The Ledes

Wednesday, November 30, 2016.

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

The Wires

Public Service Announcement

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

Politico's Late Nite Jokes:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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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 '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 "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 ­ 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, the president-elect 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, a top Trump aide, 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 extradorinary 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


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  ...

Read more here:

... 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 

Read more here:

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 


The Commentariat -- Nov. 26, 2016

Rory Carroll of the Guardian: "Fidel Castro has died at the age of 90, Cuban state television announced on Saturday, ending an era for the country and Latin America." -- CW ...

... Castro's New York Times obituary, by Anthony dePalma, is here. "Fidel Castro had held onto power longer than any other living national leader except Queen Elizabeth II. He became a towering international figure whose importance in the 20th century far exceeded what might have been expected from the head of state of a Caribbean island nation of 11 million people." -- CW 

David Sanger
of the New York Times: "The Obama administration said on Friday that despite Russian attempts to undermine the presidential election, it has concluded that the results 'accurately reflect the will of the American people.' The statement came as liberal opponents of Donald J. Trump, some citing fears of vote hacking, are seeking recounts in three states — Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania — where his margin of victory was extremely thin." -- CW 

Rosalind Helderman & Tom Hamburger of the Washington Post: "Days after Donald Trump’s election victory, a news agency in the former Soviet republic of Georgia reported that a long-stalled plan for a Trump-branded tower in a seaside Georgian resort town was now back on track. Likewise, the local developer of a Trump Tower planned for ­Buenos Aires announced last week, three days after Trump spoke with Argentina’s president, that the long-delayed project was moving ahead. Meanwhile, foreign government leaders seeking to speak with Trump have reached out to the president-elect through his overseas network of business partners, an unusually informal process for calls traditionally coordinated with the U.S. State Department. All of it highlights the muddy new world that Trump’s election may usher in — a world in which his stature as the U.S. president, the status of his private ventures across the globe and his relationships with foreign business partners and the leaders of their governments could all become intertwined." -- CW ...

... New York Times Editors: "Recent days have produced several examples of how Mr. Trump’s financial interests will threaten the integrity of the government.... Even without a federal rule requiring Mr. Trump to place his assets in a blind trust, he could run afoul of the Constitution’s Emoluments Clause, which prohibits American officials from receiving income and gifts from foreign governments without the approval of Congress. Federal bribery laws also prohibit government officials from receiving anything of value in exchange for official acts.... For starters, Congress should create a process to review existing and future deals Mr. Trump and his family strike with foreign governments or companies linked to those governments to ensure there are no arrangements that could affect Mr. Trump’s policy decisions. Mr. Trump still hasn’t released his tax returns, which Congress should also demand.... Republicans' ... failure to act will make them responsible for any scandal that might emerge from the ties between Mr. Trump’s presidency and his business." -- CW 

... Judd Legum of ThinkProgress: "Members of the Electoral College should not make Donald Trump the next president unless he sells his companies and puts the proceeds in a blind trust, according to the top ethics lawyers for the last two presidents. Richard Painter, Chief Ethics Counsel for George W. Bush, and Norman Eisen, Chief Ethics Counsel for Barack Obama, believe that if Trump continues to retain ownership over his sprawling business interests by the time the electors meet on December 19, they should reject Trump." -- unwashed

New York Times Editors: "Donald Trump will take office as president facing a tsunami of litigation over his business practices and personal behavior. He may have settled the fraud suits involving Trump University, but at least 75 other lawsuits are underway against him or his companies, according to USA Today. Its investigation found more than 3,500 lawsuits over the past three decades, ranging from contract disputes to real estate battles to harassment and discrimination claims. In short, Mr. Trump could find himself in a near-constant stream of court fights while he tries to focus on running the country." -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Good Luck, Suckers. Katrin Bennhold of the New York Times: "As many Americans are trying to figure out what kind of president they have just elected, the people of Balmedie, a small village outside the once oil-rich city of Aberdeen, say they have a pretty good idea. In the 10 years since Mr. Trump first visited, vowing to build 'the world’s greatest golf course' on an environmentally protected site featuring 4,000-year-old sand dunes, they have seen him lash out at anyone standing in his way. They say they watched him win public support for his golf course with grand promises, then watched him break them one by one." ...

     ... CW: I know we've heard this story before, but it's worth revisiting. Trump's spite walls are the worst. But I love that a couple of residents are flying Mexican flags & one raised a "Hillary for President" flag.

Harper Neidig of the Hill: "Fox News is reporting that Donald Trump’s transition team wants Mitt Romney to publicly apologize for railing against the president-elect during the campaign. A transition official told Fox’s Ed Henry that some in Trump’s inner circle want the former Massachusetts governor to apologize in order to be seriously considered for the secretary of State." CW: Finally, after decades, Mitt knows what it feels like to be a dog on the roof of a car. ...

... digby: "... apologizing would be a terrible mistake. It would show the world that Trump expects everyone to bow down before him, show fealty, abase themselves. Giving the world a public display of such dominating, bullying behavior is not a good idea. If Trump wants Romney he and his virtual brownshirts need to treat him with respect. Otherwise, there's no earthly reason for him to do it." -- CW ...

... Julian Borger of the Guardian: "The Trump transition has already overturned the normal practice of choosing top cabinet members behind closed doors, turning it into a spectacle with contenders boarding a golden elevator in Trump headquarters in New York in front of the cameras on their way to making their pitch to [Trump].... However, [Rudy] Giuliani’s open campaign in the press and public interventions by Trump aides have set new precedents in the selection process.... 'I probably have travelled in the last 13 years as much as Hillary did in the years she was secretary of state,' Giuliani said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal published on Friday. 'My knowledge of foreign policy is as good, or better, than anybody they’re talking to.'” -- CW 

Brad Reed of the Raw Story: "Milwaukee Sheriff David Clarke has long been one of President-elect Trump’s most controversial supporters, not least because four different people have died in the jail he oversees since this past April alone. And now it looks like Trump might be about to reward Clarke for his loyal service on the campaign trail by potentially offering him a job in his administration. Breitbart News, which has long been the Trump campaign’s unofficial press organ, brings us word that Trump is set to meet with Clarke at Trump Tower on Monday." -- CW 

Benjamin Wermund & Kimberly Hefling of Politico: "Civil rights groups say they're 'deeply concerned' that the extension of civil rights protections to gay and transgender students by President Barack Obama’s Education Department will be dismantled by Betsy DeVos, Donald Trump’s pick to lead the department. They note the DeVos family has a long history of supporting anti-gay causes — including donating hundreds of thousands to groups that push 'conversion therapy' — raising questions about how, if at all, she would address discrimination against gay and transgender students. However, a top official from Equality Michigan, a gay rights group from DeVos' home state, believes her personal views aren’t accurately reflected by her family’s past donations and expresses hope she will protect LGBT kids — while also noting plans to watch her actions." -- CW ...

... Douglas Harris, in a New York Times op-ed: "... Donald J. Trump’s selection of Betsy DeVos as secretary of education has sent shock waves through the educational establishment. Understandably so, since this is a clear sign that Mr. Trump intends a major national push to direct public funds to private and charter schools.... As one of the architects of Detroit’s charter school system, she is partly responsible for what even charter advocates acknowledge is the biggest school reform disaster in the country.... The DeVos nomination is a triumph of ideology over evidence that should worry anyone who wants to improve results for children." -- CW 

Annals of "Journalism," Ctd. Conservative radio host Charles Sykes in Politico Magazine: "Trump’s victory means that the most extreme and recklessly irresponsible voices on the right now feel emboldened and empowered. And more worrisome than that, they have an ally in the White House.... The new media will not only provide propaganda cover for the administration, but also direct the fire of a loose confederation of conservative outlets against critics and dissenters. Already, Fox’s Sean Hannity has urged Trump to freeze out the mainstream media.... The 'fake news' that we are now obsessing over is only the latest leading indicator of the perils of our new post-truth media/political world. Indeed, what we learned this year was that the walls are down, the gatekeepers dismissed, the norms and standards of journalism and fact-based discourse trashed.... So what is this brave new conservative media going to look like? Probably more like Alex Jones than National Review." -- CW 

An election recount will take place soon in Wisconsin, after former Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein filed a petition Friday with the state’s Election Commission, the first of three states where she has promised to contest the election result. The move from Stein, who raised millions since her Wednesday announcement that she would seek recounts of Donald Trump’s apparent election victories in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan, came just 90 minutes before Wisconsin’s 5 p.m. Friday deadline to file a petition." -- CW ...

... Michael Gerstein of the Detroit News: "Elections officials are preparing for a possible presidential election recount in Michigan that could begin as soon as next week, state Director of Elections Chris Thomas said Friday. Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein has indicated she plans to jumpstart a recount in the Great Lakes state over fears that Michigan’s election results could have been manipulated by hackers. Republican ... Donald won the state by 10,704 votes over Democrat Hillary Clinton, according to unofficial updated results posted Wednesday." -- CW ...

... Amie Parnes of the Hill: "President Barack Obama called Hillary Clinton to persuade her to concede the White House on election night, according to a forthcoming book on Clinton’s defeat.... Obama’s call left a sour taste in the mouths of some Clinton allies who believe she should have waited longer, and there’s now a fight playing out between the Obama and Clinton camps over whether to support an effort to force the Rust Belt states to recount their votes." -- CW 

One More Way Trump Will Fleece U.S. Taxpayers. Pamela Brown, et al., of CNN: "The US Secret Service is considering renting one floor in Trump Tower to protect ... Donald Trump and his family by turning it into a 24-7 command post, a law enforcement official told CNN Friday. According to Jared Horowitz, who is with Newmark Grubb Knight Frank and responsible for available commercial space at Trump Tower, the floors available to rent with the average floor office space running between 13,500 square feet to 15,500 square feet cost about $1.5 million a year. The law enforcement official says the current plans for security at Trump Tower would differ if the future first family were living at the White House full time and Trump's wife Melania and their son Barron were not staying behind in New York City through the Spring." -- CW  

Trump Makes Kids Sick. Andrew Gumbel of the Guardian: "At doctors’ offices across the United States, a new diagnosis has been popping up in the medical files of immigrant children, their friends and their families: fear of Trump. Since the 8 November election, pediatricians and clinics serving undocumented immigrants and other low-income patients have reported a spike in anxiety and panic attacks, particularly among children who worry that they or their parents might now face deportation." -- CW ...

... Don Hazen of AlterNet: "Jeff Gillenkirk was a fine journalist, writer, novelist, communicator, husband, father and friend.... Jeff had a heart attack and died on Tuesday, November 22.... The painful, sad irony is that just before he died, Jeff wrote the popular AlterNet article published November 20, 'The New PTSD: Post-Trump Stress Disorder.'... Always sensitive to trends and to what people were feeling, Jeff described how PTSD was keeping him up at night and how therapists are dealing with their patients' overwhelming sense of fear and panic attacks about the future." -- CW 

Esme Cribb of TPM: "Minority leader-elect Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) released a defiant statement on Friday in response to reports that Congressional Republicans plan to shift Medicare towards a more privatized system now that the GOP controls both chambers of Congress and the White House. 'The Republicans’ ideological and visceral hatred of government could deny millions of senior citizens across the country the care they need and deserve,' Schumer said.... 'To our Republican colleagues considering this path, Democrats say: make our day. Your effort will fail, and this attack on our seniors will not stand.'" CW: Don't just make a statement, Chuck. Put it in an ad. Run the ad in Florida at least. How many Republican voters do you think read TPM?

Heather Caygle of Politico: "House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi on Friday released her picks to fill out the Democratic leadership ranks next Congress, unveiling a list that includes many longtime allies of the recently tested leader. The slate, which will be considered by members during leadership elections Wednesday, includes lawmakers who have been supportive of Pelosi’s 14-year tenure leading the caucus and comes as she faces a challenge from Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan for the top post." -- CW ...

... Dana Milbank: "Nancy Pelosi, the House Democratic leader, will be 77 next year. Steny Hoyer, her deputy, will be 78. Jim Clyburn, the No. 3 Democratic leader, will be 77. Their current ages, if combined, would date back to 1787, the year George Washington presided over the signing of the Constitution. It is time for them to go." -- CW  

This Will Not Go Well. Julia Wong of the Guardian: "The US Army has ordered the closure of the main encampment established by activists opposing the Dakota Access pipeline, according to a letter released by the Standing Rock Sioux tribe. Citing federal regulations governing public lands, Colonel John W. Henderson of the army corps of engineers wrote to Standing Rock Sioux tribal chairman Dave Archambault that he was ordering the closure by 5 December. The order was 'to protect the general public from the violent confrontations between protestors and law enforcement officials that have occurred in this area, and to prevent death, illness, or serious injury' from the winter weather." -- CW 

Beyond the Beltway

Alan Blinder of the New York Times: “'The bus driver drives fast,' the Woodmore Elementary School [Chattanooga, Tenn.,] student wrote. The driver of Bus No. 366, the child added, drove so that it felt 'like the bus is going to flip over.' And when a student stood in the aisle, the child wrote, the driver 'stops the bus and he makes people hit their head.' Five days later, the bus driver, Johnthony K. Walker, driving 37 children home from Woodmore, strayed from his route and crashed, leaving six children dead in one of the country’s deadliest school bus wrecks in recent years. The crash, for which Mr. Walker has been charged with vehicular homicide, is being investigated by the National Transportation Safety Board and the Chattanooga police. Records released Friday night by the Hamilton County Department of Education showed that Mr. Walker’s behavior was a frequent worry this semester.... Mr. Walker, 24..., worked for Durham School Services, a contractor based in Illinois that says it carries more than one million schoolchildren each day." -- CW 

Madeline Schmitt of KRQE Albuquerque: Customers & store personnel at Smith's grocery store in Albuquerque, N.M., defended a woman wearing a hijab after another woman yelled at her with remarks like, “Get out of our country, you don’t belong here, you’re a terrorist!” -- CW ...

... Erik Loomis of LG&$: "This is how we have to react. Right now, racists are fully empowered to yell and scream and beat and kill people of color. The way we stop them is to stand up collectively and fight for those we see oppressed. That’s what people did in Albuquerque...." -- CW 

German ARD and Der Spiegel interview Barry. "...outgoing US President Barack Obama discusses the legacy he has built and his worries about the future of democracy, as well as...the man who will succeed him in office." -- unwashed: After reading, try to imagine FFvC's responses to some of their questions.

Christian Reiermann of Der Spiegel:  "[The] kind of trade policy bluster coming from the newly elected president is generating unease in Berlin. The German government is concerned that Germany could soon fall into...[FFvC's] sights as well."


The Commentariat -- Nov. 25, 2016

Afternoon Update:

New York Times Editors: "Donald Trump will take office as president facing a tsunami of litigation over his business practices and personal behavior. He may have settled the fraud suits involving Trump University, but at least 75 other lawsuits are underway against him or his companies, according to USA Today. Its investigation found more than 3,500 lawsuits over the past three decades, ranging from contract disputes to real estate battles to harassment and discrimination claims. In short, Mr. Trump could find himself in a near-constant stream of court fights while he tries to focus on running the country." -- CW


Jeremy Peters & Maggie Haberman of the New York Times: "Rival factions of Republicans are locked in an increasingly caustic and public battle to influence ... Donald J. Trump's choice for secretary of state, leaving a prominent hole in an otherwise quickly formed national security team that is unlikely to be filled until next week at the earliest. The debate inside Mr. Trump's wide circle of formal and informal advisers -- pitting supporters of one leading contender, Mitt Romney, against those of another, Rudolph W. Giuliani -- has led to the kind of dramatic airing of differences that characterized Mr. Trump's unconventional and often squabbling campaign team.... Mr. Romney would represent a departure from the hard-liners Mr. Trump has already picked for his national security team. But aides like Stephen K. Bannon, Mr. Trump's chief strategist, have expressed doubts about Mr. Romney's loyalty given his denunciation of Mr. Trump as a 'phony' and a 'fraud.' Mr. Bannon and others have told colleagues they fear that a State Department under Mr. Romney could turn into something of a rogue agency."...

     ... CW: Worth reading as a harbinger of what a fiasco the Reign of Terror will be. Bannon's lobbying for Rudy is indicative of his long-held desire to "destroy the state" and "bring everything crashing down." When a leader places a revolutionary -- "Leninist," is Bannon's word -- at his right hand, expect chaos.

Julie Davis of the New York Times: "... Donald J. Trump is expected to select as commerce secretary Wilbur Ross, a billionaire investor who became known as the 'king of bankruptcy' for buying, restructuring and selling off steel makers and other fading industrial companies, officials on the transition team said on Thursday.... Mr. Trump is now turning to a group of ultrawealthy conservatives to help steer administration policy.... In addition to Mr. Ross, a generous contributor to his campaign, Mr. Trump is likely to choose Todd Ricketts, a Republican megadonor who is an owner of the Chicago Cubs and whose father founded TD Ameritrade, to be the deputy commerce secretary, the officials said. And on Wednesday, Mr. Trump said he would name Betsy DeVos, a school choice activist and Republican fund-raiser, as his education secretary." -- CW

The TrumPutin Presidency. Craig Timberg of the Washington Post: "The flood of 'fake news' this election season got support from a sophisticated Russian propaganda campaign that created and spread misleading articles online with the goal of punishing Democrat Hillary Clinton, helping Republican Donald Trump and undermining faith in American democracy, say independent researchers who tracked the operation. Russia's increasingly sophisticated propaganda machinery -- including thousands of botnets, teams of paid human 'trolls,' and networks of Web sites and social-media accounts — echoed and amplified right-wing sites across the Internet as they portrayed Clinton as a criminal hiding potentially fatal health problems and preparing to hand control of the nation to a shadowy cabal of global financiers. The effort also sought to heighten the appearance of international tensions and promote fear of looming hostilities with nuclear-armed Russia." -- CW

Henry Grabar of Slate: "To the extent HUD is capable of helping poor Americans obtain and afford good housing, it is uniquely situated to fight against poverty, crime, bad education, poor health, and other negative outcomes tied to instability at home. Under Ben Carson’s watch [should Trump nominate him & the Senate confirm him as HUD secretary], HUD will almost certainly contribute as little as possible to that fight." His qualifications for the job, according to Ole Doc himself: "He grew up in a city, spent some time in a city, and worked in one." ...

    ... CW: Hey, I lived & worked in more big cities than did Doc Ben: NYC, Chicago, L.A., and I've spent a couple of months in Houston, too. That's the top four. So I'm totally super-qualified to run HUD. Pick me! Pick me!

He's a Jerk, But He's Our Jerk. Paul Krugman: "You can't explain the votes of places like Clay County[, Kentucky, where Trump got 87 percent of the vote] as a response to disagreements about trade policy. The only way to make sense of what happened is to see the vote as an expression of, well, identity politics -- some combination of white resentment at what voters see as favoritism toward nonwhites (even though it isn't) and anger on the part of the less educated at liberal elites whom they imagine look down on them.... Democrats have to figure out why the white working class just voted overwhelmingly against its own economic interests, not pretend that a bit more populism would solve the problem." ...

     ... CW: The answer is as clear as their Christian faith: resentment of the other absolves them of taking responsibility for their sorry lot in life, just as confession absolves them of sin.

Kyle Balluck of the Hill: "Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein has raised enough money for a recount in Wisconsin, her campaign said early Thursday. Donations totaled at least $2.7 million in less than one day, according to a fundraising page on her web site." -- CW ...

... Dave Weigel of the Washington Post: "Stein's fundraising goal was $2.5 million -- and donors blew right past it. At that point, as New York magazine first reported, the goal spiked to $4.5 million.... It's a lot of money, especially for the Green Party. Stein's 2016 campaign, the party's most electorally potent since 2000, took in $3,509,477 from donors. As of Thursday afternoon, the recount effort had raised $3,875,502. It's the largest donation drive for a third party in history...." Weigel explores the reasons for the successful campaign. -- CW

Justin Baragona of Mediaite: "While meeting with the New York Times yesterday for an on-the-record interview..., Donald Trump stated that the president cannot have conflicts of interest and that the law was on his side. This comes in response to numerous concerns over Trump using his position to further enrich himself and his personal businesses. During a discussion on CNN this morning, former White House lawyer Richard Painter made the case that if it appears that Trump will be in violation of the emolument clause of the Constitution, then the Electoral College must decide to not vote for him next month.... Painter, who served as President George W. Bush's ethics counsel from 2005 to 2007, also took a shot at Trump over his past birtherism. 'This is just as important as your birth certificate. More important than your birth certificate or proof of age, whatever other requirements there are to be President of the United States,' Painter concluded." -- CW

** Hamilton! Larry Lessig, in a Washington Post op-ed: "... where the people voted, the electoral college was intended [by the framers] to confirm -- or not -- the people's choice. Electors were to apply, in [Alexander] Hamilton's words, 'a judicious combination of all the reasons and inducements which were proper to govern their choice' -- and then decide. The Constitution says nothing about 'winner take all.'... Today, the vote of a citizen in Wyoming is four times as powerful as the vote of a citizen in Michigan.... The winner, by far, of the popular vote is the most qualified candidate for president in more than a generation.... Choosing her is thus plainly within the bounds of a reasonable judgment by the people.... The framers left the electors free to choose. They should exercise that choice by leaving the election as the people decided it: in Clinton's favor." -- CW

Robert Pear of the New York Times: "... emboldened House Republicans say they will move forward on a years-old effort to shift Medicare away from its open-ended commitment to pay for medical services and toward a fixed government contribution for each beneficiary. The idea rarely came up during Mr. Trump's march toward the White House, but a battle over the future of Medicare could roil Washington during his first year in office, whether he wants it or not." -- CW

Tim Egan: "Trump can't tell a joke, nor can he take one. He was graceless and unfunny at the Al Smith dinner last month, getting booed for his boorishness.... I miss the wit of Barack Obama. No president has had a better comic sensibility.... Obama has great timing, and a sense of self-deprecation honed over years of making fun of his name and his ears.... You would think that having your legitimacy challenged would make you Nixonian dark or Trumpian enraged. For Obama, the birther nonsense has given him some of his best material.... Appearing on 'Between Two Ferns,' the mock cable show with Zach Galifianakis, Obama was asked, 'What's it like to be the last black president?' POTUS didn't blink. 'What's it like for this to be the last time you'll ever talk to a president?'... The 44th president is leaving office with soaring approval ratings, or as he put it: 'The last time I was this high, I was trying to decide my major.'" -- CW

Thomas Gibbons-Neff of the Washington Post: "A U.S. service member was killed by an improvised explosive device in northern Syria on Thursday, the Pentagon announced in a statement.... The death marks the first time a U.S. service member has been killed in the country since a contingent of Special Operations forces were deployed there in October 2015 to go after the extremist group." -- CW

Way Beyond the Beltway

Tim Arango of the New York Times: "At least 80 people, many of them Shiite pilgrims on their way home to Iran, were killed on Thursday when an Islamic State suicide bomber detonated a truck filled with explosives at a roadside service station in southern Iraq, local officials said."-- CW

Ruth Eglash of the Washington Post: "More than 60,000 people from the northern city of Haifa were evacuated from their homes Thursday, as firefighters battle massive blazes that have gripped the country over the past three days. A number of countries, including Russia and Turkey, sent firefighting planes to assist Israel in tackling the fires, which officials said may have been started intentionally." -- CW

News Lede

AFP: "A jihadist terror ring was planning to attack Paris on December 1 and had researched sites including a Christmas market and Disneyland outside the capital as potential targets, a police source said Thursday. Seven suspects were arrested in police raids last weekend in the eastern city of Strasbourg and Marseille in the south following an eight-month investigation by security services, although two were later released." -- CW