On November 29, FBI agents arrested hacker and cryptocurrency developer Virgil Griffith. His alleged crime: Talking. Yes, really. The FBI alleges that Griffith "participated in discussions regarding using cryptocurrency technologies to evade sanctions and launder money."

In early November, French president Emmanuel Macron complained that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization  (NATO) is experiencing "brain death" as its member states go their own ways, with "no coordination whatsoever of strategic decision-making." US president Donald Trump's reply: "Nobody needs NATO more than France." The two continued their duel over NATO's future at an early December meeting of the alliance's members in London.

On November 27, US president Donald Trump signed The Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act. The bill, passed by veto-proof majorities in Congress amid large protests in the "special administrative region," allows the president to impose sanctions on officials who violate human rights there, and requires various US-government departments to annually review Hong Kong's political status with a view toward changing trade relations if the US doesn't like what it sees.

On November 15, US president Donald Trump pardoned two US Army officers accused of war crimes (one convicted, the other awaiting trial).

A political writer's annual Thanksgiving column can be easy to write, or incredibly difficult to put together. It can also be inspiring or banal. The two are probably connected. It's always a difficult one for me; its quality is a matter of your opinion. But hey, Turkey Day is just around the corner and it's time to talk about being thankful. Please bear with.

Annie Karni, Maggie Haberman, and Sheila Kaplan of the New York Times describe US President Donald Trump's proposed ban on flavored e-cigarette products as "a swift and bold reaction to a growing public health crisis affecting teenagers" that Trump backed away from "under pressure from his political advisers and lobbyists to factor in the potential pushback from his supporters." Maybe they're right about Trump's motivations, but they're wrong about pretty much everything else.

According to an October Rasmussen poll, 38% of likely voters say they intend to vote for "someone other than President Trump or the Democratic presidential nominee" in the 2020 US presidential election. In a three-way presidential race, 38% constitutes a winning plurality, assuming it's distributed among the states such that the Electoral College outcome reflects it.

US president Donald Trump "elevated his political interest above the national interest and demanded foreign interference in an American election," Peter Beinart asserts at The Atlantic. "What's received less attention is what the scandal reveals about Joe Biden: He showed poor judgment because his staff shielded him from hard truths. If that sounds faintly familiar, it's because that same tendency underlay Hillary Clinton's email woes in 2016."

"Wasting resources, capital, and income on stuff nobody really needs," Charles Hugh Smith wrote in 2017, "is a monumental disaster on multiple fronts. Rather than establish incentives to conserve and invest wisely, our system glorifies waste and the destruction of income and capital, as if burning time, capital, resources, and wealth on stuff nobody needs is strengthening the economy."

"If the facts are your side," famed attorney and former law professor Alan Dershowitz instructed his students, "pound the facts into the table. If the law is on your side, pound the law into the table. If neither the facts nor the law are on your side, pound the table." As Republican attacks on the US House of Representatives' impeachment inquiry grow in fury, they more and more resemble the third instruction in Dershowitz's maxim.

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