Archive

October 8th, 2016

Don't worry, millennial underachievers: It's always been tough to figure out your life

    Stepping into my college library one autumn Sunday, I heard an officer's police radio crackle to life: "Girl missing, left Manhattan dorm to teach class in Brooklyn this morning, never arrived." It took only a few seconds to realize the girl was me.

    The year was 1980, and I was a freshman. I had awoken earlier that morning terrified at the thought of going to my part-time job teaching 12-year-olds about the Holocaust at a Hebrew school in Brooklyn, a position I'd talked myself into in August but was utterly unqualified for. So I decided to skip work.

    That morning, I'd pretended to head to the job, bidding my roommates farewell with a backpack slung over my shoulder. But instead of catching the subway to Brooklyn as I normally did, I walked to a diner and lingered for hours at a scratched Formica table, eating scrambled eggs, sipping free coffee refills from a chipped ceramic mug and completing the easy answers in the Sunday New York Times crossword puzzle, ones with clues like "________ the Hun."

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A Muslim politician's American dream is real

    Saad Almasmari is ready for another interview. We are seated in a tea shop in Hamtramck, Michigan, which made news a year ago when it elected the nation's first Muslim-majority city council. Across from me, next to Almasmari, is a gracious young Muslim-American student whom I also had expected to meet here. Next to me is an organizer for the Hillary Clinton campaign whom I didn't. Almasmari invited the Clinton operative for the same time and place, figuring he'd kill two appointments with one cup of tea. He's a busy man.

    Hamtramck is a small town carrying more fears and hopes than its two square miles really ought to shoulder. Islamophobes are hoping the hardscrabble city blows up like a Michael Bay blockbuster, thereby proving that Muslims are all treacherous and anti-American. Multiculturalists want to see the city's Bangladeshi, Polish, Yemeni and other communities live in a dreamscape of harmony and prosperity, proving, among other things, that Islamophobes are idiots.

    Almasmari, meanwhile, mostly wants to get ahead.

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A good fairy smites Trump

    Donald Trump, the master spinner of fairy tales, has become the victim of a good fairy. An anonymous source has bestowed on The New York Times strong evidence of how he managed for years to turn huge business losses into legal ways to massively evade payment of federal income taxes.

    A Times reporter received three photocopied pages of Trump's signed 1995 tax return declaring losses of $916 million. They provided the basis by which he may have legally escaped paying as much as $50 million a year in taxes for as many as 18 years.

    The Times, doing due diligence, tracked down the tax accountant who prepared Trump's returns that year. He verified the photocopies' authenticity, as the Republican presidential nominee continued refusing to release his full income tax returns.

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Pence’s Ugly Assignment

    Donald Trump’s campaign for the presidency has been such a nonstop sequence of inane and insane moments that it’s hard to remember the outrages of a few weeks ago, let alone a few months back. So you may well have forgotten his introduction of Mike Pence as his running mate in July.

    I assure you that Pence hasn’t — because that was the harbinger. That was the clue. That was when and how he knew that he’d enlisted himself in an effort that was going to cause him significant heartache and boundless mortification.

    Trump took the stage in New York that day and digressed from the task at hand to sing one of those masturbatory arias — a Trump trademark — about his political success, his business genius and the unalloyed glory of all things Trump. This went on for nearly 30 minutes, while Pence waited … and waited … and waited in the wings.

    When he was finally summoned to the microphone, Trump didn’t stand beside or behind him but temporarily vanished. If the spotlight wasn’t going to be on Trump, what could possibly be the point of hanging around?

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October 7th

Trump's praise of Putin could cost him the election

    Donald Trump likes to mock Hillary Clinton for speaking to small crowds. So what was Trump doing last week giving a surprise speech to just 100 people in Chicago - a state he has zero chance of winning?

    Answer: damage control.

    Trump seems to finally realize that his bizarre embrace of Russian President Vladimir Putin, and questioning of the U.S. obligation to defend its NATO allies, has alienated a critical voting bloc he needs to win the White House - Americans of Eastern European descent. So last week, Trump took a break from criticizing a former Miss Universe to give a speech to the Polish American Congress - the nation's most prominent Polish American organization - where he lavished praise on Poland. The fact that Trump is reassuring Polish American leaders less than 40 days before a close election shows he is worried about losing this voting bloc - and with good reason.

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Only you can prevent a Trump presidency

    I know, I know, the point I'm about to make is painfully obvious. But it is not in any sense trivial: If you care who wins the election next month, get off the couch, go down to your polling place and vote.

    National polls taken since last week's debate show Hillary Clinton with a solid lead over Donald Trump; a Politico/Morning Consult poll released Monday morning, for example, put the gap at 6 points. New polls in swing states, including some that once looked favorable for Trump, also report that Clinton is now ahead. There is every reason to believe that most Americans favor the former U.S. senator and secretary of state over the bigoted, clownish real estate mogul who claims he's worth billions of dollars yet apparently avoids paying federal income taxes.

    If you're tempted to think this is in the bag, however, look around.

    In Colombia on Sunday, voters narrowly rejected a peace deal intended to end a war against leftist guerrillas that has raged for five decades and claimed tens of thousands of lives. Supporters of the agreement were shocked because respected polls had shown it would be approved easily.

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Note to young voters: Giuliani was once admired

    Rudy Giuliani once captivated Americans with his take-charge leadership after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. He was Time Magazine's man of the year.

    That's hard for most under-30 voters to grasp. The former New York City mayor has suffered one embarrassment after another ever since, and has become a staple of comedians' jokes.

    This was on display last weekend when, in his role as a leading surrogate for Donald Trump, he went on TV-interview shows to proclaim that the Republican presidential nominee was a "genius" for declaring $916 million in losses that he could use to legally avoid paying 18 years of federal income taxes.

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Let’s Get Putin’s Attention

    You may have missed this story, so I am repeating it as a public service:

    MOSCOW, Special to The New York Times, Oct. 1 — A previously unheard-of group called Hackers for a Free Russia released a treasure trove of financial records online today indicating that President Vladimir Putin owns some $30 billion in property, hotels and factories across Russia and Europe, all disguised by front organizations and accounting charades. 

    The documents, which appear to be authentic, include detailed financial records and emails between Putin’s Kremlin office and a number of his Russian cronies and Swiss banks. They constitute the largest hack ever of Putin. Russian censors are scrambling to shut down Twitter inside the country and keep the emails out of Russian-language media. 

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Let us see it, Mr. Trump

    Eighteen years? He paid no taxes?

    Are you sure this is standard practice?

    No wonder he won't release his returns.

    The bigger the losses, the more he earns.

    Airline, Trump U, and casinos

    All went belly-up but he knows

    Loss is gain. My projection:

    He'll make money from a lost election.

   

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Dispatches from a orange tweet storm

    Wait, wait. Did I hear what I just heard? Did you?

    Donald Trump paid no income taxes over an 18-year period?

    “That makes me smart,” says he. Not just smart. Brilliant.

    That makes me confused. If this were such a great virtue, you’d assume Trump would have shared his tax returns with us so we could bathe in his brilliance.

    Did I hear Trump say he can’t release his tax returns by law because they’re being audited? Yes, I heard that.

    Did I read an analysis in Forbes magazine unequivocally say that Trump’s claim is ridiculous? Yes, I did.

    Talk about ridiculous claims: Trump says that he knows more than anyone about how to game the tax system, making him best suited to “fix it.” Really? So, someone who’s dodged millions of dollars in tax liability is going to fix whatever it is that made his windfall possible?

    While we’re talking about being Trump smart:

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