Weekly Address

The President's Weekly Address

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

The Ledes

Sunday, December 4, 2016.

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

The Wires

The Ledes

Saturday, December 3, 2016.

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

Public Service Announcement

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

Politico's Late Nite Jokes:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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Saturday
Nov262016

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 00 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

Karoun Demirjian of the Washington Post: "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."

Thursday
Nov242016

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

Thursday
Nov242016

The Bright Side

... Gail Collins: "Murmurs of the dread term 'Rockefeller Republican' are probably wafting at Paul Ryan’s holiday table. Perhaps liberals can take comfort in the fact that the other side is just as freaked out as they are." ...

... CW: I haven't republished (or prepublished) my Times comments in years, largely because I haven't made any. But these are exceptional times. Here's a comment I made late in the morning, so you won't likely be able to find it in the comments on Collins' column:

Since we're looking for silver linings, here's one: Hillary Clinton will not be president. Sure, I voted for Clinton & am still mired in a tight cocoon of existential dread over the prospect of a Trump presidency. But history suggests that Clinton would have been a lousy president. She is not inspirational. Americans like to hear their leaders deliver inspiring words delivered with something approaching conviction. The soaring speech is part of our political DNA.

Emotional orations aside, Clinton has never been able to market her products. Yes, she's had some good-to-middling policy ideas over the years, but other than sort of favoring Dubya's Iraq War, and devising a secret Republicanish healthcare plan, most don't know what those ideas are.

Add to that the GOP's promise to keep several phony impeachment investigations going for the duration of her presidency, and you've got a foolproof recipe for a stuffed turkey of a presidency, one that could set back the progressive agenda even more than Trump will do on purpose.

More good news: Americans aren't as horrible as the Electoral College results suggest. Hillary won the vote by more than 2 million & counting. We still come down on the better side, if just barely.

MEANWHILE, President Obama pardoned a couple of turkeys yesterday. I was hoping he would pardon Clinton:

Wednesday
Nov232016

The Commentariat -- Nov. 24, 2016

Jen Hayden of DailyKos posts an important message from ex-news anchor Dan Rather on the fascist tendencies of Trump's movement and sounds the alarm. Well worth the read. --safari

Brian Beutler: "What's needed is a single conceptual lens through which to view all of Trump's antics, whether they seem evil or dangerous or confused, and the one concept that encompasses all of them is impunity. Through luck and graft and privilege, Trump has gotten away with an incredible amount of chicanery in his life.... At the ... meeting with the Times, Trump didn't attempt to spin away concerns that he would use the presidency to enrich himself. To the contrary, he admitted he pressed the leader of a foreign political party to oppose offshore wind farms because he's worried about their effect on the view from one of his seaside golf courses. He boasted that his victory earlier this month probably increased the value of his new Washington, D.C., hotel. He hinted he might exploit presidential exemptions to federal corruption laws in the same way he's exploited tax loopholes that erased his income tax liability for years and years.... If Trump seems to be winging it through the early days of the transition, unperturbed by the potential for horror, this is why. He can't (or makes no effort to) distinguish between bumbling and purposefulness; ethics and corruption; normal and abnormal behavior -- because these distinctions have never been a lasting source of value to him.... This presidency is shaping up to be defined by a single maxim: that when the president does it, that means it is not illegal -- even if he had no idea what he was doing in the first place." -- CW ...

... Jim Tankersley of the Washington Post: "Some of America's biggest crusaders against crony capitalism warn Trump could use his position to pressure foreign leaders to accommodate his company, or to bend U.S. regulations to favor his interests over competitors. He might not even need to ask for those favors; they might just appear.... Writing in the Wall Street Journal's opinion pages this week, conservative columnist Holman W. Jenkins Jr. said Trump's administration could 'swirl down a drain of cronyism.'” CW: This is the "systemic corruption" Matt Yglesias warned about last week. As Tankersley notes, "Skewed government interests can, however, dampen an economy.... The diversion of resources to a president's businesses or his friends can chill competition; saddle consumers with fewer choices and higher prices; and erode incentives to work, innovate and invest." And now, as Brian Beutler (and others) have pointed out, Trump has embraced systemic corruption. -- CW ...

... Here's a blatant example:

     ... Trump Uses Pending Presidency to Boost His Turkish Licensing Deal. Paul Blumenthal of the Huffington Post: "When ... Donald Trump spoke to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Nov. 9, he mentioned one of his Turkish business partners as a 'close friend' and passed on his remarks that he is 'your great admirer.'... Norm Eisen, the former top ethics official for President Barack Obama..., called Trump's references to his business partner in his conversation with Erdogan 'entirely improper,' 'wrong' and 'reprehensible.'... In recent years, the Dogan Media Group [owned by the family of Trump's friend] has butted heads with the authoritarian Erdogan as he sought to punish dissenting media. '[Trump's support] will give them a layer of protection,' said Henri Barkey, director of the Middle East program at the Wilson Center, a nonpartisan policy forum. '... the Turkish government will think twice about going after them because the president of the United States is supporting them and, also, Erdogan is really looking for Trump to change many of Obama's policies, especially in Syria and with respect to Iran. So he's not going after anything that would upset or annoy Trump.'" -- CW

... CW: Even if you think Trump is great & you're thrilled he's making money off "foreigners," enhancing Trump's riches provide no economic advantage to the country (especially since he doesn't pay taxes, or at least doesn't pay his fair share of taxes, and he isn't building anything in the U.S., so he's not creating jobs). Putting more money in rich people's accounts does not improve the economy since they don't spend it the way the rest of us do. ...

... Ryan Lizza of the New Yorker: "The second week of the Trump transition brought several new appointments, the first specific policy pronouncements, and the most alarming statement about Presidential power since Richard Nixon declared, in 1977, 'When the President does it, that means that it is not illegal.'... Trump's ... picks over the past week fall into two categories: unqualified and extreme." CW: You can pretty much ignore Lizza's remarks on DeVos. Either that, or Lizza has kids in private school, & he would like Betsy to see that the local taxpayers help him with their tuition. ...

... Charles Blow. Memo to DJT: "You don't get a pat on the back for ratcheting down from rabid after exploiting that very radicalism to your advantage. Unrepentant opportunism belies a staggering lack of character and caring that can't simply be vanquished from memory. You did real harm to this country and many of its citizens, and I will never -- never -- forget that. As I read the transcript and then listened to the audio [of Trump's meeting with NYT execs, columnists & reporters], the slime factor was overwhelming.... Much of your campaign was an act of psychological projection, as we are now learning that many of the things you slammed Clinton for are things of which you may actually be guilty. You slammed Clinton for destroying emails, then Newsweek reported last month that your companies 'destroyed emails in defiance of court orders.' You slammed Clinton and the Clinton Foundation for paid speeches and conflicts of interest, then it turned out that, as BuzzFeed reported, the Trump Foundation received a $150,000 donation in exchange for your giving a 2015 speech made by video to a conference in Ukraine. You slammed Clinton about conflicts of interest while she was secretary of state, and now your possible conflicts of interest are popping up like mushrooms in a marsh." ...

     ... The audio of the meeting is here. ...

... Annals of "Journalism," Ctd. Ruth Marcus of the Washington Post: "To ... Donald Trump, Breitbart News -- the racist, sexist and all-around offensive website once overseen by his campaign chairman and designated White House chief strategist, Stephen K. Bannon -- is 'just a publication.' Breitbart's editors and writers, Trump told the New York Times, 'cover stories like you cover stories.'... No, no, no. That Trump would put it in the same category [with the NYT] exposes both his failure to understand the role of the media and his failure to recognize -- or to care about -- the offensiveness of what Breitbart, under the Bannon regime, represents.... Breitbart isn't 'just a publication.' It's a pestilence -- one whose repugnant views Trump has invited into his White House." -- CW

Donald Trump Is Way too Busy for Intelligence Briefings. Greg Miller of the Washington Post: "... Donald Trump has received two classified intelligence briefings since his surprise election victory earlier this month, a frequency that is notably lower ... than that of his predecessors, current and former U.S. officials said. A team of intelligence analysts has been prepared to deliver daily briefings ... to Trump in the two weeks since he won.... Mike Pence, by contrast, has set aside time for intelligence briefings almost every day since the election, officials said. Officials involved in the Trump transition team ... not[e] that he has been immersed in the work of forming his administration...." CW: And what an excellent administration that "immersion" is yielding! ...

Ben Carson Is Still Crazy. Josh Feldman of Mediaite: "Ben Carson spoke out on Fox News [Wednesday night] about all the speculation surrounding whether he'll take a Cabinet position in Donald Trump's administration. There have been reports Carson has been offered the position of HUD Secretary, but there was some confusion earlier today over whether he'd accepted it. Carson told Kelly File guest host Sandra Smith that it's been 'amusing' to see what's being said in the press about him, explaining, 'Every job is very important, but in terms of complexity, I can guarantee you that very little comes close to neurosurgery.' He affirmed that yes, 'the offer is on the table.'" CW: Let's see if the Dear Leader can handle Dr. Ben's playing hard-to-get. I have a feeling Trump will give Ole Doc the middle finger & nominate his demolition contractor as HUD secretary. ...

... Yay! Another Billionaire! John Santucci & Alexander Mallin of ABC News: "... Donald Trump is expected to name investor Wilbur Ross as his pick for commerce secretary, two senior-level Trump transition sources tell ABC News. Ross, 78, is a billionaire who has made a fortune restructuring failed companies in the manufacturing and steel industries, among others." -- CW ...

... The Vulture King; Mitt, on Steroids. Adam Behsudi of Politico: "Admirers praise Wilbur Ross as 'the king of bankruptcy,' calling him a savior of failing U.S. industries. But his critics have a different name for the 78-year-old investor said to be Donald Trump's pick for Commerce secretary. They describe him as a 'vulture,' and say his restructuring of ailing industries has sometimes come at the expense of workers' safety -- in one egregious case, contributing to the deaths of 12 miners in Sago, West Virginia.... By all accounts, Ross is a savvy negotiator and a member of the same club of enormously successful billionaires as Trump: He has an estimated net worth of $2.9 billion and a house down the street from Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach.... His investments in steel, in particular, place him close to an industry that has waged an aggressive campaign of trade cases against foreign competitors. That could raise questions over whether he might benefit financially from favorable trade rulings.... Ross has also run into trouble with the Securities and Exchange Commission. In August, the SEC ordered Ross to pay a $2.3 million fine for failing to disclose certain fees to investors." -- CW

Look, I have an aged female friend, and I swear on my little cracker I am not grabbing her ass with my left hand. P.S. This is a good woman: she's rich (but not as rich as I am) and she's going to take your education tax dollars and give them all to the rich children.

... Well, This Is Horrible. Emma Brown of the Washington Post: "... Donald Trump intends to name Betsy DeVos, a conservative activist and billionaire philanthropist who has pushed forcefully for private school voucher programs nationwide, as his nominee for education secretary, according to a person close to DeVos." -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Paul Waldman: "Nothing says you're shaking up the system and striking a blow against the establishment like a billionaire donor who wants to destroy public schools." -- CW ...

... Valerie Strauss of the Washington Post: "Seen by her supporters as a tireless, driven supporter of school choice, opponents say [DeVos] is the most ideological and anti-public education nominee ever to be put forward to run the the nearly 40-year-old department. They fear that Trump, along with DeVos, will push 'choice' programs that many see as draining resources from the traditional public school districts that educate most American schoolchildren.... School choice opponents say that 'choice' not only siphons resources from traditional systems but also promotes segregation, discriminates against students with the most severe disabilities, and fights against public oversight.... The preponderance of independent research shows that choice programs have failed to systemically improve student achievement and have harmed public school districts." -- CW ...

... Ed Kilgore: "DeVos has been called the 'four-star general of the pro-voucher movement.' She and her husband, Amway heir Dick DeVos, have devoted an enormous amount of time and money promoting voucher initiatives -- the use of public funds to finance private schools [[ around the country.... DeVos is devoted to the more radical vision of robust publicly funded private schools competing for parents' allegiances.... Trump has decisively associated himself with people who would be perfectly happy with a future in which the only thing 'public' about schools will be the taxpayer subsidies." -- CW ...

... Diane Ravitch: "... Not only does [DeVos] want all children to have vouchers (charters apparently are a fall-back form of privatization for her), she opposes any regulation or oversight for the private schools she supports. When the Michigan legislature made an attempt to create some oversight for charter schools, DeVos spent over $1 million to block the effort, and she won. In Michigan, 80% of the charters operate for-profit, without regulation or oversight...." -- CW ...

... Benjy Hansen-Bundy & Andy Kross, in Mother Jones, chart the DeVos family giving tree. It's horrendous: "Across four decades and two generations, the DeVos family has poured more than $200 million into the key institutions of the Christian right and the conservative movement.... We trace the family's many millions as they flow out of family foundations into the biggest-name think tanks and advocacy groups in American politics today. And for good measure, we've included Erik Prince, the founder of the private-security company Blackwater, who is the brother of Dick DeVos' wife, Betsy. What a small world." -- CW

Dana Priest, in the New Yorker on Michael Flynn, Trump's national security advisor: "The lifelong intelligence officer, who once valued tips gleaned from tribal reporters, has become a ready tweeter of hackneyed conspiracy theories. He reposts the vitriol of anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim commentators.... Whether Flynn now learns to bottle his rage, whether he reëmbraces fact over fiction, whether he's capable of playing the role of a contemplative counsellor, will determine the outcome of his most difficult and important mission yet." -- CW

Mad magazine cover illustration. MEANWHILE, Not-yet-President Trump seems to have sent his son Donny Boy to the Paris Ritz to chat up a group of wealthy supporters of Russia's solution to the Syrian civil war.

Jeff Spross of the Week: "U.S. stock indexes broke records Tuesday. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed above 19,000, the S&P 500 closed over 2,200, and the NASDAQ closed over 5,300 -- all first-time highs. This wasn't supposed to happen." But what's going on is what already has been going on "over the last few decades.... Profits can go up without any accompanying growth in jobs or wages. In those cases, the economy isn't growing; companies are just extracting more of the wealth their workers create and distributing it to stock owners.... [Meanwhile,] inequality soared, GDP growth slowed, middle- and working-class wages stagnated, investment by companies in real economic activity collapsed, and productivity growth was reduced to a crawl. Yet corporate profits reached record highs, and [as a result,] the stock market just kept climbing. There's every reason to think Trump's policies will just exacerbate this trend.... So the scary possibility ... [is] that [the market] knows exactly what President Trump will do." -- CW

Trip Gabriel & David Sanger of the New York Times: "Hillary Clinton's lead in the popular vote is growing. She is roughly 30,000 votes behind Donald J. Trump in the key swing states of Michigan and Wisconsin -- a combined gap that is narrowing. Her impassioned supporters are now urging her to challenge the results in those two states and Pennsylvania, grasping at the last straws to reverse Mr. Trump's decisive majority in the Electoral College. In recent days, they have seized on a report by a respected computer scientist and other experts suggesting that Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, the keys to Mr. Trump's Electoral College victory, need to manually review paper ballots to assure the election was not hacked.... Tellingly, the pleas for recounts have gained no support from the Clinton campaign...." -- CW ...

... Eric Geller of Politico: "Jill Stein's presidential campaign announced Wednesday that it plans to file for recounts in three key states if it can raise enough money. 'After a divisive and painful presidential race,' the Green Party candidate said in a statement, 'reported hacks into voter and party databases and individual email accounts are causing many Americans to wonder if our election results are reliable.'" Stein wants to request recounts in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania -- states that were critical to President-elect Donald Trump's victory." -- CW ...

... Evelyn Rupert of the Hill: "Donald Trump is poised to win the state of Michigan after a razor-thin race, according to still-unofficial numbers released by the Michigan secretary of State Wednesday. Each of Michigan's 83 counties certified their vote tallies and submitted them to the secretary of State, showing Trump with a lead of about 10,700 total votes over Hillary Clinton. The vote totals, which still need to be approved by the Board of State Canvassers on Nov. 28, show Trump received 2,279,543 votes to Clinton's 2,268,839." -- CW ...

... Charles Pierce: "In the campaign just passed, racism and xenophobia and sexism were not 'the only reasons' Trump won. That's stupid. There is genuine economic anxiety and despair in the country. But they were the accelerant. They might not have been the biggest reason why he won, but they damn sure were a big part of filling his rally halls and getting his voters to the polls, and not just in the South, either. All American populism falls into the trap of scapegoating The Other eventually; if it didn't, Bernie Sanders would be picking his Cabinet right now." CW: Pierce might have added misogyny to his list of why people voted for Trump/against Clinton. But he didn't. Because he doesn't give a rat's ass about women.

Three Cheers for the Progressive Change Campaign Committee. I'm planning to make a small donation (contributions are not tax-deductible):