The Ledes

Wednesday, November 30, 2016.

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

The Wires

Public Service Announcement

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

Politico's Late Nite Jokes:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

Contact the Constant Weader

Click on this link to e-mail the Constant Weader.

Constant Comments

Anyone with a cheap computer can become a columnist or a pundit. -- Dennis Ryerson, Editor, Indianapolis Star

About Me: I have a cheap computer.
-- Constant Weader

Follow CONSTANTWEADER on Twitter... for breaking news. I update several times a day & tweet only the big deals.

Thursday
Nov172016

The Commentariat -- Nov. 18, 2016

The nonsuburban electorate will decide that the system has failed and start looking around for a strongman to vote for -- someone willing to assure them that, once he is elected, the smug bureaucrats, tricky lawyers, overpaid bond salesmen, and postmodernist professors will no longer be calling the shots.... One thing that is very likely to happen is that the gains made in the past forty years by black and brown Americans, and by homosexuals, will be wiped out. Jocular contempt for women will come back into fashion.... All the resentment which badly educated Americans feel about having their manners dictated to them by college graduates will find an outlet. -- Richard Rorty, 1998

Afternoon Update:

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

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

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

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

*****

Gardiner Harris & Melissa Eddy of the New York Times: "In his strongest public comments since the election, President Obama on Thursday sharply criticized the spread of fake news online and said that ... Donald J. Trump would not remain in office for long if he failed to take the job seriously. Mr. Obama made his remarks at a news conference in Berlin beside the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, one of his closest allies on the Continent.... Ms. Merkel was unusually sentimental. 'It is hard to say goodbye,' she said. But instead of basking in the glow of what was supposed to be his valedictory tour of Europe, Mr. Obama used the moment to make a passionate and pointed attack on bogus news stories disseminated on Facebook and other social media platforms, twice calling such false reports a threat to democracy in his hourlong news conference." -- CW ...

... Anthony Faoila & David Nakamura of the Washington Post: "President Obama wrapped up his final visit to Europe on Thursday by issuing a plaintive warning to Western democracies not to 'take for granted our system of government and our way of life' as he prepares to relinquish the international stage to his successor, President-elect Donald J. Trump. 'Democracy is hard work,' Obama said at a news conference after meeting [in Berlin] with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, one of his closest international partners." -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Get Used to It, Donald. Jordan Fabian of the Hill: "President Obama won't try to call off protests against Donald Trump, he said Thursday, ignoring pleas from ... [Trump's] advisers to denounce the nationwide demonstrations. 'I would not advise people who feel strongly or are concerned about some of the issues that have been raised over the course of the campaign, I would not advise them to be silent,' Obama said during a joint news conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Obama said protests are just something Trump would have to get used to as the leader of the free world." -- CW ...

David Remnick of the New Yorker followed President Obama around on the last days of the campaign, election night, and also spoke with Obama a couple of times after the election. Quite a good read, tho Remnick acknowledges that the President is too politic to say what he really thinks.

Greg Miller of the Washington Post: "Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr. said Thursday that he has submitted his letter of resignation to President Obama, cementing his long-declared plan to leave his job as the nation's spy chief when a new president is sworn in. 'I submitted my letter of resignation last night, which felt pretty good,' Clapper said in testimony Thursday morning before the House Intelligence Committee. 'I have 64 days left and I would have a hard time with my wife for anything past that.' U.S. officials emphasized that Clapper's resignation was unrelated to the election victory of Donald Trump, who has publicly dismissed the work of U.S. spy agencies on critical issues, including Russia's interference in the election and Moscow's involvement in the war in Syria." -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)


Shane Goldmacher & Andrew Restuccia
of Politico: "Donald Trump's team has brought a semblance of stability to a transition operation that has weathered days of reports of infighting, as the president-elect also began offering olive branches to his former Republicans critics, including announcing plans to meet with 2012 GOP nominee Mitt Romney. They held conference calls. They announced visitors to Trump Tower. They revealed that Trump 'landing teams' will soon descend on top agencies, including the Department of Defense. They provided a list of world leaders with whom ... [Trump] has spoken. They established a basic flow of basic information for the first time. And by late Thursday, the State Department and Pentagon revealed that they'd been in touch with Trump's team for the first time." -- CW ...

... Nancy Cook of Politico: "The Trump transition team filed the last pieces of necessary paperwork late Thursday afternoon that enables it to start receiving briefings and go into federal agencies.... Mike Pence signed the [Memorandum of Understanding] as did the White House chief-of-staff Denis McDonough. A huge part [of the] agreement is ensuring the confidentiality of government secrets and processes." -- CW

He'll be a real general now.Eric Lichtblau, et al., of the New York Times: "... Donald J. Trump has selected Senator Jeff Sessions, a conservative from Alabama who became a close adviser after endorsing him early in his campaign, to be the attorney general of the United States, according to officials close to the transition.... Mr. Sessions, a former prosecutor elected to the Senate in 1996, serves on the Judiciary Committee and has opposed immigration reform as well as bipartisan proposals to cut mandatory minimum prison sentences.... While serving as a United States prosecutor in Alabama, Mr. Sessions was nominated in 1986 by President Ronald Reagan for a federal judgeship. But his nomination was rejected by the Republican-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee because of racially charged comments and actions. At that time, he was one of two judicial nominees whose selections were halted by the panel in nearly 50 years." -- CW

"Dr. Strangelove" Lives! (Only the Enemy Is Different.) Matthew Rosenberg & Maggie Haberman of the New York Times: "... Donald J. Trump has offered the post of national security adviser to Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn, potentially putting a retired intelligence officer who believes Islamist militancy poses an existential threat in one of the most powerful roles in shaping military and foreign policy.... Mr. Trump and General Flynn both ... post on Twitter often about their own successes, and they have both at times crossed the line into outright Islamophobia. They also both exhibit a loose relationship with facts: General Flynn, for instance, has said that Shariah, or Islamic law, is spreading in the United States (it is not). His dubious assertions are so common that when he ran the Defense Intelligence Agency, subordinates came up with a name for the phenomenon: They called them 'Flynn facts.'... He would enter the White House with significant baggage. The Flynn Intel Group, a consulting firm he founded after he was fired by President Obama as head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, has hazy business ties to Middle Eastern countries and has appeared to lobby for the Turkish government. General Flynn also took a paid speaking engagement last year with Russia Today...." The post does not require Senate confirmation. CW: Kubrick warned us about this. ...

... Greg Miller of the Washington Post profiles Flynn. Here's an excerpt: "... Flynn has also shown an erratic streak since leaving government that is likely to make his elevation disconcerting even to the flag officers and senior intelligence officials who once considered him a peer. Flynn stunned former colleagues when he traveled to Moscow last year to appear alongside Russian President Vladimir Putin at a lavish gala for the Kremlin-run propaganda channel RT, a trip Flynn admitted he was paid to make and defended by saying he saw no distinction between RT and U.S. news channels such as CNN." -- CW

... Katie Little of CNBC: "President-elect Donald Trump has offered the top Central Intelligence Agency post to Rep. Mike Pompeo, who has accepted, NBC News reported on Friday." CW: Pompeo originally supported Rubio but switched to Trump as Trump racked up primary wins. Guardian: "As a congressional candidate in 2010, Pompeo had to personally apologise for a tweet his campaign sent out promoting an article that called his opponent Raj Goyle, an Indian-American Democrat, a 'turban topper' who 'could be a muslim, a hindy, a buddhist etc who knows'. His campaign also put up billboard ads encouraging people in the area to 'vote American'."

Drumpf Dynasty, Episode 27. Julie Davis & Maggie Haberman of the New York Times: "Jared Kushner, the son-in-law of President-elect Donald J. Trump, has spoken to a lawyer about the possibility of joining the new administration, a move that could violate federal anti-nepotism law and risk legal challenges and political backlash.... Mr. Trump is urging his son-in-law to join him in the White House, according to one of the people briefed.... Mr. Kushner ... believes that by forgoing a salary and putting his investment fund, his real estate holdings and The New York Observer into a blind trust, he would not be bound by federal nepotism rules, according to one of the people briefed." -- CW

... David Nakamura, et al., of the Washington Post: "... Donald Trump plans to meet this weekend with ... Mitt Romney, a fierce critic during the campaign, to discuss his transition operation and a potential role as secretary of state, people close to the transition said Thursday. Trump's outreach to Romney ... could help bridge the divide between [Trump's] advisers and the GOP establishment, and send a signal to foreign capitals that Trump is interested in a more conventional figure as the nation's top diplomat. Also Thursday, Newt Gingrich, the former Republican House speaker, said in an interview with McClatchy News Service that he would not have an official role in Trump's administration, despite having previously been identified as a potential secretary of state." -- CW ...

... Antonio Vielma of CNBC: "... Mitt Romney will meet with Donald Trump this weekend to discuss the secretary of state position, a source close to the president-elect with direct knowledge of his thinking told NBC News." CW: Really? Romney said in 2012 that Russia was the U.S.'s "top geopolitical threat." Is he now willing to make nice to Putin at the Dear Leader's behest? ...

... Julian Broger & David Smith of the Guardian: "David Petraeus -- the former US army general and CIA director who was prosecuted for mishandling classified information -- has entered the race to become Donald Trump's secretary of state, diplomatic sources said on Thursday. Petraeus resigned in November 2012 after the FBI discovered he had had an affair with his biographer, Paula Broadwell, and had shared classified information with her.... Petraeus, who was also a US commander in Afghanistan and Iraq, has made flattering remarks about Trump since the election." CW: Well, this seems perfect. Donald Trump has had a least one affair while married to another woman and reputedly more. Also, he seems destined to blab secrets; i.e., "mishandle classified information." So why would he have any objection to Petraeus' little misadventures? More seriously, Petraeus is not John Bolton or Rudy Giuliani, which is a huge plus. ...

... A Bigger Blabbermouth than Trump? Louis Nelson of Politico: "Donald Trump's campaign manager Kellyanne Conway stopped short on Thursday of criticizing former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani for publicly discussing what role he and others might have in [Trump's] ... Cabinet but said, 'These conversations are always best in private.'" -- CW ...

Lorraine Woellert of Politico: "OneWest Bank, a mortgage lender founded and run by Steven Mnuchin until last year, discriminated against blacks, Hispanics and Asians and avoided putting branches in minority communities, according to a federal complaint filed by two California housing watchdogs. The redlining accusation, filed with the Department of Housing and Urban Development, was made against CIT Group Inc., which purchased OneWest in a $3.4 billion deal that closed last year. Mnuchin, Donald Trump's campaign finance chairperson and a leading candidate for the job of Treasury secretary, is on CIT's board." -- CW: As we know, Trump should be comfortable with that, too, what with his launching his real estate career by discriminating against minorities applying to rent Fred Trump's units.

Binyamin Appelbaum of the New York Times: "... Donald J. Trump claimed credit on Thursday night for persuading Ford to keep an automaking plant in Kentucky rather than moving it to Mexico. The only wrinkle: Ford was not actually planning to move the plant. [Emphasis added.] Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter shortly after 9 p.m. that Ford's chairman, William Clay Ford Jr., had just told him that Ford 'will be keeping the Lincoln plant in Kentucky -- no Mexico.' Minutes later, Mr. Trump wrote in a second post: 'I worked hard with Bill Ford to keep the Lincoln plant in Kentucky. I owed it to the great State of Kentucky for their confidence in me!' Mr. Trump won 62.5 percent of the state's popular vote in the presidential election." CW: At 6:48 am ET today, Mr. Trump wrote a third tweet: 'I worked hard to get the sun to come up, and it worked! No wonder Americans have confidence in me!' ...

... ** The Fake News President. Paul Waldman: "But I can promise you that in a very short time, millions of Trump supporters will be convinced that he saved thousands of jobs in Kentucky with just the force of his will. As Jesse Singal observed, within minutes of Trump sending his bogus tweet, the story was spreading in its fake version through the conservative media ecosystem.... Trump is providing us a preview of what he'll do as president: He'll construct his own fake world for those who support him to inhabit, in which he's always right and deserves credit and praise for everything good that happens anywhere, whether he had anything to do with it or not. If there's positive news, he'll say it happened because of him. If there isn't any, he'll just make something up and take credit for that." -- CW

Do Stop by if You're in Town. Rajeev Syal of the Guardian: "Donald Trump has reportedly left civil servants amused and befuddled by extending an unusual and un presidential invitation to [British PM] Theresa May. Downing Street refused to deny a leaked transcript in which the president-elect told the British prime minister: 'If you travel to the US you should let me know.'" -- CW ...

Steve Holland & Kiyoshi Takenaka of Reuters: "... Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe wrapped up a hastily arranged meeting on Thursday that was intended to smooth relations following Trump's campaign rhetoric that cast doubt on long-standing U.S. alliances. The meeting, which lasted about 90 minutes, according to a Trump official, was the president-elect's first face-to-face conversation with a foreign leader since his election...." CW: This is a preliminary report; Abe was expected to take questions later. I wonder if they discussed those Japanese-American internment camps a Trump backer thought were such a great "precedent" for forcing Muslims to sign up on a "registry." ...

... Jerry Markon, et al., of the Washington Post: Trump's "5 p.m. session with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Trump's first with a foreign leader since the election, has raised questions among some in Washington's foreign policy community because Trump has apparently not been briefed by the State Department. Officials said Wednesday that the transition team has not reached out to State. A former State Department official said such a meeting with a foreign leader would normally be preceded by numerous briefings from key diplomats, which is considered especially important here because the Japanese are concerned about comments Trump made on the campaign trail. [Trump] ... repeatedly said that Japan, along with South Korea, should pay more for their defense and that he would make them pay more for hosting U.S. military bases."-- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Get Trump's Hands Off my Medicare! Paul Krugman: "'I'm not going to cut Social Security like every other Republican and I'm not going to cut Medicare or Medicaid,' [Donald Trump] declared [during the campaign], under the headline 'Why Donald Trump Won't Touch Your Entitlements.' It was, of course, a lie. The transition team's point man [lobbyist Michael Korbey] on Social Security is a longtime advocate of privatization, and all indications are that the incoming administration is getting ready to kill Medicare, replacing it with vouchers that can be applied to the purchase of private insurance. Oh, and it's also likely to raise the age of Medicare eligibility.... First, the attack on Medicare will be one of the most blatant violations of a campaign promise in history.... What's crucial now is to make sure that voters do, in fact, realize what's going on. And this isn't just a job for politicians. It's also a chance for the news media, which failed so badly during the campaign, to start doing its job." ...

     ... CW: Even if the media do their jobs, Democrats need to get off the dime here. We should be seeing ads right now condemning Ryan & Trump's man Korbey. We're not. Voters won't know they've been betrayed till after the deed is done.

New York Times Editors: "According to rough estimates by the Migration Policy Institute, of the country's 11 million unauthorized immigrants, about 820,000 have criminal records. About 300,000 of those have felony convictions and are presumably the bad people Mr. Trump is talking about.... And yet he also said that two million to three million would go, a population about the size of Chicago's. He would have to haul away a lot of terrific people, and terrorize many more, to hit that mark. This would require a vast conscription of state and local law enforcement against people who pose no threat. It would mean a surge in home and workplace raids, investigations and traffic stops.... If Mr. Trump begins a senseless purge, all segments of society -- religious congregations, factories, farms, colleges and universities, private individuals -- will need to speak out and defend the vulnerable." -- CW

Trump's Five-Year Lobbying Ban Is a PR Stunt. Isaac Arnsdorf: "K Street quickly cast doubt on the effectiveness of Donald Trump's five-year lobbying ban on transition and administration officials, saying the rule would both deter top talent from joining Trump's team and expand the use of loopholes. On its face, Trump's ban would last longer than any policy hitherto in force. But it's already become increasingly common for former officials to find ways to use their influence without registering as lobbyists. Trump's ban will probably intensify that trend, and its announcement probably had more to do with protecting the president-elect's anti-establishment image than actually disrupting the revolving door, lobbyists and legal experts said." -- CW

** Dangerous Times. Matt Yglesias of Vox: "We are used to corruption in which the rich buy political favor. What we need to learn to fear is corruption in which political favor becomes he primary driver of economic success. Many American administrations have featured acts of venal corruption, and Trump's will likely feature more than most. The larger risk, however, is that Trump's lack of grounding in ideological principles or party networks [or moral restraint] will create a systemically corrupt government.... Those who support the regime will receive favorable treatment from regulators, and those who oppose it will not.... It is entirely possible that eight years from now we'll be looking at an entrenched kleptocracy preparing to install a chosen successor whose only real mission is to preserve the web of parasitical oligarchy that has replaced the federal government as we know it." -- CW

The Troubles They'll See. Mark Schmitt of the New York Times: "It's doubtful that Donald J. Trump has even a grade-school civics class idea of how a bill becomes a law, so it's long been assumed that his legislative agenda will be House Speaker Paul Ryan's..... Even with one-party control, [passing legislation is] always a high-wire act.... Keeping the process on track requires a president who is fully engaged, making calls to the Hill, intervening to resolve conflicts, and providing technical support through competently staffed federal agencies. It helps a lot if the president is popular and members want to be associated with him; Ronald Reagan's approval rating was almost 60 percent around the time Congress enacted his sweeping tax and budget cuts in 1981. Even right after the election, Mr. Trump's favorability ratings were comparable to Richard M. Nixon's in the depths of Watergate, and he lost the popular vote. Nor does Mr. Trump have warm relationships with members of Congress. Most have never met him, and others he has viciously attacked." -- CW ...

... Jonathan Chait: A few days after the election, Paul Ryan "casually and somewhat cryptically stated that the mandate Trump won included the passage of Paul Ryan's plan to transform Medicare into capped premium support. This might come as a surprise to the people in small towns and the Rust Belt who listened to Trump's promise not to touch retirement programs. But there's increasing evidence Republicans are serious about this. Tom Price, chairman of the House Budget Committee, says that Republicans will pass Medicare privatization in a budget reconciliation bill this year. A budget reconciliation bill can be passed with a majority in the Senate, and cannot be filibustered, but it can only make changes to taxes and spending." -- CW ...

... The Banana Republic of Trump. CW: Charles Pierce, like many pundits, thinks the Trump-Putin bromance is likely a function of Russian oligarchs' financial ties to Trump. But Pierce provides a clue at the end of his post that makes me think it ain't only the money; to wit: "... Putin has been playing footsie with nationalist movements all over Europe...." You know who else plays footsie with nationalist movements all over Europe? Steve Bannon. And Bannon apparently has quite a hold over Trump. It's true that Trump has long admired dictators, but Bannon may be the eminence dangereux behind Trump's particular fondness for Putin. I suspect, BTW, what Trump admires about dictators is their mastery of the systemic corruption Matt Yglesias fears Trump will initiate here. ...

     ... Update: According to the NYT story on Gen. Flynn, he also has been urging Trump to work with Putin. This is what happens when you choose a know-nothing president who must rely on smart, informed but perverted advisors to make decisions.

... CW: Also, too, no one has benefited more than Donald Trump from the systemic corruption of our major political parties. The Bush family and its circle of financial backers tried to crown Jeb! as the nominee by raining $95MM on him before the first debate was scheduled. Clinton forcefully foreclosed on other potential candidates with her own massive war chest and her connections. She almost pulled it off in 2008, too, when she used the same tactics. Now Nancy Pelosi is once again using her long string of favors to House members as the means to continue her reign as minority leader. The Democratic party is absolutely ossified. Trump, despite his multiple disqualifying attributes, got 60MM votes because he wasn't Jeb! or Hillary.

Mark Stern of Slate: "The Federalist Says Steve Bannon Isn't Anti-Semitic Because Jewish Girls Really Are Whiny." Read the whole post. It's short.


Heather Caygle & John Bresnahan
of Politico: "Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan will challenge House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi for the top Democratic post, the first real test of her leadership since Democrats lost the House in 2010.... Ryan, a seven-term lawmaker who represents the kind of Rust Belt terrain where Donald Trump and Republicans outperformed in the election, says Democrats can't continue on their current path." ... CW

Paul Waldman: "... there's at least some evidence that Democrats are considering joining with Republicans to pass [Trump's huge infrastructure bill]. That would be a terrible mistake.... Obstruction is generally something you're unlikely to pay a price for, because most voters will decide that 'Washington' isn't working, and put blame on the party that holds the White House, even if the fact that it isn't working is completely the other party's fault.... [Trump is] a demagogue and a dangerous fool, and while Democrats aren't going to question the legitimacy of his presidency the way Republicans did with Obama, he shouldn't ever be treated like an ordinary president with whom Democrats just have some substantive disagreements. So, absent an incredibly powerful reason to cooperate with him on any particular bill, the last thing Trump should get from Democrats is a clean slate and a hand extended in cooperation." -- CW ...

... David Cole in the New York Review of Books: "... if Bush [II] could be stopped, notwithstanding widespread popular support, a large-scale attack on US soil leading to a war footing, and a history of judicial and congressional acquiescence in similar prior periods, Trump is also stoppable. He doesn't have anything like the popular support Bush had after 9/11. And the recent history of the repudiation of Bush's abuses will make it harder to repeat them.... Much of what Trump has proposed is patently illegal. Torture violates the Constitution, international law, and the Geneva Conventions. Deporting or singling out Muslims for discriminatory treatment violates the freedom of religion. Congress cannot expand libel, whose contours are determined by the First Amendment. The right to terminate a pregnancy remains protected by the Constitution, and the Supreme Court strongly reaffirmed that right just last year.... [Stopping Trump] will take an engaged citizenry, a persistent civil society, a vigilant media, brave insiders, and judges and other government officials who take seriously their responsibility to uphold the Constitution.... We live in a constitutional democracy, one that is expressly designed to check the impulses of dangerous men. It will do so if and only if we insist on it." CW: Cole will be the national legal director of the ACLU beginning in January.

Jonathan Easley of the Hill: "Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) won't officially join the Democratic Party even though he was appointed to a leadership position within the Senate Democratic Conference this week. 'I was elected as an Independent and I will finish this term as an Independent,' Sanders said at a breakfast Thursday morning hosted by the Christian Science Monitor." -- CW

Paul Waldman: The filibuster may survive. "... at least four Republican senators have gone on record saying that the filibuster should stay.... It's too early to know exactly what will happen, particularly since we don't know how the impulsive, vindictive buffoon in the Oval Office is going to inject himself into this process." -- CW

Gene Robinson: "The Democratic Party cannot just wait for the next Barack Obama to come along.... Instead, Democrats need to do what Republicans did, which is to build from the ground up and start winning state and local elections. A Democratic rebound has to begin with the basics: getting people who agree with you to vote. Less than 60 percent of those eligible to cast ballots in last week's election bothered to do so. Conservatives who say this is 'a center-right nation' may be right in terms of who votes, but they're wrong in terms of who could vote." -- CW


Renae Merle
of the Washington Post: "JPMorgan Chase hired hundreds of friends and relatives of potential clients in order to win business in China, an international bribery scheme, federal officials said Thursday, that netted the Wall Street bank more than $100 million. JPMorgan agreed to $264 million in fines to settle civil and criminal charges, an amount discounted in return for the bank's cooperation with the investigations. The bank, which was accused of violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, acknowledged wrongdoing as part of the settlement, an usual admission in such cases." -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Chris Mooney of the Washington Post: "This is the second year in a row that temperatures near the North Pole have risen to freakishly warm levels. During 2015's final days, the temperature near the Pole spiked to the melting point thanks to a massive storm that pumped warm air into the region.... 'It's about 20C [36 degrees Fahrenheit] warmer than normal over most of the Arctic Ocean, along with cold anomalies of about the same magnitude over north-central Asia,' Jennifer Francis, an Arctic specialist at Rutgers University, said by email Wednesday." CW: Nothing to worry about, folks. It's just weather. Sometimes it's hot; sometimes it's cold. Climate change is a hoax.

Christopher Ingraham of the Washington Post: "Americans have never been more interested in looking up the Ku Klux Klan online than they are right now, according to search data from Google Trends... Comparisons to other, presumably high-volume search terms give some sense of the magnitude. For several days this month, about as many people were searching for the Ku Klux Klan as were looking for Kim Kardashian and college football, combined. In November, interest in the Ku Klux Klan is about twice as high as it was at its previous 12-year peak back in March of this year, when Donald Trump did not immediately renounce an endorsement from former Klan leader David Duke. Interest in the Klan also spiked in November 2008, after the election of the first black president." -- CW

Beyond the Beltway

Rod Nordland of the New York Times: "Turkey now has handily outstripped China as the world’s biggest jailer of journalists, according to figures compiled by the Committee to Protect Journalists. The jailings are the most obvious example of an effort to muzzle not just the free press, but free speech generally. More than 3,000 Turks have faced charges for insulting the president, including a former Miss Turkey, Merve Buyuksarac...." -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

News Lede

New York Times: "Leon G. Billings, "the largely unheralded chief architect of the 1970 Clean Air Act.' has died at the age of 78. "Mr. Billings was also instrumental in drafting the 1972 Clean Water Act, as well as amendments, passed in 1977, to both landmark antipollution laws." CW: Will Congress completely dismantle the Clean Air Act or will Trump merely refuse to enforce it?

Wednesday
Nov162016

The Commentariat -- Nov. 17, 2016

Afternoon Update:

Anthony Faoila & David Nakamura of the Washington Post: "President Obama wrapped up his final visit to Europe on Thursday by issuing a plaintive warning to Western democracies not to 'take for granted our system of government and our way of life' as he prepares to relinquish the international stage to his successor..., Donald J. Trump. 'Democracy is hard work,' Obama said at a news conference after meeting [in Berlin] with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, one of his closest international partners." -- CW

Greg Miller of the Washington Post: "Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr. said Thursday that he has submitted his letter of resignation to President Obama, cementing his long-declared plan to leave his job as the nation's spy chief when a new president is sworn in. 'I submitted my letter of resignation last night, which felt pretty good,' Clapper said in testimony Thursday morning before the House Intelligence Committee. 'I have 64 days left and I would have a hard time with my wife for anything past that.' U.S. officials emphasized that Clapper's resignation was unrelated to the election victory of Donald Trump, who has publicly dismissed the work of U.S. spy agencies on critical issues, including Russia's interference in the election and Moscow's involvement in the war in Syria." -- CW

Jerry Markon, et al., of the Washington Post: Trump's "5 p.m. session with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Trump's first with a foreign leader since the election, has raised questions among some in Washington's foreign policy community because Trump has apparently not been briefed by the State Department. Officials said Wednesday that the transition team has not reached out to State. A former State Department official said such a meeting with a foreign leader would normally be preceded by numerous briefings from key diplomats, which is considered especially important here because the Japanese are concerned about comments Trump made on the campaign trail. [Trump] ... repeatedly said that Japan, along with South Korea, should pay more for their defense and that he would make them pay more for hosting U.S. military bases."-- CW

Renae Merle of the Washington Post: "JPMorgan Chase hired hundreds of friends and relatives of potential clients in order to win business in China, an international bribery scheme, federal officials said Thursday, that netted the Wall Street bank more than $100 million. JPMorgan agreed to $264 million in fines to settle civil and criminal charges, an amount discounted in return for the bank's cooperation with the investigations. The bank, which was accused of violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, acknowledged wrongdoing as part of the settlement, an usual admission in such cases." -- CW

Rod Nordland of the New York Times: "Turkey now has handily outstripped China as the world’s biggest jailer of journalists, according to figures compiled by the Committee to Protect Journalists. The jailings are the most obvious example of an effort to muzzle not just the free press, but free speech generally. More than 3,000 Turks have faced charges for insulting the president, including a former Miss Turkey, Merve Buyuksarac...." -- CW

*****

Anthony Faiola of the Washington Post: "President Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel together delivered a rebuttal to the coming era of Donald Trump, issuing a joint plea for more transatlantic cooperation on everything from security to climate change to the defense of a kinder, more inclusive world. On his last overseas trip as president, Obama is currently meeting with Merkel, a centrist leader who observers see as the heir apparent to his legacy as the leading global advocate of liberal democracy. Ahead of a joint appearance later Thursday, the two penned an op-ed piece ... in the German weekly Wirtschaftwoche ... recognizing the painful side of freer trade along with a sober reality check." -- CW

White House: "[Wednesday], President Barack Obama named 21 recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom. The Presidential Medal of Freedom is the Nation's highest civilian honor, presented to individuals who have made especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors. The awards will be presented at the White House on November 22nd." CW: You may want to read & savor the list, because from now on the medal will be going to people like Scott Baio & Newt Gingrich.

Philip Rucker & Robert Costa of the Washington Post: "... seven men, as well as Trump’s adult children and a few others, will make up an unusual power grid in a capital city used to a hierarchical structure. Trump is presiding over concentric spheres of influence, designed to give him direct access to a constellation of counselors and opinions. Such an approach also risks bringing confrontation or even paralysis as feuding factions work to further their own goals, edge out adversaries or distract Trump -- as happened more than once during his presidential campaign. As president, his associates said, Trump will seek rather than shun competing advice. His presidency will be governance as a series of ongoing conversations." -- CW

Michael Shear of the New York Times: "... Donald J. Trump denied Wednesday morning that his transition is in disarray, assailing news media reports about firings and infighting and insisting in an early-morning Twitter burst that everything is going 'so smoothly.' But legal and procedural delays by Mr. Trump's transition team continued on Wednesday, all but freezing the traditional handoff of critical information from the current administration more than a week after Mr. Trump won the presidential election.... [Trump] criticized a report in The New York Times about his early telephone contacts with foreign leaders. In a post on Twitter, he said he had made and received 'calls from many foreign leaders despite what the failing @nytimes said. Russia, U.K., China, Saudi Arabia, Japan.' In fact, The Times reported that Mr. Trump had taken calls from the leaders of Egypt, Israel, Russia and Britain, but said they had been conducted haphazardly and without State Department briefings that traditionally guide conversations with foreign leaders. Of the transition effort, Mr. Trump wrote: 'It is going so smoothly.'" -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... "It Is Going So Smoothly." Alistair Bell & Ginger Gibson of Reuters: "One day before U.S. President-elect Donald Trump's first meeting with a foreign leader, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Japanese officials said they had not finalized when or where in New York it would take place, who would be invited, or in some cases whom to call for answers. Uncertainty over the talks shows the difficulties in turning Trump ... into a sitting president with a watertight schedule and a fully functioning administration by his inauguration on Jan. 20. Japanese and U.S. officials said on Wednesday the State Department had not been involved in planning the meeting, leaving the logistical and protocol details that normally would be settled far in advance still to be determined. 'There has been a lot of confusion,' said one Japanese official." -- CW ...

... Jerry Markon, et al., of the Washington Post: "In his tweets, Trump falsely implies the Times reported that he had not spoken with foreign leaders and never points out exactly what the Times had in error.... He also denied reports that his transition team has sought security clearances for his children. In his tweets, Trump falsely implies the Times reported that he had not spoken with foreign leaders and never points out exactly what the Times had in error.... Two hawkish Republican senators, Jeff Sessions (Ala.) and Tom Cotton (Ark.), emerged as top candidates for defense secretary. Both would bring military experience, but neither has executive experience running a massive bureaucracy such as the Pentagon." -- CW (Also linked yesterday.) ...

... Tara Golshan of Vox states the obvious: During his presidential campaign, Donald Trump alluded to a more presidential temperament once elected. He 'can act as presidential as anybody that's ever been president,' he said in February.... His latest series of tweets proves that his media bashing wasn't just a function of his campaigning. Rather..., Trump is still on Twitter whining about the media's representation of him. He is still on Twitter, period. And his temperament -- though perhaps slightly more leashed -- has not changed." -- CW ...

... The Word from the TrumpCult. Steve M. peruses the commentariat & finds that Trumpbots are relieved that their Dear Leader is still tweeting because "He has to keep us informed directly," so Americans aren't fooled by the lying media. -- CW

Trump Sues New Hometown. The Taxes Are Too Damned High. Che Odum of Bloomberg: "Donald Trump refiled his lawsuit seeking a refund of taxes paid for his new luxury hotel project in Washington, D.C.... Trump, through a company he owns called Trump Old Post Office LLC, first filed suit against the city in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia in June, contesting the assessment against several downtown lots along Pennsylvania Avenue. That lawsuit was dismissed Oct. 27, but the court allowed Trump to refile separate petitions for each of the lots involved in the Trump International Hotel. The first of those petitions was filed Nov. 14. More petitions will be filed, according to court papers." -- CW

Margaret Hartmann of New York: "In an attempt to show that Donald Trump is making good on his campaign promise to 'drain the swamp,' on Wednesday the campaign announced that anyone who joins the administration will be banned from lobbying for five years. Trump's ethical stand was undercut by reports that he wants to refill the swamp with a family member. Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, is likely to take a job at the White House, according to The Wall Street Journal. Sources tell the paper that both White House chief of staff Reince Priebus and presidential counselor Stephen Bannon are urging Kushner to take a formal position, such as senior adviser or special counsel.... As the chief executive of the real-estate firm Kushner Companies and publisher of Observer Media, Kushner deciding to take a government role would present complex conflicts of interest.... But of course, that's not the biggest issue.... A 1967 law ... bans public officials from hiring their relatives." -- CW ...

... Paul Waldman: "Anti-nepotism laws prevent Trump from giving his family members jobs in the administration. But don't think that’s going to stop them from being active participants in U.S. government decision-making, or using the fact that Trump is president to keep money flowing in. In fact, we could see the president enriching himself and his family on a scale that we normally associate with post-Soviet kleptocrats and Third World dictators." -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

"Draining the Swamp," Ctd. Ben White of Politico: "A populist candidate who railed against shady financial interests on the campaign trail is now putting together an administration that looks like an investment banker's dream. Former Goldman Sachs banker Steven Mnuchin has been seen at Trump Tower amid rumors that he's the leading candidate for Treasury secretary. Billionaire investor Wilbur Ross appears headed to the Commerce Department. Steve Bannon, another Goldman alum, will work steps from the Oval Office. If Mnuchin drops out..., JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon remains a possibility as Treasury secretary, and will serve as an outside adviser if he doesn't get the job. It's a restoration of Wall Street power -- and a potential flip in the way the industry is regulated -- perhaps unparalleled in American history. 'You would have to go back to the 1920s to see so much Wall Street influence coming to Washington,' said Charles Geisst, a Wall Street historian at Manhattan College." -- CW ...

... Kevin Drum: Rick Perry's Oops! Moment comes full circle. CW: And what could possibly be wrong with Perry's leading the Energy Department? ...

... Jonathan Chait: "The bad news on Donald Trump's transition team is that Mike Rogers, one of the better informed and respected members of the Republican security establishment, has been booted off. The worse news is that, according to the Weekly Standard and a source who contacted the New York Times, Rogers was thrown off because of concerns about his handling of the Benghazi investigation. (Rogers found that, contrary to a popular right-wing conspiracy theory, the Obama administration did not order its security forces to 'stand down.')... The even worse news is that the person who was fired for not being crazy was replaced by somebody who is famous for being crazy. Frank Gaffney has taken Rogers's spot. Gaffney suffers from a variety of delusional beliefs concerning secret Islamic subversion of the government, a conspiracy that runs from such figures as Barack Obama (who Gaffney called 'America's first Muslims president') to Chris Christie, who Gaffney has accused of 'misprision of treason.'... Gaffney was banned from CPAC for being too crazy, which is like being thrown out of the Soprano family for lacking business ethics." -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... AND Speaking of Ethics.... Isaac Arnsdorf of Politico: "Donald Trump's transition team appears to have deviated from its own ethics rule barring lobbyists whose work for Trump would overlap with any matters on which they lobbied in the previous year. According to a copy of Trump for America Inc's 'Code of Ethical Conduct' obtained by Politico, members of the transition team must pledge to 'disqualify myself from involvement in any particular transition matter if I have engaged in regulated lobbying activities with respect to such matter, as defined by the Lobbying Disclosure Act, within the previous 12 months.' But at least eight transition team members have done work that appears to flout that internal rule, Senate records show." CW: Don't blame the transition team. How could they have suspected that Trump had an ethics code? (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Harper Neidig & Megan Wilson of the Hill: "... Mike Pence is reportedly kicking all lobbyists off the transition team, according to The Wall Street Journal. An unidentified source within the transition team told the Journal that it was one of Pence's first moves since taking over the effort from New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who was ousted last week.... Trump said in an interview with CBS's '60 Minutes' on Sunday that selecting lobbyists was the only option he had." CW: So pence didn't kick out the lobbyists? Sounds like pence planted the WSJ story. (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Tim Mak of the Daily Beast: Steve Bannon "might not be able to pass the background check [to get a top security clearance]. The basic form..., known as an SF86, asks about one's arrest record, foreign contacts, association with organizations dedicated to the use of violence, and association with groups that advocate use of force to discourage individuals from exercising their constitutional rights. All of those questions could be seriously complicated for Bannon, who's been celebrated by American white nationalists, feted by Europe's ultra-right, and charged with choking his wife.... There's rarely been someone with so many questionable ties appointed to such a lofty position. In fact, security clearance experts tell The Daily Beast, Bannon's background would create serious problems for any other government employee -- if he weren't so close to the president. But unlike the nation's soldiers and spies, the alt-right Breitbart ringleader will get special treatment." -- CW ...

... Matt Shuham of TPM: "Steve Bannon suggested there were too many Asian CEOs working in Silicon Valley in a discussion about immigration with then-candidate Donald Trump on his radio program last November. The Washington Post late Tuesday flagged that comment.... 'When two-thirds or three-quarters of the CEOs in Silicon Valley are from South Asia or from Asia, I think...' Bannon [said] before trailing off, according to the Post. 'A country is more than an economy. We're a civic society,' he continued.... According to a May 2015 study..., based on 2013 data, only 14 percent of executives at five top tech companies ... were Asian or Asian-American." ...

     ... CW: Bannon's wild overestimation is typical of racists -- they claim "the problem" is much greater than it actually is. So, you know, black people are killing all the white people (see Trump tweet); Mexicans -- or in this case, Asians -- are taking all the good jobs from "real Americans," etc. Oftentimes, they're not lying; they really believe it, maybe because they read it on Breitbart or another fact-averse alt-right site.

Brian Stelter of CNN: "For the second time in a week..., Donald Trump has abandoned precedent and traveled without the 'press pool,' a small group of journalists assigned to cover his movements. The move Tuesday night has spurred a strong backlash. 'It is unacceptable for the next president of the United States to travel without a regular pool to record his movements and inform the public about his whereabouts,' the White House Correspondents Association said in response." -- CW (Also linked yesterday.)

Trump's America, Ctd. Margaret Hartmann: "Carl Higbie, former Navy SEAL and spokesman for the pro-Trump Great American PAC, argued Wednesday night on Fox News that a registry of immigrants from Muslim countries would pass constitutional muster, citing the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II.... Higbie's overall argument is correct. Kansas secretary of State Kris Kobach, a Trump immigration adviser [CW: and a virulent, activist foe of undocumented immigrants], suggested on Tuesday that ... [Trump] might reinstate a registry of Muslims entering the country on visas from countries that pose a terror threat. Though many people were unaware of it, that system -- the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System -- was in effect from 2002 to 2011. Legal challenges of the program did not get very far, and several constitutional law experts told Politico that a similar program would probably be allowed to continue today. Judges will not, however, base that decision on the precedent set by the internment of Japanese-Americans." -- CW

Gail Collins: "One of Donald Trump's big advantages now is that he has so many awful associates. No matter what appointees he foists on us, there's always another pal who'd have been worse. If he names some federal land-grabbing oilman as secretary of the interior, people are going to sigh with relief and say, 'At least it isn't Sarah Palin.'" -- CW

** Radley Balko of the Washington Post writes a must-read on how Rudy Giuliani launched his political career by inciting thousands of drunken, racist cops to riot. CW: I remember the riot, which was shocking, but I didn't remember that, "In the center of the mayhem, standing on top of a car while cursing Mayor Dinkins through a bullhorn, was mayoral candidate Rudy Giuliani."

Matt Apuzzo of the New York Times: Donald Trump is floating Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III to be attorney general or secretary of defense. "In 1981, a Justice Department prosecutor from Washington stopped by to see Jeff Sessions, [then] the United States attorney in Mobile, Ala., at the time. The prosecutor, J. Gerald Hebert, said he had heard a shocking story: A federal judge had called a prominent white lawyer 'a disgrace to his race' for representing black clients. 'Well,' Mr. Sessions replied, according to Mr. Hebert, 'maybe he is.'... As attorney general, Mr. Sessions would be responsible for upholding civil rights laws. As secretary of defense, he would oversee one of the most ethnically diverse institutions in the country; 25 percent of the military is African-American, Asian or Hispanic." -- CW

Brad Plumer of Vox: "Donald Trump ... wants to make an infrastructure bill a priority in his first 100 days as president.... The catch, though, is that Trump doesn't really have a plan to [improve the nation's infrastructure].... All Trump has right now is an idiosyncratic proposal for Congress to offer some $137 billion in tax breaks to private investors who want to finance toll roads, toll bridges, or other projects that generate their own revenue streams. But this private financing scheme, experts across the political spectrum say, wouldn't address many of America's most pressing infrastructure needs -- like repairing existing roads or replacing leaky water mains in poorer communities like Flint. It's a narrow, inadequate policy.... Infrastructure doesn't seem high on [Congressional Republicans'] agenda.... Back in September, when asked whether he would help Trump pass a $550 billion infrastructure program, House Speaker Paul Ryan initial response was a loud laugh." ...

     ... CW: Plumer discusses many aspects of Trump's "plan" that are unworkable. But he doesn't mention this: This is a scheme that benefits only the wealthy -- tax-averse investors & rich drivers. Poor people don't take toll roads & toll bridges if they can avoid them. The pothole-pocked roads & crumbling bridges will be for us second-class citizens while the rich breeze through tollgates to autobahn bliss. Trump's infrastructure dreams are part-and-parcel of his plan to further privilege the haves over the have-nots.

Michael Cohen of the Boston Globe: "... many Americans will wish for [Trump] to be a successful president. Not me.... I want him to fail spectacularly.... Success for Trump would be a disaster for America. If his campaign promises are to be taken at face value, his success would mean that tens of millions of Americans may lose health care insurance. It would mean a step back on fighting climate change.... It would mean a shredded social safety net and little federal attention to voting restrictions and structural racism.... It would mean global instability and a weakening of American's leadership role.... It would mean disastrous trade wars and a domestic agenda that would do more to harm the people who voted for Trump than help them. It would mean mass deportation -- and a humanitarian catastrophe -- for millions of undocumented immigrants.... It would mean making acceptable nativist, racist, and xenophobic hate." -- CW

Another Ruthless Dictator Friends Trump. Sewell Chan & Hwaida Saad of the New York Times: "President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, in his first remarks since the American election, has called ... Donald J. Trump 'a natural ally, together with the Russians, Iranians and many other countries' in the struggle against terrorism. The comments from Mr. Assad were no surprise, given that Mr. Trump has suggested that he would end American aid to certain rebel groups and work with Mr. Assad and his ally, Russia." -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Repeal & Delay -- Another Excellent Republican "Healthcare Plan." Peter Sullivan of the Hill: "A Republican plan to quickly repeal most of ObamaCare but delay the effects for up to two years is gaining steam on Capitol Hill. The plan would allow Republicans to deliver on promises to repeal the law in the next Congress while buying them time to come up with a replacement. But there's a problem: If insurers know the law is going away, they might drop out immediately, causing chaos for enrollees before any replacement plan has time to take shape." -- CW

Jennifer Steinhauer of the New York Times: "Congressional Democrats ... are constructing an agenda to align with many proposals of ... Donald J. Trump that put him at odds with his own party. On infrastructure spending, child tax credits, paid maternity leave and dismantling trade agreements, Democrats are looking for ways they can work with Mr. Trump and force Republican leaders to choose between their new president and their small-government, free-market principles. Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, elected Wednesday as the new Democratic minority leader, has spoken with Mr. Trump several times, and Democrats in coming weeks plan to announce populist economic and ethics initiatives they think Mr. Trump might like." ...

     ... CW: If you read Brad Plumer's assessment of Trump's infrastructure "plan," you can no doubt see the flaw in Chuck & Nancy's devious plot. They're thinking Flint's Deadly Water and he's talking Super-Highways for Rich People.

Ed O'Keefe & Mike DeBonis of the Washington Post: "Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) was elected as the next leader of Senate Democrats on Wednesday, establishing him as one of his party's most senior officials in Washington and Democrats' primary partisan counterweight to a Trump administration.... In a gesture to his party's progressive wing, Schumer added Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) to a junior role in his newly expanded leadership team.... Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) will serve as party whip and Schumer's chief deputy, maintaining a role he held under outgoing Senate Minority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.). Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) will serve as the third-ranking Democrat, foregoing a challenge to Durbin but assuming a new title of assistant Democratic leader. Among Republicans, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) was reelected unanimously by colleagues on Wednesday morning." -- CW (Also linked yesterday.)

Heather Caygle of Politico: "Nancy Pelosi is officially running for House minority leader again, announcing in a letter to colleagues Wednesday that she has already locked down support from two-thirds of the caucus.... Pelosi's announcement comes at a tenuous time -- she was forced to delay leadership elections after an uprising from rank-and-file members Tuesday -- but her already widespread support could put to rest any rumors of a potential challenger and shows her standing within the caucus remains strong." -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Lisa Mascaro of the Los Angeles Times: "Donald Trump may seek improved relations with Russia, but top Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham wants Vladimir Putin held responsible if the Russian government was involved in cyber-hacks to disrupt the U.S. elections. Graham, who has sparred openly with Trump..., is proposing that Congress hold a series of hearings on 'Russia's misadventures throughout the world' -- including whether they were involved in 'hacking into the DNC.' 'Were they involved in cyberattacks that had a political component to it in our elections?' Graham said. 'If so, Graham said, "Putin should be punished.'" -- CW

Marc Stein & Zach Lowe of ESPN: "At least three NBA teams have stopped staying at Donald Trump-branded hotels this season in part to avoid any implied association with the new president-elect, according to league sources. Sources told ESPN.com that the Milwaukee Bucks, Memphis Grizzlies and Dallas Mavericks have moved away from Trump hotels in New York City and Chicago, which bear Donald Trump's name through a licensing agreement." CW: Yes, but all the Russian ice hockey teams will stay in the soon-TBA "Trumpsky Towers" in Moscow.

Twitter Curtails Trump Backers' Hate Speech. Jessica Guynn of USA Today: "Twitter suspended a number of accounts associated with the alt-right movement, the same day the social media service said it would crack down on hate speech. Among those suspended was Richard Spencer, who runs an alt-right think tank and had a verified account on Twitter.... Spencer has said he wants blacks, Asians, Hispanics and Jews removed from the U.S.... In one of the highest-profile bans, Twitter removed the account of Milo Yiannopoulos, a technology editor at the conservative news site Breitbart in July. He had engaged in a campaign of abuse in which hundreds of anonymous Twitter accounts bombarded Ghostbusters actress Leslie Jones with racist and sexist taunts." -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Craig Silverman of BuzzFeed: "In the final three months of the US presidential campaign, the top-performing fake election news stories on Facebook generated more engagement than the top stories from major news outlets such as the New York Times, Washington Post, Huffington Post, NBC News, and others, a BuzzFeed News analysis has found." CW: The analysis makes Mark Zuckerberg a liar. But we knew that. ...

... ** Palo Alto, We Have a Problem. Brian Phillips of MTV: "I have my own issues with the New York Times, but when your all-powerful social network [i.e., Facebook,] accidentally replaces newspapers with a cartel of Macedonian teens generating fake pro-Trump stories for money, then friend, you have made a mistake.... One of the conditions of democratic resistance is having an accurate picture of what to resist. Confusion is an authoritarian tool; life under a strongman means not simply being lied to but being beset by contradiction and uncertainty until the line between truth and falsehood blurs.... It's telling, in that regard, that Trump supporters, the voters most furiously suspicious of journalism, also proved to be the most receptive audience for fictions that looked journalism-like.... Democracy depends on a public forum, and ours is upside down.... The American right has now fully postmodernized itself.... And thus we arrive at the Trump campaign, with its annihilating virtuosity in falsehood.... Mark Zuckerberg, in his mild, untroubled blamelessness, may simply be demonstrating the Crescent Park version of the delusion afflicting many Trump voters, which is that privilege is itself a kind of innocence.... And if ... [Trump] has taught us anything, it's that you don't have to believe in your own convictions to let other people suffer for them." Via Paul Waldman. -- CW

Julie Davis of the New York Times: "In her first public remarks since conceding to ... Donald J. Trump last week, [Hillary] Clinton told the crowd [at a Children's Defense Fund gala] she was struggling to recover from an unexpected defeat that she said had left nonwhite children and vulnerable people across the nation afraid." -- CW ...

Katha Pollitt of the Nation: "... only 8 percent of Republican women voted for [Clinton].... There0 are dozens of reasons why Trump won, but misogyny was a big part of it. And if you didn't know women can be misogynistic, now you do. Trumpettes, if you voted for a grotesque liar, bankrupt, and groper with no public-service experience, the only candidate in 40 years not to have released his tax returns, don't tell me you preferred him just because Hillary is 'unlikable.' Judging men and women by such different standards is what female self-hatred is.... Those white women, like the rest of us, now live in a country where the public humiliation of women has the White House seal of approval.... So donate now to the National Network of Abortion Funds, Planned Parenthood, SisterSong, the ACLU, the National Immigration Law Center. Volunteer locally.... Talk to people.... There's so much we can do, but there isn't a lot of time." -- CW

Sam Stein of the Huffington Post: "Several theories have been proffered to explain just what went wrong for the Clinton campaign.... But lost in the discussion is a simple explanation, one that was re-emphasized to HuffPost in interviews with several high-ranking officials and state-based organizers: The Clinton campaign was harmed by its own neglect. In Michigan alone, a senior battleground state operative told HuffPost that the state party and local officials were running at roughly one-tenth the paid canvasser capacity that Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) had when he ran for president.... Clinton lost the state by 12,000 votes.... A similar situation unfolded in Wisconsin." -- CW

"Is It Safe?" Nida Najar & Stephanie Saul of the New York Times: "College admissions ... are worried that Mr. Trump's election as president could portend a decline in international candidates. Canadian universities have already detected a postelection surge in interest from overseas." -- CW

Jim Norman of Gallup: "Americans' satisfaction with the way things are going in the U.S. plunged 10 percentage points in the aftermath of the presidential election -- retreating from a decade high of 37% in the run-up to last Tuesday's vote.... A sharp decline in satisfaction among Democrats explains most of the drop." -- CW

Beyond the Beltway

Mark Berman of the Washington Post: "Prosecutors in Minnesota said Wednesday that they had charged the police officer who fatally shot Philando Castile during a traffic stop in Falcon Heights, Minn. with second-degree manslaughter for the shooting... John Choi, the Ramsey County attorney, said at a news conference in St. Paul, Minn., on Wednesday morning that Jeronimo Yanez, the officer who shot Castile, would also be charged with endangering the lives of [Diamond] Reynolds and her 4-year-old daughter, who was also in the car." -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Way Beyond

Brian Murphy of the Washington Post: "Russia appeared on course Wednesday to become the latest nation to snub the International Criminal Court, sending a signal of defiance after a U.N. panel cited rights abuses and other complaints linked to Russia's annexation of Crimea more than two years ago. The decree to formally withdraw from the ICC, signed by President Vladimir Putin, also could be a preemptive move to buffer Russia against future claims of war crimes related its military intervention in Syria." -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Anne Barnard & Ivan Nechepurenko of the New York Times: "Warplanes resumed airstrikes on the besieged rebel-held sections of Aleppo, Syria, on Tuesday, as Russia began a major new offensive against insurgents battling Syria's president, Bashar al-Assad. Russia's defense minister, Sergei K. Shoigu, said it had started 'a big operation to deliver massive strikes' against the Islamic State and the Levant Victory Front, formerly known as the Nusra Front, in Idlib and Homs Provinces." -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Tuesday
Nov152016

The Commentariat -- Nov. 16, 2016

Afternoon Update:

Michael Shear of the New York Times: "... Donald J. Trump denied Wednesday morning that his transition is in disarray, assailing news media reports about firings and infighting and insisting in an early-morning Twitter burst that everything is going 'so smoothly.' But legal and procedural delays by Mr. Trump's transition team continued on Wednesday, all but freezing the traditional handoff of critical information from the current administration more than a week after Mr. Trump won the presidential election.... [Trump] criticized a report in The New York Times about his early telephone contacts with foreign leaders. In a post on Twitter, he said he had made and received 'calls from many foreign leaders despite what the failing @nytimes said. Russia, U.K., China, Saudi Arabia, Japan.' In fact, The Times reported that Mr. Trump had taken calls from the leaders of Egypt, Israel, Russia and Britain, but said they had been conducted haphazardly and without State Department briefings that traditionally guide conversations with foreign leaders. Of the transition effort, Mr. Trump wrote: 'It is going so smoothly.'" -- CW ...

... Jerry Markon, et al., of the Washington Post: "In his tweets, Trump falsely implies the Times reported that he had not spoken with foreign leaders and never points out exactly what the Times had in error.... He also denied reports that his transition team has sought security clearances for his children. In his tweets, Trump falsely implies the Times reported that he had not spoken with foreign leaders and never points out exactly what the Times had in error.... Two hawkish Republican senators, Jeff Sessions (Ala.) and Tom Cotton (Ark.), emerged as top candidates for defense secretary. Both would bring military experience, but neither has executive experience running a massive bureaucracy such as the Pentagon." -- CW ...

... Jonathan Chait: "The bad news on Donald Trump's transition team is that Mike Rogers, one of the better informed and respected members of the Republican security establishment, has been booted off. The worse news is that, according to the Weekly Standard and a source who contacted the New York Times, Rogers was thrown off because of concerns about his handling of the Benghazi investigation. (Rogers found that, contrary to a popular right-wing conspiracy theory, the Obama administration did not order its security forces to 'stand down.')... The even worse news is that the person who was fired for not being crazy was replaced by somebody who is famous for being crazy. Frank Gaffney has taken Rogers's spot. Gaffney suffers from a variety of delusional beliefs concerning secret Islamic subversion of the government, a conspiracy that runs from such figures as Barack Obama (who Gaffney called 'America's first Muslims president') to Chris Christie, who Gaffney has accused of 'misprision of treason.'... Gaffney was banned from CPAC for being too crazy, which is like being thrown out of the Soprano family for lacking business ethics." -- CW ...

... AND Speaking of Ethics.... Isaac Arnsdorf of Politico: "Donald Trump's transition team appears to have deviated from its own ethics rule barring lobbyists whose work for Trump would overlap with any matters on which they lobbied in the previous year. According to a copy of Trump for America Inc's 'Code of Ethical Conduct' obtained by Politico, members of the transition team must pledge to 'disqualify myself from involvement in any particular transition matter if I have engaged in regulated lobbying activities with respect to such matter, as defined by the Lobbying Disclosure Act, within the previous 12 months.' But at least eight transition team members have done work that appears to flout that internal rule, Senate records show." CW: Don't blame the transition team. How could they have suspected Trump had an ethics code? ...

... Harper Neidig & Megan Wilson of the Hill: "... Mike Pence is reportedly kicking all lobbyists off the transition team, according to The Wall Street Journal. An unidentified source within the transition team told the Journal that it was one of Pence's first moves since taking over the effort from New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who was ousted last week.... Trump said in an interview with CBS's '60 Minutes' on Sunday that selecting lobbyists was the only option he had." CW: So pence didn't kick out the lobbyists? Sounds like pence planted the WSJ story.

Brian Stelter of CNN: "For the second time in a week..., Donald Trump has abandoned precedent and traveled without the 'press pool,' a small group of journalists assigned to cover his movements. The move Tuesday night has spurred a strong backlash. 'It is unacceptable for the next president of the United States to travel without a regular pool to record his movements and inform the public about his whereabouts,' the White House Correspondents Association said in response." -- CW

Paul Waldman: "Anti-nepotism laws prevent Trump from giving his family members jobs in the administration. But don't think that's going to stop them from being active participants in U.S. government decision-making, or using the fact that Trump is president to keep money flowing in. In fact, we could see the president enriching himself and his family on a scale that we normally associate with post-Soviet kleptocrats and Third World dictators." -- CW

Another Ruthless Dictator Friends Trump. Sewell Chan & Hwaida Saad of the New York Times: "President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, in his first remarks since the American election, has called ... Donald J. Trump 'a natural ally, together with the Russians, Iranians and many other countries' in the struggle against terrorism. The comments from Mr. Assad were no surprise, given that Mr. Trump has suggested that he would end American aid to certain rebel groups and work with Mr. Assad and his ally, Russia." -- CW ...

... Anne Barnard & Ivan Nechepurenko of the New York Times: "Warplanes resumed airstrikes on the besieged rebel-held sections of Aleppo, Syria, on Tuesday, as Russia began a major new offensive against insurgents battling Syria's president, Bashar al-Assad. Russia's defense minister, Sergei K. Shoigu, said it had started 'a big operation to deliver massive strikes' against the Islamic State and the Levant Victory Front, formerly known as the Nusra Front, in Idlib and Homs Provinces." -- CW

Ed O'Keefe & Mike DeBonis of the Washington Post: "Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) was elected as the next leader of Senate Democrats on Wednesday, establishing him as one of his party's most senior officials in Washington and Democrats' primary partisan counterweight to a Trump administration.... In a gesture to his party's progressive wing, Schumer added Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) to a junior role in his newly expanded leadership team.... Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) will serve as party whip and Schume's chief deputy, maintaining a role he held under outgoing Senate Minority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.). Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) will serve as the third-ranking Democrat, foregoing a challenge to Durbin but assuming a new title of assistant Democratic leader. Among Republicans, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) was reelected unanimously by colleagues on Wednesday morning." -- CW

Heather Caygle of Politico: "Nancy Pelosi is officially running for House minority leader again, announcing in a letter to colleagues Wednesday that she has already locked down support from two-thirds of the caucus.... Pelosi ... was forced to delay leadership elections after an uprising from rank-and-file members Tuesday -- but her already widespread support could put to rest any rumors of a potential challenger and shows her standing within the caucus remains strong." -- CW

Twitter Curtails Trump Backers' Hate Speech. Jessica Guynn of USA Today: "Twitter suspended a number of accounts associated with the alt-right movement, the same day the social media service said it would crack down on hate speech.Among those suspended was Richard Spencer, who runs an alt-right think tank and had a verified account on Twitter.... Spencer has said he wants blacks, Asians, Hispanics and Jews removed from the U.S.... In one of the highest-profile bans, Twitter removed the account of Milo Yiannopoulos, a technology editor at the conservative news site Breitbart in July. He had engaged in a campaign of abuse in which hundreds of anonymous Twitter accounts bombarded Ghostbusters actress Leslie Jones with racist and sexist taunts." -- CW

Mark Berman of the Washington Post: "Prosecutors in Minnesota said Wednesday that they had charged the police officer who fatally shot Philando Castile during a traffic stop in Falcon Heights, Minn. with second-degree manslaughter for the shooting.... John Choi, the Ramsey County attorney, said at a news conference in St. Paul, Minn., on Wednesday morning that Jeronimo Yanez, the officer who shot Castile, would also be charged with endangering the lives of [Diamond] Reynolds and her 4-year-old daughter, who was also in the car." -- CW

Brian Murphy of the Washington Post: "Russia appeared on course Wednesday to become the latest nation to snub the International Criminal Court, sending a signal of defiance after a U.N. panel cited rights abuses and other complaints linked to Russia's annexation of Crimea more than two years ago. The decree to formally withdraw from the ICC, signed by President Vladimir Putin, also could be a preemptive move to buffer Russia against future claims of war crimes related its military intervention in Syria." -- CW

*****

Louis Nelson of Politico: "In a speech extolling the virtues of democracy in the country credited with inventing it, President Barack Obama said the election of Donald Trump as his successor should serve as a reminder of the importance of the governing values cherished by both the United States and Greece. Speaking in Athens Wednesday, Obama listed out freedoms protected by democracies, including freedom of speech and worship and of the press, along with independent judiciaries and a separation of powers. He told the Greek audience that among those cherished values is 'free and fair elections, because citizens must be able to choose their own leaders. Even if your candidate doesn't always win,' pausing as the crowd chuckled." -- CW ...

... Gardiner Harris of the New York Times: "President Obama, in some of his strongest language since Donald J. Trump's election last week, on Tuesday warned against the rise of nationalistic tribalism, apparently a reference to Mr. Trump's decision to appoint Stephen K. Bannon, a hard-right nationalist, to a top position. 'I do believe, separate and apart from any particular election or movement, that we are going to have to guard against a rise in a crude sort of nationalism or ethnic identity or tribalism that is built around an "us" and a "them,"' Mr. Obama said. Mr. Obama's remarks came in an hourlong news conference in Athens on his final trip overseas as president. He had come to Greece partly to bolster Greek hopes of further debt relief from its European partners, which will meet on Dec. 5 to consider giving this ailing nation another pass on its mountain of debt." -- CW ...

James Hohmann of the Washington Post: "Barack Obama has deluded himself with the misguided hope that Donald Trump will not even try to follow through on many of his biggest campaign promises. He is consoling himself with the hope that, if he does, the new president will be measured, self-restrained and respectful of custom. That he will 'study ... deeply' and 'look at the facts.' That logic and reason, not emotion or ideology, will drive him above all else.... For a little over an hour yesterday afternoon, Americans saw a 55-year-old who has not come to grips with just how big a blow Trump's victory is to his legacy and his party. He rationalized. He downplayed. He justified. He minimized. With all the trappings of the presidency still his, it hasn't fully sunk in yet." -- CW

Very organized process taking place as I decide on Cabinet and many other positions. I am the only one who knows who the finalists are! -- Donald Trump, in a tweet last night ...

... Sent just in case you hoped maybe a President Trump, unlike Donald Trump, would be truthful with the American people. Notice, too, how Trump uses beauty pageant language -- "finalists" -- to describe the process; according to the reports below, that's pretty much how he's "managing" staffing (I could use graphic metaphors here, but I'm way too decorous for that, so fill in your own). -- Constant Weader ...

CW: Do read at least one of the Transition Chaos! stories below to get a flavor of what a disaster (to use one of Trump's favorite words) this guy is. There's a lot of overlap to the stories but each reports some unique elements, too. I don't believe in the supernatural, but maybe I'm wrong. It seems there must be some dark comic force that has propelled Trump forward all his life because there is not one damned thing about him that says "marginally competent," much less "winner." Anyway, here's what happens when a "team of rivals" brings knives to the table. ...

... Julie Davis, et al., of the New York Times: "... Donald J. Trump's transition was in disarray on Tuesday, marked by firings, infighting and revelations that American allies were blindly dialing in to Trump Tower to try to reach the soon-to-be-leader of the free world.... One week after Mr. Trump scored an upset victory that took him by surprise, his team was improvising the most basic traditions of assuming power. That included working without official State Department briefing materials in his first conversations with foreign leaders." This is an expansion of a report linked yesterday afternoon. -- CW ...

... The Post published online this story, by Karen DeYoung & Greg Miller, about an hour after releasing the story below: "The bloodletting in ... Donald Trump's transition team that began with last week's ouster of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie escalated Tuesday with new departures, particularly in the area of national security, as power consolidated within an ever-smaller group of top Trump loyalists.... As he had during the campaign, Trump appeared to be increasingly uncomfortable with outsiders and suspicious of those considered part of what one insider called the 'bicoastal elite,' who are perceived as trying to 'insinuate' themselves into positions of power.... Some key members of Trump's party began to question his views and the remaining candidates for top positions. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said Trump's efforts to work more closely with Russian President Vladimir Putin amounted to 'complicity in [the] butchery of the Syrian people' and 'an unacceptable price for a great nation.' ...

     "The two names most prominently mentioned for the diplomatic job -- former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani and John Bolton.... Giuliani ... was said ... to have personally appealed to Trump for the diplomatic job. He has virtually no diplomatic experience or knowledge of the State Department bureaucracy. Bolton, a national security hawk who got his U.N. job through a recess appointment after the Senate refused to confirm him, was a leading advocate for the 2003 invasion of Iraq, contradicting Trump's campaign position opposing it." -- CW ...

     ... Dave Weigel of the Washington Post: "Sen. Rand Paul, a newly reelected member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said [Tuesday] morning that he is inclined to oppose former U.N. ambassador John Bolton or ... Rudolph W. Giuliani if either is nominated for secretary of state. 'It's important that someone who was an unrepentant advocate for the Iraq War, who didn't learn the lessons of the Iraq War, shouldn't be the secretary of state for a president who says Iraq was a big lesson,' Paul said in an interview Tuesday morning.... Paul argued that Giuliani and Bolton, the people whose names have circulated most widely, 'have made it clear that they favor bombing Iran.'" -- CW ...

     ... Here's Li'l Randy's full-throated rap on Bolton. Maybe worst of all, Bolton is just another Hillary Clinton! -- CW ...

... Margaret Hartmann of New York outlines the cases for and against Giuliani, Bolton & Jeff Sessions, each of whom wants the toppiest top job he can get. Other than picking a few random Trumpbots out of the crowd at one of his rallies, it's hard to conceive of how he could have made worse choices. I do have to concede that Trump did something I would not have expected, and that is to make Chris Christie appear to be a relatively reasonable man. ...

... Jerry Markon, et al., of the Washington Post: "... Donald Trump, who clashed with leading Republicans throughout his campaign, faced growing tumult in his national security transition team on Monday as key members of his own party appeared to question his views and personnel choices. Former congressman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), a respected voice on national security thought to be a leading candidate to run the CIA, was among those pushed out of the team over the past two days, two individuals with direct knowledge said, in a series of moves that have added to the anxiety across the upper ranks of U.S. intelligence agencies.... A former U.S. official with ties to the Trump team described the ousters of Rogers and others as a 'bloodletting of anybody that associated in any way on the transition with [New Jersey Gov. Chris] Christie,' and said that the departures were engineered by two Trump loyalists who have taken control of who will get national security posts in the administration: retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn and Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner." -- CW ...

... Kevin Drum: "Maybe we should be less worried about Steve Bannon and more worried about Jared Kushner. No, scratch that. We should be worried about both. But Bannon is already getting plenty of attention. I have a feeling maybe Kushner should too." CW: Well, Kushner's dad seems nice. Read Drum to find out just what a sweetie the old man is. ...

... Elliot Hannon of Slate: According to Andrea Mitchell, Donald Trump has asked that his son-in-law receive top-secret clearance to read the Presidential Daily Briefing. Trump is currently receiving the briefings. Here's how the CIA describes the PDB: "The PDB compiles the [Directorate of Intelligence]'s highest level intelligence analysis targeted at the key national security issues and concerns of the President. The PDB is given only to the President, the Vice President, and a very select group of Cabinet-level officials designated by the President." ...

     ... CW: Of course if President Obama declines, Trump can clear Kushner on Day One (and he's probably already letting little Jared read the PDB over his shoulder). Why not just give top-secret to everyone who is at least distantly-related to Donald by birth or by marriage? Marla Maples? Fine. Some Drumph cousin in Kallstadt, Germany? What the hell. If Angela Merkel can't get hold of Trump because he forgot to give her his phone number (see story above), she can call Kallstadt to find out what's going on.

... CW: Another guy to watch is Mike Flynn. Here's what seems like a pretty balanced profile of him, giving him all the benefit of the doubt. Nevertheless, I'm seeing strains of General Buck Turgidson, George C. Scott's character in "Dr. Strangelove." ...

... Mark Landler & Maggie Haberman of the New York Times: "Rudolph W. Giuliani ... is the leading contender to be secretary of state in the Trump administration, campaign officials said on Tuesday, as ... Mike Pence plans to join ... Donald J. Trump in New York to accelerate the process of filling out his cabinet." CW: This makes as much sense as my picking my friend Jan for Secretary of State because we like each other. Like Rudy, Jan is unqualified to hold a Cabinet-level job; key differences are that Jan is neither corrupt nor INSANE! (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

     ... Mark Landler, et al., of the New York Times: "Rudolph W. Giuliani, facing a flood of questions about whether his business dealings should disqualify him from being named ... Donald J. Trumps secretary of state, on Tuesday defended his lucrative 15 years in the private sector as a credential for the job.... Mr. Giuliani's business ties are a major red flag. He built a lucrative consulting and speechmaking career after leaving City Hall. His firm, Giuliani Partners, has had contracts with the government of Qatar and the Canadian company that is building the Keystone XL oil pipeline, and Mr. Giuliani has given paid speeches to a shadowy Iranian opposition group that until 2012 was on the State Department's list of foreign terrorist organizations.... During the presidential campaign, Mr. Trump repeatedly criticized Hillary Clinton for ... contributions Qatar made to the Clinton Foundation, which he claimed betrayed her commitment to women's and gay rights because of Qatar's poor record on both." -- CW ...

     ... Also, Rudy Is Crazy, Mean & Incompetent. New York Times Editors: "The extent of Mr. Giuliani's international experience has been largely limited to giving speeches and consulting work. He lacks any substantive diplomatic experience and has demonstrated poor judgment throughout his career. Indeed, as he became Mr. Trump's most bombastic champion, Mr. Giuliani at times appeared unhinged. Read on. -- CW ...

     ... Gary Legum of Salon: "... Rudy Giuliani has taken millions and millions of dollars to shill for foreign governments and clients with businesses in the United States, businesses that he would now have a hand in negotiating with and in some cases awarding lucrative contracts to on behalf of the American government. If Trump really intends to drain the swamp, he probably shouldn't put one of the swamp's most prominent alligators in one of his top Cabinet positions." -- CW ...

... Jerry Markon, et al., of the Washington Post: "It was unclear why [Mike Rogers resigned].... Rudy Giuliani appeared to take himself out of the running for attorney general.... In one surprising development, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, who has been a confidant to Trump since the end of the Republican primaries, is unlikely to join the administration but will remain an informal adviser.... Eliot Cohen, a leading voice of opposition to Trump among former national security officials during the campaign, blasted Trump's transition team in a tweet on Tuesday. 'After exchange w Trump transition team, changed my recommendation: stay away. They're angry, arrogant, screaming "you LOST!" Will be ugly,' tweeted Cohen, who served ...as counselor to then-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.... Cohen also said the transition official was 'completely dismissive' of concerns raised about Trump's appointment of former Breitbart News head Stephen K. Bannon as chief White House strategist." -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Caitlin MacNeal of TPM: "Donald Trump's transition team has not reached out to officials at the State Department or the Pentagon for briefings as [Trump] ... prepares to take office in January, according to officials from those agencies." -- CW

Andrew Restuccia & Doug Palmer of Politico: "Billionaire investor Wilbur Ross is ... Donald Trump's leading candidate for Commerce Secretary, multiple sources told Politico. Ross, 78, is the founder of the private equity firm WL Ross & Co., known for restructuring failed companies, and he's an economic adviser to Trump.... Ross has been a vociferous critic of trade deals negotiated over the last 25 years, including the North American Free Trade Agreement, which Trump has vowed to leave unless Mexico and Canada agree to renegotiate on more favorable terms.... If he is nominated, Ross is ... likely to face new questioning related to the January, 2006 Sago mine disaster in Sago, W.Va., which killed a dozen workers. The mine was owned by a subsidiary of one of his companies, International Coal Group, Inc. Ross faced findings that he ignored dozens of safety concerns and citations." -- CW

"Turn on the Hate." New York Times Editors: "Anyone holding out hope that Donald Trump would govern as a uniter -- that the racism, sexism, anti-Semitism and nativism of his campaign were just poses to pick up votes -- should think again. In an ominous sign of what the Trump presidency will actually look like, the president-elect on Sunday appointed Stephen Bannon as his chief White House strategist and senior counselor, an enormously influential post.... Breitbart News ... under Mr. Bannon became what the Southern Poverty Law Center has called a 'white ethno-nationalist propaganda mill.'... To scroll through Breitbart headlines is to come upon a parallel universe where black people do nothing but commit crimes, immigrants rape native-born daughters, and feminists want to castrate all men." -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Matt Yglesias of Vox: "Donald Trump's dual roles as president-elect of the United States and owner of a large but completely opaque network of privately held companies present unprecedented conflicts of interest that the country heard little about during [the] campaign.... Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, the ranking Democrat on the House Oversight Committee, wants Congress to start focusing on these problems and has sent a letter to his opposite number, Chair Jason Chaffetz of Utah, requesting hearings into the matter." -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Matt Yglesias: Trump's "opening bid is that companies he owns and whose asset structure is completely opaque should be controlled by his children and heirs who will also serve as high-level informal government advisers with top secret clearances. Cummings's view is that this arrangement is not acceptable, and Congress should work to find an alternate structure. The question is whether Chaffetz -- who didn't defend or endorse Trump when he was a candidate -- will now defend and endorse this massive conflict of interest now that he's won." -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Allegra Kirkland of TPM: "Donald Trump is considering naming anti-Muslim conspiracy theorist Clare Lopez as his deputy national security adviser, according to a list of possible appointees the Daily Caller published Tuesday. The Daily Caller reported that the list was an internal document put together by the President-elect's transition team.... Lopez, who has also written for far-right sites Breitbart News and World Net Daily, helped popularize the myth that senior Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin was an 'operative' of the Muslim Brotherhood." -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

"When Trump says he wants to deport criminals, he means something starkly different than Obama." Brian Bennett of the Los Angeles Times: "Donald Trump's advisors are drafting plans to resume workplace raids and to ramp up pressure on local police and jails to identify immigrants in the country illegally in an effort to meet Trump's goal to deport 2 million to 3 million migrants who he says are criminals. That could put the incoming Trump administration in direct conflict with Los Angeles and the laws of California, as well as other cities and states, setting the stage for an almost certain high-stakes legal and political battle.... According to two senior officials in the transition team, Trump's advisors will seek to widen that net to include migrants who have been charged but not convicted, suspected gang members and drug dealers, and people charged with such immigration violations as illegal reentry and overstaying visas, as well as lower-level misdemeanors. If local authorities refuse to cooperate, Trump's advisors are looking at withholding some federal law enforcement funds and equipment that go to state and local police agencies for holding federal prisoners or improving police practices." -- CW ...

... Peter Holley of the Washington Post: "Donald Trump has pledged to begin deporting millions of undocumented immigrants as soon as he takes office next year. For now, Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck has no plans to help him do it. 'We're going to maintain the same posture we always have,' Beck told KNX 1070 Monday. 'We don't make detentions or arrests based solely on status, whether that's immigration status or any other status.' 'If the federal government takes a more aggressive role on deportation, then they'll have to do that on their own,' he continued.... 'This is a population we police by creating partnerships, not by targeting them because of their immigration status,' he added." -- CW ...

... CW: I doubt he'll do it, but I think on the day before he leaves office, President Obama should issue a blanket pardon to everyone whose only crime was to enter the U.S. without papers or has overstayed a visitor's visa. A presidential pardon is a presidential pardon, & I don't think a future president or Congress can undo it. ...

... ** David Dayen of the New Republic has another idea: "... there is one action that Obama could take on January 3, 2017, that could hold off some of the worst potential abuses of a Trump administration, for up to a year. Obama can appoint his nominee Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court on that date, in between the two sessions of Congress. Based on everything we know about Obama's temperament and politics, he won't resort to this.... The gambit would have an extremely low likelihood of permanent success -- even if the Court didn't rule the Garland appointment unconstitutional (and it probably would), he'd be out in a year." Read the whole post. Dayen takes cracks at both Democrats and Republicans. -- CW

Fred Kaplan of Slate: "A mere week after its election-night triumph, the Republican Party is fracturing more deeply and sharply than anyone had anticipated. Donald Trump's simultaneous appointments of Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus and alt-right publisher Stephen Bannon -- an establishment moderate and a white-nationalist renegade -- to co-equal positions set the stage for what promises to be all-consuming internecine warfare in the White House and beyond." -- CW

Joshua Foust compiles a shortlist of things about "President Trump" that are not normal. Here's one:

... Amanda Sakuma of NBC News: Donald Trump is using his new DotGov account to promote his business interests: "More than one-quarter of Trump's bio refers to his business properties around the world." Thanks to Marvin S. for the link to Foust. ...

... Ivanka Uses "60 Minutes" Interview to Hawk Expensive Jewelry Line. Drew Harwell of the Washington Post: "One day after ... Donald Trump's daughter Ivanka spoke to '60 Minutes'..., her jewelry line alerted journalists ... [that] the incoming first daughter was wearing an Ivanka Trump Fine Jewelry-brand bracelet, which could be bought for $10,800.... [The '60 Minutes'] interview was..., for the Trump company, an undeniable promotional opportunity.... The sales tactic marked one of the first moments since the election during which the Trump companies have sought to use Trump's presidential prominence to boost their private fortunes. But it may not be the last. Ethics advisers have increasingly voiced concerns over the unprecedented conflicts of interest that could arise from the soon-to-be first family's empire of real estate, luxury goods and licensing deals." -- CW ...

... Anna Silman of New York: "In the wake of Trump's 'locker-room talk' scandal ... technology-and-media-marketing specialist Shannon Coulter created the hashtag #GrabYourWallet to encourage consumers to boycott businesses that carry Ivanka Trump's clothing and accessories lines.... An updated spreadsheet has been circulating on Twitter listing the retailers that do business with the Trump family, along with contact information their customer-relations departments. These include major retailers like Amazon, Macy's, Marshalls, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, Bloomingdale's, and Lord and Taylor, all of which carry the Ivanka Trump collection.... #GrabYourWallet saw its first victory a few days ago, when Shoes.com became the first retailer to dump Trump products as a result of the boycott." -- CW

Trump Already Making America Great Again! Justin McCarthy & Jeffrey Jones of Gallup: "After Trump won last week's election, Republicans and Republican-leaning independents now have a much more optimistic view of the U.S. economy's outlook than they did before the election. Just 16% of Republicans said the economy was getting better in the week before the election, while 81% said it was getting worse. Since the election, 49% say it is getting better and 44% worse." -- CW

Emmarie Huetteman of the New York Times: "House Republicans renominated Speaker Paul D. Ryan as their leader on Tuesday, quieting rumors of an initial revolt in the party in the wake of feuding between Mr. Ryan and ... Donald J. Trump.... To retain the speaker's job, Mr. Ryan, of Wisconsin, will still have to clear a vote by the full House when the new Congress assembles in January -- when he must win at least 218 votes. With the results of a few contests outstanding, Republicans will hold at least 239 seats, leaving a relatively healthy margin for dissent in their ranks.House Republicans said on Twitter that Mr. Ryan's selection was unanimous....

     [MEANWHILE,] "House Democrats postponed their own elections until Nov. 30 during a meeting behind closed doors to discuss last week's painful losses and their leadership. A group of at least 25 members had been pushing to delay the vote, which had been scheduled for Thursday, until after Thanksgiving. Some members have urged Representative Tim Ryan of Ohio, 43, to challenge Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, 76, who has led House Democrats since 2003. He has not yet decided whether to run against her.... Democrats had a net gain of six House seats so far." -- CW

House GOP Threatens Obama. Lisa Rein of the Washington Post: "... House Republicans on Tuesday laid down the gauntlet to the outgoing Obama administration: Don't finalize any pending rules and regulations you think you can slip through before you leave office. In a letter to hundreds of Cabinet secretaries, commissioners and other heads of federal offices and agencies signed by 22 Republican leaders, the lawmakers noted that President Obama has been generous in his use of executive orders to set policy. And they issued a threat: Ignore us and we will give your agency extra scrutiny." -- CW ...

... Sally Jewell Is Not Listening! Demi Lee of the New Republic: "The Obama administration just passed more environmental regulations for Trump to eliminate. The Department of the Interior announced a new rule Tuesday to reduce methane waste on public and Indian lands, as part of President Barack Obama's Climate Action Plan. Methane emissions not only contribute to climate change, but 'enough natural gas was lost between 2009 and 2015 to serve more than 6 million households for a year,' the department said." -- CW

What Deficit? Ben Weyl of Politico: "For eight years, Republicans hammered President Barack Obama for exploding the national debt. But now a GOP-led spending spree is coming, with Donald Trump riding to the White House on trillion-dollar promises and a Republican Congress that looks likely to do his bidding. It's a potential echo of the last time Republicans ran Washington, when then-Vice President Dick Cheney memorably remarked, 'Deficits don't matter.' Trump campaigned heartily on a spending splurge and nothing he's said since his shocking election suggests he will reverse course." -- CW

Paul Waldman: "... for Democrats to regain their focus, they need a specific controversy around which they can organize and potentially notch a win. And it looks like they may have found it. I'm speaking of Paul Ryan's wish to privatize Medicare, or phase it out.... An effort to phase out Medicare will unite liberals and give them one specific thing to direct their energies toward. It'll make the consequences of unified Republican rule vivid and concrete." -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Jonathan Easley of the Hill: "The Democratic National Committee's charter states that the chairman must be a full-time employee, a revelation that is raising questions about the candidacy of Rep. Keith Ellison of Minnesota. There appears to be wiggle room in the charter, because it does not specifically prohibit a lawmaker from serving as DNC chairman. And the most recent chairman, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida -- split her duties between the DNC and Congress." -- CW

Madeline Conway of Politico: "Hillary Clinton's lead in the popular vote over ... Donald Trump has surpassed 1 million, according to ... the nonpartisan Cook Political Report.... Votes are still being tabulated in California, Utah and Washington...." -- CW ...

... John Myers of the Los Angeles Times: "California election officials continue their efforts to review and count as many as 4 million ballots from the Nov. 8 election, a daunting process that has kept a few closely watched races in limbo for almost a week. A report from the secretary of state's office on Tuesday put the total number of unprocessed ballots at 4.1 million...." -- CW ...

... Sarah Wire of the Los Angeles Times: "Retiring Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) filed legislation Tuesday to abolish the Electoral College in light of Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton winning the popular vote but still losing the election. Such legislation makes a statement after an election that shocked Democrats, but is unlikely to gain traction with Republicans holding control of both chambers of Congress in a lame duck session. Her bill calls for an amendment to the Constitution that would end the Electoral College system. Should such a thing pass, the amendment would only take effect if ratified by three-fourths of the states within seven years after its passage in the U.S. Congress." -- CW

The Rigged Election, Ctd. Alice Ollstein of Think Progress: "Last week, the first election in 50 years without the full protection of the federal Voting Rights Act propelled Donald Trump to the White House." Ollstein looks at how voter suppression laws in Wisconsin, North Carolina, and Florida cost Clinton the election and warns that "This year, the GOP expanded its control to 32 state legislatures and 33 governorships. With all three branches of the federal government and a majority of states now under Republican control, American voters can expect to face more barriers and restrictions in the coming years." CW: Democrats won't just have to win elections; they will have to win big to make up for the disenfranchised. ...

... "A Poll Tax by Another Name." Ronald Krotoszynski, in a New York Times op-ed: "... a very small difference in net votes — around 100,000 votes in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — would have turned Hillary Clinton's popular vote victory into an Electoral College victory as well. As people try to process what happened on Election Day, we need to consider carefully whether the difficulty of voting in our nation's urban centers, in places like Detroit, Milwaukee and Philadelphia, might have played a decisive role. This isn't merely idle speculation. Professors Charles Stewart III, of M.I.T., and Stephen Ansolabehere, of Harvard, estimate that long lines at the polls discouraged between 500,000 and 700,000 would-be voters from casting ballots in the 2012 general election." -- CW: BTW, The Twenty-fourth Amendment prohibits Congress and the states from imposing a poll tax "or other tax" as a condition of voting. (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Facebook "News" Worse than Fox "News." And Zuckerberg Lies about It. Zeynep Tufekci of the New York Times: "Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook's chief, believes that it is 'a pretty crazy idea' that 'fake news on Facebook, which is a very small amount of content, influenced the election in any way.' In holding fast to the claim that his company has little effect on how people make up their minds, Mr. Zuckerberg is ... contradicting Facebook’s own research.... After the election, Mr. Zuckerberg claimed that the fake news was a problem on 'both sides' of the race. There are, of course, viral fake anti-Trump memes, but reporters have found that the spread of false news is far more common on the right than it is on the left.... Facebook ... recently fired its (already too few) editors responsible for weeding out fake news from its trending topics section. Unsurprisingly, the section was then flooded with even more spurious articles.... The company’s business model, algorithms and policies entrench echo chambers and fuel the spread of misinformation." -- CW

** The media are feeling sorry for all those Trump voters we keep accusing of racism & misogyny. Jamelle Bouie has a message for poor, maltreated Trumpbots: "Trump campaigned on state repression of disfavored minorities. He gives every sign that he plans to deliver that repression. This will mean disadvantage, immiseration, and violence for real people, people whose 'inner pain and fear' were not reckoned worthy of many-thousand-word magazine feature stories. If you voted for Trump, you voted for this, regardless of what you believe about the groups in question. That you have black friends or Latino colleagues, that you think yourself to be tolerant and decent, doesn't change the fact that you voted for racist policy that may affect, change, or harm their lives. And on that score, your frustration at being labeled a racist doesn't justify or mitigate the moral weight of your political choice." -- CW ...

... Erik Wemple of the Washington Post: "... anti-Semitic attacks that have descended upon journalists covering Donald Trump. Most commonly expressed on Twitter, but also via email and other channels, the vile and threatening messages ballooned during Trump's run through the Republican primaries and ... haven't gone away in light of his victory last week. To wit, New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman recently came home and found an orange envelope holding 'three pages of anti-Semitism,' according to CNN." -- CW

The New Yorker publishes 16 writers' ruminations on Trump's America. CW: I read only George Packer's brief essay, and it's quite good. I expect many of the others are, too. ...

... BTW, Adam Gopnik of the New Yorker writes a letter on how the rights of humankind begin at the garden gate. A bit disjointed, but a morsel for thought.

Beyond the Beltway

Lexi Browning & Lindsey Bever of the Washington Post: "The mayor of this tiny West Virginia town has resigned amid a firestorm over racist comments about Michelle Obama, according to Clay officials. Mayor Beverly Whaling, who had commented approvingly on a Facebook post comparing the first lady to an ape, turned in her letter of resignation Tuesday. Joe Coleman, the town recorder, said Whaling's resignation was effective immediately, according to the Associated Press. The mayor's resignation came one day after the director of a local, government-funded nonprofit was removed from her position over a Facebook post." CW: It's heartening to see that even in Trump's America, many people won't put up with official racism.

Monday
Nov142016

The Commentariat -- Nov. 15, 2016

Afternoon Update:

Mark Landler & Maggie Haberman of the New York Times: "Rudolph W. Giuliani ... is the leading contender to be secretary of state in the Trump administration, campaign officials said on Tuesday, as ... Mike Pence plans to join ... Donald J. Trump in New York to accelerate the process of filling out his cabinet." -- CW

... Julie Davis of the New York Times: "... Donald J. Trump's transition operation plunged into disarray on Tuesday with the abrupt resignation of Mike Rogers, who had handled national security matters, the second shake-up in a week on a team that has not yet begun to execute the daunting task of taking over the government.... Mr. Pence took the helm of the effort on Friday after Mr. Trump unceremoniously removed Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, who had been preparing with Obama administration officials for months to put the complex transition process into motion. Now the effort is frozen, senior White House officials say, because Mr. Pence has yet to sign legally required paperwork to allow his team to begin collaborating with President Obama's aides on the handover." -- CW ...

... Jerry Markon, et al., of the Washington Post: "It was unclear why [Rogers resigned].... Rudy Giuliani appeared to take himself out of the running for attorney general.... In one surprising development, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, who has been a confidant to Trump since the end of the Republican primaries, is unlikely to join the administration but will remain an informal adviser... Eliot Cohen, a leading voice of opposition to Trump among former national security officials during the campaign, blasted Trump's transition team in a tweet on Tuesday. 'After exchange w Trump transition team, changed my recommendation: stay away. They're angry, arrogant, screaming "you LOST!" Will be ugly,' tweeted Cohen, who served ...as counselor to then-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.... Cohen also said the transition official was 'completely dismissive' of concerns raised about Trump's appointment of former Breitbart News head Stephen K. Bannon as chief White House strategist." --CW

"Turn on the Hate." New York Times Editors: "Anyone holding out hope that Donald Trump would govern as a uniter -- that the racism, sexism, anti-Semitism and nativism of his campaign were just poses to pick up votes -- should think again. In an ominous sign of what the Trump presidency will actually look like, the president-elect on Sunday appointed Stephen Bannon as his chief White House strategist and senior counselor, an enormously influential post.... Breitbart News ... under Mr. Bannon became what the Southern Poverty Law Center has called a 'white ethno-nationalist propaganda mill.'... To scroll through Breitbart headlines is to come upon a parallel universe where black people do nothing but commit crimes, immigrants rape native-born daughters, and feminists want to castrate all men." -- CW

Matt Yglesias of Vox: "Donald Trump's dual roles as president-elect of the United States and owner of a large but completely opaque network of privately held companies present unprecedented conflicts of interest that the country heard little about during [the] campaign.... Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, the ranking Democrat on the House Oversight Committee, wants Congress to start focusing on these problems and has sent a letter to his opposite number, Chair Jason Chaffetz of Utah, requesting hearings into the matter." -- CW ...

... Matt Yglesias: Trump's "opening bid is that companies he owns and whose asset structure is completely opaque should be controlled by his children and heirs who will also serve as high-level informal government advisers with top secret clearances. Cummings's view is that this arrangement is not acceptable, and Congress should work to find an alternate structure. The question is whether Chaffetz -- who didn't defend or endorse Trump when he was a candidate -- will now defend and endorse this massive conflict of interest now that he's won." -- CW

Allegra Kirkland of TPM: "Donald Trump is considering naming anti-Muslim conspiracy theorist Clare Lopez as his deputy national security adviser, according to a list of possible appointees the Daily Caller published Tuesday. The Daily Caller reported that the list was an internal document put together by the President-elect's transition team.... Lopez, who has also written for far-right sites Breitbart News and World Net Daily, helped popularize the myth that senior Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin was an 'operative' of the Muslim Brotherhood." -- CW

James Hohmann of the Washington Post: "Barack Obama has deluded himself with the misguided hope that Donald Trump will not even try to follow through on many of his biggest campaign promises. He is consoling himself with the hope that, if he does, the new president will be measured, self-restrained and respectful of custom. That he will 'study ... deeply' and 'look at the facts.' That logic and reason, not emotion or ideology, will drive him above all else.... For a little over an hour yesterday afternoon, Americans saw a 55-year-old who has not come to grips with just how big a blow Trump's victory is to his legacy and his party. He rationalized. He downplayed. He justified. He minimized. With all the trappings of the presidency still his, it hasn't fully sunk in yet." -- CW

Paul Waldman: "... for Democrats to regain their focus, they need a specific controversy around which they can organize and potentially notch a win. And it looks like they may have found it. I'm speaking of Paul Ryan's wish to privatize Medicare, or phase it out.... An effort to phase out Medicare will unite liberals and give them one specific thing to direct their energies toward. It'll make the consequences of unified Republican rule vivid and concrete." -- CW

"A Poll Tax by Another Name." Ronald Krotoszynski, in a New York Times op-ed: "... a very small difference in net votes -- around 100,000 votes in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin -- would have turned Hillary Clinton's popular vote victory into an Electoral College victory as well. As people try to process what happened on Election Day, we need to consider carefully whether the difficulty of voting in our nation's urban centers, in places like Detroit, Milwaukee and Philadelphia, might have played a decisive role. This isn't merely idle speculation. Professors Charles Stewart III, of M.I.T., and Stephen Ansolabehere, of Harvard, estimate that long lines at the polls discouraged between 500,000 and 700,000 would-be voters from casting ballots in the 2012 general election." -- CW: BTW, The Twenty-fourth Amendment prohibits Congress and the states from imposing a poll tax "or other tax" as a condition of voting.

*****

Patrick Reis of Politico: "Hillary Clinton has been declared the winner of New Hampshire's presidential race.... New Hampshire is worth 4 Electoral College votes, bringing Clinton's total to 232 votes to Donald Trump's 290. With New Hampshire called, the only state still undecided is Michigan, where Trump boasts a thin lead but the margin remains too small for a definitive call on the state's 16 Electoral College votes." -- CW

Julie Davis of the New York Times: "President Obama said on Monday that he had urged ... Donald J. Trump to reach out to minority groups, women and others who were alienated by his campaign, during the president's first news conference since Mr. Trump won the election.... 'There are certain things that make for good sound bites but don't always translate into good policy, and that's something that I think that he and his team will wrestle with,' Mr. Obama said in the White House briefing room." -- CW ...

... Juliet Eilperin & Greg Jaffe of the Washington Post: "Pressed repeatedly by reporters on how he viewed Trump's character, the president praised him as a politician rather than as policymaker.... 'Do I have concerns? Absolutely,' the president added. 'He and I differ on a whole bunch of issues.' And Obama cautioned that there are 'certain elements of his temperament that will not serve him well, unless he recognizes them and corrects' them":

... "The Prince of Darkness Is a Gentleman." -- Obama. Dana Milbank: "Obama's post-election remarks seemed utterly at odds with the national mood. Half the country is exultant because Donald Trump has promised to undo everything Obama has done over the past eight years. The other half of the country is alarmed that a new age of bigotry and inwardness has seized the country. And here's the outgoing president, reciting what a fine job he has done.... He didn't mention Hillary Clinton's name once in his news conference, and he went out of his way to praise Trump.... If Clinton and Obama had limited the build-on-success theme during the campaign in favor of a more populist vision and policies, they really would have had something to smile about this week." CW: Or, as James S. writes today, "I keep trying to figure out what game Obama is playing here."

Simon Tisdale of the Guardian: "When [President Obama] makes his final visit to Europe this week, in what had been planned as a triumphant farewell tour, Obama's awkward job is to reassure nervous allies that a Trump presidency will not be as bad as they fear." CW: That would be a betrayal of his beliefs -- and of reality. (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Holy Crap! Julianna Goldman of CBS News: "... Donald Trump is potentially seeking top secret security clearances for his children, sources tell CBS News.... The issue raises another layer of questions about the unique role his children are playing and conflicts of interest with their running his network of businesses. Mr. Trump's children Ivanka, Eric and Donald Jr., as well as son-in-law Jared Kushner, were named to ... [Trump's] transition team late last week. Though they were an integral part of his campaign team, Mr. Trump's children have all stated that they will not hold formal roles in the government." -- CW ...

... Charley Lanyon of New York: "It now appears that Trump's children will try to work as unofficial -- and unpaid, in order to skirt the rules against nepotism -- policy advisers to their dad while also taking control of his business concerns. While the current White House might resist granting them clearance, as CBS points out the decision will be wholly up to Trump when he takes office in January." -- CW ...

You have to have some confidence in the integrity of the president.... I don't think there's any real fear or suspicion that he's seeking to enrich himself by being president. If he wanted to enrich himself, he wouldn't have run for president. -- Rudy Giuliani, Sunday, on CNN

... Eric Lipton & Susanne Craig of the New York Times: "The Trump International [Hotel in Washington, D.C.,] operates out of the Old Post Office Building, which the federal government owns. That means Mr. Trump will be appointing the head of the General Services Administration, which manages the property, while his children will be running a hotel that has tens of millions of dollars in ties with the agency. He also will oversee the National Labor Relations Board while it decides union disputes involving any of his hotels. A week before the election, the board ruled against Mr. Trump's hotel in a case in Las Vegas.... Further complicating matters are Mr. Trump's decision to name his children to his transition team, and what is likely to be their informal advisory role in his administration. His daughter Ivanka Trump joined an official transition meeting on Thursday, the day before Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey was removed from his post leading the effort." -- CW ...

(... Ken Vogel, et al., of Politico (Nov. 11): Ivanka's husband Jared Kushner has never liked Christie. "Kushner's father was prosecuted and convicted for tax evasion, illegal campaign donations and witness tampering by Christie during his time as a U.S. attorney. 'Jared ... always held that against Christie.' [a person familiar with the transition] said." -- CW)

Neil MacFarquhar of the New York Times: "President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia and ... Donald J. Trump spoke by telephone for the first time on Monday, agreeing to review what both consider the poor state of relations between the two countries, according to a statement from the Kremlin. The two agreed 'on the absolutely unsatisfactory state of bilateral relations,' said the statement, and they both endorsed the idea of undertaking joint efforts 'to normalize relations and pursue constructive cooperation on the broadest possible range of issues.'" -- CW

Filling the Swamp. New York Times Editors: "Mr. Trump's layering of its [transition] team with family, friends and hacks is worrying. The inclusion of lobbyists flies in the face of his 'Drain the Swamp' refrain. The big donors on the team, like Rebekah Mercer, are also unnerving, a sign that the new government may be further in debt to superwealthy backers." --CW ...

... What Hacks? Charles Pierce: "... there is talk that Dr. Ben Carson will be named Secretary of Education.... Dr. Ben, of course, is a creationist with some interesting theories in the field of Egyptology. More recently, Dr. Ben, crusader against the evils of 'political correctness,' has proposed that the federal government monitor the nation's universities for evidence of ideas of which Dr. Ben does not approve.... There also is talk that the Department of Homeland Security will be entrusted to Sheriff David Clarke of Milwaukee, who already has said that the outbreak of protests against the election of Donald Trump is overdue to be crushed. It's possible that Clarke has muted his ravin ... er ... rhetoric because he's preoccupied with finding out how an inmate died of thirst, in 2016, in his jail." -- CW ...

... Driftglass: Joe Scarborough is all upset that crazy John Bolton is reputedly Trump's fave for Secretary of State. 'John Bolton's ties to Pamela Geller would only further inflame charges that Donald Trump is pandering to the Alt-Right.' -- Joe Scarborough [in a tweet] Golly, Joe, they're not 'charges'. They're facts. With a song in their hearts and their eyes wide open, your party finally got it's wish and elected their very own American Mussolini. Your party did that. And yet now, shockingly, many of your caste seem to be getting all nervous and sweaty and apprehensive about the decisions ... [Trump] is making. Of course, John Bolton is not my dream date, nor is a Neo-nazi like Steve Bannon, nor any of the other con men. jackbooted lunatics, perverts and freaks that Don the Con has lined up to run his government, but they sure as shit are a hit with your people, Joe, so why the long face?" -- CW ...

... Daniel Victor & Liam Stack of the New York Times assemble some things Steve Bannon has said & some articles Breitbart has published under his leadership. -- CW ...

... Ben Shapiro in the Daily Wire (late of Breitbart "News"): "... what will [Steve Bannon] do with [his newfound] power? He'll target enemies. Bannon is one of the most vicious people in politics.... He likes to destroy people. But more importantly, Bannon's interested in turning the Republican Party into a far-right European party.... Bannon has always wanted to burn down the GOP.... It's hard to tell from the outside what's happening, but here's a ... theory: Reince is the bagman for Trump, and Bannon's whispering in Trump's ear. That would fit the fact pattern here...." -- CW ...

... David Corn of Mother Jones: "Whatever he might believe,Bannon is a self-proclaimed ally of the alt-right.... And the alt-right promotes white nationalism (if not white supremacism). So journalists who do not report that Trump has selected for a top spot in the White House an enabler of white nationalists -- which certainly could qualify Bannon as a white nationalist himself -- are doing the public and the truth a disservice. Thanks to Trump, a comrade of racists -- many of whom are now cheering his appointment -- is slated to help run the US government. This fact should be front and center, as the nation heads toward the Trump era." -- CW ...

... Give 'Em Hell, Harry. Burgess Everett of Politico: "Harry Reid will continue railing against Donald Trump and his political team all the way into retirement, telling Politico in an interview Monday morning that he will give a speech on Tuesday about Steve Bannon, Trump's chief strategist and former executive at Breitbart. On Sunday, Reid's spokesman Adam Jentleson said Bannon's elevation 'signals that White Supremacists will be represented at the highest levels in Trump's White House.' ... 'I've already issued a statement last night. I'm going to say something on the floor tomorrow,' Reid said." -- CW ...

... Well, Some People Like the Bannon Pick! Andrew Kaczynski & Christopher Massie of CNN: "White nationalist leaders are praising Donald Trump's decision to name former Breitbart executive Steve Bannon as his chief strategist, telling CNN in interviews they view Bannon as an advocate in the White House for policies they favor. The leaders of the white nationalist and so-called 'alt-right' movement -- all of whom vehemently oppose multiculturalism and share the belief in the supremacy of the white race and Western civilization -- publicly backed Trump during his campaign.... 'I think that's excellent,' former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke told CNN's KFile.... 'You have an individual, Mr. Bannon, who's basically creating the ideological aspects of where we're going,' added Duke.... Peter Brimelow, who runs the white nationalist site VDARE, praised Bannon's hiring, saying it gives Trump a connection to the alt-right movement online. 'I think it's amazing," Brimelow said of Trump's decision to tap Bannon. "... It's almost like Trump cares about ideas!'" -- CW ...

... Charles Pierce: "... appointing Steve Bannon to an important position within the White House is precisely the same as appointing David Duke to an important position within the White House. (If you want to quibble that I'm wrong because Bannon doesn't wear a hood to work, have at it.)... Bannon is being considered a kind of quota hire, a sop to the mindless wolverine Right, whose worst impulses will somehow be checked by Reince Priebus, the political powerhouse who couldn't stop Trump's hijacking of the party and who decided that his real job was to be the Trump campaign's Marshal Petain in Vichy Republicanism." Read Pierce's takedown of NPR's, the WashPo's & the NYT's "reporting" on the Bannon choice. ...

... From Mussolini to Vichy to Nazi Germany, "Blowing Past Godwin's Law" ...

... Martin Longman in the Washington Monthly: "Maybe a lot of people are overwrought since they weren't emotionally or intellectually prepared to deal with a Trump presidency, but there really are a lot of commonalities between Bannon and [Joseph] Goebbels." -- CW ...

... Nothing to Worry about Here, Folks. Move Along, Please ...

... ** Annals of "Journalism," Ctd. "Major Newspapers Normalize Trump's Selection of White Nationalist." Judd Legum of Think Progress: "The Anti-Defamation League condemned Bannon's selection, saying he presided over a 'group of white nationalists and unabashed anti-Semites and racists.' But if you picked up any copies of the nation's major newspapers, everything seems normal. USA Today describes Bannon as an 'ally' and 'loyalist.'... The Wall Street Journal describes Bannon as an 'outsider.'... The Washington Post also describes Bannon as an 'outsider,' while devoting most of the front page to the local NFL team.'... The New York Times describes Bannon as a 'firebrand' in the headline.” -- CW ...

     ... CW: AND let me just add this NYT headline: "Trump's Choice of Stephen Bannon Is Nod to Anti-Washington Base." Oh, Bannon is just "anti-Washington." Okay then, nothing wrong with that. The story itself, by Jeremy Peters, does delve into Bannon's egregious past & doesn't mention the "anti-Washington nod" till Para. 10. Fire the headline writer. ...

... The Not-Anywhere-Close-to-Ready-for-Primetime Players. Matt Yglesias of Vox: "The extent to which Reince Priebus's appointment as White House chief of staff has been greeted in mainstream quarters as a reassuring sign that Donald Trump is going to govern the country in a responsible way is, itself, a disturbing sign.... Trump landed on Priebus, fairly clearly, because he gets along with him personally and because Priebus also gets along with congressional Republican leaders. That's nice. But for a president with no relevant experience or qualifications to be picking key staff positions largely on the basis of their ability to be nice to Donald Trump is a disaster.... In the Trump/Priebus/Bannon axis that's running the government, there's nobody who has any idea how to run the government." -- CW ...

... Scott Lemieux in LG&$: "The Republican Party has reacted to the systematic incompetence of the Bush administration by installing a White House that consists of nothing but Mike Browns. Personal to Jim Comey: heckuva job!" -- CW ...

... Ezra Klein: "... it looks like Donald Trump's presidency will be a whole lot like Donald Trump's campaign. Same guy. Same staff. Same bizarre tweets. Same policies.... The improbability of his victory is leading to its overestimation. He won the Electoral College, but he lost the popular vote. His party kept the House and the Senate but lost seats in both. He'll take office with the lowest approval rating of any American president since the advent of polling. Trump starts it with unusually severe political challenges and gaping personal weaknesses. It's not at all clear he realizes how hard this is going to be, or how easily it can all go wrong." -- CW ...

... Richard Wolffe of the Guardian: "Like all good Shakespearean tragedies, the Trump presidency is presaging its own collapse at the height of its glory. The Priebus-Bannon-family disputes will corrode the West Wing from within.... The Republican establishment may think they can manage Trump through Priebus. But they are about to discover that this dumpster fire of a campaign just turned into a brushfire of a transition." -- CW

Amber Phillips of the Washington Post: "... if you take Trump's campaign promises at his word, Republicans have fundamental disagreements with their incoming president on his proposals to spend billions on infrastructure, deport millions of immigrants in the country illegally and institute more protectionist trade policies. And the cracks on those issues are starting to show. Here are six areas where Republicans have given Trump's agenda a lukewarm response." -- CW

"What's Mike Pence Hiding in His Emails?" Fatima Hussein of the Indianapolis Star: "Now that the presidential campaign and most of the furor over Hillary Clinton's email scandal are behind us, the Pence administration is going to court to argue for its own brand of email secrecy. The administration is fighting to conceal the contents of an email sent to Gov. Mike Pence by a political ally. That email is being sought by a prominent Democratic labor lawyer who says he wants to expose waste in the Republican administration. But legal experts fear the stakes may be much higher than mere politics because the decision could remove a judicial branch check on executive power and limit a citizen's right to know what the government is doing and how it spends taxpayer dollars. 'It comes down to this -- the court is giving up its ability to check another branch of government, and that should worry people,' said Gerry Lanosga, a ...professor specializing in public records law." -- CW

** Dahlia Lithwick implores Senate Democrats "to stand firm and even angry on this one point at least: The current Supreme Court vacancy is not Trump's to fill. This was President Obama's vacancy and President Obama's nomination. Please don't tacitly give up on it because it was stolen by unprecedented obstruction and contempt. Instead, do to them what they have done to us. Sometimes, when they go low, we need to go lower, to protect a thing of great value.... We will lose. But that's not the point now. Democrats need to repeat Ted Cruz's lie that eight justices will suffice. If Democrats can muster the energy to fight about nothing else, it should be this, because even if you believe the election was fair or fair enough, the loss of this Supreme Court seat was not. That seat is Merrick Garland's." -- CW

Ben Protess & Alexandra Stevenson of the New York Times: "Wall Street regulators began an exodus from Washington on Monday as Mary Jo White, the chairwoman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, announced plans to leave the agency. The decision makes Ms. White, a former federal prosecutor who has served more than two decades in the federal government, the first major Obama administration appointee to step down after Donald J. Trump's upset victory last week. Other financial regulators are expected to follow suit in the coming weeks. The election of Mr. Trump is a game-changer for the S.E.C. -- and for that matter, all financial agencies." -- CW

** Jill Lawrence of USA Today: "... if you want to look at who can't get any respect, there's a good case that it's those of us who happen to live in cities and on coasts.... Democrats won the popular vote in six of the past seven national elections, but got only two presidents out of it instead of four. Al Gore won it by 541,000 in 2000. As of Sunday, Hillary Clinton was more than 700,000 votes ahead of Donald Trump and by some estimates headed toward close to a 2-million-vote 'loss.'... Democrats have held the presidency for 20 years since 1977 but haven't had a high court majority since 1971.... And ... that is the ultimate unfairness -- hobbling a two-term president from Day One." -- CW

Abby Phillip & John Wagner of the Washington Post: "Democrats scrambled on Monday to assess the damage after Hillary Clinton's loss, marking the start of a season of jockeying within the party over who will be its next leader. On a conference call with supporters late Monday, President Obama congratulated Clinton on a 'history-making' race, but he called on his party to assess what went wrong and retool at a grass-roots level.... Meanwhile, Clinton addressed congressional lawmakers on a separate conference call, acknowledging the impact of her loss.... Clinton noted that the election is one that should be studied, and she urged lawmakers to fight for the party's values harder than ever." -- CW ...

... Daniel Strauss of Politico: "Rep. Keith Ellison on Monday formally announced his candidacy for the chairmanship of the Democratic National Committee. The Minnesota congressman had been laying the groundwork to run for the post even before the deep losses that Democrats suffered on Election Day.... Ellison, who backed the presidential primary bid of Sen. Bernie Sanders, has already been endorsed for chairman by Sanders and Sens. Chuck Schumer and Harry Reid, as well as Rep. Raúl Grijalva, co-chairman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. Sen. Elizabeth Warren said Ellison would make a 'terrific' chairman.... Last week, [Howard] Dean [-- who is running to get back his old job as DNC chair --] argued that Ellison couldn't adequately serve as both DNC chairman and as a member of Congress.... The DNC member vote for the next chair isn't expected to take place until the first quarter of next year, perhaps in February or March...." ...

     ... CW: Why do we care who Sanders & Schumer, et al., endorse? They don't seem to have the slightest fucking idea of how to help the Democratic party win elections. Considering the state of the party, I would say Democratic elders' endorsements are the kiss of death. The Congresscritter who last ran the DNC also ran it into the ground. My suggestion for DNC chair would be someone like David Plouffe or David Axelrod, guys who know how to find good candidates & run winning campaigns. And I'd look for a co-chair who knew how to wrangle money out of fatcats -- say, Hillary Clinton.

Wherein Kurt Eichenwald of Newsweek Tells a Voter to Go Fuck Himself. "A certain kind of liberal makes me sick. These people traffic in false equivalencies, always pretending that both nominees are the same, justifying their apathy and not voting or preening about their narcissistic purity as they cast their ballot for a person they know cannot win. I have no problem with anyone who voted for Trump, because they wanted a Trump presidency. I have an enormous problem with anyone who voted for Trump or Stein or Johnson -- or who didn't vote at all -- and who now expresses horror about the outcome of this election. If you don't like the consequences of your own actions, shut the hell up." The whole post is worth reading. -- CW

Eric Levitz of New York: "Last year, hate crimes against Muslims in the United States surged by 67 percent, reaching their highest levels since the immediate aftermath of the September 11 attacks, according to FBI data released on Monday.... Overall, religious-based hate crimes jumped by 23 percent last year, with attacks against Jews and Jewish institutions accounting for 53 percent of those reported. Crimes against Jews rose 9 percent, relative to 2014." CW: If you think about it really, really hard, you might be able to figure out why this has happened. If you're stumped, Levitz ends his piece with a clue: "Last Tuesday, the candidate who campaigned on barring Muslims from America was elected the nation's president. Reports of racist and anti-religious incidents have proliferated in the six days since."

Julia Wong of the Guardian: "The US army corps of engineers has completed its review of the Dakota Access pipeline and is calling for 'additional discussion and analysis', further delaying completion of a project that has faced massive opposition from indigenous and environmental activists.... Donald Trump seems unlikely to side with either Native Americans or environmentalists. He has called climate change a 'bullshit' hoax invented by the Chinese and has a history of conflict with Native American tribes over competition in casinos. Trump's financial disclosure forms show he has between $500,000 and $1m invested in Energy Transfer Partners, and $500,000 to $1m holding in Phillips 66, which will have a 25% stake in the Dakota Access project once it is completed." -- CW

Annals of Fake Journalism. Nick Wingfield, et al., of the New York Times: "Over the last week, two of the world's biggest internet companies have faced mounting criticism over how fake news on their sites may have influenced the presidential election's outcome. On Monday, those companies responded by making it clear that they would not tolerate such misinformation by taking pointed aim at fake news sites' revenue sources. Google ... said it would ban websites that peddle fake news from using its online advertising service. Hours later, Facebook ... updated the language in its Facebook Audience Network policy, which already says it will not display ads in sites that show misleading or illegal content, to include fake news sites.... On Sunday, the site Mediaite reported that the top result on a Google search for 'final election vote count 2016' was a link to a story on a website called 70News that wrongly stated that Mr. Trump, who won the Electoral College, was ahead of ... Hillary Clinton in the popular vote." -- CW

Sam Roberts of the New York Times: "Gwen Ifill, an award-winning television journalist for NBC and PBS, former reporter for The New York Times and author who moderated vice-presidential debates in 2004 and 2008, died on Monday in Washington. She was 61. Her death, at a hospice facility, was announced by Sara Just, executive producer of 'PBS NewsHour.' The cause was cancer, PBS said." A full obituary is to follow. Thanks to NJC for the lead.-- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Beyond the Beltway

Trump's America. Lindsey Bever of the Washington Post: "A nonprofit group's director and a mayor in a small town in West Virginia have been swept up in a firestorm surrounding comments about Michelle Obama that have been perceived as blatantly racist. After Donald Trump's election as president, Pamela Ramsey Taylor, who was director of Clay County Development Corp. in Clay, a tiny town outside Charleston, reportedly posted about the move from Michelle Obama to Melania Trump on Facebook, saying: 'It will be so refreshing to have a classy, beautiful, dignified First Lady back in the White House. I'm tired of seeing a Ape in heels,' according to NBC affiliate WSAZ. The news station reported that the town's mayor, Beverly Whaling, then replied, 'Just made my day Pam.'... Taylor told the news station that the public response had become a 'hate crime against me,' explaining that she and her children had received death threats. She said she is planning to file a lawsuit against people who have slandered or libeled her...."

Way Beyond

Donald Trump, Making the World Horrible Again. William Booth & Ruth Eglash of the Washington Post: "Right-wing leaders in the Israeli government have seized on the election of Donald Trump to push forward assertive new legislation that would legalize Jewish settlements in the West Bank built on privately owned Palestinian land. Believing that the time to act is now, as the U.S. president-elect begins to shape his foreign policy, top Israeli ministers voted unanimously Sunday in favor of a bill that would allow Israeli settlements and outposts that were built on property owned by Palestinians to avoid court-ordered demolitions." -- CW

Neil MacFarquhar: "Russia's economy minister was detained overnight on charges of soliciting a $2 million bribe in connection with a huge oil deal, the country's Investigative Committee announced on Tuesday. The minister, Alexei Ulyukayev, 60, was the highest-level official arrested in Russia since a failed coup in 1991. He was detained in the middle of the night, a tactic reminiscent of the Soviet era that has not been seen in recent years.... Analysts have previously said that the campaign to arrest high-level politicians was rooted in fierce competition for illicit gains as the overall pie of the Russian economy shrinks." CW: Meanwhile, the guy who engineered the midnight arrest is on the phone, advising Donald Trump how to do it. Lock her up? Yeah, and some of her friends.

Somini Sengupta & Marlise Simons of the New York Times: "The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court said Monday that she had a 'reasonable basis to believe' that American soldiers committed war crimes in Afghanistan, including torture. The international prosecutor has been considering whether to begin a full-fledged investigation into potential war crimes in Afghanistan for years. In Monday's announcement, the prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, signaled that a full investigation was likely.Still, the prosecutor did not announce a final decision on an investigation, which would have to be approved by judges, and it is unlikely that the United States will cooperate." -- CW

Sewell Chan & Christina Anderson of the New York Times: "Six years after the Swedish authorities opened an investigation into a rape accusation made against Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder, he faced questioning about the matter on Monday. The questions were prepared by prosecutors in Sweden, where an arrest warrant for Mr. Assange was issued in 2010, but were posed by a prosecutor from Ecuador under an agreement the two countries made in August. Ecuador granted Mr. Assange political asylum in 2012, and the interview occurred at the Ecuadorean Embassy in London. Mr. Assange has lived in the embassy since June 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden over the rape accusation." -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... The Guardian story, by Esther Addley & David Crouch, is here. (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Page 1 ... 3 4 5 6 7 ... 664 Next 4 Entries »