Archive

November 10th, 2016

A night of protest and rust

    Oxidation happens when elements cause metals to corrode. The color of oxidation is red.

    Tuesday night was a red night, but not the Election-Night red of previous presidential races. It was the orange-ish red of a loud outsider who has a mandate today that nobody knows, most particularly the Electoral College victor.

    It was an evening of protest and rust – the protest against what has been, the rust of a frustrated heartland.

    The hue that won Tuesday night was that of hands rubbed raw from waiting for something to happen in Washington.

    Something has happened, the result of which nobody knows, most particularly the president-elect.

    Here’s what we know: Stagnation is not good politics. The Democrats didn’t offer the solution to stagnation that a plurality of Americans wanted to hear.

    Hillary Clinton has served her country well, and with extreme dignity. But she carried a brand that lost its appeal on the consignment rack.

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A call to action for journalists in covering President Trump

    One thing is certain in the presumptive era of President Trump. Journalists are going to have to be better - stronger, more courageous, stiffer-spined - than they've ever been.

    Donald Trump made hatred of the media the centerpiece of his campaign. Journalists were just cogs in a corporate machine, part of the rigged system. If many Americans distrusted us in the past, they came to actively hate us.

    His threats to change the laws that protect the press resonated with people who felt that the media is a protected class that gets away with far too much - those who cheered at Gawker being put out of business.

    What we can't do is buckle. What we can't do is slink off and hope someone else will take care of it.

    We have to keep doing our jobs of truth-telling, challenging power and holding those in power accountable - as the best journalists did during the campaign itself.

    We have to be willing to fight back.

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The responsibilities of opposition

    All Americans who are alarmed, angry and disheartened that a large minority of our fellow citizens made Donald Trump the president-elect must quickly learn to distinguish between blame and responsibility.

    I freely admit that my own list of those who deserve to be held accountable is long. It includes Vladimir Putin, who intervened shamelessly in our internal affairs, and FBI Director James Comey who, apparently under pressure from politicized bureau agents, changed the trajectory of the campaign and helped accomplish what the former KGB operative could not have achieved on his own.

    I blame Republican leaders who knew better but nonetheless aligned themselves with Trump. I blame a media that created an outlandishly false equivalence between Hillary Clinton's sins and the corruption of her opponent. And then there is our foolish and antiquated Electoral College system: For the second time in 16 years, the candidate for whom a plurality of Americans voted will not become president.

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November 8th

Election Day is a turning point for Supreme Court

    Lots of people who don't otherwise care for Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton say they're going to vote Tuesday based on which presidential candidate will be best for the Supreme Court. With the hours ticking away, it's worth running through the three most plausible scenarios to see what the election outcome will mean for the court.

    Most desirable for liberals will be if Clinton wins the White House and gets a Democratic majority in the U.S. Senate. If that happens, the lame-duck Republican Senate might or might not confirm the relatively moderate Judge Merrick Garland, President Barack Obama's nominee to fill Justice Antonin Scalia's seat. It will depend on what prevails: senators' strategic interests in keeping the court's judicial ideology as conservative as possible, or senators' individual interests in preventing future primary challenges from the right. It's perverse, but a Democratic Senate means Republican senators will know that they can wait until January to vote against any and all Clinton judicial appointees and still lose. That protects them from the criticism that they approved a nominee who will at least sometimes cast liberal votes.

What really makes America great

    As the most frightening election of my lifetime draws to a close, I find myself thinking of a teenager I met many years ago in Siberia who was moved to tears after sitting for an exam to win a U.S.- sponsored study trip to the United States.

    She didn't yet know whether she had won or lost - but it was the first time she had ever felt she was competing for something on her merits, where bribes or connections to people in power would have no effect. That alone made her grateful and admiring of the United States.

    She was seeing what, to me, is the real America.

    I find myself thinking, too, of the many U.S. Foreign Service officers I met during that same phase of my life, when I was working for The Post as a foreign correspondent. They didn't live glamorous lives, these young and not-so-young diplomats, and they didn't get much glory. They became fluent in the local language in Dushanbe or Seoul or Yerevan, and they spent long days and nights meeting local politicians and activists and artists, writing cables that might or might not get read back in Washington, doing their best to understand other cultures and explain ours.

For Your Health and for Your Life

    America, Tuesday is our national day of reckoning — Election Day — the day we do battle at the ballot box to beat back the advance of the butternut squash-tanned barbarian.

    I know you’re exhausted and exasperated. I know the lunacy has taken its toll. I know that your incredulity has grown in you like a tumor.

    I know that media coverage has been infuriating and the parade of Donald Trump deflect-and-detract minions a source of endless frustration.

    I know that there have been some out-of-body, what-the-hell-is-going-on moments as details about Trump’s past have come to light — revelations that would have spelled the end of a candidate during previous cycles — and people have simply pushed past them with bizarrely twisted rationales.

    I know that those of you with friends in other countries have been bombarded by baffled callers wondering, “What on Earth is America thinking?”

The devastating cost of anti-refugee rhetoric fueled by Donald Trump

    I have spent most of the last decade deeply invested in the refugee community in Austin. I have heard dozens of stories about the moment when people realize they have to flee, whether it was from the Burmese junta, Islamic State fighters in Iraq or rival militias in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

    That gut-wrenching choice is one of the few things all refugees have in common. For asylum seekers to be officially declared "refugees" by the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, they have to prove that they would be persecuted or killed for their race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or gender in their country of origin.

    Less than 1 percent of the 65.3 million refugees in the world are eligible for resettlement.

    One of my closest friends is a refugee, and she has daughters the same ages as my little girls; we often have slumber parties together. Because her family still has relatives living in danger in Myanmar, she asked me to use only her nickname, Kying. Her story is pretty typical.

Trump's candidacy is severely damaging GOP efforts to court Hispanic voting bloc

    No matter what happens in Tuesday's presidential election, the candidacy of Donald Trump has been an absolute demographic disaster for the Republican Party.

    Why? Because Trump is running historically poorly among Hispanic voters, according to a new Washington Post-Univision national poll. Hillary Clinton is winning 67 percent of Hispanic voters, compared with just 19 percent for Trump

    If Trump continues to get somewhere in the neighborhood of one of every five Hispanic votes, it would mark a new low for Republicans in that critical voting bloc. George W. Bush got 44 percent of the Hispanic vote in his 2004 re-election race. John McCain got 31 percent in 2008. Mitt Romney took 27 percent in 2012. That's, um, not a good trend.

Law enforcement loves Trump. It makes policing minority communities much harder.

    Whatever you think of FBI Director James B. Comey's letters to Congress regarding Hillary Clinton's emails, the episode and accompanying anonymous FBI leaks underscored something important about America's law enforcement community: its widespread support for Donald Trump. Such support is hardly confined to the FBI. Many police unions have endorsed the Republican presidential nominee, including the National Immigration and Customs Enforcement Council and the 330,000-member Fraternal Order of Police.

    It's troubling that any reputable group would support Trump. It is particularly damaging for police unions to do so, because these endorsements are both a gratuitous insult and a huge lost opportunity, making it harder for officers to reach out to minority communities that Trump has offended during this election season.

'Catch and kill' at National Enquirer gives media one last black eye before election

    In the tabloid business, the practice is called "catch and kill."

    That phrase was circulating on Saturday after the Wall Street Journal's solidly reported story that the National Enquirer - no stranger to checkbook journalism - had laid out $150,000 in August to a former Playboy magazine Playmate, who says she had a lengthy adulterous affair with Donald Trump a decade ago.

    The paper paid for exclusive rights to Karen McDougal's story but never published it, the Journal reported. Thus: catch and kill, otherwise known as trapping a story to keep it out of the public eye, for one reason or another.

    The tabloid, run by Trump pal David Pecker, is one of a tiny handful of papers to endorse Trump for president. (The Enquirer's parent company claims that it paid McDougal not only for rights to an unspecified personal story, but also to write a fitness column.)

    Trump, through a spokeswoman, has denied the affair. And of course, such a story would not have revealed anything new about Trump's character, nor would it have been disqualifying to his candidacy.