12.31 Anthony Bourdain in Reason: “The utter contempt with which privileged Eastern liberals such as myself discuss red-state, gun-country, working-class America as ridiculous and morons and rubes is largely responsible for the upswell of rage and contempt and desire to pull down the temple that we’re seeing now. I’ve spent a lot of time in gun-country, God-fearing America. There are a hell of a lot of nice people out there, who are doing what everyone else in this world is trying to do: the best they can to get by, and take care of themselves and the people they love. When we deny them their basic humanity and legitimacy of their views, however different they may be than ours, when we mock them at every turn, and treat them with contempt, we do no one any good.”12.30 Atlas Obscura: “At Walt Disney World, the weeks around Christmas are one of the most crowded times of the year: from all over the country and all over the world, families flock to Orlando to be in this special space for just a few days. Most Disney patrons would probably call their trip a vacation, but to anthropologists, religious studies experts, and art historians, a visit to Disney World looks a lot like another, older form of travel—a pilgrimage.Appetites for direct contact with Disney’s creations have transformed the trek to Disney World into a genuine form of pilgrimage,” writes historian Cheryl Krause Knight, author of Power and Paradise in Walt Disney’s World. In the modern world, a trip to Disney has become a rite of passage that transforms those who make the trek, and the design of the park heightens that experience: Disney World resembles a medieval pilgrimage center, designed to connect pilgrims with the supernatural, represented by Mickey Mouse and company.12.29 President Obama announced sanctions against a number of Russian officials and entities in response to Moscow’s alleged interference in the U.S. presidential election. The move, which included the expulsion of 35 Russian intelligence officials and the closure of two U.S.-based Russian properties, is the first public step the U.S. has taken against Russia for the cyberattack.
12.28 EJ Dionne in the Washington Post: “Here is a bet that the mobilization against Trump will rival in size and influence the tea party uprising against Obama.”
12.28 Debbie Reynolds dies
12.27 Carrie Fisher dies
12.26 Serena Williams in the Washington Post: “If I were a man, I would have 100 percent been considered the greatest ever a long time ago.”
12.25 Saw LaLa Land with Cara. Meh.
12.24 Reince Priebus via Twitter: “”Merry Christmas to all! Over two millennia ago, a new hope was born into the world, a Savior who would offer the promise of salvation to all mankind. Just as the three wise men did on that night, this Christmas heralds a time to celebrate the good news of a new King. We hope Americans celebrating Christmas today will enjoy a day of festivities and a renewed closeness with family and friends.
12.24 George Michael dead at 53
12.24 The farmer said, ” Well, as I see it, Donald Trump is like a ‘Post Tortoise’. When you’re driving down a country road and you come across a fence post with a tortoise balanced on top, that’s a post tortoise.” “You know he didn’t get up there by himself, he doesn’t belong up there, he doesn’t know what to do while he’s up there, he’s elevated beyond his ability to function, and you just wonder what kind of dumb ass put him up there to begin with.”
12.23 Poet Maggie Smith
12.23 Carl Palladino, interviewed by Artvoice:
Artvoice: What would you most like to happen in 2017?
Carl Paladino: Obama catches mad cow disease after being caught having relations with a Herford. He dies before his trial and is buried in a cow pasture next to Valerie Jarret, who died weeks prior, after being convicted of sedition and treason, when a Jihady cell mate mistook her for being a nice person and decapitated her.
Artvoice: What would you most like to see go in 2017?
12.23 Barack Obama, from an interview conducted November 17 with The Atlantic: “Well, look, I think I am absolutely, you know, surprised like everybody else with the outcome.”
Carl Paladino: Michelle Obama. I’d like her to return to being a male and let loose in the outback of Zimbabwe where she lives comfortably in a cave with Maxie, the gorilla.
12.23 Dana Milbank in the Washington Post: “Trump lieutenant Newt Gingrich this week proposed an elegant solution for all the conflicts of interest swirling around the president-elect and his team of billionaires: Ignore the law. President-elect Donald Trump, Gingrich said, should let those in his administration do as they wish with their personal fortunes and business interests and pardon them if they are found to have violated laws against using public office for personal enrichment. “He could simply say, ‘Look, I want them to be my advisers, I pardon them if anybody finds them to have behaved against the rules, period’,” Gingrich said on NPR’s “The Diane Rehm Show” on Monday.“Drain the Swamp” is so October.”
12.23 History Channel:
12.23 Catherine Rampell in the Washington Post: “These Democratic policies probably would help the white working class. But the white working class doesn’t seem to buy that they’re the ones who’d really benefit. Across rural America, the Rust Belt, Coal Country and other hotbeds of Trumpism, voters have repeatedly expressed frustration that the lazy and less deserving are getting a bigger chunk of government cheese. In Kentucky, consumers receiving federal subsidies through the Obamacare exchanges complain that neighbors who are less responsible are receiving nearly free insurance through Medicaid. “They can go to the emergency room for a headache,” one woman told Vox’s Sarah Kliff. In Ohio, white working-class focus group participants decried that women who “pop out babies like Pez dispensers with different baby daddies” get “welfare every month” and “their housing paid for, their food.” These women seem to live large, one participant said, while people like herself are “struggling to put food on the table.” Participants in this focus group, held by the Institute for Family Studies, were also skeptical of efforts to raise the minimum wage. But how do you really feel? Regardless of party affiliation, gender and income level, most people are more optimistic than they think. Opponents argued either that higher pay wasn’t justified for lower-skilled, less intense work or that raising the minimum wage would unfairly narrow the pay gap between diligent folks such as themselves and people who’d made worse life choices. “That son of a b—- is making $10 an hour! I’m making $13.13. I feel like s— because he’s making almost as much as I am, and I have never been in trouble with the law and I have a clean record, I can pass a drug test,” said one participant.”
12.22 TMZ: “JetBlue kicked a Brooklyn lawyer and his Hunter College professor husband off a plane at JFK on Thursday morning — after he accosted fellow passenger and future first daughter Ivanka Trump right before takeoff. “Your father is ruining the country!” lefty lawyer and avowed Hillary Clinton supporter Dan Goldstein shouted at Trump, as she sat with her husband, Jared Kushner, and their three kids in the main cabin.
12.21 An explosion in the San Pablito fireworks market in Tultepec, Mexico, kills at least 29.
12.21 David Remnick on BBC Newsnight: ““A friend at the office said it’s like you’ve been tossed out of an airplane…you feel the alarm, the fear, you feel the freezing wind around you, but you haven’t gone splat yet. On the other hand no parachute has opened…there’s no sense of ‘aah, this is a normal event.’ The back and forth between Republicans and Democrats, conservatives and liberals. There’s not that sense, at least not in me. But there is that impulse to make it such. Normalization. It’s a very human impulse…to normalize the situation so you’re not in a state of constant alarm or fear or sadness or agitation.”
12.21 Trump doctor Harold Bornstein: “If something happens to him, then it happens to him. It’s like all the rest of us, no? That’s why we have a vice president and a speaker of the House and a whole line of people. They can just keep dying.”
12.21 Dana Milbank in The Washington Post: “ We now know Comey’s bombshell was based on nothing: The FBI had no evidence of wrongdoing in the newly discovered emails, found on Huma Abedin’s laptop, and no reason to suspect there was anything on the laptop that the FBI hadn’t already dismissed as insufficient to mount a prosecution. Yet that was the flimsy basis for Comey’s letter to Congress reopening the Clinton probe. The new emails were irrelevant or redundant. But by the time Comey said, just two days before the election, that the FBI found nothing new, the damage to Clinton was done.’’
12.20 Bill O’Reilly: “This is all about race. The left sees white privilege in America as an oppressive force that must be done away with. Therefore white working class voters must be marginalized. White men have set up a system of oppression and that system must be destroyed … The left wants power taken away from the white establishment and they want a profound change in the way America is run.”
12.19 A semi-trailer packed with steel speeds through an outdoor Christmas market in Berlin, killing 12 and injuring dozens more. ISIS claims credit. On the 23rd, the perpetrator was killed in a gun battle with the police in Milan.
12.19 Andrey G. Karlov, Russia’s ambassador to Turkey was assassinated at an Ankara art exhibit on Monday evening by a lone Turkish gunman shouting “God is great!” and “don’t forget Aleppo, don’t forget Syria!” in what the leaders of Turkey and Russia called a provocative terrorist attack. The gunman, described by Turkish officials as a 22-year-old off-duty police officer, also wounded at least three others in the assault on the envoy. Turkish officials said the assailant was killed by other officers in a shootout.
12.19 Michael Gerson in The Washington Post: “The plausible case that Russian espionage materially contributed to the election of an American president has been an additional invitation to anger. Now, not only the quality but also the legitimacy of our democracy is at stake. This extreme threat would seem to require a commensurately radical response — some way to change the outcome. But what is the proper conservative response? It is to live within the boundaries of law and reality. There is no certain way to determine if Russian influence was decisive. And no serious constitutional recourse seems to remain. While open to other options, I see none. It will now fall to citizens and institutions to (1) defend the legislature and judiciary from any encroachment, (2) defend every group of people from organized oppression, including Muslims and refugees, (3) expand and defend the institutions — from think tanks to civil liberty organizations — that make the case for a politics that honors human dignity. And pray for the grass to grow.’’
12.19 Atlas Obscura: “Cuba is offering the Czech Republic 135,000 tons of rum to settle a $276 million debt. Czech officials say it’s an “interesting option.”
12.18 Jennifer Rubin in the Washington Post: 11We have had smart presidents and dim ones, effective ones and incompetents, successful ones and unaccomplished ones. Until now, we have never had one for whom it was legitimate to question at the onset of his presidency whether he could fulfill his oath to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” As things stand now, President-elect Donald Trump has suggested he will not divest himself of a myriad of businesses around the globe that pose serious conflicts of interest, nor will he liquidate even foreign holdings, the proceeds of which would put him in violation of the emoluments clause of the Constitution. In an academically sound and federal court brief quality paper, Norman Eisen, Richard Painter and Laurence Tribe conclude: Careful review of the Emoluments Clause shows that the Clause unquestionably applies to the President of the United States; that it covers an exceptionally broad and diverse range of remunerative relationships (including fair market value transactions that confer profit on a federal officeholder); and that it reaches payments and emoluments from foreign states (including state-owned and state-controlled corporations). In the context of Trump, they cite multiple sources of foreign revenue that on their face would, the moment Trump is inaugurated, put him in violation of the Constitution. They enumerate multiple instances in which he already improperly blurred private and public conduct.
12,18 Zsa Zsa Gabor dead at 99
12.18 Washington Post: “A large fraction of Republicans — 52 percent — said Trump won the popular vote, compared with only 7 percent of Democrats and 24 percent of independents. Among Republicans without any college education, the share was even larger: 60 percent, compared with 37 percent of Republicans with a college degree.”
12.16 FBI Director James B. Comey and Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr. are in agreement with a CIA assessment that Russia intervened in the 2016 election in part to help Donald Trump win the White House, officials disclosed Friday
12.16 Do McDonald’s holiday cups look like a butt?
12.16 Ta-Nehisi Coates in The Atlantic: “In the waning days of President Barack Obama’s administration, he and his wife, Michelle, hosted a farewell party, the full import of which no one could then grasp. It was late October, Friday the 21st. . . . The farewell party, presented by BET (Black Entertainment Television), was the last in a series of concerts the first couple had hosted at the White House. . . .This would not happen again, and everyone knew it. It was not just that there might never be another African American president of the United States. It was the feeling that this particular black family, the Obamas, represented the best of black people, the ultimate credit to the race, incomparable in elegance and bearing. “There are no more,” the comedian Sinbad joked back in 2010. “There are no black men raised in Kansas and Hawaii. That’s the last one. Y’all better treat this one right. The next one gonna be from Cleveland. He gonna wear a perm. Then you gonna see what it’s really like.” Throughout their residency, the Obamas had refrained from showing America “what it’s really like,” and had instead followed the first lady’s motto, “When they go low, we go high.” This was the ideal—black and graceful under fire—saluted that evening. The president was lionized as “our crown jewel.” The first lady was praised as the woman “who put the O in Obama.”. . . Much as the unbroken ranks of 43 white male presidents communicated that the highest office of government in the country—indeed, the most powerful political offices in the world—was off-limits to black individuals, the election of Barack Obama communicated that the prohibition had been lifted. It communicated much more. Before Obama triumphed in 2008, the most-famous depictions of black success tended to be entertainers or athletes. But Obama had shown that it was “possible to be smart and cool at the same damn time,” as Jesse Williams put it at the BET party. Moreover, he had not embarrassed his people with a string of scandals. Against the specter of black pathology, against the narrow images of welfare moms and deadbeat dads, his time in the White House had been an eight-year showcase of a healthy and successful black family spanning three generations, with two dogs to boot. In short, he became a symbol of black people’s everyday, extraordinary Americanness.
12.15 John Podesta in the Washington Post: “The more we learn about the Russian plot to sabotage Hillary Clinton’s campaign and elect Donald Trump, and the failure of the FBI to adequately respond, the more shocking it gets. The former acting director of the CIA has called the Russian cyberattack “the political equivalent of 9/11.” Just as after the real 9/11, we need a robust, independent investigation into what went wrong inside the government and how to better protect our country in the future. As the former chair of the Clinton campaign and a direct target of Russian hacking, I understand just how serious this is. So I was surprised to read in the New York Times that when the FBI discovered the Russian attack in September 2015, it failed to send even a single agent to warn senior Democratic National Committee officials. Instead, messages were left with the DNC IT “help desk.” As a former head of the FBI cyber division told the Times, this is a baffling decision: “We are not talking about an office that is in the middle of the woods of Montana.” What takes this from baffling to downright infuriating is that at nearly the exact same time that no one at the FBI could be bothered to drive 10 minutes to raise the alarm at DNC headquarters, two agents accompanied by attorneys from the Justice Department were in Denver visiting a tech firm that had helped maintain Clinton’s email server. This trip was part of what FBI Director James B. Comey described as a “painstaking” investigation of Clinton’s emails, “requiring thousands of hours of effort” from dozens of agents who conducted at least 80 interviews and reviewed thousands of pages of documents. Of course, as Comey himself concluded, in the end, there was no case; it was not even a close call. Comparing the FBI’s massive response to the overblown email scandal with the seemingly lackadaisical response to the very real Russian plot to subvert a national election shows that something is deeply broken at the FBI
12.15 Jimmy Kimmel revealed he’ll be paid $15,000 to host the Oscars ceremony.