The Wires

The Ledes

Sunday, August 20, 2017.

Washington Post: "Ten U.S. Navy sailors are missing and five have been injured after the USS John S. McCain destroyer collided with an oil tanker near Singapore early Monday morning. This is the second time in two months that a Navy destroyer based at the 7th Fleet’s home port of Yokosuka, Japan, has been involved in a collision. Seven sailors were killed when the USS Fitzgerald collided with a tanker south of Japan in June."

New York Times: "Jerry Lewis, the comedian and filmmaker who was adored by many, disdained by others, but unquestionably a defining figure of American entertainment in the 20th century, died on Sunday morning at his home in Las Vegas. He was 91."

New York Times: "... a team led by Paul G. Allen, the billionaire co-founder of Microsoft, announced that it had found unmistakable wreckage of the Indianapolis [-- a U.S. Navy cruiser sunk by the Japanese during World War II --] 18,000 feet deep in the Philippine Sea, rekindling memories of the Navy’s worst disaster at sea."

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/sports/mlb/miami-marlins/article104073926.html#storylink=cpy

Public Service Announcement

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

The only thing I’d be impartial about is what prison this guy goes to. -- Prospective Juror, Martin Shkreli trial ...

... Harper's republishes some of the jury selection proceedings in the Martin Shkreli case.

Vanity Fair: "... Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times chief book reviewer and Pulitzer Prize winner, who has been, by a wide margin, the most powerful book critic in the English-speaking world, is stepping down.... Kakutani said that she could neither confirm nor comment. But sources familiar with her decision, which comes a year after the Times restructured its books coverage, told me that last year’s election had triggered a desire to branch out and write more essays about culture and politics in Trump’s America."

... Washington Post: "... investigators believe they have discovered the 'smoking gun' that would support a decades-old theory that [Amelia] Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan, were captured by the Japanese: a newly unearthed photograph from the National Archives that purportedly shows Earhart and Noonan — and their plane — on an atoll in the Marshall Islands.... Gary Tarpinian,  executive producer of the History documentary, told the Today show that they believe the Koshu, the Japanese merchant ship in the photo, took Earhart to Saipan, where she died in Japanese custody."

Summer Beach Reading. James Hohmann of the Washington Post suggests Al Franken's Giant of the Senate. Hohmann's column hits some of the highlights. CW: Let us be thankful that Donald Trump is incapable of learning the lessons Franken learned from his team. If Trump were half as bright as Franken, he would be a succesful president & very effective dictator.

Politico: "MSNBC has parted ways with anchor Greta Van Susteren after just six months on air, as her show failed to live up to the network's ratings expectations. An MSNBC executive said the decision to remove the former Fox News host was purely for business reasons, based on ratings."

Click on the picture to see larger image.... AP: "... Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump were among the guests as Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin (mih-NOO’-shin’s) married a Scottish actress. Mnuchin exchanged vows Saturday night with Louise Linton at the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium in Washington. Mrs. Trump wore a pink blush dress."

New Yorker: "In a paper in the journal Nature, an international team of researchers announced that they have pushed back the date of the earliest human remains to three hundred thousand years ago. And the specimens in question were found not in East Africa, which has become synonymous with a sort of paleoanthropological Garden of Eden, but clear on the other side of the continent — and the Sahara — in Morocco."

Washington Post: "Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus took a final, bittersweet bow Sunday, staging its last three shows [in Uniondale, N.Y.,] after 146 years of entertaining American audiences with gravity-defying trapeze stunts, comically clumsy clowns and trained tigers."

Guardian: "Pippa Middleton [sister of Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge --] has married James Matthews in what has been called the society wedding of the year, in front of royalty, family and friends."

Constant Comments

Monday
Jan232017

The Commentariat -- January 24, 2017

Afternoon Update:

Madeline Conway of Politico: "White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer on Tuesday defended President Donald Trump for continuing to claim that millions of people voted illegally in the November election, despite numerous fact checks and other studies that have debunked the theory. 'The president does believe that, he has stated that before,' Spicer told reporters gathered for Tuesday's daily briefing in the White House. 'I think he's stated his concerns of voter fraud and people voting illegally during the campaign and he continues to maintain that belief based on studies and evidence people have presented to him.'... After referencing unnamed evidence on Tuesday, reporters pressed Spicer to specify on what studies Trump has based his belief of voter fraud. Spicer cited a Pew Research study, but its author, David Becker, has previously denied that the report backs up Trump's claim.... Lindsey Graham ... told CNN that the claim is the 'most inappropriate thing for the president to say without proof' and warned that Trump's actions are 'going to erode his ability to govern this country if he does not stop it.'" CW: Trump does not have an actual press secretary; instead he has a lie deflector. ...

I think there have been studies; there was one that came out of Pew in 2008 that showed 14 percent of people who have voted were not citizens. There are other studies that were presented to him. -- Sean Spicer, news briefing, Jan. 24, 2017

Spicer cited repeatedly debunked research to support Trump's claim that millions of people voted illegally during the 2016 presidential election. These studies do not support Trump's Four-Pinocchio claims of 'millions' of people voting illegally -- as we've covered here, here, here, here and here.... Despite Trump's repeated claims, his attorneys stated there was no evidence of voter fraud in the 2016 election. -- Michelle Lee of the Washington Post

Steven Mufson & Juliet Eilperin of the Washington Post: "President Trump signed executive orders Tuesday clearing the way for the controversial Dakota Access and Keystone XL oil pipelines to move forward. He also signed an executive order to expedite environmental reviews of other infrastructure projects, lamenting the existing 'incredibly cumbersome, long, horrible permitting process.' 'The regulatory process in this country has become a tangled up mess,' he said. It remained unclear how Trump's order would restart the pipeline projects or expedite environmental reviews. Many of those reviews are statutory and the legislation that created them cannot be swept aside by an executive order. The White House did not immediately release texts of the orders." CW: President Trump also refused to acknowledge he had not been anointed Holy American Emperor. ...

... David Badash of the New Civil Rights Movement: "The CEO of the company that owns the Dakota Access pipeline, Kelcy Warren of Energy Transfer Partners, has donated almost $7 million to GOP super PACS, including one that supported Trump, and to individual Republican candidates and the RNC, according to The Washington Post.... Trump had a financial interest in the Dakota Access pipeline, but he may have sold it off.... Trump misleadingly on Tuesday claimed the Keystone XL pipeline will produce 28,000 jobs. The pipelines will not, as many of their supporters claim, create 'thousands' of jobs -- those jobs are temporary. Keystone is expected to create just 40 or so permanent jobs.... Trump earlier Tuesday lied, claiming he had won environmental awards, which The Washington Post disputes." -- CW ...

I'm a very big person when it comes to the environment. I have received awards on the environment. -- President Trump, remarks during a meeting with business leaders, January 23

We know of one award by the Metropolitan Golf Association, given in 2007 to his golf course in Bedminster, N.J. The golf course was later cited for environmental violations. The White House pointed us to a self-published book by Trump's former environmental consultant. The only award mentioned in that book was from New Jersey Audubon -- but the group denied it ever gave an award to Trump, the Trump National club in Bedminster or any of its employees. Here is one award that we'll give to Trump. It's not related to the environment -- and he already has many of them -- but we present Trump with his first four-Pinocchio rating as president. -- Michelle Lee of the Washington Post

*****

Washington Post: "The announcement of 2,500 new settlement homes in the West Bank signals a new approach by Israel in response to the election of President Trump. The administration of former president Barack Obama opposed the expansion of settlements. This is a developing story. It will be updated." -- CW

Comey's Reward. Michael Schmidt & Adam Goldman of the New York Times: "The F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, told his top agents from around the country that he had been asked by President Trump to stay on the job running the federal government's top law enforcement agency, according to people familiar with the matter. A decision to retain Mr. Comey would spare the president another potentially bruising confirmation battle. It also would keep Mr. Comey at the center of the F.B.I.'s investigation into several Trump associates and their potential ties with the Russian government." -- CW

Nelson Scwartz & Alan Rappeport of the New York Times: "President Trump summoned the titans of American business to the White House on Monday for what was billed as a 'listening session,' but it was the new president who delivered the loudest message: Bring back domestic manufacturing jobs, or face punishing tariffs and other penalties. The contrast between Mr. Trump's talk and the actual behavior of corporate America, however, underscored the tectonic forces he was fighting in trying to put his blue-collar base back to work in a sector that has been shedding jobs for decades. Many of the chief executives Mr. Trump met with have slashed domestic employment in recent years. What is more, their companies have frequently shut factories in the United States even as they have opened new ones overseas. Mr. Trump said he would use tax policy, among other means, to deter companies from shifting work abroad. -- CW ...

... Andrew Sorkin of the New York Times: "As corporate executives around the globe try to understand the implications of the Trump administration on their businesses, they seem to be having an almost bipolar reaction: a euphoric sense that regulations and taxes could soon be lowered -- which would likely increase their profits and paychecks -- yet a simultaneous anxiety that they could become a target of one of the president's Twitter tirades, which could undo their businesses or possibly their careers." -- CW

Illegitimate Prez Again Claims Illegitimate Voters Did Him in. Michael Shear & Emmarie Heutteman of the New York Times: "President Trump used his first official meeting with congressional leaders on Monday to gripe about his loss of the popular vote, falsely telling the lawmakers that he would have won a majority if millions of illegal immigrants had not voted against him. The claim, which he has made before on Twitter, has been judged to be untrue by numerous fact-checkers. But the new president's willingness to bring it up at Monday's White House reception in the State Dining Room is an indication that he remains focused on his election.... Mr. Trump ... fell almost three million votes short of Hillary Clinton in the popular vote. That reality appears to have bothered the president since Election Day, prompting him to repeatedly complain that adversaries were trying to undermine his legitimacy.... Representative Steny Hoyer, Democrat of Maryland ... said on CNN that Mr. Trump also talked about the size of the crowd for his inauguration speech. 'It was a huge crowd, a magnificent crowd. I haven't seen such a crowd as big as this,' Mr. Hoyer told CNN, quoting Mr. Trump.... Referring to Democrats, [Trump] said, 'They said they'd never been over to the White House for anything like this before.'" CW: Right. Anything like the POTUS standing there & lying to their faces. And you can bet not one of them stood up to him and called out his lies. ...

... Abby Phillip & Mike DeBonis of the Washington Post: "... Trump spent about 10 minutes at the start of the bipartisan gathering rehashing the campaign. He also told them that between 3 million and 5 million illegal votes caused him to lose the popular vote.... The claim is not supported by any verifiable facts, and analyses of the election found virtually no confirmed cases of voter fraud, let alone millions." ...

     ... CW: Straight out of the Dictators' Handbook: Lie to people who know you're lying. Lies are a means of asserting one's dominance over the hearers, and -- especially if the hearers don't contradict the liar -- he wins (or WINS!, as Trump would write). The dictator beats down both the listeners, & his "alternative facts" undermine the objective truth. Politicians & journalists think Trump is just deranged; no, he's beating them in a game they don't know how to play.

Men in Suits. Screenshot of an AP video which accompanies Peter Baker's story.... Peter Baker: "President Trump formally abandoned the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Monday, pulling away from Asia and scrapping his predecessor's most significant trade deal on his first full weekday in office, administration officials said." [CW: While men in dark suits stood by. During the Obama years, I forgot what the Oval Office White Men's Club looked like.] "In other action on a busy opening day, Mr. Trump ordered a hiring freeze in the federal work force, exempting the military. And he reinstituted limits on nongovernmental organizations that operate overseas and receive American taxpayer money from performing abortions. Republican presidents typically impose those restrictions soon after taking office, and Democratic presidents typically lift them when they take over." (Also linked yesterday afternoon. Updated to add "White"! Thanks to Akhilleus for the correction.) ...

... Steve Benen: "In his first full weekday as president, Donald Trump kept quite busy, moving forward on a series of executive orders and actions -- an approach to governing Republicans seemed to find offensive when there was a Democrat in the White House. But one of the many policies Trump acted on today stood out as especially important.... Trump ... barred recipients of U.S. foreign aid from promoting abortion as a method of family planning.... One of the striking aspects of today's directive was the story the visuals told: in a scene reminiscent of the House Republicans' all-male panel on birth control in early 2012, the Republican president re-imposed the global gag rule today in the Oval Office while surrounded by a group of men." ...

     ... CW: Since the funding is especially important in developing countries, this is another good place to make sure we have that "White" in the Oval Office White Men's Club.

... Paul Waldman re: the executive order re: limits on nongovernmental organizations overseas: "It should be noted that in his press briefing today, White House spokesperson Sean Spicer lied about this action in the same way Republicans often do, characterizing it as being necessary to stop 'taxpayer funds that are being spent overseas to perform an action that is contrary to the values of this President.' But taxpayer funding of abortions is already illegal. The global gag rule denies assistance to any organization that even talks about abortion, as in, for example, referring sex trafficking victims to somewhere they can get an abortion after being raped. But hey, they're just showing how much they care about 'life.'" -- CW ...

... Jasmine Lee of the New York Times: "President Trump's cabinet is shaping up to have a smaller percentage of women and nonwhites than the first cabinets of Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and George Bush. If Mr. Trump's nominees are confirmed, women and nonwhites will hold five of 22 cabinet or cabinet-level positions. He has not yet named the nominee for one additional position. 'Donald Trump is rolling back the clock on diversity in the cabinet,' said Paul Light, a professor at New York University's Wagner Graduate School of Public Service." -- CW: To be fair, Trump couldn't find enough right-wing billionaires who were women & non-whites. ...

... Ylan Mui of the Washington Post: "President Trump's cancellation Monday of an agreement for a sweeping trade deal with Asia began recasting America's role in the global economy, leaving an opening for other countries to flex their muscles.... The action came as China and other emerging economies are seeking to increase their leverage in global affairs, seizing on America's turn inward. Mexico's President Enrique Peña Nieto [CW: or as Sean Spicer calls him, "Prime Minister Peña Nieto"] declared Monday that his country hopes to bolster trade with other nations and limit its reliance on the United States. Chinese state media derided Western democracy as having 'reached its limits'; President Xi Jinping had touted Beijing's commitment to globalization during his first appearance at the annual gathering of the world's economic elite last week in Davos, Switzerland.... Eswar Prasad, a professor of trade policy at Cornell University, [said,] 'This could have an adverse long-run impact on the ability of the U.S. to maintain its influence and leadership in world economic and political affairs.'" -- CW ...

... Juliet Eilperin of the Washington Post: "President Trump instituted an immediate hiring freeze Monday, signing a presidential memorandum that would affect a large swath of the executive branch but leave wide latitude for exemptions for those working in the military, national security and public safety. The move -- coming on the new president's first full working day in the White House -- represents the opening salvo in what could be the most concerted effort to overhaul the federal workforce in 35 years. Critiquing the Washington establishment was central to Trump's campaign, and he placed federal employees at the center of his effort to 'clean up the corruption and special interest collusion in Washington, D.C.'" ...

... Joe Davidson of the Washington Post: "'President Trump's action will disrupt government programs and services that benefit everyone and actually increase taxpayer costs by forcing agencies to hire more expensive contractors to do work that civilian government employees are already doing for far less,' said American Federation of Government Employees President J. David Cox Sr. 'This hiring freeze will mean longer lines at Social Security offices, fewer workplace safety inspections, less oversight of environmental polluters, and greater risk to our nation's food supply and clean water systems.'... In 1982, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) examined hiring freezes imposed by former presidents Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan and determined that was not an effective strategy. Hiring freezes have 'little effect on Federal employment levels,' the GAO said. The report said the freezes 'disrupted agency operations, and in some cases, increased costs to the Government.'" ...

      ... CW: Trump is a bully & a showman. He's not at all interested in what works; he's interested in showing off all the power he has in his tiny little fingers. 

The Party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears. It was their final, most essential command. -- George Orwell, 1984 ...

... Ashley Parker, et al., of the Washington Post: "Over the objections of his aides and advisers ... the new president issued a decree [on Saturday]: He wanted a fiery public response [to coverage of his inauguration & the Women's March], and he wanted it to come from his press secretary. Spicer's resulting statement -- delivered in an extended shout and brimming with falsehoods -- underscores the extent to which the turbulence and competing factions that were a hallmark of Trump's campaign have been transported to the White House.... Trump has been resentful, even furious, at what he views as the media's failure to reflect the magnitude of his achievements, and he feels demoralized that the public's perception of his presidency so far does not necessarily align with his own sense of accomplishment." -- CW ...

... Trump's Bullshit Secretary. Adam Raymond of New York: "White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer spent around 90 minutes Monday afternoon taking questions from reporters.... But it was the topic of crowd size at last Friday's inauguration that brought out the most animation in Spicer, who went on an extended and emotive explanation about how 'demoralizing' and 'frustrating' it is for Trump and his supporters to fend off constant criticism.... The discussion of inaugural crowds also involved Spicer reasserting his claims that Trump's was the most-watched inauguration of all time.... Asked if he always intends to tell the truth in the briefing room, Spicer said that he does.... But instead of walking ... back [Trump's claim the media's to blame for the rift with the intelligence community], Spicer deflected and began talking about agents 'hooting and hollering' during the president's visit to CIA headquarters to prove that he had support in the agency. Asked about a CBS report that said the cheering came from about 40 people who came with Trump and sat in the first three rows, Spicer said it wasn't true." --safari...

... Dana Milbank: "This is probably as close as we'll get to a mea culpa in Trump World. White House press secretary Sean Spicer came out for his first official briefing Monday afternoon resembling not at all the madman who unleashed his fury from the same podium Saturday evening. He smiled. He didn't shout. His suit fit. The lectern had been lowered so he could see over it. And he took questions -- not just from friendly outlets but from American Urban Radio (which has an African American audience) and Univision, the Hispanic network Donald Trump disparaged on the campaign.... A semi-contrite Spicer acknowledged Monday that, 'knowing what we know now,' he wouldn't have used bogus figures claiming Metro ridership in Washington was higher for Trump's inaugural than for Barack Obama's. He acknowledged that the crowd at Trump's inauguration was not a record.... The relatively sheepish and measured Spicer we saw Monday shows that, at least among some in the Trump White House, there is a latent capacity for shame." -- CW ...

     ... CW: Milbank writes that Spicer said the fake inauguration attendance he had touted last week "was referring to 'total audience,' including TV." Milbank doesn't call Spicer out on this, but Steve Gorman of Reuters reported yesterday that "Nearly 31 million viewers watched live U.S. television coverage of Donald Trump's presidential inauguration, far fewer than tuned in to Barack Obama's first swearing-in, but otherwise the biggest such audience since Ronald Reagan entered office, ratings firm Nielsen reported on Saturday." Although the numbers aren't in yet, Trump's inauguration likely had more livestream viewers than other president's inaugurals because of technological improvements & more access sources. Still, Spicer can't claim viewership that hasn't been tallied. ...

... Tom Phillips of the Guardian: "The United States will take steps to foil Chinese efforts to 'take over' the South China Sea, the White House has indicated, amid growing hints that Donald Trump's administration intends to challenge Beijing over the strategic waterway. Speaking at a press briefing on Monday White House press secretary Sean Spicer vowed the US would 'make sure that we protect our interests' in the resource-rich trade route, through which some $4.5tn (£3.4tn) in trade passes each year. His comments come less than a fortnight after Rex Tillerson, Trump's nominee for secretary of state, set the stage for a potentially explosive clash with Beijing by likening its artificial island building campaign in the South China Sea to 'Russia's taking of Crimea'.... Chinese media responded by warning that any attempt to prevent China accessing its interests in the region risked sparking a 'large-scale war'." -- CW

Jeff Pegues of CBS News: "U.S. government sources tell CBS News that there is a sense of unease in the intelligence community after President Trump's visit to CIA headquarters on Saturday. An official said the visit 'made relations with the intelligence community worse' and described the visit as 'uncomfortable.' Authorities are also pushing back against the perception that the CIA workforce was cheering for the president. They say the first three rows in front of the president were largely made up of supporters of Mr. Trump's campaign. An official with knowledge of the make-up of the crowd says that there were about 40 people who'd been invited by the Trump, Mike Pence and Rep. Mike Pompeo teams.... White House press secretary Sean Spicer on Monday denied that there were 'Trump or White House folks' in the first rows.... A source who is familiar with the planning of the president's CIA visit saw Spicer's briefing, however, and firmly denied Spicer's response was accurate.... Officials dismiss White House claims that there were people waiting to get into the event." --safari ...

... Henry Farrell of the Washington Post: "This isn't the first time that Trump has engineered applause. When he first announced his candidacy, he got wild cheers -- from actors who had been paid to applaud him (Trump then stiffed the company that hired them for four months). When he gave his first news conference as president, he filled the back of the room with aides to cheer for him, and jeer at the journalists he was attacking.... There's a specialist term for rent-a-clappers. Trump is actually reviving a very old tradition -- the tradition of the claque. A claque is a group of people whose job is to generate applause.... Nearly all of us look to those around us before we decide to publicly express our feelings of approval or disapproval. This, in turn, means that applause, standing ovations and the like can be produced through clever social engineering." -- CW ...

... digby: "... Trump does this because he is phony and a con man and he seeks to give the impression that he's much more popular and successful than he is so he can gull his marks. That is what he cares about more than anything on earth." -- CW ...

... Steve M. "I also think Trump just wants to maintain a bubble in which the news is all good for him. Maybe the cheering section at CIA headquarters was meant to manufacture consent, but it also seems possible that it was meant to reassure Trump that, yes, he is loved. Maybe the lies about crowd size were directed less at us than at him.... At all times he apparently needs to be in a gated information enclave in which the political issue he cares most about -- the excellence of Donald Trump -- is discussed only in the most favorable terms." --safari

... Steve M. "During the last presidency, right-wingers became obsessed with how often Barack Obama used first-person pronouns in his speeches and remarks.... Well, no speechwriter seems to have worked on Trump's rambling remarks yesterday at CIA headquarters. He was winging it. And the numbers are in. Trump used the word 'I' 101 times. He used the word 'my' seven times and 'me' seven times. Trump didn't use the word 'America' even once." --safari ...

... ** Juan Cole: "[Donald Trump's] visit to the Central Intelligence Agency headquarters at Langley, Va., was probably intended by his handlers to begin the work of repairing that relationship. From all accounts it did not. The most alarming thing Trump said, however, regarded Iraq.... The United Nations Charter and other treaty instruments that are part of US law actually abolished the principle of 'to the victors go the spoils.'... Given that the US has 6000 troops in Iraq ... this kind of talk puts them in danger from Iraqi nationalists who may begin seeing them not as allies against ISIL but as stalking horses for a sinister imperialism. Trump just painted a big red target on the backs of our troops.... This isn't speculation: the great Borzou Daragahi reports that the Iraqis are indeed 'pissed' and ready to fight for their oil." --safari

We Can't Get Our Bullshit Straight.Politico: "President Donald Trump will release his tax returns after the IRS completes its audit of him, White House counselor Kellyanne Conway tweeted Monday in an apparent clarification from her earlier statement. 'On taxes, answers (& repeated questions) are same from campaign: POTUS is under audit and will not release until that is completed,' Conway tweeted. Her tweet stands in contrast to what she said Sunday on ABC's 'This Week,' when she said that Trump is 'not going to release his tax returns.'" --safari

... Kellyanne Kalories! Clint Rainey of New York: "... Villa Italian Kitchen, found mostly in food courts, has introduced #AlternativeFacts pizza. Sure, this new pie 'might sound too good to be true,' but the company insists it's zero calories despite being 'loaded' with bacon, pepperoni, ham, sausage, and mozzarella on very carb-heavy crust. Also, because size always matters in this universe, the servings are 'YUGE' -- six slices instead of the usual eight -- making for a 'positively presidential' pizza that Villa says is 'fit for even Kellyanne Conway!'" -- CW

Trump Dumps on TrumpTrolls -- and on All of Us. Tali Arbel of the AP: "... Donald Trump has picked a fierce critic of the Obama-era 'net neutrality' rules to be chief regulator of the nation's airwaves and internet connections. In a statement Monday, Ajit Pai said he was grateful to the president for choosing him as the next chairman of the Federal Communications Commission. Several reports last week had said he was the pick. Pai had been one of the two Republican commissioners on a five-member panel that regulates the country's communications infrastructure, including TV, phone and internet service." ...

     ... CW: That's right. As you read this entry, and for the millions of Trump Dummkopfs, His Ignorance (I doubt he has any concept of net neutrality, and if he does, it's the wrong one -- he should ask his son, who he says is a computer genius) is about to slow down your Netflix & all the "slow-lane" sites you access. If you thought you might be personally immune from direct hits by incoming Trumpsterbombs, Trump just threw Pai in your face. ...

... AND the TrumpTrolls Will Still Believe. Alan Levinovitz in Slate: "Trump's rise to power has followed a similar trajectory to that of quacks who peddle panaceas to the desperate -- a bizarre and heartbreaking world I've long studied. Just like them, Trump will fail to deliver. But his supporters will find a way to exonerate him.... When people make big bets on miracle cures that fail to work, they rarely turn against the treatments or their merchants. Instead, they rationalize their misplaced faith, in order to save face, remain hopeful, and preserve an identity that's defined by their courageous ability to reject the status quo." -- CW

Matt Flegenheimer of the New York Times: "President Trump's cabinet continued to take shape on Monday, as Representative Mike Pompeo of Kansas earned approval to lead the Central Intelligence Agency and Rex W. Tillerson, the secretary of state nominee, cleared a key Senate hurdle to all but assure his own confirmation. Despite some shaky appearances from his nominees on Capitol Hill and often blistering Democratic opposition, Mr. Trump has thus far faced few meaningful obstacles in installing the team of his choice -- aided by Senate Republicans who are eager to expedite the confirmation process.... As [Sen. Marco] Rubio explained his vote [for Tillerson] to reporters after the hearing, a heckler sidled up beside him with a teasing prop: a model of a spine." -- CW ...

... Elana Schor of Politico: "Rex Tillerson took a key step closer to becoming ... Donald Trump's secretary of state late Monday as the Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved his nomination on a 11-10 party line vote. A vote on Tillerson by the full Senate may not come this week, given that both parties are set to depart the Hill for policy retreats on Wednesday. But the former ExxonMobil CEO's path to confirmation was cleared in the 48 hours before the committee's vote, as three Senate GOP Russia hawks announced they would support him despite earlier qualms." --safari ...

     ... CW: Tillerson cleared the committee on a party-line vote, 11-10, according to Matt Flegenheimer's account. Thanks, Marco! ...

... Sean Sullivan of the Washington Post: "Sen. Marco Rubio will vote for President Trump's nominee for secretary of state, he announced Monday, resolving the final major question surrounding Rex Tillerson's bid to be confirmed as the nation's top diplomat. While Tillerson's confirmation was effectively sealed on Sunday, Rubio's decision provides a further boost to the former ExxonMobil chief executive. The Florida Republican had expressed serious doubts about Tillerson, particularly when it comes to Russia, and waited until the last possible day to announce his vote." CW: Rubio is no Hamlet of the Okeechobee. "To cave or not to cave" is never the question; rather, the question is "Is it nobler to capitulate today or on the morrow and thereby find myself regaled upon the front page of the Post? Be all my equivocations remembered." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Ed Kilgore of New York: "In another straw-in-the-wind about the ideological and rhetoric leanings of the Trump White House, it appears chief strategist Stephen Bannon is hiring one of his more ferocious protégés at Breitbart News, the site's immigration reporter Julia Hahn. Hahn is an interesting example of the kind of people whose careers have prospered by association with the more radical strain of populist conservatism Trump represents.... Hahn [wrote] a piece ... [accusing Paul Ryan of concocting] ... a sinister plot to let in more Muslim refugees and expose an unsuspecting country to Sharia law and suggesting that Ryan was opening the floodgates to the wholesale conquest of America by Sharia law and female genital mutilation.... So you have to wonder what kind of message Hahn's hiring might send with respect to the rather delicate and extremely important relationship between the 45th president of the United States and the Speaker of the House." --safari

Brady Dennis of the Washington Post: "With little warning or explanation, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently canceled a major climate change conference that had been scheduled for next month in Atlanta.... American Public Health Association ... executive director, Georges Benjamin -- who was scheduled to be a keynote speaker at the CDC summit next month -- said agency officials decided to preemptively call off the event, rather than risk running afoul of an incoming president who has repeatedly called climate change a 'hoax' and has nominated climate change skeptics to his Cabinet.... Another scheduled speaker, Edward Maibach, director of the Center for Climate Change Communication at George Mason University, argued that the summit should have gone forward.... He said he fears the move will set a precedent of government officials self-silencing, in part over fears of reprisal or loss of funding, rather than standing behind the established science around climate change." ...

     ... CW: I'm with Maibach. This is a crucial time for people to stand up for what they believe in, just as millions of extraordinary people did this weekend. Going along to get along is the best way to abet a functional dictatorship.

Faux Populist. Mattahias Schwartz of The Intercept: "Donald Trump's team billed the Liberty and Freedom inaugural balls as populist celebrations, open to the general public for as little as $50 a ticket. The balls were supposed to be 'the most affordable in recent history, ensuring that they are accessible to the American people,' according to a January 17 release from the President's Inaugural Committee. But internal documents obtained by The Intercept show that the Liberty Ball was a more exclusive affair for high-dollar donors. Smaller donors were diverted to the much larger Freedom Ball.... In late December, following a 'behind the scenes tour' of the inaugural committee, the pro-Trump Breitbart website wrote that Trump's inauguration would be focused on 'regular working class people across the country.' The Washington Post also suggested that the balls would be low-cost populist events." --safari

Adios, Amigos. Ed O'Keefe of the Washington Post: "Americans looking for information about the Trump administration or White House history in Spanish are coming up empty-handed. For now, at least, it no longer exists. Just after noon on Friday, WhiteHouse.gov/espanol went dark, with an error message explaining that 'the page you're looking for can't be found.'" -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Oh, and here is how some of the late-nite comics reviewed the inauguration. (Also linked yesterday.)

Ed O'Keefe & Steven Mufson of the Washington Post: "A group of senior Senate Democrats on Tuesday plan to unveil their own $1 trillion plan to revamp the nation's airports, bridges, roads and seaports, urging President Trump to back their proposal, which they say would create 15 million jobs over 10 years. The Democrats said their infrastructure plan would rely on direct federal spending and would span a range of projects including not only roads and bridges, but also the nation's broadband network, hospitals run by the Department of Veterans Affairs and schools. Eager to drive a wedge between the new president and congressional Republicans, Democrats consider talk of infrastructure projects as a way to piggyback on Trump's frequent vows to repair the nation's crumbling roads and bridges and persuade him to adopt ideas that would put him at odds with GOP leaders, who have done little to embrace what would amount to a major new government spending program." CW: Really? Trump has a tax-credit scheme that looks nothing like the Democrats' proposals; it's a get-richer boondoggle for Trump's friends.

Spencer Woodman of The Intercept: "Over the weekend, millions of demonstrators took to streets across the country to mobilize against the new president and his agenda, assembling in a national turnout that organizers call the beginning of a reinvigorated protest movement. But in states home to dozens of Saturday's demonstrations, Republican lawmakers are moving to criminalize and increase penalties on peaceful protesting. Last week, I reported that such efforts were afoot in five states: In Minnesota, Washington state, Michigan [North Dakota, Indiana], and Iowa. Over the weekend, readers alerted me to two additional anti-protesting bills, both introduced by Republicans, that are pending in Virginia and Colorado. This brings the number of states that have in recent weeks floated such proposals to at least eight." --safari ...

The organizers of the Women's March have their act together as their website now has an emphasis of, 'Ten Actions, 100 Days' ~ check it out: https://www.womensmarch.com -- Mushiba, in today's Comments

... The Future of the Left is Female. Rebecca Traister of New York: "A lot of people predicted that women were going to change America's political history in January of 2017. But pretty much no one anticipated that they'd be doing it as leaders of the resistance. On Saturday, millions of women and men organized largely by young women of color -- staged the largest one-day demonstration in political history, a show of international solidarity that let the world know that women will be heading up the opposition to Donald Trump and the white patriarchal order he represents.... This mass turnout in support of liberty, sorority, and equality was conceived by women, led by women, and staged in the name of women. It also drew millions of men. It was a forceful pushback to the notion that because a woman just lost the American presidency, women should not be leading the politics of the left. Women, everyone saw on Saturday, are already leading the left, reframing what has historically been understood as the women's movement as the face and body and energy of what is now the Resistance." Read on. --safari...

... Gene Robinson: "The new president often boasts of having started a great movement. Let it be the one that was born with Saturday's massive protests. If size is important, and apparently to Trump it is, there was no contest. The Metro transit system recorded 1,001,613 trips on the day of the protest, the second-heaviest ridership in history -- surpassed only by ridership for President Barack Obama's inauguration in 2009. By contrast, just 570,557 trips were taken Friday, when Trump took the oath of office.... A president obsessed with winning began his term by losing." -- CW ...

... Going Down in History. Lisa Ryan of New York: "The various Women's March events across the world produced some epic protest signs -- from witty quips about small hands to more serious placards about women's reproductive rights.... What will happen to these important works of protest art? Luckily, several museums across the world -- from Washington, D.C., to Canada -- as well as a number of libraries and digital publications have taken to Twitter to reveal that they have been collecting signs locally.... No word yet as to whether these signs will be used for future exhibits or merely for archive purposes, but at least they're being preserved." --safari

David Himmelstein & Steffie Woolhandler in the Washington Post: "Now that President Trump is in the Oval Office, thousands of American lives that were previously protected by provisions of the Affordable Care Act are in danger. For more than 30 years, we have studied how death rates are affected by changes in health-care coverage, and we're convinced that an ACA repeal could cause tens of thousands of deaths annually.... The biggest and most definitive study of what happens to death rates when Medicaid coverage is expanded, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, found that for every 455 people who gained coverage across several states, one life was saved per year. Applying that figure to even a conservative estimate of 20 million losing coverage in the event of an ACA repeal yields an estimate of 43,956 deaths annually.... The Washington Post's Glenn Kessler awarded Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) four Pinocchios for claiming that 36,000 people a year will die if the ACA is repealed...." -- CW ...

     ... CW: I wrote to Kessler & suggested he fix his Pinocchio machine. Let's see if he does. The only "falsehood" Bernie told was to possibly underestimate the "American carnage."

Adam Liptak of the New York Times: "The Supreme Court rejected on Monday an appeal from Texas officials seeking to restore the state's strict voter ID law. As is the court's custom, its brief order in the case, Abbott v. Veasey, No. 16-393, gave no reasons for turning down the appeal. But Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. issued an unusual statement explaining that the Supreme Court remains free to consider the case after further proceedings in the lower courts." -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Way Beyond the Beltway

Josephine Huetlin & Christopher Dickey of The Daily Beast: "Last year, they were still dining together in secret. But on Saturday, one day after the world watched Donald Trump getting sworn in as president of the United States..., Europe's emboldened far-right populists took to the stage together [in Koblenz, Germany,] for the first time in order to declare that they, too, will soon be elected the leaders of their countries. They spoke of the possibility, the likelihood, the inevitability of their elections as if it were, at this point, a mere matter fate." --safari

Sunday
Jan222017

The Commentariat -- January 23, 2017

Afternoon Update:

Men in Suits. Screenshot of an AP video which accompanies Peter Baker's story.... Peter Baker: "President Trump formally abandoned the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Monday, pulling away from Asia and scrapping his predecessor's most significant trade deal on his first full weekday in office, administration officials said." [CW: While men in dark suits stood by. During the Obama years, I forgot what the Oval Office Men's Club looked like.] "In other action on a busy opening day, Mr. Trump ordered a hiring freeze in the federal work force, exempting the military. And he reinstituted limits on nongovernmental organizations that operate overseas and receive American taxpayer money from performing abortions. Republican presidents typically impose those restrictions soon after taking office, and Democratic presidents typically lift them when they take over."

Sean Sullivan of the Washington Post: "Sen. Marco Rubio will vote for President Trump's nominee for secretary of state, he announced Monday, resolving the final major question surrounding Rex Tillerson's bid to be confirmed as the nation's top diplomat. While Tillerson's confirmation was effectively sealed on Sunday, Rubio's decision provides a further boost to the former ExxonMobil chief executive. The Florida Republican had expressed serious doubts about Tillerson, particularly when it comes to Russia, and waited until the last possible day to announce his vote." CW: Rubio is no Hamlet of the Okeechobee. "To cave or not to cave" is never the question; rather, the question is "Is it nobler to capitulate today or on the morrow and thereby find myself regaled upon the front page of the Post? Be all my equivocations remembered."

Adam Liptak of the New York Times: "The Supreme Court rejected on Monday an appeal from Texas officials seeking to restore the state's strict voter ID law. As is the court's custom, its brief order in the case, Abbott v. Veasey, No. 16-393, gave no reasons for turning down the appeal. But Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. issued an unusual statement explaining that the Supreme Court remains free to consider the case after further proceedings in the lower courts." -- CW

Adios, Amigos. Ed O'Keefe of the Washington Post: "Americans looking for information about the Trump administration or White House history in Spanish are coming up empty-handed. For now, at least, it no longer exists. Just after noon on Friday, WhiteHouse.gov/espanol went dark, with an error message explaining that 'the page you're looking for can't be found.'" -- CW

Oh, and here is how some of the late-nite comics reviewed the inauguration.

*****

Tim Wallace & Alicia Parlapiano of the New York Times: "The women's march in Washington was roughly three times the size of the audience at President Trump's inauguration, crowd counting experts said Saturday. Marcel Altenburg and Keith Still, crowd scientists at Manchester Metropolitan University in Britain, analyzed photographs and video taken of the National Mall and vicinity and estimated that there were about 160,000 people in those areas in the hour leading up to Mr. Trump's speech Friday." CW: And of course that doesn't count the millions of women & men who marched elsewhere in the U.S. and in every continent on Earth. I didn't see anybody in Antarctica marching for Trump. ...

... Cyra Master of the Hill: "Hillary Clinton tweeted Sunday night that she was 'scrolling through images of the #womensmarch,' which she called 'awe-inspiring.'... Clinton's account posted several messages about the march on Saturday...." -- CW ...

... Jennifer Calfas of the Hill: "Joshua Kushner, the brother of the newly sworn-in senior adviser to President Trump Jared Kushner, was spotted at the women's march talking with several participants. The Washingtonian reported he said he was 'observing' the march ahead of his brother's swearing-in ceremony.... The crowd reportedly cheered when participants discovered he was Ivanka Trump's brother-in-law.In an interview with Esquire published last August, Joshua Kushner said he was a 'lifelong Democrat' and would not be voting for Trump." -- CW ...

... Jennifer Calfas: "Some members of the Washington, D.C., Metropolitan Police Department donned the same hats as hundreds of thousands of protesters Saturday as they worked alongside the activists. The hats, which were made in a variety of ways with pink yarn, are beanies with two cat ears. Participants dubbed them 'pussyhats' in response to the 2005 'Access Hollywood' tape of President Trump that leaked during the campaign, featuring him saying he'd grabbed women 'by the pussy.'" -- CW

... E.J. Dionne: "Saturday's Women's March on Washington and its counterparts in cities and towns across the country drew millions who signaled plainly that they would not be cowed into silence or demobilized into a sullen indifference. If power shifted decisively Friday to Donald Trump and a Republican-controlled Congress, passion switched sides as well. As the marches showed, the political energy in the country is now arrayed against Trump and his agenda." -- CW


Jon Swaine
of the Guardian: "Donald Trump began his first full week as US president firmly on the defensive, after millions of Americans took to the streets to protest against his election and the White House came under fire for brazenly lying to the public. Rattled by the nation's biggest political demonstrations since the Vietnam war, Trump and his aides spent an extraordinary first weekend in office falsely claiming that record numbers of people had attended his swearing-in on Friday. Trump's press secretary, Sean Spicer, used his first White House briefing to shout at journalists about what he incorrectly termed 'deliberately false reporting' on Trump's inauguration, declaring: 'We're going to hold the press accountable.' 'This was the largest audience ever to witness an inauguration, period,' said Spicer, in one of several statements contradicted by photographs and transit data.... Kellyanne Conway, a senior White House aide, told NBC's Meet the Press on Sunday Spicer had merely been offering 'alternative facts', a phrase that was received with widespread astonishment." -- CW ...

... Peter Baker, et al., of the New York Times: "To the extent that there was a plan to take advantage of the first days of his administration, when a president is usually at his maximum leverage, Mr. Trump threw it aside with a decision to lash out about crowd sizes at his swearing in and to rewrite the history of his dealings with intelligence agencies. The lack of discipline troubled even senior members of Mr. Trump's circle, some of whom had urged him not to indulge his simmering resentment at what he saw as unfair news coverage. Instead, Mr. Trump chose to listen to other aides who shared his outrage and desire to punch back. By the end of the weekend, he and his team were scrambling to get back on script." -- CW ...

... Van Newkirk of the Atlantic: "On Inauguration Day, Trump did not take off the laurel wreath and transform into a governor, but rather extended his fiery campaign. The earliest hours of his presidency suggest that, dogged by unprecedented public disapproval, confronting questions of legitimacy, relying on a base fueled by partisan conflict, and facing extensive grassroots opposition, Trump's campaign will be indefinite." -- CW ...

... Paul Krugman: "Seriously, how do you think the man who compared the C.I.A. to Nazis will react when the Bureau of Labor Statistics first reports a significant uptick in unemployment or decline in manufacturing jobs? What's he going to do when the Centers for Disease Control and the Census Bureau report spiking numbers of uninsured Americans? You may have thought that last weekend's temper tantrum was bad. But there's much, much worse to come." -- CW ...

I've never lied, and I'd argue that anyone who is an aspiring communicator adhere to that, because if you lose the respect and trust of the press corps, you've got nothing. -- Sean Spicer, at the University of Chicago, two weeks ago

... Press Shocked & Surprised by Trump & Associates' Lies & Attacks. Sydney Ember & Michael Grynbaum of the New York Times: "The news media world found itself in a state of shock on Sunday, a day after Mr. Trump declared himself in 'a running war with the media' and the president's press secretary, Sean Spicer, used his first appearance on the White House podium to deliver a fiery jeremiad against the press. Worse, many journalists said, were the falsehoods that sprang from the lips of both Mr. Trump and Mr. Spicer on Saturday. Mr. Trump accused the news media of confecting a battle between himself and the intelligence services (in fact, he had previously compared the services to Nazi Germany in a Twitter post). And among other easily debunked assertions, Mr. Spicer falsely claimed that Mr. Trump's inauguration was the most attended in history (photographs indicated it was not). 'It was absolutely surprising and stunning,' the president of the White House Correspondents' Association, Jeff Mason, said on CNN on Sunday." CW: Yes, how could they have known? Were these "journalists" born yesterday? ...

     ... ** "The Ministry of Disinformation." Greg Sargent: "... these journalists are understating the problem.... All White Houses spin and try to pressure the media to reporting stories their preferred way. But this looks like something considerably more: A concerted effort to erode the core idea that the news media is legitimately playing its role in informing the citizenry. If the media challenges or factually debunks the fabricated, Trump-aggrandizing narrative that is coming out of the Trump White House, it will respond by simply repeating relentlessly that the fabricated story-line is the truth. Needless to say, there cannot be any shared agreement on facts or reality, except on the ones that the Trump White House has validated. This is why the most important thing about Spicer's statement is the word 'period.' When the Trump White House declares what the truth is, the discussion is over.... The message this is designed to send is that Trump has the power to declare what the truth is, and the news media does not." (Emphasis added.) -- CW

... Nicholas Fandos of the New York Times: "Kellyanne Conway ... said on NBC's 'Meet the Press' on Sunday that the White House had put forth 'alternative facts' to ones reported by the news media about the size of Mr. Trump's inauguration crowd. She made this assertion -- which quickly went viral on social media -- a day after Mr. Trump and Sean Spicer ... had accused the news media of reporting falsehoods about the inauguration and Mr. Trump's relationship with the intelligence agencies. In leveling this attack, the president and Mr. Spicer made a series of false statements. Here are the facts." -- CW ...

     ... Thanks to Patrick for the link. ...

... CW: Here's an actual fact, Kellyanne. Even though Friday is, you know, a weekday, fewer people took D.C. Metro trains on inauguration day (570,557) than take the Metro on an average weekday (630,000). Now that is remarkable. ...

... Politico: "Merriam-Webster poked at the Trump administration through its Twitter feed, appearing to take senior adviser Kellyanne Conway to task for saying that press secretary Sean Spicer was offering up 'alternative facts' about the crowd size at the inauguration. 'A fact is a piece of information presented as having objective reality,' the dictionary company said in a pinned tweet that linked to a Merriam-Webster posting about how lookups for the word 'fact' spiked after Conway's comment." -- CW ...

... Margaret Sullivan of the Washington Post: "Anyone ... who is surprised by false claims from the new inhabitant of the Oval Office hasn't been paying attention. That was reinforced when Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway told 'Meet the Press' Sunday that Spicer had been providing 'alternative facts' to what the media had reported, making it clear we've gone full Orwell. White House press briefings are 'access journalism,' in which official statements — achieved by closeness to the source -- are taken at face value and breathlessly reported as news. And that is over. Dead.... Trump wants a flat-out war with the nation's media for one well-calculated reason: Because he believes it will continue to serve his political purposes, as it has for months." -- CW ...

... Brian Beutler: "Reporters who don't accommodate Spicer's ridiculous deceit will thus be highly empowered. Trump's effort to insulate himself from accountability to his own supporters by discrediting the non-Pravda press is insanely reckless and demoralizing. It would be better if it weren't happening. But it doesn't mean the press will be neutralized as a shaper of public opinion. Instead, it's likely that Trump has made the wrong bet here. The failure of his presidency will stem from assuming that the media will make issue of his lies, but no one will believe us." CW: I hope Beutler is right, but I think he misunderestimates Trump's plan, which comes straight from The Official Dictators' Handbook.

   

... Glenn Kessler of the Washington Post: "This is an appalling performance by the new press secretary. He managed to make a series of false and misleading claims in service of a relatively minor issue. Presumably he was ordered to do this by Trump, who conjured up fantastic numbers in his own mind, but part of a flack's job is to tell the boss when lies are necessary -- and when they are not. Spicer earns Four Pinocchios, but seriously, we wish we could give five." -- CW ...

Dan Rather: "When you have a spokesperson for the president of the United States wrap up a lie in the Orwellian phrase 'alternative facts' ... When you have a press secretary in his first appearance before the White House reporters threaten, bully, lie, and then walk out of the briefing room without the cajones to answer a single question ... When you have a President stand before the stars of the fallen CIA agents and boast about the size of his crowds (lies) and how great his authoritarian inaugural speech was.... These are not normal times.... So here is what I think everyone in the press must do. If you are interviewing a Paul Ryan, a Mitch McConnell, or any other GOP elected official, the first question must be 'what will you do to combat the lying from the White House?' If they dodge and weave, keep with the follow ups. And if they refuse to give a satisfactory answer, end the interview." -- CW

Rebecca Savransky of the Hill: ".... Donald Trump is expected to sign an executive order Monday announcing his plan to withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal, according to multiple reports.... TPP was President Obama's signature trade deal and the one he had hoped to push through Congress before leaving office. Withdrawing from it would unravel years of work and inject fresh uncertainty into global relations." -- CW ...

... Kristen Walker of NBC News: "... Donald Trump is expected to sign an executive order as early as Monday stating his intention to renegotiate the free trade agreement between the United States, Canada and Mexico, a White House official told NBC News.Eliminating the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which was crafted by former President Bill Clinton and enacted in 1994, was a frequent Trump campaign promise.... U.S. manufacturing exports to Canada and Mexico, the United States' two largest export markets, increased 258 percent under the agreement, according to the website of outgoing U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman, and the deal helped create a trade surplus in agriculture and manufactured goods." ...

     ... CW: Not sure why Trump needs an executive order to order himself to do something. Maybe he thinks an executive order is more like a reminder note you put on the bathroom mirror. I guess he'll have his to-do note gold-framed. In any case, if you're a critic of NAFTA & the TPP, the good news is that they're gone. The bad news is that the U.S.'s position in international trade is being negotiated by billionaire baboons. This will not turn out well.

Trump's Man Comey Gets an Atta-Boy from the Boss. Matthew Nussbaum of Politico: "... Donald Trump on Sunday warmly greeted the man who some Democrats say handed him the presidency. At a White House reception for law enforcement, Trump spotted FBI Director James Comey and, stretching out his arms, called him over. Comey strolled across the room to greet Trump, who shook his hand and put an arm around him, slapping him on the back.... The Justice Department inspector general recently opened an investigation into Comey's handing of the [Clinton] email case." -- CW

Lisa Lerer, et al., of PBS: "... Donald Trump on Sunday offered a scattershot response to the sweeping post-inauguration protests against his new administration, sarcastically undermining the public opposition and then defending demonstrators' rights a short time later. 'Watched protests yesterday but was under the impression that we just had an election! Why didn't these people vote? Celebs hurt cause badly,' tweeted Trump, at 7:51 a.m. Ninety-five minutes later, he struck a more conciliatory tone. 'Peaceful protests are a hallmark of our democracy. Even if I don't always agree, I recognize the rights of people to express their views,' the president tweeted at 9:26 am." CW: No doubt some aide wrote the second tweet. Do we detect the soothing, whispery voice of Jared Kushner?

Martin Pengelly of the Guardian: "Donald Trump has stayed true to campaign-trail form, using his personal Twitter account rather than his newly acquired handle @POTUS on Sunday to praise his own performance in a meeting with intelligence officials and dismiss the worldwide protests against his presidency. A little after 7am ET, Trump tweeted, 'Had a great meeting at CIA Headquarters yesterday, packed house, paid great respect to Wall, long standing ovations, amazing people. WIN!'... His 15-minute speech included boasts about the supposed -- and inaccurate -- size of crowds for his inauguration; expressions of airily defined love and support for intelligence agencies with which he has been at odds over their belief in Russian attempts to influence the election on his behalf; boasts about the number of times he has appeared on the cover of Time magazine; the supposed fact that it stopped raining when he spoke at the Capitol on Friday (it didn't); and an insinuation that he might start another war in Iraq." -- CW

Eric Lipton & Adam Liptak of the New York Times: "A team of prominent constitutional scholars, Supreme Court litigators and former White House ethics lawyers intends to file a lawsuit Monday morning alleging that President Trump is violating the Constitution by allowing his hotels and other business operations to accept payments from foreign governments. The lawsuit is among a barrage of legal actions against the Trump administration that have been initiated or are being planned by major liberal advocacy organizations. Such suits are among the few outlets they have to challenge the administration now that Republicans are in control of the government. In the new case, the lawyers argue that a provision in the Constitution known as the Emoluments Clause amounts to a ban on payments from foreign powers like the ones to Mr. Trump's companies. They cite fears by the framers of the Constitution that United States officials could be corrupted by gifts or payments." Eric Trump finds this "very, very sad." -- CW

Oops! One Page of Whitehouse.gov the Trumpies Forgot to Delete. Cleve Wootson of the Washington Post: "When President Trump took the oath of office, his administration hit the reset button on the Whitehouse.gov website, replacing former president Barack Obama's policy goals with new priorities. But one page remains: the petition feature that allows the president's administration to respond to issues raised directly by the people.... The most popular petition ... asks the administration to 'immediately release Donald Trump's full tax returns' and says it wants Trump to not be in conflict with the emoluments clause of the Constitution. Less than a day after the petition was started, it eclipsed the 100,000-signature mark.... 'The White House response is that he's not going to release his tax returns,' [Kellyanne Conway] told George Stephanopoulos on ABC's 'This Week.' 'We litigated this all through the election. People didn't care, they voted for him...." ... Another petition on the site is also about Trump's money, demanding he 'divest or put in a blind trust all of the President's business and financial assets.' One asked Trump to resign." ...

     ... CW: 100K A quarter million 237,883 & counting (see Nisky Guy's comment) signatures and "people don't care"? Who does Conway think signed the petition? Piano-playing kittens? Internet-savvy parakeets? Those signers were, in actual reality, people. Conway is not just confused about the definition of "fact," Merriam-Webster; she's also confused about the definition of "people." By her account, the only human-type critters who count as "people" are Trump voters. ...

... Daniel Politi of Slate: "Throughout the campaign, Trump had vowed to release his tax returns once an audit was complete despite the fact that the IRS had clearly said an audit doesn't prevent anyone from releasing his or her own returns.... Just in case there were any doubts, President Donald Trump won't be releasing his tax returns, even after the frequently cited audit is complete.... The issue came up because ABC's George Stephanopoulos asked Conway about a petition posted on the White House website demanding the release of Trump’s tax returns. The petition was posted on Friday and has garnered more than 220,000 signatures." -- CW ...

... This Is Rich. Politico: "WikiLeaks on Sunday took ... Donald Trump to task for refusing to release his tax returns and offered to post them online, after a senior adviser said definitively that Trump would not be publicly disclosing the documents. 'Trump's breach of promise over the release of his tax returns is even more gratuitous than Clinton concealing her Goldman Sachs transcripts,' WikiLeaks wrote on Twitter.... 'Trump Counselor Kellyanne Conway stated today that Trump will not release his tax returns. Send them to: https://wikileaks.org/#submit so we can," another tweet read. It was an interesting rebuke from WikiLeaks after Trump has appeared to side with founder Julian Assange...." -- CW

Carl Bildt, a former Swedish PM, in a Washington Post column, on why Trump's insane "America First!" address so alarmed European leaders. Among other things, Bildt compares Trump's policies with those of North Korea's leaders. CW: Sounds right to me. We are, as of January 20, a dangerous nation.

Laura Clawson of Daily Kos: "Michael Flynn was sworn in as Donald Trump's national security adviser on Sunday. Soon after, the Wall Street Journal reported: 'Michael Flynn is the first person inside the White House under Mr. Trump whose communications are known to have faced scrutiny as part of investigations by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Central Intelligence Agency, National Security Agency and Treasury Department to determine the extent of Russian government contacts with people close to Mr. Trump.... A key issue in the investigation is a series of telephone calls Mr. Flynn made to Sergey Kislyak, the Russian ambassador to the U.S., on Dec. 29. That day, the Obama administration announced sanctions and other measures against Russia...." CW: In other words, Flynn swore to uphold the same Constitution he most likely violated in his conversations with his buddy Sergey.

Juliet Eilperin & Sean Sullivan of the Washington Post: "President Trump's executive order instructing federal agencies to grant relief to constituencies affected by the Affordable Care Act has begun to reverberate throughout the nation's health-care system, injecting further uncertainty into an already unsettled insurance landscape. The political signal of the order, which Trump signed just hours after being sworn into office, was clear: Even before the Republican-led Congress acts to repeal the 2010 law, the new administration will move swiftly to unwind as many elements as it can on its own.... But the practical implications of Trump's action on Friday are harder to decipher. Its language instructs all federal agencies to 'waive, defer, grant exemptions from or delay' any part of the law that imposes a financial or regulatory burden on those affected by it. That would cover consumers, doctors, hospitals and other providers, as well as insurers and drug companies." CW: Read on for assurances Trump doesn't know WTF he signed. ...

... Joann Kenan & Dan Diamond of Politico: "Andy Slavitt's job was to run Obamacare. Now he's trying to save it. Slavitt stepped down on Friday as acting administrator of CMS, the sprawling federal agency that oversees the Affordable Care Act. Later that day..., Donald Trump signed an executive order that could blow much of the law apart. Rather than return to his lucrative career as a health entrepreneur in Minnesota, Slavitt expects to spend his time with hospital CEOs, governors, drug companies and 'everybody with a vested interest' in repairing rather than discarding the health law, he said in an exclusive exit interview with Politico on Sunday," -- CW ...

... Jonathan Chait: "The extent of the damage Republicans inflict [on access to health care] remains to be seen, but one way to calculate it, should the dismantling occur, will be in American lives lost. The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that 18 million Americans would immediately lose their insurance, a number that would increase to 32 million by 2026. A study of mortality rates in Massachusetts before and after that state enacted reforms similar to Obamacare found that one life was saved for every 830 adults who gained insurance coverage.... [So] almost 22,000 lives at stake, plus untold suffering from millions who would be denied access to regular medical care. The fact that Republicans are embarking on such a cruel, self-destructive project at all speaks to the pathology that has engulfed the new governing party." Read on. -- CW

A Preview of Life in the Age of Trump. Michael Idov, in New York: "... residents of a hybrid regime such as Russia's -- that is, an autocratic one that retains the façade of a democracy -- know the Orwellian notion is needlessly romantic. Russian life, I soon found out, was marked less by fear than by cynicism: the all-pervasive idea that no institution is to be trusted, because no institution is bigger than the avarice of the person in charge. This cynicism, coupled with endless conspiracy theories about everything, was at its core defensive (it's hard to be disappointed if you expect the worst). But it amounted to defeatism." Read on. -- CW ...

... Evan Osnos of the New Yorker: "Survivalism, the practice of preparing for a crackup of civilization, tends to evoke a certain picture: the woodsman in the tinfoil hat, the hysteric with the hoard of beans, the religious doomsayer. But in recent years survivalism has expanded to more affluent quarters, taking root in Silicon Valley and New York City, among technology executives, hedge-fund managers, and others in their economic cohort.... In private Facebook groups, wealthy survivalists swap tips on gas masks, bunkers, and locations safe from the effects of climate change." -- CW

** Annals of Journalism, Ctd. Ben Smith of BuzzFeed, in a New York Times op-ed, explains why BuzzFeed published the unverified dossier accusing Donald Trump of Russian shenanigans, personal & professional. CW: I'm with Smith. He made the right decision & not by accident. His reasoning is solid. I would have made the same decision.

News Ledes

Weather Channel: "A deadly outbreak of severe weather that has killed at least 19 people began to impact Florida Sunday, downing power lines that sparked a 50-acre brush fire in Citrus County. A tornado that tore through Albany, Georgia, left at least 4 dead.... The multiple rounds of storms fired up Saturday afternoon into Saturday evening and Sunday morning, killing four in Mississippi and damaging homes and buildings in Georgia, Texas, Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi.There were more than 200 reports of severe weather and more than two dozen reports of tornadoes so far this weekend as of early Sunday morning in an ongoing multi-day tornado and severe weather outbreak." -- CW

     ... CW: President Trump would have liked to help people who probably voted for him, but he was otherwise occupied in narcissistic rants. Also, he doesn't care about anything reported by the Weather Channel because Forrest Morris. (Sorry, insider joke.)

Saturday
Jan212017

The Commentariat -- January 22, 2017

Scene from the Women's March, Washington, D.C.... Scott Lemieux: "It would have been nice if [the media] had laid off the 'Shape of the Earth, views differ' before the election, but...." ...

... CW: It is beyond remarkable that on the first full day of his presidency, Donald Trump not only lied repeatedly and extravagantly, but the New York Times, the paragon of propriety, called him a liar on its front page. (The headline in the dead-tree edition is awkward: "Slamming Media, Trump AdvancesTwo Falsehoods.") We are in uncharted waters and thar be dragons. ...

I have a running war with the media. They are among the most dishonest human beings on earth, and they sort of made it sound like I had a feud with the intelligence community. The reason you're the No. 1 stop is, it is exactly the opposite. I love you, I respect you, there's nobody I respect more.... Probably everybody in this room voted for me, but I will not ask you to raise your hands if you did. We're all on the same wavelength, folks. -- Donald Trump, speaking at the CIA HQ in Langley, Va., Saturday

Former CIA Director [John] Brennan is deeply saddened and angered at Donald Trump's despicable display of self-aggrandizement in front of C.I.A.'s Memorial Wall of Agency heroes. Brennan says that Trump should be ashamed of himself. -- Nick Shapiro, Chief-of-Staff to Director Brennan

This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period -- both in person and around the globe. -- Press Secretary Sean Spicer, "less than a minute after declaring that 'no one had numbers'"

** Julie Davis & Matthew Rosenberg of the New York Times: "President Trump used his first full day in office on Saturday to unleash a remarkably bitter attack on the news media, falsely accusing journalists of both inventing a rift between him and intelligence agencies and deliberately understating the size of his inauguration crowd. In a visit to the Central Intelligence Agency designed to showcase his support for the intelligence community, Mr. Trump ignored his own repeated public statements criticizing the intelligence community, a group he compared to Nazis just over a week ago. He ... said that up to 1.5 million people had attended his inauguration, a claim that photographs disproved. Later, at the White House, he dispatched Sean Spicer, the new press secretary, to the briefing room in the West Wing, where he delivered an irate scolding to reporters and made a series of false statements. Mr. Spicer said news organizations had deliberately misstated the size of the crowd at Mr. Trump's inauguration on Friday in an attempt to sow divisions at a time when Mr. Trump was trying to unify the country, warning that the new administration would hold them to account." -- CW ...

... Brian Stelter of CNN: "White House press secretary attacks media for accurately reporting inauguration crowds.... His statement included several specific misstatements of fact in addition to the overarching one.... Glenn Thrush of The New York Times wrote on Twitter, 'Jaw meet floor.' 'I've run out of adjectives,' wrote Chuck Todd.... Karen Tumulty of the Washington Post said Spicer's assertion about 'what you guys should be writing' was 'chilling.'... Brian Fallon, who was in line to become press secretary if Hillary Clinton had won, wrote, 'Sean Spicer lacks the guts or integrity to refuse orders to go out and lie. He is a failure in this job on his first full day.' Conservative commentator Bill Kristol said 'it is embarrassing, as an American, to watch this briefing by Sean Spicer from the podium at the White House. Not the RNC. The White House.'" -- CW ...

... Dangerously Delusional Donald. Matthew Nussbaum & Sarah Wheaton of Politico: "... Donald Trump declared fresh war on ISIS -- and the news media -- while trying to forge a new alliance with the intelligence community in a visit to the CIA headquarters, his first to an executive agency as president. Speaking Saturday in front of the wall memorializing fallen officers at CIA headquarters, Trump promised to give the intelligence community his full backing, and hinted at loosening rules on torture put in place under President Barack Obama in the fight against ISIS. 'We haven't used the abilities we've got. We've been restrained,' Trump said. He described reporters as 'the most dishonest human beings' and claimed he'd drawn as many as 1.5 million people to his inauguration despite official estimates closer to 200,000 and repeated images of empty standing spaces." (Emphasis added.) -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... CW: On the other hand, maybe Trump isn't just a crazy old coot with the nuclear code biscuit in his pocket. Dispensing false propaganda and disparaging the media for accurate reporting are typical tactics of dictators. I would not be surprised to see certain media outlets like Breitbart "News" get some kind of "state seal of approval," for starters, then receive financial backing from Trump oligarchs, & finally become state-sponsored outlets. In the meantime, other media would be subjected to increasing restrictions & "punishments," including being shut down. What we've seen today looks a lot like the opening salvo in an all-out executive-branch war on media. These are dangerous times. ...

... Ezra Klein: Trump's "war isn't with the media. Trump lives off media attention and delights in press coverage. His war is with facts. And it's there that his tactical skirmishes with the press begin to make sense. Delegitimizing the media is important to Trump because delegitimizing certain facts is important to Trump.... The Trump administration is creating a baseline expectation among its loyalists that they can't trust anything said by the media. The spat over crowd size is a low-stakes, semi-comic dispute, but the groundwork is being laid for much more consequential debates over what is, and isn't, true. Delegitimizing the institutions that might report inconvenient or damaging facts about the president is strategic for an administration that has made a slew of impossible promises and takes office amid a cloud of ethics concerns and potential scandals." -- CW ...

... Somebody in the Dallas Stars hockey organization has a mighty good sense of humor. ...

... Philip Rucker, et al., of the Washington Post: "With Americans taking to the streets in red and blue states alike to emphatically decry a president they consider reprehensible and, even, illegitimate, Trump visited the Central Intelligence Agency for a stream-of-consciousness airing of grievances.... Shortly thereafter, press secretary Sean Spicer addressed the media for the first time from the White House, where he yelled at the assembled press corps and charged it with 'sowing division' with 'deliberately false reporting' of Trump's inauguration crowd.... In a highly unusual move, Spicer left the briefing room without answering questions from reporters, including one shouted at him about Saturday's Women's March on Washington.... Trump claimed that the crowd for his swearing-in stretched down the Mall to the Washington Monument. It did not. Trump accused television networks of showing 'an empty field' and reporting that he drew just 250,000 people to witness Friday's ceremony. 'It looked like a million, a million and a half people,' Trump said. 'It's a lie. We caught [the media]. We caught them in a beauty.'" -- CW ...

... Susan Chira & Yamiche Alcindor of the New York Times: "Protesters jammed the streets near the Capitol for the main demonstration, packed so tightly at times that they could barely move; in Chicago, the size of a rally so quickly outgrew early estimates that the march that was to follow was canceled for safety. In Manhattan, Fifth Avenue became a tide of signs and symbolic pink hats, while in downtown Los Angeles, shouts of 'love trumps hate' echoed along a one-mile route leading to City Hall, with many demonstrators spilling over into adjacent streets in a huge, festival-like atmosphere. The marches were the kickoff for what their leaders hope will be a sustained campaign of protest in a polarized nation, riven by an election that raised unsettling questions about American values, out-of-touch elites and barriers to women's ambitions. On successive days, two parallel and separate Americas were on display in virtually the same location." -- CW ...

... Perry Stein, et al., of the Washington Post: "More than 1 million people gathered in Washington and in cities around the country and the world Saturday to mount a roaring rejoinder to the inauguration of President Trump. What started as a Facebook post by a Hawaii retiree became an unprecedented international rebuke of a new president that packed cities large and small -- from London to Los Angeles, Paris to Park City, Utah, Miami to Melbourne, Australia.... Many in the nation's capital and other cities said they were inspired to join because of Trump's divisive campaign and his disparagement of women, minorities and immigrants. In signs and shouts, they mocked what they characterized as Trump's lewd language and sexist demeanor.The marches provided a balm for those eager to immerse themselves in a like-minded sea of citizens who shared their anxiety and disappointment after Democrat Hillary Clinton’s historic bid for the presidency ended in defeat." -- CW ...

... Cindy Chang, et al., of the Los Angeles Times: "A day after Donald J. Trump was sworn in as the 45th president, several hundred thousand people gathered in Los Angeles to protest in a historic women's march. It was a peaceful and massive counter-inauguration movement, the first act of resistance to a conservative administration. Beneath sunny skies, a group of women on motorcycles kicked off the march. Many protesters wore a symbol of feminism in the age of Trump: a bright pink, knitted 'pussyhat.' Some carried their babies on their chests and pushed their grandmothers in wheelchairs. They chanted, waved signs and held hands; a few braved the cold and went shirtless." -- CW ...

... Eric Levitz of New York: "In Los Angeles, the marchers were 500,000 strong, by the LAPD's estimates -- and 750,000 by those of the organizers." -- CW ...

... Duaa Eldeib & Marwa Eltagouri of the Chicago Tribune: "An estimated quarter-million demonstrators poured into downtown [Chicago] on Saturday, so many that organizers of the Women's March on Chicago told the throngs that the event would only be a rally because there wasn't room to march. But people marched anyway." -- CW ...

... Adam Lusher of the (U.K.) Independent: "Donald Trump is so unpopular that there are even women marching against him in Antarctica." -- CW ...

Via UConn prof @djpressman, between 3.3 million to 4.2 million people marched today. Largest protests in US history https://t.co/DA6gR2QFs6 pic.twitter.com/O3PZ6O6Dim — Ari Berman (@AriBerman) January 22, 2017

... CW: Say, why haven't we heard from the Twit-in-Chief about the millions of women & men around the world who came out to protest his illegitimate presidency? ...

Reports from Reality Chex readers who participated in the Women's March throughout the ">country world (republished from yesterday's Comments):

So we march on Saturday. I went to Mount Vernon with my out-of-town cousins as Alternative Programming on Friday. MV was packed, mostly it seemed with women in town for the March. We then went to a craft store to buy poster board to make signs - several women doing the same thing there too. Was very heartening to see so many of us. -- Rockygirl ...

Back from the D.C. rally. Was yuuuuuge. News reports say was 500,009 and I would not doubt it. Women - and men! - of all ages, colors, faiths, sexual preference. The rally went way too long and the p.a. system was completely overwhelmed, as was the cell network. Today is Day One. -- Rockygirl

Headed out the door for the Boston March. Last time I checked, over 70,000 people had registered. Fired up! -- Julie in Massachusetts ...

... Wow! What a day. Sounds like the Boston March had similar experiences as those in other cities - larger turn out than expected. It slowed down the start of the March, but what a good problem to have. By the end of the day we were all wondering how the heck trump won. Turn out in Boston estimated at 145,000. Gives one reason to hope. -- Julie in Massachusetts

This video of the Denver March -- which is amazing -- features a Reality Chex contributor. You can watch the video here:

I just got home from the Women's March in Denver. They estimated that there were over 100,000 people there. They were estimating 40,000 the day before. What an amazingly diverse crowd of men, women and children, all unified and happy. There was no violence. It was truly inspiring. -- Lisa

Our small town of about 1200 combined with the about 1200 residents across the bridge had a turnout of 1500 women. There was no violence, no shots fired, just loving and hugging. Would whats-his-name understand that. He would have sent in police with clubs and sprays. Sad. Sad. Sadder than tiny fingers. -- Forrest M.

Our rural Western Washington country had 500-700 gather on the main street of the county seat. Almost all the horn honking and thumb pointing was positive. One of our sons, who marched there with his wife and two small children, reports 125,000-150,000 in Seattle. Just as the popular vote indicated, those detesting Trump, the truly detestable, again greatly outnumbered the deplorables. The only one who doesn't know that is Trump. But then, as he continues to prove, he's delusional. -- Ken W.

Great turn out for the Women's March (everyone invited) in my part of the world, too. -- Gloria

On a bus returning from D.C. Estimates of 500,000 or more-- I believe it-- happy gridlock. The march got too big to march except in segments. Signs and pussy hats abundant-- Meanwhile Sean Spicer lies his silly head off re numbers at the behest of his crazy boss. All 500,000 hate Trump. -- Jeanne

Just back to the hotel after the March in Washington. Taxi driver said MUCH bigger crowd today. 500,000 seems like a low-ball estimate -- we were in an almost constant crush of people from 9 am until after 4 (when the March continued past Penn Ave to McPherson Square.) 15 hour drive home tomorrow, but we've already planned a demonstration for Monday afternoon on our Village Green. We all have work to do. -- Gail L.

Got home a bit ago from the Sacramento march and rally, in time to hear a infuriated, almost spitting at the reporters, Spicer give a "press briefing" about inaccurate reporting on the inauguration numbers and its overall wonderment.... According to one of the speakers at our Sacto rally, there were 20,000 attending. My husband said our rally was on MSNBC. I'm not good at estimating, especially since I'm vertically challenged and had a hard time seeing. It seemed like an awful lot of folks to me; kids in strollers, young folks, old folks, dogs and every ethnicity. Favorite sign held by an older lady; 'I can't believe I'm protesting this fucking shit again.' -- Diane

The New York Times has photos of the Women's March in cities around the world. Take a look. If your faith in humanity took a nosedive Friday, these pictures should restore it. (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... More photos in the Atlantic. ...

Women's March, Sacramento, Calif., January 21. Photo by Diane.

"Super Callous Fascist Racist Extra Braggadocious." Dana Milbank's favorite signs from the March include the one Diane highlighted. CW: The signs are good, because unlike the guy who repeatedly claims -- he did it again yesterday -- that he's "very smart," the mostly-women who hoisted these signs actually are very smart. And dedicated. And inspirational. And exceptional, in the best sense. Those who showed up for rallies & marches here & around the world deserve to be proud of yourselves. You have demonstrated not just against an evil imperialist but that you are the living, breathing better angels of our natures.

** Here's the Washington Post's liveblog of the Women's March on Washington. 11:50 am ET: "More riders showed up for Women's March than inauguration.... The numbers Friday were also much lower than past inaugurations." -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Kiersten Schmidt & Sarah Almukhtar of the New York Times: "Hundreds of demonstrations around the world are being planned for Jan. 21 in conjunction with the Women's March on Washington, which is expected to be the largest inauguration-related demonstration in United States history.... Participants outside the United States say they are marching in solidarity with American women and standing up for the rights of women in their own countries." --CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

With some the word 'liberty' may mean for each man to do as he pleases with himself, and the product of his labor, while with others the same word may mean for some men to do as they please with other men, and the product of other men's labor. -- Abraham Lincoln, April 18, 1864

... ** The Progress of Racism. Ibram Kendi, in a New York Times op-ed: "Racial disparities in everything from wealth to health have persisted in the United States because racist policies have persisted, and oftentimes progressed. When the Obamas of the nation have broken through racial barriers, the Trumps of the nation did not give up. They organized and sometimes succeeded in putting new racial barriers in place, new discriminatory policies in our institutions. And they succeeded in developing a new round of racist ideas to justify those policies, to redirect the blame for racial disparities away from their new policies and onto supposed black pathology.... [Racism & antiracism] have been at war ever since a slaveholder wrote America's heralded philosophy of freedom. And they remain at war this weekend, organizing separate marches to protest or praise the arrival of President Trump." -- CW

Friday
Jan202017

The Commentariat -- January 21, 2017

Dangerously Delusional Donald. Matthew Nussbaum & Sarah Wheaton of Politico: "... Donald Trump declared fresh war on ISIS -- and the news media -- while trying to forge a new alliance with the intelligence community in a visit to the CIA headquarters, his first to an executive agency as president. Speaking Saturday in front of the wall memorializing fallen officers at CIA headquarters, Trump promised to give the intelligence community his full backing, and hinted at loosening rules on torture put in place under President Barack Obama in the fight against ISIS. 'We haven't used the abilities we've got. We've been restrained,' Trump said. He described reporters as 'the most dishonest human beings' and claimed he'd drawn as many as 1.5 million people to his inauguration despite official estimates closer to 200,000 and repeated images of empty standing spaces." (Emphasis added.) -- CW

CW: Say, why haven't we heard from the Twit-in-Chief about the millions of women & men around the world who came out to protest his illegitimate presidency?

The New York Times has photos of the Women's March in cities around the world. Take a look. If your faith in humanity took a nosedive yesterday, these pictures should restore it.

** Here's the Washington Post's liveblog of the Women's March on Washington. 11:50 am ET: "More riders showed up for Women's March than inauguration.... The numbers Friday were also much lower than past inaugurations." -- CW ...

... Perry Stein, et al., of the Washington Post: "Tens of thousands of women, determined to mount a roaring rejoinder to the inaugural gathering for Donald Trump, poured into Washington Saturday for the Women's March. Coming from around the country and sometimes sleeping on the couches of people they had never met before, the marchers occupied a swath of terrain around the National Museum of the American Indian. Organizers, who originally sought a permit for a gathering of 200,000, said Saturday they now expect as many as a half million participants -- potentially dwarfing Friday's inaugural crowd." -- CW ...

     ... New Lede: "Millions of women gathered in Washington and cities around the country Saturday to mount a roaring rejoinder to the inauguration of Donald Trump one day earlier. The historic protests of a new president packed cities large and small -- from Los Angeles to Boston to Park City, Utah, where celebrities from the Sundance Film Festival joined a march on the snowy streets. In Chicago, the demonstration was overwhelmed by its own size, forcing officials to curtail its planned march when the crowd threatened to swamp the planned route."

... Kiersten Schmidt & Sarah Almukhtar of the New York Times: "Hundreds of demonstrations around the world are being planned for Jan. 21 in conjunction with the Women's March on Washington, which is expected to be the largest inauguration-related demonstration in United States history.... Participants outside the United States say they are marching in solidarity with American women and standing up for the rights of women in their own countries." --CW ...

... Perry Stein: "The Women's March on Washington is turning into the weekend's star-studded event, with celebrities including Janelle Monáe, Scarlett Johansson and Ashley Judd making an appearance at the demonstration the day after inauguration. Activists Angela Davis and Michael Moore and D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser also will be speaking. In the days leading up to the march, the organizers have released details about the event, giving marchers and spectators a sense of what the day will look like. The lineup of speakers and performers totals around 50." -- CW

The Muzzle Is On. William Turton: "The National Park service retweeted some sick Donald Trump burns, noting how, uh, lightly attended his inauguration was compared to Barack Obama's in 2009. But now, the NPS has been ordered by its Washington support office to 'immediately cease use of government Twitter accounts until further notice,' according to an internal email obtained by Gizmodo." CW: I don't know what a "sick Donald Trump burn" is, but the retweets didn't seem sick to me: one was Binjamin Appelbaum's, linked below, & the second was similar.

One hour after talking about helping working people and ending the cabal in Washington that hurts people, he signs a regulation that makes it more expensive for new homeowners to buy mortgages. -- Chuck Schumer, on the Senate floor yesterday ...

... ** Joe Light of Bloomberg: "Soon after Donald Trump was sworn in as president, his administration undid one of Barack Obama's last-minute economic-policy actions: a mortgage-fee cut under a government program that's popular with first-time home buyers and low-income borrowers. The new administration on Friday said it's canceling a reduction in the Federal Housing Administration's annual fee for most borrowers. The cut would have reduced the annual premium for someone borrowing $200,000 by $500 in the first year." Thanks to PD Pepe for the reminder. -- CW

... CW: One thing I noticed in a brief video of a ceremonial signing that took place yesterday afternoon: a hour or so after raking "Washington politicians" over the coals, Trump was all smiles. When Paul Ryan (or one of his staff) handed Trump a document (not sure what it was), Trump just asked, "Where do I sign?"

New Rule: No Rules. Lydia Wheeler of the Hill: "President Trump's chief of staff Reince Priebus issued a memo Friday night telling federal agencies to not issue any more regulations.... Priebus told the agencies not to send any regulation to the Federal Register until the rule is reviewed and approved by the new president's appointed agency head. Any rule that's already been sent to the Office of the Federal Register, but not yet published, must be withdrawn, the order says. For rules that were published in the last 60 days, Priebus told agencies to publish a notice to delay the effective date of the rule for at least another 60 days." -- CW

Timothy Lee of Vox: "Donald Trump campaigned for president with a handful of big, simple ideas, including building a wall, renegotiating trade deals, and strengthening the military. His new White House website reflects that same sparse, policy-light philosophy. If you click on the 'issues' tab, he has sections on just six issues.... It's a striking contrast to ... Barack Obama. Like Trump, Obama had a website ready to go on his first day in office. But Obama's site covered almost two dozen policy issues and dove into detail.... In total, Trump's six issue pages have 2,243 words. Obama's 23 pages had 25,150." CW: But the Trump site is already longer than the Trump attention span. ...

... Rebecca Leber of Mother Jones: "The original White House page dedicated to the problem of climate change and former President Barack Obama's policies to address it is now a broken link: 'The requested page "/energy/climate-change" could not be found.' Instead, the White House website features Trump's energy talking points from the campaign. The page -- titled, 'An America First Energy Plan' -- makes no mention of climate change, other than to say, 'President Trump is committed to eliminating harmful and unnecessary policies such as the Climate Action Plan and the Waters of the US rule. Lifting these restrictions will greatly help American workers, increasing wages by more than $30 billion over the next 7 years.'" -- CW: Undoubtedly false, but who cares? Many of us will die from drinking poisoned water & breathing foul air so we won't have to worry about not getting our fake $30BB bonanza. ...

... Wait, Wait. There's More. Justin Miller of the Daily Beast: "WhiteHouse.gov immediately wiped pages on LGBT rights, civil rights, climate change, and health care from its 'issues' section after Donald Trump took the oath of office." CW: Maybe they aren't "issues" because Trump has already solved all the problems. ...

... Corrupt from Day One. Rosalind Helderman of the Washington Post: "On his first day in office, President Trump declared on the White House website that he would roll back a clean-water rule that has been opposed as bad for business by a coalition that included his own golf courses. He also effectively became his own landlord at his District hotel, which his company rents from the federal government despite a lease that forbids such benefits going to any elected official. A Trump golf course tweeted congratulations to its owner as he became president, though a Trump lawyer had previously promised that no company social media accounts would reference his office. And in his official biography on the White House website, Trump bragged of the success of the business he still owns and his book, 'The Art of the Deal,' which remains for sale. Likewise, first lady Melania Trump's biography included a reference to sales of her jewelry on the cable television channel QVC and notes it is trademarked, a registration now overseen by a trademark office that is part of the executive branch led by her husband. Trump's first day as president was full of reminders that his administration will be entangled with his personal interests in a way unprecedented in presidential politics." -- CW ...

... ** Derek Kravitz & Al Shaw of ProPublica: "At a news conference last week..., Donald Trump said he and his daughter, Ivanka, had signed paperwork relinquishing control of all Trump-branded companies. Next to him were stacks of papers in manila envelopes -- documents he said transferred 'complete and total control' of his businesses to his two sons and another longtime employee.... To transfer ownership of his biggest companies, Trump has to file a long list of documents in Florida, Delaware and New York. We asked officials in each of those states whether they have received the paperwork. As of 3:15 p.m. today, the officials said they have not. Trump and his associates 'are not doing what they said they would do,' said Richard Painter, the chief ethics lawyer for President George W. Bush. 'And even that was completely inadequate.'" Emphasis added.) -- CW

... Kelsey Snell of the Washington Post: "Visitors to the newly revamped White House website get more than a simple rundown of first lady Melania Trump's charitable works and interests -- they also get a list of her magazine cover appearances and details on her jewelry line at QVC.... The website includes a lengthy list of brands that hired her as a model and several of the magazines in which she appeared, including the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue.... Early on Friday, the website listed the brand names of Trump's jewelry lines sold on QVC. But the website was updated after the publication of this story to remove any mention of QVC." -- CW

Oliver Knox of Yahoo! News: "President Trump signed his first executive order in the Oval Office late Friday, targeting Obamacare, as his administration ordered an immediate freeze on new regulations just hours after his inauguration.... It was not immediately clear what the executive order would do to pave the way for Republicans to make good on their longstanding promise to repeal and replace Barack Obama's signature domestic achievement. White House press secretary Sean Spicer told reporters the order would 'ease the burden' of the law. He did not share further details." -- CW

Dan Lamothe of the Washington Post: "The Senate confirmed James N. Mattis as President Trump's defense secretary Friday, breaking with decades of precedent by making a recently retired general the Pentagon's top civilian leader. Mattis, 66, was approved with a 98-1 vote.... The sole vote against Mattis was cast by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D.-N.Y.), who said repeatedly that she was against a recently serving general become defense secretary. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R.-Ala.), Trump's attorney general nominee, did not vote." -- CW

Jerry Markon of the Washington Post: "The Senate confirmed John F. Kelly as secretary of homeland security on Friday, putting the blunt-spoken retired Marine general in charge of securing the nation's borders, including construction of the controversial southwest border wall that was a centerpiece of President Trump's campaign." -- CW

CW: The other day a friend of mine was imagining Donald Trump's redecoration of the Oval Office from bland early American to gilded schmaltz. I said that besides that, at least two things would change: the bust of Winston Churchill would come back & the rug would go. (Obama's rug is ringed with the following quotes: "The Only Thing We Have to Fear is Fear Itself" -- President Franklin D. Roosevelt; "The Arc of the Moral Universe is Long, But it Bends Towards Justice" -- Martin Luther King, Jr.; "Government of the People, By the People, For the People" -- President Abraham Lincoln; 'No Problem of Human Destiny is Beyond Human Beings" -- President John F. Kennedy; "The Welfare of Each of Us is Dependent Fundamentally Upon the Welfare of All of Us" -- President Theodore Roosevelt. (The citation attributed to King was a riff on a saying of 19th-century transcendentalist Theodore Parker.) The rug is history & Churchill is back.

NBC News: "The Obama family, who will ultimately remain in Washington D.C. while daughter Malia is still in school there, are traveling for a vacation in Palm Springs, California immediately following President Donald Trump's Inauguration.... Walking out to chants of 'yes, we can!' and leaving to chants of 'yes, we did!' President Barack Obama gave final remarks at a farewell gathering of staff at Joint Base Andrews before boarding his last flight on the military aircraft that ferries presidents on their travels.":

White House photographer Pete Souza -- and President Obama -- say farewell.

He Alone Can Fix It. Peter Baker & Michael Shear of the New York Times: "Donald John Trump was inaugurated as the 45th president of the United States on Friday, ushering in a new and more unpredictable era in which he has vowed to shatter the established order and restore American greatness. From the West Front of the Capitol, overlooking a crowd of admirers gathered as rain threatened on an overcast day, Mr. Trump used his Inaugural Address to promise that he will use the next four years to rebuild the nation's economy, reassert control over its borders and regain respect for the United States around the world." -- CW ...

...The transcript of Trump's speech is here. As Patrick wrote, it probably sounded better in the original German. CW: I didn't watch the show, but I read the transcript later, and I thought half of what Trump said was bull. ...

... Glenn Kessler & Michelle Lee of the Washington Post: "Generally, inaugural addresses are not designed to be fact-checked. But President Trump's address was nothing if not unique, presenting a portrait of the United States that often was at variance with reality. Here's a guide to understanding whether the facts back up his rhetoric." CW: Worse than I realized. ...

... Amber Phillips of the Washington Post: Democratic members of Congress tweet their reactions to Trump's speech. The best one (CW: IMO) comes from a former Congressman, Steve Israel of New York: "That speech had all the soaring sentiment of 'Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III.'" As an aside, Rep. Rep. Cheri Bustos (Ill.) tweeted, "GOP colleague let me see his Trump hat. It was made in China. Awkward given Trump's #BuyAmerican pledge. All talk no action?" CW: Make that all hat & no mettle.

** The New York Times publishes a roundup of reactions to Trump's inaugural address by "our opinion writers in Washington and around the world." Most of the assessments are both scathing & illuminating. -- CW ...

... New York Times Editors: "President Trump presented such a graceless and disturbingly ahistoric vision of America on Friday that his Inaugural Address cast more doubt than hope on his presidency." -- CW ...

... Gail Collins, as usual, takes none of this seriously. CW: I think that's a big mistake. Is she really intent on making us laugh our way to totalitarian government? ...

... Libby Nelson of Vox: "... Trump's unapologetically negative portrait of American schools is striking because it's seemingly all he has to say about education. Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, and George W. Bush didn't hesitate to use harsh words to criticize 'failing schools.' But they usually deployed those descriptions in service of a broader vision for improving them. For Trump, struggling schools aren't a warmup act for a policy proposal. They're rhetorical props in his description of a burned-out American landscape." CW: Don't worry, Libby. Betsy DePrivatize is full of ideas.

Alyssa Rosenberg of the Washington Post: "When Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer came to the podium at the Capitol today, he made an unusual choice of reading: a letter written in 1861 by a Union soldier to his wife shortly before the first battle of Bull Run. The writer, Sullivan Ballou, was mortally wounded there. The letter is a striking expression of patriotic loyalty and sacrifice. And Schumer's decision to read it also invoked sharp criticism of Donald Trump from the campaign trail and the incoming administration's plans to eliminate federal support for the arts and humanities." CW: Here's Ken Burns' version, read by actor Paul Roebling, which I'm sure sounds a lot better than Schumer's reading, especially with the assist from Jay Ungar's "Ashokan Farewell":

Amie Parnes of the Hill: "Hillary Clinton kept a stiff upper lip Friday as Donald Trump took the oath of office for a presidency she was favored to win. Clinton was just feet away from Trump when he took the presidential oath, sitting with her husband, former President Bill Clinton. There was no interaction with Trump during the ceremony, and Trump did not mention Clinton -- who won 3 million more popular votes -- during his speech. The two did cross paths later, shaking hands. Trump thanked her for coming." -- CW

Chris Matthews of MSNBC compares Trump to Benito Mussolini, who had his son-in-law executed; suggests Jared Kushner should "be a little careful":

... CW: The video kept bailing on me. Must be Trump's fault. At least Mussolini made the trains run on time; Trump just mucks up things.

President Obama leaves White House for last time as POTUS, helps portly, elderly man down steps:

And the crime and the gangs and the drugs that have stolen too many lives and robbed our country of so much unrealized potential. This American carnage stops right here and stops right now.... Now arrives the hour of action. -- Donald Trump, inaugural address ...

... John Cox, et al., of the Washington Post: "Less than two miles from where Trump and former president Obama joined hundreds of other elected officials at the west front of the U.S. Capitol, anarchists armed with crowbars and hammers marched through the city's streets, toppling over news boxes, smashing bus-stop glass, vandalizing businesses, spray-painting buildings and, in one case, bashing in the windows of a black limousine. The acts of violence prompted helmeted police to chase the protesters with batons, hose them with pepper spray and apparently toss flash bangs into their ranks. Three D.C. police officers were injured as the sound of explosions and sirens filled the air -- marking the first intense confrontations in a day that began with protesters shutting down at least a few security checkpoints. The clashes intensified during the afternoon as protesters hurled objects -- including concrete bricks -- at police in black riot gear, who fired back with more flash bangs and pepper spray.... In total, more than 200 people were arrested throughout the day, and the confrontations continued as darkness fell." ...

     ... CW: Sounds like "American carnage" to me, and it happened just as -- and after -- Trump promised it "stops right here and stops right now." What the hell happened to the "hour of action"? Does this mean Trump can't fix it?

Theresa Vargas, et al., of the Washington Post: "Protesters who had promised to shut down the city for the inauguration of ... Donald Trump were successful at several security checkpoints Friday morning, as they slowed crowds from entering onto the Mall and, in one spot, stopped them completely." -- CW

We are going to have an unbelievable, perhaps record-setting turnout for the inauguration, and there will be plenty of movie and entertainment stars. -- Donald Trump, January 9, 2017 ...

... Binyamin Appelbaum of the NYT posts on Twitter this comparison of the crowds on the Mall for the 2009 & 2017 inaugurations. CW: I believe the temp is a lot warmer today than it was Jan. 20, 2009, but you know, I guess the 2009 crowd was so big it warmed the place up:

... Update: Tim Wallace, et al., of the New York Times have bigger & better comparison shots here. Each photo was taken 45 minutes before the oath was administered. And in all likelihood, a significantly higher percentage of the Trump crowd was there to protest.

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