Iraqi Parliament Unanimously Approves Reform Plan

World Economic Forum on the Middle East and North Africa
Salah Malkawi—Anadolu Agency/Getty Images Spokesman of the Iraqi Parliament Salim Al-Jabouri participates in the the World Economic Forum on the Middle East and North Africa in May 22, 2015 at the Dead Sea, Jordan.

The plan would cut spending and eliminate senior positions and expand the powers of the prime minister

(BAGHDAD) — Iraq’s parliament on Tuesday unanimously approved an ambitious reform plan that would cut spending and eliminate senior posts, including the three largely symbolic vice presidencies, following mass protests against corruption and poor services.

Lawmakers approved the plan without a debate — a dramatic departure from the heated arguments and delays that have slowed previous efforts to approve important laws. Iraq’s most revered Shiite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, had backed the plan, which was announced Sunday amid mounting public pressure.

The government in Baghdad faces multiple challenges amid a war against the Islamic State group, which blitzed last year to capture a third of Iraq and neighboring Syria. Iraqi forces and Kurdish fighters, backed by U.S.-led airstrikes have since managed to retake some areas but clashes between the militants and security forces continue.

Tuesday’s development came after mass protests across Iraq against corruption and poor governance, focused on frequent power outages which have made a recent heat wave even more unbearable.

After the parliament approved the law, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi congratulated Iraqis in a message on his Facebook page, promising “to continue in the path of the reform even if it costs me my life with the trust in God and the people’s support.”

Parliament Speaker Salim al-Jabouri said he hoped that Tuesday’s “move will be the first and not the last to continue in the path of reform with the same spirit and without any hesitation.”

The U.N. mission to Iraq, known as UNAMI, welcomed the plan, saying it will “strengthen national unity and accelerate reconciliation at a time all honest Iraqis need to combine their efforts in the fight against terror.”

The acting chief of UNAMI, Gyorgy Busztin, said in a statement that “corruption and inefficiency create widespread and rightful dissatisfaction, which in turn, can be manipulated by terrorist groups for their own ends.”

The plan, which was unveiled by al-Abadi and approved by his Cabinet on Sunday, would cut spending and eliminate the offices of the three vice presidents and the three deputy prime ministers, largely symbolic positions for which appointments have long been determined by party patronage and sectarian loyalties.

The reforms dismantle parts of the top-heavy government created in the wake of the 2003 U.S.-led invasion that toppled dictator Saddam Hussein. The tripartite offices were intended to give equal representation to Iraq’s Shiite majority and its Sunni and Kurdish minorities.

The reforms also expand the powers of the prime minister, allowing him to sack provincial governors and the heads of provincial and local councils.

The plan further sidelines Vice President Nouri al-Maliki, al-Abadi’s predecessor who was widely blamed for inflaming sectarian tensions and staffing the military with underqualified supporters, paving the way for the Islamic State group’s rapid advance across northern and western Iraq last year.

Al-Maliki reluctantly stepped aside a year ago, but is widely believed to exert power from behind the scenes. He expressed support for the reform plan.

Saad al-Hadithi, a government spokesman, told The Associated Press that the plan will be implemented over the coming months and that further reforms are in the works.

The plan would also reduce spending on officials’ personal bodyguards and transfer that responsibility to the interior and defense ministries.

In addition, it calls for a review of all corruption cases by a committee of experts, with fresh trials for officials suspected of wrongdoing. It also includes economic reforms aimed at encouraging investment and tax reforms to expand revenue sources beyond the oil industry.


Associated Press writer Vivian Salama contributed to this report.

TIME Donald Trump

Here’s What Donald Trump Would Do About ISIS

Real estate tycoon Donald Trump speaks during the prime time Republican presidential debate on August 6, 2015 at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio.
MANDEL NGAN—AFP/Getty Images Real estate tycoon Donald Trump speaks during the prime time Republican presidential debate on August 6, 2015 at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio.

He'd send in the military very quickly.

For anyone who thinks Donald Trump’s presidential candidacy is all bluster and no policies, check out this: The Donald has told the world exactly how he’d deal with ISIS.

The plan is sure to please the neoconservatives in the Republican party: use force.

“I would knock out the source of their wealth, the primary source of their wealth, which is oil,” he told MSNBC. “I would knock the hell out of them, but I’d put a ring around it and I’d take the oil for our country.”

Prior to the interview on Morning Joe, the hosts also ran a clip of Trump talking in 1987 about how he thought the US should invade Iran and take their oil, while leaving the rest of the country.

TIME politics

A Way Forward for LGBT and Religious Liberty Rights

David Blankenhorn is president of the New York-based Institute for American Values.

Ending the culture war and working together will help both groups

What should happen now that the Supreme Court has legalized gay marriage? So far, the answer depends on whose side you’re on.

For religious and social conservatives, a major goal going forward is national legislation protecting the rights of those who object to gay marriage on religious grounds. A First Amendment Defense Act, which would “prevent discriminatory treatment of any person on the basis of views held with respect to marriage,” is gaining support among conservative members of Congress and many pro-family groups.

For LGBT Americans and their allies, a major goal going forward is national legislation protecting the basic civil rights of LGBT Americans. An Equality Act, which would ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and identity in employment, public accommodations, education, housing, federal funding, and jury service, is gaining support among liberal members of Congress and many pro-equality groups.

One way to address these two sets of goals is to continue the culture war. We know what this looks like: Leaders on both sides argue that the contest is between good and evil, and that any gain for one side is a loss for the other.

From this perspective, some conservatives insist that all efforts to safeguard gay rights are incompatible with religious liberty. For example, here is Russell Moore, who leads the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, explaining his generalized opposition to gay rights legislation: “Proposals to address these concerns inevitably lead to targeted assaults on religious liberty.” And here is the author Ryan Anderson of the Heritage Foundation: “Sexual orientation and gender identity laws threaten fundamental First Amendment rights.” Any questions?

Conservatives can also push the idea of conscientious objection to its utmost extreme. For example, instead of continuing and clarifying a tradition of largely confining the right of religious exemption regarding gay unions to religious and religiously-affiliated organizations, the draft of the First Amendment Defense Act appears to grant that right to every individual and private business in the land. Would hotel or restaurant owners objecting to gay marriage have the right to refuse service to wedding parties? Perhaps!

The response from the left can be equally unbending. Some advocates argue that all public acts of conscientious objection to gay marriage are morally suspect and likely amount to unlawful discrimination. Privately, you can continue to believe what you want. But publicly, gay marriage is now marriage, and conscientious objectors should be given little if any leeway to exempt themselves from its requirements. Any questions?

Meanwhile, if gays and lesbians can marry in the morning but still be fired or evicted or demeaned in the afternoon, isn’t there still much more to do?

The problem with continuing the culture war along these lines is that all the fighting might prevent both sides from achieving anything—which would be tragic, since both sides stand for important values. It’s simply inaccurate to say that gay rights and religious freedom can’t co-exist in America.

In fact, each side probably needs the other in order to succeed. Recall what happened recently in a number of states: In states including Arizona, Indiana, and Kansas, religious liberty bills paying complete attention to the rights of religious dissenters and zero attention to the rights of gays and lesbians achieved almost nothing and made no one happy. But Utah was different. Encouraged by the LDS Church, long an opponent of gay marriage but now in mutually respectful dialogue with gay and lesbian leaders, the Utah legislature passed legislation earlier this year that combined reasonable exemptions to protect religious freedom with new statewide legal protections for gays and lesbians.

Congress could do essentially the same thing by combining the Equality Act with the First Amendment Defense Act. The details would require hard bargaining, but the outlines of a win-win agreement are readily apparent. Religious liberty partisans would agree to nationwide civil rights protections for LGBT Americans and to largely restrict the exemptions they desire to religious organizations. And by agreeing to carefully tailored exemptions, pro-equality partisans would be much more likely to gain new legal protections for millions of LGBT Americans.

Neither side would get everything. But both sides would gain something important. And we as a diverse nation would have taken another step toward learning to live together.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Television

John Oliver Skewers Donald Trump After the GOP Debate

The host of 'Last Week Tonight' is already tired of Trump

If you’re exasperated with the amount of focus being heaped on Donald Trump in the wake of the televised Republican debate, you’re not alone. John Oliver is also unimpressed.

The host of Last Week Tonight skewered Trump and the debate, which he likened to “the worst season ever of Dancing with the Stars.” Oliver also bemoaned the media fascination with Trump, pointing out that “the main headlines the next day were nothing to do with the battle between the candidates onstage but between Donald Trump and moderator Megyn Kelly, which culminated in this.”

Those headlines continued over the weekend, high-lighting Trump’s post-debate comments about Kelly: “She starts asking me all sorts of ridiculous questions and, you know, you could see there was blood coming out of her eyes. Blood coming out of her, wherever.”

“Whoa,her ‘wherever!’” joked Oliver on Sunday. “You can only imagine how talented a lover Donald Trump must be. ‘I’m just gonna put my thingamajig in your wherever and I’m going to waggle it! I’m going to waggle it around.’”

However, the late-night host seemed to find solace in the fact that the GOP debate and the Trump media-hoopla would have little to do with the election, saying, “The 2016 election will not depend on this because it’s 457 days away. There will be actual babies born on Election Day 2016 whose parents haven’t even met yet. So everyone pace yourselves.”

TIME politics

How 2 Women Won an All-Male Debate

Ten men were on stage, but Megyn Kelly and Carly Fiorina won the night

It was the B-team debate, the kiddie table, the JV squad not ready for the big leagues, the Republican candidates who couldn’t break into the top 10 in GOP presidential polls to make the Prime Time debate later that day. The hall was fairly empty and the online jokes were flying. All eyes were on Rick Perry who was, by most estimations, the one who “deserved” to be on the main stage with the big boys, and the one to beat. He almost made the cut to the main stage but in the end was bested by Ohio Governor, John Kasich, and relegated to the undercard.

As the debate progressed, however, there seemed a clear champion and it wasn’t Rick Perry, or Rick Santorum, who was Mitt Romney’s runner-up in the GOP presidential primary election of 2012. It was Carly Fiorina, former CEO of Hewlett-Packard and the only woman in the race on the GOP side.

All presidential candidates have to strike the right balance between strong, smart, decisive, humble all while thinking of good answers to complicated questions on the spot. For women, the judgement on how they speak is much more severe than for men. Uptalk, vocal fry — women get a lot of criticism on the way they sound that men simply don’t. Sarah Palin’s accent, for example, was widely mocked while men with various accents, like Lindsey Graham, don’t get quite the same level of contemptuous teasing. When moderator Martha MacCallum asked Fiorina during the debate if her self-comparison to Margaret Thatcher was a stretch given her low poll numbers, Fiorina responded with grace and finesse. She talked about the low poll numbers of other candidates historically at this point in the race, such as eventual presidents Reagan, Clinton and Obama, and about the kind of leadership she would bring to the presidency. She was calm, smart and earnest. Her pitch was perfect.

She fielded questions about her conservatism and she went after the presumed front-runner: assuming the Donald Trump show comes to an end in the near future, Jeb Bush. She criticized his “I’m not sure we need half a billion dollars for women’s health issues” gaffe for giving Democrats a campaign ad before the campaign has even begun.

Her fearlessness paid off. Twitter exploded with Fiorina-love. Eighty-three percent of respondents in a Fox poll thought she’d won the debate. Still, people like Jack Shafer at Politico dismissed the positive reaction Fiorina had gotten and proclaimed that of the B-team, only Rick Perry looked like a president. Fiorina might respond: “What does a president look like, exactly?”

Post-debate Fiorina was on Hardball where Chris Matthews did his trademark yelling over his guest and she managed to render him speechless and admit he could understand the hype around her.

The other winner of the night isn’t even running for president. It was moderator Megyn Kelly, whose tough but fair questions exposed weaknesses and holes.

A candidate with many such weaknesses, who didn’t appreciate Kelly’s questions at all, was Donald Trump.

Kelly got the ultimate only-for-women insult from Donald Trump: she was not being nice. Trump took to Twitter, at 3am, to berate Kelly, saying she “bombed.” The next day, he went on various shows to say Kelly “behaved very badly.”

Frank Bruni at the New York Times called Kelly Trump’s “appointed slayer” but also noted she went after the weaknesses of the other candidates in the same way. Her method was fierce, but forcing the candidates to really look at their vulnerabilities can only be a good thing for the Republican field at this stage in the race.

On the other side of the aisle, there was Hillary Clinton, whose Instagram shots with Kim Kardashian, Kanye West and Kris Jenner surfaced just as the debate was winding down. “Kardashian support!” — the shots seemed to say — “Trump that!” Fiorina and Kelly only seemed even more serious by comparison.

Politicians get criticized for not having “enough” women around, but it only took two to win the whole night.

TIME politics

John Kasich Could Be the GOP’s Pope Francis Candidate

His inclusive language during the debate stood in stark contrast to that of many of his rivals

At times during the first GOP debate on Thursday night, it was hard to tell who was talking: Pope Francis or Ohio Governor John Kasich.

“We need to give everybody a chance, treat everybody with respect, and let them share in this great American dream that we have,” the second-term governor, an Anglican, said. “God gives me unconditional love. I’m going to give it to my family and my friends and the people around me.”

Recent polling suggests that practicing and preaching Pope Francis politics works. Kasich apparently got the memo. His inclusive and conciliatory language Thursday night stood in stark contrast to that of many of his rivals, most notably, Donald Trump. Pope Francis has called for us to build bridges to make a home for immigrants and the excluded, yet Trump communicated a different idea: “We need to build a wall, and it has to be built quickly.”

It isn’t just Kasich’s words that connected him with the 78-year-old Bishop of Rome. Kasich’s policy decisions during the past five years have reflected the pope’s plea that politicians be “genuinely disturbed by the state of society, the people, the lives of the poor.” Most noteworthy was the governor’s courageous decision to break with his Republican colleagues and support Medicaid expansion in the state of Ohio. When conservatives pushed back on his decision, Kasich asked his fellow Republicans to understand that poverty is real. “When you die and get to the meeting with St. Peter, he’s probably not going to ask you much about what you did about keeping government small. But he is going to ask you what you did for the poor. You better have a good answer.”

Pope Francis would most certainly agree. He has derided trickle-down economic systems that cut social programs as having a “crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power,” and has lamented that “the excluded are still waiting.”

Kasich’s performance Thursday night was reminiscent of the George W. Bush era of “compassionate conservatism.” Bush defined this governing philosophy in simple terms: “It is compassionate to actively help our citizens in need. It is conservative to insist on accountability and results.” The philosophy proved successful for Bush. But can Kasich follow suit?

Kasich’s campaign got off to a rocky start. One of President Barack Obama’s former senior advisors called his long-winded announcement that he was running for president “a great advertisement for speechwriters and Teleprompters.” Some, including John McCain, have also complained about Kasich’s temper. These are all valid concerns. But Kasich’s performance last night might be able jumpstart his underdog primary campaign.

In an interview earlier this year, Kasich revealed that he really does understand Francis:

The Pope’s not saying, ‘Let’s just abandon everything up until now.’ He’s saying, ‘But wait a minute! Before we get to the rules, let’s look at the good stuff. Let’s have the dessert first!’ Look, there’s so much we have to do to clean ourselves up. Me: deeply flawed! There’s so much that we have to do. So instead of getting into the judgment, why don’t we get into the feeding the hungry and clothing the naked and helping the imprisoned and helping the lonely?”

If this is the message Kasich takes into 2016, he might be back in Cleveland again next summer for the convention as the GOP nominee for president.

MONEY politics

Here’s What the Republican Candidates Had To Say About Your Money

From unusual tax proposals to what they'd do about health care

Economics weren’t the driving theme of Thursday night’s main-stage Republican presidential debate. But four important pocket-book issues got an airing:

Social Security

Fox News moderator Chris Wallace got Chris Christie and Mike Huckabee to go head-to-head on entitlement programs—that is, Social Security and Medicare.

Chris Christie claimed the current system will either “bankrupt our country or lead to massive tax increases” in the long run, and advocated for a shift towards one that benefits only those who actually need it. Christie’s 12-point plan on entitlement, unveiled back in April, includes a proposal to shift back the Social Security retirement age by 2 years—from 67 to 69—over the next 25 years. It also calls for the Medicare eligibility age to be raised from 65 to 67, and for reduced Social Security benefits for Americans making over $80,000 a year in other income. Christie also wants to eliminate these benefits altogether for anyone making over $200,000.

Huckabee attacked Christie’s proposal. “Lets all be reminded, 60 million Americans are on Social Security—60 million,” he said. “A third of those people depend on 90% of their income from Social Security.” Huckabee has said in the past that cutting benefits now would be breaking a promise to the American people who have been forced to pay Social Security taxes throughout their careers. He insisted all our current system needs is some funding, and that a national retail sales tax—an idea branded as the “FairTax”—could add to Social Security’s funding by bringing in more taxpayers, including the “illegals, prostitutes, pimps, drug dealers—all the people that are freeloading off the system now.” The sales tax was one of two unusual, far-reaching tax proposals discussed Thursday night.


Huckabee’s tax plan would eliminate the income tax altogether, instead instituting a single national retail sales tax on all goods and services. Huckabee’s idea that the tax would capture the income of people in the underground economy, such as drug dealers and prostitutes, comes from the fact that they’d pay a sales tax whenever they purchased goods. (However, if they are not paying income taxes now, they might also under the new system collect their earnings without charging a sales tax.)

Huckabee also noted another group that does not currently pay taxes into Social Security. “Most of the income in this country is made by people at the top who get dividends and capital gains,” he said. A flat sales tax would capture a share of any income they spent. However, it could lower the effective tax rate of wealthy people who are able to save much of their income.

Neurosurgeon Ben Carson outlined a proposal for a flat taxation system he said would be similar to the Biblical practice of tithing, saying, “I think God is a pretty fair guy.” Just as many Christians set aside a flat 10% of their income for giving, Carson wants a flat tax across the board, with everyone paying the same rate. “You make $10 billion, you pay a billion. You make $10, you pay one. And everybody gets treated the same way,” said Carson. “And you get rid of the deductions, you get rid of all the loopholes.”

Carson called his proposal a “proportional tax.” A proportional tax is different from our current system, which charges higher rates to higher earners. Proportional taxes can impose a heavier effective burden on lower earners, since high earners tend to have more money left over after paying for necessities.

Stoking economic growth

There was much talk of job creation: Christie spoke about creating 192,000 private sector jobs in New Jersey in the past five-and-a-half years, then John Kasich touted his addition of 350,000 jobs in Ohio in the past three-and-a-half. Scott Walker had to defend an earlier growth promise: Wisconsin only gained half the 250,000 jobs in his first term that he promised during his campaign to govern the state.

Jeb Bush was thrust into the center of the discussion when moderator Chris Wallace asked him about his claim that he would deliver 4% economic growth and 19 million jobs if he manages to be elected for two terms in office. Bush accused the political left of being complacent with “2% growth,” saying that the United States has achieved 4% growth 27 times since World War II.

In terms of action to get there, Bush said the U.S. will need to “fix a convoluted tax code,” axe regulations, and repeal the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. He also said he would “embrace the energy revolution.”

Fact-checkers at the New York Times say that only four presidential terms since WWII have included 4% growth, and that while Democrats including Hillary Clinton have also expressed a need for exceeding 2%, a sustained 4% rate is unlikely unless our economy can either gain workers or increase efficiency.

Health care reform

Two candidates were questioned by moderators for championing policies traditionally associated with Democrats.

Megyn Kelly grilled Ohio governor John Kasich on his expansion of Medicaid in Ohio to prisoners and the mentally ill, a move she said is “already over budget…by some estimates costing taxpayers an additional $1.4 billion in just the first 18 months.”

Kasich shot back by comparing himself to Ronald Reagan, who expanded Medicaid multiple times, and defended the expansion as a move to get Ohio’s working poor and its prison populations “on their feet.”

Moderator Brett Baier noted that in the past, businessman Donald Trump openly favored a single-payer healthcare system, a universal system in which the government funds all care via taxes. Trump didn’t deny it. “It works in Canada. It works incredibly well in Scotland,” he said. And he said universal health care might have worked in the U.S. “in a different age.”

Trump said he now supports a private healthcare system. Echoing John McCain’s 2008 health-plan proposals, Trump wants to see America “get rid of the artificial lines around every state,” allowing people to buy insurance across state lines. As for “people who can’t take care of themselves,” Trump suggested he’ll have “a different system.”


Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: Don’t Let Trump and Co. Distract From Black Lives Matter

Black lives should matter more than votes

Dear presidential candidates:

With the first anniversary of the killing of Michael Brown this weekend, America needs to know how the tumultuous events of the last year have affected your stance regarding the needs of the black community. In order for African Americans to determine this, please select one of the following that best defines your current philosophy: a) Black Lives Matter, b) Black Votes Matter, c) Black Entertainers and Athletes Matter, d) All of the Above, e) None of the Above.

If you chose anything other than “a,” you probably don’t deserve any votes—black, brown, or white. You might get votes by default of being less bad than the alternatives, but getting votes that way isn’t much of an endorsement of your leadership abilities. And making things better for African Americans in a substantial and meaningful way in this country is going to require an outstanding leader.

In ancient Greece, a touchstone was a dark stone, such as slate, used to determine the purity of gold ore. Today, the phrase “Black Lives Matter” has become a political touchstone in determining the basic qualities of a leader: courage, vision, and intelligence.

Courage is required in order to speak out in support of “Black Lives Matter.” So many Americans misunderstand the meaning of the phrase that there’s an outraged backlash against it. The popular misinterpretation, encouraged by some politicians seems to be that by saying “Black Lives Matter,” African Americans are seeking special attention. In fact, it’s the opposite. They are seeking their fair share of opportunities without receiving the “special attention” of being profiled, arrested, imprisoned, or killed.

Many of you candidates—including the only black candidate, Ben Carson—have used the more mundane phrase, “All Lives Matters,” which appeases racism deniers. This is cowardly because it completely ignores the problem and panders to the least politically informed constituency. Americans are used to candidates competing to see who can best ingratiate themselves to the demands of reclusive billionaire backers and fringe groups, but this goes too far.

Most Americans are already in agreement that all life matters—it’s just that blacks want to make sure that they are included in that category of “all,” which so many studies prove is not the case. In the future, think of “Black Lives Matter” as a simplified version of “We Would Like to Create a Country in Which Black Lives Matter as Much as White Lives in Terms of Physical Safety, Education, Job Opportunities, Criminal Prosecution, and Political Power.”

Studies prove that the education system is biased in favor of white students: A 2014 U.S. Education Department survey concluded that students of color in public schools are punished more and receive less access to experienced teachers than white students. This leads to lower academic performance for minorities, putting them at greater risk of dropping out of school. Minorities are also on the short end of the job market: Unemployment among blacks is about double that among whites. One study found that job applicants with black-sounding names received 50% fewer callbacks than those with white-sounding names.

More important is the legitimate fear black people have for their lives. The killing of unarmed black men, women, and children at the hands of police this past year has been well documented in the press. We continue to see more names added to the list. A recently revealed video shows police shooting to death Jonathan Ferrell, who knocked at a nearby house for help after a car accident in 2013. The phrase “Black Lives Matter” isn’t just a metaphor; it’s a call for awareness of the literal danger to one’s physical body merely by being black in America. A danger that whites don’t share.

Presidential candidates must also have vision and intelligence. You have to envision an ideal America of equal opportunity and treatment for all and have an intelligent plan to actually move the country in that direction. Both qualities require an awareness of current political and social movements. Thousands recently attended a “Black Lives Matter” conference in Cleveland. A lot of the news coverage ignored the substance of the meeting, instead focusing on the more dramatic images of a transit cop pepper-spraying some people who protested the arrest of a 14-year-old black kid accused of being intoxicated. The following week, candidates including Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush spoke at the National Urban League’s conference, an African-American political activist group that is larger and older than the “Black Lives Matter” movement. Why were there no candidates at the “Black Lives Matter” conference?

Part of the reason is that the discussion of race in America as a major talking point for this election has been derailed by the funhouse candidacy of Donald Trump. His unexpected popularity has sent many of you candidates into hiding so as not to offend his conservative supporters. You tried denouncing his rude, inaccurate, and bullying comments, but that only seemed to increase Trump’s popularity. Trump is succeeding at taking the Grumpy Old Grandpa approach: complain without offering practical solutions. It’s likely that his supporters are mostly the disenfranchised older, white, middle-class conservatives who already feel marginalized and invisible. Like Howard Beale in Network, they’re mad as hell and won’t take it anymore. They have this narrow window to be heard, and by supporting such an outrageously improbable candidate, their voices are coming through loud and clear.

What they fail to realize is that Trump’s outspoken opinions, which his followers consider refreshing, are mostly meaningless. As president he wouldn’t have the power to do much of what he claims he would do. That’s why he appeals to those who have little knowledge of how government actually works. Never mind that Trump’s statements reveal no specific policy or plan, or that he has no experience, and that his comments show him to be detached from the street-level problems of America. Or, most important, that the very people who support him will likely be the most hurt by his election. His popularity is similar to the Schwarzenegger Syndrome: Californians elected Arnold simply because he was refreshingly outspoken, despite the fact that he had no qualifications or job experience appropriate to running a state. In the end, despite Schwarzenegger’s bold talk and good intentions, some argue California was worse off when he left office. That is pretty much what we could expect under the Trumpinator.

With the nation focused on the Trump Distraction, the “Black Lives Matter” issue has been moved to the back of the bus. But don’t expect the issue to wait patiently for its turn in the spotlight. Take a look at this week’s Pew Research Center poll, which concludes that 58% of Hispanics and 73% of African Americans believe racism is a big problem. That’s two voting blocks. Perhaps even more relevant is that 44% of whites agree that it’s a significant problem, which is an increase of 17 points since 2010. Finally, the most important finding: 59% of all those polled agree that the country “needs to continue making changes to give blacks equal rights with whites.” That’s up from 46% about a year ago.

In his novel Animal Farm, George Orwell satirizes totalitarian governments that revise history by changing their original commandment: “All animals are equal” becomes “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.” By ignoring the “Black Lives Matter” issue, you’re proclaiming your political position that, “All life matters, but some lives matter more than others.” Let’s see how that works out for you next November.

MONEY politics

Kasich Says Obamacare Empties Prisons—In a Good Way

The Ohio governor says the program, unpopular with Republicans, has reduced recidivism rates.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich defended his expansion of Medicaid under Obamacare at Thursday night’s Republican presidential debate.

The Medicaid expansion, unpopular among many of the Republican faithful, has benefited mentally ill prison inmates, said Kasich.

“I’d rather get them their medication so they could lead a decent life,” he said.

“Eighty percent of the people in our prisons have addictions or problems,” Kasich added. “We now treat them in the prisons, release them in the community and the recidivism rate is 10 percent….”

Participants in the debate, held in Cleveland and televised on Fox News, were Kasich, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, real estate mogul Donald Trump, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.

MONEY politics

Huckabee and Carson Invoke Pimps and God in Fight Over Your Taxes

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee pitched his “fair tax” proposal at Thursday night’s Republican presidential debate. Meanwhile, fellow candidate Dr. Ben Carson pushed for a 10% income tax.

Huckabee said the tax on consumption “is paid by everybody, including illegals, prostitutes, pimps, drug dealers, all the people that are freeloading off the system now.”

Carson, a retired neurosurgeon, favors a 10% income tax that would apply to income large or small. That system, he said, “is based on tithing, because I think God is a pretty fair guy.”

Participants in the debate, held in Cleveland and televised on Fox News, were Huckabee, Carson, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, real estate mogul Donald Trump, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, and Ohio Gov. John Kasich.

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