Notes and Comment Blog

Very rough

Nov 22nd, 2016 12:24 pm | By

Hoo-boy. Trump changed his mind about having a tantrum at the NY Times, and they had their meeting after all.

(What can it be like having a meeting with him? A giant petulant baby with way too much power? It must be such a bizarre experience.)

The Times shares:

The strained relationship between Donald J. Trump and The New York Times took an odd path on Tuesday when a planned meeting between the president-elect and the newspaper was abruptly canceled by Mr. Trump and then quickly rescheduled.

After a morning of back-and-forth statements and Twitter posts, Mr. Trump arrived at midday for a meeting with Times representatives at the paper’s Midtown headquarters. Seated next to the publisher, Arthur Sulzberger Jr., in the paper’s Churchill Room, he said he had great respect for the paper but thought its treatment of him had been “very rough.”

God he’s stupid. The Times is not there to write daily panegyrics to unqualified ignorant billionaire candidates for president. That’s not their job.

He added that he hoped he and the paper could improve their relationship.

No, that’s not how that works. You don’t have a “relationship.” You can’t make the Times be your besty.

Three people with knowledge of Mr. Trump’s initial decision to cancel the meeting said that Reince Priebus, the incoming White House chief of staff, had been among those urging the president-elect to cancel it, because he would face questions he might not be prepared to answer. It was Mr. Priebus who relayed to Mr. Trump, erroneously, that The Times had changed the conditions of the meeting, believing it would result in a cancellation, these people said.

Ah look at that. because he would face questions he might not be prepared to answer. Of course he fucking would! He will always face questions he certainly won’t be prepared to answer, because he’s ignorant and incurious and thick as a brick. He can’t refuse to talk to us because he’s too ignorant and thick to answer questions relevant to the job he campaigned to get. It doesn’t work like that.

They collected tweets from the meeting.

All the power, none of the criticism

Nov 22nd, 2016 8:11 am | By

Trump also doesn’t understand the limits on his power. He thinks he gets to decide which cases the Attorney General will investigate.

President-elect Donald Trump has decided that his administration will not pursue criminal investigations related to former rival Hillary Clinton’s private email server or her family foundation, his campaign manager said Tuesday.

Trump’s apparent decison, conveyed by campaign manager Kellyanne Conway in an interview on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,’’ would be an extraordinary break with political and legal protocol, which holds that the attorney general and FBI make decisions on whether to conduct investigations and file charges, free of pressure from the president.

I guess protocol is for losers.

Trump’s conciliatory gesture stood in contrast to his continued fights on Twitter. The president-elect escalated his longstanding battle with the media on Tuesday, cancelling a meeting at The New York Times and blasting the publication on Twitter hours after he criticized TV journalists at another contentious sit-down.

Trump had scheduled two meetings with the publisher and journalists from the Times on Tuesday, including one on-the-record session. But the president-elect, who frequently attacked the paper during his campaign, suddenly cancelled the events in a series of tweets.

“I cancelled today’s meeting with the failing @nytimes when the terms and conditions of the meeting were changed at the last moment. Not nice,’’ Trump wrote to his nearly 16 million followers on the micro-blogging site. “Perhaps a new meeting will be set up with the @nytimes,’’ he continued. “In the meantime they continue to cover me inaccurately and with a nasty tone!’’

Times editors and reporters also took to Twitter to deny Trump’s account. Clifford Levy, the paper’s assistant masthead editor, tweeted out an official response saying it was the president-elect who had tried to change the ground rules by seeking only a private meeting. “We did not change the ground rules at all and made no attempt to,’’ Levy wrote. “We were unaware that the meeting was cancelled until we saw the President Elect’s tweet this morning.’’

So he canceled the meeting himself and lied about it on Twitter. That’s a good look.

The extraordinary spectacle of a man about to become president and one of its leading newspapers engaging in a Twitter war underscores how Trump’s always contentious relations with the media have deteriorated even further since his election. The relationship between presidents and those who cover them is often an adversarial one, but media experts say Trump’s blasts against reporters — he called them the “lowest form of humanity” during the campaign — have broken new ground.

His Twitter spat with the Times came one day after Trump did sit down with television news executives and some well-known TV journalists — and repeatedly told them the campaign reporting about him was “unfair” and “dishonest.”

That’s his projecting thing again. He told multiple lies during the campaign, and those lies helped him get elected.

Instead of striking a harmonious tone to build rapport following the election, Trump was combative, participants said. In a calm and deliberate voice, he told the group sitting around a conference table that they had failed to provide their viewers with fair and accurate coverage, and told them they failed to understand him or his appeal to millions of Americans.

But he made no mention of the enormous amount of airtime that the networks, especially on cable, devoted to his campaign. A number of analyses have noted that Trump’s presidential effort was boosted by the news media’s fascination with him.

Welcome to hell.

This is who he is

Nov 22nd, 2016 7:59 am | By

Yesterday Trump held a “summit” with some people from the news media – and pitched a Hitler-style fit at them for covering him in such a meany unfair way.

I wish I were joking.

David Remnick heard from people who were there.

He points out the obvious: that any idea that the job would make Trump a wiser and better human is dead as a stone.

First came the obsessive Twitter rants directed at “Hamilton” and “Saturday Night Live.” Then came Monday’s astonishing aria of invective and resentment aimed at the media, delivered in a conference room on the twenty-fifth floor of Trump Tower. In the presence of television executives and anchors, Trump whined about everything from NBC News reporter Katy Tur’s coverage of him to a photograph the news network has used that shows him with a double chin. Why didn’t they use “nicer” pictures?

For more than twenty minutes, Trump railed about “outrageous” and “dishonest” coverage. When he was asked about the sort of “fake news” that now clogs social media, Trump replied that it was the networks that were guilty of spreading fake news. The “worst,” he said, were CNN (“liars!”) and NBC.

This is where we are. The President-elect does not care who knows how unforgiving or vain or distracted he is. This is who he is, and this is who will be running the executive branch of the United States government for four years.

That. He doesn’t care who knows what a fucking baby he is. He doesn’t care that he’s revealing himself, hourly, to be too childish and petulant for junior high school. He doesn’t care that we can all see what a vain greedy self-obsessed buffoon he is. He must not even realize that that’s what he’s showing us.

It’s mind-boggling. I’ll never get used to it. The grotesquerie cannot be assimilated.

The over-all impression of the meeting from the attendees I spoke with was that Trump showed no signs of having been sobered or changed by his elevation to the country’s highest office. Rather, said one, “He is the same kind of blustering, bluffing blowhard as he was during the campaign.”

Another participant at the meeting said that Trump’s behavior was “totally inappropriate” and “fucking outrageous.” The television people thought that they were being summoned to ask questions; Trump has not held a press conference since late July. Instead, they were subjected to a stream of insults and complaints…

From the guy who will be president in a few weeks. They’re the fourth estate, and he thinks it’s a good idea to summon them to his GoldVomitorium in order to try to bully them. He thinks he gets to tell them what to do.

Kellyanne Conway, who managed Trump’s campaign and who is now his senior adviser, said that the meeting had been “very cordial, candid, and honest.”

Participants said that Trump did not seem entirely rational about his criticism of the media, nor did he appear any more informed about policy than he had been during the campaign. When one participant pointed out that all Presidents and Presidential candidates believe they get bad press, Trump said, “Not Obama!”

In fact, Trump went on at length about how much he has come to like the current President—how “great” they are getting along and how he “loves” Obama. He said that since the two met at the White House, two weeks ago, they have spoken twice on the phone. When I interviewed Obama for nearly two hours last week, he was obviously doing his best to avoid insulting or provoking a man whom he had previously declared “unfit” and “uniquely unqualified” for the Presidency. During the President’s trip to Europe and Peru, sources said, one foreign leader after another came to Obama in a mood of shock and alarm, including Angela Merkel, of Germany.

Well of course they did. What’s not to be terrified about?

Participants said that Trump did not raise his voice, but that he went on steadily at the start of the meeting about how he had been treated poorly. “It was all so Trump,” one said. “He is like this all the time. He’ll freeze you out and then be nice and humble and sort of want you to like him.”

“But he truly doesn’t seem to understand the First Amendment,” the source continued. “He doesn’t. He thinks we are supposed to say what he says and that’s it.”

And he doesn’t know he doesn’t understand it, and he doesn’t know that it matters that he doesn’t understand things like that.

Also, he will have the nukes. He’ll use them. I don’t think there’s any way he won’t. He has no inhibitions, no understanding, no impulse control, no ability to reason or check himself – why would he not use them?

He could be game over. It’s looking likely.

The day in Trumptweets

Nov 22nd, 2016 7:18 am | By

President Pussygrabber’s latest batch of tweets is astounding.

“Only the crooked media” cares about the massive conflicts of interest that a president who has “interests in properties all over the world” presents. No, Donnie, you’re wrong about that, citizens also care.

This is President Corrupt doing that projection thing again – accusing other people of the very crimes he is trying to hide. Tragically, it’s worked for him so far.

Nigel Farage. Ambassador. To the US. Oh dear god.

Fortunately it’s not President Pussygrabber’s choice to make. He no doubt thinks it is, but he’s wrong.

“Not nice” – as if he would know.

That’s because you’re a bad, stupid, mean, childish, incompetent man who somehow parlayed your money and fame into being elected president.

He really needs to start acting like an adult now.

He thinks he’s become a god.

Oh look, the National Review agrees with him! No shit, Sherlock.


Nov 22nd, 2016 6:05 am | By

The BBC seven hours ago:

Turkish MPs to vote on controversial underage sex bill

The BBC one hour ago:

Turkey withdraws child rape bill after street protests

One wonders why it was “underage sex” seven hours ago and “child rape” six hours later.

From the second article:

This bill sparked a rare thing here: cross-party opposition. The AKP MPs who proposed it insisted it would not pardon rapists or sexual abusers and was simply intended to exonerate men who marry underage girls apparently with consent.

Miss the point much? Consent is not meaningful in underage girls. Men exploit underage girls; their underageness makes that easier to do. Saying “Jeez they only want to marry them” makes it worse, not better. Marriage terminates all other possibilities before the girl is old enough to evaluate the situation.

However, critics said that in patriarchal Turkey, a young girl would feel unable to give consent and so the bill would have legitimised rape and encouraged child brides. When conservative, usually pro-government, women spoke out against it – including the president’s wife – the bill was doomed to failure.

Child marriage is a problem here. Former President Abdullah Gul famously married when he was 30 and his wife 15.

Men like them tight and easy to dominate.

But women’s groups say the solution is not controversial legislation such as this but real opportunities for girls. And they say the Islamist AKP has encouraged female subservience, with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan calling childless women “deficient”.

It’s led to a huge rise in physical abuse of women, with the murder rate said to have increased by 1,400% between 2003 and 2010 – although some believe that number is partly due to more cases being reported than ever before.

It’s not “underage sex,” BBC, it’s child rape made even worse by child marriage.

H/t Joanne

“One wonders if these people are people at all”

Nov 21st, 2016 6:02 pm | By

Our new reality:

If you tuned in to CNN earlier today, you might have found yourself greeted by a chyron that could have been ripped straight out of a Newt Gingrich Nazi fanfic: Alt-Right Founder Questions If Jews Are People. The real question, of course, is whether our president-elect should distance himself from an explicit group of neo-Nazis. And according to CNN, the answer is a resounding “WEELLLL …”

That’s from that meeting Saturday.

An anchor whom no one seems to be able to name but who looks suspiciously like Jason Sudeikis in Mitt Romney makeup starts us on our journey:

Richard Spencer, he’s the man who actually coined that term, “alt-right.” He was in Washington this weekend. He was spewing, as he often does, what I can only describe as hate-filled garbage. Of Jews, Spencer said … “One wonders if these people are people at all, or instead soulless golem.”

Does President Trump need to formally denounce and disavow these groups as a whole?

It’s too late for that, Trump has welcomed them into his “administration” (the one where he waves at the crowds and someone else does the actual work).

Moving on, though, there are the optics to consider. Does Trump really want to risk alienating Nazis when they’ve been such devout, loyal supporters? According to Berg:

Part of this is also a political calculation. They found that they need these people in their coalition to succeed, so can they disown them and cleanse their coalition of these people?

Can they cleanse the undesirables, indeed. CNN, unfortunately, offers no answers. Instead, all we get is a lively debate of the pros and cons of the president-elect denouncing people who question whether Jews are human, because they have been loyal parts of the coalition that put him in office.

CNN will be airing live executions of staffers within six months.

We’ll be numb to it soon.

A golden tomb

Nov 21st, 2016 4:07 pm | By

Katy Evans-Bush is also repulsed by the Trump Mausoleum.

The world had 18 months to get used to Donald Trump, before the shock of the election result; it turns out what we weren’t ready for was his apartment. Just days after winning, the president-elect and his would-be British middleman, Nigel Farage, stood beaming together in Trump’s private elevator – a lift so gold, so garish, so glaring, that it could have come with an epilepsy warning. The internet shielded its eyes and began to get the picture.

Oh yes – let me find that.

Image result for trump farage


It’s not just the bling – it goes way beyond that. It begins with Trump Tower itself, the squared-off monolith that’s like a steel and plate-glass alter ego. Out of the lift, you go through two gigantic – and one suspects totally bomb-proof – golden doors. The interior is furnished in what have been referred to as “warm neutrals”: gold, more gold – on the furniture, the ceilings, the fittings, the window frames – cream, rose, and, er, gold. There are pillars. There are curved arches, vaults in the lowish ceilings, faux rococo ceiling paintings, elaborate ceiling mouldings surrounding outsized cut-glass chandeliers, and claustrophobically thick carpets underneath. Not a surface is plain. There’s plenty of marble. There are also ornate carvings, over-the-top chairs, glass-and-onyx-topped tables with curling sweet dishes holding ordinary wrapped chocolates, statuettes of cherubs and lovers – all gold. The soft furnishings all look the same and all blend into the background, making the gold even more noticeable.

It’s nightmarish; it’s actively unpleasant. It might as well be bank statements. Gold can be beautiful in small doses. Globbed onto everything like so much ranch dressing onto iceberg lettuce? Not beautiful.

A quick look at dictator’s boudoirs – both online and in Peter York’s seminal book, Dictators’ Homes (now sadly out of print, but surely due a reissue?) – yields the surprising fact that very few dictators can keep up with Donald Trump for sheer bling.  Few of them can even keep up with him in ugliness, and those that manage both boil down to only a small handful.  Except for his own private gold elevator, barrelling from the Berghof straight up through the mountain itself to his lodge at the top, even Hitler went for a more ascetic, folkloric style. Mussolini had the real thing – an Italian Renaissance villa. And Tito lived the American suburban dream.  In his introduction, York cites “Outsider entrepreneurs”, including oligarchs, plutocrats and others in this category.

I’ve been inside quite a few rich people’s houses, and they don’t look anything like Trump Bordello. Some have struck me as way too much about expense and decorators and not nearly enough about fun and pleasure and color, but that’s the opposite of Trump’s fever dream of life inside Fort Knox.

Donald Trump’s penthouse is, on a smaller scale, even more gold than Versailles. But it is jarring and crowded; the eye has nowhere to rest, it looks too uncomfortable even to sit and have a talk. The style is in a battle to the death with the building’s plate glass and square construction, its oppressive, hulking ceilings, its lack of scale – it feels like a place to pretend to be alive in. As the Irish poet Mark Granier put it: “a golden tomb.”

By contrast, the homes of former US presidents like Reagan and GW Bush are simply very comfortable, easy on the eye, large, well-appointed homes, recognisably in the vernacular style of the American ranch house. They are authentically themselves, their houses (even professionally decorated) grow out of their roots, and, aside from some nice linens and so on, they utterly lack what York calls “the Wow factor”.

Exactly. There are antiques around, and it’s safe to assume they’re very pricey, but they don’t scream it at you. You don’t look around nervously for the Palace Guards coming to drag you away.

Our current class of dictators, oligarchs, sports stars, and alt-right radio hosts don’t give a toss about these kinds of refinements. It’s just BLING BLING BLING. The Trump apartment is not intended to be comfortable. Badly proportioned, stuffed wall-to-wall with ugly things (including the walls) and nothing restful or interesting to look at. No master artist sat in a workshop, being paid well to make something delightful for this place. Aping something like the form but not the function of the idea of Bourbon style, Trump’s apartment is actually more like an anti-Versailles. It’s the difference between patronage as power and power as power. It’s the triumph of a kind of deadness which shows itself in every other thing Trump does; its glitziness is exactly as barren as Damien Hirst’s diamante encrusted skulls, or paintings made out of real butterflies.

That is what it is. It’s dead. It’s heaps and piles and globs of yellow metal, and it’s dead.

New York City continues to be a sanctuary city

Nov 21st, 2016 3:44 pm | By

Columbia University Provost John Coatsworth said in a statement today:

First, you should know that the University will neither allow immigration officials on our campuses without a warrant, nor share information on the immigration status of students with those officials unless required by subpoena or court order, or authorized by a student.  Moreover, New York City continues to be a sanctuary city, with special protections for undocumented immigrants, and Mayor de Blasio recently affirmed that local law enforcement officials will continue to operate consistent with that commitment.

If the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy is terminated or substantially curtailed and students with DACA status lose the right to work, the University pledges to expand the financial aid and other support we make available to undocumented students, regardless of their immigration status.  It is of the utmost importance that federal policies and laws do not derail the education of students whose enrollment at Columbia and other colleges or universities is made possible by DACA.  We subscribe to the view of the Association of American Universities that “DACA should be upheld, continued and expanded,” and we will continue to express that commitment in the future.

To provide additional support, the Office of University Life is hosting a series of small-group, private information sessions specifically for undocumented students in our community, including DACA recipients, to provide support and guidance regarding possible changes in the law.  Affected students can contact the Office directly for more information.  Separately, our International Students and Scholars Office (ISSO) is also scheduling information sessions and prepared to provide assistance via its telephone helplines to any of our international students with questions or concerns.  For more information about resources, support and reporting options regarding discrimination and harassment, please see

The commitments outlined above emerge from values that define what we stand for and who we are as a University community.  Indeed, Columbia College and the School of Engineering and Applied Science have amplified their commitment to undocumented undergraduate students pursuing their first degrees by continuing to meet their full financial aid needs as has long been our policy and also by treating applications of undocumented students no differently than those of students who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents.  The experience of undocumented students at the College and Columbia Engineering, from the time they first seek admission through their graduation, will not be burdened in any way by their undocumented status.

Trump can see Columbia from his house.

See the Nazi salutes

Nov 21st, 2016 3:21 pm | By

The Atlantic has video of that talk Richard B. Spencer gave at the neo-Nazi meeting Saturday evening after most of the journalists had left.

I hit the stop button after he said “It’s not just that they are leftists and cucks. It’s not just that they are stupid.” That’s 50 seconds in.

It’s only a few men in a room. But…they’re connected to the next president.

They talked about their first meeting

Nov 21st, 2016 2:55 pm | By

Ok the Trump-Macri story may not be true. It’s not completely clear that the reporter wasn’t joking.

On his popular Sunday night program “Periodismo para Todos” (Journalism for All), the muckraking Argentine reporter Jorge Lanata and his guests delivered an explosive claim: U.S. President-elect Donald Trump asked the country’s president for help getting permits for a stalled Trump tower project in Buenos Aires.

The story caught fire, but it may be just more fake news.

Ivan Pavlovsky, a spokesman for Macri who was present in the room during their call, said the claims were false and that “nothing like that ever happened.”

“They didn’t talk about any investments or any tower,” said Pavlovsky, reached by phone in Buenos Aires. “They talked about good relations between Argentina and the United States and the time they first met each other, more than 20 years ago” in New York City, said Pavlovsky.

A Trump spokes also denied it but we  know how worthless that is. Sorry, Donnie, but if you lie your lying ass off throughout the campaign, we’re not going to believe you now.

The allegation that caught fire on social media Monday started the previous evening’s broadcast of “Journalism for All.”

Lanata, best known in Argentina as a fierce and irreverent critic of former president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, said during the show’s opening monologue that he had a story about Trump that was “half joking, half serious.”

“Macri called him,” Lanata told his audience. “Trump asked him to approve a tower he’s building in Buenos Aires. It wasn’t only a conversation about geopolitics.”

It wasn’t clear whether Lanata meant the allegations were “half serious” or if the story so defied credulity as to seem like a joke. Nor did he reveal the sources for his claim.

So, not a very solid story then. Marked “doubtful” for now.

“Since I have you on the line, Mauricio…”

Nov 21st, 2016 12:28 pm | By

TPM tells us:

For a number of years, Trump and his Argentine partners have been trying to build a major office building in Buenos Aires. The project has been held up by a series of complications tied to financing, importation of building materials and various permitting requirements.

According to a report out of Argentina, when Argentine President Mauricio Macri called President-Elect Trump to congratulate him on his election, Trump asked Macri to deal with the permitting issues that are currently holding up the project.

Pause to stare at the screen in frozen horror.

This comes from one of Argentina’s most prominent journalists, Jorge Lanata, in a recent TV appearance. Lanata is quoted here in La Nacion, one of Argentina’s most prestigious dailies. Said Lanata: “Macri called him. This still hasn’t emerged but Trump asked for them to authorize a building he’s constructing in Buenos Aires, it wasn’t just a geopolitical chat.”

Why aren’t we hearing about this in the American press?

Well, remember, no one knew anything about the visit from Trump’s Indian business partners until it appeared in the Indian press either. It seems like this is likely happening on many fronts. It’s just being hidden from the American press. We only hear about it when it bubbles to the surface in the countries where Trump is pushing his business deals.

Trump has denied it. Macri has denied it. The Embassy of Argentina has denied it.

But you know what? I don’t believe them. Trump is a chronic and unabashed liar, so why should I or anyone believe him? And I don’t.

As phony as everything else about him

Nov 21st, 2016 12:22 pm | By

Robin Lustig sees a dangerous world ahead.

What scares me most about Trump is not only that he is a deeply unpleasant man with deeply unpleasant views but also that he is grotesquely, frighteningly incompetent and woefully unprepared for the task ahead. His reputation as a successful businessman is as phony as everything else about him, and he is a man who has no experience whatsoever of politics even at the very lowest level, who apparently had no idea of what was involved in putting together a new White House team.

More than a week after his election, no one from his team had been in touch with either the State Department or the Pentagon, and when the Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe became the first foreign leader to meet him since the election, none of the Japanese leader’s aides could find anyone on the Trump team to brief them ahead of the meeting. (After they met, Mr Abe called the president-elect a man in whom he has ‘great confidence’, which suggests both his well-honed diplomatic skills and his love for whistling in the dark.)

Trump is the man – and this is the team (his daughter and son-in-law were both with him when he met Mr Abe) – who will now have to deal with some of the most skilful and experienced political operators on the planet: put Trump up against Putin, Erdoğan, or Xi Jinping and I’m pretty sure that we won’t have to wait long to see who gets the better of whom.

I think that’s right. Trump has the illusion that he is a brilliant operator, because look how rich he is, but I think he’s mistaken about that.

Trump’s supporters say that we commentators have failed to appreciate that what he said during the election campaign should never have been taken literally. He is, after all, a showman, a man who has likened putting together his administration to picking finalists on his TV show. That’s another reason that he is so dangerous: quite apart from his terrifying character flaws, he can never be believed. ‘Don’t take him literally’ is another way of saying ‘Don’t believe a word he says.’

And we have many reasons independent of the whole “it’s just a political campaign” argument for not believing a word he says. He lies relentlessly and without shame. We’re told he was legitimately elected, but I say he absolutely was not, in large part because of all those lies.

It is hard to avoid the suspicion that Donald Trump never really expected to end up where he is. So far, he has shown little sign of having given the mundane nitty-gritty of the presidency much serious thought. Apparently, when he finally got round to chatting to Theresa May on the phone the other day, he told her that if she happened to be in the US any time soon, she should definitely get in touch. He clearly neither knows nor cares how such matters are usually handled. On its own, it doesn’t much matter, but as an example of his ignorance and lack of preparedness, it matters a great deal.

It’s not good to have an ignorant liar in that job.

For the next four years, the world will scarcely dare to breathe as we learn to live with a dangerous and unpredictable president in the White House.

That about sums it up.

Nazis gather

Nov 21st, 2016 11:48 am | By

Michael Goldfarb says “The term alt-right needs to be replaced by NYTimes/NPR et al and pronto.” He cites Joseph Goldstein’s story in the Times yesterday on a day-long meeting of followers of Richard B. Spencer near the White House on Saturday.

In 11 hours of speeches and panel discussions in a federal building named after Ronald Reagan a few blocks from the White House, a succession of speakers had laid out a harsh vision for the future, but had denounced violence and said that Hispanic citizens and black Americans had nothing to fear. Earlier in the day, Mr. Spencer himself had urged the group to start acting less like an underground organization and more like the establishment.

But now his tone changed as he began to tell the audience of more than 200 people, mostly young men, what they had been waiting to hear. He railed against Jews and, with a smile, quoted Nazi propaganda in the original German. America, he said, belonged to white people, whom he called the “children of the sun,” a race of conquerors and creators who had been marginalized but now, in the era of President-elect Donald J. Trump, were “awakening to their own identity.”

As he finished, several audience members had their arms outstretched in a Nazi salute. When Mr. Spencer, or perhaps another person standing near him at the front of the room — it was not clear who — shouted, “Heil the people! Heil victory,” the room shouted it back.

They now have a voice in the next administration. Steve Bannon is their guy.

At the conference on Saturday, Mr. Spencer, who said he had coined the term, defined the alt-right as a movement with white identity as its core idea.

“We’ve crossed the Rubicon in terms of recognition,” Mr. Spencer said at the conference, which was sponsored by his organization, the National Policy Institute.

And while much of the discourse at the conference was overtly racist and demeaning toward minorities, for much of the day the sentiments were expressed in ways that seemed intended to not sound too menacing. The focus was on how whites were marginalized and beleaguered.

Reporters peeled away as the evening went on, and some of the veils were thrown off.

Mr. Spencer’s after-dinner speech began with a polemic against the “mainstream media,” before he briefly paused. “Perhaps we should refer to them in the original German?” he said.

The audience immediately screamed back, “Lügenpresse,” reviving a Nazi-era word that means “lying press.”

Yeah. Do let’s revive Nazi slogans. “Lügenpresse” isn’t merely Nazi-era, it’s Nazi. Art deco is Nazi era; Lügenpresse is Nazi propaganda.

“America was, until this last generation, a white country designed for ourselves and our posterity,” Mr. Spencer thundered. “It is our creation, it is our inheritance, and it belongs to us.”

But the white race, he added, is “a race that travels forever on an upward path.”

“To be white is to be a creator, an explorer, a conqueror,” he said.

More members of the audience were on their feet as Mr. Spencer described the choice facing white people as to “conquer or die.”

Mr. Spencer said that while he did not think the president-elect should be considered alt-right, “I do think we have a psychic connection, or you can say a deeper connection, with Donald Trump in a way that we simply do not have with most Republicans.”

Yes I think that’s right. They have “psychic connection” with him because he’s a cruel amoral bastard.

Vewwy wude

Nov 21st, 2016 11:29 am | By

The grievance brigade.

No reset button

Nov 21st, 2016 11:03 am | By

Jim Rutenberg at the Times on Megyn Kelly’s book.

On Tuesday, she was in her office at the Fox News headquarters in Midtown Manhattan, taking stock, preparing for the next phase — a Trump presidency — and warning fellow journalists to look at her experience during the campaign as a potential cautionary tale.

“The relentless campaign that Trump unleashed on me and Fox News to try to get coverage the way he liked it was unprecedented and potentially very dangerous,” she said, casual but animated behind her translucent desk. If he were to repeat the same behavior from the White House, she said, “it would be quite chilling for many reporters.”

He has been railing at the Times in recent days.

Mr. Trump’s spokeswoman, Hope Hicks, declined to comment on Ms. Kelly or her book.

But speaking broadly about Mr. Trump’s expectations for his relationship with the press as president, Ms. Hicks said that he would abide by “standard press protocols that are in place now, the traditions,” and that he saw his presidency as “a fresh start” for his relationship with the news media.


No, he does not get a “fresh start” after being such a complete shit. It doesn’t work like that. The perp doesn’t get to say “let’s have a fresh start now” after a long career of abuse. He’s still the same cruel bully, so he’s not the one who gets to declare a fresh start. Being elected president doesn’t magically transform a cruel bully into a decent human being.

During the interview, Ms. Kelly said she feared the election sent a troubling message to women.

“There were a few themes that came out of 2016, and one of them is, as women, we have a long way to go, a long way to go,” she told me. Emphasizing that she takes “no position on the election,” she said the campaign showed “there is a tolerance for some considerable level of sexism and in some corners — let me underscore I’m not referring to Trump specifically, just what we saw this year — even misogyny.”

I am referring to Trump specifically: the garbage that has come out of his mouth about women is indeed misogyny. He is a misogynist. Nobody who wasn’t a misogynist could talk about women the way he does.

“Let’s gut her”

Nov 21st, 2016 10:18 am | By

Slate had a piece about Trump and his team a few days ago that’s so horrifying I had to pause in reading it. It’s about how they echoed threats against Megyn Kelly to the point that a Fox executive had to explain to them that it wouldn’t help their campaign if she were murdered.

Donald Trump’s feud with Megyn Kelly was way darker than any of us knew. Kelly received so many death threats and so much harassment from Trump supporters after confronting him at the first Republican debate with a challenging question about his many, many misogynistic statements that she needed a special security detail for a year.

The Trump campaign stoked the flames of the Kelly hate, the Fox News host told CNN’s Anderson Cooper in an interview on Wednesday, to the point that one of the top executives at Fox News had to explain to one of Trump’s top employees why if she “gets killed” it might be bad for their campaign.

“Michael Cohen, who is Trump’s top lawyer and executive vice president with the Trump Organization had retweeted ‘let’s gut her,’ about me,” Kelly said. “At a time when the threat level was very high, which he knew. And Bill Shine, an executive vice president of Fox, called him up to say, ‘You got to stop this. We understand you are angry but she’s got three kids and is walking around New York.’ ”

The “let’s gut her” made me gasp.

This is why this new regime is not legitimate and never will be. Their chief selling point is bullying and cruelty. We know where bullying and cruelty lead when they are fostered and encouraged, as Trump fosters and encourages them as well as modelling them himself. This is what makes the comparison to Hitler entirely apt. Hitler didn’t campaign on a platform of killing millions of people because he hated them. He campaigned on a platform of hating millions of people, and then went on to the genocide later. People who love bullying and cruelty the way Trump does cannot be trusted not to put them into action.

We’ve never had a president like this before. We’ve had plenty of bad ones, but never ones who would stand up in front of crowds and mock a disabled reporter, mock a woman who tottered because she had pneumonia, mock a woman reporter for menstruating. He’s a mean bastard all the way through, and mean bastards are not safe. He’d kill us all if he felt like it and had the power.

And – we already know this, sadly – even if he doesn’t organize a few genocides, his presence in the job is valorizing and encouraging mean bastards everywhere. Bullying has been given a veneer of legitimacy by the election of this evil piece of shit. That’s why we’re all so plunged in despair.

Cohen is no stranger to elaborate threats against journalists. When the Daily Beast republished an account of a sworn deposition from Trump’s first wife Ivana in which she had used the word rape to describe something Trump did to her, Cohen said “you cannot rape your spouse” and then threatened the reporters.

“I will make sure that you and I meet one day while we’re in the courthouse. And I will take you for every penny you still don’t have. And I will come after your Daily Beast and everybody else that you possibly know,” Cohen told the Daily Beast at the time. “So I’m warning you, tread very fucking lightly, because what I’m going to do to you is going to be fucking disgusting. You understand me?”

“You write a story that has Mr. Trump’s name in it, with the word ‘rape,’ and I’m going to mess your life up … for as long as you’re on this frickin’ planet … you’re going to have judgments against you, so much money, you’ll never know how to get out from underneath it,” he added.

He’s Trump’s consigliere.

As ABC News reported in 2011, Cohen is a fan of violent metaphors, if not violence itself:

Cohen, 44, is known around the office—and around New York—as Trump’s “pit bull.” Some have even nicknamed him “Tom,” a reference to Tom Hagen, the consigliore to Vito Corleone in the “Godfather” movies.

“It means that if somebody does something Mr. Trump doesn’t like, I do everything in my power to resolve it to Mr. Trump’s benefit,” Cohen said in an interview with ABC News. “If you do something wrong, I’m going to come at you, grab you by the neck and I’m not going to let you go until I’m finished.”

Yeah that’s really what we want in the White House.

In an interview with the New York Times, Kelly said her experience should be troubling to anyone worried about how a free press might be treated and might operate under President-elect Trump’s incoming administration:

“The relentless campaign that Trump unleashed on me and Fox News to try to get coverage the way he liked it was unprecedented and potentially very dangerous,” she said … If he were to repeat the same behavior from the White House, she said, “it would be quite chilling for many reporters.”

Just a tad.

We are given an obscene Gehenna

Nov 20th, 2016 5:26 pm | By

A few years ago Stephen Fry drove around the US in a London cab with a tv crew. I’ve seen a couple of episodes of the resulting tv series, and liked them. One of the places he visited was Atlantic City

Would it not have been better to let the home of Monopoly, this seedy resort town and remnant of another way of holidaying, simply fall into the sea? Instead we are given an obscene Gehenna, a place of such tawdry, tacky, tinselly, tasteless and trumpery tat that the desire to run away clutching my hand to my mouth is overwhelming.  But no, I must brave the interior of the most tawdry and literally trumpery tower of them all … The Trump Taj Mahal.

For taking the name of the priceless mausoleum of Agra, one of the beauties and wonders of the world, for that alone Donald Trump should be stripped naked and whipped with scorpions all along the boardwalk. It is as if a giant toad has raped a butterfly. I am not an enemy of developers, per se; I know that people must make money from construction and development projects, I know that there is a demand and that casinos will be built. I can pardon Trump all his vanities and shady junk-bonded dealings and financial brinkmanship, I would even forgive him his hair, were it not that everything he does is done with such poisonously atrocious taste, such false glamour, such shallow grandeur, such cynical vulgarity. At least Las Vegas developments, preposterous as they are, have a kind of joy and wit to them … oh well, it is no good putting off the moment, Stephen. In you go.

He’s exactly right, isn’t he – such poisonously atrocious taste, such false glamour, such shallow grandeur, such cynical vulgarity. That living room in Trump Tower…

Here’s another image of that living room, the one that inspired me to go looking for more:

It is repellent. It would be less hideous if he had simply constructed the whole thing out of blocks of cash.

He goes in.

All you need is here: mini-streets complete with Starbucks for people who hate coffee and KFC for people who can’t abide food; there is even a shop devoted entirely to the personality of Donald Trump himself, with quotes from the great man all over the walls: ‘You’ve got to think anyway, so why not think big?’ and similar comforting and illuminating insights that enrich and nourish the hungry human soul.

There’s a lot of horrible tat for sale.

There is nothing here that I would not be ashamed to be seen owning. Not a thing. Oh, must we stay here one minute longer?


Tony Husband

Then he goes on into the casino.

Above my head glitter the chandeliers that for some reason Trump is so proud of.

‘$14 million worth of German crystal chandeliers, including 245,000 piece chandeliers in the casino alone, each valued at a cost of $250,000, and taking over 20 hours to hang,’ trumpets the publicity.

‘An entire two-year output of Northern Italy’s Carrera marble quarries – the marble of choice for all of Michelangelo’s art – adorn the hotel’s lobby, guest rooms, casino, hallways and public areas.’

And there you have it. It’s expensive. The end. That’s his entire aesthetic: it’s expensive.

Writing in the present (or rather, last April), Stephen Fry sums up:

Do please believe that to decry such offences against taste is emphatically not a kind of snobbery. Doubtless Trump and his supporters would see any attack on him on aesthetic grounds as sneering metropolitan elitism because they would choose not to understand the moral dimension at play here. It must be understood that bad taste on the monstrous scale that Trump disseminates and embodies is the most brutal crime against the human spirit – a snobbery that looks down with contempt.

If you don’t know Peter York’s book Dictators’ Homes you really should try to get hold of it. It demonstrates quite wonderfully and hilariously how a gross, shatteringly greedy appetite for power and gross, shatteringly vulgar taste go hand in hand. The ‘ruthless, ill-educated, ignorant and trashily vainglorious’ who want to rule us at any price can be read through their bedrooms, dining-rooms and studies.

And, leafing through the book, whose execrable, vomitous taste do you think is shown most exactly to match that of Trump and his towers and foul resort hotels? Why Saddam Hussein’s of course. Indistinguishable.

Maek you think.

H/t Emily

Not only unpatriotic and servile

Nov 20th, 2016 4:33 pm | By

I don’t much admire Theodore Roosevelt, apart from the National Parks thing (which admittedly is a lot), but he said a good thing about our current issues.

To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public.

From an editorial he wrote for the “Kansas City Star” during World War I…when he was no longer president, of course.

H/t Steve Watson

El Dorado

Nov 20th, 2016 4:12 pm | By

The vulgarity of Trump Palace is breathtaking. US Magazine did a piece on it a year ago, so we can see how hideous it really is.

Donald Trump


Compare the White House.

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You don’t need eye protection in the second place.

Ice cream, Mandrake? Children’s ice cream?

Nov 20th, 2016 12:03 pm | By

Trump’s national security guy is a conspiracy-monger. Business Insider reports:

The retired general whom President-elect Donald Trump tapped to advise him on matters of national security has promoted stories involving conspiracy theories about Hillary Clinton.

Retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn shared two thinly sourced articles on his Twitter account alleging that Clinton was involved in everything from “money laundering” to “sex crimes with children” just days before the election.

On November 2, the general tweeted a link to a website called True Pundit, which claimed to have spoken with “NYPD sources” involved in the investigation of Anthony Weiner. Flynn called it a “must read” — which many supporters likely did, since it was favorited and retweeted more than 12,000 times.

In other words he tweeted the link with a strong recommendation.

The fabricated news story originated on a number of right-wing blogs that were reporting little more than anonymous postings on internet message boards. As PolitiFact pointed out, the conspiracy theory that implicated Clinton in a “political pedophile sex ring” being investigated by the NYPD and FBI had no basis in fact.

Spokesmen for both agencies denied any investigation, according to PolitiFact.

So he’s precisely the wrong kind of person for that job, isn’t he. He’s another Jack D. Ripper, and we don’t want those as national security honcho.

Flynn headed the Defense Intelligence Agency from 2012 to 2014 before he was reportedly forced out for mismanagement of the agency. Flynn has repeatedly claimed his firing came because of his views on radical Islam.

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