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).”

MARCH 2017: WHAT’S THE POINT?

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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.”

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

LAST CALL 2016

party-of-the-year-holiday-2016

Melania Trump, Ivanka Trump, Michael Strahan, Kelly Ripa, Huma Abedin, Alex Rodriguez, Angelina Jolie, Ryan Lochte, Bill Clinton, Loretta Lynch, Colin Kaepernick, Heather Bresch, Hillary Clinton, Matt Lauer, Ghazala Khan, Khizr Khan, Gretchen Carlson, Roger Ailes, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Rupert Murdoch, Jerry Hall, Anthony Weiner, Beyoncé, Martin Shkreli, Elizabeth Holmes, Harold Bornstein, John Stumpf, Sean Hannity, Vladimir Putin, Donald Trump, Mary Berry, Paul Hollywood, Tom Hanks, Katie Ledecky, Ken Bone, and Boris Johnson.
Illustration by Barry Blitt.

Eight o’ clock The punctilious Khans, Khizr and Ghazala, arrive on time, invitation in hand.

8:13 Mistaking the event for a costume party, Roger Ailes and Gretchen Carlson enact one of his favorite fantasies and arrive as Jabba the Hutt and Princess Leia.

8:59 Misdirected by a special version of Pokémon Go customized for players hoping to reconstitute the Soviet empire, Vladimir Putin wanders in and spies mutual-admiration-society co-founder Donald Trump, who is loudly calling attention to himself by inviting guests to go furniture shopping with him.

9:04 Suspecting a better party at Robin Roberts’s pad, Michael Strahan ghosts his date, Kelly Ripa, leaving her to make small talk with other suddenly solo acts Angelina Jolie, Huma Abedin, and Alex Rodriguez.

9:13 Loaded with benjamins earned from Hamilton, Lin-Manuel Miranda seeks investment advice from mogul Rupert Murdoch, who gazes into the eyes of Jerry Hall and tells him to put all his money into supermodels.

10:01 Trump ladies collide. “Now that the election’s over,” says Melania to Ivanka, “keep your hands off your father.”

10:08 At the potluck table, the Great British Bake-Off judges Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood summarily dismiss Anthony Weiner’s spongy spotted dick but praise the saucy lemonade buns of Beyoncé, who becomes distracted when she overhears her lyrics “Sorry, I ain’t sorry, I ain’t thinking ‘bout you” being sung by the sullied C.E.O. trio of Martin Shkreli, of Retrophin, Elizabeth Holmes, of Theranos, and John Stumpf, formerly of Wells Fargo.

10:48 Ryan Lochte, of the U.S. Bathroom-Door Removal Team, gets to work on the powder-room portal, exposing a casual chat between Bill Clinton and Loretta Lynch.

11:05 Carrying a basket of s’morables, curse-crushing Cubs fan Hillary Clinton heads for her own rendezvous with destiny, only to stumble over an unexpectedly kneeling Colin Kaepernick, sending the basket aloft. Fortunately it is intercepted by a drone piloted by Tom Hanks, who attempts to land his craft on the surface of the punch bowl, at least until he spies Katie Ledecky, taking one more celebratory dip in the sangria.

11:19 Trump doctor Harold “Keep On Truckin’ ” Bornstein performs an instant physical on Sean Hannity and unequivocally declares him the healthiest individual ever to kowtow to President-Elect Trump, though at the same time the doc suggests that if Mr. Hannity is ever going to recover the use of his lips he will need to have them surgically removed from Mr. Trump’s rump.

11:46 In her cups, the Zika mosquito snubs EpiPen profiteer Heather Bresch. “I stick people because it’s my nature,” it sneers. “You do it to make money.”

11:55 Returning to obscurity, Ken Bone encounters thatch-roofed livery driver Boris Johnson, who explains his special Brexit car service: “We leave, but we don’t know where we’re going.”

11:59 Boom! What’s that? Another prime-time Matt Lauer interview crashing to earth? No, no, just Baby 2017, eager to begin.

DECEMBER 2016: ““IF SOMETHING HAPPENS TO HIM, IT HAPPENS.”


12.31 Anthony Bourdain in Reason: “The utter contempt with which privileged Eastern liberals such as myself discuss red-state, gun-country, working-class America as ridiculous and morons and rubes is largely responsible for the upswell of rage and contempt and desire to pull down the temple that we’re seeing now. I’ve spent a lot of time in gun-country, God-fearing America. There are a hell of a lot of nice people out there, who are doing what everyone else in this world is trying to do: the best they can to get by, and take care of themselves and the people they love. When we deny them their basic humanity and legitimacy of their views, however different they may be than ours, when we mock them at every turn, and treat them with contempt, we do no one any good.”12.30 Atlas Obscura: “At Walt Disney World, the weeks around Christmas are one of the most crowded times of the year: from all over the country and all over the world, families flock to Orlando to be in this special space for just a few days. Most Disney patrons would probably call their trip a vacation, but to anthropologists, religious studies experts, and art historians, a visit to Disney World looks a lot like another, older form of travel—a pilgrimage.Appetites for direct contact with Disney’s creations have transformed the trek to Disney World into a genuine form of pilgrimage,” writes historian Cheryl Krause Knight, author of Power and Paradise in Walt Disney’s World. In the modern world, a trip to Disney has become a rite of passage that transforms those who make the trek, and the design of the park heightens that experience: Disney World resembles a medieval pilgrimage center, designed to connect pilgrims with the supernatural, represented by Mickey Mouse and company.12.29 President Obama announced sanctions against a number of Russian officials and entities in response to Moscow’s alleged interference in the U.S. presidential election. The move, which included the expulsion of 35 Russian intelligence officials and the closure of two U.S.-based Russian properties, is the first public step the U.S. has taken against Russia for the cyberattack.
12.28 EJ Dionne in the Washington Post: “Here is a bet that the mobilization against Trump will rival in size and influence the tea party uprising against Obama.”
12.28 Debbie Reynolds dies
12.27 Carrie Fisher dies
12.26 Serena Williams in the Washington Post: “If I were a man, I would have 100 percent been considered the greatest ever a long time ago.”
12.25 Saw LaLa Land with Cara. Meh.
12.24 Reince Priebus via Twitter: “”Merry Christmas to all! Over two millennia ago, a new hope was born into the world, a Savior who would offer the promise of salvation to all mankind. Just as the three wise men did on that night, this Christmas heralds a time to celebrate the good news of a new King. We hope Americans celebrating Christmas today will enjoy a day of festivities and a renewed closeness with family and friends.
12.24 George Michael dead at 53
12.24 The farmer said, ” Well, as I see it, Donald Trump is like a ‘Post Tortoise’. When you’re driving down a country road and you come across a fence post with a tortoise balanced on top, that’s a post tortoise.” “You know he didn’t get up there by himself, he doesn’t belong up there, he doesn’t know what to do while he’s up there, he’s elevated beyond his ability to function, and you just wonder what kind of dumb ass put him up there to begin with.”
12.23 Poet Maggie Smith
good-bones_waxwing
12.23 Carl Palladino, interviewed by Artvoice:
Artvoice: What would you most like to happen in 2017?
Carl Paladino: Obama catches mad cow disease after being caught having relations with a Herford. He dies before his trial and is buried in a cow pasture next to Valerie Jarret, who died weeks prior, after being convicted of sedition and treason, when a Jihady cell mate mistook her for being a nice person and decapitated her.
Artvoice: What would you most like to see go in 2017?
12.23 Barack Obama, from an interview conducted November 17 with The Atlantic: “Well, look, I think I am absolutely, you know, surprised like everybody else with the outcome.”
Carl Paladino: Michelle Obama. I’d like her to return to being a male and let loose in the outback of Zimbabwe where she lives comfortably in a cave with Maxie, the gorilla.
12.23 Dana Milbank in the Washington Post: “Trump lieutenant Newt Gingrich this week proposed an elegant solution for all the conflicts of interest swirling around the president-elect and his team of billionaires: Ignore the law. President-elect Donald Trump, Gingrich said, should let those in his administration do as they wish with their personal fortunes and business interests and pardon them if they are found to have violated laws against using public office for personal enrichment. “He could simply say, ‘Look, I want them to be my advisers, I pardon them if anybody finds them to have behaved against the rules, period’,” Gingrich said on NPR’s “The Diane Rehm Show” on Monday.“Drain the Swamp” is so October.”
12.23 History Channel:
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12.23 Catherine Rampell in the Washington Post: “These Democratic policies probably would help the white working class. But the white working class doesn’t seem to buy that they’re the ones who’d really benefit. Across rural America, the Rust Belt, Coal Country and other hotbeds of Trumpism, voters have repeatedly expressed frustration that the lazy and less deserving are getting a bigger chunk of government cheese. In Kentucky, consumers receiving federal subsidies through the Obamacare exchanges complain that neighbors who are less responsible are receiving nearly free insurance through Medicaid. “They can go to the emergency room for a headache,” one woman told Vox’s Sarah Kliff. In Ohio, white working-class focus group participants decried that women who “pop out babies like Pez dispensers with different baby daddies” get “welfare every month” and “their housing paid for, their food.” These women seem to live large, one participant said, while people like herself are “struggling to put food on the table.” Participants in this focus group, held by the Institute for Family Studies, were also skeptical of efforts to raise the minimum wage. But how do you really feel? Regardless of party affiliation, gender and income level, most people are more optimistic than they think. Opponents argued either that higher pay wasn’t justified for lower-skilled, less intense work or that raising the minimum wage would unfairly narrow the pay gap between diligent folks such as themselves and people who’d made worse life choices. “That son of a b—- is making $10 an hour! I’m making $13.13. I feel like s— because he’s making almost as much as I am, and I have never been in trouble with the law and I have a clean record, I can pass a drug test,” said one participant.”
12.22 TMZ: “JetBlue kicked a Brooklyn lawyer and his Hunter College professor husband off a plane at JFK on Thursday morning — after he accosted fellow passenger and future first daughter Ivanka Trump right before takeoff. “Your father is ruining the country!” lefty lawyer and avowed Hillary Clinton supporter Dan Goldstein shouted at Trump, as she sat with her husband, Jared Kushner, and their three kids in the main cabin.
12.21 An explosion in the San Pablito fireworks market in Tultepec, Mexico, kills at least 29.
12.21 David Remnick on BBC Newsnight: ““A friend at the office said it’s like you’ve been tossed out of an airplane…you feel the alarm, the fear, you feel the freezing wind around you, but you haven’t gone splat yet. On the other hand no parachute has opened…there’s no sense of ‘aah, this is a normal event.’ The back and forth between Republicans and Democrats, conservatives and liberals. There’s not that sense, at least not in me. But there is that impulse to make it such. Normalization. It’s a very human impulse…to normalize the situation so you’re not in a state of constant alarm or fear or sadness or agitation.”
12.21 Trump doctor Harold Bornstein: “If something happens to him, then it happens to him. It’s like all the rest of us, no? That’s why we have a vice president and a speaker of the House and a whole line of people. They can just keep dying.”
12.21 Dana Milbank in The Washington Post: “ We now know Comey’s bombshell was based on nothing: The FBI had no evidence of wrongdoing in the newly discovered emails, found on Huma Abedin’s laptop, and no reason to suspect there was anything on the laptop that the FBI hadn’t already dismissed as insufficient to mount a prosecution. Yet that was the flimsy basis for Comey’s letter to Congress reopening the Clinton probe. The new emails were irrelevant or redundant. But by the time Comey said, just two days before the election, that the FBI found nothing new, the damage to Clinton was done.’’


12.20 Bill O’Reilly: “This is all about race. The left sees white privilege in America as an oppressive force that must be done away with. Therefore white working class voters must be marginalized. White men have set up a system of oppression and that system must be destroyed … The left wants power taken away from the white establishment and they want a profound change in the way America is run.”
12.19 A semi-trailer packed with steel speeds through an outdoor Christmas market in Berlin, killing 12 and injuring dozens more. ISIS claims credit. On the 23rd, the perpetrator was killed in a gun battle with the police in Milan.
aptopix_turkey_russian_ambassador_9215712192016_w31512.19 Andrey G. Karlov, Russia’s ambassador to Turkey was assassinated at an Ankara art exhibit on Monday evening by a lone Turkish gunman shouting “God is great!” and “don’t forget Aleppo, don’t forget Syria!” in what the leaders of Turkey and Russia called a provocative terrorist attack. The gunman, described by Turkish officials as a 22-year-old off-duty police officer, also wounded at least three others in the assault on the envoy. Turkish officials said the assailant was killed by other officers in a shootout.
12.19 Michael Gerson in The Washington Post: “The plausible case that Russian espionage materially contributed to the election of an American president has been an additional invitation to anger. Now, not only the quality but also the legitimacy of our democracy is at stake. This extreme threat would seem to require a commensurately radical response — some way to change the outcome. But what is the proper conservative response? It is to live within the boundaries of law and reality. There is no certain way to determine if Russian influence was decisive. And no serious constitutional recourse seems to remain. While open to other options, I see none. It will now fall to citizens and institutions to (1) defend the legislature and judiciary from any encroachment, (2) defend every group of people from organized oppression, including Muslims and refugees, (3) expand and defend the institutions — from think tanks to civil liberty organizations — that make the case for a politics that honors human dignity. And pray for the grass to grow.’’
12.19 Atlas Obscura: “Cuba is offering the Czech Republic 135,000 tons of rum to settle a $276 million debt. Czech officials say it’s an “interesting option.”

Jamie Malanowski
12.18 Jennifer Rubin in the Washington Post: 11We have had smart presidents and dim ones, effective ones and incompetents, successful ones and unaccomplished ones. Until now, we have never had one for whom it was legitimate to question at the onset of his presidency whether he could fulfill his oath to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” As things stand now, President-elect Donald Trump has suggested he will not divest himself of a myriad of businesses around the globe that pose serious conflicts of interest, nor will he liquidate even foreign holdings, the proceeds of which would put him in violation of the emoluments clause of the Constitution. In an academically sound and federal court brief quality paper, Norman Eisen, Richard Painter and Laurence Tribe conclude: Careful review of the Emoluments Clause shows that the Clause unquestionably applies to the President of the United States; that it covers an exceptionally broad and diverse range of remunerative relationships (including fair market value transactions that confer profit on a federal officeholder); and that it reaches payments and emoluments from foreign states (including state-owned and state-controlled corporations). In the context of Trump, they cite multiple sources of foreign revenue that on their face would, the moment Trump is inaugurated, put him in violation of the Constitution. They enumerate multiple instances in which he already improperly blurred private and public conduct.
12,18 Zsa Zsa Gabor dead at 99
12.18 Washington Post: “A large fraction of Republicans — 52 percent — said Trump won the popular vote, compared with only 7 percent of Democrats and 24 percent of independents. Among Republicans without any college education, the share was even larger: 60 percent, compared with 37 percent of Republicans with a college degree.”
12.16 FBI Director James B. Comey and Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr. are in agreement with a CIA assessment that Russia intervened in the 2016 election in part to help Donald Trump win the White House, officials disclosed Friday
mcdonalds-holiday-cup-2-fwx12.16 Do McDonald’s holiday cups look like a butt?
12.16 Ta-Nehisi Coates in The Atlantic: “In the waning days of President Barack Obama’s administration, he and his wife, Michelle, hosted a farewell party, the full import of which no one could then grasp. It was late October, Friday the 21st. . . . The farewell party, presented by BET (Black Entertainment Television), was the last in a series of concerts the first couple had hosted at the White House. . . .This would not happen again, and everyone knew it. It was not just that there might never be another African American president of the United States. It was the feeling that this particular black family, the Obamas, represented the best of black people, the ultimate credit to the race, incomparable in elegance and bearing. “There are no more,” the comedian Sinbad joked back in 2010. “There are no black men raised in Kansas and Hawaii. That’s the last one. Y’all better treat this one right. The next one gonna be from Cleveland. He gonna wear a perm. Then you gonna see what it’s really like.” Throughout their residency, the Obamas had refrained from showing America “what it’s really like,” and had instead followed the first lady’s motto, “When they go low, we go high.” This was the ideal—black and graceful under fire—saluted that evening. The president was lionized as “our crown jewel.” The first lady was praised as the woman “who put the O in Obama.”. . . Much as the unbroken ranks of 43 white male presidents communicated that the highest office of government in the country—indeed, the most powerful political offices in the world—was off-limits to black individuals, the election of Barack Obama communicated that the prohibition had been lifted. It communicated much more. Before Obama triumphed in 2008, the most-famous depictions of black success tended to be entertainers or athletes. But Obama had shown that it was “possible to be smart and cool at the same damn time,” as Jesse Williams put it at the BET party. Moreover, he had not embarrassed his people with a string of scandals. Against the specter of black pathology, against the narrow images of welfare moms and deadbeat dads, his time in the White House had been an eight-year showcase of a healthy and successful black family spanning three generations, with two dogs to boot. In short, he became a symbol of black people’s everyday, extraordinary Americanness.


12.15 John Podesta in the Washington Post: “The more we learn about the Russian plot to sabotage Hillary Clinton’s campaign and elect Donald Trump, and the failure of the FBI to adequately respond, the more shocking it gets. The former acting director of the CIA has called the Russian cyberattack “the political equivalent of 9/11.” Just as after the real 9/11, we need a robust, independent investigation into what went wrong inside the government and how to better protect our country in the future. As the former chair of the Clinton campaign and a direct target of Russian hacking, I understand just how serious this is. So I was surprised to read in the New York Times that when the FBI discovered the Russian attack in September 2015, it failed to send even a single agent to warn senior Democratic National Committee officials. Instead, messages were left with the DNC IT “help desk.” As a former head of the FBI cyber division told the Times, this is a baffling decision: “We are not talking about an office that is in the middle of the woods of Montana.” What takes this from baffling to downright infuriating is that at nearly the exact same time that no one at the FBI could be bothered to drive 10 minutes to raise the alarm at DNC headquarters, two agents accompanied by attorneys from the Justice Department were in Denver visiting a tech firm that had helped maintain Clinton’s email server. This trip was part of what FBI Director James B. Comey described as a “painstaking” investigation of Clinton’s emails, “requiring thousands of hours of effort” from dozens of agents who conducted at least 80 interviews and reviewed thousands of pages of documents. Of course, as Comey himself concluded, in the end, there was no case; it was not even a close call. Comparing the FBI’s massive response to the overblown email scandal with the seemingly lackadaisical response to the very real Russian plot to subvert a national election shows that something is deeply broken at the FBI
12.15 Jimmy Kimmel revealed he’ll be paid $15,000 to host the Oscars ceremony.

DECEMBER 2016: MAN OF THE YEAR


12.10 The Washington Post “The CIA has concluded something widely suspected but never flatly stated by the intelligence community: that Russia moved deliberately to help elect Donald Trump as president of the United States — not just to undermine the U.S. political process more generally. The Post’s report cites officials who say they have identified individuals connected to the Russian government who gave WikiLeaks emails hacked from the Democratic National Committee and top Hillary Clinton aide John Podesta. One official described the conclusion that this was intended to help Trump as “the consensus view.” A statement from Trump’s transition team, as expected, took a defiant tone about The Post’s report: “These are the same people that said Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. The election ended a long time ago in one of the biggest Electoral College victories in history. It’s now time to move on and ‘Make America Great Again.’”
12.9 The crowd at President-elect Donald Trump’s victory rally on Friday night started up a familiar chant: “Lock her up.” The slogan was a staple of his raucous election campaign, targeting his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton. When the audience revived the chant in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Friday night — more than one month after Trump won the election — the president-elect said, “That plays great before the election — now we don’t care, right?”
12.9 Penn State study: “Trump performed better than Mitt Romney in many places, but he fared best compared to the Republican nominee four years ago in the counties with the highest drug, alcohol and suicide mortality rates.”
12.8 For the first time in more than two decades, life expectancy for Americans declined last year — a troubling development linked to a panoply of worsening health problems in the United States. Rising fatalities from heart disease and stroke, diabetes, drug overdoses, accidents and other conditions caused the lower life expectancy revealed in a report released Thursday by the National Center for Health Statistics. In all, death rates rose for eight of the top 10 leading causes of death.
12.8 Charles Blow in the Times: “The question hanging in the air, the issue that we must vigilantly monitor, is whether the emerging shoots of egalitarianism in this country will be stomped out by the jackboot of revitalized authoritarianism. I feel like America is being flashed by a giant neuralyzer, à la “Men In Black.” We are in danger of forgetting what has happened and losing sight, in the fog of confusion and concealment, of the profundity of the menace taking shape right before us. That is our challenge: To see clearly what this deceiver wants to obscure; to be resolute about that to which he wants us to be resigned; to understand that Time’s man of the year is, by words and deeds, more of a madman of the year.”
12.8 Garrison Keillor: ““He will never be my president because he doesn’t read books, can’t write more than a sentence or two at a time, has no strong loyalties beyond himself, is more insular than any New Yorker I ever knew, and because I don’t see anything admirable or honorable about him. This sets him apart from other politicians. The disaffected white blue-collar workers elected a Fifth Avenue tycoon to rescue them from the elitists — fine, I get that — but they could’ve chosen a better tycoon. One who served in the military or attends church or reads history, loves opera, sails a boat — something — anything — raises llamas, plays the oboe, runs a 5K race now and then, has close friends from childhood. I look at him and there’s nothing there.”
12.8 Dave Leonhardt in the Times: Chance of making more money than your parents if you were …
Born in 1940 92%
Born in 1950 79%
Born in 1960 62%
Born in 1970 61%
Born in 1980 50%
12.8 Chuck Jones, union leader at Carrier plant in Indianapolis: “A couple of weeks ago, Trump got involved. He sat down with Carrier leaders. Afterward, he announced that 1,100 jobs would be saved. When I first heard the news, I was optimistic. But I began to get nervous when we couldn’t get any details on the deal. I urged caution, but our members got their hopes up. They thought their jobs had been saved.When I met with Carrier officials last Thursday, I realized that that wouldn’t be the case. Though Trump said he’d saved 1,100 jobs, he hadn’t. Carrier told us that 550 people would get laid off.Trump didn’t tell people that, though. When he spoke at our plant, he acted like no one was going to lose their job. People went crazy for him. They thought, because of Trump, I’m going to be able to provide for my family. All the while, I’m sitting there, thinking that’s not what the damn numbers say. Trump let people believe that they were going to have a livelihood in that facility. He let people breathe easy. When I told our members the next day, they were devastated. I was angry, too. So I told a Washington Post reporter the truth — that Trump’s 1,100 number was wrong. When Trump read my comments, he got angry. Last night, he tweeted: “Chuck Jones, who is President of United Steelworkers 1999, has done a terrible job representing workers. No wonder companies flee country!”
12.8 John Glenn dies at 95
12.8 Rachel Maddow: “A large percentage of Trump voters were severely misinformed. They live in a virtually fact-free or made-up-fact environment. The stock market under President Obama soared. The Dow Jones Industrial average went from 7,949.09 to 19,614.91, again, up 11,665.72. In other words, it more than doubled. 39% of Trump voters think the stock market went down under Obama. Unemployment dropped from 7.8% to 4.6% during the Obama administration. Clinton, Johnson, Stein and other voters are well aware of that fact. But not Donald Trump voters; 67% of them believe unemployment rose under President Obama.
40% of Trump voters believe that Donald Trump won the popular vote.
60% of Trump voters believe that millions voted illegally for Clinton.
73% of Trump voters believe that George Soros paid Trump protesters.
29% of Trump voters believe California vote should not be included in the popular vote.
Rachel’s statement near the end of the segment was prescient.
“I think it shows that even after the election, what Trump voters believe about the world is distinctively different from what the rest of the country believe,” Rachel said. “And from what is true. And this is an alternate reality that they are in, — it is weird enough and specific enough that you can’t say it just springs from broader a misunderstandings or from a broader ignorance on issues that afflicts the country. And this is a specific alternate reality that was created by the Trump movement for a political purpose. And it worked for that political purpose. And now as the Trump administration takes shape, they have to know that they are in power thanks to their voter base that has these false beliefs about the country. False beliefs about the country, false beliefs about the economy, false beliefs about the outgoing president, false beliefs about what California is. In terms of what happens next in our country, it seems important to know this incoming president basically created this fantasy life for his supporters.”
12.8 Nicholas Kristoff in the Times: “The blunt truth is that America’s most egregious failures have often involved identity, from slavery to anti-Catholic riots, from the Chinese Exclusion Act to the internment of Japanese-Americans, from unequal pay to acquiescence in domestic violence and sex trafficking. Ditto for the threats by President-Elect Donald Trump to deport 11 million immigrants or to register Muslims.Yet Lilla and Sanders are right that identity sometimes has distracted from the distress in working-class white America. Life expectancy for blacks, Latinos and other groups has been increasing; for middle-aged whites, it has been dropping. Likewise, the race gap in education used to be greater than the “class gap”; now the class gap is greater.It’s also true that broad efforts to create opportunity would help not only working-class whites, but also working-class blacks, Latinos and others.I once asked Bryan Stevenson, the civil rights lawyer, how to think of the class gap versus the race gap, and he joked that for the many people caught in the criminal justice system who are both poor and black, “it’s like having two kinds of cancer at the same time.”So do we really need to choose between identity and justice? Can’t we treat both cancers?”
a-pol-trump-time-person-of-the-year-20161207
12.7 Trump is named Time‘s Man of the Year
12.7 “This man is a phenomenal writer, despite his obvious disability. And this man is a phenomenal writer, and he has no disabilities.”
12.7 Steve Pearlstine in the Washington Post: “If the Trump administration makes good on its promise to pull back on environmental regulation, states can step up their own regulation of power plant emissions and oil and gas drilling. To combat climate change, they could impose a refundable carbon tax or, as California has done, create a cap and trade system for carbon emissions. If Republicans repeal the Dodd-Frank financial regulations, many of those same regulations could be written into state law, either by legislatures or by state banking, securities and insurance regulators and consumer protection agencies. Taking a page from Louis Brandeis and the Progressive era, states could also provide incentives for the creation of state-chartered mutual banks, insurance and investment companies, financial institutions that are owned by their customers. The few mutuals that still exist offer competitive products and superior service at lower cost, all of it with less risk that the Wall Street megafirms have turned finance into a head-I-win, tails-you-lose casino.”
12.6 Corey Lewandowski on Sean Hannity: “It’s going to be a great Christmas—which you can say again, Merry Christmas because Donald Trump is now the President—you can say it again. It’s OK to say, it’s not a pejorative word anymore.”
12.6 The Wall Street Journal: “At its height in the 1970s, government funding for basic research represented more than 2% of the US Gross national product. BY 2014, it had dropped to just 0.78% of GDP.”\12.6 Steven Pearlstine in The Wall Street Journal: “For years, of course, it is the Republicans who have preached the wisdom of returning more power and responsibility to the states, under the assumption that states would do less, not more, than Washington. Now Democrats could demonstrate that their cherished 10th Amendment can be a sword that cuts both ways.
12.5 Dave Brubek dies at 91.
12.5 Elizabeth Banks interviewing Madonna in Elle:
Speaking of: How did you feel about the outcome of the election?
It felt like someone died. It felt like a ­combination of the heartbreak and betrayal you feel when someone you love more than anything leaves you, and also a death. I feel that way every morning; I wake up and say, “Oh, wait, Donald Trump is still the president,” and it wasn’t a bad dream that I had. It feels like women betrayed us. The percentage of women who voted for Trump was insanely high.
Why do you think that is?
Women hate women. That’s what I think it is. Women’s nature is not to support other women. It’s really sad. Men protect each other, and women protect their men and children. Women turn inward and men are more external. A lot of it has do with jealousy and some sort of tribal inability to accept that one of their kind could lead a nation. Other people just didn’t bother to vote because they didn’t like either candidate, or they didn’t think Trump had a chance in the world. They took their hands off the wheel and then the car crashed.
Were you surprised?
Of course. I was devastated, surprised, in shock. I haven’t really had a good night’s sleep since he has been elected. We’re fucked.”
12.5 In Albany
12.4 Washington Post: “President-elect Donald Trump fired another warning shot Sunday at U.S. companies considering moving their operations out of the country, threatening “retributions or consequences” such as a hefty border tax if they do. The pronouncements came in a string of early morning tweets. Trump said he intends to incentivize businesses to stay in America by lowering corporate taxes and slashing regulations, two key components of his economic agenda. But he also warned that companies with offshore factories would face a 35 percent tariff on goods sold back to the United States.”
12.4 Vladimir Putin on Trump: “To the extent that he was able to achieve success in business, this shows that he’s a smart person,” Putin said in snippets of an interview with broadcaster NTV set to be aired in full Sunday evening. “And if he’s a smart person, that means that he will totally and quite quickly understand the different level of his responsibility [as a statesman]. We presume that he will act based on this position.”
12.1 Corey Lewandowski “You guys took everything that Donald Trump said so literally. The American people didn’t. They understood it. They understood that sometimes — when you have a conversation with people, whether it’s around the dinner table or at a bar — you’re going to say things, and sometimes you don’t have all the facts to back it up.”

NOVEMBER 2016: “THE SOUND OF FREEDOM”

161129212927-trump-romney-exlarge-16911.30 Scottie Nell Hughes, Trump spokesperson, on “The Diane Rehm Show”: “There’s no such thing, unfortunately, anymore, of facts.”
11.20 ny.eater.com: Trump and Reince Priebus take Mitt Romney to dinner at Jean-Georges: “The flagship restaurant of Alsatian-born chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten, who officially became a US citizen two years ago — only serves prix fixe menus, starting at $138 for three courses. A tasting menu is $218. That’s a lot of money, but it’s not quite as expensive as some of New York’s other acclaimed tasting menu establishments. For their starter courses, Trump and his conservative wolfpack had young garlic soup with sautéed frogs legs, and diver scallops with caramelized cauliflower. Trump and Priebus had beef as their main courses, while Romney went rogue and got lamb. All three guys got chocolate cake for dessert. Judging by the menu online, it looks like they got a modified version of the three-course prix fixe with an extra round of starters at Jean Hyphen Georges.
11.29 Donald Trump on Twitter: Nobody should be allowed to burn the American flag – if they do, there must be consequences – perhaps loss of citizenship or year in jail!1
11.28 New York Post: Trump’s campaign-manager-turned-transition aide, Kellyanne Conway appeared on a series of morning talk shows to blast Romney over his intense past criticism of her boss, saying he was “nothing but awful” and questioning whether he even voted for Trump. “There was the ‘Never Trump’ movement and then there was Governor Mitt Romney,” Conway told ABC’s “This Week.” “He went out of his way to hurt Donald Trump.” On CNN’ s “State of the Union,” Conway said Trump supporters “felt betrayed” that Romney was under consideration, and she attacked his credentials, wondering if he’d “been around the globe doing something on behalf of the United States of which we’re unaware.” Conway also told NBC’s “Meet the Press” that she was “just astonished at the breadth, the breathtaking volume and intensity of blow-back that I see,” citing social-media outrage and “particularly in private communications.”
11.28 Matt O’Brien in the Washington Post: whether it’s wages or taxes or entitlements, non-Trump Republicans want policies that mostly help those who don’t need much help. Ryan’s tax plan, of course, being another. It would give 99.6 percent of its total tax cuts to the top 1 percent of households. Populism this is not.
President-elect Donald Trump lists his administration’s priorities. Insofar as Trump campaigned as a different kind of Republican, one who would rebuild our infrastructure, wouldn’t touch Medicare, and would slap tariffs on companies that shipped jobs overseas, this sets up a potential showdown with his ostensible allies. Sure, Trump is on board with their big tax cut for the rich, but what about the rest of their agenda? Does he really want to get rid of Obamacare? Or voucherize Medicare? Or possibly privatize Social Security? And do they want to threaten a trade war against our own companies and other countries? In other words, will Trump change the Republican Party, or will the Republican Party change Trump?Nobody knows, not even them. But whatever happens, it seems doubtful that Trump will be able to get Democrats to help him pass his nontraditional Republican policies. Politics, after all, is zero sum. If you win an election, that means I’ve lost it. There’s no incentive for Democrats to make Trump a successful president, just like there wasn’t for Republicans with Obama. Not to mention that while Democrats might agree with some of Trump’s goals — among them, child care and infrastructure — they don’t agree with the way he wants to use tax breaks that would mostly benefit the rich and well-connected to achieve them. Which is to say that Trump might not have the leverage he thinks he does with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Ryan.
11.27 Fritz Weaver dies. On Shakespeare: ““When you play the great roles, you get spoiled and think you’ll have a whole career playing nothing but great roles, and of course you can’t,’’ he said. “You play a lot of junk most of the time. Television is junk, most of it. The old boy — he’s the one who makes the maximum challenge to the actor,’’ he said of Shakespeare. “That high charge on all the lines that he writes — you’ve got to measure up. You can’t just saunter into that stuff; you’ve got to bring your whole life into it.”
11.26 Fidel Castro dies
11.25 Rosalind S. Helderman and Tom Hamburger in The Washington Post: “The muddy new world that Trump’s election may usher in — a world in which his stature as the U.S. president, the status of his private ventures across the globe and his relationships with foreign business partners and the leaders of their governments could all become intertwined. In that world, Trump could personally profit if his election gives a boost to his brand and results in its expansion overseas. His political rise could also enrich his overseas business partners — and, perhaps more significantly, enhance their statuses in their home countries and alter long-standing diplomatic traditions by establishing them as new conduits for public business.”
11.25 Greg Sargent in the Washington Post: “If you care about whether the Democratic Party can rebuild itself anytime soon out of the smoking wreckage left behind by the disastrous 2016 elections, something very important is happening a lot sooner than you think. There are more than three dozen gubernatorial races taking place in the next two years. And they could do a tremendous amount to set the party on the path out of the wilderness in the Age of Donald Trump — with potentially significant national ramifications that could stretch well into the next decade, for instance by having a substantial influence over the redistricting of House seats, which could help determine control of the Lower Chamber in the 2020s.
11.25 Eric Chenoweth in the Washinton Post: “Americans continue to look away from this election’s most alarming story: the successful effort by a hostile foreign power to manipulate public opinion before the vote. U.S. intelligence agencies determined that the Russian government actively interfered in our elections. Russian state propaganda gave little doubt that this was done to support Republican nominee Trump, who repeatedly praised Vladimir Putin and excused the Russian president’s foreign aggression and domestic repression. Most significantly, U.S. intelligence agencies have affirmed that the Russian government directedthe illegal hacking of private email accounts of the Democratic National Committee and prominent individuals. The emails were then released by WikiLeaks, which has benefited financially from a Russian state propaganda arm, used Russian operatives for security and made clear an intent to harm the candidacy of Hillary Clinton.”
11.24 Craig Timberg in The Washington Post: “The flood of “fake news” this election season got support from a sophisticated Russian propaganda campaign that created and spread misleading articles online with the goal of punishing Democrat Hillary Clinton, helping Republican Donald Trump and undermining faith in American democracy, say independent researchers who tracked the operation.Russia’s increasingly sophisticated propaganda machinery — including thousands of botnets, teams of paid human “trolls,” and networks of websites and social-media accounts — echoed and amplified right-wing sites across the Internet as they portrayed Clinton as a criminal hiding potentially fatal health problems and preparing to hand control of the nation to a shadowy cabal of global financiers. The effort also sought to heighten the appearance of international tensions and promote fear of looming hostilities with nuclear-armed Russia.Two teams of independent researchers found that the Russians exploited American-made technology platforms to attack U.S. democracy at a particularly vulnerable moment, as an insurgent candidate harnessed a wide range of grievances to claim the White House.”
11.24 James McAuley and Griff WitteIf in The Washington Post: “The three decades that followed World War II coincided with the longest period of growth in Europe’s history, voters today see neither leftist economic policies nor the E.U. itself as necessarily worth preserving. Britain voted to leave the bloc in June, and separatist movements have spread across the continent to France, the Netherlands and elsewhere. [Europe’s traditional left is in a death spiral. Even if you don’t like the left, this is a problem.]
To historians, the unlikely abandonment of this former European bedrock is partly a function of its own achievements. “It was a failure by success,” said Timothy Snyder, a historian of 20th-century Europe at Yale University. “Once the left becomes not revolutionary but transformative, and once that transformation succeeds, people start taking it for granted. Europeans take for granted that they will have public education, free health care and social services,” he said. “And the left doesn’t get votes on this anymore.”
The marginalization of Europe’s center-left parties has been consistent across the continent, although their paths to the political wilderness have varied.”
11.24 Zachary Price in the Washington Post: “President-elect Donald Trump has pledged to rescind many of President Obama’s executive actions, including above all Obama’s controversial immigration programs. That will largely be Trump’s prerogative, but there are constitutional limits on how much he can undo. In particular, the Fifth Amendment’s due process clause prevents the new administration from seeking deportation based on information that immigrants themselves provided in applications for Obama’s programs. Under the 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, the administration provided work authorization and a promised reprieve from deportation to hundreds of thousands of immigrants who arrived in the United States without authorization as young children and met certain other criteria. There is no question that Trump can cancel this program and even resume enforcement against its intended beneficiaries, however heartless that would be. Yet recent news reports suggest that many fear he could go further and use information from these immigrants’ own DACA applications to launch a deportation sweep that targets them. That is something he cannot do. DACA applicants provided extensive information about themselves — their names, addresses and eligibility for the program — based on the government’s assurance that the proffered information would be “protected from disclosure” to immigration enforcement officials. These immigrants effectively documented their own unauthorized presence in the United States. The Constitution protects their reliance on the government’s good faith in soliciting such damaging information.
11.23 Frank Bruni in the Times: “Winning the most powerful office in the world did nothing to diminish his epic ache for adoration or outsize need to tell everyone how much he deserves it. For Trump, bragging is like breathing: continuous, spontaneous. He wants nothing more than for his audience to be impressed. . . . And when his audience is a group of people, like us, who haven’t clapped the way he’d like? He sands down his edges. Modulates his voice. Bends. That was perhaps the most interesting part of the meeting, the one that makes his presidency such a question mark. Will he tilt in whatever direction, and toward whichever constituency, is the surest source of applause? Is our best hope for the best Trump to be so fantastically adulatory when he’s reasonable that he’s motivated to stay on that course, lest the adulation wane?”
11.23 The New York Times: “It was alarming to confront how thinly thought through many of the president-elect’s stances actually are.’’
11.23 Trump: “In theory I could run my business perfectly and then run the country perfectly. There’s never been a case like this.’’
11.22 David Brooks in the Times: “Whether it’s reforming immigration or trade policy, [Trump’s] governing challenge is going to be astoundingly hard and complicated. Surely this is not the moment to get swept up in our own moral superiority, but rather to understand the specificity of the proposals he comes up with and to offer concrete amendments and alternatives to address the same problems. . . . Surely a little universal humility is in order. Orthodox Republicans spent the last 30 years talking grandly about entrepreneurialism while the social fabric around their core voters disintegrated. Maybe a little government action would have helped? The Democratic Party is losing badly on the local, state and national levels. If you were a football team you’d be 2-8. Maybe you can do better than responding with the sentiment: Sadly, the country isn’t good enough for us. Those of us in the opinion class have been complaining that Trump voters are post-truth, that they don’t have a respect for expertise. Well, the experts created a school system that doesn’t produce skilled graduates. The experts designed Obamacare exchanges that are failing. Maybe those of us in the professional class need to win back some credibility the old-fashioned way, with effective reform. There will be plenty of time to be disgusted with Trump’s bigotry, narcissism and incompetence. It’s tempting to get so caught up in his outrage du jour that you never have to do any self-examination. But let’s be honest: It wouldn’t kill us Trump critics to take a break from our never-ending umbrage to engage in a little listening.’’
11.22 The Washington Post: “At least 111 Trump companies have done business in 18 countries and territories across South America, Asia and the Middle East.” Included in this are deals that were launched during Trump’s candidacy that are tied to a hotel project in Saudi Arabia, which Trump has vowed to protect militarily.’’
11.22 Ron Klain in the Washington Post: “Trump’s plan is not really an infrastructure plan. It’s a tax-cut plan for utility-industry and construction-sector investors, and a massive corporate welfare plan for contractors. The Trump plan doesn’t directly fund new roads, bridges, water systems or airports, as did Hillary Clinton’s 2016 infrastructure proposal. Instead, Trump’s plan provides tax breaks to private-sector investors who back profitable construction projects. These projects (such as electrical grid modernization or energy pipeline expansion) might already be planned or even underway. There’s no requirement that the tax breaks be used for incremental or otherwise expanded construction efforts; they could all go just to fatten the pockets of investors in previously planned projects. Moreover, as others have noted, desperately needed infrastructure projects that are not attractive to private investors — municipal water-system overhauls, repairs of existing roads, replacement of bridges that do not charge tolls — get no help from Trump’s plan. And contractors? Well, they get a “10 percent pretax profit margin,” according to the plan. Combined with Trump’s sweeping business tax break, this would represent a stunning $85 billion after-tax profit for contractors — underwritten by the taxpayers.’’
11.21 The New York Post: “Donald Trump scolded media big shots during an off-the-record Trump Tower sit down on Monday. “It was like a f−−−ing firing squad,” one source said of the encounter. “Trump started with [CNN chief] Jeff Zucker and said, ‘I hate your network, everyone at CNN is a liar and you should be ashamed,’ ” the source said. “The meeting was a total disaster. The TV execs and anchors went in there thinking they would be discussing the access they would get to the Trump administration, but instead they got a Trump-style dressing-down,” the source added. A second source confirmed the fireworks. “Trump kept saying, ‘We’re in a room of liars, the deceitful, dishonest media who got it all wrong.’ He addressed everyone in the room, calling the media dishonest, deceitful liars. He called out Jeff Zucker by name and said everyone at CNN was a liar, and CNN was [a] network of liars,” the source said. “Trump didn’t say [NBC reporter] Katy Tur by name, but talked about an NBC female correspondent who got it wrong, then he referred to a horrible network correspondent who cried when Hillary lost who hosted a debate — which was Martha Raddatz, who was also in the room.”
11.20 A Message to students from Governor Andrew M. Cuomo
After the harsh and ugly rhetoric of the campaign, many of you are concerned about what might happen next.
Let me be clear: This is the State of New York, not a state of fear. We will not tolerate hate or racism.
We have been and always will be a place where people of many backgrounds have come to seek freedom and opportunity. Almost all who live here can trace their roots to someplace else.
We cherish our diversity. We find strength in our differences. Whether you are gay or straight, Muslim or Christian or Jewish or Buddhist, rich or poor, black or white or Latino or Asian, man or woman, cisgender or transgender, we respect all people in the State of New York.
The Statue of Liberty is a proud symbol of American values, and she stands in our harbor. We feel a special responsibility to make her offer of refuge and hope a reality every day.
As long as you are here, you are New Yorkers. You are members of our community, and we will stand up for you.
The State of New York has strict laws against hate crimes and discrimination and we fully and firmly enforce them. It is illegal in this state to target, harass or discriminate against a person because of his or her race, color, national origin, ancestry, gender, religion, religious practice, age, disability or sexual orientation. We are a tolerant people, and cannot and will not let our freedoms be undermined.
New Yorkers feel a particular affection for young immigrants. For centuries, our state has thrived on the energy and ambition of the young people seeking to build their lives here. Your intelligence, your creativity, your idealism enriches us all. You are welcome here.
11.19 Dan Balz in the Washington Post: “Viewed through any conventional lens, President-elect Donald Trump’s candidacy was improbable from start to finish. Today, two things about his victory seem to be in sharper focus: one, that Trump’s victory might best be understood as the success of the country’s first independent president, and second, that the Trump coalition may be even more uniquely his than President Obama’s has turned out to be. Think again about how he prevailed. There are a handful of major events during a general election that give the nominees a chance to showcase themselves, their judgment and their vision. One is the selection of a running mate. Another is the staging of the conventions. A third is performance in the debates. Hillary Clinton did better than Trump on all three tests, though Trump’s team believes the debates did not fall so decisively in her favor. Then there are the other factors that go into producing a successful candidacy. These include resources, the operations and mechanics of campaigning, and the skill with which candidates avoid mistakes and deal with the unexpected setbacks. Clinton raised more money than Trump. She had a larger number of paid staffers on the ground in the battleground states. She ran more television ads by far. He created needless controversies throughout the general election, while her problems were far fewer. Only in the final days did he seem surer of himself. In other words, Trump came out the loser on virtually every aspect of how campaigns are usually evaluated. Yet today he is staffing his administration and Clinton is still absorbing the brutal shock of having lost a race she believed was hers.’’
11.19 The Atlantic: “Hail Trump, hail our people, hail victory!” That’s how Richard B. Spencer saluted more than 200 attendees on Saturday, gathered at the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington, D.C., for the annual conference of the National Policy Institute, which describes itself as “an independent organization dedicated to the heritage, identity, and future of people of European descent in the United States, and around the world.”Spencer has said his dream is “a new society, an ethno-state that would be a gathering point for all Europeans,” and has called for “peaceful ethnic cleansing.” For most of the day, a parade of speakers discussed their ideology in relatively anodyne terms, putting a presentable face on their agenda. But after dinner, when most journalists had already departed, Spencer rose and delivered a speech to his followers dripping with anti-Semitism, and leaving no doubt as to what he actually seeks. He referred to the mainstream media as “Lügenpresse,” a term he said he was borrowing from “the original German”; the Nazis used the word to attack their critics in the press. “America was until this past generation a white country designed for ourselves and our posterity,” Spencer said. “It is our creation, it is our inheritance, and it belongs to us.” The audience offered cheers, applause, and enthusiastic Nazi salutes.
a9c2c88618216ac09b99af2ef3d84a71711.18 Brandon Victor Dixon, after a performance of Hamilton, to Vice President-elect Pence: ““Vice President-elect Pence, we welcome you, and we truly thank you for joining us here at ‘Hamilton: An American Musical.’ We really do,” Dixon said to further applause. “We, sir, we are the diverse America who are alarmed and anxious that your new administration will not protect us, our planet, our children, our parents, or defend us and uphold our inalienable rights, sir. But we truly hope this show has inspired you to uphold ourAmerican values and work on behalf of all of us. All of us. Again, we truly thank you truly for seeing this show, this wonderful American story told by a diverse group of men and women of different colors, creeds and orientations.” As Dixon spoke, members of the audience booed Pence. “I nudged my kids and reminded them that’s what freedom sounds like,” Pence said. “The Theater must always be a safe and special place,” Trump tweeted. “The cast of Hamilton was very rude last night to a very good man, Mike Pence. Apologize!”
11.18 Sharon Jones dies
11.17 James Kwak in The Baseline Scenario: There is a raging debate right now over the identity of the Democratic Party. I don’t to argue the specifics of that debate right now. But if we want to compete, we need more than a new, focus-grouped brand that can win 51% of the popular vote in a general election. We need an ideology that can mobilize millions of new voters and motivate thousands of people to run in races for school board, town council, state assembly, and state senate, all over the country. We need a long-term political movement, not a quadrennial scramble to demonize the other guy just enough so voters pick our guy.”
11.17 Greg Popovich: “As I said, it would be great if he [Trump] made some statements to all of the groups he disparaged, to bring us all together, and to allay fears, because there are a lot of fearful people, and for good reason. But rather than doing that, he inflamed it even more with that appointment [of Bannon]. It’s kind of ironic. I wonder sometimes if he made all those statements, he certainly whipped up the fear-mongering and emotion in that base. But it’s going to be ironic because now a lot of the things he told them he’s going to do he’s already started to walk back a little bit. It’s sort of like, did he use them all to get elected, and thus [to win] again? He’s pretty good at that. You can’t believe anything that comes out of his mouth. It changes day to day, depending on the situation and what he needs at the moment.’’
11.17 Stephen Hawking: “We must … continue to go into space for the future of humanity. I don’t think we will survive another 1,000 years without escaping beyond our fragile planet.’’
11.17 The Washington Post: “Celinda Lake, the renowned Democratic pollster, is very angry that her party failed to lay out an economic vision to contrast with Trump’s. . . . “Why would the Democrats stubbornly not have an economic message?” she said. “Sixty-seven white papers don’t make an economic message. Thirty-seven bills you’re going to introduce in the first 100 days do not make an economic message. What we as Democrats really have to deal with is the fact that we didn’t have an economic message. … Someone at a meeting I was just at said, ‘Well, this was the biggest con ever.’ Maybe. But one of the things we know in our business is that facts don’t matter. If the facts don’t fit the frame, people reject the facts – not the frame. … When we sound like we have a tin ear, we end up with Donald Trump as president.”
11.16 Eliot H. Cohen in the Washington Post: “In a normal transition to a normal administration, there’s always disorder. There are the presidential friends and second cousins, the flacks and the hangers-on who flame out in the first year or two. There are the bad choices — the abusive bosses, the angry ideologues and the sheer dullards. You accept the good with the bad and know that there will be stupid stuff going on, particularly at the beginning. Things shake out. Even if you are just blocking errors, it is a contribution. This time may be different. Trump was not a normal candidate, the transition is not a normal transition, and this will probably not be a normal administration. The president-elect is surrounding himself with mediocrities whose chief qualification seems to be unquestioning loyalty. He gets credit for becoming a statesman when he says something any newly elected president might say (“I very much look forward to dealing with the president in the future”) — and then reverts to tweeting against demonstrators and the New York Times. By all accounts, his ignorance, and that of his entourage, about the executive branch is fathomless. It’s not even clear that he accepts that he should live in the White House rather than in his gilt-smeared penthouse in New York
11.15 Robert Kwak, the Baseline Scenario: “We progressives tend to be rather smug about the belief that our policies (infrastructure spending, social insurance, expanded family leave, universal pre-K, etc.) will do a better job helping poor people than typical conservative policies (cut taxes and regulations and let the invisible hand do its magic). Where we have generally failed is in convincing ordinary people, not policy wonks, that our vision will create a better society for them and their families—or perhaps that we have a vision at all.
This is hard to do, and I don’t have a simple answer for how to do it. But it is something that the right did extraordinarily well during their decades in the wilderness after World War II. It was an article of faith among Hayek, Friedman, Buckley, and the old conservative warriors that ideas mattered—that they could only gain political power by undermining the intellectual and political near-consensus around the New Deal. Part of their success lay in transforming their economic policy program—small government, low taxes, union-busting—into a powerful ideology that could appeal to people in all classes. Ronald Reagan’s message that government was the problem, and that the solution lay in unleashing the energy of the free American people, was and remains compelling even to people who have been the victims of Reaganite policies. More generally, the idea that markets are the best way to solve all problems has become so completely baked into contemporary discourse that it is no longer seen as an ideology. In the battle of ideas, progressives have been on the back foot ever since Reagan, which is probably one reason why we like to retreat to the realm of policy detail, where we can revel in our technocratic superiority. But somehow, as Rodrik points out, “they need to convince the electorate that it is their interests they have at heart – not those of bankers or of large corporations.” That could also take thirty-five years. But we have to begin somewhere.”
11.15 Jonathan Rauch in The Atlantic: “If you accept the distinction between a problem and a crisis, then there is, I think, only one place where Obama can be fairly accused of leaving behind a crisis: the cauldron of pathologies known as Syria, Iraq, and ISIS. Ding him if you must, but a few reality checks are in order. Even allowing, for argument’s sake, that Obama mismanaged the situation in Syria and Iraq, he has had two meaningful successes. First, ISIS is on its heels. This fall, before a coalition assault on Mosul, ISIS had lost almost half its territory in Iraq and a quarter of its territory in Syria. Second, Obama has resisted being sucked into the conflict militarily. As a result, Iraq-Syria-ISIS is a major crisis for the region, but, unlike Vietnam in 1969 or Watergate in 1974 or inflation in 1981 or the Great Recession in 2009, it is not a major crisis for the United States. The score, then, is not quite zero crises. But it is about as close to zero as modern presidents come. Obama’s successor has a lot to thank him for.’’
11.14 Gwen Ifill dies
11.14 Stephanie Benton: “He said to tell you that was a beautiful piece of work.’’
11.13 Leon Russell dies