The Wires

Public Service Announcement

Safety/Irony Alert. CNBC (December 25): Your new home security system may be an open invitation to hackers to make you, and perhaps many others, unsafe.” -- CW

Here's a Houzz feature on Frederick Douglass's D.C. home. Since it's not far from Donald Trump's new (temporary) digs and is every bit as fancy, the Trumpster might want to pay a visit to someone who's done such "an amazing job" that he's "getting recognized more and more." SCROTUS may be surprised to discover that Mr. Douglass is not at home. Too bad, because if Mr. Douglass weren't dead, he could have showed Donaldo his portrait, which for some time was owned by W.E.B. Du Bois (or DeBois or whatever).

Politico's Late Nite Jokes:

Rosie O'Donnell's new Twitter profile pic. Thanks to Unwashed for the link. -- CW 

CNN: "The book publisher Penguin is printing more copies of George Orwell's dystopian classic '1984' in response to a sudden surge of demand. On Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning the book was #1 on Amazon's computer-generated list of best-selling books. The list reflects hourly book sales. The 68-year-old novel appeared on the list on Monday, hovered around the #6 spot for much of the day, rose to #2 by Tuesday afternoon and then hit #1." -- CW 

Los Angeles Times: "The nominations for the 89th Academy Awards were revealed this morning in Los Angeles. 'La La Land' did what 800-lb gorillas are supposed to do: dominate the Oscar nominations tally, pulling down 14, including actor, actress, director and picture. Ava Duvernay’s '13th' joins 'O.J.: Made in America' among best documentary feature nominees, continuing our ongoing conversation about race in the United States. Speaking of which, with Viola Davis, Dev Patel, Octavia Spencer, Denzel Washington, Mahershala Ali, Naomie Harris and Ruth Negga getting acting nominations, the 89th Academy Awards will definitely not be so white." This article includes a complete list of the nominees.

New York Times: "Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus announced on Saturday night that after 146 years of performances, it was folding its big tent forever. In a statement on the company’s website, Kenneth Feld, the chief executive of Feld Entertainment, the producer of Ringling, said the circus would hold its final performances in May. He cited declining ticket sales, which dropped even more drastically after elephants were phased out from the shows last year." -- CW 

The Washington Post publishes a series of photos of the Vice President's residence.

Los Angeles Times: "Perhaps fittingly for an industry that has been trying to console itself in the wake of a presidential election result few saw coming, the 74th Golden Globes, held at the Beverly Hilton, proved a big night for the fizzy romantic musical 'La La Land,' a love letter to Hollywood itself that is widely considered the film to beat in this year’s best picture race." -- CW ...

Marisa Kashino of the Washingtonian: "... multiple real-estate sources say [Ivanka] Trump and husband Jared Kushner will move into 2449 Tracy Pl, NW, in Kalorama. That will put the couple less than two blocks from the Obamas, who will reportedly move here post-White House." Realtors' photos of the Kushner-Trump house are here. The six-bedroom house ... sold on December 22nd for $5.5 million, though it is unclear whether Trump and Kushner bought it, or will rent it from the recent buyer." -- CW 

Daniel Politi of Slate: "Los Angeles residents got a little surprise when they woke up on the first day of the year and realized one of the city’s most famous landmarks had been vandalized to read 'HOLLYWeeD' — at least for a few hours. Police say the vandal used tarps to change the sign’s O’s into E’s. Security cameras caught the vandal — likely a man — changing the sign between midnight and 2 a.m. but police can’t tell the person’s race or height from the footage, reports KTLA. If caught, the vandal could face a misdemeanor trespassing charge." -- CW 

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Tuesday
Nov292016

The Commentariat -- Nov. 30, 2016

Afternoon Update:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*****

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Beyond the Beltway

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

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

Way Beyond

Hwaida Saad & Nick Cumming-Bruce of the New York Times: "The ferocious ground assault and aerial bombardment in eastern Aleppo has forced some 16,000 people to flee for their lives in the last few days, according to Stephen O’Brien, the United Nations under secretary general for humanitarian affairs.... On Monday, forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad captured about a third of the territory in Aleppo that had been held by rebels. Planes have dropped leaflets over the rebel-held areas in the eastern part of city. 'If you don't leave these areas quickly you will be annihilated,' the leaflets warn. 'Save yourselves. You know that everyone has left you alone to face your doom and have offered you no help.'" -- CW

News Lede

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

Monday
Nov282016

The Commentariat -- Nov. 29, 2016

Afternoon Update:

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

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

*****

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Meet Your Trump Supporters!

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

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

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


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

Congressional Race

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

Beyond the Beltway

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

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

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

News Lede

New York Times: "Seventy-six people died when a chartered plane carrying members of a Brazilian soccer club crashed on the outskirts of Medellín, Colombia, the authorities said early Tuesday. Five of the 81 people onboard survived, according to Brig. Gen. José Gerardo Acevedo, the police commander for the area surrounding Medellín, news agencies reported." -- CW

Monday
Nov282016

The Commentariat -- Nov. 28, 2016

Afternoon Update:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*****

Charlie Savage, et al., of the New York Times: "The escalating American military engagement in Somalia has led the Obama administration to expand the legal scope of the war against Al Qaeda, a move that will strengthen ... Donald J. Trump's authority to combat thousands of Islamist fighters in the chaotic Horn of Africa nation. The administration has decided to deem the Shabab, the Islamist militant group in Somalia, to be part of the armed conflict that Congress authorized against the perpetrators of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, according to senior American officials. The move is intended to shore up the legal basis for an intensifying campaign of airstrikes and other counterterrorism operations, carried out largely in support of African Union and Somali government forces." -- CW

Trump Delegitimizes Clinton's Popular Vote Win. Michael Shear & Maggie Haberman of the New York Times: "... Donald J. Trump said on Sunday that he had fallen short in the popular vote in the general election only because millions of people had voted illegally, leveling the baseless claim as part of a daylong storm of Twitter posts voicing anger about a three-state recount push. 'In addition to winning the Electoral College in a landslide, I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally,' Mr. Trump wrote Sunday afternoon.... Late on Sunday, again without providing evidence, he referred in a Twitter post to 'serious voter fraud in Virginia, New Hampshire and California.'... The afternoon messages followed a string of early-morning Twitter posts in which Mr. Trump railed against the recount efforts." -- CW ...

... there is good political science research that finds that people are as likely to claim that they have been abducted by space aliens as that they have committed voter fraud. -- Henry Farrell of the Washington Post

The president-elect just tweeted something petulant, wildly incorrect, and dangerous. In other words, it's a day ending in 'y.' There was no such thing as a sore winner until Trump won the election. -- Gideon Resnick of the Daily Beast

This is terrifying on a number of levels. Not only does it further demonstrate that the soon-to-be leader of the free world has a skin as thin as tissue paper, but it highlights the fact that Trump will as president continue to trade in insane conspiracy theories just as he did as a candidate and as a reality show star before that. -- Ben Dreyfuss of Mother Jones

The Trump voting tweet may be more than an ego spasm. It may also be a warning that voting is about to be made more difficult for millions. — David Frum, in a tweet

It may also be an effort to divert the public's attention from all the alarming reports of Trump's cashing in on the presidency. -- Constant Weader ...

... Really, the Next President Is Just a Crazy Old Crank. Paul Kane of the Washington Post: "... Donald Trump spent Sunday ridiculing Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign for joining a recount effort in Wisconsin, ending his day on Twitter by parroting a widely debunked conspiracy theory that her campaign benefited from massive voter fraud.... That accusation -- spread by conspiracy sites such as ­Infowars.com and discredited by fact-checking organizations -- gained traction among some far-right conservatives disappointed that Trump lost the popular vote." -- CW ...

... Philip Bump of the Washington Post: "The irony of Trump's claim about illegal immigrants, of course, is that one way to determine whether thousands of noncitizens voted in this election -- for which, again, there's no evidence -- is through a recount and audit of ballots, the very thing he was criticizing Clinton for embracing. (He also didn't win the electoral vote in 'a landslide,' by the way.) But this isn't rooted in logic. Trump has been complaining about the voting process for years, and apparently winning the presidency isn't going to change that. -- CW ...

In addition to winning the electoral college in a landslide, I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally. -- Donald Trump, in a tweet, Nov. 27 ...

Simply put, there is no evidence that 'millions of people' voted illegally in the election. -- Glenn Kessler of the Washington Post

In a best-case scenario, we're looking at a 4-Pinocchio presidency. However, it's a lot worse than that, as Krugman points out in his column linked below. -- Constant Weader

... Andrew Restuccia of Politico: "Trump's tweets marked an unprecedented rebuke of the U.S. electoral system by a president-elect and were met with immediate condemnation from voting experts and others. And they offered a troubling indication that Trump's ascension to the highest political office in the United States may not alter his penchant for repeating unproven conspiracies perpetuated by the far-right.... [Trump] has a long history of pushing debunked conspiracy theories, including the false claim that President Barack Obama wasn't born in the United States and that the election was 'rigged' by global elites to assure Hillary Clinton's victory." -- CW ...

... Hunter of Daily Kos: "There are two possibilities here. One, the president-elect is getting his news from conspiracy nuts and/or conspiracy websites even as he refuses to sit for classified intelligence briefings. Two..., [Trump] is an unapologetic liar who is announcing crooked information that he indeed knows is crooked -- a naked, post-truth propaganda attempt.... In either case he is plainly unfit for the office he's about to hold. And that is a big, big problem." -- CW ...

... AP: "Donald Trump's incoming chief of staff suggests Hillary Clinton is backing away from a deal worked out between the two presidential campaigns on how the loser would concede to the winner. Reince Priebus tells 'Fox News Sunday' that Clinton's team 'cut a deal' with Trump's team specifying that once The Associated Press called the race in favor of one candidate, the other would call within 15 minutes to concede. Priebus says that's just what happened election night. But now he's questioning whether Clinton campaign lawyer Marc Elias is backing down from that deal by announcing Clinton will participate in a recount in Wisconsin and may do the same in Michigan and Pennsylvania." -- CW

** The United States of Trump. Richard Paddock, et al., of the New York Times: "... some former government officials from both parties [are asking] if America's reaction to events around the world could potentially be shaded, if only slightly, by the Trump family's financial ties with foreign players. They worry, too, that in some countries those connections could compromise American efforts to criticize the corrupt intermingling of state power with vast business enterprises controlled by the political elite.... Mr. Trump's companies have business operations in at least 20 countries, with a particular focus on the developing world.... There has been very little division, in the weeks since the election, between Mr. Trump's business interests and his transition effort, with [Donald Trump]... or his family greeting real estate partners from India and the Philippines in his office and Mr. Trump raising concerns about his golf course in Scotland with a prominent British politician.... Another pitfall is that Donald Trump's partners in major projects are, in some cases, politicians themselves." -- CW ...

... Paul Krugman: In a Trump administration, "what's truly scary is the potential impact of corruption on foreign policy.... Foreign governments are already trying to buy influence by adding to Mr. Trump's personal wealth, and he is welcoming their efforts.... How bad will the effects of Trump-era corruption be? The best guess is, worse than you can possibly imagine." -- CW ...

... Amy Davidson of the New Yorker: "The main concern at this point is not that the government will plunge into chaos the day after Trump takes the oath of office but how Trump and his team will use the institutions they inherit.... [Trump] seems unwilling to view the Presidency as an office, which has defined limits, instead of as a new way to express his personal desires, which have none.... Trump also seems unwilling to engage seriously in the project of moving from the private sector to the public.... More important than all these concerns is the way that a Trump Presidency might change our common conception of what it means to be American." --safari ...

... Isabel Vincent & Melissa Klein of the New York Post: "A source close to ... Donald Trump's transition team told The Post that the new administration plans to pressure the US ambassadors it will name to bring up the [Clinton] foundation with foreign governments -- and suggest they probe its financial dealings. Trump said last week that he would not order an investigation of Hillary Clinton's private e-mail server or her role in the foundation. But Trump's statement didn't preclude the backroom moves to investigate the group. 'Haiti and Colombia will be key diplomatic posts for this because of all the money involved,' said the source." -- CW ...

     ... CW: Okay, it's the New York Post & an anonymous source, but Steve M. is biting: "... this makes perfect sense coming from Trump. Where are Trump-branded ties, suits, shirts, and eyeglasses made? Not in America -- they're manufactured overseas, in countries like Bangladesh and Honduras. So Trump's applying the same line of thinking to vengeance against the Clintons. Outsource it! Compliant governments, cheap labor -- Trump profit!" AND you can bet Trump will adequately compensate any corrupt government that does "investigate" the foundation. ...

... E.J. Dionne: "Republicans did an extraordinary job raising doubts about Clinton -- helped ... by a Russian disinformation campaign. Does the GOP want to cast itself as a band of hypocrites who cared not at all about ethics and were simply trying to win an election?... If Trump wasn't ready to put his business life behind him, he should not have run for president. And if Republicans -- after all of their ethical sermons about Clinton -- do not now demand that the incoming president unequivocally cut all of his and his family's ties to his companies, they will be fully implicated in any Trump scandal that results from a shameful and partisan double standard. At least some conservative voices have been raised to push Trump to divest himself of his businesses, lest he create conflicts that would, I'd insist, reach far beyond anything that Clinton was accused of." -- CW

P.S. Trump Still Likes Torture. Fred Kaplan of Slate: "There's a notion out there that, after talking with Gen. James Mattis, who might be the next secretary of defense..., Donald Trump is suddenly opposed to waterboarding. In fact, this isn’t true at all. The notion arose from a story in the New York Times about Trump's hourlong meeting on Tuesday with the paper's editors and reporters.... Contrary to the Times' own news story, it is not the case that 'Mr. Trump suggested he had changed his mind about the value of waterboarding.' In fact, he explicitly said the opposite...: 'And when he said that, I'm not saying it changed my mind.' (Italics added.) [The false report was based on a transcription error. A Times editor made the following note in the corrected transcript of the Times interview:] '(Earlier, we mistakenly transcribed "changed my mind.")' Hence the misreporting and the as-yet largely unrecognized misunderstanding." -- CW

P.P.S. Climate Change Is Still a "Hoax." Marina Fang of the Huffington Post: "In an interview with the New York Times last week..., Donald Trump appeared open to accepting 'some connectivity' between human activity and climate change. But the man who claimed numerous times that climate change is 'an expensive hoax,' 'a concept...created by and for the Chinese' and 'bullshit' still believes it is 'a bunch of bunk,' according to ... Reince Priebus. 'As far as this issue on climate change, the only thing he was saying after being asked a few questions about it was, look, he'll have an open mind about it. But he has his default position which, most of it is a bunch of bunk,' Priebus said on 'Fox News Sunday.'" -- CW

Andrew Restuccia: "Top advisers to ... Donald Trump escalated their attacks on Mitt Romney on Sunday, catapulting their long-simmering frustrations on to TV news in an extraordinary public airing of grievances. In a series of interviews on the Sunday political talk shows, Kellyanne Conway ... argued firmly against tapping Romney for secretary of state, echoing internal skepticism among some in Trump's inner circle. 'I'm all for party unity, but I'm not sure that we have to pay for that with the secretary of state position,' Conway said in an interview with CNN. 'We don't even know if Mitt Romney voted for Donald Trump.'" -- CW

NYT Normalizes the Abnormal. Scott Shane of the New York Times profiles Steve Bannon. Turns out he's just a decent, populist man who admires Ronald Reagan, Michele Bachmann & Sarah Palin. -- CW

The Trumpocracy Takes Hold. Rebecca Schuman of Slate: "This Monday, an organization called Turning Point USA launched a website called the Professor Watchlist, which provides the full names, locations, offenses -- and sometimes photographs -- of liberal academics.... The mission of the watch list, according to its website, is to 'expose and document college professors who discriminate against conservative students, promote anti-American values, and advance leftist propaganda in the classroom.' The site invites users to nominate candidates.... In any other year in recent memory on this continent, these would be two unrelated events. But in the United States in late 2016, as [Trump's] ... surrogates cite Japanese internment as a 'precedent' for what may come, any 'watch list' of any sort is worrying.... Whether it intends to or not, this list watches over us at our country's darkest turning point, poised to inflame the tinder-dry, gasoline-soaked pitchforks of a mob that has just stepped boldly into the light." -- CW

**Annals of Journalism, Ctd. Lee Fang of The Intercept: "The extraordinary phenomenon of fake news spread by Facebook and other social media during the 2016 presidential election has been largely portrayed as a lucky break for Donald Trump.... The Washington Post published a shoddy report on Thursday alleging that Russian state-sponsored propagandists were seeking to promote Trump through fabricated stories for their own reasons, independent of the candidate himself. But a closer look reveals that some of the biggest fake news providers were run by experienced political operators well within the orbit of Donald Trump's political advisers and consultants." --safari

Alleen Brown of The Intercept: "The arrests of journalists and filmmakers covering the front lines of the Dakota Access pipeline fight highlight the limits of press protections and the central role of police, prosecutor, and court discretion in deciding whether or not members of the press should face legal consequences when covering protests. The arrests and violent crowd suppression tactics also reflect the refusal of police to discriminate between peaceful protesters, aggressive agitators, and journalists." --safari

Beyond the Beltway

David Ferguson of RawStory: "A Louisiana parish president admits that he sent a then-17-year-old boy sexually charged text messages and gave him a 'graduation present' pair of racy designer underwear, but insists that he was only 'playing along' with the teen and that no sexual contact took place [besides a kiss].... Republican Mike Yenni characterized his relationship with the underage student at his alma mater Jesuit High School as a 'lapse in judgment' and said that calls for his resignation are politically motivated." --safari

Way Beyond

Bassem Mroue of the AP: "Syrian government forces and their allies captured a major eastern Aleppo neighborhood and several smaller areas Monday, putting much of the northern part of Aleppo's besieged rebel-held areas under government control, state media reported. Russia's Defense Ministry said the areas captured by Syrian government troops include 10 neighborhoods and over 3,000 buildings. The ministry said in a statement that more than 100 rebels have laid down their arms and exited the Syrian city's eastern suburbs." -- CW

Michael Weissenstein of the AP: "Since his death on Friday night, state-run newspapers, television and radio have been running wall-to-wall tributes to Fidel [Castro], broadcasting non-stop footage of his speeches, interviews and foreign trips, interspersed with adulatory remembrances by prominent Cubans.... Ordinary people have largely been staying at home, off streets hushed by a prohibition on music and celebration during the nine days of official mourning for Castro. For some, particularly younger Cubans, Castro's death barely registered." -- CW ...

... Nick Miroff of the Washington Post: "Raúl Castro's plans to secure the legacy of his brother's 1959 Cuban Revolution appear to be on a collision course with the incoming Trump administration, whose top members said Sunday that Cuba would have to make significant 'changes' in order for the normalization path charted by President Obama to continue. Both Castros have long insisted they would never kneel to American pressure. If tensions between Cuba and the United States ratchet up again under a Trump presidency, it would be a new stress test for Raúl Castro and his quieter, more austere leadership style [as compared to Fidel's]. -- CW

Patrick Kingsley of the Guardian: "Since the Boko Haram insurgency began, more people have migrated to Monguno [a remote town in Northeast Nigeria] alone than left all of north Africa for Europe in the first nine months of this year.... [A]pproximately 140,000 displaced people [are] sheltering in this remote town of 60,000 people. North-east Nigeria has been hit by a displacement crisis that dwarfs any migration flows seen in Europe in recent years.... About 40% more people have been displaced throughout Borno state (1.4 million) than reached Europe by boat in 2015 (1 million). Across the region, the war against Boko Haram has forced more people from their homes -- 2.6 million -- than there are Syrians in Turkey, the country that hosts more refugees than any other.... The comparisons mirror a wider trend across Africa. Of the world's 17 million displaced Africans, 93.7% remain inside the continent, and just 3.3% have reached Europe, according to UN data." --safari

Saturday
Nov262016

The Commentariat -- Nov. 27, 2016

David Sanger of the New York Times: "The top lawyer for Hillary Clinton's presidential bid said Saturday that the campaign would join a third-party candidate's effort to seek a full recount in Wisconsin, and potentially two other states, though he said the campaign had seen no 'actionable evidence' of vote hacking. In a post on Medium, Marc Elias, the campaign's general counsel, described an intensive behind-the-scenes effort by the campaign to look for signs of Russian hacker activity or other irregularities in the vote count." -- CW ...

... Brent Griffiths of Politico: "Trump delivered a measured response -- measured by his standards -- attacking Stein directly but refraining from criticizing Clinton.... Kellyanne Conway, Trump's campaign manager, had a sharper edge to her response to the news that the Clinton campaign would join in the Wisconsin recount process. 'What a pack of sore losers. After asking Mr. Trump and his team a million times on the trail, "Will HE accept the election results?" it turns out Team Hillary and her new BFF Jill Stein can't accept reality,' Conway said in a statement to Bloomberg." -- CW ...

... Scott Lemieux in LG&$: "... the chances that the outcome in the three decisive states will be overturned are almost nil. The odds are against Trump losing the Electoral College votes of even one state. And when the recounts validate his Electoral College in his victory, this will serve to legitimize his presidency. There might good-government reasons to do the recounts anyway. But contrary to a lot of arguments I've seen, one thing these recounts are not is good hardball politics. They will almost certainly work to Trump's benefit by suggesting that the election was on the square and serving to mask the many ways in which the election was, in fact illegitimate." -- CW ...

... CW: If past is prologue, the recounts will likely change each state's counts by somewhere in the neighborhood of 300 votes, one way or the other. BTW, pundits seldm say so, but the guy who really won the election for Trump was Trey Gowdy, with an assist from the New York Times. It was Gowdy whose probe of Clinton's Benghazi actions led to the discovery that Clinton had exclusively used a private email system during her entire tenure at State, something which the Times first reported in an infamously inaccurate story. ...

... Eric Chenoweth in a Washington Post op-ed: "In assessing Donald Trump's presidential victory, Americans continue to look away from this election's most alarming story: the successful effort by a hostile foreign power to manipulate public opinion before the vote.... Putin is pursuing large strategic goals: recognition of the annexation of Crimea and international acceptance of foreign aggression to change state borders.... Frighteningly, Putin's worldview has resonance in the populist and nationalist fixations of Stephen K. Bannon..., whose stated mission is to 'destroy' the 'establishment' and end the domination of the 'donor class.' Bannon's 'closing argument' ad for Trump, redolent of Russian propaganda, described the United States as a corrupt and failing state because of nefarious 'global special interests.' It all points to grave danger for democracy and a world order that has kept the peace for 70 years." -- CW

Christopher Rugaber of the AP: "... Donald Trump's proposals would modestly cut income taxes for most middle-class Americans. But for nearly 8 million families -- including a majority of single-parent households -- the opposite would occur: They'd pay more. Most married couples with three or more children would also pay higher taxes, an analysis by the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center found. And while middle-class families as a whole would receive tax cuts of about 2 percent, they'd be dwarfed by the windfalls averaging 13.5 percent for America's richest 1 percent. Trump's campaign rhetoric had promoted the benefits of his proposals for middle-income Americans. 'The largest tax reductions are for the middle class,' said Trump's 'Contract With the American Voter,' released last month." ...

     ... CW: I love to see the AP calling Trump's bull, because local papers often carry the stories. If Democrats and major media would only keep highlighting what Trump, et al., are really up to, we may find that all but the most delusional Trumpbots & other assorted wingers turn on him and his Congressional buddies in the proverbial New York minute. Keep the government's hands off my tax breaks.

Hailey Branson-Potts of the Los Angeles Times: "The Council on American-Islamic Relations has called for increased police protection of local mosques after letters that threatened the genocide of Muslims and praised ... Donald Trump were sent to multiple California mosques this week. The letters were sent to the Islamic Center of Long Beach and the Islamic Center of Claremont, CAIR's greater Los Angeles chapter said in a statement. The same letter also was sent to the Evergreen Islamic Center in San Jose, according to CAIR's San Francisco Bay Area chapter. The handwritten letter, which was photocopied, was addressed to 'the children of Satan' and called Muslims a 'vile and filthy people.'" -- CW

** Annals of "Journalism," Ctd. Joy-Ann Reid in the Daily Beast: "With Donald Trump about to ascend to the White House, the media risk being tamed by their devotion to access and the belligerencies of the notoriously vengeful resident of Trump Tower and his right-wing wrecking crew of a team. We face a singular test, both as a profession and as a country: will we allow ourselves to see what we see, or will we mentally drape the naked emperor in our midst?... The tug of normalization is powerful; even pleasing, when reality is unthinkable. The urge to look away, to pretend to see fine threads when the king comes strolling by, with his bare belly jutting out, can be irresistible." -- CW


Jay Michaelson of the Daily Beast: President Obama should recess-"appoint the 59 candidates for federal judgeships whose nominations, like [Judge] Garland's [Supreme Court nomination], have been left to languish. Recess-appointing Garland would "accomplish very little" & might do more harm than good. Recess appointments are good for one year. -- CW

David Ovalle, et al., of the Miami Herald: "Fidel Castro died, and Cuban Miami did what it does in times of community celebration: It spilled onto the streets of Little Havana -- and Hialeah, and Kendall -- to honk horns, bang pans, and set off more than a few fireworks, saved for exactly the sort of unexpected occasion worthy of their detonation." -- CW ...

... Here's the White House's statement on the death of Fidel Castro. -- CW ...

... Mimi Whitefield & Miguel Piedra of the Miami Herald: "In Havana, most Cubans calmly went about their daily business or just stayed home. The iconic street squares were eerily still, devoid of the heavy foot traffic normally found on a Saturday afternoon." -- CW ...

... Julie Davis of the New York Times: "The death of Mr. Castro ...  has the potential to hasten Mr. Obama's goal of cementing the historic rapprochement that he hopes will be a signature part of his legacy. But with Donald J. Trump, who has been critical of the détente, set to succeed Mr. Obama, the fate of the thaw between the United States and Cuba is far from clear. Mr. Trump's initial response on the matter Saturday morning was a four-word post on Twitter. 'Fidel Castro is dead!' he wrote." -- CW

Harper Neidig of the Hill: "Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said Saturday he will introduce legislation aimed at preventing major companies from sending jobs to foreign countries, similar to what ... Donald Trump proposed on the campaign trail.... 'I will soon be introducing legislation to make sure that Donald Trump keeps his promise to prevent the outsourcing of American jobs,' Sanders said in a statement.... Sanders aims to prevent companies like Carrier from moving to foreign countries by withholding federal contracts, tax breaks, loans or grants from corporations that move more than 50 jobs overseas. His legislation, titled the Outsourcing Prevention Act, would also impose an outsourcing tax of either 35 percent of the company's profits or an amount equal to its total savings from outsourcing the jobs." -- CW