And another thing. What’s this crap about how Trump has “continually set the standards of business and entrepreneurial excellence, especially with his interests in real estate, sports, and entertainment”? Nonsense.
We don’t think of “entrepreneurial excellence” that way (assuming we think of it at all, but that’s another subject). We think of it in connection with some kind of innovation or improvement, of a kind that benefits a lot of people (or the planet or the environment and the like). Fast food, for instance – however crappy the food is, it’s still been a benefit in convenience and cheapness for a lot of people.
We don’t think of building luxury apartment buildings as “entrepreneurial excellence,” nor do we think of building casinos and golf courses that way. We don’t think of toys for rich people as a benefit for the masses.
Trump has made himself very rich, yes, but that’s not “excellence.” It’s especially not in his case, given how much cheating and stealing took place on the way.
Also putting what reads like heavy-handed advertising copy on the official White House website is toe-curlingly tacky.
There was no soaring rhetoric in his inaugural speech, no real effort to heal the wounds of the 2016 campaign, and really only one real, coherent defining theme for his coming administration – the only thing that counts is America.
On this day, he said, there will be “a new decree to be heard in every city, in every foreign capital and in every hall of power.”
“From this day forward a new vision will govern our land,” he said. “From this day forward, it’s only going to be America first, America first.”
It’s a hideous slogan, even without the pro-Nazi background. He might as well have shouted, “We need to be more selfish!” It’s a bullies’ battle-cry.
Trump’s vision of America on his Inauguration Day was as it has been throughout his campaign – dark and angry.
“For too long, a small group in our nation’s capital has reaped the rewards of government while the people have borne the cost,” he said, shouting that the “establishment protected itself” at the expense of “struggling families across our land,” as though he himself were not a representative and beneficiary of that very establishment.
An extreme beneficiary of that very establishment, who benefits largely by cheating. A good many struggling families are struggling partly because he cheated them – out of tuition for his bogus “university,” out of money he owes them for work done or services provided, out of health insurance they will lose under his administration.
But like everything the new president has ever said, the speech was as much about him as about anything else. He declared his Electoral College victory (which was not nearly matched by the popular vote) to have been a movement “the likes of which the world has never seen before.”
Greater, of course, than Christianity, or Islam, or Hinduism. Greater than the Renaissance or the Reformation. More powerful than the revolutions that created and destroyed Communism. Greater, of course, than the establishment of this very nation.
The whole point of all of it was to produce the glory that is Trump.
All References to Climate Change Have Been Deleted From the White House Website
Cool. That means there no longer is such a thing, and Trump’s children and grandchildren won’t have to deal with it in the next several decades.
At 11:59 am eastern, the official White House website had a lengthy information page about the threat of climate change and the steps the federal government had taken to fight it. At noon, at the instant Donald Trump took office, the page was gone, as well as any mention of climate change or global warming.
It’s customary for www.whitehouse.gov to flip over to the new administration exactly at noon, but the only mention of climate on President Trump’s new website is under his “America First Energy Plan” page, in which he vows to destroy President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, which is a government-wide plan to reduce carbon emissions and address climate change.
Cool, because climate change is of course 100% political and therefore will respond to political actions. There is no such thing as natural processes that happen independently of what indignant human beings say about them, so all we indignant human beings have to do is erase all mention of climate change and IT WILL GO AWAY.
“President Trump is committed to eliminating harmful and unnecessary policies such as the Climate Action Plan and the Waters of the U.S. rule,” the site says. A search of the website found no mention of “global warming,” and the only mentions of “climate change” were archived pages that, after clicking on the links, led to scrubbed pages.
The magic is under way, and it will save us all. What a relief.
The military “may come marching down Pennsylvania Avenue,” Trump told the Washington Post in an interview published Wednesday. “That military may be flying over New York City and Washington, D.C., for parades. I mean, we’re going to be showing our military.”
Trump spoke about his vision of military parades in vague terms, suggesting it was something he might oversee in the future. But according to several sources involved in his inaugural preparations, Trump has endeavored to ensure that his first day as commander-in-chief is marked by an unusual display of heavy military equipment.
During the preparation for Friday’s transfer-of-power, a member of Trump’s transition team floated the idea of including tanks and missile launchers in the inaugural parade, a source involved in inaugural planning told The Huffington Post. “They were legit thinking Red Square/North Korea-style parade,” the source said, referring to massive military parades in Moscow and Pyongyang, typically seen as an aggressive display of muscle-flexing.
Kill the arts and humanities, but get those missile launchers out there where people can see them.
If this is our last night on earth – so long, it’s been real.
The departments of Commerce and Energy would see major reductions in funding, with programs under their jurisdiction either being eliminated or transferred to other agencies. The departments of Transportation, Justice and State would see significant cuts and program eliminations.
The Corporation for Public Broadcasting would be privatized, while the National Endowment for the Arts and National Endowment for the Humanities would be eliminated entirely.
At the Department of Justice, the blueprint calls for eliminating the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, Violence Against Women Grants and the Legal Services Corporation and for reducing funding for its Civil Rights and its Environment and Natural Resources divisions.
Right now at the Convention Center in DC: Upsetting Rape Culture is projecting survivor stories on the wall of the Convention Center with the hashtags #wewillnotbesilent and #intheman, talking about how Trump reminds women of their abusers.
Trump is partying up his inauguration…and he’s doing it at his hotel. That means he’s profiting while he parties, which is sleazy as fuck. Tomorrow at 12:01 Eastern it will become more than sleazy.
With sirens blaring, a fleet of limousines and security personnel raced down Pennsylvania Avenue twice in less than the last 24 hours to deliver Donald J. Trump to inauguration events.
But he was not heading to the White House. He was going to Trump International Hotel.
The hotel he leases from the federal government, and runs as a profit-making venture.
Conflicts that for months have been theoretical are now about to become real — most immediately a possible challenge by the federal government. It owns the building that houses Mr. Trump’s hotel and has granted him a 60-year lease. From the moment he is sworn in as president at noon Friday, Mr. Trump may be in violation of that lease, given a provision that appears to prohibit federal elected officials from renting the Old Post Office building, the Pennsylvania Avenue landmark that houses the hotel, from the government.
Guests at the hotel include foreign diplomats and politicians who could be looking to curry favor with Mr. Trump — but even the act of paying their bills as they check out after the inauguration may open Mr. Trump to a challenge that he has violated the United States Constitution, which prohibits federal government officials from taking payments or gifts from foreign governments.
Maybe the whole thing – Trump, the Old Post Office, all 50 states – will slide down into a crack in the earth’s crust tomorrow and vanish with a fearsome roar. I hope Canada and Mexico will be unharmed.
Members of Mr. Trump’s new cabinet are also staying there this week, as are dozens of big-ticket donors to his presidential election campaign and inauguration. The hotel will also be the site of a prayer breakfast on Friday before Mr. Trump is sworn in. All these bookings mean payments to the Trump Organization for the hotel rooms, meals and other accommodations.
Well at least he’s probably giving them a discount, right?
The minimum nightly rate at the hotel will be $735. One suite during inauguration week was offered for $500,000, with various perks. On Thursday, the president-elect attended a lunch with Republican leaders of Congress, cabinet members and hundreds of others in the hotel’s enormous Presidential Ballroom, which features nine glass chandeliers and gold and white walls. “This is a gorgeous room,” Mr. Trump told the gathering. “A total genius must have built this place.”
Yeah, Donnie from Queens the total genius.
Sean Spicer, Mr. Trump’s press secretary, defended Mr. Trump’s continued close ties to the hotel. “That he’s going to his own hotel? I mean, I think that’s pretty smart,” Mr. Spicer said. “I think the idea that he’s going to his own hotel shouldn’t be a shocker. It’s a beautiful place. It’s a place that he’s very proud of.”
Mr. Spicer added: “It’s an absolutely stunning hotel. I encourage you all to go there if you haven’t been by.”
Brendan Nyhan, a professor of government at Dartmouth and a contributor to The Upshot, made the case succinctly:
Trump has flouted the norms of American elections and governance at every turn, including calling for the jailing of an opposing candidate, encouraging violence against protesters, endorsing the torture of prisoners, suggesting he might not respect the results of the election, falsely claiming that millions of illegal votes were cast, failing to resolve unprecedented conflicts of interest or to even disclose his tax returns, and attacking a federal judge based on his ethnicity (and that’s of course a highly incomplete list). I can’t directly assess the IC report, but it’s fair to say that the liberal democratic order is being disrupted both in the U.S. and around the world.
Putin doesn’t like the liberal democratic order, because it’s not his kind of order. He’d rather have a kind of order that favors authoritarian strongmen like him. Breaking the legs of the liberal democratic order helps with that.
Norman Ornstein, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, sent me his thoughts:
One, the Russians have known for a long time that Trump was susceptible to flattery, especially from major authority figures. Two, he had a significant following in the US as a mega-celebrity. Three, if he got engaged in politics, it would be divisive — a good early example being his birther efforts. Four, he would perplex, frustrate and divide Republican establishment figures, most of whom were hostile to Russia, but a divided major party serves to disrupt the democracy. I doubt they thought he would win, but he would encourage or exacerbate divisions in the society, challenge many fundamental norms over his own narcissistic sociopathic views of himself and his entitlements, and break a lot of crockery without a second’s misgiving. His victories, with the GOP nomination and the election were unexpected icing on the cake.
It’s a tiny bit reassuring that even someone at the AEI can see that.
Another scholar put it as a matter of weakening “the West’s desirability, credibility and moral authority.” It’s an effective way of doing that, for sure. I’ve lost a huge amount of trust in our desirability, credibility and moral authority since last July. I still have no desire to move to Pakistan or Somalia, but the gap is closing. That’s no good. Pakistan and Somalia need to get better; we don’t need to get worse.
David Leege, a professor emeritus of political science at Notre Dame, wrote me:
Trump was a willing but unwitting accomplice because he loved the flattery, saw it only as a business opportunity, and had so little understanding of international relations to recognize how affairs of state could be caught up in it.
Along similar lines, Sandy Maisel, a political scientist at Colby, argued that Trump’s
ego is such that he never asked, nor does he ask yet, what playing into the Russians needs and desires meant for our system. An unwitting — ego-driven — tool of Putin’s goal to undermine faith in our system and in the Clinton candidacy.
Gary Jacobson, a political scientist at the University of California, San Diego, was outspoken in his response to my question asking why the Russians favored Trump:
His shameless mendacity, narcissism, authoritarian instincts, inability to tolerate opposition or criticism, hostility to formal institutions and the media, vast ignorance of foreign and domestic issues, indifference to constitutional restraints and eagerness to whip up and exploit xenophobia and (barely disguised) racism. We might add his affection for authoritarian leaders and other tough guys. Have I left anything out? Probably. All of these characteristics lead him to say things and propose actions antithetical to democratic norms and standards.
Trump is so terrible it’s difficult to give an exhaustive account of his terribleness.
I know some Ex-Muslims who are not impressed by the idea that wearing hijab is a good way to stand up for religious freedom, contrary to what People magazine suggests.
Actress Kathy Najimy Wants People to Wear Headscarves on Inauguration Day in Support of Religious Freedom
I get why she thinks that’s a good idea, but she’s still wrong. Hijab is a religious “obligation” imposed on women and women only. That’s not any kind of freedom.
One group, led by actress Kathy Najimy, is encouraging people to support “our about-to-be-disenfranchised Muslim sisters” by wearing headscarves on Inauguration Day.
The Sisterhood of the Traveling Scarves — with the support of the Muslim Women’s PAC — is putting out a nationwide call for people to don headscarves in the style of an hijab.
But then what of My Stealthy Freedom? Those women take their hijab off in support of women’s freedom. Putting one on is a slap in the face to them, and to all the women who would like to ditch theirs but can’t, because of social and religious pressure including outright violence.
“We by no means are endorsing or aligning with ANY religious doctrine,” she says. “Simply stand for freedom. It’s easy, creates solidarity and puts some hope into the hearts of Americans who feel unjustly threatened.”
But they are endorsing a particular religious doctrine, whatever she says. They can’t help it. If people put on big ol’ crosses they would be endorsing a particular religious doctrine, whether they intended to or not.
As nearly as I can tell, the nominees for the president-elect’s Cabinet fall into several different categories. There are the people you’d pretty much expect from any Republican administration. (James Mattis, Michael Flynn, Ryan Zinke). There are the people who understand the mission of their departments and have spent their lives undermining it. (Jeff Sessions as Attorney General, Rick Perry at Energy, Andrew Puzder at Labor). And there are the people who are fundamentally clueless about the general nature of public service. (Rex Tillerson at State.) On Tuesday night, DeVos demonstrated that she is that rarest of Trump administration fauna: Someone who fits capably into all three categories.
Cool. Standard (so hooray free market, to hell with losers) Republican, underminer, and clueless. There’s also the bribery aspect: can we count that as a fourth classification?
Her ignorance about the field she is nominated to be Secretary of which was particularly displayed when Al Franken questioned her:
Franken: I’m talking about the debate between proficiency in growth, what your thoughts on that?
DeVos: I was just asking the senator to clarify…
Franken: This is a subject that has been debated in the education community for years. I have advocated growth as the chairman, and every member of this committee knows, because with proficiency teachers ignore the kids of the top who are not going to fall below proficiency, and they ignore the kid at the bottom who they know will never get to proficiency. I have been an advocate for growth. But it surprises me that you don’t know this issue, and Mr. Chairman, I think this is a good reason for us to have more questions. This is a very important subject — education, our kids’ education. I think we are selling our kids short by not being able to have a debate on it.
As I may have mentioned, my father was a teacher and an administrator in the public high schools for over 35 years. He explained the essential difference between proficiency and growth to me 40 years ago. That a prospective Secretary of Education hadn’t the faintest idea what Franken was talking about should have been enough to make the committee adjourn itself in helpless laughter.
Yet the NSC is ahead of the curve for this administration. Look at the big four departments. There’s no Trump appointee for any of the top State Department jobs below secretary nominee Rex Tillerson. No Trump appointee for any of the top Department of Defense jobs below retired general James Mattis. Treasury? Same story. Justice? It is one of two departments (along with, bizarrely, Commerce) where Trump has selected a deputy secretary. But no solicitor general, no one at civil rights, no one in the civil division, no one for the national security division.
And the same is true in department after department. Not to mention agencies without anyone at all nominated by the president-elect.
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.
That’s alarming. It’s alarming if it’s incompetence and indifference, and it’s alarming if it’s all part of the cunning plan to destroy the state.
If I had to guess, however, I’d say that the failure to get his administration up and running on time isn’t a deliberate choice by Trump; he just has no idea what he’s doing, and hasn’t surrounded himself with people well-equipped to translate his impulses and his campaign commitments into a full-fledged government. This isn’t exactly a surprise. Recall that the Trump Organization has never had a large bureaucracy and that his campaign didn’t staff up the way campaigns normally do, so he doesn’t really have any relevant management experience. And, of course, he’s never demonstrated any significant knowledge in how the government actually works. The results are likely to be damaging to his presidency, and to the nation.
His presidency should be damaged. The nation? I’d rather not.
My speech this morning on the Floor of the House about why I will not be at the inauguration ceremonies on Jan. 20 but will be marching with women at the Women’s March on Jan. 21. “We all heard the tape when Donald Trump was bragging – bragging! – about grabbing women by their private parts without their consent. It is something I can never un-hear. Bragging to that guy on TV that he would grab women below the belt as a way of hitting on them. Sorry. That is never OK. It is never just locker room talk. It is offensive and, if he ever actually did it, it is criminal….”
A politician from the rightwing populist Alternative for Germany (AfD) party has broken with the country’s postwar political consensus by calling for a “180-degree turn” from the tradition of remembering and atoning for the Nazi era.
In a speech in a beer hall in Dresden, Björn Höcke, who leads the party in the eastern state of Thuringia, railed against Germany’s decade-long tradition of acknowledging the crimes of the National Socialist era, describing the Holocaust memorial in Berlin as a “monument of shame”.
“They wanted to cut off our roots and with the re-education that began in 1945, they nearly managed,” Höcke said. “Until now, our mental state continues to be that of a totally defeated people. We Germans are the only people in the world that have planted a monument of shame in the heart of their capital.”
So Germans should be taking pride in the Holocaust?
The Central Council of Jews in Germany condemned the speech. Its president, Josef Schuster, said: “With these antisemitic and highly misanthropic comments, the AfD is showing its true face. I would have never dared to imagine that it would be possible for a politician to say such things 70 years after the Shoah.”
The German vice chancellor, Sigmar Gabriel, said: “Björn Höcke despises the Germany I am proud of. Never, never ever must we allow the demagogy of a Björn Höcke to go unchallenged. Not as Germans, and
especially not as Social Democrats.”
Jewish groups have reacted with anger and shock after a local leader of the right-wing populist party Alternative for Germany (AfD) attacked Germany’s national Holocaust memorial and the country’s devotion to teaching its citizens about Nazi genocide.
“It is deeply outrageous and completely unacceptable to describe the Berlin Holocaust Memorial as Björn Höcke did as a ‘monument of shame,'” the president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, Josef Schuster, said in a statement. “With these anti-Semitic and extremely misanthropic remarks, the AfD is showing its true face. I would not have believed that it was possible for a politician in Germany to say such things 70 years after the Shoah.”
Höcke is pretending that’s not what he said.
In a statement on Wednesday, Höcke said that he was merely criticizing the weight given to the shame of the Holocaust in Germany’s approach to its own history – and threatened to sue anyone misquoting him. But within the context of the speech, which can be viewed on YouTube, there is little doubt that Höcke was depicting the Holocaust monument and culture of remembrance negatively.
I think this is the YouTube:
The deputy chairman of the Social Democrats, Ralf Stegner, blasted Höcke on Twitter, writing: “Remembering the millions of Nazi victims isn’t weakness – weakness is stirring up hatred against helpless people as a way of elevating oneself.”
Green party co-chairwoman Simone Peter called for the AfD to “unambiguously distance” itself from Höcke. Green party MP and chairman of the German-Israeli parliamentary committee, Volker Beck, said that state authorities should more closely monitor the right wing of the AfD for neo-Nazi content.
“The strategy of carefully targeted violations of taboos continues,” Beck said in a statement. “Höcke is making the AfD into the parliamentary representatives of the NPD (Germany’s far-right party). It’s high time that his wing of the AfD is kept under observation by domestic intelligence agencies. The most recent statement by the chairman of the AfD in Thuringia show what sort of racist and anti-Semitic views are maintained by the AfD and its functionaries.”
“This is not just a run-of-the-mill provocation – this about our identity as Germans,” wrote Social Democratic Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel on Facebook. “Höcke’s speech particularly horrified me personally because my father was an unapologetic Nazi until the day he died.”
“Höcke speaks the language of the Nazi party,” concurred SPD secretary general Katarina Barley. Left Party member of parliament Diether Dehm and Left Party co-chairpersons Sahra Wagenknecht and Dietmar Bartsch officially reported Höcke to the police for “incitement of the people” – which is a crime in Germany.
In a powerful testament to the warming of the planet, two leading U.S. science agencies Wednesday jointly declared 2016 the hottest year on record, surpassing the previous record set just last year — which, itself, had topped a record set in 2014.
Average surface temperatures in 2016, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, were 0.07 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than 2015, and featured eight successive months (January through August) that were individually the warmest since the agency’s record began in 1880.
The average temperature across the world’s land and ocean surfaces was 58.69 Fahrenheit, or 1.69 degrees above the 20th century average of 57 degrees, NOAA declared. The agency also noted that the record for the global temperature has now successively been broken five times since the year 2000. The years 2005 and 2010 were also record warm years, according to the agency’s dataset.
Are they sure that’s not a hoax perpetrated by China? Maybe China has been running around putting electric blankets on everything?
The record comes just two days before Donald Trump, who has tweeted that global warming is a “hoax,” assumes the presidency and with it, control over the two science agencies that just announced these records.
The other is NASA.
Here’s a NASA figure showing that long term trend, now updated through 2016:
Quite a steep climb starting around 1980, isn’t it.
NASA further noted in its analysis that compared with the late 19th century, the planet has now warmed about 1.1 degrees Celsius, or 2 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s very significant because the global community has been striving to limit overall warming to considerably below a 2 degree Celsius rise, and even, if possible, to hold it to a 1.5 degree Celsius increase. That is now only about .4 degrees away, based on these figures.
“It is the second year in a row that the annual global temperature has been more than 1 Celsius degree warmer than the pre-industrial level, and shows that the world is moving ever closer to the warming threshold of 1.5 Celsius degrees, beyond which many scientists have concluded the impacts of climate change will be unacceptably dangerous,” said Bob Ward, who is director of policy and communications director at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, part of the London School of Economics and Political Science.
Bahahahahahahaha Donnie from Queens tweets a candid shot of himself “writing” his inaugural address. Suuuuuuure he is. He’s totally writing it. You can tell by the casual expertise with which he tries to fold the pad in half while he’s writing on it.
Two brilliant and uncompromising thinkers, bestselling author Christina Hoff Sommers and Portland’s own Peter Boghossian, will share the stage on January 27th with political comedian and host Dave Rubin for a live “fireside chat” on the hot-button issues of speech, gender, and culture at PSU.
“The New Campus Thought Police” will be presented by both the Center for Inquiry in Portland, as well as Freethinkers. The event will feature honest and unfiltered conversation about the controversial subjects of free speech and political correctness on college campuses. This will include issues such as microaggressions, trigger warnings, safe spaces, cultural appropriation, victimhood culture, and more.
Yes, there are plenty of silly people on the left, as there always are. Yes, many of them get too worked up about things that aren’t all that important. No, the best people to talk about such things are not Christina Hoff Sommers and Peter Boghossian.
Also, don’t worries about college students demanding trigger warnings seem a little less urgent now as Donald “I hate political correctness” Trump slithers into the White House?
You know…CFI is a secular humanist organization. The humanist part is important. CFI is about values as well as epistemology – it’s never been one of those “pure” skeptical outfits that insist on keeping political and moral ideas out. This is not a good look for a secular humanist organization.
It’s happening, and I don’t think “no platforming” is a good idea except in truly extreme cases, but I think this is pretty sad.