Weekly Address

The President's Weekly Address

White House: "In this week's address, President Obama highlighted the 21st Century Cures Act, a bill in Congress that could help us find a cure for Alzheimer's, end cancer as we know it, and help those who are seeking treatment for opioid addiction":

The Ledes

Sunday, December 4, 2016.

Washington Post: "Irving Fradkin, an optometrist who in 1958 began collecting $1 donations to help send local high-schoolers to college and whose efforts grew into a charity that has distributed $3.5 billion to more than 2.2 million students in the United States, died Nov. 19 at his home in Fall River, Mass. He was 95." -- CW

The Wires

The Ledes

Saturday, December 3, 2016.

Los Angeles Times: "Authorities said they were preparing to deal with dozens of fatalities after a fire raced through a converted warehouse crowded with people attending a Friday night concert, officials said. Nine bodies have been recovered, but Alameda County sheriff’s Sgt. Ray Kelly said officials were prepared for up to 40 fatalities. He said many of those inside the warehouse were young, some from foreign countries. Firefighters were beginning to move through the burned-out remains of the building looking for victims. The building’s roof caved in, and debris will make the search effort difficult, Kelly said. Firefighters plan to use drones with thermal-imaging equipment to search the building. There is no known cause of the fire. While arson is not suspected, Kelly said investigators are on scene and nothing has been ruled out. Officials said the warehouse isn’t currently considered a crime scene." -- CW 

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."

Contact the Constant Weader

Click on this link to e-mail the Constant Weader.

Constant Comments

Anyone with a cheap computer can become a columnist or a pundit. -- Dennis Ryerson, Editor, Indianapolis Star

About Me: I have a cheap computer.
-- Constant Weader

Follow CONSTANTWEADER on Twitter... for breaking news. I update several times a day & tweet only the big deals.

Saturday
Dec032016

The Commentariat -- December 4, 2016

 

... he is exactly the fool we all thought he would be. -- Jeanne, in today's Comments

The Dangerous Ignoramus, Ctd. Mark Landler of the New York Times: "... in a single protocol-shattering phone call with the president of Taiwan..., Donald J. Trump has thrust [the issue of Taiwan] back on the table. Not since President Richard M. Nixon met with Mao Zedong in 1972 — when the two issued the Shanghai Communiqué clarifying the status of Taiwan — has an American leader so shaken up the diplomatic status quo on the issue.... In the short run, Mr. Trump has rattled the entire region. Representatives of several Asian countries contacted the White House on Saturday to express concern, according to a senior administration official. In the longer term, officials in the Obama administration worry that the episode could ... inflame trade relations and embolden China in the South China Sea, where it has clashed with the Philippines, Vietnam and other neighbors over competing claims to reefs and shoals.... Nor did Mr. Trump or his aides make a gesture to reaffirm the One China policy, much to the chagrin of the White House. It fell to a spokesman for the National Security Council to affirm that the United States was not changing the policy.... Whether Mr. Trump views the call as the beginning of a change in approach toward Taiwan is not clear." -- CW ...

... Lauren Fox of TPM: "China's foreign minister delivered a stark reminder to ... Trump Saturday. There is only one Chinese government to talk to. The statement from the foreign minister's office came after reports that Trump violated the 'one China' policy and spoke on the phone with Taiwan's president Friday. It was the only known time in nearly four decades that a a U.S. President has spoken on the phone with the president of Taiwan.China views Taiwan's president as an illegitimate leader, because they still view Taiwan as part of China. The U.S. has been delicately balancing that for more than 30 years." -- CW ...

... ** Evan Osnos of the New Yorker: "It wasn’t clear how much [Trump] intended to abruptly alter geopolitics, and how much he was incompetently improvising. There is evidence of each; in either case, the way he did it is very dangerous.... When Trump discovered that he was being mocked for taking the call, he tweeted what he seems to have thought would be a mitigating explanation: 'The President of Taiwan CALLED ME today to wish me congratulations on winning the Presidency. Thank you!' If he meant to imply that the incoming call was a surprise, then he either was lying or had been misled; Taiwan’s press had already published news of a 'scheduled' call hours earlier.... Trump may have been manipulated into doing something he doesn’t understand. Michael Crowley, of Politico, noted that the former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton, who favors a tilt away from Beijing, visited Trump Tower on Friday for undisclosed reasons. Bolton has argued for 'playing the Taiwan card' to pressure Beijing.... Trump has ... shown himself to be highly exploitable on subjects that he does not grasp." -- CW ...

... Aaron Blake of the Washington Post: "One of the chief concerns of ... Donald Trump's detractors during the presidential campaign was that the brash and notoriously loose-lipped real estate executive wouldn't be able to handle the delicate balancing act that is diplomacy.... Today, a fellow world power — China — is inflamed.... Much as with [his the controversy surrounding his trip to] Mexico, Trump and Taiwan are now apparently differing about precisely what their call entailed.... After news broke of the call with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen and the backlash began, Trump explained that it was Taiwan who initiated the conversation, and he downplayed it as a 'congratulatory call.'... But a spokesman in the Taiwanese president's office clarified to Reuters that the call was agreed to beforehand.... Taiwan's government also said the two sides discussed 'strengthening bilateral relations' and talked about their 'close economic, political and security ties' -- all words likely to make China cringe and suggestive of a more in-depth conversation than just a congratulatory call.... The situation raises real questions about who is advising Trump when it comes to diplomacy with Asia.... And for those concerned that Trump doesn't have the discipline and knowledge to deal with the intricacies and very sensitive feelings involved in foreign policy and diplomacy, Trump is yet again proving their point....” -- CW 

The Banana Republic of Trump. Larry Summers, in a Washington Post op-ed: "Many market economies operate what might be called ad hoc or deals-based capitalism.... This is the world of New York City under Tammany Hall, of Suharto’s Indonesia, and of Putin’s Russia.... Presidents have enormous latent power, and it is the custom of restraint in its use that is one of the important differences between us and banana republics.... [Trump] ... decided in a purely ad hoc basis that he wanted Carrier to remain in Indiana. He deployed some combination of carrots and sticks at his disposal to lever Carrier into doing what he wanted.... What we have just witnessed is an act of ad hoc deal capitalism and, worse yet, its celebration as a model.... [In the Carrier deal,] we may have taken a first step toward a kind of reverse transition from rule of law capitalism to ad hoc deal-based capitalism.... As a consequence we are going to be not only poorer but less free." -- CW 

Sarah Wheaton of Politico: "Protecting Donald Trump and his family will involve unprecedented costs for taxpayers.... Yet local and federal law enforcement officials concede the costs for securing the immediate and extended First Family-elect in target-rich New York City are enormous. Melania Trump’s decision to stay with 10-year-old Barron at the family’s triplex penthouse means the skyscraper will need permanent new fortifications, and plans to protect Trump’s four adult children will force an already short-staffed agency ramp up its ranks." -- CW 

Steve Eder of the New York Times: "Pennsylvania appears increasingly unlikely to have a statewide recount of its votes, diminishing the last long-shot hope by opponents of Donald J. Trump that a review of the ballots could overturn his election as president. In a filing on Saturday, a lawyer for Jill Stein, the Green Party presidential candidate, who began the recount bids in Pennsylvania — as well as in Michigan and Wisconsin — said 'petitioners are regular citizens of ordinary means' and could not afford a $1 million bond payment that was ordered by Pennsylvania courts. A lawyer for Ms. Stein’s recount campaign indicated on Saturday night that they were not giving up in Pennsylvania and planned to request that the federal courts on Monday intervene to order a statewide recount." -- CW 


Alexander Bolton
of the Hill: "Democratic and Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee are working on legislation that would limit deportations if ... Donald Trump repeals President Obama’s executive orders on illegal immigration. Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (Ill.) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), both members of the panel, are crafting a bill to shield children living in the country illegally from being deported if they grew up in the United States and have stayed out of trouble. The bill is likely to have the support of another Republican on the committee, Sen. Jeff Flake (Ariz.)." -- CW ...

     ... CW: There are a few decent human Rs remaining in the Congress. The future of the Republic is likely to depend upon them.

Saturday
Dec032016

The Commentariat -- December 3, 2016

"Trump Inherits Obama Boom." Ben White of Politico: "On the campaign trail, Donald Trump repeatedly described the U.S. economy as a hollowed-out disaster of high unemployment and stagnant growth. But the latest numbers show ... [Trump] will in fact inherit a fairly robust economy with the lowest jobless rate in nearly a decade, record home and stock prices and a healthy growth rate.... Trump instead will take office with an economy near full employment and wages and spending rising.... Put together, the picture is radically different than the one painted by Trump on the campaign trail, where he railed repeatedly against the Obama economy. 'We have no growth right now,' Trump said in August. 'The country's a disaster.' On the campaign trail in February he suggested the government’s numbers were faked.” -- CW 

** Rick Perlstein, in In These Times, shows the contrast between two museums, each dedicated to national tragedies, one in Berlin & one in Oklahoma City. "... denial is how a childlike nation gets past trauma. It demonstrates how unprepared our nation is for the trauma about to be visited upon it.... When [Trump's presidency] ushers in global financial panic and geostrategic chaos — his worshipful admirers are unlikely to blame him, let alone themselves. They ... will blame those whom Mr. Trump instructs them to blame: The quislings in the media. The (Jewish) financiers. The immigrants. The Muslims. The liberals. The 'Republican establishment.' Nasty women. A spiral of violent recrimination may well ensue; rinse, lather, repeat.... We will need unflinching assessments of exactly what it is we are going through. But our nation, indoctrinated into an Oklahoma City-museum conception of trauma and healing, is woefully unprepared. And our mainstream media is the most unprepared of all.... Now comes the test of our institutions: the bulwarks that outlast elections, meant to stand between strongmen, mobs and their awful instincts. How will they fare? Once more, indications are not encouraging.... And from the evidence of [Hillary] Clinton’s concession speech, those atop the commanding heights of the Democratic Party clearly lack the will for the heroic fight ahead.... Who will lead the resistance? More fundamentally: Can a nation that cannot acknowledge genuine trauma even resist?" -- CW 

The Dangerous Ignoramus, Ctd. Mark Landler & David Sanger of the New York Times: "... Donald J. Trump spoke by telephone with Taiwan’s president on Friday, a striking break with nearly four decades of diplomatic practice that could precipitate a major rift with China even before Mr. Trump takes office.... He is believed to be the first president or president-elect who has spoken to a Taiwanese leader since at least 1979, when the United States severed diplomatic ties with Taiwan as part of its recognition of the People’s Republic of China.... [Trump] has shown little heed for the nuances of international diplomacy, holding a series of unscripted phone calls to foreign leaders that have roiled sensitive relationships with Britain, India and Pakistan.... The White House was not told about Mr. Trump’s call until after it happened, according to a senior administration official. But afterward, the Chinese government contacted the White House to discuss the matter. The longer-term fallout from the Trump-Tsai conversation could be significant, the administration official said...." -- CW ...

... Anne Gearan of the Washington Post: "Kellyanne Conway..., in an interview with CNN on Friday night..., bristled when asked whether Trump was properly briefed before the call on the government’s long-standing policy, questioning why President Obama did not receive similar queries about his knowledge of foreign affairs.... The United States has pursued the 'One China' policy since 1972, when then-President Richard M. Nixon visited China. In 1978, President Jimmy Carter recognized Beijing as the legitimate government of China, and Washington closed its embassy in Taiwan a year later. A deliberately ambiguous relationship between Washington and Taiwan has existed since.... Trump’s growing team of national-security and foreign-policy advisers includes several people who have been strong supporters of Taiwan in Republican administrations.... Trump apparently considered hotel investments in Taiwan earlier this year.... The Democratic National Committee said the call may mean ... [Trump] is 'prioritizing his personal fortune over the security interests of the nation.'” -- CW ...

     ... CW: In answer to Conway's question -- Because Obama did not try to undercut decades of American foreign policy, and he followed U.S. State Department protocol, advice & direction in taking & making calls to foreign leaders while President-elect. (It is only my dominant P.C. gene that is causing me to refrain from borrowing a phrase from one of Dan Ackroyd's SNL characters: "Kellyanne, you ignorant slut.") ...

... Stephen Collinson, et al., of CNN: "China's foreign ministry said Saturday it has lodged a complaint with the United States over a controversial phone call between ... Donald Trump and Taiwan's President that has overturned decades of diplomatic protocol." -- CW ...

... **Surprise! Grifter-in-Chief. Elizabeth Preza of RawStory: "Donald Trump may have ulterior motives for his jaw-dropping call to Taiwan Friday, considering his company is looking to build luxury hotels and resorts on the rogue Chinese providence, Shanghaiist reports... The Gothamist LLC publication Shanghaiist—which covers news and events in China—Trump is eyeing Taiwan as his next location for a series of luxury hotels and resorts. In November, the mayor of Taoyuan, Taiwan confirmed to China Times that a representative from the Trump Organization visited the municipality in September. Reports indicate Trump’s son Eric Trump will visit Taiwan later this year to discuss 'a large-scale urban development project aimed at capitalizing on Taoyuan’s status as a transport hub for East Asia.'"--safari

...safari: I honestly don't believe Trump has thought about the fact that foreign journalists will also be investigating his dealings abroad. He likely thinks he can strongarm the American press to get them to back off, but outside our borders is unfortunately off limits to Trump's rage reach. Get ready for some diversionary Tweeting about culture wars, the Emperor is losing his clothes, yet again...

President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines said on Saturday that ... Donald J. Trump had endorsed his brutal antidrug campaign, telling Mr. Duterte that the Philippines was conducting it 'the right way.' Mr. Duterte, who spoke with Mr. Trump by telephone on Friday, said Mr. Trump was 'quite sensitive' to 'our worry about drugs. He wishes me well, too, in my campaign, and he said that, well, we are doing it as a sovereign nation, the right way,' Mr. Duterte said.... Since his election last month, Mr. Trump has held a series of unscripted calls with foreign leaders, several of which have broken radically from past American policies and diplomatic practice.... Mr. Duterte has led a campaign against drug abuse in which he has encouraged the police and others to kill people they suspect of using or selling drugs. Since he took office in June, more than 2,000 people have been killed by the police in what officers describe as drug raids, and the police say several hundred more have been killed by vigilantes. The program has been condemned by the United States, the United Nations, the European Union and others for what rights organizations have characterized as extrajudicial killings. In rejecting such criticism from the United States this fall, Mr. Duterte called Mr. Obama a 'son of a whore.'” -- CW ...

Max Fisher & Josh Keller of the New York Times on "How Trump’s Calls to World Leaders Are Upsetting Decades of Diplomacy." -- CW 

The Counterproductive Ignoramus. Peter Goodman, et al., of the New York Times: "Mr. Trump secured the White House in part by vowing to bring manufacturing jobs back to American shores.... [Trump] has fixed on China as a symbol of nefarious trade practices while threatening to slap 45 percent punitive tariffs on Chinese imports. But many existing American manufacturing jobs depend heavily on access to a broad array of goods drawn from a global supply chain — fabrics, chemicals, electronics and other parts. Many of them come from China. At [Chuck] Reid’s factory [in Holland, Michigan, for instance], imports account for roughly two-thirds of the cost of making a recliner chair.... In short, Mr. Trump’s signature trade promise, one ostensibly aimed at protecting American jobs, may well deliver the reverse: It risks making successful American manufacturers more vulnerable by raising their costs. It would unleash havoc on the global supply chain, prompting some multinationals to leave the United States and shift manufacturing to countries where they can be assured of buying components at the lowest prices." Emphasis added. -- CW ...

... Aaron Rupar of ThinkProgress: "Trump’s deal with United Technology, the company that owns Carrier, is good news for the workers who will keep their jobs, of course...In sum, about 800 American jobs are being saved, but another 1,300 are disappearing. Those painful details were acknowledged in a letter Carrier sent to affected workers on Thursday that was posted to Twitter by Indianapolis-based journalist Rafael Sánchez." --safari ...

... Maybe Sarah Palin Isn't Looking for a Place in the Trump Administration. Madeline Conway of Politico: "Another conservative is calling 'crony capitalism' on Donald Trump’s deal with Carrier, albeit an unexpected one — Sarah Palin. In an op-ed for the website Young Conservatives..., touting the value of free markets, Palin signaled her disapproval if it was a case of 'political intrusion using a stick or carrot to bribe or force one individual business to do what politicians insist.... When government steps in arbitrarily with individual subsidies, favoring one business over others, it sets inconsistent, unfair, illogical precedent,; she asserted." CW: I usually take a pass on what Palin says, but this was a little too rich to ignore.

The Forgetful Ignoramus. Gail Collins: "In the past, I’ve always presumed that when Trump completely changed his position on health care or the Mexican wall or nuclear weapons in Japan, it was due to craven political opportunism. But it’s much more calming to work under the assumption that he doesn’t remember anything that happened before this morning.... Our next president is entirely a creature of the moment. So much so that he had no problem wiping one of his most publicized campaign promises out of his mind the second he made it. Once he heard it on TV, Trump said he did recall vowing to save the Carrier jobs, 'but that was a euphemism.'” ...

     ... CW: Trump might disagree with Collins' diagnosis. If he could only remember why. He said early in the campaign that he had "one of the best memories in the world." A few months later, not surprisingly, Trump said he did not remember he had said he had one of the best memories in the world. 

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.... Trump seems ... 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. (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Another Trumpian Get-Richer-Quick Scheme at Your Expense. Drew Harwell of the Washington Post: "... Donald Trump’s ultra-wealthy Cabinet nominees will be able to avoid paying millions of dollars in taxes in the coming weeks when they sell some of their holdings to avoid conflicts of interest in their new positions. The tax advantage will allow Trump officials, forced by ethics laws to sell certain assets, to defer the weighty tax bills they would otherwise owe on the profits from selling stock and other holdings. The benefit is one of the more subtle ways that the millionaires and billionaires of Trump’s White House, which already will be the wealthiest administration in modern American history, could benefit financially from their transition into the nation’s halls of power." -- CW 

Postmeridian Knee Slapper: Paul Ryan has talked "extensively" with Trump about the Constitution. Hayley Miller of the Huffington Post: "House Speaker Paul Ryan and ... 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.'" (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

     ... 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.

Yeah, Sometimes Twitter Really Matters. David Pierson of the Los Angeles Times: "... unlike other Twitter users, Trump is about to become the 45th president of the United States. His conduct on social media matters, according to presidential historians and political scientists, because by blocking followers, Trump is effectively saying only Americans who resist the urge to publicly disparage him are worthy of his pronouncements.... It’s unclear how many people are blocked by Trump, who has 16.3 million followers to his account (@realDonaldTrump)." Pierson cites a number of Twitter users Trump has blocked.... Like the fireside radio chats of President Franklin Roosevelt’s, Trump uses the technology of his day to bypass the press and communicate directly with the nation." CW: The difference, of course, is that FDR didn't block anyone from listening to the radio.

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..., 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 (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... The Disqualifying A-word? Juan Cole: "The interview of Gen. James Mattis by Wolf Blitzer at Aspen in 2013, in which the recently-retired former CENTCOM commander spoke freely on Middle East policy, has come back to haunt him now that Donald Trump has put him forward as the next Secretary of Defense. [The controversy stems from] his remarks on Secretary of State John Kerry’s attempts at peace talks between Israel and Palestine...[Mattis said] 'We’ve got to find a way to make work the two-state solution that both Democrat and Republican administrations have supported, and the chances are starting to ebb because of the settlements. For example, if I’m Jerusalem and I put 500 Jewish settlers to the east and there’s ten-thousand Arabs already there, and if we draw the border to include them, either [Israel] ceases to be a Jewish state or you say the Arabs don’t get to vote — apartheid. That didn’t work too well the last time I saw that practiced in a country'". --safari

He’s the president-elect, so that’s presidential behavior. -- Kellyanne Conway, at the Harvard forum slapdown ...

... Margaret Sullivan of the Washington Post: "The post-truth world of the Trump administration is scarier than you think.... On live radio Wednesday morning, Scottie Nell Hughes ... declared on 'The Diane Rehm Show' on Wednesday.... 'There’s no such thing, unfortunately, anymore, of facts.'... Hughes, a frequent surrogate for ... Donald Trump..., kept on defending that assertion.... Rehm had pressed her about Trump’s recent evidence-free assertion on Twitter that he, not Hillary Clinton, would have won the popular vote if millions of immigrants had not voted illegally.... What matters now, Hughes argued, is not whether his fraud claim is true. No, what matters is who believes it.... At a high-profile event the next evening, two other Trump surrogates [Corey Lewandowski & Kellyanne Conway] echoed this sentiment." Sullivan recalls this passage from George Orwell's 1984:

The Ministry of Peace concerns itself with war, the Ministry of Truth with lies, the Ministry of Love with torture and the Ministry of Plenty with starvation. These contradictions are not accidental, nor do they result from ordinary hypocrisy: they are deliberate exercises in doublethink.

Annals of "Journalism," Ctd. No, This Really Is Not Funny. Oliver Darcy of Business Insider: "CNN on Friday apologized after one of its producers was caught on a hot mic making a joke about ... Donald Trump's plane crashing. 'An unfortunate and inappropriate remark was made by one of our producers off camera yesterday,' a CNN representative told Business Insider in a statement. 'We have apologized to the Trump transition team, and the producer has been disciplined.' As correspondent Suzanne Malveaux prepared for a live shot at Carrier’s Indianapolis plant on Thursday, a producer was heard discussing various hand signals with her. 'That means his plane's crashed — just kidding,' the producer said, prompting a stunned face from Malveaux." -- CW 

Jonathan Chait: "It is hard to think of an election defeat more singularly absent of important lessons, since the most important lesson of the election is glaringly obvious and shared by all sides: Don’t nominate Hillary Clinton for president again.... The liberal writer Amy Sullivan actually nailed the problem as early as 2005, in a Washington Monthly story arguing that Clinton suffered fatal distrust by swing voters. While 'Clinton can win nearly any debate that is about issues, she cannot avoid becoming the issue in a national campaign,' she wrote. 'And when that happens, she will very likely lose.'... Of course, how [Bernie] Sanders might have fared as the nominee can’t be proven either way, but the evidence suggests that his liabilities were at least as large.... Clinton would have beaten Trump anyway, if not for the combined efforts of Russian intelligence and the FBI to bring her down.... In the meantime, Republican government will quickly make liberal fixation with the shortcomings of Democratic governance quaint.... The alliance of Trump’s corruption and Paul Ryan’s social Darwinism presents Democrats with the simplest messaging challenge any opposition party has faced in memory.... What should concern Democrats is not whether they’ll get back in power but what will be left of the country when they do.” -- CW 

Jerry Markon & Sean Sullivan of the Washington Post: "Supporters of ... Donald Trump are moving aggressively to challenge Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein’s push for a recount in three states, filing legal challenges and criticizing the effort as quixotic and ill-conceived. Trump and his backers have filed challenges the past two days in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, which were critical to Trump’s surprise victory last month because they punctured the so-called blue wall of states expected to carry Democrat Hillary Clinton to victory. Trump narrowly won the trio of states. Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette (R) on Friday tweeted that Stein’s request was 'an expensive & a risky threat' as he announced he had filed an emergency motion with the Michigan Supreme Court to stop it." ...

     ... CW: Maybe they're afraid they'll lose, although experts say there's little chance of that. This is the real danger for Trump: should any significant errors be detected in the counts of any of these states, even ones that wouldn't undo Trump's statewide win, the public will forever wonder if he really won these states, and therefore the presidency. Having lost the popular vote by well over two million, Trump's win already strips him of any claim to a "mandate" (even though he's repeatedly [and of course falsely] telling fans he won "in a landslide"). ...

... Patrick Marley & Jason Stein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: "A federal judge Friday denied an emergency halt to the recount of the presidential vote in Wisconsin, allowing the process to continue until a Dec. 9 court hearing at least. There is no need to halt the recount just yet because it will not do any immediate harm to Republican ... Donald Trump or his supporters, U.S. District Judge James Peterson wrote in a three-page order that called for both sides in the case to lay out written arguments before he takes any action." CW: Peterson is an Obama appointee. ...

... Paul Egan of the Detroit Free Press: "Michigan's Board of State Canvassers deadlocked 2-2 Friday, on ... Donald Trump's objection to Green Party candidate Jill Stein's request for a recount of all presidential ballots cast in Michigan, meaning a hand recount of Michigan's presidential ballots could begin late Tuesday or likely early Wednesday.... The board deadlocked along party lines.... Still, a lawsuit filed Friday by Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette places any recount in doubt. Schuette asked the Michigan Supreme Court, which has a 5-2 majority of Republican nominees, to block the recount as a costly and pointless exercise. Trump also filed a lawsuit late Friday against the Board of State Canvassers, asking the Michigan Court of Appeals for an injunction to block the recount." -- CW 

Solidifying Drump's Re-election. Alice Ollstein of ThinkProgress: "Strict new voting laws in key swing states were a significant factor in the outcome of the 2016 election, and may have deterred or prevented hundreds of thousands of eligible voters from casting a ballot. Only four people — out of hundreds of millions — were found to have committed voter fraud this year...Already, just a few weeks after the election, several Republican-controlled states [Michigan, Texas, New Hampshire] are moving such bills forward, while others have announced plans to do so..., As Donald Trump moves to appoint cabinet members with a history of hostility to voting rights, civil rights advocates expect an escalation of such restrictive policies in the years to come." --safari


Robert Pear
, et al., of the New York Times: "Republicans in Congress plan to move almost immediately next month to repeal the Affordable Care Act, as ... Donald J. Trump promised. But they also are likely to delay the effective date so that they have several years to phase out President Obama’s signature achievement. This emerging 'repeal and delay' strategy, which Speaker Paul D. Ryan discussed this week with ... Mike Pence, underscores a growing recognition that replacing the health care law will be technically complicated and could be politically explosive.... It is not sheer coincidence that at least one idea envisions putting the effective date well beyond the midterm congressional elections in 2018.... But health policy experts suggest “repeal and delay” would be extremely damaging to a health care system already on edge. 'The idea that you can repeal the Affordable Care Act with a two- or three-year transition period and not create market chaos is a total fantasy,' said Sabrina Corlette, a professor at the Health Policy Institute of Georgetown University. 'Insurers need to know the rules of the road in order to develop plans and set premiums.'” -- CW  ...

... CW: Paul Waldman picks up on what I wrote earlier this week about the Republican "repeal, delay & deflect healthcare plan": Republicans think "that by establishing a ticking time bomb, they'll coerce Democrats ... to join with them to pass a replacement, which can then be sold as a bipartisan solution. And if they fail? 'The blame will fall on the people who didn't want to do anything,' i.e. Democrats, says House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy. So the Republican plan is to follow through on their long-sought goal of killing the ACA, then blame Democrats when voters are angry about what they've lost. There's a lot of cynical maneuvering in Washington, but that is something truly remarkable." McCarthy, BTW, is something of a gaffe machine, and this was another one: you don't say outright, as McCarthy did here, that you're a cynical shit who intends to blame the other party for your own failure; you just do it and pretend you don't know what your critics are talking about because your motives & moves are as pure as the driven snow.

Jonathan Easley of the Hill: "Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean dropped out of the race to become the next chairman of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) on Friday.... That reduces the field of candidates to three. The front-runner is Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), who has racked up endorsements from Washington lawmakers and national labor unions. South Carolina Democratic Chairman Jaime Harrison and New Hampshire Chairman Ray Buckley are also in the race. President Obama’s allies are trying to recruit Labor Secretary Tom Perez for the role, and NARAL President Ilyse Hogue is also considering a bid. Dean did not say whom he would support." -- CW 

Robert Barnes of the New York Times: "The [political] battle over North Carolina continues Monday in the U.S. Supreme Court, when the justices will hear yet another election case, considering whether the drawing of the state’s congressional districts was ... unconstitutionally influenced by race.... Racial gerrymandering is ... at the heart of the case the Supreme Court will hear Monday. Yet another panel of federal judges found that GOP mapmakers packed African American voters into two congressional districts, which limited their influence in other districts.... While racial gerrymandering is constitutionally forbidden, the Supreme Court has never found the same of partisan gerrymandering." -- CW 

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

Beyond the Beltway

Keep Your Eyes on This One. Mark Joseph Stern of Slate: As [North Carolina Republican Gov. Pat] McCrory awaits the results of a partial recount that cannot possibly close his 10,000-vote deficit, he has decided to call a special legislative session in December. The stated purpose? To address hurricane relief funds. But many Democrats fear a darker motive: to pack the state Supreme Court with new Republican justices before the GOP loses hold of the executive branch.... Currently, seven justices sit on the North Carolina Supreme Court. Before the election, the court split 4-3, with Republicans in the majority. On Election Day, however, voters ousted a conservative justice, replacing him with a Democrat and tipping the court to the left." --safari

Louisiana law apparently makes it a breeze to shoot, kill, and walk away, but only if... Ralph Ellis of 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." -- Akhilleus (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Jonathan Bullington of the Times-Picayune: "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. (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

     ... 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.

Way Beyond 

Ruth Maclean & Emma Graham-Harrison of the Guardian: "The Gambia’s autocratic president, Yahya Jammeh, who once claimed a 'billion-year' mandate to rule, has conceded defeat after a shock election loss to a real-estate developer who once worked as a security guard in London.... Jammeh had kept the tiny west African country under an iron grip for more than two decades, and there were fears that the eccentric 51-year-old would use violence or fraud to maintain power. Instead he became a rare dictator to accept defeat in a democratic election, agreeing to hand power to challenger Adama Barrow, a softly spoken businessman who previously had little public profile." --safari

A Potentially Pivotal Weekend. Jon Henley of the Guardian: "In Italy and Austria this weekend a shaken EU faces the first of a series of pivotal electoral tests that could profoundly change the political landscape of the bloc, and conceivably herald the end of the European project in its current form.... [O]ver the next 12 months, EU member states face a dozen referendums and parliamentary and presidential elections, many contested by populist, Eurosceptic parties whose members believe that what happened in the UK and the US can now happen in Europe.... In Austria [on Sunday], voters elect a new president after their first attempt was annulled. In a race currently too close to call, Norbert Hofer, of the anti-immigration Freedom party, could become the first freely elected far-right head of state in western Europe since the second world war.... On the same day, Italians vote in a referendum on constitutional reforms on which [PM Matteo] Renzi has staked his political future. Polls have suggested the prime minister will lose...." --safari ...

If you want this country to change — not for me, not for you, but for the sake of our children — if you want it to have a simpler system, stand by me, because I can’t make it alone. The world needs Italy. I don’t want a country that is a museum but one that is a laboratory. One we can be proud of. -- Matteo Renzi, in Treviso, October 2015 (English translation) ...

... E. P. Licursi, in the New Yorker: "Renzi has spent much of the summer and fall making similar speeches around the country, trying to rally support for a series of major reforms that he has proposed for Italy’s constitution, aimed at easing the country’s pernicious cycle of political gridlock and instability. On Sunday, Italians will vote in a referendum on those reforms. A 'Yes' vote would be a major win for Renzi and his brand of liberal politics. But a 'No' vote might mean the end of his political career — Renzi has pledged to step down if the referendum fails — and could bring about a rearrangement of the country’s political terrain.... If snap elections were held in the wake of a “No” vote, many believe that they would benefit the increasingly popular Five Star Movement, a populist, Eurosceptic, and politically amorphous party led by the comedian Beppe Grillo." -- CW  


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