Notes and Comment Blog


Off to a great start

Nov 15th, 2016 3:03 pm | By

Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown gently suggests that hiring a hate-everybody troll for a top policy job in the White House might be seen as unfriendly to non-troll Americans.

Ohio U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D.) today urged President-elect Donald Trump to reverse his appointment of Steve Bannon, executive chairman of Breitbart News, as chief White House strategist and senior counsel because of his association with the Alt-right.

“We cannot bring the country together by inviting into the White House the same bigotry and hate speech that divided us on the campaign trail,” Mr. Brown said in a statement released today.

“This is not about a difference in policy or politics — Steve Bannon has promoted anti-Semitic, racist, misogynistic and dangerous views that have emboldened white nationalist forces and caused some Americans to question whether they can still feel safe in the country we all love. President-elect Trump told us he wants to be a President for ‘all Americans’ and he cannot do that while empowering bigotry that targets and threatens many of them. Steve Bannon must be removed from his position immediately,” Mr. Brown said.

Ohio Democratic Chairman David Pepper said Monday that Mr. Bannon ”has stoked the flames of misogyny, racism, homophobia, and anti-Semitism. Americans of every political persuasion and every race, color, and creed should be concerned by Trump’s actions in bringing Bannon into the White House.”

Good. I hope Congress will unite to tell President Pussygrabber that he can’t be doing this shit.



Guest post: Critics see

Nov 15th, 2016 2:32 pm | By

Guest post by G Felis.

New York Times headline: “Critics See Stephen Bannon, Trump’s Pick for Strategist, as Voice of Racism”

Oh FFS! Steve Bannon’s history of waving the banner of both implicit and explicit racism is not a judgment call or matter of perspective. That’s like saying “Critics See Animal in this Picture as Duck-like.” If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck and calls for the separation of the races like a duck and publishes racist rhetoric like a duck, it’s a racist duck.

Image result for duck

(The duck pictured is just a metaphor, of course. I apologize for any implication that the duck in this picture is racist. He isn’t a racist, he just thinks ducks with feathers of different colors would be more comfortable with their own kind.)



Trump’s talent pool

Nov 15th, 2016 10:10 am | By

The Times provides some highlights of Steve Bannon and Breitbart.

Here, in his own words, are a selection of Mr. Bannon’s public statements about the country, the Republican Party and his own political philosophy.

• “Fear is a good thing. Fear is going to lead you to take action,” he said in a 2010 interview.

• Referring to Ann Coulter, Michele Bachmann and Sarah Palin in a 2011 radio interview on Political Vindication Radio, he said: “These women cut to the heart of the progressive narrative. That’s why there are some unintended consequences of the women’s liberation movement. That, in fact, the women that would lead this country would be pro-family, they would have husbands, they would love their children. They wouldn’t be a bunch of dykes that came from the Seven Sisters schools up in New England. That drives the left insane, and that’s why they hate these women.”

•“Let the grassroots turn on the hate because that’s the ONLY thing that will make them do their duty,” he wrote about Republican leaders in a 2014 email exchange with a Breitbart News editor. The emails were obtained by The Daily Beast.

• “We call ourselves ‘the Fight Club.’ You don’t come to us for warm and fuzzy,” Mr. Bannon told The Washington Post this year. “We think of ourselves as virulently anti-establishment, particularly ‘anti-’ the permanent political class. We say Paul Ryan was grown in a petri dish at the Heritage Foundation.”

All empty rage all the time – just like Trump. Somehow this contentless railing convinces people – including people on the left, astonishingly – that Trump is in some always-unspecified way on the side of the working class. I guess it’s a century of advertising slogans? We’ve all grown up steeped in them, so we can no longer tell the difference between a sound bite and a substantive plan or argument? We’re fooled by Trump’s ignorance and trashiness into thinking he’s a friend of the poor and marginal? I don’t know; I can’t understand it, myself.

Mr. Bannon took over Breitbart News in 2012 after the death of its founder, Andrew Breitbart, and shifted it further to the right. Critics, including some conservatives formerly associated with it, have denounced Breitbart in its current incarnation as a hate site steeped in misogyny, homophobia, transphobia, white nationalism and anti-Semitism. Here is a sampling of some articles published during Mr. Bannon’s tenure that drew criticism:

• “Birth Control Makes Women Unattractive and Crazy” A December 2015 article by Milo Yiannopoulos, who was later barred from Twitter when he was accused of inciting racist and sexist attacks on the actress Leslie Jones, told women that birth control “makes you fat,” “makes your voice unsexy,” “makes you jiggle wrong,” “makes you a slut” and “makes you unsexy all the time.”

Typical Milo, which is typical trolling. Say irritating shit for the sake of saying irritating shit – do that on Twitter, do it on a “news” site, do it campaiging for President of the US. Whatevs.

“There’s No Hiring Bias Against Women in Tech, They Just Suck at Interviews” A July 2016 article by Mr. Yiannopoulos argued that it was women’s fault that tech firms hired so few of them.

“Lesbian Bridezillas Bully Bridal Shop Owner Over Religious Beliefs” An August 2014 article by Susan Berry criticized a lesbian couple who complained on Facebook about a Pennsylvania bridal shop that refused to sell them wedding dresses.

“The Solution to Online ‘Harassment’ Is Simple: Women Should Log Off” A July 2016 article by Mr. Yiannopoulos argued that women were “screwing up the internet for men by invading every space we have online and ruining it with attention-seeking and a needy, demanding, touchy-feely form of modern feminism.”

That’s now the voice of the government.



The rise of the angry white man

Nov 15th, 2016 9:42 am | By

Abi Wilkinson keeps an eye on the region that Stephen Bannon comes from:

That loose network of blogs, forums, subreddits and alternative media publications colloquially known as the “manosphere”. An online subculture centred around hatred, anger and resentment of feminism specifically, and women more broadly. It’s grimly fascinating and now troublingly relevant.

I’m well familiar with it, and have been since 2011. It’s a sewer.

In modern parlance, this is part of the phenomenon known as the “alt-right”. More sympathetic commentators portray it as “a backlash to PC culture” and critics call it out as neofascism. Over the past year, it has been strange to see the disturbing internet subculture I’ve followed for so long enter the mainstream. The executive chairman of one of its most popular media outlets, Breitbart, has just been appointed Donald Trump’s chief of strategy, and their UK bureau chief was among the first Brits to have a meeting with the president-elect. Their figurehead – Milo Yiannopoulos – toured the country stumping for him during the campaign on his “Dangerous Faggot” tour. These people are now part of the political landscape.

Indeed. I keep underlining that. President Pussygrab appointed the Breitbart guy to a major role in his government – it’s grotesque.

When we fret about young people leaving western countries and going to fight with Isis, it’s common to focus on the role of the internet in their political radicalisation. It’s time we discussed the radicalisation of angry, young white men in a similar way. The manosphere gave us Elliot Rodger. He was a regular on the forum “PUAhate” – populated by bitter men who had tried the techniques advocated by so-called “pick-up artists” to attract women and failed.

Reading through the posting history of individual aliases, it’s possible to chart their progress from vague dissatisfaction, and desire for social status and sexual success, to full-blown adherence to a cohesive ideology of white supremacy and misogyny. Neofascists treat these websites as recruitment grounds. They find angry, frustrated young men and groom them in their own image. Yet there’s no Prevent equivalent to try to stamp this out.

I guess because there’s no IS equivalent? But if you added up all the rapes and all the violence, including murder…maybe there is?

At any rate it’s not just a harmless joke, and it never was.



Pence is refusing to sign

Nov 15th, 2016 8:56 am | By

And so their incompetence has caused a breakdown already. Surprise surprise.

President-elect Donald J. Trump’s transition operation plunged into disarray on Tuesday with the abrupt resignation of Mike Rogers, who had handled national security matters, the second shake-up in a week on a team that has not yet begun to execute the daunting task of taking over the government.

Imagine how the fur will fly when they actually have to do things!

Mr. Pence took the helm of the effort on Friday after Mr. Trump unceremoniously removed Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, who had been preparing with Obama administration officials for months to put the complex transition process into motion. Now the effort is frozen, senior White House officials say, because Mr. Pence has yet to sign legally required paperwork to allow his team to begin collaborating with President Obama’s aides on the handover.

An aide to Mr. Trump’s transition team who insisted on anonymity to discuss internal matters said that the delay was taking place because the wording of the document was being altered and updated, and that it was likely to be signed later Tuesday.

Still, the slow and uncertain start to what is normally a rapid and meticulously planned transfer of power could have profound implications for Mr. Trump’s nascent administration, challenging the efforts of the president-elect to gain control of the federal bureaucracy and begin building a staff fully briefed on what he will face in the Oval Office on Day 1.

It’s like a nightmare, isn’t it – finding yourself president of the United States with everybody staring at you impatiently waiting for you to do all those important things that need doing…and you have no clue what they even are. You try to get started but there keep being boxes to unpack, and then you can’t find the right box to unpack, and then there are all these cats everywhere, and you can’t find your wallet…and then you wake up. Trump can’t wake up from it.

I have zero sympathy for him though.

The chaos caught the attention of some senior Republicans who criticized Mr. Trump during his campaign but said after he won that they would not necessarily rule out joining his administration or advising him.

Eliot A. Cohen, a former State Department official, said on Twitter that after having spoken to Mr. Trump’s team, he had “changed my recommendation: stay away. They’re angry, arrogant, screaming ‘you LOST!’ Will be ugly.”

Well quite. That’s who they are. That’s why we hate them and don’t want them running the country. They’re bad people: they’re mean and domineering and shouty. Their jefe is extremely mean and domineering and shouty, and that’s the role model they have. The result: bad hombres. Stay away.

[I]n response to a series of questions about whether the Obama administration had begun to brief Mr. Trump’s team, White House officials said late Monday that the president-elect’s decision to abruptly replace Mr. Christie on Friday with Mr. Pence had, for the time being, frozen the process.

By law, the document must be signed by the chairman of the transition operation, and Mr. Pence has yet to do so.

Among other things, the paperwork serves as a mutual nondisclosure agreement for both sides, ensuring that members of the president-elect’s team do not divulge sensitive information about the inner workings of the government that they learn during the transition period, and that the president’s aides do not reveal anything they may discover about the incoming administration’s plans.

Do I trust the Trump people to refrain from divulging sensitive information about the inner workings of the government that they learn during the transition period? No, I don’t. Even with the nondisclosure agreement? You betcha.

Brandi Hoffine, a White House spokeswoman, said Mr. Obama’s team was working with Mr. Pence to sign the document, a standard agreement whose wording is largely governed by statute. “We look forward to completing that work so that we can provide the necessary access to personnel and resources to get the president-elect’s team up to speed and deliver on President Obama’s directive for a smooth transition,” Ms. Hoffine said.

Politely put. Apparently Pence wants to tweak a document whose wording is largely governed by statute, and that’s an obstructionist and not very clever move.

The turmoil at the highest levels of his staff upended months of planning and preparation for a process that many describe as drinking from a fire hose even in the most orderly of circumstances — a period of about 70 days between the election and the inauguration on Jan. 20. During that time, the president-elect must assemble a team to take the reins of the massive federal bureaucracy and recruit, vet and hire 4,000 political appointees to help him run it.

In other words the administration people did their best to help with the transition, working at it for months, and it’s all up in the air because the Trump people are clowns.

I guess this is what swamp-drainage looks like?



Defining reality away

Nov 15th, 2016 3:41 am | By

We can’t define our way out of this. Magical thinking isn’t going to work. Judicious ignoring might work on the personal level for things like being able to sleep, but on the public level – we can neither pretend nor ignore our way out of this catastrophe. Just defining Trump as normal and equivalent to all the other candidates ever cannot possibly work because it’s a gross denial of reality.

This bit of political punditry from an Irish observer defines Trump as normal and equivalent to Clinton and Obama, with ludicrous results.

I hope that Donald Trump’s gracious acceptance speech, and his positive meeting with President Barack Obama, can begin to reverse the descent into the political gutter by both sides in the recent campaign, and can lead to what was impressed on candidate Trump by his opponents: the need for a constructive and peaceful transition of power.

During the campaign, two flawed candidates relied more on personal attacks on each other than on positively selling their own policies.

That’s just a stark denial of reality. It’s not what happened. It’s not true that “both sides” descended into the political gutter, and it’s not true that both candidates relied more on personal attacks on each other than on positively selling their own policies. It’s not true that the two were equivalent. I documented that ad nauseam over the past several weeks, so I won’t bother to do it again now. If you saw even a few minutes of a debate you know how absurd it is to say the two were equivalent.

[This problem] was cheer-led by the usual keyboard warriors who love engaging in online smear campaigns, exaggerating people’s actual flaws and engaging in guilt by extreme association.

What’s “extreme association”? Is that saying Trump is doing a bad thing by making Steve Bannon a top adviser? Well, sometimes that brand of guilt by association is indeed guilt. And if we’re rebuking smear campaigns, why not rebuke Trump’s smear campaigns? God knows he’s prolific with them. Remember his smear campaign against Alicia Machado? His taking to Twitter at 3 a.m. New York time to call her “disgusting” and cite a “sex tape” that doesn’t exist? Why is it “keyboard warriors” documenting Trump’s public insults who are the bad people here? Why is Trump no worse than Clinton while “the usual keyboard warriors” are dirty rotten scoundrels?

But the claims that Donald Trump is a fool or a fascist are as absurd as the claims that Hillary Clinton is a criminal or that Barack Obama founded ISIS. Whatever their flaws, all three of these people are intelligent, driven, successful, democratic people who are devoting significant parts of their lives to promoting what they believe to be best for their country and the wider world.

And I’m Marie of Romania.

That’s a real classic of defining reality as we’d like it to be. Cites facts not in evidence. There is not the ghost of a reason to think that Donald Trump is devoting a significant part of his life to promoting what he believes to be best for his country and the world. If that were what he’s doing, he would be doing it differently.

You can’t deal with a difficult reality if you define it out of existence before you start.



Invasion of the meme-makers

Nov 14th, 2016 5:04 pm | By

Suzanne Moore at the Guardian:

The appointment of Steve Bannon as “chief strategist and senior counselor” means that those who have been attacking the progressive narrative from the far right are now horrifyingly in positions of power. Those on the left who argued during the election that there was not fundamentally much difference between Trump and Clinton clearly saw women’s bodily autonomy as some sort of elite liberal issue.

The euphemistic talk around unplanned pregnancies hides the fact that it is those women at the bottom who suffer most without basic healthcare. The idea that reproductive rights are human rights or that human rights even matter is an anathema to Trump’s entourage.

Do not forget that the wesbite Breitbart News, of which Bannon was executive chairman, is open in its contempt for feminism and in its calls for ethnic segregation. They were the “meme-makers” both of white supremacy and virulent misogyny. Abortion providers are routinely compared to the murderers of the Holocaust.

The autonomy of women is a threat to these people, which is why once again the rights of women to control their own bodies may be decided by men. There are many battles to be fought right now, but this one has to be fought over and over again.

One step forward, twenty steps back. I don’t like how this is trending.



North star

Nov 14th, 2016 4:46 pm | By

From Obama’s press conference today:

First of all, let me mention three brief topics. First of all, as I discussed with the president-elect on Thursday, my team stands ready to accelerate in the next steps that are required to ensure a smooth transition and we are going to be staying in touch as we travel. I remember what it was like when I came in eight years ago. It is a big challenge. This office is bigger than any one person and that’s why ensuring a smooth transition is so important. It’s not something that the constitution explicitly requires but it is one of those norms that are vital to a functioning democracy, similar to norms of civility and tolerance and a commitment to reason and facts and analysis.

It’s part of what makes this country work and as long as I’m president, we are going to uphold those norms and cherish and uphold those ideals.

See what he did there? Nice.

Finally, on a personal note, Michelle and I want to offer our deepest condolences to Gwen Ifill’s family and all of you, her colleagues, on her passing. Gwen was a friend of ours, she was an extraordinary journalist, she always kept faith with the fundamental responsibilities of her profession, asking tough questions, holding people in power accountable, and defending a strong and free press that makes our democracy work. I always appreciated Gwen’s reporting even when I was at the receiving end of one of her tough and thorough interviews.

Whether she reported from a convention floor or from the field, whether she sat at the debate moderator’s table or at the anchor’s desk, she not only informed today’s citizens but she also inspired tomorrow’s journalists. She was an especially powerful role model for young women and girls who admired her integrity, her tenacity and her intellect. And for whom she blazed a trail, as one half of the first all-female anchor team on network news. So Gwen did her country a great service. Michelle and I join her family and her colleagues and everybody else who loved her in remembering her fondly today.

Yeah. Like many people I liked Gwen Ifil’s work, and I’m sad she’s gone.

Somebody asked “Now what?”

As I said in the Rose Garden right after the election, “When your team loses, everybody gets deflated. And it’s hard, and it’s challenging. And I think it’s a healthy thing for the Democratic Party to go through some reflection. I think it’s important for me not to be big-footing that conversation. I think we want to see new voices and new ideas emerge – that’s part of the reason why term limits are a really useful thing.

The Democrats should not waiver on our core beliefs and principles. The belief that we should have an economy that works for everybody, not just a few. The belief that America at its best is inclusive and not exclusive. That we insist on the dignity and God- given potential and work of every child, regardless of race or gender or sexual orientation or what zip code they were born in. That we are committed to a world in which we keep America safe, but we recognize that our power doesn’t just flow from our extraordinary military but also flows from the strength in our ideals and our principles and our values.

So there are gonna be a core set of values that shouldn’t be up for debate. Should be our north star.

 

They’re not the Republican north star though.

Someone asked about Trump’s appointments, especially Bannon, and he said he wasn’t going to comment on that – it was basically a give him a chance message.



President Pussygrabber tells women to hit the road

Nov 14th, 2016 4:00 pm | By

Trump contentedly told 60 Minutes that women will have to “go to another state” if Roe v Wade is thrown out.

Affirming his campaign pledge to appoint Supreme Court justices who oppose abortion, President-elect Donald Trump on Sunday said that women would “have to go to another state” to get an abortion if the court were to overturn Roe v. Wade.

“Having to do with abortion, if it ever were overturned, it would go back to the states,” he said in his first post-election interview, on CBS’ “60 Minutes.”

“Yeah, but then some women won’t be able to get an abortion?” Lesley Stahl asked.

Trump responded: “Yeah, well, they’ll perhaps have to go, they’ll have to go to another state.”

When Stahl asked if he thought that was acceptable, Trump said to wait and see.

We don’t need to wait and see, we know how that is. It’s what there used to be. It’s not some mysterious unfathomable imaginary possibility, it’s our former reality and current reality in places like Ireland and Poland and much of South America. It’s bad. We know that.

[A]s president, Trump could chip away at abortion access. He ran his campaign pledging to appoint “pro-life judges” to the Supreme Court and to allow states to outlaw abortion, frequently saying that the issue “should go back to the states.” In addition, his running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R), has a history of opposing abortion and restricting reproductive rights in his state.

And punishing women, just to be on the safe side.



We “urban” elites just don’t get it

Nov 14th, 2016 3:06 pm | By

Priya Jain says the “White Working Class” can kiss her brown ass.

I have read dozens of longform pieces this election season about the plight of the white working class. I’ve skipped over many more because I’m fucking done with it. The white working class was not under-covered. The problem is not that we don’t understand the white working class. The problem is that they’re not the only people here.

I am sick of being told, as I have my whole life, that middle America is the “real” America, and we “urban” elites just don’t get it because we don’t live there. As if that were our choice. As if we could just live our brown lives, our black lives, our queer lives, in the middle of Trump country. As if that were a safe thing to do.

As if they would welcome us.

I am done being told that I can’t make the occasional snide comment about rednecks but that every time I travel to a red state I have to politely endure being degraded as a woman and as a child of immigrants, listen to jokes about mincing gays and ching-chong Chinamen — and if I complain about this, if I say, you’re being fucking offensive, I am told that I’m too PC and am forcing my libertard vagenda on salt-of-the-earth red-blooded Muricans and in this way Trump is once again my fault, a monster I brought on myself.

No, I’m not going to read your shitty piece on the white working class because I have to figure out right now whether my family is safe, whether we’re still considered the good kind of brown and if so, how long that will last before they start coming for us, too.

This is a KKK-approved administration coming in, don’t forget. It’s headed by the pussygrabbing bully who still wishes the Central Park 5 had been executed, innocence or no innocence. It has Steve Bannon in a top job. None of this is normal or acceptable. To the extent that the white working class voted for Trump, fuck the white working class.



Trump has always used threats

Nov 14th, 2016 12:11 pm | By

That threat from Kellyanne Conway to Harry Reid.

Former Trump campaign manager and current transition-team advisor Kellyanne Conway said on Sunday that Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid “should be very careful” regarding his post-election comments criticizing President-Elect Donald Trump, and seemed to at least partially imply that Reid might face legal consequences as a result. Her comment came during an interview with Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday, following a discussion about the protests across the country in response to Trump’s election, and how she hoped that Americans would come together to support their new president. Wallace then asked Conway to respond to Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid’s scathing statement last week that “If this is going to be a time of healing, we must first put the responsibility for healing where it belongs: at the feet of Donald Trump, a sexual predator who lost the popular vote and fueled his campaign with bigotry and hate.”

Conway’s response:

I find Harry Reid’s public comments and insults about Donald Trump and other Republicans to be beyond the pale. They’re incredibly disappointing. […] And he should be very careful about characterizing somebody in a legal sense. He thinks he’s just being some kind of political pundit there, but I would say be very careful about the way you characterize it.

It’s a hell of an empty threat, since all three claims are demonstrably true. We have Trump on tape boasting of being a sexual predator; we have Trump on many many videos fueling his campaign with bigotry and hate; we have the vote count.

But more to the point, it’s a threat. It’s a threat to silence a Senator for saying true things about our new Tyrant.

The perception that Conway was making some kind of veiled legal threat was also not lost on Reid, however, whose office quickly responded with a statement:

In only took five days for President-elect Trump to try and silence his critics with the threat of legal action. This should shock and concern all Americans. Trump has always used threats of intimidation to silence his critics. Now he wants to silence a discussion of the acts of hate and threats of violence being committed in his name across the country. Silencing this discussion normalizes hate and intimidates the victims. […] Instead of rising to responsibility of his office, Trump is hiding behind his Twitter account and sending his staff on TV to threaten his critics.

Again, Conway said she wasn’t suggesting that any legal action was pending, but Team Trump has previously made legal threats, veiled and not, a staple in their rhetoric over the course of campaign, particularly with regards to opponent Hillary Clinton. Trump and his surrogates have repeatedly called Clinton a criminal, usually in reference to her use of a private email server while serving as secretary of State, even though an F.B.I. investigation cleared Clinton and her aides of wrongdoing in that case. Trump even made a campaign promise to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate Clinton over the email server, and said during a nationally televised debate that if he were president, Clinton would be jailed.

He’s a relentless malevolent vindictive bully.

We will resist.



Exemptions

Nov 14th, 2016 11:00 am | By

I was thinking President Plutocrat has to obey rules against conflicts of interest…but he doesn’t. The Times spelled it out a couple of days ago:

A theme of Mr. Trump’s presidency is likely to be the clash of his duties running the country with the remnants of his decades as a hard-charging businessman. But federal rules and precedent make a couple of things clear.

Mr. Trump will have no immunity from lawsuits involving his corporate ventures, thanks to a Supreme Court ruling involving Paula Jones, one of President Bill Clinton’s accusers. And nothing will stop Mr. Trump’s family from continuing to run its vast international web of businesses. Federal ethics laws and conflict-of-interest statutes that apply to other federal employees and cabinet members do not apply to the president.

So that’s bad news. President Corrupt is who he is, so he will avail himself of that immunity to go right ahead and use the office to his personal advantage and profit. Of course he will. He didn’t get where he is by passing up opportunities to be a greedy corrupt piece of shit.

“It is unprecedented in modern history to have the level of complexity of global substantial business relationships that the president-elect has, and the litigation that inevitably follows any complex global business venture,” said Norman L. Eisen, a former special counsel for ethics and government reform under President Obama, who supported Mr. Trump’s opponent, Hillary Clinton. “It will be complicated, but not insurmountable.”

And either way there won’t be anything we can do about it.

Mr. Trump faces potential conflicts on multiple fronts. He has income streams that could be affected by taxation policies he may try to get through Congress. His companies have hundreds of millions of dollars of debt from banks regulated by the federal government. In one case, Mr. Trump is a part owner of an office building in Manhattan that carries a $950 million loan from lenders that include the Bank of China.

A key source of his revenue is the licensing of the Trump name, both domestically and abroad, and the value of that brand could be helped, or harmed, by actions he takes or does not take.

The Trump Organization said it had begun the process of “vetting various structures,” with a goal of quickly transferring the businesses to three of Mr. Trump’s children — Donald Jr., Ivanka and Eric — along with executives. “This is a top priority at the Organization and the structure that is ultimately selected will comply with all applicable rules and regulations,” Amanda Miller, a marketing executive for the company, wrote in an email.

During a debate in January, Mr. Trump said he would put his holdings in a blind trust, an arrangement in which a public official lets a financial manager control his wealth and does not know exactly how the money is invested. But in the next breath, he acknowledged the problem with that strategy: “Well, I don’t know if it’s a blind trust if Ivanka, Don and Eric run it.”

Yeah it’s not. But that’s ok because it turns out a blind trust isn’t obligatory, because nobody thought someone as corrupt as Trump could get elected president.

Under federal laws, executive branch employees must comply with conflict-of-interest rules that guard against being influenced by personal investments, and they must curb payments from sources outside the government. As a result, employees may have to recuse themselves from working on matters where they may have conflicts, holding certain properties or accepting money. For example, when Henry Paulson, the former Goldman Sachs executive, became Treasury secretary in 2006, he pledged to sell about $470 million in company stock to comply with conflict-of-interest rules.

But the president and vice president were exempted from such laws, on the theory that they needed to be able to carry out their constitutional duties without restraint. So President Trump will be able to take actions pertaining to another country even if he has business interests there.

And we can be very sure he won’t even try to bracket his business interests while taking those actions. Don’t be silly – he’s not going to waste this golden opportunity, is he. Making himself richer is all he knows.

Mr. Trump will be required next year to file an updated personal financial disclosure listing his holdings, similar to the forms he has filed the past couple of years as a candidate. But Mr. Trump will not be required to make public his income tax returns, which he declined to do during the campaign, citing a continuing audit by the Internal Revenue Service, an agency he will now control. If he did release them, the tax returns could provide transparency into his international business dealings and other potential conflicts that may arise.

But he won’t release them, because why would he. He gets away with it, so he’ll go on doing that.

Mr. Trump has been engaged in a lengthy dispute with Palm Beach County over jetliners flying over his Mar-a-Lago resort on the way to and from the nearby airport. In a lawsuit, he claimed that the noise, vibrations and emissions from the aircraft are disruptive to guests and damaging the property, including the Dorian stone and antique Cuban roof tiles.

And in Washington, Mr. Trump has sued two celebrity chefs, Geoffrey Zakarian and José Andrés, after they backed out of restaurant deals at his new hotel development at the Old Post Office Pavilion after he made incendiary comments last year about Mexican immigrants.

The Old Post Office project itself is a potential conflict. The Trump Organization signed a 60-year deal with the federal government to redevelop and manage the building as a hotel — meaning that he will be, in a sense, his own landlord.

The squalor rises every hour.



The lying dog

Nov 14th, 2016 8:14 am | By

The Post reports reactions to Bannon’s appointment:

The announcement has produced intense hand-wringing in Washington and sharp denunciations from political observers and strategists critical of Breitbart News’s close association with the alt-right, a fringe conservative movement saturated with racially insensitive rhetoric and elements of outright white nationalism.

That puts it a good deal too tactfully. Breitbart News is a scurrilous racist hate-mongering rag of a website.

Ben Shapiro, a former Breitbart editor who worked closely with Bannon, called him a “legitimately sinister figure” in an article he published on the Daily Wire after Bannon joined the Trump campaign.

“Many former employees of Breitbart News are afraid of Steve Bannon. He is a vindictive, nasty figure, infamous for verbally abusing supposed friends and threatening enemies,” Shapiro wrote.

No wonder Pres Pussygrabber likes him. Kindred spirits.

Some of the Trump campaign’s most controversial moves in the final months of the campaign were attributed to Bannon, who is known for his combative and unfiltered style. When Trump, before the second presidential debate, invited several women who had accused Bill Clinton of sexual misconduct to hold a news conference, Bannon stood in the back of the room smiling broadly.

A mean bully.

Bannon’s appointment brings into focus many of the uncomfortable racial tensions surrounding Trump’s campaign, stemming from Trump’s staunch anti-immigrant rhetoric. Throughout the election, Trump’s critics accused him of using such language and the politics of racial grievance to motivate his supporters, charges that he has denied and dismissed. In an interview with CBS’s “60 minutes” that aired Sunday, he expressed surprise when asked about racial slurs that were being used against African Americans and other minority groups since his election.

“I am very surprised to hear that. I hate to hear that, I mean, I hate to hear that,” Trump said in the interview, which was taped Friday. “I would say don’t do it, that’s terrible, because I’m going to bring this country together.”

The lying dog. He spent two years inciting it. He just said the Central Park 5 were guilty, years after DNA evidence clearly demonstrated that they weren’t. He doesn’t “hate to hear that” in the slightest.



Mr. Trump seemed surprised by the scope

Nov 14th, 2016 7:36 am | By

When President Pussygrabber met with Obama last week he was surprised to learn that the job is an actual job, with a large amount of hard work involved. His surprise was apparently not of the pleased and delighted variety. Talking Points Memo quotes the WSJ:

During their private White House meeting on Thursday, Mr. Obama walked his successor through the duties of running the country, and Mr. Trump seemed surprised by the scope, said people familiar with the meeting. Trump aides were described by those people as unaware that the entire presidential staff working in the West Wing had to be replaced at the end of Mr. Obama’s term.

After meeting with Mr. Trump, the only person to be elected president without having held a government or military position, Mr. Obama realized the Republican needs more guidance. He plans to spend more time with his successor than presidents typically do, people familiar with the matter said.

Slightly irresponsible to go for the job without finding out what it entails, isn’t it.



Nearby with some matches

Nov 13th, 2016 5:54 pm | By

Bloomberg on Steve Bannon a year ago:

Bannon is the executive chairman of Breitbart News, the crusading right-wing populist website that’s a lineal descendant of the Drudge Report (its late founder, Andrew Breitbart, spent years apprenticing with Matt Drudge) and a haven for people who think Fox News is too polite and restrained. He’d spent the day at CPAC among the conservative faithful, zipping back and forth between his SiriusXM booth and an unlikely pair of guests he was squiring around: Nigel Farage, the leader of Britain’s right-wing UKIP party, and Phil Robertson, the bandanna’d, ayatollah-bearded Duck Dynasty patriarch who was accepting a free-speech award. CPAC is a beauty contest for Republican presidential hopefuls. But Robertson, a novelty adornment invited after A&E suspended him for denouncing gays, delivered a wild rant about “beatniks” and sexually transmitted diseases that upstaged them all, to Bannon’s evident delight. “If there’s an explosion or a fire somewhere,” says Matthew Boyle, Breitbart’s Washington political editor, “Steve’s probably nearby with some matches.”

Along with his CPAC triumph, a secret project he’d conceived was nearing fruition: His lawyers were almost finished vetting a book about Bill and Hillary Clinton’s murky financial dealings that he’s certain will upend the presidential race. “Dude, it’s going to be epic,” he tells me. I sip my “moonshine”—his wink at the Dynasty guests—and wonder, as people often do, whether Bannon is nuts. On my way out, the doorman hands me a gift: a silver hip flask with “Breitbart” printed above an image of a honey badger, the insouciant African predator of YouTube fame whose catchphrase, “Honey badger don’t give a shit,” is the Breitbart motto.

Bannon’s life is a succession of Gatsbyish reinventions that made him rich and landed him squarely in the middle of the 2016 presidential race: He’s been a naval officer, investment banker, minor Hollywood player, and political impresario. When former Disney chief Michael Ovitz’s empire was falling to pieces, Bannon sat Ovitz down in his living room and delivered the news that he was finished. When Sarah Palin was at the height of her fame, Bannon was whispering in her ear. When Donald Trump decided to blow up the Republican presidential field, Bannon encouraged his circus-like visit to the U.S.-Mexico border. John Boehner just quit as House speaker because of the mutinous frenzy Bannon and his confederates whipped up among conservatives. Today, backed by mysterious investors and a stream of Seinfeld royalties, he sits at the nexus of what Hillary Clinton once dubbed “the vast right-wing conspiracy,” where he and his network have done more than anyone else to complicate her presidential ambitions—and they plan to do more. But this “conspiracy,” at least under Bannon, has mutated into something different from what Clinton described: It’s as eager to go after establishment Republicans such as Boehner or Jeb Bush as Democrats like Clinton.

Because they’d rather have fascism! It’s hipper! Plus honey badger don’t give a shit.

Operating from the basement of his townhouse—known to all as the Breitbart Embassy—Breitbart’s pirate crew became tribunes of the rising Tea Party movement after Barack Obama’s election, bedeviling GOP leaders and helping to foment the 2013 government shutdown. The site has also made life hell for Democrats by, for example, orchestrating the career-ending genital tweeting misfortune that cost New York Representative Anthony Weiner his seat in Congress in 2011. Tipped to Weiner’s proclivity for sexting with female admirers, Bannon says, the site paid trackers to follow his Twitter account 24 hours a day and eventually intercepted a crotch shot Weiner inadvertently made public. The ensuing scandal culminated in the surreal scene, carried live on television, of Andrew Breitbart hijacking Weiner’s press conference and fielding questions from astonished reporters.

And now he’ll be in the White House. There’s more, but I’ve had enough for today.



Breitbart seizes power

Nov 13th, 2016 5:31 pm | By

So it’s official. Steve Bannon of Breitbart is to be “chief strategist and senior counselor” to the president. Also Priebus is chief of staff. A nod to the “traditional” party, along with elevation for the white supremacist piece of shit.

[T]he inclusion of Bannon, the former head of the far-right outlet Breitbart News, suggests another direction entirely. Rumored to be have been considered for chief of staff himself, Bannon “would have been the insurgent choice” for the top aide job, Eyder says. He is “known for his no-holds-barred approach to politics and his popularity among the alt-right,” as NPR’s Sarah McCammon reported last week.

We must accept the legitimacy of President Birther and his Birther staffing decisions.

Mark Abadi at Business Insider has more:

President-elect Donald Trump announced Sunday that his controversial campaign CEO, Steve Bannon, will play a major role in his administration, setting off a firestorm of criticism.

While the news didn’t come as a surprise — Bannon was expected to have a role in Trump’s staff — it triggered an outpour of criticism from pundits on social media.

Many users pointed to what they considered racially charged, discriminatory rhetoric used on Breitbart under Bannon’s leadership. John Weaver, an adviser to Ohio Republican Gov. John Kasich, said his appointment meant the “racist, fascist extreme right” was “footsteps from the Oval Office.”

The filth rises.



Shut up, Brendan

Nov 13th, 2016 4:55 pm | By

Brendan O’Neill defends poor persecuted President Pussygrabber from the sneers of people who think he’s not a good human being.

If you want to know why Trump won, just look at the response to his winning. The lofty contempt for ‘low information’ Americans. The barely concealed disgust for the rednecks and cretins of ‘flyover’ America who are apparently racist and misogynistic and homophobic. The haughty sneering at the vulgar, moneyed American political system and how it has allowed a wealthy candidate to poison the little people’s mushy, malleable minds. The suggestion that American women, more than 40 per cent of whom are thought to have voted for Trump, suffer from internalised misogyny: that is, they don’t know their own minds, the poor dears. The hysterical, borderline apocalyptic claims that the world is now infernally screwed because ‘our candidate’, the good, pure person, didn’t get in.

The respectable set’s allergy to Trump is fundamentally an allergy to the idea of democracy itself. To them, Trump’s rise confirms the folly of asking the ignorant, the everyday, the non-subscribers to the New York Times, to decide on important political matters. They’re explicit about this now. In the run-up to election day, big-name commentators wondered out loud if democracy is all it’s cracked up to be. Trump’s ascendancy showed we need better checks and balances on ‘the passions of the mob’, said Andrew Sullivan. We should ‘cool and restrain [these] temporary populist passions’, he said, and refuse to allow ‘feeling, emotion’ to override ‘reasoned deliberation’. The little folks only feel and wail, you see, and it’s down to the grown-ups in the system to think coolly on their behalf.

That all might make sense if President Pussygrabber were a factory worker turned union organizer, with a vulgar sense of humor and no fashion sense. But he’s not, is he. He’s the son of a rich owner of racially segregated apartment buildings, who inherited money and parlayed it into a lot more money. He’s extremely rich, and he exploits and cheats people who work for him – along with all the other bad stuff he does. He’s a very bad man. O’Neill is talking contemptible garbage.

If this all sounds familiar, that’s because it’s the same kind of pleb-fearing horror that greeted the Brexit result four months ago. ‘Why elections are bad for democracy’, a headline in the Guardian said. The people are deluded and it is the task of those with ‘reason and expertise’ to ‘un-delude’ them, said a writer for Foreign Policy. ‘What if democracy doesn’t work? What if it never has and never will?’, wondered a pained George Monbiot. Boom. That’s it. The secret and not-so-secret cry of the elites and the experts and the observers over both Brexit and Trump is precisely that: ‘What if democracy doesn’t work?’

Well direct democracy doesn’t work for complex subjects like membership in the EU. It needs people who are paid to take the time to understand it. It’s not “elitist” or sneering to think that government by referendum is a bad idea.

This nasty, reactionary turn against democracy by so many of the well-educated both explains the victory of Trump, which neatly doubles up as a slap in the face of the establishment, and confirms why democracy is more important today than it has ever been. Because it really would be folly, madness in fact, to let an elite that so little understands ordinary people, and in fact loathes them, to run society unilaterally. Now that would be dangerous, more dangerous than Trump.

Easy for him to say. He doesn’t live here.



His embarrassment is embarrassing

Nov 13th, 2016 4:07 pm | By

Ugh, this is why people hate the left. It’s why much of the left hates the left.

Dear White People, Your Safety Pins Are Embarrassing

I already hate it, and that’s just the title.

And of course the author is white.

Seriously? This is a thing now? Wear a safety pin to show “you’re an ally?” So immigrants, people of color, LGBTQ people, and others who were targeted and persecuted and (further) marginalized by the Trump Campaign will know they’re “safe” with you?

No. Just no. Please, take it off.

Let me explain something, white people: We just fucked up. Bad. We elected a racist demagogue who has promised to do serious harm to almost every person who isn’t a straight white male, and whose rhetoric has already stirred up hate crimes nationwide. White people were 70% of the voters in the 2016 election, and we’re the only demographic Trump won. It doesn’t matter why. What matters is there’s a white nationalist moving into the Oval Office, and white people — only white people — put him there.

That’s not analysis, it’s masochistic breast-beating in aid of Advanced Virtue Signaling. I don’t always like the label “virtue signaling” or think it’s apt, but here – yes, this is some heavy duty virtue signaling. Christopher Keelty is letting the world know he’s more woke than anyone else.

So to interrupt the masochistic breast-beating for the sake of a little skepticism, allow me to point out that I did not elect Trump despite being white. Keelty is equivocating between “white people elected Trump” in the sense that white people voted for Trump in larger numbers than any other group (although you could add modifiers to make groups that would have voted for him in much bigger percentages), and “white people as such, white people in general, voted for Trump.” He’s implying the second while leaving himself room to say he meant the first, or at least to point out that the first is true.

We don’t get to make ourselves feel better by putting on safety pins and self-designating ourselves as allies.

And make no mistake, that’s what the safety pins are for. Making White people feel better. They’ll do little or nothing to reassure the marginalized populations they are allegedly there to reassure; marginalized people know full well the long history of white people calling themselves allies while doing nothing to help, or even inflicting harm on, non-white Americans.

Of course, there is the little detail that he doesn’t know that…but it signals virtue, and it sounds woke, so who cares if it’s true or not.

Not my left.



Trump’s children must keep their jobs

Nov 13th, 2016 12:36 pm | By

Again there’s that unprecedented issue that Trump has binders full of business interests that present unmistakable and undeniable conflicts of interest – and the fact that he wants to keep it that way. I guess nobody told him this was an issue during this entire campaign? That was sloppy. Is sloppy the word I mean? Do I mean reckless? Do I mean corrupt? Gosh it’s hard to choose.

The Washington Post reports that Giuliani – lawyer Giuliani, former prosecutor Giuliani – says it’s cool for Trump’s family to run his businesses and also help Daddy run the government.

Appearing on televised interviews on Sunday, Giuliani initially said Trump should set up some kind of “blind trust.” When pressed, Giuliani told CNN’s “State of the Union” that Trump has an unusual situation and that creating a traditional blind trust would “basically put his children out of work.”

He says they then would have to “start a whole new business and that would set up … new problems.”

Giuliani said Trump’s three children — Ivanka, Donald Jr. and Eric — who are involved in his businesses would not advise Trump once he becomes president in January. All three children are, however, are on the executive committee of Trump’s transition team.

And these people had the gall to call Clinton corrupt. Clinton was much too cozy with bankers and CEOs, yes, but this is a whole different level, one we can’t even see from where we are.

Also it’s interesting to see that Giuliani’s concern is what would be good for Trump’s children, and their employment, and the family’s business interests. It’s not for…you know…the country, and its people.

And then there’s the fraud division.

Donald Trump’s attorneys have filed a motion to delay until after the presidential inauguration a class-action fraud lawsuit involving the president-elect and his now-defunct Trump University.

In the motion filed Saturday in San Diego federal court, Trump’s lawyer Daniel Petrocelli argues that the extra months would give both sides time to possibly reach a settlement.

The San Diego Union-Tribune reports Petrocelli wants to postpone the trial until sometime soon after the Jan. 20 inauguration to allow Trump to focus on the transition to the White House.

Right, because once that’s over he’ll be able to kick back and relax. He’s not going to have anything to do after he’s inaugurated, naturally.

And then there’s the bullying and threatening.

The war of words between Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid and President-elect Donald Trump is escalating, this time through their top aides.

Trump’s campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, on Sunday said Reid should be careful in a “legal sense” about characterizing Trump as a sexual predator. When asked whether Trump was threatening to sue Reid, Conway said no. Also on Sunday, Trump took to Twitter to taunt The New York Times.

So Conway first threatened and then lied. Good start.

Those tweets –



For certain areas a wall is more appropriate

Nov 13th, 2016 12:09 pm | By

The deportations.

In a “60 Minutes” interview scheduled to air Sunday, President-elect Donald Trump said he planned to immediately deport two to three million undocumented immigrants after his inauguration next January.

“What we are going to do is get the people that are criminal and have criminal records, gang members, drug dealers, where a lot of these people, probably 2 million, it could be even 3 million, we are getting them out of our country or we are going to incarcerate,” Trump told 60 Minutes correspondent Lesley Stahl, according to a preview of the interview released by CBS. “But we’re getting them out of our country. They’re here illegally.”

Stahl had pressed Trump about his campaign pledge to deport “millions and millions of undocumented immigrants.” Trump told her that after securing the border, his administration would make a “determination” on the remaining undocumented immigrants in the country.

“After the border is secure and after everything gets normalized, we’re going to make a determination on the people that they’re talking about — who are terrific people. They’re terrific people, but we are gonna make a determination at that,” Trump said. “But before we make that determination…it’s very important, we are going to secure our border.”

“Normalized.” As if anything about Trump were “normal.” Widespread, yes, but normal, no.

He’s scaring the other Republicans though.

Republican leaders who made the Sunday political-show circuit seemed to approach the issue of mass deportations more cautiously.

“I think it’s difficult to do,” Republican House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) told Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday earlier Sunday morning. “First thing you have to do is secure the border and then we’ll have discussions.”

McCarthy also hedged on the border wall, saying Republicans were focused on “securing the southern border” but with the aid of technology rather than necessarily a full-length brick-and-mortar wall.

Regarding his border wall plans, Trump told Stahl on 60 Minutes that he would accept fencing along some of the border, as Republicans in Congress have proposed.

“For certain areas, I would. But for certain areas a wall is more appropriate,” Trump said. “I’m very good at this. It’s called construction.”

Ah yes. He has experience at speculative building, therefore he is correct about where a wall is more appropriate. He knows about what kind of wall keeps out wind and dust and flies, and what kind keeps out foreigners.

He also said polite things about Clinton, which are not credible given all the things he said about her during the campaign. You can’t just cancel vicious name-calling by saying something polite later.

Trump’s tone in the interview was in sharp contrast to his bitter attacks on the campaign trail, in which he nicknamed Clinton “Crooked Hillary” and encouraged chants of “Lock her up!” at his rallies. Among other insults, Trump also referred to his competitor as “the devil,” “a bigot” and — at the tail end of the final presidential debate — “such a nasty woman.”

Then they talked about policy.

When Stahl questioned whether there would be a gap between the repeal of Obamacare and the implementation of a new plan that could leave millions of people uninsured, Trump interrupted her.

“Nope. We’re going to do it simultaneously. It’ll be just fine. It’s what I do. I do a good job. You know, I mean, I know how to do this stuff,” Trump said. “We’re going to repeal and replace it. And we’re not going to have, like, a two-day period and we’re not going to have a two-year period where there’s nothing. It will be repealed and replaced. I mean, you’ll know. And it will be great health care for much less money.”

No, he does not know how to do “this stuff.” Of course he doesn’t. He doesn’t know much of anything except how to extract money and/or labor and services from people. That is of course a big thing to know, and it’s made him rich and famous and president, but it’s still not at all the same as knowing how to make a new healthcare plan that will be “for much less money” while still actually being a healthcare plan. The only way to do it for much less money, of course, is to exclude millions of people from coverage.