1. says

    [It’s bound to happen one day – a moment of fatigue or distraction will throw my humanity into doubt.]

    Another of several cabinet nominees who shouldn’t be anywhere near government is Betsy DeVos.

    questioned by Tim Kaine
    questioned by Maggie Hassan
    questioned by Bernie Sanders
    a longer discussion on All In with Chris Hayes

    And then there was the comment about needing guns in some schools due to “potential grizzlies”…

  2. says

    Walter Shaub at OGE is responding admirably to the challenge he’s facing, including a public warning from Reince Priebus about how he “ought to be more careful.” Here’s his response to Jason Chaffetz’ demand that he appear in a closed hearing about his office’s recent actions. His letter seems to make clear that he has the law on his side – his public statements are not just appropriate within his mandate but actually called for as part of his office’s “Mission and Responsibilities”: as he says, “A core function of OGE is to educate the public about government ethics and ‘promote transparency of the executive branch ethics program by raising the visibility of the ethics program and OGE, and by ensuring that ethics information is publicly available’.” This is also what the public rightly expects, and Chaffetz’ and Priebus’ shadiness is becoming increasingly evident to all.

  3. Ogvorbis: A bear of very little brains. says

    Apparently, grizzly attacks in schools must be very common: DeVos wants guns in schools. And the reason she gives?

    “I will refer back to Sen. Enzi and the school he is talking about in Wyoming. I think probably there, I would imagine there is probably a gun in a school to protect from potential grizzlies,” [DeVos] said. (from CNN)

    Well, yeah. How many people, in or out of school, were killed by grizzly bears last year? Well, not sure about last year, but according to Wikipedia , from 2010 to through June of 2016, 11 people were killed by brown bears in all of North America. The attacks happened in the Shoshone, Gallatin, Bridger-Teton National Forests, Yellowstone National Park, Chichigof Island in Alaska, one in Alberta and one in Northwest Territories.

    So. The fear of brown bear (grizzly bear) attacks means we should have guns in schools. Which will lead to how many more gruesome and grizzly school killings?

    Trump wants DeVos to head the Department of Education? Why?

    Oh. Right. Destruction of public education, destroying the teacher’s unions, funelling money to for-profit and for-prophet ‘education’ companies . . .

  4. says

    I recommend Ogvobis’ comment #500 in the previous chapter of this thread. The personal story highlighted the expectations some people have when it comes to Trump and deregulation of business.

    Also recommended, SC’s essay about Alfred Hugenberg in Hitler’s rise. See comment 5.

    In other news, Trump is preparing lies about his inauguration preemptively. From Steve Benen:

    […] the president-elect spoke at a pre-inauguration event last night […]

    “I also want to tell you, you know, so many people are talking about what’s going on and now they’ve just announced we’re going to have record crowds coming.”

    As a rule, whenever Donald Trump uses the word “they,” look out. In this case “they’ve” announced “record crowds” are coming to the Republican’s inauguration, but there’s been no such announcement. “They” don’t appear to exist outside of Trump’s imagination.

    […] What we’re witnessing is a preemptive falsehood: the president-elect is laying the groundwork for an untrue claim about his inauguration that Trump seems very likely to make soon after he takes the oath of office.

    Indeed, he’s already told related falsehoods, such as, ”All the dress shops are sold out in Washington. It’s hard to find a great dress for this inauguration.” This wasn’t remotely true, but Trump made the claim anyway.

    And speaking of false claims, CNN reported that two senior Trump transition officials said yesterday that the president-elect wrote his own draft of his inaugural address.[…]

    Look, if a politician and his/her team are going to make bold claims, they have to be at least somewhat plausible. In this case,Donald Trump didn’t write his own books. He has literally no background in speechwriting. He’s never demonstrated any real interest in, or appreciation for, the written word. His communication skills are … how do I put this gently … outside the norm. […]

  5. says

    An update on the latest iteration of Trump demanding credit for creating or saving jobs he had nothing to do with.

    General Motors confirmed yesterday that it’s making another major investment in domestic manufacturing, which will save or create about 1,500 jobs. [Trump takes credit.]

    […] GM officials stressed that the latest moves were in the works for months and, in some cases several years, and were not a reaction to criticism by president-elect Donald Trump. […]

    Investment decisions of this magnitude and involving changes to manufacturing operations are typically the result of several years of study and require months of consideration by a company’s board of directors, noted David Cole, director-emeritus of the Center for Automotive Research, in Ann Arbor, Michigan, in a discussion this week. That would suggest that the latest GM investment project began as far back as 2014.

    [Trump complained on Twitter that NBC News’ report was “biased.”[…] He said any reports that fail to acknowledge Trump’s role in recently announced job creation are “FAKE NEWS” — the all-caps appeared in the original — adding that the jobs “came back because of me!” […]

    The president-elect’s fragile ego notwithstanding, the relevant facts are plain and unbiased. As a Slate report explained with additional details, there’s literally nothing to connect Trump to GM’s announcement. […]


    From Steve Benen, here is a list of Trump’s past lies about job creation:

    […] Jan. 9, 2017: Trump demanded credit for a Fiat-Chrysler announcement about new investments in Michigan and Ohio. In reality, the announcement was part of a project the company initiated a year ago.

    Jan. 3, 2017: Trump demanded credit for a Ford decision about scrapping plans for a new assembly plant in Mexico. In reality, the announcement “did not actually reverse the central decision the automaker announced last April.”

    Dec. 28, 2016: Trump demanded credit for expanded Sprint hiring. In reality, those jobs were announced long before Election Day.

    Dec. 7, 2016: Trump demanded credit for a domestic Softbank investment. In reality, the investment was initiated months earlier.

    Nov. 17, 2016: Trump demanded credit for Ford’s decision to keep a Lincoln SUV plant in Kentucky. In reality, Ford hadn’t intended to close the Kentucky plant in the first place. […]

  6. says

    So it appears there are a few of these related to Trump on this enigmatic FBI Twitter feed today. Most prosaic explanation is that they’re routinely closing out some FOIA requests, but the timing and the history of the account will lead to speculation.

    …Also, now that I look a bit more closely, the Trump Taj Mahal and Trump Shuttle FOIA matters – along with some other interesting requests (one appears to be redacted) – are still listed as open in the list, so…no idea.

  7. says

    So here are the FOIA requests that are still listed as open in the document tweeted by the FBI Records Vault:

    Trump, Donald – correspondence regarding intelligence briefings
    Trump Castle
    Trump Tower
    Trump Village
    Communication between Donald J. Trump and the FBI’s New York Field Office
    Trump Management
    TRUMP, DONALD [one of several variations]
    Trump Foundation
    Trump SoHo
    Trump Shuttle
    Trump Taj Mahal (2 requests listed as open – one says something about Interpol and is the only one listed as sub-type “Consult”)

    Just above the line for “Requests Containing the Phrase Trump” is the redacted line, with the annotation “b6” in the right margin. Below that in the margin is the annotation “b7c”. I don’t know whether the second pertains to the “Requests pertaining…” line or the redacted line above, or what their administrative meaning is. (Those are the only marginal notes.) I’m also not sure what to make of the listings at the end with dates rather simply “open” or “closed.”

  8. says

    SC @9, let’s hope that dozens of investigative journalists are doing their jobs, and that the appropriate people are responding to Freedom of Information Act requests. Does look a bit strange, though — consider the timing.

    Could just be a response to high public interest in the FOIA list.

    In other news, about 375 health care experts signed a statement asking Congress to reject Trump’s pick for Health and Human Services Secretary, Tom Price.

    […] “Not only is Congressperson Price accused of compromising himself with insider knowledge concerning stock trades on the health care market, but he has long advocated for changes in our health care system that will have devastating consequences for millions of Americans.”

    Signatories include faculty from some of the United States’ most prestigious medical schools, and the list is still growing. Yesterday, the letter had been signed by 200 — as of publishing time, the count is now at 375.

    […] Price is an outspoken advocate of repealing Obamacare. Last year, he was the architect of the Empowering Patients First Act (EPFA), a replacement plan that Obama vetoed after Republicans passed it. Yet despite its flashy name, the experts point out that Price’s plan would actually result in less coverage at a higher cost for many Americans. […]

    Price’s plan also would also lower the standard of care that insurance companies are required to provide. It would roll back the protections for people with preexisting conditions and the requirement that insurance plans cover preventative care and reproductive health. It would also allow insurance companies to establish annual and lifetime limits on coverage.

    Price is also a big opponent of Medicare, suggesting a privatization scheme that will drastically increase healthcare costs for elderly Americans, according to estimates from the Kaiser Family Foundation. He also supports letting hospitals bill people for the difference between what Medicare will pay and what the hospital charges, which is currently illegal. […]

    Price also supports turning Medicaid and the Child Health Insurance Program (CHIP) over to the states. He proposes to give the states a fixed dollar amount — not tied to inflation — as funding, and to end federal oversight of the programs. […]

    And finally, Price is a big proponent of defunding Planned Parenthood, has said he doesn’t think that women need help paying for birth control, and has consistently voted against civil protections for LGBT individuals.

    In sum, say the health researchers, “Tom Price’s nomination would seriously compromise the health and well being of growing numbers of Americans.”

    “We implore the Congress to reject Tom Price’s nomination to become Secretary of Health and Human Services, and to force the Trump administration to find a more responsible person to administrate this important federal agency.”


  9. says

    More tape of Trump (in 2015, during the campaign) saying he’d met Putin and talking about his interactions with Russian oligarchs when he went for the Miss Universe pageant in 2013. (I don’t know if it’s been authenticated.)

  10. says

    SC, Putin said he didn’t meet with Trump. ““I’ve never met him. I don’t know what he’ll do on the world stage. So I have no reason either to criticise him, or to defend him.” January, 2017. Link
    Just some of what Trump said:

    October 2015: “Have you ever met Vladimir Putin?” Savage asks.

    “Yes,” Trump answers, emphatically.

    “You have?” Savage follows up.

    “Yes, a long time ago. We got along great, by the way.”

    Savage then asked, “If you win the presidency, do you feel you can do business with Vladimir?”

    “Yes, I do. I think I would get along very well. […]

    November 2015: While in Moscow during the Miss Universe content, Trump gave an interview to MSNBC’s Thomas Roberts — who was co-hosting the event — in which, when asked whether he had a “relationship” with Putin, he replied: “I do have a relationship, and I can tell you that he’s very interested in what we’re doing here today.” He later said in a National Press Club speech in November 2015 that while in Moscow for the Miss Universe contest: “I spoke, indirectly and directly, with President Putin, who could not have been nicer.”

    July 31, 2015: I’ve never met him,” Trump said then. “I have no relationship with Putin. I don’t think I’ve ever met him. I never met him. … I mean if he’s in the same room or something. But I don’t think so.”

    “You’ve never spoken to him on the phone?” Stephanopoulos followed up.

    “I have never spoken to him on the phone, no,” Trump replied. “Well, I don’t know what it means by having a relationship. I mean, he was saying very good things about me, but I don’t have a relationship with him. I didn’t meet him. I haven’t spent time with him. I didn’t have dinner with him. I didn’t go hiking with him. I don’t know — and I wouldn’t know him from Adam, except I see his picture and I would know what he looks like.”
    November, 2015: “I got to know him [Putin] very well because we were both on 60 Minutes. We were stablemates, and we did very well that night.”
    July 2016: “He said one nice thing about me. He said I’m a genius. I said thank you very much to the newspaper and that was the end of it. I never met Putin.”

  11. says

    I had forgotten – there was supposed to be an internal investigation of that Twitter account.

    The marginal codes I mentioned above- b6 and b7c – apparently pertain to information withheld for reasons of privacy, the first related to medical records and the like and the second to criminal history records.

    In 1989, the Supreme Court issued a landmark FOIA decision in United States Department of Justice v. Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, (20) which for the past fifteen years has governed all privacy-protection decisionmaking under the Act. The Reporters Committee case involved FOIA requests from members of the news media for access to any criminal history records — known as “rap sheets” — maintained by the FBI regarding certain persons alleged to have been involved in organized crime and improper dealings with a corrupt Congressman. (21) In holding “rap sheets” entitled to protection under Exemption 7(C), the Supreme Court set forth five guiding principles that govern the process by which determinations are made under both Exemptions 6 and 7(C) alike:…

  12. says

    Betsy DeVos says states should be able to choose whether or not they comply with Federal laws that protect disabled students:

    The hits keep on coming at secretary of education nominee Betsy DeVos’ confirmation hearing Tuesday. The Trump pick to lead America’s classrooms appeared to get tripped up when answering a question from Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine about whether all schools receiving federal funding should be required to comply with the requirements of the 1990 Individuals With Disabilities Education Act.

    “I think that is a matter that is best left to the states,” DeVos replied.


    Slate link

  13. says

    What Trump thinks he should do in relation to the White House Briefing Room: “We have to just pick the people that go into the room.”

    Uh, no. You don’t pick.

    The White House Correspondents’ Association fills the seating assignments in the briefing room. “The WHCA assumed responsibility for assigning the seats in the briefing room over the last two decades at the request of both Republican and Democratic administrations, who were mindful of the potential appearance of playing favorites if they assigned the seats themselves,” said WHCA President Jeff Mason.

  14. says

    Trump likes short intelligence briefings, preferably presented as bullet points, and also read out loud to him (the preference for verbal briefings was noted earlier):

    Trump said he likes his briefings short, ideally one-page if it’s in writing. “I like bullets or I like as little as possible. I don’t need, you know, 200-page reports on something that can be handled on a page. That I can tell you.”

    President Obama read the daily intelligence briefs and he asked follow-up questions in writing. George W. Bush preferred oral reports. I think Trump doesn’t even want daily briefings. Less frequent briefings so as not to waste his valuable marketing-Trump time are likely. Or, as he has already done, Trump may just assign Mike Pence to take the briefings. That leaves Trump free to say whatever ignorant thing he likes, with no facts getting in the way.

  15. says

    President Obama presided over his final press conference in the White House briefing room today. Here is an excerpt:

    […] Having you [reporters] in this building has made this work place better. It keeps us honest, makes us work harder. You have made us think about how we are doing what we do and whether or not we’re able to deliver on what’s been requested by our constituents.

    My hope is that you will continue with the same tenacity that you showed us to do the hard work of getting to the bottom of stories and getting them right and to push those of us in power to be the best version of ourselve. And to push this country to be the best version of itself. […]

    So different from Trump’s plan to “just pick the people that go into the room.” See comment 18.

  16. says

    Here is another excerpt from President Obama’s final press conference:

    […] I think we’re going to see people of merit rise up from every race, faith, corner of this country because that’s America’s strength. If in fact we continue to keep opportunity open to everybody, then yeah. We’re going to have a woman president, we’re going to have a Latino president, we’ll have a Jewish president, a Hindu president. […]

    I worry about inequality. […]

    I worry about, as I said in response to a previous question, making sure that the basic machinery of our democracy works better. We are the only country in the advanced world that makes it harder to vote rather than easier. And that dates back. There is an ugly history to that that we should not be shy about talking about. […] Yes, I’m talking about voting rights. […]

    The notion that there are a whole bunch of people out there who are going out there and are not eligible to vote and want to vote. We have the opposite problem. We have a whole bunch of people who are eligible to vote who don’t vote.

    […] you know, when we feel stress, when we feel pressure, when we’re just fed information that encourages some of our worst instincts, we tend to fall back into some of the old racial fears and racial divisions and racial stereotypes. We’re going to have to make sure that we in our own lives and our own families and workplaces do a better job of treating everybody with basic respect. […]

  17. says

    Another excerpt from President Obama’s final press conference:

    […] In a democracy, sometimes you’re going to win on those issues [the normal back and forth, ebb and flow, of policy] and sometimes you’re going to lose. But there’s a difference between that normal functioning of politics and certain issues or certain moments where I think our core values may be at stake. […]

    I’d put in that category if I saw systematic discrimination being ratified in some fashion. I’d put in that category explicit or functional obstacles to people being able to vote, to exercise their franchise. I’d would put in that category institutional efforts to silence dissent, or the press. And for me at least, I would put in that category efforts to round up kids who have grown up here and for all practical purposes are American kids and send them some place else. […]

  18. says

    As Tabby Lavalamp noted in the “Nothing matters anymore” comment thread Canadian businessman and regular on ABC’s Shark Tank Kevin O’Leary is running for the leadership of Canada’s federal Conservative Party. You can get an idea of where his beliefs lie in the following exchange from a 2014 episode of CBC News Network’s The Lang and O’Leary Exchange.(O’Leary left the show in August that year) When asked about the fact that the 85 richest people in the world had as much money as the bottom half of the world’s population he said:

    It’s fantastic, and this is a great thing because it inspires everybody, gets them motivation to look up to the one percent and say, ‘I want to become one of those people, I’m going to fight hard to get up to the top.’ This is fantastic news, and, of course, I applaud it. What can be wrong with this? I celebrate capitalism. Don’t tell me that you want to redistribute wealth again, that’s never gonna happen … it’s a celebratory stat. … If you work hard, you might be stinking rich one day

  19. says

    Last year, Oklahoma tried to pass more anti-LGBT legislation than did Texas. You have to work hard to beat Texas when it comes to being anti-LGBT.

    Some of Oklahoma’s anti-LGBT bills failed, but even worse legislation in being introduced this year. State Senator Joseph Silk introduced SB 197, which he calls “Oklahoma Right of Conscience Act.”

    […] SB 197 ensures that no one ever has to provide any services used in or to promote “a marriage ceremony or celebration of a specific lifestyle or behavior.”

    […] denials [of service] will be immune to any civil claim or governmental penalty. In fact, if someone tries to sue or the government takes an adverse action against the person who discriminates, that person will actually have a claim to “recover all reasonable attorney fees, costs, and damages” incurred as a result of the “violation.” […]

    There is virtually no limit to what “specific lifestyle or behavior” an Oklahoma wedding vendor could imagine to justify refusing service to a person. As written, the law would make it legal for them to discriminate against vegetarians, people with tattoos, people who tweet in ALL CAPS, people who are left-handed, people who enjoy shopping at Target, or people who enjoy the musical Oklahoma! a bit too much, as examples. […]

    Silk’s bill is only one of many “religious liberty” bills state legislatures will likely introduce this year, but its breadth makes it one of the most extreme ever.

    Think Progress link

  20. says

    timgueguen @24, does Kevin O’Leary realize that 85 rich people does not equal 1% of earth’s human population?

    In other news, Trump bragged about photos of Bikers for Trump, but didn’t realize that he was bragging about fake or misleading photos.

    “I saw the Bikers for Trump — boy they had a scene today,” Trump said. “And they had a scene today where they had helicopters flying over a highway some place in this country. And they had thousands of those guys coming into town.” […]

    And they get on that Harley, usually Harley, made right here in America […]

    Nope, not an accurate picture, pun intended.

    […] The photo from the Twitter handle @YoungDems4Trump showing sleeveless men in the foreground dates from at least 2013, likely from a 9/11 Commemoration Day event. It was also made into a meme labeled “100,00 bikers at Trump Rally. Not one arrest” in May 2016.

    The video from Twitter handle @nia4_trump similarly has uses undated and unverified footage showing green grass in the background. As it’s winter, it’s difficult to pinpoint where this footage was taken in terms of location and date. The video was also uploaded by a group called “Bikers 4 Liberty,” which Cox [Bikers for Trump founder] calls a “scam group.”

    The photo from Twitter handle @WikiFleekMemes claiming that 200,000 bikers were on their way to D.C. is also fake. The origin of the photo comes from a 2013 blog post on bikers on the Spanish website Hoy. […]


  21. says

    The governor of Mississippi, Phil Bryant, signed HB 1523 last April. The bill was a license to discriminate against LGBTQ people. It covered housing, employment, medical treatment, public accommodations, adoptions, and marriage licensing. That is all a violation of the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause. A U.S. District Judge blocked implementation of the law last June.

    What we are seeing now is Bryant, with a small army of lawyers, striking back. Bryant and his lawyers are unhinged religious right-wingers. Their brief proves it. Here are some excerpts:

    Bryant’s attorneys argue that homosexuality is not immutable. […] Obergefell v. Hodges […] was wrong, and many gay people actually choose to be gay. […]

    The brief alleges that the three beliefs protected by HB 1523—that same-sex marriage and premarital sex are wrong and that transgender identity is a lie—are “not ‘religious’ beliefs.” This assertion would surprise the bill’s authors, who described their measure as “AN ACT … TO PROVIDE CERTAIN PROTECTIONS REGARDING A SINCERELY HELD RELIGIOUS BELIEF” and referenced “religious belief” 22 times in its text. […]

    The brief refuses to acknowledge the legitimacy of transgender identities, instead repeatedly referring to “transgender behavior.” […]

    Bryant’s attorneys write that “there is nothing a federal court can do to remove an endorsement of religion that appears in a duly enacted law.” That would be news to the multiple Supreme Court justices who have voted to strike down a law for endorsing religion. […]


    It’s supposed to be a legal brief, but it reads like a religious rant.

  22. says

    “FBI, 5 other agencies probe possible covert Kremlin aid to Trump”:

    The FBI and five other law enforcement and intelligence agencies have collaborated for months in an investigation into Russian attempts to influence the November election, including whether money from the Kremlin covertly aided President-elect Donald Trump, two people familiar with the matter said.

    The agencies involved in the inquiry are the FBI, the CIA, the National Security Agency, the Justice Department, the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network and representatives of the director of national intelligence, the sources said.

    Investigators are examining how money may have moved from the Kremlin to covertly help Trump win, the two sources said. One of the allegations involves whether a system for routinely paying thousands of Russian-American pensioners may have been used to pay some email hackers in the United States or to supply money to intermediaries who would then pay the hackers, the two sources said.

    A key mission of the six-agency group has been to examine who financed the email hacks of the Democratic National Committee and Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta. The London-based transparency group WikiLeaks released the emails last summer and in October.

    The working group is scrutinizing the activities of a few Americans who were affiliated with Trump’s campaign or his business empire and of multiple individuals from Russia and other former Soviet nations who had similar connections, the sources said….

  23. says

    One of the many reasons that the presidential election turned out so badly: a new Pew Research survey shows that Fox News was the top source voters watched for election-related news.

    Here are the stats for Trump voters:
    40% say they relied on Fox News
    8% relied on CNN
    7% relied on Facebook
    6% relied on NBC
    5% relied on local news

    Here are the stats for Clinton voters:
    18% relied on CNN
    9% relied on MSNBC
    8% relied on Facebook
    8% relied on local news
    5% relied on The New York Times
    3% relied on Fox News


    Fox News was the most-watched basic cable network in 2016.

  24. says

    And they get on that Harley, usually Harley, made right here in America […]

    From what I’ve gleaned from Google U. (so treat skeptically) they’re put together in the US from parts manufactured in a number of countries.

  25. says

    Kawasaki will no longer advertise on, or participate in any way with “The New Celebrity Apprentice.” The Japanese motoring company cited the reality show’s connection to Donald Trump as the reason for no longer participating.

    […] Once we understood the concerns of American citizens, we have taken the approach of agreeing not to participate in the show in the future as long as Mr. Trump is involved as an executive producer.

    How could we support a show that was essentially created by Mr. Trump and who was still involved?’ The concerns from our own customers, as well as the #grabyourwallet campaign did seize the attention of our executives. […]


  26. says

    Bad news — another uptick in violence with a racist undertone: dozens of Jewish community centers received bomb threats. The threats were spread across the USA. It looks like an organized campaign of intimidation. There were more than twenty threats today alone. This is a continuation of threatening activities that have been taking place over the past few weeks.

    HuffPo link

  27. blf says

    SC@30, Harley-Davidson has(? had?) a factory in Brazil, at least, albeit to the best of my knowledge, they’ve always had, and still have, at least one factory in the States. I presume most units sold in the States are screwed-together in the States.

  28. says

    “Utahns want Chaffetz to probe Trump conflicts, ethics official responds to Chaffetz”:

    Utahns overwhelmingly want Rep. Jason Chaffetz, as chairman of the House Oversight Committee, to investigate President-elect Donald Trump’s potential conflicts of interests — an endeavor Chaffetz has strongly resisted.

    A new poll by The Salt Lake Tribune and Hinckley Institute of Politics found 65 [I think it’s 63 – SC] percent of registered voters surveyed in the state support such a probe, compared to just 31 percent opposed.

    The poll comes out amidst ongoing friction between Chaffetz and a top federal ethics official critical about Trump’s handling of his widespread business interests, including foreign ties to Russia….

  29. says

    From the New York Times:

    When President-elect Donald J. Trump offered Rick Perry the job of energy secretary five weeks ago, Mr. Perry gladly accepted, believing he was taking on a role as a global ambassador for the American oil and gas industry that he had long championed in his home state.

    In the days after, Mr. Perry, the former Texas governor, discovered that he would be no such thing — that in fact, if confirmed by the Senate, he would become the steward of a vast national security complex he knew almost nothing about, caring for the most fearsome weapons on the planet, the United States’ nuclear arsenal.

    From The Daily Beast:

    In recent years, the trend has been to appoint a Secretary of Energy with real technical expertise. President Bush appointed Samuel Bodman, who had a distinguished career as an MIT-trained chemical engineer before making a fortune in the private sector. President Obama upped the ante, appointing Berkeley’s Steven Chu and MIT’s Ernest Moniz to the position. Both are physicists. Chu has a Nobel Prize.

    Moniz played a critical role in putting the brakes on Iran’s nuclear weapon development.

    Rick Perry studied animal husbandry at Texas A&M University, where he was also a cheerleader.

    Nevertheless, Sean Spicer held a press conference today during which he extolled the high quality of Trump’s cabinet picks. He also assured us that Trump and his team are ready to go on day one, or day three, or whatever.

    Rachel Maddow pointed out that Trump will enter office with gaping holes in major agencies, including the National Security Council.

    Hillary Clinton’s team had a plan to fill all of the National Security Council slots quickly. Clinton knew what she was doing.

  30. says

    Rick Perry gave an opening statement at his Senate confirmation hearing. Here is an excerpt:

    I have learned a great deal about the important work being done every day by the outstanding men and women of the DOE. My past statements made over five years ago about abolishing the Department of Energy do not reflect my current thinking. In fact, after being briefed on so many of the vital functions of the Department of Energy, I regret recommending its elimination.

  31. says

    From the New York Times, part of an article/interview with President Obama that focused on his love of books:

    […] Last Friday, seven days before his departure from the White House, Mr. Obama sat down in the Oval Office and talked about the indispensable role that books have played during his presidency and throughout his life – from his peripatetic and sometimes lonely boyhood, when “these worlds that were portable” provided companionship, to his youth when they helped him to figure out who he was, what he thought and what was important.

    During his eight years in the White House – in a noisy era of information overload, extreme partisanship and knee-jerk reactions – books were a sustaining source of ideas and inspiration, and gave him a renewed appreciation for the complexities and ambiguities of the human condition.

    Here is an excerpt rom a Trump interview with Axios co-founders Mike Allen and Jim Vandehei. Trump was asked what book is on his nightstand, and he held up a book on his desk, “Adams v Jefferson,” by John Ferling. The reporters asked if Trump would recommend reading it. “No, I wouldn’t,” Trump replied.:

    Q: Is there [a book] you actually like that you’d recommend?

    TRUMP: I like a lot of books. I like reading books. I don’t have the time to read very much now in terms of the books, but I like reading them. This one is just one that just came out. [Trump holds up a book about himself.] CNN. The CNN book just came out.

    During the presidential campaign, Trump was asked about reading books several times. Just before election day, he answered the question by naming two of his ghost-written books: “Surviving at the Top” and “The Art of the Deal.”

    We already know that Trump does not want to read briefing reports. Kellyanne Conway once admitted that to get Trump’s attention, one needed to speak to him through the TV. Apparently, she is sometimes speaking to Trump when she is interviewed on a TV program.

  32. says

    “Elijah Cummings: ‘If the public knew what Congress knows’ they would boycott the inauguration too”:

    ep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) on Thursday asserted that the general public would boycott Donald Trump’s presidential inauguration if they had access to classified information about Russia’s interference in the U.S. election.

    “You’ve got to understand that members of Congress have a lot of information that the public does not have,” Cummings said. “And I can tell you over the last week or two, the classified briefings that I have been to, and if the public knew what members of Congress know…”

    Cummings argued that Congress needed to move forward with an investigation into the role both Russia and FBI Director James Comey played in influencing the U.S. election so that more information could be released to the public….

    (Cummings is attending, but supports those who are boycotting.)

  33. says

    “Trump Team Plans to Eliminate National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities”:

    The Hill has gotten a first look at the federal budget in the works by President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team, and it is, to put it mildly, brutal.

    In an effort to reduce federal spending by $10.5 trillion over 10 years, the plan calls for the complete elimination of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEA). In addition, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) would be privatized.

    The NEA’s current budget is $146 million, which, according to the agency, represents “just 0.012% … of federal discretionary spending.” The NEH also has a budget of $146 million. The CPB receives $445.5 million. By comparison, the budget for the Department of Defense is $607 billion.

    The website notes that the Trump budget is modeled after a plan published last year by the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank “that has helped staff the Trump transition.” That plan calls for the elimination of many more government programs, including the Minority Business Development Agency, Violence Against Women Grants, and the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. The Hill adds that Trump’s plan also aligns with a 2017 budget adopted by the conservative Republican Study Committee, which is a caucus representing a slight majority of (172 out of 247) House Republicans….

  34. says

    “Congress moves to give away national lands, discounting billions in revenue: Though recreation on federal lands creates $646bn in economic stimulus and 6.1m jobs, Republicans are setting in motion a giveaway of Americans’ birthright”:

    In the midst of highly publicized steps to dismantle insurance coverage for 32 million people and defund women’s healthcare facilities, Republican lawmakers have quietly laid the foundation to give away Americans’ birthright: 640m acres of national land. In a single line of changes to the rules for the House of Representatives, Republicans have overwritten the value of federal lands, easing the path to disposing of federal property even if doing so loses money for the government and provides no demonstrable compensation to American citizens.

    At stake are areas managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), National Forests and Federal Wildlife Refuges, which contribute to an estimated $646bn in economic stimulus from recreation on federal lands and 6.1m jobs. Transferring these lands to the states, critics fear, could decimate those numbers by eliminating mixed-use requirements, limiting public access and turning over large portions for energy or property development.

    Essentially, the revised budget rules deny that federal land has any value at all, allowing the new Congress to sidestep requirements that a bill giving away a piece of federal land does not decrease federal revenue or contribute to the federal debt.

    Republican eagerness to cede federal land to local governments for possible sale, mining or development is already moving states to act. Western states, where most federal land is concentrated, are already introducing legislation that pave the way for land transfers.

    In 2015, Bishop and fellow Utah representative Chris Stewart formed the Federal Land Action Group, a congressional team with the specific intent to come up with a framework for transferring public land. “Washington bureaucrats don’t listen to people,” Bishop said in a statement. “Local governments do.”

    But Rowsome argues that’s a populist message without any popular support, pushed by a small faction of legislators with support from industries like mining and energy. Despite the Republican message that Washington has overstepped in designating national parks and monuments, a 2016 study found that 95% of the American public believes that National Parks are worth protecting and 80% said they’d be willing to pay higher taxes to do so.

    “Western Republicans that are perpetuating the idea are very well funded by the oil and gas industry during their campaign,” Rowsome said. “It’s special interests wielding power for an agenda that will advance their goal. Nearly 90% of BLM lands are already open, but they can’t stop trying to get more.”…

  35. says

    “How He and His Cronies Stole Russia”:

    …Since 2000, Russia has been ruled by a revanchist, revisionist elite with origins in the old KGB. This elite had been working its way back to power since the late 1980s, using theft on a grand scale, taking advantage of the secrecy provided by Western offshore havens, and cooperating with organized crime.

    Once in power, the new elite sought to maintain control using the same methods that the KGB always used to maintain control: through the manipulation of public emotion, and by undermining the institutions of the West, and the ideals of the West, in any way that it can. Based on its record so far, it has every reason to expect continued success.

  36. says

    “Investigators on the Trump-Russia Beat Should Talk to This Man”:

    Last week, the Senate Intelligence Committee announced it was commencing an investigation of Russian hacking during the 2016 campaign that would include an examination of connections between Russia and the Trump camp. And a veiled but public exchange between Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), a member of the committee, and FBI Director James Comey during a hearing on January 10 suggested the FBI has collected information on possible ties between Trump associates and Russians and may still be probing this matter. So with subpoena-wielding investigators on this beat, here’s a suggestion: The gumshoes ought to talk to an American from Belarus named Sergei Millian, who has boasted of close ties to Trump and who has worked with an outfit the FBI suspected of being a Russian intelligence front. If they haven’t already….

  37. What a Maroon, living up to the 'nym says

    The District of Columbia (aka Washington, DC) has, not surprisingly, a highly progressive government. There is, for example, a longstanding ban on firearms (partially overturned by the Supreme Court), legalized marijuana, funding of abortions, and physician assisted suicide.

    However, the US government has jurisdiction over DC, and can overturn any law it wants to. In practice, that hasn’t happened much over the past 40 years. But Republicans in Congress, those champions of small government and local control, will every now and then threaten to overturn one law or another. Usually those threats don’t go far, but now that the gop has control over the Congress and the Presidency, their knives are out and they’re ready to cut.

    Congressional Republicans are making an aggressive push to gut the District’s progressive policies, introducing bills in recent days to repeal the heavily Democratic city’s gun-control measures, undo its new law allowing physician-assisted suicide and ban the District from using local tax dollars to provide abortions for poor women.

    The bills have begun arriving on the eve of President Obama’s departure from the White House, where he has stifled repeated attempts to pass similar measures with a veto threat.

    Those decisions will soon be in the hands of President-elect Donald Trump, and conservative House members said they think that Trump will not impede the will of a newly emboldened ­Republican-led Congress.

    All the more reason to push for DC statehood.

  38. Hj Hornbeck says

    Sorry Americans, but it appears you’ll be without a government in less than two days.

    Overall, out of 690 positions requiring Senate confirmation tracked by the Washington Post and Partnership for Public Service, Trump has come up with only 28 people so far.

    The Atlantic’s Russell Berman had a good story two weeks ago about how far behind Trump was. Since then? If anything, it’s getting worse — he’s added only two of those 28 since Jan. 5. As Berman reported, the Partnership for Public Service suggested a president should have “100 Senate-confirmed appointees in place on or around Inauguration Day.” At this pace, he won’t have 100 nominees by the end of February, let alone having them confirmed and hard at work.

    Hopefully no foreign government tries to hack the place, either.

    Much of the speculation focuses on the [National Security Council], which plays the vital role of coordinating foreign policy and national security within the White House. NSC aides refine and advise the president on competing policy options generated throughout the federal government.

    But the Trump team has also not yet announced any appointments below the Cabinet level for the departments of State or Defense, leaving many more important posts open days before Trump’s inauguration.

    “This isn’t getting attention it deserves. Who will run and implement policy? Right now there is a big vacuum,” Max Boot, a military historian and fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, tweeted Tuesday.

    All the work that Obama’s transition team put in appears to have been wasted.

  39. blf says

    Bangladesh’s plan to allow some child marriages is ‘step backwards’:

    Bangladesh will be taking a step backwards in efforts to end child marriage if parliament approves changes to a law that would permit girls below 18 to be married in special cases, a global alliance of charities said last week.

    The nation has one of the highest rates of child marriage in the world, despite a decades-old law that bans marriage for girls under 18 and men under 21.


    The proposed law was open to abuse since it gave no definition of the term “special cases”, Girls Not Brides [a coalition of more than 650 charities] said.


    Along with Niger, Central African Republic, Chad, Mali, Guinea, South Sudan and Burkina Faso, Bangladesh is among the eight countries with the highest rates of child marriage, despite moves to strengthen law enforcement and toughen penalties against the crime.

    In 2011, 32.5% of girls aged between 15 and 19 were married compared with 37.5% a decade before, said Girls Not Brides, citing data from Bangladesh’s Bureau of Statistics.

    [… G]irls face a greater risk of rape, domestic violence and forced pregnancies — which may put their lives in danger — as a result of being married as children.

    Child brides are often denied the chance to go to school, are isolated from society and forced into lives of economic dependence as wives and mothers.


    The accompanying older(Nov-2015) photo-essay, Escaping child marriage in Bangladesh is heartwarming.

  40. says

    Hornbeck @50, Republicans, including the Trump team, are already blaming Democrats for the parlous condition of the transition. (That is, they are throwing blame around whenever they are not busy claiming the opposite: that everything is going well and they have it all under control.)

    I think the Trump team just really goofed up. They dived into deep waters and drowned. Hillary was ready to fill those 690 positions. Trump is woefully unprepared to do the same.

  41. says

    This is good news. It is uplifting news, and man do I need some uplifting news on a day when the media is covering Trump flying here and there, and Trump appearing at the Lincoln Memorial. Donna Carpenter, the woman that co-owns Burton Snowboards is paying for some of her employees to attend the Women’s March in Washington D.C.

    Carpenter is offering $250 toward a plane ticket, plus two nights in a hotel for each employee attending the march. Carpenter has talked about women’s rights before:

    […] I have been working on the issue of gender equality at Burton for 13 years now. It’s been a passion of mine to find more women leaders internally and externally, and to make sure that women feel that they’re as much a part of the snowboarding community as men are.

    Thirteen years ago, less than 10 percent of our leaders were women and now it’s over 40 percent. My senior team is fifty-fifty. It’s made us a better company. All the men appreciate that we’re more family-friendly, and that we’ve started to look at employees more holistically. When you address women’s issues, you address work-life balance and quality of life. […]

  42. says

    As Steve Benen so aptly put it, “A good move borne of desperation.”

    President-elect Donald Trump has asked roughly 50 senior Obama administration appointees to remain in their posts after his inauguration to ensure continuity in government, his incoming White House press secretary said Thursday. The officials include the highest-ranking career officials at key national security agencies like the Pentagon and State Department.

  43. says

    Steve Mnuchin forgot to mention his pocket change: $100 million in assets.

    He also forgot to mention that he directs an investment fund located in a tax haven. Democrats called Mnuchin on his failure to disclose those little, insignificant items. /sarcasm

    Steven T. Mnuchin is President-elect Trump’s pick to be Treasury secretary.

  44. says

    “Arizona lawmaker would keep some students from voting”:

    …HB 2260 would make it illegal to use a dormitory address “or other temporary college or university address” like an apartment to register to vote. Instead, Arizona law would presume these to be “a temporary address with intent to return to some other permanent address.”

    Thorpe’s legislation also comes just months after voters in Flagstaff approved an initiative to eventually move that city’s minimum wage to $15 an hour.

    What Thorpe proposes would have statewide effect on candidate, bond and initiative elections in communities with public and private colleges with students in residence on or near the campus.

    Separately, Thorpe has crafted HB 2124 to not only bar local communities from ever enacting their own “living wage” laws higher than the state minimum, but also retroactively repeal what Flagstaff voters approved in November.

    And he proposes in HB 2255 to make it illegal for individuals and businesses who do not reside in Arizona to contribute money in support or opposition to ballot measures.

    Thorpe declined to speak about any of his proposals….

    This is the same guy pushing the bill I mentioned on the previous thread to cut funding for universities teaching social-justice courses.

  45. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    Given the likely rainy waither, my wife and I have a cheer for the inauguration plan to cheer, “William Henry Harrison, William Henry Harrison…”

  46. says

    “Republican Lawmakers in Five States Propose Bills to Criminalize Peaceful Protest”:

    On Saturday, the Women’s March on Washington will kick off what opponents of the incoming administration hope will be a new era of demonstrations against the Republican agenda. But in some states, nonviolent demonstrating may soon carry increased legal risks — including punishing fines and significant prison terms — for people who participate in protests involving civil disobedience. Over the past few weeks, Republican legislators across the country have quietly introduced a number of proposals to criminalize and discourage peaceful protest.

    The proposals, which strengthen or supplement existing laws addressing the blocking or obstructing of traffic, come in response to a string of high-profile highway closures and other actions led by Black Lives Matter activists and opponents of the Dakota Access Pipeline. Republicans reasonably expect an invigorated protest movement during the Trump years.

    In North Dakota, for instance, Republicans introduced a bill last week that would allow motorists to run over and kill any protester obstructing a highway as long as a driver does so accidentally. In Minnesota, a bill introduced by Republicans last week seeks to dramatically stiffen fines for freeway protests and would allow prosecutors to seek a full year of jail time for protesters blocking a highway. Republicans in Washington state have proposed a plan to reclassify as a felony civil disobedience protests that are deemed “economic terrorism.” Republicans in Michigan introduced and then last month shelved an anti-picketing law that would increase penalties against protestors and would make it easier for businesses to sue individual protestors for their actions. And in Iowa a Republican lawmaker has pledged to introduce legislation to crack down on highway protests….

  47. Saad says

    SC, #69

    I’m not worried. All those people who stand up for free speech will take care of this.


  48. Hj Hornbeck says

    More on the transition:

    At a White House function Monday for Obama aides who have served for all eight years of the administration, senior officials were heard wondering aloud whether to expect any contact from the Trump administration before they packed their desks and vacated their offices.

    “People running major offices in the White House currently have had no contact with their successors,” said one person who attended the function. “It is stunning. And we always kept thinking they’re going to have a plan, they’re going to come through at the last minute. We’re less than 48 hours away. This should be concerning to anyone.”

    Buried at the end is this little tidbit:

    Unlike his predecessors, Trump hasn’t named a decorator to assist in redesigning and personalizing his private living quarters and the Oval Office.

    The National Gallery of Art, which has lent artwork to White Houses dating back decades, say they haven’t received any requests from Trump or his team. Meanwhile, the selection of 20th Century art the Obamas used to decorate their own living quarters has been returned.

    Even Trump can’t picture himself in the White House, I guess.

  49. blf says

    How to Trump-proof your life […] (video): “[…] Donald Trump will become president of the United States. If this cold, hard fact doesn’t fill you with joy and relief, then you may need to Trump-proof your life. Follow our easy steps”. In summary, transcribed from the video:

    (1) Join a group…
    (2) Donate to a group…
    (3) March! (Protest!)
    (4) Pressure elected officials…
    (5) Bolster your data security…
    (6) Support independent media…
    (7) Protect youself…

    The video includes short explanations, links and suggested contacts, &tc…

  50. says

    Hornbeck @71, Trump is already calling Mar-a-Lago “the winter White House.” I think Trump considers his home in Trump Tower in New York, and his place in Florida, as the real centers of power. He is too ignorant to comprehend the centers of power in Washington D.C.

    I saw a report that Melania will have a “glam room” in the White House. It will be dedicated to her hair and makeup needs.

  51. says

    A better thing to watch than Trump’s inauguration: Rachel Maddow discussing Obama’s legacy of extraordinary accomplishments.

    The video is 16:19 minutes long.

    Maddow makes the point that if these accomplishments mean anything to us, we are now in “Defense Mode.”

    After a long intro that talks about the background of Supreme Court Justice Sotamayor, Maddow shows with data, graphics, and lists the really astounding good that was accomplished by President Obama.

    Here is a link to the video documenting the legacy of accomplishments that is really the summary version of the first link above, without all of the Sotomayor background.

  52. hjhornbeck says

    Elijah Cummings, dragging Jason Chaffetz:

    This week, Director [Walter] Shaub sent you a letter agreeing to meet – again – but requesting this time that the meeting be held in public. He made it clear that he would participate even if you did not agree, but his strong preference was for transparency. Given the misrepresentations that have been made about Director Shaub to date, one can hardly blame him.

    In response to this letter, your office has now informed Director Shaub that you have withdrawn your subpoena threat and that you will not force him to participate in a transcribed interview. That is a positive step in the right direction. However, your office has also informed Director Shaub that you will not agree to a public meeting. Instead, your office scheduled a closed-door meeting on Monday with just you, Director Shaub, and myself.

    And he footnoted extensively! Barely know the guy, but I love’m already.

  53. hjhornbeck says

    Scenes from Deplorable America an inauguration, via Jared Yates Sexton:

    Everywhere you go people in Trump and Clinton gear are segregated, staring daggers. Not a comfortable scene by any measure.

    Man in Trump gear with family, walking by protestors: “Got to make sure I don’t drop my wallet so a bunch of faggots don’t bump up on me”

    This isn’t about government. This is about winning.

    People are saying, in so many words, that this is about spitting liberals and multiculturalism. They’re celebrating it openly.

    This isn’t about left and right, Democrat or Republican, this is about two very different strains of Americans. It’s about prideful hate.

    Such a weird divide. Trump supporters are just jubilant. So many downtrodden protestors. Couldn’t be a better metaphor for 2017 America.

  54. hjhornbeck says

    [insert bemused cackling]

    Several people noticed and remarked on Twitter that the image featured above Trump’s new account is actually from a Getty photo taken on January 20, 2009, as the nation welcomed President Barack Obama to the helm.

  55. says

    Remember all those times when we were told, (or were hoping), that Trump would stop being so ignorant and obnoxious and start being more presidential? Remember when we hoped that, against all evidence, Trump was capable of learning?

    All of those hopes are dashed. Trump is the president, but he still can’t give a speech that unites people. He is still in doom-sayer mode just as he was during the campaign. And he still thinks that inner cities [translate to “black communities] are hell holes. Here is an except from Trump’s “I am the King of the World” inauguration speech that featured ultra bleak pictures of all the problems the king has to solve:

    […] Mothers and children trapped in poverty in our inner cities; rusted-out factories scattered like tombstones across the landscape of our nation; an education system, flush with cash, but which leaves our young and beautiful students deprived of knowledge; and the crime and gangs and drugs that have stolen too many lives and robbed our country of so much unrealized potential.

    “This American carnage stops right here and stops right now. […]

    “For many decades, we’ve enriched foreign industry at the expense of American industry; subsidized the armies of other countries while allowing for the very sad depletion of our military; we’ve defended other nation’s borders while refusing to defend our own; and spent trillions of dollars overseas while America’s infrastructure has fallen into disrepair and decay. We’ve made other countries rich while the wealth, strength, and confidence of our country has disappeared over the horizon.

    “One by one, the factories shuttered and left our shores, with not even a thought about the millions upon millions of American workers left behind. The wealth of our middle class has been ripped from their homes and then redistributed across the entire world. […]

    Barack and Michelle Obama had to sit through that.

    Fresh off the presentation of Obama’s accomplishments (see comment 78), Trump’s rhetoric comes off as not just gloomy and demagogic, but also false.

    And since when is our education system “flush with cash”? That sounds like Betsy Devos’ dream about pilfering from public education funds.

    Trump’s inauguration speech was similar to his Republican convention speech. Trump is the real dystopian nightmare.

    Trump also continued to pretend to be anti-elite, pro-working-man, etc. while he was standing there backed up by the billionaires and millionaires that make up his cabinet.

  56. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    When I took a car in for a minor repair, Trump was talking about there are people in DC finally listening to people.
    Yep, he is listening to the people who want to pilfer the US lands and Treasury, all the while ignoring the voices crying for healthcare protection. Sounds to me like he is listening only to the delusions in his mind, and is incapable of actually listening to what people desire.

  57. What a Maroon, living up to the 'nym says

    Trump chose a homophobic, Islamophobic pastor to deliver his private pre-inaugural sermon.

    But hey, at least he gave equal time to anti-Semites.

    During Donald Trump’s campaign for president, the Anti-Defamation League, a nonprofit dedicated to fighting anti-Semitism and other forms of bigotry, asked him to stop using the phrase “America First” to describe his foreign policy views. As the ADL explained, the slogan was used by people who warned, ahead of World War II, that Jewish Americans were pushing the U.S. to enter the war because they put their own interests ahead of the country’s.

  58. slithey tove (twas brillig (stevem)) says

    I stopped with one diptych of Obama bing sworn in on one half and Drumph being sworn in the other half. Obama is a big smile while Trump has a grumpy face. To me that said it all.
    Trump is NOT happy to be President. He’ll act out his pain on all of us.

  59. says

    Nerd @87, I think Trump hears himself talk, and he also hears the voice of Steve Bannon inside his head.

    Followup to Hornbeck’s comments 84 and 85. On another subject, here is some of Wonkette’s coverage of the fact that the White House website has been purged of gays and climate change:

    Terrific news, America! Climate Change is over! So is Global Warming! Unfortunately, LGBTQ people have also ceased to be — at the White House website, at least.

    We warned you as the Inauguration was just ending, when a sharp Twitter user noticed a change at the Department of Labor: “It’s only been 25 min and the Dept. of Labor’s report on Advancing LGBT Workplace Rights has been taken down.”

    For the moment, they haven’t taken down the Labor Department’s page busting myths about increasing the minimum wage. Give them a few hours. […]

    We decided to do a little looking around ourselves, with variations. No LGBT, LGBTQ, gay rights, or marriage equality in the White House any more. But there is one hit for “gay”: a single use of the old correct meaning of “happy,” exactly as the New Order would have it.

    And, yes, “climate change” is also gone, as is “affordable care act”. On the other hand “radical Islamic terror” has been added.

  60. says

    An excerpt from Wonkette’s live blog of Trump’s inauguration:

    […] 4:04 Rachel Maddow just WENT THERE, noting that this will be the first inaugural parade with a huge military aircraft flyover since Truman in 1949, and commenting that Trump’s fascination with military parades is “embarrassing” that the “only president with no public service or military experience being the one who most wants to show off the military, when your only military experience was getting deferments … I mean, you got multiple deferments from the war that happened when you were in your prime, and you want to show off the military once you’re in office? I hope there’s another explanation.” Kudos for not playing along with Chris Matthews’s giggling “you think it’s a small hands thing?”

    4:12 Trump is approaching his probably illegal hotel. Will he get out and walk? Will he just go in and take a nap? Slap around a bellhop?

    4:18 Donald Trump has emerged from his vehicle and…HE SEES HIS SHADOW! 4 MORE YEARS OF FASCISM! […]

    empty grandstands right in front of the White House. So much for the paid seat-fillers! WEAK! PATHETIC!

  61. says

    “Report: ‘Net neutrality’ foe Ajit Pai is new FCC head”:

    President Donald Trump has reportedly picked a fierce critic of the Obama-era “net neutrality” rules to be chief regulator of the nation’s airwaves and internet connections.

    Citing unidentified people, Bloomberg and Politico both reported Friday that the next chairman of the Federal Communications Commission will be Ajit Pai, an old hand at the agency. Pai’s chief of staff, Matthew Berry, declined to comment. Neither Trump administration spokesman Bryan Lanza nor FCC spokesmen immediately replied to requests for comment.

    Pai is one of the two Republican commissioners on a 5-member panel that regulates the country’s communications infrastructure, including TV, phone and internet service.

    The Republicans’ FCC majority would help them roll back pro-consumer policies that upset many phone and cable industry groups, including net neutrality rules that bar internet service providers from favoring some websites and apps over others….

  62. says

    “Trump Lays Down His Law: In a terrifying speech, the new president made clear that freedom and justice are not his concern”:

    Trump seems virtually unaware that presidential powers have constitutional limits or that judges strive to apply neutral law regardless of the named parties. He seems uninterested in the fact that governmental checks and balances make us all more free. He is unburdened by the knowledge that protest, assembly, and a free press are the cornerstones of liberty. So nobody should be surprised that not a word about the courts, the law, or the Constitution were uttered today, or that law to him means “law enforcement officers” and nothing more. We should be terrified, though.

    This was a speech that seemed to conflate freedom with patriotism: The most soaring sentence of the oration posited that the “bedrock of our politics will be a total allegiance to the United States of America, and through our loyalty to our country, we will rediscover our loyalty to each other.” That is not a statement about the rule of law, nor is it a tenet of constitutional democracy. It is a pledge of fealty, in which the law—real justice—finds no place…. It was a speech with no mention or awareness of the fact that the president’s power derives from the Constitution to which he swore an oath this morning, or that the people’s freedom derives from the same….

  63. Ogvorbis: A bear of very little brains. says

    I just got an email that there was a new document in my eOPF folder — all of the documents concerning pay, grade, insurance, etc. Logged. Just a notification that my ‘Self-plus-1″ insurance change was active as of January 8 (saving me about $30.00 a month (thank you ACA (yeah, think that’ll last?))). On the welcome page, up at the top, in a really hard to read font, it read, “A new day for federal workers.”

    Yeah. That’s what has me scared.

  64. hjhornbeck says


    Per @womensmarch organizers, they’re increasing today’s turnout estimates to 500,000 participants. Be patient & kind! #WomensMarch

    1. My train to the inauguration; [a few people standing]
    2. My train to the Women’s March — or it was supposed to be, but it was too full for me to get on.

    And according to NPR,

    Sister marches have been organized in all 50 states, and in countries around the world. They have been organized to express solidarity with the aims of the original march: opposition to President Trump’s agenda, and support of women’s rights and human rights in general.

    Given the quirks of time zones, many of those marches kicked off before the event that inspired them. In Paris, London, Berlin, Amsterdam, Mexico City, Bangkok, Delhi, Cape Town, and other cities, protesters have already broken out their signs and pink hats in solidarity. […]

    There were even “marchers” in Antarctica. Linda Zunas, a reseacher in a remote corner of the continent called Paradise Bay, told The Independent that she organized a group of 30 people with banners reading “Penguins for peace” and “love from seven continents.”

    I hope a few Republicans are getting second thoughts…

  65. says

    Trump’s new Attorney General and some other members of the Justice Department are not yet in place, but the Trump administration has moved to delay a hearing in Texas on a voting rights case.

    I would add this delay to the accounting of bad news that PZ posted in the “Stop tolerating the intolerable” thread. Expect the Republicans to push harder than they already have to give a free pass to legislation that is “racially motivated” and that will restrict voting rights. The “racially motivated” quote comes from a United States District Court judge in the southern district of the Corpus Christi division of Texas.

    Maddow link. The video is 6:01minutes long.

  66. says

    Trump plagiarized the Bee Movie for some of the text he read at his inauguration speech.

    Bee Movie:

    We are one colony — and their pain is our pain. their dreams are our dreams; and their success will be our success. We share one hear, one hive, and one glorious destiny.

    Trump’s inaugural speech:

    We are one nation — and their pain is our pain. Their dreams are our dreams; and their success will be our success. We share one heart, one home, and one glorious destiny.

    From Chrissy Teigen:

    @paulythegun @nuitnah I just watched bee movie 4 times. On each tv in the house and can verify it is the same quote and on each tv

  67. says

    I suspected as much. A White House official confirmed that Trump’s inaugural speech was written by Steve Bannon and Stephen Miller. Republicans elected Steve Bannon, and he has a writer to help him puppet-master the Orange Dumpster Fire.

    Trump’s apocalyptic inaugural address was pure Steve Bannon, and a White House official now confirms that it was written by Bannon and Stephen Miller. In another of those weird recent attempts to draw historic parallels between Trump and Andrew Jackson, Bannon is quoted as saying, “I don’t think we’ve had a speech like that since Andrew Jackson came to the White House. It’s got a deep, deep root of patriotism.”

    But if you read Jackson’s first inaugural address, it is full of the modesty, humility, self-deprecation and traditional appeals to our better nature that are historically associated with presidential inaugural addresses. There is nothing in it on par with Trump’s “American carnage.”

    Delivered in March 1829, almost 188 years ago, it contains little evidence of the characterological traits of Jackson’s that define his historic persona. It’s subdued. Whatever you think of the controversies Jackson went on to ignite in his two terms as president, it began with a speech that gave dutiful nods to history, declined to elevate the self, and placed his own moment within the continuum of his predecessors. It was a thoroughly anti-Trumpian address. Here’s the full text (the Library of Congress has images of the handwritten draft) […]

    Talking Points Memo link

  68. says

    The crowd size estimates:
    Trump 2017: 250,000
    Obama 2013: 1,000,000
    Obama 2009: 1,800,000
    Women’s March 2017: 500,000

    Yes, that’s right, twice as many people attending the Women’s March rally as attended Trump’s inauguration.

    The Women’s March requested 1,000 more bus permits than were needed for Trump’s inauguration.

    The crowds of people walking to the Women’s March went on for blocks and blocks.

    From Laura Litvan:

    D.C. Metro says as of 11 a.m. 275k people rode. That’s 8 times more than typical Saturday and 82k more than same time yday #WomensMarch

    Lots of good photos and some videos are available at Think Progress

    So much more fun to watch the Women’s March than it is to tune in to coverage of Trump looking uncomfortable in church.

  69. says

    It’s amusing to see some of the signs being carried by women in other countries:
    “Trump in a BLERT.”
    “A Woman’s Place is in the Resistance” [with drawing of Princess Leia]
    “Uteruses before duderuses” [#womensmarchlondon]
    “Trump is a bad Arl Arse!”
    “Scouse solidarity with our sisters in America”
    “Women for Climate Justice, The women’s Global Call for Climate Justice” [Paris]
    “A woman is somebody, not some body” [Paris]
    “Don’t make America hate again.” [Paris]

    Translation needed for “Arl Arse” and “Blert”.

  70. Hj Hornbeck says

    Interesting news, from Chicago:

    Initially, organizers estimated the event would draw 22,000 people and later said it would be closer to 50,000 for the Women’s March on Chicago — one of more than 200-plus such across the globe aimed at sending a message to newly minted U.S. President Donald Trump: that women’s rights shouldn’t be ignored.

    Unfortunately, they got it wrong.

    While the rally will go on, the march portion of the Women’s March on Chicago has been canceled after a mushrooming crowd of 150,000 packed the downtown event Saturday.

    “Our march route is flooded. There is no safe way to march. We are just going to sing and dance and make our voices heard here,” rally and march co-chairwoman Ann Scholhmer told the crowd at Jackson and Columbus drives just before 11 a.m.

    This is the general trend across the US; Twitter is filling up with crowd shots that put Trump’s inauguration to shame, and each is in a different city.

  71. says

    From an unidentified little girl carrying a sign in the Women’s March: “I can vote in 11 years and my vote will count.!”

    From an unidentified young white man wearing a pink hat: “Raised by Women.”

    On the other hand, there were a few anti-feminist protestors, all of them men:

    Self proclaimed anti-feminist men came out to protest the protest, attracting some attention from #womensmarch

    One guy held a sign that read “Wives, submit yourselves […]”. Women and men who were part of the Women’s March surrounded the anti-feminists to give them the finger. Nice photo at the link.

  72. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Wives, submit yourselves

    “obey” by either party was not in the marriage vows the Redhead and I exchanged. Which is the way it should be, and is if you aren’t a bigot.

  73. says

    From Elizabeth Warren at the Women’s March in Boston:

    Now we can whimper, we can whine, or we can fight back. Me, I’m here to fight back. […]

    The fact is that the playing field has been tilted badly in favor of those at the top for a generation now. And now, President Trump and the Republican Congress are ready to ram through laws that will tilt it even harder. […]

  74. Ogvorbis: A bear of very little brains. says

    I keep running across Trump lying about things that are minor, inconsequential. I was reminded of this quote (attributed the Albert Einstein but I’m not sure of the provenance):

    “Whoever is careless with the truth in small matters cannot be trusted with important matters”

  75. says

    Other signs from the Women’s March

    “My arms are tired from holding this sign since the 1960s.”

    “I can’t believe I still have to protest this fucking shit.”

    “Girls just want to have FUN…damental rights”

    “I’m not usually a sign girl but geez”

    Two little girls held a sign that read, “You can’t comb over racism.”

    From Antartica: “Penguins for Peace.”

    Meanwhile, Libertarians 4 Trump posted images and text that claim women are marching to put their fellow women in burkas and in chains.

    From the rightwing there are also a lot of postings that fall into the category of “women are being attacked with acid in Muslim countries, and you are complaining about the cost of birth control.” Another major rightwing category of comments is represented by, “Women’s March What a lame attempt to undermine our President. Our President has so many women in the White House and Cabinet. Look at facts!

    From the religious rightwing: “Please pray especially for adults who are leading children to consort with the powers of darkness at the #WomensMarch today.

    Just so I don’t have to end this post with rightwing rubbish, here’s a good sign from the Women’s March in San Francisco: “So bad, even introverts are here.”

  76. says

    Using his old account, Trump tweeted this on his today: ““I am honered to serve you, the great American people, as your 45th President of the United States!”

    Twelve minutes later, he deleted the tweet with the spelling error and posted a corrected version. He then posted the same message on his new @POTUS twitter account, with the correct spelling.

    Trump may have broken the law when he deleted the first tweet. The Presidential Records Act requires all communications from or received by the president to be preserved.

    A lot of other people are preserving the first tweet, including elementary-school-age children, who seem to get a lot of pleasure out of catching the error.

  77. says

    A few estimates of crowd size from Women’s Marches:
    500,000 + in Washington D.C.
    300,000 in NYC
    150,000 in Chicago
    125,000 in Boston
    50,000 in Austin, TX
    15,000 in St. Louis
    10,000 in Portland, ME

  78. says

    This is a followup to comment 114.

    Regarding that plagiarized cake design:

    […] Tiffany MacIsaac, owner of Washington’s Buttercream Bakeshop, posted a photo and explanation.

    According to an interview with the Washington Post, MacIssac got a call from a client asking the bakery to recreate the 2013 inauguration cake. She told them that she would prefer to use it as inspiration, but she told the Post that the client insisted on replicating it.

    She said that she did not want to discriminate against the client, but that she would be donating the money from the cake to the Human Rights Campaign.

    “I’m a small-business owner and one of the things I’m very, very proud about is that I don’t discriminate,” MacIsaac told the Post. “I would never turn someone away based on their age, their sex, their sexual orientation, their political views. It’s just not the way we operate.”


    This might fall into the category Ogvorbis was highlighting earlier: it’s the little things.

  79. says

    Thanks, microraptor @117, for the correction.

    In other news, holy crap! Sean Spicer went off the deep end in the press conference he gave today:

    […] “This was the largest audience ever to witness an inauguration, period,” Spicer said with emphasis. “Both in person and around the globe.”

    He accused the media of “deliberately false reporting” both with regard to photos of the crowd that were published as well as crowd estimates.

    “No one had numbers. Because the National Park Service, which controls the National Mall, does not put any out,” Spicer said.

    “These attempts to lessen the enthusiasm of the inauguration are shameful and wrong,” he added. […]

    Crowds at Trump’s inauguration didn’t appear to measure up to those at Barack Obama’s inaugurations, according to the D.C. metro authority’s initial ridership estimates.

    Spicer hit the assembled White House press corps with some different numbers, though: He claimed that 420,000 people used the D.C. metro on Trump’s Inauguration Day, compared to 317,000 for Obama’s 2013 inauguration.

    Those numbers simply don’t match up with what Metro has reported. According to the Washington Post, Metro said 570,557 people took trips on Friday in total, compared with 1.1 million trips at Obama’s 2009 inauguration and 782,000 at his 2013 inauguration.

    Sounds like Spicer made shit up.

    Aerial photos of the crowd at Trump’s inauguration had shown much open space on the National Mall when compared side-by-side with an aerial photo of Obama’s 2009 inauguration.

    Spicer told reporters in the White House briefing room that Trump’s inauguration was the first to use floor coverings to protect the grass on the National Mall. He said that aerial photos framed around the area of those floor coverings were misleading because the coverings had the effect of highlighting spaces where people were not standing.

    That’s true about the floor covering, however, all media coverage I saw took that into account. Furthermore, Spicer himself praised a side-by-side photo presentation by The New York Times which plainly shows more people at Obama’s inauguration. And, yes, you can easily tell where people are standing when the floor coverings are there, and, more importantly, when they were not there. OMG can you ever see the difference: Look for yourself, link

    You should watch Spicer give this statement, which was not a press conference (no questions were taken). Spicer blew a gasket. He is lying and he is scolding the media. Scroll down at the link for the video. This display of pique and stupidity is terrible, awful.

    Talking Points Memo link

    Earlier in the day, Trump had also excoriated the press during a speech he gave when he met with employees at the CIA.

    On his first full day in the White House, President Trump went to the CIA presumably to try and offer an olive branch to members of the intelligence community he often maligned over their conclusions that Russia had conspired to influence the U.S. elections.

    Instead, he falsely denied that he had ever criticized the agency, falsely inflated the crowd size at his inauguration on Friday, attacked the media and told intelligence officers gathered to, “Trust me. I’m like a smart person.” […]

    “There is nobody that feels stronger about the intelligence community and the CIA than Donald Trump,” the president boasted, referring to himself in the third person.

    He said that the agency sometimes hadn’t gotten the backing they deserved from the White House, and promised that “you’re going to get so much backing, maybe you’re going to say, ‘please don’t give us so much backing'” — adapting a line he said many times during the campaign.

    He ended his remarks by telling those gathered that, “I love you. I respect you. There’s nobody I respect more. You’re going to do a fantastic job. We’re going to start winning again, and you’re going to lead the charge” in helping combat ISIS. […]

    Referencing his “running war with the media” and calling them “among the most dishonest human beings on earth” — a line which got laughs and applause from the crowd of CIA officers — he claimed that the press had misreported what he’s said in the past.

    “They sort of made it sound like I had a feud with the intelligence community,” Trump said. “And I just wanted to let you know, the reason you’re the No. 1 stop, it is exactly the opposite, and they understand that.”

    I guess likening the intelligence community to “Nazis” was just a joke, eh? And accusing former CIA Director Brennan of leaking damaging information was also just a joke?

    But Trump continued bashing the media, launching into a tirade claiming that the crowd sizes during his inauguration yesterday were being misrepresented.

    “We had a massive field of people. You saw that. Packed,” he said. “I get up this morning, I turn on one of the networks, they show an empty field. I said, wait a minute, I made a speech. I looked out, it looked like a million, a million and a half people. They showed a field where there were practically nobody standing there.”

    “It went all the way back to the Washington Monument,” Trump claimed. […]

    […] according to aerial photos and multiple NPR reporters on the ground, the crowd was nowhere near the Washington Monument. The mall area near the monument was sparsely populated, and Trump didn’t offer any verification for where the 1 million to 1.5 million estimate came from, or for knocking down one news report’s estimate that there were only 250,000 people in attendance.

    NPR link

    Holy crap. I think that Trump and his team know that they cannot really compete with reality so they have decided to continue their campaign to discredit the real journalists who bring us the facts.

  80. says

    Spicer did not mention the many Women’s Marches that took place today except to mention that the crowd sizes were not reported accurately.

  81. What a Maroon, living up to the 'nym says

    Re the crowd size at the inauguration, check out tomorrow’s Doonesbury (can’t find it online, but we get the Sunday WaPost comics on Saturday). And keep in mind that it was drawn in advance. Hilarious!

  82. says

    Daily Kos also covered the fact that Trump visited the CIA and delivered some whopping lies.

    Just one of bits Trump dropped at the CIA:

    We had something like a million and a half people. It went all the way back to the Washington Monument. Then I turn on the media and they say we had 250,000 people. That’s not bad. But it’s a lie. … We caught them. We caught them in a lie, and it was a beauty.

    His other whopper:

    I have a running war with the media. They are among the most dishonest human beings on earth. They made it sound like I had a feud with the intelligence community. … exactly the opposite.

    Trump also repeated to the CIA that “we should have kept the oil,” referring to Iraq. He followed that up with “Maybe we’ll have another chance.” [shudder]

    One thing is clear. As Mark Sumner put it: “Apparently Trump’s Twitter account is part of the dishonest media.” That twitter account is full of Trump’s many denigrating comments about the intelligence community.

    Oh, I forgot to mention that Trump told the CIA that the rain miraculously stopped while he was delivering his speech. Nope. No true.

  83. What a Maroon, living up to the 'nym says

    Trump’s speech at the CIA pissed off at least one former director.

    Former CIA Director John Brennan is “deeply saddened and angered” at President Donald Trump after the commander in chief addressed CIA employees at their headquarters in Langley, Virginia, on Saturday, Brennan’s former deputy chief of staff says.
    Trump spent much of his speech — which he gave in front of a memorial wall that honors the 117 CIA officers who have fallen in the line of duty — focusing on the size of the crowd size at his inauguration, his appearance on magazine covers and saying he “has a running war with the media.”

    “Former CIA Director Brennan is deeply saddened and angered at Donald Trump’s despicable display of self-aggrandizement in front of CIA’s Memorial Wall of Agency heroes,” Nick Shapiro said in a statement. “Brennan says that Trump should be ashamed of himself.”

  84. says

    What a Maroon @123, I’m so glad to seeing that some people are standing up to Trump. A lot of people let him get away with despicable behavior. It may just be me, but it seems like more and more people are calling out the lies and the bad behavior.

    I wonder how long it will take Trump to realize that most people don’t like him?

  85. says

    These are the crowd size estimates that come from a former director of crowd logistics:

    Trump 2017: 250,000

    Obama 2013: 1,000,000

    Obama 2009: 1,800,000

    Dan Gross is now a New York City deputy communications director.

    In that twitter feed, Dan Gross also debunks the “blame it on the weather” excuses for the relatively small crowd at Trump’s inauguration. Gross also points out that the protest in NYC last night surpassed the Trump “concert” which was held the day before the inauguration. (14,000 vs 10,000)

    Gross thinks that the low turnout for Trump simply corroborates his low approval rating.

  86. says

    I meant to note in comment 125 that Dan Gross said he was being “generous, very generous” with the 250,000 estimate for the size of the inauguration crowd.

  87. says

    This is a followup to comment 118.

    Kellyanne Conway defended Sean Spicer by saying that Spicer wasn’t lying, he was presenting “alternative facts.”

    “On this matter of crowd size, I think it is a symbol for the unfair and incomplete treatment that this president often receives,” Conway told Chuck Todd on MSNBC’s “Meet The Press.”

    “You did not answer the question of why the president asked the White House press secretary to come out in front of the podium for the first time and utter a falsehood,” Todd interrupted. “Why did he do that? It undermines the credibility of the entire White House press office on day one.”

    “No, it doesn’t. Don’t be so overly dramatic about it, Chuck,” Conway replied. “You’re saying it’s a falsehood, and they’re giving Sean Spicer, our press secretary, gave alternative facts to that. But the point really is—”

    “Wait a minute. Alternative facts? Alternative facts?” Todd interjected, looking incredulous. “Four of the five facts he uttered were just not true.”

    Conway tried to interrupt, but Todd continued.

    “Look, alternative facts are not facts,” he said. […]

    As the President’s press secretary, Spicer has an obligation to try to tell the truth, and to try to get the facts to the press. I now wonder if part of his anger, and his I’m-about-explode demeanor stemmed from being forced to stand at the podium in the White House press room and lie his ass off. I might be giving Spicer too much credit.

    But, in the interview, it sounded like Conway almost said that someone was giving Spicer alternative facts.

  88. says

    Ah. The tactics have shifted. The new argument from Team Trump is that crowd size is not really important.

    Uh, then why did Trump make crowd size part of his speech at the CIA? And why did Spicer make it a major portion of his first official statement to the press? And why is Reince Priebus still employing the old tactic of claiming that the media is lying about the crowd size? No message discipline? Keeping everyone on the same Lie Train is hard?

  89. says

    Representative Mike Pompeo is Trump’s nominee to head the CIA. This is Pompeo sneaking waterboarding and other crimes against humanity in by the back door:

    […] “If confirmed, I will consult with experts at the Agency and at other organizations in the US government on whether the Army Field Manual uniform application is an impediment to gathering vital intelligence to protect the country,” he wrote. The Army Field Manual currently prohibits the use of waterboarding and other forms of torture.

  90. says

    More crowd size analysis, this time it comes from crowd experts Marcel Altenburg and Keith Still from Metropolitan University in the U.K.

    […] They estimate that, based on available photos and videos, around 160,000 people were on the National Mall during the inauguration. Altenburg and Still added that the women’s march drew 470,000 people on the Mall.

    Trump falsely said on Saturday that more than a million people showed up to the inauguration and that the crowd stretched all the way back to the Washington Monument. White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer bashed the media for its reporting on the crowd size, saying falsely that “this was the largest audience to ever witness the inauguration period both in person and around the globe.”


  91. says

    More proof, as if we need it, that Sean Spicer and Trump lied and then lied again about crowd size.

    The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) says it had its second-busiest traffic day ever for Saturday’s Women’s March on Washington, with 1,001,616 rides on the capital’s subway system. […]

    WMATA’s busiest day was in 2009, when former President Barack Obama’s inauguration drew 1.1 million rides. […]

    Metro said it saw higher ridership for the march than for President Trump’s inauguration one day before.


  92. says

    The marches yesterday – including my local event – were great. Exceeded all expectations. I talked to friends/family at different ones and they were all amazed and inspired.

    (Were there any marches in Russia? There weren’t any listed on the sister-marches page, but I thought that might be for security reasons…)

    In breaking and other news:

    It’s being reported that the Trump administration will announce tomorrow that they’ll move the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.

    Graham and McCain will vote for Tillerson.

    Trump has chosen this guy to head the DOJ Civil Rights Division.

    Chuck Todd showed some spine in his interview with Kellyanne Conway this morning, particularly in his response to her desperate remark about “alternative facts.”

    Reactions to Trump’s appalling spectacle of an appearance at the CIA, and to his general attitude tooward the IC, have not been positive.

  93. Saad says

    Lynna, #132

    This is extremely worrying. Just imagine what else they will lie about. They’re lying boldly and unashamedly about something that is so clearly false and so easily verifiable by the public and the press. Wait until they start lying about things that the media can’t easily check and things that the public has no chance at all of checking.

  94. says

    Two observations:

    The CIA appearance and the press speech were at once utterly outrageous and…predictably boring. Yes, they were autocratic spectacles, but of the same type we’ve seen for months. Trump’s bombast is a shtick, and it’s already tiresome. His pathological narcissism, dishonesty, vindictiveness, and craving for affirmation are also well known at this point and to be expected. He makes the same false claims over and over – all that changes are the people/entities/organizations/institutions slotted into the “enemy” box. His camp’s spin is the same as the Kremlin’s and its themes are just picked up by his propaganda network and Twitter/comment trolls. The lying and attacks are shocking, but also monotonous. I can read a tweet and almost always predict the line the Trumpists will take. It’s the spectacle of authoritarianism but in a culture that’s already been saturated with spectacle for decades. Yawn. Their policies and administrative actions will be horrifying and harmful and need to be reported and opposed at every turn, but the whole act has already worn thin.

    Also, people keep talking about how Trump is successfully using the press as a foil, but I think we forget that Trump’s attacks could well have the same effect on the press’s side. They’re not all that unpopular, and much of their current unpopularity (among all but diehard Trumpists) stems from their general obsequiousness to power and also their failure to be tough enough on Trump during the campaign and their treatment of Clinton. Most people recognize the need for a free press and will support a media that insists on the truth, refuses to be a court stenographer, and investigates and exposes the powerful. Especially if Trump, who is extremely unpopular, continues to make easily disprovable claims and they focus on getting and telling the real story their credibility and support should rise.

  95. says

    “Conway: ‘We’re going to have to rethink our relationship’ with press”:

    A top aide to President Trump said on Sunday that the new administration is going to “rethink” its relationship with the press.

    “Chuck, if we’re going to keep referring to our press secretary in those types of terms, I think we’re going to have to rethink our relationship here,” Kellyanne Conway said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” after host Chuck Todd asked about press secretary Sean Spicer’s criticism of the press one day earlier….

    The press should be rethinking their relationship! Don’t air press events live or even necessarily attend, don’t book these propagandists and known fabricators as guests, be more aggressive in calling out their spin and showing the reality, pay attention to the gutting and silencing of independent government information and ethics agencies, cultivate leaks, show solidarity with targeted journalists and outlets, demand independent verification of any administration claims before reporting them, and assume all pronouncements to be untrue until they can be verified.

  96. says

    SC @136, good points.

    For some time, Trump and his team got an almost free pass when they threatened members of the press with various punishments. Some media organizations took at least a baby step back when they were threatened. I don’t think Trump and his team will get away with that much anymore.

    When Conway says, “Chuck, if we’re going to keep referring to our press secretary in those types of terms, I think we’re going to have to rethink our relationship here,” she is threatening Chuck Todd and NBC with less access to her and to the rest of the Trump administration. It’s a bullying tactic.

    See also comment 127 for the Chuck Todd vs Kellyanne Conway debate over facts and “alternative facts.”

    Even if the Trump team tries to punish Todd for standing up to Conway, I don’t think they can really harm him.

  97. says

    “Trump Promised to Resign From His Companies — But There’s No Record He’s Done So”:

    At a news conference last week, now-President Donald Trump said he and his daughter, Ivanka, had signed paperwork relinquishing control of all Trump-branded companies. Next to him were stacks of papers in manila envelopes — documents he said transferred “complete and total control” of his businesses to his two sons and another longtime employee.

    Sheri Dillon, the Trump attorney who presented the plan, said that Trump “has relinquished leadership and management of the Trump Organization.” Everything would be placed in a family trust by Jan. 20, she said.

    That hasn’t happened.

    To transfer ownership of his biggest companies, Trump has to file a long list of documents in Florida, Delaware and New York. We asked officials in each of those states whether they have received the paperwork. As of 3:15 p.m. today, the officials said they have not.

    Trump and his associates “are not doing what they said they would do,” said Richard Painter, the chief ethics lawyer for President George W. Bush. “And even that was completely inadequate.”…

  98. says

    The petition calling on Trump to release his tax returns is well past the 100,000 signatures needed to trigger an official response. The petition currently has 158,700 signatures.
    White House Petitions page for this petition.

    That system for online petitions was set up by President Obama. What Trump will do with it is unknown. I think people should continue to add their names to the petition. Trump is sensitive to public sentiment.

    The unprecedented economic conflicts of this administration need to be visible to the American people, including any pertinent documentation which can reveal the foreign influences and financial interests which may put Donald Trump in conflict with the emoluments clause of the Constitution.

  99. blf says

    Trump is sensitive to public sentiment.

    Eh? I’d say: Teh trum-prat is contemptuous to what he is told is public sentiment, except when what he is told he perceives as what popped into his head when he was told.

    Shorter version: If it didn’t pop into his head at the current time, it is false. It must be false, since it isn’t the latest thing which popped into his head.

  100. says

    One more sign from the Women’s March: “OH SHIT HE’S NUTS”

    In a followup to comment 140, here is Kellyanne Conway’s response when questioned about the petition:

    The White House response is that he’s not going to release his tax returns. We litigated this all through the election. People didn’t care. They voted for him.

    That’s the answer they give to a lot of troubling questions: Trump won, so it doesn’t matter.

    That’s not true. Winning the election does not remove the public pressure to release tax returns. Winning the election does not give the Trump team license to lie about anything, including crowd size, and the Women’s March. Obviously, that’s how Trump thinks: he thinks that winning the election gives him an automatic free pass on a lot of subjects. And I think he has infected his team.

    His team are following his lead when pointing to his win as an answer to any question or response to any protest. Here’s an example of Trump’s use of this tactic:

    “Watched protests yesterday but was under the impression that we just had an election! Why didn’t these people vote?” Trump asked on Twitter. “Celebs hurt cause badly,” he said.

  101. says

    blf @141, Trump noticed both public and media attention when Republicans tried to do away with the Ethics committee.

    He notices and he responds. Sometimes he takes credit for walk-backs the public and the media have fostered, like the walk-back on the ethics committee. He didn’t deserve credit, but he took it.

    I think he can be affected if the pushback is massive.

  102. says

    Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday also pushed back against lies:

    “You talk about honesty, and say that this was about honesty,” Wallace said. [Referring to so-called “dishonesty” in the media about crowd size.] “Well, there’s another issue, though, Reince, and that’s the President’s honesty, because two things that he said yesterday were just flat wrong.”

    Good job, Chris Wallace. Yes, it is about Trump’s honesty, or lack thereof.

  103. says

    Josh Marshall’s response to the primal-scream of Sean Spicer’s press conference:

    […] On the one hand it is chilling, bizarre, un-American to see the President’s spokesman begin the term excoriating and threatening the press, telling demonstrable lies, speaking with a palpable rage in his voice. On the other, the President and his toadies are on the second day almost vanishingly small. They are embarrassing themselves. They look silly. They look ridiculous. It is hard to be intimidated by ridiculousness. I suspect this will be the abiding duality of the Trump presidency. […]

    See comment 118 for more info.

  104. blf says

    Lynn@143, I disagree. Teh trum-prat may have claimed he noticed the Ethics Committee incident, but why believe him? He is a serial, and seemingly-continuous, liar.

    The hypothesis he was told about the protests and that also happened to be what popped into his head when told is not disproven. It addition, he apparently said not that disbanding the committee was wrong, but that it was the wrong time to do it. Of course, he is a liar, so what he really “thinks” is unclear.

    I do not know if the possibly temporary reversal of the disbanding was accomplished by teh trum-prat’s braying, public opinion, and / or bribes / blackmail.

  105. says

    Sigh. Time for Trump’s team to attack CIA Director John Brennan some more.

    […] In a statement posted to Twitter on Saturday night, former CIA Deputy Chief of Staff Nick Shapiro wrote that Brennan was “deeply saddened and angered at Trump’s despicable display of self-aggrandizement” and said the President should be “ashamed of himself.” […]

    White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus suggested in an interview on “Fox News Sunday” that Brennan was “bitter” over his replacement.

    “You know, he was replaced the day before. He was not asked to hold over like Clapper was,” Priebus said. “I don’t know what’s in his head.” […]

    In an interview on ABC’s “This Week,” senior Trump advisor Kellyanne Conway called Brennan’s response an “unremarkable, spectacularly disappointing statement” and said that Brennan “sounded like a partisan political hack.”

    “I really think everybody needs to take a step back and a very deep breath and think about what their words are,” she said. […]

    “It’s really time for him to put in his own security and intelligence community,” she said. “We really would prefer the intelligence community that’s going out the door to be much more respectful toward the President.”

    Trump should earn respect, not demand it.

  106. says

    blf @146, yes. I concede. Those are good points.

    Regarding other issues that are not entirely clear, what’s up with WikiLeaks? Here is a WikiLeaks post from today:

    Trump’s breach of promise over the release of his tax returns is even more gratuitous than Clinton concealing her Goldman Sachs transcripts.

    Of course, WikiLeaks did use the post to lambast Hillary Clinton again. There is no equivalence between Trump’s failure to release his tax returns and Clinton’s decision to not release transcripts of her speeches at Goldman Sachs events.

  107. says

    Jay Carney, who worked as President Obama’s press secretary from 2011 to 2014, responded to Sean Spicer’s performance:

    The President I worked for never told me to lie. Ever. And I doubt Pres. Bush ever told @AriFleischer to lie. Today was not normal.

    Brian Fallon, who would have been Clinton’s press secretary had she won, said:

    Sean Spicer lacks the guts or integrity to refuse orders to go out and lie. He is a failure in this job on his first full day.

  108. says

    Sean Spicer is being trolled mercilessly for telling four blatant lies in less than two minutes at his first press briefing as Trump’s press secretary.

    Scenes from movies and from Nazi rallies were used to illustrate tweets like: “Sean Spicer releases new photo showing true size of crowd for Trump’s inauguration #spicerfacts” and “This photo proves that Trump inauguration crowd was actually quite impressive! #SpicerFacts#TrumpInaugural#TrumpTreason”.

    Other tweets are creative riffs on the phrasing Spicer used when he lied:

    The Death Star had no design flaws. Period.

    Actually, 3 Doors Down was always first on our wish list for the #Inauguration concert. #SpicerFacts

    That was not Three Doors Down it was The Rolling Stones. Period. #SeanSpicerFacts

    Bear attacks at schools are down 2,839% since Betsy DeVos’s confirmation hearing. Period #SeanSpicerFacts

    He is really good at Cyber you guys. We are seriously going to have the best Cyber. #SeanSpicer #SeanSpicerFacts


    There were no protests today. Everyone loves the new president. Period. #SpicerFacts

    Donald Trump was born in a log cabin, and learned to read by firelight. He chopped down a cherry tree, and wrassled bears. #SpicerFacts

    #SpicerFacts Trump has already accomplished enough to be the most successful president in u.s. history

    Trump was America’s first black astronaut. #SpicerFacts

    That was not empty space…that was millions of people wearing sheets. PERIOD. #Spicerfacts

    President Trump is touched by enthusiasm and patience of milllions of spectators that arrived just 1 day late to inauguration #spicerfacts

    These bleachers aren’t empty, our supporters are just super tiny. Look closer. Media lies. #Spicerfacts

    Since taking the oath of office, President Trump has dropped 25lbs! #SpicerFacts

    Trump bowled a home run today in his very first frame at the White House bowling alley.

    [end quotes from tweets trolling Sean Spicer]

    Yes, I think we can all agree now that Sean Spicer destroyed his credibility (what little he had) on the first full day of the Trump presidency.

    Ridicule works.

  109. says

    Surprisingly enough, Iraqis – who are currently fighting ISIS* – were miffed about Trump’s promise to loot their oil:

    “If we kept the oil, you probably wouldn’t have ISIS because that’s where they made their money in the first place,” Trump told CIA employees in a speech broadcast on television. “So we should have kept the oil, but, OK, maybe we’ll have another chance.”

    * The IMF gave them a loan to help pay for the war against ISIS? WTF? Why should they have to pay in the first place, after they were criminally invaded and occupied?

  110. says

    Sean Spicer is being trolled mercilessly for telling four blatant lies in less than two minutes at his first press briefing as Trump’s press secretary.

    “Trump was America’s first black astronaut” is making me giggle. #alternativefacts is also trending and also amusing, with some serious quoting of Orwell.

  111. says

    Trump’s CIA appearance was bonkers:

    Trump’s unscripted remarks were, instead, largely about himself, even as he praised Mike Pompeo—a West Point and Harvard Law School graduate, Kansas congressman, and Tea Party supporter—as his choice to lead the C.I.A.

    “No. 1 in his class at West Point,” Trump said. “Now, I know a lot about West Point. I’m a person that very strongly believes in academics. In fact, every time I say I had an uncle who was a great professor at M.I.T. for thirty-five years, who did a fantastic job in so many different ways, academically—was an academic genius—and then they say, Is Donald Trump an intellectual?* Trust me, I’m like a smart persona.”

    Apparently as proof, the President noted that he had set an “all-time record” in Time magazine cover stories. “Like, if Tom Brady is on the cover, it’s one time, because he won the Super Bowl or something, right?” he told the intelligence officials. “I’ve been on it for fifteen times this year. I don’t think that’s a record that can ever be broken.” Time told Politico’s Playbook that it had published eleven Trump covers—and had done fifty-five cover stories about Richard Nixon.

    * This is sad even by eugenics standards.

  112. says

    Thanks for the link to inspiring photos in comment 161, SC. Some members of the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department wore pink hats, link to photo.

    I liked the sign one woman was holding: “Ignorance is not a virtue.”

    Hillary Clinton loved scrolling through the photos:

    Scrolling through images of the #womensmarch is awe-inspiring. Hope it brought joy to others as it did to me.

    Re comment 160, is that the “America First” agenda? Zenophobia.

    Re comment 159, General Flynn looks and sounds like a go-between who favors Russia and who is out to weaken Nato.

    Re comment 158, yes that speech Trump gave at CIA headquarters was truly whacko. How many times does Trump have to reveal his true nature before some of his followers face-palm and then walk away from his so-called “movement”?

    In other news, Trump has added a another Breitbart writer to the White House staff.

    Julia Hahn will be a special assistant to the president, according to the report, and is expected to work primarily under chief strategist and former Breitbart executive Steve Bannon. […]

  113. says

    Kellyanne Conway – bringing renewed attention to the Gish Gallop.

    Some members of the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department wore pink hats, link to photo.

    Wonderful. The police at my local march were very good. One guy climbed up on a lamppost to take pictures of the crowd and they politely asked him to get down for safety reasons, and that was the only involvement I saw. From everything I’ve seen – although I’m sure there could be exceptions – that was the rule across the country.

  114. says

    I was in the heart of the DC protest, and saw a total of four cops all day. One of whom, to great cheers, was dancing on top of his vehicle briefly. I’ve never been good with crowds – PTSD makes me hypervigilant usually – but I felt no anxiety at all at the March, given the feeling that the people around me were fundamentally on my side. It’s the first time I’ve experienced that in such a crowd.

    Pride Day in Toronto, for instance, often draws several hundred thousand people, but it usually includes creeps with cameras making people uncomfortable, and other elements of unsafety. I couldn’t be happier that I made the effort to get down here for it, and more so given the number of my fellow Canadians turned back by Trumpistas at the border.

  115. says

    WIRED noted that “Trump’s Flack Said a Lot of Wrong Stuff. Nerds Ain’t Having It.” The posts make fun of Sean Spicer. They use a photo taken during his bonkers statement to make it look like he is saying all manner of stupid/false stuff. Period.


    “Star Trek V: The Final Frontier is the best Star Trek film in the series. In fact the greatest film of all time. Period.”

    E.T. is the best Atari game of all time. Period.

    “The first Matrix movie was just okay. But they get really good as the series continues.”

    “Actually, it’s about ethics in gaming journalism.”

    Crystal Skull is the Best Indiana Jones movie. Everyone knows it!

    Everyone loved Jar Jar. He’s why the prequels are so popular. Period.

    Terminator Genesys is the best Terminator. Period.

    Showgirls is without question the greatest film made in the last thirty years and won many Academy Awards including Best Picture.

    “Decker could not be a replicant. That’s just stupid. And this was some of Ford’s most uplifting voice work of his career. Period.”

    Limp Bizkit had more number one albums than The Beatles. Period.

    “I comprehend all the literary and pop culture references you’re making to illustrate that I’m a fucking liar. Okay, that was also a lie.”

  116. Hj Hornbeck says

    Looks like the first days are going as expected.

    “The truth of the matter is he had a successful inauguration with a respectful crowd. The transition of power went off without a hitch. His supporters were amiable by and large,” said Douglas Brinkley, a presidential historian. “But then he can never let go and stop watching cable TV. Now he’s off to the worst start of a presidency in a very long time.”

    That Trump wanted Sean Spicer, the press secretary, to go out with props in the White House briefing room — two large pictures of the crowd — was trademark, people who know him say. Trump loves props.

    One person who frequently talks to Trump said aides have to push back privately against his worst impulses in the White House, like the news conference idea, and have to control information that may infuriate him. He gets bored and likes to watch TV, this person said, so it is important to minimize that.

    This person said that a number of people close to him don’t like saying no — but that it has to be done.

    “You can’t do it in front of everyone,” this person said. “He’s never going to admit he’s wrong in front of everyone. You have to pull him aside and tell him why he’s wrong, and then you can get him to go along with you. These people don’t know how to get him to do what they need him to do.”

    I’ve met toddlers with greater impulse control than Trump.

  117. says

    This is a followup to comments 118, 122, 123 (What a Maroon), 133 (SC), 135 (SC), 147, 151 (SC) and 158 (SC).

    Steve Benen’s take on the speech Trump gave at CIA headquarters is excellent. I’ll post an excerpt below:

    […] Watching the speech was surreal, as if the lines between the actual president of the United States and a satirical caricature were effectively blurred out of existence.

    In remarks that were supposed to be about the CIA and the intelligence community, Trump found it difficult to stop talking about himself. “They say, ‘Is Donald Trump an intellectual?’” the president asked, quoting no one in particular. “Trust me. I’m, like, a smart person.”

    In a relatively brief appearance, he whined incessantly about journalists who told the truth about his inaugural crowd size. Trump pretended he hadn’t feuded with the intelligence community for months. He even credited God for preventing rain at his inauguration, despite the fact that it rained at his inauguration.

    And then the new president suggested Americans might need to prepare itself for another war in the Middle East.

    “If we kept the oil [in Iraq], we wouldn’t have had ISIS in the first place,” Trump argued. “The old expression, to the victor belong the spoils…. We should’ve kept the oil. But, okay, maybe we’ll have another chance.”

    Really? Putting aside the fact that pillaging is a war crime, when exactly might we have “another chance” to steal another country’s oil supplies? […]

    In a tweet yesterday, Trump added, “Had a great meeting at CIA Headquarters yesterday, packed house, paid great respect to Wall, long standing ovations, amazing people. WIN!” What matters in the president’s mind, of course, is whether he received applause at a well-attended appearance. […]

    BTW, in comment 118, I said that “[…] That’s true about the floor covering, […]” But what Sean Spicer said about the white plastic covered areas was not true. The same kind of protective covering was used in 2013.

  118. Hj Hornbeck says

    I thought that SNL skit where Trump was kissing Putin and members of the KKK was satire. Apparently it’s not.

    @richardhine (Richard Hine)

    Trump just literally blew a kiss to James Comey at a WH reception for law enforcement

    Retweets: 7,942; Likes: 7,284
    1:04 PM – 22 Jan 2017

    And yes, there is video. I…. ho boy.

  119. Hj Hornbeck says

    Also, a follow up:

    @JonHutson (Jon Hutson)

    Trump froze NPS account for correctly tweeting the tiny size of his inauguration crowd. Then he ordered them to apologize. #gaslighting

    Retweets: 10,346; Likes: 9,491
    4:27 PM – 21 Jan 2017

  120. says

    Why does an issue as trivial as crowd size matter?

    It matters because of how Trump thinks and what he has said. For example:

    Nobody has ever had crowds like Trump has had. You know that.

    They’ve just announced we’re going to have record crowds.

    Note the lie in the first quote, and note the use of the imaginary “they” in the second.

    The argument that we should drop the issue because it is trivial does not hold water when crowd size is obviously non-trivial to Trump. He and his team seized the opportunity to unleash a torrent of propagandistic lies. Trump made crowd size not just important, but of maximal importance. To him, crowd size equals a mandate for him to do whatever he likes.

    If anyone questions Trump’s crowd-size estimates, he is injured.

  121. Hj Hornbeck says

    Some helpful advice from the Department of Defense:

    ‏@DeptofDefense (U.S. Dept of Defense)

    Social media postings sometimes provide an important window into a person’s #mentalhealth. Know what to look for.

    Retweets: 4,590; Likes: 6,052
    5:00 AM – 23 Jan 2017

    Could’a used that two years ago, thanks.

  122. Hj Hornbeck says

    And a window into Trump’s weekend.

    After a transition in which he did relatively little to reach out to his opponents on the left and they hardly warmed to him, he found hundreds of thousands of protesters chanting just a few blocks from his new home on the first morning he woke up there.

    That has left the new White House feeling besieged from Day 1, fueling the president’s grievances and, in the view of some of his aides, necessitating an aggressive strategy to defend his legitimacy. “The point is not the crowd size,” Reince Priebus, the White House chief of staff, said on “Fox News Sunday” before the mood began to soften. “The point is that the attacks and the attempts to delegitimize this president in one day — and we’re not going to sit around and take it.”

    Mr. Trump grew increasingly angry on Inauguration Day after reading a series of Twitter messages pointing out that the size of his inaugural crowd did not rival that of Mr. Obama’s in 2009. But he spent his Friday night in a whirlwind of celebration and affirmation. When he awoke on Saturday morning, after his first night in the Executive Mansion, the glow was gone, several people close to him said, and the new president was filled anew with a sense of injury.

    Such a perpetual victim.

  123. Hj Hornbeck says

    And, finally, some insight from Garry Kasparov.

    ‏@Kasparov63 (Garry Kasparov)

    Obvious lies serve a purpose for an administration. They watch who challenges them and who loyally repeats them. The people must watch, too.

    Retweets: 18,273; Likes: 24,324
    7:21 PM – 21 Jan 2017

  124. Hj Hornbeck says

    Wait, did we mention this here? If not, it’s worth noting.

    Pool reports later indicated that attendants who were cheering and clapping when Mr Trump spoke were not CIA staffers but people who accompanied Mr Trump, Washington Post fact-checker Gary Kessler wrote on Twitter. He later clarified that it was unclear exactly who the people were, but senior CIA members standing in front did not react until the end of the speech.

  125. says

    Marco Rubio, like Graham and McCain, will support Tillerson for Secretary of State. Here‘s his ridiculous press release, which notes that

    While he condemned Russia for ‘supporting Syrian forces that brutally violate the laws of war,’ he refused to publicly acknowledge that Vladimir Putin has committed war crimes. Despite his extensive experience in Russia and his personal relationship with many of its leaders, he claimed he did not have sufficient information to determine whether Putin and his cronies were responsible for ordering the murder of countless dissidents, journalists, and political opponents. He indicated he would support sanctions on Putin for meddling in our elections only if they met the impossible condition that they not affect U.S. businesses operating in Russia. While he stated that the ‘status quo’ should be maintained for now on sanctions put in place following Putin’s illegal taking of Crimea, he was unwilling to firmly commit to maintaining them so long as Russia continues to occupy Crimea and eastern Ukraine.

    When I read these things, I veer wildly between reminding myself that leading Republicans are the most abject partisan stooges who will sell out their country for political gain and suspecting that Russian cyberintrusion into Republicans might have gone further than what’s been known or acknowledged. Either way, a hack is involved.

  126. Hj Hornbeck says


    But in making my decision on his nomination, I must balance these concerns with his extensive experience and success in international commerce, and my belief that the president is entitled to significant deference when it comes to his choices for the cabinet. Given the uncertainty that exists both at home and abroad about the direction of our foreign policy, it would be against our national interests to have this confirmation unnecessarily delayed or embroiled in controversy. Therefore, despite my reservations, I will support Mr. Tillerson’s nomination in committee and in the full Senate.

    That’s Marco Rubio, Tillerson’s greatest Republican opponent for the nomination. Tillerson’s likely to pass nomination.

  127. says

    Hornbeck @180, that was a good bit of staging by the Trump team. Every time a media outlet replays part of Trump’s speech at CIA Headquarters, we the viewers hear the audience cheering. It sounds like CIA personnel are cheering loudly and happily. That’s misleading.

    How do we stop Trump from bringing his own cheering squad to events like these?

  128. Hj Hornbeck says

    I don’t think we can stop it. The best we can hope for is that the news spreads this meme far and wide. Given that we knew he was paying for crowds from the very beginning, I’m not betting it will.

    Here’s a noteworthy trend, though.

    @gelliottmorris (G. Elliott Morris)

    Tweets from @realDonaldTrump have gotten increasingly negative since he’s been elected, especially in 2017. #inaguration2017
    6:04 PM – 15 Jan 2017

    Tweets from @realDonaldTrump are also consistently more negative than those from his staff. #inaug2017
    7:34 PM – 15 Jan 2017

  129. hjhornbeck says

    Kurt Eichenwald:

    I am going to try to explain why there is so much outrage in the intelligence agencies about what Trump did on Saturday in his CIA speech…

    …Imagine having a campaign rally at the National Cemetary. Or a cocktail fundraiser amid the grave markers of US soldiers in Normandy…

    …this “event” Trump held, purportedly to greet CIA employees, was in the Memorial Wall room, where 117 CIA employees who died in…

    …service to our country are honored. Many more have died, and it takes special approval to receive a star on the wall or be listed in…

    …the book, called the Book of Honor. Many of the names of the fallen will never be known, because their identities have to be kept…

    ..secret even in death. Rarely is that room used for anything, but when it is, solemn nature of it is recognized. GW Bush was, I believe…

    …the first president to hold an event there in 2001, but it was exceedingly respectful and in keeping with the meaning of the room. The…

    …second major event was an appearance by Obama after the killing of Bin Laden, when he went to the CIA to thank the ppl there for their…

    …often anonymous sacrifices that led to that success in the fight against terrorism. Again, solemn and fitting with the meaning of the…

    …room. Both Bush and Obama paid deep homage to those honored in the book and by the stars. CIA employees listened respectfully, but did…

    ..not turn the events into rallies. Then, Trump. He has the audacity to bring people from his team to cheer for him and sit in the front…

    …rows. I can’t imagine CIA employees cheering and whooping it up at Memorial Wall. It would be like screaming “BOO-yah!” at a funeral…

    ..Trump made a single, over-the-shoulder mention of the stars. But he spent most of his time griping about the media, bragging about the…

    …number of times he had been on the cover of Time Magazine, and complaining that everyone was lying about numbers at his inauguration….

    …and all the while, his professional cheerleaders who couldn’t find their way to the CIA bathroom are sitting there, cheering for the….

    ..many[sic] who apparently needs applause everywhere he goes. It was an abomination, perhaps the most disrespectful thing I have ever seen…

    …done by any president in that kind of place. I felt sure we would hear from former director Brennan pretty fast. Why? Because one of…

    …those stars on the wall belongs to a close friend of his who died in service of this country. And he knows who all the others are as…

    ..well. For him, I’m sure, it was like watching someone having a picnic on the graves in the National Cemetery. And then the same Trump….

    ..staff that was too lazy or stupid to do the advance work on the CIA trip, so that they knew the meaning of the wall, go on TV to attack…

    …Brennan as a partisan hack for wanting a room of such enormous meaning to be treated with the solemnity it deserves. And that is an…

    ..important element here. […]

  130. hjhornbeck says

    I didn’t know this (emphasis mine):

    Saturday’s Women’s Marches, which rebuked President Trump on the day after his inauguration, probably drew more than 3 million participants between hundreds of locations across the United States, making them among the largest mass protests in American history. The marches recalled the tea party protests of April 15, 2009, an event that helped to mark the beginnings of a backlash to former President Obama — but overall attendance at the Women’s Marches was about 10 times higher than at the tea party rallies, according to our estimates.

    This has me hopeful, given how the Tea Party was able to torque US politics.

  131. says

    My suggestions @ #136 above? Today’s press briefing – which I had to turn off to save my blood pressure – is Exhibit A for why the press should take that tack. If you air the lies and attacks live, subsequent factchecking will always be too little, too late.

  132. says

    hornbeck @190, yes, good points. Many of the links up-thread point to the same statistics. This is not hyperbole. We have the numbers.

    As for Trump’s followers already knowing that he paid actors to cheer when he first announced he was running for president, you would be surprised how many do not know that. 40% of rightwing voters get their news from Fox. Fox questioned that report, and then dismissed it as liberal media lies.

    Rachel Maddow recently showed that definitive proof of the actors being hired only recently came through. And even then, the Trump team and others claimed that the people who were hired were “administrative assistants” used to organize the event.

    We need to spread the news far and wide that Trump used a lot cheerleaders for his speech at CIA Headquarters. That tone-deaf move was as egregious as said in the tweets you quoted in comment 189.

  133. hjhornbeck says

    Looks like Trump has a message for us.

    After almost an hour a question is given to Jim Acosta of CNN, who was rebuffed and denounced as “fake news” by Trump at his NYT presser.

    Acosta asked why he and Trump both wanted to address the issue of the crowd size.

    He says they wanted to combat a media narrative that is constantly trying to undermine Trump. “It’s a little demoralizing to turn on the TV day after day and hear ‘can’t do this, this guy’s not going to go through’ … I’ve never seen it like this.”

    It’s important to understand that to constantly be told “no, no, no” gets a little frustrating, he says.

    “You see this historic thing”, Trump being inaugurated – “it’s an amazing view … And that was for the first time that we had to go through fencing, that far out,” he claims.

    But don’t you have bigger fish to fry?

    It’s about a constant theme, Spicer says. “The default narrative is always negative, and it’s demoralising.”

    Trump made a big sacrifice “leaving” a successful business, he says, and he doesn’t get credit for that. “Some days we do do the right thing. Some days we are successful … When we’re right, say we’re right. When we’re wrong, say we’re wrong.”

    Awwwwww, Trump’s feelings are hurt and he wants all of us to be nicer to him. Poor widdle fewwa, maybe we treat him the same way Obama was back in ’09.

  134. says

    This is a followup to SC’s comment 188.

    The Guttmacher Institute and other opponents of the gag rule say that such restrictions have devastating effects on international organizations, often forcing them to close their clinics or reduce their services, denying women access to help from safe providers and even hampering HIV prevention efforts.

  135. says

    Followup to SC’s comment 191.

    “CNN’s decision to not air the press conference live illustrates a recognition that the role of the press must be different under Trump. When the White House holds press briefings to promote demonstrably false information and refuses to take questions, then press ‘access’ becomes meaningless at best and complicit at worst.

    Democracy works best when journalists have access to the executive branch, of course. But that holds true if and only if that access leads to verifiable, accurate information. The decision on behalf of CNN to wait and verify before airing it live suggests that the media are adapting quickly to this new era.”

    The quoted text is from a statement by University of Delaware associate professor Danna Young.

  136. says

    Following up on comments 188 and 195.

    When Trump signed the executive order reinstating s Reagan-era abortion restriction, he was surrounded by men.

  137. says

    Wow – political scientists are saying more than 1 in 100 Americans participated in the Women’s Marches on Saturday:

    A professor of political science in Connecticut has aggregated the data from public reports of crowd sizes at the women’s marches across America on Saturday and reached an astonishing conclusion: More than 1 in every 100 people in the U.S. turned out to march against Donald Trump and for women’s rights on the second day of his presidency.

    Drawing on reports of 526 different marches in towns as disparate as Wichita Falls, Texas — reported turnout: 150 people — and Washington, D.C. — reported turnout: more than 500,000 — University of Connecticut professor Jeremy Pressman, working with international relations professor Erica Chenoweth from the University of Denver, estimated that 3,341,823 to 4,611,782 people turned out to march across the nation.

    The Census Bureau estimated that the U.S. population as of mid-2016 was 323,127,513.

    “The overall number is bigger than I expected,” Pressman told Yahoo News about his findings on the protest crowds. “With a low estimate it’s a little bit above 1 percent, and with a higher estimate, it’s probably closer to 1 1/2 percent.”

  138. says

    …The decision on behalf of CNN to wait and verify before airing it live suggests that the media are adapting quickly to this new era.”

    Unfortunately, they aired today’s live. I guess they had to actually put their hand on the hot stove. Slow learners, the media.

  139. says

    Following up on SC’s comment 200.

    Yes, the nationwide (in fact, international) participation in the Women’s March is significant. Meanwhile, Sean Spicer and Trump don’t think the Women’s March was a big deal. Spicer’s take on the events was that the protestors were “not against anything.”

    […] “What is the President’s message to the millions of people here in Washington and around the country who were protesting on Saturday?” a reporter asked at Spicer’s first formal briefing.

    “I think he has a healthy respect for the First Amendment and this is what makes our country so beautiful, is that on one day you can inaugurate a President, on the next day people can occupy the same space to protest something,” Spicer said. “But he’s also cognizant to the fact that a lot of these people were there to protest an issue of concern to them and not against anything.”


    […] The ubiquitous symbol of the women’s marches, the “pussyhat,” directly referenced the infamous “grab ’em by the pussy” remark the President made on the hot mic “Access Hollywood” tape. Many marchers also carried anti-Trump signs.

    Spicer also attempted to downplay the event by suggesting that the historically attended Women’s March on Washington was routine.

    “There were people that came to the mall, as they do all the time,” he added. “Sometimes in smaller numbers.” […]

  140. says

    “U.S. judge finds that Aetna misled the public about its reasons for quitting Obamacare “:

    Aetna claimed this summer that it was pulling out of all but four of the 15 states where it was providing Obamacare individual insurance because of a business decision — it was simply losing too much money on the Obamacare exchanges.

    Now a federal judge has ruled that that was a rank falsehood. In fact, says Judge John D. Bates, Aetna made its decision at least partially in response to a federal antitrust lawsuit blocking its proposed $37-billion merger with Humana. Aetna threatened federal officials with the pullout before the lawsuit was filed, and followed through on its threat once it was filed. Bates made the observations in the course of a ruling he issued Monday blocking the merger.

    Aetna executives had moved heaven and earth to conceal their decision-making process from the court, in part by discussing the matter on the phone rather than in emails, and by shielding what did get put in writing with the cloak of attorney-client privilege, a practice Bates found came close to “malfeasance.”

    The threat certainly was effective in terms of its impact on the Affordable Care Act, since Aetna’s withdrawal has become part of the Republican brief against the law. That it says so much more about Aetna executives’ honesty and integrity probably won’t get cited much by GOP functionaries trying to repeal the law. Aetna is at least partially responsible for placing the health coverage of more than 20 million Americans in jeopardy; that it did so at least partially to promote a merger that would bring few benefits, if any, to its customers is an additional black mark.

    If there’s a saving grace in this episode, it’s that the company’s goal to protect the merger hasn’t worked, so far. The DOJ brought suit, and Bates has now thrown a wrench into the plan. Aetna has said it’s considering an appeal, but the merger is plainly in trouble, as it should be.

  141. KG says

    An interesting result in the French presidential election Socialist Party primary. Benoit Hamon, who has some claims to actually being a socialist, came first, and has an excellent chance of winning the run-off – which I think is next Sunday. He beat the right-winger Manuel Valls (who pushed through anti-labour legislation as Prime Minister under Hollande, and has been recorded making racist comments) into second, and the third-placed candidate, Arnaud Montebourg, has urged his supporters to switch to Hamon. Hamon and Montebourg both resigned from the government in 2014, calling for an end to “austerity”. Hamon’s main policy is the introduction, in stages, of a citizen’s income scheme. According to the polls, whoever wins is still very unlikely to reach the final round of the election itself – but then, according to the polls, which have been very volatile, Valls was going to win the primary. Even if he doesn’t get through to the final run-off, a win for Hamon in the Socialist primary probably boosts the chances of centrist Emmanuel Macron doing so (Valls would have competed for his votes), displacing either fascist Le Pen, or Catholic reactionary François Villon, who are currently favourites for the final run-off.

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