EDITORIAL: Donald Trump cannot be the Republican nominee

By  – 

Voting against Donald Trump is the most important thing you can do next week over spring break.

With Michigan’s open primary rules, any registered voter can vote for either party March 8. Republicans, Democrats and Independents alike should vote against Trump in the Republican primary.

While Trump’s antiestablishment populism may be attractive to some, it is highly toxic to our democracy. His refusal Sunday to denounce the Ku Klux Klan and its former leader David Duke and his failure to distance himself from a quote from Italian fascist dictator Benito Mussolini should disqualify him from the presidency.

When CNN’s Jake Tapper asked about Duke and the KKK, Trump said he needed to research the group before commenting. Trump claimed the incident was due to a faulty earpiece, but Tapper very clearly said “Duke” and “KKK” and Trump told Tapper that he doesn’t “know anything about David Duke… (or) white supremacy or white supremacists.”

When Trump was asked about Duke two days earlier during a campaign event Friday, he said he disavowed the former KKK leader. What happened in the intervening hours to cause this amnesia? How do you go from disavowing to needing to do more research in less than three days?

Sunday wasn’t even the first time Trump talked about Duke on national television. In a 2000 interview with NBC’s Matt Lauer, when Trump was considering running for president under the Reform Party, which included divisive former GOP presidential candidate Pat Buchanan who was supported by Duke, he called Duke a “bigot” and a “racist.”

His own rhetoric has been racist since his announcement speech, when he called Mexican undocumented immigrants “rapists” and drug dealers. His proposed ban on Muslim immigrants is unprecedented and would likely be judged unconstitutional.

More broadly, HBO’s John Oliver and Comedy Central’s Trevor Noah have each done segments this past week explaining why Trump should not be considered for the GOP nomination.

On the Feb. 28 episode of “Last Week Tonight,” Oliver argued that Trump’s words and his actions don’t mesh. Here are some of the strengths voters are drawn to — and Oliver’s counterpoints:

  • “He tells it like it is”: “Does he? Because the website PolitiFact checked 77 of his statements, and rated 76 percent of them as varying degrees of false.”
  • “He is truly independent and not beholden to anyone”: “While it is true that he hasn’t taken corporate money, the implication that he has personally spent $20 to $25 million is a bit of a stretch, because what he’s actually done is loaned his own campaign $17.5 million and has just personally given just $250,000. And that’s important, because up until the convention he can pay himself back for the loan with campaign funds.”
  • “He’s tough”: “For a tough guy, he has incredibly thin skin. Back in 1988, Spy magazine called him a short-fingered vulgarian. And ever since, the editor Graydon Carter says he receives envelopes from Trump, always with a photo on which he circled his hand to highlight the length of his fingers, usually with a note reading, ‘See, not so short!’”
  • “His success”: “While yes, he has made more money than most of us will make in a lifetime, not only did he get a multimillion-dollar inheritance from his father, but he’s also lost a huge amount.”

Oliver also noted that Trump’s policy positions have been incredibly inconsistent.

“He’s been pro-choice and pro-life, for and against assault weapon bans, in favor of both bringing in Syrian refugees and deporting them out of the country,” Oliver said.

This would be a problem for any other presidential candidate. John Kerry wasn’t elected in 2004 in large part because his opponent, President George W. Bush, labeled him a “flip-flopper.” But Trump supporters don’t concern themselves with such things.

On the Feb. 29 episode of “The Daily Show,” Noah used a New York Times article, video evidence of Trump’s speeches and his refusal to back down from the Mussolini quote retweet to show how fascistic the businessman’s campaign is.

The article gave the following definition of fascism which Noah used throughout the segment:

…a cult of action, a celebration of aggressive masculinity, an intolerance of criticism, a fear of difference and outsiders… an intense nationalism and resentment at national humiliation…

Since the 2000 Florida recount, late night comedy has been saying what actual news media won’t. Their analysis of Trump is no different.

Trump’s brand of isolationist nationalism is more similar to the UK Independence Party (UKIP) in Britain or the National Front in France than it is to populist movements in American history.

A Trump nomination should scare not only Democrats, but conservative Republicans should be concerned as well. The National Review, a weekly conservative magazine, dedicated an entire issue last month to opposing Trump’s candidacy and featured such right-wing heavyweights as Glenn Beck, Mark Helprin and Bill Kristol.

If Trump is the Republican nominee, the party is in severe trouble. The most recent CNN/ORC poll shows that 48 percent of Republicans would probably or definitely not support Trump in November.

The GOP has been split between traditional conservatives and the Tea Party since shortly after Barack Obama won the White House in 2008. It was this fracture that lead to John Boehner stepping down as Speaker of the House last fall. Nominating Trump could lead to a full-blown schism.

The time to laugh at Trump’s candidacy is over. He won New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada and came in second in Iowa. No candidate has won three out of the first four voting states and not received their party’s nomination.

Trump had 82 delegates before Super Tuesday, four times as many as second-place Ted Cruz. After Super Tuesday, that number is up to 319 and counting, with Cruz at 226

However, with such a fragmented field, there is still a slim chance that Trump will not reach the 1,237 delegates necessary to secure his party’s nomination. In that case, the GOP will hold a brokered convention where the nominee is chosen at the convention itself this summer.

A brokered convention becomes less likely and a Trump nomination more likely with every contest held unless voters stand up to the billionaire bully.

Michigan holds 59 Republican delegates. Under GOP rules, delegates are awarded starting at 15 percent of the vote, or all 59 delegates will be awarded to a single candidate if he wins more than 50 percent of the vote.

Trump, Cruz, and Marco Rubio all reach the 15 percent threshold in the RealClearPolitics polling average. John Kasich does not, but he’s close with 12.2 percent. Independents and Democrats could help push Kasich above the threshold, forcing a four-way division of delegates rather than a three-way split.

In Michigan, voters don’t need to be registered with a party to vote in their primary. The only requirement is to be a registered voter. In 2008, the last non-incumbent presidential election year, voter turnout was around 19 percent, less than 1.5 million people.

Democrats should consider selecting a GOP ballot on Tuesday. Even those who believe Trump gives them the “best chance” at winning the election in November. This is underestimating the salesmanship of Trump.

If Trump wins the Republican nod, he has a chance to win. If rational people step into the voting booth and deny him the nomination, then America wins.

This is your chance to make a difference.

Writing,Opinion Writing


Donald Trump and the Politics of Never Backing Down

By Chris Powers – Web Editor – July 22, 2015

Ever since Donald Trump announced he was seeking the White House, his foot has rarely left his mouth. Yet voters are still enamored by him. Why?

He couldn’t make it through his announcement speech without calling Mexican immigrants rapists and vowing to build a wall that he would make Mexico pay for to keep them out. This, of course, led to business partners including NBC and Macy’s to sever ties with Trump, but that didn’t stop him.

While most candidates would realize their mistake and back down, Trump did exactly the opposite. In a way only he could, Trump went on CNN and asked anchor Don Lemon, “Who is doing the raping?” He has since declared that he “will win the Latino vote” despite his comments.

It didn’t end there. This past weekend, Trump told a group of voters in Iowa that former Republican presidential nominee and current Arizona senator John McCain is “not a war hero.” McCain is a Navy veteran who spent more than five years in a POW camp during the Vietnam war. He suffered injuries that plague him to this day. For example, he can’t comb his own hair because he can’t lift his arms to do so.

While many disagree with McCain’s politics, no one questions his heroism. Except Trump. He likes “people who weren’t captured.”

This time, however, Trump is backing off ever so slightly. Immediately after his declaration that McCain isn’t a war hero, Frank Luntz, who was interviewing him, insisted that McCain is, indeed, a hero and Trump capitulated in a most sarcastic way. He has been using this “admission” to deny in the press that he made the original statement.

Despite all of this, Trump is surging in the polls. Though most of the survey was conducted prior to his latest controversy, an ABC News/Washington Post poll has Trump in the lead at 24 percent, with Scott Walker in second place with 13 percent, and Jeb Bush within the margin of error at 12 percent.

Up until his comments against McCain on Saturday, there was very little backlash from his fellow Republican candidates. The other 14 GOP candidates had done virtually nothing to stop him.

It was only after the disparaging remarks against their former nominee that the other GOP candidates started trying to rein him in. What took so long?

From the outside, Trump’s candidacy looks like a joke. However, in a business where most candidates are polished, cautious, and say very little that isn’t focus group tested, Trump stands out. Voters have long wished for politicians who are uncensored and speak their minds. Of course, this isn’t quite what they expected.

That being said, Trump does resonate with a segment of the Republican base. His unfiltered opinions are a vocalization of a minority who believe immigrants are taking jobs and ruining this country and love that Trump isn’t afraid to tick off the establishment.

Ronald Reagan speaking in front of the Brandenburg Gate and the Berlin Wall on June 12, 1987.
Ronald Reagan speaking in front of the Brandenburg Gate and the Berlin Wall on June 12, 1987.

This “never give up, never surrender” mentality has permeated American politics over the last several decades. In some ways it started with Ronald Reagan. Voters loved his cowboy swagger and tell-it-like-it-is persona. Americans and the western world cheered when he told Mr. Gorbachev to “tear down this wall.”

George H.W. Bush was swept out of office in 1992, in part, because he compromised on a tax deal with Democrats who controlled Congress despite making a campaign pledge of “Read my lips, no new taxes.”

It took an impeachment trial for Bill Clinton to admit that he had an affair with Monica Lewinsky and lied about it under oath in a deposition.

George W. Bush and Dick Cheney have spun their reasons for going to war in Iraq over and over again to suit their needs. Cheney has never backed down that going into Iraq was the right thing to do. This denial and spin has even extended to Bush’s brother who had some difficulty with the phrase “knowing what you know now” when asked about the war. In 2004, Bush won re-election because he labeled his opponent, current Secretary of State John Kerry, a “flipflopper” on the Iraq war.

Today, Republican lawmakers sign pledges to never raise taxes and Barack Obama is criticized when he says he “evolved” on the issue of same-sex marriage. Compromise between parties is a weakness. Congress fails to act on issues simply because Obama is for them. Gridlock is the watchword in Washington. The art of negotiation has been lost.

Trump is simply the newest, most extreme manifestation of this political animal. He doesn’t give up his position, regardless of the reality. He doesn’t surrender when people attack him. He fights back.

And he has billions of dollars to continue funding his campaign. Don’t expect an early exit.

Writing,Opinion Writing


Digital natives still prefer print books

By Chris Powers – Web Editor – 

Americans are reading fewer books than last year, but more of those books are traditional print books.

Pew Research Center conducted a study last month showing overall readership down around 7 percent compared to last year, print readers down 6 percent, while e-book readers have remained flat.

There is some crossover. Seventy-two percent of all Americans have read at least one book in the past year. Sixty-three percent of Americans have read a print book, while just 27 percent read an e-book.

books-018John Rothwell | The Collegiate

The choice to read an e-book or a physical book can be a personal one. For college students, that decision is compounded by questions of what is good for their education.

“I know some people who are avid readers, they can read (either) an e-book or printed text,” said Vikki Cooper, Director of Developmental Curriculum at Grand Rapids Community College and a reading and comprehension specialist.

Pew survey data indicates a generation gap among college students. Adults ages 18 to 29 are twice as likely to read an e-book than their elders.

While Cooper usually prefers print books herself, she just enjoys seeing students read.

“I like when I see students reading, even if they’re reading on their phone,” she said.

When it comes to textbooks, most students still prefer to have a hard copy. Because websites have trained people to skim blocks of text on screens, making it difficult to read comprehensively on-screen.

This is especially true of students with dyslexia or other learning differences where the reader needs to track words as they read.

“If you do have learning differences, having an e-version might not be as advantageous as having a physical page where you can touch it (and follow along),” Cooper said. “As I watch people with learning differences, they tend to go toward paper as opposed to an e-reader.”

Cooper said if students want to try a digital textbook, they should consider a dedicated device with an e-ink display, such as a Kindle. Dedicated e-readers tend to be more conducive to reading longer form text without distractions.

“A lot of technology has become a distraction,” Cooper said.

Cooper said she doesn’t believe the college could require digital textbooks in the near future because while most traditional students are digital natives, many “students aren’t as technologically savvy as we think they are.”

Publishers have a long way to go before the college could ever recommend going fully digital.

“When they publish their textbooks, we talk about how much they are going to cost and what the published text is going to look like,” Cooper said. “The ones that appeal to students have color.”

Whether reading for pleasure or for class, Cooper said students should be flexible in their reading habits.

“It just depends on the person and what you’re comfortable with,” Cooper said. “But I think as a student what’s important is understanding what works best for how you learn and for the discipline that you’re preparing for.”

Cooper warns that if students do choose e-books, using their phones may not be the way to go.

“A phone is a device that will do everything, but is it conducive to learning?”



There is No War on Christmas

We are currently smack dab in the middle of the holiday season and that means the War on Christmas has reignited.

For the uninitiated, the War on Christmas is the notion that Christmas is under attack by “secular progressives” who want to take the Christ out of Christmas by using more inclusive terms like “holiday season” or having “holiday parties” or simply wishing others “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas.”

The War on Christmas machine was dialed up to 11 for the first time this year when self-described “evangelist, internet and social media personality” Joshua Feuerstein posted a video complaining about Starbucks’ new plain red minimalist holiday cups. He argued that by removing the typical seasonal designs, the coffee giant was somehow attacking Christmas and, by extension, Christians.

Previous years’ designs included such traditional Christian iconography as coffee flowers, snowflakes, snowmen and reindeer.

The outrage really started building steam when media outlets picked up the trend from social media and began reporting on it. Fox News was the first large, national media outlet to report on Feuerstein’s video.

This shouldn’t surprise anyone who has followed the War on Christmas coverage over the years. It has been nearly 11 years since Fox News host Bill O’Reilly first planted the seed that Christmas was “under siege.”

“All over the country, Christmas is taking flak,” O’Reilly told his viewers Dec. 7, 2004, using an appropriately military turn of phrase. “In Denver this past weekend, no religious floats were permitted in the ‘holiday parade’ there. In New York City, Mayor [Michael] Bloomberg unveiled the ‘holiday tree,’ and no Christian Christmas symbols are allowed in the public schools. Federated Department Stores – that’s Macy’s – have done away with the Christmas greeting ‘Merry Christmas.’”

Since then, Fox News and other like-minded outlets have perpetuated this myth that Christians are becoming a persecuted minority and Christmas is in crisis. Nevermind that more than two-thirds of Americans identify as Christian and roughly 90 percent of all Americans, regardless of religious affiliation, celebrate Christmas.

In many ways, it is a symptom of media’s bias towards sensationalism and hyperbole. To fill the 24-hour news cycle, cable news will declare that one group is waging war on another despite actual shooting wars around the world. For instance, Republicans are waging a war on women, the government has a war on drugs and even a war on poverty.

The late comedian George Carlin called this America’s favorite problem-solving metaphor.

“Anything we don’t like about ourselves, we declare war on it, we don’t do anything about it, we just declare war on it,” Carlin said in a 1992 HBO stand-up special. “It’s the only metaphor, the only metaphor we have in our public discourse for solving problems: declaring war. We have to declare a war on everything. We have a war on crime, the war on poverty, the war on litter, the war on cancer, the war on drugs…”

Of course, O’Reilly and his supporters aren’t the first to fear the end of Christmas as they know it. The 1965 holiday classic “A Charlie Brown Christmas” has the Peanuts gang trying to figure out the true meaning of the season and features Linus quoting the Gospel of Luke’s nativity scene followed by, “And that’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.”

In 1959, the far-right John Birch Society published propaganda that blamed “UN fanatics” for taking the Christ out of Christmas.

In the 1920’s, an anti-semitic article in “The International Jew: The World’s Foremost Problem,” stated that Jews were blamed for the lack of “Christmas cards that indicated in any way that Christmas commemorated Someone’s Birth.”

In reality, Christmas is a multi-billion dollar industry. The National Retail Federation projects that sales will top $630 billion this year, accounting for approximately 19 percent of annual spending. With that type of money at stake, Christmas isn’t going anywhere.

Even in recession years, Christmas shopping often fuels our economy. Retailers live or die by their fourth quarter sales figures.

Some of the blame lies on wanting to be more precise. Christmas still, technically, comes just once a year. To wish people a “Merry Christmas” for the entire holiday shopping season can feel like it’s gone overboard, especially when that season begins immediately after Halloween.

Those who are blaming the “Happy Holidays” crowd for perpetuating a War on Christmas typically cite freedom of religion as the reason they are upset. They feel that their constitutionally mandated religious freedom is being violated by others not using their preferred vocabulary.

How ironic.

By criticizing the more inclusive language used by their adversaries, pro-Christmas warriors forget that part of religious freedom is freedom from religion.

Christmas isn’t going anywhere. Sure, the holiday has become a secular holiday in addition to a holy day, but that’s nothing new.

By most accounts, Jesus was born in the spring much closer to when we celebrate Easter, which is why there were shepherds tending their flocks. Early Christians decided to celebrate it near the winter solstice and other non-Christian holidays in order to convert pagans and other non-believers. They wanted others to feel included.

These non-Christian holidays are yet another reason for the more inclusive holiday language. While the vast majority of Americans do celebrate Christmas, they may celebrate other holidays as well. Isn’t including them the Christian thing to do?

Language evolves. It changes and grows with every generation. The same is true of traditions. Christmas traditions aren’t the ancient things many believe them to be. Many of them only date back to the 19th century. Of course, those are all the secular trappings.

Let’s all take a step back and breathe. What’s in a name? To get upset over holiday parties and winter breaks is childish.

Christians like to talk about their personal relationship with Jesus. If that relationship is so weak that plain red coffee cups and alternative season’s greetings can break it down, then maybe there are other issues.

At the height of the media’s red cup coverage, “Full House” actress and devout Christian Candace Cameron-Bure took to Instagram with the right idea.

“A Santa, a snowflake, some holly, a polar bear, some jingle bells or plain red cup don’t define Christmas for me as a Christian,” Bure wrote. “My relationship with Jesus does. So, I will joyfully sip on my Starbucks coffee, in a plain red cup, and instead of complaining about the lack of decorations, I will lovingly share the good news of Jesus Christ with friends and co-workers or anyone who’s willing to engage in conversation.”

In the end, Red-cup-gate was a mostly manufactured controversy, cared about by very few people, exacerbated by the lightning speed of social media.

Even O’Reilly didn’t care about the cup.

“As the original ‘War on Christmas’ five-star general, I have to say I don’t see any problem with it,” O’Reilly said. “Red is one of the colors of Christmas. Santa’s outfit is red. Rudolph’s nose is red. The cup’s okay with me.”

That doesn’t mean he won’t continue to rally the troops when the holiday tree goes up at the White House.

This story was originally published on The Collegiate Live.

Writing,Opinion Writing


FCC to vote on broadband classification, net neutrality

Net neutrality rules

By Chris Powers – Special Projects Editor

Federal Communication Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler plans to reclassify broadband providers as common carriers and forward the cause of net neutrality by establishing new federal rules for how internet service providers (ISPs) can shape traffic on its network.

The FCC is given the authority to classify communications companies under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934. Title II allows for the creation of common carriers, also known as public utilities. Currently, broadband providers like Comcast and Charter are not required to allow others’ traffic on its wires. AT&T was a company affected by this rule and Wheeler asserts that it was this reclassification that allowed the birth of the internet.

“The internet wouldn’t have emerged as it did, for instance, if the FCC hadn’t mandated open access for network equipment in the late 1960s. Before then, AT&T prohibited anyone from attaching non-AT&T equipment to the network,” Wheeler wrote in an opinion piece for Wired.

By making broadband providers common carriers, net neutrality proponents believe the openness that created competition in the telephone industry will repeat itself in the broadband industry. This announcement stopped short of “last-mile unbundling” that would open up the sort of true competition that would, for example, allow Charter to be able to provide broadband service on Comcast’s lines.

Hoping to preserve incentives for ISPs to invest in their networks, “there will be no rate regulation, no tariffs, no last-mile unbundling,” Wheeler wrote.

Yesterday’s announcement was more about ensuring that the internet remains free of backroom deals between corporations by providing government oversight and protection for both web services like Netflix and consumers.

In addition to making ISPs common carriers, Wheeler also announced rules that would further the cause of net neutrality.

“I am submitting to my colleagues the strongest open internet protections ever proposed by the FCC,” Wheeler wrote. “These enforceable, bright-line rules will ban paid prioritization, and the blocking and throttling of lawful content and services.”

Net neutralityNet neutrality is the principal that all traffic on the internet should be allowed whatever speed it is capable of traveling on a given network. Because ISPs bear the cost of hosting internet traffic, they would prefer to charge more for certain high-usage service. Some providers are already putting caps on how much data their customers can use each month.

When discussing net neutrality, Netflix is often given as an example of high bandwidth usage. According to a 2014 report by network equipment vendor Sandvine, Netflix uses more than one-third of the total bandwidth of North America’s internet during primetime.

Paid prioritization is when one web service pays to give their content priority on an ISP’s network in order to discourage the use of its competitor. For example, if Hulu wanted to pay AT&T to give its service priority, AT&T would open up a fast lane for Hulu’s traffic. When congestion occurs, such as when everyone in a neighborhood is home watching videos on Netflix and Hulu, those users watching Hulu would be given priority and Netflix would buffer because there’s not enough bandwidth to go around.

Throttling is when an ISP intentionally slows down traffic to and from a particular web service. In 2013, Comcast users saw a sharp increase in the amount of buffering while watching videos on Netflix. Although this was technically not a case of throttling, but rather a more complicated way to slow down traffic, the result was the same. Comcast was intentionally slowing Netflix traffic in the hopes of getting paid by Netflix to allow the traffic through in the same way as all other traffic and how it had before Comcast decided to slow down Netflix. Eventually, Netflix paid Comcast to re-open the gates.

This is increasingly important as more original video content goes online first. Since the parent companies of many ISPs also own film studios and television stations, it would be a bit monopolistic to throttle competitors like Netflix and Amazon Video or give priority to video streaming sites it may have a financial stake in.

Some portions of net neutrality are already in place. According to Wheeler, if the FCC didn’t provide net neutrality protections, “your internet service provider doesn’t already charge you extra for running Skype or a virtual private network, or even a router.”

Net neutrality became part of the national conversation last June when John Oliver dissected the issue on his HBO series “Last Week Tonight.” During the segment, he urged his viewers to comment on an FCC public comments section on net neutrality. The video went viral. People flooded the message board, crashing FCC servers.

This overwhelming support factored into Wheeler’s decision. “This proposal is rooted in long-standing regulatory principles, marketplace experience, and public input received over the last several months,” Wheeler wrote.

The FCC will vote on whether or not to implement the proposal Feb. 26. Congress weighs in on the topic the day before. If the proposal passes, ISPs will likely file suit and the battle will continue in the courts.