Archive

November 8th, 2016

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.

The Real Voter Fraud

    The casting of a ballot is the most fundamentally American act that any of us takes. It connects us to the Enlightenment ideals of the country’s founding — the once-radical notion that human beings should think for themselves, rather than merely obey kings and priests. “Dare to know!” Immanuel Kant wrote, offering a motto for the Enlightenment. “Have the courage to use your own understanding!”

    These ideals have a stirring power, even in a year as uninspiring as 2016. And their power makes it all the more outrageous that a significant number of Americans find their right of self-determination under attack.

    Thousands of citizens have needed intervention from federal judges in the last several weeks in order to vote. Even more remarkably, a few million adult Americans will be denied the right to vote this year.

    When you cast your ballot on Tuesday — and make sure that you do — or watch others go to the polls, I encourage you to keep in mind your disenfranchised fellow citizens.

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The duty young people have

    Four years ago, I went to the polls to cast my first vote. I knew that years later, I'd proudly tell a kid voting for the first time that when I was her age, I voted for Barack Obama.

    For my entire life, people have come up to me and told me a story just like mine, except for them, it was 1960 and their first vote was for my grandfather, John F. Kennedy. These men and women came out in numbers to elect a man who challenged them to ask what they could do for their country, who called for bold leadership in science and space, who supported civil rights and who inspired millions to help change the world for the better.

    Voters in 1960 elected the first Catholic president. In 2012, I voted to reelect the first African-American president. Each was a vote for a man of principle and character, for a man who had proved himself capable and courageous and who would lead our country with a combination of dignity, compassion and toughness along a path of progress. This year, it will be with hope and pride that I cast my vote for a woman who fits that description.

Is this the end of our latest national nightmare?

    Today, much of America will be greeting Election Day not only with relief at the end of the 2016 presidential campaign, but with deep trepidation as well.

    Donald Trump, an ignorant, arrogant, egomaniacal snake-oil salesman, has conned the Republican Party and much of the electorate into placing him within reach of the Oval Office.

    The nation's romance with public-opinion polling, pushed by an apparently insatiable desire to know the outcome of the election before it's over, has created a collective sense of fear that the American political system may be at the brink of extinction as we have known it .

    Various surveys have represented the election as either a nail-biting tossup or one that will be decided by one or two state outcomes, depending on voter turnout that the pollsters can only conjecture.

What campaign promises would a President Trump try to keep?

    In my travels, I've encountered numerous Trump supporters across the land. All are decent, hard-working Americans who genuinely believe that Trump will make America great again and is just the shock that the system needs.

    I have noticed one cognitive tic they all possess, however. When asked how they feel about Trump's more outrageous policies -- bringing back torture, building a wall on the Mexican border -- they have a response. It is usually some variant of, "oh, that's just campaign talk" or "he won't really be able to do that, Congress will stop him" or something like that. In other words, Trump supporters focus on the things they like about their candidate and rationalize away the other stuff.

What A State Of Affairs

    Observing this campaign session from afar must be devastating to those who heretofore thought it was the best government that humankind has devised. It is certainly frightening to many of us living it. However dissatisfied they may be with their own governments, many around the world are grateful not to be in the predicament faced today by the United States of America.

    They must be wondering what we think the word "united" means. Mexico may be thinking that building a fence isn't such a bad idea after all, while the French wonder what happened since they gave us that statue. Canada is hoping that climate change might deliver a geographic shift. Little Cuba is ready to reverse the embargo. In short, they must be quaking in their boots about the intolerance so prevalent here spreading to their nations. Some are thinking that by comparison they are not so bad off after all.

Is Donald Trump Putin's 'puppet'? When the shoe fits....

    Donald Trump's big PeeWee Herman moment came during a clash in his final debate with his opponent Hillary Clinton over Russia.

    The moment came during a question about one of her speeches released by WikiLeaks. Trump said Russian leader Vladimir Putin has no respect for Clinton.

    "That's because he'd rather have a puppet as president," Clinton replied sharply.

    Trump, after taking a moment to comprehend what he had just been served, fired back with all the sophistication of PeeWee the former kiddy show star:

    "No puppet," he said, trying to talk over her. "No puppet. You're the puppet. No, you're the puppet."

    It was a classic Trump move. When you're backed into a corner with virtually zero knowledge of what you're talking about, accuse your opponent of whatever happens to be their worst charge against you.