The Ledes

Wednesday, November 30, 2016.

Washington Post: "The deadly wildfires that engulfed two Tennessee tourist towns leading into the Great Smoky Mountains National Park left at least seven dead and hundreds of buildings damaged or destroyed, officials said late Wednesday as the terrible toll of the fires began to take focus. At least 53 people were treated for injuries at hospitals, though their conditions were not known. Massive walls of flames spread down the mountains into Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge on Monday with shocking speed, said those who fled with little more than the clothes on their backs. The fires are estimated to have damaged or destroyed more than 700 homes and businesses — nearly half of them in the city of Gatlinburg. Park Superintendent Cassius Cash said late Wednesday afternoon that the fire was 'likely to be human-caused.'” -- CW

The Wires

Public Service Announcement

Guardian: (Nov. 3): "An Alzheimer’s drug has been shown to successfully target the most visible sign of the disease in the brain, raising hopes that an effective treatment could be finally within reach. A small trial of the drug was primarily aimed at assessing safety, but the findings suggest it effectively “switched off” the production of toxic amyloid proteins that lead to the sticky plaques seen in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients.” -- CW

Politico's Late Nite Jokes:

A Night at the Opera. Los Angeles Times: "The curtain rose on Act 2 of 'The Daughter of the Regiment,' revealing the figure of a tiny woman barely visible in a large dome chair with her back to the audience. Suddenly, she swiveled around — and there was Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.Cheers and prolonged applause rang out from the crowd at the Kennedy Center on Saturday night even before Ginsburg, a life-long opera lover who was making her official operatic debut, opened her mouth to speak as the imperious Duchess of Krakenthorp.... Her biggest laugh came when — in apparent reference to the bogus 'birther' campaign against President Obama — she asked whether [the character] Marie could produce a birth certificate and added: 'We must take precautions against fraudulent pretenders.' Ginsburg herself wrote her dialogue, in collaboration with ... [the] dramaturge for the Washington National Opera...." -- CW 

Bruce Springsteen performs at Hillary Clinton's rally in Philadelphia, November 7:

Washington Post: "Paul Beatty won the Man Booker Prize on Tuesday evening in London, becoming the first American ever to take home the prestigious award. His satirical novel 'The Sellout' beat five other finalists for the $60,000 prize, which also essentially guarantees substantial new sales and interest around the world. Amanda Foreman, chair of the Booker judges, called 'The Sellout' 'a novel for our times. . . . Its humor disguises a radical seriousness. Paul Beatty slays sacred cows with abandon and takes aim at racial and political taboos with wit, verve and a snarl.' Originally published last year in the United States, 'The Sellout' is an outrageously funny satire of American race relations. The protagonist, a black man whose father was killed by police, wants to reinstitute segregation in his California town. He eventually lands before the Supreme Court in a bizarre case involving slavery. 'The Sellout' also won the National Book Critics Circle Award for fiction in March." -- CW 

Washington Post: "Comic actor, movie star and America’s best friend Bill Murray tried to sum up the emotions of being honored with the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor on Sunday night [Oct. 23] at the Kennedy Center. 'My theme tonight is what is it like to be beloved,' a straight-faced Murray told the crowd at the end of the two-hour salute. 'It’s hard to listen to all those people be nice to you. You just get so suspicious.'”

Hill: Actor Bill Murray "spoke with President Obama, who congratulated him for winning this year’s Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, a White House official said. Asked by reporters in the Oval Office if he met with Murray, Obama said 'absolutely,' but didn’t reveal what else they discussed."

New York Times: "The veteran television personality Jane Pauley will replace Charles Osgood as the anchor of the highly rated CBS show 'Sunday Morning.' Mr. Osgood, who is retiring, announced the news on his last show on Sunday. Ms. Pauley’s first day in the role will be Oct. 9, and she will become only the third anchor of the show, which started in 1979." -- CW 

New York Times: "Modern humans evolved in Africa roughly 200,000 years ago. But how did our species go on to populate the rest of the globe?.... In a series of extraordinary genetic analyses published on Wednesday, researchers believe they have found an answer. In the journal Nature, three separate teams of geneticists survey DNA collected from cultures around the globe, many for the first time, and conclude that all non-Africans today trace their ancestry to a single population emerging from Africa between 50,000 and 80,000 years ago.... All non-Africans are closely related to one another, geneticists found, and they all branch from a family tree rooted in Africa.... There are also clues that at least some modern humans may have departed Africa well before 50,000 years ago, perhaps part of an earlier wave of migration." -- CW ...

... CW Note to White Racists: You, too, are black. It's way past time to give up your quest for "racial purity"; it's genetically impossible. This, BTW, is something non-ignoramuses have known for a couple of decades. No wonder you hate science.

 

The Los Angeles Times has extensive coverage of the Emmy Awards here.

The video below will most likely be taken down for copyright infringement, so watch it while you can. It's pretty funny. Here's a WashPo report on Jeb!'s cameo on the opening bit for the Emmy Awards. Also, ABC may put up a video of it here, but they have nothing at all up on the awards ceremony as of 8:30 am ET, Monday, Sept. 19.

Chris Welch of the Verge: "Twitter is about to make a big change to the way that tweets work.... Beginning September 19th, the company will cut down on exactly which types of content count toward the platform's 140-character limit. Media attachments (images, GIFs, videos, polls, etc.) and quoted tweets will no longer reduce the count. The extra room for text will give users more flexibility in composing their messages."

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Thursday
Dec012016

The Commentariat -- December 2, 2016 

Afternoon Update

Lucia Mutikani of Reuters: "U.S. employers boosted hiring in November and the unemployment rate dropped to a more than nine-year low of 4.6 percent, making it almost certain that the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates later this month. Nonfarm payrolls increased by 178,000 jobs last month after increasing by 142,000 in October, the Labor Department said on Friday. The solid employment gains likely reflect growing confidence in the economy, which has been marked by rising consumer spending and inflation.

The unemployment rate fell three-tenths of a percentage point last month, hitting its lowest level since August 2007..." Akhilleus: I guess Trump is responsible for this too. Must have threatened all those employers. What a guy. 

Louisiana law apparently makes it a breeze to shoot, kill, and walk away, but only if...According to Ralph Ellis on CNN, "A man suspected in the shooting death of former NFL running back Joe McKnight in what appears to be a road rage incident has been released from custody in Louisiana, Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office spokesman Col. John Fortunato said Friday. McKnight, 28, who played for the New York Jets and Kansas City Chiefs, was shot to death Thursday afternoon at a busy intersection in Terrytown, a suburb of New Orleans, authorities said. 

Jonathan Bullington on NOLA.com reports that "A witness, who declined to give her name, said she was leaving a store in the area when she saw a man at the intersection yelling at another man, who was trying to apologize. The man who was yelling shot the other man more than once, she said.

She said the shooter shot the man, stood over him and said "I told you don't you f--- with me." Then he fired again, she said. 

The shooter, Ronald Gasser, is white. McKnight who is black, was unarmed. Akhilleus: That's the "only if". Expect much more of this as Der Drumpf and his white supremacists take over. What appears to be an execution style murder and the guy walks? Not even charged? Wow.

Donald Trump: Loser-in-Chief. Jesse Berney of Rolling Stone: "Donald Trump is going to be the next president of the United States, but he's a loser, and he can't stand it. That's why he tweeted a lie about millions of Americans voting fraudulently to give Hillary Clinton the popular-vote victory. It doesn't matter whether he believes that to be true – he needs it to be true. Our thin-skinned baby president-elect hates the idea that millions more people voted for his opponent than for him, so he'll accept whatever made-up facts he needs to make it not so. The schadenfreude over Trump's feelings of inadequacy is all well and good until you realize the impact his infantile need for approval will have on our country. Make no mistake: Trump isn't a poll reader who will, say, cancel plans to repeal Obamacare just because it turns out the majority of Americans don't want him to. Trump seems more the type to recede into his bubble. He's already back holding the sorts of rallies he misses from the campaign trail, where his strongest supporters wait hours in line to cheer his nonsense...A man who brazenly lies, is desperate to punish insults (real and perceived) and has no conception of the rule of law is about to assume a position of immense power. A man with a need for validation as desperate as Trump's is dangerous." Akhilleus: No kidding. 

Postmeridian Knee Slapper: Paul Ryan has talked "extensively" with Trump about the Constitution. Hayley Miller of the Huffington Post reports: "House Speaker Paul Ryan and President-elect Donald Trump have discussed the Constitution 'extensively' in their 'almost daily conversations.' In an excerpt of a '60 Minutes' interview that will air Sunday, Scott Pelley asked the speaker if Trump understands the role of the president and his obligation to work with Congress, rather than acting as 'CEO of the United States.''Oh, we’ve talked about that extensively,' Ryan said. “We’ve talked about the Constitution, Article 1, the separation of powers.'" Akhilleus: Well, I'm certainly happy to hear that. I think the Speaker may have forgotten to tell Trumpy about a few other amendments, like the First, and maybe the Sixth and Fourteenth. Ryan and Trump talk "extensively" (as in a wicked, wicked lot) about the Constitution! There. Don't say I never told you anything funny. 

Ken Dilanian of NBC News: General Mattis Left My Men to Die. "A former Army Special Forces officer is accusing retired Marine General James Mattis, President-elect Donald Trump's pick to be defense secretary, of 'leaving my men to die' after they were hit by friendly fire in Afghanistan in 2001. Mattis has not commented publicly on the incident, which was chronicled in a 2011 New York Times bestselling book, 'The Only Thing Worthy Dying For,' by Eric Blehm. The book portrays Mattis as stubbornly unwilling to help the Green Berets. His actions, which were not formally investigated at the time, are now likely to get far more scrutiny during the retired general's Senate confirmation process. Trump's transition team did not respond to request for comment from NBC News. Nor did Mattis, whose 2013 retirement from the military means he would need a waiver from Congress to serve as the civilian Pentagon chief.-- Akhilleus

No Conflict of Interest Here, Move Along...a Reuters article in the New York Daily News reports "President-elect Donald Trump on Thursday said for the first time that he supports the completion of a pipeline project near a North Dakota Indian reservation, which has been the subject of months of protests by tribes and environmentalists. A communications briefing from Trump's transition team said despite media reports that Trump owns a stake in Energy Transfer Partners, the company building the pipeline, Trump's support of the pipeline 'has nothing to do with his personal investments and everything to do with promoting policies that benefit all Americans.' 'Those making such a claim are only attempting to distract from the fact that President-elect Trump has put forth serious policy proposals he plans to set in motion on Day One,' said the daily briefing note sent to campaign supporters and congressional staff. Akhilleus: Trump is really going to town on the basis of a law that protects presidents from the legal consequences of conflicts of interest. This is going to get ugly.

*************

CW: I'm otherwise occupied for most of the rest of today, so please fill in where necessary. (I may get a break around noon.)

Nick Corasaniti & Michael Shear of the New York Times: "In his first major address since winning the presidency three weeks ago, Donald J. Trump soaked up the adulation of tens of thousands of his supporters at a campaign-style rally [in Cincinnati, Ohio], unabashedly gloating about the 'great' victory he had secured. If there were any question about whether his evolution to president-in-waiting would temper his presentation or moderate his tone, the rally offered a forceful answer: Not a chance. Kicking off what was billed as a 'thank you' tour, Mr. Trump was incendiary and prideful, hopeful and indicting, vengeful and determined.... He repeated pledges to suspend immigration from countries with a history of terrorism, repeal the Affordable Care Act, lower taxes, end unfair trade and 'drain the swamp' of corruption." -- CW 

Dan Lamothe of the Washington Post: "... Donald Trump has chosen retired Marine Gen. James N. Mattis to be secretary of defense, according to people familiar with the decision, nominating a former senior military officer who led operations across the Middle East to run the Pentagon less than four years after he hung up his uniform.To take the job, Mattis will need Congress to pass new legislation to bypass a federal law stating that defense secretaries must not have been on active duty in the previous seven years. Congress has granted a similar exception just once, when Gen. George C. Marshall was appointed to the job in 1950." -- CW ...

     ... Update. Michael Gordon & Eric Schmitt of the New York Times: "... Donald J. Trump said on Thursday he had chosen James N. Mattis, a hard-charging retired general who led a Marine division to Baghdad during the 2003 invasion of Iraq, to serve as his secretary of defense. Mr. Trump made the announcement at a rally in Cincinnati, calling General Mattis 'the closest thing we have to Gen. George Patton.' General Mattis, 66, led the United States Central Command, which oversees military operations in the Middle East and Southwest Asia, from 2010 to 2013. His tour there was cut short by the Obama administration, which believed he was too hawkish on Iran." -- CW 

Nelson Schwartz of the New York Times: “... Donald J. Trump had been vowing for months on the campaign trail to call the head of Carrier from the Oval Office and hit the company with huge tariffs if it followed through on its decision to close two Indiana factories and move more than 2,000 jobs to Mexico. 'This is so easy,' he told cheering crowds last spring. 'It’s not presidential when the president calls up the head of a damn air-conditioning company, but it’s so much fun for me.' In the end, it wasn’t that easy. The deal with Carrier that Mr. Trump came [to Indiana] Thursday to claim credit for will save at least 1,100 jobs, and Carrier will receive multiyear state economic incentives worth a total of $7 million, which were negotiated by Mike Pence, Indiana’s governor and soon to be vice president.... Mr. Trump insisted that the agreement was a real accomplishment, not just a combination of political showmanship and tax breaks." -- CW ...

... Aaron Blake of the Washington Post: "During his attempted victory lap in Indiana on Thursday celebrating the fact that Carrier opted to keep jobs in the state thanks to $7 million in incentives, Trump candidly admitted that he didn't even remember having promised to keep Carrier's jobs in the state and insisted that he hadn't actually meant to make that promise.... Here is the exact comment Trump made back in August: 'We're bringing jobs back to our country. We're not going to let Carrier leave.'... This is a statement he made while in Indiana — in front of people who had a very strong interest in taking him literally. They did, and yet he was apparently surprised by that.... That doesn't bode well for the hundreds of promises Trump has made that some highly interested stakeholders may have taken very seriously." -- CW ...

...

If they’re going to fire all their people, move their plant to Mexico, build air conditioners, and think they’re going to sell those air conditioners to the United States — there’s going to be a tax,” “It could be 25 percent, it could be 35 percent, it could be 15 percent, I haven’t determined. -- Donald Trump, on "Meet the Press,” this summer ...

... As it turns out, how about zero percent? -- Gene Robinson

... Lauren Gambino of the Guardian: "... critics warned that the arrangement struck with Carrier – which had planned to shift its operations at the plant to Mexico before Trump’s intervention – is unsustainable on a large scale and could set a dangerous precedent for companies looking for tax concessions.... Since 2000, Indiana has lost 150,000 manufacturing jobs. Nationally, 5m manufacturing jobs disappeared over the same period. The White House on Thursday applauded the deal but noted that it was small in scope – and hardly comparable to the number of manufacturing jobs created under President Obama, which he put at 804,000." -- CW ...

... New York Times Editors: "The most significant benefits could well come in the form of corporate tax cuts (and, inevitably, tax loopholes for specific industries) along with regulatory rollbacks, which Mr. Trump has promised, without supplying details. Can there be much doubt that this deal will ultimately save United Technologies more than it would have saved by moving the Carrier jobs to Mexico? Mr. Trump campaigned against crony capitalism, but one-on-one deals like this are at best inefficient and at worst riddled with just that kind of corruption.... In making the deal, Mr. Trump and Mr. Pence have embraced the idea that the government does indeed have a role to play in the free market. They intervened, and as a result, 800 people will keep their jobs." -- CW ...

... Gene Robinson: "I don’t understand why anyone else would consider this a good deal — except, of course, the leadership team at United Technologies.... The company still gets to lay off many of the targeted Indiana workers and replace them with much cheaper Mexican labor. It gets partial compensation from the state government. And instead of worrying about a potential tariff, United Technologies can anticipate a major reduction in the federal corporate tax rate. That’s something Trump promised on the campaign trail — and also, reportedly, in a recent phone call with United Technologies chief executive Greg Hayes.... The Carrier deal is just the latest piece of evidence suggesting that Trump’s populist rhetoric about championing the working stiff and cracking down on greedy globalist corporations was all a bunch of hooey. His administration is shaping up to be a government of, by and for corporate America." -- CW...

...Josh Marshall of TPM: "Curious story here out of Indiana. A local news investigative reporter, Rafael Sanchez, who investigated Carrier's plans to move jobs from Indianapolis to Mexico was denied credentials at today's celebration at the Carrier plant with President-Elect Trump and Veep-Elect Pence. What's notable is that it appears Carrier itself was in charge of approving journalists' credentials, not the Trump/Pence transition." --safari...

** ... Carrier Trounces Trump. Bernie Sanders, in a Washington Post op-ed: "Just a short few months ago, Trump was pledging to force United Technologies to 'pay a damn tax.' He was insisting on very steep tariffs for companies like Carrier that left the United States and wanted to sell their foreign-made products back in the United States. Instead of a damn tax, the company will be rewarded with a damn tax cut. Wow! How’s that for standing up to corporate greed? How’s that for punishing corporations that shut down in the United States and move abroad? In essence, United Technologies took Trump hostage and won. And that should send a shock wave of fear through all workers across the country." CW: Once again, the bully-braggart wimps out. ...

... Sam Stein of the Huffington Post tries to figure out why Trump is getting credit for saving a few jobs in Indiana, while President Obama's stimulus package saved the entire Indiana economy and Indianans don't know it. ...

     ... CW: The answer is pretty simple. Democrats do the work, but they don't know how to garner credit for it. Obama, Biden, Pelosi -- some Washington Democratic bigwig -- should have been at every ribbon-cutting ceremony. Instead, oftentimes, the guy who showed up to take credit for a stimulus project was the Republican Congressman who voted against it. ...

... Jeet Heer of the New Republic: "America has never before had a demagogic liar on the scale of Donald Trump as president. That means every one of his tweets has to be viewed with suspicion, as part of a permanent campaign — and as his substitute for communicating with the press in a more traditional way. The press has to treat this president as ... someone who is going to ardently pursue the same tactics of deception that won him the presidency.... Twitter fights are an excellent way to keep conjuring up a fresh set of left-wing demons.... Trump's tweets ... are a form of press conference without a press.... The press must seriously re-think its relationship to Trump’s Twitter." CW: Read the whole post for Heer's examples of how Trump tweets should be covered, as opposed to how the press is still reporting them. Most important, news reports should illuminate what the outrageous tweets are designed to hide.  

Rosalind Helderman & Drew Harwell of the Washington Post: "... Donald Trump has disclosed owning millions of dollars of stock in companies with business pending before the U.S. government and whose value could rise as a result of his policies. Trump’s stock holdings, which are separate from the more high-profile real estate and branding empire that he has said he will separate from in some fashion, represent another area rife with potential conflicts of interest that Trump has yet to address as he prepares to take office. Trump’s stock holdings, as of his most recent disclosure in May, included millions of dollars worth of shares in financial institutions such as Goldman Sachs and Wells Fargo, which have seen their stock prices rise with his promises to roll back regulations imposed after the 2008 financial crash. He has held substantial numbers of shares in Apple and a unit of Ford, companies whose executives he has spoken with since the election as part of his efforts to press corporations not to ship jobs overseas." -- CW 

"Seduced and Betrayed." Paul Krugman: "Yes, the white working class is about to be betrayed. The evidence of that coming betrayal is obvious in the choice of an array of pro-corporate, anti-labor figures for key positions. In particular, the most important story of the week — seriously, people, stop focusing on Trump Twitter — was the selection of Tom Price, an ardent opponent of Obamacare and advocate of Medicare privatization, as secretary of health and human services. This choice probably means that the Affordable Care Act is doomed — and Mr. Trump’s most enthusiastic supporters will be among the biggest losers.... Any replacement [of the ACA] will either look a lot like Obamacare, or take insurance away from millions who desperately need it.... [Trump backers are] about to receive a rude awakening, which will get even worse once Republicans push ahead with their plans to end Medicare as we know it, which seem to be on even though [Trump] ... had promised specifically that he would do no such thing.... There will be nothing to offset the harm workers suffer when Republicans rip up the safety net." -- CW 

Matt Zapotosky of the Washington Post: “'The system is rigged,' Trump tweeted after the FBI recommended that Clinton not be charged. “General Petraeus got in trouble for far less. Very very unfair! As usual, bad judgment.' That assessment has long irked Clinton supporters and even the FBI — which feels that Petraeus’s case was a clear-cut example of criminal wrongdoing with aggravating factors, while Clinton’s was not.... If nominated to be secretary of state, Petraeus would have to undergo a potentially bruising confirmation hearing that would probably reexamine the lurid case that led to his conviction and dredge up old comparisons to Clinton. His and Clinton’s cases both involve investigations of mishandling of classified information, but under dramatically different circumstances.... The [classified] information [Petraeus gave his lover Paula Broadwell] included war strategies and the identities of covert officers, the officials said. Petraeus also told agents that he had not provided classified information to Broadwell or facilitated her obtaining it, which FBI Director James B. Comey said was a lie." -- CW ...

    ... CW: If Trump nominates Petraeus to any position, it will be another betrayal of his "Lock Her Up!" dumbos, who were so terribly, terribly shocked & upset that Clinton had mishandled classified material. Luckily for the dumbos, they're too stupid to understand he played them for fools. 

Yo, Nawaz! The Dangerous Ignoramus. Mark Landler of the New York Times: "Mr. Trump’s unfiltered exchanges [with foreign leaders] have drawn international attention since the election.... The breezy tone of the readout [of Trump conversation with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif of Pakistan] left diplomats in Washington slack-jawed, with some initially assuming it was a parody. In particular, they zeroed in on Mr. Trump’s offer to Mr. Sharif 'to play any role you want me to play to address and find solutions to the country’s problems.'... On Thursday, the White House weighed in with an offer of professional help. The press secretary, Josh Earnest, urged the president-elect to make use of the State Department’s policy makers and diplomats in planning and conducting his encounters with foreign leaders.” -- CW 

Alex Isenstadt of Politico: "New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is expressing serious interest in the job of Republican National Committee chairman...." -- CW 

Valerie Volcovici of Reuters: "... Donald Trump on Thursday said for the first time that he supports the completion of a pipeline project near a North Dakota Indian reservation, which has been the subject of months of protests by tribes and environmentalists. A communications briefing from Trump's transition team said despite media reports that Trump owns a stake in Energy Transfer Partners (ETP.N), the company building the pipeline, Trump's support of the pipeline 'has nothing to do with his personal investments and everything to do with promoting policies that benefit all Americans.'" -- CW ...

I celebrated Thanksgiving in an old-fashioned way. I invited everyone in my neighborhood to my house, we had an enormous feast, and then I killed them and took their land. -- Jon Stewart ...

... Tim Egan: "The sight of native people shivering in a blizzard [at Standing Rock], while government authorities threaten to starve them out or forcefully remove them, is a living diorama of so much awful history between the First Americans and those who took everything from them. The authorities have brought water cannons, rubber bullets, tear gas, helicopters and dogs against what has become one of the largest gatherings of tribes, from all nations, in a century. They’ve given the protesters, who will soon include a brigade of veterans, until Dec. 5 to disperse. Now flash back a few years to another Western standoff, the Nevada siege of Cliven Bundy, the deadbeat rancher who drew heavily armed white militia members to defend a man who stiffed the government while grazing his cattle on public land. There, the feds backed off." -- CW 

Matt Shuham & Caitlan MacNeal of TMP: "President-elect Donald Trump’s pick to lead the Department of Health and Human Services is a member of a far-right medical group that peddles conspiracy theories, and has ties to an anti-health care reform activist infamous for sharing a racist image of President Obama on a Tea Party email listserv....Rep. Tom Price (R-GA), an orthopedic surgeon, has been repeatedly touted as a member of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS). AAPS, established in 1943, aims “to fight socialized medicine and to fight the government takeover of medicine” and in its statement of principles urges members to refuse to treat Medicare patients, reasoning government involvement in healthcare is “evil” and “immoral."...An article separately posted on AAPS’ website even speculated that President Obama’s oratory could in fact be a form of hypnosis, suggesting that he won the presidency by hypnotizing impressionable voters like young people and Jews." --safari

Karen Tumulty & Philip Rucker of the Washington Post: "The raw, lingering emotion of the 2016 presidential campaign erupted into a shouting match ... Thursday as top strategists of Hillary Clinton’s campaign accused their Republican counterparts of fueling and legitimizing racism to elect Donald Trump. The extraordinary exchange came at a postmortem session sponsored by Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, where top operatives from both campaigns sat across a conference table from each other.... The animosity of the campaign aides mirrors the broader feelings of millions of voters on both sides." -- CW ...

Daniel Strauss of Politico: "The Michigan recount initiated by Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein is on hold. Attorneys for ... Donald Trump filed an objection Thursday with the Michigan Bureau of Elections, a move that under Michigan law halts the recount until the complaint is resolved. Trump's team, in its objection, argues that Stein hasn't provided sufficient evidence to doubt the election results.... The recount, scheduled to begin Friday in Ingham and Oakland counties, is now awaiting a Board of State Canvassers ruling on the objection." -- CW 

Buyers' Remorse? Richard Alonso-Zaldivar of the AP: "A new poll has found that only about 1 in 4 Americans wants ... Donald Trump to entirely repeal his predecessor’s health care law that extended coverage to millions. The post-election survey released Thursday by the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation also found hints of a pragmatic shift among some Republican foes of 'Obamacare.' While 52 percent of Republicans say they want the law completely repealed, that is down from 69 percent just last month, before the election." -- CW 

 Josh Marshall of TPM: "According to The Hill, Republicans are looking at giving vast sums of money to insurance companies to give them a way to ride out the market collapse that the repeal of Obamacare would likely trigger - that is, ride it out until Republicans can think up something to replace Obamacare with...The gargantuan giveaway to the health care industry we're talking about here is supposedly to give Republicans time to figure out a replacement. But time isn't the problem. They had more than six years to mull this one. They are simply unwilling to confront the actual alternatives. So the 'bailout' is a way to put off figuring out what to do. Given Republican fears of being tarred with voting a "bailout" for the health care industry they are apparently also looking at ways President Trump can provide the cash through regulatory action, thus avoiding the need for a vote."--safari

Sarah Wire & John Myers of the Los Angeles Times: "Gov. Jerry Brown has tapped House Democratic Caucus Chairman Xavier Becerra (D-Los Angeles) to be the next attorney general of California. He will succeed Kamala Harris, who was elected to the U.S. Senate in November. Becerra, 58, has served 12 terms in Congress and was making a bid to become the ranking Democrat on the powerful House Ways and Means Committee when Brown called him unexpectedly to offer the job. 'It's a phenomenal opportunity,' Becerra said. 'It means I get to be home a lot more.' Becerra, who is the highest-ranking Latino in Congress, would be the state's first Latino attorney general." -- CW 

Way Beyond the Beltway

Angelique Chrisafis of the Guardian: "François Hollande, the least popular French president since the second world war, has announced he will not run for a second term in office. With a satisfaction rating so low it recently dropped to just 4%, the Socialist president appeared shaken and emotional as he said in a live televised address from the Élysée palace that he would not attempt to run for a second term, conscious of the 'risks' to the French left if he did so." -- CW 

Wednesday
Nov302016

The Commentariat -- December 1, 2016

Afternoon Update:

** Carrier Trounces Trump. Bernie Sanders, in a Washington Post op-ed: "Just a short few months ago, Trump was pledging to force United Technologies to 'pay a damn tax.' He was insisting on very steep tariffs for companies like Carrier that left the United States and wanted to sell their foreign-made products back in the United States. Instead of a damn tax, the company will be rewarded with a damn tax cut. Wow! How’s that for standing up to corporate greed? How’s that for punishing corporations that shut down in the United States and move abroad? In essence, United Technologies took Trump hostage and won. And that should send a shock wave of fear through all workers across the country." -- CW 

*****

Also see yesterday's Afternoon Update.

Jann Wenner of Rolling Stone: "In an interview conducted the day after the election..., [President Obama] reflected on the stunning results and how he'll spend his time post-White House." -- CW ...

... Ed Kilgore: "With the defeat and probable retirement of Hillary Clinton, who is now the putative leader of the 'non-populist' wing of the Democratic Party? Probably not [Nancy] Pelosi, considered a staunch progressive for most of her career. Probably not Chuck Schumer, who for the most part prefers to operate as an insider. Perhaps Barack Obama will stay sufficiently engaged in party politics to resist any Bernification of his party or repudiation of his own policy legacy, as his reported resistance to the idea of Keith Ellison as DNC Chair might suggest." -- CW 

New York Times Editors: "When Donald Trump, hand on the Bible on Jan. 20, swears to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, we the people will have good reason to doubt he knows what he’s talking about." -- CW 

Louis Nelson of Politico: "... Donald Trump said Wednesday the nation of Kazakhstan has accomplished a 'miracle' under the leadership of strongman president Nursultan Nazarbayev, according to the Kazakh presidential press office.... In its own readout of the call, Trump’s transition team did not mention the Manhattan billionaire’s use of the word 'miracle' to describe Kazakhstan. The two-sentence description said only that the leaders had congratulated one another and that they 'addressed the importance of strengthening regional partnerships.'... Nazarbayev has been president of Kazakhstan since 1991, the year it separated from the Soviet Union.... He most recently won office in April, 2015, with 91 percent of the vote in an election that international observers told the New York Times was marred by voter intimidation, ballot stuffing and restrictions on the freedoms of press and assembly.... Human Rights Watch, a non-profit organization that monitors conditions around the world, says on its website that 'Kazakhstan heavily restricts freedom of assembly, speech, and religion, and torture remains a serious problem.'” CW: So Trump sees Nazarbayev as an inspiration or maybe a mentor. I'm not kidding.

Trump Punks Ethics Officials. Michael Shear & Eric Lipton of the New York Times: "The Office of Government Ethics has informed lawyers for ... Donald J. Trump that only a divestiture of his financial stake in his sprawling real-estate business will resolve ethical concerns about conflicts of interest as he assumes the office of the presidency. The revelation from the normally secretive federal agency came Wednesday in a bizarre series of oddly informal postings on its Twitter account after officials apparently concluded, erroneously, that Mr. Trump had committed on his own Twitter account to divesting his assets. 'As we discussed with your counsel, divestiture is the way to resolve these conflicts,' the office wrote on Twitter, revealing legal advice that would normally be confidential and adding in a separate post: 'Bravo! Only way to resolve these conflicts of interest is to divest. Good call!'... In fact, Mr. Trump had made no such commitment, at least publicly. In a series of early-morning posts on Twitter, Mr. Trump said he would separate himself from the operations of his vast global business empire.” -- CW 

It's Trump's Party Now. Philip Rucker of the Washington Post: "In an apparent attempt to secure Trump’s trust in him as a possible secretary of state, [Mitt] Romney [... the figurehead of the 'Never Trump' movement ...] lavished praise on ... [Trump after dining with him at a fine restaurant in a Trump-owned building]: Trump’s dinner company was ;enlightening and interesting and engaging; and his transition appointments give him 'increasing hope that President-elect Trump is the very man who can lead us to that better future.'... With Romney’s move, Trump has officially and almost completely cowed the elements of the Republican Party that had shunned the real estate tycoon and reality-television star during the turbulent campaign.”

Matt Shuman of TPM: "Donald Trump bragged on Twitter about the 'great deal' he reportedly struck with Carrier Corporation to keep more than a thousand jobs in Indiana, but new reports suggest that the company may have come to an agreement with him simply to get on [Trump's] ... good side. Carrier’s parent company [United Technologies] does billions of dollars of business annually with the federally government, a huge incentive for them to play ball with the incoming administration, one member of the Indiana Economic Development Corporation suggested.... CNN Money reported government contracts constitute $5.6 billion in annual revenue for the company, which is about 10 percent of its total business. The U.S. government also funds much of the $1.5 billion United Technologies receives in research and development grants from its other customers, according to the same report." -- CW ...

... Max Ehrenfreund of the Washington Post: "Carrier, the company that changed its plans to shutter a plant in Indianapolis and shift production to Mexico after talks with ... Donald Trump, confirmed Wednesday that it would receive financial assistance from the state of Indiana as part of the deal to keep the plant open.... The Indiana Economic Development Corp., a state agency, will grant Carrier a tax break in exchange for keeping the plant open, said John Mutz, a member of the corporation's board and a former lieutenant governor. Trump's running mate, Vice President-elect Mike Pence, is the governor of Indiana." -- CW ...

... Kevin Drum: "How big a tax break? And what else will Carrier get? Stay tuned as we learn more details about how many taxpayer dollars are being spent in order to provide Donald Trump with a PR opportunity." -- CW ...

... Update. Matthew Nussbaum of Politico: "The deal that ... Donald Trump and ... Mike Pence brokered to keep Carrier jobs in Indiana likely hinges on its parent company's fear about losing business with the federal government, said an official who will play a critical role in approving the agreement.... John Mutz, a former Indiana lieutenant governor who sits on the agency’s 12-member board, told POLITICO that ... he thinks the choice is driven by concerns from Carrier’s parent company, United Technologies, that it could lose a portion of its roughly $6.7 billion in federal contracts."-- CW 

Brad Reed of the Raw Story: "Donald Trump repeatedly said throughout the presidential campaign that he would make looking after our veterans his No. 1 priority. And it turns out that the best person to make sure our vets get the care they need could be… former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin? ABC News’ sources claim that Palin is being considered by Trump to serve as the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, despite the fact that she has no personal experience in the military and has never before run a federal government agency.... The reaction from Twitter was swift — and it was completely horrified by ABC’s scoop." CW: Don't worry. She'll quit before she has time to mess up the VA too much. ...

... Ed Kilgore: "If appointed and confirmed, she would be the first non-veteran to head VA. Yes, she is the mother of a veteran: Her son Track did a tour of duty in Iraq. But it’s unlikely that would be cited very often as a credential, since Track has had a troubled life since returning to Alaska; indeed, he was arrested on assault and possession of firearms while intoxicated charges subsequent to an alleged domestic-violence incident the very day his mom went to Iowa to endorse Trump.... I’d say consigning the nation’s former service members and their families to the perpetual sideshow sure to be generated by La Pasionaria of the Permafrost would be a broken promise of the highest order." -- CW

Charles Blow: "On the campaign trail, Trump claimed that he was going to be a 'real friend' of the L.G.B.T. community, and once even unfurled a rainbow flag — albeit upside down — with the words 'L.G.B.T.s for Trump' scrawled on it. But the British gay news service Pink News claimed Tuesday that 'every single Trump cabinet member so far opposes L.G.B.T. rights.' That was before further appointments were announced, but the point is well taken, as they methodically documented the individual appointees’ personal positions on equal rights. On the campaign trail, the self-professed genital-grabber Trump said that he would be the 'the best for women.' This week, Trump named anti-contraception, pro-fetal personhood Tom Price to be secretary of Health and Human Services. On the campaign trail, Trump claimed that he wanted to drain the swamp in Washington. But his cabinet choices suggest that his plan is simply to replace the murky water it contains and the smarmy ecosystem that it conceals with one more to his liking.'' -- CW ...

... Jim Tankersley & Ana Swanson of the Washington Post: "Trump is putting together what will be the wealthiest administration in modern American history. His announced nominees for top positions include several multimillionaires, an heir to a family mega-fortune and two Forbes-certified billionaires.... Rumored candidates for other positions suggest Trump could add more ultra-rich appointees soon. Many of the Trump appointees were born wealthy, attended elite schools and went on to amass even larger fortunes as adults. As a group, they have much more experience funding political candidates than they do running government agencies." -- CW ...

... Matea Gold of the Washington Post: "The three latest nominees tapped by ... Donald Trump [-- Steven Mnuchin, Wilbur Ross and Todd Ricketts --] were major financial backers of his White House campaign. Their selection deepens the role that wealthy donors are playing in shaping the new administration, despite Trump’s oft-repeated pledge to 'drain the swamp' of special interests." -- CW ...

... Paul Waldman: "I’m old enough to remember when Trump said that Hillary Clinton would be controlled by her donors. None of that going on here — take that, establishment!" -- CW ...

Steve Mnuchin is just another Wall Street insider. That is not the type of change that Donald Trump promised to bring to Washington — that is hypocrisy at its worst. -- Bernie Sanders & Elizabeth Warren, in a statement ...

... Making America Goldman Again. Welcome Back, Government Sachs! Ben White of Politico: "After a decade in the wilderness, Wall Street’s most powerful firm, Goldman Sachs, is dominating the early days of the incoming Trump administration. The newly picked Treasury Secretary, Steven Mnuchin, spent 17 years at Goldman. Trump’s top incoming White House adviser, Steve Bannon, spent his early career at the bank. So did Anthony Scaramucci, one of Trump’s top transition advisers. Goldman’s president, Gary Cohn, spent an hour schmoozing with ... Donald Trump on Tuesday and could be up for an administration job, possibly as director of the Office of Management and Budget, people close to Cohn and the transition said. Cohn, a long-time commodities trader, is friendly with Trump’s powerful son-in-law, Jared Kushner. It’s a stunning reversal of fortune for Goldman, a long-time Washington power that fell out of favor following the financial crisis." ...

... ** Landra Thomas & Alexandra Stevenson of the New York Times: "In a campaign commercial that ran just before the election, Donald J. Trump’s voice boomed over a series of Wall Street images. He described 'a global power structure that is responsible for the economic decisions that have robbed our working class, stripped our country of its wealth, and put that money into the pockets of a handful of large corporations.' The New York Stock Exchange, the hedge fund billionaire George Soros and the chief executive of the investment bank Goldman Sachs flashed across the screen. Now Mr. Trump has named [Steven Mnuchin] a former Goldman executive and co-investor with Mr. Soros to spearhead his economic policy.... This approach ... stands in stark contrast to the populist campaign that Mr. Trump ran and the support he received from working-class voters across the country." -- CW ...

     ... CW: Too bad Trumpbots have no idea Trump already has betrayed them. No doubt they're too busy yelling victory chants & bombarding women and minorities with obscenities. ...

Why is this man smiling? Because if you owe him as much as 27 cents, he can take your house. And he will.... Peter Dreier of the American Prospect reveals how Trump's Treasury pick Steve Mnuchin enriched himself by ruthlessly foreclosing on families with underwater mortgages and by otherwise exploiting the financial debacle of 2008 & the 1980s S&L crisis. Mnuchin is "the very model of a predatory lender" as well as a corporate welfare king. -- CW ...

... Lorraine Woellert of Politico: "... OneWest, a bank Mnuchin and his partners established during the collapse, has taken steady fire from regulators and consumer advocates for myriad failures ever since. In Florida, the company foreclosed on a 90-year-old woman after a 27-cent payment error. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo singled out the lender for squeezing superstorm Sandy victims. This month, the company’s successor, CIT Bank, was accused of discriminating against minority borrowers." -- CW ...

... Nikita Vladimirov of the Hill: "Former Gen. David Petraeus is reportedly one of ... Donald Trump's finalists to be secretary of State. If he's chosen, he'll have three days to notify his probation officer. Petraeus was sentenced to two years of probation on April 23, 2015, for giving his mistress classified information. 'The defendant shall not leave the Western District of North Carolina without the permission of the Court or probation officer. Travel allowed for work as approved by U.S. probation office,' says a court judgment, reported first by Brad Heath of USA Today. 'The defendant shall notify the probation officer within 72 hours of any change in residence or employment,' the document adds." CW: Ha ha. What if the Secretary of State-designate jumps probation, winds up in jail & can't attend his own confirmation hearings? Maybe Trump could get a former Secretary of State to fill in while his nominee is "locked up"; -- Hillary Clinton, for instance.

** Barkha Dutt, an Indian TV journalist, in a Washington Post op-ed, on the Trumpification of the U.S., and how it mocks the notion of "American exceptionalism." Do read about Dutt's experience in Philadelphia & her conversation with the dingbatty Norah O'Donnell.

On the History of Evoking "Political Correctness". Moirea Wegel of the Guardian: "Throughout an erratic campaign, Trump consistently blasted political correctness, blaming it for an extraordinary range of ills and using the phrase to deflect any and every criticism.... Every time Trump said something 'outrageous' commentators suggested he had finally crossed a line and that his campaign was now doomed. But time and again, Trump supporters made it clear that they liked him because he wasn’t afraid to say what he thought. Fans praised the way Trump talked much more often than they mentioned his policy proposals. He tells it like it is, they said. He speaks his mind. He is not politically correct.... [T]his idea – that there is a set of powerful, unnamed actors, who are trying to control everything you do, right down to the words you use – is trending globally right now.... For 25 years, invoking this vague and ever-shifting enemy has been a favourite tactic of the right.... Trump is the deftest practitioner of this strategy yet." A long and interesting read. --safari

Jake Swearingen of New York: "Starting January 20, Donald Trump Can Send Unblockable Mass Text Messages to the Entire Nation.... While it’d be a true nightmare to get screeching alerts from your phone that 'Loser Senate Democrats still won’t confirm great man Peter Thiel to Supreme Court. Sad!', there are some checks and balances on this.... All [Wireless Emergency Alerts] must be issued through FEMA’s Integrated Public Alert & Warning System, meaning that an emergency alert from the president still has at least one layer to pass through before being issued.... Perhaps an even bigger protection: Getting access to the system requires some time and effort — most people with access take at least two courses in how to use the system — something that it’s hard to imagine Trump (who doesn’t use a computer) learning how to do on his own. Which means he would need the help of his support staff to issue a WEA about how news outlets still refuse to stop taking pictures that emphasize his double chin...." ...

     ... CW Yeah But. Trump will likely make some compliant halfwit his FEMA director. I'm thinking Scott Brown (see Akhilleus' commentary in yesterday's thread), and Scotty is already very good at drunk-tweeting.

Jennifer Steinhauer & Sabrina Tavernise of the New York Times: "The House overwhelmingly passed a far-reaching measure on Wednesday to increase funding for research into cancer and other diseases, address weaknesses in the nation’s mental health systems and help combat the prescription drug addictions that have bedeviled nearly every state. The bill, known as the 21st Century Cures Act, also makes regulatory changes for drugs and medical devices, which critics argue lower standards to potentially perilous levels. Passage of the bill in the Senate next week appears likely, even though Senator Elizabeth Warren, Democrat of Massachusetts, has taken to the floor twice to criticize the bill as a windfall for drug companies, with too few safety provisions. 'The American people are not clamoring for the Cures bill,' Ms. Warren said on Wednesday, calling it the sort of measure that explains 'why people hate Washington.'” -- CW 

John Cassidy of the New Yorker: "Under [HHS nominee Tom] Price’s ["health insurance"] plan, reversing the post-2010 expansion of Medicaid alone would mean that about fifteen million people would lose their health-care coverage overnight. These people — members of families whose earnings are above the poverty line but less than forty thousand dollars a year — would once again be subjected to the mercies of private insurers. They would be eligible for tax credits to help them purchase private plans, but these credits would, in general, cover only a small portion of the monthly premiums." -- CW ...

... Greg Sargent: "... now [Congressional Republicans] will have to cast a[n ObamaCare] repeal vote that actually means taking health care away from untold numbers of their own constituents.... Congressman [Tom] PriceTrump’s pick to head HHS — has offered a repeal plan that rolls [the ACA] back entirely. Price has offered a replace plan, but some experts think it would likely leave most of the 20 million people who would currently lose insurance after repeal without coverage.... There was a time when I would have confidently predicted that Republicans who do vote to toss huge numbers of their constituents off of health coverage, without replacing it, would pay a political price for it. I’m no longer sure that’s true. It’s very possible that Republicans may end up repealing Obamacare while vowing a replacement in time that somehow never ends up materializing...." ...

... CW: This latest "repeal & replace later" GOP project is the leading indicator that you can teach old confederates new tricks. In this case, they have learned from Trump how to make impossible promises, then blithely renege on them. And of course they'll do this simultaneously with their old trick: blame Democrats. So the appropriate name for the GOP's "healthcare plan" is "Repeal and Deflect." Meanwhile, people will die specifically because voters, including many of those afflicted with preventable-diseases-made-unpreventable-by-the-GOP, make blatantly irresponsible choices. ...

... Update. Rachel Bade & Burgess Everett of Politico: "Prepare for the Obamacare cliff. Congressional Republicans are setting up their own, self-imposed deadline to make good on their vow to replace the Affordable Care Act. With buy-in from Donald Trump’s transition team, GOP leaders on both sides of the Capitol are coalescing around a plan to vote to repeal the law in early 2017 — but delay the effective date for that repeal for as long as three years.... The strategy presents significant risks. The fight over a replacement is guaranteed to be messier than the cathartic repeal vote.... Following a repeal vote, insurance companies could bail on Obamacare immediately, even if there is a three-year grace period, leaving people with no health plans." ...

     ... CW: This is not a flaw; it's a feature. The worse access to affordable coverage gets during this period, the more Republicans will blame Democrats for the "Democrat healthcare fiasco" a/k/a ObummerCare.

Hamilton! Ed Pilkington of the Guardian: "A teenager from Washington state has become the seventh person to indicate that she will break ranks with party affiliation and become a 'faithless elector' in an attempt to prevent Donald Trump being formally enshrined as president-elect when the electoral college meets on 19 December. Levi Guerra, 19, from Vancouver, Washington, is set to announce that she is joining the ranks of the so-called 'Hamilton electors' at a press conference at the state capitol in Olympia on Wednesday. The renegade group believes it is the responsibility of the 538 electors who make up the electoral college to show moral courage in preventing demagogues and other threats to the nation from gaining the keys to the White House, as the founding fathers intended. 'I stand behind Hamilton electors,' Guerra said in a statement to the Guardian. 'I promised those who elected me that I would do everything I could to keep Donald Trump out of office.'” Guerra is a Democrat, pledged to vote for Clinton, but she will write in the name of "an alternative Republican." CW: In other words, her renegade vote -- along with those of the other "faithless electors," all from blue states Washington & Colorado -- is meaningless & will only reduce Clinton's total. ...

... Chad Livengood of the Detroit News: "Green Party candidate Jill Stein’s quest to recount Michigan’s 4.8 million ballots in an unprecedented autopsy of a presidential election could cost taxpayers more than $4 million. Stein formally requested Wednesday a hand recount of the state’s presidential election, a labor-intensive undertaking that is expected to begin Friday morning and could result in marathon counting sessions until the Dec. 13 deadline." -- CW ...

... Gail Collins: "On Wednesday [Jill] Stein’s lawyers filed paperwork to force Michigan to recheck its vote tallies. She’s also getting a recount in Wisconsin and she’s working on Pennsylvania....Hillary Clinton lost Michigan by 10,704 under the current count. Virtually no one — certainly not the Clinton lawyers — thinks she’s going to make that up in a recount. However, it’s definitely possible Clinton could have gotten 10,705 votes more if Stein had stayed off the ballot in the first place. 'Jill Stein is the friend who ruins your wedding but really shows up for you during the divorce,' twittered comedian Morgan Murphy." -- CW 

** Robert Toplin on the History News Network: "During the 2016 election campaign, Hillary Clinton repeated a mistake that Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore made in the 2000 election. In both cases Democratic contenders and their staff assumed that voters’ concern about character flaws would greatly influence their decision-making. In 2000 Al Gore surrendered an opportunity to associate himself with the economy’s robust economic performance under Bill Clinton, while in 2016 Hillary Clinton failed to identify unabashedly and aggressively with major economic improvements during her husband’s presidency and in Barack Obama’s two terms in the White House. Mrs. Clinton and her strategists concentrated their attacks on Donald Trump’s character rather than his ideas about dealing with the economy." -- CW 

Annals of "Journalism," Ctd. Nicholas Lemann of the New Yorker: The framers "felt protected against a government that came to power through misinformation, because the country wasn’t very democratic, and because they assumed most people would simply vote their economic interests.... It’s a sign of our anti-government times that the solution [to curtailing fake news] proposed most often is that Facebook should regulate it. Think about what that means: one relatively new private company, which isn’t in journalism, has become the dominant provider of journalism to the public, and the only way people can think of to address what they see as a terrifying crisis in politics and public life is to ask the company’s billionaire C.E.O. to fix it." -- CW ...

... CW: Oddly, Lemann thinks government intervention is the solution. Gee, who would set that up? Oh, I know, the most prominent purveyor and supporter of fake news in the nation: one Donald J. Trump.

Gubernatorial Race

Caitlin MacNeal of TPM: "Democratic North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper's lead over the state's governor, Pat McCrory, has now surpassed 10,000 votes, the threshold for requesting a recount, though the vote tally is not yet finalized.The state board of elections website shows Cooper leading McCrory by 10,329 votes, and candidates in North Carolina are permitted to ask for a recount when the margin in the race is 10,000 votes or fewer." -- CW ...

... BUT. Jonah Kaplan & Heather Waliga of ABC News Raleigh: "The governor's race will drag into another month. The State Board of Elections voted along party lines Wednesday evening to order a machine recount of 94,000 votes in Durham County. Republican board members who voted in favor of the request said the late election night ballots included irregularities.... The Durham County Board of Election chairman told ABC11 a recount could take as long as a week and cost tens of thousands of dollars." -- CW 

Way Beyond the Beltway

Stanley Reed & Clifford Krauss of the New York Times: "After years of trying fruitlessly to prop up energy markets, OPEC on Wednesday finally reached a consensus on production cuts, sending oil prices soaring." -- CW 

Tuesday
Nov292016

The Commentariat -- Nov. 30, 2016

Afternoon Update:

Emmarie Huetteman of the New York Times: "Representative Nancy Pelosi of California beat back a challenge Wednesday from a fellow Democrat who said the party had lost its connection to the American working class, quashing increasingly anxious calls for a change in the House leadership she has directed for 14 years. Her victory over Representative Tim Ryan, a 43-year-old congressman from a blue-collar district anchored in Youngstown, Ohio, ensures that the party will be led in the next Congress by the established “coastal” Democrats who have increasingly defined it — Ms. Pelosi, 76, who represents San Francisco, and Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, 66, who has held various leadership posts since 2005. The vote for Ms. Pelosi was 134 to 63." -- CW 

Drew Harwell of the Washington Post: "... Donald J. Trump tweeted Wednesday morning that he would soon leave his 'great business in total' to focus on the presidency, a response to growing worries over the businessman-in-chief’s conflicts of interest around the globe.... But it remained unclear whether the new arrangement would include a full sale of Trump’s stake in the company. Ethics advisers said a management hand-off to his children would not resolve worries that the business could still influence his decisions in the Oval Office. 'I will be holding a major news conference in New York City with my children on December 15 to discuss the fact that I will be leaving my great business in total in order to fully focus on running the country in order to MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!' Trump tweeted." CW: Okay then, that's settled. ...

... Eric Levitz of New York: Trump "has promised to 'leave his business,' in the sense of transferring control to his children, since early in his primary campaign. If he is just reiterating that promise, there’s no news here." -- CW ...

... Margaret Hartmann of New York: "Even after the election, [House Oversight Committee Chair Jason] Chaffetz [R-Utah] said he had a 'duty and obligation' to continue investigating [Hillary Clinton].... However, he claimed his committee would investigate ... [Donald] Trump with equal fervor. 'I am optimistic that a Trump administration would actually be cooperative,' Chaffetz said.... It’s unclear why Chaffetz thinks the candidate who refused Chaffetz’s call to release his tax returns will be more responsive as president, but so far the Utah congressman isn’t even asking for a response. Amid staggering evidence of Trump’s conflicts of interest — from letting the manager of his blind trust sit in on meetings with foreign dignitaries to allowing his D.C. hotel to court foreign diplomats — Chaffetz has ignored calls to launch an investigation into [Trump]...." CW: Are we all very, very surprised? ...

MEANWHILE, Trumpy Junior has gone deer-hunting in Turkey with an unnamed Turkish businessman/"friend." Donald Trump has extensive business interests in Turkey. CW: Apparently, Junior is unaware that there are plenty of deer to be hunted here in the "Homeland."

Ben White & Jake Sherman of Politico: "... Donald Trump is considering Goldman Sachs President Gary Cohn for a senior administration job, possibly as director of the Office of Management and Budget, several sources close to the situation said on Wednesday. People familiar with the matter say Cohn's meeting with Trump on Tuesday included talks about a potential job in the new administration, possibly to run OMB, a sprawling office that will handle much of Trump's budget policy after he takes office in January. Cohn, who is friendly with Republicans and Democrats in Washington, is a longtime commodities trader who became Goldman's president and co-chief operating officer in 2006." CW: Trump is really sticking it to Wall Street fat cats just as he promised, isn't he?

Falsehoods as Propaganda. Jamelle Bouie: "... fascists didn’t lie to obscure the truth; they lied to signal what would eventually become truth.... Donald Trump doesn’t appear to see a difference between truth and lies.... Debunking Trump’s lie as a lie misses the point of his lying.... As president, Trump will have the power to take harsh action on voting rights and access.... Under Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, Trump’s pick for attorney general and a longtime opponent of broad and inclusive voting rights, that outcome looks likely.... Other voting skeptics in the Trump administration include chief adviser Stephen Bannon, who according to the New York Times, once questioned the value of universal suffrage, suggesting that only 'property owners should be allowed to vote.' When told that this would exclude many black Americans, Bannon allegedly said, 'Maybe that’s not such a bad thing.'... We should ... stay attuned to the aims of Trump’s dishonesty....” ...

... CW: I doubt if Trump has read Hannah Arendt, whom Bouie cites, inasmuch as he apparently doesn't read anything, just as I doubt he has studied the tactics of fascists. This leads one to believe he is a "natural fascist," one who follows fascistic tactics intuitively or because he believes big promises & big lies have worked for him in the past. In any event, we should look upon Trump's Twitter account as a stream of fascism. ...

Matthew Yglesias of Vox: The Case for Normalizing Trump - "several students of authoritarian populist movements abroad [suggest how] to beat Trump... [H]is opponents need to... practice ordinary humdrum politics, need to talk about [Trump's] policy agenda, and they need to develop their own alternative agenda and make the case that it will better serve the needs of average people. And to do that, they need to get out of the habit of being reflexively baited into tweet-based arguments." - Lisa (LT)

... The End of the Right to Vote. Ed Kilgore: "Trump’s persistence in alleging — without a shred of evidence so far — massive voter fraud even after the election is most unfortunate. It will reinforce the fatal temptation on the political right, extending from non-ideological partisan hacks to the most race-crazed of white nationalists, to declare permanent open season on voting rights. And once universal suffrage stops being a principle to which both major parties subscribe in theory if not always in practice, reestablishing it could become as difficult as it was in the darkest days of the southern struggle for civil rights." -- CW ...

... BUT. Charles Pierce: "Thanks in great part to the gloriously stubborn resistance marshalled by the Reverend William Barber..., the voter-suppression schemes in the newly insane state of North Carolina took a gigantic hit in federal court on Tuesday. The court not only ruled that the state's redistricting plan was unconstitutionally hinky, but also that the map is so dreadful that the state has to redraw it to the court's satisfaction and hold special elections no later than next fall.This was a thoroughgoing ass-kicking.... At the same time, of course, incumbent Republican Governor Pat McCrory, under whose supervision the prion disease ran rampant throughout North Carolina's politics, is hanging onto his job by whatever means necessary..., despite the fact that trails [Democrat Roy Cooper] by several thousand votes." -- CW 

Mark Berman of the Washington Post: "Prosecutors said that the officer who fatally shot a Charlotte man in September will not be charged for the shooting, concluding that the man was armed and that the officer acted lawfully during the encounter. 'It’s a justified shooting based on the totality of the circumstances,” R. Andrew Murray, district attorney for Mecklenburg County, said during a news conference Wednesday morning. The shooting of Keith Lamont Scott on Sept. 20 set off days of heated, sometimes violent protests in Charlotte, some of the most intense demonstrations seen nationwide amid an increased focus on how police use deadly force." -- CW ...

*****

Binyamin Appelbaum & Maggie Haberman of the New York Times: "Steven Terner Mnuchin, a financier with deep roots on Wall Street and in Hollywood but no government experience, is expected to be named Donald J. Trump’s Treasury secretary as soon as Wednesday, people close to the transition say. Mr. Mnuchin, 53, was the national finance chairman for Mr. Trump’s campaign. He began his career at Goldman Sachs, where he became a partner, before creating his own hedge fund, moving to the West Coast and entering the first rank of movie financiers by bankrolling hits like the 'X-Men' franchise and 'Avatar.' As Treasury secretary, Mr. Mnuchin would play an important role in shaping the administration’s economic policies, including a package of promised tax cuts, increased spending on infrastructure and changes in the terms of foreign trade. He could also help lead any effort to roll back President Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran and opening to Cuba by reimposing sanctions on Tehran and Havana. His selection fits uneasily with much of Mr. Trump’s campaign rhetoric attacking the financial industry. Mr. Trump, in a campaign ad intended as a closing argument, portrayed the chief executive of Goldman Sachs as the personification of a global elite that the ad said had 'robbed our working class.'” -- CW  ...

    ... The Times has updated story, with Julie Davis as the lead reporter, to include a poignant vignette about Trump's "Dinner with Mitt." Also, Diane comments on Mitt's essential wonderfulness at the top of today's Comments. -- CW 

Jerry Markon, et al., of the Washington Post: "... Donald Trump has chosen former Bush administration official Elaine Chao as his transportation secretary, a position that will take on outsized importance with Trump’s plan to spend billions rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure, a person with knowledge of the decision said Tuesday. Chao, a former labor secretary and the wife of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), would oversee the massive program Trump is planning to rebuild bridges, roads and other infrastructure." CW: Isn't that conveeenient! (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Alana Semuels of The Atlantic: "... Donald J. Trump has not yet named a HUD secretary, but he has floated some potential appointees, including the retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, who has called one plan for fair housing a 'mandated social-engineering scheme.'... It would be relatively easy for whoever Trump picks to reverse some of the accomplishments of the Obama administration.... Trump could effectively nullify certain provisions by defunding their enforcement.... But the biggest threat to HUD may not even come from the new secretary, said Diane Yentel, the president of the National Low Income Housing Coalition, a nonprofit. It may come from Trump and the Republican Congress, which are both skeptical about federal funding for many programs." --safari

Amy Goldstein & Elise Viebeck of the Washington Post: "... Donald Trump’s choices for health secretary and administrator of the government’s largest health insurance programs have for years pursued a sharply conservative agenda that includes redefining Medicare, placing 'personal responsibility' requirements on low-income recipients of Medicaid, and dismantling the Affordable Care Act. If adopted, this agenda could dramatically alter access to insurance and medical services for more than 100 million Americans covered through the two entitlement programs and the ACA. Trump has nominated Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) to lead the Department of Health and Human Services and health consultant Seema Verma to run the HHS agency that oversees Medicare and Medicaid. The two are master tacticians of the right-leaning health-care vision Trump adopted as central campaign themes." ...

     ... CW: You do have to wonder if the destitution these nominees promise is what Trumpbots envisioned when he promised to make good on "every dream you’ve ever dreamed." ...

... Greg Sargent: "Donald Trump has chosen GOP Rep. Tom Price of Georgia, a longtime critic of the Affordable Care Act, as his secretary for Health and Human Services. This likely means that, at best, the health law will be repealed and replaced by something that covers far fewer people, or that, at worst, it will get repealed outright, leaving even more people without coverage.... Price’s own replacement proposal would roll back the Medicaid expansion, a substantial portion of financial assistance for others getting coverage, and a fair amount of regulation of the individual market. And so, the likely end result (again, at best) is that a lot of the 20 million people who would lose coverage due to repeal will remain without coverage, and protections for those with bad medical conditions will be eroded." -- CW ...

... Paul Krugman does the math: "... how many people just shot themselves in the face [by voting for Trump, which will mean losing their healthcare coverage]? My first pass answer is, between 3.5 and 4 million." CW: The real kick is that these stupid bastards also shot another 17.5 million innocent people in the face -- people who didn't vote for Trump.

Jim Tankersley & Danielle Paquette of the Washington Post: "... Donald Trump scored a victory Tuesday night when Carrier, an Indiana-based manufacturing company that had announced plans to move 1,400 jobs to Mexico, said it would keep 1,000 jobs in the state. Trump and his vice president-elect, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, will travel to the state this week to celebrate the decision, a Trump transition official said.... It was unclear whether 1,000 new jobs were being saved in the U.S. or whether that figure included 400 jobs the company agreed to preserve earlier this year under pressure from Indiana officials. It's also not clear how much personal involvement Trump had in the deal, versus Pence or other officials — or whether any incentives were offered to keep the jobs in the state. CNBC reported the deal includes new inducements from the State of Indiana, the sort of package typically negotiated by a governor and not a president or president-elect." ...

     ... CW: In other words, it's either Trumpbull or Carrier's trying to position itself inside the circle of corruption, or a bit of both. As I just wrote to Carrier: "I'm in the market for a couple of air conditioning units for my new home. Just wanted to let you know they won't be Carriers now that you've decided to throw your lot in with Donald Trump & Mike Pence." The Trump boycott should go beyond eschewing Ivanka's clothing & jewelry lines or staying out of Trump hotels. Companies that go out of their way to support or curry favor with Trump should pay the price.

Today in "Random Thoughts by the Leader-of-the-Free-World-in-Waiting." John Wagner of the Washington Post: "... Donald Trump on Tuesday threatened loss of citizenship or jail for those who burn the American flag, saying such protests — which the Supreme Court has declared to be free speech — should carry 'consequences.' Trump offered his thoughts in an early-morning post on Twitter.... Trump’s latest interest in curbing First Amendment protections follows several other actions related to free speech, including his blacklisting of reporters who fell out of favor with his campaign and a suggestion that he would 'open up' libel laws to make it easier to sue the news media. Trump's tweet also demonstrated an ability that has continued beyond his campaign to divert public attention from other issues of the day." CW: Despite his proposed law being unconstitutional, exactly where is he going to put all these new people-without-a-country? Guantanamo? A boat? (Also linked yesterday.) ...

... Charlie Savage of the New York Times: "David D. Cole, a Georgetown University law professor who co-wrote the Supreme Court briefs in the flag-burning case and who is about to become national legal director at the American Civil Liberties Union, said he wondered if Mr. Trump’s strategy was to goad people into burning flags in order to 'marginalize' the protests against him. But he also called Mr. Trump’s proposal 'beyond the pale.' 'To me it is deeply troubling that the person who is going to become the most powerful government official in the United States doesn’t understand the first thing about the First Amendment — which is you can’t punish people for expressing dissent — and also doesn’t seem to understand that citizenship is a constitutional right that cannot be taken away, period, under any circumstances,' he said." CW: You mean Trump can't put flag-burners on boats to float around in international waters till they perish? And it seemed such a good idea. Those nasty protesters! (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Washington Post Editors: "IT’S NOT easy to run afoul of two constitutional amendments in 140 characters.... The Supreme Court ruled in 1989 that the First Amendment protects burning the flag in protest. The high court ruled in 1967 that the 14th Amendment not only grants U.S. citizenship to 'all persons born or naturalized' in this country; it also forbids the government from taking citizenship away from them. In effect, then, Mr. Trump is proposing two constitutional changes — both of which provide further evidence of his tendency to address differences and disagreements within American society by suggesting new limits on their expression, or by excluding people from the American community altogether." -- CW ...

... Annals of Journalism, Ctd. Jack Shafer of Politico: "As I theorized a week ago, Trump tends to toss off these provocations [i.e. flag burning bullshit] to divert attention and discussion from a newly published damaging story the way a squid fills the sea with ink to escape his predators. In yesterday’s example, the story was the exhaustive New York Times piece about his many business projects around the world that pose potential conflicts of interest for his presidency.... There has never been a president like Trump before, and the usual press reflexes won’t produce copy that allows readers to see through his lies and deceptions. The Trump challenge demands that the house of journalism gives itself a makeover. Here’s how." --safari

** Matthew Weaver of the Guardian: "The outgoing director of the CIA has warned of disastrous consequences if Donald Trump goes ahead with his threat of tearing up the US deal with Iran over nuclear weapons. In an unusually frank interview with the BBC, John Brennan said Trump’s opposition to the nuclear deal with Iran was the 'height of folly'. Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Brennan said: “... for one administration to tear up an agreement that a previous administration made would be almost unprecedented.' Spelling out the dangers, the US intelligence chief added: 'It could lead to a weapons programme inside of Iran that could lead other states in the region to embark on their own programmes with military conflic.... Brennan also expressed alarm about many of the key foreign policy pledges made by Trump during his election campaign, including [Trump's] ... admiration for Vladimir Putin, his anti-Islamic rhetoric and his willingness to use torture.”

Gabriella Paiella of New York: "Throughout [Donald Trump's] presidential campaign, [Ivanka Trump] faced criticism for continuing to support him, including from the #GrabYourWallet campaign, meant to encourage people to boycott her brand’s products. Now, a new Instagram account calls her out directly for staying silent about his rhetoric and actions. 'Dear Ivanka,' started six days ago, juxtaposes glamorous shots of Ivanka with concerns from people who feel that they will be marginalized under a Trump presidency." --safari

Jia Tolentino of the New Yorker has an in-depth analysis of Ivana Trump's 2009 book and the psychology of her tortured silver-spoon childhood and subsequent life. Thanks to Akhillieus for the link.

On the history of evoking "Political Correctness". Moirea Wegel of the Guardian: "Throughout an erratic campaign, Trump consistently blasted political correctness, blaming it for an extraordinary range of ills and using the phrase to deflect any and every criticism...Every time Trump said something “outrageous” commentators suggested he had finally crossed a line and that his campaign was now doomed. But time and again, Trump supporters made it clear that they liked him because he wasn’t afraid to say what he thought. Fans praised the way Trump talked much more often than they mentioned his policy proposals. He tells it like it is, they said. He speaks his mind. He is not politically correct...[T]his idea – that there is a set of powerful, unnamed actors, who are trying to control everything you do, right down to the words you use – is trending globally right now...For 25 years, invoking this vague and ever-shifting enemy has been a favourite tactic of the right...Trump is the deftest practitioner of this strategy yet." A long and interesting read. --safari

Amanda Taub of the New York Times: Two political scientists, Yascha Mounk and Roberto Stefan Foa, concluded in a study "to be published in the January issue of the Journal of Democracy..., that democracies are not as secure as people may think. Right now, Mr. Mounk said in an interview, 'the warning signs are flashing red.'” Freedom House, a watchdog agency, has determined that since 2005, there has been a decline in global freedom each year. "According to the Mounk-Foa early-warning system, signs of democratic deconsolidation in the United States and many other liberal democracies are now similar to those in Venezuela before its crisis. Across numerous countries, including Australia, Britain, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Sweden and the United States, the percentage of people who say it is 'essential' to live in a democracy has plummeted, and it is especially low among younger generations. Support for autocratic alternatives is rising, too. 'It’s not just about what Trump will do to the E.P.A.,' [Mounk] said.... It really is that Trump may try to undermine liberal democracy in the United States.'” ...

     ... CW: We may find that we have lived through a Golden Age -- a time that has afforded us relative freedom and equality -- one that may not recur for hundreds of years. The fact that young people are resigned to or enthusiastic about giving up the rights we have enjoyed (or assumed to be immutable) suggests the coming of a Dark Age that could capture much of the so-called "free world." My cheeky reference yesterday to Donald Trump as "the Leader-of-the-Free-World-in-Waiting" was an intentional misrepresentation of his aims; now it doesn't seem so funny. ...

... Claire Landsbaum of New York: "The day after Donald Trump was elected, incidents of racist and misogynistic harassment were reported across the country. Since then the trend has continued, and at least one expert has said the trend is more widespread now than in the weeks following 9/11. And a new survey conducted by the Southern Poverty Law Center shows the problem is just as pervasive in schools. More than 10,000 teachers, counselors, and administrators from K–12 schools across the country were surveyed, and 90 percent say their school’s climate has been negatively impacted by Trump’s election." --safari ...

... Mazin Sidahmed of the Guardian: "The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has counted 867 hate incidents in the 10 days after the US election, a report released Tuesday found, a phenomenon it partly blamed on the rhetoric of Donald Trump. The advocacy group collected reports of incidents from media outlets and its own#ReportHate page. SPLC said it was not able to confirm all reports but believed the number of actual incidents was far higher, as according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics most hate crimes go unreported." --safari ...

... Josh Harkinson of Mother Jones: "A coalition of human rights groups urged president-elect Donald Trump on Tuesday to make a clear break from the hateful and racist rhetoric that marked his presidential campaign by forcefully denouncing white nationalists and taking steps to mend the nation's fraying race relations. 'Instead of pretending to be surprised the by the pervasive hate that has infected our country, Mr. Trump needs to take responsibility for it and repair the damage that he has caused,' said Richard Cohen, the president of the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks racist groups and hate crimes." --safari ...

... Noam Scheiber of the New York Times: "Leaders of the labor-financed 'Fight for $15' campaign say they have improved the lives of millions of workers at the bottom of the nation’s pay scale, helping to raise the minimum wage in California, New York State and a host of cities. Now, four years into their crusade, the movement’s leaders are signaling a determination to expand their reach beyond the urban working poor, who were among the chief beneficiaries of their earlier efforts. Among their new targets: working-class Americans frustrated by an economy that is no longer producing the middle-class jobs they or their parents once held. Many of these workers voted for Donald J. Trump." -- CW 

Dana Milbank: The election really was rigged because voter suppression laws & activities worked so effectively. CW: Thanks, Supremes!


James Hamblin
of The Atlantic: "Cuba has long had a nearly identical life expectancy to the United States, despite widespread poverty. The humanitarian-physician Paul Farmer notes in his book Pathologies of Power that there’s a saying in Cuba: 'We live like poor people, but we die like rich people.' All of this despite Cuba spending just $813 per person annually on health care compared with America’s $9,403. The difference comes back to the basic fact that in Cuba, health care is protected under the constitution as a fundamental human right. The U.S. protects unlimited firearms and freedom from quartering soldiers but does not guarantee health care." --safari

Beyond the Beltway

CW: For a sneak preview of serial "Life in the U.S. of Trump," which will run at least until Trump succeeds in completely quashing our First Amendment rights, let's go to Standing Rock:

... Christopher Mele of the New York Times: "As many as 2,000 veterans planned to gather next week at the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota to serve as 'human shields' for protesters who have for months clashed with the police over the construction of an oil pipeline, organizers said. The effort, called Veterans Stand for Standing Rock, is planned as a nonviolent intervention to defend the demonstrators from what the group calls 'assault and intimidation at the hands of the militarized police force.' The veterans’ plan coincides with an announcement on Tuesday by law enforcement officials that they may begin imposing fines to block supplies from entering the main protest camp after a mandatory evacuation order from the governor. Officials had warned earlier of a physical blockade, but the governor’s office later backed away from that, Reuters said." -- CW 

Way Beyond

Monday
Nov282016

The Commentariat -- Nov. 29, 2016

Afternoon Update:

Jerry Markon, et al., of the Washington Post: "... Donald Trump has chosen former Bush administration official Elaine Chao as his transportation secretary, a position that will take on outsized importance with Trump’s plan to spend billions rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure, a person with knowledge of the decision said Tuesday. Chao, a former labor secretary and the wife of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), would oversee the massive program Trump is planning to rebuild bridges, roads and other infrastructure." CW: Isn't that conveeenient!

Charlie Savage of the New York Times: "David D. Cole, a Georgetown University law professor who co-wrote the Supreme Court briefs in the flag-burning case and who is about to become national legal director at the American Civil Liberties Union, said he wondered if Mr. Trump’s strategy was to goad people into burning flags in order to 'marginalize' the protests against him. But he also called Mr. Trump’s proposal 'beyond the pale.' 'To me it is deeply troubling that the person who is going to become the most powerful government official in the United States doesn’t understand the first thing about the First Amendment — which is you can’t punish people for expressing dissent — and also doesn’t seem to understand that citizenship is a constitutional right that cannot be taken away, period, under any circumstances,' he said." CW: You mean Trump can't put flag-burners on boats to float around in international waters till they perish? And it seemed such a good idea. Those nasty protesters!

*****

NEW. Today in "Random Thoughts by the Leader-of-the-Free-World-in-Waiting." John Wagner of the Washington Post: "... Donald Trump on Tuesday threatened loss of citizenship or jail for those who burn the American flag, saying such protests — which the Supreme Court has declared to be free speech — should carry 'consequences.' Trump offered his thoughts in an early-morning post on Twitter.... Trump’s latest interest in curbing First Amendment protections follows several other actions related to free speech, including his blacklisting of reporters who fell out of favor with his campaign and a suggestion that he would 'open up' libel laws to make it easier to sue the news media. Trump's tweet also demonstrated an ability that has continued beyond his campaign to divert public attention from other issues of the day." CW: Despite his proposed law being unconstitutional, exactly where is he going to put all these new people-without-a-country? Guantanamo? A boat?

"The Trump Effect." Peter Baker of the New York Times: "Around the world, [Donald Trump's] election is already shaping events — or at least perceived to be shaping them.... Companies hoping to profit from Mr. Trump’s economic policies have seen shares soar. Countries fearing his anti-trade stance have seen the value of their currencies plunge against the dollar. Governments are recalibrating policies on trade, defense and immigration. The behavior of the global markets toward Mr. Trump has been uneven. By Monday, the dollar was slipping and bond markets were rallying, partly over a rethinking about whether Mr. Trump’s presidency will result in inflation, an expectation that many traders have been calling Trumpflation." -- CW 

Allegra Kirkland of TPM: "Donald Trump on Monday threatened to undo President Barack Obama’s attempts to normalize U.S. relations with Cuba unless the island nation makes reforms that are to his liking. 'If Cuba is unwilling to make a better deal for the Cuban people, the Cuban/American people and the U.S. as a whole, I will terminate deal,' ... [Trump] wrote on Twitter. Trump offered no further explanation of the kind of reforms he would like to see, or what would prompt him to rescind Obama’s 2014 executive actions re-establishing diplomatic relations with Cuba and lifting key economic sanctions against the country." -- CW ...

... New York Times Editors: "If Mr. Trump’s Cuba policy matches his latest rhetoric, cooperation is likely to wane. That would only embolden hard-liners in the Cuban regime who are leery of mending ties with the United States and are committed to maintaining Cuba as a repressive socialist bulwark. In Mr. Trump, they may find the ideal foil to stoke nationalism among Cubans who are fiercely protective of their nation’s sovereignty and right to self-determination." -- CW 

Matt Apuzzo & James Risen of the New York Times: "Mr. Trump campaigned on a promise to bring back waterboarding, a banned method previously used by C.I.A. interrogators, and allow unspecified practices he called 'a hell of a lot worse.' Trump ... said in an interview last week that he had heard compelling arguments that torture was not effective, though it is not clear whether he intends to retreat from his position. [CW: Yes, it was clear, after the Times corrected the transcript of the interview. See Fred Kaplan's post, linked in yesterday's Commentariat. Trump said the evidence had not changed his mind.] If he moves ahead to fulfill his campaign pledge, it will not be easy. Federal law, international pressure and resistance from inside the C.I.A. stand in his way.... Mr. Obama, in one of his first acts as president, issued an executive order banning many of the harshest interrogation techniques and prohibiting the C.I.A. from running secret prisons. Mr. Trump would need to rescind that executive order as a first step." -- CW ...

Ana Swanson of the Washington Post: "... Donald Trump garnered votes with his promise to restore America’s manufacturing base to its former glory.... But keeping this promise will be difficult.... That’s because American workers may be struggling, but American factories are not.... American factories actually make more stuff than they ever have, and at a lower cost.... The reason, of course, is that productivity has risen so sharply.... The economics are unavoidable and irreversible.... [Trump's promised tariffs] may actually benefit factory owners and their investors more than workers.... [Tariffs]would encourage American consumers to buy more American-made goods..., [allowing American] factories [to] invest in [more] automation...." -- CW ...

... Deporting Criminals Isn't Easy. Carol Morello of the Washington Post: "... Donald Trump’s vow to begin deporting undocumented immigrant criminals means confronting two of the United States’ biggest trading partners as well as dozens of other countries, allies and foes that have refused to cooperate on the issue or that significantly delay the repatriation process. The State and Homeland Security departments list 23 countries as 'uncooperative' for refusing to take back many of their citizens who came to the United States — in some cases decades ago — and have been ordered deported after being convicted of felonies. Cuba tops the list, followed by China, Somalia, India and Ghana.... In most cases, the immigrants, who do not hold U.S. citizenship, have no passport or birth certificate to prove their original citizenship, and their home countries refuse to issue new travel documents.... Cracking down on countries that are blocking or delaying deportations can invite reciprocal measures, affecting international business, tourism and human rights...." CW: See also Jenna Johnson's report on Trump's campaign promises, linked below.  

** Amy Goldstein & Philip Rucker of the Washington Post: "... Donald Trump has chosen Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.),  a fierce critic of the Affordable Care Act and a proponent of overhauling the nation’s entitlement programs, to lead the department of Health and Human Services,  a person briefed on the decision confirmed Monday night. An announcement of  Trump’s selection of Price, a third-generation doctor who chairs the House Budget Committee and became a fervent champion of Trump’s candidacy, is expected to be made as early as Tuesday. As HHS secretary, Price would be the nation’s top health official and the incoming administration’s point person for dismantling the sprawling 2010 health-care law, which Trump promised during his campaign to start dismantling on his first day in the Oval Office. The 62-year-old lawmaker, who represents a wealthy suburban Atlanta district, has played a leading role in the Republican opposition to the law and has helped draft several comprehensive bills to replace it." -- CW 

Andrew Rafferty of NBC News: "... Donald Trump seemed to be homing in on his choice for secretary of state on Monday, holding a meeting with former CIA chief David Petraeus and announcing a second sit down with Mitt Romney as top aides squabble over who should be nominated for the high-profile position. Petraeus, who in 2015 was sentenced to two years' probation and a $100,000 fine for admitting to providing classified information to his mistress, visited Trump Tower in Manhattan on Monday where the two held a one-hour meeting amid speculation Petraeus is being considered for a top post in the Trump administration. 'He basically walked us around the world, showed a great grasp of the variety of the challenges that are out there and some of the opportunities as well,' Petraeus told reporters. 'So, very good conversation and we'll see where it goes from here.'" -- CW ...

... Bryan Bender of Politico: "Donald Trump said Hillary Clinton’s use of a private server for classified State Department emails made her unfit for high office. But that isn’t stopping him from considering David Petraeus, who pleaded guilty to knowingly leaking secret government files — and lying to the feds about it — for secretary of state." -- CW ...

     ... Paul Waldman: "I’ll just note that David Petraeus admitted that he gave classified documents to his mistress and then lied to the FBI about it. And since Republicans are so terribly concerned about the security of classified documents, they’ll be bitterly opposed to him getting any position in the Trump administration, right? I’m kidding. Of course they won’t." -- CW  ...

     ... Ted Bridis of the AP: "The Defense Department is conducting a new leaks investigation related to the sex scandal that led to the resignation of former CIA Director David Petraeus, The Associated Press confirmed Monday, the same day Petraeus was meeting with ... Donald Trump.... A U.S. official told the AP that investigators were trying to determine who leaked personal information about Paula Broadwell, the woman whose affair with Petraeus led to criminal charges against him and his resignation. The information concerned the status of her security clearance, said the official.... The latest twist in the case could complicate Petraeus' prospects of obtaining a Cabinet position in the Trump administration, resurfacing details of the extramarital affair and FBI investigation that ended his career at the CIA and tarnished the reputation of the retired four-star general." -- CW ...

... Philip Rucker & John Wagner of the Washington Post: "... Donald Trump is for now unswayed by the extraordinarily public revolt by some of his top advisers and allies over the possible choice of Mitt Romney as secretary of state and continues to see his foe as a serious contender for the diplomatic post, several people briefed on the deliberations said Monday. Romney plans to have a private dinner Tuesday with Trump, who is said to be intrigued by the notion of reconciling with one of his fiercest Republican antagonists — even as he also weighs rewarding the loyalty of former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani with one of the administration’s most prized jobs or selecting a decorated military officer in David H. Petraeus." -- CW ...

... James Hohmann of the Washington Post: "No conventional president-elect would tolerate Kellyanne Conway’s blistering broadside against Mitt Romney on the Sunday shows.... It is not completely out of the question that Trump is making Romney go through this whole rigmarole for the sole purpose of publicly humiliating him." -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... MSNBC: "Two sources at the top of the Donald Trump transition team confirmed to MSNBC that they spoke to ... [Trump] today and that Donald Trump was 'furious' at Kellyanne Conway's comments Sunday suggesting Trump 'betrayed' his supporters by even considering Mitt Romney for a position in his cabinet. 'Kellyanne went rogue at Donald Trump's expense at the worst possible time,' a source familiar with Trump's thinking told MSNBC." CW: Yeah, I'll bet. (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Rebecca Savransky of the Hill: "Donald Trump's 's top aide, Kellyanne Conway, on Monday slammed an MSNBC report that said the president-elect was 'furious' over comments she made Sunday about Mitt Romney. Conway called the reporting 'sexist" and said she could have any job she wants in Trump's administration, according to MSNBC." Prince Rebus & Steve Bannon are reportedly all mad at Kellyanne, too. -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Jonathan Swan of the Hill: "Donald Trump is meeting with Mitt Romney again on Tuesday, amid an ongoing brawl within his inner circle about the 2012 GOP nominee's suitability to be secretary of State." -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

From Alex Jones' Mouth to Public Policy. Dana Milbank: "For two weeks before Trump made his [false] allegations [that "millions of people ... voted illegally, conspiracy theorist Alex] Jones had been alleging this very thing, saying there was a 'wall of fraud' and that at least 'five states were stolen' by Clinton. Jones alleged that Trump 'clearly won the popular vote,' asserting that in addition to 3 million illegal immigrants who voted, 4 million dead people voted.... Let’s see what else is being promoted by the outlet where the next leader of the free world gets his news: Infowars reports ... that'“high-level Washington D.C. predatory pedophiles' are communicating via 'symbols' on the menu of Comet Ping Pong, a pizza place in Northwest Washington.... Right! And aliens from outer space have landed in Florida — news Infowars is also currently breaking.... Trump has echoed Jones’s allegations that climate change is a myth, that President Obama wasn’t born in America, that Muslims in New Jersey celebrated on 9/11, that Antonin Scalia was murdered, that Clinton used drugs before a debate, that 'globalists' (read: prominent Jews) are trying to take over America, that vaccines cause autism and that Ted Cruz’s father was involved in the John F. Kennedy assassination. Jones, who says he advises Trump privately, boasts that Trump repeats his ideas 'word for word.'” -- CW ...

... Katie Glueck of Politico: "Donald Trump’s unfounded allegations of voter fraud are alarming voting rights activists who fear broader ballot access crackdowns — and his remarks are also emboldening groups that champion more stringent voting requirements. The president-elect took to Twitter on Sunday to baselessly tee off on 'serious voter fraud in Virginia, New Hampshire and California,' and to misleadingly assert without evidence that he 'won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally.'” -- CW 

** Paul Waldman: "... we have to figure out how to deal with the way Trump successfully manipulates the media.... Here’s how the cycle works. First, Trump says something outrageously false, but which his supporters either believe already or would like to believe. Then Trump gets criticized in the media for it, and his supporters say, 'There they go again, the liberal anti-Trump media.' Instead of convincing everyone that the claim was false, the criticism only reinforces for Trump’s fans the idea that nothing the media says can be believed, which further undermines their ability to act as neutral arbiters in any debate.... The entire sequence of events enables Trump to create a meta-message, which is that there’s no such thing as truth and no such thing as genuine authority....This is part of a broader assault Trump is mounting on almost every institution of public life in America — the government, the media, the education system, even democracy itself." -- CW 

Jenna Johnson of the Washington Post: "In Donald Trump’s final days on the campaign trail, he promised his supporters that 'every dream you ever dreamed for your country' will come true if he becomes president — one of dozens of sweeping promises he made and is now expected to fulfill.... The list [of Trump's campaign promises] has grown to 282, collected from Trump’s speeches, public comments, tweets and campaign and transition websites." Johnson lists them all, by category. CW: If nightmares are dreams, then yeah, they're dreams. ...

... Sheryl Gay Stolberg of the New York Times: "Experts say Mr. Trump’s expansive campaign promise to 'put our miners back to work' will be very difficult to keep. Yet ... Appalachians are eyeing Washington with a feeling they have not had in years: hope.... Mr. Trump pummeled Mrs. Clinton in coal country. Here in West Virginia, he won every county and took 69 percent of the vote, a landslide also fueled by his promise to appoint conservative Supreme Court justices who would roll back abortion rights.... Mr. Trump has put a climate change contrarian and friend of the coal industry in charge of his Environmental Protection Agency transition team.... Bill Raney, the president of the West Virginia Coal Association, a trade group, is thrilled." -- CW ...

... Catherine Rampell of the Washington Post: "In light of the regulatory vision being laid out by ... Donald Trump and his advisers, I’d recommend college students bone up on hustling and swindling.... Mammas, make sure your babies grow up to be con men. One of the many underappreciated legacies of the Obama administration has been its widespread implementation of pro-consumer policies. Under the outgoing president’s leadership, multiple executive branch departments and independent agencies have enacted laws, rules and regulations designed to protect regular Americans from, well, the Donald Trumps of the world.... With a Cabinet likely worth tens of billions of dollars, Trump is assembling a government of the rich, by the rich and for the rich.... Even before taking the oath of office, Trump is reshaping the economy in his own image: an economy of con men." -- CW 

The No-Mandate President. Aaron Blake of the Washington Post: "... there is actually good reason for Trump to be concerned about his share of the popular vote. After all, the current tabulation suggests that 53.5 percent of Americans cast ballots for someone not named Donald Trump, and politicians are generally stronger when they have demonstrated popular support.... As of now, Trump’s deficit in the popular vote — 1.7 points — is the third-largest on record for an election winner and the second-biggest for an electoral college winner. The only bigger deficits came in the 19th century, when Rutherford B. Hayes won the 1876 election by one(!) electoral vote despite losing the popular vote by three points, and when John Quincy Adams was declared the winner by the House of Representatives despite losing the electoral vote and the popular vote to Andrew Jackson by more than 10 points." -- CW 

Niraj Chokshi of the New York Times: "Donald J. Trump was officially declared the winner of the presidential election in Michigan on Monday amid calls for a recount there and in two other states. Mr. Trump ... defeated Hillary Clinton ... by 10,704 votes in the state, or less than a quarter of a percentage point, the Michigan Board of State Canvassers announced, nearly three weeks after the Nov. 8 election." -- CW ...

... Mallory Shelbourne of the Hill: "Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein filed for a recount in Pennsylvania Monday as she pushes for a second look at the results in several states won by Donald Trump." --CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Meet Your Trump Supporters!

     ... Just Another Happy Trumpbot Expressing Her Racist First Amendment Freeedoms. Lorraine Swanson of Patch Chicago: "The offer of a $1 reusable bag erupted into a meltdown by a woman who proclaimed she had voted for Donald Trump and was being discriminated against by African-American employees at a [Michael's] Chicago arts and crafts store....  According to [videographer Jessie] Grady, the customer, who is white, went into a '30-minute racist rant complete with yelling and cursing and repeated references to the fact that both employees were African-American.'... Throughout the confrontation, Grady said the Michaels employees were professional and courteous." -- CW ...

     ... THEN There's This Guy. Matt Shuham of TPM: "In a video posted to Facebook by [a passenger on a Delta Airlines flight] one of the passengers ... is seen standing up from his seat and yelling about Donald Trump to the rest of the plane. 'We got some Hillary bitches on here?' he says at one point, later adding 'Donald Trump! He’s your president, every goddamn one of you. If you don’t like it, too bad.' The CEO of Delta Airlines responded Monday..., defending the flight crew’s decision not to kick the man off the plane but saying that he would not be allowed on a Delta flight again. 'After questioning the customer, our team members made the best decision they could given the information they had and allowed him to remain on the flight,' CEO Ed Bastian’s memo to staff reads in part. 'However, if our colleagues had witnessed firsthand what was shown in the video, there is no question they would have removed him from the aircraft.'” Passengers on the flight will be reimbursed for their fares, Bastian wrote. -- CW ...

... MEANWHILE, reviews are coming in for the $250 Trump Christmas ornament. CW: I went right to the Amazon page for more: "Came with an entire crate of white hood ornaments. Great bargain! Downside: My tree is now on fire." "Seems to be very fragile. The moment my wife criticized it, it cracked!"


Sheri Fink & James Risen
of the New York Times: "Nearly 15 years after the United States adopted a program to interrogate terrorism suspects using techniques now widely considered to be torture, no one involved in helping craft it has been held legally accountable.... But now ... [a] suit, filed in October 2015 in Federal District Court in Spokane, Wash., by two former detainees in C.I.A. secret prisons and the representative of a third who died in custody, centers on two contractors, psychologists who were hired by the agency to help devise and run the program." -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Congressional Race

Peter Schroeder of the Hill: "Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) was announced the winner of his reelection race by a razor-thin margin after nearly three weeks of the results being too close to call. Issa fended off Marine Col. Doug Applegate (D), a political newcomer, in the toughest race of his career, the Associated Press said Monday. It was the final uncalled House race of 2016. As of Monday afternoon, Issa led Applegate by 2,348 votes, according to the San Diego Union Tribune.... Issa, one of the wealthiest members of Congress, rarely faced a significant challenge to protect his House seat before 2016, cruising to eight terms in office." -- CW 

Beyond the Beltway

Karen Farkas of Cleveland.com: "Eight people were injured during an attack at Ohio State University and a suspect was killed, according to police and other reports. A 90-minute campus lockdown was lifted at 11:30 a.m. All classes are cancelled for today." -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Update. Jackie Borchardt of Cleveland.com: "Eleven people were injured Monday morning after an Ohio State University student drove a car into pedestrians and then attacked others with a butcher knife, police and university officials said. The suspect, identified as Abdul Razak Ali Artan, was quickly shot and killed by a university police officer just before 10 a.m." -- CW 

NYC Mayor Bill deBlasio spoke at Cooper Union November 21. CW: Sorry I missed this earlier.