Since it’s now post Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Tuesday Afternoon and Wednesday Morning 3am, I thought I’d toss out gift ideas, with my picks for the best Blu-ray reissues of 2016. But first, a gentle reminder. Any time of year you click a link from this weekly feature as a portal to purchase any Amazon item, you help your favorite starving bloggers get a nickel or two in the creel. Most titles are released concurrent with an SD edition, so if you don’t have a Blu-ray player, don’t despair. So here you go…in alphabetical order:
Eight Days A Week - The Touring Years (Apple Deluxe Edition) – I missed the (limited) theatrical run of Ron Howard’s 2016 Beatles documentary because I was sidelined by knee replacement surgery, but happily the powers-that-be have expedited its release to home video just in time for Christmas. As a Beatle freak who has seen just about every bit of Fab Four documentary/concert footage extant, I approached Howard’s film with a bit of trepidation (especially with all the pre-release hype about “previously unseen” footage and such) but was nonetheless pleased (if not necessarily enlightened) by what he’s managed to put together here. The title pretty much says it all; this is not their entire story, but rather a retrospective of the Beatles’ career from the Hamburg days through their final tour in 1966. As I inferred, you likely won’t learn anything new (this is a well-trod path), but the performance clips are enhanced by newly restored footage and remixed audio. Despite the familiar material, Howard makes the nostalgic wallow feel fresh and fun. The Deluxe Edition is worth the investment for fans; in fact, I found the bonus features more interesting than the main film! The 64-page booklet caps this set off nicely.
The Man Who Fell To Earth 40th Anniversary Collector’s Edition (Studio Canal Region “B” Blu-ray*) – If there was ever a film and a star that were made for each other, it was director Nicolas Roeg’s mind-blowing 1976 adaptation of Walter Tevis’ novel The Man Who Fell to Earth, and the late great David Bowie. Several years after retiring his “Ziggy Stardust” stage persona, Bowie was coaxed back to the outer limits to inhabit Thomas Jerome Newton, an alien from a drought-stricken planet who crash-lands on Earth. Gleaning our planet as a water source, Newton formulates a long-range plan for transporting the precious resource back to his home world. In the interim, he becomes an enigmatic hi-tech magnate (kind of makes you wonder where Bill Gates really came from). A one-of-a-kind film, with excellent supporting performances from Candy Clark, Rip Torn and Buck Henry. The Studio Canal Edition has a gorgeous new 4K transfer, a second disc packed with extras, and a bonus CD of “Papa” John Phillips’ soundtrack. Lionsgate will be releasing the domestic version of this set in January; it’s currently available for pre-order on Amazon at a decent discount (click on title above for details).
Only Yesterday (Universal Studios Home Entertainment) – Written and directed by Isao Takahata (Grave of the Fireflies), this is one of Studio Ghibli’s more understated animes (as well as one of its most visually breathtaking). A woman in her late 20s takes a train ride through the countryside and reflects on the choices she has made throughout her life, from childhood onward. It is a poetic and moving humanist study that I would hold up alongside the best work of Ozu. The disc includes several “behind the scenes” mini-docs.
To Live and Die in L.A. Collector’s Edition (Shout! Factory) – Essentially a remake of The French Connection (updated for the 80s), this fast-moving, tough-as-nails neo noir from director William Friedkin ignites the senses on every level: visual, aural and visceral. Fueled by an outstanding soundtrack by Wang Chung, Friedkin's vision of L.A. is painted in contrasts of dusky orange and strikingly vivid reds and blacks; an ugly/beautiful noir Hell rendered by ace DP Robby Muller (who has worked extensively with Wim Wenders and Jim Jarmusch). Leads William Peterson (as an obsessed treasury agent) and Willem Dafoe (as his criminal nemesis) really tear up the screen with star-making performances (both were relative unknowns). While the narrative adheres to many familiar “cop on the edge” tropes, there’s an undercurrent of weirdness throughout that makes this a truly unique genre entry (“The stars are God’s eyes!” Peterson’s girlfriend shrieks at him at one point, for no apparent reason). Friedkin co-adapted the screenplay with source novel author Gerald Petievich. Shout! Factory’s Blu-ray sports a print sourced from a new 4K scan that is a noticeable improvement over MGM’s from a couple years back, as well as new and archival interviews with cast, crew and composers.
Wim Wenders: The Road Trilogy (The Criterion Collection Box Set) – From the early 1970s onward, few names have become as synonymous with the “road movie” genre as German film maker Wim Wenders. Paris, Texas and Until the End of the World are probably the most well-known examples of his mastery in capturing not only the lure of the open road, but in laying bare all the disparate human emotions that spark wanderlust. But fairly early in his career, he made a 3-film cycle (all starring his favorite leading man Rudiger Vogler) that, while much lesser-known, easily stands with the best of the genre. Criterion has reissued all three of these previously hard to find titles in a wonderful box set. 1974’s Alice in the Cities (my personal favorite of the three) stars Vogler as a journalist who is reluctantly saddled into temporary stewardship of a precocious 9 year-old girl. His mission to get her to her grandmother’s house turns into quite the European travelogue (the relationship that develops between the two in the course of their journey is very reminiscent of Paper Moon). In Wrong Move (1975), Vogler is a writer in existential crisis, who hooks up with several other travelers who also carry their share of mental baggage (it’s the darkest of the trilogy; Wenders based it on a Goethe novel). Kings of the Road (1976) is a Boudu Saved from Drowning-type tale with Vogler as a travelling film projector repairman who happens to be in the right place at the right time when a profoundly depressed psychologist (Hanns Zischler) decides to end it all by driving his VW into a river. The two travelling companions are slow to warm up to each other, but they have plenty of time to develop a friendship at 2 hours and 55 minutes (i.e., the film may try the patience of some viewers). If you can stick with it, though, you’ll find it rewarding…it “grows on you”. All three films have been given the usual meticulous Criterion restoration, showcasing Robby Muller’s beautiful cinematography.
2016 Blu-ray reissues previously reviewed and also recommended:
Making America Great Again by cutting services for disabled kids
The word is that Democrats need to shift their attention away from government services to jobs in order to win the economic argument. I hope we'll be able to find jobs for all these disabled babies in Texas. They're about to lose their "special" benefits because it costs too much:
More than a year after lawmakers originally ordered it, Texas announced Monday it will enact significant cuts to the money that it pays therapists who treat vulnerable children with disabilities in two weeks.
Medicaid reimbursement rates are used to pay for pediatric therapy services provided to disabled babies and toddlers. Carrie Williams, spokeswoman for the state's Health and Human Services Commission, said that Texas will apply cuts on Medicaid rates on Dec. 15 in attempt to achieve savings directed by the Texas Legislature in 2015.
And yes, I know that nobody is saying Democrats shouldn't advocate for disabled babies. But this country just elected a man who mocks people with disabilities and openly disdains all those "identities" other than white unless they agree to bow down and kiss the hem of his robe so I'm not sanguine that this sort of thing is going to get priority in the coming years. The argument will be that we need to find good jobs for these babies' fathers so their mothers can take care of them the way God intended. We don't need government "services" if everyone just does what they're supposed to do. That's how we did it back when America was Great dontcha know?
Before the election I used to tell people that if Trump won, we would wake up in a different world on November 9th. This was because the rest of the world would see that the US, always powerful and sometimes capricious, would have totally gone rogue. Other nations would re-position their alliances and defensive postures and the post WWII framework that has kept us from global war and nuclear mishap would be gone. Trump's mere presence would have been enough to cause this.
President-elect Donald J. Trump has broken with decades of diplomatic practice in freewheeling calls with foreign leaders.
Mr. Trump talks to the president
of Taiwan, becoming the first
U.S. president or president-elect
to do so since 1979.
Why it matters
The call with President Tsai Ing-wen risks infuriating China, which wants to bring Taiwan back under mainland rule. By honoring the Taiwanese president with a formal call, Mr. Trump’s transition team implicitly suggests that it considers Taiwan an independent state. The U.S. has declined to recognize Taiwan since 1979, when it shifted recognition to the government in Beijing. Taiwan itself has yet to declare formal independence. Mr. Trump tweeted, “The President of Taiwan CALLED ME today to wish me congratulations on winning the Presidency.”
Mr. Trump invites Rodrigo
Duterte, president of the
Philippines, to visit Washington.
Why it matters
Mr. Duterte has been accused of gross human rights abuses, referred to President Obama as a “son of a bitch” and declared his country’s “separation” from the U.S. during a recent trip to Beijing. (The Trump transition team has not confirmed the invitation, which was reported by Reuters, citing a Philippine government official.) Honoring Mr. Duterte with a presidential invitation implies U.S. approval of his behavior, which Mr. Obama’s administration had been working to curb.
Mr. Trump praises Kazakhstan’s
leader for “fantastic success.”
Why it matters
Mr. Trump praised Nursultan A. Nazarbayev, the president of Kazakhstan since 1991, in tones that suggest approval for Mr. Nazarbayev’s strongman rule. According to the Kazakh government’s readout of the call, Mr. Trump “stressed that under the leadership of Nursultan Nazarbayev, our country over the years of independence had achieved fantastic success that can be called a ‘miracle.’”
Mr. Trump accepts an invitation to
visit Pakistan, “a terrific country.”
Why it matters
Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif invited Mr. Trump to visit, according to a Pakistani government readout of their call. Should Mr. Trump follow through, he risks alienating India, which sees Pakistan as a major antagonist, and appearing to reward Pakistan’s behavior; should he renege, he risks upsetting Pakistani leaders who are sensitive about perceived American intransigence. Either way, the call could upset the delicate balance of India-Pakistan ties, which the U.S. has struggled to manage amid a history of wars and recent skirmishes.
Ivanka Trump joins a meeting
with the Japanese prime minister.
Why it matters
Rather than inviting State Department officials to staff his meeting with Shinzo Abe, Japan’s prime minister, Mr. Trump invited his daughter Ivanka. The meeting alarmed diplomats, who worried that Mr. Trump lacked preparation after a long record of criticizing Japan. It also blurred the line between Mr. Trump’s businesses, which Ms. Trump helps run, and the U.S. government, with which she has no role.
After brushing off the United Kingdom,
Mr. Trump offers a casual invitation
to the British prime minister.
Why it matters
Mr. Trump spoke to nine other leaders before British Prime Minister Theresa May, an unusual break with the two countries’ long-standing special relationship. “If you travel to the US you should let me know,” he told her, far short of a formal invitation.Trump also met with Nigel Farage, former leader of the fringe U.K. Independence Party — a slap to Ms. May. He later said that Mr. Farage should become the British ambassador to the United States, though presidents typically avoid telling foreign counterparts how to staff their governments.
He's just getting started.
Clearly he does not believe that all the delicate diplomatic arrangements that have allowed the world to avoid a major conflagration are worth anything. His own puerile, imbecilic conman patter is all that's needed. And nobody around him seems to care or if they do they are unable to dissuade him from wading into this without preparation or guidance.
When Nancy Pelosi, the minority leader of the House of Representatives, called Donald J. Trump shortly after the Nov. 8 election, they talked about domestic policy and infrastructure. But when Ms. Pelosi raised the specific subject of women’s issues, the president-elect did something unexpected: He handed the phone over to another person in the room — his 35-year-old daughter, Ivanka.
I guess that's good news for women. Sort of ... or not.
“I think if there was any doubt that we’re putting an end to one chapter in American history and moving to a new one, he dispelled that tonight. This is goodbye to American leadership in the world. Goodbye to globalization. He’s bringing America home. He’s going to lead a nativist, nationalistic, populist movement and if you want to join up with him fine. If you don’t, forget it.”
“He’s in charge. And he has a lot of support in the Congress. That kind of speech will fire up his base, and it’s going to leave a lot of other people—[saying] 'I knew I didn’t like the son of a bitch.'”
I don't know. Trump said we are going to be one country or else. So I'm not entirely sure he's going to give us a choice.
It's Saturday, so you have some time to dig into two pieces that you may need to weather the storm. Historian Rick Perlstein compares two museums to explain how unprepared America is to confront what lies ahead:
There is a museum at the former site of the GESTAPO headquarters in Berlin. It is searing and frank: a history of the relationship of the Nazi party and the people of Berlin, telling a story of the way ordinary Germans made Hitler’s rise possible. Berliners flock to it. When I visited, the line of people shuffling past the informational panels was three or four deep, everyone meditating on this awful indictment of their grandparents’ generation.
There may be such museums in the United States, but I’ve never seen one. I’m more familiar with museums like the one memorializing the bombing of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, where two domestic terrorists who despised the U.S. federal government killed 168 people, including 19 children in daycare. Unlike the museum in Berlin, the Oklahoma City museum is meant to be uplifting: Heroic first responders rush toward the explosion. A doctor performs makeshift surgery with a pocket knife. Around one corner, an authentic pile of rubble betokening the awesome power of the blast. Around the next, a miracle—the Bible that emerged unscathed.
Other sections narrate a thrilling police procedural: the truck axle thrown three blocks clear of the blast, whose miniscule identification number allowed intrepid investigators to uncover where Timothy McVeigh had rented the truck he turned into a bomb. The officer who, in an extraordinary coincidence, pulled over the getaway car because of its missing license plate and apprehended the sullen young man in the “Sic Semper Tyrannis” T-shirt. The arrest, the trial—justice.
Of course, the museum also tells the story of how Oklahoma “came together.” It almost frames bombing as a blessing. “Caring Communities Provide Safe Havens,” one panel read, above a picture of a church.
I saw the word “terrorism” only once, in a self-congratulatory text about how initial suspicions of “Muslim terrorists” were overcome, fair-minded Americans turning their rage on a corn-fed American boy instead: another blessing, this opportunity to prove that America was not racist. There was no mention of right-wing talk-radio host G. Gordon Liddy advising his listeners the previous year to confront agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Fireams: “Go for a head shot; they’re going to be wearing bulletproof vests.” Or Newt Gingrich’s Republican revolutionaries taking over Congress via rhetoric depicting the federal government as an alien occupying army. Or Jesse Helms informing President Bill Clinton that if he visited North Carolina, he should bring bodyguards.
A political cartoon on display depicted someone asking, “How many hurt?” The answer: “260 million Americans”—the entire U.S. population at the time. The implication, of course, is that no one except four people—one duly executed by lethal injection, another in jail for the rest of his life, a third sentenced to 12 years and a fourth granted immunity—had anything to do with creating the political context of antigovernment rage that made the bombing possible.
This denial is how a childlike nation gets past trauma. It demonstrates how unprepared our nation is for the trauma about to be visited upon it.
Perlstein's point, backed up by election night coverage, is that the natural inclination for Americans and the press is to look for silver linings, to treat things as though nothing out of the ordinary took place, for how we can "come together," and not to confront the dark side. When Trump's promises prove hollow, should his policies lead to "global financial panic and geostrategic chaos," Trump's followers have been primed for whom to blame. It won't be Trump. It will be the national and international consortioum of "quislings in the media. The (Jewish) financiers. The immigrants. The Muslims. The liberals. The 'Republican establishment.' Nasty women."
In her concession speech, Perlstein writes, Hillary Clinton took the Oklahoma City route. Typical boilerplate, nothing to indicate that what is coming will be a "test of our institutions," that what had just happened represents a coming breach of contract with the U.S. Constitution. She attempted instead to calm the waters, to wish her opponent God speed, to keep the markets from tumbling. Perlstein reminds readers, "Traders at the New York Stock Exchange chanted, 'Lock her up.'” This ain't your mama's transition.
Before we start resisting, we had best come to terms with how we got here, something for which Perlstein is not sure we as a people have the constitution. For those who recognize the danger, however, there will be a tendency towards a Ready-Fire-Aim approach.
Right after the election, I took calls from a lot of new volunteers (several registered independent) anxious to do something, anything. When are the protests? (Protesting what was unclear.) One got angry last Saturday after a regular meeting he considered a waste of time. We need to do something NOW, he insisted. We need white boards and strategy meetings and a game plan, etc. (For what was unclear.) Yet there's a party election on Monday fill a seat vacated by a local Democrat who won higher office on November 8. We still have a governor's race unresolved here. Vote counts are still underway and data is incomplete. State Republicans are still scheming for a way Pat McCrory can pull out a win with fewer popular votes the way Trump has. Our county chair responded, "I need to analyze before I can strategize."
To that point, Tina DuPuy has some surprisingly upbeat recommendations for those about to take on the incoming administration. Trump is "a formulaic dictator. There are formulas for getting rid of those." DuPuy, who covered Occupy for The Atlantic, suggests it might be best to start by looking outside the U.S. for people who actually have taken on autocrats and won. (Please, no Occupy, she advises.) Branding is important: "don’t use resistance when you mean rejection," DuPuy writes:
There are tons of protest movements that have won. Everyone who’s terrified of these democratically elected white nationalists being in charge of the largest military in the history of humanity, should get to know the late-90’s Serbian group, Otpor (Serbian for Resistance). When I was at Occupy LA, interviewing an activist, an Otpor handbook fell out of her backpack. For a moment, I thought Occupy was going to be successful because they had a strategy and a blueprint they just weren’t telling us about it yet. I was wrong. Otpor, through non-violent struggle ousted the tyrant Slobodan Milošević, who died in jail while on trial in The Hague for war crimes. They know how to take down monsters. They wrote a handbook. Read it.
We’ve also had incredibly successful social movements in this country. The first one that comes to mind is the Civil Rights Movement. Civil Rights icon John Lewis will still be serving in Congress in Trump’s America. Lewis survived the last time America was “great” and has since made it fairer for all peoples. He’s written what are essentially guidebooks on non-violent struggle. Read them.
The Equal Rights Movement had huge wins for gay marriage, open military service for LGBT Americans and greater legal protections. They’ve won countless battles. How’d they do that? I could write up a report of all the elements that they had and how they won. But you can ask the leaders — many are still with us. Talk to them. Listen to them.
But she offers one way of making "coming together" work:
Most Americans didn’t vote for Trump. We need all of them. We need fair-minded Republicans. We need Establishment Democrats. We need those who’ve pledged to defend the Constitution against all enemies both foreign and domestic. We need activists and community leaders. Trump wants to build walls and tear families apart. We have to build bridges. Mend fences. We, The People, cannot be divided. This means working with people with whom we disagree — even those who vowed to obstruct Obama — even those who enthusiastically bought into right-wing propaganda about Hillary — even those who still lament that Bernie lost — religious leaders — educators — we need them. This is a new world. We’ll never have Monday, November 7th back. People of conscience will have to have their long game in mind or we’ll lose every battle to a septuagenarian with a man crush on Russia’s autocrat Vladimir Putin because Putin once said something nice about him.
That may be a tall order for people still processing their anger and pain. But there is more than an election or a majority to lose here. I'm still looking for where the next few years will take me, us, lest future generations file past informational panels indicting this one.
No one can stop President Trump from using nuclear weapons. That’s by design.
The whole system is set up so the president — and only the president — can decide when to launch.
Running this again because ...
The difference there is that General Michael Flynn will be right there whispering in his ear telling him to do it. digby 12/02/2016 04:30:00 PM
Trump's pollster agrees it was the Comey effect
Trump's pollster and Clinton's pollster talk about the race. Trump's man says that the race came down to four counties in Florida and one in Michigan. Five counties, people.
“When you really drill down on this election, if you change the vote in five counties, four in Florida, one in Michigan, we’d be having a totally opposite conversation right now,” Fabrizio said of the race. “For all the money that was spent, for the all the effort that was made, literally four counties in Florida, one county in Michigan puts us at 261 [electoral] votes and makes Hillary Clinton the president. So, remember that.”
In Michigan, Fabrizio is likely referring to Macomb County, which neighbors Detroit, where Trump beat Clinton by nearly 50,000 votes. The county voted for President Obama twice and was the birthplace of Reagan Democrats. The vote differential here played a huge role in the small 10,000-vote margin by which Trump won Michigan overall.
In Florida, Trump outperformed previous Republican nominee Mitt Romney in Lee County (Fort Myers), Pasco (Dade City), Polk (Bartow), Pinellas (Clearwater) and Volusia (Daytona Beach). These areas are mostly white and older than the rest of Florida and were key in delivering his 1.2 percent margin of victory.
That is not a landslide folks. With Clinton winding up winning between 2.5 and 3 million more votes it's a lucky fluke.
This is even more interesting if totally depressing:
Both men characterized the race as having a measurable degree of movement in the final month and as Benenson put it, Clinton’s campaign was tracking “defectors” from both candidates who had favorability ratings that were underwater.
Fabrizio said that the Trump campaign did not do national polls but rather made aggregates of battleground states.
“One of the things that we saw in the data was that when you looked at the data across all of the states, it was really good for us to get a sense of what was happening writ large,” Fabrizio said. “But there were things that were occurring so frequently in this—we would see our support drop with Republicans ten points in a week after he says something.”
In these instances, the voters would move towards Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson or the undecided category. But throughout the process, Fabrizio was certain that those voters would come back because they weren’t ever going to Clinton.
In the final week after FBI director James Comey released a vague letter saying that the agency was examining new emails found on Anthony Weiner’s computer, the husband of Clinton aide Huma Abedin, Benenson said that Clinton’s defectors just didn’t come back.
“Ours were coming back after the third debate,” Benenson said of the Clinton defectors. “We had actually solidified our lead for a period of days after that debate. Comey happens on that Friday, eleven days out, and that’s when we see—our defectors leave, their defectors get loyal and that keeps moving and probably in the end tips the balance.”
Fabrizio completely agreed with him and said if one didn’t understand the polling fluctuations, “you’d think the bottom fell out.”
The groups Fabrizio was tracking, specifically “Trump targets”—a cohort which they consistently tried to sway from supporting Johnson and/or Clinton—drastically decreased in the final week after the Comey letter. They all essentially came home.
But Fabrizio said they “held their breath” because just days later Comey cleared Clinton once again. Benenson said that second announcement did not help them either “because it just put it back into the conversation again.”
There are a lot of reasons why this election turned out the way it did. Both candidates were widely loathed by half of a polarized country which made it a difficult sell on both sides. They all knew it would be close and were just trying to keep people from defecting in the last week.
This is where Giuliani delivered for Trump. He was clearly working with the FBI agents in the New York office and Comey either maliciously or stupidly went with the plan. It was timed perfectly and it worked.
President Steve Bannon's speech about der Homeland
American Nazi rally Madison Square Garden 1939
Trump held a rally last night and he meandered as usual onto talking about himself and his glories and hatreds. But in the midst of all that he also had a prepared speech which he delivered in dribs and drabs. With the exception of the very last bit, it was obviously written by Steve Bannon.
This was the message:
For too long, Washington has tried to put us in boxes. The separate us by race, by age, by income, by place of birth, and by geography. They spend too much time focusing on what divides us.
Now is the time to embrace the one thing that truly unites us. You know what that is? America.
Because when America is unified, nothing is beyond our reach. I mean that. You will see...
We're going to have a country that is so great, in so many different ways.
We hear a lot of talk about how we are becoming a "globalized world." But the relationships that people value in this country are local. Family, state, country. They are local.
We wil compete in the world. We will compete in the world where is a two-way road -- not the one way around. The advantages will come back to our country, and they haven't for many years.
There is no global anthem. No global currency. No certificate of global citizenship. We pledge allegiance to one flag and that flag is the American flag.
From now on it is going to be: America First. Okay? America first. We're going to put ourselves first.
We seek peace and harmony with the nations of the world, but that means recognizing the right of every country --including our own-- to look after its citizens. We would put other countries first, we had people running our country that truly did not know what the hell they we're doing.
[cheers and applause]
We will defend the American worker... look what has happened right here. They forgot the American worker. They forgot that it was the American worker who truly built our country. We will not forget.
One of the reasons we are so divided today is because our government has failed to protect the interests of the American workers, and their families, making it too easy for us to see ourselves as distinct groups, and not unified as a whole. We're not unified. We're going to be.
Washington politicians have spent so long appealing to particular interests, that they have forgotten how to appeal to to the national interests. How to muster the skills and the talents of our people in common cause. And we have unbelievable talent. But that is all about to change.
Our goal is to strengthen the bonds of trust between citizens, to restore the sense of membership in our shared national community.
Global is wonderful, but right now we want to focus on our national community.
Never anyone again will any other interests come before the interest of the American people. It is not going to happen again.
Over the last two weeks since the victory, I have spoken to many foreign leaders. And I will tell you they have such respect for us. They all tell me how this was amazing, how they sat in their magnificent rooms --the leaders, the prime ministers, the presidents, all of them. How they sat in their magnificent rooms, watching in wonderment, hearing how people came to vote that had not voted in 20 years, people came to vote how have never voted before. And they had Trump shirts on, and 'Make America Great Again' hats, and they thought it was amazing.
And honestly, one of them told me: I truly respect the United States again because of what happened.
You will come together. We are going to be united. No more dissent. Circle the wagons. The Homeland comes before all. That's white nationalism.
I suppose that might sound like a return to isolationism to some of you. But that's not what it sounds like to me. It sounds like this:
Remember the first America First campaign:
I realize that Hitler comparisons are somewhat overwrought. Nothing ever happens exactly the same way. But the old George Santayana quote is worth remembering at times like this as well:
Progress, far from consisting in change, depends on retentiveness. When change is absolute there remains no being to improve and no direction is set for possible improvement: and when experience is not retained, as among savages, infancy is perpetual. Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.
I don't know why you would want to watch it, but Trump's Nuremberg Victory rally can be seen here.
On Thursday night President-elect Donald Trump got to do what he loves more than anything for the first time since the election: Bask in the love of his fans. He held a “Thank You” rally in Cincinnati, where he recounted all the highlights of his glorious victory as a sea of followers in red “Make America Great Again” hats cheered and chanted, just like the good old days of last month. It seemed a bit odd, since Trump isn’t running for anything at the moment. But since the networks all carried it live as breaking news one can imagine that this may become the main way — aside from Twitter. of course — that Trump communicates with the country. He certainly isn’t holding press conferences.
In fact, it turns out that Trump didn’t even remember he had made a campaign promise about Carrier. At the Indianapolis event on Thursday morning, he explained that he was watching the news about a week ago and saw a story on the plant:
And they had a gentleman, worker, great guy, handsome guy, he was on, and it was like he didn’t even know they were leaving. He said something to the effect, “No, we’re not leaving, because Donald Trump promised us that we’re not leaving,” and I never thought I made that promise. Not with Carrier. I made it for everybody else. I didn’t make it really for Carrier.
And I said, “What’s he saying?” And he was such a believer, and he was such a great guy. He said, “I’ve been with Donald Trump from the beginning, and he made the statement that Carrier’s not going anywhere, they’re not leaving.” And I’m saying to myself, “Man.”
And then they played my statement, and I said, “Carrier will never leave.” But that was a euphemism. I was talking about Carrier like all other companies from here on in. Because they made the decision a year and a half ago.
But he believed that that was — and I could understand it. I actually said — I didn’t make it — when they played that, I said, “I did make it, but I didn’t mean it quite that way.”
In other words, Trump had just been running his usual con game on the campaign trail. But once he saw that story he realized he had a chance for a P.R. win and he took it.
At a panel of campaign operatives on Thursday evening, Trump adviser Corey Lewandowski explained that expecting Trump’s words to have literal meaning is the media’s mistake. The Washington Post reported:
“This is the problem with the media. You guys took everything that Donald Trump said so literally,” Lewandowski said. “The American people didn’t. They understood it. They understood that sometimes — when you have a conversation with people, whether it’s around the dinner table or at a bar — you’re going to say things, and sometimes you don’t have all the facts to back it up.”
Those workers at the Carrier plant took Trump literally. And plenty of others did too. Phil Mattingly at CNN spoke with people in Cincinnati yesterday and asked them what they expect. He tweeted the following observations:
For Trump supporters, the Carrier deal is pure validation — and something they are 100% certain can be replicated here and elsewhere. Point out the IN Gov role, or the state incentives in general, or the DOD contracts — doesn’t matter. This is exactly what he said he’d do.
I’ve heard from many of them today, touting the Carrier deal. They don’t know the details. Don’t work in manufacturing. But they are genuinely stunned and excited. “If he can do this before he takes office, just imagine …”
I proceed explain the specifics, the holes in it, the longer term problems it may present — “Dude, stop.” Don’t want to hear it.
And it also sets up an interesting conundrum for the Trump team — expectations among supporters were already high.
Expectations among the “meh” Trump voters weren’t so much. Well, now they are, too.
So how do you deliver for states like OH, or PA, or WI, or MI, when your VP isn’t the governor and there aren’t contracts to threaten?
The answer is that Trump can’t deliver for those states, and he won’t. He’s not a magician or a miracle worker. And no matter what Lewandowski says, there are millions of people who believed that he was going to deliver exactly what he promised.
But then, this is how Trump has always operated, isn’t it? When you think about all the people who trust him to bring back jobs that have been taken over by machines like steel manufacturing, or to revive dying industries like coal mining, it reminds you of his numerous scams over the years in which he promised people wealth and success and ended up stealing their money and crushing their dreams.
Indeed, barely two weeks ago Trump abandoned his longtime vow and settled several lawsuits claiming fraud against his “Trump University.” He was accused of promising thousands of people untold riches if they believed in him and followed his methods for getting rich. Unfortunately, it was a scam, and people were conned out of large sums of money and received nothing worthwhile in return.
Sadly, that’s likely to be the fate of most of those Trump voters who expect him to re-create an imaginary past and make them all prosperous and successful. He said himself that those promises were all “euphemisms,” and he didn’t mean them literally. Trump is now running his biggest con, this time on the entire population of the United States. He has every reason to believe he’ll get away with it. After all, he’s never paid any real price for his behavior before.
Mike Konczal did that and it's very, very important to hear what Trump was actually promising. We will be arguing about all the things that horrible woman did wrong, but if what Konczal gleans from Trump's promises is true, the lessons Democrats are taking from all this aren't going to solve the problem.
I’ve started to rewatch Trump rallies from the month before he was elected President. I’ve seen some of them before, but that was always with the presumption he was unlikely to win; now I watch them trying to figure out how he did it, and how the Democrats can rebuild their economic message out of this mess. There’s the virulent ethnic nationalism, but there’s also a way of approaching the economy that sabotages where Democrats are, even when they are strong.
There was a time I assumed if the Democrats “moved left” they could win over the working class, even those who don’t usually vote. Now, spending time thinking about agendas and messaging, I realize that this move is far more complicated than simply getting past neoliberalism. With Trump at the helm of the conservative movement for the foreseeable future, it’ll be even harder.
Watching Trump with fresh eyes shows that we need to think clearer about how our policy forces people to concede to changing social norms, how to convey the rich as the problem, how to have clear messaging, how to deal with trade, and how to deal with wages and power. I don’t have the answers, certainly not here and now; but getting the questions right is the first step.
Get Back, Way Back, to Work
Trump talked about jobs. All the time. This gets lost in the coverage, which focused on the inflammatory scandals. Watch:
“When I win on November 8th, I am going to bring back your jobs. The long nightmare of jobs leaving Michigan will be coming to an end. We will make Michigan the economic envy of the world once again. The political class in Washington has betrayed you. They’ve uprooted your jobs, and your communities, and shipped your wealth all over the world. They put new skyscrapers up in Beijing while your factories in Michigan crumbled. I will end the theft of American prosperity. I will fight for every last Michigan job.” -Donald Trump, Michigan, October 31st, 2016
It’s the first and most consistent thing he discusses. It’s implied it is a specific kind of job, a white, male, bread-winning manufacturing job. He doesn’t discuss “the economy” and how it could work for all, he doesn’t talk about inequality, he doesn’t talk about automation and service work; he makes it clear you will have a high-paying manufacturing job when he is President.
So what? Much of the Democratic platform is based on pushing through the fact that this political economy was anachronistic decades ago. As Daniel Rodgers writes, “Many of the economic planks in the Democratic Party program were not pitched” for Trump voters, who sensed the platform reflected that “that the culture wars had finally come home.” Family leave, child allowances, and universal pre-K acknowledge that we need to look beyond male breadwinners as the core economic unit. Fight for $15 is about turning service work into a decent, secure, working-class life. Efforts to try and disentangle commodities like health-care and retirement from employment run into the hope that employment would be sufficient to provide them. Voters won’t want to hear this.
2. Not Eating the Rich
Trump never blames the rich for people’s problems. He doesn’t mention corporations, or anything relating to class struggle. His economic enemies are Washington elites, media, other countries, and immigrants. Even when financial elites and corporations do something, they are a combination of pawns and partners of DC elites.
21st Century Populism?
It’s important to watch that trick, of who has agency under runaway inequality. From a June speech in western Pennsylvania: “Our politicians have aggressively pursued a policy of globalization — moving our jobs, our wealth and our factories to Mexico and overseas. Globalization has made the financial elite who donate to politicians very wealthy. But it has left millions of our workers with nothing but poverty and heartache.” The rich buy politicians (and Trump can’t be bought) but he doesn’t turn around and denigrate those rich people.
Trump was smart to do so. As Joan C. Williams noted in an important essay, “the white working class (WWC) resents professionals but admires the rich.” The WWC doesn’t encounter rich people, but “professionals order them around every day. The dream is not to become upper-middle-class, with its different food, family, and friendship patterns; the dream is to live in your own class milieu, where you feel comfortable — just with more money.”
Now even if the WWC doesn’t resent the rich, Trump is likely to push it as far as it can go with a plutocratic administration. But there’s a reason his appointments aren’t sounding alarm bells right away, and it’s this logic. The media messed this up, assuming random vindictive statements amounted to policy, or not understanding how his tax plan worked, instead of seeing this consistent, deeper message.
We’ll need to do better putting populist energy against the bosses and owners. The mechanical, bloodless algebra of Piketty and income statistics probably won’t be enough by itself. We need a story of owners and investment to go with it. We need to talk about monopoly power, especially as Trump doesn’t take it up. Meanwhile we should feel out our own case against professionals. Tying professionals to commodification, the people who get in the way of needed goods (especially with whatever TrumpCare ends up looking like), might be a way to go there.
3. Policy, Policy Everywhere, Nor Any Drop to Drink
Trump and his team were a mess on campaign discipline. But when it comes to the economic platform in his speeches he remained disciplined and clear: he’s going to crush undocumented workers, roll back globalization, and cut taxes and regulations in DC. He has catch-phrases and symbols for each (the wall, rip up trade deals, drain the swamp), and it’s easy for his (white) voters to see how those line up with a better economic situation for themselves. As I’ve emphasized, this is what policy is, and Trump was fantastic at it.
What were Clinton’s three things to benefit workers? There was policy everywhere, but none of it clear for voters. An infrastructure deal, though would that even happen and didn’t Obama already try that? Anyway, Trump promised to do it twice as big. After that it wasn’t clear what was a priority.
Stuff that actually got to worker’s lives was technocratic and vague. “Short-termism” instead of the idea that bosses would rather give money to shareholders than invest. “Shadow banking” instead of Wells Fargo ripping you off and the CFPB stopped it. I use these terms — they are purposefully confusing because they need to mimic the nomenclature of microeconomics — but I’m not running a political campaign.
The sheer volume of it blurred out potentially useful items. When a really important fact sheet on fighting monopoly power was released, it got a paragraph 4,000 words into one speech (“As president, I will appoint tough, independent authorities to strengthen anti-trust enforcement and really scrutinize mergers and acquisitions, so the big don’t keep getting bigger and bigger”). It disappeared into a list of all the polices ever, rather than a clear statement of what was to be done. We need to remember a narrative of what has happened to workers and how we are going to fix it is more important than covering every potential base.
Trump is unapologetically against trade that harms American workers. I would have assumed he was fighting a straw man here, but one thing I’ve learned is how a certain class of liberals don’t approach job loss from trade with a regrettable sense of the trade-offs, but instead a more cutting sense that Americans don’t have any claim on the jobs that go away anyway. It’s all for the best, in the long-run.
The brilliant economist David Card gave me a useful point here during an interview: the divide among economists on trade is driven by the fact that labor economists study the real effects of unemployment on real people, where trade and macroeconomists treat people as just another commodity. (One of the people who broke the consensus on the effects of trade with China was David Autor, a leading labor economist. I had assumed from the literature the effects weren’t large enough before his writing.)
Can you store some humans along with the oil you keep at sea?
I’d phrase it this way: are people just like a barrel of oil? In the abstract models of trade economists, commodities like oil will always get sold at some price, they will get to where they need to get to do so, and they’re largely indifferent on the process. Even when commodity markets are off, oil can sit in tankers floating in the ocean waiting out price moves, and it makes no difference to the oil.
Oil doesn’t experience unemployment as the most traumatic thing that can happen to it. Oil moves magically to new opportunities, unlike people who don’t often move at all. A barrel of oil doesn’t beat their kids, abuse drugs, commit suicide, or experiencing declining life expectancy from being battered around in the global marketplace. But people do, and they have, the consequences persist and last, and now they’ve made their voices heard. It’s the the dark side of Polanyi’s warning against viewing human being as commodities.
For the life of me I don’t know why President Obama spent the summer of 2016 fighting hard for TPP when it was clear it was hurting Hillary Clinton, making her promise to pause trade deals not credible, and giving Trump live ammo. But he did. I don’t know if Trump or the people around him will be smart enough to use trade to split workers away from the Democrats much harder than they have, or if Democrats can come up with a better answer on trade and industrial policy that what they’ve done. But this is a live issue.
5. Taxes and Transfers and Places and Power
Trump also never mentions poverty. And while he talks a lot about reducing taxes, he never talks about increasing transfers, redistribution, or access to core goods. He talks about wages, full stop. He also talks about places. Dying towns that need revitalizing.
Democratic policy centers on poverty and transfers. There are a lot of reasons for this. Obviously, people in poverty are worse off than others, and there’s philosophical reasons to want a market system that allows for inequality as long as it benefits the worst-off in society.
But another reason is that you can measure this. I’m part of a group that wants to focus on getting wages up (the ugly term “predistribution”, but no longer using antagonistic term “pity-charity liberalism”) as a distinct yet complementary program to redistribution and also something that builds broader power for people. One obstacle I hit is that while getting wages up is a hazy and complicated process, redistribution can be done and measured with clinical precision.
It can also be taken away with that same precision. “Post-tax-and-transfer” inequality, the thing everyone was cheering as the way forward, is going to be a major causality in the next four years, probably the next 8 months even, conceptually as a Trump administration doesn’t think that way at all, and practically as the conservatives destroy transfers and progressive taxation. Getting a clearer strategy and narrative around pushing wages up, and getting a fuller agenda around places left behind, needs to be centered more than it is.
There are a lot of reasons Clinton lost. There was some made-up wishful thinking in retrospect: her unfavorables were “priced-in”, I heard, which isn’t a thing. What I haven’t seen an answer for is that for all the money and tech, they didn’t know their blue wall was much less safe from the people on the ground than the polling numbers in Brooklyn HQ would see. Something broke down there and it’s urgent to understand why.
But even without that loss there would have been a need to reboot. As Ezekiel Kweku writes in an excellent article, “The lesson we should draw from Clinton’s loss is not that white supremacy is unbeatable at the polls, but that it’s not going to beat itself…If the Democratic Party would like to keep more Donald Trumps from winning in the future, they are going to have to take the extraordinary step of doing politics.” Politics is informed by analysis and policy, and though it is clear we need policy to move beyond neoliberalism, that is only the first step. The journey to find this new path is just beginning.
I need to think a little bit more about this but I do agree that nationalism was a gigantic motivator for these folks. And,b y the way, it always has been. These are always the people who scream USA, USA! in crowds. Trump just repackaged it for economic purposes. But it comes from the same place it always comes from --- and he'll be able to call upon it when he decides to start his war.
And I do have to wonder if anyone other than Trump would be allowed to get away with such vagueness about policy. It's easy to see how well it worked for him. But I think he's sui generis and any Democrat trying his approach would be skewered by the press. But there are things to be learned from what he did right and I'm seeing very few people looking at this systematically from that perspective. This is helpful in trying to understand how he managed to defy all expectations.
As Rome burned, reporters from the Roman Times, the Empire Press, and the Daily Praetorian were on the scene live to bring coverage of Emperor Nero's musical stylings.
Donald Trump's team has led the press by the nose for over a year and they are not about to stop now. Several networks brought live coverage of Trump's "victory" rally in Cincinnati last night. (So little time for the rookie public servant to get up to speed on running a nation of over 300 million, but he has time for his adulation fix.) With its coverage, the press all but hangs banners in the arena. Even to save themselves, they cannot look away.
The left had best give up any notion that, as they say on the right, America will "wake up" and admit what is happening. These people don't admit mistakes; they double down on them. Admitting mistakes is a sign of weakness and to be avoided. Correcting them? That's even harder. Granted, the Republican Party wrote up a postmortem on its 2012 loss. But Republicans promptly ignored it. The question now is can Democrats learn new tricks?
Those of us who agree with the Declaration of Independence that governments derive their legitimacy from the consent of the governed are poorly equipped to resist Trump. Those of us who agree that governments exist to secure “certain unalienable Rights” are fighting with one hand tied behind our backs.
We have brought a sheet of parchment and a set of abstract principles to a knife fight. We’re going to get cut.
That’s because believers in liberal democracy — people who believe generally that the theory laid out in the Declaration’s preamble is correct — must constantly fight a two-front war. We must defend the structures of liberal democracy while working within those structures to grasp the levers of power and use them to achieve just ends.
But Donald Trump — and the Republican Party generally, with its tactics of voter suppression, gerrymandering, and political litigation — threatens liberal democracy on both fronts. Trump is a paradox within democracy, a leader elected in a constitutionally legitimate process who seeks to undermine the Constitution itself.
To declare him illegitimate is to shake the foundations of the American system, but to fail to do so is to risk leveling those foundations to the ground.
Millhiser offers no way out of that paradox (and I have none this morning). But he does suggest this:
Similarly, every American should read Yale History Professor and Holocaust scholar Timothy Snyder’s “20-point guide to defending democracy under a Trump presidency.” Among his most important words of advice are “do not obey in advance,” to be wary if the Trump regime attempts to use a terrorist attack or similar tragedy to consolidate its power, and to adhere — especially if you are a lawyer, judge, government worker or other individual who may be called upon to shepherd Trump’s goals into fruition — to professional ethics.
If liberal democracy survives these next four years, then liberals must confront the fact that our current system of government has failed. We cannot have a system that makes a president out of the guy who came in second in the presidential election twice in sixteen years, or that allows lawmakers to suppress the vote of their opponents’ supporters, or that allows those same lawmakers to effectively choose who gets to vote for them, or that allows the minority party to sabotage a president’s entire agenda and then campaign on the fact that nothing gets done, or that places the entirety of American democracy at the mercy of a political court.
The fight at hand is not between Republicans and Democrats. Both parties have lost their way; the former having descended into madness. The fight at hand is between economic royalists and small-d democrats. It appears for the moment that the royalists again have the upper hand.
Before retelling at length the story of his November 8 win last night, the Man Who Would Be Emperor made a stab at speaking of reconciliation and bringing the country together. The boisterous crowd went quiet:
We condemn bigotry and prejudice in all of its forms. We denounce all of the hatred and we forcefully reject the language of exclusion and separation. We're going to come together. We have no choice. We have to. And it's better. It's better.
If I'm not mistaken, there were a few gasps and perhaps even a heckle. Such words feel unnatural coming from Trump's puckered lips. They drew no applause from followers raised on red meat. Soon Trump was back to "braggadocious" form, retelling his story of election triumph and attacking the press and anybody who has done him wrong. In the press pen, the cameras kept rolling.
Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif called President-elect USA Donald Trump and felicitated him on his victory. President Trump said Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif you have a very good reputation. You are a terrific guy. You are doing amazing work which is visible in every way. I am looking forward to see you soon. As I am talking to you Prime Minister, I feel I am talking to a person I have known for long. Your country is amazing with tremendous opportunities. Pakistanis are one of the most intelligent people. I am ready and willing to play any role that you want me to play to address and find solutions to the outstanding problems. It will be an honor and I will personally do it. Feel free to call me any time even before 20th January that is before I assume my office.
On being invited to visit Pakistan by the Prime Minister, Mr. Trump said that he would love to come to a fantastic country, fantastic place of fantastic people. Please convey to the Pakistani people that they are amazing and all Pakistanis I have known are exceptional people, said Mr. Donald Trump.
Please. Stop. Please. Let me wake up. Please.
And for those of you who need a little extra help understanding why this is, as Teri Garr memorably said in Young Frankenstein, a nacht-mare, let Steve Benen explain it to you:
Tensions between India and Pakistan have intensified, which leaves the United States in an awkward position. The Obama administration has made a concerted effort to strengthen U.S./India ties, while also delicately maintaining financial support for Pakistan.
Note, however, that President Obama is the first American president to ever visit India twice during his term, while Obama has not set foot in Pakistan.
Trump, who probably isn’t aware of the diplomatic balancing act, apparently signaled to Sharif a very different U.S. posture towards Pakistan – up to and including a presidential visit to the country.
If Trump does go to Pakistan, it risks alienating Indian allies. If Trump doesn’t visit after telling Sharif he would, it will further complicate an already difficult Pakistani relationship. And I can’t wait to hear what this means: “I am ready and willing to play any role that you want me to play to address and find solutions to the outstanding problems.”
Electing a president who doesn’t know what he’s doing carries real consequences.
And for those of you young'uns who think this might be normal… No. It's not normal. It's not even close to normal. This is like hiring the bully who used to torment girls in in your 3rd grade homeroom to perform a kidney transplant. No, the scope is wrong. it's closer to hiring that bully to perform 6 billion simultaneous brain surgeries.
It looks like two things made the difference in the 2016 presidential race: whether you think the country is generally going to hell in a handbasket and the personalities of the two candidates.
The November Kaiser Health Tracking Poll, conducted one week after the 2016 presidential election, finds health care played a limited role in voters’ 2016 election decisions, with larger shares of voters saying the biggest factor in their vote was the direction of the country (31 percent), Donald Trump’s personal characteristics (15 percent), jobs and the economy (15 percent), or Hillary Clinton’s personal characteristics (12 percent), than who say the same about health care (8 percent).
I'm going to guess that everything now depends on the economy imporving enough for trump to take credit and some empty gestures on his part.
Democrats had better start recruiting a candidate from outside the political realm and preferable one not from show business because only GOP iconoclasts can com from the entertainment field lest they be seen as Barbra Streisand squishes. I'm thinking athletics would be the right fit, one who can relate to the "working class" while also being super rich and famous and successful. Somebody like Tom Brady, only a Democrat. (Actually that's not really necessary but would be nice.) After all, it clearly doesn't even matter if he has a brain in his head or knows anything at all about politics so why should we have a president who is a member of the party or has any political philosophy at all?
Start looking for our next leader people. A "change agent" who will make sure the Real Americans feel like they're the most important people in the whole wide world.
When George W. Bush assembled his first Cabinet in 2001, news reports dubbed them a team of millionaires, and government watchdogs questioned whether they were out of touch with most Americans’ problems. Combined, that group had an inflation-adjusted net worth of about $250 million — which is roughly one-tenth the wealth of Donald Trump’s nominee for commerce secretary alone.
Trump is putting together what will be the wealthiest administration in modern American history. His announced nominees for top positions include several multimillionaires, an heir to a family mega-fortune and two Forbes-certified billionaires, one of whose family is worth as much as industrial tycoon Andrew Mellon was when he served as treasury secretary nearly a century ago. Rumored candidates for other positions suggest Trump could add more ultra-rich appointees soon.
Many of the Trump appointees were born wealthy, attended elite schools and went on to amass even larger fortunes as adults. As a group, they have much more experience funding political candidates than they do running government agencies.
He will say that he's hired the smartest people for the job. And they are obviously the smartest because they're the richest! His voters will agree. And they think that if we let the rich guys run the country they'll all be rich too!
These are not people who hate the rich. If they did they sure wouldn't have voted for Donald Trump. They hate "other" people. And they like Trump because he hates them too!
CNN’s Alysin Camerota sat down with several long-time Trump supporters for a focus group-style interview on Thursday’s “New Day” and pressed them for their thoughts on the president-elect’s transition and postelection performance.
Each of the participants, with whom Camerota has spoken with before on CNN, praised Trump’s performance so far.
“How do you feel about the ‘white nationalist movement,’ the alt-right, some Neo-Nazi salutes that we’ve seen? What are we to make of what feels like a groundswell of that with the Steve Bannon-Breitbart connection,” Camerota asked the group after one participant claimed that the people “that Trump has appointed or nominated have all been top of the class, number one in their field, extremely talented, great leaders on their own.”
Former Democratic state legislator and co-chair of the New Hampshire-based Women for Trump Paula Johnson jumped in to defend Trump: “That’s been around forever,” Johnson pushed back against Camerota’s questioning. “You know, if you keep reporting on it, it’s going to grow like a cancer. If you forget about it then it’s probably going to go away.” Using a favorite rhetorical device of the former reality-TV star: media bashing,” she added, “The media has to harp on everything. And it’s wrong.”
Johnson continued that many anti-Trump voters had little room to complain if they failed to vote in the election. “Voting is a privilege in this country,” Johnson said, before adding, “and you need to be legal, not like California where three million illegals voted.”
A confused Camerota asked Johson, “Where are you getting your information?”
“From the media!” Johnson insisted. “Some of them were CNN, I believe.”
“CNN said that 3 million illegal people voted in California?” an incredulous Camerota asked.
Johnson then decided to source her false report directly to President Obama.
“I think there was a good amount because the president told people that they could vote,” Johnson claimed. “They said, ‘The president said I could vote. I’m here illegally.’”
To her credit, Camerota kept up the line of questioning while seemingly holding back laughter.
“Did you hear President Obama said that illegal people could vote?” asked Camerota, to which nearly all the participants nodded their heads and replied, “Yes.”
“Tell me, where?” Camerota demanded.
At that point, another Trump voter directed Camerota to, “Google it. You could find it on Facebook.”
So she did.
Camerota, a former long-time Fox News host, was then forced to read a recent Mediate headline to the group that read, “Fox deceptively edits Obama interview to falsely claim he told illegal immigrants to vote.”
The Trump voters were apparently referring to Fox Business Network host Stuart Varney’s false claim that the president “appears to encourage illegals to vote, and he promises no repercussions if they do.”
While the above clip is clearly deceptively edited to conflate undocumented immigrants with all Latino voters in the U.S., Fox Business Network not only failed to make that distinction but falsely implied such a distinction was never even made. In fact, Fox Business Network left out the portion of Obama’s comments in which he explicitly stated that undocumented immigrants do not have the legal right to vote.
Still, Trump voters remained wedded to the fake news nearly a month after the election.
“You as you sit here today think that millions of illegal people voted in this country and you believe that there was widespread voting abuse? In the millions of people?” a clearly exasperated Camerota continued to challenge the Trump voters.
“California allows it,” Johnson said.
“They do not allow illegals — you mean voter fraud, California allows?” asked a dumbfounded Camerota.
“I believe there was voter fraud in this country,” she insisted, remaining steadfast to her false belief.
I don't know which members of the non-college educated white Trump voters Democrats can peel off to win but it's not going to be easy.
From the looks of it, Donald Trump plans to staff his administration with every plutocrat and retired general he’s ever met. So far he’s named billionaire Betsy DeVos, billionaire Wilbur Ross, along with multimillionaires Elaine Chao, Steve Mnuchin and Tom Price. He has interviewed the vastly wealthy Mitt Romney and is reportedly considering Gary Cohn, the president of Goldman Sachs. It’s clear that whatever Trump may have said that sounded like economic populism during the campaign is unlikely to be translated into policy in his administration.
Bloomberg reported that Wall Street couldn’t be more thrilled, quoting hedge-fund manager Whitney Tilson happily agreeing that Trump’s voters might be upset that their man is surrounding himself with billionaires and bankers:
I can take glee in that — I think Donald Trump conned them. I worried that he was going to do crazy things that would blow the system up. So the fact that he’s appointing people from within the system is a good thing.
Basically, it looks like Trump is going to deliver Wall Street’s wish list and leave the “populism” to people like Jeff Sessions and Kris Kobach, who are designated to bring the “law and order” to communities of immigrants and people of color. Surprise.
Despite the fact that Trump routinely disparaged the military leadership on the trail, saying often that he knew far more than they do about everything, Trump is actually a military fanboy. (He is not, as often erroneously described in the press, a “history buff.” He does not read.) As often as he has insulted the current brass for being “stupid” he would evoke the memory of World War II-era generals George Patton and Douglas MacArthur, who seem to be the only two he’s ever heard of. It’s clear that he has a deep fondness for “tough” military leaders of the kind he’s seen in the movies.
Currently, he’s said to be considering former generals David Petraeus, James “Mad Dog” Mattis and John Kelly, along with Admiral Mike Rogers for high-level jobs in the administration. As this Washington Post article by Phillip Carter and Loren DeJonge Schulman spells out in some detail, this is unusual and frankly unnerving. But none of them are as unnerving as the former general who has been tapped to serve as Trump’s national security adviser, his close associate Michael Flynn.
Flynn’s recent descent into extremism and his unfitness for this particular job have been well documented, but every day seems to bring new revelations of just how unhinged he really is. For instance, it came to my attention that in the days just before the election, Flynn was talking to the media about Hillary Clinton’s alleged association with pedophilia, which means that he’s enmeshed in the deepest reaches of the right-wing fake-news fever swamps. That reference could only be to #Pizzagate, which involved the bizarre and spurious claims that Clinton was running a pedophile ring out of the back of a pizza parlor in Washington.
It also turns out that Steve Bannon isn’t the only close Trump associate with connections to the white nationalist “alt-right.” CNN’s Andrew Kaczynski reported that a week after the election Flynn was praising Breitbart’s odious racist provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos:
Speaking to a gathering of young conservatives at Trump’s Washington hotel, Flynn said, “I was with Dinesh D’Souza last night, and the other, for the young audience here, for the young ones here, I mentioned it to a couple of you, I was also with Milo Yiannopoulos … See, a lot of people in here won’t know who he is. I tag him on Twitter, you know, because he’s a phenomenal individual, and I’m mentioning him tonight because he spoke alongside of me last night to another group of folks.”
It’s known that Flynn travels on the far edge of the conspiratorial extreme of neoconservative thinking, having recently written a book called “The Field of Flight” with Michael Ledeen, a longtime proponent of the idea that the U.S. faces an existential threat from … well, pretty much everyone. (Ledeen famously speculated that even Germany and France were in cahoots with al-Qaida when they failed to back the U.S. invasion of Iraq.)
Flynn and Ledeen are heavily influenced by the late Laurent Murawiec, a French-American neocon ideologue who wrote a book they hail as a “masterpiece” called “The Mind of Jihad.” Murawiec apparently found a web of connections between radical Islamism, Bolshevism and and the Nazis that Ledeen and Flynn find convincing. Among other things, Murawiec was associated for many years with Lyndon LaRouche, one of the fringiest political figures in American life. Curious about Flynn’s views of China and North Korea, about which he has said very little, the New York Times consulted “The Field of Flight” for clues as to his thinking. This is what they found:
In the introduction, [Flynn] wrote that radical Islamists “are not alone, and are allied with countries and groups who, though not religious fanatics, share their hatred of the West, particularly the United States and Israel.” The introduction continued, “Those allies include North Korea, Russia, China, Cuba and Venezuela.”
The general expanded on his definition of the anti-Western alliance: “The war is on. We face a working coalition that extends from North Korea and China to Russia, Iran, Syria, Cuba, Bolivia, Venezuela and Nicaragua. We are under attack, not only from nation-states directly, but also from Al Qaeda, Hezbollah, ISIS and countless other terrorist groups.”
“Suffice to say, the same sort of cooperation binds together jihadis, Communists and garden-variety tyrants,” he added.
The technical term for that absurd and paranoid worldview is “nutty as a fruitcake.” And what’s more frightening is that the man Flynn will now be working for can fit his own knowledge of world affairs in a shotglass.
As national security adviser, Flynn will be the last man in the room with this totally unprepared president when he makes the most important foreign policy and national security decisions. In an administration already filled with terrifying prospects in almost every regard, this is the one that sends chills down my spine.