsey Graham.” And finally, Bruce has a joke about the popular vote:
Come on! It would have to be Trump. Even if the other team scored more points, you’d somehow still win.
Monday marked the beginning of what will probably be Judge Neil Gorsuch’s toughest job interview: his Supreme Court confirmation hearings. This week, we asked Politics & Policy Daily readers what they would ask Gorsuch if they were on the Senate Judiciary Committee. Here are some of our favorite questions from readers.
Keli Osborn is curious about how the judge would rule on previous Supreme Court cases:
How would your judicial philosophy of originalism have influenced rulings on Plessy v. Ferguson, Brown v. Board of Education, Griswold v. Connecticut, Bigelow v. Virginia, and Obergefell v. Hodges?
Bill Rogers simply wants to know which Supreme Court justice Gorsuch admires most—and why.
Susan Perkins would ask specifically about the case Shelby County v. Holder: “Do you have any views on the Supreme Court decision that limited the Federal Government’s power to monitor state election laws for their discriminatory impact?”
Catherine Tanaka thinks it’s absolutely crucial to know where Gorsuch stands on climate change:
So many of the problems on Earth stem from the heating up of the world, from lack of water, to the die-offs in the ocean, from which so many people get their food, to coastal flooding, and to famine leading to wars and mass migrations. No other problem needs such a coordinated approach. If we don’t fix the climate, really, what else matters?
Josh White offered a slightly more light-hearted question for the judge: “In New Mexico, there is a state question: red or green?”
John Consentino would ask Gorsuch if he believes “freedom of religion includes imposing your religious tenets on public policy?”—a question Vicki Bliss echoed: “In ruling on religious legal issues that differ from your own, would you be able to judge fairly and truly separate church from state?”
Mitchell Kaplan thinks understanding Gorsuch’s thoughts on science and religion would offer insight into how he might rule on future cases:
How old is Earth? How old is the universe? When did homo sapiens first arrive on earth? Do you believe in adaptation as defined by Darwin? Do you take the Bible literally or metaphorically? Do you believe in creationism?
John Geerken would want to know if Gorsuch, an originalist, would “hold that corporations are people and, as people, have First Amendment religious protections?” Another John would ask whether Gorsuch can think of any errors made by strict conservatives in the past few years.
From Karen Bottemanne, a question about the world’s changing media landscape:
In view of the 21st-century invention of social media, how would you apply the First Amendment’s freedom of speech to the increasing volume of fake, false, manipulative, hate-filled “speech” carried out by computer bots on well-known media platforms? Many crimes have been committed because of this type of “speech” and events have been altered due to this type of “speech.” How can it be halted? What will be the responsibility of the platform (business) to take down this “speech” in the future? How can the government intervene?
Finally, reader Taylor Jarnagin would ask just one question: “Is your name Merrick Garland?”
If he answers no, Sara would ask:
In as much as the Republicans prevented President Obama from nominating a candidate to the Supreme Court when he had ample time to do so, do you think your nomination is even legitimate? How do you think we should proceed, in view of the controversy over the so-called stolen nomination?
Republicans’ plan to repeal and replace Obamacare flopped last week, but President Trump is ready to move to the next item on his agenda: tax reform. This week, we asked Politics & Policy Daily readers what they would like to see the Trump administration focus on now, and why. Thanks to everyone for their thoughtful responses.
Andrew Vernon suggested Trump save his political capital:
The president should focus on things that will make America more competitive and the federal bureaucracies more efficient, e.g. tax reform, infrastructure, regulatory overhaul, etc., instead of wasting what little political capital he had (and taxpayer money) on walls, misguided immigration policies, Twitter rants, attacking the media and judiciary …
Will Taylor is hoping Trump can keep things in perspective, and instigate incremental change:
President Trump should continue to work on tax reform with the understanding that the legislation will take time to develop. The president may not be able to accomplish this legislation this year. In the interim, the president should identify smaller pieces of legislation around which he can build some bipartisan support and his credibility.
But Daniel Scherrer sees appointing and cooperating with an independent investigation of the Trump campaign’s alleged ties to Russia as a much higher priority:
Either he should clear his name, or spare the nation a drawn-out ordeal by getting out. There are real and growing concerns that the president of the United States is an agent of the Russian secret police … This issue is beyond politics. Nothing is more important than this.
Christina Kopp wants Trump to get back to his campaign-trail message and support paid family leave:
This is an issue that could find bipartisan support, as it addresses social and economic issues important to both Republicans and Democrats. But for paid family time to have a real and positive impact on American society as a whole, it would have to be available to women and men, biological and adoptive parents, blue-collar, service, and white-collar workers. I’m not sure Trump and this Congress are capable of passing such legislation. Still, here’s hoping!
Many readers suggested that infrastructure might be the best place to start. From Don Buchanan:
Before he starts cutting taxes for the rich, why not a bill for infrastructure repair and mass transit improvements? Then he will know whether the nation can afford more tax cuts for the well-off.
And Tom Lucas:
[Infrastructure is] a great opportunity to create jobs and improve communities. It’s also an area that Democrats would be willing to work on with him, so there’s actually a chance of it happening. Our roads and mass transit are in terrible condition, particularly in the Northeast, and are long overdue for an investment.
But Charlie Van Pelt doesn’t think Trump should give up on health care just yet:
He would show himself a true statesman and secure his place in history if he grasped the initiative (as he said he would during the campaign), and proactively worked across the aisle to “fix” the ACA. This would appeal to far more constituents than it would turn off, and require less heavy lifting to accomplish once goals are agreed upon. Trump would find serious consideration of his further goals much easier if he seriously and cooperatively addressed a solution to the ACA’s problems.
And J. Eric Humphreys suggested simply: “Honesty. It would be a refreshing change. Might even attract some moderates.”
After the election, Donald Trump said he would donate his annual presidential salary to charity. On Monday, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer announced that the president chose to give away his first-quarter salary of $78,333 to the National Park Service, to be spent on the upkeep of America’s historic battlefields. Spicer said Trump was presented with a number of options before coming to his decision. So this week, we asked Politics & Policy Daily readers to suggest recipients for any future salary donations.
Dozens of readers responded that the president should donate his salary to Planned Parenthood, because of recent threats to the organization’s funding made by congressional Republicans and members of the Trump administration. Many more of you suggested that Trump donate next to the Meals-on-Wheels program, because of his plans to cut it from the budget. From Diane Miles:
Meals on Wheels is a very worthwhile service for homebound elders who can’t leave their homes to shop, don’t have enough money for nutritional meals, or find preparing meals difficult. The Meals on Wheels program nationwide is a lifeline for isolated individuals without support systems, family, and/or ability to prepare meals as they had when they were younger.
I suggest World Vision, a Christian humanitarian organization that does good work all over the planet. World Vision feeds children who are starving, supports families that need a source of income through enabling the purchase of animals, and gives families the opportunity to sponsor children around the globe. President Trump needs to begin looking outward—outside of himself—and look to lift others up. Once one looks to taking care of his neighbor, one stops thinking of himself.
On that note, in light of the recent chemical attack in Syria—as well as Trump’s reluctance to allow Syrian refugees into the United States—Bira Chopra suggested he send his salary to a refugee camp overseas, where the money could be used to help young children in particular.
Elonide Semmes suggested Trump should send his money to support job retraining programs in rural areas and the rust belt, especially since his recent budget blueprint outlined major cuts to existing programs. Elonide added that “battlefield park maintenance shows how out-of-touch [Trump] is with the pain and suffering in America.”
Louise Hudson thinks the salary should go straight to health care for needy Americans:
The Affordable Care Act passed under the Obama administration, though imperfect, has been the most successful program so far in bringing health-care benefits to millions of people who did not have them before. Trump wants to dismantle this program but has been unable to come up with anything to replace it except for what we had before the ACA: the “pay up or die” health-care system. Although his donated salary would of little practical help to the yawning need, as a symbolic gesture it would be spectacular.
Instead of donating the money to a charity, Joan Ma suggested Trump should use the salary “to cover the NYPD cost for providing the security detail protecting Melania and Barron Trump while they live in NYC”:
Not technically a charity perhaps, but it would be a charitable thing to do for the millions of New Yorkers living in poverty and on the street, not high in Trump Tower, who need the services from the city that that money could provide.
Reader Nan Nalder argued that before anything else, Trump should focus on improving water quality in the nation’s cities:
The reminder of excessive lead in the water in Michigan is but a “drop in the bucket” of how our nation’s water supply can become a tragedy. I am very concerned about the lack of interest shown on the part of our president in the importance of clean water and clean air.
When I was working for the Environmental Protection Agency in the late 1970s, the EPA gave grants to all levels of government to encourage programs for improving water quality management nationwide. The one area I had hoped by now to see more progress in is improving groundwater quality.
With “fracking” occurring throughout our nation in search of ever more low-cost natural gas, I am very concerned that we are losing sight of the onetime goal of “fishable, playable, and drinkable water.”
David Deufel had another infrastructure-related idea:
I strongly recommend a portion of that $400,000 [Trump’s total salary] go to fixing potholes and crevices in all the states affected by winter weather. Start soon since infrastructure funding is far from being a boon. Prioritize from sinkhole-size on down.
Several other readers suggested Trump spend the money on his frequent trips to his private Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida. The BBC reports that the weekend trips have cost about $23 million over the past 10 weeks.
Finally, Ross Tortora had interesting advice, albeit advice that Trump will almost certainly not want to heed:
My suggestion for the leader of the Republican Party is to make his next tax-deductible donation to the opposition party. This would not only represent a monetary sacrifice, but a tangible symbol to all Americans that he is willing to reach out “with malice toward none, with charity for all.”
A peaceful transfer of power is necessary for American democracy to survive.
If Donald Trump is defeated in November 2020, his presidency will end on January 20, 2021. If he is reelected, then, barring other circumstances such as removal from office, his administration will terminate on the same day in 2025. In either of these scenarios, Trump would cease to be president immediately upon the expiration of his term. But what if he won’t leave the White House?
The American Constitution spells out how the transfer of power is supposed to work. Article II provides that the president “shall hold his office for the term of four years.” The 20th Amendment says that the president’s and vice president’s terms “shall end at noon on the 20th day of January … and the terms of their successors shall then begin.” Of course, a president may be reelected to a second four-year term, but under the 22nd Amendment, “no person shall be elected to the office of president more than twice.”
An out-of-sight, out-of-mind mentality can take hold when people lose their connection to nature.
My mother situated me on her hip, took a deep breath, and stepped off our porch into the icy floodwaters. I was 2 years old.
It was March 1974, and the rain had been pummeling Lily, Kentucky, for two weeks. The ground had become so saturated that the flash flood came all at once. By the time my mother had navigated us through the waist-high mix of overflowing creek water, sewage, and debris to higher ground, my father had made it home from work, where he found water reaching the windows of our trailer. Family members came to help and frantically piled some of our belongings into a metal rowboat. When the flood receded, my parents salvaged what they could, but after days of shoveling mud, they found that the floors, furnace, and appliances had been destroyed. My mother says this was the first time she ever saw my father, a Vietnam veteran and auto mechanic, cry.
The family structure we’ve held up as the cultural ideal for the past half century has been a catastrophe for many. It’s time to figure out better ways to live together.
The scene is one many of us have somewhere in our family history: Dozens of people celebrating Thanksgiving or some other holiday around a makeshift stretch of family tables—siblings, cousins, aunts, uncles, great-aunts. The grandparents are telling the old family stories for the 37th time. “It was the most beautiful place you’ve ever seen in your life,” says one, remembering his first day in America. “There were lights everywhere … It was a celebration of light! I thought they were for me.”
The oldsters start squabbling about whose memory is better. “It was cold that day,” one says about some faraway memory. “What are you talking about? It was May, late May,” says another. The young children sit wide-eyed, absorbing family lore and trying to piece together the plotline of the generations.
After the Nevada caucus, Democratic Party leaders have never looked more uncertain about their future.
LAS VEGAS—The phrase Democratic establishment conjures images of something like the Illuminati with the power to determine the outcome of American elections. But so far, the supposedly all-powerful leaders of the party have been about as well organized as The Muppet Show.
Now, with Senator Bernie Sanders’s massive win in Nevada, he’s taken the lead in delegates and may never lose it. Efforts to stop him so far have been ineffective and made the party seem out of touch. This summer, party leaders may be forced to accept the nomination of a man who’s not officially a member of the party, who won’t have won a majority of primary voters, and whose agenda is popular with his progressive base but doesn’t have as much support with Democrats as a whole.
Trump’s pardons were shocking to some, but to me they were eerily familiar—straight out of the kleptocratic playbook I’ve studied in a dozen other countries.
Donald Trump’s decision this week to pardon several Americans convicted of fraud or corruption has garnered condemnation from many in the political establishment. The pardons were shocking to some, but to me they were eerily familiar—straight out of the kleptocratic playbook I’ve experienced and studied in a dozen other countries.
I was immediately reminded, for instance, of an episode from August 2010. I had been living and working in Afghanistan for the better part of a decade, and was participating in an effort to push anti-corruption toward the center of the U.S. mission there. A long, carefully designed, and meticulously executed investigation culminated in the arrest of a palace aide on charges of extorting a bribe. But the man did not spend a single night in jail. Afghan President Hamid Karzai made a call; the aide was released; and the case was dropped.
The episodes in which critics’ predictions weren't borne out offer valuable lessons for Trump’s challengers, even if they still vigorously disagree with the moves the president has made.
It’s 2020, and America is embroiled in not one but two catastrophic wars: one with Iran that has sucked in the entire Middle East, and another halfway across the world in North Korea sparked by Kim Jong Un test-firing nuclear-capable missiles that could hit the United States. It’s all the worse since the U.S. is waging both wars without allies, all of which have abandoned Donald Trump because of his incessant bullying.
Fortunately, this isn’t where we find ourselves today, but it’s what the president’s critics have been warning could occur if he carries on with policies that have shattered decades of conventional U.S. policy making. It’s not as if their concerns have no factual basis. The Trump administration really did come to the brink of war with Iran and North Korea. In neither case are the underlying tensions that got them there anywhere near resolved. America’s alliances are indeed in flux. But the fact that this is not our reality in 2020 is just as instructive as the fact that it could have been.
China’s use of surveillance and censorship makes it harder for Xi Jinping to know what’s going on in his own country.
China is in the grip of a momentous crisis. The novel coronavirus that emerged late last year has already claimed three times more lives than the SARS outbreak in 2003, and it is still spreading. More than 50 million people (more than the combined metro populations of New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and San Francisco) remain under historically unprecedented lockdown, unable to leave their city—and in many cases, even their apartment. Many countries no longer accept visiting Chinese nationals, or if they do, quarantine them for weeks. Big companies are pulling out of trade shows. Production is suffering. Profound economic consequences are bound to ensue, not just in China but around the world.
The similarities between 2020 and 1972 are too astonishing to ignore. But there’s one big difference.
Let me begin with a confession. When I started to report out and write this article, I had a simple thesis: Bernie Sanders is not George McGovern.
The catastrophic loser of the 1972 presidential election, McGovern has become a convenient bogeyman for any moderate or conservative arguing that leftism is a fatal disease in a general election. McGovern won just one state, Massachusetts, while the incumbent, Richard Nixon, commanded 96 percent of the Electoral College vote. It was then the largest Republican landslide in U.S. history.
Surely, though, I thought, the McGovern analogy was just glibness masquerading as historical analysis. America in 1972 was a different country—before personal computers, Star Wars films, 40 years of rising income and wealth inequality, and the electoral gender gap.
Where socialism imagines greater concentrations of power, her vision ultimately points in the direction of a more decentralized, more competitive economy.
Despite all the newspaper endorsements, Senator Elizabeth Warren is an underappreciated politician—and the candidate herself is among the ranks of those who have sold her short. She is a deep and original political thinker. Over her time in academia and in the Senate, she has evolved a distinctive critique of American capitalism as presently practiced, and a lyrical vision of what might replace it. Based on her presidential campaign, however, you wouldn’t really know it.
While Warren has clashed with some of the candidates to her right—she chastised former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg for his foray into a wine cave and accused former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg of oligarchic tendencies—she has declined to truly delineate herself from Senator Bernie Sanders. The sharpest distinction Warren has drawn with her ally from Vermont is her gender. In a more accurate rendering of the pair, that is only the beginning of their differences.
How new technologies and techniques pioneered by dictators will shape the 2020 election
Updated at 2:30 p.m. ET on February 10, 2020.
One day last fall, I sat down to create a new Facebook account. I picked a forgettable name, snapped a profile pic with my face obscured, and clicked “Like” on the official pages of Donald Trump and his reelection campaign. Facebook’s algorithm prodded me to follow Ann Coulter, Fox Business, and a variety of fan pages with names like “In Trump We Trust.” I complied. I also gave my cellphone number to the Trump campaign, and joined a handful of private Facebook groups for MAGA diehards, one of which required an application that seemed designed to screen out interlopers.
The president’s reelection campaign was then in the midst of a multimillion-dollar ad blitz aimed at shaping Americans’ understanding of the recently launched impeachment proceedings. Thousands of micro-targeted ads had flooded the internet, portraying Trump as a heroic reformer cracking down on foreign corruption while Democrats plotted a coup. That this narrative bore little resemblance to reality seemed only to accelerate its spread. Right-wing websites amplified every claim. Pro-Trump forums teemed with conspiracy theories. An alternate information ecosystem was taking shape around the biggest news story in the country, and I wanted to see it from the inside.