APRIL 2017: “HITLER DIDN’T EVEN SINK TO USING CHEMICAL WEAPONS”

4.21 George Will: “Barack Obama said as a candidate that he would prefer a single-payer plan but couldn’t get there,” George Will said. “As President when they were going through the Obamacare agonies, he said, look upon Obamacare as a starter home. The beginning, the thin end of an enormous wedge heading toward that. What does Donald Trump say? ‘Single-payer works fine in Scotland.’ So I don’t see any particular animus he has as you say against a single-payer plan. And, what we’ve learned in this debate about repealing Obamacare is that the essence of Obamacare is the expansion of Medicaid. Who has benefited from that? Probably disproportionately white working-class males, Trump voters.”
4.21 David Brooks in the Times: “More and more governments, including the Trump administration, begin to look like premodern mafia states, run by family-based commercial clans. Meanwhile, institutionalized, party-based authoritarian regimes, like in China or Russia, are turning into premodern cults of personality/Maximum Leader regimes, which are far more unstable and dangerous. Then there has been the collapse of the center. For decades, center-left and center-right parties clustered around similar versions of democratic capitalism that Western civilization seemed to point to. But many of those centrist parties, like the British and Dutch Labour Parties, are in near collapse. Fringe parties rise.”
4.20 Officer shot dead, two other officers wounded on the Champs Elysee
4.20 Bill O’Reilly booted from Fox, paid $25 million to leave.
4.19 61K jobs lost in retail since January 2017
4.18 Democrat Jon Ossoff finishes with 48% in the special election to fill vacated GOP seat. He will face a runoff June 20 against Karen Handel.
4.15 Marking the 105th anniversary of the birth of its founding president, Kim Il-sung, military vehicles and tens of thousands of soldiers filled Kim Il-sung Square as a band played rousing military music. Afterwards, the regime tested a new missile, which flopped. American cyber-intervention suspected.
4.15 April the Giraffe gives birth in Harpursville NY
4.14 Ruth Marcus in the Washington Post: “The question of the moment is what to make of the normalization of President Trump. Not normalization in the way used by the Trump resistance — to argue against becoming inured to unacceptable behavior. But normalization of Trump in the usual sense of the term: that Trump is, if not behaving normally, at least adopting normal positions. NATO is “no longer obsolete.” China was a currency manipulator and would be branded as such in the Trump administration; now, never mind. Syria was not an American problem; now its behavior is America’s, and Trump’s, “responsibility,” and Bashar al-Assad is a “butcher.” The Export-Import Bank, once bad, is now good; same, maybe, with Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen. These about-faces represent, in part, a Trump Tower-size version of the realities that confront any new president. Campaign trail proclamations yield to Oval Office sobriety. That’s not only to be expected — it should, for the most part, also be welcomed. . . .Trump’s dizzying string of policy pirouettes is different from the evolving positions of his predecessors. None of them flipped so much, so soon. That’s not surprising. Trump’s learning curve is steeper. His attachment to any particular position is especially flimsy because he lacks any coherent worldview; his guiding ideology involves only the promotion of Trump. . . .Trump, notwithstanding the vastness of his policy ignorance and his evident distaste for remedying that embarrassment, is learning. He has moved from “I alone can fix it” to “Nobody knew that health care could be so complicated.” Neither statement is true, but the second at least evinces a dawning rationality. Likewise, Trump’s recounting of his conversation with Chinese President Xi Jinping, who seems to have had more success than intelligence briefers at getting the attention-impaired president to sit through a lecture on the region. “He then went into the history of China and Korea,” Trump told the Wall Street Journal. “And Korea actually used to be part of China. And after listening for 10 minutes I realized that not — it’s not so easy.”
4.14 At least 94 Islamic State fighters were killed when the US military dropped America’s most powerful non-nuclear bomb—the Mother of All Bombs– on ISIS targets in Afghanistan,
4.13 Jonathan Swan in Axios: “Trump appeared in the East room yesterday and gave remarks that could’ve come from the mouth of George H.W. Bush. In the past six days, President Trump has: Fired 59 Tomahawk missiles at a Syrian government airbase to respond to Bashar Assad‘s chemical weapons attack on his own citizens; Belittled Steve Bannon in an interview with the New York Post President Xi at Mar-a-Lago and said they had great “chemistry” and “bonding.”; Told the Wall Street Journal he no longer plans to label China a currency manipulator, despite repeated campaign promises to do so “on day one.” (“They’re not currency manipulators,” Trump said.); Promised to repair the world during his presidency, not just America: “The world is a mess,” Trump said in the East Room press conference Wednesday. “By the time I’m finished, it’s going to be a lot better place to live in because, right now, it’s nasty.”; Talked with deep feeling about a foreign humanitarian crisis; Jettisoned Vladimir Putin, whom he’d resisted criticizing until now. “We might be at an all time low with Russia,” Trump said.
4.12 Rick Perlstein in New York Times Magazine: “The often-cynical negotiation between populist electioneering and plutocratic governance on the right has long been not so much a matter of policy as it has been a matter of show business. … [T]he producers of “The Apprentice” carefully crafted a Trump character who was the quintessence of steely resolve and all-knowing mastery.”
4.11 Sean Spicer: “You know, you had someone as despicable as Hitler who didn’t even sink to using chemical weapons,” Spicer said. “So you have to, if you’re Russia, ask yourself: ‘Is this a country that you, and a regime, that you want to align yourself with?’”
4.11 Donald Trump: “I like Steve, but you have to remember he was not involved in my campaign until very late,” Trump told Goodwin. “I had already beaten all the senators and all the governors, and I didn’t know Steve. I’m my own strategist and it wasn’t like I was going to change strategies because I was facing crooked Hillary.”
4.11 Vicki Larson in Quartz: “Longevity alone shouldn’t be the marker of a happy, healthy marriage. Rather than staying in marriages “until death,” renewable marriages would allow partners to tweak their marital contract accordingly, or agree that it’s beyond tweaking and end it without the shock or drama of a contentious divorce or lingering doubts about what went wrong. And as the late Nobel-winning economist Gary S. Becker noted, if every couple had to personalize their marital contract based on what they consider important, there would be no more societal stigma or judgment over what are essentially private decisions. If society is truly concerned about the decline in marriage, perhaps it’s time to rethink “until death.” And if brides- and grooms-to-be truly want a happy marriage, then it is time for them to take responsibility for defining their goals and expectations in a renewable contract, and stating—out loud or on paper—”I choose you again” as often as they mean it.”
4.11 New York Post: Hawaii health officials said six cases of rat lungworm disease have been reported on the island over the past three months, while the island has seen only two cases of the disease in the past decade. Rat lungworm disease is a condition in which parasitic worm larvae infect people’s brains. It is carried by rats and transmitted by snails and slugs.
4.9 The Cook Report: “Only 35 of the nation’s 435 House districts went for presidential and House candidates of opposite parties, down from 108 in 1996. 23 Republican House members are from districts Hillary carried, and 12 Dems are from districts Trump carried. 21 House districts that voted for Obama in ’12 switched and went for Trump. 15 went Romney in ’12 but Hillary last year. The decline of swing districts: In 1997, voters in 164 of the nation’s 435 House districts were relatively split by party. Now, only 72 districts are in the same range — less than one-sixth of the House. 78% of Democratic-leaning seats got even more Democratic, and 65% of GOP-leaning seats got even more Republican. What it means: We are increasingly moving next to people who share our political views — and then following and sharing like-minded news on social media when our doors are closed. This can’t be fixed with better redistricting laws.
4.9 United Airlines forceably removed a passenger, 69 year old Dr. David Dao, from his seat on a plane scheduled to fly from Chicago to Louisville. Dao suffered a broken nose, lost two front teeth and received a concussion during the traumatizing experience.
4.9 Sergio Garcia wins the Masters
4.8 Jeremy Peters in the Times: “One of Steve Bannon‘s favorite books is The Fourth Turning: An American Prophecy — What the Cycles of History Tell Us About America’s Next Rendezvous with Destiny, by amateur historians William Strauss and Neil Howe (first published 20 years ago, in 1997): Bannon has great admiration for a provocative but disputed theory of history that argues that the United States is nearing a crisis that could be just as disruptive and catastrophic as the most seminal global turning points of the last 250 years. This prophecy … makes the case that world events unfold in predictable cycles of roughly 80 years each. In an interview with The Times, Mr. Bannon said, “Everything President Trump is doing — all of it — is to get ahead of or stop any potential crisis.” Key passage: “Sometime before the year 2025, America will pass through a great gate in history, one commensurate with the American Revolution, Civil War, and twin emergencies of the Great Depression and World War II. The risk of catastrophe will be high. The nation could erupt into insurrection or civil violence, crack up geographically, or succumb to authoritarian rule.” The book’s key tenets, per Peters:
• “The rhythmic, seasonal nature of history that the authors identify foresees an inevitable period of decay and destruction that will tear down existing social and political institutions.”
• “Western society — particularly American culture — has denied the significance of cyclical patterns in history in favor of the more palatable and self-serving belief that humans are on an inexorable march toward improvement.”
• “The authors envision a return to a more traditional, conservative social order as one outcome of a crisis.”

APRIL 2017 “WHOEVER SAYS THAT IS A STUPID IDIOT.”

4.8 Daily Beast reports that Bannon calls Jushner “a ‘globalist’ and a ‘cuck’…He actually said ‘cuck,’ as in “cuckservative.’”
4.8 Axios: Steve Bannon, the engine and soul of President Trump‘s hard-edged approach to his first months in office, is increasingly isolated and will be forced out unless he can adopt a more cooperative approach, a top source told me. On both style and substance, Bannon got crosswise with Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump, who are pushing for a more competence- and results-driven focus for the West Wing. In their view, Bannon is too inclined to want to burn things down and blow things up. They want a more open process driven by the interests of the president, not ideology. A senior official said Chief of Staff Reince Priebus is “with the program” of a more inclusive style, and will stay. Insiders have been feverishly discussing possible replacements and Trump considered a change, but the official said: “Reince is staying.” The latest from the “Game of Thrones,” on location in Mar-a-Lago this weekend: The changing culture: Here are the two crucial words to understand the outgoing style and incoming style: We’re told that rather than “nationalist” vs. “globalist,” think of “combat” vs. “collaboration.” Playing defense: Bannon’s allies both inside and outside the White House are scrambling to try to save his job, Axios’ Jonathan Swan reports. They argue that getting rid of Bannon will cost Trump among his “America First” constituency, and that Trump’s key to victory is to keep his base motivated.
What’s next: This weekend, Bannon, Kushner and Priebus are having discussions about whether the marriage can be saved: “Either Steve becomes a team player and gets along with people, or he’ll be gone.”
4.7 Eliot H. Cohen in The Atlantic: Give President Donald Trump credit for at least being inconsistent. On March 30 in Ankara, his secretary of state hinted that Bashar al-Assad could remain in power. A week later, it seems increasingly certain that the Syrian regime attacked the rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhoun in Idlib province with chemical weapons, almost certainly nerve agents. But after months of denouncing foreign policy do-goodism and propounding the grumpy doctrine that the United States only looks out for Number One, Trump got riled up at the sight of murdered children, and ordered the U.S. Navy to smack a Syrian air base, which it did with 59 cruise missiles. To be sure, the United States mitigated the president’s righteous anger by telegraphing its punch to the Russians, who promptly warned the Syrians, who presumably got as far away from the Designated Mean Points of Impact as fast as they could. It is also true that few presidents are oblivious to the political upsides of looking tough by blowing up some empty buildings—particularly if doing so undercuts the story that your presidential campaign was in cahoots with the Kremlin. Still, it was a firm response to a loathsome crime, and Trump’s visible distress betrayed a decent outrage that many of his opponents would not have credited him with. The airstrike was the right thing to do. But as with most uses of force, it seems like an answer bound to breed more questions. This was not a painful blow to the Assad regime. Having tipped off the Russians, and targeting things rather than people, it did not do much damage to anything the Assad regime cares about. By using cruise missiles rather than manned aircraft, the United States tacitly admitted that it is deterred, to some degree, by the Russian air defenses installed in Syria. If maximum military effect were desired, air-delivered ordnance is an order of magnitude cheaper and usually more destructive. But aircraft are vulnerable to surface-to-air missiles in a way Tomahawk missiles are not. Moreover, this was a one-time punch at a single target. A truly punishing attack would involve multiple targets, and perhaps repeated blows. An effective, destructive attack—that is, one that would worry the Assad regime—would have killed skilled personnel, military and political leaders, and elite fighters. This strike was, instead, appropriate in the narrowest and weakest sense: It went after the base (apparently) from which the nerve-agent-carrying planes that attacked Khan Sheikhoun flew. Blowing up some installations is not, in fact, “proportionate” to the massacre of children. A warning this was; the avenging sword of justice this was not. Conceivably, the Syrian government may calculate that worse will follow from a repeat offense. Just as conceivably, they and their Russian and Iranian allies may conclude that this president, like some of his predecessors, mistakes the theater of war for the real thing. They do not.”
08OBRIENobit-web-3-master6754.7 Glenn O’Brien dies at 70. He assigned me articles at Spin. He was a decent guy who seems to have had no insecurities. I regreet that I did not know him better.
4.7 David Brooks in the Times: “Trump’s greatest achievements are in the field of ignorance. Up until this period I had always thought of ignorance as a void, as an absence of knowledge. But Trump’s ignorance is not just an absence; it is a rich, intricate and entirely separate universe of negative information, a sort of fertile intellectual antimatter with its own gravitational pull. It’s not so much that he isn’t well informed; it’s that he is prodigiously learned in the sort of knowledge that doesn’t accord with the facts of our current dimension. It is in its own way a privilege to be alive at the same time as a man who is the Albert Einstein of confirmation bias, a man whose most impressive wall is the one between himself and evidence, a man who doesn’t need to go off in search of enemies because he is already his own worst one.”
4.7 Dana Milbank in the Washington Post: “McConnell’s tombstone should say that he presided over the end of the Senate. And I’d add a second line: “He broke America.” No man has done more in recent years to undermine the functioning of U.S. government. His has been the epitome of unprincipled leadership, the triumph of tactics in service of short-term power. After McConnell justified his filibuster-ending “nuclear option” by saying it would be beneficial for the Senate, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said this: “Whoever says that is a stupid idiot.” McConnell is no idiot. He is a clever man who does what works for him in the moment, consequences be damned.
4.7 Gorsuch confirmed
4.7 Albany
4.6 Don Rickles dies at 91
4.6 Thomas Edsall in the New York Times: “The administration’s proposed spending plan … appeases those who have long been determined to cut means-tested programs. But those same programs are crucial to keeping 6.2 million white working class voters out of poverty … The number of whites dependent on safety net programs is far larger than the number of African Americans, at 2.8 million, or Hispanics, at 2.4 million. …Nate Cohn reported in The Times that Trump voters “have the most to lose in the G.O.P. repeal bill.” The first major piece of legislation to be taken up after the election amounted to a kick in the teeth to Trump’s populist base.
4.6 Axios: Chris Krueger of Cowen Washington Research Group: “One of the strangest and most baffling realities about the current legislative dumpster fire on Capitol Hill is that it was created, fostered, and fed entirely by Republicans who nominally control the House, Senate, and White House. We are now on our THIRD health care ‘plan’ in four months … All week [Republicans] have been negotiating against themselves … They are going in the wrong direction and spending down all their political capital.”
4.5 Trump: “Yesterday’s chemical attack, a chemical attack so horrific in Syria against innocent people including women, small children, and even beautiful little babies, their deaths was an affront to humanity. These heinous actions by the Assad regime cannot be tolerated,” Trump said today from the White House. “My attitude toward Syria and Assad has changed very much. . . It crossed a lot of lines for me. When you kill innocent children, innocent babies – babies, little babies – with a chemical gas that is so lethal – people were shocked to hear what gas it was – that crosses many, many lines – beyond a red line, many, many lines.”
4.5 McConnell said that “senators have traditionally defended the Senate as an institution, because they knew that the Senate was the last legislative check for political minorities and small states against the kind of raw exercise of power large states and majority parties have always been tempted to wield.”
17553470_10156088521723902_332691539412549046_n4.5 Steve Bannon dropped from National Security Council
4.5 Dems block Neil Gorsuch nomination, opening the way for Republicans to ue the nuclear option
4.5 Forty companies boycott Bill O’Reilly. Trump: “I think he’s a person I know well — he is a good person. I think he shouldn’t have settled; personally, I think he shouldn’t have settled. Because you should have taken it all the way. I don’t think Bill did anything wrong.”
4.5 Pepsi pulls Kendall Jenner commercial
4.5 President Bashar al-Assad’s government uses sarin against civilians in an attack that left 58 dead, including children, and at least 160 injured
4.4 The death toll is up to 14 in the suicide bombing on a St. Petersburg metro
4.4 Mercedes-Benz and Hyundai pull their ads from Bill O’Reilly‘s show
4.4 Wall Street Journal: “ “Tesla Inc., the upstart Silicon Valley electric-car maker run by [Elon] Musk, has overtaken Ford Motor Co., the automotive pioneer that is exactly 100 years older, as the second-largest U.S. auto maker by stock-market value.”
4.3 North Carolina beats Gonzaga for the NCAA Men’s Basketball championship
4.3 Daily Kos: “To be more exact, Case and Deaton found that middle-aged, non-Hispanic Americans without a college degree experience a significantly higher mortality rate than those in advanced countries like the United Kingdom or Germany. While everyone else in the United States is getting healthier and living longer, it’s that segment of whites who accounted for “half a million deaths” between 1999 and 2013. To scientists, the sudden die-off in middle-of-the-road white Americans constitutes a phenomenon “unprecedented in the annals of public health among developed nations” with the exception of the post-U.S.S.R. deaths of Russian males and, in some ways, the first shock waves of the AIDs crisis in the early 1980s. Joseph Stiglitz lays much of the blame for the increase in deaths from suicide, drugs, and alcoholism on our growing economic inequality, and on the high price we, as a nation, pay for medical care which, for too long, has put it out of the reach of those who need it most. Stiglitz also mentions the increase in mortality that occurred in Russia after the dissolution of the USSR. The causes of the increase in mortality and morbidity among white, non-Hispanics (WNH) seem to be equal parts economic inequality, with its accompanying lack of economic progress among WNH, and the opiod epidemic that has spread across the nation. The increase in mortality among WNH is centered mostly among those lacking higher education and appears to have few geographical restrictions. The increase in morbidity has not only increased the number of people on Social Security, but will also impact Medicare as this cohort ages into retirement.”
4.3 Jordan Peel becomes first black director to have a $100 million-grossing debut; Jordan Peele’s critically-acclaimed horror satire “Get Out” has now crossed the $100 million threshold in grosses
4.2 Fig and Olive with Shawn and Molly
4.2 Albany fails to agree on a budget; Governor sends extender bill, good to May 31. “That wack-a-mole game where you whack one of those moles and then you whack another one and the other one pops right back up again,” said Sen. James Tedisco (R-Glenville). “This is the process that’s been taking place.”
4.2 Madison Bumgarner became the first pitcher in major league history to hit two home runs on opening day. Additionally, he took a perfect game into the sixth and finished with 11 strikeouts in seven innings. Yet the Giants bullpen blew two leads, and Arizona won 6-5.
4.2 NY Times: $13 million has been paid to women accusing Bill O’Reilly of sexual harassment, and at least six women have leveled accusations against him.
4.1 New York Times: More than 100 gay men have been detained and at least three have been killed by authorities in Chechnya, according to a Russian newspaper. The disturbing report from Novaya Gazeta, which cites government and police sources, follows a week of rumors about gay men mysteriously disappearing off the streets of the Russian republic, the Times reports. Dozens of men between the ages of 16 and 50 have been detained “in connection with their nontraditional sexual orientation, or suspicion of such,” according to Novaya Gazeta as quoted in the Times. The report blamed local authorities for the men’s detention and identified three men as murder victims. It’s thought that the actual number of dead may be higher.
4.1 Roger Cohen in the Times: “the day will come when the Dow plunges and what the former British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan is said to have feared most in politics — “events, dear boy, events” — occurs, perhaps in ghastly terrorist form, and an incoherent administration will be confronted by its first crisis. All that can be said for now is that, in such a moment, illiberalism and xenophobia in the hands of a would-be autocrat will make for a dangerous brew.”
4.1 Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump are said to be worth $741 million
4.1 Albany
4.1 Albany

MARCH 2017: “THE ANSWER IS SIMPLE AND NO ONE IS SAYING IT”

WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 23:  U.S. President Donald Trump sits in the cab of a truck as he welcomes members of American Trucking Associations to the White House March 23, 2017 in Washington, DC. President Trump hosted truckers and CEOs for a listening session on healthcare.  (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC – MARCH 23: U.S. President Donald Trump sits in the cab of a truck as he welcomes members of American Trucking Associations to the White House March 23, 2017 in Washington, DC. President Trump hosted truckers and CEOs for a listening session on healthcare. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
3.31 After 111 consecutive victories, UConn women lose to Mississippi State in an NCAA semi-final game.
3.31 Maggie Haberman via Twitter: ” The NY wing vs national wing matters less as chronic infighting and more as a … death battle over who can move the president in a game of inches.”
3.30 SpaceX flew a previously used rocket on Thursday in an unprecedented test of the durability of space equipment.
3.30 Crayola fired Dandelion.
3.30 HuffPosT: “Luka Maksimovic is a white stallion-riding, man bun-sporting self-proclaimed Gandalf of the Balkans. He’s also second in Serbia’s leadership race, with the election just days away.The 25-year-old university student and satirist uses the alias “Ljubisa ‘Beli’ Preletacevic,” which loosely translates to “the white one” and “defector.” His swift and unlikely emergence as a top presidential candidate has shed a comical but poignant light on the country’s long history of political corruption.”
3.30 Washington Post: At a Senate committee hearing witness Clifford “Watts flatly stated that the president himself has become a cog in such Russian measures. When asked by Oklahoma Republican James Lankford, who appeared visibly dismayed, why, if Russians have long used these methods, they finally worked in this election cycle, Watts’ answer was extraordinary. “I think this answer is very simple and is one no one is really saying in this room,” he said. Part of the reason, he went on, “is the commander in chief has used Russian active measures at times against his opponents.” To buttress the claim that Trump (unwittingly or not) aided Russian disinformation efforts, Watts cited several instances. Among them: Trump’s citation of an apparently false Sputnik story at an October 2016 campaign appearance; his ongoing denial before and after the campaign of U.S. intelligence of Russian interference in the election; his claims of voter fraud and election rigging, which Watts said was pushed by RT and Sputnik; and Trump’s questioning of the citizenship of former President Barack Obama and even his primary rival Ted Cruz. Watts added that one of the reasons such tactics are working is that Trump and/or his surrogates have repeated some of the claims, further spreading them through social media accounts that are owned both by real people and bots. Thus, the disinformation is kept alive and gradually becomes more real and plausible. “Part of the reason active measures work is because they parrot the same lines,” Watts said.”
3.29 British Prime Minister Theresa May sent European Council President Donald Tusk a hand-delivered letter notifying the European Union of the U.K.’s intention to leave the 60-year-old bloc.
3.29 Former president George W. Bush reportedly said Donald Trump’s inaugural speech was “some weird sh-t.”
3.29 Two former high-level members of the Christie administration were sentenced to prison terms Wednesday in the political scandal that became known as Bridgegate. Bridget Anne Kelly, 44, a former top aide to the governor whose “time for some traffic problems” email became a focal point of the federal investigation, was given 18 months Bill Baroni, 45, the former deputy executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, received a 24 month sentence.”
3.29 An Indonesian man has been found dead inside the belly of a seven-meter-long python, a local media reports. Akbar Salubiro had not been seen since setting off to harvest palm oil in a remote village on the island of Sulawesi. The 25-year-old man was missing since March 26.
3.28 The Royal Mint released 1.5 billion one-pound coins featuring a 12-sided bimetallic design, a hologram, and other anti-counterfeiting measures. An estimated 45 million fake coins are in circulation.
3.28 Washington Post: “In 2002, Mike Pence told the Hill that he never eats alone with a woman other than his wife and that he won’t attend events featuring alcohol without her by his side, either.”
IMG_22793.28 Albany: Dim, Dank, Damp and Drafty
3.27 Nearly 1 out of every 3 days he has been president, Trump has visited a Trump property
3.27 Albany. Watched Rocktopia!
3.27 Joe Scarborough on Twitter: Extreme gerrymandering is the worst thing that’s happened to Congress in a long time
3.26 Judge Jeanine calls on Speaker Ryan to step down, after Trump tweets a tout of her show
3.26 Axios: Amid high-stakes postmortems that include conversations with President Trump about White House staffing and operations, aides are rewriting their plans for the next legislative fight — with a weakened President and Speaker, emboldened House hardliners, and a party at war with itself. “It’s like you’re in a room with 2-year- olds, and one side complains about any attention you give the other,” a White House official said. Forget pie in the sky like tax reform or a massive infrastructure package. Now aides fear a government shutdown when the current continuing resolution runs out at the end of April. “I’m worried about everything right now,” said a senior Republican operative who’s in the war.
3.26 Maureen Dowd in the Times: “ my primary observation about Washington is this: Unless you’re careful, you end up turning into what you started out scorning. And you, Donald, are getting a reputation as a sucker. And worse, a sucker who is a tool of the D.C. establishment. You got played. It took W. years to smash everything. You’re way ahead of schedule.”
3.26 Edgewood to clean
3.25 Axios: “When the balky hardliners of the House Freedom Caucus visited the White House earlier this week, this was Steve Bannon’s opening line, according to people in the conference room in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building. “Guys, look. This is not a discussion. This is not a debate. You have no choice but to vote for this bill.” Bannon’s point was: This is the Republican platform. You’re the conservative wing of the Republican Party. But people in the room were put off by the dictatorial mindset. One of the members replied: “You know, the last time someone ordered me to something, I was 18 years old. And it was my daddy. And I didn’t listen to him, either.”
3.24 Fortune names Theo Epstein of the Cubs 2017’s greatest leader.
3.25 After the bill was pulled, Trump called Robert Costa of the Washington Post: “I never said I was going to repeal and replace in the first 61 days.’’ Turning to an aide, Trump asked, ‘How many days is it now? Whatever.’ He laughed. … ‘I would say [we were] within anywhere from five to 12 votes,’ Trump said … Does Trump regret starting his agenda this year with health care? ‘No, I don’t … But in a way I’m glad I got it out of the way.’. . . As Trump tried to hang up the phone and get back to work, I asked him to reflect … on lessons learned. … ‘Just another day,’ Trump said, flatly. ‘Just another day in paradise, okay?’ He paused. ‘Take care.'”
3.24 Dan Balz in the Washignton Post: “In a do-or-die moment, Republicans come undone”: “Trump’s reputation as the closer in chief has taken a hit — and on the first big test of his presidency. The greater damage has been to the reputation of House Speaker Paul D. Ryan … as the savvy intellectual godfather of a new conservative agenda around which his party could rally.”
3.24 House Republicans pull health care bill
3.24 Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said today he isn’t worried about artificial intelligence taking over people’s jobs in the near future—even though technology experts’ research suggests he should be.
3.24 The Atlantic: “In 1957, 97 percent of men in America ages 25 to 54 were either working or looking for work. Today, only 89 percent are. Italy is the only OECD country with a lower labor-force participation rate for men in their prime years. Just why there are so many men who aren’t working is a matter of debate. In a 2016 report, President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers examined the declining labor-force participation rate and suggested that a drop-off in good jobs for low-skilled men was part of the explanation. Wages, the report theorized, are so low for many jobs that don’t require a college education that men don’t find it worth it to seek out bad jobs. . . .Conservative scholars have a different view. In his 2016 book, Men Without Work, Nicholas Eberstadt of the American Enterprise Institute put forward two arguments: First, that as social welfare programs have gotten more generous, they’ve lured men away from trying to find a job, and, second, that a large share of the men who are not working are ones with criminal records who have not been able to find a job, and have thus given up. . . .But there’s another theory that deserves mentioning, especially because it fits with recent research about the declining health outcomes among American men. That theory suggests that American men are dropping out of the workforce because they are suffering from serious health conditions that make it difficult for them to work. As their health deteriorates, they’re getting on pain medications, which then make it even more difficult to re-enter the workforce. Princeton economist Alan Krueger argued this theory late last year at a conference at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, and in an October 2016 paper circulated by the National Bureau of Economic Research. In his research, he found that almost half of working-age men who were not in the labor force were taking pain medication on a daily basis, and that two-thirds of those men were taking prescription medication. These men also reported more functional disabilities: Krueger found that 43 percent of prime-aged men who are out of the labor force report their health as fair or poor, compared with 12 percent of employed men and 16 percent of unemployed men. Health-related problems “are a substantial barrier to work that would have to be addressed to significantly reverse their downward trend in participation,” Krueger writes. Krueger’s work looks specifically at pain medication, but the health problems keeping Americans out of the workforce may be broader than that. Millions of Americans are increasingly struggling with obesity and with diabetes, as well as with alcoholism. A 2015 paper by husband-and-wife team Anne Case and Angus Deaton in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that while the mortality rates for people aged 45 to 52 in most rich countries declined by 2 percent per year, mortality rates for U.S. whites rose by half a percent each year starting in 1998. “Deaths of despair” such as suicide, alcohol and drug poisoning, and alcohol-related liver disease killed many of these men. There are now 30 million Americans living with diabetes, more than three times the number living with the disease in the early 1990s. And a recent study has suggested that diabetes might be more of a factor in American mortality than was previously thought—perhaps the third leading cause of death in America, after cancer and heart disease. (Diabetes is prone to under-counting because the official cause of death is often something else.) Obesity and diabetes have been shown to disproportionately affect people with a high-school education or less—the same group who are disappearing from the labor force.
3.23 President Trump to TIME Washington Bureau Chief Michael Scherer: “Hey, look, I can’t be doing so badly, because I’m President and you’re not.”
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3.22 Four people were killed and 20 wounded in a lone wolf terrorist attack near the British Parliament. The alleged attacker, armed with a knife, struck several people with a car on Westminster Bridge and attempted to enter Parliament, killing a policeman before being shot dead by another officer. ISIS claimed responsibility
3.22 SecState Rex Tillerson: “I didn’t want this job. I didn’t seek this job. … My wife told me I’m supposed to do this. … When he asked me at the end of that conversation to be secretary of state, I was stunned.”
3.22 Wall Street Journal: “[T]he President clings to his [wiretapping] assertion like a drunk to an empty gin bottle … [I]f he doesn’t show more respect for the truth most Americans may conclude he’s a fake President.”
3.22 Ryan Lizza in the New Yorker: “[T]he larger takeaway from the White House’s spin is that the top people around Trump may have no idea how much exposure the President has on the issue of Russian collusion.”
3.22 The AP reported that Trump’s former campaign chair, Paul Manafort, worked to advance Russia’s political interests while employed by an oligarch close to Putin. Hours later, House Intelligence Committee Chair Devin Nunes—whose other recent statements have cast doubt on his credibility—caused another uproar: He announced new information that lent vague support to the president’s claims he was surveilled—though it still gave no proof of government wrongdoing—and then briefed Trump himself without having shared the info with Democratic members of the committee.
3.21 Edgewood
3.20 Edgewood
3.21 Azerbaijani story breaks out with Mr. Stupid
3.21 FBI DIRECTOR JAMES COMEY: ‘THE DEPARTMENT HAS NO INFORMATION THAT SUPPORTS THOSE TWEETS’ The FBI director directly refuted President Donald Trump’s claim that Trump Tower had been wiretapped by President Barack Obama during testimony to the House Intelligence committee about Russian interference in the 2016 election.
3.20 David Rockefeller dies at 101
3.20 The new “Beauty and the Beast” raked in $170 million domestically.
3.17 The Independent: Donald Trump has apparently refused to shake Angela Merkel’s hand during a joint appearance at the White House. The pair held an awkward meeting that could help determine the future of the transatlantic alliance and shape the working relationship between two of the world’s most powerful leaders. While the President greeted the German leader with a handshake upon her arrival at the White House, he appeared to ignore requests to do so as the pair sat together later in front of TV cameras. In footage of the photo opportunity, as photographers call for the two to shake hands, Ms Merkel can be heard saying: “Do you want to have a handshake?” Mr Trump briefly turns towards her, but continues sitting with his legs apart and hands together. She then turns back to face the cameras, smiling thinly.
3.17 The Guardian: British intelligence officials have denied an allegation that the UK helped former president Barack Obama “wiretap” Donald Trump during the 2016 election. The claim was repeated by the White House press secretary, Sean Spicer, on Thursday and dismissed as “utterly ridiculous” by a GCHQ spokesperson. The spokesperson added in a statement: “Recent allegations made by media commentator judge Andrew Napolitano about GCHQ being asked to conduct ‘wiretapping’ against the then president-elect are nonsense. They are utterly ridiculous and should be ignored.”
3.16 At a recent military conference in Washington, DC, US general David Perkins told the audience that a US ally used a Patriot missile to shoot down a small consumer drone. These missiles are radar-controlled warheads designed by the US firm Raytheon, and cost up to $3 million apiece. The drone cost about $300.
3.17 From an excerpt of Tom Verducci’s upcoming book The Cubs Way: The Zen Of Building The Best Team In Baseball And Breaking The Curse: “An hour before the seventh game of the World Series, Rizzo stripped off all his clothes, cranked the theme from Rocky on the clubhouse stereo one more time, jumped on top of a coffee table, and began quoting lines from the movie and throwing his best shadow-boxing punches. Pitcher Hector Rondon, joining in on the hijinks, picked up an aerosol can of shoe cleaner and sprayed it in the direction of Rizzo’s groin. Startled and angered, Rizzo stopped and yelled, “What the heck, man!” He cut the music and stormed off toward the showers to clean off the spray. “I’m thinking, Dang, what’s he doing?” Ross said. “We can’t have this negative vibe right before the game. I go by there. I can tell he’s a little irritated.” Ten minutes went by. Rizzo finally emerged from the shower. He walked back silently to his locker with a towel around this waist. The room was quiet and uneasy. David Ross walked up to Rizzo and broke the silence. “Hey! It’s not how many times you get knocked down … it’s how many times you get up!” Rizzo chuckled. “You know what?” he said. “You’re right!” Said Ross, “He rips the towel off, runs up, turns the music on again, and he jumps back on the coffee table and starts doing the Rocky motions again.”
3.16 The Atlantic: To fund an increase in military spending, the budget make deep cuts to education programs and funding for science, including the bipartisan-supported National Institutes of Health. It would eliminate funding for 19 independent agencies, including the National Endowment for the Arts. All these cuts could hurt low-income Americans, including some of Trump’s own supporters, not to mention slowing scientific and tech research that might otherwise help revive U.S. manufacturing
3.16 Mark Cuban on Trump: “He’s Zoolander. I’m serious. He’s oblivious to everything.’’
3.15 In the Netherlands: Geert Wilders, the far-right populist candidate, lost
3.15 Women in finance are punished more severely than men. They’re 50% more likely to lose their jobs as a result of misconduct.
3.15 Ivanka Trump attends the new musical “Come From Away” with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre
3.14 Storm Stella whips the US Northeast—foot of snow in Westchester
3.14 Axios: “Gary Coby, who led the Trump Campaign’s advertising team alongside Brad Parscale, said that each day, the campaign tested 40,000-50,000 automated ad combinations on Facebook for $200,000-$300,000. From there, they found which messaging attracted audiences whose voter files weren’t pegged as being likely to vote for Trump. Experimenting that quickly allowed them to build up enough historical data to very quickly identify trends of which ads worked and which didn’t. Coby told Axios that campaign staff got so good at predicting effectiveness of certain messaging, that they could see what worked after only spending $20-$50 on a particular ad.’’
3.14 Michael Gerson in WashPost, “Republicans are defining lunacy down”: “[W]e are seeing the corruption of the Republican Party, as it tolerates, excuses and absorbs Trump’s conspiratorial thinking. … Trump does not face a coup, just a government he has attacked and refused to lead.” 3.14 The Congressional Budget Office rendered a grade on the American Health Care Act and it was not good: projecting that 24 million Americans could lose their health care. In one notable case of sticker shock, the CBO projected that a “single 64-year-old who makes $26,500, for example, could face a 700 percent jump in premiums (from $1,700 now to $14,600 under the GOP bill).”

OUR MAN IN AMERICA: PRESIDENT OZZY

From the British magazine The Jackal, MARCH 15, 2017

Politics has never been the prime interest of the American people. Oh, we like to gussie up the whole Revolutionary War thing with the `life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,’’ mantra, but that was just something Thomas Jefferson spackled over what was basically a tax squabble. Let’s face it, whenever political matters oust Beyonce or the Kardashians or some equivalent circus from the top of the conversational charts, we start running into trouble. We’re a democracy, see, so whenever a political topic gets too big, everybody needs to chime in. Once that happens, the capacity of sensible people to say “enough is enough’’ gets chucked out the window, and the thing rolls on and on until we’ve seen dead bodies at Gettysburg or the semen stain on Monica Lewinsky’s dress. At that point everybody turns away, abashed at the spectacle.

So we try to avoid politics, and just preside over the world. We’re happy that everyone knows that we have a great country and that we believe in a great God, and that while we are a global superpower, we are also very well-liked. Moreover, we have just the right number of minority groups and just the right amount of gay people, and we don’t need any more, thanks anyway. We don’t know why Muslims hate us; but when you get down to it, we don’t even know why Muslims want to be Muslims. We just want to drive our crossover SUVs, and be satisfied that nobody has it better than us.

Sadly, politics in the form of the President Trump saga has squatted all-but-permanently on the national agenda, and nothing seems to possess the potential to dislodge it. Usually a new president comes in, and no matter how many people loathed him as a candidate, he would benefit from a temporary cordiality that would allow him to get organized. In return, he would spend a lot of time smiling and waving, as though to reassure people that meant no harm. By the time his enemies were ready to resume their vituperative bombardment, he should have been able to reassure the remainder of the country that he was harmless, and they could safely return to their iPhones.

President Obama was even more lulling than usual. For eight years, he led a mellow government. It was like Al Jarreau was president. Obama could talk about anything—financial catastrophe, automotive bankruptcy, cops shooting unnamed black men, Syria dematerializing—and the country would walk out humming “We’re In This Love Together.’’ It wasn’t like we were happy about what was happening, or even unified in our desire to solve the problem, or that we even liked him. It was as like we were in this love together.

Now he has given way to his polar opposite. Donald Trump is the stylistic equivalent of Ozzy Osbourne, screeching “Paranoid’’ and biting the heads off bats. He came into office as he campaigned, telling lies, banning Muslims and firing salvos of condemnation at Mexico, Australia, Germany, America’s own intelligence service, judges, the news media and Meryl Streep (though he did find time to praise Frederick Douglass, the very dead 19th century abolitionist whom Trump cited as “an example of somebody who’s done an amazing job and is being recognized more and more.”)

Well, aux armes, citoyens, formez vos bataillons. In a flash, millions had taken to the streets, phones, and other media of the moment to express their extreme disapproval. A more sensible leader might have been chastened, but Trump is not mere mortal. He is a god, a Trinity, three-in-one: the Provocative Populist, who had enough skill to win; the Bullshit Artist, who bullies and blusters his way through life; and the Cry Baby, who can dish it out but can’t take it.

Who will wear out first? The Resistance, so far, seems relentless, inspired just as much by their setbacks as his. But Trump, it appears, has begun to wilt from the long days and shortage of adulation. Lately he appears pale and puffy, and reportedly spends his evenings alone in his bathrobe, watching TV and tweeting, although in response, his press secretary has vehemently denied that Trump even owns a bathrobe. Something’s got to give.

I predict he’ll own a dressing gown by the end of the month.

MARCH 2017: WHAT’S THE POINT?

imrs
3.13 Fourteen million fewer Americans would have health insurance next year if the plan were enacted, according to the analysis from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, and that figure would swell to 24 million within a decade. A typical working-class 64-year-old who makes $26,500 annually would pay nearly $13,000 more in premiums every year.
3.12 Albany
3.13 Bill Gates on Axios: “There are a lot of “next frontiers” in computing. Mixed reality is one of them, and so are AI and quantum computing. I have been using virtual reality videos on my Gates Notes blog to bring people along on the work that I do with my foundation. You can come with me to South Africa to learn about HIV/AIDS, which is one of our big program areas. Later this year, I’ll have more VR videos to share. There is still no substitute for seeing these things for yourself, but VR is a close second.’’
3.13 Deposed South Korean president Park Geun-hye departed the Blue House on Sunday, her motorcade flanked by supporters as she headed to her home in the posh Gangnam district of Seoul.
3.12 Trump fires Preet Bharara
3.12 New York Post: “ WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and former pinup Pamela Anderson may be the most unlikely couple on the planet. But since last fall, the 49-year-old blond bombshell — whose résumé includes 15 Playboy covers, “Baywatch” and a sex tape with Tommy Lee — has been happily content to be photographed (almost) fully clothed, as she delivers lunch, or dinner, or heaven knows what else to her latest bad-boy infatuation. Anderson has been a fixture coming and going from Assange’s stronghold in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London, silently carting trays of plastic-wrapped homemade vegan delicacies. She has also been seen loaded down with Pret A Manger and Whole Foods bags filled with takeout meals for her numerous têtes-a-têtes with Assange, 45.
3.12 Wilders understands that culture and demographics are our destiny. We can’t restore our civilization with somebody else’s babies. https://t.co/4nxLipafWO
— Steve King (@SteveKingIA) March 12, 2017
3.12 Albany
3.11 Fig and Olive with Greg and Susan
3.10 After 16 years, Australian physician Karl Kruszelnicki began a study on the infectous properties of farts. He asked a colleague to fart into a small petri dish used for growing bacteria once with pants on, and once in the buff. He found that on the petri dish exposed to the naked fart, colonies of common gut and skin bacteria began to grow overnight. “Our deduction,” he wrote in the British Medical Journal, “is that the enteric zone in the second petri dish was caused by the flatus itself, and the splatter ring around that was caused by the sheer velocity of the fart, which blew skin bacteria from the cheeks and blasted it onto the dish. It seems, therefore, that flatus can cause infection if the emitter is naked, but not if he or she is clothed. But the results of the experiment should not be considered alarming, because neither type of bacterium is harmful. In fact, they’re similar to the ‘friendly’ bacteria found in yoghurt.”
3.10 Professor Robert Kelly was breaking down the ramifications of the impeachment of South Korea President Park Geun-hye live on BBC when his two young children meandered into the camera frame.
3.10 Paul Krugman in the New York Times: Given the rhetoric Republicans have used over the past seven years to attack health reform, you might have expected them to do away with the whole structure of the Affordable Care Act — deregulate, de-subsidize and let the magic of the free market do its thing. This would have been devastating for the 20 million Americans who gained coverage thanks to the act, but at least it would have been ideologically consistent. But Republican leaders weren’t willing to bite that bullet. What they came up with instead was a dog’s breakfast that conservatives are, with some justice, calling Obamacare 2.0. But a better designation would be Obamacare 0.5, because it’s a half-baked plan that accepts the logic and broad outline of the Affordable Care Act while catastrophically weakening key provisions. If enacted, the bill would almost surely lead to a death spiral of soaring premiums and collapsing coverage. Which makes you wonder, what’s the point?
3.10 David Brooks in the Times: “The central debate in the old era was big government versus small government, the market versus the state. But now you’ve got millions of people growing up in social and cultural chaos and not getting the skills they need to thrive in a technological society. This is not a problem you can solve with tax cuts.
And if you don’t solve this problem, voters around the world have demonstrated that they’re quite willing to destroy market mechanisms to get the security they crave. They will trash free trade, cut legal skilled immigration, attack modern finance and choose state-run corporatism over dynamic free market capitalism. The core of the new era is this: If you want to preserve the market, you have to have a strong state that enables people to thrive in it. If you are pro-market, you have to be pro-state. You can come up with innovative ways to deliver state services, like affordable health care, but you can’t just leave people on their own. The social fabric, the safety net and the human capital sources just aren’t strong enough. New social crises transform party philosophies. We’re in the middle of a transformation. But to get there we’ve got to live through this final health care debacle first.
3.10 China leads the world in self-made female billionaires. An estimated 56 out of 88 call China home.
3.10 In a Twitter exchange with the Atlassian CEO, the Tesla boss said he could build a 100MW battery storage farm in the state within 100 days—or its free of charge. The state has been suffering from serious power outages in the last six months. Tesla built an 80MW farm in just 90 days in California last year.
o4obqx13nuczevewa8wa3.10 Wild radioactive boars are rampaging in Japan. They’ve taken over towns in the Fukushima prefecture near the site of the 2011 nuclear plant disaster.
3.9 National Football League teams violated federal laws governing prescription drugs, disregarded guidance from the Drug Enforcement Administration on how to store, track, transport and distribute controlled substances, and plied their players with powerful painkillers and anti-inflammatories each season, according to sealed court documents contained in a federal lawsuit filed by former players. Federal law lays out strict guidelines for how teams can handle and dispense prescription drugs. The sealed court filing, which includes testimony and documents by team and league medical personnel, describes multiple instances in which team and league officials were made aware of abuses, record-keeping problems and even violations of federal law and were either slow in responding or failed to comply.
3.8 David Wasserman in 538.com: Of the nation’s 3,113 counties (or county equivalents), just 303 were decided by single-digit margins — less than 10 percent. In contrast, 1,096 counties fit that description in 1992, even though that election featured a wider national spread.1 During the same period, the number of extreme landslide counties — those decided by margins exceeding 50 percentage points — exploded from 93 to 1,196, or over a third of the nation’s counties.
3.8 Tom Edsall on NYTimes.com, “Trump’s Political Stew: The president’s electoral coalition has been 50 years in the making. It may prove to be enduring”: “Trump’s impact on voting patterns was not to increase the [GOP] share of the white vote … Both Trump and Mitt Romney carried whites by the same 20-point margin. The big shift Trump wrought was to change the type of whites who voted Republican. … [N]on-college whites [were] the majority, 55.1 percent, with college -educated whites becoming the minority at 44.9 percent.” “Trump has oriented the party toward heightened anger, intensified racial resentment, animosity to immigrants and opposition to trade. This is an exceptionally volatile mix. Trump is fanning rather than quelling the flames — everything he has done so far has been to raise, not lower, the heat. The next question is whether the Republican Party will be able to continue to exploit this mix or whether it will boil over in ways that cannot be predicted.”
3.7 In Nashua, Iowa, a party bus headed to a wedding reception caught fire and exploded.
3.7 Jennifer Rubin in the Washington Post: “House Speaker Paul D. Ryan’s (R-Wis.) office says it has no Congressional Budget Office score for the bill to repeal Obamacare. Well, I asked, how then do you know: What the impact will be on the deficit What the increase would be in out-of-pocket costs? How many people will lose coverage?How many people will be eliminated from Medicaid? The answer: We don’t have a CBO score. For starters, I frankly don’t believe that. Ryan can direct the CBO to score whatever he pleases, and it defies common sense to think he doesn’t have a very, very good idea how CBO would score this, even with recent changes to reintroduce income as a consideration in calculating the size of the tax credit. Moreover, the notion that House Republicans would vote to end legislation on which tens of millions of people depend for health-care coverage without knowing critical facts about their bill arguably is the most irresponsible display of governance in my lifetime. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) was berated for saying members would have to vote for the Affordable Care Act to find out what was in it, but members knew far more about what was in that bill than Republicans now know about the American Health Care Act (AHCA) — and Republicans are taking coverage away.”
3.6 Ben Carson: “That’s what America is about, A land of dreams and opportunity. There were other immigrants who came here in the bottom of slave ships, worked even longer, even harder for less. But they too had a dream that one day their sons, daughters, grandsons, granddaughters, great grandsons, great granddaughters might pursue prosperity and happiness in this land.”
3.6 Greg Sargent in the Post: “Trump is enraged at being subjected to a system of democratic and institutional constraints, for which he has signaled nothing but absolute, unbridled contempt. The system is pushing back, and he can’t bear it.”
3.5 Trump accuses Obama of wiretapping him. Writes EJ Dionne in the Post: “Trump has a problem either way. If he was not wiretapped, he invented a spectacularly false charge. And if a court ordered some sort of surveillance of him, on what grounds did it do so?”
3.5 Peter Baker and Maggie Haberman, in the New York Times: “Conspiracy Theory’s Journey From Talk Radio to Oval Office”: “Previous presidents usually measured their words to avoid a media feeding frenzy, but Mr. Trump showed again over the weekend that he feeds off the frenzy.”
3.5 Marie LePen on 60 Minutes: “Marine Le Pen, the nationalist leader running to be the next president of France, tells Anderson Cooper: “Globalization has become an ideology with no constraints. Now nations are forcing themselves back into the debate. Nations with borders that we control with real economies, not Wall Street economies, but rather factories and farmers. This goes against unregulated globalization, a wild, savage globalization. Wild globalization has benefited some, but it’s been a catastrophe for most.”
3.4 The Washington Post: President Trump on Saturday angrily accused former president Barack Obama of orchestrating a “Nixon/Watergate” plot to tap the phones at his Trump Tower headquarters last fall in the run-up to the election. While citing no evidence to support his explosive allegation, Trump said in a series of four tweets sent Saturday morning that Obama was “wire tapping” his New York offices before the election in a move he compared to McCarthyism. “Bad (or sick) guy!” he said of his predecessor, adding that the surveillance resulted in “nothing found.” Trump offered no citations nor did he point to any credible news report to back up his accusation, but he may have been referring to commentary on Breitbart and conservative talk radio suggesting that Obama and his administration used “police state” tactics last fall to monitor the Trump team. The Breitbart story, published Friday, has been circulating among Trump’s senior staff, according to a White House official who described it as a useful catalogue of the Obama administration’s activities.
3.3 Sessions recuses himself from investigations into 2016 campaign, Russian ties
3.2. Jane Fonda in The Edit: “I’ve been raped, I’ve been sexually abused as a child and I’ve been fired because I wouldn’t sleep with my boss, I always thought it was my fault; that I didn’t do or say the right thing.”
3.2 The Atlantic: Yaniv Erlich and Dina Zielinski from the New York Genome Center and Columbia University encoded the 1895 fifty-second long silent movie The Arrival of a Train at La Ciotat Station in DNA. They also stored a computer operating system, a photo, a scientific paper, a computer virus, and an Amazon gift card. Using a new storage strategy, they managed to pack the digital files into record-breakingly small amounts of DNA. A one terabyte hard drive currently weighs around 150 grams. Using their methods, Erlich and Zielinski can fit 215,000 times as much data in a single gram of DNA. You could fit all the data in the world in the back of a car. This could be the future of data storage.
imrs-13.1 At the Washington Press Club Foundation Dinner, there were jokes about Kellyanne Conway and the couch. Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-La.) made a cringe-worthy joke about that now-famous photo of Kellyanne Conway kneeling on the Oval Office sofa. Here’s what he said (my emphasis to Richmond’s remarks added in bold):
“You even mentioned Kellyanne and the picture on the sofa. But I really just want to know what was going on there, because, I won’t tell anybody. And you can just explain to me that — that circumstance, because she really looked kind of familiar there in that position there. But don’t answer. And I don’t want you to refer back to the ’90s.” Just a few minutes earlier, Republican Sen. Tim Scott (S.C.) had said: “Has anyone seen the controversy around Kellyanne Conway and the couch in the Oval Office? Come on, people. You remember the ’90s. That couch has had a whole lot of worse things. Come on now.” According to C-SPAN coverage of the event, the room cracked up at Scott’s ’90s joke. It was edgy without falling over the edge — something you couldn’t repeat at a family dinner, but not directly offensive or accusatory.
3.1 Jonathan Swan in Axios, on “the bipolar Trump presidency”: “Tuesday night’s speech was the first time Trump’s yin and yang was on full display. The core of the speech was the issues on which Trump built his campaign: trade, immigration and national security. On these the Trump-Bannon worldview remains unchanged and is being pursued almost to the letter. But the speech also had a softer side: the environment, childcare, women’s health and female entrepreneurship. These are Ivanka’s projects.” What this creates: A quiet, constant wrestle for the tone of the presidency, if not its substance. As one source close to the White House explained: “One side believes pain is necessary to alleviate the symptoms. The flip side says: ‘Hold on: There are human impacts here.'”

FEBRUARY 2017: “MEDIA IS THE ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE”

2.28 Josh Earnest, to Stephen Colbert: “In terms of lowering the bar, I’m not sure if you can lower the bar any farther than hoping people who are in your party who are in the audience like the speech you’ve just given.”
2.28 Steve Schmidt on MSNBC: “The Democratic Party is at its lowest point of power in this country since the 1920s. And the Democratic response was made by a 72-year-old, retired, two-term governor from Kentucky [Steve Beshear]. Not by Kamala Harris. Not by Kristen Gillibrand. Not by the Castro brothers. Not by anyone who has a future in the actual Democratic Party. Just amazing ineptitude.”
2.28 On CNN< Van Jones said that Trump‘s tribute to Navy SEAL Ryan Owens, who died in a raid in Yemen, was “one of the most extraordinary moments you have ever seen in American politics, period” and that it was the moment Trump “became president of the United States.” He also said it’s the kind of thing that could make Trump a two-term president. During Trump’s remarks, cameras trained on Owens’s widow, Carryn Owens, with tears streaming down her face. Facing her, Trump said her husband’s legacy was “etched into eternity.” She received a standing ovation from Congress.
2.28 Trump speaks to Congress, scales the heights of adequacy. One aide: “”For once, we had the wind at our sails. We decided not to sh*t on ourselves.”
2.28 David Ignatius in the Washington Post: “President Trump boasts that his “America First” trade and economic policies are bringing well-paid manufacturing jobs back to America. That’s probably his biggest “deliverable” to Trump voters. But is this claim true? Trump won the presidency partly because he voiced the anger of American workers about lost jobs and stagnant wages. But in the process, he fundamentally misled the country by claiming that trade is the major cause of job losses, and that renegotiating trade agreements would save the middle class. What Trump is offering is a palliative that has raised false hopes. He implies that a few good trade deals will refurbish the Rust Belt and restore the good old days of manufacturing. It won’t happen, and to pretend otherwise is a hoax. Trump campaigned on a false argument that global trade was taking away American jobs. So he killed the Trans-Pacific Partnership his first week in office and is now demanding changes in NAFTA and other trade agreements. He has dressed up a few announcements from jittery U.S. corporations to argue that doomed manufacturing plants are being saved and that jobs are “already starting to pour back.” Stephen K. Bannon, Trump’s chief strategist, has inflated this economic nationalism into a full-blown ideology that posits a battle between workers who are being hurt by globalization and an elite that benefits. Referencing the TPP at last week’s Conservative Political Action Conference, Bannon said that Trump “got us out of a trade deal and let our sovereignty come back to ourselves.”
But the numbers show that Trump and Bannon are fighting the wrong battle. Manufacturing employment has indeed declined in America over the past decade, but the major reason is automation, not trade. Robots, not foreign workers, are taking most of the disappearing American jobs.
2.28 Uber CEO Travis Kalanick rants at a driver: “You know what? Some people don’t like to take responsibility for their own shit. They blame everything in their life on somebody else. Good luck!”
2.27 President Trump will propose a federal budget that would significantly increase defense-related spending by $54 billion while cutting other federal agencies by the same amount, an administration official said. The proposal represents a major increase in federal spending related to national security, while other priorities, especially foreign aid, would face massive reductions.
According to the White House, the defense budget would increase by 10 percent. Trump also will request $30 billion in supplementary military spending for fiscal 2017, an administration official said.
2.27 Colonoscopy
2.27 Edward Luce in the Financial Times: “He was supposed to be leading a revolt against America’s elites. In practice Donald Trump is laying out a banquet for their delectation. The Trump White House is drawing up plans for across-the-board deregulation, tax cuts and a new generation of defence contracts. The only question is at what speed. In contrast, Mr Trump’s middle-class economic plans, such as they were, are already receding. The chances of a big infrastructure bill are rapidly dimming. In marketing they call this bait and switch. The effect of Mr Trump’s economic agenda will be to deepen the conditions that gave rise to his candidacy. The biggest winners will be on Wall Street, in the fossil fuel energy sector and defence. Stephen Bannon, Mr Trump’s most influential adviser, last week described the bonfire of regulations as the “deconstruction of the administrative state”. For every new regulation, two will be scrapped. The first clutch will come this week with executive orders undoing Barack Obama’s “clean power plan” that limits carbon dioxide emissions and a separate one on clean water. Anticipation of this has helped to fuel the boom in energy stocks since Mr Trump was elected. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose more in Mr Trump’s first month than for any president since Franklin Roosevelt. Financial stocks have also over-performed since the election. Many, if not most, of the protections included in the Dodd-Frank law after the collapse of Lehman Brothers are in Mr Trump’s sights. These include the Volcker rule that restricts banks from speculating with other people’s money, and possibly protections designed to shield the consumer — what Mr Trump called the “forgotten American” — from reckless marketing. Such rules have inhibited Mr Trump’s Wall Street friends from lending money, he said earlier this month.”
2.27 George W. Bush: on The Today Show““I consider the media to be indispensable to democracy. We need an independent media to hold people like me to account. Power can be very addictive, and it can be corrosive.” Bush recalled spending time during his presidency attempting to convince other world leaders, specifically Russian President Vladimir Putin, to “accept the notion of a free press.” “It’s kind of hard to tell others to have an independent free press if we’re not willing to have one ourselves,” Bush said.
2.26 Brian Cullinan, a partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers, which handles the Oscars voting, giddily posted a photo of “La La Land’’ star Emma Stone just three minutes before giving Beatty what was supposed to be the envelope containing the name of the Best Picture.
2.26 Kopin Tan in Streetwise: “Above all, our cyclical rejuvenation hasn’t cured the structural ills of an economy hollowed out by automation and global competition, and stagnant wages for 90% of the population. That may be why there’s anger on the streets, even if our economic enhancement continues to enthrall Wall Street.”
2.26 Warren Buffet: “Many companies, of course, will fall behind, and some will fail. Winnowing of that sort is a product of market dynamism. Moreover, the years ahead will occasionally deliver major market declines—even panics —that will affect virtually all stocks. No one can tell you when these traumas will occur—not me, not Charlie, not economists, not the media. Meg McConnell of the New York Fed aptly described the reality of panics: “We spend a lot of time looking for systemic risk; in truth, however, it tends to find us.”
During such scary periods, you should never forget two things: First, widespread fear is your friend as an investor, because it serves up bargain purchases. Second, personal fear is your enemy. It will also be unwarranted. Investors who avoid high and unnecessary costs and simply sit for an extended period with a collection of large, conservatively-financed American businesses will almost certainly do well.”
2.26 Maureen Dowd in the Times: “Our new president’s most intense, primal, torrid relationship is in full “The War of the Roses” bloom here. And it is not with his beautiful, reserved wife. It’s with the press, the mirror for the First Narcissus. President Trump thinks that the mirror is cracked and the coverage is “fake.” And many in the press, spanning the ideological spectrum, think that he is cracked and that a lot of his pronouncements are fake. Can this strange, symbiotic relationship be saved? Probably not. It is too inflamed and enmeshed, too full of passionate accusations. It’s going to end like all those plays and movies — from “Othello” to “Endless Love” — where the mutual attraction is so powerful, it’s toxic. Trump could not live without the press. It is his crack. He would be adrift and bereft without his sparring partners, lightning rods, scapegoats and amplifiers. And while many in the press may disdain the way Trump uses them to rile up crowds and deflect from transgressions, they know they have a rare story and a tantalizing, antagonizing protagonist.
As the New York Times White House reporter Maggie Haberman tweeted in January: “Trump has frequently complained about my reporting,” yet, “He remains the most accessible politician I’ve ever covered.” The press is everything to Donald Trump, from interior décor — his Trump Tower office was plastered wall to wall with framed magazine covers reflecting his face back at him like an infinity mirror — to daily reading. For decades every morning, he had his assistant print out a sheaf of stories published about him and keep a store of videotapes for ego gratification. Once Trump became a Twitter addict, this morphed into an incestuous, vertiginous spiral, as he got upset and shot back against news reports he did not like. His campaign staff “cracked the code for tamping down his most inflammatory tweets,” Tara Palmeri reported in Politico last week, by ensuring “his personal media consumption includes a steady stream of praise. And when no such praise was to be found, staff would turn to friendly outlets to drum some up — and make sure it made its way to Trump’s desk.” Talk about fake news. He is the biggest story on the planet, “King Lear meets Rodney Dangerfield,” as Lloyd Grove tweeted after Trump’s recent press conference. As our new president is well aware, he’s a rainmaker and a troublemaker for media.”
27Usbriefing-Oscars1-master768-v22.26 At the Oscars, Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway get the wrong card, announce La La Land as Best Picture instead of Moonlight.
2.25 Dinner with the Schmidts at 10510
2.25 Trump has his first presidential DC dinner. He went to BLT Prime by David Burke, a steakhouse in the Trump Hotel less than one mile from the White House. He ordered a $54 dry-aged steak cooked well done and with ketchup.
2.25 Peggy Noonan in the Wall Street Journal: “This president doesn’t argue [for things], he only announces. He asserts. Previous presidents in their early speeches were always making the case for a certain advancement. Not to do so is a waste of the biggest mic in the world.”
2.25 The Indonesian woman who is one of the suspects in the killing of North Korean ruler Kim Jong Un’s half brother said she was paid $90 for what she believed was a prank, an Indonesian official said Saturday.
2.24 The White House blocked a number of news organizations from attending an informal briefing Friday, a rare and surprising move that came amid President Trump’s escalating war against the media. White House press secretary Sean Spicer banned reporters from CNN, the New York Times, Politico, the Los Angeles Times and BuzzFeed from attending a “gaggle,” a non-televised briefing, but gave access to a number of other reporters, including those representing conservative outlets. The White House said the decision was not made to exclude journalists from organizations that have been the most critical of Trump in their reporting in favor of those who are more favorable. Although the invited included Fox News, Breitbart and the Washington Times — all considered sympathetic to the administration — the approved list also included CBS, NBC, ABC, the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, Time and the Associated Press.
2.24 Former Admiral William McRaven: “We must challenge this statement and this sentiment that the news media is the enemy of the American people,” McRaven said, according to the Daily Texan. “This sentiment may be the greatest threat to democracy in my lifetime. To be a good leader, you have to be a good communicator,” he added. “As a leader, you have to communicate your intent every chance you get, and if you fail to do that, you will pay the consequences.” In a subsequent blog post, McRaven elaborated on the threats he’s seen over six decades, including the Cold War, the Vietnam War and terrorism. “In my sixty years, most of the serious threats to our nation have come from the outside,” he wrote. “While at times, these external pressures encouraged some within our government to adopt a barricade mentality — hiding information from the public, acting secretly outside the bounds of the law, and encouraging behavior that had an extralegal feel to it — never has the government openly challenged the idea of a free press. The news media have not always been kind to me. However, I can tell you — as someone who has been to 90 countries an spoken to the press in almost all of them — the United States has the finest press corps in the world, bar none. There is nothing more important to a democracy than an active and engaged press. Is it perfect? Far from it. Does the media make mistakes? Far too often. But flaws and all, I believe the free press is our country’s most important institution. One I am more than happy to defend. One I did, in fact, defend for 37 years.”
2.24Tucker Carlson in The Atlantic: “the problem with the meritocracy … [is that it] leeches all the empathy out of your society … The second you think that all your good fortune is a product of your virtue, you become highly judgmental, lacking empathy, totally without self-awareness, arrogant, stupid — I mean all the stuff that our ruling class is.”
2.24 Steve Bannon at CPAC: Stephen K. Bannon, President Trump’s reclusive chief strategist and the intellectual force behind his nationalist agenda, said Thursday that the new administration is locked in an unending battle against the media and other globalist forces to “deconstruct” an outdated system of governance. “They’re going to continue to fight,” Bannon said of the media, which he repeatedly described as “the opposition party,” and other forces he sees as standing in the president’s way. “If you think they are giving you your country back without a fight, you are sadly mistaken.” Atop Trump’s agenda, Bannon said, was the “deconstruction of the administrative state” — meaning a system of taxes, regulations and trade pacts that the president and his advisers believe stymie economic growth and infringe upon one’s sovereignty.”
2.23 John Boehner on the idea of Republicans fixing Obamacare: “I shouldn’t call it repeal-and-replace, because it’s not going to happen . . . I started laughing. Republicans never ever agree on health care.”
2.23 Farhad Manjoo in the Times: “Coverage of Mr. Trump may eclipse that of any single human being ever. . . .He has taken up semipermanent residence on every outlet of any kind … He is no longer just the message. In many cases, he has become the medium, the ether through which all other stories flow. . . .Even when I found non-Trump news, … much of it was interleaved with Trump news, so the overall effect was something like trying to bite into a fruit-and-nut cake without getting any fruit or nuts. . . .[I]t is likely that no living person in history has ever been as famous as Mr. Trump is right now.”
2.22 In Olathe, Kansas, 51 year old Adam Purinton, shouting “Get out of my country!”, opened fire on two Indian men drinking at a sports bar. One of the Indian men shot during the attack — Srinivas Kuchibhotla, 32 — died in the hospital later from his wounds, the Olathe police said. The other — Alok Madasani, 32, of Overland Park, Kan. — was released from the hospital Thursday. The shooting also injured 24-year-old Ian Grillot, another patron at Austin’s, who apparently tried to intervene.
2.22 The Huffington Post: President Donald Trump’s administration announced on Wednesday that it will no longer bar schools from discriminating against transgender students, rescinding a policy put in place by the previous administration.
2.22 The Huffington Post: It cost New York City about $24 million to provide security at Trump Tower, President Donald Trump’s skyscraper home in Manhattan, from Election Day to Inauguration Day, or $308,000 per day, New York’s police commissioner said on Wednesday.
2.22 Nature: There are not three, but seven rocky planets with Earth-like masses orbiting TRAPPIST-1, the astronomers reported Wednesday in the journal Nature. Even though it’s a star, TRAPPIST-1, located about 40 light-years from Earth, is only slightly bigger than Jupiter. If TRAPPIST-1 were the size of our sun, all seven planets would be well inside the orbit of Mercury. Despite the close quarters, the planets orbit in a part of the system where temperatures could be between 0 and 100 degrees Celsius, allowing liquid water to pool on their surfaces.
2.22 Joe Scarborough on Stephen Colbert: “It got to a point where Kellyanne would keep coming out and everything she said was disproven like five minutes later,” Scarborough said. “And it wasn’t disproven by a fact-checker — it was somebody else in the administration that would come out and actually say well, actually no, that’s not true.”
2.22 On CNN: commentator Kayleigh McEnany posed a simple question to Steven Goldstein, the Anne Frank Center’s executive director, on Tuesday night: “You think the president does not like Jews and is prejudiced against Jews? Goldstein’s response was unequivocal: “You bet.”
2.22 Twenty-two hours into a 24-hour-long marathon video game session, Twitch streamer Brian Vigneault, 35, got up to take a smoke break. He never returned to his computer. His fans, mainly fellow gamers who watched Vigneault play the online skirmisher “World of Tanks,” wondered if Vigneault had fallen asleep. It was around 4:30 a.m. on Sunday, and falling asleep would not have been completely unexpected. Vigneault, under the online nickname Poshybrid, would play “World of Tanks” for extreme lengths of time to raise donations for charity. When a moderator messaged Vigneault a few hours after his abrupt disappearance, a Virginia Beach detective responded via Vigneault’s computer on the chat app Discord, according to a Reddit post. Vigneault was found unresponsive at his Virginia Beach home early Sunday evening. He had died while raising money for the Make-A-Wish charity.
2.21 Milo Yiannopoulos resigned Tuesday from Breitbart News, after his apparent defense of sexual relationships between men and boys as young as 13 during an interview last year on the Drunken Peasants podcast began circulating
2.21 MLB ends the four-pitch intentional walk.
2.20 John Oliver in the Post: Oliver’s take: “Trump is basically the propagandist of Putin’s dreams, and who knows why he’s acting this way.”
2.20 Teryn Norris in The Atlantic: “the general path to victory is clear: the middle and working class was right to feel like the system is rigged and to vote for change. But Trump and the GOP Congress do not represent that change. Instead, they’ve conned their supporters and betrayed everyone but the ultra-rich, prioritizing tax cuts for their wealthiest donors, appointing Goldman Sachs executives and billionaires, and in the case of Trump, using the presidency to personally enrich himself. This hurts average Americans of every political stripe, gender, race, and religion — and the left has a plan to make it stop and build a fair economy that works for everyone.We are living through the most dangerous challenge to the free government of the United States that anyone alive has encountered,” warns David Frum. When historians look back, they’ll see it wasn’t the center that died. What died was a commitment in one of America’s two major parties to basic standards of political decency that have underpinned our stability since Reconstruction. The imperative of resistance now goes far beyond party affiliation or ideology — it has become a civic duty for everyone who still believes in liberal democracy. Resistance is not partisan. It is patriotism.”

2.18 Donald Trump: “We’ve got to keep our country safe. (CHEERS) You look at what’s happening in Germany. You look at what’s happening last night in Sweden. Sweden. Who would believe this? Sweden. They took in large numbers. They’re having problems like they never thought possible.”
2.17 JOHN MCCAIN: “I know there is profound concern across Europe and the world that America is laying down the mantle of global leadership. I can only speak for myself, but I do not believe that that is the message you will hear from all of the American leaders who cared enough to travel here to Munich this weekend. That’s not the message you heard today from Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis. That is not the message you will hear from Vice President Mike Pence. That’s not the message you will hear from Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly. And that is certainly not the message you will hear tomorrow from our bipartisan congressional delegation. I refuse to accept that our values are morally equivalent to those of our adversaries.I am a proud, unapologetic believer in the West, and I believe we must always, always stand up for it. For if we do not, who will?”


An earlier version of the tweet ended with the word `SICK!’ In reply: NPR’s Steve Inskeep: “A journalist is a citizen. Who informs other citizens, as free citizens need. Some are killed doing it … NYT’s Maggie Haberman: “He is fighting very low approval ratings. Gonna be interesting to see how congressional Rs respond to this tweet” … Joe Scarborough: “Conservatives, feel free to speak up for the Constitution anytime the mood strikes. It is time” … NBC’s Chuck Todd: “I would hope that our leaders would never believe that any American desires to make another American an enemy. Let’s dial it back.”
2.18 Calvin Baker in Harper’s: “Obama’s legacy, which his Republican successor has promised to erase down to the very last executive order, seems assured. As one of the last black firsts, he bore their special burden, and he bore it with sterling integrity, self-knowledge, and extraordinary grace. He renewed the faith of many in the secular American belief that we are capable of overcoming any limitation, including the flaw of our founding. However unknowable the future, it seems reasonable to think that Obama will ultimately be joined in the historical record with Lincoln, Douglass, Du Bois, Shabazz, King, and Marshall: beacons of the best path forward.”
2.18 Bill Gates: “Right now, the human worker who does, say, $50,000 worth of work in a factory, that income is taxed and you get income tax, Social Security tax, all those things,” he said. “If a robot comes in to do the same thing, you’d think that we’d tax the robot at a similar level.”
2.18 Time cover illustration by Tim O’Brien
C4ygmF7VYAMQr8g2.16 In a wholly unpredictible press conference, Donald Trump spoke the following lies, exaggerations, and unverifiable boasts: “I don’t think there’s ever been a president elected who in this short period of time has done what we’ve done.” ; “Plants and factories are already starting to move back into the United States, and big league — Ford, General Motors, so many of them.”; “To be honest, I inherited a mess. It’s a mess. At home and abroad, a mess.”; “We got 306 [electoral college votes] because people came out and voted like they’ve never seen before, so that’s the way it goes. I guess it was the biggest electoral college win since Ronald Reagan.”; “We’ve ordered a crackdown on sanctuary cities that refuse to comply with federal law and that harbor criminal aliens, and we have ordered an end to the policy of catch and release on the border. No more release. No matter who you are, release. We have begun a nationwide effort to remove criminal aliens, gang members, drug dealers and others who pose a threat to public safety. We are saving American lives every single day.”; “In fact, we had to go quicker than we thought because of the bad decision we received from a circuit that has been overturned at a record number. I have heard 80 percent. I find that hard to believe. That is just a number I heard, that they are overturned 80 percent of the time. I think that circuit is in chaos and that circuit is frankly in turmoil. But we are appealing that, and we are going further.”; “We have also taken steps to begin construction of the Keystone Pipeline and Dakota Access Pipelines. Thousands and thousands of jobs, and put new buy-American measures in place to require American steel for American pipelines.”; “You [the media] have a lower approval rate than Congress. I think that’s right.” “When WikiLeaks, which I had nothing to do with, comes out and happens to give, they’re not giving classified information.”; “You know, they say I’m close to Russia. Hillary Clinton gave away 20 percent of the uranium in the United States. She’s close to Russia.”; “We had a very smooth rollout of the travel ban. But we had a bad court. Got a bad decision.”
More quotes: “I turn on the TV, open the newspapers, and I see stories of chaos. Chaos! Yet, it is the exact opposite. This administration is running like a fine-tuned machine, despite the fact that I can’t get my Cabinet approved, and they’re outstanding people.” “There’s zero chaos. We are running — this is a fine-tuned machine. And [White House Chief of Staff] Reince [Priebus] happens to be doing a good job. But half of his job is putting out lies by the press. I said to him yesterday: This whole Russia scam that you guys are building so that you don’t talk about the real subject, which is illegal leaks. But I watched him yesterday working so hard to try and get that story proper.” “[T]he leaks are absolutely real. The news is fake, because so much of the news is fake.”
2.17 Chris Christie in the Washington Post: “This is what it’s like to be with Trump. He says, ‘There’s the menu, you guys order whatever you want.’ And then he says, ‘Chris, you and I are going to have the meatloaf.… I’m telling you, the meatloaf is fabulous.’”
2.17 Jennifer Rubin in the Post, discussing the decision of Admiral Hayward to decline the job as National Security Advisor. “As CNN’s Jake Tapper tweeted, “A friend of Harward’s says he was reluctant to take NSA job [because] the WH seems so chaotic; says Harward called the offer a ‘s––– sandwich.’ ”
2.16 The Washington Post: “Barely a month into the Trump presidency, the unusually elaborate lifestyle of America’s new first family is straining the Secret Service and security officials, stirring financial and logistical concerns in several local communities, and costing far beyond what has been typical for past presidents — a price tag that, based on past assessments of presidential travel and security costs, could balloon into the hundreds of millions of dollars over the course of a four-year term.”
2.16 Sidney Blumenthal in the London Review of Books: “‘Wa-a-a-a-h! – Little Donald, Unhappy At Last – Trump’s Final Days,’ crowed the cover story in the August 1990 issue of Spy. The illustration depicted him as a wailing toddler. The story inside the magazine, ‘A Casino Too Far’, featured a fictional scrapbook of newspaper clippings carrying ‘the brash tyro’ forward to his miserable future in 1996, bloated, balding and broke, ‘doing a little consulting for the Sultan of Brunei’.”
2.16 The Wall Street Journal: “Intelligence officials have reportedly kept sensitive information from President Donald Trump out of concerns that the White House may be compromised by Russia and the information could fall into the wrong hands.Spies are withholding the information out of a lack of trust in Trump and the new administration.”
2.15 E.J. Dionne Jr. in the Washington Post: “Let’s not mumble or whisper about the central issue facing our country: What is this democratic nation to do when the man serving as president of the United States plainly has no business being president of the United States?”
2.15 Morning Joe bans Kellanne Conway. “She’s in none of the key meetings,” Joe Scarborough said. “She goes out and books herself often. … I don’t even think she’s saying something that she knows to be untrue. She’s just saying things, just to get in front of the TV set and prove her relevance because behind the scenes — behind the scenes, she’s not in these meetings.”
2.15 Thomas Friedman in the Times: We need to rerun the tape. Ladies and gentlemen, we were attacked on Dec. 7, 1941, we were attacked on Sept. 11, 2001, and we were attacked on Nov. 8, 2016. That most recent attack didn’t involve a horrible loss of lives, but it was devastating in its own way. Our entire intelligence community concluded that Russia hacked our election by deliberately breaking into Democratic National Committee computers and then drip-by-drip funneling embarrassing emails through WikiLeaks to undermine Clinton’s campaign. And what have we done about it? Other than a wrist slap against Moscow, we’ve moved on That is not O.K. I am not arguing that Trump is not the legitimate president; he won for many reasons. But I am arguing that he is not behaving like one. Trump presents himself as “Mr. Patriotism,” wrapped in the American flag. And yet he has used his Twitter account to attack BMW for building an auto plant in Mexico, Boeing for over charging for a government airplane, the cast of “Hamilton” for appealing to the vice president to reaffirm American pluralism, American newspapers for undercounting the size of his inauguration crowd and the actress Meryl Streep for calling him out for bullying a handicapped reporter. And yet “Mr. Patriotism” has barely uttered a word of criticism on Twitter or off about a Russian president who has intervened in our democratic process. That’s not O.K.”
C4rsozYWYAEjXiW2.14 Kate Upton‘s third appearance on the SI swimsuit issue is being marked with three covers.
2.14 The New York Times: “Phone records and intercepted calls show that members of Donald J. Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and other Trump associates had repeated contacts with senior Russian intelligence officials in the year before the election, according to four current and former American officials.”
2.14 The New York Times: “Pedro Hernandez, a former bodega stock clerk who confessed to luring 6-year-old Etan Patz into a basement and attacking him on May 25, 1979, was found guilty on Tuesday of murder and kidnapping.”
2.14 Daniel Drezner in the Washington Post: “Trump supporters are clearly less-than-thrilled with some aspects of Trump’s style, but they also don’t see any material downside to anything that’s happened so far. Plus, most voters don’t develop buyer’s remorse so soon after an election. One can understand why Conway would feel secure about her RPI.
Here’s the thing, though. If there is a serious economic slowdown, or a Katrina-level government foul-up, or a national security crisis that could lead to an unpopular war, those numbers will go south real fast. Because that is the point at which all of these minor kerfuffles start to look more like presidential incompetence to his base.”
2.13 Jeremy Weeks, “the hot felon” who was discovered by a modeling agency and signed to a contract when the Stockton Police Department published mug shots of inmates, debuted on the runway of New York’s fashion week. With icy blue eyes, Meeks was jailed on gun charges; he had been described as “one of the most violent criminals in the Stockton area” by police.
2.13 Adele dominated the Grammys, topping Beyoncé to win the album, record, and song of the year
2.13 National Security Advisor Flynn is out.
2.13 At the airport in Kuala Lampur Airport, a team of female assassins— one wearing a T-shirt that read “LOL” — took five seconds to use a toxic spray to kill Kim Jong-nam, the pudgy playboy son of late North Korean dictator Kim Jong-il, and banished step-brother of current North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un.
2.13 The Washington Post: “Joe Scarborough is trying to use whatever influence he has over Donald Trump to change the president’s mind about Stephen Miller. It hasn’t worked so far. The MSNBC host previously blamed Miller for mishandling the rollout of the travel ban and on Monday resumed his campaign against Trump’s senior policy adviser, who made a series of breathtakingly forceful statements on the Sunday political talk shows, including: “Our opponents, the media and the whole world will soon see, as we begin to take further actions, that the powers of the president to protect our country are very substantial and will not be questioned.” “Sean Spicer, as always, is a hundred percent correct.” “It is a fact, and you will not deny it, that there are massive numbers of noncitizens in this country who are registered to vote.” . . . But what is truly notable about his criticisms of Miller is the extent to which they appear designed to appeal directly to Trump. Observe: “No, no. They are questioned, my young, little Miller. They will be questioned by the court. It’s called judicial review. Alexander Hamilton and James Madison wrote about it in the Federalist Papers. It was enshrined in Madison’s Constitution. Andrew Jackson — you go into your president’s office; you know, that one — and you look on the walls, and there are all these pictures of Andrew Jackson and books of Andrew Jackson. He talked about judicial independence. He talked about the importance of the judiciary. You really need to go back and read the Constitution. And, seriously, the White House has got to stop embarrassing themselves by putting this guy out. … I had people working me: “Oh, wasn’t Miller great?” No. That is the worst performance of anybody — that made Susan Rice [on] the Sunday after Benghazi look smooth. I mean, that was horrendous and an embarrassment.”

FEBRUARY 2017: “YOU THINK OUR COUNTRY’S SO INNOCENT?”

2.12 Stephen Miller on “Face the Nation”: “To say we’re in control would be a substantial understatement.”
2.10 Jim Vanderhei and Sara Fischer in Axios: “Our brains have been literally swamped and reprogrammed. On average, we check our phones 50 times each day — with some studies suggesting it could three times that amount. We spend around 6 hours per day consuming digital media. As a result, the human attention span has fallen from 12 seconds to eight seconds since 2000, while the goldfish attention span is nine seconds.”
2.10 Kathleen Parker in the Washington Post: “Good news: In two years, we’ll have a new president. Bad news: If we make it that long. My “good” prediction is based on the Law of the Pendulum. Enough Americans, including most independent voters, will be so ready to shed Donald Trump and his little shop of horrors that the 2018 midterm elections are all but certain to be a landslide — no, make that a mudslide — sweep of the House and Senate. If Republicans took both houses in a groundswell of the people’s rejection of Obamacare, Democrats will take them back in a tsunami of protest. Once ensconced, it would take a Democratic majority approximately 30 seconds to begin impeachment proceedings selecting from an accumulating pile of lies, overreach and just plain sloppiness. That is, assuming Trump hasn’t already been shown the exit.”
2.9 Chris Cilizza in the Post: “Confrontation is what energizes the bases of the two parties. And energizing those bases is what politicians spend most of their time focusing on these days. Unfortunately, the byproduct of all that confrontation is an increasing cynicism and disgust among the large swaths of people who aren’t part of either base. The election of President Trump seems to have proven that those people don’t matter all that much, that the way to win is to relentlessly vilify the other side so that your people are mad enough at the other side to turn out to vote. Rubio is positioning himself as the counterweight to that strategy, betting big on the idea that the Trump era won’t last forever. It’s a noble effort although one with a very uncertain future.
2.9 Federal appeals court eviscerates Trump’s travel order, calling it poorly drafted, overly broad and overreaching. Will he come back to court, or issue tighter, more defensible entrance restrictions for entrance by migrants?
2.9 The Atlantic: “Yesterday, the president of the United States lashed out at Nordstrom on Twitter for dropping his daughter’s clothing line, then moved on to continuing his attacks on the federal judges reviewing his travel ban. Then, this morning, Trump scolded Senator John McCain for describing the recent U.S. raid in Yemen as a “failure.” It all sounds petty, but there are greater implications: Trump’s highly personal and politicized attack on the judiciary is unprecedented even by Andrew Jackson, whose infamous clash with the Supreme Court had constitutional grounds. The attack on McCain frames public review of military action as disloyalty. And Kellyanne Conway took the Nordstrom affair a step further by telling TV viewers to “go buy Ivanka’s stuff”—almost certainly a violation of ethics laws, and a worrying enlistment of White House staff in Trump’s ever-growing web of conflicts of interest.”
2.9 Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch told Senator Blumenthal that Trump‘s criticism of the judiciary was “disheartening” and “demoralizing”
2.9 Washington Post: “[Spicer] took an extraordinary position Wednesday, saying anyone who questioned the success of the raid in Yemen that led to the death of a Navy SEAL was doing a disservice to the SEAL’s memory. The target was McCain. Then NBC News tracked down McCain (R-Ariz.) to get his response to Spicer. And it was something. “Many years ago when I was imprisoned in North Vietnam, there was an attempt to rescue the POWs,” McCain began, mentioning details of his biography that everyone knows but McCain included for emphasis. He continued: “Unfortunately, the prison had been evacuated. But the brave men who took on that mission and risked their lives in an effort to rescue us prisoners of war were genuine American heroes. Because the mission failed did not in any way diminish their courage and willingness to help their fellow Americans who were held captive. Mr. Spicer should know that story.”
IMG_22682.9 Snow Day! 10-12 inches.
2.8 Ted Cruz on Fox News: “The Democrats are the party of the Ku Klux Klan. You look at the most racist — you look at the Dixiecrats, they were Democrats who imposed segregation, imposed Jim Crow laws, who founded the Klan. The Klan was founded by a great many Democrats.”
2.8 Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank described President Trump as “an asset.” On Wednesday, one of the company’s most highly paid ambassadors, Steph Curry said “I agree with that description, if you remove the ‘et.’ ”
2.8 Mitch McConnell‘s fateful words: “Senator Warren was giving a lengthy speech. She had appeared to violate the rule. She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted.”
2.6 An attorney for first lady Melania Trump argued in a lawsuit filed Monday that an article falsely alleging that she once worked for an escort service hurt her chance to establish “multimillion dollar business relationships” during the years in which she would be “one of the most photographed women in the world.” The suit — filed Monday in New York Supreme Court, a state trial court, in Manhattan — against Mail Media, the owner of the Daily Mail, said the article published by the Daily Mail and its online division last August caused Trump’s brand, Melania, to lose “significant value” as well as “major business opportunities that were otherwise available to her.” The suit said the article had damaged her “unique, once in a lifetime opportunity” to “launch a broad-based commercial brand.”
2.6 Scott Pelley on CBS News: “Today President Trump told a U.S. military audience there gave been terrorist attacks that no one knows about because the media choose not to report them. It has been a busy day for presidential statements divorced from reality. Mr. Trump said this morning that any polls, that show disapproval of his immigration ban are fake. He singled out a federal judge for ridicule after the judge suspended his ban and Mr. Trump said that the ruling now means that anyone can enter the country. The President’s fictitious claims whether imaginary or fabricated are now worrying even his backers, particularly after he insisted that millions of people voted illegally giving Hillary Clinton her popular vote victory. There’s not one state election official—Democrat or Republican—who supports that claim.”
2.6 Sen. Mitch McCOnnell: “I don’t think there’s any equivalency between the way that the Russians conduct themselves and the way the United States does,” he said, adding: “I’m not going to critique the president’s every utterance, but I do think America is exceptional. America is different. We don’t operate in any way the Russians do. I think there’s a clear distinction here that all Americans understand, and no, I would not have characterized it that way.” Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) weighed in on Twitter: “When has a Democratic political activists been poisoned by the GOP, or vice versa? We are not the same as #Putin.” Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) “Let’s be clear: Has the U.S. ever made any mistakes? Of course,” Sasse said. “Is the U.S. at all like Putin’s regime? Not at all. The U.S. affirms freedom of speech. Putin is no friend of freedom of speech. Putin an enemy of freedom of religion. The U.S. celebrates freedom of religion. Putin is an enemy of the free press. The U.S. celebrates free press. Putin is an enemy of political dissent. The U.S. celebrates political dissent and the right for people to argue free from violence about places where our ideas are in conflict.
2.5 Before the Super Bowl, Bill O’Reilly interviews President Trump. “I do respect him [Putin]. Well, I respect a lot of people, but that doesn’t mean I’ll get along with them,” Trump told O’Reilly. O’Reilly pressed on, declaring to the president that “Putin is a killer.” Unfazed, Trump didn’t back away, but rather compared Putin’s reputation for extrajudicial killings with the United States’. “There are a lot of killers. We have a lot of killers,” Trump said. “Well, you think our country is so innocent?”
images-1images-22.5 Behind 28-3, Patriots rally and defeat Falcons 34-28 in first overtime Super Bowl. Tom Brady performed in imagesspectacular fashion. Julius Edeman made an astonishing catch. Lady Gaga excelled at halftime.
2.5 Bernie Sanders on CNN: “This guy is a fraud. This guy ran for president of the United States saying, ‘I, Donald Trump, I’m going to take on Wall Street. These guys are getting away with murder.’ Then suddenly he appoints all these billionaires, his major financial adviser comes from Goldman Sachs, and now he’s going to dismantle legislation that protects consumers.”
2.5 In an interview with President Trump on Fox News, Bill O’Reilly said “[Putin}’s a killer,” O’Reilly. “There are a lot of killers. You think our country’s so innocent?” Trump replied. Said Gen. Barry McCaffrey: “One could argue that’s the most anti-american statement ever made by the president of the United States, to confuse American values with Putin, who is running a criminal oligarchy, who kills people abroad and at home, who imprisons journalists and takes away business property, who shares it with his former K.G.B. Agents, who invades and seizes crimea in eastern Ukraine.”
2.5 Donald Trump on Twitter:


2.4 Melissa McCarthy plays Sean Spicer on SNL
2.4 President Trump’s personal physician recently revealed that the president takes finasteride, a drug used to combat male-pattern baldness. . . .The constellation of potential [side effects] , sometimes referred to as post-finasteride syndrome, may include sexual, physical and psychological changes. Of these, the sexual side effects are perhaps the most extensively reported. In fact, in 2012, the Food and Drug Administration required the manufacturer to warn that the medication may be associated with “libido disorders, ejaculation disorders, and orgasm disorders that continued after discontinuation of the drug.”
2.3 Kellyanne Conway on Chris Matthews: During a Thursday interview with MSNBC’s Chris Matthews, the counselor to the president defended President Trump’s travel ban related to seven majority-Muslim countries. At one point, Conway made a reference to two Iraqi refugees whom she described as the masterminds behind “the Bowling Green massacre.”
“Most people don’t know that because it didn’t get covered,” Conway said.
2.2 Paul Krugman in the Times: “Never mind the utter falsity of the claim that bad people are “pouring in,” or for that matter of the whole premise behind the ban. What we see here is the most powerful man in the world blatantly telegraphing his intention to use national misfortune to grab even more power. And the question becomes, who will stop him?. . . In the end, I fear, it’s going to rest on the people — on whether enough Americans are willing to take a public stand. We can’t handle another post-9/11-style suspension of doubt about the man in charge; if that happens, America as we know it will soon be gone.”
2.2 President Trump opened his first appearance at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington with a prayer for the television ratings of the man who succeeded him as host of “The Apprentice.” “They hired a big, big movie star, Arnold Schwarzenegger, to take my place. And we know how that turned out. The ratings went down the tubes,” Trump joked, prompting laughter from the audience. “I want to just pray for Arnold, if we can, for those ratings.”
2.2 Kellyanne Conway on MSNBC: “I bet it’s brand-new information to people that President Obama had a six-month ban on the Iraqi refugee program after two Iraqis came here to this country, were radicalized, and were the masterminds behind the Bowling Green Massacre. Most people don’t know that because it didn’t get covered.”
2.2 The Atlantic: “At the National Prayer Brakfast, in a speech emphasizing the importance of religious liberty, Trump took time to discuss a personal favorite topic: The Apprentice. As he has noted before, the reality TV show, for which he still serves as an executive producer, has seen its ratings decline under its current host (and the former governor of California), Arnold Schwarzenegger, and new name, The New Celebrity Apprentice. Discussing his relationship with Mark Burnett, the creator of The Apprentice and a keynote speaker at the event, Trump emphasized his own success with the show, adding, “They hired a big, big movie star, Arnold Schwarzenegger, to take my place, and we know how that turned out. The ratings went right down the tubes. It’s been a total disaster, and Mark [Burnett] will never bet against Trump again. And I want to just pray for Arnold, if we can, for those ratings.”
2.1 Finished Prussian Blue, by Philip Kerr. Pretty good! Joan Acocella in The New Yorker on the Gunther novels: “Those other novels, by those cleaner-minded people, are about the banality of evil, and good for them. We need to know about that. But Kerr’s books are about the banality of goodness. And if it can be highlighted by disgustingness, then bring on the disgustingness. After all, a banal goodness is all we really require. We’re not all Mother Cabrini or even Ralph Nader. What we need is just the ordinary recoil, the ordinary knowledge that at a certain point people can’t go on looking at their fingernails when there are thieves in the store.”
2.1 Jeremi Suri in The Atlantic: “The latest drafts of executive orders, several of which the president will reportedly sign Friday at the Pentagon, are bold and breathtaking in their reach. They are strategic and transformative. They are also poised to destroy the foundations for the last 70 years of American-led peace and prosperity. The orders question the very ideas of cooperation and democracy, embodying an aggressive commitment to “America First” above all else. So much for the “defense of the free world,” and the “march of freedom”—obvious soft-headed “loser” ideas for the new team of White House cynics. Trump is launching a direct attack on the liberal international order that really made America great after the depths of the Great Depression. It is a system of multilateral trade and alliances that we built to serve our interests and attract others to our way of life. Through the European Recovery Program (the Marshall Plan), the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (now the World Trade Organization), the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and the World Bank, among other institutions, the United States led a postwar capitalist system that raised global standards of living, defeated Soviet communism, and converted China to a market economy. Through the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in Europe and a web of alliances in Asia and the Middle East, the United States contained aggressive states, nurtured stable allies, and promoted democratic reforms when possible. American power is unmatched around the world because it can work through consensual relations with partners in every region. None of our rivals have as many friends, and none of our rivals can count on as much support abroad.”
170129201827-sag-taraji-p-henson-large-1692.1 David Rothkopf in the Post: “Bannon is the precisely wrong person for this wrong role. His national security experience consists of a graduate degree and seven years in the Navy. More troubling, Bannon’s role as chairman of Breitbart.com, with its racist, misogynist and Islamophobic perspectives, and his avowed desire to blow up our system of government, suggests this is someone who not only has no business being a permanent member of the most powerful consultative body in the world — he has no business being in a position of responsibility in any government.”
1.29 Taraji P. Henson at the SAG Awards

JANUARY 2017: “THE MEDIA IS THE OPPOSITION”

1.31 Last night, within hours of refusing to defend Trump’s executive order on immigration, Sally Yates was fired from her post as acting attorney general.
1.30 Senators McCain and Graham object to the travel ban. Powerful GOP Senators John McCain, of Arizona, and Lindsey Graham, of South Carolina, issued a joint statement blasting Trump’s move as so hasty that it may “become a self-inflicted wound in the fight against terrorism.” “This executive order sends a signal, intended or not, that America does not want Muslims coming into our country,” they said.
IMG_2262-11.30 In Albany, Governor Cuomo addresses Planned Parenthoo. “We will never go back!”
1.29 Dinner with Paul and Ann at Xavier’s XO
1.28 Steve Bannon in the Times: “I want you to quote this. The media here is the opposition party. They don’t understand this country. They still do not understand why Donald Trump is the president. The media should . . . keep its mouth shut and just listen for a while.”
1.28 Administration issues so-called Muslim Ban. Chaos ensues. Public erupts in spontaneous demonstrations, clogging airports. Before dawn, the ill-considered, clumsily-drawn, unnecessisarily punitive, and possibly unconstitutional order is stayed.
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1.26 Charles Blow in the Times: “We all have to adjust to this unprecedented assault on the truth and stand ready to vigilantly defend against it, because without truth, what’s left? Our president is a pathological liar. Say it. Write it. Never become inured to it. And dispense with the terms of art to describe it. A lie by any other name portends the same.
1.25 Mary Tyler Moore dies at 80.”
1.25 Mike Allen on Axios: “There is a dominant faction inside the White House that believes fervently this is shrewd, long-term, disruptive politics that will forever change the country.”
1.25 James Kwak in The Chronicle of Higher Education: “The rhetoric of economism was taken up first by think tanks such as the Foundation for Economic Education and the American Enterprise Institute, then by the National Review of William F. Buckley, who helped make free-market economics part of the conservative synthesis. From Barry Goldwater to Ronald Reagan, the conviction that all economic problems could be boiled down to first principles and solved by the magic of competitive markets became a central tenet of conservative ideology. In the memorable words of Dick Armey, the former House majority leader, “The market is rational and the government is dumb.” . . .Economism presents itself as an abstract, value-neutral representation of the world — one that invokes the prestige of economics, a discipline that many people find intimidating. “It’s just Economics 101,” one often hears. The role that it plays in contemporary society, however, is deeply ideological. Economism naturalizes one possible state of affairs — in which individuals and companies are left to compete in unregulated markets — and, like Doctor Pangloss in Voltaire’s Candide, celebrates the outcomes that result as the best of all possible worlds.”
1.24 Jim VandeHei on MSNBC: “This is not about crowd sizes — crowd size has no bearing whatsoever on how someone is going to govern. … [Y]ou’re talking about an allegation that goes to the heart of our democracy, … [E]veryone keeps thinking, ‘Ah, he’s gonna change — he’s in office.’ … It’s Donald Trump. He’s not going to change. … [P]eople have to take a deep breath and understand that sometimes facts are facts.”
1.24 Variety: While no actors of color were nominated the last two years, this year saw every acting category recognizing a person of color. A record-tying (with 2007) seven minority actors were recognized, including a record six black actors.
980x1.24 Garrison Keillor in the Post: ““American carnage,” my Aunt Sally: The correct term is “American capitalism.” Jobs are lost to automation, innovation, obsolescence, the moving finger of fate. The carriage industry was devastated by the automobile, and the men who made surreys and broughams and hansoms had to learn something new; the Pullman porter union was hit hard by the advent of air travel, and the porters sent their sons to college; the newspaper business was hit hard by Craigslist. Too bad for us. I know gifted men who were successful graphic designers until computers came along and younger people with computer skills took their place and those gifted men had to do something else. T-shirts are made in Asian countries because Americans don’t want to pay $20 for one. Coal yields to natural gas as renewable energy marches forward. Who doesn’t get this? The idea that the government is obligated to create a good living for you is one the Republican Party has fought since Adam was in the third grade. It’s the party of personal responsibility. But there he is, promising to make the bluebirds sing. As if.”
1.24 Jennifer Rubin in the Post: The Post reports that as events unfolded on Friday and Saturday “Trump grew increasingly and visibly enraged.” We know two things from this: 1.) He’s an emotional train wreck before much of anything has happened and 2.) Those close to him already started spilling the beans, perhaps to exonerate themselves and perhaps to communicate to their boss through the media. Trump’s ire simply confirms what we already knew, namely that his insatiable need for approval and his rage when he does not receive it make for an alarmingly unpresidential demeanor.
1.23 Greg Sargent in the Washington Post: “This is not a conventional dispute over the facts. It is not about “relations” between the press and the White House. It is about truth and power. The message this is designed to send is that Trump has the power to declare what the truth is, and the news media does not. The Trump White House is maintaining this posture while telling enormous, demonstrable lies, but no matter — according to the new White House Ministry of Disinformation, the truth is what Donald Trump says it is. Bank on it: This will hold true even when Donald Trump contradicts Donald Trump.”
0120-emily-ratajkowski-modeling-shirtless-puppy-photos-launch-71.23 Emily Ratajkowski walks her dog for Sports Illustrated
1.23 Jenna Johnson in the Washington Post: “In the opening hours of his first formal day in the White House on Monday, President Trump welcomed leaders from several of the country’s largest corporations and promised to wipe out at least 75 percent of government regulations that hinder their businesses, fast-track their plans to open factories and cut taxes “massively.” And he again threatened to impose a “substantial border tax” on companies that move production out of the country. “We’re going to be cutting regulation massively,” Trump told a large group of business chief executives over breakfast, which was briefly open to the news media. “Now, we’re going to have regulation, and it’ll be just as strong and just as good and just as protective of the people as the regulation we have right now. The problem with the regulation that we have right now is that you can’t do anything. … I have people that tell me that they have more people working on regulations than they have doing product.” Those who do not heed this advice, Trump said, could face new tariffs that he described as “substantial” and “major.” This threat is one that many Republicans disagree with, worried that it could increase prices for consumers and unfairly punish some companies. International trade experts said Trump may not have the authority to punish individual companies, while broad-based tariffs would violate existing treaties. Trump defended this proposed tax on Monday as “fair.”
“Somebody would said: ‘Oh, Trump is going to tax.’ I’m not going to tax. There is no tax, none whatsoever,” Trump said. “And I just want to tell you: All you have to do is stay. Don’t leave. Don’t fire your people in the United States. We have the greatest people.”
1.21 Aziz Ansari on Saturday Night Live: “I think Trump should make a speech. A real speech denouncing the lower-case K.K.K. Don’t tweet about me being lame or the show. Write a speech. A real speech. Because these people are out there, and it’s pissing a lot of people off. And I think it could make a difference. Because other presidents have done things like this, and it has helped. Hate crimes and stuff that went down.Now George Bush, George W. Bush made a speech after 9/11, and it really helped. Things changed. This what he said in his speech, and I’m paraphrasing slightly. He said, “Islam is peace. The perpetrators of these attacks, they don’t represent Islam. They represent war and violence. Our enemies are not our Muslim brothers and sisters. Our enemies are a network of radical terrorists.” And everyone applauded. Democrats, Republicans, it didn’t matter. Because it’s not about politics. It’s about basic human decency and remembering why the country was founded in the first place. And I was sitting there and I’m watching this speech and I’m like, “What the hell has happened? I’m sitting here wistfully watching old George W. Bush speeches?” Just sitting there like, “What a leader he was!” Sixteen years ago, I was certain this dude was a dildo. Now, I’m sitting there like, “He guided us with his eloquence!”

JANUARY 2017: THE WOMEN’S MARCH

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1.21 In cities across America and across the globe, approximately 4 million women (and some men) marched against Trump’s policies, among them Ginny, Susan, and Ann and Nadia Lindstrom.
1.21 The Washington Post: “More than 1 million people gathered in Washington and in cities around the country and the world Saturday to mount a roaring rejoinder to the inauguration of President Trump. What started as a Facebook post by a Hawaii retiree became an unprecedented international rebuke of a new president that packed cities large and small from London to Los Angeles, Paris to Park City, Utah, Miami to Melbourne, Australia. The organizers of the Women’s March on Washington, who originally sought a permit for a gathering of 200,000, said Saturday that as many as half a million people participated. On Sunday, Metro officials announced that Saturday was the second-busiest day in the Washington subway system’s history, with 1,001,613 trips. (By contrast, on Trump’s Inauguration Day, the system recorded 570,557 trips.) Many in the nation’s capital and other cities said they were inspired to join because of Trump’s divisive campaign and his disparagement of women, minorities and immigrants. In signs and shouts, they mocked what they characterized as Trump’s lewd language and sexist demeanor. The marches provided a balm for those eager to immerse themselves in a like-minded sea of citizens who shared their anxiety and disappointment after Democrat Hillary Clinton’s historic bid for the presidency ended in defeat. “We just want to make sure that we’re heard,” said Mona Osuchukwu, 27, a D.C. native.”
1.21 Gregg Popovich: “The march today was great. The message is important. It could have been a whole lot of groups marching. Somebody said on TV, ‘What’s the message?’ The message is obvious. Our president comes in with the lowest rating of anybody whoever came into the office. There’s a majority of people out there, since Hillary won the popular vote, that don’t buy his act. I just wish he was more … had the ability to be mature enough to do something that really is inclusive, rather than just talking and saying, ‘I’m going to include everyone.’ He could talk to the groups that he disrespected and maligned during the primary and really make somebody believe it. But so far, you’ve gotten to the point where you really can’t believe anything that comes out of his mouth. You really can’t. All those thousands that were on the rooftops after 9/11? There were two. ‘We went to Hawaii and checked his birth certificate, and my investigators couldn’t believe what they found.’ There wasn’t anything there. It’s over and over again. The CIA today, instead of honoring the 117 people behind him where he was speaking, he talked about the size of the crowd. That’s worrisome. That’s worrisome. I’d just feel better if someone who was in that position showed the maturity and psychological and emotional level of someone that was his age. It’s dangerous, and it doesn’t do us any good. I hope he does a great job. But there’s a difference between respecting the office of the president and the person who occupies it. That respect has to be earned. It’s hard to be respectful of someone when we all have kids and we’re watching him be misogynistic and xenophobic and racist and make fun of handicapped people. And what really bothers me are the people around him, the Sean Spicers, the Kellyanne Conways, the Reince Preibuses, who know who he is and actually have the cynical approach and disingenuous attitude to really defend him and try to make it look like he didn’t say what he said. When he’s mad at the media for them reporting what he said, it just boggles my mind. When Kellyanne Conway said he wasn’t really making fun of the handicapped person, it’s incredible. It really makes you wonder how far would someone go to actually cover for somebody that much. I think the comment was ‘You had to look in his heart. You don’t know what’s in his heart. He wouldn’t do that.’ But he did it. And all the things he said during that time, if our children would have said it, we would have grounded them for six months. Without a doubt. But we ignore all that, because … because why? That says something about all of us. And that’s what’s dangerous. That’s what scares the hell out of me to this day and makes me uneasy. But I felt great today watching the march, in protest to how he has conducted himself, because it tells me I really do live in a country where a lot of people care. We have to be vigilant, to make sure that although we all hope he does good things for our country, we don’t get embarrassed by him and roll back liberties that have been worked for for so long in so many different areas.”
1.21 NewYorkPost:“President Trump’s press secretary is declaring that Trump’s inauguration had the largest audience in history “both in person and around the globe.” Sean Spicer insists, “This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period.”
Modal TriggerBarack Obama’s 2009 inauguration (top) compared to Donald Trump’s 2017 inauguration. Spicer offers no evidence to support the claim. It is not known how many people watched the ceremony on television around the globe. In the US, Nielsen estimates 31 million viewers watched TV coverage, but that’s less than Barack Obama’s and Ronald Reagan’s first inaugurations. On the ground in Washington, crowds on Friday were noticeably smaller than those at some previous inaugurations. Spicer convened reporters at the White House during Trump’s first full day in office to accuse them of engaging in “deliberately false reporting.” He’s claiming that photographs of the inauguration were intentionally framed in a way to minimize the crowd.
Photos of the National Mall make clear that the crowd did not extend to the Washington Monument, as it did for Obama’s 2009 inauguration.
1.21 Nicolle Wallace, in response to a query from Mark Halperin about “costs of untruths from WH podium”: “Credibility they don’t value, goodwill they don’t think they need, professionalism they aren’t capable of, humility they wouldn’t recognize.”
1.20 Jim Brown, to the Wall Street Journal, on his support for Donald Trump: “We’re a country that has been snoozing. Now we are alert. Whether it’s negative or positive, energy has risen. People are engaged. They’re studying. They are thinking more. And I think that’s good. You can’t get that without someone being bold enough to say things people don’t agree with.”
1.20 George Will in the Washington Post: “Twenty minutes into his presidency, Donald Trump, who is always claiming to have made, or to be about to make, astonishing history, had done so. Living down to expectations, he had delivered the most dreadful inaugural address in history. Kellyanne Conway, Trump’s White House counselor, had promised that the speech would be “elegant.” This is not the adjective that came to mind as he described “American carnage.” That was a phrase the likes of which has never hitherto been spoken at an inauguration. Oblivious to the moment and the setting, the always remarkable Trump proved that something dystopian can be strangely exhilarating: In what should have been a civic liturgy serving national unity and confidence, he vindicated his severest critics by serving up reheated campaign rhetoric about “rusted out factories scattered like tombstones across the landscape” and an education system producing students “deprived of all knowledge.” Yes, all. But cheer up, because the carnage will vanish if we “follow two simple rules: Buy American and hire American.” “Simple” is the right word.
1.20 Donald Trump is sworn in as America’s 45th president. “This American carnage stops right here and stops right now.”

JANUARY 2017: “NOT A LEGITIMATE PRESIDENT”

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1.13 Rep. John Lewis: “I don’t see thispresident-elect as a legitimate president. I think the Russians participated in helping this man get elected. And they helped destroy the candidacy of Hillary Clinton.”


“Totally made up facts by sleazebag political operatives, both Democrats and Republicans – FAKE NEWS! Russia says nothing exists,” Trump said in a series of posts on Twitter.
“Probably released by ‘Intelligence’ even knowing there is no proof, and never will be,” he said.


1.13 The Atlantic: Kompromat is a Russian squishing together of two words: “compromising material,” which Americans refer to as “blackmail.” But kompromat is different in that it is often coupled with what is called “black PR”—for example, Dorenko showing the video on his popular television show, artfully stringing it out, and bashing his viewers over the head with questions like, “Is lying something inherent to prosecutors or is it something unusual?” Or using Wikileaks and Kremlin-owned news sites to pound Hillary Clinton using the hacked contents of the DNC servers or John Podesta’s emails.
1.12 Michael Gerson in the Washington Post: On the first day of his presidency, Donald Trump will face a serious governing challenge of his own creation. He has promised a tax cut that will, by one estimate, reduce federal revenue by $7 trillion over 10 years. He has promised an infrastructure initiative that may cost an additional trillion. He has promised to rebuild the military. He has effectively promised not to make changes in Social Security and Medicare. And he has promised to move swiftly toward a balanced federal budget. Taken together, these things can’t be taken together. Trump has made a series of pledges that can’t be reconciled. If he knew this during the campaign, he is cynical. If he is only finding out now, he is benighted. In either case, something has to give.
a247da70-d910-11e6-a2f6-495dace62e07_AP_170127786661601.12 President Obama bestows the Presidential Medal of Freedom on Vice President Biden.
1.12 Max Boot in the Times: “Mr. Trump continues to exhibit paranoia about American intelligence agencies, he displays a trust verging on gullibility in the mendacious and murderous government of Mr. Putin. “Russia just said,” he tweeted, “unverified report paid for by political opponents is ‘A COMPLETE AND TOTAL FABRICATION, UTTER NONSENSE.’ Very unfair!” Well, yes, of course Russia said that. But why should anyone believe what Mr. Putin says? The fact that Mr. Trump seems to give greater credence to the Kremlin than to United States intelligence agencies is precisely what has set off so much speculation about his real motives in cozying up to Mr. Putin. There is only one way to get to the bottom of this tawdry affair: Appoint a bipartisan, 9/11-style commission to investigate all of the allegations and issue a public report. The former C.I.A. directors Leon E. Panetta and Michael V. Hayden, among other possible choices, would provide instant credibility if they were appointed to lead such a panel. If Mr. Trump is genuinely innocent of any untoward connections with the Kremlin, wouldn’t he want a full investigation to clear his name? That he so adamantly opposes any such inquiry speaks volumes. Yet the speculation, which was gaining currency even before the publishing of the dossier by BuzzFeed, isn’t going away. The reason is obvious: Mr. Trump appears to be infatuated with the autocrat in the Kremlin. As the Russian dissident and chess champion Garry Kasparov noted: “Trump has criticized: Republicans, Democrats, the pope, U.S. elections, C.I.A., F.B.I., NATO, Meryl Streep. Trump hasn’t criticized: Vladimir Putin.” The closest Mr. Trump has ever come to directly criticizing Mr. Putin was at his news conference on Wednesday, when, speaking of the hacking (which he admitted for the first time was the work of the Kremlin), he said, “He shouldn’t have done it.” This was pretty mild censure, however, compared with his scorching suggestion that American spies were employing Nazi-like tactics.”
1.12 Richard W. Painter in the Times: if Mr. Trump continues to own the businesses, he will continue to receive payments they earn from dealings with foreign governments. Most if not all of these payments will violate the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution, which expressly forbids anyone in public office from receiving any gifts, salary or profits of any kind from transactions with foreign governments without the consent of Congress. Apart from exceptions already set forth in the Foreign Gifts and Decorations Act, Congress, even though now controlled by Republicans, has shown no appetite for making further exceptions. Absent such consent from Congress, President Trump will be in violation of the Constitution as of next Friday with respect to, among other things, loans from foreign-government-controlled banks, leases of Trump office space to foreign-government-controlled companies, foreign governments and diplomats renting rooms in Trump hotels and any investments that are made alongside foreign sovereign wealth funds. The plan announced on Wednesday does nothing to fix this problem because if President Trump still owns the businesses, or he is the beneficiary of a trust that owns the businesses, he receives the economic benefit — the “emolument” — from all of these transactions.
The only concession that Mr. Trump made on this issue in his news conference was a proposal to donate “profits” made by his hotels from foreign governments to the United States government. He failed to address the fact that foreign government money likely permeates his entire business empire, not just the hotels, and that he has no plan to stop receiving these payments that will become unconstitutional at noon next Friday. Second, apart from a promise not to enter into any “new” deals outside the United States, Mr. Trump’s plan does nothing to fix the serious conflicts of interest and global security threats posed by his existing business relationships with politicians and politically connected businessmen around the world. He also does not address his ownership and licensing rights in properties — including the use of the Trump name. Shockingly, the president-elect did not even mention the grave risk posed to the people who live and work in these buildings, which are likely to be prime terrorist targets because they carry the name of the president of the United States.
1.12 Matt Stoller in The Washington Post: Obama can’t place the blame for Clinton’s poor performance purely on her campaign. On the contrary, the past eight years of policymaking have damaged Democrats at all levels. . . .Two key elements characterized the kind of domestic political economy the administration pursued: The first was the foreclosure crisis and the subsequent bank bailouts. The resulting policy framework of Tim Geithner’s Treasury Department was, in effect, a wholesale attack on the American home (the main store of middle-class wealth) in favor of concentrated financial power. The second was the administration’s pro-monopoly policies, which crushed the rural areas that in 2016 lost voter turnout and swung to Donald Trump. . .A financial system in collapse has to allocate losses. In this case, big banks and homeowners both experienced losses, and it was up to the Obama administration to decide who should bear those burdens. Typically, such losses would be shared between debtors and creditors, through a deal like the Home Owners Loan Corporation in the 1930s or bankruptcy reform. But the Obama administration took a different approach. Rather than forcing some burden-sharing between banks and homeowners through bankruptcy reform or debt relief, Obama prioritized creditor rights, placing most of the burden on borrowers. . . . Second, Obama’s administration let big-bank executives off the hook for their roles in the crisis. Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) referred criminal cases to the Justice Department and was ignored. Whistleblowers from the government and from large banks noted a lack of appetite among prosecutors. In 2012, then-Attorney General Eric Holder ordered prosecutors not to go after mega-bank HSBC for money laundering. Using prosecutorial discretion to not take bank executives to task, while legal, was neither moral nor politically wise; in a 2013 poll, more than half of Americans still said they wanted the bankers behind the crisis punished. But the Obama administration failed to act, and this pattern seems to be continuing. No one, for instance, from Wells Fargo has been indicted for mass fraud in opening fake accounts.
1.11 Frank Bruni in the Times: “A typical Conway television interview, which is a circus of euphemisms, a festival of distractions and a testament to the stamina of a willed smile. She looks cheery when attacking, even cheerier when attacked and absolutely radiant when descending into a bog of half-truths and fictions. It’s always sunny on Conway’s side of the street. And it’s always a landslide when her candidate wins. She describes Trump’s victory as a mandate — never mind its narrowness or all that Russian nefariousness — and dismisses his critics by citing their inability to see that heady triumph coming. They had no foresight. Now they have no grounds.
1.10 President Obama: “I am asking you to hold fast to … that idea whispered by slaves and abolitionists; that spirit sung by immigrants and homesteaders and those who marched for justice; that creed reaffirmed by those who planted flags from foreign battlefields to the surface of the moon; a creed at the core of every American whose story is not yet written: Yes, we can. (Applause.) Yes, we did. Yes, we can.”
1.10 Washington University ethics expert Kathleen CLARK: I see this as Trump’s first attempt to ignore the law, act in violation of the law, and he’s going to see if he can get away with it. We have a statute that names the president, that names the son-in-law relationship, that Congress identified a problem and enacted a statute prohibiting a president from hiring a son-in-law. President-elect Trump, in my view, is testing the waters to see if he can get away with violating what I would call this government ethics provision. And whether President-elect Trump gets away with this depends, it seems to me, in part on the public response as well as the congressional response.…We’ll see whether President Trump is required to follow the law or not. And so, I think this is enormously significant, because it’s an initial test of whether — we’ve seen as a candidate, Donald Trump has violated norms, and now we’re going to see whether he also plans to violate the law
1.10 The Washington Post: Quinnipiac’s poll showed his favorable rating rising from 34 percent to 44 percent, that number has dropped back to 37 percent, which is about where it stood for much of the campaign. That’s tied for Trump’s worst favorable rating in a poll since his election. And a majority — 51 percent — now have an unfavorable view of him. Likewise, the Quinnipiac poll shows a drop in confidence in Trump across the board. Although 59 percent were optimistic about the next four years under Trump in November, today that number is 52 percent. While 41 percent thought he would be a better leader than President Obama, it’s now 34 percent. While 52 percent thought he would help the nation’s economy, it’s now 47 percent. While 40 percent thought his policies would help their personal financial situation, it’s now 27 percent. While 53 percent thought he’d take the country in the right direction, it’s now 45 percent. There are similar drops in views of his honesty (42 percent to 39 percent), his leadership skills (56 percent to 49 percent), his compassion for average Americans (51 percent to 44 percent), his levelheadedness (38 percent to 33 percent) and his ability to unite the country (47 percent to 40 percent).’’
1.10 Jess McKinely in the Times: “There’s a certain Willy Loman aspect to Mr. Cuomo: He’s liked, but not well liked, even in his home state. A Quinnipiac University poll released last month showed that half of New York voters supported the governor’s taking on the policies of Mr. Trump, but 56 percent did not want him to run for president. His approval rating was 49 percent; and only 34 percent did not approve. And while Mr. Cuomo is known for having a savvy political mind, few would rave about his retail political skills. Michael Shnayerson, the author of “The Contender,” a 2015 biography of Mr. Cuomo, said that “there isn’t a Democrat of his generation who has a better résumé for president than Andrew Cuomo.” He cited the governor’s experience working for his father’s campaigns, a stint as federal housing secretary and a term as New York attorney general. But, he added, Mr. Cuomo’s bare-fisted political style also sometimes suggests “a dark, Nixonian character, harsh and vindictive.” “Ironically, that’s what makes him so fascinating,” Mr. Shnayerson said. “He’s so unlike the rest of the field. And there are moments, still, when he pounds the progressive pulpit, that you hear his father’s voice, and the goose bumps come, and you think, ‘Maybe so.’”
1.9 Deshaun Watson, Clemson quarterback, before leading the team on a drive to a last-second touchdown and the National Championship against Alabama: “Let’s be legendary.”
1.9 Bernie Sanders: “ real change never starts from inside the Beltway. It always comes when millions of Americans at the grass-roots level stand up and fight for economic, social, racial and environmental justice. We always win when we stand together. We lose when we are apathetic or allow demagogues to divide us”
1.9 Gov delivers the State of the State address



af_streep_gg_170109.nbcnews-ux-1080-6001.8 Meryl Streep at the Golden Globes “There was one performance this year that stunned me,” Streep said. “It sank its hooks in my heart. Not because it was good. There was nothing good about it. But it was effective and it did its job. It broke my heart when I saw it and I still can’t get it out of my head, because it wasn’t in a movie, it was real life.” Streep proceeded to argue that Trump’s behavior gave “permission” to other people to act the same way.“It was that moment when the person asking to sit in the most respected seat in our country imitated a disabled reporter. Someone he outranked in privilege, power and the capacity to fight back. It kind of broke my heart when I saw it. I still can’t get it out of my head because it wasn’t in a movie. It was real life. And this instinct to humiliate, when it’s modeled by someone in the public platform, by someone powerful, it filters down into everybody’s life, because it kind of gives permission for other people to do the same thing,” the actress said. Disrespect invites disrespect. Violence incites violence.”
1.7 Nat Hentoff dies at 91


1.6 Stephen Marche IN THE Los Angeles Times “The greatest modern expression of American satire, Spy magazine, mocked Trump for its entire run. (Spy teased Trump for having small hands long before Marco Rubio did.) Their contempt only aided his manic self-promotion.
ABERNIE
1.3 Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today unveiled the 1st signature proposal of his 2017 agenda: making college tuition-free for New York’s middle class families at all SUNY and CUNY two- and four-year colleges. New York’s tuition-free college degree program, the Excelsior Scholarship, is the first of its kind in the nation and will help alleviate the crushing burden of student debt while enabling thousands of bright young students to realize their dream of higher education.
1.1 A new law taking effect in France today guarantees employees of organizations with more than 50 workers the “right to disconnect” from technology after business hours.
1.1 Gov opens the Second Avenue Subway