Archive

December 5th

New haters, same old backlash

    Maybe now when I tell you that we're not in a post-racial society, you'll pay attention, OK?

    The latest evidence includes an intriguing debate over how to identify the loosely organized but increasingly prominent alt-right movement.

    Should we call them by their chosen label, "alt-right," which is short for "alternative right?" Or should we address them as I prefer by such traditional labels as "white nationalists" or simply "white supremacists?"

    It's a tricky question because the alt-right is a Twitter-age hashtag movement like the tea party, Occupy Wall Street, Black Lives Matter, "NotMyPresident" protesters and whatever other new movement may be percolating into a flash mob.

    The question gained new prominence after President-elect Donald Trump chose Steve Bannon to be his chief strategist. Among other achievements, Bannon is former chairman of Breitbart Media, which he described last summer in a Mother Jones interview as "the platform for the alt-right."

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I'm an undocumented Harvard grad. The election has left me broken.

    My future has always been blurry. It's an inherent characteristic of the undocumented experience. But when I got into Harvard University, everyone told me that my life was about to change: Your future is set. This was it. We finally made it. The American dream was within my grasp. Years later, my mom told me that on the night that I was accepted, my dad cried. Late at night, he turned to her and said, "Esto significa que yo hice algo bien." This means I did something right.

    My Harvard acceptance proved it was all worth it: the blood that covered my dad's hands after his long shifts, the tears my mom shed because she missed her family in Chile, the frustration they both endured from being unable to fulfill their full potential, all of the times they were humiliated because they didn't speak English well enough or understand American culture. It was all worth it, my father was saying. I made it. We made it.

    And yet.

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Donald Trump is calling 'hypocrisy' on the recount effort, but that's not really fair

    The results of the 2016 election have put the shoe on the other foot, it would seem.

    During the campaign, it was now-President-elect Donald Trump declining to say that he would accept the results of the election -- a move for which Hillary Clinton strongly denounced him. But as of this weekend, Clinton's campaign is participating in a recount of election results spurred by Green Party nominee Jill Stein in Wisconsin and potentially other states.

    It's led to claims of Clinton hypocrisy and cries of double standard. Trump summed up those claims via his preferred medium, Twitter, Saturday night and Sunday morning:

    "The Democrats, when they incorrectly thought they were going to win, asked that the election night tabulation be accepted. Not so anymore!"

    "Hillary Clinton conceded the election when she called me just prior to the victory speech and after the results were in. Nothing will change"

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Cracks in Trump's wall of promises

    Barely two weeks after Donald Trump's election built on a host of promises from building a wall along the Mexican border to putting "crooked" Hillary Clinton in jail, he has already begun to withdraw or hedge on many of them.

    He still insists that wall will go up and be paid for by Mexico. But at the risk of disillusioning millions of Hillary-haters who voted for him, he has pointedly backed off the threat to his defeated rival, showing a compassion never visible during the campaign.

    'I don't want to hurt the Clintons," Trump said Tuesday. "I really don't. She went through a lot and suffered greatly in many different ways." The worst, of course, was the humiliating Electoral College loss he handed her on Election Day, plunging her into what she admitted was a pit of personal as well as political gloom.

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What about Russia's meddling?

    In assessing Donald Trump's presidential victory, Americans continue to look away from this election's most alarming story: the successful effort by a hostile foreign power to manipulate public opinion before the vote.

    U.S. intelligence agencies determined that the Russian government actively interfered in our elections. Russian state propaganda gave little doubt that this was done to support President-elect Trump, who repeatedly praised Vladimir Putin and excused the Russian president's foreign aggression and domestic repression. Most significantly, U.S. intelligence agencies have affirmed that the Russian government directedthe illegal hacking of private email accounts of the Democratic National Committee and prominent individuals. The emails were then released by WikiLeaks, which has benefited financially from a Russian state propaganda arm, used Russian operatives for security and made clear an intent to harm the candidacy of Hillary Clinton.

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The Pretend Populism of Donald Trump

    For a politician who won the White House by railing against the elites and demonizing the establishment, Donald Trump presented an odd argument for why Americans should believe, as he does, that his adviser Steve Bannon is no racist, anti-Semitic ally of the alt-right.

    “Steve went to Harvard,” Trump reminded about two dozen of us at The Times last week, and then, a few sentences later, added, “I think he was with Goldman Sachs on top of everything else.”

    Well, that certainly settles it. If Bannon has been cleansed in the rose-scented bathwater of the Ivy League and then spritzed with the perfume of Wall Street, he can be no ideological outlier, no cultural ruffian, no threat. He knows to use the smaller, outside fork first and to put his linen napkin on his lap, not to cut eyeholes in it and wear it over his face.

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No Blubbering, Just Trump Bubbly

    First I had to deal with the president-elect scolding.

    During his interview with The New York Times on Tuesday, Donald Trump chided me twice for being too tough on him.

    Sitting next to our publisher, Arthur Sulzberger Jr., Trump invited everyone around the table to call him if they saw anything “where you feel that I’m wrong.”

    “You can call me, Arthur can call me, I would love to hear,” he said. “The only one who can’t call me is Maureen. She treats me too rough.”

    Then I had to go home for Thanksgiving and deal with my family scolding me about the media misreading the country. I went cold turkey to eat hot turkey: no therapy dog, no weaving therapy, no yoga, no acupuncture, no meditation, no cry-in.

    The minute I saw my sister’s Trump champagne and a Cersei figurine as the centerpiece — my brother, Kevin, nicknamed Hillary “Cersei” during this year’s brutal game of thrones — I knew I wasn’t in a safe space. 

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December 4th

Mothers in Prison

    The women’s wing of the jail exhales sadness. The inmates, wearing identical orange uniforms, ache as they undergo withdrawal from drugs, as they eye one another suspiciously, and as they while away the days stripped of freedom, dignity, privacy and, most painful of all, their children.

    “She’s disappointed in me,” Janay Manning, 29, a drug offender shackled to a wall for an interview, said of her eldest daughter, a 13-year-old. And then she started crying, and we paused our interview.

    Of all America’s various policy missteps in my lifetime, perhaps the most catastrophic was mass incarceration. It has had devastating consequences for families, and it costs the average U.S. household $600 a year.

    The U.S. has recently come to its senses and begun dialing back on the number of male prisoners. But we have continued to increase the number of women behind bars; two-thirds of women in state prisons are there for nonviolent offenses. The U.S. now incarcerates eight times as many women as in 1980, and only Thailand seems to imprison women at a higher rate.

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Farewell to Cuba's brutal Big Brother

    One of the most brutal dictators in modern history has just died. Oddly enough, some will mourn his passing, and many an obituary will praise him. Millions of Cubans who have been waiting impatiently for this moment for more than half a century will simply ponder his crimes and recall the pain and suffering he caused.

    Why this discrepancy? Because deceit was one of Fidel Castro's greatest talents, and gullibility is one of the world's greatest frailties. A genius at myth-making, Castro relied on the human thirst for myths and heroes. His lies were beautiful, and so appealing. According to Castro and to his propagandists, the so-called revolution was not about creating a repressive totalitarian state and securing his rule as an absolute monarch, but rather about eliminating illiteracy, poverty, racism, class differences and every other ill known to humankind. This bold lie became believable, thanks largely to Castro's incessant boasting about free schools and medical care, which made his myth of the benevolent utopian revolution irresistible to many of the world's poor.

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Fake news? That's a very old story.

    Last week, The Post reported that Paul Horner, "the 38-year-old impresario of a Facebook fake-news empire," believes he turned the election in favor of Donald Trump. For many, the claim signals an alarming turn into uncharted political territory. But fake news is part of American history. In fact, it goes back to the founding of the republic.

    In 1769, John Adams gleefully wrote in his diary about spending the evening occupied with "a curious employment. Cooking up Paragraphs, Articles, Occurrences etc. - working the political Engine!" Adams, along with his cousin Sam and a handful of other Boston patriots, were planting false and exaggerated stories meant to undermine royal authority in Massachusetts.

    Several other leaders of the American Revolution likewise attempted to manage public opinion by fabricating stories that looked like the real thing. William Livingston, then governor of New Jersey, secretly crafted lengthy pieces that newspaper publishers featured. One, titled "The Impartial Chronicle," was anything but, claiming that the king was sending tens of thousands of foreign soldiers to kill Americans.

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