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The pilgrim William Bradford tells us about the first Thanksgiving. Winter was brutal. Snowbound in their hastily built houses, nearly every settler got sick; all were hungry, and half died. Spring followed, and with the help of Indians, the survivors reaped their first American harvest. English hunters went fowling in the woods, Massasoit brought in deer and about 90 Wampanoags, and everyone played games together and feasted for three days.
No matter when our families emigrated to America, we acknowledge these spiritual ancestors in a national rite every November, when we crowd around our dining room tables and feast on a traditional Thanksgiving meal of turkey and fixings. [..]
But the pilgrims (Bradford called them “saints”) weren’t the only settlers at the feast. Troublesome “strangers” who did not confess the Puritan creed were there, too.
One of the strangers was the historical figure you should be thinking about this Thanksgiving. You’ve probably never heard of Stephen Hopkins. He might change the way you think about the national holiday.
Donald Trump decided to endorse the leadership of an alleged Saudi murderer on Tuesday.
Speaking of accusations by the CIA and others that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the assassination of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, the president of the United States reverted to his usual fallback position: the truth is unknowable.
“It could very well be that the Crown Prince had knowledge of this tragic event—maybe he did and maybe he didn’t!” Trump said in a statement that read as if he’d dictated it off the top of his head and refused to allow corrections.
“We may never know all of the facts surrounding the murder of Mr. Jamal Khashoggi,” Trump said. “In any case, our relationship is with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.”
This is pitiful, and untrue.
gress is preparing for a lame-duck session that will undoubtedly be dominated by a high-stakes fight over funding for the Department of Homeland Security, including the question of President Donald Trump’s border wall. Should lawmakers fail to reach a DHS budget deal by Dec. 7, we can expect a partial government shutdown.
Democrats are preparing a list of demands, but it appears one thing that won’t be on the list is immigration. Instead, legislators and advocates alike seem content to wait until the incoming Democratic majority takes control of the House to move on legislation protecting the more than 3 million Dreamers and hundreds of thousands of “temporary protected status” holders.
The hope is to kickstart another immigration debate in Congress next year, when House Democrats can pass measures to shield Dreamers and TPS holders from Trump’s deportation force before the courts debating the merits of programs attempt to dismantle them. All of this could set up yet another funding fight before the end of next year. With the Senate under Republican control, any debate could become nothing short of another hollow flashpoint for immigrant communities who fear they’ll be Trump’s next target.
Donald Trump has failed at most things he’s tried to do in life, with the crucial exception of selling himself as a success.
Consider his business record over the past thirty years. In 1988, he bought Manhattan’s Plaza Hotel for over $400 million — at the time “an unprecedented sum for a hotel,” according to The New York Times. A few years later it was in bankruptcy protection. His casino company went bust, dragging the economy of Atlantic City down with it. Trump Airlines failed; the president defaulted on the loans he took out to buy it. Trump University was a con; he settled a lawsuit over it for $25 million. [..]
Trump’s fluke election was such an astonishment that it lent him an almost magical aura, making him seem less an idiot than an idiot savant, a man who could transcend the usual rules of politics.
But Democratic victories in the midterms, in addition to providing a crucial check on Trump, have highlighted what a naked emperor he really is. It turns out you can’t desecrate democratic traditions and insult most of the country with impunity. Trump’s mystique is irrevocably tarnished.
see Karen Tumulty: How we can fix the problems of our electoral system
It has now been two weeks since the midterm elections, and in some states, ballots are still being counted.
President Trump says that is evidence of something seriously amiss. He has trafficked in wild and unsubstantiated theories, claiming that some ballots showed up “out of nowhere” while others were forged or went missing. He even says he has witnessed people donning disguises to vote multiple times.
This is perhaps no surprise, coming from someone who preposterously attributes his loss of the popular vote in 2016 to millions of illegally cast ballots. Study after study has shown that vote fraud is exceedingly rare.
The fact is, it is not only normal but also a healthy thing that so many hotly contested races this year have gone into overtime. Expect more of it in the future. [..]
All of which would argue for being patient with those who administer our elections. Ballots should be counted painstakingly, particularly at a time when emotions are running high and polarization is deep.
Still, there are some things that should be done, starting now, to make elections go more smoothly.