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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Monday
Nov212016

Black Men Can't Speak

Laurel Raymond argues in Think Progress that the "Trump circus" -- in this case, Donald Trump's feud with Broadway actors -- is a "distraction": "... setting both the traditional media and social media chasing after boos at a Hamilton performance, Trump is also distracting everyone from the damaging, substantive moves he has made since being elected." 

Not really. And if you read Charles Blow's column today, he will help you understand why. Trump's choices may feel "like a small collection of poor judgments and reversible decisions," Blow writes, but they signal "an enormous menace inching its way forward and grinding up that which we held dear and foolishly thought, as lovers do, would ever endure."

I would argue that this applies to Trump's little tantrums as much as it does to his policy prescriptions -- awful -- and personnel choices -- worse.

Look at who and what Trump is attacking in his anti-"Hamilton" tweets. The actor who spoke out to mike pence -- Brandon Victor Dixon -- is black. Most of the cast he spoke for also are racial minorities. Dixon's point -- that the Trump administration must recognize the diversity of the nation & serve all equally -- scarcely seems controversial to us. Even pence, not exactly Mr. Civil Rights, says he "wasn't offended by what was said. I will leave to others whether that was the appropriate venue to say it."

Trump's objection -- and demand for an apology -- also seemed to be venue-based: "The Theater must always be a safe and special place.The cast of Hamilton was very rude last night to a very good man, Mike Pence. Apologize!"

But it was not the "venue" that troubled Trump (and perhaps pence). It wasn't that Trump thinks the theatre should be nothing more than a fun place to enjoy meaningless fluffy musical comedies. (This is how media critics at the New York Times and Washington Post interpreted it.) Rather, it was the profession of the speaker.

Dixon is an actor. He is a performer. Since Trump is both of these as well, most white people miss the point. Trump appears to be whining person-to-person. But if you grew up in the South, or nearly anywhere in mid-century America, you'd know better. Black performers, once they gained hold in particular art forms and sports games, became acceptable -- if they stuck to their professional roles. Wealthy white people flocked to hear Lena Horne perform at Miami's Fontainebleau Hotel, but she wasn't allowed to stay there. My racist neighbor used to love to watch Nat King Cole's 15-minute TV show, but she sure as hell would not have let her daughter date anyone who looked like Cole. I watched girls swooning over Sam Cooke, the same girls who would have spat on any child of color who might try to integrate our whitey-white school. Hank Aaron used to dress up as an African diplomat and feign a "foreign" accent so he could get into toney Washington, D.C.-area restaurants when the Milwaukee/Atlanta Braves were on the road.

Remember when Trump complained about President Obama's saying that "Muslims are ... our sports heroes"? “What sport is he talking about, and who?” Trump asked, implying that Obama had invented the sports-hero thing to make the Islamic faith more acceptable. Trump didn't even recognize that he had personally met Muslim sports heroes like Muhammad Ali & Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. It never occurred to Trump these stellar athletes -- these performers -- had lives outside their sports. Of course when Trump met these Muslim-Americans, it was in the context of their professions. Likely, they did not say anything to him outside that narrow frame. Nor should they, in Trump's view.

This is Trump's attitude. A person of color does not have a right to speak out -- even politely, as Dixon did -- to a white man, particularly a white man who holds a position of authority. A black actor may entertain, but his "rights" end with his performance. He may not express any notion that suggests he is in some sense equal to a powerful white man. In Trump's view, it is acceptable for Dixon to play a white man, minstrel style, but he cannot -- in real life -- speak on a par with white men. A black actor must know his place. He is not a person but a role-player. When Dixon stepped out of his role to directly verbalize the message of the play, he made the theater both "unspecial" and "unsafe," according to Trump. Real black men are "dangerous intruders" into "real America's" beautiful, "special" space. 

It is all right for a Broadway musical to portray the country as one of diversity or even to implicitly or explicitly criticize the country for its failure of diversity, but it is not all right for an actor of color to jump out of his play-acting role to express, in his own words, those same sentiments. Racial diversity is now acceptable to Trump as an abstract fiction, particularly if only those who get to watch the joke are people who can afford $1,000-a-seat tickets. The rich theatre-goers are people, Trump assumes, who won't be fooled into believing the fictional message. Diversity is not acceptable as reality.

When Trump hires as his lead "team" racists Steve Bannon, Jeff Sessions and Mike Flynn, he is expressing the very same belief that his tweets on the "Hamilton" musical convey. Yes, what Trump does is more important than what he says. But in this case, word and deed are perfectly consistent. Trump's beef with "Hamilton" is not a distraction; it is an expression of his actions. White supremacy is of the essence of the scheme.


P.S. Trump continued to tweet, berating the entire cast & the play itself.

Sunday
Nov202016

The Commentariat -- Nov. 21, 2016

Guardian: "President Barack Obama has warned Donald Trump he won't be able to pursue many of his more controversial policies once he is in office. In his final international speech before he leaves the White House in January, Obama said he could not guarantee Trump would not try to implement controversial positions he took during campaign but he could guarantee 'reality will force him to adjust' how he approaches the issues. Speaking at the Apec meeting in Peru, Obama also said he did not intend to become his successor's constant critic -- but reserved the right to speak out if Trump or his policies breached certain 'values or ideals'." -- CW ...

... AFP: "The US president, Barack Obama, has urged greater efforts to end violence in war-torn Syria in brief talks with the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, as concern mounts over a ferocious regime bombing campaign in rebel-held parts of Aleppo. Obama made the comments to his Russian counterpart on Sunday on the sidelines of an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) summit in Peru in what could be their last meeting before the US president leaves office in January. It was the first time they had met since the US presidential election and the shock victory of Donald Trump, who has pursued a far warmer relationship with Putin than Obama did." -- CW

Michael Schmidt & Michael Shear of the New York Times: "... Donald J. Trump has turned the vital, but normally inscrutable, process of forming a government into a Trump-branded, made-for-television spectacle, parading his finalists for top administration positions this weekend before reporters and the world. The two days unfolded like a pageant, with the many would-be officials striding up the circular driveway at Trump National Golf Club here, meeting Mr. Trump below three glass chandeliers at the entrance and shaking hands while facing the cameras. To build suspense, Mr. Trump offered teasing hints about coming announcements. 'I think so,' he said about whether he would make any appointments on Sunday. 'I think so. It could very well happen.'... By the evening, however, Mr. Trump had announced no appointments, leaving reporters waiting on the cold, gusty day to speculate about Mr. Trump's brief comments." -- CW

The Selling of the Presidency, 2016 ff.

Ayesha Venkataraman, et al., of the New York Times: "In a telephone interview, Atul Chordia, one of the developers who met last week with Mr. Trump, played down the appointment as a 'two-minute' congratulatory conversation in which no business was transacted and no new projects were discussed. But newspapers in India reported it as a business meeting, illustrated with a photograph of the beaming real estate executives -- Atul Chordia, Sagar Chordia and Kalpesh Mehta -- flanking the future president, and indicated that the builders and Mr. Trump's organization are planning further collaborative real estate projects. Sagar Chordia confirmed to The New York Times on Saturday that this account of the meeting in New York -- which included discussions with the Trump family about possible additional real estate deals -- was accurate.... [Ethics lawyers] agreed the activities created the appearance that Mr. Trump and his business partners are using his status as a way to profit.... The Chordia family, which has close ties to Sharad Pawar, the chief of India's Nationalist Congress Party, is particularly enthusiastic in its embrace of Mr. Trump. Mr. Trump has made targeted appeals to Indian-Americans for financial support, holding a major fund-raising event in October in Edison, N.J., a city with a large number of Indian residents, where Mr. Trump called himself a 'a big fan of Hindu.'" -- CW ...

... Drew Harwell & Anu Narayanswamy of the Washington Post: "Donald Trump's company has been paid up to $10 million by the [Trump Towers Instalbul's] developers since 2014 to affix the Trump name atop the luxury complex, whose owner, one of Turkey's biggest oil and media conglomerates, has become an influential megaphone for the country's increasingly repressive regime. That, ethics advisers said, forces the Trump complex into an unprecedented nexus: as both a potential channel for dealmakers seeking to curry favor with the Trump White House and a potential target for attacks or security risks overseas.... Ethics experts ... are now warning of many others, found among a vast assortment of foreign business interests never before seen in past presidencies. At least 111 Trump companies have done business in 18 countries and territories across South America, Asia and the Middle East.... Some ... deals ... were launched as recently as Trump's campaign, including eight that appear tied to a potential hotel project in Saudi Arabia, the oil-rich Arab kingdom that Trump has said he 'would want to protect.' Trump has refused calls to sell or give his business interests to an independent manager or 'blind trust,' a long-held presidential tradition designed to combat conflicts of interest." -- CW ...

... They've Got Ethics! Ha Ha Ha. Jon Swaine & Alan Yuhas of the Guardian: "Donald Trump's most senior advisers said on Sunday that he would not illegally use the White House for personal profit, as concerns mounted that he was already mixing business interests and official duties. Trump's vice-president-elect and chief of staff moved to reassure the public even as it emerged that he had been meeting overseas business partners between interviews for cabinet roles and making corporate pitches to foreign diplomats. 'I think during the presidency there will be the proper separation,' [mike pence] told CBS's Face the Nation.... Pence spoke after the Economic Times reported that Trump met last week in Trump Tower with three business partners who are building Trump-branded apartments in India.... Trump's children Eric and Ivanka also met with at least one of the Indian partners, the New York Times reported. The meeting ... followed news that dozens of foreign diplomats attended a sales pitch last week at Trump's new hotel in downtown Washington DC. Ivanka Trump, who is an executive vice-president of the Trump Organization, also joined her father last week for a meeting at Trump Tower with Shinzo Abe, the prime minister of Japan. Ivanka's jewelry company had previously advertised a $10,800 gold bracelet that she wore during a TV interview...." -- CW ...

... Patrick Temple-West of Politico: "Overhauling the government's ethics laws will be a top priority for ... Donald Trump in Congress next year..., Mike Pence said Sunday. Speaking on 'Face the Nation' on CBS, Pence declined to affirm that lobbyists will not serve in Trump's administration. Trump, who had campaigned on the notion that he would 'drain the swamp' in Washington, drew fire last week for initially including lobbyists on his transition team." -- CW (Also linked yesterday.)


Christina Coleburn
of NBC News: "Incoming White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus said Sunday on NBC's 'Meet The Press' that ... Donald Trump's team is not planning to create a Muslim registry, but would not rule anything out."

Patrick Temple-West: "... Donald Trump will prioritize repealing President Barack Obama's landmark healthcare law right 'out of the gate' once he takes office..., Mike Pence said Sunday." -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Paul Krugman: "... we already know enough about his infrastructure plan to suggest, strongly, that it's basically fraudulent, that it would enrich a few well-connected people at taxpayers' expense while doing very little to cure our investment shortfall. Progressives should not associate themselves with this exercise in crony capitalism.... Cronyism and self-dealing are going to be the central theme of this administration -- in fact, Mr. Trump is already meeting with foreigners to promote his business interests. And people who value their own reputations should take care to avoid any kind of association with the scams ahead." ...

... CW: If Brad Plumer of Vox, Ronald Klain, & Krugman can uncover this con just by reading a few pages on Trump's Website, why the hell can't Chuck Schumer, Nancy Pelosi, Bernie Sanders, et al.? They're not economists, but they have economists on staff. It's possible they're grifting Trump, with the aim to bait-and-switch him to an actual traditional, government-run infrastructure program. But I'm not sure they're that smart. Or maybe they know what Trump is up to & they're happy to go along. Schumer, in particular, is a friend of big banks/big investors, and Pelosi's husband Paul is one. So Maybe Democrats are conning us, too. Stay tuned. ...

... Here's Sanders on working with Trump on infrastructure. Here's Pelosi (in a post by Jonathan Chait titled "Charles Schumer and Nancy Pelosi Have a Plan to Make President Trump Popular). And here's Schumer. ...

... E.J. Dionne: "However attractive an old-fashioned let's-pass-good-stuff strategy might seem, the alarming signals emanating from Trump Tower require more than politics as usual. If Democrats do not issue very clear warnings and lay out very bright lines against the most odious and alarming aspects of Trumpism, they will be abdicating their central obligation as the party of opposition.... Before they even get to infrastructure, Democrats and all other friends of freedom must make clear that if Trump abandons the basic norms of our democracy, all the roads in the world won't pave over his transgressions." -- CW ...

Josh Marshall: "Donald Trump won the presidency promising to defend the economic interests of ordinary people from the 'crooked' elite on Wall Street and in Washington. Whether or not he believes or believed that he has rapidly allied himself with the Paul Ryan privatizers who want to eviscerate the federal programs which are the bedrock of the American middle class. Social Security and Medicare are at the top of that list. If you look at the faces in the crowds at Trump's most poisonous speeches I guarantee that you that very few of those people thought they were voting to lose their Medicare.... "It is an issue where Democrats can score a win and in doing so they will empower the opposition to defeat the Trump GOP on other critical fronts." -- CW

** Charles Blow: "This may well be the beginning of the end: the early moments of a historical pivot point, when the slide of the republic into something untoward and unrecognizable still feels like a small collection of poor judgments and reversible decisions, rather than the forward edge of an enormous menace inching its way forward and grinding up that which we held dear and foolishly thought, as lovers do, would ever endure.... Hard-line Trumpism isn't softening; it's being cemented. Increasingly, as he picks his cabinet from among his fawning loyalists, it is becoming clear that by 'Make America Great Again,' he actually meant some version of 'Make America a White, Racist, Misogynistic Patriarchy Again.'" -- CW ...

     ... Here's a telling anecdote from Blow's column: "

In October, [Trump's pick for national security advisor Michael] Flynn tweeted: '“Follow Mike @Cernovich He has a terrific book, Gorilla Mindset. Well worth the read. @realDonaldTrump will win on 8 NOV!!!.' The New Yorker dubbed Mike Cernovich 'the meme mastermind of the alt-right' in a lengthy profile. The magazine pointed out: 'On his blog, Cernovich developed a theory of white-male identity politics: men were oppressed by feminism, and political correctness prevented the discussion of obvious truths, such as the criminal proclivities of certain ethnic groups.' ...

... Jill Jacobs &Daniel Sokatch in a Washington Post op-ed: "Over the past year, we have watched as Trump's campaign trafficked in blatant anti-Semitism alongside racism, xenophobia, misogyny, homophobia, ableism and Islamophobia. He has empowered white supremacists and provoked a resurgence of the Ku Klux Klan. Trying to conduct business as usual with the Trump administration could prevent us from joining with other threatened groups to protect our neighbors.... For many Jewish organizations, it will be tempting to 'move past' the disturbing policy goals and divisive rhetoric we heard during the campaign from Trump and his team and to engage in business as usual with the new administration.... Several congratulated Trump on his victory; some expressed their faith that he would make good on his victory speech promise to 'bind the wounds of division.'... But if we take the president-elect at his word [as expressed in his policy goals] -- and we must -- we can't afford business as usual. Now is the time for principled opposition, not accommodation." -- CW

Matthew Nussbaum of Politico: "Donald Trump will live in the White House, he said Sunday, ending speculation about whether he might opt to stay in New York City and reside in Trump Tower or at one of his other properties. His wife, Melania, and 10-year-old son, Barron, will likely join him after Barron finishes the school year this spring, Trump added. 'Yes, White House,' Trump told reporters when asked about where he will live, per a pool report. Asked about plans for Melania and Barron to move to Washington, Trump added: 'Very soon. After he's finished with school.'" ...

... Mallory Shelbourne of the Hill: "Melania Trump and her son, Barron, will not move to the White House after ... Donald Trump takes the oath of office, according to a report in the New York Post." CW: As Rockygirl predicted in yesterday's comments, "She & her son will remain ensconced in Trump Tower, emerging only when absolutely necessary." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Always Look on the Bright Side of Stats. Annals of "Journalism," Ctd. Steve M. "Headline at Politico right now: 'Poll: Trump's popularity soars after election' 'Soars'" No, it didn't. What Politico calls "a dramatic uptick" is "mere parity, 46%-46%.... The Politico headline is right-wing clickbait -- and will probably become mainstream-media conventional wisdom." More accurate is the Pew Research headline: "Voters give Trump worse grades than they have for any winning candidate in recent decades." -- CW

Lisa Rein of the Washington Post: "Donald Trump and the Republican-controlled Congress are drawing up plans to take on the government bureaucracy they have long railed against, by eroding job protections and grinding down benefits that federal workers have received for a generation. Hiring freezes, an end to automatic raises, a green light to fire poor performers, a ban on union business on the government's dime and less generous pensions -- these are the contours of the blueprint emerging under Republican control of Washington in January.... Trump's election as an outsider promising to shake up a system he told voters is awash in 'waste, fraud and abuse' has conservatives optimistic that they could do now what Republicans have been unable to do in the 133 years since the civil service was created." -- CW

Jason Chaffetz Has a Clinton Conspiracy Theory, and He's Going to Prove It.

... we have one of the biggest security breaches ever.... How did they migrate all of this classified information out of the system?... Somebody had to physically take that and put it on another system. Either upload it or on a thumb drive, retype. -- Rep. Jason Chaffetz (RTP-Utah) to Tucker Carlson, Nov. 15

Chaffetz ... shouldn't insinuate, through speculation about thumb drives, that the State Department engaged in the deliberate transfer of information from classified to unclassified systems. The extensive information released by the FBI on its investigation ... provides virtually no support for this assertion, made on a nationally televised interview.... Chaffetz believes the Clinton email case was 'one of the biggest security breaches ever.' That's a matter of opinion. (Let's recall that the State Department in 2000 lost a laptop containing highly sensitive information and discovered an eavesdropping device in one of its conference rooms, resulting in the expulsion of a Russian diplomat.) -- Glenn Kessler of the Washington Post

See also Patrick's commentary, below.

Joseph Goldstein of the New York Times: As the finale of a conference of the alt-right in Washington, D.C., this weekend, alt-right leader Richard Spencer "railed against Jews and, with a smile, quoted Nazi propaganda in the original German. America, he said, belonged to white people, whom he called the 'children of the sun,' a race of conquerors and creators who had been marginalized but now, in the era of ... Donald J. Trump, were 'awakening to their own identity.' As he finished, several audience members had their arms outstretched in a Nazi salute. When Mr. Spencer, or perhaps another person standing near him at the front of the room -- it was not clear who -- shouted, 'Heil the people! Heil victory,' the room shouted it back. These are exultant times for the alt-right movement, which was little known until this year, when it embraced Mr. Trump's campaign and he appeared to embrace it back." -- CW

Alan Henry of Broadway World: "a Trump supporter interrupted the Saturday evening performance of Hamilton in Chicago. An audience member seated in the balcony allegedly shouted 'We won! You Lost! Get over it! F[u]ck you!' during the number 'Dear Theodosia.'" According to an audience member, "the initial disturbance began after the audience member was enraged by the line 'immigrants, we get the job done.' The majority of the audience cheered that specific line." The Trump supporter was reportedly intoxicated & scuffled with security staff as they removed him from the theater. -- CW

Terrence McCoy of the Washington Post: "At a time of continuing discussion over the role that hyperpartisan websites, fake news and social media play in the divided America of 2016, LibertyWritersNews illustrates how websites can use Facebook to tap into a surging ideology, quickly go from nothing to influencing millions of people and make big profits in the process. Six months ago, Wade and his business partner, Ben Goldman, were unemployed restaurant workers. Now they're at the helm of a website that gained 300,000 Facebook followers in October alone and say they are making so much money that they feel uncomfortable talking about it because they don't want people to start asking for loans." ...

... CW Note to Self: News Year's Resolution s/b "Start using Facebook."

Sapna Maheshwari of the New York Times: "Eric Tucker ... had just about 40 Twitter followers. But his recent tweet about paid protesters being bused to demonstrations against ... Donald J. Trump fueled a nationwide conspiracy theory -- one that Mr. Trump joined in promoting. Mr. Tucker's post was shared at least 16,000 times on Twitter and more than 350,000 times on Facebook. The problem is that Mr. Tucker got it wrong. There were no such buses packed with paid protesters. But that didn't matter. While some fake news is produced purposefully by teenagers in the Balkans or entrepreneurs in the United States seeking to make money from advertising, false information can also arise from misinformed social media posts by regular people that are seized on and spread through a hyperpartisan blogosphere. Here, The New York Times deconstructs how Mr. Tucker's now-deleted declaration on Twitter ... turned into a fake-news phenomenon." -- CW ...

... CW's Helpful Hint No. 5: If a friend or acquaintance sends you a clip or text of a sensational story that hasn't appeared in mainstream media accounts, it likely is a hoax.

Beyond the Beltway

Max Ehrenfreund of the Washington Post: "An officer was shot and killed just outside the San Antonio Police Department's headquarters around noon on Sunday. Chief William McManus said the officer, Detective Benjamin Marconi, had been 'targeted.' Detectives have not identified a motive and are working to identify the shooter...." -- CW

Way Beyond

Joanna Plucinska of Politico: "The U.K. government is deploying the Queen to reach out to ... Donald Trump and establish a good relationship with his administration after his inauguration. The Queen is expected to extend a formal invitation to Trump soon after he is sworn in as president on January 20, according to the Sunday Times." CW: Trump is hardly the first tinpot dictator Elizabeth has had to endure. (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Sylvie Corbet of the Washington Post: "Former president Nicolas Sarkozy conceded defeat Sunday in the primary to choose the conservative nominee for next year's presidential election in France. With more than 3.2 million ballots counted from about 80 percent of polling stations, former prime minister François Fillon had 44 percent of the vote, former prime minister Alain Juppé had 28.1 and Sarkozy had 21.1 percent. The two candidates confirmed as winning the most votes advance to the Nov. 27 runoff." -- CW

Alison Smale of the New York Times: "Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, under siege domestically but widely seen as a pillar of Western liberalism, announced on Sunday that she will seek a fourth term next year." -- CW

Saturday
Nov192016

The Commentariat -- Nov. 20, 2016

Afternoon Update:

Patrick Temple-West of Politico: "... Donald Trump will prioritize repealing President Barack Obama's landmark healthcare law right 'out of the gate' once he takes office..., Mike Pence said Sunday." -- CW

They've Got Ethics! Patrick Temple-West: "Overhauling the government's ethics laws will be a top priority for ... Donald Trump in Congress next year..., Mike Pence said Sunday. Speaking on 'Face the Nation' on CBS, Pence declined to affirm that lobbyists will not serve in Trump's administration. Trump, who had campaigned on the notion that he would 'drain the swamp' in Washington, drew fire last week for initially including lobbyists on his transition team." -- CW

Joanna Plucinska of Politico: "The U.K. government is deploying the Queen to reach out to U.S. President-elect Donald Trump and establish a good relationship with his administration after his inauguration. The Queen is expected to extend a formal invitation to Trump soon after he is sworn in as president on January 20, according to the Sunday Times." CW: Elizabeth has endured worse tinpot dictators than Trump.

Mallory Shelbourne of the Hill: "Melania Trump and her son, Barron, will not move to the White House after ... Donald Trump takes the oath of office, according to a report in the New York Post." CW: As Rockygirl predicted yesterday, "She & her son will remain ensconced in Trump Tower, emerging only when absolutely necessary."

*****

Juliet Eilperin of the Washington Post: "President Obama sought to reassure leaders ... at an annual [Asia Pacific economic] summit [in Lima, Peru,] that the United States would continue to pursue closer ties with the Asia-Pacific region, even though Donald Trump's presidency is sure to reshape America's approach to the region.... But Trump's sharp criticism of trade deals such as the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)..., and his suggestion that long-standing U.S. military base agreements in Japan and South Korea might be too expensive to maintain, threatens to reverse the Obama administration's agenda and upend decades of American leadership in the region." -- CW

Ellen Nakashima of the Washington Post: "The heads of the Pentagon and the nation's intelligence community have recommended to President Obama that the director of the National Security Agency, Adm. Michael S. Rogers, be removed. The recommendation, delivered to the White House last month, was made by Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter and Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr., according to several U.S. officials familiar with the matter. Action has been delayed, some administration officials said, because relieving Rogers of his duties is tied to another controversial recommendation: to create separate chains of command at the NSA and the military's cyberwarfare unit, a recommendation by Clapper and Carter that has been stalled because of other issues." -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

     ... The story has been updated: "The news comes as Rogers is being considered by ... Donald Trump to be his nominee for director of national intelligence to replace Clapper as the official who oversees all 17 U.S. intelligence agencies. In a move apparently unprecedented for a military officer, Rogers, without notifying superiors, traveled to New York to meet with Trump on Thursday at Trump Tower."

Julie Pace & Jonathan Lamire of the AP: "... Donald Trump is filling his Twitter feed like the campaigner of old even while racing to fill senior positions in his administration. Trump was meeting Saturday with one of his sharpest Republican critics of the campaign, 2012 presidential candidate Mitt Romney, at Trump's golf club in New Jersey, and on Sunday with two leading supporters, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani. During the campaign, Romney called Trump a 'con man' and a 'fraud,' while Trump repeatedly called Romney a 'loser.' But first came a tweetstorm.... [Trump] rushed to the defense of Mike Pence on Saturday after 'Hamilton' actor Brandon Victor Dixon challenged the incoming vice president from the Broadway stage.... [See stories yesterday & below.] Trump also bragged on Twitter about agreeing to settle a trio of lawsuits against Trump University, claiming: 'The ONLY bad thing about winning the presidency is that I did not have the time to go through a long but winning trial on Trump U. Too bad!'" -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

     ... Update. Michael Schmidt & Julie Davis of the New York Times: "Mr. Trump met with Mr. Romney for about an hour and a half. Afterward, both men exited the clubhouse and shook hands for the cameras. 'Went great,' Mr. Trump said, cupping his hands at his mouth to project his voice. Mr. Romney then briefly addressed reporters, declining to say whether he was interested in a cabinet position. 'We had a far-reaching conversation with regard to the various theaters of the world with interest to the United States of real significance,' Mr. Romney said.... Mr. Romney did not answer reporters' questions about whether he had apologized to Mr. Trump for his criticism of him during the campaign." -- CW (Also linked yesterday.) ...

     ... Ashley Parker & Maggie Haberman of the New York Times: "A senior adviser described the meeting, in part, as Mr. Romney simply coming to pay his respects to ... [Trump] and 'kiss his ring.'" -- CW

"You're Fired!" Implausibly, Trump Worried about Having Jerks on His Team. Isaac Isenstadt of Politico: "... just a few months after being denied the VP slot, [Chris] Christie suffered another public humiliation -- he was stripped of his leadership of Trump's presidential transition. In a phone call last week..., [Trump] told Christie that he had become a political liability. Trump and his top aides were most concerned about two issues, according to nearly a dozen people briefed on the process: Christie's mismanagement of the transition, and the lingering political fallout of the Bridgegate scandal.... In the days following the election..., Trump ... vented about how the governor had loaded up the team with lobbyists, the very class of people Trump had campaigned against, with his calls to 'drain the swamp' in Washington.... [Trump] also noticed that Christie had stocked his team with old New Jersey friends and allies." -- CW ...

... BUT. Brent Griffiths of Politico: "... Donald Trump will meet with Chris Christie on Sunday, an indication of how Trump is maintaining ties to the New Jersey governor despite removing him as the head of his transition team." CW: Trump is meeting with more than a dozen candidates for high office this weekend, so the Christie confab looks more like either a 10-minute courtesy meeting or a brush-off. We'll see.

Nothing to See, Folks. Eric Lipton & Ellen Barry of the New York Times: "... Donald J. Trump met in the last week in his office at Trump Tower with three Indian business partners who are building a Trump-branded luxury apartment complex south of Mumbai, raising new questions about how he will separate his business dealings from the work of the government once he is in the White House. A spokeswoman for Mr. Trump described the meeting as a courtesy call by the three Indian real estate executives, who flew from India to congratulate Mr. Trump on his election victory. In a picture posted on Twitter, all four men are smiling and giving a thumbs-up." -- CW

The Theater must always be a safe and special place. The cast of Hamilton was very rude last night to a very good man, Mike Pence. Apologize! -- Donald Trump

... Trump needs a refresher on his high school civics class.... The First Amendment is a cornerstone of our democracy, and Democratic and Republican presidents alike have understood that freedom of speech makes our country stronger -- even if it sometimes make our leaders uncomfortable. The apology should instead come from ... Trump for calling into question the appropriateness of the Hamilton cast's statements. -- ACLU executive director Anthony D. Romero, on Trump's demand for an apology after a "Hamilton" cast member asked mike pence to uphold the rights of all Americans ...

... Peter Marks of the Washington Post: "Maybe by 'safe and special' he means the theater is supposed to be docile, an innocuous landscape filled exclusively with chorus girls and holiday pageants. But let's be clear: 'Safe' theater is dead theater. Conflict is what drives drama, and sometimes, emotions in that public space become intense and things get messy.... The challenging words by the 'Hamilton' cast and the contretemps surrounding them portend a contentious relationship between the Republican-led government and an arts community that may be preparing to take it on publicly. In the context of a musical about a revolution, the events of Friday night look like life imitating art." -- CW ...

... CW: Maybe by "safe and special," Trump is alluding to Washington, D.C.'s Ford Theater, ca. 1865. When an anti-Trump Republican unfurled a banner at a Trump rally, campaign aides & Trump Jr. called it an assassination attempt; this might be just an instance of Trump and some of his surrogates chewing the scenery. Overstating grievances is a GOP way of life, and Trump has perfected it.

... Tara Golshan of Vox: "Hamilton's cast reminded Pence that inclusivity is an American value. Trump wants an apology.... Donald Trump's latest Twitter feud is with the cast of Hamilton.... If anything..., it signifies that Trump's quick temper, and inability to let criticism slide, may very likely continue through his time in office." -- CW ...

... Annie Laurie of Balloon Juice: "... Hamilton is a musical about a bunch of New York City immigrants, played by a cast of not-white actors, many of them openly LGBT. People like Mike Pence go to Hamilton to confirm their conviction that New Yorkers have always been filthy immigrants who proudly mock God and 'history' while celebrating their perversities with every variety of that noisy jungle music. Getting boo'd at Hamilton gives Mike Pence immense 'street cred' with the neo-Nazis clotting around Steve Bannon, official Trump strategist-in-chief; since Bannon has a lot more influence with Trump than Mike Pence will ever accrue, Pence probably enjoyed the public opprobrium more than he did the play itself." -- CW

** Trump Preps to Violate Constitution from Day One. Ian Millhiser of Think Progress: "Friday evening, the Washington Post reported that about 100 foreign diplomats gathered at ... Donald Trump's hotel in Washington, DC to 'to sip Trump-branded champagne, dine on sliders and hear a sales pitch about the U.S. president-elect's newest hotel.'... The Post also quoted some of the diplomats saying they intended to stay at the hotel in order to ingratiate themselves to the incoming president.... The incoming president, in other words, is actively soliciting business from agents of foreign governments. Many of these agents, in turn, said that they will accept the president-elect's offer to do business because they want to win favor with the new leader of the United States.... Richard Painter..., who previously served as chief ethics counsel to President George W. Bush, says that Trump's efforts to do business with these diplomats is at odds with a provision of the Constitution [-- the 'Emoluments Clause' --] intended to prevent foreign states from effectively buying influence with federal officials.... On Twitter, Harvard law professor Laurence Tribe agrees with Painter...."

     ... CW: If "Emoluments Clause" doesn't slide right off your tongue now, you will soon know it better than Tenthers know the Tenth Amendment. ...

... Judd Legum of Think Progress: "Donald Trump is leveraging his new position as president-elect to empower his business empire  --  and he's doing it publicly.... In his first meeting with a head of state, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Trump invited his daughter Ivanka --  who will likely serve as acting CEO of his companies  -- to participate.... His team handed out a photo featuring Ivanka.... Trump is choosing to send a clear signal to Japan and the world .... Any country doing business with the Trump organization will be very clear about Ivanka's role.... The Trump transition did something similar when it leaked word that Trump had requested security clearances for Ivanka, Eric and Donald Jr.... Trump later denied this report but at that point, it hardly mattered. The story was another way for the Trump transition to credential his children as integral to, not separate from, the Trump administration." ...

     ... CW: The question now is how much of this House Republicans will put up with. Since they'd rather have mike pence as president, maybe not too much. Trump's mistake in choosing pence as a running mate over, say, Chris Christie or Ben Carson, is that pence is far more palatable to the GOP than is Trump. Before the election, House members were planning an impeachment of Hillary Clinton; it's not crazy to think they might get their grandstanding impeachment hearings even without her as foil.

Daniel Golden of ProPublica, in a story co-published in the Guardian: Jared Kuschner got into Harvard because his parents "had pledged $2.5 million to Harvard University in 1998, not long before his son Jared was admitted.... Administrators at Jared's high school ... described him as a less than stellar student and expressed dismay at Harvard's decision. 'There was no way anybody in the administrative office of the school thought he would on the merits get into Harvard,' a former official at The Frisch School in Paramus, New Jersey, told me. 'His GPA did not warrant it, his SAT scores did not warrant it.... Then, lo and behold, Jared was accepted. It was a little bit disappointing because there were at the time other kids we thought should really get in on the merits, and they did not.'" CW: I guess that helps explain the question I asked yesterday about why so many prominent confederates have Harvard degrees. They bought 'em.

Michael Crowley of Politico: "Republican Sen. John McCain issued a fiery warning to ... Donald Trump on the subject of torture Saturday. 'I don't give a damn what the president of the United States wants to do. We will not waterboard,' McCain told an audience at the annual Halifax International Security Forum. 'We will not torture people ... It doesn't work.'... Anyone who tries to resume torture, McCain added to applause from the crowd of American, Canadian and European security officials and experts, would find themselves in court 'in a New York minute.'... Trump has repeatedly said that he would use much harsher measures against suspected terrorists.... On Saturday, McCain reminded the audience that torture remains illegal under the Geneva Conventions and was also banned by Congress last year. That law, signed by President Barack Obama, restricts interrogation techniques to those outlined by the U.S. Army Field Manual -- which does not permit waterboarding." -- CW

Expanding the Forever War. Michael Hirsh in Politico Magazine: President "Obama repeatedly sought to remind Americans that it was precisely the idea of a 'clash of civilizations' that Islamists embraced -- because it frames the conflict as one against all of Islam and its culture, not just the jihadists. But ... Trump appears open to the clash-of-civilizations idea — one that fits neatly with his view of an America that rejects 'globalism,' tightens up its borders against immigrants, and bans most new Muslims from coming in until they can be 'vetted.' 'I think Islam hates us,' Trump told CNN's Anderson Cooper last March. While he said he was speaking of radical Islam, he added: 'It's very hard to define. It's very hard to separate. Because you don't know who's who.' For the Trump team, who did not respond to a request for comment, Muslims appear to be guilty of radical sympathies until proven innocent. That approach, some scholars say, will be a terrible mistake, 15 years into what is already seen by some as a 'Forever War.'" -- CW

Welcome to the U.S. Now Get Out! Mallory Shelbourne of the Hill: "A federal judge this week said at a U.S. citizenship ceremony that anyone unhappy with ... Donald Trump should go to a different country. 'I can assure you that whether you voted for him or you did not vote for him, if you are a citizen of the United States, he is your president,' Judge John Primomo said Thursday, according to KHOU 11 News. 'He will be your president and if you do not like that, you need to go to another country.' At the ceremony in San Antonio, the judge condemned Americans who have protested by holding signs that read 'Not my president' in the days since Trump won the election." -- CW

Alan Rappeport & Noah Weiland of the New York Times: "... on Saturday, in the wake of Donald J. Trump's surprising election victory, hundreds of his extremist supporters converged on [Washington, D.C.,] to herald a moment of political ascendance that many had thought to be far away.... Members of the so-called alt-right movement gathered for what they had supposed would be an autopsy to plot their grim future under a Clinton administration. Instead, they celebrated the unexpected march of their white nationalist ideas toward the mainstream, portraying Mr. Trump's win as validation that the tide had turned in their fight to preserve white culture. 'It's been an awakening,' Richard B. Spencer, who is credited with coining the term alt-right, said at the gathering on Saturday. 'This is what a successful movement looks like.'" -- CW ...

... CW: If you'd like to know what Spencer's views are, read it and get sick. (And this, I suspect, is the sanitized version.) Anyway ... Thanks, Drumpf!

Erin Keane of Salon: "In the cold, bitter light of November 2016, truthiness sounds positively quaint. We're in the 'post-truth' era now, baby. The word of this year gained popularity in the aftermath of the Brexit vote and took on a life of its own and three more heads, it seems, as Donald Trump's campaign for president with its wild claims to 'Make America Great Again' proved unstoppable. Now it's the Oxford Dictionaries' word of the year for 2016." -- CW ...

... CW: The whole idea of deconstruction was to assume that text was so "unstable" that it could be analyzed down to the point that it meant sometime very different from, or even opposite of, what the writer thought she wrote (and what a "traditional" reader-critic would glean), and reader-response adherents deem the writer and her words meaningless until readers (whatever their views) interpreted them. It is a way of giving the literary critic power over the artist. It is probably coincidental that Republicans adopted anti-truth and no-truth at the same time literary critics did, but Trump is the avatar of the conservo-nihilism & fake-news phenomena, not an aberration, as the "sensible" Bush branch of the GOP likes to pretend.

I watched parts of ... Saturday Night Live last night. It is a totally one-sided, biased show - nothing funny at all. Equal time for us? — Donald J. Trump, arts critic November 20 ...

CW: After reading some of that raft of media stories about how we all have to start appreciating the trials, tribulations and grievances of an America time forgot -- trials, etc. that are so horrendous they made lovely rural people vote for perhaps the worst presidential nominee in American history -- maybe you're feeling a little guilty about not really giving a fuck about the hard life of a guy who's still wearing his "Trump that Bitch" T-shirt to the tractor pull. To help you get over the guilt thing, I suggest you watch Tess Rafferty's monologue, embedded in yesterday's Commentariat.

Alan Yuhas of the Guardian: "Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced new steps to counter fake news on the platform on Saturday, marking a departure from his skepticism that online misinformation is, as Barack Obama said this week, a threat to democratic institutions. 'We take misinformation seriously,' Zuckerberg wrote in a post on Saturday.... Zuckerberg said that the company has 'relied on our community to help us understand what is fake and what is not', citing a tool to report false links and shared material from fact-checking sites. 'Similar to clickbait, spam and scams, we penalize [misinformation] in News Feed so it's much less likely to spread,' he wrote.... Facebook has 'reached out' to 'respected fact-checking organizations' for third-party verification, Zuckerberg said, though he did not provide specifics." -- CW

Friday
Nov182016

The Commentariat -- Nov. 19, 2016

Afternoon Update:

Julie Pace & Jonathan Lamire of the AP: "... Donald Trump is filling his Twitter feed like the campaigner of old even while racing to fill senior positions in his administration. Trump was meeting Saturday with one of his sharpest Republican critics of the campaign, 2012 presidential candidate Mitt Romney, at Trump's golf club in New Jersey, and on Sunday with two leading supporters, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani. During the campaign, Romney called Trump a 'con man' and a 'fraud,' while Trump repeatedly called Romney a 'loser.' But first came a tweetstorm.... [Trump] rushed to the defense of Mike Pence on Saturday after 'Hamilton' actor Brandon Victor Dixon challenged the incoming vice president from the Broadway stage.... [See story below.] Trump also bragged on Twitter about agreeing to settle a trio of lawsuits against Trump University, claiming: 'The ONLY bad thing about winning the presidency is that I did not have the time to go through a long but winning trial on Trump U. Too bad!'" -- CW ...

     ... Update. Michael Schmidt & Julie Davis of the New York Times: "Mr. Trump met with Mr. Romney for about an hour and a half. Afterward, both men exited the clubhouse and shook hands for the cameras. 'Went great,' Mr. Trump said, cupping his hands at his mouth to project his voice. Mr. Romney then briefly addressed reporters, declining to say whether he was interested in a cabinet position. 'We had a far-reaching conversation with regard to the various theaters of the world with interest to the United States of real significance,' Mr. Romney said.... Mr. Romney did not answer reporters' questions about whether he had apologized to Mr. Trump for his criticism of him during the campaign." -- CW

Ellen Nakashima of the Washington Post: "The heads of the Pentagon and the nation's intelligence community have recommended to President Obama that the director of the National Security Agency, Adm. Michael S. Rogers, be removed. The recommendation, delivered to the White House last month, was made by Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter and Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr.... Action has been delayed, some administration officials said, because relieving Rogers of his duties is tied to another controversial recommendation: to create separate chains of command at the NSA and the military's cyberwarfare unit, a recommendation by Clapper and Carter that has been stalled because of other issues." -- CW

*****

Melissa Eddy & Gardiner Harris of the New York Times: "President Obama and several European leaders 'unanimously agreed' on Friday to keep sanctions in place against Russia for its intervention in Ukraine, amid concern that ... Donald J. Trump would soften the United States' stance against Moscow. The show of solidarity came as American allies -- and Ukrainians themselves — have been unsettled by uncertainty regarding what kind of foreign policy Mr. Trump will pursue. With surging populist movements straining alliances and Mr. Trump's election upending the political calculations of many countries, Ukraine may be among the most vulnerable to the shifting political winds. Fighting in Ukraine has continued since Moscow stealthily fomented an uprising among ethnic Russians in eastern Ukraine with the help of undercover Russian forces, and then annexed Crimea in March 2014." -- CW

Oliver Milman of the Guardian: "Barack Obama's administration has ruled out drilling for oil and gas in the pristine Arctic Ocean, throwing up a last-ditch barrier to the pro-fossil fuels agenda of ... Donald Trump. The US Department of the Interior said that the 'fragile and unique' Arctic ecosystem would face 'significant risks' if drilling were allowed in the Chukchi or Beaufort Seas, which lie off Alaska. It added that the high costs of exploration, combined with a low oil price, would probably deter fossil fuel companies anyway....The move, announced as part of the federal government's land and ocean leasing program..., will run from 2017 to 2022...." -- CW

... CW: President Obama had a chance to learn a new word while he was in Greece: "kakistocracy." (See Jamelle Bouie's post, linked below.) If he's learned it, he isn't acknowledging it. BTW, I wonder what "the greatest orator" would say when standing in front of the Parthenon: maybe "What a yuuuge pile of rubble. Sad. I would tear this down & build a great Trump resort. I'll make Greece great again. Call Ivanka." ...

You have probably the greatest orator since William Jennings Bryan.... -- Steve Bannon, describing a man who cannot speak in complete sentences, and -- other than occasional double-entendre vulgarities -- does not use words or concepts unfamiliar to a fifth-grader

Forget Martin Luther King, Jr., forget John Kennedy, forget Mario Cuomo, forget Barack Obama. My concept of what is crazy is already changing in the Age of Trump. Clearly, Bannon is able to function in a highly-effective way, but he's still crazy. -- Constant Weader

Julie Davis of the New York Times: "... Donald J. Trump moved quickly on Friday to begin filling national security posts at the top echelons of his administration, announcing that he had tapped a group of hawks and conservative loyalists who reflect the hard-line views that defined his presidential campaign." -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Fanatics to Run National Security Ops. Washington Post Editors: "AMERICANS WHO hope that ... Donald Trump will not upend long-standing U.S. alliances or embrace counterterrorism policies that violate civil liberties and human rights have reason to be disturbed by his first national security appointments. The choices of retired Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn as national security adviser and Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.) as director of the CIA could presage a harsh and counterproductive U.S. approach to the Muslim world, a dangerous turn toward Russia and the reembrace of tactics for handling terrorism suspects that violate international law.... Mr. Flynn has attracted attention with his rhetorical assaults on Islam and Muslims.... Mr. Pompeo, who has an impressive academic, military and business record, is known as one of the more fanatical purveyors of conspiracy theories about the 2011 terrorist attacks in Benghazi, Libya, and Hillary Clinton's alleged responsibility." -- CW ...

... Trump Fulfilling Campaign Promise to Be Worst President in 150 Years. Matt Apuzzo & Mark Landler of the New York Times: "... Donald J. Trump's remarkable appointments on Friday served notice that he not only intends to reverse eight years of liberal domestic policies but also overturn decades of bipartisan consensus on the United States' proper role in world affairs. Mr. Trump moved unapologetically to realize his campaign's vision of a nation that relentlessly enforces immigration laws; views Muslims with deep suspicion; aggressively enforces drug laws; second-guesses post-World War II alliances; and sends suspected terrorists to Guantánamo Bay or C.I.A. prisons to be interrogated with methods that have been banned as torture.... The reaction from Democrats was immediate and angry. 'The president-elect has created a White House leadership that embodies the most divisive rhetoric of his campaign,' Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon said on Friday. 'To the extent that these become policies or legislative proposals, I commit to stopping them.'" -- CW

... David Smith, et al., of the Guardian: "Rights activists have condemned Donald Trump for three cabinet appointments they say could 'undo decades of progress' towards racial equality and effectively legitimise the use of torture.... The hawkish trio have made inflammatory statements about race relations, immigration, Islam and the use of torture, and signal a provocative shift of the national security apparatus to the right. For liberals they appeared to confirm some of their darkest fears about the incoming Trump administration." -- CW ...

"Team of Racists." Jonathan Chait: Trump's "early staffing choices are redefining the boundaries of acceptable racial discourse in Republican politics." But the ultra-racists on the Trump team & less-racist fiscal confederates are accommodating each other. Steve "Bannon is less obsessed with cutting the top tax rate, deregulating Wall Street, and reducing social spending than the traditional GOP is, but he does not oppose these policies, either. That generalized agreement, or lack of disagreement, is the reason it is possible for white-identity conservatives and libertarian conservatives to work together under unified Republican government. Paul Ryan may not like racism -- indeed, he conceded that Trump had made the 'textbook definition' of a racist comment -- but he is willing to work with racists to gut the welfare and regulatory states." -- CW

... Kakistocracy = "Government by the Worst Men." Jamelle Bouie: "Throughout his campaign, Donald Trump said he would hire 'the best people' to staff his administration.... If 'best people' means the hangers-on of the Trump campaign -- the white nationalists, petty authoritarians, and conspiracy-mongers -- then we're on target.... Thus far, to staff his administration, Trump has chosen a white nationalist provocateur; an anti-Muslim conspiracy-monger; and an apologist for a regressive, anti-black politics (and this is before we get to potential appointee Rudy Giuliani, who embodies many of Flynn's and Sessions' worst qualities). These are 'the worst people,' yes. But they also represent a coherent ideology and perspective: white nationalism. The thread that ties Bannon's alt-right advocacy to Flynn's clash-of-civilizations worldview to Sessions' skeptical eye toward civil rights enforcement is a belief in the political and cultural dominance of white Americans.... This is what Trump campaigned on.... And millions of Americans either wanted it or were willing to look past it." -- CW ...

... Adele Stan of the American Prospect: "A frightening array of Islamophobes, xenophobes, homophobes, racists, and misogynists is assembling around ... Trump, normalizing the language and actions of hatred." -- CW ...

... CW: It's worth noting that what this particular basket of deplorables will not do is directly impinge upon the rights of Trump's base voters. The rubes won't care about -- or will support -- the administration's abuse of Muslims, undocumented immigrants, blacks and other racial minorities. The only incursion into TrumpLand might be, say, Sessions' refusing to enforce gender-equality laws, but a lot of Trumpbots would be cool with that, too.

... Sari Horwitz & Ellen Nakashima: "The appointment of [Sen. Jeff] Sessions [Con.-Ala.] is expected to bring sweeping changes to the way the Justice Department operated under Loretta E. Lynch and her predecessor, Eric H. Holder Jr., who, when he was nominated to be the first black attorney general, pledged to make rebuilding the Civil Rights Division his top priority.... 'Given some of his past statements and his staunch opposition to immigration reform, I am very concerned about what he would do with the Civil Rights Division at the Department of Justice and I want to hear what he has to say,' [Sen. Chuck] Schumer [D-N.Y.] said.A former aide to Sessions said that, as attorney general, he will make national security and fighting terrorism a top priority." CW Translation: Muslim registry. sí; civil rights, adios. ...

... Jordain Carney of the Hill: "Senate Democrats are pledging to fight Sen. Jeff Sessions's nomination to be attorney general, arguing the pick feeds into larger concerns they have about the Trump administration. Democrats are raising questions about whether the Alabama Republican would be able to provide equal protection to all Americans, three decades after Sessions was blocked from a federal judgeship because of racism accusations that surfaced during his confirmation hearing. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) on Friday called for ... Donald Trump to rescind Sessions's nomination. 'If he refuses, then it will fall to the Senate to exercise fundamental moral leadership for our nation and all of its people,' she said." -- CW ...

... ** Ari Berman of the Nation: " Like the Confederate general he is named after, Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III has long been a leading voice for the Old South and the conservative white backlash vote Trump courted throughout his campaign. Sessions, as a US senator from Alabama, has been the fiercest opponent in the Senate of immigration reform, a centerpiece of Trump's agenda, and has a long history of opposition to civil rights, dating back to his days as a US Attorney in Alabama...." -- CW ...

... Ed Kilgore: "For manifold reasons of background and ideology (and maybe some score-settling for the scuttling of his nomination 30 years ago as a federal judge), Jeff Sessions as attorney general is a nightmare come to life for people who care about the enforcement of civil rights and voting rights.... There's one issue, however, where Sessions's evident lack of sympathy for minority Americans and his passion for the war on drugs comes together in an especially destructive way: criminal-justice reform.... With Jeff Sessions -- a man who in almost every respect is still living in the 1980s, if not some earlier decades of U.S. and Alabama history -- at the top of the law enforcement machinery of the federal government, criminal-justice reform in Washington (though perhaps not in the states) is probably dead for the foreseeable future." -- CW ...

... New York Times Editors: "Donald Trump ran a presidential campaign that stoked white racial resentment. His choice for attorney general -- which, like his other early choices, has been praised by white supremacists -- embodies that worldview. We expect today's senators, like their predecessors in 1986, to examine Mr. Sessions's views and record with bipartisan rigor. If they do, it is hard to imagine that they will endorse a man once rejected for a low-level judgeship to safeguard justice for all Americans as attorney general." -- CW ...

... Mark Mazzetti & Julie Davis of the New York Times: "... Donald J. Trump has selected Representative Mike Pompeo, a hawkish Republican from Kansas and a former Army officer, to lead the C.I.A., his transition team said Friday. Mr. Pompeo, who has served for three terms in Congress and is a member of the House Intelligence Committee, gained prominence for his role in the congressional investigation into the 2012 attack on the American diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya. He was a sharp critic of Hillary Clinton on the committee." -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Back to the Dark Ages. Jennifer Williams of Vox: "... Rep. Mike Pompeo ... [is] a hawkish lawmaker who favors brutally interrogating detainees and expanding the American prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.... Pompeo's hawkish stance toward Russia, on the other hand, could be a major source of tension between him and [Trump]..., who, along [with] Flynn, seeks to develop closer ties with Russia.... Given both Trump and Pompeo's statements about terrorism and Guantanamo..., it's entirely possible that the CIA under the Trump administration may pivot back toward a policy of detaining and potentially even torturing suspected terrorists once again. In other words, the CIA could be heading back toward a time that many Americans -- including some within the CIA itself -- believed to be some of the darkest days in CIA, and American, history." -- CW

... Fred Kaplan of Slate: "Retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn has been called 'the best intelligence officer of his generation' and an 'abusive,' 'erratic' 'right-wing nut.' There's truth to both sides of this story. In any case, he seems an unpromising choice for the next president's national security adviser.... Many outside critics have denounced Flynn's remarks on Islam as racist, but intelligence officers are at least as disturbed by his analytical shallowness.... Trump seriously needs a strategic educator -- he appears to know nothing about foreign policy, the military, or national security broadly speaking -- but Flynn's shortcomings are also severe, and his main qualification, as far as we've seen, is that he reinforces, and as a retired general legitimizes, Trump's prejudices about Muslims and his oversimplified view of the terrorist threat." -- CW ...

... New York Times Editors: "Of all the disturbing scenes in the presidential campaign, the Republican Convention speech by retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn stood out. During a fiery address in which he lamented the decline of American exceptionalism and lambasted the Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, General Flynn joined the crowd in chants of 'lock her up!' Smiling slyly, he shouted: 'Yeah, that's right, lock her up!' It was grotesque, but not entirely surprising for a military intelligence veteran who has earned a reputation for hotheadedness and poor judgment. Americans of all political backgrounds should be alarmed that General Flynn will be ... Donald Trump's national security adviser. It's likely, given his record, that he will encourage Mr. Trump's worst impulses, fuel suspicions of Muslims and bring to the job conflicts of interest from his international consulting work." -- CW ...

... "A Daily Stormer Dream Team." Laurel Raymond of Think Progress: "White nationalists  --  who have long admired Sen. Sessions for his hard-line immigration policies --  quickly voiced their approval [of his nomination]. Even before Sessions was officially named as Attorney General, the Daily Stormer, a white supremacist, neo-Nazi news site, reported happily that he was being promoted to a better role.... [Andrew] Anglin[, the Daily Stormer founder,] was even more jubilant following news of Sessions' selection as Attorney General and retired General Michael Flynn's appointment as National Security Advisor.... In an article titled 'It's like Christmas,' Anglin wrote 'honestly, I didn't even expect this to all come together so beautifully. It's like we're going to get absolutely everything we wanted.... Basically, we are looking at a Daily Stormer Dream Team in the Trump administration.'" -- CW ...

Andrew Restuccia & Isaac Arnsdorf of Politico: "At least three lobbyists have left ... Donald Trump's presidential transition operation after the team imposed a new ethics policy that would have required them to drop all their clients. CGCN's Michael Catanzaro, who was responsible for energy independence; Michael Torrey, who was running the handoff at the Department of Agriculture; and Michael McKenna of MWR Strategies, who was focused on the Energy Department, are no longer part of the transition.... Lobbyists who piled into the transition when it was being run by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie were caught off-guard Wednesday by a new ethics policy requiring them to terminate their clients." ...

     ... CW: So the "new rule," imposed by mike pence, was not about ethics (and who thought it was?) but about getting rid of the rest of Christie's team. BUT ...

... Catherine Ho of the Washington Post: "A Trump spokesman said earlier this week that ... Mike Pence and transition executive director Rick Dearborn were 'making good on ... Trump's promise that we;re not going to have any lobbyists involved with the transition efforts.' But some lobbyists remain involved in the transition operation and others are advising as informal consultants, two people with knowledge of transition planning said." -- CW

Rosalind Helderman of the Washington Post: "... Donald Trump, who has repeatedly bragged he never settles lawsuits despite a long history of doing so, is nearing a deal to end the fraud cases pending against his defunct real estate seminar program, Trump University, according to a person familiar with the negotiations. If finalized, the settlement would eliminate the possibility that Trump would be called to testify in court in the midst of his presidential transition. A deal would end three suits against him, including a California class action case that was scheduled to go to trial later this month, as well as a second suit in that state and one brought by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman." -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

     .... Update: Steve Eder of the New York Times: "Donald J. Trump has reversed course and agreed to pay $25 million to settle a series of lawsuits stemming from his defunct for-profit education venture, Trump University, finally putting to rest fraud allegations by former students, which have dogged him for years and hampered his presidential campaign. The settlement was announced by the New York attorney general on Friday, just 10 days before one of the cases, a federal class-action lawsuit in San Diego, was set to be heard by a jury. The deal, if approved, averts a potentially embarrassing and highly unusual predicament: a president-elect on trial, and possibly even taking the stand in his own defense, while scrambling to build his incoming administration. It was a remarkable concession from a real estate mogul who derides legal settlements and has mocked fellow businessmen who agree to them." -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Nick Tabor of New York: "In a way, Trump University is a simulacrum of Trump's presidential campaign. Both relied on direct appeals to the downtrodden, especially people without much education. In both settings, Trump claimed he was acting in the public interest. (Because, after all, he's a billionaire! What could he have wanted with their money, or with political office?) And both trafficked in suggestions that Trump was their personal ally against the economic forces that had beaten them down. His rhetoric, when the New York attorney general sued him, was especially telling: He claimed that [AG Eric] Schneiderman let 'Wall Street rape everybody.' It was as though he'd forgotten about those advertisements that touted Trump University's Manhattan address as a symbol of its prestige. 'Other people don't have anyone to call,' they said. 'But you've got Trump. You'll call 40 Wall Street and they'll walk you through.'" -- CW

U.S. to Become Trump Enterprises Subsidiary. Eric Lipton of the New York Times: "The potential for conflicts of interest between ... Donald J. Trump and his family's business ventures emerged again Thursday evening, when a photograph was distributed that showed his daughter Ivanka at a meeting between Mr. Trump and the prime minister of Japan. News reporters were not allowed to attend the session, Mr. Trump's first with a foreign head of state, and no summary was provided about what was discussed. A separate photograph was distributed -- press photographers were not allowed to cover the event -- showing that Jared Kushner, Ms. Trump's husband, was present for at least part of the gathering.... Ms. Trump will be among the members of the president-elect's family who will be placed in charge of Mr. Trump's business enterprises, which include an international chain of hotels.... She serves as vice president for development and acquisitions at the Trump Organization, and the company's website says one of her 'primary focuses has been to bring the Trump Hotel brand to global markets.'" -- CW ...

... Trevor Potter, a Republican, in the Washington Post, on "how President Trump could use the White House to enrich himself and his family.... Trump says he plans to continue to personally own the Trump Organization..., but three of his adult children will operate the firm while he's in office. This is a colossal mistake.... The Trump Organization already does business in corrupt one-party countries such as Azerbaijan, and his children have been traveling to the Middle East looking for deals. The press has devoted significant resources to reporting on the company's& ties to Russian oligarchs.... The founders ... were greatly concerned about foreign attempts to influence our government..., so they wrote into the Constitution the emoluments clause, which prohibits the president from receiving any personal financial benefit from a foreign government." -- CW ...

... CW: Potter cites several ways Trump could benefit financially from foreign entanglements, including ways that he does not initiate himself. Here's a minor example:

... Jonathan O'Connell & Mary Jordan of the Washington Post: "Back when many expected Trump to lose the election, speculation was rife that business would suffer at the hotels, condos and golf courses that bear his name. Now, those venues offer the prospect of something else: a chance to curry favor or access with the next president. Perhaps nowhere is that possibility more obvious than Trump's newly renovated hotel a few blocks from the White House, on Pennsylvania Avenue. Rooms sold out quickly for the inauguration, many for five-night minimums priced at five times the normal rate, according to the hotel's manager." -- CW ...

... Elise Viebeck of the Washington Post: "The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee's ... phones became jammed most of Friday after several Facebook posts calling for an investigation into ... Donald Trump's finances started to go viral. The messages urged readers to call the panel to 'support the call for a bipartisan review of Trump's financials and apparent conflicts of interest.'" -- CW

Eric Levitz of New York on "All the Terrifying Things That Donald Trump Did This Week." New York magazine will make this a weekly feature. CW: Unfortunately, the writers won't want for copy.

Brooke Seipel of the Hill: "... Mike Pence took a break from his work as head of Donald Trump's transition efforts to go see the hit Broadway musical 'Hamilton' Friday night in New York, but received some boos from the audience.... At the end of the show, one of the actors asked Pence not to leave the theater before he could read a statement from the cast. 'Vice President-elect Pence, we welcome you and we truly thank you for joining us at "Hamilton: An American Musical,'" Brandon Victor Dixon said. 'We are the diverse America who are alarmed and anxious that your new administration will not protect us, our planet, our children, our parents, or defend us and uphold our inalienable rights, sir. We hope this show has inspired you to uphold our American values and work on behalf of all of us.'" -- CW ...

     ... Update. Elliot Smilowitz of the Hill: "... Donald Trump on Saturday morning lamented that ... Mike Pence was 'harassed' by the cast of the Broadway hit 'Hamilton' a night earlier. 'Our wonderful future V.P. Mike Pence was harassed last night at the theater by the cast of Hamilton, cameras blazing. This should not happen!' Trump tweeted. 'The Theater must always be a safe and special place.The cast of Hamilton was very rude last night to a very good man, Mike Pence. Apologize!' he added moments later." CW: Boo-fucking-hoo. ...

     ... Update 2. Elliot Smilowitz: "An actor from ... 'Hamilton' is responding to ... Donald Trump's claim that the show's cast 'harassed' ... Mike Pence.... 'Conversation is not harassment sir,' accord Brandon Victor Dixon replied in a tweet. 'And I appreciate @mike_pence for stopping to listen.'" -- CW: Sorry, Mr. Dixon. In TrumpWorld, any implication that you disagree with Trump on any point is harassment. Right now, that premise is ridiculous. If Trump enforces his worldview, it won't be funny at all.

Richard Fausset of the New York Times: "For a brief moment, after a white supremacist carried out a massacre of black churchgoers in Charleston, S.C., it seemed as though the Confederate battle flag ... might soon be on its way out of the American political arena. But now that explosive and complicated vestige of the Old South is back, in a new -- and, to some Americans, newly disturbing -- context. During ... Donald J. Trump's campaign, followers drawn to his rallies occasionally displayed the flag and other Confederate iconography. Since the election, his supporters and others have displayed the flag as a kind of rejoinder to anti-Trump protesters in places such as Durango, Colo.; St. Petersburg, Fla.; Hampton, Va.; Fort Worth; and Traverse City, Mich.... these incidents, and hundreds of reports of insults and threats directed at minorities and others, are forcing Americans to confront vexing questions about the future of race relations under Mr. Trump and the extent to which his campaign has animated white resentment and even a budding white nationalism." -- CW

They Call Him "El Malo." Joshua Partlow & Nick Miroff of the Washington Post: "By winning the election, Trump may have inadvertently made his job even harder. His plans have become a selling point for the smugglers urging people to cross the border before a wall goes up, according to migrants and officials in the United States and Mexico.... So many families have arrived in recent weeks that U.S. authorities announced last weekend that they are sending 150 agents to shore up this portion of border in the Rio Grande Valley." -- CW


Kevin Robillard & Elana Schor of Politico: "Maryland Sen.-elect Chris Van Hollen will chair the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee for the next election cycle, putting the newly elected senator on the front lines of the Democratic Party's fight to keep hold of Senate seats in heavily Republican territory in 2018. Van Hollen ... is considered one of the Democratic party's top strategists." -- CW

Charlayne Hunter-Gault, in the New Yorker: "Last year, when I spoke at a National Press Foundation event honoring Gwen [Ifill], I recalled the words of Viola Davis when she became, just a few weeks earlier, the first black woman to be awarded an Emmy for best actress in a drama. She began by paraphrasing a quote from Harriet Tubman. 'In my mind I see a line,' Davis said. 'And, over that line, I see green fields and lovely flowers and beautiful white women with their arms stretched out to me over that line. But I can't seem to get there no how. I can't seem to get over that line.' She went on to say, 'The only thing that separates women of color from anyone is opportunity.' Gwen not only got over that line but added color to the outstretched arms waiting in the green fields of our profession, encouraging other women of color to follow in her footsteps. And sometimes, even when there is opportunity, those who seize it -- gratefully and productively -- still meet resistance." -- CW

     ... "Tess Rafferty is a TV writer, comic and author." Thanks to Lisa for the link.

Lena Sun of the Washington Post: "The Zika virus that has spread to more than 50 countries is no longer considered an international public health emergency, the World Health Organization declared Friday. But the change in designation does not represent a downgrading of Zika's importance, officials said." -- CW

Gubernatorial Election

Alan Blinder & Michael Wines of the New York Times: "Scrambling to save the incumbent governor [of North Carolina], Pat McCrory, Republicans said they were pursuing protests in about half of North Carolina's 100 counties, alleging that fraud and technical troubles had pushed the Democratic nominee, Attorney General Roy Cooper, to a statewide lead of more than 6,500 votes. But Republican-controlled county elections boards, including one here in vote-rich Durham County, turned back some of the challenges on Friday. The legal and political jockeying raised the specter of a recount, and it could ultimately climax in a political wild card: Mr. McCrory using a state law to contest the election in the state's Republican-dominated General Assembly." -- CW

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