In a fast-follow-up to an item I recently posted, we see the signature line of the president-elect's best known public persona, the boss on The Apprentice, is used against an errant member of the transition team, to wit, Michael Flynn, Jr., is fired from the transition team for using Twitter to spread a fake news story. Not that there's anything intrinsically wrong with that... when The Donald himself does it, of course.
On this 75th anniversary of "the day that will live in infamy, America's favorite "too much information" reporters at "538" tell us that there are only around 700,000 WWII veterans still around to note the anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor, and "the Greatest Generation" is dying off at the rate of 400 or so a day; if you were 18 at the end of the war in 1945, you would be about 89 or so now. Something to think about, amidst our current "truth-challenged" era.
That, of course, and how the New York Observer, owned by Jared Kushner (yes, that Jared Kushner-- the Donald's son-in-law and tacit chief advisor) ran an editorial calling for an FBI crackdown on, naturally, anti-Trump protests. First Amendment: you're fired.
Item: Michael Flynn, Jr., the son of incoming National Security Advisor (and retired general) Michael Flynn, who sports a Trump transition team e-mail address (and evidently performs services for said team) is evidently a connoisseur and spreader of White supremacist conspiracy theories and is quite active on White supremacist media platforms. Among the conspiracies he has peddled are gems such as Obama's alleged Kenyan birth, or recently, the Comet Ping Pong Pizza fiasco; he is an aficionado of the platform "Gab," which he has tried to get his father to join.
Item: At least one Texas elector has "gone rogue" and writes in the Grey Lady why he will not be casting his coveted 1 of 538 for Donald Trump, a man he believes unfit for the presidency.
Item: The President-Elect meets with former Vice President Al Gore to discuss the issue of climate change. Seriously: that Al Gore. Damned if I can figure it out; No More Mister Nice Blog posits this is about branding... Ivanka's branding. My view? The Donald tells us he doesn't believe man-made climate change is real... but why should we believe him on this, or on anything else he says? He has no reality... ,maybe he's genuinely interested in hearing about it? That... or the branding thing, of course...
Item: A mistrial was declared in the case of Police Officer Michael Slager for the killing of unarmed Black man Walter Scott. Video evidence shows the North Charleston, SC officer shooting Mr. Scott in the back while Scott was running away from a traffic stop. A jury could not reach a unanimous verdict; perhaps fatally shooting a Black man is simply not a crime in the perception of a goodly part of our citizenry (or, evidently, at least one juror)?
Item: Vice President Joe Biden suggests ("predicts", actually) that he will run for President in 2020, when he will be 77. The president elect will be 74 by then... why not Joe Biden? Say what you will about Bernie Sanders, but Joe Biden would have wiped the floor with Donald Trump, had he run this year. Just saying...
This has been... Sons of anarchy.
We'll start, as, troublingly, I have a number of times before, right here in Brooklyn, where bias/hate incidents of this kind are on the rise, in this case, a White man harassing a hijab-wearing Muslim off-duty police officer (decorated for having rescued two people from a burning building) and her son in Bay Ridge.
Don Donald has promised "retribution" on American companies that leave our shores in ways not satisfactory to him, whatever that means. Why can't we all get along? Unstated, btw, are that the majority of Indiana jobs of the Carrier corporation, i.e., 1300 out of 2400, will be moving to Mexico anyway... he "saved" 1,100 jobs at a cost of roughly $6,000 per job for the taxpayers of Indiana. Such a deal.
And, as feared, the Taiwan phone call thing may have been more calculated and orchestrated by the stupid and/or crazy (mostly stupid) people that Trump has surrounded himself with (starting with himself) than first thought. The president-elect (gak) launches his usual rhetorical attacks via Twitter on a nation that represents 20% of the world's people, 15% of the world's GDP, some unknown but really large share of the United States's debt, a wildly large share of strategic resources necessary for our high-tech existence, the world's largest standing military and, of course, lots and lots of nuclear weapons... yes, that China, With the usual Trumpian articulateness:
“Did China ask us if it was OK to devalue their currency (making it hard for our companies to compete), heavily tax our products going into…their country (the U.S. doesn't tax them) or to build a massive military complex in the middle of the South China Sea? I don't think so!”
Mr. Trump fancies himself a brilliant negotiator, of course; generally, his tactic is simply to try to crush a counterpart who he believes is in an inferior bargaining position (usually by refusing to pay his just debts, and forcing the other party into litigation, often litigation he commences as part of this tactic.) In the United States/China relationship, the United States is not necessarily the party in a superior bargaining position. Indeed, the Trans Pacific Partnership, with its almost infinite number of flaws, was, nonetheless, intended as part of a strategic economic encirclement and box out of China (hence China, the second largest GDP in the world, was conveniently left out of it). But the Donald, of course, fiercely opposed TPP and advised that it is dead on arrival. But at the same time, he still thinks he can, somehow, muscle China around, as well as abuse its sensitivities on Taiwan (because the stupid/crazy people around him, evidently, think this is a good idea), notwithstanding that American presidents of both parties (more likely Republican, actually) maintained the strategic ambiguity for decades because it is a complicated situation that stupid people and toys like Twitter accounts can only fuck up.
Alrightie then. I have suggested on innumerable times that his Twitter access should be taken away from him. And maybe some other toys, like his telephone. I understand that no one is listening to me. I get that. But, just in case anyone is...
So why might the Trump administration want to punt on this major opportunity by not submitting a budget?
First, it would allow Trump to avoid the complaints that always come from those the budget proposals would harm by denying them a platform to criticize the White House. No proposals on paper would mean nothing to disparage.
Second, it would allow the White House to avoid having to say how much its taxing and spending proposals will increase the federal deficit and national debt.
Given that many estimates put the likely annual deficit from the Trump campaign plans at $1 trillion or more and that the total increase in the national debt before the 2020 election could easily equal the borrowing during the first 4 years of the Obama administration, the likelihood that this is a major consideration should not be downplayed. Just think of the value of not having to publish a table that for the first time shows those very high numbers, and not having to answer to the House Freedom Caucus.
Third, it would also eliminate the need for the administration to publish a table with the very optimistic GDP growth promised during the campaign, the high interest rates many economists think are coming and Trump’s unrealistic assumptions on jobs and unemployment.
Fourth, it would eliminate the need for the House and Senate to hold hearings on the Trump budget. That would expedite Congress’ consideration of its 2018 budget resolution and the reconciliation process that is widely expected to be used to accelerate the passage of many of Trump’s and the House and Senate GOP’s priorities.
Fifth, although there have been a few rumors about possible directors of the Office of Management and Budget, almost a month after Election Day no one has yet been named. That almost certainly will delay the development of the Trump 2018 budget until almost the summer and the GOP congressional leadership might not want to wait that long to begin its work on the all-important 2018 budget resolution and reconciliation.
Finally, because the White House and Congress will be preoccupied until around the end of March with a budget resolution, reconciliation bill and appropriations for 2017 and a new debt ceiling increase, Trump may not have time for the 2018 budget that would have to be developed at that same time. Given that schedule, plus the fact that it will take some time to get the Trump cabinet and subcabinet confirmed, the White House may think that not submitting a 2018 budget and just working with Congress will be its best chance to be successful.
I will come back to something Michael Moore observed: a significant element of the electorate in the all important Upper Midwest (the states that gave the Donald the presidency) just wants to blow up the whole system.
It seems that, ahem, Mr. Trump is just giving the people what they want.
Good. And hard.
Item: Perhaps auditioning for the reality show/game show: Who wants not to be a cabinet secretary, putative Veterans Affairs Secretary candidate Sarah Palin pours Alaska-cold cold water on her chances by suggesting that the much-touted-by-Trump taxpayer bailout to keep Carrier jobs in Indiana smacks of crony capitalism (her actual post even used the word "socialism.") Good luck, Sarah. As our reigning beat-poet-of-the-far-right, at least I will always think of you as a national treasure, even if that cabinet thing falls through.
Item: Will the Donald's actual stupidity and ignorance save him from a clear diplomatic blunder of a direct communication with the notional leader of Taiwan? Taiwan operates as a de facto independent nation, but both the People's Republic of China and many in Taiwan (including the long-time-ruling Kuomintang party) regard Taiwan as part of one unified China as far as "legal" status, an ambiguous state recognized by the United States since, oh, relations with the mainland normalized in 1979. Taiwan's current ruler (and her party) is more "independence" minded, which has annoyed China and soured cross-Taiwan-Strait relations. Some hard-right Republicans have always questioned the official ambiguity, and are delighted with Trump's move, while others (the people with actual knowledge of actual world conditions) believe this upsets decades of diplomacy. Whether gaffe, "diplomatic incident," or just Donald being Donald, what's good for the Trump Organization is Good for America... good and hard.
Item: Putative Education Secretary (and Amway heiress... and Blackwater honcho Erik Prince's sister) Betsy DeVos suggested (like, a long time ago, so what difference does it make, right?) that her work on education reform is a means to "advance God's kingdom." Or something:
During a 2001 meeting of “The Gathering,” an annual summit for wealthy Christians, Betsy DeVos and her husband Dick DeVos were interviewed on stage about their work promoting the use of government funds on private and religious schools. Betsy DeVos likened her work to the battles in the biblical region known as Shephelah, where David and Goliath were said to have fought.
“Our desire is to be in that Shephelah, and to confront the culture in which we all live today in ways that will continue to help advance God’s Kingdom, but not to stay in our own faith territory,” she said.
Item: At least one Trump voter has already realized and publicly acknowledged that she voted to cut her own throat by doing so (congratulations geniuses... it wasn't like a Hillary win would be "good..." this election was about trying to avoid, you know... bad things of heretofore unimaginable proportion... and then some)... in the case of California's Teena Colebrook, this was because she was aggressively abused during a foreclosure by OneWest Bank, run by incoming-Treasury-Secretary (and longtime Goldman Sachs-er) Steve Mnuchin... she now says she wishes she hadn't voted. Well, it should be some solace to Ms. Colebrook that, as a Californian, her vote never matters anyway.
Ms. Colebrook had to leave the Los Angeles area and now lives with her boyfriend in much smaller San Luis Obispo, CA, where she volunteers at a homeless shelter (acknowledging that she might have ended up there.) I don't know... what did you think would happen when you knowingly voted for a con-man, Ms. Colebrook? This is a con-man whose supporters now tell us that his compulsive lying streak (actually, some say that, as a bullshit artist, he's even worse than a liar) has led his close surrogate Scottie Nell Hughes to suggest that "There's no such thing anymore, unfortunately, as facts".
Maybe those of us in the elite coastal bubbles of the I-95 and I-5 corridors should acknowledge that, while many of us lead prosperous jet-setting lives, much of the interior of this country is severely hurting, and a campaign fought on personalities (while writing off those same hurting people as racist, bigoted, misogynistic and ignorant... Brexit anyone?) would lead to... well... exactly where we are? At least Chris Cilizza of WaPo thinks the Trump cabinet picks are sorta good news...
This has been... National Treasures. Enjoy the weekend. I hear winter is coming.
This piece from The Hill, suggests that big-money Democratic donors feel as if the money they gave to Hillary Clinton was just burned (it was). The "if only" part suggests, wistfully, that perhaps no rational person will ever give the Clintons another dime-- for anything, ever again. Not a speech engagement, not a campaign contribution, not a "donation" to the "Foundation"... nothing. The Clinton Gang already has enough money for several lifetimes, thanks... no need to keep feeding that particular (Democratic-Party-killing) beast. As if...
Then again, there are those who suggest that, as some sort of weird peace offering, Hillary should be offered a position in the Trump cabinet... given that the Donald is assembling the richest cabinet in history, I guess the question is... is Hillary rich enough?
Who knows? The only thing we know for sure is that Wall Street Wins Again!
We are shocked-- shocked-- to find that Steve Mnuchin, a former Goldman Sachs investment banker (related to a number of other GSers, btw), has been named as putative Treasury Secretary by the president elect.
Oh... who can forget this one:
Yeah... how about that?
Today's version of "let's focus on some seemingly off the wall crap so that you don't look at the actual malfeasance I'm performing right in front of you," our esteemed President-Elect suggests that he "won" the entirely irrelevant popular vote, you see, because "millions of illegal voters" voted for his opponent (even as he chides his opponents for demanding a recount in the states with the closest margins) all while questioning the legitimacy of an election he won; our friend Joe Gandelman has a round-up.
Here's the thing: while the Donald has invited the chattering classes to take the bait and note that this is consistent with his penchant for peddling baseless conspiracy theories that just happen to support his narcissistic world view, what's actually going on is that he is basically (1) stocking his incoming government with extremists and rich people (and often extremist rich people), most of whom are Beltway Insiders, (2) declining his daily intel briefings while claiming to talk directly to world leaders (and "receiving intelligence from a number of sources"), and of course, (3) steadfastly pursuing the endless, global-sized business conflicts of interest (documented by the Grey Lady) ... [Boing Boing follows up and also notes the sleight of hand point.]
In short, we have a small-time grifter with small hands in the rather shocking position of being able to trade national policy to advance his own business interests (yes, I know this is what Hillary Clinton was accused of... ain't American great?)... and it appears that he is doing exactly that, complete with refusing to place his assets in a blind trust and having his business heir apparent (that would be his daughter Ivanka) sitting in on transition meetings, thereby assuring that his governmental policies (whatever they might be) harmonize with his business interests.
What can we do about it?, you ask. With this "crazy like a fox"... president-elect... keep your eyes on the prize, or to the point, "follow the money." God knows that's what he's doing.
Update: The really really big thing the Donald wants you not to think about is "the Emoluments Clause," which, ethics counsel for the last two presidents (including the Republican one) says requires Mr. Trump to sell his businesses and place the proceeds in a blind trust, or be in immediate violation of the Constitution from day one. Since "enforcement" would lie in the hands of the Republican Congress... well, you say Constitution, and I say "emoluments e-schmoluments."
Today's post-Trump-election happy-gram comes to us from California, where a number of mosques received evidently threatening letters hearkening to do to Muslims what Hitler did to the Jews, and praising notional leader Donald "Herr Drumpf" Trump. Wow, And this from Daily Beast , citing The Emperor's New Clothes, notes that a feckless media is already falling over itself to normalize Trump-ism.
When/if the "Muslim Registry" gets going, I, and, I hope, my family and everyone I know (including, well, you) will register as well, whether you self-identify as Muslim or not. Evil cannot be cooperated with; like the Danes who all donned yellow stars during the Nazi occupation, resistance is not futile.
Our nation has decided to express its pique towards a haughty and unresponsive Establishment in a uniquely self-destructive way... we as individuals (the majority of whom who voted, voted against this)... simply do not have to cooperate.
Herr Drumpf himself, of course, does not (and apparently never did) follow the rules of polite and civilized society (while he perhaps, but not necessarily, violates written laws); there is a huge chasm between actual law-breaking and simply not cooperating. In this case, I suggest we follow Il Douché's example, and show him just how much fun it will be to govern a populace that has no interest in cooperating in its "governance."
Say what you will about Castro, the world's longest serving communist leader, a man who was both repressive and innovative-- who put his nation in the position of having to "go it alone" against an American embargo, but proved it could do it (with impressive feats in healthcare, literacy and environmental sustainability-- all by necessity), but almost no one aware of him does not have strong feelings. I felt at the time, and still do, that President Obama's decision to reopen diplomatic relations with Cuba was one of the signal achievements of his presidency-- our isolation of the island nation, even decades after the end of the Cold War-- was just unjustifiable.
No matter. Fidel did manage to hang on long enough to ensure that just one more Republican got just enough Cuban-American votes to win Florida, and hence the presidency. Perhaps ensuring that Castro got the last laugh, after all. Gracias, el Jefe. Muchas gracias.
I'll give you this thematic piece of E.J.Dionne from WaPo called "How to Prevent Thanksgiving Armageddon" implying that "right-thinking people" should "gently chide" Trump supporters on issues such as the Donald's business conflicts of interest, apparent support of racism (and the clear support of him by racists), and the man's personal vindictiveness... far be it for me, but I'm inclined to replay what they said after the 2000 election ("get over it") a phrase I wish we would have heard after the 2008 election. While I wish Jill Stein well in her recount efforts, I think we have an outcome. And as I expected, we have the Donald signalling us in his personnel moves that he will select the mix of party regulars, party maniacs and rich Republican donors (not to mention Trump loyalists) that we would expect him to do. Dark times are coming-- but not dramatically darker than what we should be used to by now.
It's not as if this was a good versus evil election, folks: it was an evil versus really evil election, and really evil happened to win by the vagaries of which votes counted (flyover country) and which did not (the coastal elites... from which WaPo, Grey Lady, etc. live out their lives in the bubble). The scary part for me is that the White-supremacist/nativist/racist/misogynist/homophobic/anti-semitic strain in this country, that's surprisingly large, might feel that it has open season to act out, evidence for which has already been showing itself. And the only reaction is to accept none of it without an overwhelming response: not one little thing.
BTW... I agree with Rebecca Traister that blaming Clinton supporters for her loss is a mistake, the reason is Clinton herself. She was a horrible candidate who garnered no actual human connection with anyone outside the billionaire Hollywood/Hamptons bubble, and who, despite being unbelievably vulnerable in a "character election," chose to run one anyway out of her own ego. What a surprise when millions of people (I'm talking Obama voters) who felt screwed by neo-liberal Clintonian policies took a chance on an "outsider," even an extremely evil one. May this be the last election in which we ever even hear her name. Or else... we can blame who we want... we will just lose again.
The hell with avoiding Armageddon: some of us are itching for a fight. In our family, that probably involves talking about Israel ❤️ Trump... just saying...
TD Brother has often quipped that whenever something truly inane takes over the news cycle, invariably, something else is going on that the power players would rather be downplayed in favor of trivial crap, such as this weekend's Trump-kerfuffles over purported insults to His Highness by Saturday Night Live-- a show that legitimized His Highness in the first place by giving him and no other candidate a coveted guest spot-- and of course, an "insult" to Mike Pence no less, who btw was cool with the event, by the cast of Hamilton... Juan Cole treats us to at least five actual stories that the Trump people and their media allies (or at least media useful idiots) didn't press:
1. Trump charged some students as much as $30,000 a year for tuition at his so-called university, in return for which they got nothing of value. The Better Business Bureau gave the “university” a D-minus rating. As George Takei of Star Trek fame tweeted, Trump probably made $150 million with this educational fraud, even after paying the settlement.... @GeorgeTakei 5,000 defrauded students, at $35K each = $175mil. Settled for $25mil, walks away with $150mil. This is our crooked Prez. 2:50 PM - 20 Nov 2016 .... What Mr. Takei did not say is that even the $25 mn. settlement can be taken off Trump’s taxes! This is the man who ran on lowering student debt— but who created debt for 5,000 students, and useless debt (many indebted students at least do have a real degree).
2. A Neo-Nazi conference was held in Washington this weekend to celebrate Trump’s win, in which there were actually “Heils” shouted out from the audience and anti-Jewish statements were made. These white supremacists go by the name alternative right or alt-right by which they mean that they are to the right of the conservatives. The corporate media, in accordance with the project of normalizing Trumpism, has been willing to refer to them by this term that they themselves chose for propaganda purposes. But they are just white supremacists with a nostalgia for 1930s Germany.
3. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) threatened to take the incoming Trump administration to court if they engaged in waterboarding, which is included in international law as a form of torture. Trump ran on a platform of using torture, and at one point promised to bring back waterboarding. His nominee as head of the Central Intelligence Agency, Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS), has said he does not consider waterboarding to be torture, and affirmed that it is constitutional. (The Bill of Rights forbids cruel and unusual punishment, and the US is signatory to treaties and instruments that ban torture).
4. Attorney-General nominee Sen. Jeff Sessions is linked to a galaxy of far right wing anti-immigration groups
5. Members of the Israeli cabinet are coming out in favor of white supremacist Steve Bannon, the new White House propagandist under Trump. Bannon’s Breitbart.com and the Neofascist tendency it represents have often engaged openly in bashing Jews. (Bannon says that Breitbart is an organ of the “alt-right,” the Neofascist strain referenced in “2” above). Like many white nationalists, however, they support Israeli squatters against brown Palestinians, and this is the basis on which PM Binyamin Netanyahu’s extremist cabinet is willing to give them a pass. The term “Antisemite” is now reserved by the Zionist right wing only for human rights critics of the theft of Palestinian land and resources, and is not applied to actual bigots who are prejudiced against, you know, like . . . Jews. This development is not exactly shocking, since the Likud Party’s “revisionist” Zionist has roots in the 1930s mass political movements and is influenced by fascist thinking of that era.
As Trump is a master showman, this sort of sleight of hand comes easily and naturally; we will be quite used to it in the coming years, to be sure.
A quickly organized public rally took place yesterday in Brooklyn's tiny Adam Yauch Park, nestled next to the Brooklyn Queens Expressway, decrying the recent defacement of the park with swastikas and the words "Go Trump" (as I recently noted); I was out there with many of my neighbors... note the sign that says "Hey Trump where's your anti-Nazi tweet?"
Meanwhile, a swastika showed up on an elementary school near Denver, CO. The President-Elect could condemn incidents such as these (possibly at the behest of his influential Jewish son-in-law), but we won't hold our breath; instead, he is directing his ire at the cast and producers of Broadway smash Hamilton, and otherwise, filling out his incoming Administration with figures that are just delighting the alt-right (or should I say, alt-White?)
These are clearly dark times; pretending otherwise will only make them darker. The last fifteen years would seem to be a mere dress-rehearsal. This is no longer a drill (just in case you thought that massive, total electronic surveillance, indefinite detention ,and perpetual war were some kind of academic exercise). An unbelievably broad and powerful means-of-autocracy has now been handed to someone who has shown no evidence of either the discipline or character not to abuse the crap out of them. Let's not pretend otherwise. You don't have to be Muslim, or Mexican, or female, or of color to be threatened... just a person of character and good will. We're going to test the tensile strength of our Constitution and institutions of civil society (what's left of them, anyway)... where will you stand?
Stately Dog Manor, it seems, is near the epicenter of something... perhaps a mile from Hillary's campaign headquarters when they were operating, A politically-inspired assault just a few blocks from here. And now the defacement, complete with swastikas no less, of a nearby park named after Adam Yauch-- one of the Beastie Boys-- perhaps 800 yards from SDM.
"Make America Hate Again" was one of the mocking variations of the Donald's primary campaign slogans suggested by Hillary (at least at her convention.) It does seem to be all too prophetic, certainly in what was once the peaceable kingdom of this part of Brooklyn, anyway.
To quote the Donald himself... sad.
To Mrs. TD. There... something nice!