Notes and Comment Blog

Guest post: Is it true? Is it normal?

Jan 13th, 2017 6:33 am | By

Guest post by Stewart of Gnu Atheism.

It would be foolish to attempt to lay down the law about what is true regarding the Trump dossier attributed to Christopher Steele, who is reported to be in hiding. Nonetheless, one ought to exercise one’s critical faculties (and that is intended to mean one’s own critical faculties, not those belonging to any third party) in examining the evidence either jostling or not jostling for our attention.

Firstly, it seems that the media so disdained by Trump is racing, at breakneck speed, to normalise him and the story of Steele and the dossier is already being pushed down almost out of sight among other headlines regarding Trump and his incoming administration. It would seem there are enormous pressures pulling both ways in terms of how much to rock the boat before the inauguration, i.e. many are trying not to grapple at all with the question of whether a derailing of the inauguration is a possibility. From the moment he is inaugurated, Trump will be able to use excecutive powers to influence what is and is not said about him for public consumption; it only looks so uncomfortable for him right now because he is still a few days away from possessing them. He knows exactly what he means when he tweets about the intelligence agencies having “one last shot” at him; they are about to come under his thumb.

Nobody can read everything being written and doing so would not help much; discernment is required. Perhaps a brief comparison of one serious pro and one serious con piece could help highlight certain salient points.

Seth Abramson’s HuffPo piece is not above criticism. To start at the beginning, his assertion that the BBC is the gold standard in international journalism is still a subjective one – it’s more or less an argument from authority. Abramson, the BBC and all the sources used by both still have the potential to be flawed. Two points stand out here, though. One is Steele’s flight. If true, it does not lend weight to the idea that the dossier is some frivolous concoction. And nobody seems to be disputing a previous connection of Steele’s to Litvinenko. The other is the analysis of how Trump has been behaving. To take, for a moment, a tack quite different to Abramson’s dissection based on legal experience, why does Trump even bother rebutting these allegations? Didn’t he say he could shoot someone on 5th Avenue without losing votes? Why doesn’t he just say “Hell, I did it all – don’t you just love me for it?” Trump’s alarmingly radical switch of attitudes ought to be telling us something. After all, it’s not as if he’s suddenly become presidential. We’ve seen that he hasn’t and it really is faintly amusing to see the man who made the whole world look up the word “schlonging” get tough with CNN and threaten “Don’t be rude!”

While there’s a limited amount one can do to back up Abramson’s point of view, dismissing Paul Roderick Gregory’s take in the opposite direction in Forbes is actually pretty easy. Note, at the outset, that Gregory takes care most elaborately to credential himself; you can smell an argument from authority coming. But one doesn’t even have to get very far before closing the book on Gregory. He probably assumes, quite correctly, that most of his readers either cannot or will not do their own research, so he dares to write: “This story makes no sense. In 2011, when the courtship purportedly begins, Trump was a TV personality and beauty pageant impresario. Neither in the US or Russia would anyone of authority anticipate that Trump would one day become the presidential candidate of a major US political party, making him the target of Russian intelligence.” As far back as 1987, The New York Times had written that Trump was seriously considering a presidential run and variations of the story have been circulating ever since. So even back then, before Communism had even fallen, the Russians could know that Trump had both presidential ambitions and the money to indulge his whim. Here is a case with only two possibilities: Gregory either knows this and hopes his readers don’t, or he doesn’t know it, in which case, bye-bye argument from authority.

Representative John Lewis testifies

Jan 12th, 2017 5:33 pm | By

From John Lewis’s testimony in the confirmation hearings for Jeff Sessions:

A clear majority of Americans say they want this to be a fair, just, and open nation.  They are afraid this country is headed in the wrong direction.  They are concerned that some leaders reject decades of progress and want to return to the dark past, when the power of law was used to deny the freedoms protected by the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and its Amendments.  These are the voices I represent today.

We can pretend that the law is blind. We can pretend that it is even-handed.   But if we are honest with ourselves, we know that we are called upon daily by the people we represent to help them deal with unfairness in how the law is written and enforced.  Those who are committed to equal justice in our society wonder whether Sen. Sessions’ call for “law and order” will mean today what it meant in Alabama, when I was coming up back then.  The rule of law was used to violate the human and civil rights of the poor, the dispossessed, people of color.

I was born in rural Alabama — not very far from where Senator Sessions was raised.  There was no way to escape or deny the choke hold of discrimination and racial hate that surrounded us.  I saw the signs that said White Waiting, Colored Waiting.  I saw the signs that said White Men, Colored Men, White Women, Colored Women.  I tasted the bitter fruits of segregation and racial discrimination.

Segregation was the law of the land that ordered our society in the Deep South.  Any black person who did not cross the street when a white person walked down the same sidewalk, who did not move to the back of the bus, who drank from a white water fountain, who looked a white person directly in their eyes could be arrested and taken to jail.

The forces of law and order in Alabama were so strong that to take a stand against this injustice, we had to be willing to sacrifice our lives for our cause.  Often, the only way we could demonstrate that a law on the books violated a higher law, was by challenging that law, by putting our bodies on the line, and showing the world the unholy price we had to pay for dignity and respect.

It took massive, well-organized, non-violent dissent for the Voting Rights Act to become law.   It required criticism of this great nation and its laws to move toward a  greater sense of equality in America.  We had to sit in.  We had to stand in. We had to march.  And that’s why more than 50 years ago, a group of unarmed citizens, black and white, gathered on March 7, 1965, in an orderly peaceful non-violent fashion to walk from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama to dramatize to the nation and to the world that we wanted to register to vote, wanted to become participants in the democratic process.

We were beaten, tear-gassed, left bloody, some of us unconscious.  Some of us had concussions.  Some of us almost died on that bridge.  But the Congress responded, President Lyndon Johnson responded, and the Congress passed the Voting Rights Act, and it was signed into law on August  6, 1965.

We have come a distance.  We have made progress, but we are not there yet.  There are forces that want to take us back to another place.  We don’t want to go back.  We want to go forward.  As the late A. Phillip Randolph, who was the dean of the March on Washington in 1963 often said, ” our foremothers and forefathers all came to this land in distant ships, but we’re all in the same boat now.”

It doesn’t matter whether Sen. Sessions may smile or how friendly he may be, whether he may speak to you. We need someone who will stand up and speak up and speak out for the people who need help, for people who  are being discriminated against.  And it doesn’t matter whether they are black or white, Latino, Asian or Native American, whether they are straight or gay, Muslim, Christian or Jews   We all live in the same house, the American house.  We need someone as attorney general who is going to look for all of us, not just some of us.

He ran out of time at that point, but his full testimony continues:

I want to make it crystal clear for the record — we have made a lot of progress, but we are not there yet.  Some people argue that the 48 years of a fully-operational Voting Rights Act simply erased hundreds of years of hate and violence.

This is not ancient history; the scars and stains of racism are still deeply embedded in our society. This is proven by the thousands of pages of evidence submitted to Congress which verify continued voting rights discrimination across our nation and in the Deep South.

Representing Alabama on this Committee, Senator Sessions had an opportunity to lead.  Instead, the Senator turned a blind eye to the persistent and consistent efforts to make it harder and more difficult for minorities, the poor, the elderly, and others to exercise the right to vote.

I spent most of my life living and working in the South. For many years, I worked hard and long to protect the Voting Rights Act.  Not once have I heard the Senator recognize the present-day, recorded, voting discrimination which is why Alabama continued to be covered by the preclearance formula.

After the Shelby v. Holder decision, minorities were in mourning as Senator Sessions was celebrating.  He declared the decision was “good news for the South”. Alabama and other States immediately adopted voter ID legislation — making it harder for minorities to execute their right to vote.  We must face the truth.  We are a multi-racial, multi-ethnic country.  We cannot escape this reality.  As we prepared for the March on Washington, the late A. Philip Randolph said, “Maybe our forefathers and foremothers came to this country  in different ships, but we are all in the same boat now.”

You see, the issue of discrimination cannot be swept into a corner or under a rug.  It is still here.  And we cannot avoid the fact that there is a systematic, deliberate attempt to destroy the advances of civil rights in this country and take us back to a period when America declared its greatness on one hand, but fostered the worst kind of racial discrimination on the other.

As a fellow Southerner, I have no doubt that Senator Sessions is polite to all he meets.  My concern is not about how nice he is.  My concern is about where he will take the Department of Justice and whether he will respect the dignity and worth of every, single person in our country – regardless of race, color, or background.

No one, but no one should be discriminated against because of their race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, or national origin.  So today, I ask the Members of this Committee to think long and hard about what it would mean for an outspoken opponent of the Hate Crimes Prevention Act and the Violence Against Women Act to serve as the chief law enforcement official in our land?

It will take more than a photo on a bridge in Selma or a medal ceremony in the Capitol.  It will take hard work and commitment from the heart and soul.   How will Mr. Sessions confront the challenges of protest in a nation?   Will he use the law as a shield?  Will he use the law to silence the voices of those who are different and disagree with the status quo?

The Attorney General is expected to be a champion of justice for all people – not just the rich and the powerful.  This person has the duty and responsibility to fight to ensure that every person – White, African American, Latino, Asian, or Native American – can participate in the democratic process.  That every person will be equally protected under the law.

It is not the law that is sacred above all, but the spark of the divine that is the essence of every human being.   Justice is the impact of law, not the law itself.  Senator Sessions will be called upon to uphold justice, not to use the law as a cover to pursue a political agenda based on suspicion and contempt of certain Americans.

In closing, I ask the members of this Committee to consider the same question that Senator Sessions posed to many witnesses who went through this very same confirmation process.  Will his background, will his sympathies, and will his prejudices impact his service to our nation?

My friends, I do not envy you.  Leadership is not easy.  You are expected to make tough decisions – to do what is right, what is just, and what is fair for all the people of this nation who rely on you to speak up and speak out on their behalf.

Just roll with it

Jan 12th, 2017 1:42 pm | By

So Barack just surprised Joe with a Medal of Freedom, so we need some memes in case we get too maudlin.

First the surprise.

And now some memes.

John Lewis and Corey Booker

Jan 12th, 2017 1:08 pm | By

John Lewis and Corey Booker testify on the nomination of Jess Sessions to be Attorney General.

Paging Deep Throat 2

Jan 12th, 2017 12:31 pm | By

Richard Wolffe has a few observations on Trump’s appalling press conference.

Donald Trump is not what he seems. The supposed master of media manipulation stumbled so often at his first press conference, it is hard to recall why anyone thought the TV star was good at this stuff in the first place.

That one doesn’t make me wince with embarrassment, because I never did think Trump was good at this stuff. I didn’t think about him at all until a few months ago, and when I started I certainly never thought he was good at anything.

Judging from Wednesday’s trainwreck press conference – the first since July – Trump and his handlers have no self-discipline and no strategy to deal with the Russian crisis that has been simmering for the best part of the past year.

If his handlers had any of that kind of thing they wouldn’t be his handlers. Nobody with any sense would have anything to do with him.

They also have no sense of irony or, apparently, reality. The press conference opened with Sean Spicer, the incoming press secretary, condemning the media coverage of Trump’s compromised relationship with Russia as “frankly outrageous and highly irresponsible”.

It seems churlish to have to recall this tweet from Trump in the closing phase of the recent election: “Did Crooked Hillary help disgusting (check out sex tape and past) Alicia M become a US citizen so she could use her in the debate?”

Ah yes, that. It may be churlish but I’m glad he did recall it, because I hadn’t. He called a powerless woman “disgusting” and cited a “sex tape” that never existed – he made that up out of whole cloth. He’s an evil man.

Without any sense of shame or patriotism, the president-elect celebrated the Russian hacking of the DNC and all those leaked emails. He even bragged about his closeness to the Russian president before claiming – somehow – that Hillary Clinton was the real poodle.

“If Putin likes Donald Trump, guess what folks, that is called an asset, not a liability,” Trump said. “Do you honestly believe that Hillary would be tougher on Putin than me? Give me a break.”

Yes, Mr President-elect. The intelligence reports are indeed calling you an asset in the context of Russia. You may keep using that word but, as in the Princess Bride, I do not think it means what you think it means.

Trump will never learn from his mistakes. Suspecting the recent Russia revelations are the work of the intelligence agencies, Trump continues to wage war on his own spies. He could offer no proof of such a betrayal but continued to trash the CIA in public all the same.

This kind of struggle does not end well for sitting presidents, as Richard Nixon discovered. Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein’s biggest source, known as Deep Throat, was in fact the deputy director of the FBI.

That’s a genuinely comforting thought.

You may end up having things unravel

Jan 12th, 2017 11:10 am | By

Politico had an interesting conversation with Joe Biden.

Regarding Trump’s campaign against the intelligence community, Biden said, “it’s very damaging to our standing in the world for a president to take one of the crown jewels of our national defense and denigrate it,” Biden said, describing disconcerted leaders telling him, “basically, ‘Say it ain’t so, Joe.’”

Trump’s reaction to the intelligence reports, Biden argued, is perhaps understandable from someone who has never been in government and never been exposed to the kind of work produced. Reaching into his briefcase, he held up an iPad with the seal of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence on its black case, explaining that the code word-protected device gives him a full daily read-out of intelligence from throughout the world, with a feature that allows him to ask questions that are answered within hours.

“I have been impressed with the quality of the intelligence we have gotten. Disappointed a couple times when—and it’s totally understandable—it would have been nice if the intelligence community could have seen around the corner and thought how quick ISIL had metastasized and been able to move on Mosul,” Biden said, adding, “He may point to things where the intelligence community didn’t get it right. Most of the time, it’s that they didn’t get it in advance, as opposed to getting it wrong.”

Biden said he’s been pleased that Pence has been “very receptive” to hearing his advice, though he said that as the head of the transition team, the vice president-elect appears to have been overtaken with those responsibilities in a way that has limited their conversations. The lack of senior staff appointments in the vice president’s office has been an impediment as well, he argued, noting that there hasn’t been a national security adviser for the new vice president’s office for his own national security adviser to brief.

But Biden said he’s personally written a collection of memos for Pence, detailing what to say and what not to say in hotspots like Ukraine and Iraq, who to trust and not to trust, and “my perspective on the things that could explode most easily.”

The sensitivity to even what may seem like small issues and knowing when to intervene just to quash misunderstandings is part of what the world needs from America, Biden said, and depends on a functional relationship between the president and his intelligence agencies.

“If you don’t end up on the phone and say, ‘Whoa guys, let me tell you what’s going on,’ then you may have a shooting war. You may end up having things unravel,” Biden said.

Ok, now…how is that going to work? How is it going to work having Trump on the phone to some heads of state to say ‘Whoa guys, let me tell you what’s going on’ in order to head off a shooting war?

It’s impossible to imagine such a scenario with Trump in the lead role.

In this, Biden said that he hopes Trump’s experienced advisers speak up, and have the access to shape the new president’s thinking, citing Defense Secretary-nominee James Mattis (whom he approves of) and incoming national security adviser Mike Flynn (whom he disagrees with but respects) as examples.

“It really matters that you have really smart people around you who understand context—context is all important—and can translate, particularly to a president who has no exposure whatsoever. That’s not a criticism. It’s reality,” he said. “Instincts are great—they’re even better if you have information.”

Biden, remember, is the guy who told Bush Junior that his instincts were not good enough.

Joe Biden was telling a story, a story about the president. “I was in the Oval Office a few months after we swept into Baghdad,” he began, “and I was telling the president of my many concerns” — concerns about growing problems winning the peace, the explosive mix of Shiite and Sunni, the disbanding of the Iraqi Army and problems securing the oil fields. Bush, Biden recalled, just looked at him, unflappably sure that the United States was on the right course and that all was well. “‘Mr. President,’ I finally said, ‘How can you be so sure when you know you don’t know the facts?”‘

Biden said that Bush stood up and put his hand on the senator’s shoulder. “My instincts,” he said. “My instincts.”

Biden paused and shook his head, recalling it all as the room grew quiet. “I said, ‘Mr. President, your instincts aren’t good enough!”‘

That was Bush. Trump is orders of magnitude worse.

Presidents who have a sense of limited presidential power

Jan 12th, 2017 10:24 am | By

The Times gently points out that Trump isn’t in a position to tell us what hiking gear to buy.

L.L. Bean, the Maine retailer known for its boots, jackets and preppy New England aesthetic, has found itself embroiled in a partisan battle that Donald J. Trump reignited on Thursday with a tweet.

Faced with a boycott over a Bean family member’s contribution to Mr. Trump’s presidential campaign, Shawn Gorman, L.L. Bean’s executive chairman, declared four days ago that “we stay out of politics.”

But then Trump perpetrated that grotesque tweet:

His tweet appeared to be responding to the thousands of dollars in donations that Linda Bean, who is a granddaughter of the company’s founder, offered during his presidential campaign. The donations turned out to be illegal.

They turned out to be illegal because they were to a political action committee aka a PAC, and donations to PACs as opposed to super PACs are capped, and she was over the cap. Don’t ask me to explain, I think our election laws are ridiculous and corrupt and shaming.

The company distanced itself from Linda Bean and said it “does not endorse political candidates, make political contributions or support any political agenda.”

As for Trump’s crass “Buy L.L. Bean” command on Twitter…

Federal law prohibits employees of the government’s executive branch from endorsing products, but the rule does not apply to the president or the president-elect.

It’s unavoidable that American leaders would have personal preferences for products — President Obama famously loved his BlackBerry — but publicly suggesting that Americans buy them is highly unusual, said Michael Beschloss, a presidential historian.

“It’s rare, if ever, that presidents do this,” he said. “In general, presidents who have a sense of limited presidential power do not want to extend that power to the point of suggesting to Americans which products to buy.”

Normal presidents understand that they’re not suddenly our Daddy and entitled to tell us all what to do in every particular. Trump is not a normal president or human being.

The dignity of the office

Jan 12th, 2017 7:17 am | By

The morning Donnie.

It’s disgusting that he thinks he gets to say anything at any time about “fake news” when he’s been such a dishonest and determined promoter of actual fake news himself. I know I just said that yesterday, but attention to Donnie from Queens requires a lot of repetition. Birther fake news, the Central Park 5 fake news, “Crooked Hillary” fake news, those jobs at Carrier fake news, to name just a few.

Also – it is beyond inappropriate for a president-elect to try to suppress legitimate news organizations. We have a free press. He wasn’t elected dictator. He’s acting like a fascist.

Good god – he shares a random tweet because it flatters him and has little sun emojis in it?

Again – he gave up his ability to make credible accusations about made up, phony facts many years ago, by pushing so many made up, phony facts himself.

Buy LLBean because they like me Donnie. That’s dignified.

See above.

Let it

Jan 11th, 2017 5:51 pm | By

Some Portland Zoo inhabitants are happy with the snow.

They are paid to cheer

Jan 11th, 2017 5:31 pm | By

Trump provided his own cheering crowd for the press conference.

When Donald Trump gathered the press at Trump Tower 20 months ago to announce his unlikely candidacy for president, he reportedly paid actors to fill the marble lobby and cheer.

I wonder if he has a recording of people cheering him that plays while he sleeps. Poor guy – he’s so needy.

On Wednesday morning, when the president-elect once again faced hundreds of reporters from around the globe gathered in his lobby — this time for his first press conference in seven months — Trump filled the room with paid staffers who clapped and cheered as he blasted members of the media as purveyors of “fake news.”

The Greek chorus of loyal, paid staffers in the back of the room boosting Trump with their hoots and cheers also served as a reminder, of sorts, of the movement of Trump backers happy to take him at his word and jeer the media as the out-of-touch liars.

I guess he doesn’t even realize how desperate that shows him to be?

Sprezzatura’s not his thing.

“Fake news” became the running theme of the hour-long press conference, which peaked with Trump refusing to take a question from CNN reporter Jim Acosta and yelling at him, “I’m not going to give you a question. You’re fake news.” CNN broke the story on Tuesday about the intelligence briefings, which implied Russia could potentially be in a position to blackmail Trump.

Twitter gasped, but his Greek chorus cheered.

“Do you honestly believe that Hillary Clinton would be tougher on Putin than me?” Trump asked at another point. Some staffers in the room responded to the rhetorical question, yelling out, “No!”

And they cheered again when Trump jeered sarcastically at a reporter who asked if he planned to release his tax returns. “Oh gee,” the president-elect said, employing a verbal eye roll, “I’ve never heard that before. The only ones who care about my tax returns are the reporters. I became president.”

But you’ll always be Donnie from Queens.

BillO in his undies

Jan 11th, 2017 5:10 pm | By

Meanwhile, in another part of the vipers’ den

In the weeks after Roger Ailes was ousted as the chairman of Fox News in July amid a sexual harassment scandal, company executives secretly struck an agreement with a longtime broadcast personality who had come forward with similar accusations about the network’s top host, Bill O’Reilly.

The employee, Juliet Huddy, had said that Mr. O’Reilly pursued a sexual relationship with her in 2011, at a time he exerted significant influence over her career. When she rebuffed his advances, he tried to derail her career, according to a draft of a letter from her lawyers to Fox News that was obtained by The New York Times.

BillO, that great stalwart of Conservative Values. It’s good to know that those include harassing and bullying women.

The letter includes allegations that Mr. O’Reilly had called Ms. Huddy repeatedly and that it sometimes sounded as if he was masturbating. He invited her to his house on Long Island, tried to kiss her, took her to dinner and the theater, and after asking her to return a key to his hotel room, appeared at the door in his boxer shorts, according to the letter.

In exchange for her silence and agreement not to sue, she was paid a sum in the high six figures, according to people briefed on the agreement. The agreement was between Ms. Huddy, 47, and 21st Century Fox, the parent company of Fox News. The company and Mr. O’Reilly’s lawyer said her allegations were false.

And he’s still on Fox every night, so the company and BillO’s lawyer must be telling the truth…and they gave Huddy hundreds of thousands of dollars because they were feeling generous.

Should have thought of that sooner

Jan 11th, 2017 4:50 pm | By

The chief ethics honcho doesn’t think much of Trump’s plan for how to avoid conflicts of interest during his “presidency.”

The head of the Office of Government Ethics is publicly slamming President-elect Donald Trump’s plans to continue profiting from his international company while he is in the White House.

Walter Shaub took the extraordinary step of saying Trump’s plan to retain a stake in the Trump Organization while his adult sons run the day-to-day operations falls short of what the OGE had advised him to do. The office counseled Trump to sell off his business assets and place the proceeds in a trust overseen by an independent manager.

Did you notice that Trump’s lawyer said, in an aggrieved way, that he shouldn’t have to destroy his business? As if he had been forcibly drafted into the presidency? It was his idea to go for it, so yes actually he should have to do what it takes to avoid using the job to add even more money to his stash. He’s not special; he doesn’t deserve some extra leeway that other presidents haven’t given themselves.

A shabby attempt to intimidate and frighten elderly black voters

Jan 11th, 2017 4:02 pm | By

From the Washington Post yesterday:

Coretta Scott King, the widow of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., urged Congress in a letter to block the 1986 nomination of Jeff Sessions for federal judge, saying that allowing him to join the federal bench would “irreparably damage the work of my husband.” The letter, previously unavailable publicly, was obtained on Tuesday by The Washington Post.

“Anyone who has used the power of his office as United States Attorney to intimidate and chill the free exercise of the ballot by citizens should not be elevated to our courts,” King wrote in the cover page of her nine-page letter opposing Sessions’s nomination, which failed. “Mr. Sessions has used the awesome powers of his office in a shabby attempt to intimidate and frighten elderly black voters. For this reprehensible conduct, he should not be rewarded with a federal judgeship.”

In the letter, King writes that Sessions’s ascension to the federal bench “simply cannot be allowed to happen,” arguing that as a U.S. attorney, the Alabama lawmaker pursued “politically-motivated voting fraud prosecutions” and that he “lacks the temperament, fairness and judgment to be a federal judge.” She said Sessions’s conduct in prosecuting civil rights leaders in a voting-fraud case “raises serious questions about his commitment to the protection of the voting rights of all American citizens.”

“The irony of Mr. Sessions’ nomination is that, if confirmed, he will be given a life tenure for doing with a federal prosecution what the local sheriffs accomplished twenty years ago with clubs and cattle prods,” she wrote, later adding, “I believe his confirmation would have a devastating effect on not only the judicial system in Alabama, but also on the progress we have made toward fulfilling my husband’s dream.”

The Post has whole letter, which you can read there.

During the 1986 hearing, the letter and King’s opposition became a crucial part of the argument against Sessions’s confirmation.

BuzzFeed News first reported the existence of the letter earlier Tuesday, noting that it was never entered into the congressional record by then-Judiciary Committee Chair Strom Thurmond.

This is the guy Trump chose for Attorney General. I suppose it’s payback for that lawsuit against Trump senior for racial discrimination in his apartment buildings. Welcome to the Racist Administration of the 45th president.

What reforms do you recommend?

Jan 11th, 2017 3:48 pm | By

Trump the birther called CNN “fake news” and refused to take a question from the CNN reporter but then took one from Breitbart – yes Breitbart, that haven of non-fake genyoowine news. (What was Breitbart even doing there?)

One of the stranger moments in Wednesday’s deeply strange Donald Trump press conference came when the president-elect got into a shouting match with CNN’s Jim Acosta, who was trying to ask him a question.

Earlier in the presser — his first one since July — Trump had attacked CNN for disseminating “fake news” because it broke the story that both the sitting president and the president-elect had been briefed on allegations that Russia has “compromising personal and financial information” regarding Trump.

“Since you’re attacking us, can you give us a question?” Acosta asked during a Q&A portion of the presser. Trump replied, “Not you, not you, your organization is terrible.”

“I am not going to give you a question,” the president-elect said. “You are fake news.”

Trump is a peddler of fake news, and a fake president, a fake business success, a fake everything.

Shortly after he successfully shouted down Acosta, Trump took a question from Breitbart News — a website closely associated with the white nationalist “alt-right,” and an avid promulgator of misleading or inaccurate information that supports hard-right beliefs. Trump’s top adviser, Steve Bannon, is the former chairman of Breitbart.

Here’s the question Trump took from Breitbart: “[With] all the problems that we’ve seen throughout the media over the course of the election, what reforms do you recommend for this industry here?”

Shut it all down except for Fox and Breitbart?

Several peculiar comments

Jan 11th, 2017 11:35 am | By

The Atlantic has the best summary of the press conference I’ve seen.

Trump insisted, despite copious reporting to the contrary as well as his own son’s statements, that he did not and never had business dealings in Russia. When a reporter asked him if he would release his taxes to prove that, he once again demurred, claiming they are under audit. (He has not proven that claim, the IRS says there’s nothing to prevent him from releasing taxes that are under audit.) Yet he also seemed to suggest that having won the election, he no longer had any incentive to release the returns. “The only ones that care about my tax returns are the reporters,” he said. “I mean, I won! I became president!” (A recent Pew poll found that 60 percent of Americans would like Trump to make the documents public.)

The way I read that “I won!” exclamation was not “therefore no incentive” but “Nobody cares, I won, haha, so I don’t have to and you can’t make me, neener neener.”

Also, of course, it’s bullshit. It’s not only reporters who think he should release his tax returns.

The details of Trump’s plan to solve his conflicts of interest remain to be explored and parsed, though he made several peculiar comments during the press conference. He asserted, dubiously, that he has very little debt. He claimed to have been offered a $2 billion deal in Dubai over the weekend, but he said he’d turned it down—even though, he said, he had no obligation to do so. “I could actually run my business and run the government at the same time,” Trump said. He added, “I have a no-conflict situation because I’m president.” That’s an outrageous statement. While not all conflicts-of-interest laws apply to the president, the lack of legal constraints does not mean conflicts of interest cannot exist.

Outrageous, grandiose, entitled, narcissistic, corrupt – that statement is awful in so many ways.

Yet as much as the event was a chance for the press to address Trump, it was also a forum for Trump to address—and dress down—the press. The first speaker was incoming White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer, who called the publication of the dossier “frankly shameful and disgraceful.” Next up was Mike Pence, who scolded reporters that “with freedom comes responsibility.” When Trump himself arrived at the lectern, he, too, attacked reporters.

If it’s responsibility Pence wants, he shouldn’t have accepted the VP slot. His boss isn’t into responsibility except when it’s other people who should be more responsible.

Trump says “Don’t be rude”

Jan 11th, 2017 11:19 am | By

Trump’s exchange with Jim Acosta of CNN:


Lived experience

Jan 11th, 2017 10:28 am | By

That was an awful experience. Painfully, squirmingly, let me out of here awful.

I hate watching the way he bares his lower lip so that you see his teeth – it’s so ugly and hostile and wolfish.

I hate, as always, watching his dreadful stunted clumsy gestures.

I hate hearing him say CHInah over and over again. He says “China” the normal way when it’s “the China sea” but when he names the country it’s CHInah every time. He also says – less often – JaPAN, with the same dopy aggressive emphasis.

I hate his word salad.

I hate his stunted vocabulary. I hate all the “very very” this and “he’s a fantastic guy” that.

I hate how dim he so obviously is. I hate it that he didn’t do better than I expected. I hate it that he really is just as idiotic and ignorant and simple-minded as he appeared all along. I hate it that this puffed-up bag of wind with the urine-colored combover will be president next week. I hate it that he’ll be able to kill us all if he takes it into his tiny little head.

I hate his stupid bragging.

I hate his stupid bragging about not doing something there should be no question of his doing in the first place – I hate it that he bragged about turning down a deal with a “very nice guy” in Dubai.

I hate everything about it. It’s so degrading. I feel dirty.

Russia said

Jan 11th, 2017 9:44 am | By

Trump has issued a public statement disputing the claims in yesterday’s news with his usual dignity and taste, as well as his usual epistemic caution. He chose Twitter as the best venue for this well-reasoned official statement.

Russia just said it’s not true, Donnie tells us. Ah well then – case closed. There is no possible way Russia could be lying about it, so we have no choice but to take their word for it and move on.

Donnie has NOTHING TO DO with Russia, he tells us. In all caps, he tells us. Ah well then – there’s no more to be said. Obviously he would never lie about it. Obviously he has shown himself to be scrupulously honest at all times and on all subjects. Obviously he has no reason to lie about this. Obviously we should believe him and forget all about this naughty story.

To drop the sarcasm now – “FAKE NEWS” – this terrible man has the gall to talk about fake news. He was a “birther” for years. There’s some FAKE NEWS if you like. He spent years spreading the FAKE NEWS that Obama wasn’t born in the US. He’s a bad malevolent lying piece of shit, and he has no standing to accuse anyone else of “fake news.”

The press conference

Jan 11th, 2017 8:53 am | By

I was writing up Trump’s tweets, but now I’m watching the press conference. It’s hair-raising.

They’re transcribing in real time.

I look very much forward to inauguration. It’s going to be a beautiful event. We have great talent, tremendous talent. And we have all of the bands — or most of the bands from the different segments of the military. And I’ve heard some of these bands over the years — they’re incredible. We’re going to have a very, very elegant day. The 20th is going to be something that will be very, very special, very beautiful. And I think we’re going to have massive crowds because we have a movement. It’ s a movement like the world has never seen before. Is a movement that a lot of people didn’t expect. And even the polls, although some of them did get it right, but many of them didn’t. And that was a beautiful scene on November 8th as those states started to pour in. And we focused very hard on those states, and they really reciprocated. And those states are going to have a lot of jobs, and have a lot of security. They going to have a lot of good news for their veterans.

Then questions started.


But had a statement today that this fake news was indeed fake news. They said it totally never happen.


These meetings as you know are confidential classified. So I am not allowed to talk about what went on in a meeting. That we had many witnesses in that meeting — many of them with us. And I will say again, I think it is a disgrace that information would be let out.

I saw the information I read the information outside of that meeting. It is all fake news. It is phony. It did not happen. It was gotten by opponents of hours as you know because you reported it and so did many of the other people — it was a group of opponents that got together — sick people.

And they put that crap together. So I will tell you — not within the meeting but outside of the meeting, somebody released it. It should never have been — should not have even entered the paper — it should have never been released. But I read what was released, and I think it is a disgrace. I think it is an absolute disgrace. As far as hacking — think it was Russia — but I think we also got hacked by

And other people. And I can say that — when we lost twenty two million names and everything else that was hacked recently — they did not make a big deal out of that — was something extraordinary that was probably China — we had much hacking going on. One of the things we will do — we have some of the greatest — computer minds anywhere in the world that we have assembled.

You saw a sample of it two weeks ago where we had the six top people in the world — they were never in the same room together as a group. We are going to put those minds together. And we are going to form a defense I have to say this also — the Democratic National Committee was totally open to be hacked. They did a very poor job. They could have had hacking defense which we had and I will give friends previous credit.

The transcript is being done at speed so there are mistakes, but it’s so grotesque I want to share it anyway.

Over the weekend, I was offered two billion dollars to do a deal in Dubai with a very, very amazing man, a great, developer from the Middle East.

Hussein Damac, a friend of mine, great guy.

And was offered two billion dollars to do a deal in Dubai — a number of deals. And I turned it down. I didn’t have to turn it down. Because as you know, I have have no conflict situation because I’m president, which is — I don’t know about that until about three months ago. But it’s a nice thing to have.

But I don’t want to take advantage of something. I have something that others don’t have. Vice President pants also have a. I don’t think you’ll need it. Either feelings are going to meet it. But I have a no conflict of interest provision as president. It was many, many years old. For president because I want presidents —

I understand. They don’t want present getting tangled up in minutia. What the president to run the country. So I could actually run my business. I could actually run my business and run government at the same time. I don’t like the way that looks, but I would be able to do that if I wanted to.

I be the only one who will be able to do that. You won’t be able to UK other capacity. But as a present, I could run the Trump organization — great, great company. And I could run the company country. I did a good job. But I don’t do that.

Now his lawyer is explaining why he shouldn’t have to get rid of his many conflicts of interest. It’s a disgusting display.

Pee po belly bum drawers

Jan 10th, 2017 6:19 pm | By

Ah, the Daily Mail – surprise! – divulges some actual “salacious” details.

What is believed to be the 35-page document itself was published by Buzzfeed, which pointed out that it contained errors. Little of its contents can be independently verified.

Trump himself already dismissed the claims, tweeting: ‘FAKE NEWS – A TOTAL POLITICAL WITCH HUNT!’

The document claims Russian sources told the operative that they had extensive material on the now president-elect – including a secret film of him in the suite where President Obama stayed in Moscow, watching prostitutes committing degrading sex acts on the bed where the president slept.

That is, peepee games. Golden showers. Yuge hombre Trump peeing on the women or watching them pee…on a bed the Obamas had once slept in. Nothing childish or weird there.

Part of the document is seen above. Click here to see the full document first published by Buzzfeed 

President in ten days.